Gatwick sets out plans to use standby runway to grow capacity

Gatwick Airport has announced ambitious future growth plans, including using its existing standby runway to increase capacity, in its draft masterplan.

Unveiling its draft masterplan last week, the airport looked at numerous ways it can potentially grow in the long term. It is inviting local communities and stakeholders to take part in a 12-week consultation on the future of the airport ahead of publishing the final version of its new masterplan.

The draft masterplan sets out how Gatwick hopes to meet growing demand from the travelling public, through sustainable growth and strong connections across Britain and the rest of the world.

Additionally, it will offer new opportunities for the South East of England and continue to contribute significantly to its local economy.

The Department for Transport requires all airports to provide regular updates on their long-term plans. Responding to the Government’s call for UK airports to “make best use of their existing runways”, Gatwick has unveiled a proposal to use its existing standby runway to increase capacity.

At the moment, the standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for repairs or emergencies. However, as the 40-year planning agreement ends next year, the draft masterplan proposes to use the standby runway routinely in addition to the main runway. This is proposed to be in operation by the mid-2020s, and plans are set to be delivered without adding to Gatwick’s noise footprint.

There are a series of other proposals contained within the draft masterplan, including incorporating new technology to increase capacity. Gatwick is already a forward-thinking airport when it comes to technology, winning awards for its innovations, so this seems like a natural step for the world’s most efficient single runway airport.

Gatwick also believes it is “in the national interest” to safeguard land south of the airport for future use. So, while it has not explicitly sought to pursue a second runway, it is believed that the airport is still open to the notion.

Now, Gatwick Airport is encouraging members of the public to provide feedback on its draft masterplan for the next 12 weeks, before a final version is signed off early next year.

Read the draft masterplan in full 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.”

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Gatwick sets out plans to use standby runway to grow capacity