Bigger Gatwick could give lift to south of London

Marion Dakers
GATWICK Airport argued yesterday that building a second runway would regenerate south London and offer better links for the city than expansion at Heathrow.

Sir Terry Farrell, the architect planning a new runway for the airport, said a larger Gatwick could produce the same sort of boost that the Olympics did for east London.

“It’s not an extension, it’s not an add on, it’s a fundamental transformation of this airport. It puts it on the map as a truly international airport,” Farrell said in a presentation yesterday.

Gatwick, which is competing with Heathrow for permission to build another runway, said yesterday its expansion plan would cost £7bn, around £400m of which would be spent on road and rail links.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate said his airport better caters for the short-haul journeys that make up 62 per cent of all London traffic. “[Heathrow] have priced themselves out of the market. The airport charges destroyed the low cost market,” he said.

“The same long haul destinations can be served. We are not saying we want to close Heathrow… we are just saying it would be madness to expand it.”

By Gatwick’s sums, a second runway would mean London’s two biggest airports serve 442 destinations by 2050, compared to 415 if Heathrow were given a third runway.

Heathrow, meanwhile, says it can build a third runway to the north west of the airport by 2026 for around £17bn and offer more hub connections to long-haul destinations.

A spokesperson said yesterday: “Heathrow is not opposed to a second runway at Gatwick, but it will not solve the urgent need for hub capacity, which uses transfer passengers to support the frequent and direct long haul routes vital to business and trade.”

The government’s airports commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to recommend a spot for a new runway after the 2015 general election. The option of building a brand new airport in the Thames Estuary will be ruled in or out this autumn.