Gatwick rushes to offer money – if it gets a 2nd runway – to support and incentivise new domestic air services

After Heathrow got itself some good publicity in its runway campaign, by saying it would spend £10 million to set up some new regional routes, Gatwick has been panicked into doing the same. It appears to have had to rush out a paper, stating it will spend £20 million over 10 years to strengthen domestic air services.  Only if it gets a second runway. The paper setting out its plan contains little text, and gives no references or sources for the figures it uses.  Gatwick says it already serves 11 destinations within the UK compared with 7 at Heathrow.  Gatwick says its plans for a 2nd runway will “encourage the growth of regional airports and the development of international services outside London and the South East” though it does not explain how.  It probably means that if there are more long haul flights from an expanded Heathrow, there would be less market demand for these flights from regional airports, and they would thus suffer (which is true).  Following what Heathrow has already offered, Gatwick says it will consult on reducing landing charges for regional flights.  If Gatwick wasn’t so busy lobbying around Heathrow, and with negative campaigning about Heathrow, it might have thought of some of these ideas for itself, rather than just being a pastiche of Heathrow.




Gatwick to launch £20 million fund to support and incentivise new domestic and regional air services


  • £20 million fund among a raft of measures to strengthen domestic air services
  • Gatwick already provides better connectivity to the regions and nations
  • Expansion at Gatwick supports the growth of domestic services and airports

Gatwick Airport will establish a £20 million fund to support new air services to Gatwick from around the UK in the ten years following the opening of a second runway.

Gatwick already serves 11 destinations within the UK compared with seven at Heathrow. This initiative is designed to ensure that the benefits of a second runway also extends to further improving connectivity between the regions and nations and London. Gatwick’s plans for a second runway will also encourage the growth of regional airports and the development of international services outside London and the South East.

Gatwick’s plans aims to strengthen the whole of the UK’s network of airports whereas Heathrow’s plans aim to concentrate international traffic through Heathrow itself, restricting the growth of airports outside the capital.

The fund can be used to incentivise airlines to introduce new services. The fund can also be used to provide jointly-agreed marketing support to regional development or other tourism bodies in regional England or Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for new services. Along with the fund, Gatwick will also:

  • Propose and consult on changes to charges to support the growth of national and regional air services and encourage easier connection between airlines
  • Support funding applications for new Public Sector Obligation services, and
  • Work with Government to explore how to safeguard slots for new national and regional services.

Launching the fund at a presentation to Prospective Parliamentary Candidates at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce today, Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said:

“Gatwick has always been serious about encouraging the growth and development of a strong network of competing airports around the UK. This fund – and the measures we propose to support it – will improve connectivity to London for those that need it. 

“Gatwick expansion is best for the UK and regions because it supports not only the growth of connectivity to London, but also more connectivity between all UK airports and international short and long haul destinations. 

“Expanding Gatwick will provide more competition and choice for passengers all around the UK.

An independent report issued recently by the OECD found that the increased prices an expanded Heathrow would charge, would discourage more flights to other UK airports. The report also said a bigger Heathrow would also ‘diminish’ the chance of new long haul services flying directly out of other UK airports.

Gatwick is not only already better connected to the regions than Heathrow, it is also far cheaper for airlines and passengers. Heathrow already has the highest airport charges in the world – in addition to landing and parking charges, Heathrow charges £29.59 per domestic departing passenger compared to Gatwick’s charge of £10.52 per domestic departing passenger.  [Heathrow will cut its charge for domestic passengers to £19.59  from 1.1.2016.  See details ]




For more information on why Gatwick is best for regional growth and connectivity, see its regional proposal in full here.


Gatwick claims  its expansion:  

  • is affordable, sustainable and deliverable (unlike Heathrow’s proposal)
  • will help deliver lower fares through lower airport charges and greater competition
  • offers a more convenient choice of London airports for passengers, and
  • will help sustain and encourage more services direct from other national and regional airports


See also:

Flybe accuses Gatwick of ignoring UK regions

Saad Hammad, the chief executive of Flybe, has criticised Gatwick for failing to address the needs of Britain’s regions, in its attempt to win support for its second runway. The head of the UK’s biggest regional airline said that Heathrow had been “more specific about what they are going to do” on take-off and landing slots and on charges for domestic flights and “I don’t think Gatwick has been as sensitive as we would like…. Heathrow has one up on Gatwick in terms of listening to regional needs and requirements.” Heathrow has said it would look at cutting charges for regional flights as part of a regular review of fees, though no binding commitment has been made. These cuts are largely to deter passengers flying via Schiphol or other European hubs, rather than concern for the regional airports. Flybe has no flights into Heathrow and only one from Gatwick to Newquay. It sold 25 pairs of slots to easyJet in 2013. A spokesman for Gatwick said that it had the “best” regional links of any London airport and would remain significantly cheaper than Heathrow, even if Heathrow reduced their domestic fees. Gatwick said it is planning to give details of its proposals on fees further later this month. It has claimed its landing charges would not rise above £15 per passenger, but only it gets a 2nd runway and Government agrees a contract not to allow any other runway in the south east for 30 years ….

