Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGWICAO: EGKK) is located 3.1 miles (5 kilometres) north of the centre of Crawley,West Sussex, and 28.4 mi (45.7 km) south of Central London.[4] Also known as London Gatwick,[5] it is London's second largest international airport and second busiest by total passenger traffic in the United Kingdom afterHeathrow.[6] Furthermore, Gatwick is Europe's leading airport for point-to-point flights[nb 1] and has the world's busiest single-use runway averaging 52 aircraft movements an hour.[7][8] Its two terminals – North and South – cover an area of 810,000 square feet (75,000 square metres) and 1.3 million sq ft (120,000 m2) respectively.[9]

In 2011, over 33.6 million passengers passed through Gatwick.[10]

Charter airlines generally prefer Gatwick over Heathrow as a base for London and the South East of England. From 1978 to 2008, many flights to and from the United States used Gatwick because of restrictions on the use of Heathrow implemented in the Bermuda II agreement between the UK and the US.[11][12][13][14][15] As of 2011,Delta Air LinesUS Airways and Sun Country Airlines are the only US carriers to continue serving Gatwick from the US. The airport is a base for scheduled operators Aer LingusBritish Airways (BA), EasyJetFlybeMonarch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as charter airlines including Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Gatwick is unique amongst London's airports in having a significant airline presence representing each of the three main airline business models: full service, low/no frills and charter.[16] As of January 2011, these respectively accounted for 37, 51 and 12% of total passenger traffic.[17]

BAA Limited and its predecessors, the British Airports Authority and BAA plc, owned and operated Gatwick continuously from 1 April 1966 until 2 December 2009.[18][19][20] On 17 September 2008, BAA announced it would sell Gatwick following a report by the Competition Commission into BAA's market dominance in London and the South East. On 21 October 2009, it was announced that agreement had been reached to sell Gatwick to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the owners of London City Airport, for £1.51 billion. Of this amount, £55 million will depend on the airport's future traffic development and its owners' future capital structure (£10 million and £45 million respectively).[21] The sale was formally completed on 3 December 2009. On this day, Gatwick's ownership passed from BAA to GIP.[22] In early 2010, GIP reportedly sold minority stakes in Gatwick to theNational Pension Service of Korea and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.[23][24] On 18 June 2010, it was reported that CalPERSCalifornia's and the US's biggest state pension fund, had bought a 12.7% equity stake in Gatwick Airport from GIP.[25][26] An announcement made in the Financial Times on 21 December 2010 stated that theFuture Fund, a sovereign wealth fund set up by the Australian government, planned to buy a 17.2% stake in Gatwick Airport from GIP.[27]




Gatwick Airport area as about 1925 with current airport boundary in green outline.
The airport apron in 1973.
The airport apron in 1981 (note the increase in widebodied aircraft).
The airport control tower.
  • 1241: The name "Gatwick" is first recorded, as Gatwik, the name of a manor, on the site of today's airport (under the northmost edge of North Terminal's aircraft taxiing area). Until the 19th century, it was owned by the De Gatwick family.[28]Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words gāt, 'goat', and wīc, 'dairy farm', i.e. 'goat farm'.[29] (On the adjacent map, Gatwick Manor is at the northwest end of the racecourse; its name is somewhat obscured by the map's paper being eroded over an old crease. The site of the modern runway runs roughly from the racecourse to the lane junction at Hydefield farm southeast of Charlwood. Comparing old and new maps seems to show that the modern Gatwick Manor hotel is not the old Gatwick Manor but a rename for another old building, near Lowfield Heath.)
  • 21 September 1841: The London and Brighton Railway opened, running near Gatwick Manor.
  • 1890: The descendants of the original owners sold the area to the newly established Gatwick Race Course Company.
  • 1891: The new owners opened a horse racecourse beside the London–Brighton railway, and a dedicated stationincluding sidings for horse boxes.[28] The course held steeplechase and flat races. During World War I the course hosted the Grand National.[28]

[edit]Airport infrastructure and airline operations


  • Late 1920s: Land adjacent to the racecourse at Hunts Green Farm along Tinsley Green Lane was used as anaerodrome.
  • August 1930: Following a change in land ownership, the aerodrome was licensed. It was called Gatwick Aerodrome.[30]
  • Later in 1930: The Surrey Aero Club was formed at the aerodrome by a Mr Waters, who had been the manager of Home Counties Aircraft Service Ltd based at Penshurst Airfield in Kent. Surrey Aero Club used the old Hunts Green farmhouse as club house.[31]
  • 1932: Redwing Aircraft Company bought the aerodrome and operated a flying school. The aerodrome was also used for pilots flying in to races.
  • 1933: The Air Ministry approved commercial flights from Gatwick. The aerodrome was sold for £13,500 to Morris Jackaman, an investor.
  • 1934: Morris Jackaman formed a new airport company named Airports LimitedHillman's Airways became Gatwick's first commercial airline operator as a result of starting scheduled services from the airport to Belfast and Paris.
  • 1935: A new airline named Allied British Airways was formed, by a merger between Hillman's Airways, United Airwaysand Spartan Airways. The newly formed carrier, which subsequently shortened its name to British Airways, became Gatwick's principal operator.[28]
  • 6 July 1935: Gatwick Aerodrome closed for building works (building of the The Beehive (a circular terminal building) commenced).
  • September 1935: A new railway station called Gatwick served by two trains an hour on the Victoria–Brighton line opened. (The present Gatwick station is on the same site.)
  • 30 September 1935: Tinsley Green railway station opened 0.85 mi (1.37 km) south of the present Gatwick station.
  • May 1936: Some flights started.
  • 17 May 1936: The first scheduled flight to depart The Beehive was bound for Paris. The applicable air fare was £4 5s, including a first class rail ticket from London Victoria.[28]
  • 6 June 1936 Gatwick airport officially reopened; The Beehive officially opened. The Beehive was designed by Frank Hoar and included a subway to Gatwick Airport railway station that let passengers travel from London Victoria Station to the aircraft without stepping outside. Tinsley Green railway station was renamed Gatwick Airport.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38]
  • September and November 1936: Two fatal accidents questioned the airport's safety.[39][40][41] Moreover, the area was prone to fog and waterlogging as a result of poor drainage due to heavy clay soils. This in turn caused the new subway to flood after rain.
  • 1937: As a result and because longer landing strips were needed, the pre-war British Airways moved to Croydon Airport. Gatwick went back to private flying and was contracted as a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying school.[28] The airport also attracted repair companies.
  • September 1939: The Air Ministry requisitioned Gatwick.[28]
  • World War II: Although the airfield became a base for RAF night-fighters and an army co-operation squadron, it was mainly a repair and maintenance facility.[42]
  • 1940: Horse racing at Gatwick stopped and never restarted.


