An aerodrome was first built in the late 1920s and was called Gatwick Aerodrome in 1930. The Surrey Aero Club was also formed here in 1930. In 1932, it was bought by the Redwing Aircraft Company and operated as a flying school. Commercial flights were approved by the Air Ministry in 1933 and the aerodrome was sold to Morris Jackaman. He formed a new airport company called Airports Limited in 1934 and the first commercial airline operator, Hillman's Airways, started scheduled services to Belfast, and Paris. In 1935, Allied British Airways (later British Airways) became the principal operator. The airport was closed in 1935 to build a circular terminal building called the Beehive, also Gatwick station was opened. In 1936, the airport was officially reopened. There were two fatal accidents in 1936 as the airport was prone to fog and waterlogging. British Airways moved to Croydon Airport and Gatwick went back to private flying but in 1937, was contracted as a Royal Air Force flying school. In 1939, the Air Ministry requisitioned Gatwick.
In 1946, the airport was officially decommissioned but the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation continued to operate it as a civil airfield, although it still suffered from drainage issues. In 1950, it was decided that Gatwick would be the second airport and an alternative to Heathrow. It was to be used to cater for diverted traffic from Heathrow. The airport was temporary closed for renovation from 1956 to 1958. In 1958, the original Gatwick railway station was rebuilt and Gatwick was the world's first airport with a direct railway link. An enclosed pier was also built which allowed passengers to walk under cover to the aircraft.
In the late 1950s BEA started using Gatwick and a number of Britain's private airlines established themselves at Gatwick. In 1962, two additional piers were built. In 1963, all regular charter flights were transferred from Heathrow to Gatwick. In 1965, the 7000ft runway was extended to 8,200ft, and later in 1970, was extended to 9,075ft to permit non-stop jet operations to the United States east coast. In 1973, the runway was extended to 10,165ft to allow non-stop flights to the United States west coast. In 1983, a circular satellite pier was added to the terminal building and connected by an automated people mover system. Also a new terminal was to be built (North Terminal
which was opened in 1988) due to the need for more capacity. A new control tower was built in 1984. In 1987, Gatwick overtook New York JFK Airport as the second busiest airport. In 1991, the North terminal was expanded with a second pier. In 1994, the North Terminal international departures lounge (and phase 1 of the South Terminal departures lounge) were opened. The runway was extended further to 10,879ft to enable longer range operations in 1998.
In 2000 and 2001, both terminals were further expanded with more seating, retail, and catering outlets. In 2005, Pier 6 opened adding 11 aircraft stands, and the South Terminal baggage hall extended. Another extension to the South Terminal in 2008 added a second floor security area. In 2009, the ownership of Gatwick passed from BAA Limited to Global Infrastructure Partners. The new owners intend to proceed with the expansion of the airports infrastructure.
Getting to London Gatwick Airport
Gatwick is 28 miles south of London, linked directly to the M23 at Junction 9 and to the A23 London-Brighton road. The M25 is a ten-minute drive away (Junction 7), providing connections to the national road and motorway network. The Sat Nav postcode is RH6 0NP (South Terminal), and RH6 0PJ (North Terminal).
The railway station is linked directly to the South Terminal, and is a few minutes from the North Terminal by free transit shuttle. There are rail information and ticket desks and in the arrivals areas of both terminals as well as in the station. Gatwick Airport is 30 minutes from central London via the non-stop Gatwick Express, and has rail links to destinations all around the UK.
Gatwick Express is the fastest rail link between the airport and central London. Non-stop trains run to and from London Victoria every 15 minutes and take 30 minutes (35 minutes on Sundays).
Local buses run between Gatwick and many local destinations including Crawley, Horley, Redhill, East Grinstead, Caterham and Horsham. Buses call at both terminals. The main services running to and from Gatwick are listed below and operated by Metrobus. Frequent coach services connect Gatwick with more than 400 UK towns and cities. Direct services run to destinations including Heathrow, central London, Bristol, Brighton, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich.
More information on car parking can be found on the official website.