Guest Column: Janis Kong

Guest Column: Janis Kong

Gatwick is currently handling 30m passengers a year and that figure is set to rise to around 40m in 2008. Making sure the airport is ready to meet the growth is an important part of my job.

Because Heathrow is full, Gatwick must play its part in helping to accommodate the growth in air traffic across the Southeast. To do that we must understand the needs of our customers. We must continue to offer the high levels of service our business partners and passengers expect.

As part of Gatwick's blueprint for the future we have recently published four draft strategies including environmental management, development, transport and employment.

Our development plans focus on growing as a one runway, two-terminal airport to meet the needs of all of our stakeholders - airlines, passengers, staff and neighbours, but not forgetting our shareholders.

If we are to continue to deliver a good service we know we will need to improve parts of the airport infrastructure, that will include check-in facilities, international baggage reclaim halls and supporting baggage systems.

The two international departure lounges also need enhancing and a £20m project in the South Terminal lounge is already under way to provide a wider range of shops, better way-finding and increased seating areas for passengers.

We plan a similar development for the North Terminal.

On the airfield we've constructed eight new aircraft stands to accommodate the larger, quieter aircraft that many airlines are introducing to their fleets. Future plans also include the provision of an additional pier or satellite to improve service to the North Terminal.

We will also need to look at the provision for cargo, aircraft maintenance and car parking. But I've made it clear, any development at Gatwick will be within the existing boundary and phased, only brought into use when its justified by demand.

From early next year Gatwick will be the test-bed for a new business change programme 'Enterprise'. This aims to improve the internal service we provide to each other, so we can deliver an even better service to airlines and passengers.

We can do it, but it is vital that we continue to understand the needs of our customers. We must also work closely and openly with our neighbours.

It's a question of balance, it's about growth, but not at any cost. We must offer a good service to our customers as well as providing a secure future for airport staff.

It's also about driving forward opportunities to boost prosperity and quality of life for everyone in the region.

Janis Kong is managing director of Gatwick Airport


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