Gatwick Airport

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Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport logo.svg
London Gatwick, 19 April 2011 - Flickr - PhillipC.jpg
WMO: 03776
Airport type Public
Operator Gatwick Airport Limited
Serves London, United Kingdom
Location Crawley, West Sussex
Hub for British Airways
Elevation AMSL 203 ft / 62 m
Coordinates 51°08′53″N 000°11′25″W / 51.14806°N 0.19028°W / 51.14806; -0.19028Coordinates: 51°08′53″N 000°11′25″W / 51.14806°N 0.19028°W / 51.14806; -0.19028
LGW is located in West Sussex
Location in West Sussex, England
Direction Length Surface
m ft
08L/26R 2,565 8,415 Asphalt
08R/26L 3,316 10,879 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 35,444,206
Passenger change 12-13 Increase3.5%
Aircraft Movements 250,520
Movements change 12-13 Increase1.4%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Gatwick Airport[nb 1] (IATA: LGWICAO: EGKK) is 2.7 nautical miles (5.0 km; 3.1 mi) north of the centre of Crawley,[1] West Sussex, and 29.5 miles (47.5 km) south of Central London.[4] Also known as London Gatwick,[1] it is London's second-largest international airport and the second-busiest (by total passenger traffic) in the United Kingdom (after Heathrow).[5] Gatwick is Europe's leading airport for point-to-point flights[nb 2][6] and has the world's busiest single-use runway, with a maximum of 55 aircraft movements per hour.[7] Its two terminals (North and South) cover an area of 98,000 m2 (1,050,000 sq ft) and 160,000 m2 (1,700,000 sq ft), respectively.[8] In 2014, 38.1 million passengers passed through the airport, a 7.6 per cent increase on 2013.[9]

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.[10] US Airways, Gatwick's last remaining US carrier, ended service from Gatwick on 30 March 2013.[11] This leaves Gatwick without a scheduled US airline for the first time in over 35 years.[12] The airport is a base for scheduled airlines Aer Lingus, British Airways (BA), EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Virgin Atlantic and charter operators such as Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Gatwick is unique amongst London's airports in its representation of the three main airline business models: full service, low-no frills and charter.[13] During Gatwick's 2011–12 financial year,[nb 3] these accounted for 33 percent, 55 percent and 11 percent of total passenger traffic respectively.[14]

BAA Limited and its predecessors, BAA plc and the British Airports Authority, owned and operated Gatwick from 1 April 1966 to 2 December 2009.[15][16] On 17 September 2008, BAA announced it would sell Gatwick after the Competition Commission published a report about BAA's market dominance in London and the South East. On 21 October 2009 it was announced that an agreement had been reached to sell Gatwick to a consortium led by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), who also have a controlling interest in London City and Edinburgh[nb 4] airports, for £1.51 billion. The sale was completed on 3 December.[17]


Old map of Gatwick Airport area
Gatwick Airport area about 1925, with airport boundary in green. Gatwick Manor is at the northwest end of the racecourse. The modern runway runs roughly from the racecourse to the lane junction at Hydefield Farm, southeast of Charlwood.
  • 1241: First record of the name "Gatwick" (as "Gatwik"). Gatwick was a manor in the parish of Charlwood, a village in Surrey.[18] Gatwick manor house was on the site of today's airport, on the northern edge of the North Terminal's aircraft taxiing area (not the same as the present Gatwick Manor Hotel); until the 19th century, it was owned by the De Gatwick family.[19] Its name derives from the Old English gāt (goat) and wīc (dairy farm); i.e. "goat farm".[20]
  • 21 September 1841: The London and Brighton Railway opened, and ran 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 racecourse adjacent to the London-Brighton railway, to replace a racecourse in Croydon, and a dedicated station included sidings for horse boxes.[19][21] The course hosted steeplechases and flat races.
  • 1907: Gatwick Golf Club was founded.[22]
  • 1916, 1917, 1918: The Grand National was run at Gatwick during the First World War.[19] The Gatwick Golf Club disappeared following the end of the First World War.[22]


  • Late 1920s: Land adjacent to the racecourse (at Hunts Green Farm, along Tinsley Green Lane) was used as an aerodrome. The Hunts Green farmhouse on the land used for the aerodrome was converted into a clubhouse and terminal.[21]
  • November 1928: From then, Dominion Aircraft Limited based its Avro 504 G-AACX at Gatwick.
  • 1 August 1930: Ronald Waters, manager of Home Counties Aircraft Service (based at Penshurst Airfield in Kent), who had come into possession of Gatwick Aerodrome, got a licence for it.[23] He founded the Surrey Aero Club there.[24][25][26][27]
  • 2–3 August 1930: Flying began with pleasure flights for the local population in Avro 504s of Waters's Surrey Aero Club.
  • 1932: The Redwing Aircraft Company bought the aerodrome, and operated a flying school; it was also used for pilots flying in for races.
  • 1933: The Air Ministry approved commercial flights from Gatwick.
  • September 1933: A. M. (Morris) Jackaman, who owned several light aircraft, bought the aerodrome for £13,500. He had bold ideas for its future, such as expanding it to make it suitable to use as a relief aerodrome for London (Croydon) Airport and providing a regular service to Paris using de Havilland DH.84 Dragon aircraft. He overcame resistance from the Air Ministry, which was concerned about the cost of draining the clayey land and diverting the River Mole.
  • 1934: Jackaman oversaw Gatwick's transition to a public aerodrome, licensed for non-private flights, and planned a proper terminal building linked to a new railway station on the adjacent Brighton Main Line.[28] He formed a new airport company, Airports Limited. Hillman's Airways became Gatwick's first commercial airline operator, beginning scheduled services from the airport to Belfast and Paris.
  • 1935: A new airline, Allied British Airways, was formed with the merger of Hillman's Airways, United Airways and Spartan Airways. The new carrier, which shortened its name to British Airways, became Gatwick's principal operator.[19] Lack of adequate space at Heston Aerodrome resulted in Airwork Services' moving to Gatwick. Dorking and Horley Rural District Council was concerned about possible compensation claims from local residents and the threat of facing liability for flying accidents, and it "could see no benefit" to allowing further development of the aerodrome.[28][29]
  • 6 July 1935: The aerodrome closed temporarily for renovations, which included building the "Beehive", the world's first circular terminal building.
  • September 1935: Gatwick railway station opened on time, served by two trains per hour on the Victoria-Brighton line.
  • 30 September 1935: Tinsley Green station opened 0.85 mi (1.37 km) south of the present Gatwick station.
  • October 1935: The contracted opening date, but it was not met, partly because of drainage problems.
  • 17 May 1936: The first scheduled flight departed from the Beehive terminal, bound for Paris. The airfare was £4 5s, including a first-class rail ticket from London Victoria Station.[19]
  • 6 June 1936: The airport was officially reopened by the Secretary of State for Air, Lord Swinton. The Beehive, the airport's new terminal, was officially opened the same day. The Beehive was designed by Frank Hoar and incorporated several novel features, including a subway to the railway station at Tinsley Green which allowed passengers to travel from Victoria Station to the aircraft without stepping outside. After the airport's official reopening, Tinsley Green railway station was renamed "Gatwick Airport". Air Travel Ltd, which had relocated to Gatwick from Penshurst, moved into the new airport's hangar.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36] Jackaman's proposed service to Paris was included: three flights were operated each day, connecting with fast trains from London Victoria station. Combined rail and air tickets were offered for £4.5s, and there was a very short transfer time at the terminal (on some flights, as little as 20 minutes was needed).[28][37]
  • September and November 1936: Two fatal accidents happened, raising questions about the airport's safety.[38][39][40] The area was foggy, and its clay soil drained poorly; this caused the new subway to flood after rain.
  • 1937: Because of this tendency to flood, and because longer landing strips were needed, the pre-war British Airways moved to Croydon Airport. Gatwick returned to private flying, and was used as a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying school.[19]
  • September 1939: The airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry,[19] becoming a base for RAF night-fighters and an Army co-operation squadron during the Second World War (primarily for repairs and maintenance).[41]
  • 1940: Horse racing at Gatwick ended, and never restarted.


