in Aerospace

Gatwick welcomes over 3m passengers in record-breaking November

Posted 14 December 2018 · Add Comment

Growth in long-haul routes helped London Gatwick surpass three million passengers last month – the first time it has ever reached that milestone in the month of November – as overall traffic at the airport grew by +5.7% year-on-year.

The number of passengers flying to long-haul destinations was up by +11.9% – as Gatwick revealed that one in six of its 46 million annual passengers are now long-haul travellers.

Services to Kigali, Rwanda and Colombo, Sri Lanka helped to drive the growth, with both routes up +134.1% and +110% respectively. Gatwick’s cargo traffic also continued its upward surge, growing by +5.3% compared with the same month last year.

The strong growth comes as a new YouGov poll, published today, reveals that 74% of MPs who were surveyed support Gatwick’s plans to increase capacity by making better use of its existing runways*. An earlier poll had shown that 74% of surveyed residents in Surrey, Sussex and Kent also support the plans**.

Additionally, November saw Gatwick announce its first flights to Brazil, with a new low-cost, long-haul Norwegian route to Rio de Janeiro set to take off in March 2019.

Elsewhere, the November short-haul picture suggests that festive-themed trips to visit Father Christmas started early this year. The number of passengers travelling to Tromsø and Rovaniemi – two of the main entry points to the Lapland region – rose by +62.8% and +53.9% respectively. Gatwick recently revealed that it will offer more flights to Lapland than any other UK airport this winter.

Domestically, the Isle of Man was the destination with the highest percentage growth in November, up +8.5% compared with the same month last year. Jersey grew by +6.4%, while Inverness saw a +4.2% passenger increase.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick said: “November’s record-breaking passenger and cargo numbers highlight the imperative role that Gatwick continues to play for the country. The growth in the number of passengers travelling to Kigali is a great example of how our extensive range of long-haul routes is being embraced by business and leisure travellers from across the UK.

“I’m also delighted that our network has now been bolstered even further by vital new routes to Shanghai with China Eastern and Rio with Norwegian. Worldwide connections from Britain will be needed more than ever in the New Year and beyond, and in our recently-published draft master plan, we set out our vision for how Gatwick can grow to facilitate this demand for greater global connectivity.

“It’s pleasing to see that, in a YouGov poll of MPs, 74% support our plans to increase capacity by making better use of our existing runways. We’re continuing to seek feedback on our draft master plan from the public, including local neighbours and airport partners, as we work to fulfil our role for the country in the most sustainable way.”

Noise Management
It was also recently reported that the Gatwick’s Noise Management Board (NMB) initiative to modify the A320 - the family of aircraft most used at Gatwick - contributed to a 3% reduction in the airport’s noise footprint last year (2017) compared to the previous year, despite a 1% increase in aircraft movements.

The finding was presented at the NMB’s third annual public meeting on the 5 December at the Gatwick Sofitel, where members of the local community were updated on the progress and future direction of the NMB and received updates on airspace and noise related issues.

The meeting is also an opportunity for people to ask questions of industry partners including airlines, engine manufacturers and air traffic providers.

The A320 family aircraft make up more than half of all Gatwick flights but – without modification – older versions generated a high pitched whine during parts of their approach to landing.  The NMB initiative led to financial charges being introduced to encourage airlines to modify or use quieter aircraft and 97% of A320 flights now use modified aircraft and so generate less noise.

In terms of future noise reductions, new generation aircraft are being introduced that are up to 50% quieter and will be phased in over coming years. Gatwick estimates around 30% of its fleet will comprise new, quieter aircraft by 2022, 60% by 2027 and 90% by 2032.

The independent NMB brings the local community and the aviation industry together within a formalised structure and is considered to be an industry-leading approach to managing noise issues at a local level.

A ‘root and branch review’ of the current NMB is underway and a Review Sub-Committee -comprising five NMB members - has been established to consider the purpose, objectives, governance, structure, membership, balance, legitimacy, outcomes, leadership and administration of the NMB.  The review findings will be published early next year.

The Board’s third annual progress report is now available and the 2019/20 work plan for the NMB’s work going forward will be agreed early in 2019.

Bo Redeborn, Chairman of the Noise Management Board, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the work of the Noise Management Board over the last year.  We have made some reasonable progress improving the situation for those affected by noise from aircraft using Gatwick this year.  More work is needed in many areas to deliver noise benefits in the short term.”

“The large scale redesign of London and Gatwick’s airspace is a necessary precursor and has the potential to eventually deliver some significant benefits for our local communities.”


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