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Gatwick Annual Review 2012
by John Dyer


In many ways, 2012 was a repeat of 2011. GIP continued to make major improvements to the airport, new airlines came while others went & viewing the aircraft remained just as difficult as in previous years.
As regards the airport itself, GIP surprised us all by announcing that it was to undertake a study into the feasibility of a second runway at Gatwick. This was despite stating in its “Master Plan” earlier in the year that it “has no current plans for a second runway & is committed to honouring the agreement which prohibits a second runway before 2019”. Personally, I believe that a second runway is inevitable, though it will be interesting to see what the Airports Commission says in its interim report this year. Pier 1 is to be demolished in 2013 & replaced by a new two-storey one with five aircraft stands & the non-remote A380 stands at the North Terminal should also come on stream by the summer. Alongside all this, the refurbishment of the terminals continues in order to improve the “customer experience”.

The GIP Marketing Team is still busy trying to attract new airlines to Gatwick, concentrating in the main on the Far East markets (how about South America, chaps?). Not all such ventures have met with success, however, with both Air AsiaX & Hong Kong A/L failing to make a go of their routes & pulling out of Gatwick. Despite these failures, we still have Air China, Korean Air & Vietnam A/L & discussions are under way with other carriers from this part of the world. I have no doubt, however, that most, if not all, of these airlines will move their services to LHR if/when suitable slots become available.


New services to Gatwick were started in 2013 by Aegean, Air Arabia Maroc, Air China, Air Nigeria, Atlantic A/W, Caribbean A/L, Gambia Bird, Hong Kong A/L, Icelandair, Korean Air & Wow Air, who replaced Holidays Czech A/L on the Iceland Express service. As previously mentioned, Air AsiaX & Hong Kong A/L failed to make a success of their routes, while Air Nigeria folded. Other carriers lost were Air Zimbabwe, Cimber Sterling, Cubana, Delta A/L, Estonian Air, Holidays Czech A/L, Malev & Star Air, some of whom went out of business altogether. Meridiana is due to pull out of Gatwick in January, while US A/W has secured slo+ts at LHR for its Charlotte service in the spring. Stopping for the winter were Atlantic A/W, Lufthansa & Rossiya, though these are due to restart in the spring, while Korean Air will take a break from January to April. The only new airline currently promised for 2013 at present is Vueling with services from Barcelona starting on 31/3, at the same time that Aegean is expected to add a Larnaca service. Whether the purchase of the remaining 51% of shares in Vueling by IAG will affect the proposed Barcelona service remains to be seen.

The orange tide that is easyJet continues to expand at Gatwick & one wonders where it will all end. The carrier now serves 100 destinations from Gatwick & has around 50 aircraft based here. Norwegian Air Shuttle seems determined, however, to try & give them a run for their money as they are to base three aircraft here next summer to operate to various holiday destinations. The carrier continues to have a significant presence here anyway with up to 17 flights from Scandinavia on some days. By contrast, Ryanair has dropped all its Gatwick routes other than those from the Irish Republic.


Scheduled/regular carriers as at 31/12/12 were:

Aegean, Aer Lingus, Afriqiyah, Air Arabia Maroc, Air Baltic, Air Berlin, Air China, Air Europa, Air Malta, Air Moldova, Air Transat, Aurigny
Belavia, British A/W
Caribbean A/L, Croatia A/L
easyJet, easyJet Switzerland, Emirates
Gambia Bird
Korean Air
Meridiana Fly, Monarch
Norwegian Air Shuttle
TAP, Thomas Cook, Thomson A/W, THY
Ukraine International, US A/W
Vietnam A/L, Virgin Atlantic
Wow Air
As mentioned earlier, some others have suspended their services for the winter.

Other carriers seen at Gatwick in 2012 included:

