London Gatwick Airport: Wikis


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London Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick.png
Gatwick South Terminal.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Global Infrastructure Partners
Operator Gatwick Airport Limited
Serves London
Location Crawley, West Sussex
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 202 ft / 62 m
Coordinates 51°08′53″N 000°11′25″W / 51.14806°N 0.19028°W / 51.14806; -0.19028 (London Gatwick Airport)Coordinates: 51°08′53″N 000°11′25″W / 51.14806°N 0.19028°W / 51.14806; -0.19028 (London Gatwick Airport)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
08R/26L 3,316 10,879 Asphalt/Concrete
08L/26R 2,565 8,415 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2009)
Aircraft Movements 251,879
Passengers 32,392,520
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

London Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGWICAO: EGKK) is located 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the centre of Crawley, West Sussex, and 45.7 km (28.4 mi) south of Central London.[3] It is London's second largest international airport and second busiest by total passenger traffic in the United Kingdom after Heathrow.[4]

Gatwick has the world's busiest single-use runway and is Europe's leading airport for point-to-point flights.[5]

In 2008, Gatwick ranked as the world's 28th-busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers[6], 9th busiest in terms of international passengers[7] and 8th largest in Europe by passenger traffic[5].

Charter airlines generally do not operate from Heathrow and use Gatwick as a base for London and the South East. From 1978 to 2008, many flights to and from the US used Gatwick because of Heathrow restrictions implemented in the Bermuda II agreement between the UK and the US.[8][9][10][11][12] (As of 2010, Delta Air Lines and US Airways are the only US carriers to continue serving Gatwick from the US.) The airport is a base for scheduled operators Aer Lingus, British Airways (BA), EasyJet, Flybe and Virgin Atlantic. The airport is also a base for charter airlines including Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Gatwick is unique amongst London's airports in having a significant airline presence representing each of the three main air transport provider business models, i.e. full service, low/no frills and charter.[13]

BAA Limited and its predecessors, the British Airports Authority and BAA plc, owned and operated Gatwick continuously from 1 April 1966 until 2 December 2009.[14][15][16] On 17 September 2008, BAA announced it would sell Gatwick following a report by the Competition Commission into BAA's market dominance in London and South East England. On 21 October 2009, it was announced that agreement had been reached to sell Gatwick to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the owners of London City Airport, for £1.51 billion. Of this amount, £55 million will depend on the airport's future traffic development and its owners' future capital structure (£10 million and £45 million respectively).[17] The sale was formally completed on 3 December 2009. On this day, Gatwick's ownership passed from BAA to GIP.[18]



The name "Gatwick" dates back to 1241, the name of a manor on the site of today's airport until the 19th century that was originally owned by the De Gatwick family.[19] It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words gāt, 'goat', and wīc, 'dairy farm', i.e. 'goat farm'.[20]

The airport at sunset with the control tower visible

In 1890, the descendants of the original owners sold the area to the newly established Gatwick Race Course Company. The following year, the new owners opened a racecourse beside the London–Brighton railway, together with a dedicated station including sidings for horse boxes.[19] The course held steeplechase and flat races. During the First World War the course hosted the Grand National.[19]


Airport infrastructure and airline operations


In the late 1920s, land adjacent to the racecourse at Hunts Green Farm along Tinsley Green Lane was used as an aerodrome. Following a change in land ownership, the aerodrome was licensed in August 1930.[21] Surrey Aero Club formed in 1930 and used the old Hunts Green farmhouse as club house. Redwing Aircraft Company bought the aerodrome in 1932 and operated a flying school. The aerodrome was also used for pilots flying in to races.

In 1933, the Air Ministry approved commercial flights from Gatwick. The same year, the aerodrome was sold for £13,500 to Morris Jackaman, an investor who formed a new airport company named Airports Limited in 1934. Hillman's Airways became Gatwick's first commercial airline operator as a result of starting scheduled services from the airport to Belfast and Paris. A new railway station served by two trains an hour on the Victoria–Brighton line opened in September 1935. That year also saw the formation of a new airline named Allied British Airways, the result of a merger between Hillman's Airways, United Airways and Spartan Airways. The newly formed carrier, which subsequently shortened its name to British Airways, became Gatwick's principal operator.[19]

In 1936, the world's first circular airport terminal, called The Beehive, opened at Gatwick. It was designed by Frank Hoar and included a subway to Gatwick racecourse railway station that enabled passengers to travel from London Victoria Station to the aircraft without stepping outside. On 17 May 1936, the first scheduled flight to depart The Beehive was bound for Paris. The applicable air fare was £4 5s, including a first class rail ticket from London Victoria.[19]

Two fatal accidents in 1936 questioned the airport's safety. Moreover, the area was prone to fog and waterlogging as a result of poor drainage due to heavy clay soils. This in turn caused the new subway to flood after rain. As a consequence and the need for longer landing strips, the pre-war British Airways moved to Croydon Airport in 1937. Gatwick went back to private flying and was contracted as a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying school.[19] The airport also attracted repair companies.

The Air Ministry requisitioned Gatwick in September 1939.[19] Although the airfield became a base for RAF night-fighters and an army co-operation squadron, it was mainly a repair and maintenance facility.[22]


Although Gatwick Airport was officially decommissioned after the Second World War in 1946, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation continued to operate it as a civil airfield, initially for a six-month trial period.[19] During that period, the airport provided maintenance facilities and charter companies flying war-surplus aircraft started to use it. Most commercial air services were cargo flights. However, the airport was little used due to persistent drainage problems. In November 1948, the owners warned the airport could be de-requisitioned by November 1949 and revert to private use.

