Gatwick Airport At A Glance
Because it often remains in the shadow of Heathrow, people tend to forget that Gatwick is still the second busiest airport in the UK and the leading point-to-point flights hub in Europe. It also has the busiest single-used runway in the world with is unbelievable 55 flights per hour (almost a flight per minute!). More than 40 million people per year travel through Gatwick – the population of a large-sized European country!
How did Gatwick turn into the modern mastodon?
Long before the turbo-jet engines roared over the Sussex skies Gatwick was a green, pastoral area that was turned into a famous race course in the end of the 19th century. Gatwick’s fame as a place of leisure for the wealthy was further strengthened when the local Golf Club was founded in 1907.
But the spirit of the epoch soon caught up with the provincial calm of Sussex. By the end of the 1920s the lands west of the race course began to be employed as an aerodrome. In 1933 the Air Ministry approved the site as suitable for commercial flights. Only two years later, in 1935, began the construction of the “Beehive” – the first circular terminal building in the world.
As the Second World War loomed on the horizon, the importance of Gatwick grew in proportion. In 1941 RAF units took over the airport and the RAF Army Cooperation Command was headquartered there. But just like Heathrow Gatwick never played instrumental role in the Battle for Britain. In 1946 the airport was officially decommissioned from military service and soon after was opened for civil and commercial flights. This is the true starting point of the modern progress of Gatwick.
In the late 40s however the authorities favoured Stansted as the second most important airport of the capital which put some question marks to Gatwick’s future. Its owners quickly realized they need to look elsewhere to secure the airport’s prosperity. In May 1950 the first charter flight between Gatwick and Corsica took place. It was a portent for things to come. On June 9th, 1958, after a 2-year renovation closure the airport was reopened with a lavish ceremony, presided by Queen Elizabeth herself.
Since the 1960s it quickly rose in prominence as growing number of air carriers saw it as the cheaper, less crowded alternative of Heathrow. The airport also gained fame for its diversity of destinations in every corner of the world. In one of the most symbolic moments of its existence Gatwick (and not Heathrow) welcomed Pope John Paul II on May 28 on British soil. By this time and ever since Gatwick has solidified its position as the second most important airport in the country.
The airport’s top destinations by passengers are strongly dominated by European cities, with Barcelona, Malaga and Dublin occupying the top three. To be fair, of the top 20 destinations, only two are located outside the continent – Dubai and Orlando, Florida.
When the airport opened after the 1958 renovation it served just over 185 000 passengers in the first seven months of operation. Today the same number is reached in about three days! And for the first time in its history Gatwick crossed the milestone of 40 million passengers per year in 2015!
Gatwick LGW is located approximately 29.5 miles south of Central London and three miles north of the centre of Crawley, West Sussex.
How to get there?
Being the ultra-important transport hub that it is, Gatwick can be reached by multiple means of transport.
- There is the Gatwick Railroad Station that provides straight connection to Victoria station.
- Thameslink provides direct connection to Luton airport as well.
- National Express operates coaches to Heathrow and Stansted.
- Oxford Bus Company offers a direct service from and to Oxford.
- EasyBus operates mini-coaches to Earls Court SW5 and West Brompton SW10.
- Local buses offer easy access to and from Crawley, Horsham, Caterham, Horley and Redhill.
- The 9A junction of the M23 leads to Gatwick; then 9 miles to the north the M23 connects with London’s main motorway M25.
- The A23 gives access to and from Horley, Redhill, Crawley and Brighton.
- The A217 provides access to and from Reigate.
*Snappy Airport Transfers offers expedient and reliable shuttle cab services from Gatwick International Airport (LGW) to the entire Greater London area and the commuter towns in Essex.