Gatwick Airport raises passenger forecast by almost 10% after demand for flights takes off

It expects more than 32 million journeys this year, still far below pre-pandemic levels

Gatwick Airport has reported a surge in passengers as demand for flights bounced back following the pandemic. Reuters.
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Gatwick Airport has raised its passenger forecast by nearly 10 per cent after demand for flights bounced back following the pandemic.

The company said normal operations had resumed following months of strain on airports and airlines across Europe.

A statement said operations at the airport were “business as usual” and it would not need to extend its capacity restraints beyond the end of the month.

Gatwick — which is London’s second busiest airport — said in June that it was moderating the growth in the number of flights after major disruption over Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee bank holiday.

Gatwick said it expects 32.8 million passengers this year, up from the 30.6 million it forecast in March.

However, it warned inflationary pressures on costs and demand during the winter season could hamper the forecast. Passenger numbers will still be down from 46.6 million in 2019, before the pandemic, it said.

Gatwick said the “unprecedented growth” in traffic led to short-term operational problems in June.

On Monday, British Airways removed 10,000 flights scheduled for this winter to cope with the staffing situation and insufficient demand on some flights to destinations with multiple frequencies.

Staffing problems have not been fully resolved at Gatwick. On Tuesday, the airport said it had cancelled at least 26 flights at the last minute due to staff absence in the airport's control tower.

In a statement, Gatwick said constraints over the summer meant passengers would have experienced poor standards of service. Queues would have been long and many flights would have been delayed or cancelled at the last minute.

But with the school holidays coming to an end, the worst has passed, chief executive Stewart Wingate said.

He said the boom in demand for overseas travel has helped the airport bounce back from the pandemic.

In the second quarter of the year, demand was at 74 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Gatwick said.

More than 13 million passengers travelled through the airport in the six months to the end of June.

Revenue hit £291.5 million ($342m) in the six months, while post-tax profit reached £50.6 million ($60m).

Mr Wingate said there was “some considerable way to go” but strong demand had “fast-tracked” Gatwick’s recovery from the pandemic, particularly in the last quarter after all UK travel restrictions were removed.

“Air traffic volumes have reflected this strong passenger demand and have bounced back to around 75 per cent of pre-Covid levels”, he said.

“Despite some broad economic uncertainty, we are also looking forward to a successful second half to the year, with new, exciting airlines and routes coming on stream and continuous improvement in the high service standards Gatwick is known for.”

Updated: August 23, 2022, 11:30 AM