Only airline backing a 2nd Gatwick runway remains Norwegian, for its own commercial reasons

Gatwick is struggling to get support for its runway. Its page listing supporters of a 2nd Gatwick runway is thin. The section of airports and airlines backing its runway is quite glaringly thin.  They have support from Birmingham airport (for which a Heathrow 3rd runway would be a intense competition); support from GIP-owned Edinburgh airport – no surprise there; and support from Norwegian, a low cost airline, which is the 3rd largest using Gatwick. The two largest airlines at Gatwick, easyJet and BA, have both said they do not support a 2nd runway, and are not prepared to pay the extra charges. easyJet backs a Heathrow runway. In December 2015 Willie Walsh said: …”there’s no business case for expanding [Gatwick]. I’m not knocking Gatwick — it’s a good airport and British Airways operates many flights there. However, very few airlines support the proposal, and no one would move there while Heathrow remains open.” In October 2014 he said:  “I’m not going to support anything that sees our charges at Gatwick or Heathrow rise.” But now Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, has said he will bring more planes to Gatwick; 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 100 short-haul aircraft, if Gatwick gets a new runway.  It is scarcely news.  No comment in favour of a 2nd runway has been made by Thomson Airways, Gatwick’s 4th largest airline.



Gatwick Airport’s website has a page showing organisations etc that, it says, support its 2nd runway bid.

Under airports and airlines is it a bit thin.  The only supporters are:


  • BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT CEO PAUL KEHOE: “Growth at Gatwick will support demand for greater connectivity, improving value for passengers flying from the South East and supporting the continued growth of our regions.” [Birmingham Airport does not want a Heathrow runway, as it would take trade away from Birmingham, as too close].
  • EDINBURGH AIRPORT CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GORDON DEWAR SAID: “It is essential for the United Kingdom that airports policy puts the needs of passengers at its heart, and is designed in the best interests of the country as a whole. Edinburgh Airport believes that the plans being worked on by Gatwick represent the most realistic and deliverable proposals in terms of providing short, medium and long-term capacity for growth.”  (Edinburgh Airport is owned, as is Gatwick, by GIP. So scarcely a surprise that they are in support !  How could they not be ?]
  • BJØRN KJOS, CEO OF NORWEGIAN AIR: “To meet the demands of all passengers in the future, and ensure an excellent choice of routes and fares, a new runway must be built at Gatwick.”   [The only main airline using Gatwick that is keen on helping it get a runway, for its own financial and growth reasons]. 


Airline pledges 150 new planes if Gatwick gets second runway

17 March 2016 (Mid Sussex Times)

Norwegian will base 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 100 short-haul aircraft at Gatwick Airport if its second runway bid goes ahead.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos made the announcement and ‘strongly’ backed Gatwick’s expansion bid at The Aviation Club today (March 17).

He said: “This isn’t just for selfish commercial reasons  [ !!! ??? ] – in my view Gatwick is the only choice that will actually deliver what the whole industry needs.

“Clearly Heathrow is a world-class airport but when we look at how the industry is changing and what it needs in the future – lower landing charges and more capacity for low-cost growth, greater competition, more point-to-point travel – it is clear that Gatwick is the best choice.” [The UK does not necessarily need to do what is most convenient for his part of the industry. AW comment].

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO said: “This is by far the most significant and positive intervention by an airline in the expansion debate to date. [Maybe because it is the only one?  Both EasyJet and BA say they will not pay for a runway, and will not accept the necessary higher charges.  AW comment]

“Norwegian’s ambitious plans will continue the low cost long haul revolution for UK passengers delivering significantly cheaper long haul fares and more choice for generations to come. [And does Norwegian know about the extra charges that will be needed?  AW comment]

“Norwegian recognises that Gatwick expansion can actually happen and would deliver a step change in capacity at a price everyone can afford.

“The UK must realise the potential of expansion and unlock the full benefits of competition by choosing a second runway at Gatwick.”

Norwegian is Gatwick’s third largest airline and currently has more than 260 new aircraft on order including 30 Dreamliners.

A Gatwick spokesman said: “This new fleet would allow Norwegian to continue the low cost long haul revolution – which has already resulted in new services from Gatwick to New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland (San Francisco), and Boston – by reaching destinations in more established and emerging markets.

“The larger fleet would also see Gatwick linking even more strongly to the nations and regions of the UK.”



Norwegian pledges 50 long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliners for Gatwick if second runway is built

18.3.2016 (Evening Standard)

Low-cost airline Norwegian has pledged to locate 50 long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliners at Gatwick if a second runway is built at the airport.

It also announced plans to base 100 short-haul planes at the West Sussex airport following expansion, meaning the total number of new aircraft would be 150.

The Government is currently considering whether to back the building of a second runway at Gatwick or the expansion of Heathrow.

Norwegian’s chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, said his airline would significantly expand its operation at an expanded Gatwick.

