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British Airways is planning to shrink its presence at London Gatwick Airport as part of a “bounce-back” effort in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BA, which warned it could abandon Britain’s second biggest airport in April, is already operating most of its short-haul flights from Heathrow and has said it will be doing so until next March.

However, the airline is understood to have now started readying for the Gatwick operations to be a smaller part of the business when it emerges from the crisis.

The Mail on Sunday said a major recovery plan was being devised by new BA chief executive Sean Doyle, who replaced Alex Cruz earlier this month.

Under the plans, geared to help steer British Airways out of the crisis, the newspaper said Mr Doyle was planning to shift flights to the larger Heathrow Airport and to boost long-haul leisure flights to premium destinations such as Barbados and Barbuda to cope with dwindling demand for business travel.

British Airways has said the move to shift flights to Gatwick until next March “enables us to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted and efficient operation across our business at a time when demand is yet to return and international travel restrictions remain in place”.

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Gatwick Airport did not respond to requests for comment.

The airport has been struggling to cope with the fallout from the pandemic and warned in August that further job cuts were on the horizon, on top of the 600 roles it said it would be axing.

The company posted a loss of £321m for the first half of the year, after having experienced a 14.7 million decline in passenger numbers over the period.

Bosses for the airport have warned it could take up to four years for passenger numbers to return to pre-Covid levels.

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