Thursday 18 January 2018

Gatwick eyes investment as passenger numbers climb

Rachel Cooper

NEW routes to emerging markets in Asia and an increase in passenger numbers pushed up turnover at Gatwick airport.

Gatwick revealed on Monday that new routes to emerging markets in Asia, such as China, had pushed up turnover at London's second-largest airport.

Turnover in the year to 31 March jumped 8.6pc to £517.4m and losses narrowed to £48.6m compared to £62.5m the previous year as more passengers travelled through the airport.

Passenger traffic increased 6.9pc to 33.8m during the year as Gatwick won new routes and invested millions of pounds in the airport's facilities.

Gatwick was bought for £1.5bn in 2009 by an investment fund, Global Infrastructure Partners, and has since focused on improving the airport's services.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick's chief executive, said passengers and airlines were benefiting from the new facilities and the airport was currently investing around £20m a month. Gatwick expects to invest a further £435m over the next two years, he said, as the airport completes its £1.2bn six-year programme.

"We have been competing with Heathrow, Stansted and Luton and other European airports, and this has seen us achieve passenger growth every single month over the course of the year," he added. "We have been winning new connections to high growth economies including South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China."

Rival London airport, Heathrow, is operating at full capacity after the Government blocked development of a third runway as further expansion of the west London site would mean an increase in the number of planes flying directly over the capital.

Heathrow, operated by BAA, has seen traffic to emerging markets rise in recent years and believes it is now falling behind other airports in the battle for these lucrative routes because of constraints on growth.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed at the weekend that Gatwick is set to resurrect proposals for a second runway this summer as it ramps up efforts to become London's main gateway to booming economies in Asia.

Next month, Gatwick will publish a “master plan” setting out what the airport will look like in eight years’ time. The airport’s bosses will also float two scenarios for how it could develop after 2020 - including the case for a two-runway airport.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Wingate said a second runway at Gatwick or Stansted would be less problematic - and costly - than either a new airport in the Thames Estuary or expansion at Heathrow.

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