Official opening of Gatwick’s new £80 million Pier 5

Gatwick’s new Pier 5 was officially opened yesterday by Caroline Ansell MP.

The £80 million pier is a fundamental park of the transformation of Gatwick’s North Terminal and offers larger gate rooms and better facilities for passenger. It also enables arriving and departing passengers to be kept separate.

Compared with the old pier 5, the new pier will be able to accommodate a maximum of seven large and 12 smaller aircraft, or a combination of both, enabling Gatwick to handle an extra 30 flights per day – approximately 4,200 passengers per day.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Since coming into private ownership six years ago, we have invested more than £1 billion in transforming and growing Gatwick and, to accommodate our growth, we are set to invest another billion.

“Total passenger numbers have grown by nine million over this time – today, 40 million people choose Gatwick each year and we have achieved 34 successive months of growth. To keep pace with this unprecedented growth, we need to be smart about how we work with our existing infrastructure while we wait for a Government decision on airport expansion.

“Our investment programme is all about driving that growth, and Pier 5 will be a significant contributor, allowing us to handle greater volumes of aircraft and passengers.”

Global record for Gatwick

What a 2015 Gatwick has had.

The year ended as it started with a record-breaking month – December saw 2.7 million passengers pass through the airport, up 4.7% on the previous year.

Every month in 2015 saw continued growth in passenger numbers, in fact Gatwick has seen 34 consecutive months of increased growth. With passenger numbers continuing to rise, it’s no surprise that Gatwick passed the 40-million-passenger milestone in 2015, seeing 40.3 million passengers pass through the airport – a world record. No other single-runway airport has ever handled 40 million passengers in one year.

The only blot on Gatwick’s exceptional year was that it didn’t achieve Government backing to build a second runway.

Speaking about 2015, Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “2015 was a record-breaking year for Gatwick as the airport continued to break new ground. We served 40.3 million passengers – the most from any single runway anywhere in the world.

“Since independent ownership in 2009 we have grown rapidly and the benefits of competition are clear for passengers – more choice, higher standards and lower fares.

“A Government decision this year backing Gatwick expansion will mean that Britain finally solves its long standing problem of airport capacity in the South East. Our plan is legal, affordable, cleaner and quieter and will deliver for Britain.”

Record numbers at Gatwick

With the Government still undecided about which airport should be permitted to build the next runway, Gatwick is continuing to see a record number of passengers pass through the airport.

If passenger numbers were anything to go by, surely Gatwick would have won the airport-expansion race months ago?

November 2015 was the airport’s busiest November on record and the 33rd consecutive month of passenger growth. More than 2.6 million passengers passed through the airport last month, a 7.3% increase on the previous November (an additional 178,253 passengers).

Contributing to the growth in numbers were: a 9.7% increase in passengers on North Atlantic routes, a 12.5% rise in Irish passengers, 9.6% in scheduled European and a 4.9% rise in other long-haul passengers. Air transport movements were also up by 3.8%.

In a rolling 12-month period (December ’14 – November ’15), passenger numbers increased by 5.8% (to 40,147,400) when compared to the previous 12 months.

Speaking about the numbers and the delayed runway announcement, Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Britain has a clear choice on airport expansion: get on with growth at Gatwick or yet more delays and inertia with an illegal Heathrow scheme that continues to stall.

“This decision has always been about balancing the economic benefits of expansion with the impact on the environment. The simple facts show that Gatwick expansion would give the country the economic benefit it needs at a dramatically lower environmental cost.

“With 12 new long-haul routes starting in 2016 and significant growth across all sectors, from both existing and new airlines, it is clear why expansion at Gatwick needs to go ahead now.”

Gatwick responds to runway delay

Gatwick Airport has responded to the delayed decision on airport growth, claiming that Heathrow’s plan is “an illegal scheme that has failed time and time again” and that Gatwick “is the obvious solution”.

In a statement issued, Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “This is a defining moment in the expansion debate. There is now a clear choice facing Britain: growth with Gatwick or inertia at Heathrow with an illegal scheme that has failed time and time again. 
“We have always maintained that this decision is about balancing the economy and the environment. Expansion at Gatwick would give the country the economic benefit it needs at a dramatically lower environmental cost.  
“We are glad that the Government recognises that more work on environmental impact needs to be done. Air quality, for example, is a public health priority and obviously the legal safeguards around it cannot be wished away.  
“Even Heathrow’s most vocal supporters must now realise a third runway at Heathrow will never take off as the environmental hurdles are just too high. If they want Britain to have the benefits of expansion and competition they should now look to Gatwick.  
“Expansion has been in a holding pattern for decades. Momentum is now behind Gatwick as it becomes ever clearer that it is the obvious solution. We will continue to work closely with Government to take forward our plan which is legal, affordable, and can actually deliver for Britain.”

Nick Clegg backs Gatwick for expansion

The Heathrow Gatwick debate is nearly over with a Government announcement expected shortly.

The Airports Commission favoured Heathrow, however, former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has come out in favour of Gatwick.

