Airline and MPs come out against Gatwick expansion

Chief executive of Gatwick Airport Ltd Stewart Wingate and chief executive of easyJet Carolyn McCall - photo courtesy of Gatwick Airport
Chief executive of Gatwick Airport Ltd Stewart Wingate and chief executive of easyJet Carolyn McCall - photo courtesy of Gatwick Airport

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has joined a group of Surrey and Sussex MPs saying a second runway at Gatwick Airport would be ‘a catastrophe’ for local communities.

Mr Herbert is a member of the Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) with Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames, Horley MP Sam Gyimah and MP for Reigate Crispin Blunt.

As a Cabinet Minister Horsham MP Francis Maude cannot join, but has indicated his opposition in the past.

It comes as the airport’s biggest airline operator said it supported Heathrow for expansion.

Speaking on the group’s behalf Mr Blunt said: “The GCG’s consultation response exposes the weakness of, but also the danger in, Gatwick Airport’s proposals. Gatwick Airport Limited mistakenly maintains that a second runway at Gatwick Airport is practically and politically the most easily delivered option.

“The GCG believes that this appraisal will help Sir Howard Davies find strongly against Gatwick’s speculative proposals when set alongside the Heathrow options.”

He added: “A recommendation and decision for a second runway at Gatwick would be a catastrophe for local communities and a disaster for the national interest.”

Meanwhile easyJet, which flies 41 per cent of passengers at Gatwick, has said it favoured Heathrow for expansion.

Responding to the Airports Commission consultation chief executive officer Carolyn McCall wrote: “Gatwick is a much improved airport under its new owners and management team and easyJet is committed to continuing to grow our operations there.

“However, there is no evidence that passenger demand at Gatwick, and therefore its range of airlines and their networks, will be significantly expanded with an additional runway.”

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “EasyJet will take a position based on its own narrow commercial interests.

“The Government however will have to make a decision for the country balancing what is best for both the economy and the environment. That can only mean Gatwick.

“Gatwick can deliver its second runway without the massive environmental damage which has stopped Heathrow expansion time and time again. That means Britain can finally get on with it.”