British Airways has stated its commitment to Gatwick but shed doubt on its future at London City airport.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG, was asked by parliament’s transport select committee if he saw a future for BA at the West Sussex airport.
Walsh replied: “Yes I do. I like Gatwick; I think it is a better airport than Heathrow in many ways. I think it is better-run, the management team are more commercial, the customer base is one we would want to serve.”
Rival Virgin Atlantic has said it is unlikely to restart services from Gatwick once travel restrictions are lifted, although it is retaining its take-off and landing slots for possible later use.
Speaking of his rival’s financial difficulties, Walsh said: “I see Virgin as a badly run airline, but I don’t see it as failing or a failed airline.”
Walsh was also asked about London City, which is served by BA’s wholly owned subsidiary BA CityFlyer. Walsh said the east London airport had been most affected by the downturn as it dealt mainly with business travellers.
He said the airport was “one of the greatest challenges” as the downturn had approached, with traffic being lost “ahead of pretty much every airport in Europe”.
“It clearly points to the specific customer segment that supports London City airport. I think that airport will be challenged greatly as we go through this and indeed as we come out of this.
“Our future there will be something we will consider with the elected representatives of the BA CityFlyer operation.”