Gatwick is to open discussions with contractors about building its second runway.
The move is likely to be seen as pre-empting the government’s decision on expanding airport capacity in the southeast – delayed from December to this summer.
The Airports Commission backed expansion at rival Heathrow in its report in June but since then Gatwick has been lobbying hard for a second runway.
Gatwick development director, Raymond Melee, revealed: “Gatwick will in the very near future also be seeking expressions of interest from consultants to tender for work on our second runway building programme.
“It is important that Gatwick is ready to start work as soon as we get government approval to deliver the increased capacity Britain desperately needs.
“Opening discussions with contractors now means we will be well placed to take forward our plans for a second runway, on time and on budget.
“Gatwick remains the cheaper, faster, and more sustainable scheme. Legally, politically and environmentally, we are the only deliverable option that can actually deliver the jobs, growth and additional capacity that airport expansion would bring.”
Speaking to a group of more than 80 construction firm leaders
Melee said: “Gatwick has already invested £1.3 billion since becoming independent from BAA ownership, transforming the way we operate to deliver a world-class experience for our passengers.
“Over the next five years we will be investing £1.2 billion to meet accelerated passenger growth and bringing forward crucial infrastructure projects.
The disclosure came as the West Sussex airport revealed plans to accelerate its expansion with an increased investment of £2.5 billion to cope with rapid passenger growth.
Gatwick will soon hit the 41 million annual passengers mark - a global record for a single runway airport - and the airport claims it is racing towards full capacity.
New projects being brought forward include:
- North Terminal international departure lounge expansion
- North Terminal short-stay car park
- Border Force expansion in both terminals
- Additional pier served stands
Existing facilities to be improved include:
- Pier and gate room refurbishments
- Food and beverage enhancements
- Additional remote aircraft parking stands and changes to taxiways and stands to optimise the airfield operations
- Improvement to roads and bus and coach facilities
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