The government’s Airports Commission should not accept Heathrow’s argument that a traditional “hub” airport is the only way to retain the UK’s existing links to the world, rival Gatwick claims.
The airport’s response to the Airports Commission’s connectivity and economy paper submitted today argues that the UK already has “excellent air connectivity” and London serves more destinations than any other European city.
Gatwick now claims to serve half of the world’s fastest growing economies, having recently announced new direct links to Moscow and Jakarta.
The Commission should recommend making the most of existing capacity in the short to medium-term, and not be swayed by demands for an expanded or new “hub” airport in order to improve connections with emerging markets, Gatwick says.
The airport believes the cost of air travel should be a vital consideration in the Commission’s research, and that connectivity is not just about availability, but also affordability.
Gatwick’s vision for the future of UK aviation capacity is one where “true competition” between the UK’s major airports will drive greater connectivity and greater passenger choice, convenience and cheaper fares.
Chied executive Stewart Wingate said: “It is true we will need additional capacity in the future. Without it, connectivity will be severely affected and the passenger experience will be impacted by unacceptable delays and rising prices.
“However, relentless suggestions that traditional ‘hubs’ are the answer is misleading. Evidence shows that the London market is predominantly an origins and destinations market which means that most passengers begin or end their journey in London.
“A mega-hub airport therefore would be yesterday’s solution to tomorrow’s problem.
“We must not be blindly led to believe that because some of our European competitors serve more marginal routes to emerging markets, that we are falling behind them or that this is happening because Heathrow is full.
“If real competition is allowed to flourish, as it has at Gatwick, new routes will be created where there is market demand.
“For example, already this year Gatwick has added a route to Indonesia, demonstrating that competition is capable of delivering the connectivity needed by London and the UK.
“EasyJet has also added a route to Moscow providing lower fares than the competing routes from Heathrow, again showing that competition is the answer ”
At the same time Gatwick unveiled plans for new system for transfers to allow passengers to check into their next flight “air side” – the part of the terminal past the security gates – from the summer.
Gatwick’s new chairman Sir Roy McNulty said the new scheme will remove the hassle of transferring between airlines at Gatwick and give it “a lot of the attributes that Heathrow has”.
It will also allow Gatwick to attract more long-haul carriers, as its seeks to rival Heathrow as a gateway to booming emerging market economies.
“As we begin to pick up, we hope, more long-haul from various parts of the world, they can fly into Gatwick and connect to the very considerable network we have to the rest of Europe,” Sir Roy told the Daily Telegraph in his first interview since he replaced Sir David Rowlands as the airport’s chairman in February.
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