  • 1946: Gatwick Airport was officially decommissioned, but the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation continued to operate it as a civil airfield, initially for a six-month trial period.[28] During that period, the airport provided maintenance facilities and charter companies flying war-surplus aircraft started to use it; however, persistent drainage issues affected the airport's usage. Most commercial air services were cargo flights. The original Gatwick railway station was renamed Gatwick Racecourse.
  • November 1948: The owners warned that the airport could be de-requisitioned by November 1949 and revert to private use. Stansted was favoured as London's second airport and Gatwick's future was in doubt.
  • 1950: Despite opposition from local authorities, the Cabinet decided that Gatwick was to be an alternative to Heathrow.
  • July 1952: The Government said that the airport was to be developed, primarily to cater to aircraft diverted from Heathrow in bad weather.
  • 1956–1958: Temporary closure for a £7.8 million renovation.[28][42][43] During that period, British European Airways (BEA) continued using Gatwick for itshelicopter operations.[43] The redevelopment was carried out by Alfred McAlpine.[44] It entailed diverting the A23 London—Brighton trunk road and the River Mole, and building the runway across the erstwhile racecourse site and rebuilding the former racecourse railway station alongside the new terminal.[43] The main pier of what is now the South Terminal was built during this construction work.


  • 27 May 1958: The original Gatwick railway station, which had been rebuilt, reopened as Gatwick Airport. The railway station at Tinsley Green shut and never reopened.
  • 30 May 1958: Before the official opening, Transair operated the first commercial air service from the new Gatwick;[28][45][46] a Jersey Airlines de Havilland Heron was the first scheduled aircraft to arrive at the newly reconstructed airport.[30][47]
PEOPLExpress Boeing 747 at the satellite pier of the South Terminal in June 1983. The North Terminal is under construction in the background
  • 9 June 1958: Queen Elizabeth II flew into the new airport in a de Havilland Heron of the Queen's Flight to perform the opening. The first "official" flight to depart Gatwick following the reopening ceremony was a BEA DC-3 operating acharter for Surrey County Council to Jersey and Guernsey.[43] Gatwick was the world's first airport with a direct railway link and the first to combine mainline rail travel, trunk road facilities and an air terminal building in one unit.[42] It was also one of the first to have an enclosed pier-based terminal, which allowed passengers to walk under cover to waiting areas close to aircraft with only a short walk outdoors.[28] Another novel feature of Gatwick's new air terminal was its modular design. This permitted subsequent, phased expansion.[43]
  • 1958/59: BEA started using Gatwick. Sudan Airways and BWIA West Indies Airways were among Gatwick's first scheduled overseas airlines. The former's Blue Nile services were the first scheduled flights from Gatwick by a foreign airline.[nb 2] These services operated between Khartoum and London Gatwick via CairoAthens and Rome, initially usingAirwork Vickers Viscount aircraft. British United Airways (BUA) assumed this operation the following year, as a result of the Airwork – Hunting-Clan merger. (BUA were also acting as Sudan Airways's technical advisers.)[48][49] US supplemental carriers[nb 3] Seven Seas Airlines, Capitol International, President Airlines and Transocean Airlines, as well as various South European andScandinavian charter operators, figured prominently among Gatwick's early overseas users.[49]
  • Late 1950s: From here on, a number of Britain's private airlines established themselves at Gatwick. The first was Transair.[50] It was followed by Airwork, Hunting-Clan and Morton Air Services. In July 1960, these merged to form British United Airways. Throughout the 1960s, BUA was Britain's largest independent[nb 4] airline. During that decade, it became Gatwick's largest resident airline. By the end of the decade, it also became the airport's leading scheduled operator, with a 44,100 mi (71,000 km) network of short, medium and long-haul routes across EuropeAfrica and South America. These were served with contemporary BAC One-Eleven and Vickers VC10 jet aircraft.[51]
  • Early 1960s: Despite rapid expansion of BUA's and other airlines' scheduled activities at Gatwick, the airport was dominated by non-scheduled services well into the 1980s. The bulk of these were inclusive tour (IT) passenger services provided by a growing number of British independent operators and their overseas counterparts. During the 1960s, IT services accounted for between two-thirds and three-quarters of Gatwick's annual passengers, earning the airport its bucket and spade tag.[49]
  • 1962: Two additional piers were added.[30]
  • 1 May 1963: Non-scheduled operators began implementing the Ministry of Aviation's instruction to transfer all regular charter flights from Heathrow to Gatwick, restricting the former's use for non-scheduled operations to "occasional" charter flights only.[52]
  • 1964: Gatwick's original, relatively short 7,000 ft (2,134 m) 1950s runway was extended by 1,200 ft (365 m) to 8,200 ft (2,499 m) due to new noise rules governing the operation of jet aircraft at airports close to or surrounded by densely populated urban areas.[28][53] BEA Helicopters made Gatwick their administrative and engineering base.[54]
  • 1965: By now, each of the three piers was nearly 1,000 ft (300 m) long and the entire terminal complex had a floor area of 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2).[28][42]Fully extendible jet bridges were added when the piers were rebuilt and extended in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[28]


