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Gatwick reveals runway plan to boost capacity

23 October 2018 09:42

London Gatwick's bid to build a second runaway was rejected in December 2016

London Gatwick's bid to build a second runaway was rejected in December 2016

Gatwick Airport has revealed £500 million plans to increase its passenger capacity - by using its emergency runway.

The UK's second busiest airport is proposing to widen its emergency runaway to bring it into full commercial use, a move which would allow for up to 109,000 more flights every year.

In December 2016, Gatwick's bid to build a second runway was rejected by the UK Government, which opted to expand Heathrow instead.

Now opponents to the West Sussex airport's new expansion plans claim that the latest proposal would increase congestion, noise, and air pollution in surrounding communities.

Widening the runway

Gatwick says it could begin using its emergency runway for regular flights by the summer of 2025, just months before Heathrow's third runway is due to open.

The centre lines of Gatwick's main and emergency runways are separated by 198 metres, but the plan involves increasing the gap by widening the emergency runway by 12 metres.

The main runway would continue to be used for larger planes to take off and for all aircraft to land, but smaller aircraft such as the A321, A320 and B737 could take off from the emergency runway.

Once opened, annual flight numbers are expected to increase from 281,000 today to as many as 390,000 in 2032-33, according to Gatwick's figures.

Draft masterplan

The proposal forms part of a draft masterplan, which also includes using new technology to increase capacity on the main runway and safeguarding the land where a new runway would be built if permission is obtained in the future.

A 40-year-old planning agreement with West Sussex County Council stating the standby runway can only be used in an emergency or when the main one is closed for maintenance expires next year.

Gatwick bosses say the conversion of the runway to full use would meet all international safety requirements and not increase the airport's noise footprint.

The airport's chief executive Stewart Wingate said its master plan is an "innovative proposal" that offers "agile, productive and low-impact ways of unlocking much-needed new capacity".

Peter Barclay, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, accused the airport of "attempting to get a second runway via the back door" and pledged to "fight this proposal tooth and nail".

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