  • 1946: The airport was officially decommissioned, but the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation continued operating it as a civil airfield (initially for a six-month trial period).[19] Airwork provided maintenance at Gatwick and other charter airlines, flying war-surplus aircraft, began using the airport despite its persistent drainage problem. Most commercial air services were cargo flights. The original Gatwick railway station was renamed "Gatwick Racecourse".
  • November 1948: The airport's owners warned that it might revert to private use by November 1949; Stansted was favoured as London's second airport, and Gatwick's future was unclear.
  • 1950: Despite local opposition, the Cabinet chose Gatwick as an alternative to Heathrow, and British European Airways (BEA) began flights to the Channel Islands.[42]
  • May 1950: Gatwick's first charter flight left the airport's original grass runway for Calvi on Corsica (with a refuelling stop in Nice). Jersey-based UK independent[nb 5] airline Air Transport Charter operated this flight under contract to UK package tour pioneer Vladimir Raitz's Horizon Holidays with a 32-seat Douglas DC-3 carrying 11 passengers.[43][44]
  • 1952: BEA established a base at Gatwick for its helicopter operations.[45]
  • July 1952: The British government confirmed that the airport would be renovated, primarily for aircraft diverted from Heathrow in bad weather.
  • 1956 to 1958: The airport was closed for the £7.8 million renovation;[19][41][46] during that period, BEA continued using Gatwick for its helicopter operations.[46] The renovations were performed by Alfred McAlpine;[47] they entailed diverting the A23 LondonBrighton trunk road and the River Mole, building a runway across the former racecourse and rebuilding the former racecourse railway station next to the new terminal.[46]


  • 27 May 1958: The original Gatwick railway station (which had been rebuilt) reopened as Gatwick Airport station, and Tinsley Green station was closed.
  • 30 May 1958 (before the official opening): Transair operated the first commercial air service from the new Gatwick;[19][48][49] a Jersey Airlines de Havilland Heron was the first aircraft scheduled to arrive at the rebuilt airport.[23][50]
  • 9 June 1958: Official opening. Queen Elizabeth II flew into Gatwick in a de Havilland Heron of the Queen's Flight for the opening. The first "official" flight after the reopening ceremony was a BEA DC-3 operating a charter for the Surrey County Council to Jersey and Guernsey.[46] Gatwick was the world's first airport with a direct railway link and the first to combine mainline rail, trunk road facilities and an air terminal building in one unit.[41] It was also one of the first with an enclosed pier-based terminal, which allowed passengers to walk under cover to waiting areas near the aircraft (with only a short walk outdoors).[19] At the time, this comprised a single pier (the central and main pier pier of what is now the South Terminal). Another feature of Gatwick's new air terminal was its modular design, permitting subsequent, phased expansion.[46]
  • 1958 and 1959: Sudan Airways and BWIA West Indies Airways were among Gatwick's first scheduled overseas airlines. The former's "Blue Nile" service was the first scheduled flight from Gatwick by a foreign airline.[nb 6] The service, between Khartoum and Gatwick via Cairo, Athens and Rome, initially used Airwork Vickers Viscount aircraft. US supplemental carriers[nb 7] Seven Seas Airlines, Capitol International, President Airlines and Transocean Airlines and several South European and Scandinavian charter airlines were among the airport's early overseas users.[51]
  • Late 1950s and after: A number of British contemporary private airlines joined Airwork (Gatwick's only surviving pre-war private airline) at the airport. The first was Transair, which relocated to Gatwick from Croydon.[52] It was followed by Morton Air Services and Hunting-Clan Air Transport, relocating from Croydon and Heathrow respectively.
  • July 1960: Airwork (incorporating Gatwick-based Morton Air Services and Transair, Redhill-based Bristow Helicopters, and Southend-based Air Charter and Channel Air Bridge) merged with Hunting-Clan to form British United Airways (BUA). BUA assumed most of its predecessors' fixed-wing aircraft services, becoming Britain's biggest independent (and Gatwick's foremost resident) airline during the 1960s.[51][53] By the end of the decade, it was the airport's leading scheduled operator, with a 44,100 mi (71,000 km) network of short-, medium- and long-haul routes across Europe, Africa and South America using contemporary BAC One-Eleven and Vickers VC10 jet aircraft.[54]
  • Despite the rapid expansion of BUA's (and other airlines') scheduled activities at Gatwick, the airport was dominated by non-scheduled services into the 1980s. Most were inclusive tour (IT) passenger services provided by a number of British independent operators and their overseas counterparts. During the 1960s, IT services accounted for two-thirds to three-quarters of Gatwick's annual passengers, earning the airport its "bucket and spade" nickname.[51]
  • 1 April 1961: BEA began operating half its London–Paris flights from Gatwick; the airport's designation became "London (Gatwick)", emphasising its status as a London airport. London Airport became "London (Heathrow)".[55]
  • 1962: Two additional piers were added to the terminal.[23]
  • 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 Heathrow's use for non-scheduled operations to "occasional" charter flights.[56]
  • 26 May 1963: BUA launched "Silver Arrow", a twice-daily combined rail-air service between London and Paris, with a Viscount for the cross-Channel Gatwick–Le Touquet air service.[51][57][58]
  • 1 January 1964: BEA Helicopters made Gatwick their administrative and engineering base.[59]
  • 1964: Gatwick's original, relatively short 7,000 ft (2,100 m) late-1950s paved runway was extended by 1,200 ft (370 m) to 8,200 ft (2,500 m) due to new noise rules governing the operation of jet aircraft at airports near (or surrounded by) densely populated urban areas.[19][60]
  • 1965: By now, each of the three piers was nearly 1,000 ft (300 m) long, and the terminal complex had a floor area of 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2).[19][41]
  • 9 April 1965: a BUA One-Eleven operated the type's first commercial service from Gatwick to Genoa.[61]
  • 3 June 1965: BEA Hawker Siddeley Trident 1C G-ARPB became the first aircraft to fly an approach to Gatwick Airport automatically as part of a demonstration flight to journalists that included a total of nine fully automatic approaches to the airport.[62]
  • 4 January 1966: BUA began Gatwick's first scheduled domestic jet service to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast. The new service, known as "InterJet", made BUA the first UK domestic airline using jet aircraft exclusively.[63][64]
  • 1966: Canadian charter airline Wardair launched the first of a series of transatlantic charter flights from Gatwick to Canada with Boeing 727s.[63]
  • May 1967: Green Line Coaches launched an hourly inter-airport express coach service between Gatwick and Heathrow,[65]
  • June 1969: Westward Airways began the first inter-airport air shuttle between Gatwick and Heathrow using Britten-Norman Islanders.[66][67]


