The investment is designed to improve operations and increase capacity – and the plans include trialling robotic parking.
In May Vinci Airports paid £2.9bn for a 50.01% controlling stake in Gatwick Airport. Global Infrastructure Partners owns the other 49.99%. It makes Vinci one of the world’s biggest operators of airports, with 46 around the world, and it plans to bring the benefit of this experience to Gatwick.
For example, robotic car parking is already in place at Vinci’s Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport. A trial will begin this autumn at Gatwick’s South Terminal, offering passengers “all the benefits of valet parking, without the need to surrender their keys” and making more efficient use of existing car park space.
The single biggest project to be delivered within the next five years is the Pier 6 western extension. The design incorporates automated boarding technology which uses biometrics to process passengers through e-gates straight onto the aircraft. Similar projects run by other Vinci Airports will provide inspiration for the Pier 6 extension’s coffee shops and retail, making facilities available right up to the point of boarding.
Other new projects include expansion of both international departure lounges in both North and South Terminals, another car park for the North Terminal and runway technology to improve movement of aircraft preparing to take off and land.
Gatwick will also invest £37m to complement the £150m that the Department for Transport has committed to upgrade the airport’s railway station. Work starts in spring 2020 and is expected to take two years.
Emerging projects include: the use of autonomous vehicles and auto-docking unmanned airbridges that connect piers to aircraft on the ground.
Vinci Airports president Nicolas Notebaert said: “Belonging to the world’s most extensive and diversified network of airports is a unique opportunity for each one to get inspiration and capture the best airport management worldwide. As such, Gatwick’s capital investment programme will benefit from sharing best practice through the Vinci Airports’ network and tap into the extensive expertise in programme management, customer experience and innovative new services such as robotic parking.
“We look forward to participating in delivering this great project at Gatwick over the coming years, which is consistent with our global vision of contributing to a more accessible sustainable and passenger-focused experience.”