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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Gatwick blasts ‘flawed’ Heathrow runway decision

Gatwick's busy runway

Gatwick airport has criticised the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow in its first detailed response since the report was published.

The airport’s CEO Stewart Wingate said the final report contained “so many omissions and basic errors” that its reliability must be questioned.

Wingate said one of the key flaws in the report surrounds Howard Davies’ proposed ban on night flights at Heathrow, which would mean fewer services if applied, but said this was not factored into the Commission’s own traffic forecasts for Heathrow.

“The restrictions would impact on the number of long haul flights to and from growth markets in the Far East, the issue at the heart of the decision to recommend Heathrow”, Gatwick said in a statement.

In the 50-page response Gatwick also said the commission’s proposals, which rejected calls to expand Gatwick, used incorrect traffic estimates.

We expected a well-considered examination of all options, but instead the final report contains so many omissions and basic errors that its reliability as the basis of aviation policy must be called into question. The findings of this report simply do not add up,” said Gatwick boss Stewart Wingate.

“Britain is in danger of losing out once again if we repeat mistakes of the past – Heathrow has failed time and again and the Airports Commission report and the conditions placed on expansion have not solved the huge obstacles confronting it.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Airports Commission undertook a £20m, two-and-a-half year, detailed study of where the next runway should be in the UK.  It unanimously and unambiguously chose Heathrow because it is the only option that will connect the whole UK to global growth.”

A spokesman for the commission said: “The evidence in the final report was subject to extensive analysis and consultation and we are confident that it is fit for purpose.”

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Being just a mere travel customer of several airports in the UK plus many International destinations, it is disappointing to read Final Reports containing 'evidence' that signifies 'selected facts'.
Not every fact surrounding the need to ensure UK Limited has fit for purpose Hub facilities to satisfy and connect to global growth are in the Reports.
Again, similar to many other millions passing through, as a mere flying customer it is easy to see the respective efficiencies and deficiencies that are abound in various airports.
It is such constructive comments that appear to be set aside when creating Reports, albeit those who compile will completely deny and state that have performed Customer Surveys [must say, as a regular traveller, I have never been asked or heard of any person within the travel industry being asked].
Basically, whilst Heathrow is currently an ideal Hub, it is losing business to other growing Hubs, Schiphol, Frankfurt, Paris, Munich and possibly, when completed, Berlin.
As these airports have proven, ONE Runway is not enough and the massive infrastructure to support such is immense.

Heathrow's ground infrastructure is already stretched and as past reports have mentioned, unable to cope during minor adverse weather, efficient immigration of passengers, effective transport of passengers to and from the airport plus terminal capacity during delayed flights.
Obviously there are now exceptions as T4 is away from the main problem area. That said, T5 has it's own inherent issues with the Main Terminal rail link transferring inbound passengers, especially when the A380's land - even the aircrew are frustrated awaiting on a very crowded platform watching train after train arrive and depart bulging with arrivals.
Okay, Stansted, Manchester and Gatwick have issues, but at least they can expand both with runways and the more important, efficient and effective ground infrastructure.
ONE RUNWAY is not enough for global expansion, Heathrow would need at least TWO to quantify the findings of the Final Report.

Therefore, though only a mere 'one in a several million' Business and Leisure Traveller, if my opinion is worthy, I would agree with Stewart Wingate and definitely prefer Gatwick to expand with a second runway. Just one infrastructure element to ensure super efficiency is to secure a more effective London Rail link.

Good Luck Gatwick.

Stuart Hopwood's picture
Stuart Hopwood (not verified)

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