London. One of the largest international airline hubs in the world and home to 6 mighty airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City and Southend. London Gatwick, which opened to commercial traffic in 1933, has since risen to be one of the capital’s largest airports, if not the world; And all this is conducted with only a single runway. Following mass flight cancellations and worldwide ‘lockdowns’ due to Coronavirus, it was confirmed today by the airport that they would be closing their North Terminal (The first of two terminal buildings) until further notice, with talk of closing the entirety of the airport in the coming weeks.
Why the North Terminal?
The North Terminal at London Gatwick (LGW) is home to several airlines, including easyJet and Emirates, both airlines which have announced their suspension of flights this week. In a period in which the airport normally preps to handle an astonishing 46million passengers during the summer-schedule, the airport is – instead – preparing to close down operations as remaining open is “not an option” due to the spread of Coronavirus. The airport announced that the more airline-diverse South Terminal will remain open (at least for now) for the few remaining flights coming into the airport, and for the purpose of repatriation flights. It is reported that all facilities inside the airport including shops, restaurants and cafes have now closed, with a minute few offering takeaway only options for passengers.
During the closure of the North Terminal, the airport will only operate between the hours of 14:00 and 22:00, coming into force between 1 April 2020 and 1 May 2020. It goes unreported what the airport intends to do after May, and if full or even partial reopening is a potential.
Follows other similar moves…
Airports both across the UK and world have announced similar closures, with London City announcing it would close it’s doors completely in order to allow for the RAF to use the airport as a logistics hub for the NHS Nightingale Hospital established in the Excel London Exhibition Center in East London, with Heathrow and Manchester Airports (The UK’s second and third busiest airports respectively) consolidating operations into only one terminal (Two at the present time for Heathrow.) Moves further North have seen Edinburgh, the Lake District and Bristol also reduce services amidst the fall in demand for air-travel.
Stewart Wingate, CEO at Gatwick Airport released the following statement:
“Gatwick is a resilient but also responsible business and during these extraordinary times we need to take unprecedented measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and passengers, while also shielding the business from the impact of Coronavirus.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my staff for their continuing hard work through this difficult time and to reassure them that we are taking these difficult decisions now, so that we are in a position to recover quickly and get back to generating jobs and economic benefits for the region and wider economy well into the future.”
Elsewhere in the world, the ripples of disruption can be felt hitting the aviation industry with Dubai International Airport (The world’s busiest airport) announcing this week Dubai International Airport, announcing that it and Abu Dhabi Airport would close to all commercial passengers for at least two weeks as a UAE flight ban comes into force.
What are your thoughts on these airport closures? Is your local airport affected? Let us know in the comments below.