Gatwick says Commission report ‘flawed’

Gatwick says its strengths and Heathrow challenges both underplayed, believes these shortcomings led to a flawed conclusion and that only expansion at Gatwick can be delivered.

Chair of the Gatwick Airport Board Sir Roy McNulty outlined the airport’s response to the Airports Commission’s final report saying the Commission’s analysis fell short in a number of important areas.

  • Gatwick strengths and Heathrow challenges both underplayed
  • Gatwick believes these shortcomings have led to a flawed conclusion
  • Only expansion at Gatwick can actually be delivered

Gatwick has released a summary of its response and will engage with every level of Government – including writing to the Prime Minister – to express concern over some of the Airports Commission’s data, analysis and findings which Gatwick believes results is an understatement of both Gatwick’s strengths and Heathrow’s challenges, especially in respect of:

  • Traffic: the Commission under-forecasts future traffic at an expanded Gatwick. For example, they forecast that Gatwick will reach passenger volumes of 40million in 2024; the airport will actually reach that level in 2015.
  • Economic Case: the Commission’s own analysis – based on HM Treasury guidelines – shows relatively modest differences in economic benefit between Heathrow and Gatwick (£33.6 – 54.8billion versus £27.2 – 47.1billion), although the Commission’s conclusion relies heavily on other numbers produced by PwC.
  • Passenger Benefits: the Commission acknowledges that the majority of new traffic over coming decades will be to European markets but recommends a solution that is almost entirely focused on long haul; it also fails to consider the role that Gatwick could play in the long haul market.
  • Competition: expanding Gatwick would enhance competition but the Commission recommends increasing market dominance at Heathrow.
  • Noise: the huge differential in noise impact between the two airports is largely glossed over; for example, relatively little emphasis is given to the 320,000 people ‘newly affected’ by Heathrow expansion compared to 18,000 at Gatwick.
  • Air Quality: the Commission largely ignores the fact that Heathrow today breaches legal limits without a third runway; Gatwick would meet targets with a second runway.
  • Deliverability: the Commission downplays the very considerable delivery risks and financial challenges at Heathrow compared to the Gatwick scheme which is comparatively straightforward.

Chair of the Gatwick Airport Board Sir Roy McNulty said:

“Our view has always been that the assessments on which the Commission’s conclusions are based must be thorough, balanced, fair and well evidenced.

“We believe that the Commission’s report falls short of this standard in a number of very important respects. As a result, the many strengths of Gatwick and the many challenges of Heathrow are underplayed, leading to a conclusion which we believe is flawed.

“The Airports Commission has made its recommendation and it is now for the Government to decide.

“We are confident that when they do make their decision they will choose Gatwick as the best option for the economy and the environment, and – most importantly – after decades of delay the option that is actually deliverable.”

Airports Commission has not published key submissions by Gatwick

The Airports Commission has also not yet published several key submissions made by Gatwick.

Gatwick submitted more than 6,000 pages of evidence to support its case and Gatwick has published key parts of this work that have not yet been made public, including:

  • a submission on traffic and competition that underpins Gatwick’s business case for a second runway
  • the supporting appendices to Gatwick’s submission to the Airports Commission consultation on air quality
  • Gatwick’s contract proposal which is fundamental to Gatwick’s case, and two reports investigating the feasibility and deliverability challenges facing the Heathrow plans

Gatwick’s key submissions that the Airports Commission has yet to publish have now been published on the Gatwick website today.

Internet links

Airports Commission

Gatwick summary of its response to the Airports Commission