Harrods department store opens at London Gatwick

Luxury department store, Harrods, has opened a mini-store in the South Terminal departure lounge at London Gatwick airport.

Offering more than 6,000 square feet of premium shopping, the new store focuses on luxury fashion, accessories and jewellery. The brands on offer include DKNY, M Missoni, Armani Jeans, Michael Kors, Swarovski and Paul Smith.

The new space also includes a Harrods’ Food Hall area, as well as the chance to buy own-brand gifts from McQ by Alexander McQueen, Love Moschino, Hackett, Zegna Sport, Gottex, Melissa Odabash, Monica Vinader, Seafolly, Orlebar, Heidi Klein, Carat, Elizabeth Hurley, Pamela Love, John&Pearl, Deepa Gurnani and Harrods of London.

The opening of Harrods’ new boutique comes during one of Gatwick’s busiest times of the year, with the airport expecting to handle more than three million departing passengers over the six-week summer break.

Harrods director for international and airports, Raj Assanand, said: ‘I am delighted to see another fantastic Harrods Airport store open, following the success of our other sites at Gatwick and Heathrow. The new Gatwick store follows in [the tradition of] Harrods’ dedication to the best in luxury fashion and accessories.’

The South Terminal has recently announced the opening of ten new and revamped stores. The first phase of retail outlets, which included Kurt Geiger, Hugo Boss and Lacoste, opened their doors on July 18. Later this year, an additional 12 new or revamped stores, which also have a focus on fashion, will complete the transformation of South Terminal retail.

Spencer Sheen, head of retail, London Gatwick, said: ‘This year, we will spend £21 million in the South Terminal departure lounge to enhance our retail offering and ensure we deliver a world-class experience for our passengers.

‘The new Harrods store at Gatwick is a very important part of this. Not only does it look fantastic, the boutique offers an excellent mix of brands that will delight our passengers. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Harrods to make the most of this exciting opportunity.’

Gatwick looks to cut airline charges

Gatwick, London’s second busiest airport, is attempting to reduce the fees charged to airlines.

The airport’s owners want to cut the increases in the fees that airlines pay in order to convince regulators that levies should not be capped. The airport operator does not want to see fees increase by more than 1.5 percent in real terms during each of the seven years until 2021. If implemented, this strategy would see a rise of just £0.96 in the per passenger fee over the 7-year period.

The proposal is the latest move in an on-going negotiation with the Civil Aviation Authority, which has said that it intends to cap any increase at 1 percent above inflation for the five years between 2014 and 2019 if Gatwick does not make concessions. However, the airport is of the opinion that price capping would harm its competitiveness with Heathrow airport.

Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said, ‘We have listened to our airline partners and are putting forward a great deal, which seeks to address the issues raised whilst still promoting the best commercial way forward for our passengers and airlines. We believe this revised offer will provide a much better future for passengers, the airline community and the airport than would be the case through a continuation of the current system of regulation.’

He also said, ‘The CAA has a window of opportunity to create the conditions for a much more competitive airport market in the South East, which will build on the Competition Commission’s landmark decision to break-up the BAA monopoly.’

Flybe sells Gatwick slots to easyjet

It has been confirmed today that a deal has been struck between the two UK-based, low-cost airlines, Flybe and easyjet, for easyjet to purchase all of Flybe’s slots at Gatwick airport.

Flybe has sold its 25 arrival and departure slots at Gatwick to easyjet for £20 million. Flybe’s shareholders will need to approve the deal prior to an expected official transfer of the slots in the summer of 2014.

In a statement easyjet said, ‘The slots will transfer from summer 2014 and will allow easyJet to provide additional frequencies on popular existing routes from Gatwick, as well as add new destinations across the UK and Europe.’

Whether easyjet’s plans for the slots will include any of the eight routes currently operated out of Gatwick by Flybe remains to be seen. These include Belfast City, Guernsey, Jersey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Newcastle and Newquay in the UK, and Bergerac in France.

Flybe says that the sale has been forced upon it by increased airport fees for smaller aircraft at Gatwick, which it says have risen by 102 percent within 5 years, in addition to the added impact of increased Air Passenger Duty.

In its statement Flybe said, ‘The proceeds from the proposed exchange will reduce the indebtedness of the group and be used to help finance the restructuring plan announced on January 23, 2013 and for general working capital purposes.’

‘It is anticipated that under the agreement with Easyjet, Flybe will continue to operate all of the slots until March 2014, during which time there will be no changes to flights, frequencies or timings to or from Gatwick. Flybe would then intend to exit its seven routes operated to and from the Gatwick market.’

It added that the increased costs at Gatwick mean that, ‘Flybe has a significant per seat cost penalty at Gatwick against the operators of larger, 150+ seat aircraft, such as Easyjet and IAG.’

‘It is the view of the board that the increase in charges, combined with the penalistic levels of Air Passenger Duty imposed on UK domestic airlines by successive governments, have resulted in Flybe’s services to and from Gatwick becoming unsustainable in the long-term.’

