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Gatwick tribunal

Underway is a Public Inquiry (started end of February) for Gatwick Airport to routinely use its existing standby (emergency) runway.  Publication of a final decision by the Secretary of State is not expected to be announced until February 2025, with a new government in place.

If it gets the go-ahead the runway would not be operational until 2029 giving Gatwick a potential capacity of 75m passengers.  In 2019 the airport moved 46.4m passengers and last year, recovering from the pandemic, 40.9m. Malcolm finsberg, Editor-in-Chief, Travel News Update, appeared as a witness at the hearings.

The existing standby runway is 2,565m long while the main runway is 3,316m. The new northern runway will not have an Instrument Landing System (ILS) and be used for take offs only when the main runway is in use, although it is available for visual landings.

A 12m strip will be added to the north of the main runway leaving the two centre lines 210m apart (currently 198m).   With this proposal aircraft such as A320/B737 types can line up for take off while the main runway is in use and aircraft can take off as another is rolling on the main runway, rather than having to wait for it to clear.

"My name is Malcolm Ginsberg, for 25 years Editor of the award-winning Business Travel News and currently Travel News Update. I have been enmeshed with airports and airlines over 40 years and was intimately involved with the successful planning and implementation of London City Airport as a key player in the development process.  

I started life as a journalist, was recruited by Lotus Cars as media manager and subsequently ran a highly successful public relations business, a wonderful insight into the air travel both from an airport and airline point of view, a very rounded way of understanding the requirements of the industry from a public and insider perspective.

From time to time I have been asked by the BBC, ITN, Sky and CNN to act as an ‘expert’ with regard to air travel matters.

The major value of the proposed London Gatwick fully licensed second runway is its safety and environmental improvements for the local community.  It’s good news. These are vital in an age where we are all concerned with the impact of aircraft in our future.  The demise of the noisy Boeing 747s replaced by the latest quiet Airbus and Boeing design is helping.

Any closure of the main Gatwick runway will mean considerable disruption and impact with extra road and rail travel for passengers and cargo seeking alternative facilities, an ecological nightmare.  There will be more time in the air for the planes involved, and often a disrupted and inconvenient journey for passengers.

Sadly when an aircraft is literally ‘turned away’ from Gatwick it needs to find an available airport one that is suitable for its technical operation and has space for yet another aircraft.  This normally rules out Heathrow and Gatwick, and London City plus Southend who have restrictions on aircraft size.  Birmingham and Manchester are normally to busy, leaving Cardiff and East Midlands as possibilities.  Passengers would normally alight and return by the same aircraft (providing it has a crew) or some kind of surface transport.  Belfast and Amsterdam have been used in the past but are very unsuitable. 

Inevitably the aircraft will at some point have to return to Gatwick causing slot and facility problems.  Frequencies will have to be adjusted and staff brought in causing yet more turmoil after what will be a most problematic time.  As far as the airports neighbours are concerned it is the same aircraft, just at different hours, whenever they can be slotted in.

What happens if Gatwick does not obtain clearance to develop the second runway?

The consequences for the local community are serious.  Some airlines will pull out.  The work of the airport’s marketing team will be that much harder.  

London Gatwick has been very successful in recent times in attracting carriers from the far east and bringing with them holidaymakers many of whom stay locally during their stay in the UK.  This business could be lost.

The second runways project should be allowed to go ahead as soon as possible.  The work involved itself is good news with local employment.  It is a plus plus".



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