5-Oct-2010 11:23 AM

Gatwick to cut charges, improve infrastructure to compete with Heathrow

UK’s London Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate stated the airport plans to cut charges, improve airport infrastructure, technology, security and rail links and expand its long-haul services to increase passenger numbers by up to 40%, to 45 million, and better compete with London Heathrow Airport (Bloomberg, 04-Oct-2010). Airport owner, Global Infrastructure Partners, is aiming to make Gatwick a gateway for services without onward links. The airport expects to handle approximately 32 million passengers this year, similar to 2009 numbers. Mr Wingate stated numbers will rise as easyJet and Ryanair expand operations from the airport. At present, 18% of aircraft movements at Gatwick are for long-haul services, while 50% are for short-haul and 32% for charter operations. Landing charges are to be cut through the utilisation of GBP1 billion in funding. Finance Director Nick Dunn commented that one of the crucial elements in Gatwick’s ability to compete with Heathrow will be whether its GBP1 billion expansion project comes under budget, which will result in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allowing the airport to lower fees (Daily Mail, 04-Oct-2010). The airport also plans to implement a single checkpoint for security at its South Terminal by 2013, to decrease delays. A new procedure for hand luggage checks was also recently implemented.

London Gatwick Airport: “As the second child in the family you’re in a difficult situation. Gatwick is easily the next-biggest UK airport after Heathrow, but it was never treated half as well as what is perceived to be the jewel in the BAA crown … We do see long-haul growth returning to Gatwick, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case. Heathrow is an alliance hub and that’s the majority of their activity, but there is certainly quite a bit of point-to- point business to be had on the periphery of that … We’re in the richest catchment in the UK by far. You just need to get the balance right between the quality of the service and the cost of the product and we’re focused on improving the service we provide for a fair price,” Stewart Wingate, CEO. Source: Bloomberg, 04-Oct-2010.

London Gatwick Airport: “Heathrow will always be the major airport, but there is a competitive dynamic. We see it and we are embracing it,” Nick Dunn, Finance Director. Source: Daily Mail, 04-Oct-2010.

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