London Gatwick Airport published its new five-year Capital Investment Program (CIP) on Thursday, August 8, highlighting substantial investment in automation and technology as an enabler of sustainable growth.
This new plan takes Gatwick’s total investment since 2009 to £3.21bn (US$3.9bn). The single biggest project to be delivered within the next five years is the Pier 6 western extension, 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 providing improved gate waiting areas. The design incorporates automated boarding technology that uses biometrics to process passengers through e-gates straight onto the aircraft. Similar projects successfully run by other Vinci Airports will provide inspiration for the Pier 6 extension’s coffee shops and retail, enabling passengers to enjoy these facilities right up to the point of boarding.
Several other new projects were identified within this CIP, among them: ongoing investment in self-service bag-drop technology; significant expansion of the international departure lounges in both North and South Terminals; and biometric auto-boarding technology development and testing. The airport has also committed to continued investment in security processing and technology to ensure it meets UK Department for Transport standards, maintains a positive passenger experience and operates as efficiently as possible. The baggage re-flighting process is to be automated, meaning that baggage accidentally left behind by a flight can be sent on without first being retrieved from the system.
Infrastructure will be put in place to support greater use of electric and hybrid vehicles by passengers and staff, in particular on the airfield, and a robotic car parking trial is to begin this autumn at the South Terminal, inspired by a similar experiment at fellow Vinci airport Lyon-Saint Exupéry, in France.
Among the emerging projects outlined in the CIP are: looking into the feasibility of auto-dock airbridges; automation of baggage handling; a new special assistance airside lounge for the South Terminal; and more water fountains and recycling facilities.
“We always put passengers at the heart of our investment plans and it’s great to see how automation and technology can further enhance the passenger experience. 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,” said Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate.
Gatwick’s Capital Investment Program is a rolling five-year plan that is published annually, meaning that it can be refreshed regularly as market conditions and operational needs change.