London Gatwick admits to ‘renewed optimism’ for 2021
Gatwick Airport’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, today reiterated his confidence in the airport’s ability to bounce back from the toughest year in its history and experience international passenger growth again from the summer.
Wingate says: “It will come as no surprise that, like any other international airport, the negative impact of COVID-19 resulted in a financial loss for the business last year, which sadly also saw us need to reduce our workforce by over 40%.
“I would like to thank all our staff, including those that have left us, for all their hard work and determination throughout these difficult times.
“Despite the immediate challenges, I remain optimistic that Gatwick will recover and retain its position as one of Europe’s leading international gateways and an economic driver for the UK’s south east region.
“Due to our swift actions the business remains resilient and robust with our focus on ensuring we are best placed to take advantage of a return to international travel this summer.
“We are heartened by the UK Government’s COVID-19 response plan and look forward to working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a framework that can facilitate greater international travel as soon as possible.
“This will require the UK Government working with other governments to ease the current crippling travel restrictions and ensure a consistent, reciprocal approach for all travellers in time for this summer.
“Restoring passenger confidence and offering COVID-19 safe air travel while minimising the need for cost prohibitive testing and disruptive quarantine measures is vital.
“Before air travel recovery begins, and in order for the industry to continue to protect as many jobs as possible, we also need the UK Government to provide further support by extending the furlough scheme for a few more months and providing business rate relief, as airports in Scotland have been afforded, for the current financial year.”
Review of Gatwick’s 2020 performance
Despite an encouraging start to 2020 passenger numbers at Gatwick fell 78% in the year ended 31 December, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19.
The airport remained open throughout the pandemic, however, all revenue streams were impacted and the collapse in passenger demand led to a £465.5m loss for the twelve-month period and negative EBITDA at -£25.1m.
It claims that decisive and swift action was taken to protect the financial strength of the business. This included a strategic reduction in capital expenditure resulted in the deferral of over £380 million from the investment originally planned in 2020 and 2021.
Operating costs were reduced by over £140m in 2020 through a variety of actions including restructuring and reducing staffing levels by over 40%, renegotiating contracts and consolidating all air traffic and passengers into one terminal.
And to improve liquidity, in April 2020 Gatwick secured a £300m loan with a consortium of banks and the company has drawn £250m under the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
The group has been granted a waiver to address breaches in Financial Covenants at December 31, 2020. As of December 2020 Gatwick had available liquidity of £573m to meet its operating cashflows, planned investment levels and interest payments for 2021.
It states that its priority continues to be protecting the health and wellbeing of employees and passengers with new staff COVID-19 testing measures.