Gatwick flights: Airport boss vows operations could ‘start up at the end of May’

Gatwick Airport was forced to dramatically drop its operations at the beginning of the month in order to meet the government’s stringent guidelines. The measures, which were put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, included the closure of one of the airport’s two terminals.


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The London airport has also only opened its singular runway between the hours of 2pm and 10pm for scheduled flights which included repatriation flights for stranded Britons.

The difficult decision was in response to most airlines having to suspend the majority of their flights due to plummeting demand from countries around the world.

Another main airport in the capital, London City Airport, also completely closed its runway to all flights due to the coronavirus.

The world’s busiest airport, Heathrow, was also forced to make a similar decision by closing down one of its terminals.

Heathrow also revealed that its passenger numbers in March 2020 had also dropped by a staggering 52 percent compared to 2019.

This month it is expected to fall by 90 percent.

But now, Gatwick airport’s chief executive Stewart Wingate has revealed that regular flights and operations could begin as early as the end of next month, sparking hope for airports and airlines.

He said: “We hope operations will start up at the end of May or early June and build during July and August.”

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He added: “We’re very optimistic about the long term prospects of this business.”

However, he did warn that the final decision as to when regular flights can begin would be made by the UK Government.

Mr Wingate explained that Gatwick has been “hurt badly” by the coronavirus despite the ongoing pandemic, and that they currently only had five to 10 aircraft movements every 24 hours.

He said: “Normally it would be over 800 and up to 950 in the summer peak.

“We have been hurt badly by COVID-19 but we have remained open.

“We have about 600 staff routinely coming to work to make sure we stay open.”

Like Heathrow, the airport has had a small amount of scheduled flights for British citizens.

Many of the flights have been repatriation efforts in an attempt to help Britons return home from abroad.

Other flights have been for cargo delivery and shipping personal protective equipment for the NHS.

Mr Wingate added that this was not Gatwick’s first crisis after having to cope with the tragedy of 9/11 back in 2001 and the financial crash back in 2008.

He concluded: “We will try to make Gatwick even stronger than it was previously.”

It comes as people entering the UK could now be forced into quarantine for two weeks.

The Government is now looking at plans, similar to those of Singapore, for people arriving from abroad to be put in quarantine to stop the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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