Private ownership has kick-started improvements throughout the gateway, and through greater competition and major investment Gatwick has attracted six million more passengers in the last five years, flying to more destinations than any other UK airport.
The heart of the investments is revamp the North Terminal, which the UK’s second busiest airport says is to ensure it has two “world-class terminals to offer passengers”.
With traffic expected to reach nearly 41 million passengers within the next three years, the terminal will accommodate the majority of traffic growth, and the enhanced facilities and increased floor space in North Terminal are crucial, Gatwick bosses explain, as it grows towards full capacity.
Among the enhancements are upgrades to the North Terminal check-in area, which will be enhanced at a cost of £36 million (€45 million).
Projects will include the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone, with up to 60 bag drop units virtually eliminating queues, that Gatwick says will benefit passengers due to quicker check-in times and an improved departures experience.
The area will open in two phases between late 2015 and early 2016, and see a better layout and more space to increase peak check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers per hour.
The transformation will also include an investment of £30 million (€37 million) to install next-generation security facilities in the North Terminal by 2016.
Passenger transaction times will be halved giving Gatwick the ability to process 5,000 passengers per hour, and include reconfigured lanes and floor wayfinding.
A bigger departures area and revamped retail space will cost £21 million (€26 million), which will give it more space to make room for future growth, while more retail and restaurant space will offer more choice to travellers.
The airport will create 30,000 square feet of new retail space in the North Terminal, the equivalent to 10 tennis courts, including a new World Duty Free opening in 2017 to match the South Terminal.
Investments will heavily focus on passenger improvements to enhance their experience, and see £10 million (€12.6 million) invested to fully refurbish the North Terminals arrival area due to open in summer 2015.
A further £10 million (€12.6 million) upgrade will be made to the North Terminal border zone – with more space, new technologies and 15 state-of-the-art new e-gates will help lead to shorter queues for passengers.
Along with this, £250 million (€315 million) will be spent to maintain and replace facilities including lifts, escalators and technology infrastructure, and £80 million (€100 million) to reconfigure the Pier 5 facility, An additional £185 million (€233 million) will be used to construct a state-of-the-art new Pier 1, offering new aircraft stands, gate rooms, new lounge facilities, and storage for 2,600 bags.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick CEO, explains: “It’s been an incredible five years and this is just the start. Gatwick is changing for the better and the fresh £1 billion (€1.26 billion) investment outlined today is a clear signal that we intend to become London’s airport of choice.
“Gatwick’s success shows what can be achieved when competition is allowed to thrive, helping standards rise and fares fall. It is a timely reminder ahead of next year’s airport expansion decision, when the UK must choose whether to build on the success of greater competition and a more open industry, or take a backwards step towards the monopolies of the past.
“Today marks a very happy birthday for Gatwick and with our £1 billion €1.26 billion) investment to roll out over the next few years it’s an exciting time for both the airport and our passengers. We can’t wait to get to work.”