This week marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the North Terminal, British Airways’ home at London Gatwick. At the time, the opening of the new North Terminal marked a huge increase in capacity for Gatwick and, since the first flight took off for Naples, over 100 million British Airways customers have used the terminal.
Originally owned by BAA, Gatwick was taken over in 2009 by GIP who have undertaken significant new investment following several years in which the airport played a very definite second fiddle to Heathrow. The most recent result of this investment was a £73 million extension to the North Terminal that gave British Airways its own dedicated check-in area. Npt only does the new check-in area offer British Airways customers a brighter and more spacious environment, it has also been designed with modern day travel in mind and boasts as many self service check-in kiosks as the more traditional desks.
British Airways operates a combination of short and long haul routes out of Gatwick, primarily aimed at the leisure market. On its 32 short-haul routes, British Airways has recently introduced new, lower fares for those passengers travelling with hand-baggage only; this new development from the airline is designed to combat competition from easyjet which is now by far the airport’s largest carrier with some 9 million passngers a year (out of a total of approx 33 million).
In terms of its long-haul routes, British Airways main focus is on the Caribbean with flights to destinations including Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, Antigua and Cancun in Mexico. However, the airline’s newest long-haul destination from Gatwick looks east rather than west, with flights to Colombo in Sri Lanka commencing on 31st March. The only long-haul destination that British Airways serves from both Gatwick & Heathrow is Las Vegas.
With much discussion and debate about the future of aviation in the UK, it will be intresting to observe the next 25 years at both British Airways & Gatwick.