- Gatwick expansion would encourage competition and balanced growth across the UK
- Airport to meet directly with business and community leaders up and down the country
- Only Gatwick can deliver the runway capacity the South East needs without stifling the growth of regional airports
Gatwick Airport will be taking its case for expansion directly to the UK nations and regions over the coming weeks as it kicks off a series of regional events with business and community leaders up and down the country.
The events will be an opportunity to hear how the UK nations and regions will directly benefit from an expanded Gatwick providing cheaper links to and from the capital while also fostering a competing network of airports across the country.
The programme begins in Manchester on 19 May followed by events in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol and Newcastle. It coincides with a new report 'Gatwick Vision: Connecting the UK Nations and Regions to Global Growth' which highlights the regional benefits of Gatwick expansion. These include:
- A network of competing airports across the country that won't stifle the growth of regional airports
- Cheaper fares to and from the capital thanks to Gatwick's lower passenger charges
- A 100% privately funded scheme meaning taxpayers won't have to subsidise a second runway at Gatwick
- Greater economic benefits and connectivity shared across the nations and regions of the UK
Despite only having one runway, Gatwick has an established record of delivering for the regions, serving more domestic destinations today than Heathrow, which has progressively cut domestic links. The Airports Commission predicted that, even with an extra runway, Heathrow's domestic network will fall to three UK cities by 2030.
Greater competition and the emergence of low cost airlines have helped to deliver a network of competing airports connecting the UK nations and regions to global growth opportunities. Since 2012, UK regional airports have increased their long haul links by 22%, but this trend could be reversed if Heathrow is granted approval for a third runway as airlines would focus on concentrating their operations there. The OECD International Transport Forum concluded that if Heathrow expands "the probability of new long-haul direct flights from UK regional airports will also diminish". In comparison, the CEO of Norwegian has said Gatwick expansion would allow the airline to base 50 new long haul aircraft and 150 new short haul aircraft at Gatwick, many of which would serve the UK's domestic market.
Those in the regions would also benefit from cheaper fares to and from the capital as a result of Gatwick's comparatively lower passenger charges. Heathrow currently has the highest airport charges of any airport in the world and charges would more than double to £40 per passenger to fund its £15.6 billion expansion scheme. In contrast, Gatwick currently charges around £9 per passenger and has guaranteed that charges will not rise above £15 to fund its £7.8 billion second runway plan.
While the economic benefits of expansion at Gatwick or Heathrow would be broadly similar for the UK as a whole, expansion at Gatwick would deliver far greater economic benefits across the nations and regions of the UK as new traffic and connectivity would be spread around the UK rather than being concentrated at Heathrow. Expansion at Gatwick would therefore help to deliver a network of 'regional powerhouses' with regional airports and the surrounding areas benefiting from increased international flights.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said:
"With the Government shortly set to make a decision on airport capacity it is important that the regions and nations of the UK know how expansion in the South East will benefit them. Gatwick's expansion plans deliver for London and the South East, but crucially our plans will promote a competing network of regional airports.
"Gatwick provides better and cheaper access to London for those that need it but it also helps to encourage airports outside London growing their own direct international connections. As a result, rather than concentrating growth in a corner of West London, Gatwick expansion will spread more evenly the economic benefits which will help deliver 'regional powerhouses' across the UK."