Inter-terminal transit track andSofitel hotel. The North Terminal building is in the background
Gatwick's North Terminal building and transit station
  • 1970: Second extension of Gatwick's runway by 875 ft (267 m) to 9,075 ft (2,766 m) to permit non-stop jet operations to the US east coast with a full payload and full-range/payload operations by British United and Caledonian BAC One-Eleven 500s.[28][55] BEA Airtours made Gatwick their base.[56]
  • Late November 1970: BUA was acquired by the Scottish charter airline Caledonian Airways. The new airline was known as Caledonian//BUA. BUA's takeover by Caledonian enabled the latter to transform itself into a scheduled airline. In addition to scheduled routes inherited from BUA, it launched scheduled services to Europe, North and West AfricaNorth America as well as the Middle and Far East during the 1970s and '80s.
  • September 1971: Caledonian//BUA became British Caledonian (BCal).
  • November 1971: BCal commenced the first scheduled service by a wholly private UK airline since the 1930s between London and Paris from Gatwick to Le Bourget.[57]
  • November 1972: Laker Airways became the first operator of widebody aircraft at Gatwick, following the introduction of two McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-10 aircraft.[58] Laker's DC-10 fleet expanded throughout the 1970s and early '80s. This included longer-range -30s, which were introduced from 1980.
  • 1973: Third extension of Gatwick's runway to 10,165 ft (3,098 m) to allow non-stop narrowbody operations to the US west coast with a full payload and commercially viable, long-range widebody operations.[28]
  • April 1973: BCal inaugurated the first transatlantic scheduled services by a private UK airline to New York and Los Angeles.[59][60]
  • March and May 1977: BCal introduced its first two DC-10-30s at Gatwick.[61]
  • 26 September 1977: Laker Airways launched Skytrain, Gatwick's first daily long-haul, no frills flights to John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport.[62]
  • Late 1970s: Several Government initiatives in support of Gatwick's development resulted in steady growth in passenger numbers in the late 1970s. Amongst these, were new policies seeking the transfer of all scheduled services between London and the Iberian peninsula from Heathrow to Gatwick[63] and compelling all airlines that were planning to operate a scheduled service to or from London for the first time to use Gatwick instead of Heathrow. The latter policy was officially known as the "London [Air] Traffic Distribution Rules". It came into effect on 1 April 1978 and was applied retroactively from 1 April 1977. These rules were designed to achieve a fairer distribution of traffic between London Heathrow and London Gatwick, the UK's two main international gateway airports. The policy was aimed at increasing Gatwick's utilisation to help the airport make a profit.[64][65] Another pro-active measure the Government took to aid Gatwick's development at the time was to grant permission for a high-frequency helicopter shuttle service linking both of London's main airports.[66]
  • 9 June 1978: The 20th anniversary of Gatwick's reopening by Queen Elizabeth II coincided with the joint inauguration by BCal, British Airways Helicopters and the BAA of a new helicopter shuttle service linking the airport with London Heathrow.[67][68]
  • August 1980: BCal launched the UK's first private scheduled air service to Hong Kong (via Dubai).[59][60]
  • 1982: BCal started to operate a small fleet of Boeing 747–200s at Gatwick.[69]
  • 1983: As passenger numbers grew, a circular satellite pier was added to the terminal building, connected to the main terminal by the UK's first automatedpeople mover system[28] (now replaced with a walkway and travelators). There was a need for more capacity and a second terminal was planned. As a result, construction began on the North Terminal, the largest construction project south of London in the 1980s. It cost £200 million.[70][71][72]
The airport in 1984.
  • 1984: The new air traffic control tower opened. The non-stop Gatwick Express rail service to London Victoria station was launched.[72]
  • July 1985: A British Airways Concorde operated the type's first-ever commercial flight from Gatwick.[30]
  • Year ending April 1987: Gatwick overtook New York JFK as the world's second-busiest international airport, handling 15.86 million international passengers – 100,000 more than JFK.[73]
  • 18 March 1988: Queen Elizabeth II opened the North Terminal.[74] Gatwick's two terminals were connected by an automated rapid track transit system.
  • End of the 1989/90 financial year: Scheduled passengers outnumbered holidaymakers travelling on non-scheduled services for the first time in Gatwick's post-war history. The latter had accounted for more than half the airport's passengers during the 1970s and most of the 1980s.[75]
  • 1991: The North Terminal was expanded with a second aircraft pier.
  • 1991–1992: Dan-Air replaced Air Europe as Gatwick's principal short-haul scheduled operator following the latter's demise at the beginning of that period.Dan-Air and Air Europe had played an important role in the development of Gatwick and its short-haul scheduled route network.[76][77][78][79][80][81]
  • 1994: The North Terminal international departures lounge and phase 1 of the South Terminal international departures lounge opened. Both developments cost £30 million.[28]
  • 1998: Fourth extension of Gatwick's runway to 10,879 ft (3,316 m) to enable longer-range operations with fully laden widebody aircraft.[28]


The Bridge to Pier 6 in the North Terminal opened in 2005
  • 2000 and 2001: Gatwick's two terminals were further expanded to add more seating, retail space and catering outlets, at a total cost of £60 million. This included an extension to the North Terminal departure lounge completed in 2001.[28]
  • 2005: A £110 million additional aircraft pier (Pier 6) opened, adding an extra 11 pier-served aircraft stands. Linked by the world's largest air passenger bridge to the North Terminal's main building, it spans a taxiway, giving arriving and departing passengers views of the airport and taxiing aircraft. The same year, an extension and refurbishment to the South Terminal's baggage reclaim hall was completed, doubling it in size.
  • May 2008: Another extension was completed to the South Terminal departure lounge. In addition, a second-floor security search area opened. This terminal is now mainly used by low-cost airlines. Many former users have moved to the newer North Terminal.
  • 12 October 2009: Qatar Airways's daily QR076 Gatwick–Doha scheduled service became the first commercial flight powered by fuel made from natural gas. The Airbus A340-600HGW operating the six-hour flight ran on a 50–50 blend of synthetic gas-to-liquids (GTL) and conventional oil-based kerosene developed by Shell instead of traditional, purely oil-based aviation turbine fuel.[82][83]
  • 3 December 2009: The transfer of Gatwick's ownership from BAA Limited to Global Infrastructure Partners became effective.[19][20]


