Located 28 miles (45km) south of central London, Gatwick Airport is the second biggest airport in the UK and the world’s most-efficient single-runway airport. Serving approximately 36 million passengers a year, the airport is owned and operated by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and a group of its co-investors.
The airport has two terminals, North and South, which covers 98,000m² and 160,000m² respectively, and a single runway that handles up to 55 aircraft an hour.
The airport is currently being served by more than 45 major airlines, including but not limited to Air China, British Airways, Norwegian Air, Monarch Thomson, Thomas Cook and Virgin. It also serves as the most important base for a number of successful European airlines.
In December 2014, Gatwick Airport announced a £1bn ($1.57bn) investment plan for 2014-2019. The investment will ensure further development at the airport to compete with major airports in Europe.
The five-year investment plan constitutes multiple infrastructure projects such as renovations to the North Terminal, new check-in area and self-service bag drop zone, new security area, new departure lounge, improved retail space, renovations to the North Terminal arrival area and renovations to other passenger facilities.
The latest investment will focus on improving the North Terminal to transform it into a world-class terminal, whereas the earlier expansion improved the South Terminal to become one of the best terminals in Europe.
The passenger traffic at the airport is expected to reach approximately 41 million passengers in the next three years. The enhanced facilities and the increased floor space at the proposed North Terminal expansion will enhance the airport’s passenger handling capacity.
GIP will invest £36m ($56m) to build a new check-in area in the terminal. The area will include a self-service baggage drop area with up to 60 bag drop units and will eliminate queues, facilitate quicker check-in times and improve departure experience. The new area is scheduled to be opened in two phases between late 2015 and early 2016 and is aimed at increasing the terminal’s check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers an hour.
A new security area that can process 5,000 passengers an hour is to be opened inside the terminal in 2016. The £30m ($47m) facility will feature reconfigured lanes and floor wayfinding.
An estimated £21m ($33m) will be invested on the construction of new departure lounge in the terminal. New retail space of 30,000ft² will be created in the terminal, which will accommodate a new duty free store to be opened in 2017.
Gatwick Airport will invest £10m ($15m) on the renovation of arrival area inside the terminal. The existing shops and facilities will be relocated to create more concourse space within the area. The refurbished area is scheduled for opening in mid-2015.
Other passenger facilities such as lifts, escalators and technology infrastructure will be replaced and an amount of £250m ($391m) will be spent towards their maintenance and replacement. Approximately £10m ($15m) will be invested to upgrade the terminal border zone to create more space, introduce new technologies and install 15 state-of-art new e-gates.
Pier 5 will be reconfigured with an investment of £80m ($125m) and a new state-of-art Pier 1 will be built at a cost of £185m ($290m). The new pier will feature aircraft stands, gate rooms, new lounge facilities and a storage area for 2,600 bags.
The government announced a major upgrade to the train station at Gatwick Airport in December 2014. The upgrade will involve an investment of £120.5m ($188m) and will redesign the station to enhance the passenger experience.
An agreement was signed between the airport and the government for the former to contribute £30m ($47m) and Network Rail a further £30m ($47m) towards the project. The expansion will double the size of the concourse area to reduce congestion and will involve the installation of more escalators and lifts for providing improved access to all platforms.
The expansion works are scheduled to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2020.
The government in 2012 appointed the Airports Commission to find out a feasible solution for the creation of new runway capacity at either Gatwick or Heathrow airport for catering to the future growth and development needs of London. The second runway at Gatwick airport was shortlisted by the commission in 2013.
Gatwick has been preferred to Heathrow as the former can provide the greatest economic boost with the least environmental impact and can deliver the runway in less time by 2025. Moreover, a new runway at Gatwick is estimated to cost £7.8bn compared to £15.6bn for that at Heathrow.
The proposed runway will be built in such a way that it operates independently and will adopt a mixed mode operation involving the use of both runways for arrivals and departures.
The Airports Commission has launched public consultation on the proposed runway, which will run until 3 February 2015. It will submit the final report to the government later in the year.
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