Gatwick has revealed plans to bring its second runway into “routine use” as a way to increase capacity at the Sussex airport.
The airport is proposing that its northern runway could be used by departing aircraft by repositioning its centre line further north by 12 metres, which would enable both runways to be operational at the same time.
Gatwick said this plan would be a “low impact way of unlocking new capacity by using existing runway infrastructure” and would be “in line” with government requirements for UK airports to make the most of their existing runways.
The airport said the plan would allow it to handle up to 75 million passengers per year by 2038 – by comparison, Gatwick catered for 46.6 million passengers in 2019 before the Covid crisis caused traffic to slump to just 10.2 million in 2020.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “While we are currently experiencing low passenger and air traffic volumes due to the global pandemic, we are confident that Gatwick will not only fully recover to previous passenger levels, but has the potential to continue to grow back into one of Europe’s premier airports.
“Our plans to bring our existing northern runway into routine use will not only help to secure that growth but will also ensure many thousands of additional jobs and [give] a vital boost to the economy for our local region.
“Aside from the economic benefits our plans will have, we remain committed to our sustainability goals, and our northern runway plans are designed to be a low-impact way of unlocking new capacity from our existing infrastructure, much of which is already in place.”
Gatwick said bringing its second runway into routine use would also help to reduce delays and congestion. Other plans include include improving airport access and highways, as well as landscaping and “environmental mitigation”.
The airport will be running a 12-week public consultation on the plans from 9 September to 1 December.
“We would like to hear views from local people and interested groups on the proposed northern runway project as part of our comprehensive public consultation process, and encourage everyone to take time to review our plans,” added Wingate.