Gatwick Airport has published a new five-year Capital Investment Programme (CIP) which highlights more investment in automation and technology as an enabler of sustainable growth.
New initiatives include robotic parking and automated boarding technology, which will speed up boarding and give passengers more choice about how they spend their time.
Gatwick now serves 46 million passengers a year, and said the CIP provides a strong focus on improving facilities for passengers and airlines, as well as continuing to enhance operational performance.
The single biggest project to be delivered within the next five years is the Pier 6 Western extension (pictured above) which will offer over half a million more North Terminal passengers the opportunity to embark and disembark their aircraft via a jetty-served stand, as well as improved gate waiting areas.
The design incorporates automated boarding technology which uses biometrics to process passengers through e-gates straight onto the aircraft. Similar projects successfully run by other VINCI Airports will provide inspiration for the Pier 6 extension’s coffee shops and retail, which will ensure passengers can enjoy these facilities right up to the point of boarding.
New projects include:
- Check-in automation – ongoing investment in self-service bag drop technology for our airline customers.
- Significant expansion of both the international departure lounges in both North and South Terminals to create additional space for seating, retail and catering units, toilets and other passenger facilities.
- Biometric auto-boarding technology development and next phase of testing.
- Main runway technology optimisation – new technology such as Time-Based Flow Management, which is already deployed at other UK airports offers the potential to increase the capability of the main runway, creating opportunities for resilience and growth.
- Rapid Exit Taxiway – a new taxiway which allows aircraft to vacate the runway at the optimum location, enabling the best usage and operational performance.
- Baggage auto re-flighting – on rare occasions when bags don’t make a flight connection, the re-flighting process will be automated, allowing it to be sent on without being first retrieved from the system.
- New car park in the North Terminal to provide 3,250 additional spaces from summer 2021.
- Robotic car parking – a trial will begin this autumn in South Terminal offering passengers all the benefits of valet parking, without the need to surrender their keys, and making more efficient use of existing car park space. Robotic car parking is already in place at VINCI Airports’ Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport – the experience of which will aid the introduction of this new service at Gatwick.
- Railway station development – Gatwick will invest £37 million to complement the £150 million that the Department for Transport has committed to upgrade the station. Work starts in spring 2020 and is expected to take two years.
- Infrastructure to support greater use of electric and hybrid vehicles by passengers and staff, in particular on the airfield.
- Continued investment in security processing and technology to ensure the airport meets DfT standards, maintains a great passenger experience and operates as efficiently as possible.
Emerging projects include:
- Autonomous vehicles and Mototok – provision of electric and computer driven airside vehicles, including tugs which tow aircraft to stands.
- Auto-dock airbridges – exploring jetties or airbridges which do not require an operator to attach them to the aircraft.
- Automation of baggage handling – opportunities to utilise new technology in the baggage hall to reduce manual handling of luggage which supports staff wellbeing.
- A new special assistance airside lounge for the South Terminal, similar to the popular North Terminal facility which opened in 2018.
- More water fountains and recycling facilities – passengers have told us how important environmental issues are to them and that they value these facilities and would like more of them.
Gatwick’s chief executive officer, Stewart Wingate said: “We always put passengers at the heart of our investment plans and it’s great to see how automation and technology can further enhance the passenger experience.
“The plans explore ways we can grow capacity sustainably, including providing more space in our departure lounges. This investment will support our existing airlines, help attract new airlines and provide an enhanced service for the millions of people who choose to fly from Gatwick.
“We have outlined our long-term growth strategy in our final master plan and the Capital Investment Programme we are sharing today, gives a more detailed view of our short-term plans which will continue to improve our service proposition and lay foundations for the future.”