Gatwick has been urged to drop expansion plans by GACC campaigners due to the Covid pandemic
Gatwick Airport has been urged to drop expansion plans by campaigners in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Flights have largely been grounded during the lockdown and although business was growing in 2019, airport bosses believe it may take at least four years for passenger numbers to return to that high water mark.
Last month Gatwick confirmed it is still going ahead with plans to bring its current emergency runway into full-time use.
However this week the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) has called on the airport to drop its expansion plans, arguing that not only is there not a credible demand case, but it would be incompatible with national and local environmental goals.
He added: “We are also concerned that a planning process would absorb council and other resources that should be focused on supporting people and businesses impacted by the pandemic. GACC therefore consider that Gatwick’s planning application for the development of its emergency runway should be withdrawn. We have written to the airport’s CEO asking him to do so.”
GACC has also written to local councils urging them to take steps to agree new planning arrangements under which all future growth, including any growth deriving from more intensive use of the main runway, would be subject to rigorous planning scrutiny and consent, in line with government policy.
Meanwhile fellow campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) has criticised the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its recent decision on the emergency runway plans.
In a 12-page decision notice the CAA stressed that the objective of the current proposal is not to commence dual runway operations, but is solely to amend the airport’s aeronautical information publication entry as well as moving the centreline datum for the northern runway 12 metres to the north.
According to its decision letter: “In this respect, the CAA is satisfied that the proposal offers no change to current operations in regard to efficient use of airspace.”
It says the proposal does not look to increase aircraft movements or alter traffic patterns aside from a 12-metre lateral shift to aircraft departure/arrival points to the northern runway.
The report added: “This proposal is one element which facilitates a potential move towards dual runway operations being a possibility in the future, it does not authorise them.”
CAA says Gatwick proposal for a 2nd runway would not need airspace change, for the 50,000 extra flights on a 2nd runway
Gatwick airport has said will push ahead with plans for a 2nd runway after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that the plan for another runway will not require changes to the airspace around Gatwick. That had potentially threatened to pose a significant barrier. The CAA (paid for by the airlines) that is the regulator for the airlines, said that there would be no change to the design of flight paths in or out of Gatwick as a direct result of the new runway, adding: “The environmental impact relating to this proposal is assessed as nil.” (sic) [Presumably they are ignoring the carbon emissions which will not, of course, be nil]. Gatwick wants to have an extra 50,000 annual flights (up from around 285,000 now) by using its existing emergency runway as a full runway, part of the time. The airspace consent by the CAA effectively allows Gatwick to push ahead with a DCO (Development Consent Order), which is needed for the development, Currently the airport has been hit very hard by the Covid pandemic, with flights down by over 98% compared to last year, airlines facing almost no air travel demand, saying they may leave Gatwick, for Heathrow.
Gatwick: Likely to take 4 years for passenger levels to recover to 2019 levels (if ever …)
Gatwick has said it will not ask the Treasury for emergency loans despite fearing that passenger numbers will not return to pre-Covid levels for up to 4 years. Gatwick has already secured a £300m loan from existing banks. It has also cancelled dividends, cut a lot of costs and furloughed around 2,000 staff. Boss Stewart Wingate said: “We think it is probably going to take somewhere between 3 and 4 years to get back to the levels that we were at in 2019.” Gatwick hopes it can ride out months of losses, but want to have flights re-starting by the end of May. Unlike rivals, Gatwick said “you should do absolutely everything you possibly can that is within your control to protect the business” before asking for state aid. Gatwick is open from 2-10pm each day, for a handful of flights. Unlike rival Heathrow, which gave out over £100 million in dividends to shareholders in February, Gatwick’s owners will not be taking a dividend despite the airport announcing an 8% rise in earnings of £432m in the 9 months to December 2019. There may not be dividends till 2022. It is possible that British Airways might leave Gatwick in due course.