Inside the world's largest air passenger bridge at the North Terminal's Pier 6

Following the sale of the airport to GIP, Gatwick's new owners announced their intention to proceed with a previously agreed £1 billion investment programme to upgrade and expand the airport's existing infrastructure to transform the passenger experience.[84][85][86] It is hoped that this will firmly establish Gatwick as the airport of choice for air travellers whose journey begins and/or ends in London and other parts of South East England. According to Virgin Atlantic communications director Paul Charles, the prospect of offering much better facilities to Gatwick's airlines and passengers as a result of the change in ownership presents a long-term opportunity to leapfrog Heathrow in terms of airport infrastructure and passenger amenities.[87] It is expected that GIP will use its relationships to persuade new and existing airlines to consider launching additional routes from Gatwick, reinstating services suspended as a result of the global recession in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2007 and Open Skies and/or expanding their existing flying programme from the airport in the near future.[86][88][89][90][91]

  • February 2010: It was reported that GIP sold minority stakes of 12% and 15% to South Korean National Pension Service and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for £100 million and £125 million, respectively. These were sold in Gatwick's – rather than GIP's – name. The sale of these stakes is part of GIP's strategy to syndicate the equity portion of the original acquisition by issuing bonds to refinance bank debt. Although this entails bringing in additional investors in the airport, GIP aims to retain management control.[23][24]
  • 18 June 2010: It was announced that Californian state pension fund CalPERS had spent approximately US$155 million (£104.8 million) on acquiring a 12.7% stake in Gatwick Airport from GIP, marking the US$200 billion fund's first direct infrastructure investment.[25][26]
  • 22 June 2010: Gatwick Airport Limited launched a new competitive brand featuring the tagline "YOUR LONDON AIRPORT – Gatwick" alongside a rebrand from "London Gatwick Airport" to the original "Gatwick Airport". Created by advertising agency Lewis Moberly, the new blue-and-white corporate identity is intended as a challenger brand to BAA and aims to differentiate Gatwick from rival Heathrow in support of majority owner GIP's corporate goal to establish Gatwick as London's airport of choice for passengers and airlines.[92][93][94]
  • 16 November 2010: Gatwick Airport Limited announced the appointment of Guy Stephenson as its new commercial director, with responsibility for the airport's airline route development and car parking strategies.[91]
  • 21 December 2010: The Financial Times reported that the A$69 billion (£44 billion) Future Fund, a sovereign wealth fund set up by the Australian government in 2006, intended to buy a 17.2% stake in Gatwick Airport from GIP for £145 million. This transaction will complete GIP's equity syndication process for Gatwick. Although this will reduce GIP's stake to 42%, the private equity firm's extra voting rights will enable it to retain control of the airport's board.[27]



Gatwick handled 186,172 passengers during its first seven months of operation following the 1956–58 reconstruction. By 1959, the number of passengers passing through the airport each year had grown to 368,000.[28]

In 1968, annual passenger numbers at Gatwick hit the two million mark for the first time.[95]

By the early 1970s, five million passengers used Gatwick each year. Within a decade, this figure doubled to ten million. It doubled again to over 20 million by the late 1980s.[28][96][97]

By the turn of the millennium, Gatwick handled more than 30 million passengers annually.[28]

[edit]2000 onwards

Gatwick Airport Passenger Totals 2000-2011 (millions)
Updated: 22 January 2012[3][10]
Number of Passengers[nb 5]Percentage ChangeNumber of Movements[nb 6]Freight (tonnes)
Source: 2000–2010 UK Civil Aviation Authority[3]2011 Gatwick Airport Limited[10]

Although the 33.6 million passengers passing through London Gatwick in 2011 represented an increase of 7.3% over the 31.3 million passengers using Gatwick in 2010, this figure was still 1½ million short of the 35 million the airport handled in 2007, the peak year for annual passenger traffic. Gatwick recorded 244,741 aircraft movements during 2011, 4.7% more than in 2010.[10][98]

All passenger traffic components – with the exception of European charter and other long-haul[nb 7] traffic – showed increases over the corresponding figures for 2010. Amongst these, European scheduled traffic showed a sharp, double-digit increase of 15.7% to 17.64 million passengers while UK[nb 8]Irish and North Atlantic traffic recorded smaller, single-digit increases of 7.0, 5.8 and 2.6% to 3.63, 1.29 and 1.95 million passengers respectively. On the other hand, European charter and other long-haul[nb 9] traffic saw declines of 4.9 and 4.7% to 4.80 and 4.79 million passengers respectively. Passenger load factors rose by 2.9% to 76.4%. Air freight registered a steep, double-digit decline of 15.3% to 88,214 metric tonnes.[10]

December 2011 saw a further increase in Gatwick's passenger numbers – the twelfth consecutive monthly gain for the year. Compared with December 2010, the total number of passengers passing through the airport grew by 19.8% to 2.27 million. However, this high growth was distorted by the severe winter weather during the corresponding period in 2010, which had resulted in a large number of flight cancellations/diversions and extended periods of airport closure. Excluding weather-related factors, Gatwick's passenger traffic increased by 4.3% in December 2011 (compared with the corresponding prior year period). All traffic components registered increases over the corresponding prior year period, primarily as a result of weather-related distortions affecting the figures for the latter period. Amongst individual passenger traffic components, Irish, UK[nb 10] and European scheduled traffic recorded large, double-digit increases of 34.1, 29.6 and 27.9% to 100,200, 284,400 and 1.196 million passengers respectively, while European charter, North Atlantic and other long-haul[nb 11] traffic saw smaller, single-digit increases of 4.4, 4.3 and 3% to 176,400, 118,100 and 394,200 passengers respectively. Air transport movements grew by 14.9% to 17,474. Cargo volume rose by 2.8% to 7,570 metric tonnes.[10]


