It claims that the draft master plan "sets out an ambitious vision for the future" as it looks at how the airport might grow in the longer term.
Officially announced at the airport’s independent consultative committee GATCOM today, Gatwick says its proposals reflect Department for Transport guidance for airports to provide regular updates on their long-term plans, and is in response to the government’s recent call for airports to ‘make best use of their existing runways’.
So, what are the details? The draft master plan considers how Gatwick could grow across three scenarios, looking ahead to the early 2030s. Specifically, these are:
1. Main runway - using new technology to increase capacity
It states: "In the near term, the airport has considered how deploying new technology could increase the capacity of the main runway, offering incremental growth through more efficient operations.
"Gatwick has successfully utilised its runway to unlock growth in recent years and remains the world’s most efficient single runway. The use of the latest technology could provide more opportunities for the future."
2. Standby runway - bringing existing standby runway into routine use
It states: "Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019.
"The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.
"This innovative development, which would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience.
"While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges. Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation."
3. Additional runway - safeguarding for the future
It states: "While Gatwick is not currently actively pursuing the option of building a brand new runway to the south of the airport – as it did through the Airports Commission process – Gatwick believes it is in the national interest to continue to safeguard this land for the future as part of its draft master plan.
"The airport is now keen to encourage responses to a 12-week public consultation it has launched today to gather feedback and views on the draft master plan. All responses will be reviewed before a final version of the master plan is agreed early next year."
Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, said: “Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick – building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
“As the UK heads towards an important new chapter, Gatwick’s growing global connections are needed more than ever but this must be achieved in the most sustainable way.
"From using new technologies on our main runway, to the innovative proposal to bring our existing standby runway into routine use, our draft master plan offers agile, productive and low-impact ways of unlocking much-needed new capacity and increased resilience from within our existing infrastructure.
“Gatwick’s growth has been built through partnership so as we look ahead at our future development, we want to shape these plans together with our local communities, our passengers, our airlines and partners.
"We would encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation process. This will help shape our plans for securing the region’s prosperity.”