Emirates to introduce third daily London Gatwick -Dubai flight for summer

Emirates has said that it will increase the frequency of its services to/from London Gatwick airport and Dubai with the addition of a third daily flight, effective July 27 until August 3, 2022.

The third daily flight is aimed at serving the high demand from customers travelling to and from London this summer. It will also provide additional seats to accommodate Emirates passengers affected by capacity adjustments on flights from London Heathrow, which will help ease operational pressures at the airport.

The additional daily flight will be operated by a wide-body Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft offering seats in First, Business and Economy class. Flight EK011 and EK012 will operate to and out of London Gatwick in the morning.

‘Emirates’ customers impacted by capacity adjustments at London Heathrow will be contacted directly by the airline or their travel agent. The airline is working closely with its travel partners to re-accommodate any impacted bookings and ensure smooth onward flight connections for customers to reach their planned destination, the airline said in a release.

‘Emirates is grateful for the support of London Gatwick Airport, along other partners on the ground who have been working closely with the airline to secure sufficient ground handling resources to deal with the additional demand, and provide passengers with a smooth and reliable journey,’ it added.

Emirates will continue to operate its six daily flights to/from London Heathrow during this period, and its planned re-start of daily services to London Stansted will commence on August 1.

London Gatwick celebrates £40 million retail transformation

An additional ten new and refreshed retail stores have now opened at London Gatwick to complete the transformation of the shopping experience at South Terminal departure lounge, the airport said.

The new stores, Superdry, Fat Face, Snow+Rock, Ted Baker, Zara, Best of the Best, London News, Mango, Joules and Victoria’s Secret, have been selected based on passenger feedback, for a more premium offering of both national and international brands. A survey by the airport revealed that 56 percent of passengers wanted more high street and international brands, 38 percent wanted a premium department store and 22 percent wanted more designer brands.

Shoppers will now also be able to enjoy a 4,500 sq. ft. Zara outlet, the largest UK airport store to date, a 1,000 sq. ft. Ted Baker store and another airport first, a 1,000 sq. ft. Snow+Rock, offering a wide range of footwear, accessories and clothing.

Spencer Sheen, head of retail at London Gatwick said: ‘We are very proud of the completion of the South Terminal International Departure Lounge, which takes airport shopping and the passenger experience to a whole new level.

Our new retail space not only demonstrates our forward thinking but also our desire to deliver on what our passengers ask for, be it a luxury department store or a high-street favourite. And the results we have seen so far speak for themselves as more than 80% of our passengers have rated as ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ the selection of retail outlets available at the airport3.’

These new openings mark the final phase of an extensive GBP40 million South Terminal departure lounge project that is intended to deliver a state-of-the-art retail journey for passengers.

The first phase, completed in August 2013, saw the opening of eleven new and refreshed stores including two airport firsts, Aspinal of London and Ernest Jones, and a 6,500 square foot flagship Harrods store, focusing on fashion and accessories.

The range of brands and products now available in the South Terminal ensures the shopping experience provided at London Gatwick truly reflects passenger needs, the airport said.

Gatwick Airport plans to create integrated customer management system

Gatwick Airport has announced plans to create a management system for passengers travelling through the airport, Computer World has reported online, citing an online tender.

The move is intended to better understand customer behaviour and identify new opportunities for growth.

According to the online tender, the airport is looking for a supplier to provide data management services that support the ‘application of value-adding customer insight strategies’. The contract will be effective for a minimum of three years, and suppliers interested in participating in the tender process have until March 10 to submit their information.

‘Gatwick Airport is seeking to better understand its customers and use insight from passenger data to identify opportunities for growth,’ the tender notice said.

‘The purpose of this project is to begin the process of creating a single source of customer data by creating a membership management system for a new passenger engagement programme,’ it added.

Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second largest hub, has been focusing on IT investment in recent months, particularly on cloud-based systems. Gatwick said that it would be the first airport to move its central operational database to cloud as part of wider plans to consolidate its data centre estate.

In addition, it has also given its 2,500 employees access to Box, a cloud-based collaboration tool, in a bid to strengthen employee productivity.

In January, the airport updated its biometric-based automated passenger verification system with additional functionality. The new technology, from UK-based Human Recognition Systems, is claimed to enable the airport to make informed gate control and alert decisions based on accurate passenger movement information, ensuring operational efficiencies.

