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Gatwick Airport, London, British Airways plane
Photograph: Rich Higgins /

Gatwick airport flight cancellations: what we know about the Covid outbreak staff shortages

Tens of thousands of passengers are going to be impacted across this week

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

With more Heathrow strikes just announced there were probably hundreds of travellers feeling smug that they’ve opted to fly from Gatwick instead. Well, as we should all know by now, whether travelling by plane or train, you should never get too complacent when it comes to travelling in, around or out of the UK

Normally the busiest runway in the world, Gatwick is capping the total arrivals and departures at 800 per day over the next week. But this time the disruption isn’t down to strikes – it’s down to an old enemy, Covid. Here are all the details we know so far about Gatwick flight cancellations.  

Why are flights being cancelled at Gatwick airport?

Around 30 percent of air traffic control staff are not available to work because of illness. Sickness has impacted the airport for a while now, but the most recent problem has been an outbreak of Covid. The shortage means that fewer flights are able to land and take off. 

What impact will the cap have? 

Journeys on Tuesday, September 26 and Saturday, September 30 will be unaffected because there are only 800 expected anyway. Dozens of flights per day are due to be cancelled across the rest of the week. Here’s the breakdown: 

  • Wednesday 27 September: 29
  • Thursday 28 September: 40
  • Friday 29 September: 65
  • Sunday 1 October: 30

How will the flight cancellations be chosen? 

It’s likely that cancelled flights will be chosen based on the availability of alternative routes and how much money they made. In other words, routes with high fares and more seats booked are more likely to go ahead than cheaper flights with fewer seats sold.  

Will easyJet flights be affected? 

As a budget airline, easyJet is set to be the hardest hit. So far a total of 42 of its flights have been slashed thanks to the Covid outbreak. 

When will I find out if my flight is grounded? 

It looks like airlines will figure out which flights to cancel in order. That means that Thursday’s affected flights are likely to be revealed on Wednesday afternoon, followed by the other dates.   

Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?

Yes. If your flight doesn’t go ahead you can collect a full refund from the airline if you don’t take an alternative flight. 

Under European air passengers’ rights, airlines that cancel flights must provide transport and passengers can ask to be rebooked on a different flight heading for the same destination as their cancelled one – even if it is with a different airline or from another nearby airport. 

Airlines are also obliged to book and pay for accommodation and meals if necessary, until the passenger reaches their destination. 

What about compensation?

Unfortunately, affected passengers aren’t entitled to any compensation as these cancellations are beyond the control of airlines. 

How long will the disruption last? 

The disruption is due to last throughout this week but no plans have been announced for a cap to be issued beyond Sunday.

ICYMI: the world’s biggest aircraft will soon fly from the UK to the Mediterranean.

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