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Heathrow to reduce charges on domestic flights from £29.59 to £19.59 from Ist Jan 2016 – to reduce number flying via Schiphol etc

Heathrow plans to cut the fees it charges airlines for domestic passengers. It says that from 1st January 2016 it will reduce the minimum departure charge for all flights (currently £1,406) to £1,268.40 per domestic flight. It will also cut the charge from £29.59 to £19.59 per passenger, in a bid to increase the number of passengers flying between UK regional airports and Heathrow. Heathrow serves just 7 regional destinations, down from 18 in 1990. It hopes the lower charges on domestic routes would encourage fuller planes and make more efficient use of the limited number of slots for regional flights, which are less profitable for airlines than long haul flights. Heathrow also says it will reduce minimum charges per plane to £1,592.15 for EU flights and £2,689.82 for non-EU destinations. It will also cut the per passenger charge for passengers flying to European destinations by £5 to £24.59.  They plan instead to charge more for the noisiest planes, and those that emit more NOx – with the overall changes revenue neutral.  The aim is discouraging passengers flying via European airports like Schiphol, and using Heathrow instead.  The environmental fees would rise from being 21% to being 28% of total airport charges.  Heathrow also say that, if they get a 3rd runway, they would open 5 new domestic routes,including Humberside, Newquay and Liverpool.

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Heathrow would spend £10 million to increase some domestic flights, only if granted a 3rd runway, to get backing from regions

Heathrow has increasingly cut the number of flights to UK regional airports, as it has become more uneconomic for the airlines to run them – and long haul international routes are more profitable. But Heathrow is aware that it needs to get the backing of regional airports, in order to lobby to be allowed a 3rd runway. Heathrow therefore suggested the setting up of a National Connectivity Task Force. In order to boost flights to the regions, Heathrow now says that – only IF it gets a new runway – it will spend £10 million on for the development of 5 new domestic routes, for 3 years. These would include Newquay, Humberside and Liverpool. That would be in addition to the 4 extra routes that easyJet has said it wants to operate if there is a Heathrow runway, to Inverness, Belfast International, the Isle of Man and Jersey. There are currently 6 domestic routes from Heathrow (Leeds Bradford, Belfast City, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle). Heathrow also said it would launch a review of its airport charges in the coming weeks to focus on making domestic flights more commercially attractive (cheaper) to airlines. The results of this consultation, which is not dependent upon getting a new runway, will be effective from January 2016.

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Liverpool airport says ‘we will talk to anyone’ as Gatwick announces £20 million fund and Heathrow announces £10 million…

Liverpool John Lennon Airport says it would be happy to speak to Gatwick Airport about regional routes, after Gatwick put out a press release to say (copying Heathrow’s earlier offer) it would spend up to £20 million to help support regional air routes. Gatwick and Heathrow offers only apply if that airport got a new runway, not otherwise. Liverpool Airport has already been in talks with Heathrow about the possibility of getting a link there (if there is a new runway) – as Heathrow is keen not to lose connecting flights, if people in the regions prefer to fly via Schiphol. However, Gatwick’s offer would have far less appeal than Heathrow’s to Liverpool Airport because it does not offer a connection to a hub, for long haul flights. A spokesman for Liverpool airport said: “We are always open to suggestions for new routes and we are happy to speak to anyone.” Heathrow says it is offering a £10 million fund to support regional routes, to five airports over 3 years. Those named are Liverpool, Newquay and Humberside. On 31st March Liverpool announced that Flybe would operate a service up to 3-times-a-day to Schiphol starting on September 7th. ie. They would not then need links to Gatwick or to Heathrow.

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In Gatwick’s little report (not a lot of content, lots of pretty pictures …) it states:

“It is estimated that airport charges alone at an expanded Heathrow will rise to over £80 for a return trip compared to £30 at Gatwick after expansion.”  [This is very different to the assessment by the Commission, of up about  maximum of £58 for Heathrow and £46 for Gatwick]. See below
But the Airports Commission said – about the Gatwick runway:“3.41Investment of this scale would entail increases in the airport’s charges to airlines. Gatwick Airport Ltd has estimated, for example, that per passenger charges would rise from £9 currently to £12-15 as a result of expansion. This is lower than the charges predicted by the Commission’s analysis, which indicate average charges rising to between £15 and £18, with peak charges of up to £23.”Gatwick Airport second runway: business case and sustainability assessment


On the Heathrow north-west runway, the Commission said:

“The resulting impact to passenger aeronautical charges across the Commission’s four demand scenarios for Heathrow is an increase from c. £20 per passenger to an average of c. £27-29 per passenger”…

Heathrow Airport Extended Northern Runway: Business Case and Sustainability Assessment