Gatwick Airport served 2.2 million passengers in January, an increase of 6.6 percent compared with 2.09 million passengers served during the corresponding period in 2013.

Brits choose less traditional romantic destinations for Valentine’s getaway

Gatwick Airport passengers have selected less traditional romantic locations for a Valentine’s break, with destinations like Barcelona, Tenerife and Dublin leading the list of the top ten favourites for this year, the airport said in a release.

Passenger numbers for Barcelona have grown by 42 percent since last year, as couples seek romantic mini-breaks in sunnier climes away from wet and windy Britain. The airport is expecting around 450,000 passengers to pass through its two terminals between February 13 and 17.

Additionally, parts of the British Isles remain popular with lovers as they choose to getaway to the Celtic cities of Dublin, Belfast and Edinburgh.

Nick Henderson, terminal operations, Gatwick Airport, said: ‘Barcelona is definitely the hot destination for star-crossed lovers this year. Couples are certainly taking the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the sun over the Valentine’s weekend and with Gatwick serving more destinations than any other UK airport, it is proving a great starting point for any romantic weekend away.’

The top ten popular destinations, selected by Gatwick passengers, in order are Geneva, Barcelona, Dublin, Tenerife, Amsterdam, Belfast, Dubai, Edinburgh, Malaga and Copenhagen.

For an extra special Valentine’s getaway experience, London Gatwick Airport is also organising Valentine’s music and entertainment in the departure lounges of the North and South terminals, from classical guitarists and the band ‘The Valentines’, to a dressed up King and Queen of hearts. Gatwick staff will also be handing out chocolate treats to passengers.

For those wishing to wine and dine, Gatwick offers a range of options to choose from, including the Caviar House and Prunier Seafood Bar, or Jamie’s Italian and Union Jack’s for a special treat before the travel. Stress-free shopping is also on offer with Gatwick’s Shop Fly Collect service allowing passengers to leave their purchases at the airport free of charge and collect them on their return.

Travellers can also pre-book lounges, including the No.1 Traveller Lounge, where they can relax with complimentary food and drink, free Wi-Fi, a games room, spa and mini cinema.

Travelodge opens its third hotel at Gatwick Airport

Travelodge, a hotel chain in the UK, has opened its third hotel at London Gatwick, the UK’s second busiest airport, on January 29, 2014.

Crawley Travelodge is a 110-room new build property with six floors. It represents a GBP7 million investment and has created 20 new jobs within the local community. The hotel is located on Pegler Way in Crawley, which is less than five miles from Gatwick Airport.

The hotel is claimed to have a warm and cosy ambiance, and to help customers to benefit from a good night’s sleep, Travelodge worked with a chromotherapy expert and has introduced a sleep inducing colour palette to the room’s decor. The feature wall has been painted a tranquil blue, which Travelodge says makes one feel relaxed and sleepy.

The new room also features a stylish white contemporary en-suite bathroom with a power shower, stain & water resistant carpet in a dark shade of blue, a larger desk area, new reading lights and a phone charging socket built into the bed frame. The room also includes artwork above the bed in an abstract design featuring relaxing sparkles and shades of blue, which is also said to be restful for the eyes.

Andrina Wooler, Crawley hotel manager said: ‘I am so thrilled to be managing Crawley’s first Travelodge hotel in such a prime location. There is a growing demand for good quality, low cost accommodation in the area, as getting value for money is hugely important for consumers in today’s market. As a result, we are ideally placed to be the smart choice for business and leisure travellers.

‘By attracting new visitors to the area, this hotel will annually boost the local economy by GBP1.2 million, as our research shows the average Travelodge customer will spend on average GBP36 in local businesses during their stay.

‘The hotel has got off to a flying start and there is no doubt that our new room design has had a great impact on sales. Customer feedback has been phenomenal, especially in relation to the Travelodge Dreamer Bed and the overall enhanced new experience.’

Since 2007, Travelodge has added more than 500 rooms near Gatwick Airport and has a total of 602 rooms today. Travelodge research shows the average customer will spend £36 a day in local shops, restaurants and bars during their stay. If so, the three hotels could boost the local economy by as much as £9.5 million per annum.

