IAG Boss Wishes To Maintain London Gatwick Base

IAG’s boss Willie Walsh today told how he would like the airline group to maintain a presence at Gatwick Airport. Last week, a leaked British Airways memo suggested Britsh Airways’ Gatwick base could be closed.

London Gatwick, British Airways, Willie Walsh
Closing British Airways’ London Gatwick Base remains an option. Photo: Gatwick Airport

British Airways is currently in a period of evaluating its future. The airline recently announced that up to 12,000 members of its staff could be made jobless as a result of the current crisis.

Then, it was reported that the airline’s London Gatwick base could face closure. While some took this to mean that the base would likely be closed, others considered it to be more of a worst-case scenario.

Willie’s comments

Today IAG, the parent company of British Airways, revealed its financials for the first quarter of 2020. This saw the group announcing that aircraft deliveries would be delayed for the next three years. Also, we heard that British Airways could speed up the retirement of its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft.

Willie walsh
Willie Walsh would like the airline group to remain at Gatwick. Photo: Getty Images

However, it seems as though the Gatwick base may be safe if the group’s CEO gets his way. He did add that his personal opinion won’t affect the consultation. According to Reuters, in a call with investors, Willie Walsh said:

“I would like to see us continuing to have a presence at Gatwick but that’s just a personal opinion, it’s not going to influence the consultation that will take place”

Gatwick hosts several IAG airlines

London Gatwick plays host to several IAG airlines. Of course, it is British Airways that has the most substantial full-service presence at the airport. However, low-cost airlines Vueling and LEVEL, also serve the airport south of the capital.

With this in mind, British Airways could leave London Gatwick, and IAG would still have a presence at London Gatwick. However, this presence would be far smaller. It’s hard to see Vueling and LEVEL relocating their few flights to Heathrow.

London Gatwick, British Airways, Willie Walsh
British Airways has stored many of its aircraft as a result of the crisis. Photo: Getty Images

What does the future look like for Gatwick?

IAG’s decision on a sustained presence at London Gatwick would likely have an enormous influence on the airport. The airline was one of two large full-service carriers at the airport. The other, Virgin Atlantic, has already pulled the plug on its Gatwick hub.

Without British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, it is possible that London Gatwick would still have foreign full-service carriers such as Cathay Pacific and Emirates. However, it could make low-cost carriers the driving force of the airport, similar to London Stansted Airport.

Indeed, just earlier today, we reported that Wizz Air would look to increase its presence at London Gatwick Airport. Indeed, the airline’s CEO said,

“We’ve been looking at Gatwick for a long time, and we absolutely have the ambition to build a base there”

Do you think that IAG should maintain a base at London Gatwick Airport? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!