As this review is being written, passengers travelling through Gibraltar airport continue to experience the best of times and the worst of times (with apologies to Charles Dickens). Departing passengers continue to use the existing old terminal building. Those arriving are treated to the sparkling facilities of the new building. How long this situation is likely to continue is anyone’s guess. The cost of continuing to operate the two facilities, the logistical nightmare of splitting airline operations and personnel and the sheer inconvenience and confusion for the travelling public will hopefully be resolved sooner rather than later.
The summer schedules came into operation on Sunday 25 March and the new timetables offer both good and bad news for passengers. British Airways’ single daily Gibraltar flight continues to serve London Heathrow’s terminal 3. With the new schedule the flight times have been brought forward by two hours allowing for a greater number of connections from London for departing passengers. This does however mean that flights leave London that much earlier. Flights leave Heathrow at 08.00 and are due to arrive on The Rock at 11.50, leaving an hour later with arrival back in London at 14.40.
Low cost carrier easyJet continues to fly to both London Gatwick and Liverpool this summer. Timings for the daily Gatwick flight on weekdays have been shifted from a mid-morning arrival in Gibraltar to a schedule which sees the aircraft leaving London at 10.15 and arriving at 14.10. Return departure is scheduled just 30 minutes later with arrival at 16.35. At weekends the timings are slightly different. From 11 June, the airline is adding an extra four weekly flights which will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with an afternoon departure from Gatwick. These flights will continue to operate until the end of the peak schedule in October. The thrice weekly Liverpool schedule continues with the only major change being the shift of Saturday’s flight from a morning to evening operation.
In what must be seen as a negative move, Monarch Airlines is substantially reducing the number of its flights to both London Luton and Manchester. At the height of last summer, the airline operated 11 weekly flights to Luton. For the whole of this peak season, the airline will operate just five times a week. No flights will operate on Thursday or Saturday. In a similar reduction, the airline will operate just two weekly services to Manchester (on Monday and Friday) compared to four weekly flights last year. On a positive note however, following much local press speculation on the route’s future, the airline has confirmed that it will continue to operate Manchester flights in winter 2012/13.
Finally, newcomer to The Rock, bmibaby started three weekly flights to East Midlands airport on 31 March. Flights will operate using Boeing 737-300 aircraft on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It should be noted however that the airline’s parent company, bmi has recently been sold to IAG (the owners of British Airways and Iberia). The low cost airline was not included in the sale and a buyer is being actively sought.
Article by Brian T Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
Postscript: Just before we went to press bmibaby (the bmi Low Cost Airline) announced that from September there will be no more flights from East Midlands to Gibraltar. Also easyJet has announced that during the winter of 2012 / 2013 there will be no Liverpool to Gibraltar service.