Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, has hit out at the Airports Commission recommendation that a third runway is built at Heathrow.
The airport has published a 50-page document detailing a wide range of ‘errors, omissions and flaws’ and calls into doubt the validity of the Commission’s final report.
Gatwick says that the Commission used incorrect traffic estimates. It underestimated Gatwick’s figures and overestimated those from Heathrow.
Gatwick highlighted particular problems with the Commissions traffic forecasts, including:
- traffic forecasts don’t even take into account its own night flight ban
- expecting Gatwick to reach 40 million passengers in 2024 whereas the airport will reach that number this year
- the Commission’s own data shows that direct regional connectivity would be lower under the Heathrow options than would be the case with a second Gatwick runway
In addition to the Commission’s flawed traffic forecasts, Gatwick’s full response highlights a range of other flaws in the Commission’s analysis, including:
- Economic benefits – placed far too much emphasis on the conclusions of an analysis of wider economic benefits by PwC
- Costs – the Commission disregards Gatwick’s commitment to enter into a binding obligation to cap charges at less than £15 (Heathrow will charge £31)
- Financing – Neither Heathrow nor the Commission present any evidence as to how the expenditure for this unprecedented scale of construction could be managed in practical terms and could actually be delivered
- Deliverability – the Commission has undertaken no detailed comparative assessment. The complex challenges of construction at Heathrow does not accurately portray the scale of construction impacts many of which are outside the control of the promoter.
- Air Quality – the Commission’s approach to air quality does not withstand scrutiny and the analysis in incomplete and inconsistent
- Noise – applied a flawed assessment methodology in seeking to justify its claim that a three runway Heathrow will have a lower noise impact than a two runway Heathrow today
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said:
“We expected a well-considered examination of all options, but instead the final report contains so many omissions and basic errors that its reliability as the basis of aviation policy must be called into question. The findings of this report simply do not add up.
Britain is in danger of losing out once again if we repeat mistakes of the past – Heathrow has failed time and again and the Airports Commission report and the conditions placed on expansion have not solved the huge obstacles confronting it.
“In recent weeks, it has become abundantly clear that Heathrow won’t meet these conditions, nor will they pay for the £6 billion in surface access improvements needed, and Heathrow’s airlines have shown they don’t want to pay for the runway. The recommendation for Heathrow is unravelling by the day.
“I remain confident that when all the risks and benefits are properly considered, Gatwick will still represent the best option for UK airport expansion.”
David Cameron, the prime minister, has set up a cabinet committee to consider the commission’s final report and has pledged to decide whether to back Heathrow expansion by the end of the year.
Mr Cameron is the only person who can explain why this is even necessary as he made a clear promise in Richmond in 2009 that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.
Building another runway in west London will cost an estimated £17.6bn and require a further £5bn from the taxpayer to alter road and rail links to Heathrow.
Gatwick expansion would be cheaper, costing just £7.1bn and an additional £800m from the government for upgrades to transport infrastructure.
N.B. Image credit: gatwickairport.com