Almost 90,000 additional flights and 28 million extra passengers could use Gatwick Airport by 2038 should proposals to bring its emergency runway into routine use go ahead, a new report claims.
The UK’s second-busiest airport is in the process of preparing a planning application to make alterations to its existing northern airstrip, which is only currently used when the main runway is closed.
More details about Gatwick’s proposals have now been provided in a scoping report submitted to the planning inspectorate earlier this month.
The report states that along with bringing the emergency runway into regular use, the West Sussex airport wants to extend its north and south terminals, and build three new hotels – two of which will have up to 400 rooms.
By 2038, it is anticipated the improvements could increase the airport’s capacity to 74 million passengers each year, compared to the 46 million who used it in 2018, the report said.
Annual flights are also proposed to increase from 284,000 in 2018 to 373,800 in 2038.
The centre lines of Gatwick’s main and emergency runways are separated by 198 metres (650ft).
The proposals involve widening that gap by re-positioning the emergency runway’s centre line to the north by 12 metres to comply with safety regulations.
While arrivals would continue to use the existing runway, departing aircraft would use both.
The project is part of the airport’s 2019 master plan, which the report says is a “direct response” to the Government’s policy of making the best use of existing runways.
Gatwick lost out to Heathrow in a bid to obtain Government approval to build an additional runway, amid a need for more airport capacity in the South East.
A planning restriction which had historically prevented Gatwick’s northern airstrip from being used at the same time as the main runway expired in August this year.
The report says construction work could begin in 2021, with the altered northern runway fully operational by 2026.
Extensions to the terminal buildings would likely take place between 2025 and 2029, the report said, while the hotels and commercial facilities would not be completed until 2032.
The scoping report, which was published on the national infrastructure planning website, identifies any environmental effects that will need to be assessed as part of any future planning application.
Local campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions claimed earlier this year that the plan would lead to “a second runway by stealth” and accused the airport of being “the neighbour from hell”.
In order to gain planning permission to routinely use the stand-by runway, Gatwick must follow the Development Consent Order process that culminates in a final decision by the Transport Secretary.