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A History Of Gatwick Airport And Its Future Plans

Jul 3, 2008
Gatwick Airport is currently the country's second largest and busiest even though, unlike nearby Heathrow it only has a single runway. In the past year over thirty five million passengers passed through Gatwick Airport, a figure that the airport's management are hoping to improve upon with further development and more flying routes. Part of this development of the airport is to improve the accompanying services such as hotels, eateries and even car hire provisions.

While most would think that Heathrow has always possessed the primacy as an Airport, it was in fact Gatwick that had the first ever rail link into the centre of London. Since the fifties Gatwick possessed the link to Victoria, a route that the bus and car hire companies have been battling since its inception. The rail link originally had an underground tunnel that linked the railway station to the terminal although due to the Gatwick site being prone to excessive flooding the tunnel had to be closed, either that or boats had to be installed along its length.

During the post war period the future of this major airport was in doubt as a battle emerged between the Stansted site for government funds. Both were pursuing the government funding but eventually Gatwick was the successful airport. The success of the bid meant that the creation of a large terminal with resources such as car hire desks, restaurants and shops would provide the Crawley area with jobs for generations. The reason the Gatwick was selected was probably due to the fact that the area surrounding Stansted was unsuitable for development in terms of road and rail links while Gatwick was more preferentially placed.

The proximity of Gatwick to both the M25 and M23 meant that car hire companies were extremely interested in developing interests on the site. A factor that continues to be a powerful lure today as the airport can be seen as the perfect starting place for a tour, not only of the south but the entire country.

The fact Gatwick only has one runway is a problem that the management would like to remedy. Although there are in fact two runways, restrictions on the use of space mean that only one of these runways can be used at any one time; seriously limiting the capacity of the airport. The next stage of development will be to increase the number of runways on the site although as there is a protection order on the surrounding countryside meaning any development will prove difficult. It is not until 2019 that this protective legislation will be lifted but as with most airport development, if enough money is thrown at the problem, the legislation can soon be removed.

Rather than challenge this legislature directly, Gatwick is, at least for the moment attempting to court more business passengers by improving facilities such as specialist waiting areas and car hire provisions. Whether a new terminal is built is also a matter of conjecture but as the need for a larger number of flights servicing London becomes apparent, it is doubtless that expansion will have to occur somewhere.

Currently holding the second spot in terms of UK airports is a position of serious competition. While the ascendancy of Heathrow is somewhat assured, Gatwick is precariously placed with both Stansted and Luton clambering behind it with expansion plans in mind. Understandably most residents do not want to see an expanded airport in their backyard but as the ever increasing need for flights continues it is inevitable that someone will have to suffer the consequences.
About the Author
Industry expert Thomas Pretty looks into how development has made the car hire Gatwick Airport experience a simple and efficient affair.
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