Aeroflot, Aerosvit, AirAsia Philippines, AirAsia X, Air Bucharest, Air Caraibes, Air Contractors Ireland, Air Explore, Air Finland, Air Italy, Air Mediterranee, Air Moldova, Air Nigeria, Air Nostrum, Air One, Alba Star, Alitalia, Arkefly, Atlantic A/W, AtlasJet, Augsburg A/W, Aurela, Avion Express
BA Cityflyer, BH Air, BinAir, Blue Panorama, Blue1, BMI, BMI Regional, Bulgaria Air
Calima, Cimber Sterling, CityJet, Cosmo A/L, CSA, Cubana
Delta, Denim Air
Eastern A/W, Edelweiss, Enter Air, Estonian Air, Euro Atlantic A/L, Eurofly, Europe Airpost
GainJet, Germania
Holidays Czech A/L, Hong Kong A/L
Iberia, Iceland Express
JAT, Jetran Air, Jet Time, Jet2
Livingston, Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cityline, Lufthansa Regional
Malev, Medallion Air, Mistral Air, Montenegro A/L
National A/L, Neos, Nouvelair
OLT Express Poland, Omni Air International, Onur Air, Open Skies, Orbest
Pegasus, Portugalia, Privilege, Pullmantur Air
RAM, Rossiya, Ryan International
Samair, SATA, Small Planet A/L, Small Planet A/L Polska, SmartLynx, Star Air, Sunwing, Swiftair, Swiss
Tend Air, Thomas Cook Belgium, Thomas Cook Scandinavia, Titan A/W, Transavia, Transavia France, Travel Service, Travel Service Slovakia, Trawel Fly, TUIfly Nordic, Tunisair
Ukraine Air Enterprise, United A/L
XL A/W France


Eleven of our scheduled carriers managed to get into double figures with first visits.
THY was the leader with no less than 85 aircraft (2xA319, 21xA320, 25xA321, 1xA330, 1xA340, 33xB738, 2xB739). Lufthansa took second place with 34 (18xA319, 8xA320, 8xA321) & Ryanair were third (28xB738). Following these were easyJet (25xA319/320 including 4 reregistered Swiss machines), Emirates (1xA388, 16xB773), Air China (14xA332, 2xB773), Air Berlin (1xA319, 6xA320, 1xA330, 8xB738), Norwegian Air Shuttle (14xB738), Thomson A/W (12xB738 including one Canadian registered), Korean Air (11xB772) & Aegean (6xA320, 4xA321).
In addition to these, less numerous newcomers & one-offs among our airliners were, by manufacturer:


A310. One SATA example.
A319. Single examples from Alitalia, Avion Express, Gambia Bird, Germania & Iberia, with A319CJs from the Luftwaffe & DC Aviation along with pairs of A319s from Aer Lingus, Aeroflot & Rossiya.
A320. New ones were from Air Arabia Maroc (4), Air Asia Philippines, Air One (8), Alitalia, British A/W (5), Cosmo A/L, CSA, Eurofly, Holidays Czech A/L, Livingston, Meridiana, Monarch (2), Nouvelair, OLT Express Poland (2), Onur Air, Orbest, Small Planet A/L Polska, SmartLynx, Tunisair, VIA (2), Wizz Air & Wow Air (2).
A321. Others on first visits were from Aeroflot, Air Mediterranee, Alitalia, British A/W, Iberia & Onur Air (2).
A330. Further newcomers were from Aeroflot (2), Air AsiaX, Air Europa, Air Nigeria, Air Transat (2), Edelweiss, Eurofly, HiFly, Hong Kong A/L (3), Orbest (2), US A/W & Virgin Atlantic (2).
A340. These were in short supply with only a pair of Virgin Atlantic examples in addition to the THY one above
A380. Just the single Emirates machine already mentioned.
ATR just provided one Swiftair AT72 on a first visit.
BAe only managed a pair of 146s this year (compared to 9 last year), a CityJet B462 & a Swiss B463.


B712. A pair from Blue1 operating for Estonian Air.
B737 classic. Newcomers were from Aerosvit (4xB734), Air Baltic (1xB733), Air Explore (1xB734), Air Italy (2xB734), Alba Star (1xB734), Belavia (1xB733), Enter Air (4xB734), JAT (1xB733), Jet Time (1xB733), Jet2 (3xB733), MAS (1xB734), Mistral Air (1xB734), Small Planet A/L (1xB733)& Ukraine International (1xB733).
B737NG. From Aerosvit (2xB737, 2xB738), Air Europa (3xB738), Air Italy (3xB737, 1xB738), Arkefly (2xB738, one US registered), Calima (1xB738), Germania (2xB737), Hapag-Lloyd (1xB738), Jet Time (2xB737), Jet2 (1xB738), Neos (1xB738), Pegasus (2xB738), Transavia (2xB738), Transavia France (1xB738), Travel Service (5xB738), Travel Service Slovakia (1xB738), TUI A/L Belgium (1xB738) & XL A/W France (1xB738).
B747. These continued to be rare here with just a National A/L B744 & a Pullmantur Air example appearing.
B757. This type was better represented, with single examples appearing from Air Finland, Blue Panorama, Jet2 & Titan A/W as well as six from Icelandair & a further four examples from various carriers being registered here for FedEx.
B767. Not exactly plentiful, though an Omni Air B762 appeared for Caribbean A/L & the Aeronexus example for the Republique de Djibouti, while B763s new to us were a Caribbean A/L example plus an Omni Air one operating on their behalf, one each from Blue Panorama, British A/W & TUIfly Nordic, plus a pair from each of Arkefly & Ryan International.
B777. Other than those already mentioned, we saw another B772 from British A/W & Omni Air as well as three from Vietnam A/L & our first British A/W B773.
B787. We saw our first example here, a Boeing test machine.