Stansted was favoured as London's second airport and Gatwick's future was in doubt. Despite opposition from local authorities, in 1950 the Cabinet decided Gatwick was to be an alternative to Heathrow. The Government said in July 1952 that the airport was to be developed, primarily to cater to aircraft diverted from Heathrow in bad weather. This resulted in temporary closure between 1956 and 1958 for a £7.8 million renovation.[19][22][23] During that period, British European Airways (BEA) continued using Gatwick for its helicopter operations.[23] The redevelopment was carried out by Alfred McAlpine.[24] It entailed diverting the A23 London—Brighton trunk road and the River Mole, as well as building the runway across the erstwhile racecourse site and rebuilding the former racecourse railway station alongside the new terminal.[23]

On 9 June 1958, Queen Elizabeth II flew into the new airport in a de Havilland Heron of the Queen's Flight to perform the opening. However, this event was preceded by Transair operating the first commercial air service from the new Gatwick on 30 May 1958[19][25][26] while a Jersey Airlines de Havilland Heron was the first scheduled aircraft to arrive at the newly reconstructed airport.[21][27] The first "official" flight to depart Gatwick following the reopening ceremony was a BEA DC-3 operating a charter for Surrey County Council to Jersey and Guernsey.[23]

A PEOPLExpress Boeing 747 at the satellite pier of the South Terminal in June 1983. The North Terminal is under construction in the background

Gatwick was the world's first airport with a direct railway link and the first to combine mainline rail travel, trunk road facilities and an air terminal building in one unit.[22] It was also one of the first to have an enclosed pier-based terminal, which allowed passengers to walk under cover to waiting areas close to aircraft with only a short walk outdoors.[19] Another novel feature of Gatwick's new air terminal was its modular design. This permitted subsequent, phased expansion.[23]

The main pier of what is now the South Terminal was built during the 1956–58 construction of Gatwick. In 1962, two additional piers were added. By 1965, each of the three piers was nearly 1,000 feet long and the entire terminal complex had a floor area of 100,000 ft2.[19][22] Fully extendible jet bridges were added when the piers were rebuilt and extended in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[19]

In 1964, Gatwick's original, relatively short 7,000 feet (2,134 metres) runway was extended by 1,200 ft (365 m) to 8,200 ft (2,499 m) due to new noise rules governing the operation of jet aircraft at airports close to or surrounded by densely populated urban areas.[19][28] It was subsequently extended thrice — in 1970 (by 875 ft/267 m to 9,075 ft/2,766 m to permit non-stop jet operations to the US east coast with a full payload and full-range/payload operations by British United and Caledonian BAC One-Eleven 500s[19][29]), 1973 (to 10,165 ft/3,098 m to allow non-stop narrowbody operations to the US west coast with a full payload and commercially viable, long-range widebody operations[19]) and 1998 (to 10,879 ft/3,316m to enable longer-range operations with fully-laden widebody aircraft[19]).

BEA was an early Gatwick user. It was followed by BEA Helicopters and BEA Airtours, which made the airport their base.[30][31] Sudan Airways and BWIA West Indies Airways were among Gatwick's first scheduled overseas airlines. The former's Blue Nile services were the first scheduled flights from Gatwick by a foreign airline. These services operated between Khartoum and London Gatwick via Cairo, Athens and Rome. They began on 8 June 1959, initially using Airwork Vickers Viscount aircraft. British United Airways (BUA) assumed this operation the following year, as a result of the Airwork — Hunting-Clan merger. (BUA were also acting as Sudan Airways's technical advisers.)[32][33] US supplemental carriers Seven Seas Airlines, Capitol International, President Airlines and Transocean Airlines, as well as various South European and Scandinavian charter operators, figured prominently among Gatwick's early overseas users.[33]

From the late 1950s, a number of Britain's private airlines established themselves at Gatwick. The first was Transair.[34] It was followed by Airwork, Hunting-Clan and Morton Air Services. In July 1960, these merged to form British United Airways. Throughout the 1960s, BUA was Britain's largest independent airline. During that decade, it became Gatwick's largest resident airline. By the end of the decade, it also became the airport's leading scheduled operator, with a 71,000 kilometers (43,217 mi) network of short, medium and long-haul routes across Europe, Africa and South America. These were served with contemporary BAC One-Eleven and Vickers VC-10 jet aircraft.[35]

Despite rapid expansion of BUA's and other airlines' scheduled activities at Gatwick since the early 1960s, the airport was dominated by non-scheduled services well into the 1980s. The bulk of these were inclusive tour (IT) passenger services provided by a growing number of British independent operators and their overseas counterparts. During the 1960s, IT services accounted for between two-thirds and three-quarters of Gatwick's annual passengers, earning the airport its bucket and spade tag.[33]

1970 to 2009

South Terminal international arrivals concourse

In late November 1970, BUA was acquired by the Scottish charter airline Caledonian Airways. The new airline was known as Caledonian/BUA before adopting the British Caledonian name in September 1971. BUA's takeover by Caledonian enabled the latter to transform itself into a scheduled airline. In addition to scheduled routes inherited from BUA, it launched scheduled services to Europe, North and West Africa, North America as well as the Middle and Far East during the 1970s and '80s. This included the first scheduled service by a wholly private UK airline since the 1930s between London and Paris, in November 1971, as well as the first transatlantic scheduled services by a private UK airline to New York and Los Angeles, in April 1973. It also included the launch of the UK's first private scheduled air service to Hong Kong (via Dubai) in August 1980.[36][37]

