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Norwegian, BA & Virgin's Gatwick exit would dent UK long haul aviation

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London Gatwick is facing the risk that after COVID-19 it may lose all three of its leading long haul airlines – Norwegian Air, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (jointly responsible for two thirds of its long haul seats in summer 2019).

Norwegian is grounding its entire fleet until a planned 2Q2021 relaunch with lower capacity (particularly in long haul). BA is reportedly considering closing its Gatwick base to consolidate on its larger London Heathrow operation. Virgin Atlantic has announced the closure of its Gatwick base after 36 years to focus on Heathrow.

Gatwick had 15% of UK long haul seats and almost a quarter of UK long haul routes in summer 2019. The airport had one sixth of UK-North America seats, and almost half of the UK-Latin America seats. It also served destinations in Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, albeit with limited capacity.

The absence of the three airlines from Gatwick would not only put a serious dent in the airport's long haul network. It would also leave a big hole in the UK's long haul alternatives to Heathrow.

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