London Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick Airport is located about 28 miles south of London. It was built on the site of a farm owned by the DeGatwick family. The name held throughout the years as the property morphed through many changes, including a time as Gatwick Racecourse used for horse racing in the late 1800s. Gatwick began its flying days in the late 1920s as Gatwick Aerodrome. A flying school was built on the property in the early ’30s, but the airport really took off with a commercial aircraft license issued in 1934. The British Royal Air Force used Gatwick as a base for a flying school, and then during World War II, it functioned as a repair and maintenance facility for aircraft. Gatwick Airport officially opened in 1958, and it has since grown to be one of the busiest airports in the world, ranking 27th in yearly passenger traffic on the latest list compiled by the Airports Council International.
Airport Operations at London Gatwick
Gatwick Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the United Kingdom, second only to Heathrow. It is estimated that Gatwick services over 33 million passengers per year. Gatwick actually serves more destinations than any other UK airport, and it is considered the best airport in Europe for point-to-point connections.
Amazingly, all of this is accomplished on just one single runway. In fact, Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world, conducting twice the amount of aircraft movement per hour than the second busiest single-runway airport, San Diego in the United States. Although there are two runways at Gatwick, the two cannot be used at the same time due to their close proximity. As a result, the north runway is used primarily for taxi purposes or in case of maintenance or emergency on the main runway. The airport has considered adding additional runway space as the number of the passengers continues to increase.
Gatwick currently operates with two main terminals. The South Terminal, which opened with the airport in 1958, is the larger of the two. It covers 1,900,000 square feet and services approximately 17.8 million passengers per year. The North Terminal was added in 1988. Although the North Terminal is smaller at 810,000 square feet, it services almost as many passengers as the South Terminal, handling an estimated 16 million per year. A train-like shuttle operates 24 hours a day to transport passengers between the two terminals. Both terminals offer passengers retail shopping and dining, as well as business meeting space, banking, and non-denominational chapels.
When the airport opened in 1958, it was the first single facility airport in the world that was accessible by air, rail, and road. Passengers still have plenty of choices for traveling to and from Gatwick Airport. The South Terminal contains a railway station that connects passengers to London in about 30 minutes time. Bus service runs locally, as well as connecting to London and Heathrow Airport. Gatwick offers a variety of parking options for passengers as well. There is a covered garage located next to the terminals for short-stay parking, and it even offers valet service if desired. Several off-site lots provide long-stay parking located about five minutes from the airport with shuttle service operating continuously.
Airlines Serving Gatwick
The service in United Kingdom’s second busiest airport is dominated by the largest British airline companies. London Gatwick Airport serves as one of the two domestic hubs for British Airways. Operating in the North Terminal, the flag carrier of the United Kingdom connects London’s second busiest airport to more than 30 total European destinations such as to popular tourist hot spots in France, Italy, and Spain. Barcelona, Bordeaux, Naples, Venice, and Malaga are on the British Airways lineup that’s offered all year long.
Passengers at London Gatwick Airport can count on the U.K. flag carrier for trips to the American continents and the Caribbean region. U.S. destinations offered by British Airways include Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa. Antigua, Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic are some of the popular Caribbean island nations that can be reached via British Airways service.
EasyJet is the second busiest carrier at London Gatwick Airport. Based in the suburbs of London, Easyjet is considered the largest airline company in the United Kingdom in terms of overall passenger service. Great Britain’s largest carrier connects London Gatwick Airport to other major U.K. airports in Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.
Most of the flights offered by Easyjet from London Gatwick Airport are to popular resort destinations in Europe and the Mediterranean vicinity. Seaside cities such as Alicante, Antalya, Izmir, Faro, Lisbon, Naples, Split and Valencia are all on the list of Easyjet flights. Popular Mediterranean island destinations offered by Easyjet include Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Malta, Corfu, Heraklion, Rhodes, and Santorini. All Easyjet flights to popular vacation spots depart from the North Terminal. From the South Terminal, Easyjet offers flights to large metropolitan cities including Athens, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Rome, and Vienna.
Two major British charter airlines at London Gatwick Airport offer service to some of the most popular vacation spots on multiple continents. More than 30 destinations are offered by Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. The diverse schedule includes direct flights to Egypt, Turkey, France, Spain, Greece, the Caribbean Sea, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Thomas Cook Airlines serves customers in the South Terminal and Thomson Airways serves passengers in the North Terminal at London Gatwick Airport. Another busy British carrier that takes Gatwick’s passengers to popular holiday destinations is Monarch Airlines.
The second largest airport in the United Kingdom is also well served by renowned international airlines from all over the world. Aeroflot, Air China, Emirates, Lufthansa, and US Airways make up the diverse list of international carriers at London Gatwick Airport.