Gatwick Airport believes passenger numbers will return to recent levels within 36 to 48 months and has outlined steps taken to protect its business during the coronavirus crisis.

Publishing results for the nine months to December 2019, Gatwick said passenger numbers for the period were 36.9 million, a 0.3% increase on the same period in the previous year. Ebitda increased by 7.9% to £432.3 million

However, the airport has seen a dramatic decline in passenger numbers this year and has taken “a range of steps to protect both the wellbeing of its staff and passengers and shield the business to enable it to recover quickly”.

These steps include the temporary consolidation of operations into the South Terminal and limiting scheduled flights to between 2pm and 10pm.

A statement said: “The company is regularly engaging with government, the airlines and other stakeholders to ensure it is in the best possible position to rebuild the operation as quickly and as safely as possible, taking into account government public health advice.”

In addition to securing a £300 million bank loan, Gatwick has also deferred its capital investment programme and announced it will not be paying a dividend in 2020.

More than 90% of eligible staff are currently furloughed, while headcount has also been reduced though a “special severance scheme” and all staff have taken a pay reduction.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive, said: “The airport continued to grow in difficult market conditions during the period covered in these results.  However, the world has changed dramatically since then and Gatwick has taken decisive action to ensure that it remains in a strong position to recover from the dramatic fall in passenger numbers and the wider impacts of Covid-19.

“The crisis has been unprecedented and our priority has been, and continues to be, maintaining the health and safety of our passengers and employees.  We also have a resilient business and by taking steps to reduce costs, we have protected jobs and expect to recover from this crisis.”