  • 1970: A second 875-foot (267 m) extension of Gatwick's runway was completed, bringing it to 9,075 ft (2,766 m) and allowing non-stop jet flights to the US east coast with a full payload and full range and payload operations by British United Airways (BUA) and Caledonian Airways BAC One-Eleven 500s.[19][68] BEA Airtours made Gatwick their base.[69]
  • September 1970: Westward Airways discontinued its inter-airport air shuttle between Gatwick and Heathrow.[70]
  • November 1970: Caledonian Airways bought British United Airways, following which the combined airline began trading as Caledonian/BUA. The acquisition let Caledonian become a scheduled airline; in addition to the routes inherited from BUA, it began scheduled services to Europe, North and West Africa, North America and the Middle and Far East during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • March 1971: Green Line extended its Gatwick–Heathrow inter-airport express coach service to Luton Airport.[71]
  • September 1971: Caledonian/BUA was renamed British Caledonian (BCal).[72]
  • November 1971: BCal began the first scheduled service between London and Paris by a private UK airline since the 1930s, operating between Gatwick and Le Bourget.[73]
  • November 1972: Laker Airways became the first operator of wide-body aircraft at Gatwick after the introduction of two McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-10 aircraft.[74] Laker's DC-10 fleet expanded during the 1970s and early 1980s; this included longer-range -30s, introduced in 1980.
  • 1973: The third extension of Gatwick's runway was completed, bringing it to 10,165 ft (3,098 m) and allowing for non-stop narrow-body operations to the US west coast and commercially viable, long-range wide-body operations.[19] Wardair became the first airline to operate Boeing 747s at Gatwick.[75] KLM augmented its Heathrow–Amsterdam service with a Gatwick–Amsterdam route, making it the first non-UK airline to split operations between Heathrow and Gatwick for commercial reasons rather than to comply with government directives.[70]
  • April 1973: BCal began the first transatlantic scheduled service by a private UK airline to New York and Los Angeles from Gatwick.[76][77]
  • 1974: The borough of Crawley was extended northwards to include Gatwick Airport and its surrounding land. Gatwick Airport thus moved from Surrey into West Sussex.[78]
  • March and May 1977: BCal introduced its first two DC-10-30s (its first wide-body aircraft) at the airport.[79]
  • 26 September 1977: Laker Airways launched Skytrain, Gatwick's first daily long-haul, no-frills flights to John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport.[80]
  • Late 1970s: By now, government initiatives supporting Gatwick's development resulted in steady growth in passenger traffic. Among these were policies seeking to transfer all scheduled services between London and the Iberian peninsula from Heathrow to Gatwick,[81] banning whole-plane charters at Heathrow[82] and requiring all airlines planning scheduled services to London for the first time to use Gatwick instead of Heathrow. This policy was known as the London [Air] Traffic Distribution Rules. The government also approved a high-frequency helicopter shuttle service linking Gatwick with Heathrow.[83]
  • 1 April 1978: The London [Air] Traffic Distribution Rules became effective, retroactive to 1 April 1977. The rules were designed to increase Gatwick's utilisation to help it become profitable.[84][85] British Airways (BA) and Aer Lingus began daily scheduled flights between Gatwick and Dublin,[83][86] the first use of Gatwick as a London terminal for scheduled services between the British and Irish capitals and the first BA scheduled service from Gatwick with aircraft based at the airport.[nb 8][83] For Aer Lingus, it was the first scheduled service from Gatwick.[83][86]
  • 9 June 1978: 20th anniversary of Gatwick's reopening by Queen Elizabeth II. BCal, British Airways Helicopters and the BAA introduced Airlink, a helicopter shuttle service operating 10 times daily to Heathrow.[87][88]
  • 31 December 1978: By now, scheduled passengers outnumbered charter passengers for the first time in Gatwick's post-war history.[89]
  • Late 1970s and early 1980s: Fully extendible jet bridges were added when the piers were rebuilt and extended.[19]


  • August 1980: BCal launched the UK's first private scheduled air service to Hong Kong (via Dubai) from the airport,.[76][77]
  • 1982: BCal began operating a small fleet of Boeing 747-200s from Gatwick.[90]
  • 28 May 1982: Pope John Paul II arrived at Gatwick on an Alitalia Boeing 727-200 Advanced, beginning the first papal visit to the United Kingdom.[91][92]
  • 2 June 1982: The Pope left Gatwick at the end of his visit aboard a BCal Boeing 707.[93]
  • December 1982: The Gatwick Hilton opened as the first hotel in Britain to be part of an airport complex.[94]
  • 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 automated people mover system.[19] (This replaced the original North pier dating from 1962, and the people mover connecting the main terminal with the satellite pier was subsequently replaced with a walkway and travelators). A second terminal was planned, and construction began on the North Terminal (the largest construction project south of London in the 1980s, costing £200 million).[95][96][97]
  • 1984: Gatwick's new air-traffic control tower opened, the tallest in the UK at the time.[97] The Gatwick Express was launched by British Rail, the world's first non-stop airport-to-city-centre rail service (between the airport and Victoria Station).[97][98]
  • 22 June 1984: Virgin Atlantic's first commercial flight left Gatwick for Newark Liberty International Airport.
  • 1985: Work began on converting the northern parallel taxiway into a second runway for emergency use.[23]
  • June 1985: British Airways operated the first commercial Concorde flight from Gatwick.[23]
  • 6 February 1986: The last Airlink helicopter shuttle service from Gatwick to Heathrow flew.[99]
  • Year ending in April 1987: Gatwick overtook New York JFK as the world's second-busiest international airport with 15.86 million international passengers.[100]
  • Late 1987 and early 1988: British Airways took over British Caledonian; the takeover began on 21 December 1987 and was completed on 14 April 1988.
  • 18 March 1988: The North Terminal was opened by Queen Elizabeth II (including an automated rapid transit system link to the South Terminal).[101]


  • End of the 1989–90 fiscal year: By now, scheduled passengers consistently outnumbered non-scheduled passengers at the airport; non-scheduled passengers had accounted for more than half the airport's passengers during the 1970s and most of the 1980s.[102]
  • 1991: A second aircraft pier was added to the North Terminal. Dan-Air replaced Air Europe as Gatwick's principal short-haul scheduled operator after Air Europe ceased trading early in 1991; both played important roles in the development of the airport's short-haul scheduled route network.[103][104][105][106][107][108]
  • 1994: The North Terminal international departure lounge and the first phase of the South Terminal international departure lounge opened, at a cost of £30 million.[19]
  • 1998: The main runway was extended for a fourth time, reaching 10,879 ft (3,316 m), to enable longer-range operations with wide-body aircraft.[19]
  • December 1999: EasyJet began operating from the airport; its first route served Geneva with aircraft and crew from EasyJet Switzerland based at Geneva Airport.


  • 2000 to 2001: Gatwick's two terminals were further expanded to add seating, retail space and catering outlets, at a cost of £60 million; this included an extension to the North Terminal departure lounge, completed in 2001.[19]
  • 2002: EasyJet began stationing planes at Gatwick.
  • 2005: Pier 6 opened at a cost of £110 million, adding 11 pier-served aircraft stands. The pier is linked to the North Terminal's main building by the largest air passenger bridge in the world, spanning a taxiway and providing passengers with views of the airport and taxiing aircraft. That year an extension and refurbishment to the South Terminal's baggage reclaim hall (doubling it in size) was completed.
  • May 2008: An extension of the South Terminal's departure lounge was completed, and a second-floor security search area opened. This terminal is now primarily used by low-cost airlines; many former users moved to the North Terminal.
  • 12 October 2009: Qatar Airways's daily QR076 Gatwick–Doha scheduled service became the first commercial flight powered by fuel derived 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 oil-based aviation fuel.[109][110]
  • 3 December 2009: Following the agreement to sell the airport to Global Infrastructure Partners, ownership of the airport transferred from BAA Limited to a consortium of private equity funds (led by GIP).[17]


