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Difference Between Heathrow and Gatwick Airport

Heathrow vs Gatwick Airport

Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are two of the five international airports that are based in London. Their full and respective names are London Heathrow International Airport and London Gatwick International Airport.

The airports differ in many respects. London Heathrow International Airport is bigger. Currently, it has five terminals and four runaways. The two runways are located in the east and west parts of the airport. On the other hand, London Gatwick International Airport has two terminals. They are named North and South Terminals. It has two runways but only one is used.

Heathrow is the primary and busiest airport in London while Gatwick follows as the secondary airport. In addition, as a secondary airport, it is also the second busiest airport following Heathrow.

Heathrow is also well recognized. It is the third busiest airport in the world. In terms of passenger traffic, it is also the busiest airport in the EU in the same category. Another distinction about Heathrow is that it is the third busiest airport in terms of traffic movements.

Meanwhile, Gatwick is Europe’s leading airport when it comes to point-to-point flights.

Heathrow is popular with Americans while Europeans prefer Gatwick.

Heathrow is located at the west side of London within 15 nautical miles from central London. It also has better and faster rail links compared to Gatwick. Gatwick, meanwhile, is located at the south of Central London. Its distance from the city is 30 nautical miles, which is approximately 30 minutes in-between.

As an airport, Heathrow is the base of many main airlines in the world. In contrast, Gatwick represents all three kinds of airline business models: the full service, charter, and the economy or no frills airlines. Gatwick is favored when it comes to chartered flights.

Both airports have different owners but were once under the same owner. Heathrow is under British Airports Authority while Gatwick is a former airport under the BAA. Currently, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) owns Gatwick.

Heathrow started in 1929 as a small airfield called Great West Airdrome.  Currently, it holds a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome License.

The names of both airports are derived from their histories. Heathrow, as a name, came from a small hamlet that consists of farms, market gardens, and orchards. On the other hand, Gatwick is named after a manor house that once stood in the place of the current airport. The name is also derived from the family name of the former owners of the said manor house.


1. Heathrow and Gatwick are two international airports based in London, United Kingdom. Their full names are London Heathrow International Airport and London Gatwick International Airport respectively.
2. Heathrow is London’s (and the country’s) main and busiest airport. Gatwick follows as the secondary and second busiest airport. Heathrow is larger and has better links in and out of the airport to Central London.
3. Heathrow has five terminals and four runways. Meanwhile, Gatwick has two terminals and two runways.
4. Heathrow is nearer to Central London. The airport is located 15 miles west of the capital. Travel time is usually 15 minutes. On the other hand, Gatwick is located 30 miles south of London. It takes 30 minutes to get in and out from the city to the airport and vice-versa.
5. Heathrow is the base of many airlines from every corner of the globe. On the other hand, Gatwick services three kids of airlines: charter, full service, and economy.  In particular, Gatwick is famous for its chartered flights.
6. Heathrow is owned by the British Airports Authority (BAA) while Gatwick is currently owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Gatwick is a former airport under the BAA.
7. Heathrow is named after a hamlet. In contrast, Gatwick is named after a family and a manor house that bears the family name.

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