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Latest lockdown triggers BA Gatwick flight suspensions

British Airways is trimming services from Gatwick and reportedly furloughing more workers as a result of new lockdown measures across England.

A letter from the airline’s management seen by Sky News confirmed the action as flights from London’s second airport are paused until early December.

The communication to staff was reported as saying: “We have made the difficult decision to further reduce our operation for the rest of November.

“This means far fewer flights than we hoped for in November and means grounding more of our aircraft, including pausing all flights from Gatwick until December.”

The carrier said that would mean “moving many more colleagues, from both operational and support function areas on to the governments extended Job Retention Scheme”.

BA has advised St Lucia tourism authorities that the last flight to depart the Caribbean island to return to Gatwick will be on Tuesday (November 10) with the next available flight not scheduled until December 10.

Flights between Kingston in Jamaica and London will be suspended on  November 11 and are not due to resume until December 11.

The measures came as chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed an extension of the government’s furlough scheme until March with the Treasury paying 80% of wages and employers responsible only for pension and national insurance contributions.

Industry body Airlines UK this week appealed to the government for sector specific support, writing to Sunak wit a plea for access to additional loans and a 12-month suspension of Air Passenger Duty.

A BA spokesperson said: “Following the government’s announcement of a new national lockdown for England last Saturday, we have been urgently reviewing our schedule for November.

“Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open – bringing home the thousands of customers currently abroad, transporting vital goods, and ensuring people who are permitted to travel in and out of the UK for work, education and other reasons stipulated by the UK Government, can continue to do so.

“We will be contacting customers whose flights are cancelled to offer refund options, as well as encouraging customers who wish to change their booking to do so via ba.com, where they can also request a voucher for future travel if their flight continues to operate.

A Gatwick spokesperson earlier confirmed to local media plans to keep the airport open throughout the new 28-day lockdown period.

“We want to ensure we can continue to support those people who still need to travel as well as being in strong position to respond quickly to increased demand once lockdown comes to an end,” the airport said.

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