South America links will be crucial after Brexit, says Gatwick boss

The boss of Gatwick has said that his airport’s new routes to South America will be vital to the UK’s economy after it leaves the European Union.

More than 101,000 travelled on new flights to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires in the last six months, contributing to a 2.3% uplift in passengers flying long haul.

“As the UK enters an important new chapter on the global stage, new links created to key markets such as South America will play a crucial role in the country’s economy and national identity,” said chief executive Stewart Wingate.

However, reductions elsewhere meant that only 0.2% more passengers used Gatwick in the six months.

Meanwhile, the opening of a new Itsu and a Joe and the Juice in the airport helped push up the amount travellers spent on food and drink, the company behind Gatwick, Holdco, revealed.

They spent 11% more on catering, well ahead of the growth in the number of passengers. This increased Gatwick’s income per passenger by 10.3%.

The airport managed to recycle 64% of its refuse, while zero waste went to landfill, the company said.

Meanwhile, around one in five of its passengers are now travelling to long-haul destinations, Gatwick revealed.

The sector has seen a turbulent period as of late, with Thomas Cook going bust in September. EasyJet has since bought the tour operator’s take-off and landing slots at Gatwick.

“While we were saddened by the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, we are confident in our future prospects and look forward to easyJet and other airlines using these slots going forward,” Mr Wingate said.

Revenue grew 5.6% over the year to £541.3 million, pushing up profit after tax to £137 million. Almost 27 million passengers went through the airport’s gates over the six months.

New routes were launched to Miami, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Kuwait City, San Jose, and Shanghai.

Gatwick made £4.13 on average from its retail customers, a 3.3% increase, leading to an overall £109.9 million.