It has been a busy summer for London’s Gatwick Airport in more ways than one, for in addition to soaring traffic demand, the gateway has introduced a number of pioneering new green initiatives.
They include launching the UK’s first electric car sharing service and becoming the first airport in the world to introduce an innovative car-pooling service that offers staff preferential parking spaces and tracks their associated reduction in vehicle miles and emissions.
It believes that the new electric car sharing initiative, which allows customers to reserve and pick up a 100% electric car at Gatwick – and return it to the airport or any of 300 compatible pick up/drop off points across London – will appeal to passengers, staff and local residents.
The service, which operates in a similar way to London’s cycle sharing schemes, is being rolled out in partnership with Bluecity, the only company to operate a pan-London electric vehicle car sharing service with 100 cars currently available in total.
Gatwick’s chief commercial officer, Guy Stephenson, said: “Gatwick leads the way on airport innovation and this UK airport first not only offers a new, flexible option for getting on and off the airport, it also improves air quality.
“Given the popular demand for similar electric car sharing services in other parts of the world, this new service has the potential to take off in the UK and we are proud to be at the forefront of this transport revolution.”
The staff car-pooling initiative, offered in partnership with journey sharing platform Faxi, collects data from each shared journey – via a smartphone app – and uses it to incentivise drivers with access to preferential parking bays in their existing car park.
Over time those drivers who regularly transport the most passengers to and from work will be given the opportunity to upgrade to a staff car park of their choice. These car parks are located up to one mile closer to the terminal buildings, so the scheme could significantly reduce commuting time by up to 40 minutes each day.
According to research, only around 10% of people in UK regularly share their journeys with another traveller despite data suggesting that nearly half of them would share a journey with someone they know.
Gatwick has also announced the signing of a three-year deal with Haven Power to continue supplying it with 100% renewable electricity and is upgrading its facilities to accommodate easyJet’s new fleet of A321neo, which it insists will reduce noise and produce lower carbon emissions while growing passenger numbers.
Gatwick’s decision to begin purchasing renewable electricity from Haven Power five years ago was a key factor in the airport achieving 100% carbon neutrality under ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme last year.
“Gatwick was among the first airports in the world to go for 100% certified renewable electricity, helping to reduce UK carbon emissions,” enthuses the airport’s sustainability manager, Rachel Thompson.
“That’s credit to our Engineering (Utilities) and Procurement departments, for having the vision to choose renewable electricity and to Haven Power, for being able to provide it.
“Our target for renewable energy is 25% by 2020 and as electricity accounts for 75% of the airport’s ground operations’ carbon footprint – it means we are achieving our target.”
In terms of new A321neo friendly facilities, Gatwick has invested £10 million on re-configuring its Pier 4 apron and stands to handle the new aircraft, and will shortly begin work on a major £180 million extension to its Pier 6 facility that will add a further eight purpose-built stands for the A321neo.
The airport’s head of airspace, Andy Sinclair, says: “We are fully committed to reducing noise for our local communities as much as possible and will continue to work closely with our airline partners, and invest in infrastructure, to increase the number of quieter aircraft that can operate from Gatwick.”
He notes that easyJet’s new fleet strategy is “a positive step for those affected by noise around the airport” as the airline currently accounts for 40% of aircraft movements at the gateway.