Bombardier featured a Canadian registered DH8D on delivery to Eurolot & a pair of Lufthansa Regional machines on diversion from LCY, while the only CRJ2 was an executive Lebanese registered machine. Other executive aircraft from Bombardier were two German CRJ8s along with one each from Austria & Russia, while we saw five Lufthansa Regional CRJ7s here. Our sole new CRJ9 was an Estonian Air example.


McDonnell-Douglas just came up with three new MD80s for us this year, a Swiftair MD82, an IMD A/W MD83 & a Medallion Air one.


Embraer supplied us with new Legacies from Switzerland, the UAE & the UK, while the only new E145s were a Belgian Military one & another from Linxair. E170/175s appeared in reasonable numbers & were from BA Cityflyer, Belavia (2), Estonian Air (3) & Flybe (3), while new E190s seen were from Augsburg A/W, BA Cityflyer (2) & Lufthansa Regional (2).


Fokker only managed a Denim Air F50.


Ilyushin gave us a welcome first visit from a Ukraine Air Enterprise Il62M.


Lockheed only contributed a RAF Tristar that we hadn’t seen here before.


Swearingen also managed just one newcomer in the shape of a BinAir Metro.

Finally, we saw a French A/F Transall that hadn’t visited before.

The only new biz type to grace our tarmac in 2012 was the Phenom 300. Among the newcomers there were no examples of the Astra, DA50 Gulf 3 or Gulf 150, all of which did appear in 2011, nor for the second year running was there any sign of a new Beechjet or HA4000. The number of twins rose slightly from 9 to 10, & new helicopters were up from 4 to 10.

From a purely personal point of view, I would rate the five most interesting GA newcomers of the year as 4O-MNE Lear 45, ES-LCC Ce510, OM-OPF DA2000, UR-PME Ce525B & 06-0500 C-37B.

The countries providing the most new GA visitors in 2012 were the USA (43), the UK (31), Germany (23), Austria (19) & Italy (11).

At the beginning of December I would have put a fair bit of money on the total number of first visits for the year being our second best since 2000, but a disastrous final month ended up with 2012 in fourth place, only 1 behind 2005 & 13 behind 2007. It was, however, the second highest total for airliners & only 20 shy of the number one airliner spot.

The hoped for influx of new visitors for the Queen’s Jubilee & the Olympics generally failed to materialise, but the final total of newcomers amounted to 689, which was 77 up on last year (& 174 more than LHR’s figure of 515) & was probably not beaten by any other airport in the UK, certainly not on the airliner front. The only new types to appear during the year were the B787 & Phenom 300.

In order to compare how we did in 2012 for first visits, I have trawled back through the years as far as 2000. For those who like numbers & statistics, here are the results:

2000 – 624 (426 liners, 138 biz, 26 twins, 31 helos, 3 others)
2001 – 532 (327 liners, 155 biz, 21 twins, 24 helos, 5 others)
2002 – 637 (414 liners, 168 biz, 22 twins, 26 helos, 7 others)
2003 – 598 (408 liners, 139 biz, 20 twins, 23 helos, 8 others)
2004 – 663 (474 liners, 144 biz, 18 twins, 18 helos, 9 others)
2005 – 690 (466 liners, 174 biz, 20 twins, 22 helos, 8 others)
2006 – 769 (516 liners, 209 biz, 21 twins, 19 helos, 4 others)
2007 – 702 (452 liners, 209 biz, 14 twins, 21 helos, 6 others)
2008 – 630 (379 liners, 219 biz, 16 twins, 13 helos, 3 others)
2009 – 606 (382 liners, 186 biz, 16 twins, 12 helos, 10 others)
2010 – 555 (350 liners, 172 biz, 21 twins, 5 helos, 7 others)
2011 – 612 (427 liners, 169 biz, 9 twins, 4 helos, 3 others)
2012 – 689 (496 liners, 168 biz, 10 twins, 10 helos, 5 others)

The most striking thing to me about these figures is the rapid decline in the number of new twins & helicopters over the past few years, though this did start to turn round in 2012. Hopefully, in 2013 we can get a bit closer to that record figure of 769 first visits in 2006.

