Campaigners warn Gatwick’s new owner

21.10.2009   (Independent)

By Peter Woodman, Press Association

The new owner of Gatwick airport must not “ride roughshod” over the local community,
the head of the area’s conservation group said today.

There were now concerns that “a faceless international consortium will squeeze
every pound it can out of the airport rather than addressing local worries”, added
Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.

He went on: “We would like to establish at once a good working relationship with
the new owners.

“They have to realise that there is in place a strong combination of a conservation
campaign group and very supportive local authorities and local MPs.”

Mr Sewill added: “We are concerned about noise and pollution and climate change.
There are plans to expand the North Terminal at Gatwick to allow for an extra
five million passengers a year. We are fighting to ensure that this does not increase
noise levels.”

Gatwick is bound by a long-standing regulation that there be no second runway
before 2019.

Mr Sewill said: “There are other local agreements concerning the airport.   We
just hope that the new owners will continue the relationship between the airport
and the local community.”

Andy Flower, managing director of Gatwick Airport, said: “Today’s announcement
is a landmark day for the airport, our staff, airlines and business partners,
members of the local community and of course, the 34 million passengers who choose
to fly through Gatwick each year.

“We now look forward to working with Global Infrastructure Partners to maximise the potential of Gatwick.”

Stephen Joseph, director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We hope
that this news will mean that there will be better service for passengers at Gatwick
than that provided by BAA.

“We don’t think this should be a green light for expansion at Gatwick. For many
reasons, we are opposed to expansion of south east England airports.

“We think Gatwick should be better, not bigger.”

Paul Charles, director of communications at Virgin Atlantic Airways, said:   “As
the largest long-haul airline using the airport, we look forward to working with
Global Infrastructure Partners on making Gatwick even better for our passengers.

“For years, the airport has suffered from a lack of investment and the new owner
now needs to work closely with the airline users to turn Gatwick into a world-class

“We don’t want to see the creation of another BAA and hope GIP listens carefully
to the views of airlines about future development.”

Bob Atkinson, of, said:    “I question whether the new owners
have the experience and skills to give customers what they want at Gatwick – namely,
a much-improved service.

“On paper, the Manchester Airport Group would have been better owners. GIP is
an investment fund which does not necessarily have the full range of experience.”

He went on: “Our research shows that people who use Gatwick want to see a reduction
in queue times and a much smoother progress through the airport.  I just wonder
if they are really going to get what they need.”


Related article:   BAA sells Gatwick Airport for £1.5bn