Gatwick Airport has stepped up its expansion drive by signing up Korean Air to provide passengers with flights to and from the South Korean capital Seoul three times per week.
The move is part of strategy aimed at demonstrating that Heathrow need not be the main focus for aviation growth in the south east.
“We hear a lot about how the London airports system is full and that as a result the country’s connectivity to the rest of the world is weakening. Gatwick is not full and we are very much open for business,” said Gatwick Airport chief commercial officer Guy Stephenson. “With around 25% spare capacity on our single runway, we are very well placed to accommodate long-haul customers and ensure Britain continues to have the connectivity to compete globally.”
“Carriers like Korean Air are choosing to operate from Gatwick because of the fast and convenient rail connectivity to the city as compared with other London airports. Our geographical location also means that around 15 million people are within an hour’s journey of the airport. The combination of these two factors means airlines are in a good position to serve London from Gatwick, and at less the cost of Heathrow,” he said.
Gatwick has been competing for new business since Global Infrastructure Partners bought the airport from BAA in December 2009. In addition to South Korea, Gatwick has attracted new routes to Turkey, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Caribbean. Later this week Air China will launch non-stop, four weekly services to Beijing.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, Gatwick has been transforming the airport through a £1.2bn investment programme to compete for airlines and grow passenger numbers.