Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights

Gatwick has announced its draft “Master Plan” which (quote) “sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain.”  In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to “meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth” (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it “could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.”  This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now – and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10)   Oh …. and  with no extra noise …. obviously….


More details from Gatwick:

The full Draft Master Plan:–community/growing-gatwick/gatwick-draft-master-plan-final.pdf

Summary Document:–community/growing-gatwick/draft-masterplan-consultation-doc_18oct.pdf


Gatwick sets out ambitious future growth plan, including routine use of its existing standby runway

18/10/2018   (Gatwick Airport press release)

  • Draft master plan sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain
  • For the first time, the airport explores the innovative use of its existing standby runway, which would meet all international safety requirements
  • Gatwick is keen to listen to views with local communities and stakeholders encouraged to take part in 12-week consultation, which opens today

Gatwick Airport has today set out an ambitious vision for the future with the publication of its draft master plan, which looks at how the airport might grow in the longer term. The draft master plan is being announced to the airport’s independent consultative committee GATCOM which meets today.

As the UK enters a new chapter, Gatwick’s development will help meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth and ensure strong connections between Britain and global markets. It will also provide new opportunities for the South East and continue to bolster the local economy for future generations.

The publication of Gatwick’s draft master plan reflects Department for Transport guidance for airports to provide regular updates on their long-term plans, and responds to the Government’s recent call for airports to ‘make best use of their existing runways’.

Gatwick remains committed to sustainable growth in this draft master plan, building on our record which has seen the Carbon Trust naming Gatwick as the best performer for combined reduction of operational carbon, water and waste impacts in the past two years – all while passenger numbers continued to grow.

The draft master plan considers how Gatwick could grow across three scenarios, looking ahead to the early 2030s:

1. Main runway – using new technology to increase capacity

In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations. Gatwick has successfully utilised its runway to unlock growth in recent years and remains the world’s most efficient single runway. The use of the latest technology could provide more opportunities for the future.

2. Standby runway – bringing existing standby runway into routine use

Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019. The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.

This innovative development, which would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience. While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges. Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation.

3. Additional runway – safeguarding for the future

While Gatwick is not currently actively pursuing the option of building a brand new runway to the south of the airport – as it did through the Airports Commission process – Gatwick believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.

The airport is now keen to encourage responses to a 12-week public consultation it has launched today to gather feedback and views on the draft master plan. All responses will be reviewed before a final version of the master plan is agreed early next year.

The draft master plan can be read here. More information on the consultation, including events the airport will be holding to gather feedback, is available here.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick said:

“Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick – building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

“As the UK heads towards an important new chapter, Gatwick’s growing global connections are needed more than ever but this must be achieved in the most sustainable way. From using new technologies on our main runway, to the innovative proposal to bring our existing standby runway into routine use, our draft master plan offers agile, productive and low-impact ways of unlocking much-needed new capacity and increased resilience from within our existing infrastructure.

“Gatwick’s growth has been built through partnership so as we look ahead at our future development, we want to shape these plans together with our local communities, our passengers, our airlines and partners. We would encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation process. This will help shape our plans for securing the region’s prosperity.”

Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley, said:

“Crawley’s prosperity depends on the success of Gatwick Airport and the publication of this new draft master plan goes a long way to securing future growth in the town. I have always supported the airport growing within its existing boundaries and welcome their exciting new vision for incremental growth that will support more jobs and opportunity in Crawley.”

Tim Wates, Chairman of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“A strong and growing Gatwick airport as the beating heart of the Coast to Capital region is the central theme of the LEP’s strategic vision, so we welcome the publication of Gatwick’s master plan today and wholeheartedly support its vision for future growth.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

“Now more than ever, unlocking new aviation capacity to deliver global trade links is critical for a strong UK economy. London’s airports are set to be full in the next decade, so the CBI welcomes Gatwick’s highly productive proposals to deliver increased capacity that complements expansion schemes at other airports. This will drive trade and investment, create new jobs and help British businesses thrive.”

