Gatwick signs up Bechtel to build its (dreamed of) runway

In March Heathrow announced 4 winning contractors – Arup, CH2M, MACE and Turner & Townsend – for the construction work on the 3rd runway that it hopes to build.  Heathrow hoped this would imply to government that it would be ready to start building as soon as it got consent.  Gatwick was a bit slower off the mark, only putting out its offers to tender in February.  Gatwick has now announced a “strategic partnership” with Bechtel to deliver a 2nd runway, by 2025.  Gatwick says Bechtel has been working with them for the past two years, developing a delivery programme and plan of how to build the runway and the terminal.  Bechtel project managed the Channel Tunnel and HS1 and is currently providing programme management services for Crossrail. Gatwick are claiming their expansion plan is “low risk” and is, of course, easier than the problem Heathrow has with having to tunnel the M25. Architect Sir Terry Farrell has been working on Gatwick’s  expansion plans, for a number of years – and would work with Bechtel. Gatwick has little support for its expansion, and it would be unlikely to achieve the backing at a vote in Parliament, which is expected some time not long after a runway location announcement by the Government, maybe in October.



Gatwick and Bechtel partner to deliver second runway by 2025


Gatwick Airport has today announced a strategic partnership with Bechtel – the firm that project managed the Channel Tunnel, HS1 and which is currently providing programme management services for the on-time, on-budget completion of Crossrail – to deliver a second runway at Gatwick by 2025.

For the past two years Bechtel has been working with Gatwick Airport on developing a robust delivery programme, execution plan and logistics strategy to support the on-time delivery of a second runway and midfield terminal. As part of this planning work, Bechtel has confirmed that expansion at Gatwick Airport is low risk and benefits from minimal critical interfaces with existing infrastructure  – making it deliverable by 2025, with a government decision this year to expand Gatwick.

Bechtel is one of the world’s most respected engineering, construction and project management companiesand has delivered nearly 100 major airport projects over the last 50 years.  The new partnership will see Bechtel project manage Gatwick’s second runway programme should the Government give it the green light.

Renowned architect Sir Terry Farrell has also been working on shaping Gatwick’s vision of a new runway and terminal facility for a number of years – and will work with Bechtel to bring the project to fruition.  Farrell led the design team for Incheon airport, which has been voted best airport in the world.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said:

“Bechtel is a global leader with a strong track record in delivering significant infrastructure projects and we look forward to working together to deliver the UK’s next runway.

“Gatwick expansion can happen quickly because it is simple and low risk with a dramatically lower environmental impact.

“A bigger Gatwick would generate the new long haul routes and the economic boost that Britain needs. It’s time for Gatwick to deliver the certainty and growth the UK needs.”

Bechtel’s General Manager for Infrastructure – EAM, Amjad Bangash said:

“We are delighted to be confirmed as Gatwick Airport’s partner for the second runway programme.

“We have provided Gatwick with robust plans for a second runway and are confident that this low risk project can be built to the highest quality, safely and sustainably – and that it can be operational by 2025.”

About Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 220 destinations in 80 countries for 42 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South East region, generating around 21,000 on-airport jobs and a further 10,000 jobs through related activities. The airport is south of Central London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express, and is part of the Oyster contactless payment network. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.

A Government decision on whether Gatwick airport should be expanded is expected this year. Gatwick’s second runway will deliver the UK the same number of passengers, the same number of long haul routes, better UK and regional connections, and the economic boost the UK needs, all at a dramatically lower environmental impact, at less than half the cost of Heathrow, and with no public subsidy.

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Gatwick begins search for contractors for £75m planning work for its (pipe dream) 2nd runway project

Heathrow and Gatwick continue to slug it out, in their runway battle. With neither willing to accept reality, both are bigging up their confidence in their imminent expansion, and runway success. Gatwick has now announced it is searching for bidders to carry out £75 million worth of design and planning work in preparation for a 2nd runway. The work is separated into three frameworks: airport planning services (especially for infrastructure associated with the runway); architectural, structural and building services projects, and multi-discipline design and engineering for projects greater than £5 million.  Gatwick says the work is part of £2.5 billion worth of transformation spending that it aims to have completed by 2021. Gatwick’s Development Director hopes this will impress the construction industry, and make them eager to get lucrative work. The runway works in total are expected to cost perhaps £9 billion. But Heathrow is apparently close to choosing preferred bidders for its four pre-collaboration packages on its 3rd runway.  It is thought the firms include Arup, Atkins, Jacobs and Mace. Recently a number of the UK’s biggest construction firms wrote a letter to chancellor George Osborne urging him to approve a Heathrow runway. Gatwick says the contractors were ”misguided” in writing the letter, as Heathrow’s runway bid is “destined to fail.”


