Gatwick signs up Bechtel as new partner in runway bid

Rebecca Smith
Virgin Atlantic Plane Circles Over Gatwick Airport
Gatwick (Source: Getty)

Gatwick Airport has announced a strategic partnership with construction giant Bechtel to deliver a second runway by 2025 – should it win over the government with its expansion plans.

The airport hopes this confirmation will give it the edge over Heathrow, ahead of the long-awaited decision on which airport the government will back. Heathrow won over the Airports Commission last year, but numerous delays have postponed the official decision with the Brexit vote and David Cameron’s follow-up resignation causing further setbacks.

Bechtel project managed the Channel Tunnel and HS1, while it is also on track to complete work on the £14.8bnCrossrail, both on time and on budget. It worked with Gatwick for two years to develop a robust delivery programme and logistics strategy to guarantee an on-time delivery of a second runway and midfield terminal. As part of this work, Bechtel confirmed that expansion at Gatwick would be low risk.

Gatwick supporters are likely to emphasise that point as a notable string in its bow, as the airport benefits from relatively thin population density in the nearby area which minimises interferences. Rival Heathrow on the other hand has offered to reshape plans to cut costs and deliver the runway earlier, by circumventing the road system around the airport.

Gatwick Airport’s CEO Stewart Wingate, said: “A bigger Gatwick would generate the new long haul routes and the economic boost that Britain needs. Gatwick expansion can happen quickly because it is simple and low risk with a dramatically lower environmental impact.”

If the Gatwick plans were to win the support of the government, Bechtel would project manage the airport’s second runway programme, with the support of architect Sir Terry Farrell. Farrell claimed his designs would eliminate queues and speed up passenger transit, while a second runway would “turbocharge” economic growth in the South East.

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