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Clegg outlined the reasons for his decision, namely:

  • Construction costs, which are expected to be far lower at Gatwick than Heathrow
  • Future growth not limited to a hub airport – the fastest growing sector is business travel which involves point-to-point services, not necessarily relying on an airport hub
  • Construction of Gatwick will be quicker than Heathrow. Gatwick already has an unpopulated site earmarked for development – Heathrow’s target area could be subject to lengthy legal challenges
  • Air quality – Gatwick is situated in a less populated area than Heathrow and development at Gatwick will pose far less risks of noise and air pollution than an expanded Heathrow
  • Basically, Heathrow is in the wrong place, and “If we were starting from scratch, there is simply no way that we would choose to build a new airport there.”

Which airport do you think will win the battle for the next runway?

Gatwick or Heathrow? Decision expected this week

We should find out this week which airport will be given the green light to build another runway.

A 10-strong cabinet subcommittee is expected to meet this week to decide whether Heathrow or Gatwick will given permission, the Sunday Times reports.

Based on the findings of the Airports Commission, it is widely expected that Heathrow will be announced as the Government’s choice. Although, whichever airport is nominated, it is unlikely to be a straight forward process from there with planning and legal battles are expected to continue for many years.

Gatwick tackles Heathrow on surface access costs for new runway

While we all await the Government’s announcement about which airport will be given the green light for expansion, Gatwick is still fighting its corner.

The airport has tackled Heathrow Airport about its budget for a third runway after the Transport Minister confirmed that all airports must pay for road and rail improvements.

Making Heathrow pay for all road and rail improvements required for expansion would cost a further £6 billion, claims Gatwick.

Gatwick wants Heathrow to explain the shortfall, claiming that it (Gatwick) has already budgeted for the improvements required for any surface access costs that will be required for a second runway by 2021.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said, “There is now a £6bn black hole at the heart of Heathrow’s plan. Heathrow has said it won’t meet the bill and the now the Government has done the same.

“As we approach a decision on expansion, Heathrow owes taxpayers, passengers, airlines and Government an explanation of how they plan to meet it as this cost increase alone is almost the entire cost of the Gatwick scheme.

“In stark contrast Gatwick’s plan is financeable and deliverable with none of the environmental challenges that would effectively make expansion at Heathrow unlawful.

“It is becoming clearer by the day that if we actually want something to be built and Britain to get the benefits then Gatwick is the only credible option.”

Gatwick’s self-service bag zone to open in the North Terminal this October

Phase one of Gatwick’s £1 billion investment is set to open in the North Terminal this October.

Phase one of the World’s largest self-service bag drop zone will open on 20 October, following a two-week test period. Phase two will open in April 2016. By April, the check-in hall will offer a better layout, more space and will have a peak check-in capacity of 4,350 passengers – currently capacity is 3,000.

Speeding up capacity will be 48 self-service bag drop units – 28 of which open this month – allowing passengers to weigh their luggage, print their own luggage label and load it onto the baggage sorting system. The process should take less than two minutes.

Speaking about the North Terminal transformation, Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate said, “Gatwick has added eight million passengers since we came into private ownership in 2009, and we are about to reach the 40 million mark. This is a decade ahead of industry predictions and we will continue to grow.

“While we wait for a decision on building a new runway, we are investing billions to ensure we can grow from our existing infrastructure, but this will only take us so far.

“Gatwick remains the best and most deliverable option for expansion – we can go from the World’s most efficient single runway airport to the World’s most efficient two-runway airport while limiting the impact on the environment.”

Gatwick sees 28 consecutive months of passenger growth

Gatwick Airport is disputing the Airport Commission’s recommendation that the next new runway should be built at Heathrow Airport.

Citing more than two years of consecutive growth and its busiest June ever, airport bosses believe Gatwick offers “the best option for expansion as it can cater for all airline types flying to all types of destination”.

Figures just released show that Gatwick handled 3.8 million passengers in June, a 5% increase on June 2014. Making last month the 28th consecutive month of passenger growth.

Contributing to the rise in numbers is the fact that passengers travelling on long-haul destinations have grown by 8% in the past 12 months.

Comparing June 2014 to June 2015, North Atlantic passenger numbers were up 14.3%.

In a rolling 12-month period (July 2014 to June 2015), passenger numbers were up 6.4% on the previous 12 months.

Gatwick hasn’t given up the fight to build the next runway, as Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said, “We will continue to engage actively with government at all levels to show why Gatwick expansion is the only means by which we can sustain the low cost revolution that has driven aviation growth over the last two decades, and the only choice which can actually deliver the aviation capacity that the UK desperately needs.

“The UK needs extra capacity that can meet the needs of all travellers and Gatwick remains the only deliverable option for expansion.”

Gatwick responds to Airports Commission recommendation

Gatwick Airport’s CEO has responded to today’s Airports Commission recommendation that Heathrow should be the next airport to build a new runway.

In a statement, the airport’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, said, “Gatwick is still very much in the race. The Commission’s report makes clear that expansion at Gatwick is deliverable.

“It is for the Commission to make a recommendation but it is of course for the Government to decide. So we now enter the most important stage of the process.

“We are confident that when the Government makes their decision they will choose Gatwick as the only deliverable option.”

While the Airports Commission has recommended Heathrow for expansion, it did state that Gatwick was a “credible” option.

It is now for the Government to decide whether to act on the commission’s recommendation, or whether Gatwick should become the airport to build the next runway.