British Airways has told its staff that it may not reopen its operation at Gatwick airport after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

A leaked memo written by the head of BA’s Gatwick hub, Adam Carson, was written after BA announced a consultation that could result in the loss of up to 12,000 jobs.

BA’s Gatwick operation, which is currently suspended amid travel restrictions, is about a fifth the size of its hub at Heathrow where it has a dedicated terminal.

The letter, seen by Travel Weekly, said: “As you know, we suspended our Gatwick flying schedule at the end of April and there is no certainty as to when or if these services can or will return. Today’s announcement outlines how we propose to ensure we are competitive and sustainable for the future, that we are the right size to meet demand and that we can be flexible and resilient to change.”

It also points to a “reduction in size of our cabin crew community” and changes to pay, and reveals that BA’s ground staff at Gatwick are expected to be transfered to BA subsidiary Gatwick Ground Services.

In a separate letter to pilots, seen by the BBC, BA said it cannot rule out suspending the rest of its Heathrow operation. The letter is quoted as saying that some of the airline’s rivals abroad are facing tough competition and reportedly suggests that a quarter of BA’s 4,300 pilots are set to lose their jobs.

BBC News said the letter from senior management says: “We need to ensure that our remaining operation is efficient, flexible and cost-competitive to enable us to survive in an increasingly lean and unpredictable industry.”

Both British Airways and Gatwick declined to comment.

On Tuesday, British Airways parent IAG said it could make up to 12,000 of the airline’s staff redundant in a restructure.

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz said the “outlook for the aviation industry has worsened” over recent weeks, leaving the airline with no choice but to take action and “act decisively”.

Unions have criticsed the move.

Responding to news that BA was considering its position at Gatwick, Brian Strutton, general secretary at pilots union Balpa, said: “As far as Balpa is aware, there is no truth in the rumour that British Airways will pull out of Gatwick and there has been no indication of that from BA to us. However, it is on our list of questions to ask them.”

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