Airports As Art Galleries? London Says Yes

Airports around the world have a lot of wall space to fill. Cavernous spaces inside terminals often mimic outside parking spaces wide enough for jumbo jets. To fill that space, those who plan airports use huge sculptures, gigantic paintings and other works of art. Now, London’s Gatwick airport will be the home to several works by British pop artist Sir Peter Blake.

Best known for his design of the album cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Blake has had international appeal for decades. Unveiling his new London-inspired collection, Blake has created works for each terminal that celebrate all that is great about London, while welcoming visitors.

Being installed in Gatwick’s North and South terminals, the permanent installation shows London through the ages with more than just a photo here or a sculpture there. The collection promises to immerse passengers from the time they get off the plan until they claim their luggage.”This project instantly captured my imagination – a chance to showcase London to an international public and to remind Brits how great it is to be back on British soil,” Blake said in a Breaking Travel News report.

Separate from ongoing efforts to upgrade airport operations, the idea came from an airport passenger panel that wanted visitors or those returning from holidays to get a real sense of arrival in Britain.

Some other airports with great art?

Denver International Airport has permanent art exhibits, including a 32-foot-tall, bright blue, fiberglass horse sculpture with gleaming red eyes called “Mustang.” The 9000-pound work comes from New Mexico artist Luis Jiménez.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a collection that depicts messages of world peace, community and friendship. Organized by The Colorful Art Society, Inc. and People to People International, the collection changes on a rotating basis.

Philadelphia International Airport also rotates its collection, established in 1998 as an exhibition program on display throughout its terminals. Called their Art In The Airport program, it provides visitors from around the world access to a wide variety of art from the Philadelphia area.

Here’s more on airport art, including the collection at Washington’s Reagan National Airport:

[Photo Credit: Flickr user scorzonera]

Workers find grenade near Gatwick Airport

Workers digging near Gatwick Airport yesterday uncovered a grenade.

This wasn’t terrorism, though. The grenade is believed to date from the Second World War. Workers uncovered the grenade near the airport’s railway station. Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion to get rid of it.

While it didn’t pose any great risk except to the poor hardhat who dug it up, rail and flight services were briefly halted until the grenade was destroyed.

This odd event isn’t so rare. Europe is littered with unexploded ordnance from both world wars and other conflicts. In the Balkans, experts are still trying to remove the millions of landmines planted during the Yugoslav Civil War. Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, has 14,000 known minefields. In France, bomb disposal experts have to deal with huge amounts of unexploded ordnance, some even dating back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

[Photo courtesy J-L Dubois]

Iraqi Airways shuts down after dispute with Kuwait over aircraft theft

State owned Iraqi airlines has been forced to declare bankruptcy. The airline had been around for decades, and when they tried to restart operations with regular Baghdad-London operations, they ran into a nasty reminder of their past.

Upon landing at London’s Gatwick airport, the airline was confronted by lawyers representing the state of Kuwait. Apparently, the Iraqi’s had helped themselves to aircraft and aircraft parts during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

With a bill of over $1.2 billion, Iraqi airlines had no other option than to declare bankruptcy.

Because Iraqi airlines chartered its planes from other air carriers, the Kuwaiti authorities were not able to confiscate them. In the coming days, the airline will cease all flights. The Iraqi government calls the claims by Kuwait “harassment”, but they don’t seem to be denying the claims of theft from 20 years ago.

(Image: Getty Images/AFP)

Heinz opens London Gatwick airport relaxation lounge

Heinz (yes, the Heinz behind the famous Ketchup) just opened a “welcome home lounge” at London Gatwick Airport. According to Heinz, passengers returning home love settling in a relaxing homely atmosphere stocked with Heinz products.

In a way they are right – as a kid growing up in the UK, Heinz Baked Beans were to me what Mac and Cheese is to American kids. But to be honest, after a long vacation, sitting down for some baked beans at the airport probably isn’t too high on the list of “things to do”.

Still, you have to compliment them on their creativity. Amazingly, Heinz wants to take things to the next level by introducing an assortment of products to the arrivals shops at the airport – because obviously, nothing says “welcome home” more than shopping for beans and pork sausages at the airport.

(Image from thisiscow / / Creative Commons via Fox News)



Gatwick Airport to be sold, modernized

This week’s announcement by the British Airports Authority that it will sell London’s Gatwick Airport has everyone wondering about the future of the city’s second busiest hub.

The BAA, owned by the Spanish group Ferrovial, sold Gatwick for £1.5 billion ($2.49 billion) to Global Infrastructure Partners, owned by Credit Suisse and General Electric. The deal comes after the UK government decided the BAA had a near monopoly and ordered it to sell Gatwick and Stansted, both serving London, as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

BAA also owns Heathrow, London’s busiest airport, and is expected to use some of the money for that airport’s infrastructure, but most of it will be go towards reducing a staggering pile of debt amounting to almost £10 billion ($16.6 billion).

What this means for travelers is not yet clear. The new owners have stated they plan to modernize Gatwick, and have expressed interest in expanding the north terminal and adding a second runway. Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport, serving more than 32 million passengers last year. An agreement with local residents has stopped any additional runways until 2019, but now that there’s a new company in the cockpit, that may change. A new runway could enable Gatwick to serve up to 80 million passengers a year, more than Heathrow. The situation will become clearer in early December when Global Infrastructure Partners officially takes over.