Gatwick has put forward eight key tests it says the Davies Commission into UK airport capacity must consider when pinpointing locations for development.
The airport’s evaluation criteria includes: demand, capacity and connectivity, environmental impacts, competition, financial and economic issues, social and community issues, the end-to-end passenger experience, resilience and deliverability.
Greater emphasis should be placed on the passenger experience, and to competition being a key enabler of that, it says.
The airport also submitted comments on the Department for Transport’s demand forecasts.
Gatwick’s own traffic forecasts support the DfT's analysis that airports in the southeast will be full by the mid-2020s and that more runway capacity is going to be needed.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: ”The aviation industry and how passengers choose to travel is very different today to what is was when previous runway capacity options were reviewed.
“We now have the three largest London airports all in separate ownership competing for passengers and airlines, and each with the freedom to connect the UK to anywhere in the world and keep Britain competitive.
“That means we must adapt our thinking around what is possible and the assessment criteria must reflect that.”
He added: “We strongly recommend that the Airport Commission factor in competition, resilience and the passenger experience when assessing which options will deliver the right outcome for London and the UK.
“We have the opportunity to reach the best outcome for a generation and to do this we must use the most appropriate evaluation criteria.”
Gatwick’s recommended evaluation criterion falls into eight categories:
- Demand capacity and connectivity: It is “critical” that London and the UK remains connected to the rest of the world by providing capacity in time to meet the needs of passengers. It is vital that the commission fully assesses what that level of demand is in the UK, and for the southeast in particular, and how each option can satisfy that demand.
- Environmental impact: Understanding and minimising the environmental impacts of aviation on local communities, including noise and air quality, is key. The role of aviation and airport expansion on climate change also needs to be considered.
- End-to-end passenger experience: Passengers should be central to the debate and all options should be assessed against whether they offer passengers the greatest convenience and choice as they travel to and through an airport.
- Competition: Part of the rationale behind the break-up of BAA in the southeast was to improve the passenger experience. The role of competition between independently owned airports is therefore a new factor to be assessed by the commission. An assessment should be made on the effects on airport and airline competition on each expansion option and the implications of that on passengers.
- Financial and economic factors: The business case for any expansion option is critical and options should be assessed against the part they can play in providing economic growth – locally and nationally. The financing of any expansion option should also be a key assessment criterion with a focus on using private investments to avoid significant subsidy from the public purse.
- Social and community issues: Airports have significant impacts on local communities – positive and negative – and these should be taken into account. The social benefits of air travel should be maximised whilst minimising the impacts on people and communities.
- Resilience: Any expansion option should include an assessment of resilience, including how extreme weather scenarios would be accommodated in the expansion options proposed.
- Deliverability: The issue of deliverability is important given the timetable that has been set for the commission and the fact that the three major airports in the southeast will be full by the mid-2020s. It is vital that expansion options are assessed against how quickly and efficiently they can be delivered through the planning and construction phases.
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