Light the candles – Gatwick Airport is 60 years old this Saturday (June 9).
The airport was opened in its present form by Queen Elizabeth II on 9th June 1958 – becoming the first such facility to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit.
Six decades later it’s the UK’s second busiest hub, with 45million passengers using its runways each year – but it wasn’t always so. Back in 1958, just 186,000 air travellers passed through the terminal doors.
Increased passenger demand and the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 – the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin.
With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK.
In 1988, the Queen returned to Gatwick to open the £200million North Terminal – which also saw the ‘main’ terminal renamed as the ‘South’.
The noughties began with extensions to both the North and South terminals, totalling £60m. This was followed by Gatwick building the biggest air passenger bridge in the world, which totals 194m in length.
Gatwick Airport through the years
Here’s a timeline of notable events covering the past 60 years of London Gatwick Airport.
1958: Official opening by Queen Elizabeth II
Following a £7.8 million renovation, Gatwick is officially opened by the Queen.
1964: Runway extended
Gatwick extends its runway by 370m to 2500m. By the next year, the airport has 3 piers, all nearly 300m long, and a terminal area of 9,300m2.
1970: Runway extended further
A second 267m extension of Gatwick’s runway is completed, bringing it to 2,766m.
1973: Runway extended even further
The third extension of Gatwick’s runway is completed, bringing it to a length of 3,098m and allowing for non-stop flights to the US west coast.
1984: New control tower and Gatwick Express launched
Gatwick opens its new air traffic control tower, the tallest in the UK at the time. The Gatwick Express is launched, while Virgin Atlantic’s first commercial flight takes off from Gatwick.
1985: BA begins commercial Concorde flights from Gatwick.
The inaugural flight takes off to JFK.
1988: North Terminal opens
The £200m North Terminal is opened by the Queen.
1998: Fourth runway extension
Due to Gatwick’s increas
ng global connections, the runway is extended to 3316m.
1999: easyJet move in
easyJet begins operating from Gatwick.
2000: Terminals extended
Both terminals are extended at a cost of £60m.
2005: Making connections
Gatwick’s Pier 6 is built and connected to the airport by the largest air passenger bridge in the world.
2009: New owners
New owners, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) announces a £2.5 billion investment programme.
Emirates begins its scheduled A380 service at Gatwick.
2016: Making check-in easy
Gatwick opens the newly built Pier 1 in the South Terminal and the airport’s first early bag store. It also opens the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone in the North Terminal.
2017: Airline Moves
Gatwick’s three largest airlines move terminals, with easyJet consolidating its operations in the North Terminal, British Airways moving its operation to the South Terminal and Virgin Atlantic shifting to the North Terminal.
2018: APH Parking gets bigger and better… don’t forget to look out for the latest news on our move to an all-new car park that even closer to the airport. Coming later this year.