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Gatwick Annual Review 2013
by John Dyer
 

GENERAL

The possibility of a second runway at Gatwick moved a step closer on 17th December when it was announced that it was one of three options short-listed by the Davies Commission, along with two proposed developments at LHR. No final decision will be made until some time after the next general election in 2015, but with any expansion at LHR being considered a very hot potato, I wouldn't be in the least surprised to see a second Gatwick runway become the favoured option. I have to confess to having mixed feelings about this as, while I believe that Gatwick certainly needs a second runway, the proposed flight path for any new one would bring the aircraft much closer to my home & I would almost be able to invite the pilots in for a cup of tea as they passed by!

GIP have now been running the airport for just over four years. During that time they have spent between £15 & £20 million per month upgrading the infrastructure & are set to invest a further £1 billion. I suspect that some of that will now go towards further improvements to the resilience of their power supplies following the recent power failure at the North Terminal, which occurred after the River Mole flooded the electricity sub-stations & followed a similar event in October when the South Terminal was affected. The resulting chaos caused by the failure, coming as it did on a very busy Christmas Eve, severely dented the airport's image & the repercussions, not the least of which may be a CAA investigation, will be felt for some time to come. In the short-term, a full review, led by David McMillan, former director of Eurocontrol, will be undertaken & his report is due in February. The airport is also offering £100 of high street vouchers to every passenger booked on the 62 departures, & presumably the 59 arrivals, that were cancelled that day. Although most of the money spent so far has resulted in noticeable improvements, one area that has, in my opinion, been a minor disaster is the new format of the Arrivals & Departures screens, universally regarded as appalling! Some expenditure on providing landside viewing facilities for the general public would also be most welcome (& pigs may fly)!

According to GIP, Gatwick now serves 230 destinations, considerably more than any other UK (or European?) airport, & the majority of them by our two main low cost carriers, easyJet & Norwegian Air Shuttle. We also have A380 capable stands now & Emirates will be using these daily from 30/3. The GIP marketing team continues to try to attract new airlines, particularly those serving the long-haul markets. As seems customary, this has achieved mixed results. Korean Air failed to make a go of the route, while China A/L suspended their Beijing service for the winter &, disappointingly, Philippine A/L managed to obtain slots at LHR when they restarted their operation from Manila. However, Garuda will be back in the spring from Jakarta & there is rumour that we will also see another Far East carrier start to Gatwick in 2014. The biggest news item on this front was doubtless Norwegian Long Haul's announcement that it is to launch services to Los Angeles, Miami & San Francisco in the summer & I also hear that they may, in time, begin services from Gatwick to the Far East as well once they have sufficient B788s in their fleet.

The only major event in the UK involving Gatwick in 2013 was the UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich & Borussia Dortmund, which took place at Wembley on 25/5. This resulted in thirteen first visits (one Enter Air, one Iberia & eleven Lufthansa), though the only one of any note was a first (& probably last!) appearance here by a Lufthansa A380, which took the victorious Bayern team home.

AIRLINE GAINS & LOSSES

As has always been the way at Gatwick, airlines came & airlines went. In addition to Korean Air mentioned above, we lost Aerosvit, Air Berlin, Air Moldova, Atlantic A/W, Croatia A/L, Meridiana & US A/W. Of these, Aerosvit went out of business, Air Moldova moved to Stansted, while Atlantic A/W decided to return there, Air Berlin, Croatia A/L & Meridiana ceased schedule operations to Gatwick & US A/W moved to LHR. Like Air China, Lufthansa suspended operations to Gatwick for the winter, but should return in the summer. RAM & Swiss International returned to Gatwick, Germania began scheduled services from Erfurt, Vueling now fly twice daily from Barcelona & Iraqi A/W have three weekly flights to the airport, while easyJet & Norwegian Air Shuttle started a host of new services, with many more due to be launched this year. Gambia Bird & THY upped their schedules, while THY & Vueling have also announced new destinations &/or increased frequencies for 2014. Adria, Air Algerie & Air One are also to restart to Gatwick in 2014, while Air Zimbabwe keep threatening, but another loss will be Flybe at the end of March, though they will continue to operate the Newquay route until October at least (with a leased SAAB 2000?). Come the summer, Travel Service are to base a B738 here again & we will doubtless see the return of a number of seasonal carriers such as FreeBird, Onur Air, Pegasus & Sun Express & maybe others, like Air Dolomiti, Small Planet & Syphax A/L, will operate again as they did last summer.

