The UK government’s plans to reopen air travel has provided hope for recovery in summer 2021
Passenger numbers at Gatwick Airport fell by 78% during 2020, as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The airport stayed in operation throughout the year, however all revenue streams were significantly impacted as a result, leading the airport to post a £465.5m loss for the year.
Action was taken to help protect the airport financially, including the reduction of capital expenditure which resulted in the deferral of over £380m planned for investment for 2020 and 2021.
Operating costs were also reduced by over £140m throughout last year. This was done by restricting and reducing staffing levels by more than 40%, renegotiating contracts and condensing all air traffic and customers into one terminal.
In April of last year, Gatwick secured a £300m loan from a consortium of banks to help improve liquidity. The company has drawn £250m under the Bank of England’s COVID-19 corporate banking facility.
Since last December, the airport has had an available liquidity of £537m to meet its operating cashflows, investment levels and interest payments for later this year.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said: “I remain optimistic that Gatwick will recover and retain its position as one of Europe’s leading international gateways” despite the numerous challenges faced last year.
“We are heartened by the UK Government’s COVID-19 response plan and look forward to working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a framework that can facilitate greater international travel as soon as possible.”
“Before air travel recovery begins, and in order for the industry to continue to protect as many jobs as possible, we also need the UK Government to provide further support by extending the furlough scheme for a few more months and providing business rate relief, as airports in Scotland have been afforded, for the current financial year,” he concluded.
Protecting the health of staff and passengers is the airport’s current priority, with new COVID-19 testing measures for employees, alongside an NHS testing site which can be used as a walk-in and a drive through.