WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND: Gatwick Airport is in the early stages of drawing up a search for its consumer and digital PR accounts, which are handled by the Red Consultancy and Rabbit, respectively.
The review comes as the airport seeks to move on from winter chaos and show off its global credentials to consumers while the UK government considers how best to grow Britain's transportation capacity.
Gatwick media relations manager Heather Griffiths said both agencies had been invited to re-pitch for the work, with the formal procurement process likely to begin next month.
Referencing Gatwick's sale by Heathrow Airport owner BAA to Global Infrastructure Partners, she said that “Gatwick has come a long way in four-and-a-half years of new ownership and has really transformed not just in terms of its facilities but how it is perceived.”
“Traditionally it has been a leisure airport, but there is a growing business element to it, and it now serves a lot more long-haul routes,” Griffiths said. “It's about changing the perception of it from a ‘bucket and spade' [vacation airport] to a world-class facility.”
Gatwick has pledged to spend a further £1 billion on the airport between this year and 2019 as it makes the case for a new runway in the South East amid fraught political considerations.
In a report released earlier this month ahead of final recommendations expected next year, the UK Airport Commission shortlisted a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick as likely final contenders for airport expansion.
However, Gatwick's image was not helped by travel delays over the holidays, which prompted an apology from CEO Stewart Wingate.
Consumer perception was an “important strand” in the broader communications effort for the Airport Commission's deliberations, Griffiths said.
“Passengers are at the heart of the aviation debate, and any activities we do in digital and consumer will need to show an awareness of what's happening more widely,” she said. “It is about getting people involved in the debate and ensuring their views are heard, with social media a really important part of that."
This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK.