gatwick airport aviation

Gatwick Airport to cut summer flights as staff shortages take their toll

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Staff shortages have forced Gatwick Airport to announce that it will temporarily reduce the number of flights that can take off per day over the summer.

It plans to slowly increase the number over July and August by gradually raising capacity level at the airport as long as staffing number support it.

During the peak holiday period, the airport will see 825 flights a day take off in July and then up to 850 flights a day in August.

The move follows a rapid upturn in air traffic levels at Gatwick, with the Jubilee holiday week seeing around 800 flights use the runway on average each day.

Gatwick has already seen over 10 million passengers travel through the airport in the first six months of this year as numbers rise after the Covid-19 pandemic, which badly affected the aviation sector.

Despite the rebounding of the sector, Heathrow Airport recently revealed that passenger numbers had only reached 79 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in May.

In a self-penned review of its capabilities, Gatwick found that a number of companies based there will continue to operate with a severe lack of staff resources over the summer holiday period. 

If not addressed, this issue would see airport passengers continuing to experience an unreliable and potentially poor standard of service, including more queues, delays and last-minute cancellations.

Speaking to Sky News, business minister Paul Scully said that some staff could work longer hours if they wanted to as a way to help out with current airport chaos.

“I’m not talking about going out forcing people to do anything, but we just want to make sure that they’re matched up properly so that it’s just that those people who can work longer – that want to work longer – can do,” he said on the programme.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO, said: “Gatwick prepared well for the restart of international travel by successfully reopening our South Terminal and we have now successfully recruited 400 new colleagues to help us process passengers quickly through security this summer. 

“We are also working closely with our airlines to avoid disruption to passengers this summer, and while more newly recruited staff will start work in coming weeks, we know it will be a busy summer.

“As has already been the case, the vast majority of flights over the summer will operate as normal, and the steps taken today mean that our passengers can expect a more reliable and better standard of service, while also improving conditions for staff working at the airport.

Gatwick is the UK’s second largest airport and flies a range of both short and long-haul point-to-point services.

Last month, the government published its long-awaited strategy to support the recovery of the sector in the wake of the pandemic. With a focus on climate change, it said the UK must “act quickly and decisively” to cut aviation emissions to zero by developing clean aircraft, sustainable fuels and more efficient airspace and airports.

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