Poll shows SMEs across the UK want Gatwick expanded

02 March 2015

A new YouGov poll published today has shown small and medium sized business leaders up and down the country would prefer Gatwick to be expanded, with those running manufacturing and construction firms among the most supportive.

The results prove that Gatwick’s growth is supported by businesses in this crucial sector from all corners of the UK. Gatwick expansion is best for the UK and regions because it supports not only the growth of connectivity to London but also the growth and business development of other airports around the UK.

In the week that Heathrow’s connectivity taskforce is set to outline its findings, Gatwick has also announced that, with expansion, it will serve 15 domestic cities if it built a new runway – up from 10 today.  Gatwick already flies directly to more UK destinations than Heathrow whose domestic services have been progressively been cut back.

The increase in domestic destinations would see an expanded Gatwick fly a total of 18 million passengers to and from London – one million more than a three runway Heathrow.

London Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “An expanded Gatwick will deliver more competition and choice and, crucially, for businesses across the UK, it will have the dual benefit of better connectivity to London as well as a stronger network of airports around the country.

“A strong network of airports around the UK will provide cheaper airfares, more choice and better services for all travellers. A third runway at Heathrow, however, would restrict competition, reduce choice and connectivity, and restrict the growth of airports outside London.

“Expand Gatwick and the country gets two world-class gateways within a competitive network of airports and everyone will benefit from cheaper airfares through vigorous competition.”

Gatwick’s new domestic destinations may include Dundee, Isle of Man, Liverpool, Londonderry and Nottingham and are further evidence that expanding Gatwick would be the best option for improving connectivity around the UK – a point the Institute of Director’s recently made in its submission to the Airports Commission*.

In contrast to Gatwick’s new flights, a recent OECD report said that an expanded Heathrow’s charges would discourage more flights to other UK airports. The report also said a bigger Heathrow would also ‘diminish’ the chance of new long haul services flying directly out of other UK airports.

For these reasons many UK airports are concerned that the expansion of Heathrow would unravel the benefits of airport liberalisation – a move that saw BAA broken up and competition between UK airports introduced. Gatwick can also reveal today that passenger numbers at these airports are twice those at the smaller airports that support Heathrow – even after excluding passenger numbers at Gatwick.

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