It is always a disappointment to have to say goodbye to any airline, but I will be particularly sorry to see us lose Flybe, especially as they have sold their slots to easyJet. As I have mentioned before, I am a big easyJet fan, but they now hold about 47% of the slots at Gatwick, which, in my opinion, makes them far too dominant. Norwegian Air Shuttle is trying to give them a bit of a run for their money with up to 25 arrivals per day at Gatwick (& increasing), while Ryanair, Europe's other main LCC, seems content to maintain a relatively small presence at Gatwick & is concentrating on expansion at Stansted. The other major carrier at the airport is British A/W, who never seem too sure about what they want to do with Gatwick. However, one major announcement was that the ageing B734 fleet is to be replaced. The arrival of some former bmi A319s has seen a few of the B734s disappear off to Victorville, CA for scrapping, while ten second-hand A320s are due to enter service this year & this will result in another batch of B734s being sent to the scrap man. This should put paid to rumours that they were to pull out of the short-haul market from Gatwick & hand the routes over to fellow IAG member Vueling.

AIRLINES AT GATWICK AT YEAR END

Scheduled carriers as at 31/12/13 were:

Aegean, Aer Lingus, Afriqiyah, Air Arabia Maroc, Air Baltic, Air Europa, Air Malta, Air Transat, Aurigny
Belavia, British A/W
Caribbean A/L
easyJet, easyJet Switzerland, Emirates
Flybe
Gambia Bird, Germania
Icelandair, Iraqi A/W
Monarch
Norwegian Air Shuttle
RAM, Ryanair
Swiss International
TAP, Thomas Cook, Thomson A/W, THY
Ukraine International
Vietnam A/L, Virgin Atlantic, Vueling
Wow Air
As mentioned earlier, some others have suspended their services for the winter.

Other carriers seen at Gatwick in 2013 included:

Adria, Air Berlin, Air Bright, Air Bucharest, Air Canada, Air China, Air Dolomiti, Air Explore, Air France, Air Italy, Air Lituanica, Air Mediterranee, Air Moldova, Air Nostrum, Air One, Air Via, Alba Star, Alitalia, Alitalia CityLiner, American A/L, Atlantic A/W, AtlasJet, Augsburg A/W, Austrian A/L, Aviatrans K, Avion Express
BA Cityflyer, BH Air, Bingo A/W, Blue Islands, Blue Panorama, BMI Regional, Brussels A/L, Bulgaria Air
Carpatair, Cathay Pacific, CityJet, Corendon Air, Corsair, Croatia A/L, Cyprus A/W
Denim Air
Eastern A/W, Enter Air, Eurofly, Europe Airpost, Eurowings
FreeBird
GainJet, Go2sky, Grand Cru A/L
Hamburg A/W, Hemus Air, Hermes A/L, HiFly, Holidays Czech A/L
Iberia
JAT, Jetairfly, Jet Time, Jet2, Jordan Aviation
Korean Air
Livingston, LOT, Lufthansa, Lufthansa Regional, Luxair
Meridiana Fly, MHS Aviation, Mistral Air, Montenegro A/L
Neos, North American A/L, Norwegian Long Haul, Nouvelair
Omni Air, Onur Air, Open Skies, Orbest
Pan Air/TNT, Pegasus, Portugalia, Privilege Style, Pullmantur Air
Qatar A/W
Royal Jordanian
Sam Air, SAS, SATA, Scot A/W, Singapore A/L, Small Planet A/L, Small Planet A/L Italy, Small Planet A/L Polska, SmartLynx, Smart Wings, Star Air, Sun Adria, Sun-Air of Scandinavia, Sun Express, Sun Express Germany, Swiftair, Syphax A/L
Thomas Cook Scandinavia, Titan A/W, Transaero, Transavia, Travel Service, Travel Service Slovakia, Tunisair
United A/L, US A/W
VIA, Vizion Air, VLM
White
Some of the above operated seasonal services & will return in the summer, many were just one-off or occasional charters, while others were only here on diversion from LHR.

