London’s Gatwick Airport has published the latest iteration of its Capital Investment Program (CIP), which envisions spending £1.11 billion ($1.34 billion) over the next five years.

The CIP, which is a rolling program published annually, highlights more investment in automation and technology as an enabler of sustainable growth. New initiatives include robotic parking and automated boarding technology. 

Gatwick expects to handle 46 million passengers this year and is the world’s busiest single-runway airport.

The single biggest project to be delivered within the next five years is the Pier 6 western extension, which will offer more than 500,000 additional passengers at the airport’s North Terminal the opportunity to embark and disembark their aircraft via jetty-served stands.  Improved gate waiting areas will also be included.

The extension’s design incorporates automated boarding technology using biometrics to process passengers through e-gates straight onto the aircraft.

Other projects in the pipeline include continued investment in automated self-service bag-drop systems; significant expansion of the international departure lounges in both North and South Terminals; main runway technology optimization that has the potential to increase the capability of the single runway; and a rapid exit taxiway, which allows aircraft to vacate the runway swiftly, increasing operational efficiency. 

The airport is also looking at a series of emerging projects, including the provision of electric and computer-driven airside vehicles such as tugs. It is also studying auto-dock airbridges that do not require an operator to attach them to aircraft. 

“The plans explore ways we can grow capacity sustainably, including providing more space in our departure lounges,” Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said. “This investment will support our existing airlines, help attract new airlines, and provide an enhanced service for the millions of people who choose to fly from Gatwick. 

“We have outlined our long-term growth strategy in our final master plan and the Capital Investment Program we are sharing today gives a more detailed view of our short-term plans, which will continue to improve our service proposition and lay foundations for the future.”

Alan Dron