Sir David Higgins detailed the plans for Gatwick Airport, at the Develop Croydon Conference, as it looks to increase its capacity for the future.
He highlighted the importance of the airport to the UK economy as a national asset. It is Europe’s fifth biggest airport and has huge growth, particularly in the number of destinations. The airport’s focus on accessing new destinations such as West Asia, Africa and across China has helped it to become one of the EU’s fastest growing airports.
He then noted the importance of investment in infrastructure and assets, with the level of investment fundamental to future success. The airport is currently at full capacity, so it needs to consider how to deal with growth, which is why the Draft Masterplan 2018 has been put in place.
“Gatwick accepts the third runway at Heathrow, but in June 2018 the Government Airport Strategy highlighted the need to make the best use of current assets,” he said.
“Our plan is now out for consultation to start getting people’s views and we will go through a planning submission in a few years’ time. This is about consulting with users, airlines and businesses about possible uses.”
Sir David then detailed the three potential plans in place:
- Making best use of the existing main runway.
- Using the existing standby runway regularly. Having looked at the customer base, it was concluded that 80% of flights are using smaller ‘type c’ aircraft so there is capacity to use the standby runway more efficiently, with the proposals suggesting this could be used for all departures and then the main runway for landings. “This would be a pragmatic use of an existing asset and cheaper than a second runway,” he said.
- Safeguarding land to allow for a second runway. He stressed the need to look at long term masterplans and so it was deemed responsible to consider safeguarding future expansion plans in case the opportunity arises again.
He continued to explain the effect this would have on Croydon, should the standby runway option be implemented: “If we proceed with option two this would increase the number of people using Gatwick Airport but also there will be an increase in freight through the airport. Croydon is a commercial hub that is central to Gatwick Airport and will benefit from the plans for expansion as it is only 15 minutes away, this would create more jobs and growth.”
Sir David then gave his backing to the Network Rail plans for East Croydon Station and the Brighton Main Line.
“Public transport is important to the Airport. We want to improve Gatwick train station and plan to invest in the station and upgrades. East Croydon is the main constraint to increased capacity. The plans would provide future capacity for the next 20 years, so I am a massive supporter of this.”