A BBC report has raised the possibility of British Airways not returning to Gatwick airport once the current coronavirus pandemic has passed.

It seems inconceivable that under normal circumstances Gatwick’s second largest carrier, and a permanent presence at the airport for decades, could opt to abandon its operations there.

But such is the current crisis facing the aviation industry that, as many have commented, there is no “normal” anymore.

According to the report, a memo to BA’s Gatwick staff said that “As you know, we suspended our Gatwick flying schedule at the start of April and there is no certainty as to when or if these services can or will return”.

British Airways operates out of the South Terminal at Gatwick, having switched from the North Terminal in 2017 as part of a series of moves which also saw Easyjet consolidate flights at the North Terminal.

Low-cost carrier Easyjet – the largest airline at Gatwick – grounded its entire fleet at the end of March as a result of the pandemic, and this week the airport warned that it could take as much as four years for passenger numbers to recover.

Only last summer Gatwick was talking up plans to bring its standby runway into regular use.

Publicly at least the airport says it will move forward with the plan, with CEO Stewart Wingate stating that while Gatwick was deferring spending on its capital investment programme, “for future growth we still expect to progress many of these projects including our plans to bring the existing Northern (stand-by) Runway into routine use to offer more travel choice for passengers and new jobs for Gatwick and the wider region”.

This week BA confirmed it had begun notifying trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme which could see up to 12,000 staff made redundant.

The carrier’s CEO Alex Cruz said in a letter to staff that British Airways would have to “reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve”.

Business Traveller contacted British Airways regarding the BBC report, but the carrier was unable to provide a specific response, instead pointing us to the letter by Alex Cruz outlining the carrier’s position (which we have published in full here).