Gatwick has announced plans to reduce its workforce by nearly a quarter, placing up to 600 roles at risk across the business.
The airport said the “significant”, company-wide restructure was necessary to mitigate the “devastating impact” of Covid-19 on passenger numbers.
Formal consultation with staff will get under way shortly, with the proposed job cuts part of further efforts by the airport to reduce operating and staff costs.
Gatwick says the move will reshape the company to ensure it is “best placed to respond quickly to future growth”.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said the move was a “stark reminder” of the challenges that continue to face the aviation, and called on government to step in with urgent sector-specific support.
The airport said in a statement on Wednesday (26 August) that despite taking “rapid action” to protect the business and jobs back in March, which included reducing costs, tightly managing cash outflows and securing £300 million financial headroom, further cost-saving measures had become necessary with August passenger numbers are down more than 80% year-on-year.
Current traffic volumes and passenger numbers are such that Gatwick is currently still operating solely from its North Terminal, and the whole airport at just 20% of the capacity it was handling this time last year; 75% of its staff remain on the government’s job retention – or furlough – scheme, which is due to end in October.
“The new proposals could result in the region of 600 job roles being removed from across the business, which is approximately 24% of the current number of employees,” said Gatwick. “The company will now enter into a formal consultation process with employees.”
“If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry then today’s news we have shared with our staff, regarding the proposed job losses, is a stark reminder,” said Wingate.
“We are in ongoing talks with government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time, alongside mechanisms which will give our passengers greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad. This support will not only help Gatwick, but the wider regional economy which relies on the airport.”
Wingate added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, those who have worked tirelessly to keep Gatwick open throughout the pandemic and those who have had to remain on furlough, for their dedicated tenacity, professionalism and team spirit. We will continue to do all we can to preserve as many jobs as possible.
“Gatwick will recover from this pandemic and we will emerge from the restructuring we are proposing a fitter and stronger organisation which is best placed to offer our passengers and our airlines a modern and innovative airport, ready for growth.”