NEW AIRLINERS

Airlines reaching double figures with first visits in 2013 were:

48 Vueling (2xA319, 46xA320)
24 THY (2xA320, 10xA321, 3xA333, 1xA343, 6xB738, 2xB739)
20 Ukraine International (1xB733, 4xB735, 4xB738, 4xB739, 7xE190)
15 Lufthansa (1xA320, 11xA321, 2xA346, 1xA388)
14 Norwegian (13xB738, 1xB788)
12 British A/W (7xA320, 1xA321, 1xA380, 1xB744, 1xB763, 1xB772)
12 Emirates (1xA388, 11xB773)
10 Alitalia (3xA319, 4xA320, 2xA321, 1xB772)
10 Thomson A/W (6xB738, 4xB788)
It was unusual not to see easyJet & Ryanair figuring among these.
In addition to those above, less numerous newcomers & one-offs from the airlines were, by manufacturer:

Airbus

A310. Just one from White, operating for Monarch
A318. One A318CJ from Tyrolean Jet Service
A319. Three from Alitalia, two each from Aer Lingus, Germania, Syphax A/L & Tunisair, single examples from Air France & Gambia Bird plus a Deer Jet A319CJ
A320. Nine each from Aegean & easyJet (including one Swiss one), seven from Swiss International, five from Monarch plus examples from Aer Lingus, Air Arabia Maroc, Air Mediterranee, Austrian A/L, Avion Express, BH Air (2), Bingo A/W, Cyprus A/W (3), FreeBird (3), Hamburg A/W, Livingston (3), Nouvelair, Onur Air (2), Orbest (2), Small Planet A/L (2), Small Planet A/L Polska (2), SmartLynx (3 one in Thomas Cook scheme & one in Corendon colours), Titan A/W, Tunisair (2), & WOW Air (2). Also a single A319CJ of the Qatar Amiri Flight
A321. Others on first visits were from AtlasJet (2), Iberia (2), Iraqi A/W (2), Monarch (2), Onur Air, Swiss & Thomas Cook Scandinavia
A330. Further newcomers were from Air China (4), Air Europa (5), Corsair, HiFly, Iraqi A/W & Virgin Atlantic (4)
A340. Having only seen three new ones in 2012, no less than ten made their visits in 2013. As well as the Lufthansa & THY examples already listed, there were visitors from Arik Air, HiFly (2), HiFly Malta & Virgin Atlantic (3)
A380. Just the British A/W, Emirates & Lufthansa machines already mentioned.

Antonov

One very welcome An26 from Bright Air of Bulgaria (the only new Soviet-built airliner to appear in 2013)
ATR just provided one Blue Islands AT42 operating for Aurigny
BAe managed a slight increase on last year's two, with single BAe 146s from Cello Aviation, CityJet & TNT

Boeing

B712. None this year
B727. Belonging to Paramount Logistics, ZS-PVX was the only 727 to make its first visit & also the first new one since HZ-SKI appeared here in February 2007
B737 classic. Not surprisingly, there was a slight reduction in the number of these visiting as the worldwide population gradually drops year on year. In addition to the five Ukraine International machines mentioned above we saw them from Air Explore (1xB734), Alba Star (1xB734), Belavia (1xB733), Enter Air (2xB734), Europe Airpost (2xB733), Go2sky (1xB734), Grand Cru A/L (1xB733), JAT (2xB733), Jet2 (2xB733), Mistral Air (1xB734) & Sam Air (1xB734). There was also an executive B732 registered in the Cayman Islands
B737NG. Plenty of NewGen 737s around, as one would expect, but a good few less than in 2012. In addition to those already mentioned, they were from Air Berlin (2xB738), Air Europa (4xB738), Enter Air (1xB738), Gazpromavia (1xB737), Germania (4xB737), Iraqi A/W (1xB738), Jetairfly (2xB738), Jet2 (1xB738), Pegasus (8xB738), RAM (8xB738), Ryanair (4xB738), SAS (1xB738), Smart Wings (2xB737), Sun Express (8xB738), Travel Service (1xB738) & XL A/W France (1xB738) plus the State of Kuwait's BBJ3
B747. As in 2012, just a pair of B744s, namely a British A/W machine, which was a LHR diversion, & an Orient Thai aircraft that was reregistered here ex Virgin Atlantic
B757. One of my favourite types, but becoming less common every year. In 2013 the only newcomers were one from Jet2 & five from Icelandair.
B767. Another type that we see less of each year. Last year gave us a single B762 from Atlas Air, while Caribbean A/L, Neos, North American A/L & United A/L managed one B763 each as well as the British A/W machine mentioned earlier
B777. Although appearing in increasingly large numbers elsewhere, we still don't see that many at Gatwick. In addition to those covered above, we played to host to one each from Air Canada, Cathay Pacific & Singapore A/L, all of which were LHR diversions
B787. These have already been mentioned under Norwegian & Thomson A/W & were the first production examples to visit Gatwick

