Gatwick unveils plans to turn emergency runway into second runway

Gatwick unveils plans to turn emergency runway into second runway

Gatwick unveils plans for a second runway – despite plunge in demand during pandemic – as it plans to increase passenger capacity to 75million by 2038

  • Gatwick Airport bosses want to turn its emergency runway into a second runway
  • Bosses say scheme will help increase passenger capacity to 75million by 2038
  • Work at the airport, near Crawley West Sussex,  is due to be completed by 2029 

Gatwick Airport is pressing head with plans for a second runway, despite a plunge in demand for air travel during the pandemic.

The Sussex airport, Britain’s second busiest, wants to convert its emergency runway into one that can used for regular flights.

Bosses say the work, due to be completed by 2029, will help them reach their goal of increasing passenger capacity to 75million by 2038. 

They say the move will align also with the Government’s policy of ‘making best use of existing runways’.

And they claim it will be delivered in a ‘sustainable way which helps to achieve the Government’s overall goal of net-zero emissions by 2050’.

But the announcement comes following huge drop in air travel during the Covid pandemic. 

Only around one million passengers travelled through Gatwick in the first seven months of this year – the same number that travelled in the first 10 days of 2019.

However the airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, insisted that numbers are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2026 at the latest.

Speaking at the launch of the plans today, Mr 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.’

Gatwick Airport (pictured: The northern runway) is pressing head with plans for a second regular runway, despite a plunge in demand for air travel during the pandemic

The airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate (pictured), insisted he expects numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2026 at the latest

Bosses say the work, due to be completed by 2029, will help them reach their goal of increasing passenger capacity to 75million by 2038. Pictured: A TUI flight takes off from Gatwick airport today

The airport, located near to Crawley, West Sussex, is launching a public consultation on the plans on September 9.

It first suggested in October 2018 that the emergency runway could be brought into routine use.

The emergency runway is currently used as a taxiway or when the main runway is closed due to maintenance or incidents.

Under the plan, the emergency runway would be used for departures of smaller planes.

Operating as a two-runway airport would enable Gatwick to boost its annual passenger capacity from 62 million to 75 million by 2038, bosses say.

Gatwick lost out to Heathrow in a bid to obtain Government approval to build an additional runway.

The centre lines of Gatwick’s main and emergency runways are separated by 650ft (198m).

Operating as a two-runway airport would enable Gatwick to boost its annual passenger capacity from 62 million to 75 million by 2038, bosses say. Pictured: Gatwick Airport’s chief planning officer Tim Norwood speaking during a press conference at the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport today

Mr Wingate insisted that ‘now is the right time’ to launch a 12-week public consultation on using the emergency runway as there will be ‘a requirement for airport expansion by the late 2020s’. Pictured: British Airways aircraft at Gatwick Airport today

The plan involves increasing the gap by widening the emergency runway by 39ft (12m) to comply with safety regulations.

Mr Wingate insisted that ‘now is the right time’ to launch a 12-week public consultation on using the emergency runway as there will be ‘a requirement for airport expansion by the late 2020s’. 

The airport said its plan would generate approximately 18,400 additional jobs by 2038 and boost its contribution to the region’s economy in Gross Value Added by £1.5 billion.

More than 40 per cent of airport staff were made redundant last year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Local campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions claimed the plan ‘flies in the face of the climate emergency, we are all facing’.

It said: ‘It is despicable for a company to ignore the emissions that planes in and out of Gatwick produce, that is causing grave danger for future generations that will have to pay the price for today’s greed of this leisure airport.’ 

In order to gain planning permission to routinely use the stand-by runway, Gatwick must follow the Development Consent Order process which culminates in a final decision by the Transport Secretary

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