Businesses in Crawley fear thousands of job losses at Gatwick Airport could cripple the town centre and devastate their livelihoods.

Analysis by the aviation union Unite predicts more than 6,000 people based at the airport – employed directly by the airport, airlines, or in supply chains – have already lost their jobs or are at risk of redundancy since the beginning of the pandemic.

It warns the nearby town of Crawley could be adversely affected without urgent government support if Gatwick continues to be left a ‘ghost town’.

Many workers at the major international airport live just three miles south in the West Sussex town and could move elsewhere when seeking a new job.   

Pub owner Tania Lawrence told MailOnline she has been forced to make seven staff redundant as footfall continues to plummet.  

Sweet shop owner Janet Ashby said job cuts had ‘hit the town hard’, adding: ‘There’s nothing in it for us anymore so we’ve been left with no choice but to close.’

Pub owner Tania Lawrence told MailOnline she has been forced to make seven staff redundant as footfall continues to plummet

Pub owner Tania Lawrence told MailOnline she has been forced to make seven staff redundant as footfall continues to plummet

Sweet shop owner Janet Ashby said job cuts had 'hit the town hard'

Sweet shop owner Janet Ashby said job cuts had ‘hit the town hard’

Analysis by the aviation union Unite predicts more than 6,000 people based at the airport - employed directly by the airport, airlines, or in supply chains - have already lost their jobs or are at risk of redundancy since the beginning of the pandemic. Pictured, the quiet departures area at Gatwick

Analysis by the aviation union Unite predicts more than 6,000 people based at the airport – employed directly by the airport, airlines, or in supply chains – have already lost their jobs or are at risk of redundancy since the beginning of the pandemic. Pictured, the quiet departures area at Gatwick 

Ghost town: The once thriving streets now have dozens of boarded-up shop fronts

Ghost town: The once thriving streets now have dozens of boarded-up shop fronts

Unite warns nearby West Sussex town of Crawley could be adversely affected without urgent government support if Gatwick continues to be left a 'ghost town'

Unite warns nearby West Sussex town of Crawley could be adversely affected without urgent government support if Gatwick continues to be left a ‘ghost town’

Virgin Atlantic axes 1,000 jobs hours after announcing £1.2billion rescue package in another death knell to Gatwick Airport

Just days ago, Virgin Atlantic revealed it is set to axe another 1,150 more jobs as it struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The British airline, based at Gatwick, announced a huge cull just hours after Sir Richard Branson’s firm had a £1.2billion rescue package approved by the High Court. 

It is less than four months after Virgin Atlantic said it would close its headquarters at Gatwick and axed 3,150 jobs.

The news means the airline’s workforce would have nearly halved – from 10,000 – since before Covid-19 struck. 

The airline had already cut more than 3,500 jobs out of the 10,000 employees it had at the beginning of the year.

The airline said it had to cut costs in order to survive.

Inside the town’s shopping centre County Mall, there are already seven empty units with shutters permanently down on big names like Laura Ashley.

Fashion brands Monsoon, Accessorize and Moss Bros all also remain temporarily shut with no indication of when they will open due to the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the town centre, 13 shops are sitting empty with stalwarts like Game, Carphone Warehouse and Mothercare all moving out and not yet replaced.

And local business owners fear the sight of vacant shop fronts will become even more common as Gatwick slash its staff.

The manager of the White Hart pub is used to witnessing bustling Tuesday nights on the High Street when staff at Gatwick would hit the town for their weekly drinking session. 

Tania Lawrence, 47, said: ‘We rely on the airport for our business. Tuesday nights used to be mad and for my 29 years working in bars it was always classed as airport night.

‘Staff would come out in huge numbers and let their hair down but now it’s deadly quiet as they just aren’t working. There will be even less staff when these cuts come in.

‘And the job losses at Gatwick have already impacted footfall. The town’s dead and it’s going to affect it really badly.

‘If you work at Gatwick, you probably live in Crawley. So we will probably have a lot of people moving away from the area soon.

‘I think a lot more shops are going to close. We’re losing a few already in the Mall with Debenhams going.

‘Plans to open a nightclub have been shelved and two High Street restaurants and a bar have already shut. We are all suffering. It’s quite sad really.

‘It’s all business and if you haven’t got the customers, then you don’t need the staff. We’ve had to make seven of our staff redundant.’

Janet Ashby opened P & J Sweets Delight with her husband Paul five and a half years ago but will be shutting up shop for good on September 13.

Shuttered shops in the town: Laura Ashley is among the leading brands to have closed

Shuttered shops in the town: Laura Ashley is among the leading brands to have closed 

The high street is filling with desolate shop fronts in the wake of the pandemic

The high street is filling with desolate shop fronts in the wake of the pandemic 

Unite said: 'The huge job losses are now causing a domino effect with non-aviation employers in Crawley and the surrounding area being affected, which is likely to lead to further job losses.'

