Gatwick is finding alternative ways to tackle its capacity problem, announcing a new five-year plan that will pump an extra £1.1bn worth of investment into the airport.
Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, said it expected passenger numbers to reach 53 million by 2023. It has repeatedly asked to be able to build a third runway, but has lost the debate to Heathrow, which, if MPs vote in its favour later this month, will be able to press ahead with the controversial project after years of political wrangling.
Gatwick said it was looking at ways to make the best use of its existing infrastructure. It said it would spend £1.11bn on supporting airline growth and improving experience for passengers up to 2023, while funds will also be spent on projects designed to accommodate larger aircraft and bulging passenger numbers.
A new domestic arrivals facility, including a new baggage reclaim, will be built in the south terminal and a new mezzanine level extension will be built in the north terminal departure lounge to make room for new restaurants.
Also new to the south terminal will be an extended car park for 1,200 more spaces and increased hotel capacity.
A new road system and taxiway entrance to the new Boeing aircraft hangar, due to open next year, will be built to connect the airfield with the new facility. The new hangar will service Gatwick's growing number of long-haul aircraft operating from Gatwick.
Gatwick’s Chief Executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “Gatwick is a major piece of national infrastructure, and our continued growth and ability to attract long-haul airlines is vital for the health of the UK economy, particularly in a post-Brexit world. We are exploring ways to grow our capacity, including developing new systems and processes to handle more passengers, and considering how we use all our existing infrastructure in the future.
“By committing to spend another £1.11bn, Gatwick can continue to grow sustainably, attract new airlines and offer more global connections, while providing an excellent service to passengers.
“This year we will welcome new quieter aircraft with the introduction of A321s by Easyjet and we are developing our infrastructure now, by reconfiguring airfield stands and planning for the construction of a major extension to our Pier 6 facility. These initiatives will support this next phase of growth."
Each new A321 aircraft that comes into Easyjet’s fleet will bring an additional 85,000 passengers a year through Gatwick, the airport said.
A major revamp of Gatwick Airport station, which now serves 19 million passengers a year, has also been proposed to help reduce crowding and provide better connections to the airport.
A partnership of Network Rail, Gatwick Airport, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Transport has submitted a planning application for a major redevelopment, in an effort to reduce congestion and improve passenger experience at the station.