“We can contribute to putting 50 Dreamliners into there easy,” he told the audience at the Aviation Club in central London.

“I’ve looked into it. It’s not something I’ve pulled out of a hat.”

Mr Kjos explained that he was supporting Gatwick over Heathrow because he predicted that holidaymakers would make up a higher proportion of fliers in the future.

“The reason why we are for Gatwick is because the growth in the industry will not be business people, it will be the leisure market,” he said.

“Gatwick has the network to fly to every corner of Europe. Not all the airports have that.

“This is the reason why I really hope it will get a second runway so we can add all these aircraft into Gatwick.

“It will create thousands and thousands of jobs in this region.” [ ???? ]

Mr Kjos said aviation capacity should be expanded in “the cheapest possible way”.  [Meaning the airport not paying any of the additional costs that a runway would necessitate, and leaving those costs to the taxpayer?  AW comment]

The Davies Commission recommended last July that a third runway should be built at Heathrow, at a cost of £18.6 billion.

But the Government said in December that it is also considering a second runway at Gatwick, which would cost £9.3 billion.

Mr Kjos also favours Gatwick because it has lower landing charges and he believes a new runway can be built there within a decade.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate described his comments as “the most significant and positive intervention by an airline in the expansion debate”.

Figures released by the airport show that Norwegian currently has eight Dreamliners operating from Gatwick.

The airline flies to a number of short and long-haul destinations from the airport, including US routes to New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale.




See earlier:


Gatwick Airport’s biggest airline easyJet supports new runway at Heathrow

January 30, 2015 (Crawley News)

BACKING HEATHROW: easyJet has announced it does not want Gatwick Airport to get a new runway

GATWICK AIrport’s biggest airline easyJet has announced it is in support of a new runway being built at Heathrow.

The budget airline’s chief executive has written to the Airports Commission as part of a public consultation into whether expansion should take place at Gatwick or at Heathrow.

easyJet has four bases in the UK, with its biggest at Gatwick Airport which wants to get a second runway.

In the submission Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s chief executive officer, said: “Heathrow is in the best interests of passengers as it has the greatest demand.
“It is clear that long haul airlines want to expand at Heathrow and if they can’t, they will do so not at Gatwick but at other airports such as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

“Heathrow does not currently have low cost, short haul airlines but an expanded Heathrow would allow airlines like easyJet to operate there – providing more competition which will mean new routes, more services and lower fares.

“easyJet’s costs are on average 40% lower than legacy airlines and so we expect to be able to more than offset the increase in airport charges. By comparison, the Gatwick proposal requires a significant increase in airport charges. This would inevitably lead to higher fares for Gatwick’s passengers, the vast majority of whom are flying for leisure.

“Gatwick is a much improved airport under its new owners and management team and easyJet is committed to continuing to grow our operations there. However, there is no evidence that passenger demand at Gatwick, and therefore its range of airlines and their networks, will be significantly expanded with an additional runway.

“Gatwick slots have been and are still readily available now which would allow long haul airlines to move to or expand at Gatwick. History shows that there is little appetite to do so and, in fact, many have left the airport.”

easyJet started flying from Gatwick in 1999 and now has 57 aircraft based there, operating on more than 105 routes.The airline has around 1400 cabin crew and 700 pilots operating from the airport.



British Airways:

Willie Walsh said in  December 2015:    (Mail – link )

“The Commission ruled it out because there’s no business case for expanding the West Sussex airport. I’m not knocking Gatwick — it’s a good airport and British Airways operates many flights there. However, very few airlines support the proposal, and no one would move there while Heathrow remains open.”


October 31, 2014

Willie Walsh says new Gatwick runway has ‘no business case’

(Financial Times)

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways parent IAG, said on Friday there was “no business case” for building an additional runway at Gatwick but declined to back either of the proposals to expand its rival Heathrow.

The head of the UK’s dominant carrier said he would only endorse a plan if airlines would not have to pay higher landing fees to fund any capacity expansion.

Echoing comments he made to MPs on the Commons transport committee two years ago, Mr Walsh said it appeared that landing fees levied on airlines would rise significantly to fund an additional runway at Gatwick.

“I’m not going to support an additional runway at Gatwick because I don’t think there’s a business case for it,” he told journalists after announcing IAG’s latest financial results. “There is capacity available at Gatwick. I can’t see what’s going to make it attractive.”

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to make a recommendation on airport expansion next summer, after the general election. The three options it has shortlisted are an extra runway at Gatwick, an extra runway at Heathrow and doubling the length of one of Heathrow’s existing runways. The commission is due to publish its final appraisals in the coming weeks.

Mr Walsh said his rejection of Gatwick did not mean he was endorsing an additional runway at Heathrow, where he said the charges were already too high. “I’m not going to support anything that sees our charges at Gatwick or Heathrow rise,” he said. “So if they want to get our support, they are going to have to show us that charges won’t rise, and I haven’t seen that yet.”

………. and it continues ….