In November 1972, Laker Airways became the first operator of widebody aircraft at Gatwick, following the introduction of two McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 10 series widebodied trijets.[38]

Gatwick's North Terminal building and transit station

Laker's DC-10 fleet expanded throughout the 1970s and early '80s with longer-range series 30 aircraft. This enabled the launch of Gatwick's first daily long-haul, no frills flights to New York JFK on 26 September 1977.[39]

British Caledonian was also a Gatwick operator of the DC-10-30 widebody, having introduced its first pair in March and May 1977, respectively.[40] The airline eventually operated a small fleet of Boeing 747-200s as well, having acquired its first jumbo jet in 1982.[41]

Other independent airlines including Dan-Air and Air Europe played a role in the development of the airport and its scheduled route network during the 1970s, '80s and early '90s.

In the year ending April 1987, Gatwick overtook New York JFK as the world's second-busiest international airport, handling 15.86 million international passengers – 100,000 more than JFK.[42]

At the end of the 1989/90 financial year, scheduled passengers outnumbered holidaymakers travelling on non-scheduled services for the first time in Gatwick's post-war history. The latter had accounted for more than half the airport's passengers during the 1970s and most of the 1980s.[43]

Passenger numbers had grown steadily since the late 1970s, as a result of several Government initiatives in support of Gatwick's development. These included new policies to transfer all scheduled services between London and the Iberian peninsula from Heathrow to Gatwick[44], and compelling all airlines that were planning to operate a scheduled service to or from London for the first time to use Gatwick instead of Heathrow. The latter policy was officially known as the "London Air Traffic Distribution Rules". It came into effect on 1 April 1978 and was applied retroactively from the beginning of April 1977. These rules were designed to achieve a fairer distribution of traffic between London Heathrow and London Gatwick, the UK's two main international gateway airports. The policy was aimed at increasing Gatwick's utilisation to help the airport make a profit.[45][46] Another pro-active measure the Government took to aid Gatwick's development at the time was to grant permission for a high-frequency helicopter shuttle service linking both of London's main airports.[47] The new helicopter shuttle service linking London Heathrow and London Gatwick was inaugurated on 9 June 1978.[48][49]

As passenger numbers grew, a circular satellite pier was added to the terminal building in 1983, connected to the main terminal by the UK's first automated people mover system[19] (now replaced with a walkway and travelators). The new air traffic control tower opened in 1984. The same year, the non-stop Gatwick Express rail service to London Victoria station was launched. There was a need for more capacity and a second terminal was planned.[50][51]

Inter-terminal transit track and Sofitel hotel. The North Terminal building is in the background

Construction began on the North Terminal in 1983, which was the largest construction project south of London in the 1980s. It cost £200 million.[52] The terminal was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 18 March 1988[53] and expanded in 1991 with a second aircraft pier. In 1994, the North Terminal international departures lounge and phase 1 of the South Terminal international departures lounge opened. Both developments cost £30 million.[19] The North Terminal has an area of 75,000m2. Gatwick's two terminals are connected by an automated rapid track transit system (currently closed for a major refurbishment).

Inside the world's largest air passenger bridge at the North Terminal's Pier 6
View of Gatwick's apron from the North Terminal passenger bridge, looking towards the South Terminal

During 2000 and 2001, Gatwick's two terminals were further expanded to add more seating, retail space and catering outlets, at a total cost of £60 million. This included an extension to the North Terminal departure lounge completed in 2001.[19]

In 2005, a £110 million additional aircraft pier (Pier 6) opened, adding an extra 11 pier-served aircraft stands. Linked by the world's largest air passenger bridge to the North Terminal's main building, it spans a taxiway, giving arriving and departing passengers views of the airport and taxiing aircraft. The same year, an extension and refurbishment to the South Terminal's baggage reclaim hall was completed, doubling it in size.

In May 2008, another extension was completed to the South Terminal departure lounge. In addition, a second-floor security search area opened. The South Terminal now covers an area of 120,000m2. The terminal is mainly used by low-cost airlines. Many former users have moved to the newer North Terminal.

On 12 October 2009, Qatar Airways's daily QR076 Gatwick–Doha scheduled service became the first commercial flight powered by fuel made 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 traditional, purely oil-based aviation turbine fuel.[54][55]

On 3 December 2009, the transfer of Gatwick's ownership from BAA Limited to Global Infrastructure Partners became effective.[15][16]

2009 Onwards

Following 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 existing infrastructure to transform the passenger experience.[56][57][58] It is hoped that this will firmly establish Gatwick as the airport of choice for air travellers whose journey begins and/or ends in London and other parts of South East England. According to Virgin Atlantic communications director Paul Charles, the prospect of offering much better facilities to Gatwick's airlines and passengers as a result of the change in ownership presents a long-term opportunity to leapfrog Heathrow in terms of airport infrastructure and passenger amenities.[59] It is expected that GIP will 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 in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2007 and Open Skies and/or expanding their existing flying programme from the airport in the near future.[58][60][61]



Gatwick handled 186,172 passengers during its first seven months of operation following the 1956-58 reconstruction. By 1959, the number of passengers passing through the airport each year had grown to 368,000.[19]

In 1968, annual passenger numbers at Gatwick hit the two million mark for the first time.[62]

By the early 1970s, five million passengers used Gatwick each year. Within a decade, this figure doubled to ten million. It doubled again to over 20 million by the late 1980s.[19][63][64]

