British Airways suspends all flights from Gatwick Airport
British Airways is suspending all its flights to and from London's Gatwick Airport amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline has said it will continue to carry out essential functions such as maintenance, towing and cleaning in order to be ready to start up again effectively. British Airways added in a statement: "Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick. "We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options."
Above - British Airways base a number of Boeing 777s at Gatwick (Kevan James)
Gatwick Airport in West Sussex is Britain's second busiest airport but just 33 flights were due to take off or land from there on Tuesday, according to aviation data provider FlightStats. Gatwick's runway will only be open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm from Wednesday and the airport will also close one of its two terminals.
The measures will be in place for a minimum of one month.
Above - many of BA's short-haul aircraft have been dispersed for storage around various locations, including Bournemouth. Airbus A319 G-EUPB is seen during busier times at Heathrow (Kevan James)
British Airways' boss Alex Cruz warned earlier in March that the airline was in a battle for survival and would have to cut jobs and park planes. The carrier continues to operate some flights from its main hub at Heathrow. Parent company IAG said flying capacity would be down 75% in April and May.
Low-cost airline easyJet said on Monday that it had grounded its entire fleet ands airports are responding to the decision by airlines to suspend the majority of their flights due to plummeting demand. Countries around the world are introducing travel restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19 and London City Airport closed its runway to all commercial and private flights last week.
Southend Airport is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4.30pm and 9.30pm.
One of easyJet's Airbus fleet (Tyler McDowell)
The British Airways move comes as the prime minister is facing pressure to get more personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers.
It has been claimed some nurses have been treating coronavirus patients without any protection at all.
The prime minister will chair a meeting of his cabinet by videolink on Tuesday as he continues to self-isolate in Downing Street after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Elsewhere, Operations ceased at Ireland West Airport Knock on Sunday evening after the last scheduled flight departed for London Gatwick.
Ryanair's all-Boeing fleet remains on the ground (Tyler McDowell)
Ryanair and Aer Lingus have grounded their fleets leaving airport management with little choice but to shut for the time being. Staff were temporarily laid off on Monday in an effort to “safeguard the long term future of the airport and the health and welfare of our staff,” Managing Director Joe Gilmore said. He anticipates these lay-offs will be short-term and that business will resume “as soon as possible”.Describing the past few weeks as “some of the most challenging in the airport’s history”, Joe thanked the airport’s customers, airlines, business partners and stakeholders for their ongoing support. He singled out the “fantastic staff here at the airport for their ongoing commitment and support during this global crisis.”
Routes between London and the Republic of Ireland are normally the busiest for Aer Lingus
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