Gatwick Airport northern runway: Plans to bring runway into use a huge boon for local economy says chairman of Gatwick Diamond

Gatwick’s plans to bring its existing northern runway into routine use will be a huge boon to the local economy, according to the chairman of Gatwick Diamond.

Gatwick has today announced that a public consultation will start on September 9 on plans to bring its existing northern runway into routine use alongside its main runway.

The plans would add resilience to Gatwick’s operations, bring new global connections and allow an increase in passenger capacity to approximately 75 million passengers per annum by 2038.

Brett North, chairman of Gatwick Diamond, a loosely defined economic area that surrounds Gatwick Airport, said: “The business community is very interested to see a strong airport.

Chairman of Gatwick Diamond, Brett North. Picture by Steve Robards

“It’s not just about tourism and leisure. Those jobs are really important.

“Tourism and leisure supports a lot of other roles, lots of other businesses and lots of other jobs.

“But those companies, particularly in the Gatwick and Crawley area, where we’ve got companies that are exporting overseas, technology leaders who are trying to get engineers.

“If we’re going to be ‘Global Britain’, we need a strong, sensibly run, organised airport, backed by existing Government travel policies.”

Mr North was also confident that the proposed plans, which would allow the airport’s northern runway to be brought into routine use, for departing aircraft, by re-positioning its centre line further north by 12 metres, would come to fruition.

He added: “This has got a good chance of happening. I like the fact we’re going through a nice consultation process.

“I like the fact the airport is really pushing hard to get not just business groups, but other groups involved.”

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The Gatwick Diamond, which spans from Croydon, down to Brighton, represents businesses across the whole of Gatwick and down the M23.

Those businesses range from large multinational companies to smaller, owner operated businesses.

Mr North said: “What’s been interesting is that we’re seeing the diamond change, and there’s a lot of investment and we’re seeing a lot of confidence in the region.

“Part of that central ecosystem is the airport, and as we’ve seen in Crawley, not having a successful airport has an impact not just on jobs, but people’s lives.”

The pandemic has had a massive effect on Gatwick Airport.

Earlier this month, the airport reported a £204 million pre-tax loss for the first six months of 2021, following an annual loss of £526 million last year.

Gatwick Airport has also shed more than 1,500 staff in the pandemic, and half of the airport’s remaining workforce of 1,750 is currently still on furlough.

Mr North said the pandemic has been ‘very stressful’ for the area and, despite some shoots of recovery, called on the Government to help Gatwick become fully operational again.

He said: “(I’ve spoken to) many, many business owners, their employees. It’s been a very stressful time, particularly in the Crawley area.

“It’s great to see some of that Government support come through the Town’s Initiative.

“It’s great to see the investment of £8.6 million coming in from the Gatwick Innovation Centre.

“But what we really need to see from the Government, as Gatwick Diamond businesses, is a sensible policy of double-jab travelling, the safe reopening of airline routes, not just for holidays, but for businesses."