Intense pressure for space at Heathrow will lead to the creation of nearly 1,000 British Airways jobs at Gatwick this year. The company said it was the biggest expansion of the airport in ten years.
BA is to recruit 700 cabin staff, 70 pilots and 200 customer service and cargo staff. This was a result of transferring 11 central and East African services to Gatwick from Heathrow and stepping up services to Nairobi, Entebbe and West Africa.
The company said the jobs were new and did not represent transfers from Heathrow, where there would be no cutback in staff numbers.
The airline already employs nearly 7,000 in the Gatwick area. Sir Colin Marshall, the chairman, said the expansion plan was based on the success of the North terminal.
He promised local residents he would introduce quieter aircraft, including Boeing 747-400s in 1997 and eventually "one of the quietest aircraft of them all, the Boeing 777."
Sir Colin said Heathrow was the most important international airport in the world, and would remain that way if there was a go ahead for Terminal 5 - a controversial project now subject to a public inquiry.
BA said it was planning to expand at both airports, though both currently had constraints on their capacity and the problem at Heathrow was worse than at Gatwick.
The plan was to use the space vacated there by the East African services to introduce more frequent services or larger aircraft to other destinations. Heathrow is the main base for Jumbos.
BA said that with its partner airlines it would be operating almost 900 scheduled flights a week to 90 destinations from Gatwick by the summer. The new routes will boost BA's fleet of long-haul airliners operating out of Gatwick to 24 this summer, compared with 13 last year.
BA is also putting its own aircraft on to US routes from Gatwick to Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, which were until recently operated on BA's behalf by USAir.
Third quarter profits at BA to be announced on Monday are expected to be buoyed by strong worldwide demand for air travel and no sign of any serious fare wars.
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