Gatwick Spends $1.5 Billion to Add 7 Million More Passengers

(Bloomberg) -- London’s Gatwick airport plans to spend 1.11 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) on expanding the capacity of its two terminals by 7 million passengers within five years.

The world’s busiest single-runway hub will devote much of the cash to lengthening one of the piers at its North Terminal, used by airlines including EasyJet Plc and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., to accommodate eight more aircraft, according to a statement Wednesday.

The northern site’s departure lounge will also be enlarged to accommodate more restaurants and will trial biometric auto-boarding technology. The South Terminal, which houses British Airways, will get a new domestic arrivals hall and baggage claim area, as well as extended hotels and parking.

Gatwick is seeking to boost the capacity of its existing infrastructure to almost 53 million travelers a year by 2023 from close to 46 million passengers in 2017 after losing out to London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, in a contest to win government backing for the construction of a new runway.

Funding will also be awarded to the extension of a self-service baggage drop system, the increased use of electric vehicles and improved rail links.

Robot Parking

Future projects could include an integrated operations center to share real-time data between the airport, airlines and ground handlers, robotic parking that would allow cars to be crammed closer together, and directional airfield lighting to guide aircraft between the runway and parking stands.

As part of the expansion of the North Terminal’s pier six, Gatwick’s only aircraft stand designed to accommodate the Airbus SE A380 superjumbo will be moved to the site’s fifth pier, requiring the taxiway to be widened and reconfigured for the plane’s 80-meter (262-feet) wingspan.

While Gatwick Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said he’s aiming to attract more long-haul flights, indicating a higher proportion of wide-body planes, the airport has no plans to add further A380 facilities. Dubai-based Emirates currently operates three flights a day to the hub using the double-decker model.

The North Terminal’s 32 meter-high bridge to pier six, opened at a cost of 110 million pounds in 2005 to allow the biggest planes to fit underneath, won’t be affected by the work.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.