Gatwick today 


South Terminal zone A check-in concourse

Gatwick Airport has two terminals, North and South. Both have shops and restaurants, landside and airside. Disabled passengers can travel through all areas. There are facilities for baby changing and feeding, and play areas and video games for children. Business travellers have lounges offering business facilities. On 31 May 2008, Virgin Holidays opened V Room, Gatwick's first dedicated lounge for leisure travellers. Use of this lounge is exclusive to Virgin Holidays customers flying from the airport to OrlandoLas Vegas and the Caribbean with sister airline Virgin Atlantic.[100][101] On 9 April 2009, a new independent pay-for-access lounge called No.1 Traveller opened in the South Terminal. It also serves US Airways Envoypassengers. There is also a conference and business centre. Furthermore, the airport has several on- and off-site hotels. These range from executive to a capsule hotel. The airport has Anglican, Catholic and Free Church Chaplains. In addition, there is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal. A daily service is led by one of the chaplains. The prayer room is open to all faiths.[102]

South Terminal international arrivals concourse

The Civil Aviation Authority Safety Regulation Group is in Aviation House.[103] WesternGeco, a geophysical services company, has its head office and its Europe/Africa offices in the Schlumberger House,[104][105][106] a 124,000 sq ft (11,500 m2) building on the grounds of Gatwick Airport,[104][107] near the south terminal. WesternGeco had a 15-year lease on the building which was scheduled to expire in June 2008. In 2007, WesternGeco reached an agreement with its landlord,BAA Lynton, and extended its lease at Schlumberger House until 2016. Its initial rent was £2.1 million.[107]

In 1968, British United Airways relocated its head office to Gatwick from Portland House in London.[108] After Caledonian Airways acquired British United Airways, the resulting airline, British Caledonian, had its head office at Gatwick.[109][110]When CityFlyer Express operated, the airline's head office was in the Iain Stewart Centre.[111] When Laker Airways andTradewinds Airways operated, they had their head offices on the airport property.[112][113][114]

[edit]City Place Gatwick

Gatwick Airport has an office complex on the airport property, called City Place Gatwick.[115] The complex includes four buildings: The Beehive, a former terminal building;[36][37][38] the BT building, 2 City Place, and 3 City Place.[116] City Place was developed by BAA Lynton.[117] BT Wholesale and BDO Internationalcurrently occupy offices in the complex.[118][119] Companies that once had their head offices in buildings in the complex include GB Airways and CP Ships.[120][121]

[edit]Major airlines

In 2010, EasyJetBritish Airways (BA), Thomson AirwaysMonarch Airlines and Thomas Cook Airlines were Gatwick's five biggest airlines, in terms of passengers carried.[122] Amongst these, BA and EasyJet were its two dominant resident airlines. In late 2007, BA and EasyJet accounted for 25% and 17% of Gatwick's slots. The latter's share of slots subsequently rose to 24% as a result of its takeover of BA franchise carrier GB Airways, which accounted for 7% of slots (late 2007). The acquisition of GB Airways in March 2008 resulted in EasyJet becoming Gatwick's biggest short-haul operator accounting for 29% of short-haul passengers (ahead of BA's 23%)[123] and Gatwick's largest airline overall, with flights to 62 domestic and European destinations (at April 2008).[124] By summer 2011, EasyJet had further reinforced its position as Gatwick's leading airline by increasing the number of destinations served from the airport to 92, using a fleet of 46 aircraft.[125] Gatwick is the airline's largest base, where its 11 million passengers per annum accounted for 35% of the airport's yearly total in 2011.[126]

British Airways aircraft on stand at the North Terminal's Pier 5

On 30 March 2008, airlines began down-sizing transatlantic operations due to the new EU-US Open Skies Agreement.Continental Airlines became the second transatlantic carrier – after American Airlines[127] – to pull out of Gatwick altogether, following its decision to transfer the seasonal Cleveland service to Heathrow from 3 May 2009.[128][129] The slots vacated by these moves as well as by the collapse of ZoomXL Airways UK and Sterling were taken by EasyJet, FlybeNorwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.

By late 2008, easyJet's share of Gatwick slots had grown to about 26%,[130][131] while Flybe had become Gatwick's third-largest slot-holder accounting for 9% of the airport's slots, as well as its fastest-growing airline.[131][132][133] The latter airline has also become Gatwick's largest domestic operator, whose eight routes serving the airport from other destinations in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man carried 1.2 million passengers in its 2010/11 financial year.[134] From a peak of 40% in 2001, BA's share of Gatwick slots declined by 50% to 20% by summer 2009.[131] By late 2011, EasyJet's share of Gatwick slots had further grown to 35%.[135] As of summer 2012, EasyJet will control 45% of Gatwick's early morning peak time slots from 6am to 8.55am, as many as the airport's next five biggest users combined.[nb 12][136]

[edit]Changing character of airport

South Terminal zone K check-in concourse

According to the evidence Flybe submitted at a Competition Commission hearing into BAA Limited's market dominance at the beginning of 2008, Gatwick's dynamics were changing rapidly as a result of recent changes in its traffic pattern. These were likely to transform the airport from a secondary intercontinental airline hub into a predominantly European and domestic operation feeding London and specifically the south London market.[137]


Gatwick operates as a single runway airport. It has two runways; however, the northern runway (08L/26R) can only be used when the main runway (08R/26L) is out of use, for example because of maintenance or an accident. The runways cannot be used at the same time because there is not enough separation between them, and during normal operation the northern runway is used as a taxiway.[28][71][72] It can take 15 minutes to change from one runway to the other.

