The first phase of a new departures level at Gatwick’s North Terminal opens this month as part of a £1 billion investment in the airport.
Construction work started a year ago on the £36 million North Terminal project which will see the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone start a phased opening from October 20.
Two weeks of operational testing will take place prior to this date, with a one-month trial coming to an end on November 18.
The check-in hall will open in two phases between October and April next year to improve the layout and give more space.
This will increase peak check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers an hour, according to the airport.
The development follows trials of a self-service bag drop in the South Terminal.
This proved that queuing times can be “significantly shortened” by allowing passengers to take charge of their own journey through the airport.
Self-service bag drop enables passengers who have checked in online to take their bags straight to a machine upon arrival at the airport, where they can print their luggage tag, apply it to their bag and load it straight onto the baggage sorting system.
Gatwick will have 60 check-in points with 48 of these being self-service bag drop units and 28 of these will be open for the October date.
This means the check-in process can be completed in less than two minutes, the airport claims.
Chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “Gatwick has added eight million passengers since we came into private ownership in 2009, and we are about to reach the 40 million mark. This is a decade ahead of industry predictions and we will continue to grow.
“While we wait for a decision on building a new runway, we are investing billions to ensure we can grow from our existing infrastructure, but this will only take us so far.
“Gatwick remains the best and most deliverable option for expansion – we can go from the world’s most efficient single runway airport to the world’s most efficient two-runway airport while limiting the impact on the environment.”
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