London Gatwick is to temporarily close its North Terminal from Wednesday 1 April 2020.
All existing airport operations will be consolidated in the South Terminal.
The airport’s single runway will also only be used for scheduled flights between 14:00 and 22:00 each day.
The runway will remain available for emergency landings and diversions outside of these hours.
The North Terminal is currently used by airlines such as easyJet, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Tui and Virgin Atlantic. easyJet is currently operating a skeleton schedule. Virgin Atlantic has temporarily transferred all operations to London Heathrow.
The few flights remain operating by these airlines will transfer to the South Terminal. This is currently used by airlines such as Aer Lingus, British Airways, Ryanair and Vueling.
This arrangement will continue for at least one month. London City airport has also closed until the end of April at the earliest. London Heathrow airport is expected to shortly announce terminal closures.
The Sunday Times, today 14 October 2018, is reporting that Gatwick airport is to unveil plans for an effective second runway.
The paper, presumably on the basis of off-the-record briefing by Gatwick PRs, reports that Gatwick plans to unveil a new airport masterplan this coming Thursday.
Under these plans, its shorter standby runway would be brought into regular use for short-haul aircraft. The legal basis for this is the imminent expiry of an agreement made in 1979 not to build a second runway at Gatwick.
This would require approval from the Civil Aviation Authority. The Sunday Times has been briefed that this move could increase the airport’s capacity by 20% – 30%, adding up to 231 extra flights a day. Such a move would clearly require additional terminal infrastructure. Given the close proximity of the two runways, there will be inevitable safety concerns.
Gatwick airport campaigned vociferously for it to be chosen to have a new runway over Heathrow. However, the Government first indicated Heathrow was its preferred airport for a new runway nearly two years ago. The expansion of Heathrow is of course mired in legal challenges. This is something that Gatwick will not be immune to.
That is not the only Gatwick story in today’s papers. The Mail On Sunday, citing “City sources”, is reporting that Global Infrastructure Partners is close to selling its remaining 42% stake in the airport.
Saturday 9 June 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of London Gatwick airport in its current form.
The airport first started operations on 6 June 1936. Her Majesty The Queen officially opened what is now known as the South Terminal on 9 June 1958.
In its 60 year history Gatwick has been the birthplace of Freddie Lakers’ “SkyTrain” service from London to New York in 1977 and Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to Newark in 1984. It has seen easyJet grow from next to nothing to operating nearly half of all flights at the airport within the space of 20 years.
It has seen a near complete exodus of North American routes to Heathrow after EU-US Open Skies in 2008, only for Norwegian to launch routes many key American gateways. It has seen BA slash capacity at the airport by almost half at the start of this century, and to rebound in recent years.
Gatwick has also been home to many former airlines including British Caledonian, Dan-Air, GB Airways, Monarch, XL airways and Zoom.
Gatwick has also welcomed Heads of State to the UK including French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961 and US President John F Kennedy in 1963.
BA will benefit from an upgraded check-in area and a new lounge facility for eligible passengers. BA has confirmed that a new lounge for eligible customers will be constructed in the North terminal.
As BA’s London Gatwick operation involves approximately 60 departures a day, we expect the move will take place in phases.
Perhaps what is more significant are easyJet’s ambitions once it consolidates operations in one terminal.
easyJet currently has 45% of departure and arrival slots at Gatwick, compared to just 16% for BA. Ten years ago, BA had 30% of departure and arrival slots, and easyJet had 13%.
easyJet has made a number of moves in recent years to move it closer to the traditional full service carrier model, such as offering allocated seating and fast track ground facilities.
The one thing easyJet doesn’t do is interline with other airlines (this is where an airline will transfer your bag to another airline’s flight on a connecting ticket). Nor does it codeshare with other airlines. Nor does it offer connections.
Currently, a passenger wishing to fly from say, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv via Gatwick would have to “self-connect” and buy two separate tickets (and hope for the best if things go wrong!).
If easyJet was to move to a traditional “hub” model offering connections and codeshares with other airlines, this could radically change its position in the market and that of London Gatwick. There is certainly precedent for a low cost carrier to do this, as Vueling does at its hub in Barcelona.
This would of course add cost and complexity to easyJet’s operation (which it may be keen to avoid) but connecting traffic could support many more routes from Gatwick.
One other point of note is that Aer Lingus, currently a takeover target for BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, also operates in the South terminal and a consolidation of operations may allow for greater co-operation between BA and Aer Lingus at Gatwick.
On Monday 23 September 2013, the Financial Times featured an interesting story where the Chief Executive of London Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, postulated, known in politics and the press as “kite flying”, that if a second runway for Gatwick was approved, one of the “Big Three” airline alliances could be persuaded to defect from Heathrow airport.