Gatwick airport said the collapse in passenger demand in 2020 led to a £465.5 million loss for year.
Announcing its full-year results, it said: “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 £465.5 million loss for the twelve-month period and negative Ebitda at -£25.1 million.”
However, it added there is “renewed optimism for as a result of the UK government’s Covid-19 response road map – in anticipation of international travel starting again in May 2021”.
A cut in capital expenditure resulted in the deferral of more than £380 million from the investment originally planned in 2020 and 2021.
Operating costs were reduced by more than £140 million in 2020 – which included restructuring and reducing staffing levels by more than 40%, renegotiating contracts and consolidating all air traffic and passengers into one terminal.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive, said: “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%.
“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.”
Commenting on the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, he said it 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,” he said.
“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.”