This week: An all British Airport feast

For once this week’s round up of airport related news is focusing entirely on one country on the island of Great Britain. With Qantas’ ongoing strike woes continuing in Australia and Spain’s decision in delaying its airport privatization, to just name two examples, other regions certainly weren’t absent from news headlines around the world, yet it was England that caught our full attention this week.

To open our English news medley, we need to briefly look back at last week’s news. It was then when we informed you about a new idea the Financial Times broke about a radical plan for a new “Heath-Wick” airport hub featuring a £5bn high-speed rail link between Heathrow (IATA: LHR; LD hub page) and Gatwick (IATA: LGW; LD reviewed). A few hours after we posted the news, the head of one of the world’s largest airline groups and owners of British Airways, Willie Walsh, was quick to dismiss plans for this new super-airport for lacking credibility. The Telegraph article quotes Mr. Walsh by writing “I don’t know how long it would take to develop, I don’t know how much it would cost. It would clearly be significantly greater than the previous options that have been rejected [referring to Heathrow’s failed 3rd runway proposal]. I struggle to see how it would be funded.”

Both of the previously mentioned British airports made subsequent news stories later in the week. First up was Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGW; LD reviewed) which on Tuesday announced  the launch of its new South Terminal Security area that will see passengers benefitting from a fast, smart and efficient security experience. According to the airport’s press release the system will be processing every passenger in under five minutes and 19 new security lanes will allow almost 5,000 people per hour to pass straight through into the departure lounge.  The result of a £45 million investment, this large, high-tech security area for the South Terminal will include 15 standard lanes for passengers, two dedicated lanes for families with young children and passengers with reduced mobility, and two lanes for premium travellers.

On Saturday rival Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR; LD hub page) announced it will create a special terminal for Olympic athletes and coaches to fly out of Britain after the end of the games. The Washington Post wrote that around 10,000 athletes and support staff will go through the “Special Games Terminal” in the three days after the closing ceremony on Aug. 12, 2012. The temporary terminal will only be used by Olympic athletes and their staff but is designed to minimize disruption for all passengers traveling through Heathrow at that time.

[Photograph from Wikipedia © Andrew Dunn, 18 February 2006]