Gatwick boss demands urgent action on expansion

Gatwick boss demands urgent action on expansion

The boss of Gatwick today urged the new Conservative government to urgently tackle the issue of expanding airport capacity in the southeast of England.

Revealing a 26th consecutive month of growth and a record April, chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Our record run of growth proves yet again the benefit of having a network of competing airports in the southeast.

“However investment can only take us so far with our growth strategy. Now is the time for a final decision on extra runway capacity. Decades of debate must now turn to action.

He added: “The fact remains, a new runway at Gatwick can be delivered quicker, cheaper, more simply and at a fraction of the overwhelming environmental costs that face Heathrow.

"It is highly significant that the first decision by the Airports Commission after the election is to consult on the issue of air quality. It shows that the issue has now become fundamental to the choice that lies ahead. It is an issue that cannot be ignored.

“The area around Heathrow currently breaches legal air quality limits, while Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and our location means we never will."

A major programme of investment is underway in the airport’s North Terminal, with £1 billion committed to projects that will help to drive Gatwick’s growth in lieu of a second runway.

Although these projects will allow the airport to grow beyond its current position, investment will only drive growth up to a point, the airport warned.

Almost 3.2 million passengers used Gatwick last month, a 0.6% increase or 18,000 more than the same month last year.

The Easter period was spread across both March and April this year, while the traditionally busy holiday period was represented in the April figures in 2014 - the first April that Gatwick had handled more than 3 million passengers.

The largest growth last month came on transatlantic routes where nearly 152,000 people travelled, a rise of 8.2%, mainly due to low cost Norwegian long haul flights to the US.

Barcelona was the busiest European route, with traffic increased by 0.2% with 113,200 passengers flying on five competing carriers - Vueling, Monarch, Norwegian, easyjet and British Airways.

Dubai remained the busiest long-haul route out of Gatwick, with passenger numbers increasing month on month following the introduction of a second daily Emirates Airbus A380.

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