Latest GATCOM Weekly News July 2019


  • Airports improve accessibility rating but 'need to do more' - Travelweekly 11.07.19

Airports in the UK have shown "significant improvement" when it comes to their accessibility, but they will need to do more to meet more stringent standards in future. A total of 31 airports were ranked by the CAA on accessibility for disabled passengers, with 14 rated as "very good" and 16 rated "good". Five of the airports saw their rating improved but four bases had their classification lowered. No airports were rated as "poor" for the first time since reporting began. The results were published in the CAA's fourth annual report on the disability access of the UK's largest airports. In the last year there were a record number of 3.7 million requests for assistance at airports - a rise of more than 80% since 2010. Read More

  • British Airways faces £183m fine over data breach - Buying Business Travel 08.07.19

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says it intends to fine British Airways £183.39 million for a 2018 data breach that affected 500,000 customers. BA disclosed the breach in September, saying bookings through its website and app had been compromised, with personal and financial details of customers potentially stolen. The ICO says the incident in part involved user traffic to the website being diverted to a fraudulent site. Initially, BA said the breach began in August 2018, but the ICO found it may have started in June. Announcing the proposed fine, the ICO said its investigation "found that a variety of information was compromised by poor security arrangements at the company, including log-in, payment card and travel booking details as well as name and address information". Read More

  • New PM urged to opt for cheaper Heathrow expansion option - Travelweekly 12.07.19

The new prime minister is being urged to select a cheaper option for expanding Heathrow rather than the airport's £14 billion third runway plan. The call came from the backer of alternative runway scheme Heathrow Hub as the Civil Aviation Authority published a new consultation on expansion of the UK's largest airport. While the regulator believes the overall costs are reasonable for such a huge infrastructure project, it raised concerns over the airport's forecast of "significantly increased" £2.9 billion costs before receiving final planned consent for the third runway. Heathrow has said it needs to bring forward the timing of certain spending before the expected late 2021 date of receiving the green light for development, with the new runway projected to open by 2026. Read More

  • Airlines warned over A380 superjumbo wing cracks - Travelweekly 10.07.19

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has warned airlines to repair older Airbus A380 aircraft affected by wing cracks. The aircraft involved are operated by Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Qantas and Lufthansa. None of British Airways' fleet is affected but the regulator said its order was an "interim" measure, implying that it could be extended, The Times reported. The cracks were not deemed serious enough to require grounding of the aircraft type. Under an airworthiness directive proposed by the agency, Airbus will ask airlines to inspect the wings of 25 of the early models that are still in service. It said: "If, during any inspection . . . any crack is detected, before next flight, contact Airbus for approved repair instructions."Read More

  • 120,000 jobs at risk due to UK aviation's lack of competitiveness, IATA warns - Buying Business Travel 09.07.19

IATA is warning up to 120,000 jobs supported by air transport could be at risk from an "erosion of UK air transport competitiveness". It also claims employment could rise by 200,000 if the UK invests in infrastructure, changes taxes and reduces red tape. The findings come from yesterday's launch of the association's Air Transport Regulatory Competitiveness Indicators (ATRCI), which for the UK criticise the government's high level of regulatory burdens and poor supply chain management. Speaking at an IATA roundtable debate, Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice-president, Europe at IATA, said: "This launch is not just an academic study, but also clear steps to take." Read More


  • Gatwick Airport: Cancellations after flights suspended - BBC News 11.07.19

Thirteen flights have been cancelled following a suspension of services at Gatwick Airport. Twenty-eight flights were cancelled and 26 diverted to other airports after the air traffic control problems on Wednesday. The airport experienced a problem in its control tower, affecting services for two hours from about 17:00 BST. One departure and 12 arrivals were cancelled on Thursday. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the issue, the airport said. A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said the cancellations on Thursday were a result of planes being in the wrong place following Wednesday's disruption. Passengers on two early morning flights from Turkey had to wait about three hours for their luggage to arrive at baggage reclaim on Thursday. Read More

  • 'Gatwick planning three runways', claims group - Buying Business Travel 08.07.19