Unite said: ‘The huge job losses are now causing a domino effect with non-aviation employers in Crawley and the surrounding area being affected, which is likely to lead to further job losses.’

Local business owners fear the sight of vacant shop fronts will become even more common as Gatwick slash its staff

Local business owners fear the sight of vacant shop fronts will become even more common as Gatwick slash its staff

The manager of the White Hart pub is used to witnessing bustling Tuesday nights on the High Street when staff at Gatwick would hit the town for their weekly drinking session

The manager of the White Hart pub is used to witnessing bustling Tuesday nights on the High Street when staff at Gatwick would hit the town for their weekly drinking session

HEATHROW BLAMES QUARANTINE RULES FOR 82% FALL IN DEMAND LAST MONTH 

Heathrow has warned that the Government’s quarantine policy is costing jobs ‘every day’ after recording an 82% decline in passenger numbers last month.

The west London airport wants testing to be permitted as a way of reducing the 14-day coronavirus quarantine requirement for arriving travellers.

Just 1.4 million people travelled through the airport in August, compared with 7.7 million during the same month in 2019.

Mainland Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion were removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list for England on Thursday.

Travellers have until 4am on Saturday to return before the new rules are implemented.

For holidaymakers scrambling to return from Portugal’s Algarve to London on Friday, British Airways had flights to Heathrow costing £494, while easyJet had a flight to Gatwick for £286.

More than half of the passengers who used Heathrow in August were travelling to or from the European Union.

Demand for North American routes was down 95% year on year.

Heathrow said more than 30 airports around the world are already using coronavirus testing of travellers as a way of reducing quarantine requirements.

One of those airports, Germany’s Frankfurt, has overtaken Heathrow in terms of passenger numbers.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Britain’s economic recovery is falling behind.

‘Heathrow’s traffic figures for August demonstrate the extent to which quarantine is strangling the economy, cutting British businesses off from their international markets and blocking international students, tourists and investors from coming here to spend money.

‘The Government has announced it is looking at the options for reducing quarantine for passengers who test negative for Covid-19 but ministers urgently need to turn words into action. Every day of further Government delay costs British jobs and livelihoods.’

She said: ‘Coronavirus has hit us very hard. It has been so quiet and we’ve just had no customers coming in.

‘There’s nothing in it for us anymore so we’ve been left with no choice but to close.

‘A lot of people working at the airport live in the town so losing all those jobs is going to be devastating for businesses in Crawley.

‘I can see even more shops closing because of it. 

‘We are not going to be the last to shut especially with Gatwick making more cuts. 

‘It’s going to hit the town hard.’

Owner of the Love Bean Cafe Ivona Mihalova, 44, believes the town is yet to feel the full impact of the airport’s job cuts and the worst is yet to come.

She said: ‘At the moment we haven’t felt too much of a difference from what’s going on at Gatwick.

‘Many workers are still on furlough but when that ends in October and the cuts come in, we will see just how hard it will hit us.

‘We are getting by at the moment but I think when these jobs are lost, it may be devastating.

‘Thousands of people may no longer be residents of Crawley and might not be popping into their local cafe before or after work.

‘It will definitely make footfall in the town decrease a lot in what is already a hard time for us all.’ 

Gatwick Airport already announced plans to axe up to 600 jobs last month in a ‘significant restructure’ after feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on passenger and air traffic numbers.

The airport is operating at around 20 per cent of its capacity and has around 75 per cent of its staff on furlough.

Consultations have begun with staff over redundancies, as it prepares to cut up to 24 per cent of its workforce.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: ‘Prior to the pandemic Gatwick was a thriving community but unless the government provides direct support the airport faces becoming a ghost town. 

‘The huge job losses are now causing a domino effect with non-aviation employers in Crawley and the surrounding area being affected, which is likely to lead to further job losses.

‘Even where work has been preserved many employers have cut hours or rates of pay creating further misery.

‘Responsible employers have introduced temporary measures while the unscrupulous have made such cuts permanent, in the expectation this will boost profits when the industry recovers.

‘If the government does not provide long-promised financial support to the sector further job losses are inevitable.’

Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said at the time: ‘If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry then today’s news we have shared with our staff, regarding the proposed job losses, is a stark reminder.’ 

Local business owners fear the sight of vacant shop fronts will become even more common as Gatwick slash its staff

Local business owners fear the sight of vacant shop fronts will become even more common as Gatwick slash its staff

Elsewhere in the town centre, 13 shops are sitting empty with stalwarts like Game, Carphone Warehouse and Mothercare all moving out and not yet replaced

Elsewhere in the town centre, 13 shops are sitting empty with stalwarts like Game, Carphone Warehouse and Mothercare all moving out and not yet replaced



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