Originally published on the AML website, this article was amended in January 2017 after Primesight's 2016 acquisition of AML.
Gatwick Airport's £1 billion investment in its ongoing transformation is being realised with the first phase of a new departures level opening this October in the North Terminal.
Construction work started just one year ago on this £36 million project which will see the World's largest self-service bag drop zone start a phased opening from 20 October, with a two week period of operational testing taking place prior to this date, and a one-month trial coming to an end on November 18. The check-in hall will open in two phases between October 2015 and April 2016 – with a better layout and more space, increasing peak check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers per hour.
This follows successful trials of a self-service bag drop in the South Terminal which proved queuing times can be significantly shortened by allowing passengers to take charge of their own journey through the airport.
Self-service bag drop enables passengers who have checked in on-line to take their bags straight to a machine upon arrival at the airport, where they can print their luggage tag, apply it to their bag and load it straight onto Gatwick's state-of-the-art baggage sorting system. Gatwick will have 60 check-in points with 48 of these being self-service bag drop units, 28 of these will be open for the October date. This means the check-in process can be completed in less than two minutes.
Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate said "Gatwick has added eight million passengers since we came into private ownership in 2009, and we are about to reach the 40 million mark. This is a decade ahead of industry predictions and we will continue to grow.
"While we wait for a decision on building a new runway, we are investing billions to ensure we can grow from our existing infrastructure, but this will only take us so far.
"Gatwick remains the best and most deliverable option for expansion – we can go from the World's most efficient single runway airport to the World's most efficient two-runway airport while limiting the impact on the environment."
Behind the complex operations of a working terminal building, a 24/7 construction site has been underway behind the hoardings. Major projects such as breaking through a completely new staircase linking the ground floor arrivals to the first floor transit shuttle which goes to the train station. The installation of a completely new escalator, an investment of £1 million, and commissioned in the UK, built in China and assembled at Gatwick, have all taken place through the night. Other features include completely new flooring, 400 metres of new baggage belts, new lighting, new electrical and mechanical systems, ceilings, wayfinding, retail stores and IT infrastructure.
All this has been achieved while 150,000 passengers per day pass through Gatwick's terminal buildings.
This article was originally published on the AML website, before their acquisition by Primesight.