Gatwick says it intends to build a 2nd runway, even if Government decides on Heathrow
Simon Calder writing in the Independent says Gatwick intends to build a 2nd runway – even if the Government decides Heathrow should have a runway instead. Gatwick wants to build anyway, even though the Airports Commission regard 2 runways as unnecessary, with inadequate demand to fill both. They believed (ignoring carbon implications entirely) there might be demand for a 2nd new runway by around 2050. A moratorium on starting any physical work on a 2nd runway at Gatwick expires in 2019. Gatwick (whose management are in line for vast bonuses if they can get a runway approved) hope they could have a runway completed by 2025 – faster than a 3rd Heathrow runway. Aviation experts have questioned the wisdom of building 2 runways simultaneously at both airports. Aviation analyst John Strickland said: “The acid test would be how much additional traffic Gatwick would attract if Heathrow secures a 3rd runway, which will attract the lion’s share of airline demand in the London market.” Another said the owners of Heathrow are in it for the long term, but Gatwick owners, GIP, are just in it for the money. UK airlines are understood to be appalled at the prospect of higher airport charges to fund the building of one new runway, let alone two. Local campaign groups are also appalled, and point out that Gatwick has no plans to pay for any of the essential surface access improvement work needed to deal with a 2nd runway.
Gatwick plans to build second runway – even if Heathrow wins airport expansion bid
Exclusive: Bosses at Sussex airport intend to press ahead regardless of Government decision
By Simon Calder Travel correspondent (Independent)
Gatwick intends to build a second runway – even if it loses out to Heathrow when the Government rules on airport expansion.
A decision on where to build a new runway in South-east England is expected within days. It is thought the Prime Minister will overrule environmental objections, including from within her Cabinet, and insist that Heathrow gets the go-ahead to grow.
But The Independent understands that Gatwick’s bosses intend to press ahead with a second runway regardless of the Government’s decision.
They believe growth at the Sussex airport justifies expansion, and that Theresa May will not dare to block a project that shows Britain is still in business – even though the Davies Commission regard two runways as unnecessary.
After three years research, Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission reported in July 2015 and unanimously favoured a third runway at Heathrow. The commission said that Gatwick and an extended northern runway at Heathrow were also “credible options”.
David Cameron’s Government was faced with dissent from the then-London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and the MP Zak Goldsmith, who stood as candidate to in the 2016 mayoral election. It launched additional research on the environmental impact of the schemes and promised to rule by summer 2016, but that deadline was derailed by the EU referendum.
The new Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has met proponents of all three schemes and is expected to announce a decision by Tuesday 18 October at the latest.
Gatwick has been lobbying Mr Grayling and the other members of the Cabinet sub-committee on airports, with what it calls “new evidence” of flaws in the Davies Commission methodology – in particular, predictions of growth at the airport.
Passenger numbers are expected to reach over 43 million in 2016, making Gatwick by far the busiest single-runway airport in the world. The second-busiest runway is at San Diego in California, which handles only half as many passengers.
An executive for one of the leading airlines at Gatwick said the airport was “bursting at the seams”, and the Civil Aviation Authority is believed to be launching a review of its resilience.
There have been suggestions that passenger numbers could be capped at below the present level in order to improve on-time performance.
Bosses at the Sussex airport believe that a second runway could be built for less than half the £18bn cost for a third at Heathrow, as estimated by the commission.
A moratorium on a second runway at Gatwick expires in 2019, and Gatwick says it could be completed by 2025 – probably ahead of a third runway at Heathrow.
The Davies Commission was confident that only one new runway in South-east England would be needed for the next few decades. Assuming a third runway at Heathrow, it concluded only that “there would be likely to be sufficient demand to justify a second additional runway by 2050 or, in some scenarios, earlier”.
Aviation experts have questioned the wisdom of building extra capacity simultaneously at both airports.
The aviation analyst John Strickland said: “The acid test would be how much additional traffic Gatwick would attract if Heathrow secures a third runway, which will attract the lion’s share of airline demand in the London market.”
Malcolm Ginsberg, editor of Business Travel News, said that the ownership of each airport was significant: “Heathrow is backed by in the main by pension funds and national investment corporations whose interests are long term. Gatwick demonstrated with the sale of London City Airport by majority shareholder Global Infrastructure Partners that they are in it essentially for the money.”
