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Gatwick Airport tables three proposals to boost capacity

Gatwick airport

Gatwick Airport has unveiled a new draft masterplan which outlines how it intends to increase its capacity into the early 2030s.

The plan outlines three scenarios under which the airport can expand going forward. Plans under the draft include using new technology to boost capacity on the main runway, starting to routinely use the existing emergency runway, and safeguarding an additional runway for the future.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “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.”

Under the first scenario, Gatwick is contemplating using new technology and improved air traffic management processes to increase the capacity of its main runway.

However, under the second scenario, Gatwick is considering bringing its emergency runway into routine use by the mid-2020s for departing flights, alongside its main runway.

The emergency runway would not be increased in length and therefore would not be able to be used for long-haul flights, under the plans.

At present, Gatwick’s emergency runway is only allowed to be used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But, the 40-year planning agreement restricting the use of the emergency runway is set to expire in 2019.

Operating both the main runway and the emergency runway simultaneously would allow Gatwick to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours, the airport has claimed.

Speaking of the second scenario, Gatwick director of corporate affairs, planning and sustainability Tim Norwood, said: “We see it as an extremely high benefit scheme, providing a 20M passenger capacity boost, over £2bn in economic benefit, more competition and over 8,000 new jobs on airport.

“We also believe this would be a low impact scheme. The scheme is wholly contained within the airport’s existing footprint, it’s all contained within our own land boundary and we believe that noise levels associated with this project would be very similar to the noise levels that people experience today.”

The final scenario outlined in the masterplan involves safeguarding an additional runway for the future, even though the airport has conceded that it is not actively pursuing the opportunity to build a new second runway for the time being.

Crawley MP Henry Smith 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.”

Gatwick is seeking feedback on its proposals, which will now go out for a 12-week public consultation.

A final version of the masterplan will be agreed early next year after all responses to the consultation are reviewed.

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