Gatwick Airport, which is also known as London Airport is the second busiest airport by passenger traffic in the UK and is located just south of central London in the south-east of England. It is the eighth busiest airport in Europe and was the busiest single use runway airport in the world until 2016.
Gatwick was opened as an aerodrome in the late 1920’s and since 1933 was used for commercial flights. In 1935 the first terminal was built which was called The Beehive and the following year scheduled air services began from it. Since then it has grown considerably with the first main development taking place in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s there were two of the largest British independent airlines established there; British United Airways and Dan-Air. The Ministry of Avaition instructed Airlines to move charter flights from the nearby Heathrow airport to Gatwick. During the 1970’s British Caledonian was its dominant airline. BCal was also a main airline based there as well as Laker Airways, Dan-Air and British Airtours. BCal was later taken over by British Airways and Air Europe took over as the dominant short-haul operator and BA was the dominant long-haul operator. Air Europe and Dan-Air both went out of business in the early 1990’s and BA took advantage in using the extra space to provide more flights and build a secondary hub at Gatwick after their primary one in Heathrow. BA then became the most dominant airline until they removed their hub to allow easyJet to take their space and take over in the dominance stakes.
In 2008 BAA announced that they were going to sell Gatwick airport die to the Competition Commission publishing a report about their domination of the London and South East and it was eventually sold to Global Infrastructure Partners. The following years they sold some stakes in the business to the South Korean National Pension Service and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to refinance bank debt. In 2010 CalPERS, a Californian state pension fund got a stake and later in the tear A sovereign wealth fund established by the Australian government bought a stake. This left GIP with a 42% stake but having extra voting rights means it is still in control of the board of the airport.
The airport has two terminals, North and South and they both have shops, restaurants and disabled facilities as well as baby changing and feeding areas. They are connected by a two way people mover. The South terminal was opened in 1958 and was one of the world’s first enclosed pier based terminals where passengers can walk undercover to waiting areas near the aircraft. It also had a modular design making it easy to be expanded in phases. In 1970, land which had been earmarked for a second runway was used to build North terminal. It was the largest building construction south of London in the 1980’s. In 1991 a second pier was added to it and in 2005 the new Pier 6 was opened meaning that there were then 11 piers in total. After the changes, airlines swapped their positions within the terminals to make the flights run much more efficiently.
There have been many reviews and proposals for expanding the airport. These included proposals for a third terminal building and second runway although an agreement was made with West Sussex County Council in 1979 that a second runway would not be built. An expansion could allow the airport to cope with more passengers than Heathrow does. There have also been proposals for a high speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow airports to combine them but in the end it was Heathrow that was given permission to expand rather than Gatwick due to the economic benefits.
Airports can be well known for delays and Gatwick is no exception. It is not uncommon to see pictures on the news of people in the airport, sleeping or looking bored waiting for delayed flights to arrive or to be ready for boarding. Nowadays though people can claim compensation if this happens to them and so there is some payback for all of the waiting. The compensation does have restrictions though and it is important to understand the rules. There is an EU regulation 216/2004 which allows for compensation from airlines based in the EU and landing in an EU airport or taking off from an EU airport. If this is not the case for you then there may be other ways to get compensation but if you are in Gatwick airport then this regulation is likely to apply to you.
The regulation allows compensation to be paid in certain specific circumstances. The delay must be more than three hours long and that means you must arrived over three hours later than scheduled. The amount of money you get will depend on how long the delay is and how far you are flying but compensation could be up to 600 Euros. However the delay has to be the fault of the airline, things like political problems or bad weather will not apply. If the flight is cancelled and again the fault of the airline then you could be entitled to compensation again depending on it causing a delay of more than three hours and they also have to refund your ticket or offer a suitable alternative. There may also be a situation where you are asked to leave the plane and if this is the airlines fault you will be given alternative flights and could claim compensation. This sometimes happens when airlines overbook their flights, which they do for every flight assuming that not everyone will turn up and they will fly with an almost full capacity plane.
Unfortunately there are occasions when too many do turn up and they have to get people to leave. They may ask for volunteers and offer to compensate them by putting them on an alternative flight and giving them some vouchers to spend or other reward for the inconvenience and it is up to the volunteer to negotiate this with the airline. However, if you are forced off, then you can claim compensation for any delay that this will cause you.