Norwegian and London Gatwick sign landmark commercial partnership

Budget airline Norwegian and the UK’s second largest airport, Gatwick, have entered into a long term commercial partnership, with the airline unveiling its growth plans at the airport.

The plans for 2014 include new trans-Atlantic routes to New York to be operated three times weekly, and twice weekly services to Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale direct from Gatwick starting from July. All long haul routes will be operated on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will have 291 seats including 259 in economy and 32 in premium economy

From April 2014, Norwegian will offer services once a week on a Saturday to Santorini, Sicily and Cyprus, and three times a week to Budapest. From July 2014, there will also be a service once a week on a Saturday to Corfu.

From summer 2014, Norwegian will increase its frequencies to: Malaga, Ibiza, Split, Dubrovnik, Majorca, Faro, Tenerife, Copenhagen and Barcelona.

Bjorn Kjos, Norwegians CEO, said: ‘Norwegian is delighted to have agreed a long term commercial partnership with London Gatwick. As one of the fastest growing airlines at the airport, Norwegian will continue offering our passengers at Gatwick an increasing route network and a high quality product at reasonable fares.’

Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: ‘This partnership with Norwegian is a landmark in London Gatwick’s history. Four years after the end of the BAA monopoly at Gatwick, this deal marks the start of a new era for passengers bringing more competition to the aviation market.

‘This partnership deal also shows the shared vision and commitment both Norwegian and Gatwick have for London and the South East which is the largest, most exciting and vibrant travel market in the world. That commitment extends to Norwegian’s support for Gatwick’s need to build an additional runway by the mid-2020s.’

The commercial agreement comes after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) proposed to endorse Gatwick’s approach to creating custom-made commercial arrangements between its airlines and the airport.

Norwegian started UK operations at Gatwick in 2009, moving from Stansted Airport. Nearly two million of its passengers will use the airport this year, flying to 25 destinations across Europe. This is expected to increase to 33 destinations across Europe and North America.

easyJet launches new routes from London Gatwick, Bristol

easyJet, the UK’s largest airline, has said that it will launch two new routes to Brussels and Strasbourg from London Gatwick starting March 30, 2014 with fares from £32.99 per person.

The new flights will operate twice daily to and from Brussels and four times a week to and from Strasbourg departing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The airline will also launch thrice daily flights to Jersey and twice daily to Paris CDG and Newcastle. The airline will also increase services to destinations including Inverness, Isle of Man and Bordeaux – from once to twice daily, as well as Amsterdam and Geneva – from six to seven daily flights.

easyJet now offers more choice for business passengers from London Gatwick, with a total of 107 routes. With the route increase, London Gatwick is expecting to create jobs for 200 pilots and cabin crew at the base.

Hugh Aitken, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, said: ‘These new routes add even further choice for passengers from easyJet’s largest base at affordable prices and with great service.’

‘We also look forward to welcoming 200 new pilots and cabin crew to our London Gatwick base as part of our expansion.’

Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, London Gatwick, said: ‘We are delighted that easyJet is opening more routes to key business destinations across Europe and the UK, building on its strong network from Gatwick. easyJet’s impressive network, its great value fares and business friendly service compliments what Gatwick has to offer – quick train links to London’s financial districts, fast security processes and a high quality environment for the time conscious traveller. All of these elements combined means that both easyJet and Gatwick are rapidly becoming the smart choices for the modern business traveller.’

Separately easyJet and Bristol Airport have entered into a new five year agreement, presenting a framework for further expansion and new route opportunities. easyJet has already added two new destinations to its network from Bristol, with flights to Reykjavik and Marrakech launching in December.

Nando’s set to open at London Gatwick

London Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, has announced that Nando’s will open its first ever airport restaurant in South Terminal in summer 2014.

The move comes after passenger feedback for a Nando’s at Gatwick. A recent research project – Gatwick Food and Beverage Strategy Market Research 2013 – reported that 33 percent of 1,042 passengers surveyed said they were most likely to visit a Nando’s at Gatwick over a wide selection of other well-known brands. Nando’s turned out to be the most popular choice of all options presented.

The exclusive deal between Nando’s and Gatwick marks the start of a major overhaul of the airport’s food and beverage offering in South Terminal. Nando’s Gatwick will operate nearly 20 hours a day between 4.00am and 12.00am for passengers to enjoy meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner before they fly.

