Four leading UK airports have announced ambitious expansion plans to help them continue to achieve record passenger growth.
Heathrow says most MPs back third runway plan
The UK’s largest airport, London Heathrow, says its expansion plan is set to take off within weeks, following a poll showing 75% back plans for a third runway, which is supported by the government.
A vote is due in the House of Commons within the next few weeks concerning the third runway, which, if agreed, should be ready by 2026, the government hopes.
Royal Wedding boosts May fliers
Heathrow has also announced that May’s Royal Wedding helped it boost passenger numbers by 3.1% to a record 6.7million. This included a 5% rise in US travellers to Windsor during the wedding.
A Heathrow spokesperson says, “As Parliament prepares to vote on expanding Heathrow, support for the project remains overwhelming – the latest polling shows 75% of MPs back expansion at Heathrow, alongside a united chorus of support from Britain’s major business groups and trade unions and more local people who support than oppose.”
‘Prosperous for all of Britain’
Heathrow Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye, explains, “We have a robust plan to expand Britain’s hub airport, unlocking billions in growth and creating tens of thousands of new skilled jobs – from Plymouth to Perth and Swansea to Southend. With strong cross-party support and a united voice from business and unions – MPs must finally seize the opportunity to expand Heathrow and secure a prosperous future for all of Britain.”
Heathrow domestic traffic up
Domestic flights at Heathrow rose 5.5% as more passengers filled flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Leeds.
Heathrow welcomed new direct flights to the cities of Wuhan and Sanya, operated by China Southern. The airport’s connection to Sanya, on China’s Hainan Island, is a first for Europe and the routes are expected to be used by 110,000 passengers annually.
New £1.1b Gatwick expansion plan
Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport has announced a new £1.1 billion investment plan over five years, which will help boost passenger numbers by around 8 million.
Airline growth and passenger enhancements
The proposal includes ideas for airline growth and airport enhancement for passengers. Providing additional capacity, improving resilience and harnessing technology are all important parts of Gatwick’s plan.
Chief Executive, Stewart Wingate unveiled the new five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for Gatwick Airport at the British-Irish Airports Expo in London. The airport will spend £1.11 billion up to 2023, with £266 million planned for 2018/19 alone.
Passengers ‘to reach near 53 million by 2023’
Gatwick expects to continue growing its long-haul operation and predicts that passenger numbers will increase to nearly 53 million by 2023 from the 45million reached during 2017.
Mr Wingate says, “Gatwick is a major piece of national infrastructure, and our continued growth and ability to attract long-haul airlines is vital for the health of the UK economy, particularly in a post-Brexit world. We are exploring ways to grow our capacity, including developing new systems and processes to handle more passengers, and considering how we use all our existing infrastructure in the future.
“By committing to spend another £1.11 billion, Gatwick can continue to grow sustainably, attract new airlines and offer more global connections, while providing an excellent service to passengers.
“This year we will welcome new quieter aircraft with the introduction of A321s by easyJet and we are developing our infrastructure now, by reconfiguring airfield stands and planning for the construction of a major extension to our Pier 6 facility. These initiatives will support this next phase of growth.
“Looking beyond this capital investment programme, we welcome the Government’s support for airports making best use of their existing runways and we will plan for our longer-term future by developing a Masterplan later this year.”
Total investment of £3.14b since 2009
Gatwick says it is committed to exploring how to grow sustainably, while supporting the local and national economy, improving facilities and continuing to transform services for passengers.
Since Gatwick Airport changed ownership in December 2009 the total investment figure, combined with this new five-year plan, rises to £3.14 billion.
Exciting projects underway
Among significant and exciting projects getting underway this year are:
Projects using new technology
- Pier 6 Western Extension – Phase 1 works start with enabling Pier 5 to handle the A380 aircraft, so that it can move from its current home on Pier 6. This work will also involve the widening and reconfiguration of a taxiway to accommodate the 80-metre wingspan of the A380
- A new domestic arrivals facility, including a new baggage reclaim in South Terminal
- A new mezzanine level extension in the North Terminal departure lounge to accommodate new restaurants
- Completion of the road system and taxiway entrance to the new Boeing aircraft hangar to connect the airfield with the new facility. The new hangar opens next year and will service the growing number of long-haul aircraft operating from Gatwick
- Trial of biometric auto-boarding technology in the North Terminal and extending the roll-out of self-service bag drop across both terminals
- Re-development of South Terminal hotel capacity
- Completion of the South Terminal long stay car park decking project, providing an additional 1,200 car parking spaces for summer 2018
- Projects to support greater use of electric vehicles, continuing to reduce the airport’s environmental impact and supporting our ambition to be the UK’s most sustainable airport
- Enabling works for Network Rail’s planned upgrade to the Gatwick station
- Investment in joint equipment for ground handlers to use at Gatwick which drives efficiency for airfield and baggage operations.
- New reception centre for passengers with reduced mobility in the North Terminal.
Gatwick has also identified emerging projects which look to harness technology to further improve efficiency and service. Examples of these include an integrated command and airport operations centre, robotic car parking and a Smart taxiway lighting system.
Cardiff passenger totals up 15 months running
At the same time, Cardiff Airport, the national airport for Wales and in the top 20 for passenger numbers, has seen 15 months of passenger growth in a row to reach a total of 1.51 million.
Cardiff Airport now plans to publish its Masterplan, detailing its vision up to 2040.
