Update from Stewart Wingate CEO of Gatwick Aiport
Published: 19 Jun 2020
Update from Gatwick Airport
I hope that this letter finds you, and your family, safe and well in these uncertain times. We have all had to grapple with getting used to a “new way of life” and, as we all know, this is likely to continue for some time to come. Of course, there are even more pronounced challenges for those working in the healthcare frontline or for those dealing with COVID-19, and if this applies to you my thanks and thoughts are with you.
We too at Gatwick are also having to grapple with a new way of life and I thought it would be useful to update you on what has been happening at the airport and what our plans are for the future. My priorities as CEO continue to be protecting the health and safety of all our staff, and our passengers and ensuring the business is in the best possible position to enable a quick recovery from this crisis. I am acutely aware of how much the local area relies on Gatwick to help boost the local economy, providing a good source of work for small businesses and the self-employed, and that our plans to rebuild are vitally important to the region.
Financial Resilience & Protecting Jobs
It has been widely reported, and therefore will come as no surprise to you, that the aviation industry has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19. This week we are expecting 127 passenger flights (63 arrivals, 64 departures), with between 8,000 to 15,000 passengers. The same equivalent week last year (17-23 June) had 1,064,046 passengers on 6,158 flights (3,007 arrivals, 3,081 departures). Statistics like these highlight the impact of this crisis on our business.
It was against this backdrop that we took some swift decisions to protect the business and local jobs. In April we consolidated our operations into the South Terminal and limited scheduled flights on the runway to between 1400 and 2200, put over 90% of our eligible staff on the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme to preserve jobs and all staff, including myself and my executive team, have taken a pay reduction. Since then as part of our rationalisation programme to ensure we protect the business and as many jobs as possible, we have offered a voluntary severance package to staff, terminated temporary contracts and made a small number of staff redundant.
We are regularly engaging with Government, the airlines and other stakeholders to ensure we are in the best possible position to rebuild our operations at Gatwick as quickly and as safely as possible, taking into account Government public health advice. We are very proud we have managed to stay open throughout the lock down period providing vital support for both cargo flights bringing in medical supplies and repatriation flights.
We re-opened North Terminal on 15 June and have increased operating hours to 06:00-22:00 as easyJet have restarted flights from the North Terminal alongside Wizz Air, Ryanair, Belavia, Vueling and Blue Island. The wellbeing and safety of passengers and staff remains Gatwick’s top priority and we have already introduced a range of measures relating to social distancing; hand hygiene facilities; enhanced cleaning regimes; and the wearing of face coverings for both passengers and staff. If you plan to travel through the airport please check the latest guidance on Gatwick’s website before you leave home at gatwickairport.com. Gatwick’s airlines have also introduced a range of health measures so that everyone can start to enjoy the benefits of domestic and international travel again.
We are also pleased to have been the first airport in England to help establish a COVID-19 testing centre in one of our long-term car parks. Initially for NHS and health workers, its use has now been extended to include symptomatic people working in transport, which offers further reassurance to our staff and passengers that the airport remains a safe environment.
We know we have much work to do to get back to pre-COVID-19 passenger levels. We currently estimate this might take up to four years. The recent Government announcement regarding the 14day quarantine period for passengers arriving into the UK is already having an impact on the start of air travel recovery.
During this period of recovery Gatwick may be a different sized and shaped business, however we are confident in our resilience to recover and re-establish our role as a positive driver to the regional economy and local prosperity. In time we expect to resume many of our key infrastructure projects to improve passenger experience including our plans to bring the existing Northern (stand-by) Runway into routine use to offer more travel choice for passengers and new jobs for Gatwick and the region. Of course, any growth must be sustainable, and we also remain focussed on our ongoing efforts to reduce the airport’s impact on the environment. I’m pleased to say that we continue to make significant progress in this area, and we are committed to reducing our environmental impact even further in the years ahead.
Finally, we have and will continue to encourage our staff, when not working, to volunteer in the local community to provide help and support wherever they can. I am in awe of so many examples of wonderful acts of kindness many of them have displayed from helping stranded passengers or supporting frontline health workers. And we will continue to do all we can to help promote, fundraise and donate to our local charity partners SASH and the Air Ambulance for Kent Surrey and Sussex.
I hope you have found this update useful and I will endeavour to keep you informed about progress at Gatwick over the Summer. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stewart Wingate Chief Executive Officer Gatwick Airport