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said:

“Our cooperation with Gatwick Airport has given us a strong platform to deliver more consumers lower fares on intercontinental flights. As we continue our global growth, we welcome any increases in airport capacity in the Greater London Area that support our commercial interests and ultimately benefit consumers.”


About London Gatwick

Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 240 destinations in 74 countries for 45 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services.

It is also a major economic driver for the UK contributing £5.3 billion to national GDP and generating 85,000 jobs nationally, with around 24,000 on the wider airport campus alone. 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.


Master plan 2012

Our current master plan was published in 2012 and will be replaced in 2019, once our draft master plan is finalised.

Gatwick master plan 2012
Gatwick master plan appendices 2012

The consultation:

Consultation will run from 18 October 2018 to 5pm on 10 January 2019

Details at

If the proposals are carried out, the runway will be extended by 12 metres and used to allow an additional 10-15 short-haul flights to take off every hour.

The plans state that a terminal expansion, construction of an additional aircraft pier of landing gates and work on roads around the airport could also be carried out to accommodate the extra passengers.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Oliver Hayes criticised the plans as “expansion by the back door”, arguing that they would have “huge” detrimental impacts on biodiversity and air quality.

“The challenge of preventing dangerous climate chaos means that further expansion of any airport, anywhere, can’t be up for consideration,” Hayes said.

“We can’t be serious about stopping catastrophic climate change on the one hand and send aviation emissions soaring on the other. The environmental case for expanding airport capacity is non-existent and increasing airport capacity, which obviously means more flights, is totally at odds with the policy direction needed to meet the unfolding climate crisis.”

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) commented:

Using ‘emergency’ runway routinely would increase capacity to 68-70 million passengers (from 43million in 2016), and cater for up to 390,000 flights annually (compared to 290,000 in 2016). Capacity with just one runway estimated to be 61million, 17% more than DfT estimate

Growth on this scale isn’t factored into the Government’s aviation CO2 forecasts and will increase the UK’s total aviation emissions – which are already estimated to exceed the max level advised by @theCCCuk to meet climate obligations by 2050 – by a further million tonnes p.a.!


The Draft Gatwick Master Plan says–community/growing-gatwick/gatwick-draft-master-plan-final.pdf

A higher level of growth would be possible if we bring the existing standby runway into regular use (for departing flights only). The standby runway is currently used only when the main runway is temporarily closed. Our 1979 Section 52 Agreement2 with West Sussex County Council precludes the simultaneous use of both runways. This agreement expires in 2019. By operating both runways simultaneously, we would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours, which could deliver up to 70 million passengers by 2032. The airfield would need some reconfiguration and some additional support infrastructure would be required. However we expect to keep the airport development within the airport’s existing footprint and the airport would remain a two terminal operation. Initial indications are that aircraft noise generated by this scheme would be broadly similar to today’s level.


See also


Gatwick’s subterfuge with its emergency runway – or a 2nd runway, by any other name. Comment by GACC

In response to Gatwick airport announcing they plan to use their emergency runway, as a 2nd runway, local campaign, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Chairman, Peter Barclay, said, “We strongly oppose any 2nd runway at Gatwick and it will fight this proposal tooth and nail.” The Emergency Runway is located parallel to and only approximately 190m north of the main runway. Planning permission for the emergency runway was granted solely on the basis that – under no circumstances – could it be used in conjunction with the main runway. The CAA permission is that only one runway can be used at a time, and the emergency runway can only be used if the main runway is out of action. New planning consent (DCO) from Crawley council would be needed for the change of use, and also consent from the CAA and other safety bodies. Peter said: “The proposal, which may bring in excess of 80,000 additional flights a year, will simply increase the problems already being experienced by local communities – noise, air pollution and excessive road traffic. It would also put even greater pressure on the tottering road and rail infrastructure both locally and further afield. … Gatwick is attempting to get a 2nd runway via the back door, as it were.”

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