British Airways to Cut Gatwick Flights, Mail on Sunday Says

British Airways aircraft at London Gatwick Airport. 

Photographer: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

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British Airways is planning to cut the number of flights it operates from London Gatwick as the coronavirus pandemic continues to slam the travel industry, the Mail on Sunday reported, citing unidentified sources.

The carrier aims to shift business to Heathrow -- Britain’s largest airport -- where it will counter falling demand for business travel by boosting premium leisure flights to long-haul holiday destinations, the newspaper said.

The move forms part of a wide-ranging new strategy under Sean Doyle, according to the report, who replaced Alex Cruz as chief executive officer of British Airways this month just weeks after Luis Gallego became head of the carrier’s parent company, IAG SA.

The pandemic is forcing airlines into radical rethinks of their operations. British Airways operated a dual hub system before the virus crisis, with leisure-oriented flights from Gatwick complementing a business-focused operation at its larger Heathrow base. The carrier has already canceled short-haul flights from Gatwick until March 2021 and expects to cut as many as 10,000 jobs to resize for a travel downturn it reckons could last for years.

Details of British Airways scaling back operations at Britain’s second-largest airport also emerged in April. The airline is still operating some long-haul flights from Gatwick. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. has already shut a Gatwick base, while Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA is now considering a similar move.

A representative for British Airways said most short-haul flights would continue to operate from Heathrow until next March and declined to comment further on the Mail on Sunday’s report.

A representative for Gatwick Airport Limited didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

— With assistance by Siddharth Vikram Philip

( Updates penultimate paragraph with British Airways response.)