Gatwick Airport is expecting to see a significant increase in passengers travelling over the Christmas period, with up to 200 flights a day forecast to operate to and from the London airport, with top destinations including Dublin, Geneva and Tenerife.
While typically Gatwick would normally see more than 700 flights a day during this time, the increase in demand following the second national lockdown is positive news for the aviation industry over the festive period.
The increase in flights coincides with the Government’s new test to release system, which comes into operation today (15 December) – reducing self-isolation restrictions for those arriving from non-exempt destinations, including the Canary Islands – if they have a negative result from a COVID-19 test after five days. This is in addition to the Government announcement that overall quarantine time has been reduced from 14 to 10 days.
Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick Airport, said:
“We know the demand for international travel is strong, especially as we approach the festive period. It is vital for the recovery of the aviation industry that we make travelling during the pandemic as safe and easy as possible.
“With our airlines increasing flying schedules to meet this demand, we expect to see many more passengers travelling through Gatwick than over the past couple of months and we are doing all we can to offer passengers a greater level of reassurance.
“Passengers are able to book COVID-19 PCR screening at Gatwick or of course use other providers away from the airport if they want to get away this Christmas. In addition, expanding the provision of UV technology across more security lanes in the North Terminal is yet another innovative step we have taken in helping protect passengers at Gatwick Airport.”
Over the coming weeks, easyJet will be operating up to 75 departures a day from Gatwick, while Wizz, TUI, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and Aurigny have also resumed operations. WestJet, Ryanair and Vueling continue to offer services, having flown throughout November.
The return of these airlines will enable passengers to travel to popular short and long-haul destinations. The top five short-haul destinations for Christmas travel are expected to be Dublin, Tenerife, Geneva, Barcelona, and Fuerteventura, with St Lucia, Antigua, and Barbados being the most popular long-haul destinations.
Gatwick has also invested in expanding its successful UV light treatment of security trays, helping to protect passengers as demand for travel heightens over the coming weeks.
Following the successful launch of the initiative in September, when Gatwick became the first UK airport to treat security trays with enough UV light energy to guarantee a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate, additional security lanes in Gatwick’s North Terminal have now been fitted with the technology.
The expansion of the system, provided by Smiths Detection, ensures all passengers can travel in the reassurance of Covid-free security trays – a ‘high-touch’ surface area – with laboratory testing demonstrating the UV light energy reduces the spread of coronaviruses such as COVID-19 and SARS.
Gatwick and other airports have already deployed other anti-viral systems, such as coatings sprayed on to trays, however this protection dissipates over time whereas this new system treats every tray just before use – ensuring maximum protection and a reduced risk of passing on infection.
There are a few on campus, pre-departure COVID-19 screening solutions available at Gatwick including a subsidised, fast and accurate lab-analysed PCR swab test, as well as the ‘Test and Rest’ packages at Gatwick’s on-site hotels. Early booking is advisable as capacity is filling up fast and tests are allocated on a first come, first served basis. A list of all testing options for passengers can be found on Gatwick’s website.
On the UV treatment of security trays, Samantha Williams, Chair, Passenger Advisory Group, said:
“The Passenger Advisory Group welcomes this positive use of innovation and technology, to both protect and reassure passengers as they travel through Gatwick and importantly to help in building back passenger confidence in travel.”
Gatwick Airport to receive £8 million Government grant to protect local jobs and bounce back after coronavirus
Crawley’s MP Henry Smith has welcomed an announcement from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that Gatwick Airport is now able to apply for a Government grant worth up to £8 million per business, helping to protect jobs and the local economy in Crawley.
The Airport and Ground Operators Support Scheme, which opened on Friday 29th January, will help Gatwick (and other commercial airports across England) to cover losses on costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including airfield operations, contracted services such as airfield and runway maintenance, and business rate bills.
Airports and ground handlers can apply to the scheme on GOV.UK, and if successful, should receive their funding by the end of the financial year.
The financial support scheme, which follows the Government’s extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme, is open for applications until 21st February 2021.
This investment will help support Gatwick Airport following the introduction of international travel restrictions designed to protect public health and prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the Government continues to roll out its world-leading vaccination programme.
“I’m pleased that Gatwick Airport will receive up to £8 million to help it protect jobs during these challenging times.
“This funding offers vital support for Gatwick Airport – which supports so many jobs and businesses in Crawley.
“The Government has provided unprecedented levels of support to protect jobs and businesses through the pandemic, and this latest support will be hugely important for helping Crawley to build back better after coronavirus.
“As Crawley MP and Chair of the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group I’ve continued to urge Government to ensure support for the industry and this will remain my call to ministers.”
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented;
“A thriving aviation industry has been central to the success of this country and while we recognise the testing conditions airports are currently facing as a result of the pandemic, I believe that the sector will be ready to bounce back once restrictions are lifted.
“Today’s scheme is another step in the right direction, providing vital support for an industry that is raring to get back to business, once it is safe to do so.”