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The Conversation

the airline within the airport, which means he’s often at odds with his bosses, despite the new commercial strategy. “What airlines want to do is not always what the airport wants to do. The ground products are a challenge for us although we hold up better than some other airports,” McIntyre explains. The beginnings of a brand new product offering can be seen now that some of the hoardings are down, and it goes a long way to satisfying the corporate traveller. Part of the £1.5billion capital investment programme over the next decade, across both terminals there is already more space to absorb the crowds, more self-service check-in options, a new security area (South terminal only; North will follow), ePassport gates for US passengers with biometric passports to expedite queues at passport control, limo drop-off and a spacious departures areas clearly designated for families and premium passengers. The latter even has somewhere to sit and the normally soulless space is lightened up with pictures of aspirational lifestyle subjects. “We want to avoid the Thomson crowds morphing into the Emirates queues,” explains McIntyre. He says the ePassport gates have speeded up processing times already, to 45 seconds, but the target is sub-30 seconds. The South Terminal is being spruced up so it

is no longer seen as the inferior terminal while the North Terminal is being expanded so it can accommodate the expected 40million passengers per year over the next decade. Moreover, from security, there is a direct route

to the airside departure lounges without being forced to walk through shops, as is the case at Heathrow. Turn right to the lounges or left to the shops. “I completely and utterly agree that business travellers shouldn’t be frogmarched through shops,” says McIntyre. But he adds: “The more we make on retail the less we pass on to the airlines as an aeronautical charge, but it is about giving passengers the choice.” Once airside, the lounges

stack up with Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse, British Airways’ First and Business and Emirates’ opulent and cavernous lounge for First and Business, all offer tranquil, business- friendly places to get away from the crowds. Those airlines without the volume of passengers to support their own lounge can offer passengers access to Number One, a comfortable multi-airline lounge with cinema, spa, pool room, child-friendly areas and so on. Business travellers may be spending more

there is only so much it can do. On its busiest day in summer Gatwick has six to eight per cent capacity to spare – in winter that figure is 10-15 per cent. Air China already wants to go double daily and can’t. The airport will be 100 per cent full in three years and a second runway won’t arrive until 2019, optimistically. “We can’t compete with Heathrow on freq- uencies but we can on ground products and experiences,” says McIntyre. On-time perform- ance is getting there. In the peak three months of summer 2011, approximately 75 per cent of flights departed on time, compared to 62 per cent in 2010. The year-on-year figure for last November was up from 79 to 85 per cent. New business routes are trickling in, from Lufthansa (twice daily to Frankfurt), a return to the airport from Korean (three times a week to Seoul), and Turkish (daily to Istanbul), and these join Beijing and Hong Kong from the new Asian airlines. Some of these wins are because of a lack of suitable slots at Heathrow. Others offer an inferior product at Gatwick – there won't be flatbeds on Delta flights until 2013, for example. However, Gatwick needs to pull in the major

US cities (Boston, New York and San Francisco as a minimum), plus Vancouver, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Mexico and Jakarta. British Airways and American Airlines (despite

its Chapter 11 filing) are the obvious carriers to help fill these gaps, but until ownership of bmi is clarified, their attention is elsewhere. “It’s a paralysis in the market,” observes McIntyre. Mcntyre believes larger aircraft could turn the argument for using Gatwick and delay its 'Full' sign going up. The 787 Dreamliner and A380 can move more passengers using fewer slots, and by 2013 Gatwick will have built the requisite facilities to handle the A380. McIntyre hopes that Thomson

" I completely agree that business travellers shouldn’t be frogmarched through shops. It is about giving people the choice"

will be the first airline to deploy a Dreamliner at Gatwick. “In the capacity-constrained market that London is, they are both ideal aircraft in terms of route opportunity,” he says. The biggest remaining challenge, as McIntyre sees it, is changing the perception of Gatwick as a bucket and spade airport. “We could throw millions at it and not make a jot of difference. The proof is by coming to see Gatwick for

yourself and that’s powerful. Air Asia X chose us, that’s a compelling reason, and there will be a viral effect from that,” he says. In the meantime, he’ll be getting down and

time than they’d like here as flight frequency is one area Gatwick is struggling with. The airport has already restructured the landing charges to encourage greater all-round use of the airport but as the world’s busiest single runway airport,

dirty on tours, at conferences and in partnerships with business federations to spread the word that’s it’s safe for a travel booker to let their boss fly through Gatwick. ”We need passengers to give Gatwick a go

and if we get it right they’ll stay. Nobody said it would be easy, but the government’s decision to sell us off was the right thing to do,” he says.


Angus was born in Rinteln, Germany, “many years ago”. He achieved BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance at the University of Greenwich and became an Associate Chartered Management Accoun- tant in 1996, and worked in Commercial Finance for several large corporations before making a move into the commercial world of business development. He honed his skills in both fi nance and commercial across a range of different industries, from pharmaceuticals to aviation, having worked for both Kuwait Aviation Petroleum and British Airways. He is married with three-and- a-half year old twins, and enjoys playing golf and watching rugby and cricket. “Back in the day, I played for Richmond RFC and Wasps RFC, as well as representing Anglo Scottish Schoolboys U18s,” he says.


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