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London Gatwick Reopens North Terminal as easyJet Restarts Services

An easyJet A320 taxiing at Schiphol Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

After 11 weeks of suspending operations, the North Terminal of London Gatwick Airport has been reopened on Jun 15. as the operating hours were extended.

Meanwhile, easyJet has launched its first flight at Gatwick since the end of March. In addition, the airline has carried out new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The flights won’t provide food services and passengers and cabin crew will be required to wear face masks on board at all times. However, the social distancing policy doesn’t apply on the aircraft as middle seats are not blocked off on easyJet flights.

Johan Lundgren, Chief Executive Officer said the airline is “super excited” to resume the services and “feel 100 percent safe” on full planes. According to EasyJet, it plans to fly 50 percent of its 1,022 routes in July and 75 percent in August.

The coronavirus curve in the U.K. has flattened in recent weeks, but the pandemic is far from over. The U.K. government has rolled out a quarantine policy on Jun 8 to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 as foreigners are required to self-isolated for 14 days upon arriving in the country. The new policy has put a strain on the aviation industry and the airlines have taken legal action against the quarantine legislation.

“I don’t think people will travel to the same extent as if the quarantine was removed, we saw that in other countries where quarantine were put in place in the early phase of the crisis, there were hardly any booking at all,” Lundgren mentioned to the BBC. The government has been urged to establish an “air bridge,” letting passengers from low-risk countries to avoid participating in the quarantine.

In response to the quarantine policy, Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of the Gatwick Airport said, “We accept the Government’s absolute priority is the protection of public health, but we continue to push for regular country by country reviews of quarantine regulations, based on medical evidence.”

During the temporary closure of the North Terminal, Gatwick Airport limited flight operations between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. Starting on Jun 15, the operating hours have been extended as flights can be operated from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Earlier, the second busiest airport in the U.K. expected passenger numbers will return to normal within 36-48 months. Since this prediction, the airport has suffered two major setbacks as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announced the they are tentatively planning to cease operations at Gatwick after the pandemic.

In the meantime, Gatwick is facing another setback as Taiwan’s China Airlines restarts services to London in July. However, the airline announced its Taipei-London route will serve Heathrow instead of Gatwick until October. According to Taiwan’s local media, China Airlines’ ground services provider in Gatwick has ceased operations at the moment.

Pete Ainsley

Author

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