Gatwick has narrowed losses for financial 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to recede.
The airport reported an annual loss of £370 million for the year to December 31st, an improvement on the £466 million lost in the previous year.
The improvement came despite “continually changing travel restrictions and the emergence of the Omicron variant,” the airport said.
An encouraging end to 2021 saw passenger numbers at Gatwick exceed one million in August, September, October and December.
UK lockdowns and widespread international travel restrictions led to a 39 per cent reduction in total annual passenger numbers at the airport, which hit 6.3 million passengers for the year, compared to 10.2 million previously.
The airport was able to offset the impact of reduced total passenger numbers - and maximise the benefits of a stronger second half to the year - through actions taken in 2020 to significantly reduce operating costs.
This included the consolidation of all air traffic and passengers into the north terminal.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said: “As it was for many airports, 2021 was a difficult year for Gatwick but, despite constantly changing travel restrictions and the emerging Omicron variant, we managed to end the year strongly and reduced our losses compared to the previous year.
“Today, we find ourselves in a very different position.
“Major announcements from our airlines about significantly increased flying schedules, and from government on airport slot regulations and the relaxation of travel restrictions, mean we are now looking forward to a strong summer.
“We are currently focussed on reopening our south terminal to ensure we can meet this expected strong demand and we are looking forward to welcoming back passengers in increasingly larger numbers.”
Following a government decision to “return discipline” to the airport slot regulations and a series of significantly increased airline flying programmes by its airlines, Gatwick will reopen the south terminal on March 27th.
Two new long-haul airlines also started at Gatwick towards the end of 2021, with JetBlue flying services to New York and Scoot (part of the Singapore Airlines group) flying to Bangkok.
“The rebounding of international connectivity toward pre-pandemic levels will boost job and business opportunities, which is great news for many in our local communities and beyond.
“However, fully restoring consumer confidence will take time and I urge government to make 2022 the year when all travel restrictions are removed completely, including the unpopular passenger locator form.”