Gatwick Celebrates Flight Anniversary

17 May 2016, 11:10 | Updated: 17 May 2016, 11:15

Gatwick has marked the 80th anniversary of its first scheduled passenger flight by releasing a series of historic images taken at the airport.

The photographs include Pope John Paul II kissing the ground at the West Sussex airport in 1982 and US president John F Kennedy in 1963.

They also show Diana, Princess of Wales, listening to air traffic control dialogue on a visit to the control tower in 1988 and the Queen opening the rebuilt airport in 1958.

Passengers flew from Gatwick to Paris on the first scheduled flight on May 17 1936.

Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Malmo were also served from the airport in its first year of operation.

Gatwick said its annual passenger total reached 41 million for the first time on Friday.

The airport is currently engaged in a long-running campaign for permission to build a second runway.

In July last year the Airports Commission recommended that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.

But the Department for Transport has only confirmed that the commission's shortlisted options - new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, or extension of an existing runway at Heathrow - are ``viable''.

Further work on noise, pollution and compensation is being carried out before a decision on which project to support is made.

Over the course of the last 80 years, Gatwick has played host to many prominent figures including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and John F Kennedy plus key aviation milestones including the first ever Virgin Atlantic flight taking off from the airport on 22 June 1984.