Gatwick airport is preparing to re-open the North Terminal and double its opening hours.
Until the coronavirus pandemic began, Gatwick was the busiest single-runway airport in the world – and in the European top 10 by passenger numbers, regardless of the number of runways.
But as traffic dwindled almost to nothing, the owners of the Sussex airport shut one of its two terminals and restricted opening hours to 2-10pm.
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In April, the main link from Gatwick was to and from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Belavia.
But with the International Air Transport Association (Iata) now saying that April was the low point for aviation, the North Terminal is set to reopen on 15 June.
The main tenant of that terminal is easyJet, which shut down its operations in late March. The airline is expected to resume a skeleton service of mainly domestic flights from 15 June, starting at 7am with a departure to Glasgow.
From that date, the airport will now open at 6am, but still close at 10pm – except in an emergency.
The other airlines operating are Blue Islands, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air.
The airport says it has “introduced a range of measures to protect the well-being and safety of both passengers and staff”.
Passengers will be required to wear a face covering within the airport.
“Face mask vending machines will be made available at the airport,” says Gatwick.
There will be social-distancing procedures in place at check in, security, gate rooms, seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops.
Perspex screens are being installed at check-in desks and at departure gate areas.
The chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “We want people to understand that airports and air travel is a safe environment in this Covid-19 travelling world.”
But he strongly criticised the government’s new quarantine policy, saying it is “already having an impact on the start of air travel recovery”.
Mr Wingate said: “We continue to push for regular, country-by-country reviews of quarantine regulations, based on medical evidence.”
Senior government sources have indicated that the rules will be relaxed from the end of June, with a series of “air bridge” agreements with the most popular destination countries.
However, Virgin Atlantic has already said it will temporarily close operations at Gatwick and move services to Heathrow, while British Airways is considering abandoning the Sussex airport altogether.
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