  • After 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 infrastructure from 2008 to 2014.[111] GIP raised the improvement budget to £1.172 billion,[112] and an additional £1 billion from 2014 to 2019 was agreed in February 2013.[113] GIP is expected to 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 following the 2007–2009 financial crisis and the EU-US Open Skies Agreement and expanding existing operations.[114][115]
  • 22 June 2010: Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) began a new advertising campaign (by Lewis Moberly) for the airport, featuring the slogan "Your London Airport – Gatwick" and dropped "London" from the airport's name.[116][117]
  • 6 July 2012: An Emirates Airbus A380 operated the type's first scheduled service from Gatwick for the airline's 25th anniversary at the airport, in the UK and Europe and to test the aircraft's suitability for the airport.[118][119]
  • Late February 2013: Two A380-compatible stands were completed, enabling jet bridge access from the west end of the North Terminal's Pier 6.[120][121]
  • 26 March 2013: Emirates operated a second, one-off scheduled A380 flight from Gatwick to test the airport's new three-bridge gate facility at Pier 6's stand 110. This marked the opening of Gatwick's first pier-served, £6.4 million A380 stand.[121][122]
  • 31 May 2013: Demolition began of Pier 1, Gatwick's second-oldest pier (the original 1962 South pier of what is now the South Terminal) for its replacement with a £180 million, two-storey structure with five pier-served aircraft stands and an automated baggage-storage facility, due to become operational by summer 2015.[123][124]
  • 21 June 2013: Thomson Airways operated the airport's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight, a charter to Menorca which was also the commercial debut of the type for the airline.[125][126]
  • 30 March 2014: Emirates became Gatwick's first airline to operate a regular (as opposed to one-off) scheduled service with the A380.[127]
  • 29 August 2014: Gatwick's main runway handled a record 906 movements, equating to an aircraft taking off or landing every 63 seconds. This was believed to be the first time a commercial airport handled more than 900 aircraft movements in one day using only one runway.[128]

Historic images[edit]


Since 2009, the airport has been owned and operated by Gatwick Airport Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ivy Holdco Limited. Ivy Holdco is owned by a consortium of companies, with the following holdings:

Owner Shares [129]
Global Infrastructure Partners 41.95%
Future Fund Board of Guardians 17.23%
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 15.9%
The California Public Employees' Retirement System 12.78%
National Pension Service of Korea 12.4%

In February 2010, GIP sold minority stakes of 12 percent and 15 percent to the South Korean National Pension Service and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) for £100 million and £125 million, respectively, in Gatwick's (rather than GIP's) name. The sales were 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 additional investors into the airport, GIP aims to retain management control.[130][131] The Californian state pension fund CalPERS acquired a 12.7- percent stake in Gatwick Airport for about $155 million (£104.8 million) in June 2010.[132]

On 21 December 2010, the A$69 billion (£44 billion) Future Fund, a sovereign wealth fund established by the Australian government in 2006, agreed to purchase a 17.2-percent stake in Gatwick Airport from GIP for £145 million. This transaction completed GIP's syndication process for the airport, reducing its stake to 42 percent (although the firm's extra voting rights mean it still controls the airport's board).[133]



The airport has two terminals, North and South. Both have shops and restaurants landside and airside, and all areas are accessible to disabled passengers. There are facilities for baby changing and feeding, and play areas and video games for children; business travellers have specialised lounges. On 31 May 2008, Virgin Holidays opened the V Room, Gatwick's first lounge dedicated to leisure travellers, for use by Virgin Holidays customers flying to Orlando, Las Vegas and the Caribbean on sister airline Virgin Atlantic.[134]

On 9 April 2009, an independent pay-for-access lounge, No.1 Traveller, opened in the South Terminal. Gatwick has a conference and business centre, and several on- and off-site hotels ranging in class from executive to economy. The airport has Anglican, Catholic and Free Church chaplains, and there are multi-faith prayer and counselling rooms in each terminal. A daily service is led by one of the chaplains.[135]

The Civil Aviation Authority Safety Regulation Group is in Aviation House.[136] WesternGeco, a geophysical services company, has its head office and Europe-Africa-Russia offices in Schlumberger House,[137][138] a 124,000 sq ft (11,500 m2) building on the airport grounds[139] near the South Terminal. The company had a 15-year lease on the building, scheduled to expire in June 2008. In 2007, WesternGeco reached an agreement with its landlord, BAA Lynton, extending its lease to 2016 at an initial rent of £2.1 million.[139] Fastjet has its registered and head offices at Suite 2C in First Point at the airport.[140]

Before the sale, BAA planned an £874 million investment at Gatwick over five years, including increased capacity for both terminals, improvements to transport interchange and a new baggage system for the South Terminal.[141] Passengers passing through the airport are informed about the redevelopment programme with large mobile barcodes on top of construction hoardings. Scanning these transfers information on the construction to the user's smartphone.[142]

In summer 2013, Gatwick introduced Gatwick Connect, a free flight-connection service to assist passengers changing flights at Gatwick whose airlines do not provide full flight-connection service. At a Gatwick Connect desk in the baggage reclaim hall in each terminal, passengers can confirm their details or leave their bags for onward flights if already checked in online. As of August 2014, the service is available to EasyJet, Flybe, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Thomas Cook Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and WOW air passengers.[143][144]

Flight movements[edit]

Gatwick operates as a single-runway airport although it has two runways; the northern runway (08L/26R) can only be used when the main runway (08R/26L) is out of use for any reason. Documentation published by the airport in April 2014 indicates that the usable length of its main runway (08R/26L) is 11,178 ft (3,407 m) when aircraft take off in a westerly direction (26) and 10,863 ft (3,311 m) when takeoffs occur in an easterly direction (08). The documentation lists the respective usable runway lengths for the northern runway (08L/26R) as 9,974 ft (3,040 m) (direction 08) and 8,858 ft (2,700 m) (direction 26), and states that nearly three-quarters of takeoffs are towards the west (74 percent, over a 12-month period). Both runways are 148 ft (45 m) wide; they are 656 ft (200 m) apart,[145] which is insufficient for the simultaneous use of both runways. During normal operations the northern runway is used as a taxiway,[19][96][97] consistent with its original construction (although it was gradually widened).[23]

The main runway uses a Category III Instrument Landing System (ILS). The northern runway does not have an ILS; 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 (also available for the main runway).[146] On both runways, a continuous descent approach is used to minimise the environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night.[147]

Night flights are subject to restrictions;[148] between 11 pm and 7 am, noisier aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) may not operate. From 11.30 pm to 6 am (the night quota period) there are three limits:


The airport is policed by the Gatwick District of Sussex Police. The district is responsible for the entire 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 counters man-portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) by patrolling in and around the airport, and a separate sub-unit has vehicle checks around the airport.[150]

Gatwick is one of three UK airports with body scanners, located in the main search areas of both terminals. Access to airside portions of the airport is controlled and maintained by the airport's team of security officers, regulated by the Department for Transport. Brook House, an immigration-removal centre of the UK Border Agency, was opened near the airport on 18 March 2009 by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.[151]

Major airlines[edit]

By late 2014, EasyJet flew 109 routes from Gatwick with a fleet of 57 aircraft.[152][153] The airport is the carrier's largest base, and its 16 million passengers per year accounted for 45 percent of Gatwick's 2013 total[154] (ahead of Gatwick's second-largest passenger airline: British Airways (BA), whose 4.5 million passengers comprised 14 percent of total passenger traffic in 2011–12).[nb 3][155][156]

The airport is a hub for British Airways; BA and EasyJet are Gatwick's dominant resident airlines. In terms of passengers carried, both airlines were among the five largest airlines operating at Gatwick in 2010 (which also included Thomson Airways, Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook Airlines at the time).[157] In terms of total scheduled airline seats at Gatwick in 2014, EasyJet accounted for 18.36 million, more than two-and-a-half times as many as second-placed BA (seven million) and nearly five times the number offered by third-placed Norwegian (3.74 million).[158]

