• Kai Murtagh

British Airways Gatwick hub at risk, substantial workforce cuts

British Airways revealed that it may not reopen its Gatwick hub following the passing of the current pandemic.

A British Airways Boeing 777. Photo by Ervin Eslami | AeroNewsX

The admission, written by the head of BA's Gatwick hub and reported by the BBC, describes plans to stray from reopening the airport as a hub for the airline in the post-coronavirus future.

"As you know, we suspended our Gatwick flying schedule at the start of April and there is no certainty as to when or if these services can or will return." the memo reads.

With parent company IAG announcing that up to 12,000 employees of British Airways are likely to be cut, it does not come as a surprise that the airline plans to also cut routes. However, the prospect of the UK flag carrier’s departure from Gatwick, where operations are around one-fifth the size of the airline’s operations out of Heathrow, comes as a shock to many. Pre-merger, British Airways first operated out of Gatwick as BEA, with its first flights taking place in 1950.

A British Airways A319 in the special BEA-heritage livery. Photo by Anselm Ranta | AeroNewsX

Furthermore, in a seperate letter addressed to pilots, BA said that it cannot rule out suspending the rest of its Heathrow operation, adding that 4,300 pilots, a quarter of all pilots in the airline, are set to lose their jobs.

"In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history...We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely... We will see some airlines go out of business." Writes BA Chief Executive, Alex Cruz.

Whilst not uncommon in this day and age, this news from the UK's flag carrier, one of the worlds oldest and most revered, is undoubtedly significant. It comes amidst a global wave of cost cutting measures, with Airbus CEO, Guillaume Faury, labeling COVID-19 as the 'gravest crisis' in aviation history, and Boeing CEO, Dave Calhoun, announcing that the industry will likely take three whole years to recover.

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