Gatwick Airport’s £1billion investment in its ongoing transformation is being realised with the first phase of a new departures level opening this month in the North Terminal.

Construction work started one year ago on the £36million project which will see the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone start a phased opening from October 20, with a two-week period of operational testing taking place prior to this date, and a one-month trial coming to an end on November 18.

The check-in hall will open in two phases between October 2015 and April 2016 – with a better layout and more space, increasing peak check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers per hour. This follows successful trials of a self-service bag drop in the South Terminal which proved queuing times can be significantly shortened by allowing passengers to take charge of their own journey through the airport.

Self-service bag drop enables passengers who have checked in on-line to take their bags straight to a machine upon arrival at the airport, where they can print their luggage tag, apply it to their bag and load it straight onto the baggage sorting system. Gatwick will have 60 check-in points with 48 of these being self-service bag drop units, 28 of these will be open for the October date. This means the check-in process can be completed in less than two minutes.

Other aspects of the North Terminal development programme will include £30million to create a world-leading new security area opening in North Terminal in summer 2016 halving passenger transit times and giving Gatwick the ability to process 5,000 passengers per hour; £21m invested to create a new departure lounge in North Terminal; £10m on fully refurbishing the North Terminal’s arrival area in time for the peak of summer 2016; £10m to upgrade the North Terminal border zone meaning more space, new technologies and 15 state-of-the-art new e-gates to help lead to shorter queues for passengers; £250m to maintain and replace facilities including lifts, escalators and the technology infrastructure; £80m to reconfigure the Pier 5 facility; and £185m to construct a state-of-the-art new Pier 1, offering new aircraft stands, gate rooms, new lounge facilities, and storage for 2,600 bags.

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