Gatwick talks up new runway to lift UK capacity

Marion Dakers
GATWICK Airport claimed yesterday that it could build a new runway for as little as £5bn and more than double its passenger capacity to 87m a year.

The airport said a second runway could be up and running by 2025, making it the quickest and cheapest way to boost air links for London and the south east of England.

Chief financial officer Nick Dunn said the costs, estimated at between £5bn and £9bn, would be borne by the airport’s owners. The government already plans to improve the airport’s road and rail links, whether or not a second runway goes ahead, he added.

“The world balance has shifted and doesn’t need London to act as a staging point for transfer traffic,” he told City A.M. yesterday.

“That doesn’t downplay London’s importance…. [but] we shouldn’t stand here planning what aviation will look like in decades’ time by applying the idea that we should be the same as we have been for the last 20 years.”

Airports, interest groups and politicians have clashed over the best way raise capacity in the UK.

Heathrow’s proposed third runway would cost at least £14bn and be running by 2025 at the earliest, while a new hub in the Thames Estuary would cost upwards of £50bn and take until 2029.

All expansion plans are being considered by the government’s commission on aviation, which will make a shortlist this year and a decision in 2015.

“If you look at other world cities, time and time again they are serviced by a network of airports,” said Dunn.

He claimed that spreading capacity across London is unlikely to lead to transfer passengers having to travel between airports.