EasyJet's acquisition of BA franchise carrier GB Airways in March 2008 increased its share of airport slots to 24 percent (from 17 percent in late 2007); the airline became the largest short-haul operator at the airport, accounting for 29 percent of short-haul passengers.[159] By 2009, BA's share of Gatwick slots had fallen to 20 percent from its peak of 40 percent in 2001.[160] By 2010, this had declined to 16 percent.[161][162] By mid-2012, EasyJet had 45 percent of Gatwick's early-morning peak time slots (6 am to 8:55 am).[nb 9][163]

By 2008, Flybe was Gatwick's third-largest airline (accounting for nine percent of its slots) and its fastest-growing airline.[160][164] It became the airport's largest domestic operator, carrying 1.2 million passengers in its 2011–12 financial year on eight routes to destinations in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.[nb 3][165] In March 2013, the airline announced that it would end operations at Gatwick, citing unsustainably high airport charges and increases in UK Air Passenger Duty. Flybe sold its 25 pairs of daily slots[nb 10] at the airport to EasyJet for £20 million.[166][167] The latter's share of Gatwick slots increased to 44 percent in summer 2014; second-placed BA has held about 16 percent of the airport's slots since 2010.[161][162][168] Following the sale of its Gatwick slots to EasyJet, Flybe continues to provide the scheduled service between Gatwick and Newquay, as a result of being awarded the contract to fly this route under a four-year Public Service Obligation (PSO).[169]

The EU–US Open Skies Agreement, which became effective on 30 March 2008, led a number of airlines to downsize their transatlantic operations at Gatwick in favour of Heathrow. Continental Airlines was the second transatlantic carrier (after American Airlines)[170] to leave Gatwick after its decision to transfer the seasonal Cleveland service to Heathrow on 3 May 2009.[171][172]

Slots left by the US carriers (and the collapse of Zoom, XL Airways UK and Sterling) were taken by EasyJet, Flybe, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair. A number of new, full-service airlines have established operations at the airport, including Caribbean Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Swiss International Air Lines, Turkish Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. This is part of the airport's strategy to attract higher-spending business travellers (countering its dependence on European low-cost and charter markets), increasing year-round capacity utilisation by smoothing peaks and troughs in traffic. Gatwick's success in persuading these airlines to launch (or re-launch) routes to overseas destinations important for business and leisure travel was aided by a lack of comparable slots at Heathrow.[173][174][175]

City Place Gatwick[edit]

Main article: City Place Gatwick

Gatwick has an office complex on the airport property: City Place Gatwick, developed by BAA Lynton.[176][177] The complex includes four buildings: the Beehive (the former terminal)[34][35][36] and 1, 2 and 3 City Place.[178] BDO International occupy offices at 2 City Place.[179] On 5 January 2012 Nestlé announced the relocation of its UK head office from Croydon to City Place Gatwick;[180] it occupies 1 City Place.

A number of airlines have had offices at the Beehive, including BEA/British Airways Helicopters,[45][181] Jersey Airlines, Caledonian Airways, Virgin Atlantic and GB Airways.[182][183][184][185] Other airlines which had headquarters on airport property (including office buildings on the site of, or adjacent to, the original 1930s airport) include British Caledonian,[186][187] British United Airways,[188] CityFlyer Express,[189] Laker Airways[190] and Tradewinds Airways.[191][192]


Airlines and destinations[edit]

Scheduled services[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Adria Airways Seasonal: Ljubljana North
Aegean Airlines Seasonal: Athens, Heraklion (begins 21 June 2015) South
Aer Lingus Belfast-City, Dublin, Knock South
Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli South
Air Arabia Maroc Casablanca, Tangier South
airBaltic Riga South
Air Europa Madrid South
Air Lituanica Vilnius South
Air Malta Malta South
Air Transat Calgary, Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Montreal-Trudeau, St. John's (begins 18 June 2015),[193] Vancouver
Aurigny Air Services Guernsey South
Belavia Minsk South
British Airways Algiers, Alicante, Amsterdam, Antigua, Barbados, Barcelona, Bermuda, Bordeaux, Cancún, Colombo (ends 28 March 2015), Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal (begins 11 May 2015),[194] Genoa, Glasgow, Gran Canaria (begins 29 March 2015),[194] Grenada, Jersey, Kingston, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Mauritius, Naples, Nice, Orlando, Port of Spain, Providenciales (begins 29 March 2015),[195] Punta Cana, Rome-Fiumicino, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Salzburg, Seville (begins 29 March 2015),[194] Sharm el-Sheikh (begins 14 September 2015),[196] Tampa, Tenerife-South, Tirana, Tobago, Turin, Venice, Verona
Seasonal: Bari, Bodrum (begins 26 April 2015), Cagliari (begins 26 April 2015), Catania, Dalaman (begins 26 April 2015), Friedrichshafen, Geneva, Grenoble, Heraklion (begins 26 April 2015), Ibiza, Innsbruck, Malé,[197] Paphos, Pisa, Rhodes (begins 29 April 2015),[198] Thessaloniki
Caribbean Airlines Port of Spain North
Croatia Airlines Seasonal: Split South
easyJet Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bari,[199] Basel/Mulhouse, Belfast-International, Bologna, Brindisi (begins 1 April 2015),[200] Brussels, Bucharest (ends 27 March 2015),[201] Budapest, Catania, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Faro, Fuerteventura, Geneva, Gibraltar, Glasgow, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kraków, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Lisbon, Lyon, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Moscow-Domodedovo, Murcia, Nantes,[202] Naples, Newcastle upon Tyne (ends 27 March 2015),[203] Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Porto, Reykjavík-Keflavík, Santiago de Compostela, Sharm el-Sheikh, Sofia, Strasbourg, Stuttgart (begins 29 March 2015),[200] Tallinn, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion, Tenerife-South
Summer seasonal: Antalya,[204] Bastia, Bodrum, Brest, Cephalonia, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Figari (begins 14 June 2015),[200] Ibiza, Izmir,[205] Kos, La Rochelle, Rhodes, Split, Zakynthos
Winter seasonal: Grenoble, Salzburg, Turin
easyJet Agadir, Almería, Athens, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bordeaux, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Funchal, Hamburg, Innsbruck, Luxembourg, Madrid, Marseille, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Montpellier, Munich, Palermo, Paphos, Pisa, Prague, Rome-Fiumicino, Seville, Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Valencia, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Zürich
Summer seasonal: Ajaccio, Biarritz, Dubrovnik, Heraklion, Kalamata, Mahón, Mykonos, Olbia,[206] Santorini
easyJet Switzerland Basel/Mulhouse, Geneva North
Emirates Dubai-International North
Flybe Newquay South
Garuda Indonesia Amsterdam, Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta North
Germania Erfurt/Weimar (resumes 2 March 2015),[207] Pristina South
Iberia Express Madrid (begins 29 March 2015)[208] TBA
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík North
Iraqi Airways Baghdad, Sulaimaniyah
Mahan Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini TBA
Meridiana Naples, Cagliari, Olbia North
Monarch Airlines Alicante, Barcelona, Enfidha, Faro, Funchal, Hurghada, Lanzarote, Málaga, Menorca, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Tobago (ends 28 April 2015)
Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Friedrichshafen, Grenoble, Ibiza, Larnaca, Paphos, Venice, Verona
Norwegian Air Shuttle Aalborg, Ålesund, Alicante, Barcelona, Bergen, Berlin-Schönefeld, Budapest, Copenhagen, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Gran Canaria, Helsinki, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Madrid, Málaga, Nice, Oslo-Gardermoen, Palma de Mallorca, Rome-Fiumicino, Sandefjord, Stavanger, Stockholm-Arlanda, Tenerife-South, Tromsø, Trondheim, Warsaw-Chopin
Seasonal: Catania, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Grenoble, Ibiza, Salzburg, Santa Cruz de la Palma,[209] Split
Norwegian Air Shuttle
operated by Norwegian Long Haul[nb 11]
Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Orlando (begins 4 April 2015)[210] South
Pegasus Airlines Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman North
Qatar Airways Doha (resumes 1 May 2015)[211] TBA
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Marrakech North
Ryanair Cork, Dublin, Kaunas, Shannon
Summer seasonal: Seville
SATA International Ponta Delgada South
operated by Travel Service[212]
Summer seasonal: Prague (begins 2 April 2015) [213] South
SunExpress İzmir South
Swiss International Air Lines Seasonal: Geneva South
Syphax Airlines Enfidha South
TAP Portugal Lisbon, Porto South
Thomson Airways Agadir, Alicante, Antalya, Aswan, Banjul, Boa Vista, Cancún, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Girona, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, La Romana, Lanzarote, Luxor, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Marsa Alam, Mauritius, Mombasa, Montego Bay, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Sal, Santa Cruz de la Palma, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Varadero North
Tunisair Tunis North
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk, Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen North
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev-Boryspil South
Vietnam Airlines Hanoi (ends 27 March 2015), Ho Chi Minh City (ends 28 March 2015) North
Virgin Atlantic Antigua, Barbados, Cancún, Grenada, Havana, Las Vegas, Montego Bay, Orlando, Saint Lucia, Tobago (resumes 29 March 2015)[214] South
Vueling Barcelona, Bilbao (resumes 29 March 2015), Florence, Rome-Fiumicino (begins 29 March 2015) North
WOW air Reykjavík-Keflavík South


