Gatwick Airport has announced plans to cut 200 jobs in response to grounded flights amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bosses will take a 20% pay cut as the travel industry continues to struggle at the hands of the worldwide pandemic.

The West Sussex airport said it has terminated the employment of 200 staff, including contractors and workers on fixed-term contracts.

Its runway will be suspended between midnight and 5.30am with immediate effect, except for emergency landings.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate and his executive team will take a 20% salary cut and waive any bonus for the current financial year.

He said: "Gatwick is a resilient business, but the world has changed dramatically in recent weeks and we have been forced to take rapid, decisive action to ensure that the airport is in a strong position to recover from a significant fall in passenger numbers.

"We must all play our part in helping the airport recover and both myself and our executive board will take a significant pay cut to help reduce costs.

"We also very much regret having to make this difficult decision to reduce our staff numbers and I would like to thank everyone for the contribution they made to the business.

"Significantly reduced passenger numbers are likely to be sustained, at least in the short to medium term, and I need to prepare people for the news that other serious measures are likely.

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"We also strongly urge the Government to provide support in order to protect the business and the contribution it makes to the region and wider economy."

Trade body the Airport Operators Association (AOA) warned on Tuesday that airports will shut down "within weeks" without Government intervention.

It urged ministers to put forward a series of measures to help airports amid dwindling passenger numbers.

These include providing or organising emergency financing, suspending air passenger duty and allowing VAT payments to be deferred.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: "Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt.

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"As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

"The Government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.

"For the sake of the UK economy, it is essential for the UK Government to catch up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief."

Airlines have cancelled thousands of flights and announced plans to ground the majority of their aircraft due to travel restrictions and the drop in demand for flights.

Heathrow Airport said on Monday it is taking "immediate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of our business including the protection of jobs".

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye is to forego his salary for the coming months, and recruitment has been frozen.

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