Gatwick Airport has said it might take as long as four years for passenger numbers to return to pre-Covid 19 levels.
Releasing its annual results, the airport said it had experienced unprecedented market circumstances and a dramatic decline in passenger numbers due to the impact the coronavirus pandemic.
Gatwick Airport, chief executive, Stewart Wingate said: “The world has changed dramatically and Gatwick has taken decisive action to ensure that it remains in a strong position to recover from the dramatic fall in passenger numbers and the wider impacts of Covid-19.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been unprecedented, and our priority has been, and continues to be, maintaining the health and safety of our passengers and employees.
“We also have a resilient business and by taking steps to reduce costs, we have protected jobs and expect to recover from this crisis.”
Measures taken to reduce the operational footprint at Gatwick include the temporary consolidation of operations into the south terminal and limiting scheduled flights to between 14:00 and 22:00 each day.
Both measures came into effect on April 1st and are being kept under regular review with a decision on returning to normal operations taken when airline traffic and passenger demand increases.
Some 90 per cent of staff have also been furloughed, while capital expenditure has been suspended for the foreseeable future.
On April 3rd, Gatwick secured a £300 million loan with a consortium of banks and the company will not be paying a dividend in 2020.
Passenger numbers and revenue were up at Gatwick Airport for the nine-month period ending December 31st, compared to the same period last year.
Just under 37 million passengers passed through the airport in the nine-month period – an increase of 0.3 per cent.