Photo: Gatwick Airport

MIAMI – London-Gatwick Airport is set to lose around 600,000 passengers following the demise of Thomas Cook Airlines.

The British carrier went into liquidation in September 2019, igniting the biggest UK repatriation exercise of all time.

Dubbed “Operation Matterhorn,” 150,000 Brits had to be brought back to the country following the airline’s closure.

Thomas Cook A330 Landing into San Francisco for the final time.

In the final week of September, following the collapse, 50,000 passengers at Gatwick Airport alone were stripped off their flights, representing around 254 commercial operations.

It is understood that easyJet and Jet2 have snapped up over 65% of the slots earlier last month, with the airport set to announce who is going to be allocated the remaining positions.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport’s CEO, spoke to local outlet City A.M., emphasizing that there is still plenty of demand for the airport. “We can see from the activity that there’s plenty of other airlines who are looking for slots at Gatwick. We’re seeing a lot of demand, particularly for long haul carriers looking to access London,” he said.

The airport, however, is still set to beat passenger numbers, forecasting between 46 million and 47 million passengers alike, which is still an increase from last year’s figures of 46 million.

In the first six months of the financial year, 26.6 million people were handled at the airport, which is up 0.2% compared to the same period last year.

About 20% of those travelers are going to long-haul destinations, especially after the emergence of routes to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires launched by Norwegian.

Wingate, however, did concede that UK passenger demand had been softened, especially over the UK’s choice to leave the European Union due to the level of uncertainty in the country over the last three years.

The solution to this would be the South American market, in Wingate’s view, as it would “play a crucial role in the country’s economy and national identity”.

Still a Sore Loss?

Regardless, however Gatwick Airport decides to play this news, it is still a big hit to its finances and its passenger numbers.

For one of the oldest and also largest tour operators to go into bankruptcy, the airport has decided to ensure that no slots were left empty. And rightly so.

Photo: Transport Pixels

With one of the bigger hitters being Jet2, who have been experiencing exponential growth, that airline may be able to fill the gap, at least on a regional basis.

With BREXIT being a topic for Wingate, how the airport will steer away from that problem and ensure investment from countries external to the EU remains hopeful, especially with the route launches in this year alone.

With Thomas Cook being such a sore loss for both the aviation world and the UK business sector, the truth of the matter is that Gatwick will and already is in the process of getting over it. But for us consumers and those in the media, Thomas Cook will always represent a big chunk of the heart.