November 18, 2018

Gatwick sets out ambitious future growth plan, including routine use of its existing standby runway

Gatwick Airport has set out an ambitious vision for the future with the publication of its draft master plan, which looks at how the airport might grow in the longer term. The draft master plan is being announced to the airport’s independent consultative committee GATCOM which meets today (Thursday 18 October).

As the UK enters a new chapter, it is hoped Gatwick’s development will help meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth and ensure strong connections between Britain and global markets. It will also provide new opportunities for the South-East and continue to bolster the local economy for future generations.

The publication of Gatwick’s draft master plan reflects Department for Transport guidance for airports to provide regular updates on their long-term plans, and responds to the Government’s recent call for airports to ‘make best use of their existing runways’.

Gatwick remains committed to sustainable growth in this draft master plan, building on our record which has seen the Carbon Trust naming Gatwick as the best performer for combined reduction of operational carbon, water and waste impacts in the past two years – all while passenger numbers continued to grow.

The draft master plan considers how Gatwick could grow across three scenarios, looking ahead to the early 2030s:

1.    Main runway – using new technology to increase capacity

In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations. Gatwick has successfully utilised its runway to unlock growth in recent years and remains the world’s most efficient single runway. The use of the latest technology could provide more opportunities for the future.

2.    Standby runway – bringing existing standby runway into routine use

Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019. The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.

This innovative development, which would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience. While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges. Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation.

3.    Additional runway – safeguarding for the future

While Gatwick is not currently actively pursuing the option of building a brand new runway to the south of the airport – as it did through the Airports Commission process – Gatwick believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.

The airport is now keen to encourage responses to a 12-week public consultation it has launched today to gather feedback and views on the draft master plan. All responses will be reviewed before a final version of the master plan is agreed early next year.

The draft master plan can be read here. More information on the consultation, including events the airport will be holding to gather feedback, is available here.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick said: “Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick – building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

“As the UK heads towards an important new chapter, Gatwick’s growing global connections are needed more than ever but this must be achieved in the most sustainable way. From using new technologies on our main runway, to the innovative proposal to bring our existing standby runway into routine use, our draft master plan offers agile, productive and low-impact ways of unlocking much-needed new capacity and increased resilience from within our existing infrastructure.

“Gatwick’s growth has been built through partnership so as we look ahead at our future development, we want to shape these plans together with our local communities, our passengers, our airlines and partners. We would encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation process. This will help shape our plans for securing the region’s prosperity.”

Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley, said:

“Crawley’s prosperity depends on the success of Gatwick Airport and the publication of this new draft master plan goes a long way to securing future growth in the town. I have always supported the airport growing within its existing boundaries and welcome their exciting new vision for incremental growth that will support more jobs and opportunity in Crawley.”

Tim Wates, Chairman of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “A strong and growing Gatwick airport as the beating heart of the Coast to Capital region is the central theme of the LEP’s strategic vision, so we welcome the publication of Gatwick’s master plan today and wholeheartedly support its vision for future growth.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Now more than ever, unlocking new aviation capacity to deliver global trade links is critical for a strong UK economy. London’s airports are set to be full in the next decade, so the CBI welcomes Gatwick’s highly productive proposals to deliver increased capacity that complements expansion schemes at other airports. This will drive trade and investment, create new jobs and help British businesses thrive.”

Norwegian CEO, Bjorn Kjos, said: “Our cooperation with Gatwick Airport has given us a strong platform to deliver more consumers lower fares on intercontinental flights. As we continue our global growth, we welcome any increases in airport capacity in the Greater London Area that support our commercial interests and ultimately benefit consumers.”