Gatwick Airport’s chief financial officer, Nick Dunn said yesterday there were flaws with the Airport Commission’s figures concerning the potential economic benefits the UK would gain from expansion at Heathrow Airport over Gatwick.
He was speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum seminar – ‘What now for airport expansion in the South East?’ – held at the Royal Society in London.
Dunn said a Freedom of Information Act request made on data used by the commission, had found building a second runway at Gatwick would have a net boost to the UK economy of £9.1 billion ($12 billion) compared to £5.3 billion from a third runway at Heathrow.
He also said the commission had ignored key findings, while also questioned the assumptions and methods used in the final report in July last year, which backed the building of another runway at Heathrow.
The figures were taken out of the commission’s final report at the request of the government, and responding to a question from the floor, Dunn said: “Those flaws are very evident and I am sure will be taken into account by the government. If it chooses not to listen, I imagine there will be plenty of people in London who will be interested in that.”
Dunn said construction of another runway at Gatwick would have more benefits to the UK than building a third at Heathrow, as it would be faster to build, at a lower cost and also have less of an environmental impact, while in his opinion it was also deliverable unlike its rival as Gatwick’s is a “simple scheme” unlike Heathrow, while tax-payers would not be hit in the pocket.
But his speech failed to focus much on the benefits that construction of a second runway at Gatwick would have on trade links, British exports and airfreight volumes.
Dunn said Gatwick is though growing long-haul routes to emerging markets such as in China and other regions, which poured scorn on the suggestion that the airport could not grow long-haul routes like Heathrow.
Dunn did acknowledge that Heathrow would still be the main air cargo hub in the UK in the future regardless of any decision made on expansion, while he feels a second runway would lead to growth in long-haul routes, which in turn would help it grow its bellyhold tonnage.
Dunn did though point out after his speech after being pressed by an audience member that the expansion masterplan at Gatwick includes growing cargo business and it will see investment in the cargo side of the business.