Bombardier

Slightly less than in 2012, but there were a pair of DH8Ds from Luxair, a single Aruban registered CRJ1, an Irish CRJ8 plus three Austrian ones & a pair of CRJ9s from each of Air Nostrum & Eurowings

Dornier

After failing to appear in 2012, newcomers last year were a D328 & a D328JET, both from Sun-Air Scandinavia

Douglas/McDonnell-Douglas

Sadly, nothing new at all this year.

Embraer

This company's aircraft have been appearing in ever increasing numbers. Four new Legacies visited from the Czech Republic, Malta, the UK & the USA, though the only new E145 was an Eastern A/W machine. E170/175s new to us were supplied by Air Lituanica, Alitalia CityLiner, BA Cityflyer & Flybe (3). New examples of the E190/195 were far more numerous &, as well as the seven Ukraine International ones, we saw them from Air Dolomiti (8) Air Moldova, Alitalia Cityliner (3), LOT & Lufthansa Regional (3).

Fokker

Three in 2013 compared to just one in 2012 & they comprised two Fk50s, one each from CityJet & Vizion Air, & a Fk100 of Austrian A/L.

Ilyushin

Despite appearing in 2012, we saw no new aircraft from this company in 2013.

Lockheed

Just a RAF C-130J.

Swearingen

No newcomers last year.

GENERAL AVIATION

Our only new GA types in 2013 were an AW139 & a Gulfstream 650. Once again, we saw no new Astras or DA50s, while the Ce500, Ce750 & Eclipse failed to feature in this year's list of newcomers, although the Beechjet, Gulf 3 & HA4000 returned. For the second year running we saw a slight increase in the number of twins, up from 10 to 12, while there as a 50% rise in the number of new helicopters from 10 to 15. The countries providing the most new GA visitors in 2013 were the UK (39), the USA (27), Germany (22), Austria (13) & Switzerland (11).

FIRST VISITS

At the end of 2012, I had high hopes that the year's figure of 689 would be bettered during 2013. However, any expectations gradually faded as the year progressed & we ended up with just 608. (LHR fared no better with a drop from 515 in 2012 to 452 in 2013, despite all those shiny new B777s & B787s that it has been seeing). Over the last 16 years I have on record 10,037 first visits to Gatwick at an average of 627 per annum, with the 2013 total ending up in tenth place, compared to a fourth place for 2012. The drop was almost entirely due to a fall of 85 in the total number of new airliners at Gatwick. (As a by the way, my file of visitors to Gatwick since the present airport opened in 1958 now totals 37,748 aircraft, giving an average yearly figure of 686). The only new types to appear during the year were the AW139, BBJ3 & Gulfstream 650.

In order to compare how we did in 2013 for first visits, I have trawled back through the years as far as 1998. For those who like numbers & statistics, here are the results:

1998 574 (384 liners, 124 biz, 33 twins, 30 helos, 3 others)
1999 547 (356 liners, 124 biz, 35 twins, 26 helos, 6 others)
2000 624 (364 liners, 199 biz, 27 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 613 (427 liners, 170 biz, 9 twins, 4 helos, 3 others)
2012 689 (496 liners, 168 biz, 10 twins, 10 helos, 5 others)
2013 608 (411 liners, 168 biz, 12 twins, 15 helos, 2 others)

A noticeable drop among the airliners, but the biz jets held their own compared to the previous three years & there was a welcome increase in the numbers of twins & helicopters.
At least thirty of our newcomers were diversions from Biggin Hill (2), Brize Norton (1), Farnborough (1), LCY (6), LHR (14), Luton (5) & Stansted (1).

