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Gatwick’s half yearly results show a £321m loss

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Despite an encouraging start to the year passenger numbers at Gatwick fell by 66% in the first six month ended 30 June, 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 61.3% fall in revenue and a £321m loss.  EBITDA fell 98.3%.

The airport says that decisive and swift action was taken to protect the financial strength of the business, following the spread of COVID-19 in March. 

Planned capital expenditure has been reduced by £157m for 2020 and £196m for 2021.  Operational costs have been also reduced by over £100m through a variety of actions including consolidating air traffic to one terminal allowing for infrastructure shutdowns, severance programmes and termination of fixed term contracts, and improving efficiencies of its services in line with reduced airline and passenger demand.

They say a priority continues to be protecting the health and wellbeing of employees and passengers and, following latest Government guidance, a wide range of health measures have been introduced and are continuously assessed to maintain and help restore public confidence in flying.  Gatwick currently has 18 airlines flying to 115 airports in 42 countries.

To improve its liquidity, in April 2020 Gatwick secured a £300m loan with a consortium of banks. As at 30 June 2020, Gatwick held a cash balance of c.£326m. In light of the forecast impact on its financial covenants, Gatwick has commenced a three-week consent solicitation process following successful discussions with its lending banks and with bondholders forming a special committee of the Investment Association, in aggregate representing c.46.9% of total secured debt.

In line with further reducing operating costs, with over 70% of Gatwick’s employees remaining on furlough, the business has announced a company-wide restructuring proposal which could result in the region of a further 600 job losses.

The airport says the restructuring will better align the business to passenger and air traffic forecasts whilst allowing it to remain agile should demand recover faster than expected. The recovery period to pre-pandemic traffic levels is forecast to be four to five years.

Gatwick Airport, Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Wingate said:

“Like any other international airport, the negative impact of COVID-19 on our passenger numbers and air traffic at the start of the year was dramatic and, although there are small signs of recovery, it is a trend we expect to continue to see.  However, we are focussed on ensuring the business remains robust and is best placed to take advantage of future growth.

“As with any responsible company we have protected our financial resilience by significantly reducing our operational costs and capital expenditure.   We are going through a proposed company-wide restructuring programme and I want to thank all my staff for their hard work to date whilst we go through this difficult time.  We will emerge a fitter and stronger organisation, best placed to remain flexible and agile in responding to growth opportunities.    This includes continuing to do all we can to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff and passengers.

“In this post COVID-19 travelling world, we are working hard with our airlines to ensure we continue to offer our customers a wide choice of destinations and carriers.   We also expect, next year, to progress our plans to bring the existing Northern (stand-by) Runway into routine use which, as we rebuild our passenger numbers over the next four to five years, will enable us to offer even more travel choice. We will ensure we continue to deliver our operation mindful of our environmental, social and governance responsibilities.  We want to rebuild better.

Despite the immediate challenges I remain resolutely optimistic that Gatwick will recover and retain its position as one of the UK’s leading travel hubs and economic driver for the region.”

Gatwick

New COVID-19 screening service launches at Gatwick Airport

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Gatwick Airport andExpressTest (a division of Cignpost Diagnostics Limited) has today announced the opening of a brand-new COVID-19 screening centre. 

The site, located within the airport’s Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal, will offer a fast and accurate and lab-analysed PCR swab test.  It will be available for both passengers, employees based at Gatwick and the general public, including local residents, from Monday, 30th November.  

The facility is for air passengers who may require a valid, negative COVID-19 test certificate for destinations requiring one from up to 96 hours before travel, with passengers needing to check with travel providers that the test meets the specific requirements destinations ask for. 

It will also help those who may simply want extra assurance that they are not currently carrying the virus. 

The facility could also, with any necessary amendments, satisfy requirements of the Government’s expected “test and release” post arrival scheme allowing air passengers to reduce quarantine time required after travelling back from certain destinations.  Anyone with recognisable COVID-19 symptoms will still need to use an NHS testing facility. 

Air passengers and any employees based at Gatwick Airport will be charged a subsidised rate of £60 to use the screening service, whilst it will also be available for the general public for £99. 

A group discount is also offered, with up to 30% off for groups of four or more, for those who are having the full priced test.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport, said:

“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year.  Our new screening facility is also a convenient service to offer people in the region looking for extra reassurance.  We are pleased to be subsidising the price for our passengers and any staff based at Gatwick so they are compliant with current destination requirements that many of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and TUI fly to.

“Our industry has been decimated by the pandemic and, while we welcome the anticipated  “test and release” scheme from the Government, we want to see an internationally agreed pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, to replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and patchwork of testing approaches which currently exists across Europe.  A truly international approach would safely open up most of the UK’s travel routes abroad, while also helping to reduce transmission of the virus.”

ExpressTest Founder Nick Markham said:

“We are delighted to be Gatwick airport’s official screening partner.  We launched ExpressTest to give people peace of mind, whether that’s enabling

travel through our Fit to Fly certificates, or providing the reassurance needed to safely visit friends and family abroad or within the UK.  In the next couple of months we aim to have more than 30 locations operating across the UK, with the ambition of giving the British public the confidence to go about their daily lives in these uncertain times.” 

According to a press release, ExpressTest is delivered using the latest gold standard PCR equipment that is fully CE-IVD certified and manufactured to the highest possible standards, and tests are carried out by specially trained screening practitioners.  

The lab-analysed test results will be emailed or texted to customers typically the next day, with airline passengers advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their departure time, as a precaution.  Those who screen negative will be emailed a Fit to Fly certificate that is authorised by a doctor, along with their test result, however passengers will be responsible for checking with their travel provider as to whether this document is accepted before booking the screening service. 

Bookings open from Friday, 27th November, with the first test available on Monday, 30th November.

To book a test, people will need to visit www.expresstest.co.uk and select a date and time.  Customers will then be sent a QR code which they must bring with them to their appointment, along with their passport or employee ID. 

Payment will be taken during the booking process. 

Opening hours are 08.00 to 20.00 and customers are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to appointments.

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