5 October 2010

Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Wingate, is hoping that a £1 billion investment will help the airport compete with Heathrow Airport. The airport operator, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), hopes that by improving infrastructure and transport links that it will lure in more airlines and boost passenger numbers at the airport. Gatwick Airport is currently the world’s busiest single-runway airport and is looking to increase passenger numbers from a predicted 32 million for 2010 to as many as 45 million by 2013.

Traffic at the airport peaked at 35.4 million passengers in 2007, prior to the global recession. Mr Wingate stated that passenger numbers are due to rise as EasyJet reconfigures its fleet toward a denser seating configuration and Ryanair introduces more flights as it reduces services at BAA’s Stansted Airport.

Mr Wingate also mentioned that technological improvements should permit more aircraft movements on Gatwick’s single runway than the current peak of 52 an hour and infrastructure enhancements will bring in more long-haul airlines operating larger wide-body aircraft.

The landing fees charged to airlines will be cut by spending less than the proposed £1 billion on making improvements more efficiently and passing on £100 million of savings. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) currently regulates Gatwick Airport’s fees with tariffs based on the sum invested every five years.

Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) bought Gatwick from BAA for £1.5 billion in 2009 and aims to establish the asset as a London gateway for services that do not require onward links, distinguishing it from Heathrow, Britain’s hub airport.

The airport operator is also hoping to increase the number of train services through part-funding construction of a new platform at Gatwick’s railway station for the sole use of airport trains.