Gatwick airport is not only planning growth from its existing runway but will announce preparations for expansion to three runways later this month, according to claims from a community group. Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) said over the weekend it believes the airport will outline the scheme on 18 July as part of its masterplan. Earlier this year, Gatwick closed a public consultation on plans to use its emergency runway as a secondary landing strip in order to boost capacity - something the airport says is needed. It has also been considering safeguarding land south of the airport to use in the event of expansion, but CAGNE believes it will use the space to build a third runway. Read More

  • Gatwick Airport says it has 'No plans to expand to three runways - The Independent 10.07.29

Gatwick Airport's new owners have rejected claims that it has plans to expand from its current single runway to three. Opponents of expansion at the Sussex airport say Gatwick's master plan, likely to be published later this month, will propose three runways. The French infrastructure operator, Vinci, took a majority share in the airport in May 2019. Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world, and second-busiest in Britain after Heathrow. The airport owners have already published plans to bring the existing standby runway into service for departures of medium-sized aircraft. Read More

GAL issued a statement on Monday which stated:

"Gatwick does not have plans for a three-runway airport. Our draft master plan, which was consulted on earlier this year, outlined that we continue to safeguard land identified for an additional runway by the previous Government, as it has been since 2003, which is in the long-term national interest. As part of this, we made it clear that we will not actively pursue an additional new runway at Gatwick.

"We continue to be led by Government policy around 'Making best use of existing runways' and therefore our draft master plan concentrates on how we could optimise our main runway and potentially bring our existing standby runway into routine use".


  • BA fails in bid to halt strike- Buying Business Travel 10.07.19

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said last night that talks with British Airways have "broken down" and that it is now holding a ballot on a proposed summer strike. Announcing the news on Twitter, BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: "It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at ACAS we are still no further forward." Pilots warned of the possibility of a strike last month after rejecting a new pay offer from BA worth 11.5 per cent over three years, but agreed to meet with the airline in an effort to avoid industrial action. Strutton added: "BALPA tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and now point continuing. Read More

  • Competition watchdog calls for Heathrow slot auction - Travelmole 10.07.19

The UK's competition watchdog is calling for Heathrow to auction off additional take-off and landing slots released by the opening of the airport's proposed third runway. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says this will benefit passengers, businesses and the wider economy. "Giving more airlines the chance to offer flights by reforming how slots are allocated could lead to passengers having a greater choice of airlines when they fly, which may lead to lower fares, better service and better value," it said its response to the Department for Transport's Green Paper 'Aviation 2015 - the future of UK aviation'. "This will be of particular significance when new capacity from a new runway at Heathrow is released."Read More

  • Virgin Galactic 'could launch space flights from UK' - Travelmole 10.07.19

Virgin Galactic could launch commercial space flights from the UK after securing a £1 billion deal to take the company public. Sir Richard Branson said his space venture has 'strong interest' from UK authorities to build a spaceport here as it intends to expand beyond its current US facility. He was speaking to The Telegraph as Virgin Galactic announced that it would become the first space tourism company to go public as part of a deal with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a US investment firm run by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya. SCH will take a 49% stake worth £1 billion in Virgin Galactic and Palihapitiya, who has pledged to invest a further $100 million in the company, will become chairman of the board. Read More

  • Norwegian Is Suffering Effects Of The Boeing 737 MAX Crisis - Simple Flying 12.07.19

Norwegian Air Shuttle has been feeling the impact of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, with their 18 aircraft grounded and 92 future orders undeliverable. This is causing a significant dip in passenger numbers, as reported by AINonline. Norwegian has been struck hard by the grounding of their MAX fleet, and the unavailability of new MAX aircraft due to be delivered from Boeing. Their fleet of 18 MAX aircraft, the biggest in Europe, formed a substantial part of their operation and fed passengers onto profitable long-haul international routes. Norwegian Air Shuttle has reported a second consecutive month of falling passenger numbers, with June moving down 1% compared to the month before, to a total of 3.5 million passengers. Read More

  • Charter plan for aviation skills- BTNews 08.07.19

A UK Aviation Skills Charter is to be introduced by the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) in a bid to create a common path for the various industry initiatives that are now under way, and feed into the DfT's UK Aviation Strategy 2050 Green Paper The move follows the success of ASP's Aviation Skills Manifesto launched in 2016 and sets out a five-point plan to meet what it calls the aviation skills crisis head-on by linking industry, educators, trainers, government, and regulators, among others. ASP founder Simon Witts said: "I felt the time was right for the UK to re-establish its lead in aviation skills through a uniting initiative to bring together all the aspects of this exciting industry that needs to attract the attention of the next generation. Read More