Various aircraft at the North Terminal's Pier 4

The main runway operates with a Category III Instrument Landing System (ILS). The northern runway does not have an ILS and, when it is in use, arriving aircraft use a combination of Distance Measuring Equipment and assistance from the approach controller using surveillance radar, or where equipped and subject to operator approval, an RNAV (GNSS) Approach, which is also available for the main runway.[138] On all runways, considerable use is made of continuous descent approach to minimise environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night.[139]

Night flights are subject to restrictions.[140] Between 11 pm and 7 am the noisiest aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) may not operate. In addition, between 11.30 pm and 6 am (the night quota period) there are three limits:

  • An overall limit on the number of flights;
  • Quota Count system which limits the total of noise permitted, but allows operators to choose to operate fewer noisy aircraft or a greater number of quieter planes;[141]
  • QC/4 aircraft may not operate at night.


No sharp objects sign at Gatwick Airport

The airport is policed by the Gatwick District of Sussex Police. The district is responsible for policing the whole airport, including aircraft, and in certain circumstances, aircraft in flight. The 150 officers attached to this district include armed and unarmed officers, and community support officers for minor offences. The airport district counter man-portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) by patrolling in and around the airport. A separate sub-unit has vehicle checks around the airport.[142]

Brook House, an immigration removal centre of the UK Border Agency was opened on 18 March 2009 by the then Home SecretaryJacqui Smith.[143]

The airport is one of three UK airports to feature body scanners; initially, they are located only in the North Terminal.

[edit]Airlines and destinations

Gatwick has two terminals: North and South. The South Terminal is Gatwick's older and busier terminal, and is also where the airport railway station is located. The following list includes all scheduled services to and from Gatwick Airport, as well as seasonal charter flights.[144]

Aer LingusCork, Dublin, Knock
Seasonal charter: Grenoble, Friedrichshafen, Lyon, Turin, Geneva
Aerosvit AirlinesKiev-BoryspilSouth
AirAsia XKuala Lumpur [ends 1 April 2012][145][146]South
Air BerlinNurembergNorth
Air ChinaBeijing-Capital [begins 1 May 2012][147][148]North
Air EuropaMadridSouth
Air MaltaMaltaSouth
Air MoldovaChişinăuSouth
Air OneMilan-Malpensa [begins 25 March 2012][149]South
Air TransatToronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa [resumes 8 May 2012], Vancouver
Air ZimbabweHarareSouth
Al-Naser AirlinesBaghdadSouth
Aurigny Air ServicesGuernseySouth
BH AirSeasonal: Burgas [begins 19 May 2012], Sofia, VarnaSouth
British AirwaysAlgiers [begins 25 March 2012], Amsterdam, Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Bologna, Bordeaux, Cancún, Catania, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Faro, Genoa, Glasgow-International, Grenada, Jersey, Kingston, Málaga, Malé, Manchester, Marseille, Marrakech, Mauritius, Montego Bay [ends 25 March 2012],[150] Naples, Nice [begins 25 March 2012], Orlando, Port of Spain, Pristina, Punta Cana, Rome-Fiumicino, St Kitts, St Lucia, Salzburg, San Juan, Tampa, Thessaloniki, Tirana, Tobago, Tunis, Turin, Venice-Marco Polo, Verona
Seasonal: Bari, Geneva, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Paphos, Pisa
Bulgaria AirSeasonal: VarnaSouth
Cimber SterlingBillundSouth
Croatia AirlinesZagreb
Seasonal: Split
Cubana de AviaciónHavana, HolguínSouth
Delta Air LinesAtlantaNorth
EasyJetAberdeen, Agadir, Alicante, Amman-Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Antalya, Arrecife, Barcelona, Bari [begins 12 June 2012], Basel/Mulhouse, Belfast-International, Bologna, Budapest, Catania, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Faro, Fuerteventura [begins 28 March 2012], Funchal, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Gibraltar, Hurghada, Inverness, Izmir, Krakow, Larnaca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lisbon, Luxor, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Murcia, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Porto, Prague, Salzburg, Sharm el-Sheikh, Sofia, Tenerife-South, Valencia, Verona, Zagreb
Seasonal: Ajaccio, Bastia, Bodrum, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Grenoble, Heraklion, Kefallonia [begins 28 April 2012], Kos, Mykonos, Nantes, Rhodes, Santorini-Thira, Zakynthos
EasyJetAlmería, Athens, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bordeaux, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Innsbruck, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Montpellier, Munich, Nice, Palermo, Pisa, Rome-Fiumicino, Seville, Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Venice-Marco Polo, Vienna, Zürich
Seasonal: Biarritz, Dubrovnik, Ibiza, La Rochelle, Minorca, Olbia, Split
EasyJet SwitzerlandBasel/Mulhouse, GenevaNorth
Estonian AirTallinnSouth
FlybeAberdeen, Belfast-City, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Nantes, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newquay
Seasonal: Bergerac
Charter: Chambéry
Hi FlyGeorgetown, Mount PleasantSouth
Hong Kong AirlinesHong Kong [begins 8 March 2012][151][152][153]North
Iceland ExpressReykjavik-KeflavíkSouth
Jat AirwaysBelgrade [begins 26 March 2012][154]South
Jet2.comChartered Seasonal: Chambéry, TromsoSouth
Korean AirSeoul-Incheon [begins 28 April 2012][155][156][157][158]North
Meridiana Fly operated byAir ItalyFlorenceNorth
MonarchScheduled: Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Lanzarote, Málaga, Milan-Malpensa [begins 25 March 2012], Minorca, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Venice-Marco Polo [begins 25 March 2012]
Scheduled Seasonal: Antalya [begins 3 May 2012], Bodrum, Dalaman, Dubrovnik [begins 1 May 2012], Heraklion [begins 1 May 2012], Ibiza, Larnaca, Paphos
Chartered Seasonal: Banjul, Chania, Corfu, Goa, Grenada, Hassi Messaoud, Heraklion, Huesca, Innsbruck, Kefalonia, Kittilä, Kos, Lamezia Terme, Luxor, Malé, Mombasa, Montreal-Trudeau, Mytilene, Orlando-Sanford, Preveza, Rhodes, Skiathos, Sofia, Tobago, Volos, Zakynthos
Montenegro AirlinesTivat [resumes 25 March 2012]South
Norwegian Air ShuttleÅlesund, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gothenburg-Landvetter [begins 29 March 2012],[159] Helsinki, Oslo-Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm-Arlanda, Trondheim
Scheduled Seasonal: Aalborg
Pegasus AirlinesSeasonal: Antalya, DalamanSouth
RossiyaSt PetersburgSouth
RyanairAlicante [ends 23 March 2012], Cork, Dublin, Kaunas, Madrid, Moss-Rygge, Seville, Shannon, Stockholm-Skavsta
Seasonal: Rome-Ciampino
SATA InternationalPonta Delgada-João PauloSouth
Sky AirlinesSeasonal charter: AntalyaSouth
Strategic AirlinesCorfu, Heraklion, Larnaca, Paphos, Rhodes, Skiathos, Thessaloniki, ZakynthosSouth
Sun Country AirlinesSeasonal: Minneapolis/St. PaulSouth
Sunwing AirlinesSeasonal: Toronto-PearsonNorth
TAP PortugalFunchal, Lisbon, PortoSouth
Thomas Cook AirlinesAntalya, Bodrum, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Dalaman, Enfhida, Fuerteventura, Holguín, Hurghada, Izmir, Lanzarote, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Montego Bay, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Acapulco, Agadir, Almería, Banjul, Barbados, Brescia, Burgas, Corfu, Djerba, Faro, Geneva, Goa, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Lleida-Alguaire, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, Lemnos, Luxor, Malta, Minorca, Naples, Olbia, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Preveza, Reus, Rhodes, Rovaniemi, Salzburg, Santorini, Skiathos, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Turin, Varadero, Zakynthos
Thomson AirwaysAgadir, Alicante, Antalya, Aswan, Banjul, Boa Vista, Cancún, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Girona, Heraklion, Holguín, Lanzarote, La Romana, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Liberia, Luxor, Málaga, Malé, Malta, Marrakech, Marsa Alam, Mersa Matruh, Mombasa, Monastir, Montego Bay, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Sal, Santa Cruz de la Palma, Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Tenerife-South, Varadero
Seasonal: Acapulco, Alghero, Aruba, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Catania, Chania, Colombo, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Faro, Figari, Ibiza, İzmir, Kalamata, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, Minorca, Mykonos, Mytilene, Naples, Pisa, Plovdiv, Preveza, Pula, Reus, Rhodes, Samos, Samaná, Santorini, Skiathos, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Tivat, Venice-Marco Polo, Verona, Zakynthos
Titan AirwaysSeasonal Charter: ChambérySouth
TunisairDjerba, Enfidha, MonastirSouth
Turkish Airlinesİstanbul-AtatürkNorth
Ukraine International AirlinesKiev-BoryspilSouth
United AirwaysDhakaSouth
US AirwaysCharlotteSouth
Vietnam AirlinesHanoi, Ho Chi Minh CityNorth
Virgin Atlantic AirwaysAntigua, Barbados, Cancún [begins 12 June 2012],[160] Grenada, Havana, Kingston [ends 16 April 2012],[161][162] Las Vegas, Montego Bay, Orlando, St Lucia, TobagoSouth

