The history of Gatwick aiport

Gatwick Airport began life in 1930 as a small enthusiast flying club (Surrey Aero Club) and was issued with its first public licence in 1934, which allowed the airport to be used by commercial aircraft. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength. Take a look at the key milestones in our history, starting with the most recent, to discover more.


On 04 December 2009 Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) became the owners of Gatwick Airport Limited.

In October 2009, we announced that Gatwick had been bought by GIP, for £1.51 billion.

In June 2008, Gatwick celebrated its 50th anniversary. Later that year in September, BAA announced that the airport would be put up for sale.

In 2006, BAA was acquired by Airport Development and Investment Ltd (ADI), a consortium led by Grupo Ferrovial.

In May 2005, the world’s first air-passenger bridge to span a live taxi-way opened connecting the North Terminal to 11 new pier-served stands. The bridge is large enough for a Boeing 747 to pass underneath.

In 2000, a £29.5 million extension to the international departure lounge in the South Terminal was opened, offering more seating, shops and restaurants. A further extension was developed for the North Terminal departure lounge in 2001, costing £35 million.

In 1994, the new North Terminal International Departures Lounge and the first phase of the new South Terminal International Departures Lounge opened. The investment for both lounges was £30 million.

In 1988, HM The Queen officially opened the £200 million North Terminal. A second pier was opened at the North Terminal in 1991.

In 1986, following the passing of the Airports Act, the British Airports Authority was dissolved and all its properties, rights and liabilities were passed to a new company, BAA. BAA was privatised and floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1987.

Aircraft on stand 1978

In 1965, the British Airports Authority was established and assumed ownership of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Prestwick airports.

Originally, Gatwick had only one passenger terminal, the South Terminal and in 1962, the terminal doubled in size with the construction of two new piers. 
In 1952, the Government approved the development of Gatwick into a direct alternative airport to Heathrow with a significant investment programme and in 1956 Gatwick closed as building began on ‘the new London Airport.’ The airport cost £7.8 million to build and was officially opened by HM The Queen on 9 June 1958. The ‘new’ Gatwick was the world’s first single facility airport accessible by all modes of transport – air, rail and road.