Gatwick airport could bring its standby runway into “routine use” by the mid-2020s to deliver its “ambitious” long-term growth plans.
The airport on Thursday (October 18) published a draft masterplan, setting out how it aims to meet “future aviation demand”.
It comes after the government earlier this year, following its approval of expansion at Heathrow through a third runway, encouraged airports to submit proposals for how to make better use of its existing facilities, such as runways and airspace.
The Times reports work to bring the airport’s backup runway into full passenger use would cost around £500 million and allow the airport to handle an extra 50,000 flights a year.
The masterplan says running the runways simultaneously would add between 10 to 15 additional hourly aircraft movements at peak times, delivering up to 70 million passengers by 2032.
A 40-year agreement with West Sussex county council signed by Gatwick promising not to bring its standby runway into regular use is due to lapse next year.
Bringing a second runway into use by the mid-2020 could potentially undercut Heathrow’s plans to operate have its third runway operational by 2026.
Gatwick is proposing three growth strategies covering the next 12 to 15 years: increasing capacity via its main runway through new technology; bringing its standby runway into “routine use”; or by adding a full-time second runway.
The masterplan has gone out to a 12-week public consultation starting Thursday with a view to producing a final masterplan early next year.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “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.”
Campaign group, Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions, branded the move by Gatwick “shameful” and “underhand”.
The group said existing infrastructure, such as the M23 and the Brighton main line, would not be able to absorb the increase in passengers.