Gatwick now offering a ‘complimentary’ scheme to Heathrow

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Gatwick Airport chief executive, Stewart Wingate said the gateway is now offering the UK Government a “complementary scheme” to Heathrow Airport, which was backed for a third runway last month.

Speaking at the Airport Operators Association annual conference in London on 21 November, Wingate explained he is still confident its expansion plans will get the green light: “My objective is to secure an additional runway at the earliest opportunity.

“We are disappointed by the decision, but by no means despondent and continue to offer the government and expansion which is financeable and deliverable.

“There is the opportunity for the government for a complementary scheme a Gatwick. It would benefit all of the UK.”

Gatwick is seeking to build a second runway and Wingate explained it needs the government’s support to make the next step in the development due to the extensive number of hurdles that it would need to overcome to build it.

“We’re ready and we’d like to get on with it, but I think these are very complex decisions and do bring an element of controversy with them,” he said.

Prior to Wingate speaking, the government’s secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling said any decision on expanding Gatwick was a matter for future transport secretaries, seeming to rule out any immediate decision on the West Sussex airport, as there were calls and rumours it would also get the green light for expansion.

Gatwick Airport second runway proposal
Gatwick Airport second runway proposal

A positive Wingate said having competition in the marketplace can only be a good thing and he is sure ministers will look favourably at the expansion project once they look at what Gatwick is doing and will want it to expand.

Wingate refused to criticise the Heathrow expansion plan and the decision made by ministers, while he felt its bosses were not “banking” on building a third runway just yet, as there were many hurdles to overcome.

He added: “Our focus is on getting the government to endorse our plan and we think it is complimentary to the Heathrow plan.”

Grayling also earlier said he felt all UK airports would get opportunities from Brexit and the UK Government would prioritise aviation in its Brexit negotiations and strategy.

Gatwick is the busiest single runway airport in Europe for passengers, but handles limited air cargo compared to Heathrow, which has handled 1.27 million tonnes in the last 12 months.

However, last month freight at Gatwick was up 22.8 per cent to 7,807 tonnes, driven by new long-haul bellyhold services to China, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Peru, Canada and the US.

Chinese trade is expected to grow further following Tianjin Airlines’ announcement it plans a direct route to Xi’an. In the upcoming months, Gatwick will also welcome British Airways flights to Cape Town, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco, Thomas Cook services to Cape Town and Aeroflot services to Moscow.