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Gatwick wants to use standby runway to increase capacity

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GUERNSEY flights from Gatwick could benefit from plans by the UK airport to start using its standby runway for the take-off of smaller aircraft.

This graphic from the draft Gatwick Airport master plan shows the proximity of the standby runway, which it would like to use for smaller aircraft to take off from, to the main one.

The idea has been put forward in the draft Gatwick Airport master plan, which was released yesterday.

It confirmed that the airport was no longer actively pursuing the construction of a second runway, following the House of Commons vote this summer to back having a third runway at Heathrow instead.

But Gatwick is still hopeful of growth by using its standby runway, which stands 198m to the north of the main one.

It was built more than 30 years ago as an alternative runway when the main one was out of commission. It had a condition that the runways not be used at the same time, but this expires in 2019.

‘We are still developing the details of this scheme,’ the master plan states.

‘However we believe that, conceptually, the main runway would continue to accommodate all arriving flights, as it is fully instrumented for use in low visibility weather conditions and it would be difficult to provide the standby runway with this same capability. Departing flights would be split between the two existing runways.’

The standby runway would be used for smaller aircraft. The master plan gives the example of an A321, which is slightly longer than Aurigny’s Embraer and has twice the capacity.

Aurigny declined to comment on the plan.

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Gatwick passengers numbers are expected to grow from 45m. a year this year up to more than 60m. by the 2030s. However if the standby runway could be used, then numbers could go up to 70m.

If the runway plan was progressed, it could be in use by the mid-2020s.

‘The strength of this scheme is that it would provide more flights, improved connectivity, more employment and economic stimulus to the local area, but with a much reduced scale of development and environmental impact compared to an additional runway to the south,’ the master plan states.

‘It would require only minor changes to the airport boundary and would not result in the loss of any homes.

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‘We do not consider it to be an alternative to a new runway, in the sense that it cannot provide the same level of long-term growth potential.

‘The proximity of the main and standby runways means that their simultaneous use would add only 10-15 movements per hour to the operation, whereas the wide-spaced additional runway would add around 40-50 movements per hour.

However, this standby runway scheme would allow the airport to grow nearer-term whilst the longer-term opportunity of a totally new runway would still exist.’

A 12-week consultation on the plan has now been launched and a final version of the master plan is set to be agreed early next year.

n To take part in the consultation or find out more visit www.gatwickairport.com/masterplan2018.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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