Charlotte Christiansen, business development manager for Catering at London Gatwick, said: ‘We are thrilled that Nando’s will be opening its first airport restaurant at Gatwick this summer. Nando’s is a hugely popular brand with our passengers and its extensive menu is perfectly matched to airport dining as it is quick, fresh and delicious. More than a third of our passengers told us they would like to see a Nando’s at Gatwick so we have acted on this.’

Garry Duncan, regional director of Nando’s, commented: ‘We’re absolutely delighted to announce we’ll be opening our first airport restaurant in London Gatwick next year.

‘It’s a complete new territory for the brand, but demonstrates our forward thinking and desire to offer our fans and customers the best possible Nando’s experience whether they’re on a high street or in an airport terminal. We can’t wait to open our doors!’

Nando’s, with its signature dish, Portuguese flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken, will open its doors in Gatwick’s South Terminal in summer 2014. The new 5,900 sq. ft. restaurant will seat 200 guests, and create 100 new full and part-time jobs, London Gatwick said.

London Gatwick introduces runway ready wardrobe for airport staff

Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second largest airport, has introduced a brand new wardrobe for its staff, created by award winning corporate wear specialists, Jermyn Street Design.

The 21-piece new runway ready wardrobe, which is claimed to includes a mix of well-designed yet convenient garments, comes after a yearlong process when over 1,400 Gatwick employees were asked for feedback on their clothing needs and to vote for their favourite designs.

The unique range of uniforms includes chic outerwear coats with a detachable lining, striped and plain shirts, polo shirts, striped neck scarves, and dresses for the first time. While promoting individuality among employees by offering different styles, the new uniforms also take into consideration suitability for the diverse job roles, ranging from airfield operations and engineering, to terminals and security.

Highlighting Gatwick’s strong brand identity, the uniform range comes with badges to maximise the approachability of all staff and to help cater to the broad range of passengers at the airport

Tina Oakley, HR director at Gatwick Airport, said: ‘We’re excited to reveal our new Gatwick wardrobe which has been directly inspired by our staff who have been part of the process every step of the way.

Their input has been crucial to ensuring that the uniforms are not only more comfortable and stylish but also make them feel proud of working for the world’s busiest single runway airport. Having a customer-facing team that looks and feels good is also another step in our ‘Turn It Up’ programme, an initiative designed to ensure we keep improving customer service and the passenger experience as a whole.’

Susanne Malim, founder and managing director of Jermyn Street Design (JSD), said: ‘By working very closely with their employees we have made the designs fun and modern, making the wearer feel practical, professional and approachable.

‘It has been a pleasure to work with Gatwick Airport on this new uniform. Everyone has been fully engaged in the process and we have worked in a true partnership to deliver a stylish, functional uniform that reflects the status of one of the world’s busiest and best known airports.’

The old uniforms have been collected and over £1,000 has been raised so far for St Catherine’s Hospice.

London Gatwick deploys Google’s mapping services

Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world, has said that Google Indoor Maps and Indoor Streetview will now be available for all public areas across both its North and South Terminals.

With over 2,000 stitched images, Google’s Indoor Streetview of Gatwick will help passengers to take a virtual tour through its check-in areas, departure and arrivals halls, shops and restaurants, familiarising themselves with the premises even before they enter the airport. The maps are intended to help Gatwick’s 34 million passengers to make more effective use of their time at the airport, with location-aware navigation and route planning.

The largest implementation in Europe, Google’s interactive indoor maps of the Gatwick Terminal floor plans identify key areas of interest, including information hubs, charging points, play areas and toilets, to facilitate smoother and speedier journeys. Once inside the airport, passengers should be able to instantly identify where they are and then navigate their way around.

The services can be accessed using desktop browsers, android phones, IOS and tablets by logging onto the Google Maps website, the Google Maps App, or via the newly redesigned Gatwick website.

Michael Ibbitson, chief information officer at Gatwick Airport, says: ‘We’ve worked closely with Google to make these new mapping services as comprehensive and detailed as possible. As part of Gatwick’s £1.2 billion investment programme we’re continually looking to innovate and improve the passenger experience and this latest technological development will make it easier than ever for passengers to make a speedier trip or the most of their time at the airport.’

Norwegian to launch long haul services from London Gatwick to North America

European low cost carrier, Norwegian, has said that it will launch three new non-stop long haul services from London Gatwick to North America next summer, according to news a release by Gatwick authorities.