New flights for 2019
New flight routes from Cardiff for 2019 include:
- TUI will add an additional aircraft to its base at Cardiff Airport for summer 2019. Adding new flights to Hurghada (Egypt), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Naples (Italy) and Enfidha (Tunisia) and 100,000 extra seats
- Thomas Cook will introduce flights to Enfidha (Tunisia) in summer 2019
- Super Break will operate a number of short break packages to Madeira and Iceland in 2018/19.
- Busiest May since 2009.
As of the end of May 2018, which was the busiest May since 2009, passenger figures at Cardiff are up 9% for the rolling year. Double-digit growth projected for the coming financial year.
Since the airport’s change of ownership in 2013 it has attracted new airlines, more destinations and significant improvements to the terminal and customer services.
Cardiff Airports highlights
Recent highlights at Cardiff Airport include:
18 airlines out of Cardiff
- A new regular service to Doha, Qatar with Qatar Airways, which creates new links between Wales and Australia, New Zealand, the Far East and beyond
- Flybe introduced a third aircraft to its base at Cardiff Airport and now offers flights to 17 destinations plus four others via franchise partners. Passenger numbers have grown by 124% since the base opened in June 2015
- KLM celebrated 30 years of flying customers between Wales and Amsterdam Schiphol airport, acting as a key hub for passengers flying onwards to destinations across the world. The airline has recently increased its capacity with the introduction of a larger, super-efficient Embraer 175 with a capacity of 88 seats and a 100-seater Embraer 190
- New summer flights to Antalya (Turkey) with TUI and Thomas Cook and a second weekly flight to Dalaman (Turkey) with Thomas Cook
- Spanish airline Iberia Express has returned for a second summer, flying twice a week to Madrid.
There are now 18 airlines flying out of Cardiff, many of which have added more capacity, introduced new destinations as well as better value for money and convenient flight times, says the airport.
The fastest growing routes over the last 12 months are:
National airport for people of Wales
- Belfast City (Flybe)
- Glasgow (Flybe)
- Anglesey (Eastern Airways, bookable on Flybe.com)
- Cork (Flybe)
- Paris Charles de Gaulle (Flybe)
- Jersey (Flybe)
- Verona (Flybe)
- Dusseldorf (Flybe)
- Faro (Flybe, TUI, Ryanair)
- Barcelona (Vueling).
Deb Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, says “Fifteen months of continuous passenger growth is a very promising reflection of how far Cardiff Airport has come and the positive direction that we are headed.
“Our airlines, namely KLM, Qatar Airways and TUI, have recognised the potential and invested in Wales and we have also made significant improvements to the customer experience and the terminal which, again, encourages customers to choose to fly from Cardiff.
“Our commitment is to be a national airport that the people of Wales can be proud of and to be a vital gateway for visitors into the UK. With more positive developments to come and double-digit growth projected for the year ahead, Cardiff Airport is proud to fly the flag for Wales and to more exciting developments to follow.”
Stansted hits May passenger high
The launch of more long-haul routes from London’s Stansted Airport helped passenger numbers reach a record 2.5million in May 2018.
The UK’s fourth busiest airport saw more than 200,000 more passengers (+9.2 per cent) pass through the terminal than in May 2017.
Year-to-date numbers up 7.3%
In the year to May 2018, Stansted’s passenger numbers increased 7.3%, taking the moving annual total to over 26.5million.
Among top Euro connectivity
As a result, London Stansted has been named in the top five of European airports registering the highest growth in direct flight connectivity over the past five years.
New flights in May and June
During May, Primera Air began direct flights to Boston Logan Airport and a new service to Toronto, Canada, in addition to its New York service launched earlier this year.
This was followed in June by the launch of Emirates’ new daily service to Dubai, the first international airline based in the Middle East to serve Stansted and connect the East of England with Emirates’ global network of over 150 destinations via its Dubai hub.
Aim to attract more airlines
Ken O’ Toole, Chief Executive Officer of London Stansted, says, “London Stansted continues to go from strength to strength, and our busiest ever May and the exciting arrival of one of the world’s truly global airlines in Emirates, is further evidence of our ambition to attract more airlines and play a key role in delivering the expected growth in the London market over the next decade.
“The trend is already evident in 2018 where we will be the fastest growing major London airport. Attracting an airline of Emirates’ calibre is recognition not only of the significant investment we have made - and continue to make - in our facilities, but also the strength of our catchment and the opportunity that our available runway capacity gives them to continue growing in the UK.
More potential as economic driver
“We know that we have even more potential, not only as an economic driver for the region but also by providing greater international connectivity to UK plc. We submitted our planning application earlier this year to increase the number of passengers the airport is permitted to serve each year by 8 million to 43 million per annum, and made a commitment to do this within our existing permissions for flight movements and noise.
Positive reaction from business community
“The reaction to our plans from the business community in particular has been very positive with support coming from across the region from SMEs to giants such as Astra Zeneca in Cambridge and the universities of Essex and Cambridge, all highlighting the airport’s role as the biggest single site employer in the East of England and an enabler of global trade.
The latest Airports Council International (ACI) Europe annual Airport Industry Connectivity Report
shows that London Stansted recorded a 43 per cent increase in the number of direct flights offered from the airport since 2013.
This rate of growth placed Stansted fifth in the list of large airports – those serving over 25 million passengers a year – experiencing the most rapid growth during the period.