Gatwick Airport is set to unveil plans to routinely use its emergency runway to increase passenger capacity.
The airport’s draft plan will be released on Thursday and go out to public consultation, effectively ending its previous plans to construct a new runway.
Gatwick’s bid for a new runway was rejected by MPs, who backed a third runway at Heathrow instead.
At present the 2,560m emergency runway runs parallel to the 3,292m main runway and is used as a taxiway or as an alternative runway when the primary one is undergoing maintenance.
Under the new plans, the emergency runway would regularly be used for smaller aircraft departures.
A spokesperson for Gatwick said: “Airports are required to publish new master plans every five years, setting out their future growth plans and Gatwick has consistently confirmed it will do so before the end of this year.
“The draft plan will set out for our local communities, partners, airlines and stakeholders three possible growth scenarios, which we will then open up for views and feedback.
“In line with recent Government policy, Gatwick has previously set out it is exploring how to make best use of its existing runways, including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use. This would deliver an incremental increase in capacity that complements the expansion schemes of other airports across the South East.
“Safety and security are always our key priorities and any new development would be fully compliant with all international safety requirements.”
News of Gatwick’s plans comes after earlier this year it was revealed that airport intended to increase its capacity with plans to spend £1bn over the next five years.
Gatwick’s rolling five-year investment programme, updated each year, will see schemes such as enabling works for the planned Gatwick rail station upgrade, a new domestic arrivals facility and a new Boeing aircraft hangar in place by 2023.
Gatwick says it expects passenger numbers to rise to 53M by 2023.
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