'Everything went to plan' - Gatwick Airport chief on the South Terminal reopening and looking ahead to summer schedule

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate was delighted with how the opening of the South Terminal went.

The doors opened to the South Terminal on Sunday (March 27) and everything went smooth, according to Mr Wingate.

The terminal shut on June 15, 2020 because of the Covid pandemic and it's taken nearly two years to get it back open again.

And overnight runway movements at Gatwick went from 300 per day to 600 - with that figure expected to increase by the end of the week.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate at Gatwick's South Terminal on Monday March 27

And Mr Wingate, who was joined at the South Terminal by Aviation minister Robert Courts and Wizz Air managing director Marion Geoffroy on Monday (March 28), said a lot of hard work went into the reopening.

"It’s been a proper transformation for both myself and all the staff here at the airport," he said.

"We are absolutely delighted that on Sunday we reopened the South Terminal and today we got the Aviation minister and our colleagues from Wizz Air celebrating the opening of the South Terminal ready for a bust summer schedule.

"The teams at the airport have put an awful lot of effort into making sure we are prepared. We have been testing the security systems, the baggage systems, just making sure all the travelators and the lifts work for weeks now.

"Then of course we had to make sure we had the teams of people in the right place to serve the passengers.

"Everything went to plan, everything went smooth with the opening and today we are moving across British Airways long-haul from the North terminal to the South, and tomorrow then the British Airways short haul services will start ahead of the summer season."

Gatwick held a massive recruitment drive to from late last year to get people back to work in preparation for the South Terminal reopening and although they have filled a huge amount of positions, there are still roles available.

Mr Wingate said: "We started the recruitment drive way back in November last year, obviously with Omicron things weren’t to certain as we went through December time.

"But from the beginning of this year we have been going gangbusters right across all the different businesses across the airport recruiting people into their teams.

"We estimate the workforce will increase by about 5,000 people ahead of the summer schedule. We are still running job fairs across the region.

"The recruitment is going well. We are expecting to offer good service levels to passengers coming through the airport and there certainly are a whole host of job opportunities across the different businesses of the airport.

" Anybody who wants to join a business at the airport, there has never been a better time than this summer."

And the summer schedule is going to be busy one with plenty of bookings being made.

Mr Wingate said: "It’s astonishing. The summer season started yesterday and instantly went from 300 flights on the last day of the winter season, operating from the runway to 600. By the end of this week will be operating between 700 and 800 flights.

"By the peak of the season we will be very close to the number of movements we saw back in 2019 before the pandemic.

"Things will essentially revert back to normal. Normal operations similar to how life was before the pandemic, and for those people who work at the airport and really good opportunity to get back to work, to earn a livelihood and to be confident about the future of aviation and for passengers who travel through the airport and whole host of choice with new airlines, and our existing airlines with lots of routes and choices.

"We are really getting back to normal in 2022."

Wizz Air were there to celebrate the opening of the terminal but also to announce 18 new routes from Gatwick.

The airline started operations at Gatwick in 2020 with one aircraft, but with today's news has increased to three aircraft and hope to have five by the summer.

Mr Wingate said: "Wizz Air are an airline who started to operate from Gatwick in 2022.

"They were operating planes from other airports into Gatwick on an evening. During this period Wizz Air have worked really hard to get slots which means they can base crew and planes at Gatwick.

"This summer they will build up to having five aircraft at the airport and they will be competing to be the third biggest airline at the airport as early as this year."

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