  • Why are airport shuttle services between terminals sometimes terrible? - The Independent 07.07.19

Should you find me at an airport or other transport terminal, do say hello. That is what a gentleman did at Leeds station on Friday morning. He sought my opinion not on the state of the railways, but on the state of the airports - and in particular the debate over expansion at Heathrow. Surely, he said, a high-speed rail connection between Gatwick and Heathrow would help to add capacity without building a new runway? The suggestion was considered by Sir Howard Davies's Airports Commission for, I imagine, about five seconds. Heathrow and Gatwick are, respectively, the busiest two-runway and single-runway airports in the world. Read More

GAL Press Releases Events & Updates

150m pledged to deliver vital upgrades at Gatwick Airport station


  • Government announces £150 million investment to upgrade Gatwick Airport train station
  • Holidaymakers and commuters to benefit from a larger concourse, five new lifts and eight new escalators
  • Improvements set to reduce train delays and provide easier connections across the south east

Tens of millions of rail passengers travelling to and from Gatwick Airport will benefit from improved accessibility and swifter journeys, after the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a £150 million scheme to upgrade the station.

The renovation will reduce train delays caused by platform overcrowding and congestion, while also improving passenger experience by providing easier connections to other destinations. Planned upgrades will include doubling the size of the station concourse, adding five new lifts and eight escalators to improve passenger flow, and widening two platforms to reduce overcrowding.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "With 46m people now using Gatwick Airport every year and 20m coming by train, it is vital that we make the station more accessible and customer friendly for those travelling through it. The UK's second largest airport has direct rail links to more than 120 destinations and is an important public transport hub.

"We want to see Gatwick Airport's success continue to flourish and ensure that it is ready for even more passengers in the future. Through this £150 million investment, we will deliver vital upgrades to boost the station's capacity and provide better, seamless journeys for all."

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport said: "Gatwick has been transformed in recent years and the redesigned train station will take the airport's redevelopment to the next level by providing a seamless transition between the airport and the station, more lifts, escalators and a doubling in the size of the concourse.

"The new station will complement the huge improvements to rail services at the airport, which include new fleets of Gatwick Express and Thameslink trains and services that now leave the airport for London every three minutes - as frequently as services on the tube.

"The project is a fantastic example of the public and private sector working together to deliver a world-class transport hub that will comfortably manage the expected growth in air passengers and also encourage people to switch to rail as part of our push to get more people to travel to the airport by public transport." 

The number of people using Gatwick Airport station each year has grown by six million since 2010. Currently the station is not designed for the high volume of daily passengers, often carrying bulky luggage. The renovation will be managed by Network Rail, in partnership with DfT. Gatwick Airport Ltd and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership are co-funding the project with £37m and £10m respectively.

Paul Harwood, Director of Investment for Network Rail, said: "The transformational enhancement to Gatwick Airport station will provide passengers with a much smoother and more pleasant experience and also reduce train delays. Along with the recent improvements on the Brighton Main Line and our record £4.3 billion funding settlement for maintaining, operating and renewing the railway over the next five years, this investment is excellent news for passengers, businesses and the economy."

Patrick Verwer, Chief Executive Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: "This much-needed scheme will deliver real benefits for passengers thanks to enhanced platforms, new lifts and a larger concourse. At such a busy station these upgraded facilities will significantly contribute to the smooth running of our services for travellers getting to and from the airport."

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital said: "If our economy is to grow, we need a transport network that supports faster, more reliable, and less polluting journeys for business, leisure and freight travel. Gatwick airport is an international destination and its station is a gateway to London and the wider Coast to Capital area.

"This plan will greatly improve the interchange for commuters, visitors and business which will support the sustainable growth of the area with Gatwick airport at its heart. We are delighted to have contributed £10 million and look forward to working with partners to deliver a better experience for passengers."

The improvement works will start in Spring 2020 and will take around two years to complete. The works will be sequenced to ensure minimum disruption. The government is investing a record £48bn to modernise the country's rail network and deliver significant improvements in performance, punctuality and capacity.


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