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Existing Site and Operations

Existing Site and Operations

In 2019, Gatwick Airport served more destinations than any other UK airport and accommodated the following:



46.6 million
total passengers
commercial air transport movements
tonnes total cargo

Gatwick Airport currently operates from a single main runway and two passenger terminals: North Terminal and South Terminal. When the main runway is unavailable, the existing northern runway is used as a standby runway.  The northern runway was used for 2,842 air traffic movements in 2019. The passenger terminals provide a variety of facilities including check-in desks, departure lounges, immigration and security. In addition, the airport provides hotels, office facilities and car parking.  Key elements of the existing site are shown below.

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Existing airfield infrastructure

The network of taxiways allows aircraft to move around the airfield and access the existing piers where the passengers embark and disembark aircraft (Piers 1, 2 and 3 at South Terminal and Piers 4, 5 and 6 at North Terminal).  Each pier has a number of aircraft stands, the number and configuration of which depend on the type and size of aircraft. 

Furthermore, there are a number of airfield supporting facilities, including:

The COVID-19 pandemic had a very severe impact on the global aviation industry in 2020, with significant reductions in passenger traffic as a result of both Government-imposed restrictions on air travel and reduced passenger demand driven by low consumer confidence. It is expected that Government travel restrictions will continue to have an impact on passenger demand and traffic levels throughout 2021, but that by the end of 2021 traffic levels will start to recover.

Overall, updated forecasts predict that it will take approximately five years for passenger traffic at Gatwick Airport to return to levels seen in 2019 and that by the end of the 2020s, passenger levels at Gatwick Airport will have returned broadly to where they would have been had the pandemic not occurred.  This reflects the combination of ongoing capacity constraints already experienced before and during 2019 and underlying market growth across the London system. 

It is predicted that by 2038, passenger throughput would increase to approximately 62.4 million passengers per annum in the absence of the Project.  These growth projections are based on a set of up-to-date air traffic forecasts that have been prepared by leading independent aviation specialists.

Three main factors influence the predicted change in future passenger numbers, as follows.

A number of developments at the airport are proposed in the absence of the Project, including the following.

Table 1: Existing Airport and Future Baseline - Summary of Key Parameters


Key Parameter

Existing Gatwick Airport land ownership

747 hectares

Existing airport passenger throughput (2019)

46.6 million passengers per annum (mppa)

Predicted future baseline airport passenger throughput (2038)

62.4 mppa

Approximate existing commercial air traffic movements (2019)


Approximate existing non-commercial air traffic movements (2019)


Approximate existing total aircraft movements (2019)


Approximate future commercial air traffic movements (2038)


Approximate future non-commercial air traffic movements (2038)


Approximate future total aircraft movements (2038)


Utilisation of existing northern runway (number air traffic movements - 2019)


Existing cargo (2019)

150,000 tonnes

Predicted future cargo (2038)

254,000 tonnes

Existing number of piers


Number of piers (with Pier 6 extension)

6 (with extension to existing Pier 6)

Approximate existing ‘on airport’ short term and long term car parking

40,611 spaces

Approximate existing ‘on airport’ staff car parking

6,090 spaces

Approximate total existing ‘on airport’ parking

46,701 spaces

Predicted approximate future airport car parking (with future baseline car parking improvements)

53,451 spaces

Existing terminal floorspace: North Terminal

98,100 m2

Existing terminal floorspace: South Terminal

119,300 m2

Maximum height of existing terminal building: North Terminal

32 metres

Maximum height of existing terminal building: South Terminal

40 metres

Existing hotel rooms


Predicted future baseline hotel bed spaces (with future baseline projects)

3,250 (additional 250 beds)

Existing office floor space (in main office buildings)

34,590 m2

Future baseline office floor space

34,590 m2  (no change)

Airspace Management

Future Airspace Strategy Implementation (FASI) South

Airspace within the UK is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and managed by NATS En Route (NERL), which is a subdivision within the National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

Work is being undertaken to review the airspace over London and the south east of England, with the aim of addressing existing constraints and allowing for future growth in air transport.  This work is being undertaken by NATS, in partnership with the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority and is known as the Future Airspace Strategy Implementation (FASI) South. 

FASI South will be developed through an airspace change consultation in line with the Civil Aviation Authority airspace change process and will in due course be subject to its own assessment process.  This process for the airspace around Gatwick Airport below 7,000 feet has just re-started (July 2021) but it will be some years before the outcome is clear.  However, FASI South is not required in order to allow dual runway operations at Gatwick Airport.  The EIA process for this Project has therefore been undertaken based on current flightpath information, updated to reflect the movement of the centreline of Gatwick Airport’s northern runway by 12 metres. 

Although the proposed FASI South airspace changes lie outside of the scope of this Project, should information on the outcome of the FASI South process become available during the course of the EIA process for the Project (at a time when the information can be taken into account prior to submission), the implications of this, in terms of amended noise impacts, will be reviewed and considered within the EIA process.

Airspace Change due to the Project 

In order to ascertain whether an airspace change is required to enable dual runway operations at Gatwick Airport (with the realignment to the centreline of the northern runway), GAL has submitted a Statement of Need to the Civil Aviation Authority. This Statement of Need confirmed that the proposal would not alter traffic patterns.  The Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that GAL has met the requirements of the process and that all physical works associated with the Project would be considered through the Planning Act consenting process.

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