HUNDREDS of Gatwick workers are set to lose their jobs as the airport says passenger numbers have nosedived due to the coronavirus crisis.

Gatwick Airport announced 600 jobs are set to be lost in a "significant restructure... designed to further reduce operating and staff costs".

That represents nearly a quarter of the airport's workforce.

The airport said its passenger numbers decreased by more than 80 per cent in August compared to the same month in 2019.

A spokeswoman said more than 75 per cent of its staff are still on furlough, with the airport working at just 20 per cent capacity.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate said the cuts show the "devastating impact" of the coronavirus crisis on aviation and tourism.

"We are in ongoing talks with Government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time, alongside mechanisms which will give our passengers greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad," he said.

"This support will not only help Gatwick but the wider regional economy which relies on the airport.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, those who have worked tirelessly to keep Gatwick open throughout the pandemic and those who have had to remain on furlough, for their dedicated tenacity, professionalism and team spirit.

"Gatwick will recover from this pandemic and we will emerge from the restructuring we are proposing a fitter and stronger organisation which is best placed to offer our passengers and our airlines a modern and innovative airport, ready for growth."

Hopes of a summer recovery for Gatwick were dented as the Government has gradually reintroduced quarantine rules for travellers returning from tourism hotspots such as France, Spain and Portugal.

Airlines including British Airways and easyJet have also announced major job losses during the pandemic.

Today's cuts only affect those directly employed by the airport.

Speaking to The Argus, Crawley Borough Council leader Councillor Peter Lamb accused the Government of allowing Crawley's economy to "go on" by failing to provide additional support to the aviation industry.

"Let's be very clear: this isn't going to be the last announcement of major job losses. We've already had announcements from airlines," the Labour councillor said.

"We've been raising concerns since March that this was inevitably going to happen if the Government didn't intervene.

"It's very clear the Government is going to allow a town's economy to go under."

Cllr Lamb said the Government needs to provide more support to the industry - first and foremost by continuing the furlough scheme past the end of October.

"This is a sector the Government happily invested £14 billion in for a second runway at Heathrow because the industry is that important to the British economy," he said.

"Yet now aviation is struggling it's only getting a fraction of that spending."

More as we have it.