London Gatwick to study airport expansion, promote connectivity with Scotland

London Gatwick is looking to study the possibility of an airport expansion, claiming that greater connectivity between London and Scotland would benefit the Scottish economy.

Gatwick Airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, is set to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh this week to promote connectivity with Scotland and also explain how expanding Gatwick can be better for the Scottish economy.

Wingate will introduce and explain a new study into airport expansion and Scottish connectivity to an audience of business leaders assembled at the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce. The research, commissioned through Inverness-based Northpoint Aviation, will study the present levels of access and demand, learn from best practice around other European countries and also assess the impact of a second runway at Gatwick on Scotland’s connectivity to London and the world.

Wingate, said: ‘The debate over airport expansion in the South East is not just about what is good for London, it is about delivering economic benefits, more affordable travel and greater connectivity for passengers throughout the UK.

Scotland is very important to Gatwick and our planned expansion will protect competition and deliver cheaper travel to more destinations for the people of Scotland.’

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘We are delighted that the chief executive of London Gatwick has come to Glasgow to listen to the views of our members. Access to London is vital for the businesses we represent and for the success of the local and national economies and Stewart has recognised that today.

We are working hard to ensure that capacity constraints in the south east don’t limit our future ability to access such vital national and international markets and in the short term this remains an issue.’

Following the study, Gatwick airport will return to Scotland to present its findings and seek more views in due course.

Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport. It serves more than 200 destinations in 90 countries for around 35 million passengers a year on short- and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South-East region, generating around 23,000 on-airport jobs and a further 13,000 jobs through related activities.

Virgin to appeal against CAA’s decision over airport charges

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is considering an appeal against the decision by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over airport charges, The Travel mole has reported.

Virgin Atlantic CEO, Craig Kreeger, said that the airline was ‘baffled’ at the CAA’s decision in October, which suggested that prices rise in line with inflation.

The statement comes after the CAA published its final decisions on economic regulation at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, to be effective from April 2014, offering passengers lower prices and high service standards. At Heathrow, the CAA’s price control decision will see prices fall in real terms by 1.5 percent per year between 2014 and 2019. The changes are introduced after passenger traffic forecasts strengthened from October, and the cost of capital has been revised.

Kreeger said: ‘Today’s decision is a far cry from the reduction needed to mitigate the incredibly steep price rises customers have seen in Heathrow airport charges in the last few years. Prices at Heathrow are already triple the level they were 10 years ago, and coupled with ever increasing Air Passenger Duty, customers flying to and from the UK are facing some of the highest travelling charges in the world.

‘Virgin Atlantic is totally committed to improving the passenger experience at Heathrow, but we believe this could have been achieved with a more significant reduction in charges. We will be carefully considering our right to appeal on behalf of our passengers who will ultimately pay the price for the CAA’s decision.’

With a regulation based on the airport operator’s own commitments to its airline customers, the CAA is backing the commitments with a licence, to allow itself to step in to protect users if there are reductions in service quality that are against the passenger interest.

Virgin also accused the CAA of laxity with its regulation at London Gatwick.

‘We hope the CAA will properly hold Gatwick Airport and its shareholders to account in order to improve its price offer to its airline customers,’ said Kreeger.

‘If it fails to do so, coupled with looser regulatory controls, we are concerned that the CAA is failing in its statutory obligation to protect passenger interests, and will consider our right to appeal on their behalf,’ he added.

London Gatwick prepares for busiest Christmas

As the festive season arrives, Gatwick Airport is preparing for one of its busiest Christmas seasons yet.

Around two million passengers are expected to pass through the UK’s second largest airport between December 13, and January 5. Overall, the highest number of passengers is expected on December 22, when around 60,000 travellers will fly out of the airport. However, Gatwick is also planning for one of its busiest Christmas Day’s yet, with passenger numbers expected to be around 16,000.

‘With people jetting off for the festivities we’re expecting to see passenger growth of about 4.5 percent and we’re well equipped to handle those extra people,’ said Nick Pope, Terminal Operations at London Gatwick. ‘We strive to make air travel as stress-free as possible – whether that’s making sure people can get through security in less than five minutes or having extra help on hand to assist passengers with their onward journeys. This year though, with planned rail works, we’re advising all passengers to check Network Rail’s website well ahead of travelling.

