The boss of Gatwick airport has raised the spectre of more job cuts if the Government refuses to step in with a sector-specific extension to its job retention scheme.
Britain’s second-busiest airport revealed plans to axe to 600 jobs earlier this week with demand for air travel unlikely to return for four to five years.
The headcount reduction, subject to a consultation, would take Gatwick down to 1,900 members of staff.
Stewart Wingate said: “But even at 1,900 people, over the winter period we will have far too many people on our books. At the moment we are operating the airport with between 600-700 people.
“What we could really do in terms of support from the Government ... is an extension to the job retention scheme to help us carry those people across to the busier summer season next year.”
The Gatwick chief executive's comments came as the airport posted a £321m half-year loss following a 14.7m decline in passenger numbers in the six-month period.
Mr Wingate’s primary demand from ministers was for a “laser-like focus” on travel corridors.
“If we could further refine those travel corridors and make them more reliable, we will actually get our airport, and for that matter the aviation industry as a whole, back on its feet at the soonest possible moment,” he said.
“A laser-like focus from the Government on how we make the travel corridors more stable such that when we open them up that they remain open.”
He continued: “The uncertainty created by turning them on and off erodes consumer confidence. To build confidence that if you do go away, you can get back without quarantining.”
Despite the uncertainty facing Gatwick, bosses said that they had enough cash to last until the end of next year.
They have opened discussions with lenders to waive banking covenants - financial ratios that companies must adhere to so not to default on loans - for December 2020 and June 2021.
Finance chief Nick Dunn added: “[We are] seeking approval from our senior debtholders to allow us to access, if we need, the Bank of England financing facility. But our projections at the moment show that is not necessary and it is therefore nothing more than a prudent piece of insurance.”
Meanwhile, Norwegian, until recently Gatwick’s third-biggest airline, said it would need more cash to survive the crisis after sinking to a 5.4bn crown (£450m) half-year loss.