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Gatwick summer delays give rise to watchdog probe

Rebecca Smith
Apparently fewer than 50 per cent of Gatwick flights took off on time during the summer
Apparently fewer than 50 per cent of Gatwick flights took off on time during the summer (Source: Getty)

​A series of late take-offs at Gatwick during the summer has caught the attention of the Civil Aviation Authority.

It is currently investigating the airport to find out the reasons for the drop in “on-time performance” as part of a long-planned review of Gatwick’s regulation.

The CAA said a review was under way, but did not confirm statistics in The Sunday Times that said fewer than 50 per cent of flights took off punctually during June, July and August.

The CAA defines punctual as within 16 minutes of schedule. Between 51 per cent and 63 per cent of flights were said to have landed on time.

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Gatwick is currently home to the world’s busiest single runway, handling up to 55 flights an hour and around 43m passengers a year. That’s up from 50 flights and 31m passengers seven years ago.

The reasons given for the drop in the airport’s on-time performance include Gatwick trying to cram too many flights through, airline using take-off slots inefficiently and air traffic strikes.

Gatwick said: “This year some of our airlines have been affected by weather disruption and air traffic controller strikes in Europe that have made it difficult to meet what are, in some cases, quite ambitious scheduling targets.”

Earlier this summer, Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said Gatwick was rapidly approaching full capacity – hence the need for a second runway. The government’s highly-anticipated decision on airport expansion is due in the coming weeks.

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Gatwick recently announced a strategic partnership with construction giant Bechtel, confirming its ability to deliver a second runway by 2025, if it were to be given the green light by the government. Bechtel worked with Gatwick for two years to cook up a robust delivery programme and logistics strategy to guarantee an on-time delivery of a second runway and midfield terminal.

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