Gatwick airport has published its annual results, revealing fewer annual passengers due to “UK lockdowns and widespread international travel restrictions”.

The airport saw a 38.5 per cent reduction in total annual passenger numbers, reaching 6.3 million in 2021 compared to 10.2 million the year before.

Nonetheless, the airport saw an encouraging end to the year, with passenger numbers exceeding one million in August, September, October and December. This helped to reduce the airport’s annual losses to £370.6 million for the year, compared to a £465.5 million loss in 2020.

In a statement the airport said that it was able to offset the impact of reduced passenger numbers by significantly reducing operating costs, including operating solely from its North Terminal since June 15, 2020.

The airport plans to reopen its South Terminal on March 27, after nearly two years of lying dormant as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is gearing up for a strong 2022 summer season.

Easyjet plans to fly its busiest ever schedule at the airport this summer with 120 routes, while British Airways will fly 35 short-haul routes, Wizz Air will offer 25 routes and Vueling will serve a total of 16 routes.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick airport, is also urging the government to remove all travel restrictions, including the passenger locator form.

“The rebounding of international connectivity toward pre-pandemic levels will boost job and business opportunities, which is great news for many in our local communities and beyond. However, fully restoring consumer confidence will take time and I urge Government to make 2022 the year when all travel restrictions are removed completely, including the unpopular passenger locator form.”

Last year saw a return of long haul traffic for leisure markets, with Caribbean destinations operated by BA and Tui strong throughout the year.

The second half of the year also saw the resumption of Westjet and Air Transat’s services to Canada, while BA and Tui restarted services to destinations in Florida, and Emirates resumed daily services to Dubai – the latter has increased to double daily.

Jetblue also began its services to New York in September, while Singapore Airline’s subsidiary Scoot launched flights between Singapore and Gatwick via Bangkok in December.

Meanwhile the airport completed a 12-week public consultation on the proposal to bring its existing northern runway into routine use, alongside its main runway, by summer 2029 for departing aircraft,

Earlier this week the airport announced that a recently introduced handheld digital platform is enabling it to reduce delays and improve on-time performance.