Time for a new approach
London Gatwick is seeking approval to modify its airfield to allow it to become a two-runway airport capable of handling up to 75 million passengers annually.
London Gatwick, famous for being the world’s busiest single runway airport for decades, has started a public consultation process on its plans to bring its standby Northern Runway into routine use alongside its Main Runway.
The airport reveals that the proposal will allow for an extra 55,000 flights a year and help secure its long-term growth, at the same time as generating around 18,400 additional jobs by 2038 and an extra £1.5 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) for the region.
To give that some perspective, a report published earlier this year suggested that Gatwick’s revival could generate over 50,000 new jobs and £8.4 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2028 – enough to fund 222,000 primary school places or 70,000 nurses across the region –
and that is before taking the benefits the Northern Runway would generate into account.
While passenger numbers currently remain low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gatwick is taking its plans for growth forward now as it still expects to be capacity constrained in the time it would take to secure approvals, complete construction and start operations.
The proposed plans would allow the airport’s Northern Runway to be brought into routine use, for departing aircraft, by repositioning its centre line further north by 12 metres. This would enable dual runway operations with the airport’s Main Runway whilst meeting all international safety standards.
The plans, say Gatwick, would add resilience to its operations (reducing delays and congestion), bring new global connections and allow the airport to accommodate approximately 75 million passengers per annum by 2038.
Bringing the Northern Runway into routine use is also expected to act as a catalyst for cargo growth as it would allow more long-haul services to Asia and the Far East that Gatwick believes could lead to cargo volumes hitting 350,000 tonnes per year by 2047.
Other elements of the proposals include improved airport access, highway improvements, as well as additional landscape/ecological planting and environmental mitigation.
According to the gateway, the project proposals are low impact and are in line with the UK government policy of making best use of existing runways. It notes that the project will be delivered in a sustainable way, which helps to achieve the UK’s overall goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
As the proposed Northern Runway plans are considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, the airport plans to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to build and operate the scheme.
Before the application is submitted, Gatwick will be running a twelve-week public consultation, for anyone who is interested in reviewing or commenting on the proposals, which ends on December 1, 2021.
Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, said: “While we are currently experiencing low passenger and air traffic volumes due to the global pandemic, we are confident that Gatwick will not only fully recover to previous passenger levels, but has the potential to continue to grow
back into one of Europe’s premier airports.
“Our plans to bring our existing Northern Runway into routine use will not only help to secure that growth but will also ensure many thousands of additional jobs and a vital boost to the economy for our local region.”