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Gatwick trials boarding aircraft by window seats first

London Gatwick is trialling a new boarding technique in a bid to avoid queues and congestion at gates.

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During the two-month trial, large digital screens and staff will be placed at Gate 101 to show passengers the order to board.  A range of sequences will be trialled to test whether they make the process faster, more relaxing and, potentially, reduce the need for large numbers of passengers to rush forward at any stage.

Possible sequences include seating people from the back row to the front with window seats first, middle seats next and aisle seats last.

Passengers who have booked priority boarding – or those who require special assistance or are travelling with young families – will still board first during the trial.

Modelling indicates that these techniques may be able to reduce boarding times by up to 10%, compared to conventional methods.

Learnings from the trial, as well as feedback from passengers, will be used to decide whether to take this concept forward or not.

Abhi Chacko, Head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation, Gatwick Airport said:

“We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft.

“Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time.  By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger rushing forward at any stage.”

London Gatwick and VINCI Airports have been early technology innovators for many years. The use of technology to improve operations leads to further ongoing success, particularly true given London Gatwick’s role as a gateway, and as its traffic volumes are predicted to continue to rise.  Following its acquisition earlier this year, London Gatwick has become one of three VINCI Airports Innovation Centres of Excellence.  

Gatwick

Strike action now possible at Gatwick Airport as union rejects pay offer

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An ‘overwhelming rejection’ by members of the UK and Ireland’s largest union Unite over a pay offer from the aiport has now increased the possibility of industrial action.

Negotiations over pay began last autumn when Gatwick Aiport Limited proposed a three year deal which woul see workers receive an increase of 2 per cent plus £250 for the first two years with the workforce receiving the consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate and £250 in the final year.

Unite say that there is an ‘additional insult’ as the offer is conditional on the introduction of a new starter rate which would result in new starters being paid up to £7,000 per annum less than staff undertaking the same role.

Unite say over 2,000 members are employed as staff at the airport and include security staff, firefighters, engineers, terminal operatives and surface transport workers.

80 per cent of members turned out to vote and of them 98 per cent rejected the offer.

It it now down to more negotiations between the parties before a decision will be made on whether preparations will begin for a full industrial action ballot.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said:

“It is now incumbent on Gatwick Airport to come back with a dramatically improved pay offer which meets the workers’ pay claim.

“The airport is fantastically profitable as a result of the hard work of our members and they believe they should be properly rewarded for their hard work and loyalty.

“To even be suggesting the introduction of new starter rates, far below what workers already receive, demonstrates that the airport’s management is putting profits before people.

“Unite’s members have no desire to cause disruption to the travelling public but they will not allow their pay to be cut in real terms.”

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