Airliner breakdown
127 A320
106 B737
35 A321
23 E190/195
19 A330
17 A319
16 B777
10 A340
6 B757, B767, E170/175
5 B787
4 CRJ8, CRJ9, E135
3 A380, BAe146
2 B747, DHC8, Fk50
1 A310, A318, An26, ATR42, B727, C-130, CRJ1, D328, D328JET, E145, Fk100

The A320 took the top spot from the B737 as the numbers of the latter dropped by nearly a third (though we have still seen 3,104 of them at Gatwick since the first (G-AVRL) appeared over 45 years ago on 29/07/68). The E190/195 jumped up from ninth to fourth place.
New examples of the following types appeared in 2012, but failed to do so in 2013 AT72, B717, DC9/MD80, Il62, L1011 & Metro

Biz Jet breakdown
18 Ce560, CL600
14 Ce525
13 BD700, DA2000
11 Gulf 4
10 Gulf 5
9 DA7X
8 HS125, Lear
7 Phenom
6 Ce550
5 BD100, DA900
4 Ce510
3 Be400, Ce650, Ce680, G150, Premier
1 Galaxy, Gulf 3, Gulf 650, HA4000
The Challenger kept first place, but had to share it this time with the Ce560. There were significant drops among the Gulfstreams & Learjets.

Biz prop/twin breakdown
5 King Air
2 Ce425, Twin Star
1 GA7, P68, PA31, PC12, TBM700
For the fifth year in a row, the King Air retained top spot

Helicopter breakdown (overflights are NOT recorded/included by me)
4 A109, AS355
1 AW139, B206, EC135, EC155, MD900, R44, S76
Squirrels stay at the top, though this year with AS355s rather than AS350s

By country prefix (including military)
97 G
67 EC
53 D
50 TC
31 N
29 EI
21 UR
20 HB
19 OE
18 I
14 LN
13 A6, CS
10 SX
9 CN, OY, SP
8 F, M
7 B, LX, LY, OO, TS, 9H
6 C, LZ, OK, TF
4 OM, YI
3 PH, VP-B/VQ-B, YL, 5B
2 A7, PP, P4, RA, VP-C, YU, ZS
1 ER, EW, E7, HS, HZ, VH, 9G, 9K, 9V, 9Y
52 countries, compared to 55 in 2011 & 2012, 53 in 2010, 62 in 2009 & 57 in 2008. The UK remained in top place, but no longer shared it with Turkey. Interestingly, around 10% of our first visits came from behind the former Iron Curtain, while a new country prefix for us was E7.

By manufacturer (2012 figures in brackets):
213 Airbus (232)
142 Boeing (220)
55 Bombardier (63)
50 Cessna (51)
41 Embraer (19)
27 Dassault (19), Gulfstream (35)
20 Hawker/Beechcraft (14)
Plus 33 from assorted other makers (36)

Total first visits in 2013 by month
Jan 49 (26 liners, 23 biz, 0 others)
Feb 39 (21 liners, 16 biz, 2 others)
Mar 49 (31 liners, 16 biz, 2 others)
Apr 68 (50 liners, 16 biz, 2 others)
May 83 (73 liners, 9 biz, 1 others)
Jun 67 (50 liners, 14 biz, 3 others)
Jly 58 (39 liners, 14 biz, 5 others)
Aug 46 (36 liners, 7 biz, 3 others)
Sep 42 (28 liners, 10 biz, 5 others)
Oct 30 (13 liners, 14 biz, 3 others)
Nov 34 (17 liners, 14 biz, 3 others)
Dec 43 (27 liners, 15 biz, 1 others)

Military & government newcomers (very disappointingly way down to 3 from 8 in 2012 & 10 in 2011)
9K-GCC BBJ3 State of Kuwait
115/ABQ TBM700 ALAT
ZH872 C-130J RAF

John