Expansion of Gatwick Airport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The expansion of Gatwick Airport has involved several proposals aimed at increasing airport capacity in south east England and relieving congestion at the main hub airport Heathrow.


Gate area inside the North Terminal, showing flight information screens

Several options to expand Gatwick have been considered, including a third terminal and a second runway to the south of the existing runway. This would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today. If a second, wide-spaced (as opposed to close parallel) runway is approved, a new terminal could be sited between the two runways. This could either complement or replace the current South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic developments.[1]

Second runway[edit]

In 1979, an agreement was reached with West Sussex County Council not to build a second runway before 2019.[2]

In its original consultation document published on 23 July 2002[3] the Government decided to expand Stansted and Heathrow, but not Gatwick. However, Medway Council, Kent County Council and Essex County Council sought a judicial review of this decision. The judge reviewing the lawfulness of the Government's decision ruled that excluding Gatwick from the original consultation was irrational and/or unfair.[3] Following the judge's ruling and the Secretary of State for Transport's decision not to appeal, BAA published new consultation documents.[3] These included an option of a possible second runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing airport boundary, leaving the villages Charlwood and Hookwood to the north of the airport intact. This led to protests about increased noise and pollution, demolition of houses and destruction of villages.[4]

On 2 December 2009, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee published a report entitled The future of aviation. With regard to Gatwick, it calls on the Government to reconsider its decision to build a second runway at Stansted, in the light of growing evidence that the business case is unconvincing and that Gatwick is a better location.[5]

Speaking at the first Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (Gatcom) meeting since GIP's takeover of the airport (held on 28 January 2010 at Crawley's Arora Hotel), Gatwick's chairman Sir David Rowlands ruled out building a second runway for the foreseeable future, citing the high cost of the associated planning application – estimated to be between £100 million and £200 million – as the main reason for the new owners' lack of interest. At that meeting, Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate stressed GIP's preference for increasing the existing runway's capacity and confirmed GIP's plans to request an increase in the current limit on the permitted number of take-offs and landings.[6] However, in 2012, Gatwick's new owners reversed their initial lack of interest in building a second runway at the airport for the foreseeable future. On 3 December 2012, chief executive Stewart Wingate argued in front of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee that allowing Gatwick to add a second runway to relieve the growing airport capacity shortage in the South East of England once the agreement with West Sussex County Council preventing it from doing so had expired in 2019 served the interests of the 12 million people living in its catchment area better than building a third runway at Heathrow or a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary. In support of his argument, Wingate stated that expanding Heathrow or building a new hub in the Thames Estuary was more environmentally damaging, more expensive, less practical and risked negating the benefits of ending common ownership of Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted by the erstwhile BAA. Wingate contrasted this with the greater range of flights and improved connectivity including to hitherto un-/underserved emerging markets that would result from a second runway at Gatwick by the mid-2020s as this would enable it to compete with Heathrow on an equal footing to increase consumer choice and reduce fares. In this context, Wingate also accused his counterpart at Heathrow, Colin Matthews, of overstating the importance of transfer traffic by pointing to research by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).[nb 1] This counts the number of air travel bookings made by passengers passing through the IATA-designated London area airports[nb 2] and shows that only 7% of these passengers actually change flights there. Wingate believes this to be a more accurate measure of the share of passengers accounted for by transfer traffic at these airports than the more widely used alternative based on survey data collated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA survey data relies on the number of passengers changing flights at these airports as reported by the airlines to the airport authorities and shows that fewer than 20% of all passengers actually change flights there.[nb 3][7][8][9][10]

On 23 July 2013, Gatwick unveiled its proposals for a second runway to the south of the existing runway and airport boundary. If approved, the new runway could open by 2025 and cost between £5 billion and £9 billion, depending on the option chosen – i.e., a new runway 3,395 ft (1,035 m) south of the existing runway, a new runway less than 3,395 ft (1,035 m) but more than 2,493 ft (760 m) south of the existing runway or a new runway less than 2,493 ft (760 m) south of the existing runway.[11] The first option would allow both runways to be simultaneously used for takeoffs and landings and increase total runway capacity by more than 80% to up to 100 aircraft movements per hour. It would also increase the airport's annual maximum passenger capacity from the present 45 to 87 million. The second option would allow both runways to be used simultaneously as well, with one handling takeoffs and the other landings. This would increase total runway capacity by ca. 36% to about 75 aircraft movements per hour and result in an increase in annual maximum passenger capacity to 82 million. The third option would allow only one runway to be used at a time but would still increase total runway capacity by over 20% to at least 67 aircraft movements per hour and annual maximum passenger capacity to 66 million.[12][13] Regardless of the option chosen, the total projected cost includes the cost of a third terminal next to the existing railway line.[14]

On 17 December 2013, the Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies published its shortlist of which Southeast airports should be considered for additional runways. In addition to two alternatives at Heathrow, it recommended an option for an additional wide-spaced, 10,000 ft (3,000 m) runway at Gatwick as first proposed by Gatwick Airport Limited on 23 July 2013 for further examination ahead of publishing its final report by summer 2015.[11][15] The commission estimates the cost to be around £9.3 billion; £2 billion higher than Gatwick's own estimate.[16]

On 2 June 2016, Birmingham Airport declared support for a second runway at Gatwick rather than Heathrow. Birmingham Airport CEO Paul Kehoe said that a second runway at Gatwick would allow Birmingham to continue to prosper, and that Heathrow expansion could inhibit the growth of other airports, including Birmingham.[17]

Terminal extension[edit]

