With a new dedicated A380 pier now operational, Gatwick is hoping to attract the world’s largest commercial passenger jet.It was a day of celebration at Gatwick Airport today with an Emirates A380 arriving on the tarmac to celebrate the opening of the London gateways dedicated A380 gate.
A year in development and costing £6.4 million, the new Pier 6 could herald a new era for Gatwick as it seeks to attract the world’s biggest commercial airliner, but after today the gate looks set to remain unused for the foreseeable future. So as Gatwick waits to secure its first scheduled A380 flight, Routes News asks which airline is likely to be the first to take the plunge. Although stand 110 on pier 6 was inaugurated today with a flight from Emirates, a spokesperson for the Dubai-based carrier told Routes News that flying scheduled A380 services to Gatwick is “certainly not in our immediate plans”. Emirates already flies the A380 into Heathrow and Manchester, but it is unclear when the Gatwick market will warrant the deployment of the jumbo aircraft. A spokesperson for Gatwick told Routes News that the airport’s airline team expects one of its current carriers to take the stand “in the first instance”. “It’s more likely to be a carrier that’s already here,” said the spokesperson. “Over the 12 months when the pier was being built, many new routes have been announced – such as Indonesia from Air Garuda. Lots of long-haul carriers are interested in Gatwick.’ Yet airlines at Gatwick provide few obvious candidates. A Korean Air spokesperson, for instance, told Routes News that if the carrier brought an A380 to the UK, it would probably be to Heathrow – “if it ever comes”. British Airways is due to receive its first A380s in July while Virgin’s A380 order will only arrive in 2015. So far all of BA’s A380 routes are from Heathrow, while Virgin has not revealed its plans. In the longer term, Emirates remains a favourite contender, said aviation analyst John Strickland of JLS Consulting. “Short term I don't see any candidates,” he says. “Medium term it is conceivable Emirates could upgrade as they have done at Heathrow. This would be more feasible as they take delivery of more A380s.” In July 2012, when Emirates flew the first schedule A380 flight to Gatwick, the carrier’s vice president UK, Laurie Berryman, said the airline aimed to add Gatwick to its A380 network. “Given the popularity of the aircraft with passengers from the South East, it is our hope that Gatwick will join Emirates’ A380 network in the future,” he added. Gatwick chief commercial officer Guy Stephenson was quoted at this time as saying Emirates would be the first carrier to regularly fly A380s into Gatwick. The A380’s high passenger capacity makes it ideal for expanding Gatwick’s traffic. The airport currently welcomes 34 million passengers per year but has about 25% spare capacity and is forecast to serve 38 million customers by 2020. With a range of 15,700km, the A380 would also help Gatwick continue to attract direct long-haul routes, particularly to key emerging markets such as China, Vietnam and Indonesia.Source: routesnews, Piers Evans
Gravity always wins!