Details of an open letter to MPs calling on them to support a second runway at Gatwick over expansion of Heathrow have been released in last-ditch government lobbying.
A bitter war of words broke out between the bosses of the rivals London airports ahead of a long-awaited decision on airport expansion, widely expected to be made on Tuesday.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate urged MPs to back a second runway at the West Sussex airport “so that Britain can finally break a decades-long impasse and reap the benefits of airport expansion”.
The letter sets out ten key questions at the heart of the expansion debate from speed of delivery and cost of construction to the environmental impacts.
But his Heathrow counterpart John Holland-Kaye told the London Evening Standard that Gatwick was not equipped to give the capital city the connections it needs post-Brexit.
“We shouldn’t settle for second best,” he said. “London’s success is built on global connections. And in the 21st century that means having a successful hub airport to maintain and develop our long-haul links to key emerging markets.
“Heathrow is the only airport that can be the hub our city needs.”
Wingate said: “The government has an important decision before it. There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support Gatwick’s plan which can actually be delivered.
“Successive governments have tried and failed to expand Heathrow and given the insurmountable noise and air quality it faces, a decision for Heathrow will inevitably lead to more delays and stalled growth.
“With Gatwick, for the first time, there is now a real and credible alternative on the table which can deliver for Britain.
“After years of delay only by backing Gatwick can we build a new runway faster, at half the cost, delivering similar economic benefits, all at a dramatically lower environmental cost meaning we can finally reap the benefits of additional runway capacity and demonstrate to the world Britain truly remains open for business.”
Anti-Gatwick expansion campaign groups said they expected transport secretary Chris Grayling to make an announcement on airport expansion on Tuesday.
They warned that Gatwick expansion will impact in a 30-mile radius and West Sussex will suffer from “mass urbanisation, the lack of school places, roads, rail, hospitals as well as the five new flight paths and double the existing routes”.
Meanwhile, The Times reported today that Theresa May has been given the go-ahead to approve a third runway at Heathrow after government officials accepted the airport’s pledge to curb the damage caused by extra flights.
The Department for Transport is believed to have cleared the way for a north-west runway at the airport after investigations into noise and pollution failed to unearth major problems with the bid.
It is believed that officials have now asked Gatwick to come up with a “compromise solution” to create more capacity without building a second runway.
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