A less ambitious alternative would extend the North Terminal further south, with another passenger bridge to an area currently occupied by aircraft stands without jet bridges (Pier 7).[1] However, figure A.12 in Gatwick's new draft master plan released for consultation on 13 October 2011 seems to discard the earlier-mooted Pier 7 option in favour of a mid-field satellite adjacent to the control tower that would be linked to the North Terminal if built as part of an expanded single-runway, two-terminal airport scenario around 2030.[18] There are also plans to extend Pier 6.[19]

In October 2009, BAA submitted planning applications for Gatwick to handle an extra six million passengers a year by 2018 and for an extension to the North Terminal to provide new check-in facilities and additional baggage reclaim hall capacity, along with a 900 space short-stay car park.[20] Crawley Borough Council's decision to approve these plans was upheld in November 2009 by the Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry despite objections from local environmental protesters.[21]

In October 2010, Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) received planning permission from Crawley Borough Council to adapt both terminals to handle the Airbus A380 on a regular, commercial basis.[22] At the Gatcom meeting held on 26 January 2012 at Crawley's Arora Hotel, GAL announced that its board had approved construction of A380 pier infrastructure comprising new three-bridge gates at the North Terminal's Pier 6.[23][24] The first of these became operational on 26 March 2013.[25]

'Heathwick' rail link[edit]

In late-2011 the Department for Transport began studying the feasibility of a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow Airport. This rail link would form part of a plan to combine the UK's two biggest airports into a "collective" or "virtual hub" dubbed Heathwick. The scheme envisages a 35-mile high-speed rail route linking the two airports in 15 minutes, with trains travelling at a top speed of 180 mph parallel to the M25 and passengers passing through immigration or check-in only once.

A 2018 proposal for a high-speed railway link to Heathrow, HS4Air, is currently[when?] being considered by the DfT. The proposal is part of a scheme to link the High Speed 1 and High Speed 2 railway lines and connect regional cities in Britain to the Channel Tunnel.[26] The DfT will respond to the HS4Air plans in the autumn of 2018.[27][28]


  1. ^ entitled PaxIS and AirportIS data products
  2. ^ Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City
  3. ^ Heathrow: 24 million transfer passengers (35%) of 69 million passengers in 2011; Gatwick: 2.4 million transfer passengers (7%) of 34 million passengers in 2011; Stansted: insignificant number of transfer passengers (0%) of 18 million passengers in 2011; Luton: insignificant number of transfer passengers (0%) of 9.5 million passengers in 2011; City: 0.06 million transfer passengers (2%) of 3 million passengers in 2011
  1. ^ a b "interim master plan (Gatwick Interim Master Plan – October 2006)" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  2. ^ "1979 Gatwick Airport runway agreement" (PDF). Gatwick Airport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "APPENDIX 4" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Plan for Gatwick runway published". BBC. 29 March 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  5. ^ "091202 – FOA – Vol I – Shell report with hyphens amended – post meeting v2" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  6. ^ Dixon, A., Second runway plans to remain grounded, Skyport, Gatwick edition, Hounslow, 26 February 2010, pp. 1, 3
  7. ^ "Gatwick and Heathrow attack each other in row over flights to Far East". London Evening Standard. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Gatwick's response to Heathrow's 'One hub or none' report" (Press release). www.gatwickairport.com. 15 November 2012. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  9. ^ "London 'Should Follow New York Airports Model' (News Airport News)". Airwise. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Response to Discussion Paper 02 on Aviation Connectivity and the Economy – Submission by Gatwick Airport Ltd (Reference: Airports Commission: London Gatwick 004)" (PDF). 18 April 2013. pp. 3, 8. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Gatwick Airport announces second runway plan". BBC News. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Gatwick wants second runway that will be 'safer, quieter, cheaper'". The Independent. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Gatwick outlines options for southern second runway (> News)". Flightglobal. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Gatwick bid to triple passenger numbers with second runway at airport (> News > Transport)". London Evening Standard. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Airports Commission report: Gatwick & Heathrow on shortlist for expansion". www.crawleynews.co.uk. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  16. ^ Dunn, Graham (11 November 2014), "Heathrow, Gatwick expansion costs under-estimated: Davies", Flightglobal, Reed Business Information, retrieved 11 November 2014
  17. ^ http://www.gatwickobviously.com/news/birmingham-airport-declares-support-gatwick-expansion-government-decision-looms
  18. ^ Draft Gatwick Master Plan (A single runway airport – 2030: 10.2.14 Aprons and piers and Figure A.12, p. 93 and Appendix A – Drawings), Gatwick Airport, West Sussex, 13 October 2011
  19. ^ Draft Gatwick Master Plan (Gatwick in 2020 – Development opportunities: 6.4.11 Pier redevelopment and Figure A.8, p. 52 and Appendix A – Drawings), Gatwick Airport, West Sussex, 13 October 2011
  20. ^ "Gatwick extension faces objection". BBC News. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
  21. ^ "Gatwick eco-campaigners' hope for expansion inquiry dashed". Crawley Observer. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  22. ^ "Gatwick Airport given green light to operate the Airbus A380" (Press release). www.gatwickairport.com. 18 October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 November 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  23. ^ "Emirates to fly one-off A380 service to Gatwick in March". Flightglobal. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  24. ^ Gatcom (Minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2012 – Agenda item no. 3: Helping our airlines to grow, 3.3 Other, p. 19), Chichester, West Sussex, 19 April 2012
  25. ^ "Gatwick is A380 ready". Gatwick Airport. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  26. ^ Tute, Ryan (7 March 2018). "Firm pitches "an M25 for high-speed trains" to pass through Heathrow and Gatwick". Infrastructure Intelligence. Archived from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  27. ^ Paton, Graeme (20 July 2018). "M25-style railway takes you from Gatwick to Heathrow in 15 mins". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  28. ^ Grafton-Green, Patrick (21 July 2018). "New M25-style railway takes you from Gatwick to Heathrow in 15 minutes". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.