Gatwick airport considers bringing standby runway into "routine use"

Gatwick Airport

In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations.

Canada's biggest pension fund is preparing to swoop for part of a stake in London's Gatwick Airport that could be worth more than £3bn - days after it unveiled a plan to use its emergency runway to boost capacity.

Gatwick said Thursday that it believed it could bring the standby runway into routine use for departing flights by the mid 2020's, potentially years before additional capacity is online at Heathrow.

At present, the main runway and standby runway are just 198 metres apart, 12 metres too close to satisfy official guidelines set down by The International Civil Aviation Organization.

If it proceeds with a transaction, the Canadian retirement scheme, which managed $356.1bn (£272bn) at the end of its financial year in March, would invest hundreds of millions of pounds in Britain's second-biggest airport, according to insiders.

The plan would see the maintenance and emergency runway - which runs parallel to the main runway - fractionally further to the north, in order for it to comply with "all global safety requirement".

The plan also proposes the use of technology to increase the concentration of flights using the main runway.

Finally, while Gatwick is not now actively pursuing the option of building a brand-new runway to the south of the airport - as it did through the Airports Commission process - Gatwick believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.

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The draft master plan is being announced to the airport's independent consultative committee GATCOM which meets today.

Following reports that Gatwick intends to use its emergency runway for commercial flight, an airport spokesman said the airport was "exploring how to make best use of its existing runways, including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use".

The mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: "I've always been clear that the south-east needs additional airport capacity and that this could be delivered quicker and more cheaply at Gatwick, without the same impact a new runway at Heathrow would have".

The airport operators have said the next step toward a second runway is a 12-week public consultation followed by a detailed plan that would be submitted to planning authorities.

He said: "Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick, building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead".

"The draft plan will set out for our local communities, partners, airlines, and stakeholders three possible growth scenarios", the airport reportedly said.

Sally Pavey, chair of Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, known as CAGNE, said: "This is totally underhand, a stab in the heart for residents that thought they could get on with their lives after the runway debate was won by Heathrow Airport". "This will help shape our plans for securing the region's prosperity".

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