By the turn of the millennium, Gatwick handled more than 30 million passengers annually.[19]

2000 onwards

Passenger numbers peaked in 2007 when the airport handled over 35 million for the first time. However, this total had reduced to 32.4 million by 2009, an 8% reduction. Of Gatwick's passengers in 2009, 26 million used scheduled flights (80%) and 6.3 million (20%) non-scheduled services.[2] The airport recorded 251,879 aircraft movements during that period.[2] The steepest decline in passenger traffic during 2009 related to North Atlantic traffic, down 35.4% on 2008 as a result of that year's EU-US Open Skies Agreement and the recession following in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2007. The latter also resulted in 18.9% fewer European charter passengers passing through the airport in 2009. On the other hand, European scheduled traffic accounted for the most resilient performance during that period, recording a 5.6% increase over 2008. Irish traffic was virtually unchanged, registering a 0.1% increase within the same period. The period also saw Gatwick's traffic mix change further, resulting in a significant decline in widebodied aircraft movements by long-haul full-service scheduled airlines that have traditionally accounted for a disproportionately large share of the airport's cargo volume. The cyclical and structural changes in the airport's traffic mix caused a further steep decline in its annual air freight volume, which fell by 30.7% to 74,680 metric tonnes in 2009.[2]

February 2010 saw a rise in Gatwick's passenger numbers, cargo tonnage and air transport movements, indicating a continuing recovery from the severe economic downturn that had adversely impacted its traffic performance during the same period the year before. Compared with February 2009, the total number of passengers passing through the airport increased by 3.2% to 2.05 million. This growth was driven by the number of passengers travelling on European scheduled services (up by 10.5% to 973,000). During that period, passengers travelling on long-haul (excluding North Atlantic) and domestic services increased by 7% and 4.7% to 405,000 and 258,000 respectively while air transport movements grew by 3.5% to 16,775. Cargo volume rose by a staggering 38.9% to 8,334.7 metric tonnes, marking the fourth consecutive month of growth. On the other hand, North Atlantic, European charter and Irish traffic continued to register steep declines in passenger numbers (down by 21.1%, 11.6% and 10.3% to 99,000, 226,000 and 93,000 respectively).[65]

Gatwick today


Gatwick Airport has two terminals, North and South. Both have shops and restaurants, landside and airside. Disabled passengers can travel through all areas. There are facilities for baby changing and feeding, and play areas and video games for children. Business travellers have lounges offering business facilities. On 31 May 2008, Virgin Holidays opened V Room, Gatwick's first dedicated lounge for leisure travellers. Use of this lounge is exclusive to Virgin Holidays customers flying from the airport to Orlando, Las Vegas and the Caribbean with sister airline Virgin Atlantic.[66][67] On 9 April 2009, a new independent pay-for-access lounge called No.1 Gatwick opened in the South Terminal. It also serves US Airways Envoy passengers. There is also a conference and business centre. Furthermore, the airport has several on- and off-site hotels. These range from executive to a capsule hotel.

South Terminal zone A check-in concourse

The airport has Anglican, Catholic and Free Church Chaplains. In addition, there is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal. A daily service is led by one of the chaplains. The prayer room is open to all faiths.

Major airlines

BA and EasyJet are Gatwick's two dominant resident airlines. In late 2007, BA and Easyjet accounted for 25% and 17% of Gatwick's slots. The latter's share of slots subsequently rose to 24% as a result of its takeover of BA franchise carrier GB Airways, which accounted for 7% of slots (late 2007). The acquisition of GB Airways in March 2008 resulted in EasyJet becoming Gatwick's biggest short-haul operator accounting for 29% of short-haul passengers (ahead of BA's 23%)[68] and Gatwick's largest airline overall, with flights to 62 domestic and European destinations (at April 2008)[69]. By spring 2010, EasyJet will have further reinforced its position as Gatwick's leading airline by increasing the number of destinations served from the airport to 82.[70] Gatwick is the airline's largest base, where its 10 million passengers per annum account for almost 30% of the airport's yearly total.[71]

British Airways aircraft on stand at the North Terminal's Pier 5

On 30 March 2008, airlines began down-sizing transatlantic operations due to the new EU-US Open Skies Agreement. Continental Airlines is the second transatlantic carrier – after American Airlines[72] – to pull out of Gatwick altogether, following its decision to transfer the seasonal Cleveland service to Heathrow from 3 May 2009.[73][74] The slots vacated by these moves as well as by the collapse of Zoom, XL Airways UK and Sterling were taken by EasyJet, Flybe, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.

By late 2008, EasyJet's share of Gatwick slots had grown to about 26% [75][76], while Flybe had become Gatwick's third-largest slot-holder accounting for 9% of the airport's slots, as well as its fastest-growing airline.[76][77][78] As per the CAA's April/May 2009 passenger statistics, more UK domestic passengers flying to and from London Gatwick during April 2009 chose Flybe than any other airline.[79]

From a peak of 40% in 2001, BA's share of Gatwick slots declined by 50% to 20% by summer 2009.[76]

Changing character of airport

South Terminal zone K check-in concourse

According to the evidence Flybe submitted at a Competition Commission hearing into BAA's market dominance at the beginning of 2008, Gatwick's dynamics were changing rapidly as a result of recent changes in its traffic pattern. These were likely to transform the airport from a secondary intercontinental airline hub into a predominantly European and domestic operation feeding London and specifically the south London market.[80]


Gatwick operates as a single runway airport. Strictly speaking it has two runways; however, the northern runway (08L/26R) can only be used when the main runway (08R/26L) is out of use, for example because of maintenance or an accident. The runways cannot be used at the same time because there is insufficient separation between them, and during normal operation the northern runway is used as a taxiway.[19][50][51] It can take 15 minutes to change from one runway to the other.

