A second runway may be needed at Gatwick to handle an expected 30% rise in passenger numbers by 2045.
The airport is restricted from adding an additional runway before 2019 under a long-standing local agreement.
But Gatwick’s masterplan published yesterday highlights the need for expansion.
It shows that London’s second-busiest airport, which could see passenger numbers rise from 34 million a year to 40 million by 2022 and 45 million by 2030, would likely need a second runway in the next decade.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “We need to anticipate that, in the long term, a second runway at Gatwick may be needed.
“This means we will continue to work in partnership with our local authorities to safeguard land for future expansion because we believe it to be sensible business practice and it supports current government policy.”
Building a second runway at Gatwick could transform it into an international hub.
Gatwick owner Global Infrastructure Partners plans to invest another £1 billion in the airport to increase passenger numbers and create an extra 1,200 jobs in addition to £750 million already spent on modernising its two terminals, improving security, baggage and inter-terminal shuttle services.
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