Gatwick airport has unveiled plans for a £1.1 billion Capital Investment Programme over the next five years, with investment in infrastructure and technology.

The plan has been backed by Vinci Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners (the former recently having taken a controlling 50.01 per cent stake in the south London airport).

The biggest project set to be delivered in the next five years is the western extension to the airport’s Pier 6, which will “offer over half a million more North Terminal passengers the opportunity to embark and disembark their aircraft via a jetty-served stand, as well as improved gate waiting areas”.

Other initiatives include ongoing investment in self-service bag drop facilities, expansion of the international departure lounges at both terminals, and the development and testing of biometric auto-boarding technology.

The airport will also introduce Time-Based Flow Management technology for its main runway, which Gatwick says will offer “the potential to increase the capability of the main runway, creating opportunities for resilience and growth”.

Similarly a new taxiway will allow aircraft to vacate the runway at the optimum location, anabling “the best usage and operational performance”.

There will be a new North Terminal car park from summer 2021, adding over 3,000 spaces, and as previously reported the airport is trialing robotic car parking at the South Terminal, to make more efficient use of existing space.

A baggage auto re-flighting service will also be introduced, with Gatwick saying that “on rare occasions when bags don’t make a flight connection, the re-flighting process will be automated, allowing it to be sent on without being first retrieved from the system”.

The airport also pointed to several “emerging projects”, including the provision of electric and computer driven airside vehicles, airbridges which do not require an operator to attach them to the aircraft, automated baggage handling, an increase in water fountains and recycling facilities to cut plastic waste, and an airside assistance lounge at the South Terminal, similar to one that opened at the North Terminal last year.

Last month the UK government announced a £150 million investment to upgrade the rail station at Gatwick airport, with work starting in spring 2020 and expected to take two years.

Commenting on the news Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate said:

“We always put passengers at the heart of our investment plans and it’s great to see how automation and technology can further enhance the passenger experience. The plans explore ways we can grow capacity sustainably, including providing more space in our departure lounges. This investment will support our existing airlines, help attract new airlines and provide an enhanced service for the millions of people who choose to fly from Gatwick.

“We have outlined our long-term growth strategy in our final master plan and the Capital Investment Programme we are sharing today, gives a more detailed view of our short-term plans which will continue to improve our service proposition and lay foundations for the future.”