New airport chairman critical of Gatwick Express

Sir Roy McNulty, the new chairman of Gatwick Airport, has criticised the Gatwick Express train service.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, the new chairman stated his concern that Gatwick Express, the high-frequency passenger rail service that operates between London Victoria station and Gatwick Airport, gives incoming passengers a bad first impression because of problems with overcrowding and old rolling stock. He even claimed that the service ‘at times veers towards Third World conditions.’

He was quoted in the newspaper, saying, ‘In the short to medium term, our main priority is improvement in the road and rail infrastructure that serves the airport – and above all improvement in the Gatwick Express.’

The rail route, which also has a number trains that continue on to Brighton from Gatwick, is operated by Southern, and a spokesperson for the company responded, ‘In addition to providing a direct airport link Gatwick Express services now provide around 20,000 extra peak seats between Brighton and London every week to help meet the capacity challenge on that route. Balancing the needs of the airport and the needs of Brighton line commuters is always going to be challenging, particularly when operating over some of the most congested tracks in the country.’

The comments by Gatwick’s new chairman echoed the airports official response last week to the Davis Commission on the expansion of airport capacity in the southeast. Its statement then read, ‘Although it already has excellent rail links, the airport – as well as some of its airlines – believe more dedicated, high quality and value for money services into London are fundamental to encouraging greater use of its capacity’ It added, ‘Key to this is for better, fit-for-purpose rolling stock to be introduced for the Gatwick Express.’

Gatwick sustains passenger figures with help of new airlines

Gatwick Airport in the UK has managed to sustain its 2012/13 passenger figures slightly ahead of last year thanks to new carriers that have opened services to the airport.

The airport had lost routes from its previous carriers but still achieved an increase of 400,000 passengers or 1.2 percent on the previous year, for a total footfall of 34.2 million. Ryanair’s Irish routes and Korean Air’s Seoul service were among Gatwick’s larger casualties, but new business from Air China, Iraqi Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Vueling, Gambia Bird and Icelandair more than filled the gap. In addition, Easyjet added a Moscow service, Norwegian Air Shuttle added 12 new routes and British Airways added new services to Europe and the Caribbean.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive at Gatwick, said, ‘Today, passengers can fly direct to Beijing, Istanbul, Moscow and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam from Gatwick. This is important in the context of ensuring the UK has the international connectivity it needs to remain globally competitive. We will continue into this next financial year with the same drive and focus to create a world-class airport.’

The airport is currently undergoing a £1.2 billion upgrade, some of which has been spent on remodelling the South Terminal departures area that will reopen this summer. It is now also capable of accommodating the new giant Airbus A380 aircraft, following the completion of a new pier that received a test flight just a few days ago. Gatwicks owner, Global Infrastructure Partners, will now be keen to secure regular traffic for that investment, which could dramatically increase passenger figures without impinging greatly on the airport’s flight capacity.

Gatwick Airport Protests against Frequent Flight Cancellations Due to Bad Weather

Gatwick Airport in the UK has expressed its anger at frequent flight cancellations by airlines following the forecast of bad weather conditions, including snow.

The airport has written to Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, requesting a solution to help keep flight cancellations to a minimum due to bad weather conditions, a problem which has recently impacted on the travel plans of a significant number of business and leisure travellers.

Stewart Wingate, the airport chief executive officer, said, ‘It just cannot be right that passengers are being asked to accept apologies for pre-emptive flight cancellations. Huge numbers of business meetings and holidays will have been impacted and misery caused to travellers.

The over-scheduling of flights at Heathrow during the winter period should stop, but we also need to maintain and grow our connectivity to the world.

I am proposing that for the key winter months of December, January and February, Heathrow declares a level of capacity it can cope with in winter conditions. The additional flights then, for those three months, can move to Gatwick and Stansted.

As a result there would be better use of the existing capacity at our London airports, safety would be enhanced and passengers will not have to panic every time it snows. London’s and the UK’s reputation is on the line and the airports should work together to make this happen.’

The airport has recently introduced an £8 million snow fleet to keep its runways clear of snow. The new equipment includes 98 vehicles, with snowploughs, brushes, cutters, blowers, and de-icing vehicles.

Sixt Opens Rental Outlet at London Gatwick Airport

Sixt, a European car rental company, has expanded its services in the UK by launching an outlet at London Gatwick Airport.

The company claims to be able to offer an exclusive portfolio of rental cars to its customers arriving at Gatwick, with rental models ranging from BMW, Opel, Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota to Audi Aston Martin, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Mercedes, in all sizes, including small and mid-size cars, SUVs, premium vehicles, and minibuses.

London Gatwick offers direct access from the terminal to the car hire collection and drop-off points, avoiding the need for the shuttle bus that caters for around 92,650 business travellers and holidaymakers who pass through the airport every day.

