Passenger demand at Gatwick, London's second-largest airport, could remain depressed for the next three or four years as the travel sector continues to deal with the fallout of the pandemic, CNBC reported.
The airport has been impacted by low passenger numbers like other large airports, and officials say will take years to return to the 37 million passengers that came through its lines in 2019.
That also comes as Virgin Atlantic announced it will be ending its services at Gatwick, and British Airways is considering doing the same, placing even more of a burden on the airport.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick, said he is hopeful that British Airways would change its mind.
"We are very hopeful that British Airways will continue flying," Wingate said, according to CNBC. "We think they will.”
As British Airways struggles to stay flying due to the pandemic's financial erosions, it is selling off its multimillion dollar art collection, including works by Damien Hirst and Peter Doig. The airline is looking to auction off at least 10 paintings.
The other issue for Gatwick and other airports is the U.K. quarantine rules rolled out earlier this month, which mandate that travelers arriving by plane, train or ferry provide an address where they will self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, with the potential of a 100 pound ($126) fine for refusing to fill out the form and a 1000 pound ($1,263) fine for not self-quarantining, with random visits to ensure that the person is isolating themselves, according to BBC. In protest, U.K. airlines have called on the government to reduce the restrictions, saying they could harm the air travel industry even more.
In mainland Europe, Wingate said “borders are coming down, the planes are starting to fly, and it is really important economically that we participate in this market," according to CNBC.