British Airways to suspend Gatwick operations during lockdown

Nov 6, 2020

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With England now officially in its second national lockdown, the nation’s flag carrier is taking action to cut costs amid the anticipated downturn in travel.

On Thursday, British Airways detailed that it’s suspending its London Gatwick operations until early December when the lockdown is set to lift.

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“Following the government’s announcement of a new national lockdown for England last Saturday, we have been urgently reviewing our schedule for November,” the airline said in a statement. “Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open — bringing home the thousands of customers currently abroad, transporting vital goods and ensuring people who are permitted to travel in and out of the U.K. for work, education and other reasons stipulated by the U.K. government, can continue to do so.”

For the duration of the lockdown, which is set to run from 5 November until 2 December, the government has banned all travel — both international and domestic. However, those travelling for essential reasons, such as for work, education or other “legally permitted” reasons, are still permitted to do so.

Related: What is considered essential travel vs. non-essential travel during coronavirus restrictions?

Thursday’s announcement isn’t the first time BA has dropped Gatwick since the start of the pandemic. In March, British Airways suspended operations to London’s second-largest airport amid the first national lockdown.

While British Airways had kept all of its short-haul European routes at London Heathrow for the time being, some leisure long-haul routes operated out of Gatwick, such as to Barbados (BGI).

The airline said that it’s contacting passengers whose flights have been cancelled. If you have a trip booked with British Airways, it could be worth checking your options at this point. The airline isn’t refunding passengers for non-cancelled flights — for example, if the passenger no longer can travel because of the lockdown. However, if that applies to you, you are entitled to cancel the flight and get the cost of the flight back in the form of a Future Travel Voucher, which you can use on a future flight.

Related: Can I claim EU261 compensation if my flight was delayed or cancelled because of coronavirus?

According to Sky News, British Airways is also planning to furlough “many more” of its staff as a result of the second lockdown.

In a “blow to [its] hopes for the winter season,” the carrier said that it will move more employees from both operations and support functions to the government’s Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended through the end of March 2021.

In the first nine months of 2020, British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) suffered a £5.1 billion loss.

Featured photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.

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