‘Momentum behind Gatwick as the solution that best answers all the questions’ – Stewart Wingate
11 November 2014
Momentum is building behind Gatwick's case for expansion as people increasingly realise that it can provide the solution to a problem that has dogged policy-making in Britain for well over a decade, Stewart Wingate CEO of London Gatwick Airport said today.
The comments came on the day the Airports Commission published its national public consultation document on airport expansion.
This is the first time that Gatwick has been considered for expansion and it is now seen as a very credible alternative to expansion at Heathrow as the Commission’s consultation document today has underlined. Recent polling has shown that a majority of Londoners, given a straight choice, would support expansion at Gatwick over Heathrow.
The Airports Commission document highlights the strengths of Gatwick's case:
The System: as the Commission states, “In terms of the nature of the capacity that is needed, the Commission did not consider that there was a binary choice between providing additional hub capacity or additional point-to-point capacity. Instead, future recommendations should aim to support the continuation of an airport system that caters for a range of airline business models. This would be particularly important in a competitive airport system, like London, where airlines can choose how to use the available capacity, and the market can be expected to respond dynamically to the provision of new infrastructure.[i]”
The Economy: the summary notes that Gatwick’s scheme has the flexibility to accommodate a range of business models and airline types, and would result in “roughly a doubling of existing capacity at Gatwick and is sufficient to meet the Commission’s assessment of need for new capacity by 2030[http://[ii]][ii]”. The Commission also estimates there could be wider benefits within the economy up to £127 billion[http://[iii]][iii].
The Environment: the Commission’s analysis confirms that the numbers of people affected by aircraft noise from an expanded Gatwick would increase but are much lower than the numbers affected at Heathrow today stating “the numbers of people affected in even the upper-end scenario are significantly below the total numbers at Heathrow, where currently some 760,000 people fall within the 55 do minimum Lden contour[iv].”
Competition: the Commission states Gatwick “would enhance competition in the London airport system[v]”.Gatwick believes more competition would reduce fares, raise standards and provide more choice for passengers.
Cost: the Commission states that the £9.3 billion cost of Gatwick expansion is “significantly lower than those of either of the Heathrow expansion schemes[vi]” and that “the level of finance is not unprecedented for infrastructure projects and airports[vii]”.
Deliverability: the Commission states that expansion at Gatwick can actually happen - “The delivery risks associated with the Gatwick scheme are assessed as relatively low, and the Commission considers an opening date in 2025 achievable[viii]”.
Surface Access: the Commission also states that improvements to road and rail access at Gatwick – much of which Gatwick points out are already committed and/or funded – would cost £787 million[http://[ix]][ix]. At Heathrow, the improvements to surface access required to support expansion at Heathrow are estimated to cost £5.7 billion[http://[x]][x]; these works would include the tunnelling of the M25 to accommodate the new runway.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said:
“The Airport Commission’s consultation published today underlines why momentum is gathering behind Gatwick’s case for airport expansion in the South East. The Commission will have to consider a range of factors in making their final decision. Their report today indicates why expansion at Gatwick best answers all the questions. It can give the country two world class airports.
“The UK gets the economic benefit it needs at a fraction of the environmental impact of Heathrow today. It would mean competition and lower fares for passengers. We have a financing plan and a construction project that can be delivered without huge risk to the public purse.
“After decades of indecision, the UK needs something to happen. As the Commission underlines Gatwick can actually be delivered by 2025. We have a safeguarded site with little risk and no complex construction across major motorways. Our new runway can be funded without a penny of taxpayers’ money at a time when there are a lot of other competing priorities for public funds.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Commission during the consultation phase.”
[http://[i]][i] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 1.11
[http://[ii]][ii] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.11
[http://[iii]][iii] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.23
[http://[iv]][iv] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.34
[http://[v]][v] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.18
[http://[vi]][vi] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.39
[http://[vii]][vii] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.42
[http://[viii]][viii] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.45
[http://[ix]][ix] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.44
[http://[x]][x] Airports Commission: Consultation Document, para 3.147