Gatwick is going through the most challenging period in its history but – despite the difficulty – we have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have however been forced to take some difficult decisions including postponing many of our capital investment projects and making significant reductions in the number of jobs. Our passenger and air traffic numbers are significantly down on what we usually expect at this time of year, and we currently predict that it may take up to four to five years to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.
As such, we are having to explore new ways to help us recover, including new revenue streams, so we can continue to preserve as many jobs as possible and continue to be an important contributor of economic prosperity and jobs across the wider region.
One of these new initiatives will be the introduction, next year, of a charge for people who drop passengers off by car directly outside our terminal – as most UK airports have done for many years. Anyone who does not wish to pay the charge will be able to drop-off or pick-up passengers in the airport’s long-stay car parks with two hours free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminals.
The £5 charge will also see Gatwick continue to meet our commitment to reduce ‘Kiss and Fly’ – the least sustainable type of journey to the airport as it involves two return car journeys – while also encouraging public transport use and potentially cutting road traffic congestion and emissions at Gatwick and surrounding local areas. Currently around 15% of airport journeys are ‘Kiss and Fly’.
Gatwick is looking at solutions to allow those who regularly drop off and one pick up at the South Terminal each day to access to the train station to make a token annual payment contribution. Suitable solutions for Blue Badge holder’s convenience are also being looked at.
Reducing the airport’s environmental impact continues to be an important focus and Gatwick plans to put a proportion of the revenue into Gatwick’s existing Sustainable Transport Fund.
No date has been set to introduce the new charging system, but the first step includes a consultation on the implementation of a Red Route system across the airport campus to indicate that stopping to park, load or unload, board or alight from a vehicle is prohibited. Revenue raised through Red Route fines will also be used to fund sustainable transport initiatives under the guidance of the airport’s Transport Steering Group, which includes external local representatives.
The airport benefits from strong public transport links, with recent improvements enabling a train leaving for London every three to four minutes – as regular as tube services – and a £4 million upgrade to an airport bus interchange benefitting the 3 million people who use it each year. Around 650 local services arrive / depart the bus interchange each week, many of them 24-hour services.
Gatwick also remains committed to its investment in the ongoing £150 million project to upgrade the airport’s train station, which will make connections to other destinations easier by doubling the size of the station concourse, adding five new lifts and eight escalators to improve passenger flow, and widening two platforms to reduce overcrowding.