[edit]Ground transport

North Terminal A23 roundabout

Gatwick has set the objective that 40% of passengers should be using public transport by the time the annual throughput reaches 40 million (estimated in 2015), from the 2006 figure of 35.3%.[163]


The airport is accessed by a motorway spur road at junction 9A of the M23, which links to the main M23 motorway 1 mi (1.6 km) east at junction 9. The M23 connects with London's orbital motorway, the M25, 9 mi (14 km) north. This gives access to much of Greater London, the South East and beyond. The M23 is the main route for traffic to the airport. Gatwick can also be accessed by the A23, which serves Horley and Redhill to the north and Crawley and Brighton to the south. The A217provides access northwards to the local town of Reigate.

The airport has long and short-stay car parks – at the airport and off-site – although these are often full in summer. Local planning restrictions limit car parking at and around Gatwick.


[hide]Gatwick Express route map
Interchange head
London Victoria Underground no-text.svg
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AirportUnknown BSicon "KBHFxe"
Gatwick Airport
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Haywards Heath
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Burgess Hill
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Preston Park
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The Gatwick Airport railway station is next to South Terminal and provides connections along the Brighton Main Line toLondon Victoria and London Bridge stations, as well as Brighton and Worthing to the south. The Gatwick Express to Victoria, operated by Southern, is the best-known service from the station, but other companies, including First Capital Connect and First Great Western, use the station as well, and Southern provides services to Victoria and London Bridge under its own brand. First Capital Connect provide direct trains to Luton Airport and First Great Western trains provide a direct rail link with Reading and connections with Oxford and the West.

Foot passengers can reach Heathrow by a X26 Express Bus from outside East Croydon station.

[edit]Bus and coach

National Express Coaches operates coaches to Heathrow Airport and Stansted Airport, as well as cities and towns throughout the region and country. Oxford Bus Company operate direct services to OxfordEasyBus operates minicoaches from both terminals to Earls Court/West Brompton. (National Express Dot2Dot used to operate a service to central London, but this ceased in 2008.)

Local buses connect North and South terminals with Crawley, Horley, Redhill, HorshamCaterham and other destinations. Services are offered by Metrobus and Fastway, a guided bus rapid transit system which was the first of its kind to be constructed outside a major city.

