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Ground Times Of Aircraft (LGW)  
User currently offlineJosephJarvis From UK - England, joined Apr 2011, 158 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3720 times:

Hi everyone,

I know this looks like rather a long post, but please read on! Thanks.

I know some of this has already been discussed, but there are still certain things I can't get my head around. I visited the Skyview at LGW a number of times between the years 2001 until it was closed in April 2004, for which reason I do not understand why it was closed. Some of you may remember, as I do, the familiar lineup at the South Terminal during the morning and early afternoon where there was a mixture of American Airlines and Continental Airlines 777-200s along the main pier and the satellite terminal was occupied by Virgin Atlantic 747s, Northwest DC-10s and US Airways A330-300s and 767-200s. Although on occasions some of these aircraft were on the main South Terminal pier.

I have gone through hundreds upon hundreds of pages of LGW archive movements using the LGW/LHR Archive website which was very helpful. It shows arriving and departing flights along with the flight numbers, dates and times of the flights in and out of LGW, although I am not sure if these times are the actual arrival and departure times or pushback times, towing times etc?

What I find is that almost all of the US flights including AA, CO, NW, US and VS arrive early morning and stay on the ground for around 4-5 hours, sometimes 6 or 7 hours and sometimes even as much as 8 hours! They all seem to be US carriers that do this though. My question is were these aircraft parked at the gate for hours on end, say 5 hours, or were the aircraft towed to remote stands as it would take quite a lot of time up at the gates, when other aircraft might need to use them, especially as this was a daily occurrence in the early 2000s?

Also what was the reason for keeping them at LGW for so many hours?
These days, for example the US Airways daily flight from LHR-PHL arrives at 09:25 and departs LHR at 12:05, which is just over 2.30hrs ground time and the US Airways flight LGW-CLT has a ground time of just over 3 hours at LGW.

Now these ground times significantly differ from the ground times 9/10 years ago at London Gatwick, so I am wondering why the times are so different now?

For example back in the early 2000s US740 from Pittsburgh was scheduled to arrive at 05:55am at LGW, and the first US departure of the day was at 11:15am to Pittsburgh as US741, sometimes using the same aircraft as the 05:55 arrival, which means a ground time of at least 5 hours and 20 minutes. Sometimes the aircraft that came in as early as 05:55am was there for even longer at LGW as it operated a later service to either Charlotte or Philadelphia, so an even longer ground time.

I wondered if anyone could help me with my questions I have above?

I would greatly appreciate any feedback anyone has regarding this information.

Thank you for your time.

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesurfpunk From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 242 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3670 times:

I'm no expert (and am going off of 15-year old memory), but I believe a lot of the extended ground time at LGW was to allow for (at least in the case of NW at MSP) time for European passengers to clear customs and make connections to the west coast. At MSP back then, I remember NW 45 from LGW would arrive around 3:00 PM. Customs then was at the old Humphrey Terminal (now Terminal 2), and connecting passengers would have to transfer by bus to the Lindbergh Terminal for their connecting flights. There was a pretty decent-sized bank of westbound flights that would leave around 5:00-5:30, so the LGW flight was timed right for that bank. IIRC, the next-earliest large bank of westbound flights was around 11:30, so that would have made a very inconvenient departure time from LGW.

User currently offlineJosephJarvis From UK - England, joined Apr 2011, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 3185 times:

Quoting surfpunk (Reply 1):

Thanks for the reply.

Do you know if it was much the same story with other airlines at LGW such as AA, CO and US?

Thank you.


User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20822 posts, RR: 62
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3139 times:

Quoting JosephJarvis (Reply 2):
Do you know if it was much the same story with other airlines at LGW such as AA, CO and US?

As has been covered in other threads on this topic, the typical utilization is about 13-14 hours per day for a long-haul fleet operating from the US into airports such as LGW. 6-7 hours eastbound, 8 or so hours westbound, depending upon where the flight operates on the US side. The plane has to sit somewhere, and sitting at LGW makes more sense than turning a plane around in an hour or two to depart for the States before 8am.

CO historically has had shorter turnaround times on some flights using the 757, since there can be enough time in a day to fly out to say GLA, head back across the Atlantic as early as 9am, and still have enough time to make a quick turn down to somewhere like Florida, before being needed to fly out to Europe again. There aren't that many domestic locations where an airline could send a larger plane with seating in international configurations, except perhaps on a nearby hub-to-hub route.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineJosephJarvis From UK - England, joined Apr 2011, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3087 times:

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 3):

Thank you for the reply,

Wouldn't it have made more sense if the planes sat at the US airports instead of the UK and departed the US later, as they are US based airlines?

Regards,


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 26005 posts, RR: 22
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3034 times:

Quoting JosephJarvis (Reply 4):
Wouldn't it have made more sense if the planes sat at the US airports instead of the UK and departed the US later, as they are US based airlines?

You're forgetting that airlines try to meet the requirements of their markets. Eastbound passengers from the U.S., especially business travellers, want to arrive as early as possible so they don't have to waste a day (and another expensive night in a hotel) before attending meetings etc. And many leisure travellers also want to arrive early so they don't waste a day of their vacation. Arriving early also maximizes connectivity.

Similar arguments apply westbound. Most people don't want to get up at 4 AM to get to the airport, and again you lose most connections when you leave early. Early afternoon departures have generally been the most popular on westbound transatlantic flights. They're a good compromise between connectivity at both ends of the route as you still arrive in plenty of time for U.S. connections due to the time diffeence.

And since an aircraft can't make more than one round trip a day between the U.S. and Europe, it doesn't really matter whether it spends 2 hours or 4 hours at the turnaround point. It's not going to have much impact on aircraft utilization.


User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20822 posts, RR: 62
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2947 times:

Quoting JosephJarvis (Reply 4):
Wouldn't it have made more sense if the planes sat at the US airports instead of the UK and departed the US later, as they are US based airlines?

Something to add to the other reply to your question, since you're looking back in history—before transcon markets became fractionalized by smaller aircraft with longer ranges, it was commonplace for a gateway airport such as JFK to receive the bulk of its long-distance domestic flights around 4:30-5:00pm. For instance, transcon flights from SFO would all start departing around 8:30-9:00am on a 747, DC-10 or L-1011, and there wouldn't be another nonstop until perhaps noon, later in the afternoon, or even until the red-eye, depending upon the airline.

If the airlines waited until deep into the evening, 9 or 10pm, just for the sake of minimizing ground time for the aircraft overseas, it would make for an unnecessarily long layover on the east coast for the passengers en route to Europe who may have already flown 5 or 6 hours that day.

Also, accommodations for flights that would be a greater distance than LGW, say FCO or ATH, needed to be accounted for when scheduling the bank of flights outbound to Europe. To get out to Rome and back by the time the evening transcons for the coast departed from the east around 5-6pm, the longer distance flights would have to depart earlier in the evening. If they'd turned around a flight to somewhere close-in in Europe by 9am, passengers might have another wait of several hours before being able to continue their journey.

With multiple departures available during the day on smaller aircraft now, these timings aren't as crucial. If you'd told me 20 years ago that today we'd by flying coast-to-coast on 737s or small Airbuses, I would have called you daft.  



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineJosephJarvis From UK - England, joined Apr 2011, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2659 times:

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 3):

Thank you for your reply, some interesting points there. The 757 that served LGW from CLE used to spend around 4-5 hours at Gatwick before departing to Cleveland. Do you think the aircraft was used for a regional short haul flight in the US, before returning to LGW the following day?

Regards,


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