5 DECEMBER 2011
The Business Travel News
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Stewart Wingate (39) was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Gatwick Airport in December 2009. He was with BAA from 2004 until September 2009, as Customer Services Director of Glasgow Airport (2004-2005), Chief Executive Officer of Budapest Airport (2005-2007) and most recently as Managing Director of Stansted Airport (2007-2009).
He was previously with Black & Decker (1988-2004), as General Manager of a start-up manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic (2002-2004), Operations Director in Spennymoor, County Durham (2000-2002) and European Marketing Manager based in Germany (1999-2000).
He is a Chartered Engineer and has a Masters in Business Administration.
It will be exactly two years on 9 December (when Vietnam Airlines arrive – Editor) that Gatwick Airport gained its independence from BAA allowing us, for the first time in the airport’s history, to contend for traffic with other airports in London and the South East, and indeed Europe.
You could be forgiven for assuming that it is only leisure traffic that we are competing with other airports for, because of course Gatwick serves the leisure market very well. On that front we have seen existing airlines such as easyJet and BA expand their operations by adding new routes and increasing the number of aircraft based here. In other cases we have seen airlines, such as Norwegian and airberlin, move routes or their entire operations from other airports to Gatwick.
But we are also looking to increase the proportion of business travellers that we serve and open up more long-haul destinations into South East Asia and the BRIC nations. And I’m pleased to say that we have had some pretty good success on that front so far.
In recent months, we have seen new routes opened to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Seoul and China and we have established the first direct link between the UK and Vietnam. We are confident that more new routes will follow, and this is not only good news for Gatwick but also for the country.
Runway capacity in the South East and the importance of ensuring London remains one of the best connected cities in the world is a much debated topic. But Gatwick does have the capacity to grow and accommodate more flights so we are in a good position to help the UK broaden its trade links with the fast-growing developing markets. The fact that airlines from South East Asia and the BRIC nations are choosing to operate flights from Gatwick sends a clear message that airlines can serve London as effectively from Gatwick as Heathrow, and that Gatwick can, and is contributing to the economic wellbeing of the UK.
Bringing in key business routes is key, but we also have a lot of work to do in changing the business travel communities’ perceptions of Gatwick. So we are upping the ante in terms of providing more business travel facilities throughout the airport.
We know that if someone is purchasing a premium priced seat on a flight and receiving a premium level service from the airline, that he or she will want the experience at the airport to match the value of the flight ticket. And that is why we have introduced Premium Security lanes in both terminals to provide business and first class passengers with a higher end, luxury experience. This is complemented by Premium Car Parking facilities giving time strapped business passengers fast and convenient access to check-in.
We are at the beginning of this journey to develop an end-to-end premium service for the business traveller but we are making some good headway.
Our vision to become London’s airport of choice is an ambitious one but it is a vision that is driving us to deliver improvements for all passengers at Gatwick. Our own surveys show that passengers want an airport that is welcoming, they want airport management to bust queues, wherever in the passenger journey, and they value the ambience and feel of the airport.
Every month we are investing in excess of £20 million to deliver improved facilities for our passengers and airlines. We are seeing increased passenger satisfaction through the introduction of a range of innovative new products, including the impressive new South Terminal security area which uses the best technology to help them get through the security process within five minutes or less.
Smarter scanning technology and automated processes are speeding up travel through the security area by 25% – increasing passenger capacity for each of the 19 new lanes to 250 passengers per hour.
We put a great deal of thought into how best to combine new technology, information and increased space to improve the passenger experience. Large plasma screens in a spacious preparation area gives instructions in five different languages to help passengers understand exactly what they can and can’t take through security. Security access gates enable passengers to simply swipe their boarding card or Smartphone displaying their boarding card to enter security. Another useful feature are the colour coded lanes with screens displaying the actual queue time, enabling passengers to choose the lane they want to use.
Other innovations include the dedicated family-friendly security lanes, premium security lanes, self-service check-in options and the expanded, new look North Terminal.
We want to give passengers all the right reasons to choose Gatwick as their London airport of choice, whether flying on business or for leisure, and these improvements will certainly help us achieve that.