Gatwick Airport has decided it is time to engage with the corporate travel community and reposition itself as London’s airport of choice for the business traveller.
The London airport wants to build on its recent success in attracting new carriers, including Hong Kong Airlines with its all-business class service.
At a conference in London attended by a number of senior figures from the business travel industry, the airport’s CEO Stewart Wingate said it is time to “reach out to markets that haven’t been exploited in the past, because Gatwick has been a little bit quiet”.
He said that Gatwick is now “free to compete”, having been cut loose from the “monopoly” that was BAA.
To attract more corporate business, the airport has undertaken a number of upgrades, including the installation of fast track security channels for premium travellers and the opening of two new executive lounges by No. 1 Traveller.
According to Wingate, Gatwick is a viable alternative to Heathrow for business travel, and is keen to grow the variety of routes to business cities it offers.
And unlike Heathrow, it has capacity to fill, he said, citing a figure of 30% growth capability.
When asked why Paris, a key business city, was not currently served from the airport, however, he said it reflected a growing trend to travel shorter distances within Europe by train.
Instead of attempting European connections, continued Wingate, Gatwick hopes to grow the routes it offers to the Far East, with the launch of flights by Vietnam Airlines, Air Asia and Hong Kong Airlines examples of success so far.
Guy Stephenson, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, admitted part of the reasoning behind attracting business travellers was to “smooth out seasonality” at the airport.
Often thought of as a leisure hub, Gatwick is by far at its busiest during the holiday seasons, admitted Stephenson, but he hopes this will change.