Gatwick re-hashes its plans to add runway capacity in 4 phases, rather than all at the start

Gatwick are hoping they can get some advantage over Heathrow, by making much of their plans to develop the extra runway capacity in phases – not building all the ancillary infrastructure at the start. This in fact has been their plan for a long time – it is nothing new. The Airports Commission assessed it in 2014.   Gatwick may not be able to secure the necessary funding to build everything at once, and only be able to pay for it over many decades. Gatwick hope to build the runway and basic third terminal in the first phase, costing about £3 billion, by 2025. This would increase capacity to about 63 million passengers, from a maximum now of 45 million. The 2nd and 3rd phases would expand the terminal, build new aircraft gates and fully divert the A23 around the airport. The 4th phase would  be the completion of the terminal and piers, while finishing off taxiways for passenger jets by 2040. The aim would be to add more as passenger numbers build up. The Airports Commission always saw the numbers of passengers rising only slowly at Gatwick, and taking a long time to double (not even taking account of the higher costs to pay for the runway etc, that would be passed to passengers, reducing demand).That does indicate that there is no great pent up demand for a huge number more flights. Let alone business flights to emerging economies.



Gatwick takes aim at rival with pledge to stagger expansion

Gatwick is set to make a further appeal in the new year

By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (Times)

December 17th 2015
Gatwick will open a new front in its campaign to build a second runway by promising to stagger the work over two decades, The Times has learnt. [This is actually nothing new, and was part of Gatwick’s submissions to the Airports Commission, in or before 2014].

Britain’s second-biggest airport will seek to seize the initiative from Heathrow in the new year by pledging to create extra capacity over four phases between 2021 and 2040, as opposed to one large-scale construction project.

The move is intended to soften the blow of a new runway while spreading the costs over a longer period to minimise disruption.


Sally Pavey, the chairwoman of Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions  (CAGNE), warned that any plan to prolong the work would be “hell” for residents in West Sussex.

Full Times article at


A comment below the article: 

Gatwick’s hyperactive publicity machine needs to get its story straight.  Before the prospect of a new runway in the South East, Gatwick had “no interest in a 2nd runway”.  When there was a possiblity of a new runway at Heathrow threatening loss of business at Gatwick, it was suddenly urgent to expand at Gatwick to solve its capacity crisis.  Now Gatwick is proposing to expand slowly over the next few decades.  Where did the urgency go to?

Meanwhile, Gatwick’s publicity fantasists encourage the belief that only cows live around Gatwick Airport.  But I’m not a cow, and I live here, along with 120,000 others in Crawley alone. We already suffer the urban problems of 27,000 commuting trips into the Gatwick employment hotspot every day, with the congestion and pollution that that brings.

If Heathrow is the wrong place for a new runway, it doesn’t make sense to convert Gatwick into another Heathrow.

Imagine the future: 75% of passengers flying from Gatwick will drive past Heathrow to get there!


Some comments by Gatwick airport in August 2015 – about its phased development

in “A Second Runway for Gatwick Airports Commission Final Report – Areas of Concern” – 10 August 2015

8.16 Gatwick R2 has a realistic and manageable profile with annual scheme expenditure
peaking at circa £680 million (or £50 million per month in the peak year) and is more evenly
spread through a phased programme across an extended period. In contrast, Heathrow
NWR involves an unprecedented rate of spend and scheme expenditure that peaks at over
£3 billion in each of several years (or over £6 billion per annum when including scheme,
surface access, core, and asset replacement). The number of project interdependencies in
Heathrow’s programme is significant. More interdependencies will mean greater risk of
programme slippage and ultimately a delay in the programme delivery date.

8.21 Gatwick R2 has a modular and phased approach to its scheme that allows Gatwick to pace its investment in line with traffic growth. This significantly de-risks the project and enhances its financeability. Given Heathrow’s heavy upfront expenditure on residential/commercial property acquisition, surface access, site preparation, and land remedial work, it is not possible to phase its scheme in any significant way.

8.22 If downside risks on construction and long-term traffic materialise for Gatwick, our proposed binding undertakings would ensure that Gatwick bears this risk and caps airport charges at £15 per passenger. In contrast, under Heathrow NWR users and/or taxpayers will take substantially all of the downside risk.


The Commission also states that after five years with a second runway, Gatwick will have an additional 8m passengers – less than Heathrow would have after one year with a third runway. 3.6 The Commission has sought to explain this forecast low level of growth by suggesting that over the past decade Gatwick has benefitted from spare capacity whilst Heathrow has been capacity constrained. It concludes “It is unlikely that the recent high rates of growth at Gatwick could be maintained over the long term once the remaining capacity is used up” (Final report page 109).

Some comments below, on the proposed phasing of the development by the Airports Commission, November 2014

, from the:  “Airports Commission: Gatwick Airport Second Runway: Business Case and Sustainability Assessment”.  