Various aircraft at the North Terminal's Pier 4

The main runway operates with a Category III Instrument Landing System. The northern runway does not have an Instrument Landing System and, 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, which is also available for the main runway.[81] On all runways, considerable use is made of continuous descent approach to minimise environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night.[82]

Night flights are subject to restrictions.[83] Between 11pm and 7am the noisiest aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) may not operate. In addition, between 11.30pm and 6am (the night quota period) there are three limits:

  • An overall limit on the number of flights;
  • A Quota Count system which limits the total of noise permitted, but allows operators to choose to operate fewer noisy aircraft or a greater number of quieter planes;[84]
  • QC/4 aircraft may not operate at night.


The airport is policed by the Gatwick District of Sussex Police. The district is responsible for policing the whole 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 counter man-portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) by patrolling in and around the airport. A separate sub-unit has vehicle checks around the airport.[85]

Brook House, an immigration removal centre of the UK Border Agency was opened on 18 March 2009 by the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.[86]

Terminals, airlines and destinations

Gatwick has two terminals: North and South. The South Terminal is Gatwick's older and busier terminal, and is also where the airport railway station is located. In March 2008, EasyJet split its Gatwick services between both terminals, with many routes taken over from GB Airways now departing from the North Terminal. The following list includes all scheduled services to and from Gatwick Airport, as well as seasonal charter flights.[87]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Adria Airways Ljubljana North
Aer Lingus Cork [begins 28 March], Dublin, Knock, Málaga, Vilnius [ends 27 March], Warsaw [ends 27 March] South
Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli South
Air Baltic Riga, Vilnius South
Air Europa Madrid South
Air Malta Malta South
Air Moldova Chişinău South
Air Seychelles Mahé [begins 20 April] South
Air Southwest Newquay, Plymouth North
Air Transat Fredericton [seasonal], Halifax [seasonal], Toronto-Pearson South
Air Zimbabwe Harare South
Astraeus Airlines Winnipeg [begins 12 June] South
Atlas Blue Marrakech North
Aurigny Air Services Guernsey South
Belavia Minsk South
BH Air Burgas [seasonal] South
British Airways Amsterdam, Antalya, Antigua, Barbados, Bari [seasonal], Bermuda, Bologna, Bordeaux, Cagliari [seasonal], Catania, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Faro, Geneva [seasonal], Genoa, Glasgow-International, Grenada, Ibiza [seasonal], Innsbruck [seasonal], İzmir, Jersey, Kingston, Luxembourg, Malé, Manchester, Marseille, Montego Bay, Naples, Orlando, Paphos, Pisa [seasonal], Port of Spain, Pristina, Punta Cana, Rome-Fiumicino, St Kitts, St Lucia, Salzburg, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tampa, Thessaloniki, Tirana, Tobago, Tunis, Turin, Varna [seasonal], Venice-Marco Polo, Verona North
Bulgaria Air Varna [seasonal] South
Cimber Sterling Billund, Copenhagen [ends 27 March] South
Croatia Airlines Split [seasonal], Zagreb South
Cubana de Aviación Havana, Holguín South
Cyprus Turkish Airlines Dalaman North
Delta Air Lines Atlanta North
EasyJet Agadir, Ajaccio [seasonal], Alicante, Amsterdam, Antalya [begins 21 May], Arrecife, Basel/Mulhouse, Bastia [seasonal], Bodrum [seasonal], Chania [begins 21 May], Corfu [seasonal],Dalaman [seasonal], Düsseldorf, Faro, Funchal, Geneva, Gibraltar, Grenoble, Helsinki, Heraklion [seasonal], Hurghada, Innsbruck, Kos [begins 22 May], Larnaca , Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lisbon, Malta, Marrakech, Mykonos [seasonal], Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes [seasonal], Santorini [seasonal], Sharm el-Sheikh, Sofia, Tenerife-South, Valencia, Zakynthos [begins 22 May], Zürich North
EasyJet Almería, Athens, Barcelona, Belfast-International, Berlin-Schönefeld, Biarritz [seasonal], Bordeaux [begins 28 March], Budapest, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Dubrovnik [seasonal], Edinburgh, Glasgow-International, Hamburg, Ibiza [seasonal], Inverness, Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen, Kraków, La Rochelle [seasonal], Lyon, Madrid, Málaga, Marseille, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Minorca [seasonal], Montpellier, Munich, Murcia, Naples, Nice, Olbia [seasonal], Palermo [seasonal], Pisa, Porto, Prague, Rome-Fiumicino, Salzburg, Split [seasonal], Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Venice-Marco Polo, Vienna South
EasyJet Switzerland Basel/Mulhouse, Geneva North
Emirates Dubai North
Estonian Air Tallinn South
Flybe Aberdeen, Belfast-City, Bergerac [seasonal], Chambéry [charter only], Düsseldorf, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, Limoges [begins 13 July, seasonal], Newcastle upon Tyne, Newquay South
Freebird Airlines Dalaman [seasonal] South
Ghana International Airlines Accra, Düsseldorf South
Hamburg International Bern, Chambéry, Fagernes South
Iceland Express Akureyri [seasonal], Reykjavik-Keflavík South
Malév Hungarian Airlines Budapest North
Meridiana Florence South
Mexicana Mexico City South
