BRITISH Airways has told staff its Gatwick airport operation may not reopen after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

The admission came in a memo, written by the head of BA’s Gatwick hub and seen by BBC News.

BA’s Gatwick operation, which is currently suspended, is roughly a fifth as big as its Heathrow hub.

In a separate letter to pilots, BA said it cannot rule out suspending the rest of its Heathrow operation.

In the letter, it notes that some of its rivals abroad are facing tough competition.

It adds that a quarter of BA’s 4,300 pilots are set to lose their jobs.

The Argus: A man's body was found in the undercarriage of a plane which landed at Gatwick Airport

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.”

On Tuesday, BA said it was set to cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce because of a collapse in business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline’s parent company, IAG, said it needed to impose a “restructuring and redundancy programme” until demand for air travel returns to 2019 levels.

The pilots’ union Balpa said it was “devastated” at the news and vowed to fight “every single” job cut.

BA has been flying from Gatwick for decades.

Before its merger with BOAC in 1974 to form BA, BEA began flying from the hub in 1950.

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