Gatwick sell-off will put pressure on Government to allow 2nd runway

18.12.2008   (Times)

Britain’ second-biggest airport has better road and rail links than Heathrow
or Stansted

by Ben Webster: commentary

Eco-protesters have camped near the boundary of Heathrow and invaded Stansted’s
runway, but have paid very little attention to Gatwick. They, along with most
of the aviation industry, have assumed that the only options for airport expansion
are new runways at Heathrow and Stansted.

Yet a dispassionate observer might ask why Britain’s second-biggest airport,
with flight paths over sparsely populated countryside and the best road and rail
links, was not being considered to relieve airport congestion. The answer is that
BAA, which owns all three airports, has been content not to press for the expansion
of Gatwick while the Government supports new runways at Stansted and Heathrow.

With the Competition Commission about to break up BAA’s monopoly, though, the
company wants to get the best price that it can for Gatwick.

Passenger numbers fell by 13.5% last month and the only way BAA is likely to
get anywhere near the £2 billion price is by talking up the development potential.

Rather like a house seller advertising the possibility of a new building at the
bottom of the garden, BAA has told bidders that a second runway could double the
airport’s capacity. It has sent them a confidential memorandum containing a map
and details of safeguarded land.

With a new owner likely promote vigorously the case for expanding Gatwick, the
Government may find its aviation policy being overtaken by events. The cosy arrangement
between the Department for Transport (DfT) and BAA will be shattered next year
when Gatwick is sold and the commission begins the process of forcing the sale
of Stansted. It will be much harder for the DfT to dictate the location of development
when the three biggest London airports are owned by three different companies,
each wanting to take advantage of the projected doubling in passengers by 2030.

Plane Stupid, the group that caused chaos at Stansted this month, will soon be
surveying Gatwick’s boundaries for weak points.

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see also


Crawley weighs job hopes from Gatwick expansion against destruction of homes

Date Added: 18th December 2008

Residents in Crawley, the town that is home to 7,000 airport staff are divided
in their reaction to proposed 2nd runway. Crawley is the new town 2 miles south
of the runway, whose fortunes rise and fall those of the airport. The town is
home to 1 in 3 of the airport’s 25,000 staff, with low unemployment. Some residents
think the airport’s expansion could boost employment. It would mean demolishing
300 homes in Crawley, and 18 listed buildings. (Times)

Click here to view full story…


Gatwick airport 2nd runway: Crawley residents ready to fight any expansion

Date Added: 18th December 2008

Residents near Gatwick have promised to mount a ferocious campaign against any
plans for a 2nd runway. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) said there
was too little land between Gatwick and Crawley to allow a new runway and terminal
to operate efficiently. Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman, said every local MP and
council is against it and the campaign against the runway will be every bit as
strong as the campaigns at Heathrow and Stansted. (Times)

Click here to view full story…


Secret plans revealed for second Gatwick runway

Date Added: 18th December 2008

A new runway could be built at Gatwick rather than Heathrow or Stansted under
plans secretly being developed by companies bidding to buy Britain’s second largest
airport. BAA has sent bidders a confidential memorandum with a section entitled
"Gatwick builds a second runway". The Competition Commission effectively endorsed
the idea yesterday. If Gatwick were to be expanded, up to 300 homes would have
to be demolished, and many more affected by noise. (Times)

Click here to view full story…