Gatwick’s main airline opposed to expansion

Chief executive of Gatwick Airport Ltd Stewart Wingate and chief executive of easyJet Carolyn McCall - photo courtesy of Gatwick Airport
Chief executive of Gatwick Airport Ltd Stewart Wingate and chief executive of easyJet Carolyn McCall - photo courtesy of Gatwick Airport

Gatwick’s largest airline operator believes there is ‘little appetite’ for enough airlines to use the airport to warrant building a second runway.

Responding to the Airports Commission consultation on airport expansion, easyJet outlines its opposition to a second runway at Gatwick.

The airline, which flies 41 per cent of all passengers at Gatwick, believes the airport would have to increase charges to pay for the work.

Chief executive officer Carolyn McCall writes: “Gatwick is a much improved airport under its new owners and management team and easyJet is committed to continuing to grow our operations there.

“However, there is no evidence that passenger demand at Gatwick, and therefore its range of airlines and their networks, will be significantly expanded with an additional runway. Gatwick slots have been and are still readily available now which would allow long haul airlines to move to or expand at Gatwick. History shows that there is little appetite to do so and, in fact, many have left the airport.”

She added: “The demand from passengers of all types – business and leisure, long and short haul, inbound and outbound – all make the case for Heathrow.”

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “EasyJet will take a position based on its own narrow commercial interests.

“The Government however will have to make a decision for the country balancing what is best for both the economy and the environment. That can only mean Gatwick.

“Gatwick can deliver its second runway without the massive environmental damage which has stopped Heathrow expansion time and time again. That means Britain can finally get on with it.

“The economy can grow without a new population the size of Coventry severely affected by noise. And fares can stay low for everyone.”

He disputed claims expansion would lead to increased charges saying they would not rise ‘beyond £12-£15 from their current level of £9’.

It came in the same week as a group of six Surrey and Sussex MPs said a second runway ‘would be a catastrophe for local communities’.

The Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) includes MP for Mid Sussex Sir Nicholas Soames and MP for Arun and South Downs Nick Herbert.

Crawley MP Henry Smith and MP for Horley Sam Gyimah have not joined them.

Speaking on the group’s behalf Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, said: “The GCG’s consultation response exposes the weakness of, but also the danger in, Gatwick Airport’s proposals. Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) mistakenly maintains that a second runway at Gatwick Airport is practically and politically the most easily delivered option.

“The GCG believes that this appraisal will help Sir Howard Davies find strongly against Gatwick’s speculative proposals when set alongside the Heathrow options.”

He added: “A recommendation and decision for a second runway at Gatwick would be a catastrophe for local communities and a disaster for the national interest.”