The routes include direct flights to New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

With the introductions, passengers using Gatwick will have a choice of a range of flights to US airports and, more importantly, competitively priced fares starting from GBP149 one way to New York, GBP179 to Fort Lauderdale and £199 to Los Angeles. On average, these fares will be up to 50 percent cheaper than fares from Heathrow.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: ‘This is one of the most exciting route developments since Gatwick’s change of ownership four years ago and shows the benefits to passengers of Gatwick competing with Heathrow on routes, price and service. Norwegian’s decision to re-establish London Gatwick’s links to strategic destinations in North America gives passengers, once again, real choice about how to get there and, importantly, provide options for affordable travel to popular business and leisure destinations.

‘Norwegian’s decision to operate high quality services on new long range aircraft offering good-value fares to the US from London Gatwick is a significant industry game-changer. It points to a future in which more and more long haul routes will be served by Gatwick. This is an important industry development that I am sure the Airports Commission will want to look at closely when considering the future shape of aviation.’

Norwegian’s CEO, Bjorn Kjos, said: ‘There’s great demand for high quality flights at a low fare between the UK and the U.S., particularly to and from London Gatwick, where no other airline currently offers these routes. We are looking forward to welcoming many new customers on board our brand new aircraft. Launching intercontinental routes between London Gatwick and the United States is also an important part of our strategy to expand internationally and get a stronger foothold in markets outside Scandinavia.’

Norwegian moved from Stansted to Gatwick in 2009, and since then has increased its flights from the airport by more than a third. In spring 2013, it introduced a UK base at Gatwick and started 12 new direct European routes.

In addition to its new long haul routes, Norwegian will also be launching a number of new short haul routes from Gatwick in 2014, adding to its 25 destinations. New services will include Budapest, Santorini, Sicily, Cyprus and Corfu. From summer 2014, Norwegian will also increase the frequencies on nine of its current routes.

Airport staff decides for strike action in pay dispute

The check-in staff and baggage handlers at the UK’s four busiest airports have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay, Travel Weekly has reported.

Staff and workers at the ground handling company, Swissport, based at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted, have voted in favour of strike action. A poll by Unite union members has seen 94 percent voting in favour of strike action, based on a turnout of 50.5 percent.

Following the vote, the company has called for an urgent meeting with the Unite union, which is taking place today.

Unite national officer, Oliver Richardson, said: ‘In the light of this overwhelming mandate for action, Swissport has requested talks which we are happy to attend so we can try to resolve this matter.

‘The dispute centres on the company’s decision to freeze workers pay for eighteen months, from April 2012 through to October 2013, followed by a below-inflation increase of just 2.5 percent.

‘Our members are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living,’ he said, adding that the union believes Swissport is failing to recognise the contribution that its staff members are making to the success of the company.

‘We hope that over the coming days we will be able to thrash out a deal with the company but this will depend on whether the company is prepared to move on from its current position on pay,’ said Richardson.

Swissport International Limited provides ground services for around 118 million passengers and handles 3.5 million tons of cargo a year on behalf of some 650 client-companies in the aviation sector. With a workforce of around 40,000 personnel, Swissport is active at 181 stations in 37 countries across five continents.

In the UK, Swissport’s clients include Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson at Stansted; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates at Manchester; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin and British Airways at Gatwick and Virgin at Heathrow.

Gatwick and NATS announce the first London Airspace Consultation

London Gatwick Airport and NATS, a UK-based provider of air traffic services, have launched a joint consultation on proposed airspace changes over southern England.

The London Airspace Consultation (LAC) will be in effect from October 15, 2013 to January 21, 2014 and available online at www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk, for stakeholders and the public to view and leave feedback.

The consultation is part of wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), developed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is expected to deliver significant benefits, including fuel savings for airlines, which means fewer CO2 emissions, and less noise overall for people living in the airport’s proximity.

At present the proposed changes focus on the airspace supporting London Gatwick Airport from ground level up, and also the airspace supporting London City Airport above 4,000ft. Later stages will address proposals for airspace supporting other parts of the London airports network, to be complete by 2020.

Juliet Kennedy, NATS’ operations director, Swanwick, said: ‘The airspace change programme is essential if we are to contribute to and ensure the success of the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS). The airspace above London is the most complex in the world, and as traffic levels increase change is necessary to ensure safety and service levels.’

Tom Denton, head of corporate responsibility at London Gatwick, said: ‘Gatwick is committed to leading the way in terms of airspace innovation and operation, which is why we were so keen to be the first major UK airport to work with NATS to fully review and consult on our airspace.