There are at least two sets of stairs for foot-passengers to leave South Terminal to ground-level (near the cycle route) from Zone L and the train-station area (steps are labelled Exit Q and Exit P on the ground). These allow access to bus stops for local services.


Route 21 of the National Cycle Network passes under South Terminal, allowing virtually traffic-free cycling northwards to Horley and southwards to Three Bridgesand Crawley. A goods-style lift runs between the terminal and ground level (signed "Lift to Cycle Route"), near Zone L.

[edit]Terminal transfer

[hide]Gatwick Airport Shuttle
North Terminal 
AirportUnknown BSicon "uKHSTa"
Unknown BSicon "uELEVa"
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Unknown BSicon "uELEVe"Continuation backward
to London
South Terminal 
Unknown BSicon "uKHSTe" + Hub
Station on track + Hub
National Rail Gatwick Airport
Continuation forward
to Brighton
Gatwick Airport inter-terminal transit
The satellite pier transit system in 1988

Gatwick Airport's North and South terminals are connected by a 0.75 mi (1.21 km) elevated two-way automated people mover track. The shuttle system is normally operated by two automatic, three-car driverless train vehicles. Although colloquially referred to widely as a "monorail",[164] the shuttle system runs on a dual concrete track with rubber tyres and is not technically a monorail.

The original Gatwick transit system opened in 1983 when the circular satellite pier was built, connecting the pier to the main terminal building, and was the UK's first automated people mover system. A second transit track was constructed in 1987 to link to the new North terminal.[164] The original satellite transit line was later replaced with a walkway and travelator link, but the inter-terminal shuttle remains in operation.

The original Adtranz C-100 people mover cars remained in continuous operation until 2009, in which time they travelled a total of 2.5 million mi (4 million km). In September 2009 the vehicles were withdrawn from service to allow the transit system to be upgraded. Meanwhile, the two terminals were connected by a temporary free bus service. A new operating system and shuttle cars consisting of six Bombardier CX-100 vehicles[165] was installed and the guideway and transit stations were refurbished at a cost of £45 million. The new system opened for use again on 1 July 2010, two months ahead of schedule.[166][167]


In 1979, an agreement was reached with West Sussex County Council not to build a second runway before 2019.[71][72]

In its original consultation document published on 23 July 2002[168] the Government decided to expand Stansted and Heathrow, but not Gatwick. However,Medway CouncilKent County Council and Essex County Council sought a judicial review of this decision. The judge reviewing the lawfulness of the Government's decision ruled that excluding Gatwick from the original consultation was irrational and/or unfair.[168] Following the judge's ruling and the Secretary of State for Transport's decision not to appeal, BAA published new consultation documents.[168] These included an option of a possible second runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing airport boundary, leaving the villages Charlwood and Hookwood to the north of the airport intact. This led to protests about increased noise and pollution, demolition of houses and destruction of villages.[169]

Gate area inside the North Terminal, showing flight information screens

Prior to the change of ownership, BAA planned an £874 million investment at Gatwick over five years, including increased capacity for both terminals, improvements to the transport interchange and a new baggage system for the South Terminal.[170]

In April 2008, Gatwick began work on a new inter-terminal shuttle which signalled the first major development in a £1 billion programme aimed at modernising the airport. The project included the installation of a completely new shuttle system, new shuttle cars, refurbishment of the rubber track and transformation of the terminal stations. The launch took place in July 2010 and attendees included James van Hofton, from the board of directors. The shuttle cost £43 million and features included live journey information and the use of sensory technology to count the number of passengers at stations.

On 2 December 2009, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee published a report entitled The future of aviation. With regard to Gatwick, it calls on the Government to reconsider its decision to build a second runway at Stansted, in the light of growing evidence that the business case is unconvincing and that Gatwick is a better location.[171]

Passengers passing through the airport are being made aware of the redevelopment programme in a number of different ways, including through the use of giantmobile barcodes on top of construction hoardings. Scanning these results in content about the construction work being transferred to the user's smartphone.[172]


Several options to expand Gatwick have been considered, including a third terminal and a second runway to the south of the existing runway. This would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today. If a second, wide-spaced (as opposed to close parallel) runway is approved, a new terminal could be sited between the two runways. This could either complement or replace the current South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic developments.[173]

A less ambitious alternative would extend the North Terminal further south, with another passenger bridge to an area currently occupied by aircraft stands without jet bridges (Pier 7).[173] There are also plans to expand the capacity of the North Terminal and to extend Pier 6.

In October 2009, BAA submitted planning applications for Gatwick to handle an extra six million passengers a year by 2018 and for an extension to the North Terminal to provide new check-in facilities and additional baggage reclaim hall capacity, along with a 900 space short-stay car park.[174] Crawley Borough Council's decision to approve these plans was upheld in November 2009 by the Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry despite objections from local environmental protesters.[175]

Speaking at the first Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (Gatcom) meeting since GIP's takeover of the airport (held on 28 January 2010 at Crawley's Arora Hotel), Gatwick's chairman Sir David Rowlands ruled out building a second runway for the foreseeable future, citing the high cost of the associated planning application – estimated to be between £100 million and £200 million – as the main reason for the new owners' lack of interest. At that meeting, Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate stressed GIP's preference for increasing the existing runway's capacity and confirmed GIP's plans to request an increase in the current limit on the permitted number of take-offs and landings.[176]

In October 2010, Gatwick Airport Limited received planning permission from Crawley Borough Council to adapt both terminals to handle the Airbus A380 on a regular, commercial basis.[177]

[edit]'Heathwick' rail link

Main article: Heathwick

In late 2011 the Department for Transport began studying the feasibility of a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow Airport. This rail link would form part of a plan to combine the UK's two biggest airports into a "collective" or "virtual hub" dubbed Heathwick. The scheme envisages a 35-mile high-speed rail route linking the two airports in 15 minutes, with trains travelling at a top speed of 180 mph parallel to the M25 and passengers passing through immigration or check-in only once.


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