Virgin, Thales and TUI promise not to leave Crawley even if Gatwick doesn’t get a 2nd runway
There has been discussion in the Gatwick and Crawley areas about what impact a new Gatwick runway could have on businesses and jobs locally, and what impact there would be either if there was no runway, or Heathrow was permitted to build a runway. Now some of Crawley’s biggest employers have confirmed that they will stay at Gatwick, regardless of whether there is no new runway there. The Crawley News contacted 5 of the biggest employers in the town, including Thales and Virgin, (also TUI, Nestlé and Elekta) to find out if they are committed to staying in the town even if Heathrow got a new runway. Four of the five pledged to stay put. Thales, based in Manor Royal, says it will not be leaving and around 2,000 of their employees are currently based there. Virgin Holidays has 600 staff working in Crawley centre, and a total of 2,100 staff in the area, including the airport. They have “no plans to relocate our base to Heathrow.” The TUI Group has around 500 staff in the Crawley area, with their HR, finance, investor relations, PR and IT. As their airline operations are at Luton, they have no reason to leave Gatwick. Nestlé has its head office in Manor Royal, with some 840 jobs – it refused to comment on the issue. Elekta has just spent a lot of money on a new building in Manor Royal.
Virgin, Thales and TUI promise not to leave Crawley even if Gatwick Airport doesn’t get a second runway
February 13, 2015
By Chris Ballinger (Crawley News)
SOME of Crawley’s biggest employers have committed their future to the town even if Heathrow is awarded a new runway instead of Gatwick Airport. [Quite possibly there will be no new runway… if is very much a matter of “if” and not just “where”].
There has been feverish speculation in recent weeks about the possible impact on local jobs if Gatwick isn’t chosen for expansion.
Many residents and business leaders have expressed fears that some of Crawley’s biggest employers could even move out of the town.
So this week the Crawley News contacted five of the biggest employers in the town, including Thales and Virgin, to find out if they are committed to staying in the town whatever the outcome.
The firms questioned together provide thousands of jobs in the town and all but one pledged to stay put.
Thales, based in Manor Royal, says it will not be leaving the town.
A company spokesman said: “Thales UK has a long and proud history at our Manor Royal site and around 2,000 of our employees are currently based there.
“As one of the largest employers in Crawley we have been and remain fully committed to the site and the local area.
“While we recognise the business benefits a new runway at Gatwick would bring to the region it does not affect our decision to maintain our presence in the area.”
Sir Richard Branson has made Crawley a home for large parts of his business empire.
The head office of Virgin Holidays is at The Galleria, in Station Road, in the town centre, where 660 people work and Virgin Atlantic has its training base, called simply The Base, in Fleming Way, Manor Royal.
There are a total of 2,100 Virgin Atlantic staff based in Crawley and at Gatwick Airport.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays said: “We are fully engaged in the Davies Commission process and in fact made our submission last week.
“What we have been clear about is that the UK’s ability to compete for global trade will continue to be damaged without additional hub capacity and we believe this would be best achieved through expansion at the UK’s existing hub, Heathrow.
“What we have additionally been very clear about is that Gatwick is an important airport for us, with a huge demand for leisure/holiday traffic and it will continue to be important to us.
“We have no plans to relocate our base to Heathrow.”
The TUI Group has three offices in Crawley – TUI Specialist Holidays, in The Atrium, on London Road, TUI Travel House, on Fleming Way, and TUI Jetset House, on Church Road.
The travel company has more than 500 staff in the town.
A company spokesman said the runway decision would not have an impact on what happens in Crawley.
The spokesman said: “The TUI Group’s UK headquarters in Crawley has functions such as HR, finance, investor relations, PR and IT.
“Our airline operations are located in Luton, hence there is no direct relation of our office with Gatwick Airport.”
Manor Royal is just to the north of Crawley, south of Gatwick airport
Nestlé moved its UK head office to City Place, in Manor Royal, in 2012 bringing 840 jobs to the town.
The company refused to comment on its future plans when approached.
Steve Sawyer, executive director of Manor Royal Business District, which represents local businesses, is hopeful that no businesses would jump ship.
He said: “I’ve not heard of companies threatening to move out if Gatwick does not expand but greater connectivity and ease of moving people, customers and goods around nationally and internationally is important to companies operating overseas or with owners or visitors from overseas.
“Arguably companies may look elsewhere if they feel these needs can be better met elsewhere but I’ve not picked that up in my discussions.
“A number of our key companies are actually expanding and investing now before they know the outcome of the second runway debate.
“Elekta is a prime example, investing £50 million with the Cornerstone project (a new building being constructed in Manor Royal).
“The worst possible case, I think, is that Heathrow is allowed to expand and we still have to safeguard land indefinitely (for a possible future runway) thereby restricting our ability to grow and creating more uncertainty into the future.”