‘This project gives us an opportunity to further reduce the number of people affected by noise, as well as focus on further reducing Co2 emissions and air quality impacts. Therefore this is an important time for local people and those who live within our flight paths, who now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to give their feedback and influence the future of our airspace.’

Gatwick improves retail line-up at South Terminal

Retail brands Zara, Ted Baker and Snow+Rock are set to open stores in December in the South Terminal’s newly developed retail area, London Gatwick has said.

Since mid-July, 11 new or refreshed premium stores have opened in the new retail area – the final phase of a major GBP21m transformation of airside shopping in South Terminal. The new stores included airport firsts for Ernest Jones and Aspinal of London, as well as a brand new 6,000 sq ft Harrods fashion and accessories department store.

The transformation of South Terminal is in line with detailed passenger research, with key feedback of the research apparently revealing that passengers wanted a good mix of luxury and high street or well-known international brands, as well as more choice in the premium leisure sector.

A new marketing campaign in connection with the new openings was launched on July 1, giving passengers the chance to download or print an exclusive voucher passport, at http://www.gatwickairport.com/voucherpassport/, and enabling them to save up to £400 at the airport.

As per the latest announcement, in December top fashion brand Zara will open a 4,500 sq ft outlet, its largest UK airport store so far. Ted Baker will open a 1,000 sq ft store and a customised Gatwick accessories outlet – the only one of its kind in the world. Snow+Rock’s first airport store – a 1,000sq ft store – will offer unique premium leisure products including footwear, accessories and clothing.

Spencer Sheen, Head of Retail at London Gatwick, said: ‘Gatwick wants to be London’s airport of choice in every area. For retail, we aim to deliver a mix of stores that are fashionable, relevant and will enhance the experience of travelling through the airport. Opening stores such as Zara, Ted Baker and Snow+Rock is based on the customer research that we conduct and is another exciting step in our extensive redevelopment of the South Terminal.’

Craig Smith, Brand Communication Director, Ted Baker, remarked: ‘Quality airport shopping has now become such an integral part of the overall travel experience. Our move to open at Gatwick South builds on the success of our expanding portfolio of airport stores where we are already seeing great success and this new location will only strengthen that.’

Kevin Young, Group Marketing Director, Snow+Rock, commented: ‘We are very excited to be opening our first airport retail location in this brand new development at Gatwick’s South Terminal…. We will be offering pick-up items and more indulgent purchases at ‘tax-free’ prices with branded areas showcasing ranges from Salomon and Icebreaker plus selected highlights from our winter sports and outdoor ranges.’

London Gatwick launches redesigned website

London Gatwick Airport has launched its redesigned and fully responsive website, www.gatwickairport.com, with a notably different look and feel from the earlier design.

The new site features a fresh, user-friendly design with improved functionality following extensive research and testing with passengers.

The website also offers new features such as ‘pin my flight,’ offering passengers easy access to their flight status as they continue to browse online. Passengers will also be able to consult a comprehensive guide on travel to and from the airport.

Additionally, the new site is strategically built in a responsive design, optimised for all screen resolutions and devices. According to the airport, nearly 45 percent of users viewed the Gatwick site from mobile or tablet devices, including the full spectrum from iPhone to Android. The new responsive site allows passengers to experience a seamless content and brand experience, and an improved browsing experience for mobile and tablet users.

Gatwick chief information officer, Michael Ibbitson, said: ‘Our team has worked hard to create a site that meets the needs of our passengers and creates a seamless user experience whether you’re at home, on the move or at the airport. We’re proud with the result which we believe creates a new benchmark for airport websites and demonstrates responsive design at its best.’

Peter Hall, chair of Gatwick’s Passenger Advisory Group, said: ‘We are delighted to support the launch of Gatwick’s new website. It is great that the site can be accessed from a range of devices. The five key sections ‘shopping and eating’, ‘flying out’, ‘flying in’, ‘picking up and dropping off’ and ‘passenger facilities’ give passengers all the information they need as they plan their trip via Gatwick. But there’s so much more about Gatwick on the website. We hope passengers find it engaging and useful.’

The launch of the new website forms part of a wider makeover for Gatwick, which includes improved way-finding and faster, more efficient security lanes with personalised areas for families and premium travellers, and a major revamp of the shops and restaurants that serve the airport.

Initial feedback from passengers regarding the site has been positive, and Gatwick will continue to monitor feedback and make changes accordingly, the airport said.