Gatwick Airport eyes post-pandemic expansion, will add second runway for regular use

Aug 26, 2021

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London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) is pushing forward with long-term plans to increase capacity by reconfiguring its emergency runway for regular use. The expansion comes as Gatwick officials aim to significantly increase customer traffic at the U.K.’s second-busiest airport.

With the additional runway and other improvements — such as better terminal and roadway access — officials estimate the airport will be able to serve 75 million passengers yearly by 2038.

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“These plans are a long-term investment in our future. The planning process takes several years, as will the time to make changes to the runway,” reads a statement on the airport’s official website.

If all goes according to plan, the airport expansion could create 18,400 new jobs and bring 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) to the region by 2038.

The emergency runway, which is side-by-side with Gatwick’s main runway, will be moved almost 40 feet sideways to allow it to be used by regular short-haul flights. The airport intends to use both runways for departing flights. All arriving flights would continue to use the main runway.

Airport officials say the project will be delivered in a sustainable way, meet all global safety standards and will help the U.K. government’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. There is a local hearing to discuss the plans set for Sept. 9.

Some may view the timing of Gatwick’s expansion plans as curious given that the ongoing pandemic continues to severely depress travel. Indeed, Gatwick Airport continues to experience low passenger and air traffic numbers. However, officials are optimistic that a full recovery will happen in the near future with passenger numbers rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.

Featured photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images. 

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