Gatwick PR campaign strategy document, on influencing the key people, accidentally left on train

The plan by Gatwick to lobby “gold, silver and bronze” opinion formers against expansion at Heathrow rival has embarrassingly backfired after a dossier setting out the airport’s campaign strategy was left on a train. It was passed to the Sunday Times, which has revealed details of the plans. Gatwick has a “target” lists of opinion formers – politicians, civil servants, business leaders (and allegedly ?? environmentalists) –  whom it hopes will put pressure on the Airports Commission and its members. There is a list of around 100 “gold tier” individuals, best able to exercise influence. Gatwick not only wants their target subjects to promote their runway, but also “neutralise the prevailing default bias that we perceive exists in favour of Heathrow”. Gatwick has commissioned a noise study by the CAA undermining Heathrow’s implausible claim that fewer people would suffer aircraft noise if it got a 3rd runway and increased flights by some 50%. Unsurprisingly the Gatwick study indicates far more people would be affected by Heathrow noise, with a 3rd runway at full capacity. Heathrow criticised Gatwick for not publishing all the technical documents related to its expansion plans, saying: “It is a shame that the only way anyone can scrutinise Gatwick’s plans is when their executives leave documents on a train.” 



Gatwick runway dossier left on train

A SECRET Gatwick dossier detailing how to win over decision makers for expansion plans was left on a train.

The document, which was sent to a Sunday newspaper, includes plans to draw up “target lists” of key politicians and decision makers who could sway the decision in their favour.

The plans seek to influence the Airports Commission, which will submit its recommendations to government next year as to how the UK can maintain its global airport hub status.

The three leading proposals are a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow or the creation of a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

The secret dossier says Gatwick should target around 100 “gold tier” people with the most influence on the commission.

The plans reveal how Gatwick executives will try to win over gold targets as well as getting onside their close advisors, known as the “silver tier”.

The dossier states that one so-called target, former CIA analyst Dame DeAnne Julius, is backing Gatwick’s case.

The dossier also states the intention to “neutralise the prevailing default bias in favour of Heathrow”.

It mentions a secret noise study aimed at undermining Heathrow’s claim that fewer people would suffer from aircraft noise if a third runway was built there.

Heathrow states the number of people “significantly annoyed” by aircraft noise would drop from 237,350 to between 187,000 and 202,900 due to quieter aircraft and steeper landing approaches.

In the dossier, Gatwick describes the figures as “disingenuous”. It also reveals bosses commissioned the Civil Aviation Authority to model the noise impact of their rival’s potential third runway.

Gatwick’s campaign is overseen by Godric Smith, a former spin doctor to Tony Blair. A Gatwick spokeswoman said: “We want as many people as possible to understand our case. We are playing catch up with Heathrow’s decades of lobbying for a third runway.”


Sunday Times article at
by Mark Hookham @markhookham

 See earlier:

Gatwick employs high profile PR man Godric Smith (ex Tony Blair, Olympics, BBC) to boost runway campaign


Gatwick airport is spending a lot of money (the figure of £10 million for their PR budget has been mentioned, but this may be an  under-estimate) on their lobbying to win over key hearts and minds to their runway plan. Their new campaign, with glossy adverts on the  underground, large numbers of public presentations etc “Gatwick Obviously” is spending lavishly. Now Gatwick has announced that they are employing a high  profile PR consultant, Godric Smith, to help them in their political battle against Heathrow, for the runway.  Godric used to work as spokesman for Tony Blair. He then worked on communications for the Olympics. He was also brought in to the BBC (part time, at £150,000 per year) to sort out their bad publicity issues. Godric Smith has his own consultancy called Incorporated London.  Gatwick already has existing relationships for public relations with Fishburn and London Communications Agency. Godric Smith is said to have extensive Whitehall experience and “first-class contacts across the spectrum and a very good understanding of how government works”. The airport is also reviewing its digital and consumer agencies.