In September, Gatwick Airport launched a 12-week public consultation on its plans to bring its existing Northern Runway into routine use. “This is a low-impact plan designed to maximise use of existing infrastructure, helping Gatwick maintain efficient operations, improve resilience, and address pent-up demand for slots,” says Jennifer Newman, Airline relations Manager at Gatwick Airport.
“It involves moving the centreline of Gatwick’s current Northern Runway 12 metres to enable use for departing flights, alongside its existing Main Runway,” explains Newman. Similar operations are already in place at major global airports, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“The project would mean Gatwick can accommodate up to 75.6 million passengers by 2038 [a 62% increase on 2019] across 382,000 commercial ATMs [a 36% increase],” adds Newman. The additional capacity would be provided by all arriving flights using the existing Main Runway, while departing flights would be shared between this and the Northern Runway, which will be used for smaller aircraft (Code C and below).
The additional capacity would also address the pent-up demand for Gatwick’s oversubscribed slots, which currently exceed capacity in virtually all hours of the day. “Not only does this limit the airport’s growth, but by operating at capacity year-round, the airport can struggle to recover from routine but unplanned events or more serious incidents,” says Newman. The hope is that Gatwick would be able to recover three times faster from disruption if the Northern Runway was made available, by reducing the intensity of Main Runway operations, and maintaining continuity of operations even if one runway is temporarily out of use.
The project would also have a huge impact on cargo – with the volume handled per year by Gatwick forecast to increase by more than 130% by 2047. Volumes would increase to over 200,000 tonnes/year as the Northern Runway potentially enters service in 2029, growing steadily to over 320,000 tonnes by 2038, before hitting 350,000 by around 2047.
In terms of route development, Emirates is to deploy its A380 on the Dubai-Gatwick route when it resumes daily services on December 10. The MEB3 carrier had originally planned to restart the flights with its B777-300 fleet, but strong forward bookings have resulted in the upgrade to the double-decker, which will feature first, business and economy classes.
Looking ahead to S22, Gatwick will welcome a seasonal weekly service from Quebec City, operated for the first time by Air Transat. Flights to the UK’s second busiest airport will run from May 11 until September 28, with the 5,029-kilometre sector to be flown by Air Transat’s A321neos.