Paul McLoughlin, the managing director for Sixt Rent A Car, UK, said, ‘Sixt are thrilled to be moving into Gatwick Airport. It’s an important milestone in our ongoing growth across the UK. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for businesses and holiday makers to have access to a range of high quality, well specified vehicles backed by unparalleled service at affordable prices. We look forward to working with the team at Gatwick and providing their passengers with the ultimate mobility solution.’

Julia Gregory, the head of surface transport at London Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Sixt to Gatwick. Sixt is well known for its innovative approach to customer service so we look forward to working closely with them to deliver an even better experience for our passengers.

As one of the few airports to offer direct access from the terminal to car rental pickup points, our aim is to double car rental usage and offer our passengers even more choice.’

London Gatwick Airport Gets Ready for Year’s Busiest Season

London Gatwick Airport is gearing up to receive around 1.5 million people travelling through the airport this festive season, from December 17, 2012, to January 2, 2012.

The airport expects to cater to around 700,000 passengers departing over the period, with the busiest day being December 23, 2012, when around 56,000 passengers are expected to fly from the airport for some festive cheer.

Louisa Craven, a spokesperson for Gatwick Airport, said, ‘This year sees a great mix of top Christmas destinations as passengers fly out to enjoy the ski season in Switzerland, visit friends and family across the UK and soak up some winter sun.

Staff and extra helpers, including the London Ambassadors who made such a great impression during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be on hand to assist at every stage to ensure our passengers enjoy a great experience at Gatwick with some fun, festive entertainment along the way.’

The airport is reporting that the top three destinations this year for Christmas are Geneva, Edinburgh and Dubai. For travellers the airport is offering a number of entertaining options, including photo opportunities with Santa and his reindeers; carol singers adding to the festive ambience; and the presence of London Ambassadors, the team of volunteers who helped the international visitors during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The airport is also offering a Shop and Drop service for passengers, offering them opportunities to store their shopping bags at the airport during the time of departure, and to collect them on returning back to the airport after the vacation, free of charge.

Norwegian Air Shuttle Announces New Base at London Gatwick Airport

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a Norway-based airline company, will be establishing a new base at the London Gatwick airport in the UK.

The airline is planning to base three of its aircraft at Gatwick airport, and will be offering 14 new routes from the airport to European destinations including Nice, Marseille, Rome, Barcelona, Faro, Split and Dubrovnik. The base will be operational in 2013.

The airline is also planning to expand its existing services from London Gatwick to Oslo from three flights to four flights per day, and to Stockholm from three flights to five daily services.

Stewart Wingate, the chief executive officer for Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted that Norwegian has chosen to grow its operations out of Gatwick by establishing its UK base here. Since Norwegian moved its Scandinavian routes from Stansted to Gatwick a few years ago we have worked hard to make that move a success. Their decision to establish their UK base at Gatwick demonstrates the strength of Gatwick’s offering to airlines.’

The airline chief executive officer, Bjorn Kjos, said, ‘By establishing a new base in London, Norwegian will be positioned to meet the future competition on short-haul routes within Europe as well as long-haul routes globally. Growth and volumes are necessary to stay competitive in the airline industry.’

London Gatwick airport is currently focused on its plan to become a world-class airport that offers an excellent passenger experience. The airport authorities have invested £650 million in new facilities that include car parks, check in desks, security areas, departure lounges, as well as business travel facilities.

British Airways Commences Gatwick to Las Vegas Service

British Airways, a UK based airline, is offering a new direct route from London Gatwick airport in the UK to Las Vegas in the US.

The airline has commenced its direct service to Las Vegas, using a three-cabin Boeing 777 aircraft with a Club World cabin and fully flat beds.

Silla Maizey, the airline managing director for Gatwick, said, ‘Las Vegas is incredibly popular with British Airways customers and we’re delighted to be able to start flying there from Gatwick.

It’s the perfect route for our holiday makers, thanks to the sun and fun there is to be had there.’

The new service was inaugurated by cutting a cake decorated with sugar figurines of Elvis Presley with Las Vegas showgirls.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has partnered with British Airways to celebrate the airline’s new service.

The airline’s customers at the new Gatwick North Terminal check-in area were treated to a glass of sparkling wine at a specially constructed Las Vegas bar venue, and entertained by musicians, showgirls and circus performers.

Cathy Tull, the senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said, ‘Las Vegas is pleased that British Airways has expanded its service from London to Las Vegas by offering this new non-stop service from Gatwick.

The UK is our number one overseas market and will play a key role in increasing international visitation to 30 percent of our total visitation over the next decade.’

The airline is teaming up with Brand USA as the initial founding partner, and is taking part in a number of initiatives to promote the US as a premier tourist destination for international visitors, including travel agent activities and promotional campaigns in the UK.

The airline is also hosting the initial visit of UK travel agents to numerous destinations in the US, to showcase tourist attractions and the possibility of developing tourism in newer markets.