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aer Lingus Seasonal charter: Friedrichshafen South
BH Air Seasonal charter: Burgas, Sofia, Varna South
Monarch Airlines Seasonal charter: Cephalonia, Chania, Corfu, Goa (ends 18 April 2015), Heraklion, Kos, Rhodes, Skiathos, Volos, Zakynthos South
Nouvelair Seasonal charter: Djerba, Monastir South
Small Planet Airlines Seasonal charter: Athens, Corfu, Chania, Gran Canaria, Kalamata, Larnaca, Kefalonia, Kos, Malta, Preveza, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Tirana, Zakynthos South
Travel Service Seasonal charter: Corfu, Heraklion, Larnaca, Rhodes, Skiathos, Zakynthos South
Snowbird Airlines Seasonal charter: Enontekiö (begins 2015)[215] South
Thomas Cook Airlines Charter: Antalya, Bodrum, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Dalaman, Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Holguín, Hurghada, Izmir, Lanzarote, Montego Bay, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South
Seasonal charter: Acapulco, Agadir, Almería, Banjul, Barbados, Brescia, Burgas, Corfu, Djerba, Fagernes, Faro, Geneva, Goa, Genoa, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Lleida-Alguaire, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, Lemnos, Luxor, Malta, Menorca, Naples, Olbia, Orlando, Palma de Mallorca, Preveza, Reno/Tahoe (begins 19 December 2015),[216] Reus, Rhodes, Rovaniemi, Salzburg, Santorini, Skiathos, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Turin, Varadero, Zakynthos
Thomson Airways Seasonal charter: Acapulco, Alghero, Araxos Patras, Aruba, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Catania, Chambéry, Chania, Colombo, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Faro, Geneva, Grenoble, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Ivalo, İzmir, Jerez, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kittilä, Kos, Kuusamo, Larnaca, Menorca, Mykonos, Naples, Plovdiv, Preveza, Pula, Reus, Rhodes, Salzburg, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, Sofia, Split (begins 1 May 2015), Thessaloniki, Tivat, Toulouse, Turin, Venice-Marco Polo, Verona, Zakynthos North

Terminal moves[edit]

As part of a recently agreed, seven-year strategic commercial partnership between Gatwick and EasyJet, the airport proposes a number of changes to individual airlines' terminal locations. If agreed by all parties, the proposed changes will see EasyJet consolidate all Gatwick operations in the North Terminal while British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will swap their current terminals. Gatwick believes that these terminal moves will improve the airport's operational efficiency and resilience as the use of different terminals by EasyJet and British Airways would reduce pressure on the North Terminal's check-in, security, boarding and ramp areas at peak times. In addition, a terminal swap by Virgin would free up lounge and gate space for BA long-haul passengers in the South Terminal and, unlike BA's current short-haul schedules, Virgin's long-haul schedules would not clash with EasyJet's busy schedule in the North Terminal due to the airlines' differing peak times.[154]

It was confirmed in January 2015 that British Airways will move all its flights to the South Terminal in November 2016 while all EasyJet flights will be consolidated in the North Terminal at the same time.[217][153]

Busiest routes[edit]

In 2012, passenger numbers declined for some busy Spanish destinations, although there was an increase in for Barcelona, Milan, Nice and the long-haul destination Cancun, Mexico. The greatest 2012 increase in domestic passengers was for Aberdeen and other airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while short-haul traffic within England declined.

Busiest international routes, 2012[218]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change 2011 / 12
1  Spain, Malaga 979,005 Decrease 13
2  Ireland, Dublin 936,552 Increase 2
3  Spain, Barcelona 796,541 Increase 44
4   Switzerland, Geneva 735,766 Increase 4
5  Spain, Madrid 702,875 Decrease 12
6  Netherlands, Amsterdam 677,216 Increase 8
7  USA, Orlando 674,436 Increase 7
8  Portugal, Faro 659,107 Decrease 4
9  Spain, Palma de Mallorca 625,034 Increase 2
10  UAE, Dubai 620,853 Increase 1
11  Spain, Alicante 578,894 Decrease 22
12  Spain, Tenerife South 551,136 Decrease 9
13  Italy, Venice Marco Polo 545,937 Increase 24
14  Italy, Milan Malpensa 541,674 Increase 51
15  Denmark, Copenhagen 490,081 Increase 18
16  France, Nice 483,292 Increase 49
17  Italy, Rome Fiumicino 465,103 Decrease 3
18  Turkey, Dalaman 442,275 Decrease 6
19  Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh 403,525 Increase 6
20  Barbados, Bridgetown 371,357 Decrease 13
21  Cyprus, Paphos 370,783 Increase 1
22  Italy, Naples 361,749 Increase 3
23  Germany, Berlin Schönefeld 323,812 Increase 20
24  Spain, Arrecife de Lanzarote 308,801 Decrease 3
25  Mexico, Cancun 299,836 Increase 31
26  France, Marseille 286,115 Decrease 3
27  Sweden, Stockholm Arlanda 281,114 Increase 15
28  Turkey, Antalya 276,009 Increase 7
29  France, Toulouse 274,499 Increase 1
30  Norway, Oslo Gardermoen 273,477 Increase 6
31  Italy, Bologna 270,049 Decrease 8
32  USA, Las Vegas 268,104 Decrease 2
33  Morocco, Marrakesh 260,318 Increase 7
34  Malta, Malta 258,978 Decrease 9
35  Canada, Toronto Pearson 257,665 Decrease 1
36  Italy, Pisa 257,635 Increase 20
37  Italy, Verona 256,845 Increase 23
38  France, Bordeaux 251,119 Increase 9
39  Germany, Munich 244,103 Increase 5
40  Greece, Heraklion 231,106 Increase 7
41  Portugal, Porto 224151 Decrease 11
42  Spain, Ibiza 222,622 Increase 2
43  Cyprus, Larnaca 220,852 Decrease 18
44   Switzerland, Basle Mulhouse 218,843 Increase 22
45  Greece, Corfu 207,274 Increase 2
46  Spain, Mahon de Minorca 204,784 Increase 2
47  Spain, Valencia 194,294 Increase 13
48  France, Lyon 186,821 Decrease 2
49  Czech Republic, Prague 186,097 Increase 3
50  Greece, Athens 183,287 Decrease 1
Busiest domestic and British overseas routes, 2012[218]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change 2011 / 12
1  UK, Edinburgh 696,791 Increase 4
2  UK, Glasgow-International 607,417 Increase 7
3  Jersey, Jersey 553,962 Decrease 4
4  UK, Belfast-International 353,248 Increase 3
5  Guernsey, Guernsey 356,368 Decrease 3
6  UK, Belfast-City 280,503 Increase 13
7  UK, Aberdeen 233,921 Increase 32
8  UK, Inverness 230,442 Increase 4
9  UK, Manchester 194,568 Decrease 16
10  Isle of Man, Isle of Man 143,466 Increase 13
11  Gibraltar, Gibraltar 131,232 Increase 28
12  UK, Newquay Cornwall 96,181 Decrease 5
13  Bermuda, Bermuda 89,037 Decrease 4
14  UK, Newcastle 84,319 Decrease 11



