Gatwick airport is to cut up to 600 jobs in response to the “devastating impact” of Covid-19.
The redundancies, which represent almost a quarter of the airport’s workforce, come as passenger numbers fell 80pc in August.
Boss Stewart Wingate said: “If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry then today’s news we have shared with our staff, regarding the proposed job losses, is a stark reminder.”
Earlier this month The Telegraph disclosed that Britain’s second-busiest airport was preparing to keep one of its two terminals shut until next summer and told staff that redundancies were likely.
The Sussex base has been hit particularly hard after its second-biggest customer, British Airways, raised the spectre of concentrating operations at Heathrow and third-largest airline Norwegian slashed services.
Wednesday’s “significant restructure” is designed to “reshape the company” as it prepares for a long road to recovery.
A consultation on the job cuts has been launched.
Mr Wingate added: “Gatwick will recover from this pandemic and we will emerge from the restructuring we are proposing a fitter and stronger organisation, which is best placed to offer our passengers and our airlines a modern and innovative airport ready for growth.”
Hopes were raised in March that airports and airlines would be first in the queue for a industry-specific taxpayer bailout.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak name-checked the sectors as he announced the Government’s initial economic stimulus.
However, while other transport sub-sectors - such as rail and bus - have been handed billions of pounds of support, aviation has been unable to convince the Treasury to stump up with an injection.
Operators have been told to exhaust all options for private investment alongside the Government’s generic support before asking ministers for bespoke help.
Mr Wingate said: “We are in ongoing talks with the Government to see what sector-specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time, alongside mechanisms which will give our passengers greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad. This support will not only help Gatwick but the wider regional economy which relies on the airport.“