Norwegian opens long-haul base at Gatwick

Norwegian is continuing to expand at Gatwick Airport with the opening of a new base for its long-haul flights.

The airline, which first opened a base at Gatwick in 2013, now has 90 pilots and 200 cabin crew based at the airport.

In July, Norwegian launched Gatwick’s only low-cost flights to the US: Los Angeles, New York and Fort Lauderdale.

London Bridge to Gatwick services suspended

Due to building works taking place at London Bridge Station, there will be no direct trains to London Gatwick Airport until Monday 1 September 2014.

The rebuilding of the station, which commenced earlier this year, is due to be completed by 2018 at a cost of £6.5bn.

Record numbers at Gatwick

Passenger numbers at Gatwick broke through the 4 million mark in July.

A total of 4,057,400 million passengers passed through the airport last month, the highest ever monthly total at Gatwick! The previous highest total was in August 2013 when 4,032,000 million passengers travelled through the airport.

July passenger numbers increased by 6% compared to July 2013 and must surely aid Gatwick’s bid for a second runway.

Contributing to the increase was a 10.5% increase in European scheduled passengers, an 8.9% increase in other long haul traffic and a 6.6% increase in North Atlantic passengers – assisted by Norwegian Air’s low-cost services to the US. Air transport movements were up by 2.8%, although cargo was down by 8.1%.

In a rolling 12-month period (August 2013 to July 2013) passenger numbers have increased by 6.1% to almost 40 million (36,926,700) compared to the previous 12-month period.

Nick Dunn, Chief Financial Officer at London Gatwick, said: “The strength of Norwegian’s new low-cost long haul flights on new-generation aircraft is really encouraging. What passengers want is the convenience of flying from their local airport to the destination of their choice with fares they can afford.

“Building a third runway at Heathrow will diminish the choice available to British passengers, making it more expensive to go on holiday, to travel for business and to export goods and services. We support competition, reduced fares and two world-class London airports serving the UK as a whole.”

John Menzies tipped to replace Swissport at Gatwick

This is Money is tipping John Menzies to become the largest baggage handling company at Gatwick following the recent baggage fiasco at the airport.

Delays, which were caused by a shortage of Swissport handling operators, saw some passengers wait up to five hours for their luggage and led to Monarch cancelling its contract with Swissport – BA’s parent company IAG reportedly looking for an alternative handler.

Gatwick at centre of Ebola scare

Gatwick Airport was at the centre of an Ebola scare at the weekend after an elderly passenger was taken ill on board a flight from Sierra Leone to Gatwick and later died in hospital.

Tests confirmed that the lady did not have Ebola and Gatwick has issued the following statement:

“We can confirm that a passenger on board a Gambia Bird flight on Saturday 2 August became unwell after disembarking the aircraft, was treated by experienced medical airport staff at the scene but sadly later died at East Surrey Hospital.

“Given the origin of the flight, the hospital carried out tests for Ebola and other infectious diseases as a precaution. The tests came back negative.

“As a precaution, the aircraft was isolated, as were relevant airline and airport staff. At every stage, we took advice from Public Health England, which cleared the aircraft for its return journey.”

Gatwick apologises for baggage delays

Gatwick Airport has apologised after passengers were forced to wait up to five hours to collect their baggage at the weekend. Some passengers even went home without their luggage.

Passengers flying with four airlines: British Airways, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson, were affected by the delays caused by staff shortages at Swissport.

Swissport, which is one of three baggage handling agents operating at Gatwick, recently had problems with delayed luggage – two weeks ago some Gatwick passengers waited up to 90 minutes to collect their baggage. At the time, Swissport blamed staff shortages and warned that further delays could occur throughout the summer.

Gatwick passenger numbers up 5.5% in June

Passenger numbers at Gatwick are continuing to rise with the announcement that more than 3.6 million passengers passed through the airport in June, a rise of 5.5% on last year.

The 5.5% rise in passenger numbers compared with June 2013 represents an extra 190,500 people passing through the terminals.

European scheduled flights saw the biggest increase in passengers – 11.1%, while other long-haul saw a 7.1% increase.

In a rolling 12-month period (July ’13 to June ’14), passenger numbers increased by 6% to 36,697,200.

Speaking about the increase in passenger numbers, Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: “Gatwick continues to successfully compete for business and leisure traffic, increasing passenger numbers and market share at record levels. From July, this will increase even further thanks to the start of US services including New York and Los Angeles with Norwegian Air Shuttle.

“A two runway Gatwick would ensure a competitive market for the next generation, where all passengers have more choice and the UK is provided with the essential air links it needs to both established and emerging markets.

“Expansion at Gatwick would provide London and the UK with two world class airports, enabling regional and national business to thrive and grow on the global stage. Businesses need certainty and Gatwick is, by far, the most deliverable option for expansion.”

Horley Council’s “Do You Want a Second Runway at Gatwick?” venue change

Horley Town Council has changed the venue for its open public meeting to discuss Gatwick Airport’s proposals for a second runway.

The “Do You Want a Second Runway at Gatwick?” meeting will now take place at Oakwood School in Balcombe.

The meeting, which will see guest speakers of Alastair McDermid, the Airports Commission director for Gatwick, Peter Barclay of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, and Peter Roe of the Gatwick Diamond Business forum, was originally scheduled to take place at St Wilfrid’s Church Hall.

The meeting will commence at 7.30pm on Friday 18 July.

Mobile devices face extra checks on US-bound flights

New security checks on all electronic devices such as laptops, iPads, mobile phones etc. are now in force on flights to the US.

Portable electronic devices that cannot be switched on will not be allowed on any US-bound flight.

US-bound passengers are advised to keep their mobile devices charged otherwise they could risk having them confiscated at security.

In spite of the new security procedures, Gatwick Airport is operating as normal, although passengers should allow extra time to pass through security.

For updated hand luggage restrictions visit the Government’s website

Waitrose plans food collection service at Gatwick

Fed up with returning home from holiday to an empty fridge and having to drive to the supermarket to stock up on essentials?

Things could change if a planning application submitted by Waitrose is approved.

The food retailer has applied for permission to install chilled lockers in Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal, the Crawley News reports.

If given the green light, chilled lockers could be used to store pre-bought food that could be collected by holidaymakers when they return home from their holidays.