‘Those jetting off for a spot of winter sun – or indeed for some time on the slopes – will also benefit from our new range of shops which have just opened in the South Terminal. Including Snow + Rock, Zara and Ted Baker, it’s a great place to pick up ski accessories or for some last minute Christmas shopping.’

The top ten Christmas break destinations from London Gatwick include the ski slopes of Geneva in first place, as well as long-haul sun destinations like Dubai (at fifth). The others in the list include Barcelona, Dublin, Belfast, Amsterdam, Tenerife, Edinburgh, Madrid and Copenhagen.

Bringing Christmas cheer for passengers, Gatwick Airport’s choir, The High Altitunes, will be singing on the December 17 and 18 in both the South Terminals. The choir will be singing a mixture of Christmas carols and songs as well as other festive music.

Other Christmas activities to entertain passengers at the airport include The London Gospel Choir, storytelling from a puppeteer polar bear and Eskimo, a Michael Buble tribute singer and complimentary mince pies.

Gatwick will also have London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games volunteers to welcome passengers at the airport for Christmas.

London Gatwick celebrates four years as standalone airport

London Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, is celebrating its four years of operation as a stand-alone airport competing with Heathrow, Stansted and other major European airports for airlines and passengers.

In the past four years, the airport has undertaken major transformation efforts with a £1billion investment which included modernising the forecourt, check-in and security areas; overhauling the departure lounges; and upgrading the departure gates, runway and immigration halls.

Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick’s chief executive, said: ‘Turning round the decades of under-investment in Gatwick, transforming it into a friendly and efficient place to visit, as well as ensuring the airport remains a major international gateway for London and the South East has been my priority over these last four years.’

Today, Gatwick serves major global growth markets including China, Russia, Turkey and, from next year, Indonesia. Gatwick also offers the only direct link between the UK and Vietnam, and is strengthening routes to the Middle East and Africa. The airport now serves 230 worldwide destinations including 45 of the top 50 European business destinations.

The number of passengers choosing to fly from Gatwick has also increased by over four million in four years. Today, 35 million people choose Gatwick, with almost one fifth – 18 percent – travelling on business.

Gatwick claims an ‘unrelenting focus’ on customer service has enabled it to advance six places to become sixth in the European sector of the international Airport Service Quality rankings. It has also passed 100 percent of its security service quality measures since 2012.

‘I would say we are making good headway,’ Wingate said, adding: ‘Looking ahead, and as we enter our fifth year as a competing force in the market, my priorities for the airport won’t change. We will remain focused on delivering high levels of service and affordable prices for our customers, and we will continue to compete for airlines that will help us connect the UK to established and strategic markets. That of course means competing for the UK’s next runway.’

Gatwick has launched a new website – www.transforming-gatwick.com – to illustrate the changes and improvements that have taken place at the airport in the last four years.

Flybe to maintain Newquay-Gatwick route until October

Flybe has announced that it will keep the Newquay-London route going until October 2014, The BBC has reported.

Cornwall’s only air link to London was set to be axed in March, and Flybe’s decision to keep the route operational has come about because no other firm came forward to run it. The decision is expected to give Cornwall Council time to arrange a public subsidy that will support and help run the troubled route from October onwards.

In October, the Department for Transport confirmed to Cornwall Council that the route was technically eligible for a subsidy that could amount to several million pounds each year.

In the meantime, Flybe has secured new slots, allowing its 78-seat planes to continue to fly from Newquay twice daily, morning and evening.

The terms of the ‘commercially sensitive’ deal have not been disclosed. If the complex arrangements can be made operational, the government will support an operator – not necessarily Flybe – to run the route for a four-year period, the BBC said.

The news has been widely accepted in the Duchy by business leaders, MPs and the local authority. However, Niall Duffy from Flybe said that the route was not viable without the subsidy.

‘This is a route that, without public subsidy, is not sustainable on a year-round basis,’ he said, adding: ‘If you look at Scotland, if you look at some parts of Wales, there are public subsidised routes that keep passengers on the move and I think London and the DfT need to seriously look at their commitment to rebalancing the economy.’

Cornwall councillor, Adam Paynter, said: ‘The air link between Newquay and London is vital for the economy of Cornwall.’

He said the airport was financially viable, and that the council would be working with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the county’s MPs to secure the long-term future of a link to London.