23 JANUARY 2017


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Article from BTNews 23 JANUARY 2017

COMMENT: All change at Gatwick

How times change. A while ago, it was all Heathrow hogging the headlines. That little matter having been (temporarily) quietened down, things are now on the move at Gatwick as the airport takes on the not-inconsiderable task of moving its major airlines to new homes within and between the North and South terminals.

It’s more housekeeping than high politics, but nonetheless the way it will be seen to have been done will say a lot about the modern business of air travel. It all begins tomorrow (Tuesday 22 January).

The companies involved are not just any airlines. They are British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic, all VICs (Very Important Customers), and staff were busy over the weekend and will be again today to make sure passengers know about the moves.

In a nutshell, British Airways will move to the South Terminal, Virgin Atlantic will relocate to the North Terminal, and easyJet – which currently operates out of both – will consolidate its operation in the North Terminal.

Bosses say shifting these airlines will simplify the journey through the airport for passengers, and travellers will benefit from brand new facilities, including state-of-the-art technology at check-in, security and immigration, as well as new bag-drop zones and premium lounges.

The first airline to move on Tuesday is easyJet, who will from then onwards operate entirely from the North Terminal. The following day all British Airways flights, except two which moved last week, will relocate to the South Terminal whilst Virgin Atlantic also changes to a new home in the North Terminal.

The moves have been staggered over a 72hr period, to ensure a seamless transition, with all three airlines operating a reduced flying programme to simplify the process. There have also been 37 trials to test every element of the airlines’ operations in their new homes, which have proved they are ready for the switch.

It is impressive.  

Some of us can remember when Gatwick (not the official 'London Gatwick') used to be a homely little airport with airline staff working out of temporary premises alongside the runway.

Today it is the UK’s second largest and has fair justification for its boast that it is the most efficient single-runway operation in the world. It serves more than 220 destinations in 80 countries for 43m passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South East region, generating around 21,000 on-airport jobs and a further 10,000 through related activities.

The North Terminal was essentially built for BA.

easyJet is now the largest carrier.

How times change.

Good luck to all.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Peter Smart, UK

I thought the North Terminal was actually built for long defunct BCal, which was taken over by BA at about the time North Terminal was built. I'm old enough to remember when the recently demolished south pier was Gatwick, but I think by then (1968) check in was in part of what is now South Terminal.

Colin Antill, UK

I can remember being at a press conference when BA launched their new livery Lord King was asked about this new airline starting called Easyjet, he said he would give them 6 months and they will disappear, I believe it is that complacency has caused BA more problems than anything else. North Terminal as you said was built for BA and over the years have changed so many times LGW / LHR must have cost millions over the years. Richard Cawthorne may have been at the same press conference.