UK airlines are understood to be appalled at the prospect of their passengers having to pay higher airport charges in order to fund the building of one new runway, let alone two.
Gatwick’s plan will also dismay environmental campaigners. A spokesperson for Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) said: “Sussex and Surrey residents are bound to witness a deterioration in air quality due to the lack of infrastructure and the lack of public transport alternatives to the east or west or from the south, with passengers using private cars or taxis.”
But Guy Stephenson, chief commercial officer for Gatwick, said: “We are doing all we can to grow sustainably and to limit our impact on the environment. Unlike Heathrow, we have never breached legal air-quality limits and this is a track record we are determined to maintain.”
No New Runway – says a united voice
9.10.2016 (CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions)
CAGNE reported today that it is predicted that the Government will make an announcement concerning airport expansion on Tuesday 18th October.
However Gatwick has pre-empted this by announcing (9th October) that it will seek expansion if the Government does not select it.
CAGNE said in a statement that this news ‘comes as no surprise’ as the community noise group has always said that Gatwick’s expansion plans were about ‘shareholders’ profits’ in spite of the devastating effect they would have on the local area, and ‘certainly not on what was best for the future of the UK and its economy’.
The CAGNE committee statement also said:
“Gatwick’s expansion plans were flawed from the outset and its American styled propaganda campaign has been based on condemning Heathrow’s proposition in order to take the focus away from Gatwick’s own cynical, self-seeking proposals for expansion”.
The statement continued, “Nothing surprises us about Gatwick’s tactics, with more passengers comes more users of the already inadequate rail and road and without any additional contribution to the funding from the airport. If the Government does not select Gatwick and yet Gatwick applies for expansion anyway, it is highly unlikely that the airport would offer to provide any funding for roads and rail improvements as its management has said in the past that ‘onward surface access is not its problem’. That means that it will be our problem, the taxpayers, and we can expect our air quality to continue to deteriorate through the lack of rail and road capacity”.
CAGNE said that Gatwick’s off-shore owner, GIP, has shown its hand through its dealings over City Airport and expansion plans at Edinburgh with little regard to communities, so this announcement again shows clearly the contempt that Gatwick management has towards residents of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
Residents have been in limbo for years now, with house prices affected by the threat of new flight paths off a second runway.
If the Government decides against Gatwick and the airport then goes ahead with another planning application for expansion, Gatwick will have condemned residents to more years of worry, uncertainty and being forced to campaign to oppose expansion.
With 12 local authorities opposed to Gatwick, it would still have to seek planning permission for a second runway from its local authority, Crawley Borough Council. This is one of the many local councils that voted to oppose expansion.
Eight senior MPs oppose Gatwick as well as 16 protest groups surrounding Gatwick, as well as other environmental groups such as Campaign to Protect Rural England.
This announcement by Gatwick continues the misery for local people.
Seeking a fair and equitable distribution of arrivals and departures to the west and east for West Sussex and Surrey
GACC denounces the “obscene” bonus of up to £5 million for Wingate if he gets the 2nd runway
GACC is appalled to read the Sunday Times report that Gatwick boss, Stewart Wingate, is in line to receive a bonus of up to £5 million. Brendon Sewill chairman of GACC commented: “If Gatwick gets a new runway, he walks off with an obscene bonus while hundreds of thousands of people will suffer more noise; 50,000 will suffer worse pollution; thousands of motorists will be stuck in traffic jams; thousands of rail passengers will have to stand; Sussex countryside will be diminished by a new town the size of Crawley; 17 historic buildings will be demolished; and worse climate change damage will cause misery across the world.” All that misery and Wingate swans off with his bonus – but with the curses of thousands ringing in his ears. GACC is also fascinated to learn that Gatwick has spent almost £40 million on its runway publicity campaign, on advertising, planning for the 2nd runway and undermining its rivals. Brendon Sewill says: “An American company has been using American style advertising and lobbying tactics But all the evidence is that British Cabinet Ministers, British MPs and British civil servants are not easily bought. We have a proud tradition that Government decisions need to be taken on a rational analysis of the evidence. So all those expensive lunches may actually prove counterproductive.”