Monarch Airlines (Charter) Alicante, Antalya, Aqaba, Bodrum, Cancun, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Grenada, Hassi Messaoud, Heraklion, Hurghada, Innsbruck, Kefalonia, Kittila, Kos, Larnaca, Luxor, Málaga, Malé, Mombasa, Murcia, Mytilene, Naples, Orlando-Sanford, Paphos, Preveza, Rhodes, St. John's [begins 5 June], Sharm el-Sheikh, Skiathos, Sofia, Taba, Tenerife-South, Tobago, Venice-Marco Polo, Volos, Zakynthos, South
Monarch Airlines (Scheduled) Alicante, Faro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Málaga, Minorca, Tenerife-South South
Montenegro Airlines Podgorica, Tivat South
Norwegian Air Shuttle Aalborg, Bergen, Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm-Arlanda [begins 29 April], Tromsø, Trondheim [begins 28 March] South
Olympic Air Athens [ends 26 March] South
Onur Air Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman South
Pegasus Airlines Dalaman [seasonal] South
Qatar Airways Doha North
Rossiya St Petersburg South
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca North
Ryanair Alicante, Cork, Dublin, Girona, Kaunas [begins 4 May], Madrid, Shannon, Stockholm-Skavsta South
Saga Airlines Bodrum [seasonal] South
SATA International Ponta Delgada South
Scandinavian Airlines Bergen South
Spanair Palma de Mallorca [seasonal] South
TAP Portugal Funchal, Lisbon, Porto South
Thomas Cook Airlines Summer Seasonal – Agadir, Almería, Antalya, Arrecife, Bodrum, Burgas, Calgary, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Corfu, Dalaman, Edmonton, Faro, Fuerteventura, Halifax, Heraklion, Holguín, Hurghada, Ibiza, İzmir, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lemnos, Malta, Minorca, Monastir, Montego Bay, Montreal, Naples, Olbia, Orlando-Sanford, Ottawa, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Preveza, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Reus, Rhodes, Santorini, Sharm el-Sheikh, Skiathos, Tenerife-South, Thessaloniki, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Varadero, Zakynthos
Winter Seasonal – Antalya, Arrecife, Banjul, Barbados, Brescia, Cancún, Calgary, Cayo Coco, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Geneva, Grenoble, Holguín, Hurghada, Innsbruck, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Luxor, Monastir, Montego Bay, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Rovaniemi, Salzburg, Sharm el-Sheikh, Sofia, Tenerife-South, Toronto-Pearson, Toulouse, Turin, Vancouver
Thomson Airways Agadir, Alghero [seasonal], Alicante, Antalya [seasonal], Aruba [seasonal], Barbados [ends 24 March], Boa Vista, Bodrum [seasonal], Burgas [seasonal], Cancún, Catania [seasonal], Chania [seasonal], Colombo [ends 23 April], Corfu [seasonal], Dalaman [seasonal], Dubrovnik [seasonal], Faro [seasonal], Figari [seasonal], Fuerteventura, Funchal, Girona, Goa [ends 24 April], Heraklion, Holguín, Hurghada, Ibiza [seasonal], İzmir [seasonal], Kalamata [begins 2 May, seasonal], Kavala [seasonal], Kefalonia [seasonal], Kos [seasonal], Lanzarote, Larnaca [seasonal], La Romana, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Luxor, Málaga, Malé, Malta, Marrakech, Marsa Alam, Mersa Matruh [begins 30 March, seasonal], Minorca [seasonal], Mombasa, Monastir, Montego Bay, Mykonos [begins 7 May, seasonal], Mytilene [seasonal], Naples [seasonal], Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Pisa [seasonal], Preveza [seasonal], Puerto Plata, Pula [seasonal], Punta Cana, Reus [seasonal], Rhodes [seasonal], Sal, Samos [seasonal], Samaná [seasonal], Santa Cruz de la Palma, Santorini [seasonal], Sharm el-Sheikh, Skiathos [seasonal], Taba, Tenerife-South, Thessaloniki [seasonal], Tivat [begins 5 May, seasonal], Varadero, Venice-Marco Polo [seasonal], Verona [seasonal], Zakynthos [seasonal] North Rotterdam South
Turkuaz Airlines Antalya [seasonal], Dalaman [seasonal] South
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev-Boryspil South
United Airways Dhaka South
US Airways Charlotte South
Viking Airlines Summer Seasonal – Antalya [begins 15 May] Arrecife, Banjul, Bastia, Burgas [begins 25 May], Chania, Corfu, Dalaman [begins 4 April], Faro, Fuerteventura, Heraklion, Hurghada, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Monastir [begins 23 May], Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Preveza, Rhodes, Samos, Sharm el-Sheikh, Skiathos, Stockholm Arlanda, Tenerife-South, Zakynthos
Winter Seasonal – Arrecife, Chambéry, Fuerteventura, Friedrichshafen, Geneva, Hurghada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Sharm el-Sheikh, Stockholm Arlanda, Tenerife-South, Turin
Virgin Atlantic Airways Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Havana, Kingston, Las Vegas, Montego Bay, Orlando, St Lucia, San Juan [seasonal], Tobago South

Ground transport

North Terminal A23 roundabout

Gatwick has set the objective that 40% of passengers should be using public transport by the time the annual throughput reaches 40 million (estimated in 2015), from the 2006 figure of 35.3%.[88]


The airport is accessed by a motorway spur road at junction 9A of the M23, which links to the main M23 motorway a mile (1.5 km) east at junction 9. The M23 connects with London's orbital motorway. The M25, 9 miles (14 km) north, gives access to Greater London and the South East. The M23 is the main route by traffic to reach the airport. Gatwick is accessed locally by the A23, which serves Horley and Redhill to the north and Crawley and Brighton to the south. The A217 provides access northwards to the local 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 planning restrictions limit car parking at and around Gatwick.