3.17 GAL is proposing a four-phased delivery approach which includes one transition
phase, Phase 0 (during which the runway and remote passenger pier are built and
surface access infrastructure begins) and three subsequent phases (during which
the main passenger terminal and other supporting satellite and surface access
infrastructure is completed). The three subsequent phases are contingent on meeting
specific passenger number milestones. This phased approach is described in detail
in the Cost and Revenue Identification Gatwick Airport Second Runway Report.

…….. [3.18 deals with costs and their timings, with the Commission not agreeing with Gatwick airport].

3.19 As set out in more detail in the Management Case, the Commission has based its
appraisal upon a more conservative approach to phasing than that proposed by
GAL, moving more directly to the first phase of new terminal infrastructure in order
to accommodate the increased passenger numbers associated with opening of the
new runway. Under the AoN-CC demand forecast, the passenger milestones are
therefore met at later dates and so the second phase of terminal development does
not begin until 2041; and the third phase is not required within the assessment
period (2014-2050). In other demand forecast scenarios, higher levels of demand
mean that the third phase is constructed during the assessment period, giving rise
to the differing scheme costs across scenarios illustrated in Table 3.3. It is important
to note that the Commission recognises that final commercial decisions on phasing
may be made later, during detailed design, by the airport operator.


However positive GDP impacts in phase 2 are offset slightly due to changes in passenger flow. This is driven by a larger number of outbound tourists compared to inbound tourists up until the 2060s, where this pattern reverses. Outbound tourists have a higher multiplier effect, due to supply chain impacts on products which are no longer consumed in the UK, than inbound tourists with a smaller multiplier, due to the relative productivity of the related spending in sectors such 46 as accommodation and restaurants.



A comment from CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions):

On 15th December, CAGNE are informed that Stewart Wingate, the CEO of Gatwick Airport, has been briefing national press on Gatwick’s January plans on how they will endeavour to get Gatwick expansion back on the agenda with the Government.

Using the 6 month delay by the Government we believe Gatwick are to spend more on expensive lobbyists and PR agencies whilst ignoring the blight Gatwick’s current noise levels continue to have on residents.

Residents having been assured by the Airports Commissions £20m report back in July that Gatwick 2 blight was finally over.

The Gatwick briefing today blights the communities further and suggests that the taxpayer will be offered the chance to pay the billions needed for Gatwick 2 infrastructure in instalments whilst the off shore owners reap the benefits of a second runway without contributing to the costs.

It comes a week after the government delayed its decision over where to build a new runway in the southeast for at least another six months.

Though the government-appointed airports commission recommended, on 1st July, that additional capacity should be created at Heathrow rather than at Gatwick,Patrick McLoughlin announced that a final decision would be put off until next summer, pending further analysis of the environmental and noise impact of a new runway.

Gatwick has been keen to exploit pollution levels around Heathrow, claiming it already breaches European limits, which would force the government to reject its £17.6 billion expansion plans.

In the new year, Gatwick will make a further appeal, saying that work on its own £7.7 billion expansion would eventually create capacity for 95 million passengers — more than double the present 40 million.

This proposal by Gatwick would blight the counties of Sussex, Surrey and Kent further with years of uncertainty, blight residents from being able to sell homes and move, due to the shadow of a constant threat of new flight paths over areas not previously over flown that have enjoyed and traded on tranquility for decades. This proposal would devalue the counties for many years to come whilst only benefitting the off shore owners of Gatwick.

CAGNE see this proposal as an admission by Gatwick that the infrastructure that surrounds Gatwick will not deal with the expansion and will cost the taxpayer billions. Gatwick brings little benefit to the UK economy, as it is largely a leisure airport for outbound British holiday travellers, and it has no historical use by business flights to emerging markets.  It has few long haul routes, but primarily serves low cost holiday airlines – and that is likely to continue.

This could be seen as an admission that Gatwick (GIP) are struggling to raise the funding for a second runway as suggest by Moody as well as perhaps issues with the financial pledges already offered by Gatwick to fix landing fees, build terminals, mono-rails, etc.

We believe Gatwick will use this new ‘spin’ story to try and get Gatwick back on the table having spent their entire campaign targeting Heathrow in an effort to shield Gatwick’s proposal from scrutiny.

“This is another attempt by Gatwick management to pull the wool over the eyes of Government and we simply have to point out facts as Gatwick is not to be trusted or believed,” said Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE.

It is interesting that – according to the Airports Commission – the number of passengers using a new Gatwick runway is forecast to grow much more slowly than at Heathrow. The Commission forecast just 8 million more passengers in the five years to 2030 with a new runway, compared to 35 million more passengers for a new runway at Heathrow. Heathrow claims it has huge pent-up, un-met demand and would quickly fill up the slots – with many routes and airlines transferring to Heathrow from other UK airports.  By contrast, apart from some holiday flights, it does not appear that the Commission regarded Gatwick as particularly popular with airlines or passengers.

The impact of higher landing charges at Gatwick, than at Stansted or Luton, to pay for the new runway infrastructure, also need to be taken into account. The more expensive charges at Gatwick will not help it to fill its new runway, while spare capacity exists at other south east airports.