London Gatwick Airport has responded to the government’s decision to favour Heathrow expansion, with a strong message about its own future.
Gatwick – the UK’s second busiest airport and the world’s most efficient single runway airport with 42 million passengers a year – maintains it has a strong case for expansion.
The airport’s management argues a new runway at Gatwick is the cheaper, quicker and more environmentally friendly option over expanding Heathrow.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “We are disappointed as we do not believe [Heathrow expansion] is the right answer for Britain.
“Gatwick has put forward a credible financeable and deliverable plan for expansion.
“It is a plan that can guarantee growth and guarantee certainty for Britain.
“The challenges facing Heathrow have not changed. Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.”
A 30-year agreement not to expand Gatwick is due to expire in just three years’ time. And Stewart Wingate says everything is in place to commence work on a privately-funded second runway, to be completed by 2025.
Indeed, Mr Wingate has indicated construction giant Bechtel is their provisional choice to carry out the work.
Bechtel has worked on building and modernising 100 airports across the world in the past 70 years. The US firm has also completed extensive construction work on UK soil, including the Channel Tunnel and the HS1 rail link.
Commenting on Heathrow’s two previous attempts at expansion in 2003 and 2009, Stewart Wingate said:
“There is one reason why Heathrow has repeatedly tried and failed to expand – its location.”
Before becoming Prime Minister in 2009, David Cameron stated: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead… no ifs, no buts.”
In its report last year, the Airports Commission rejected Gatwick’s expansion plans, claiming the airport would not be in a position to deliver the required volume of “long-haul destinations in new markets”.
Following the decision, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: “An expanded Gatwick would have boosted our economy without the huge air and noise pollution problems Heathrow will create.
“There is cross-party opposition to Heathrow expansion, and cross-party support for Gatwick expansion.”
The Mayor intends to challenge the decision and continue to campaign for Gatwick expansion over Heathrow.