Construction firms – wanting the lucrative work – urge George Osborne to support third Heathrow runway

Thirteen of Britain’s largest construction and development firms (including the bosses of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Laing O’Rourke, Mace,Atkins UK,  and BAM Nuttall), have written to George Osborne, urging him to live up to his declaration that “we are the builders” by supporting the building of a third runway at Heathrow. As one comment under the article puts it: “Construction companies advocating a big construction project. Whatever next?…..”  The letter to the Chancellor says Heathrow has provided a “steady base of work” during the economic downturn and expansion would bring “a £15.6 billion order book to the UK supply chain”. They also try to encourage the Chancellor by saying the OECD considers the UK has historically underspent on infrastructure, partially due to “long decision-making processes”. The construction companies, which of course stand to gain massively from the building project, say: “We are writing to encourage your support for Heathrow expansion.” It has been pointed out that you only have permanent jobs in construction if there is a new project to move on to, once one is complete.. Hence the construction firms are lobbying hard; they have expected work out of Heathrow, and may not have contingency should Heathrow not get the go head. The firms appear – conveniently  –  unaware of the very considerable economic and environmental problems that building a runway would create.


Heathrow hopes prematurely announcing “client partners” to build its hoped-for runway will boost its chances

Heathrow does not have any sort of (public) consent from the Government to build a third runway. It had hoped to be given the “nod” for its runway in December 2015. But the government realised there were too many environmental and economic problems that the Airports Commission had not dealt with adequately, and no decision could be made. The government is how hoping to make some sort of statement – probably in mid July.  There is a likely major legal challenge from 4 local councils to the airport’s plans. Nevertheless, in an act of bravado (desperation?) Heathrow has announced that following “a competitive process Arup, CH2M, MACE and Turner & Townsend have been chosen to work alongside Heathrow Airport Limited to deliver Heathrow’s expansion as partners in the Programme Client….With the programme’s client partners now on board Heathrow is ready to begin the process of expansion as soon as Government gives the green light.” … “The client partners have been tasked with ensuring the programme is delivered to the highest industry standards in planning, innovation and quality.” Quite what the contract is between Heathrow and these firms is not specified. Critics say Heathrow is jumping the gun, and “counting some very expensive chickens before they are hatched”. Gatwick is also trying the same sort of thing.


Heathrow appoints firms to help with controversial third runway

Heathrow’s plans for a third runway have met with vocal opposition

By Ben Martin  (Telegraph)

15 MARCH 2016

Heathrow is pushing ahead with its controversial proposal for a third runway by appointing four contractors to help with its expansion, even though the Government is yet to decide whether to give the airport’s plan the green-light.

Construction and consultancy firms Arup, CH2M, MACE and Turner & Townsend have won contracts to work with Heathrow on its runway proposal. They are the first companies to be appointed by the west London airport since it submitted its plans to the Airports Commission. They will help the hub devise the tendering process for construction work on the mooted landing strip and assist with project management.

“I’m delighted that our client partners are now on board and I look forward to working with them to give the UK a truly world-class, sustainable hub airport,” said Ian Ballentine, Heathrow’s director of procurement.

However, the appointments are likely to anger the many opponents of Heathrow’s £17.6bn expansion plans because ministers have not yet approved the project.

Building a third runway in west London is highly contentious, with previous attempts to expand Heathrow failing amid worries it would increase air pollution and aircraft noise, blighting local communities.

While the Government-appointed Airports Commission concluded last July that another Heathrow runway was the best solution to Britain’s looming aviation capacity crisis, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has so far failed to back its recommendation.

Mr Cameron broke his earlier promise to make a decision on Heathrow expansion by last Christmas, with an announcement now planned for the summer. A rival plan to build a second Gatwick runway and an independent proposal to extend one of Heathrow’s existing landing strips are still being considered by the Government.


In December 2015:

Heathrow “revealed in October that it planned to award contracts, worth as much as £5m, to designers, architects and other suppliers in January, to help it with the work required to secure planning consent for expansion. Big engineering firms are in the running to be appointed by Heathrow.”