Gatwick Airport has today unveiled its full plans to add a second permanent runway despite the current shortage of passenger numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the scheme, which was first announced back in 2018, the Crawley airport’s northern runway, which is currently used in emergencies and as a taxiway, will be modified for routine use.
This will allow the airport to add 55,000 flights a year to its schedules, and increase its annual passenger capacity to 75m by 2038, up from 46m in 2019.
In 2020, amid the worst crisis the aviation industry has ever seen, this tumbled to 10.2m.
The airport said that the move would generate approximately 18,400 additional jobs by the same year and add an expected £1.5bn in gross value added (GVA) to the regional economy.
A three-month consultation on the plan will start in September, with Gatwick then planning to apply for a Development Consent Order, a necessary step for government-designated Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “While we are currently experiencing low passenger and air traffic volumes due to the global pandemic, we are confident that Gatwick will not only fully recover to previous passenger levels, but has the potential to continue to grow back into one of Europe’s premier airports.
“Our plans to bring our existing Northern Runway into routine use will not only help to secure that growth but will also ensure many thousands of additional jobs and a vital boost to the economy for our local region.”
In order to bring it into permanent use, the airport is proposing moving the centre line of the runway north by 12 metres.
This meets international safety standards to operate dual runway departures.
The announcement comes just weeks after the airport announced that it had lost a further £245m in the first half of 2021.
As a result of the pandemic, it said that it would defer £570m of capital expenditure planned for the next two years due to the need to cut costs.
Yet the decision to go ahead with the expansion plan is a sign of Gatwick’s confidence in the travel industry’s recovery.
Back in January owner Vinci and infrastructure fund GIP confirmed that it would fund the next stage of the expansion plan.