GATWICK airport is expected to handle thousands more passengers every day in the summer, with numbers reaching pre-pandemic levels, bosses predict.
Sussex Airport has reopened its south terminal, with flights increasing from around 300 to 570 a day from Sunday.
The move is tantamount to the opening of a medium-sized airport overnight, catering to the expected high demand for summer travel this year.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said 80,000 passengers will pass through the airport on Sunday, reaching “well over 150,000 a day” by July.
He told the PA news agency: ‘We’ve had a lot of restrictions over the last two years associated with the pandemic.
“The good news is, we’re here today, coming back to the UK, there’s no passenger locator form, there’s no testing requirement, so that’s actually very similar to how it was before the pandemic to travel through airports.
“We are going to ramp up very, very quickly over the next two or three weeks and we will be busy throughout the summer period and very close to 2019 volume levels.
“There is absolutely no doubt that there is high demand, we know that from talking to our airlines.
“It’s pent up demand, people who haven’t been able to travel now really want to travel.”
The terminal had been dormant since June 15, 2020 to reduce costs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Its shops, cafes and other facilities have undergone months of refurbishment, updating and cleaning before reopening.
British Airways, Wizz Air and Vueling are among the airlines transferring operations from the North Terminal to the South Terminal between Sunday and Tuesday.
A passenger, who was traveling to Madrid in Spain via the south terminal on Sunday morning, said: “I am delighted to finally be able to travel again, I think it is a good thing that the terminal is opening.
“People will want to travel, there have been too many camping holidays in recent years. I’m sure everyone just wants sunshine and a different culture.
Other early flights from the reopened terminal were to Naples in Italy, Oslo in Norway and the Spanish island of Mallorca.
Gatwick advised passengers to check which terminal their flight departs from before heading to the airport, arrive early as terminals can be busy, ensure their passport is still valid and check travel advice abroad for their countries of destination.
Mr Wingate added: “Opening a facility of this size is really tough work.
“Behind the scenes, over the last two or three months, we made sure that all the facilities were in good condition and that all the systems were working.
“I am happy to say that all the first flights got up on time.”
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This notice was published: 2022-03-27 13:37:31