Gatwick handled 186,172 passengers during its first seven months of operation after the 1956–58 reconstruction; the annual number of passengers passing through the airport was 368,000 in 1959 and 470,000 in 1960.[19][51] Passenger numbers reached one million for the first time during the early 1960s, with a record 1.4 million passing through the airport during the 1965–66 fiscal year.[nb 12][51][63] Gatwick accommodated two million passengers for the first time during the 1967–68 fiscal year[nb 13] and three million in the 1969–70 fiscal year,[nb 14] with British United Airways accounting for nearly half.[219][220]

By the early 1970s, 5 million passengers used Gatwick each year, with a record 5.7 million during the 1973–74 fiscal year.[nb 15] During that period, British Caledonian accounted for approximately half of all charter passengers and three-fourths of scheduled passengers.[70] Within a decade annual passenger numbers doubled, to 10 million; they doubled again, to over 20 million, by the late 1980s.[19][75][221][222] By the turn of the millennium, Gatwick handled more than 30 million passengers annually.[19]

Since 2000[edit]

Gatwick passenger totals, 2000–2014 (millions)
Updated: 13 January 2015.[2][9]
Number of passengers[nb 16] Percentage change Number of movements[nb 17] Freight (tonnes)
2000 32,068,540 260,859 318,905
2001 31,181,770 Decrease02.8% 252,543 280,098
2002 29,627,420 Decrease05.0% 242,379 242,519
2003 30,005,260 Increase01.3% 242,731 222,916
2004 31,466,770 Increase04.9% 251,195 218,204
2005 32,775,695 Increase04.2% 261,292 222,778
2006 34,163,579 Increase04.2% 263,363 211,857
2007 35,216,113 Increase03.1% 266,550 171,078
2008 34,205,887 Decrease02.9% 263,653 107,702
2009 32,392,520 Decrease05.3% 251,879 74,680
2010 31,375,290 Decrease03.1% 240,500 104,032
2011 33,674,264 Increase07.3% 251,067 88,085
2012 34,235,982 Increase01.7% 246,987 97,567
2013 35,444,206 Increase03.5% 250,520 96,724
2014 38,122,800 Increase07.6% 256,350 88,737
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2] 2014 figures only: Gatwick Airport Limited[9]

38.1 million passengers passed through Gatwick in 2014, an increase of 7.6 percent over the previous year.[9] Long-haul,[nb 18] European scheduled, North Atlantic and Irish passenger traffic recorded increases over the previous year of 12.1 percent, 12 percent, 2.8 percent and 1.3 percent to 5.69 million, 22 million, 1.69 million and 1.28 million, respectively. European charter[nb 19] and UK[nb 20] traffic saw decreases over the corresponding figures for 2013 of 5.6 percent and 3.2 percent to 3.8 million and 3.66 million passengers, respectively. Air transport movements increased by 4 percent to 256,350. Cargo volume decreased by 8.5 percent to 88,737 metric tonnes.[9]

Compared with a year earlier, December 2014 passenger numbers increased by 8 percent to 2.582 million (an increase of 191,900 over December 2013). Amongst individual passenger traffic categories, North Atlantic, European scheduled and other long-haul[nb 18] traffic recorded increases (14.6 percent, 12.1 percent and 11.4 percent to 103,800, 488,700 and 1.469 million passengers, respectively) while UK,[nb 20] European charter[nb 19] and Irish traffic saw decreases (6 percent, 3.1 percent and 2.5 percent to 269,200, 149,100 and 102,400 passengers, respectively). Air transport movements increased by 2.8 percent to 18,119. Cargo volume decreased by 1.1 percent to 7,344 metric tonnes. The increase in scheduled passenger traffic to and from destinations in Europe was driven by additional passengers on popular business and leisure routes such as Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen. The increase in North Atlantic passenger traffic resulted from the introduction of new transatlantic no-frills flights to New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale by Norwegian Air Shuttle. The increase in passenger traffic to and from other long-haul[nb 18] destinations mainly resulted from continuing growth on routes serving popular business and leisure destinations such as Jakarta, Tel Aviv and Dubai, where the introduction of the A380 by Emirates on one of its three daily flights contributed to the increase in passenger traffic.[9]

Ground transport[edit]

Grassy median, with billboard and road sign
North Terminal A23 roundabout

Gatwick has set goals of 40- percent public-transport use by the time annual passenger traffic reaches 40 million (estimated in 2015) and 45 percent by the time it reaches 45 million.[223]


The airport is accessible from a motorway spur road at junction 9A of the M23, which links to the main M23 motorway 1 mile (1.6 km) east at junction 9. The M23 connects with London's orbital motorway, the M25, 9 miles (14 km) north; this provides access to much of Greater London, the South East and beyond, and the M23 is the main route for traffic to the airport. Gatwick is also accessible from the A23, which serves Horley and Redhill to the north and Crawley and Brighton to the south. The A217 provides access northwards to the 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 restrictions limit parking at (and near) Gatwick.


Gatwick Express Route Map
London Victoria London Underground
East Croydon Tramlink
Gatwick Airport
Haywards Heath
Burgess Hill
Preston Park
Outdoor station with enclosed, overhead walkway
Airport railway station

The airport railway station, next to South Terminal, provides connections along the Brighton Main Line to Victoria Station and London Bridge and Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Portsmouth and Bognor Regis to the south. Although the Gatwick Express to Victoria (operated by Southern) is the best-known service from the station, other companies (including Thameslink and First Great Western) also use the station and Southern services Victoria and London Bridge under its own name. Thameslink provide direct trains to Luton Airport; First Great Western trains directly link Reading and connect to Oxford and the west. Pedestrians may reach Heathrow by a X26 Express Bus outside East Croydon station, an intermediate stop for rail service to London.


National Express Coaches operates coaches to Heathrow Airport, Stansted Airport and cities and towns throughout the region and country. Oxford Bus Company operate direct services to Oxford, and EasyBus operates mini-coaches from both terminals to Earls Court and West Brompton.

Local buses connect North and South Terminals with Crawley, Horley, Redhill, Horsham and Caterham. Services are offered by Metrobus and Fastway, a guided bus rapid transit system which was the first of its kind to be built outside a major city. There are two sets of stairs for pedestrians to leave South Terminal at ground level (near the cycle route) from Zone L and the train-station area (labelled Exit Q and Exit P on the ground), which access local bus stops.


