Friday, October 19, 2018

Gatwick Airport Publishes Plans for Air Freight and Passengers for the Future

More Controversy as Campaigners Say Scheme is 'Expansion by the Back Door'
Shipping News Feature
UK – Gatwick Airport has set out an ambitious vision for the future with the publication of its draft master plan, which looks at how the airport might grow in the longer term as the airport, which lays claim to be the UK's second largest airport, looks to better compete with rival Heathrow in terms of both passenger and air freight traffic.

In 2017/18, Gatwick handled just over 102,000 tonnes of cargo, a 24% increase on the previous year, driven by its additional long-haul services. Air cargo is forecast to continue growing strongly over the coming years, driven by the growth in long-haul services. Total throughput is expected to more than double to around 220,000 tonnes by 2032/33.

According to Gatwick management, route-level analysis reveals that, in terms of cargo volumes carried, long-haul routes at Gatwick perform at a level similar to comparable routes at London Heathrow. With the resurgence in long-haul services currently being experienced, Gatwick says that it is already seeing cargo volumes responding proportionately.

As the UK approaches Brexit following the decision to leave the EU, Gatwick says that the development of its airport will help meet the future aviation demand it envisages with sustainable growth and by ensuring strong connections between Britain and its global markets. It will also provide new opportunities for the South East and continue to bolster the local economy for future generations.

The publication of the airport’s draft master plan reflects Department for Transport guidance for airports to provide regular updates on their long-term plans, and responds to the Government’s call, earlier this year, for them to ‘make best use of their existing runways’. However the plan includes regular use of the emergency runway for smaller aircraft, something which has drawn criticism from local groups which accuse the airport of expansion by deceitful means.

Whilst many local businesses would welcome the increase in routes such an expansion may bring, the same cannot be said for objectors, such as those from the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) and the campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) which said in a statement:

"This is simply betrayal of communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent who have already endured the increases in long haul movements this year by 24.1%. This is a second runway by the back door, how can communities ever trust Gatwick management again?"

Gatwick says that it remains dedicated to sustainable growth in this draft master plan, building on its previous commitments which has seen the Carbon Trust naming Gatwick as the best performer for combined reduction of operational carbon, water and waste impacts in the past two years, all while passenger numbers and shipments of cargo carried continued to grow.

The draft master plan considers how Gatwick could grow across three scenarios, looking ahead to the early 2030s:

  • Main runway - using new technology to increase capacity

    In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations. Gatwick has successfully utilised its runway to unlock growth in recent years and remains the world’s most efficient single runway. The use of the latest technology could provide more opportunities for the future.

  • Standby runway - bringing existing standby runway into routine use

    Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019. The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.

    This innovative development, which would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience. While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges. Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation.

  • Additional runway - safeguarding for the future

    While Gatwick is not currently actively pursuing the option of building a brand new runway to the south of the airport - as it did through the Airports Commission process - Gatwick believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.

The airport is now keen to encourage responses to a 12-week public consultation it has launched to gather feedback and views on the draft master plan. All responses will be reviewed before a final version of the master plan is agreed early next year. Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick commented:

“Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick – building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

“As the UK heads towards an important new chapter, Gatwick’s growing global connections are needed more than ever but this must be achieved in the most sustainable way. From using new technologies on our main runway, to the innovative proposal to bring our existing standby runway into routine use, our draft master plan offers agile, productive and low-impact ways of unlocking much-needed new capacity and increased resilience from within our existing infrastructure.

“Gatwick’s growth has been built through partnership so as we look ahead at our future development, we want to shape these plans together with our local communities, our passengers, our airlines and partners. We would encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation process. This will help shape our plans for securing the region’s prosperity.”

Photo: This shot shows a DeHaviland DH.86 at the official opening of Gatwick Airport in 1936.