Gatwick says ‘triple counting’ skewed findings for Heathrow

Has written to Government to highlight concerns

Gatwick has released new data which shows serious errors in the Airports Commission economic figures.

The airport says that the data shows Heathrow’s case was bolstered by triple counting of long haul passengers and there are now serious concerns about the analysis, process and conclusions of the Commission.

Gatwick has written to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor to highlight these concerns.

It is accepted that expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick generates the same growth in the number of flights, the same split of leisure and business passengers, and the same mix of short and long haul traffic, yet the Commission concluded that the overall economic benefit of each scheme was different.

Gatwick has identified a number of factors for this inconsistency:

  • new data shows that the Commission wrongly categorised and then triple counted UK international passengers journeys which overstates Heathrow’s UK international passengers by 4.2 million in 2030
  • regional airports would grow faster under Gatwick expansion compared to Heathrow leading to better balanced growth for Britain. By 2030, regional airports would handle two million fewer international passengers per annum under Heathrow expansion than under Gatwick’s, and
  • for its most prominent economic forecast, the Commission ignored the advice of its own independent experts and used different assumptions from those in its traffic forecasts. This meant Heathrow expansion was given a greater weighting of business – which is considered more economically beneficial – and Gatwick expansion a greater weighting of leisure.

Gatwick said the serious error in the Airports Commission’s methodology shows that the recommendation for Heathrow is seriously compromised and cannot be relied upon – the figures simply don’t add up.

The letter says that analysis of long haul traffic and the economic benefit derived from it was central to the Airports Commission’s conclusion but it chose to omit critical elements of this data from the final report. This new data clearly ‘drives a coach and horses through’ the basis of the Commission’s recommendation for Heathrow.

Gatwick said:

“The case for Heathrow has collapsed once again – as it has done so many times in the past – and it is time for the UK to turn to Gatwick as the only alternative that can actually be delivered and provide the economic boost that the country needs.”

It remains Gatwick’s strong view that the Government should rely on economic analysis based on the normal Treasury methodology in making decisions of such national significance which shows that the Net Present Value of expansion at Gatwick is actually greater than at Heathrow.

Gatwick Airport’s letter to the Secretary of State can be read here.

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