Bosses at Gatwick are due to outline plans to take the airport into the next decade which include the possibility of expansion through building a second runway. Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, hit out at the message coming from Heathrow that airports in the south east of the UK are at capacity. He said that it was irresponsible to suggest to foreign airlines and emerging economies that the country will soon be closed for business.
Mr Wingate said that there was still plenty of room left at both Stansted and Gatwick and that capacity could easily be increased by expansion at either airport. He added that another runway at Gatwick would be cheaper than expanding Heathrow or constructing an airport in the Thames Estuary.
The airport boss went on to say that less people would be affected by noise pollution if Gatwick got another runway than the number of people who would suffer if a third runway was given the go ahead at Heathrow.
A long-awaited white paper on aviation is due to be published by ministers. This has fuelled the capacity debate and prompted the Aviation Foundation to make a number of recommendations on how the government should evaluate its aviation policy. The organisation is made up of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, BAA and Manchester Airports Group.
A spokesperson for BAA, owner of Heathrow Airport, said that although there was still capacity at point-to-point airports in the capital, businesses required a hub which provides daily flights to emerging markets.