Gatwick Express route map
Interchange head
London Victoria Underground no-text.svg
Unknown route-map component "eHST"
Airport Unknown route-map component "KBHFxe"
Gatwick Airport
Unknown route-map component "exBHF"
Haywards Heath
Unknown route-map component "exHST"
Burgess Hill
Unknown route-map component "exHST"
Unknown route-map component "exHST"
Preston Park
Unknown route-map component "exKBHFe"

The Gatwick Airport railway station is next to South Terminal and provides connections along the Brighton Main Line to London Victoria and London Bridge stations, as well as Brighton and Worthing to the south. Gatwick Express to Victoria is the best-known service from the station, but other companies, including Southern, First Capital Connect and First Great Western, use the station as well. First Capital Connect provide direct trains to Luton Airport and First Great Western trains provide a direct rail link with Reading and connections with Oxford and the West.

Foot passengers can reach Heathrow by a X26 Express Bus from outside East Croydon station.

Bus and coach

National Express Coaches operates coaches to Heathrow Airport and Stansted Airport, as well as cities and towns throughout the region and country. Oxford Bus Company operate direct services to Oxford. EasyBus operates minicoaches from Gatwick to London Victoria. (National Express Dot2Dot used to operate a service to central London, but this ceased in 2008.)

Local buses connect North and South terminals with Crawley, Horley, Redhill, Horsham and other destinations. Services are offered by Metrobus and Fastway, a guided bus rapid transit system which was the first of its kind to be constructed outside a major city.

There are at least two sets of stairs for foot-passengers to leave South Terminal to ground-level (near the cycle route) from Zone L and the train-station area (steps are labelled Exit Q and Exit P on the ground). These allow access to bus stops for local services.


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 (signed "Lift to Cycle Route"), near Zone L.

Terminal transfer

Gatwick Airport Transit
North Terminal  
Airport Unknown route-map component "uKHSTa"
Unknown route-map component "uELEVa"
Unknown route-map component "uhSTR"
Unknown route-map component "uELEVe" Continuation backward
 to London
South Terminal  
Unknown route-map component "uKHSTe" + Hub
Station on track + Hub
 National Rail Gatwick Airport
Continuation forward
 to Brighton
Gatwick Airport inter-terminal transit
The satellite pier transit system in 1988

Gatwick Airport's North and South terminals are connected by a 0.75 miles (1.21 km) elevated two-way automated people mover track. The transit system is normally operated by two automatic, three-car driverless train vehicles. Although colloquially referred to widely as a "monorail",[89] the transit system runs on a dual concrete track with rubber tyres and is not technically a monorail.

The original Gatwick transit system opened in 1983 when the circular satellite pier was built, connecting the pier to the main terminal building, and was the UK's first automated people mover system. A second transit track was constructed in 1987 to link to the new North terminal.[89] The original satellite transit line was later replaced with a walkway and travelator link, but the inter-terminal transit remains in operation today.

The original Adtranz C-100 people mover cars remained in continuous operation until 2009, in which time they travelled a total of 2.5 million miles. In September 2009 the vehicles were withdrawn from service to allow the transit system to be upgraded. Meanwhile, the two terminals are connected by a temporary free bus service. A new operating system and transit cars consisting of six Bombardier CX-100 vehicles[90] are being installed and the guideway and transit stations are being refurbished at a cost of £45 million and due for completion in August 2010.[91]


In 1979, an agreement was reached with West Sussex County Council not to build a second runway before 2019.[50][51]

In its original consultation document published on 23 July 2002[92] the Government decided to expand Stansted and Heathrow, but not Gatwick. However, Medway Council, Kent County Council and Essex County Council sought a judicial review of this decision. The judge reviewing the lawfulness of the Government's decision ruled that excluding Gatwick from the original consultation was irrational and/or unfair.[92] Following the judge's ruling and the Secretary of State for Transport's decision not to appeal, BAA published new consultation documents.[92] These included an option of a possible second runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing airport boundary, leaving the villages Charlwood and Hookwood to the north of the airport intact. This led to protests about increased noise and pollution, demolition of houses and destruction of villages.[93]

Gate area inside the North Terminal, showing flight information screens

Prior to the change of ownership, BAA planned an £874 million investment at Gatwick over five years, including increased capacity for both terminals, improvements to the transport interchange and a new baggage system for the South Terminal.[94]

On 2 December 2009, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee published a report entitled The future of aviation. With regard to Gatwick, it calls on the Government to reconsider its decision to build a second runway at Stansted, in the light of growing evidence that the business case is unconvincing and that Gatwick is a better location.[95]

Future plans

Several options to expand Gatwick have been considered, including building a third terminal and second runway to the south of the existing runway. This would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today. In the case of a second, wide-spaced (as opposed to close parallel) runway being given the go-ahead, a new terminal could be sited between the two runways. This could either complement or replace the current South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic developments.[96]

A less ambitious alternative centres on extending the North Terminal further south with another passenger bridge to an area currently occupied by aircraft stands without jet bridges (Pier 7).[96] There are also plans to expand the capacity of the North Terminal and to extend Pier 6. As of late 2008, both terminals are being adapted to handle the Airbus A380 on a regular, commercial basis. The South Terminal airside lounge is currently undergoing refurbishment, with hope of increasing the amount of retail space and viewing areas.