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

Terminal transfer[edit]

Gatwick Airport Shuttle
North Terminal 
to London
South Terminal 
National Rail Gatwick Airport
to Brighton
Blue, three-car train approaching a station
Airport inter-terminal transit

The airport's North and South Terminals are connected by a 0.75 miles (1.21 km), elevated, two-way automated people mover track. The shuttle normally consists of two automatic, three-car, driver-less trains. Although colloquially known as a "monorail",[224] the shuttle runs on a dual, concrete track with rubber tyres and is not (technically) a monorail.

The Gatwick transit system opened in 1983 when the circular satellite pier was built (connecting the pier to the main terminal), and was the UK's first automated people-moving system. A second track was built in 1987, linking to the North Terminal.[224] Although the original satellite transit line was replaced with a walkway-and-moving walkway link, the inter-terminal shuttle remains in operation.

Gatwick began upgrading its shuttle service in April 2008. The original Adtranz C-100 people-mover cars remained in operation until 2009, when they had travelled a total of 2.5 million miles (4 million km). In September 2009 the vehicles were withdrawn from service to allow the transit system to be upgraded, and the terminals were connected by bus. A new operating system and shuttle cars (six Bombardier CX-100 vehicles)[225] was installed, and the guideway and transit stations were refurbished at a total cost of £45 million. The system opened on 1 July 2010, two months ahead of schedule;[226][227] it featured live journey information and sensory technology to count the number of passengers at stations.

Expansion proposals[edit]

Three doorways, with gate numbers and large flight screen
Gate area in the North Terminal, with flight-information screen

Gatwick has been included in a number of reviews of airport capacity in southeastern England. Expansion options have included a third terminal and a second runway, although a 40-year agreement not to build a second runway was made in 1979 with West Sussex County Council.[96][97][228] Expanded operations would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today, with a new terminal between two wide-spaced runways. This would complement or replace the South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic.[229]

Airport management's proposal for a second runway (south of the existing runway and the airport boundary) were unveiled in July 2013. This was shortlisted for further consideration by the Airports Commission in December 2013, and the commission's final report is due to be published by summer 2015.[230][231] Another proposal would extend the North Terminal south, with a passenger bridge in the area currently occupied by aircraft stands without jet bridges.[229] Gatwick's draft master plan (released for consultation on 13 October 2011) apparently dropped the passenger-bridge plan in favour of a mid-field satellite (next to the control tower) linking to the North Terminal as part of an expanded 2030 single-runway, two-terminal airport.[232]

In late 2011, the Department for Transport also began a feasibility study of a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow as part of a plan combining the airports into a "collective" or "virtual hub", Heathwick. The scheme envisages a high-speed rail route parallel to the M25, covering 35 miles (56 km) in 15 minutes. Trains would reach speeds of 180 mph (290 km/h), and passengers would need to pass through immigration (or check in) only once.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • 15 September 1936 – A British Airways Ltd de Havilland DH 86 on a night mail flight to Germany crashed on takeoff, killing the airline's chief pilot and two crew members.[38][39]
  • November 1936 – A British Airways Ltd Fokker F 12 crashed in a wood 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of Gatwick on its final approach to the airport under a low ceiling in poor visibility, killing both pilots and seriously injuring the flight engineer.[40]
  • 17 February 1959 – A Turkish Airlines Vickers Viscount 794D (registration: TC-SEV) on an international charter flight crashed in heavy fog at Newdigate, Surrey, on its approach to Gatwick after striking trees. Fourteen of the 24 on board died, and Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was amongst the survivors.[233][234][235]
  • 2 September 1963 – An Iberia Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation (registration: EC-AMQ) leased by Aviaco on a charter flight from Barcelona, Spain, brushed trees on Russ Hill on its final approach to Gatwick. Although the aircraft sustained minor damage as a result of this incident (which occurred about 220 feet (67 m) above and 1.75 nautical miles (3.24 km; 2.01 mi) from the runway), it landed safely and none of the 75 passengers on board were injured.[236]
  • 5 January 1969 – A Boeing 727-113C (registration: YA-FAR) operating flight 701 of Ariana Afghan Airlines arriving from Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport, Germany, crashed into a house in Fernhill (near Horley, Surrey) in low visibility. The flaps were not extended to maintain flight at final-approach speed. Forty-eight of the 62 on board died, in addition to two on the ground.[234][237][238][239]
  • 28 January 1972 – A British Caledonian Vickers VC10-1109 (registration: G-ARTA) with no passengers aboard sustained severe structural damage as a result of a hard landing at Gatwick at the end of a short ferry flight from Heathrow, where the aircraft had been diverted due to fog at Gatwick. A survey of the aircraft's damage revealed that its airframe was bent out of shape, requiring extensive repairs to be restored to airworthiness. Since the repairs were not cost-effective, the airline's management decided to scrap the aircraft at Gatwick in 1975.[240][241]
  • 20 July 1975 – A British Island Airways (BIA) Handley Page Dart Herald 201 (registration: G-APWF) was involved in a runway accident while departing on a scheduled flight to Guernsey. The aircraft lifted off from runway 26 after a ground run of 2,490 feet (760 m), and appeared airborne for 411 ft (125 m) (with its landing gear retracting), before the rear underside of the fuselage settled back onto the runway and brought the aircraft to a stop. An investigation concluded that the landing gear was retracted before the aircraft had become established in a climb and the flap setting and takeoff speed were incorrect. Although the aircraft incurred substantial damage, none of the 45 occupants were hurt.[242]

See also[edit]

Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ Pronounced /ˈɡætwɨk/.[3]
  2. ^ accounting for 93 percent of all passenger traffic as of March 2012
  3. ^ a b c 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012
  4. ^ as of May 2012
  5. ^ independent from government-owned corporations
  6. ^ launched on 8 June 1959
  7. ^ holders of supplemental air carrier certificates authorised to operate non-scheduled passenger and cargo services to supplement the scheduled operations of certificated route air carriers; airlines holding supplemental air carrier certificates are also known as "nonskeds" in the US
  8. ^ using a BAC One-Eleven 500 operating once a day each way from Gatwick to Düsseldorf and Frankfurt respectively and six-times-a-week each way from Gatwick to Zürich, in addition to the daily Gatwick–Dublin return flight
  9. ^ British Airways, 15%; Thomson Airways, 11%; Monarch Airlines, 7%; Flybe and Thomas Cook Airlines, 6% each
  10. ^ including eight early-morning peak-time slot pairs
  11. ^ temporarily operated by Norwegian Long Haul (pending approval of Norwegian Air International's US foreign air carrier permit application)
  12. ^ 1 April 1965 to 31 March 1966
  13. ^ 1 April 1967 to 31 March 1968
  14. ^ 1 April 1969 to 31 March 1970
  15. ^ 1 April 1973 to 31 March 1974
  16. ^ number of passengers including both domestic and international
  17. ^ number of movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during that year for 2000–2013; 2014 air transport movements only
  18. ^ a b c excluding North Atlantic
  19. ^ a b including North Africa
  20. ^ a b including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
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  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Iyengar, K., "Heading North", "Golden Gatwick", p. 16). Hounslow, UK. 9 May 2008. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Cooper, B., "Got your number", "Golden Gatwick", p. 12). Hounslow, UK. 6 June 2008. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Dixon, A., "Second runway plans to remain grounded", pp. 1, 3). Hounslow, UK. 26 February 2010. 
  • Financial Times, 10 February 2010. London, UK: UK Edition. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]