Gatwick Airport has seen passenger numbers increase for the 26th consecutive month in April with almost 3.2m people passing through its terminals - a 0.6 per cent increase on the previous year.
In 2015, the busy Easter getaway was spread across both March and April traffic, while the previous year, Easter was firmly represented in the April figures and was the first April that Gatwick had handled more than 3 million passengers in its terminals. April 2015 sees an increase of 18,000 passengers.
The largest growth comes on routes to the North Atlantic where nearly 152,000 people travelled, an increase of 8.2 per cent. This is due to the success of the Norwegian operation, which offers low-cost long-haul flights to four destinations in the US. Norwegian launched its low-cost transatlantic operation at Gatwick in July 2014 and has enjoyed continued success since then, underlining the growing importance of point-to-point travel and the impacts the low-cost long-haul market could have on the airports expansion debate.
The busiest European route was Barcelona, with traffic increased by 0.2 per cent with 113,200 passengers travelling to the Spanish city in April. The route is operated by Vueling Airlines, Monarch, Norwegian, easyjet and British Airways.
Dubai remains the busiest long-haul route out of Gatwick, with passenger numbers increasing month on month following the introduction of a second daily A380 on the route operated by Emirates.
Gatwick Airport’s Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Wingate said: “Our record run of growth proves yet again the benefit of having a network of competing airports in the South East. However investment can only take us so far with our growth strategy. Now is the time for a final decision on extra runway capacity. Decades of debate must now turn to action. The fact remains, a new runway at Gatwick can be delivered quicker, cheaper, more simply and at a fraction of the overwhelming environmental costs that face Heathrow.
“It is highly significant that the first decision by the Airports Commission after the election is to consult on the issue of air quality. It shows that the issue has now become fundamental to the choice that lies ahead. It is an issue that cannot be ignored. The area around Heathrow currently breaches legal air quality limits, while Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and our location means we never will.”
A major programme of investment is underway in the airport’s North Terminal, with £1 billion committed to projects that will help to drive Gatwick’s growth in lieu of a second runway. Although these projects will allow the airport to grow beyond its current position, investment will only drive growth up to a point.