186,000 passengers passed through Gatwick Airport in its first year of commercial operation in 1958. That figure has now risen to around 40 million. This makes Gatwick the second busiest passenger airport in the United Kingdom, with destinations in 90 countries. It is also the world’s busiest single-use runway, with an impressive 55 aircraft movements per hour at its peak.
In 2009, Gatwick was acquired by a Global Infrastructure Partners led consortium and success has been lauded on the organisation ever since. As well as being regularly listed in the world’s top 40 airports, it has also been the recipient of numerous awards in recent years. These include:
Best UK Airport
Business Travel Awards 2012, 2013 and 2014
Airport of the Year
National Transport Awards 2013
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Gold Award
RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards 2013
UK Airport of the Year
Travel Agents Choice Awards 2012
Situated in Crawley, West Sussex, the success of Gatwick has had positive effects for the local economy, mainly in the creation of jobs in the South East area. Around 23,000 people are employed directly by the airport, with a further 20,000 in connected positions around the region.
Generating roughly £2 billion for the surrounding area, local companies benefit from the airport’s commercial activities and constant stream of incomers. This is known as the Gatwick Diamond sub-region, where a whole host of businesses from independent traders to global brands have all prospered.
However, like all airports near to residential zones, the effects on the local population can be mixed. Despite the economic prosperity, problems of regular aircraft noise, pollution and constant traffic can all upset nearby inhabitants. This has been a deciding factor in the ongoing debate around a controversial second runway proposal.
Impressive growth figures in recent months is the primary reason why supporters believe the additional runway is necessary. Just in the summer alone, Gatwick is due to serve 6.8 million passengers between July 17th and September 2nd – an increase of 3% compared to the previous year. Impressively, this growth has been the 28th consecutive month where passenger numbers have increased.
This can be explained by a new generation of carriers providing long-distance flights at a lower cost. These new aircraft are also larger in size, and with an average load factor around 85% many more passengers can, and have been, enjoying Gatwick’s services in recent years.
Another deciding factor has been the increase in long-haul routes and transatlantic flights in particular. A link between Norwegian Air Shuttle and Gatwick in 2014 has reinforced this, with low cost travel to U.S destinations proving extremely popular. Likewise, Middle Eastern destinations have been showing positive movements, aided by flights to Dubai three times a day.
Gatwick has flights to around 200 destinations across the globe already, more than any other airport in the UK, and with additional routes being added to such countries as Indonesia, Russia and Iceland, this increasing traffic is showing no signs of slowing down.
Feature Image Credit: Still Burning via Flickr
If you enjoyed this blog post then perhaps you’d like to read “The Royal Dock Regeneration in London“?