Airliner breakdown
155 B737
106 A320
44 A321
42 A330
35 A319 (including two A319CJs)
35 B777
14 B757
11 B767
9 E170/175
5 CRJ7, E190
4 CRJ8
3 A340, DC9/MD80, DHC8, E135
2 B717, B747, BAe146, E145
1 A310, A380, AT72, B787, C160, CRJ2, CRJ9, F50, IL62, L1011, Metro
The top two places are held by the same types as in the previous four years, but this was the first year that the total number of A320 family aircraft was higher than that for the B737. In fact, this was also the first year where the total number of Airbus aircraft on first visits exceeded that from Boeing. The A321 took third place from the A319 & the A330 took fourth place from the B777.
New examples of the following types appeared in 2011, but failed to do so in 2012 – A148, C17, Defender, MD11 & S340

Biz Jet breakdown
20 CL600
17 Gulf 4
16 Ce525
15 Gulf 5, Lear
13 Ce560
12 Ce510
9 DA900
8 BD700
7 HS125
6 BD100
5 DA7X, DA2000
4 Ce550, Premier
3 Ce680, Galaxy, Phenom
1 Ce501, Ce750, Eclipse
The Challenger took first place from the Ce525 (which was in top spot for the previous four years) while the Gulf 4 moved up to second place to take that spot from the BD700.

Biz prop/twin breakdown
3 Avanti, King Air, PC-12
1 Ce421, PA-31, PA-42, TBM850, Twin Star
The King Air retained top spot for the fourth year in a row, albeit having to share it with the Avanti & PC-12.

Helicopter breakdown (overflights are NOT recorded/included by me)
3 AS350
1 A109, AS365, EC135, EC145, MD900, R44, S76
Squirrels remain in top place, though in 2011 they were all AS355s

Though it only made a low pass, a Spitfire gets a mention this year

By country prefix (including military)
92 G, TC
91 D
56 N
52 EI
27 B
21 EC
20 OE
18 A6
17 I
16 HB
14 LN
12 OK
11 HL, UR
10 SX
9 F, VP-B/VQ-B
7 M, PH, SP
6 C, ES, TF
5 LX, LY, OH
4 CN, OM, OO, YU, ZS
3 CS, EW, LZ, OY, VN
2 HZ, TS, YL, 9H, 9M
1 A9C, HA, OD, RA, RP, SE, SU, S5, YR, 4O, 9A, 9Y
55 countries, compared to the same number in 2011, 53 in 2010, 62 in 2009 & 57 in 2008. The UK & Turkey took the top spot from Germany (just).

By manufacturer (2011 figures in brackets):
232 Airbus (153)
220 Boeing (199)
63 Bombardier (64)
51 Cessna (56)
35 Gulfstream (30)
19 Dassault (17), Embraer (32)
14 Hawker/Beechcraft (21)
Plus 36 from assorted other makers (40)

Total first visits in 2012 by month
Jan 48 (37 liners, 10 biz, 1 others)
Feb 51 (28 liners, 11 biz, 2 others)
Mar 49 (35 liners, 12 biz, 2 others)
Apr 65 (49 liners, 16 biz, 0 others)
May 90 (73 liners, 14 biz, 3 others)
Jun 70 (54 liners, 14 biz, 2 others)
Jly 61 (45 liners, 12 biz, 4 others)
Aug 56 (41 liners, 13 biz, 2 others)
Sep 58 (36 liners, 20 biz, 2 others)
Oct 58 (36 liners, 19 biz, 3 others)
Nov 47 (32 liners, 13 biz, 2 others)
Dec 36 (20 liners, 14 biz, 2 others)

Military & government newcomers (down to 8 from 10 in 2011)
06-0500 Gulf 550 USAF
15+02 A319CJ GAF
92-0375 Gulf 4 USAF
CE-03 E145 Belgian Air Component
MM62245 DA900EX AMI
R89 C160R French A/F
ZE706 L1011 RAF
ZS-DJI B762 Republique de Djibouti