World’s busiest single runway airport looking to invest in technology

posted on 20th August 2019
World’s busiest single runway airport looking to invest in technology

Capacity at Gatwick Airport is always under pressure and in its five-year investment programme, the airport has identified a range of future projects it is planning, many utilising automation and technology, as it looks to boost operational efficiency

Gatwick Airport has published a new five-year Capital Investment Programme (CIP) which has a clear focus on investing in projects utilising automation and technology.

The London airport said the initiatives are part of a strategy to enable sustainable growth and they 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 operator VINCI Airports, will provide inspiration for the Pier 6 extension’s coffee shops and retail, which aim to ensure passengers can enjoy these facilities right up to the point of boarding.

Other new projects include main runway technology optimisation utilising new technology such as time-based flow management, which is already deployed at other UK airports and offers the potential to increase the capability of the main runway, creating opportunities for resilience and growth.

The airport will also investigate a 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 is another project in the pipeline, for the 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.

Infrastructure to support greater use of electric and hybrid vehicles by passengers and staff, in particular on the airfield, is also on the radar.

Future emerging projects include provision of electric and computer driven airside vehicles, including tugs which tow aircraft to stands, auto-dock airbridges, automation of baggage handling, a new special assistance airside lounge for the South Terminal and more water fountains and recycling facilities.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said: “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.”