LONDON – London City Airport (LCY) announced major restructuring plans in a press release early Monday. The plan will result in the layoff of up to 239 staff members or roughly one-third of the airport’s workforce.

“It is with huge regret that we are announcing this restructuring program today…our thoughts are with all of our highly valued staff and their families,” said airport CEO Robert Sinclair.

While LCY reopened on June 21, passenger numbers continue to remain low as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport currently serves 17 destinations, many of which are domestic.

London City Airport restarts European flying to Europe. PHOTO: London City Airport/Andrew Baker

A Pause in Terminal Development

Last month, LCY put a pause in the development of a £500m ($643m) terminal expansion project. Despite the freeze on non-essential spending, the airport announced it would continue working on existing projects through the end of 2020. These include a new taxiway, seven aircraft stands, as well as upgraded security and baggage areas.

Collectively, the development programs were part of a plan to bring an increased number of daily flights to LCY. The airport, dominated by British Airways (BA), was looking to become a more capable alternative to London Heathrow (LHR).

A lineup of British Airways aircraft at LCY. PHOTO: London City Airport

An Uncertain Future for LCY

It seems LCY was facing the inevitable as COVID-19 cases continue to trend high. LCY paid all employees in full under the government’s wage assistance program, but this expired at the beginning of August.

Additionally, wage cuts from airport leadership were not enough, as LCY was only able to survive six weeks without government assistance at pre-pandemic staffing levels.

Sinclair summarized the situation best: “The aviation sector is in the throes of the biggest downturn it has ever experienced as a result of the pandemic. We have held off looking at job losses for as long as possible. But sadly, we are not immune to the devastating impact of this virus.”

Featured Image: LCY Terminal 1 exterior at night. Photo: London City Airport