Gatwick Airport warns of five year wait for recovery as it slides into loss

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Gatwick Airport has warned it might take up to five years to recover from the pandemic as it posted a first-half loss of £344mln.

Passenger numbers over the six months to June fell by 66% as it felt the full impact of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Most airlines suspended services while some, such as Virgin Atlantic, have stopped using the airport altogether.

Earlier this week, the airport, which is owned by Vinci and Global Infrastructure Partners, announced 600 additional job cuts as rising rates of infections and new quarantine rules squashed hopes of a quick recovery in air travel.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive, added that passenger numbers were down 80% year on year this month and to cope the airport has cut capital expenditure by more than £300mln over the next two years and operating costs by more than £100mln.

Revenues over the half-year to June tumbled by 61% to £144mln and the airport posted a post-tax loss of £321mln.

“The negative impact of Covid-19 on our passenger numbers and air traffic at the start of the year was dramatic and, although there are small signs of recovery, it is a trend we expect to continue to see,” said Wingate.

“As with any responsible company we have protected our financial resilience by significantly reducing our operational costs and capital expenditure.”

Over 70% of staff remain on furlough, he added.

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