Gatwick profits take off but air traffic numbers still below pre-pandemic levels

Soaring demand boosts airport's earnings by 59 per cent but challenges remain

Gatwick Airport has reported rising profits and passenger numbers. AFP
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Gatwick Airport landed a 59 per cent rise in first half profits, as demand for travel continued to recover from Covid pandemic levels.

The airport reported underlying earnings of £235.7 million in the half-year to the end of June, up from £148.3 million in the same period a year ago. In the first few months of 2022, Gatwick was still being affected by pandemic travel restrictions.

Net profit at Gatwick was £79.1 million for the first half, a 56 per cent improvement on the same period last year.

Gatwick said air traffic levels were only 86 per cent of those in the immediate pre-pandemic years and the operational environment in Europe was "challenging", which has meant more cancellations and delays than would normally be the case.

Nevertheless, passenger numbers were 41 per cent higher at 18.5 million and the airport's retail and parking brought in £210.6 million.

"We worked closely with our partners to make sure the airport was well-resourced ahead of the summer," said Stewart Wingate, chief executive of London Gatwick.

"This and the hard work of our frontline colleagues helped us provide passengers with a good level of service, despite a challenging operational environment across much of Europe.

"We will continue working closely with our airport partners to improve punctuality, supported by projects in our new capital investment programme to build airport resilience and long-term sustainable growth."

Middle East visitor numbers rise

Gatwick's interim results mirror those of Heathrow, which had 37.1 million people pass through in the first six months of 2023, a rise of 42.1 per cent.

Heathrow welcomed 3.7 million passengers from the Middle East, an annual rise of 23.3 per cent.

The estate agents, Knight Frank, correlated the rise in passenger traffic with a surge in interest in London's property market, which it attributes, among other factors, to the capital's "enduring cultural heritage, strong legal infrastructure and prestigious educational options".

Knight Frank said the average price paid by Middle Eastern buyers for properties over the summer this year was £2.6 million.

One central London development that has attracted particular interest is the prestigious Chelsea Waterfront.

"Chelsea Waterfront has become one of the most popular locations for our clients due to its unique proposition. It provides a tranquil waterside lifestyle, with arguably some of the best views available of the London skyline," said Nicholas Spencer of Knight Frank.

"The likes of Sloane Square and Knightsbridge are just 10 minutes away, but the on-site amenities consisting of a 24-hour concierge, health and fitness suite and residents lounge will give you little reason to leave.

"In 2024 there’ll also be the addition of an on-site restaurant."

Updated: August 30, 2023, 8:05 AM