London Gatwick has recently completed its latest infrastructure project, the new Echo Romeo Rapid Exit Taxiway (RET), which will help reduce delays and go-arounds, while supporting the airport’s sustainability targets.

The RET addresses issues which were causing some aircraft to spend longer on the main runway than necessary, resulting in delays to other incoming aircraft, or those waiting to take off.

The existing taxiways were too far apart, meaning if a pilot missed the chance to exit the runway via the first taxiway – as could be the case due to landing later than anticipated, weather conditions making braking more challenging, or flying with a heavier load than normal - the aircraft would end up travelling slowly along the runway to the next taxiway exit, which could take an extra 20 seconds
or more.

The new taxiway – located in a more helpful position and able to safely handle aircraft exiting at higher speeds – has been in the pipeline for several years. Now complete, it’s already proving a big hit with pilots, with an impressive 56% of arrivals utilising it within the initial four days of opening in February.

Gavin Sillitto, Transformation Programme Lead at London Gatwick, said: “Every project where you are building next to a live runway is complex, but we have a great result thanks to fantastic teamwork across the airport and with our contractor, PJ Hegarty.

“For aircraft exiting the runway, it is like the speed of turning onto a motorway slip road rather than onto a suburban street. Putting an exit in a place which is natural for how pilots normally brake, and which can handle aircraft exiting safely at higher speeds, increases resilience, reduces delays, and limits carbon and noise emissions.”

Andrew Isted, Senior Project Manager, reflected on the project’s journey, highlighting the team’s commitment to excellence amidst challenges. “We were delighted to complete the project with no impact to or complaints from the local community, with our contractors operating carefully and safely, and often at night, in a busy operational environment.”

Commencing construction in 2020, the project underwent a significant redesign during the pandemic, resulting in a reduction of over 10% in construction carbon emissions. Despite being a 24-hour airport, operations continued during construction, with aircraft utilising the existing Northern Runway as needed. This project stands as a testament to London Gatwick’s dedication to enhancing efficiency, sustainability, and passenger experience.

Mark Johnston appointed London Gatwick Chief Operating Officer

Mark Johnston, an experienced and seasoned airport leader, has taken on the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) at London Gatwick.

Mark joined London Gatwick having served as the COO of AGS Airports, the owners of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, where he was in post for more than three years.

He brings more than two decades’ worth of highly relevant technical and professional experience; having led security, technical, infrastructure and airport terminal departments.

As COO at London Gatwick, Mark will play a critical leadership role, ensuring the safe, efficient, and smooth day-to-day operations of the airport. He will oversee key departments such as passenger operations, security, and aerodrome management. Additionally, he will drive strategic projects, including the implementation of next-generation security measures and improvements in aerodrome performance.

Mark’s background includes roles in the global semiconductor industry before joining Glasgow Airport in 2004. He held positions such as Operations Director and was later appointed Managing Director in May 2018. In November 2020, Mark became the Chief Operating Officer of AGS Airports.

On his first day in the role, Mark Johnston said: “I am thrilled to be joining the UK’s second busiest airport where we operate the world’s most efficient runway.

“London Gatwick has exceptional people who work hard every day to deliver a personalised experience, that is easy and efficient for all. It is an incredibly exciting time to be joining London Gatwick and I am thoroughly looking forward to getting started and meeting all the team.”

London Gatwick expands Asia connections

London Gatwick will be offering passengers more than 90 weekly flights to Asia and the Middle East this summer, following the launch of new routes to Baku, Azerbaijan; Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

The airport has welcomed new carriers Azerbaijan Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways recently, with three services per week to Baku starting in March, and twice-weekly flights to Ashgabat, and a weekly flight to Tashkent commencing in April.

The new routes mean London Gatwick now serves 12 destinations across Asia and the Middle East, including markets in China, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE, with more new services to Beijing (Air China), Guangzhou (China Southern) and Singapore (Singapore Airlines) due to start this summer.

Stephanie Wear, VP Aviation Development, London Gatwick said: “We are delighted to welcome three new flag carriers to London Gatwick, providing excellent connectivity to previously under-served markets in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“We are continuing to develop our long-haul options at London Gatwick and these new routes, while fantastic destinations in their own right, also provide passengers with excellent onward connectivity across Asia.”

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