In October 2009, BAA submitted planning applications for Gatwick to handle an extra six million passengers annually by 2018 and for an extension to the North Terminal to provide new check-in facilities and additional baggage reclaim hall capacity, along with a 900 space short-stay car park.[97] Crawley Borough Council's decision to approve these plans was upheld in November 2009 by the Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry despite objections from local environmental protesters.[98]

Speaking at the first Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (Gatcom) meeting since GIP's takeover of the airport (held on 28 January 2010 at Crawley's Arora Hotel), Gatwick's recently appointed chairman Sir David Rowlands ruled out building a second runway for the foreseeable future, citing the high cost of the associated planning application — estimated to be between £100 million and £200 million — as the main reason for the new owners' lack of interest. At that meeting, Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate stressed GIP's preference for increasing the existing runway's capacity and confirmed GIP's plans to request an increase in the current limit on the permitted number of take-offs and landings.[99]

Incidents and accidents

  • 28 January 1972 – a British Caledonian Vickers VC-10-1109 (registration: G-ARTA) sustained severe structural damage as a result of an exceptionally hard landing at Gatwick at the end of a short ferry flight from Heathrow, where the aircraft had been diverted due to Gatwick being fog-bound and where all passengers had disembarked. A survey of the aircraft's damage revealed that its airframe had been bent out of shape and that it required extensive repairs to be restored to an airworthy condition. The airline's senior management decided that these repairs were not cost-effective. The aircraft was written off and a decision taken to have it scrapped. It was eventually broken up at Gatwick in 1975.[108][109]
  • 20 July 1975 – a British Island Airways (BIA) Handley Page Dart Herald (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 760m and appeared airborne for 125m with its landing gear retracting before the rear underside of the fuselage settled back on to the runway. None of the 45 occupants were hurt.[110][111]


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See also

File:Clock Tower – Palace of Westminster, London – May 2007.jpg London portal
Aviation portal


  • Gwynne, Peter. (1990) A History of Crawley (2nd Edition) Philmore. ISBN 0-85033-718-6
  • King, John, with Tait, Geoff, (1980) Golden Gatwick – 50 Years of Aviation, British Airports Authority.
  • King, John, (1986) Gatwick – The Evolution of an Airport, Gatwick Airport Ltd. and Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society. ISBN 0-9512036-0-6
  • Bain, Gordon, (1994), Gatwick Airport, Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85310-468-x
  • Eglin, Roger, and Ritchie, Berry (1980). Fly me, I'm Freddie. London, UK: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-2977-7746-7. 
  • Thomson, Adam (1999). High Risk: The Politics of the Air. London, UK: Sidgwick and Jackson. ISBN 0-2839-9599-8. 
  • Simons, Graham M. (1993). The Spirit of Dan-Air. Peterborough, UK: GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1-8703-8420-2. 
  • Simons, Graham M. (1999). It was nice to fly with friends! The story of Air Europe. Peterborough, UK: GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1-8703-8469-5. 
  • Branson, Richard (2006 [2nd reprint]). Losing my Virginity – The Autobiography. London, UK: Virgin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7535-1020-0. 
  • Financial Times, 26 October 2007. London, UK: UK Edition. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Iyengar, K., "Bermuda Bloomers", "Golden Gatwick", p. 18), 8 February 2008. Hounslow, UK. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Iyengar, K., "The only way is up", "Golden Gatwick", p. 14), 11 April 2008. Hounslow, UK. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Iyengar, K., "Heading North", "Golden Gatwick", p. 16), 9 May 2008. Hounslow, UK. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Cooper, B., "Got your number", "Golden Gatwick", p. 12), 6 June 2008. Hounslow, UK. 
  • Skyport – Gatwick edition (Dixon, A., "Second runway plans to remain grounded", pp. 1, 3), 26 February 2010. Hounslow, UK. 
  • Financial Times, 10 February 2010. London, UK: UK Edition. 

External links

Simple English

Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGWICAO: EGKK) is London's second largest airport and the second busiest airport in the United Kingdom after Heathrow. It is the world's 22nd busiest airport in terms of passengers per year (7th in terms of international passengers). It is also often quoted as the world's busiest single runway airport, although strictly speaking it now has a second 'stand-by' runway, which can only be used when the main runway is out of use.

Gatwick is located in Crawley, West Sussex (originally Charlwood, Surrey) 5 km (3 miles) north of the town centre, 46 km (28 miles) south of London and 40 km (25 miles) north of Brighton.

Gatwick is owned and operated by BAA, which also owns and operates six other UK airports,[1] including Heathrow, and is itself owned by an international consortium led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group.[2]

With about 200 destinations the airport handled over 34 million passengers with 263,363 aircraft movements in 2006. It was confirmed that during 2007 Gatwick broke through the 35 million barrier for the first time in its history.[3]

Charter airlines generally do not operate from Heathrow and therefore use Gatwick as their main base for London and the South East.

For the past 30 years many flights to and from the USA have also used Gatwick because of the restrictions on access to Heathrow that were enshrined in the 1977 Bermuda II bilateral air services agreement between the UK and the US.

The airport is a major operational base for British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic. The airport is also a major base for a number of charter airlines including First Choice Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomsonfly and XL Airways. Runway 8L/26R is mostly used as a taxiway.

London Gatwick has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P528) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.


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