Gatwick’s not going down without a fight.
In the battle over airport expansion, Heathrow may have just won the support of the Scottish government for its third runway proposal, but Gatwick has just announced a record month.
In September 4.3 million passengers travelled through the airport (up 6.9 per cent on the same month last year). The airport was bullish about its stats, noting that it now serves 42.3 million passengers a year; a milestone the Airports Commission predicted it wouldn’t reach until 2030.
Long-haul routes remain an area of growth for the airport – rising 29 per cent on September last year. It starts new routes to Cape Town and Moscow in a few weeks – adding to the 20 new long haul routes this year, including routes to China, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, the US and Peru.
Gatwick drew attention to the Airports Commission's forecasts last month too - deeming its conclusions "fundamentally flawed". One claim it revisited with the September stats was that Gatwick would need more than 50 long haul services and would not reach that mark until near 2050. Gatwick serves over 50 today.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate, said: “We are already decades ahead of predictions on passenger and long-haul growth and the demand for expansion at Gatwick is clear to see.”
He added: “Airport expansion has failed to get off the ground in the past because of insurmountable obstacles such as the air quality and noise impacts that make Heathrow undeliverable. It is time for a new solution. For the first time in this decades-long debate, Gatwick has demonstrated that it can deliver all of the economic benefits at a dramatically lower environmental impact.”
The original Airports Commission report in July last year recommended that Heathrow’s third runway be the selected expansion plan as the “clear and unanimous” choice – as long as it met stringent conditions on noise and air pollution.
Earlier this month Gatwick unveiled a deal with Bechtel to deliver a second runway by 2025, should it win over the government with its expansion proposals. They worked together for two years to craft a robust delivery programme and logistics strategy to guarantee on-time delivery of a second runway and midfield terminal.
The airport has also indicated it will continue preparations to expand, regardless of what the government’s decision turns out to be – effectively ready on standby, predicting that Heathrow was “likely to fail” in building a third runway, even if the project got the go-ahead.