Gatwick reveals plans to bring existing standby runway into routine use

London Gatwick Airport has today revealed plans to bring its existing standby runway into routine use in the 2020s to give it more capacity.

The gateway set out its vision with the publication of its draft master plan, which looks at how it might grow in the longer term. It is being announced to the airport’s independent consultative committee GATCOM which meets today.

The airport believes using the standby runway for take-off only for narrowbody aircraft could enable it to add another 10-15 aircraft movements during peak hours.

If development consent was granted the runway could be activated by the mid-2020s, and enable Gatwick to expand capacity to 70 million passengers by 2032. Last year, it handled 45 million and 97,000 tonnes of freight.

Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019.

The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.

This development it said would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience.

While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick said it is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges.

Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation.

In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations and said the use of the latest technology could provide more opportunities for the future.

Gatwick said while it is not currently actively pursuing the option of building a brand new runway to the south of the airport – as it did through the Airports Commission process – it believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.

London Gatwick chief executive officer, Stewart Wingate (pictured below) 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.”

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.”

The airport is seeking responses to a 12-week public consultation it has launched today to gather feedback and views on the draft master plan. All responses will be reviewed before a final version of the master plan is agreed early next year.

The masterplan can be read here can be read here. More information on the consultation, including events the airport will be holding to gather feedback, is available here.