Gatwick retail & F&B tipped for busy summer

By Luke Barras-hill |

[UPDATED] London Gatwick Airport (LGW) Head of Retail Operations Nick Williams has told TRBusiness that retailers and F&B providers can now look forward to a busy summer after a tough two years.*

As expected, Gatwick restarted operations at the South Terminal on Sunday (27 March) as its shops and restaurants welcomed back passengers for the first time in 21 months.

The South Terminal had been inactive since it closed due to the pandemic on 15 June.

The airport and its commercial partners have been undertaking refurbishments and upgrades at the 160,000sq m terminal, of which 14,768sq m is dedicated to retail facilities.

In comments shared with this publication, Williams said: “Reopening has been no small task – a lot of work has gone into preparing our South Terminal and we’ve just gone through the equivalent of opening a medium-sized airport overnight. I would like to thank everyone involved including all the staff running and working in our shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. We know there is significant pent-up demand and we’re seeing very positive booking data, so we expect business will be good for our retail and F&B outlets.”

‘RECORD DEPARTURES FOR APRIL’

Flight capacity has ramped up from 300 per day to around 570 per day, which LGW says is ‘equivalent to opening a medium-sized airport overnight’.

From 27-29 March, many airlines have or are in the process of switching terminals as the airport stands poised to meet significant pent-up demand for travel this summer.

Airlines at Gatwick South include Air Malta, Aurigny, British Airways, Eastern Airways, Iberia Express, Norwegian, TAP Portugal, Vueling and Wizz Air, while easyJet now operates across both terminals where it will serve 120 routes.

Gatwick tweeted a picture of the refurbished South Terminal 24 hours before it reopened. Source LGW/Twitter.

BA will operate 35 short haul routes to destinations across Europe; Wizz Air 25 European routes; and Vueling a total of 16 routes, all from the South Terminal.

Carriers such as BA, TUI, Emirates, Qatar, WestJet, Air Transat, Jet Blue and Norse Atlantic will fly to more than 30 long haul destinations direct this summer to destinations including New York, Tampa, Phuket, Mauritius, Dubai, Doha and Bangkok.

This is alongside a range of routes to Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, including Toronto, Vancouver, Cancún, Antigua and Montego Bay.

According to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium, April is expected to yield the highest number of departures (9,805) since December 2019 and departing flights are due to surge by nearly 3,000% – up from 322 recorded last April.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Vinci Airports-run Gatwick, said: “A lot of work has gone into preparing our South Terminal, and I would like to thank everybody involved as their combined efforts.

Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, has launched a three-weekly service to Bangkok (with onward connection to Singapore) as long-haul routes scale up. 

“We’re now ready and excited to welcome passengers back in large numbers, and our restaurants, shops, cafes and bars are also looking forward to serving passengers again before they jet off on holiday, to visit friends and family or take that vital business trip.

“After a difficult two years, we know there is significant pent-up demand for international travel, so I advise passengers to book early to make sure they secure the flights they want this summer.

“Reopening our South Terminal and the increase in the choice of flights our airlines are offering is also great news for our local communities, particularly people and their families who rely on the airport for their livelihood, and also the large number of support and supply businesses that depend on a successful airport.”

*This is an updated version of an article first published on Monday 28 March.

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