London Gatwick Airport - LGW
A Brief History
Gatwick Airport, a former Aerodrome owned by the Redwing Aircraft Company was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force in 1939 and used for aircraft maintenance.
Aircraft maintenance continued following the war, but a number of charter companies started to use Gatwick for mostly cargo flights.
Stansted airport was favoured as London's second airport and Gatwick's future was in doubt. In 1950, despite opposition the cabinet decided that Gatwick was to be designated as an alternative to Heathrow Airport. BEA started flying from Gatwick and BEA Helicopters opened a base at the airport. And following major redevelopment which began in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II performed the official opening in 1958.
The new Gatwick was the world's first airport with a direct railway connection, and was one of the first to use a fully enclosed pier-based terminal design with covered jetbridges connecting waiting areas directly to aircraft.
Throughout the 50s and 60s passenger figures grew and despite modifications to the existing terminal and the opening of the satellite pier in 1983, there was still a need for expansion. In 1988, the North Terminal was completed which connected to the south terminal with a rapid transit system. In May 2005 the £110 million pier 6 was opened along with the new sky bridge walkway which linked an extra 11 piers to the north terminal.
In 2005, the airport handled over 32.6 million passengers, flying to around 200 destinations. Charter airlines are generally not allowed to operate from Heathrow and many use Gatwick instead as their base.
Many flights to and from the USA also use Gatwick because of restrictions at Heathrow.
The airport is a secondary hub for BA and Virgin Atlantic.