Prior to the pandemic, the airport supported over 43,000 across the region and contributed £2.7bn to regional gross domestic product, while also investing in local projects through the Gatwick Foundation Fund and supporting charity partners, which now include SASH - the charity for East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, and all the services provided by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
In what is an incredibly tough time for all involved and connected to aviation, Gatwick already starting on its recovery plan for the future as it works to continue acting as the single biggest driver for the local economy.
The airport's absolute priority is of course to protect the safety and wellbeing of all staff and passengers, while also ensuring that the business is in a position to recover as quickly as feasible from the COVID-19 crisis.
The most recent forecasts suggest that recovery to pre-COVID-19 passenger levels will take between three to four years and the airport is acutely aware of how important this is for the local economy and jobs.
Financial Resilience & Protecting Jobs
While the airport has remained open throughout the pandemic, passenger numbers have been at unprecedented low levels and it was against this backdrop that swift decisions were taken to protect the business as early as March this year.
Operations were limited to the South Terminal, flights were restricted to between 1400 and 2200, while 90% of eligible staff were placed on the UK Government's furlough scheme to help protect jobs, with all staff and the executive team also taking a pay reduction. In addition, a voluntary severance package was offered to staff and temporary contracts were terminated.
The North Terminal reopened on 15 June and operating hours were increased as easyJet and other airlines restarted flights, albeit in small numbers.
Since the mid-June restart, and in response to the recent easing of quarantine restrictions, Gatwick has seen 17 airlines resume operations, to the point where they can now fly to over 70% of the destinations Gatwick served before the COVID-19 crisis.
Airlines including Norwegian, Ryanair, TUI and Turkish Airlines are flying from Gatwick to 98 destinations in 39 countries, including popular short-haul summer holiday destinations in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. It is, however, likely the popularity of these destinations will continue to be influenced heavily by the infection rate and Government quarantine rules.
British Airways and Air Transat have also resumed long-haul routes to the Caribbean and Canada respectively.
At the airport itself, a wide range of new health measures have been introduced and Gatwick was the first airport in England to help establish a COVID-19 testing centre in its long-term car park.
There have been small green shoots of recovery in recent weeks with more airlines restarting flights and travellers to many destinations with low COVID-19 infection rates are now exempted from quarantine when returning to the UK. However, the airport has a long road ahead of it and many challenges still to face. Gatwick will be a different sized and shaped business going forward, however the airport it focussed on doing what it can in this difficult environment to re-establish its role as a positive driver to the regional economy and local prosperity.
In time, Gatwick also hopes to resume many of its key infrastructure projects, including sustainable plans to bring the existing Northern Runway into routine use.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Network Rail have continued work on a £150million upgrade of Gatwick Airport railway station, a partnership project with investment from Gatwick and Coast to Capital LEP. The upgrades will relieve crowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for international passengers, commuters and leisure travellers across the south east. This investment will provide station facilities that are fit for the future and support long term growth in sustainable transport.
We continue to liaise closely with Coast to Capital, the Local Authorities and other stakeholders in the region to ensure that we all pull together to rebuild operations at Gatwick, kick-start the economy and protect jobs across the region.
Anyone wishing to ask a question on Gatwick and its plans for recovery can do so by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.