Gatwick Airport - the complete air traffic survey

Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport

Last night (Wednesday July 10) civic, amenity and business representatives were briefed on a new air traffic survey conducted on behalf of West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council.

At a meeting at the borough council’s offices, the audience was given a breakdown of the detailed research.

It could prove pivotal in helping to decide whether a second runway should be built at Gatwick Airport.

A full report appears in today’s West Sussex County Times and Mid Sussex Times but below is the executive summary of the survey so that readers can draw their own conclusions.

If you have a view on a second runway for Gatwick do let us know.

There has been a legal agreement in place since 1979 banning construction of a second runway until 2019. With the deadline fast approaching and the airport authorities keen to expand, the issue is now highly topical.

Attitudes to Air Travel Survey Research – Report

For West Sussex County Council

1. Executive Summary

Qa Research were commissioned by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to undertake a programme of research to:

“To explore the views of residents and businesses within West Sussex regarding their usage and attitudes towards air travel.”

A telephone survey was undertaken with a sample of 1000 residents and 621 businesses across West Sussex. The survey was designed by Qa Research with input from WSCC and Crawley Borough Council. The surveys took place over a five week period from the from the 7th May.

The sample was designed to provide a representative indication of the views of residents and businesses. To this end, quotas were applied to the residents sample to ensure minimum number of respondents by age, gender and district. Residents in Crawley were oversampled to enable valid comparisons with the general business population, with specific Crawley quotas set on gender, age and ward. The margin of error for all resident survey findings is at most +/- 3.1% (for all residents) and +/- 5.6% (for Crawley residents) at the 95% confidence level.

The business sample was designed to be representative by business size, sector and district. Again, businesses in Crawley were oversampled, to enable valid comparisons with the general business population. Larger businesses were also oversampled to account for their greater economic influence and a potential greater reliance on air-travel. The findings are statistically significant. The margin of error for all businesses survey findings is at most +/- 3.9% at the 95% confidence level.

Upon completion all survey data were weighted back to the overall West Sussex business population to ensure representivity.

Key Findings

Use of air travel

The majority of residents were using air travel, with 87% of residents indicating they take flights at least once a year or less. Businesses were less likely to have taken flights, with 31% indicating that they had employees who take a flight at least once a year for business purposes. However among those businesses using air travel, the frequency with which air travel was being used was greater than residents, most likely as a result of the different purposes for which air travel was being used across the two groups.

Businesses with sites overseas were more likely to be utilising air travel, as were businesses with more than 50 employees. Among residents, those with close family living abroad were more likely to be air travel users.

The most common type of air travel being used were short haul international flights, used by 76% of air-travelling businesses and 73% of air travelling residents. Business users were significantly more likely to be utilising domestic flights than residents (57% compared to 21%), whereas resident users of air travel were marginally more likely to be utilising long haul international flights than businesses (51% to 39%).

Unsurprisingly ‘holidays’ were the primary driver of air travel usage among residents, with 68% mentioning air travel was used for ‘self booked holidays’ and an additional 42% mentioning air travel was used as part of a ‘packaged holiday’. Whereas for businesses, the primary drivers leading to air travel usage were ‘to meet a client/ customer’ (54%) or to ‘attend conferences/ trade shows’ (31%).

Although two thirds of residents (64%) expected their air travel usage to remain static over the next 3 years, the proportion who considered their air travel was likely to increase outweighed those who considered it was likely to decrease by a ratio of 3:1 (24% to 8%). This was particularly true of younger respondents, with a third (33%) of those aged under 35 indicating their air travel usage is likely to increase. Overall this finding was suggestive of an overall increase in air travel usage among West Sussex residents.

Businesses were more likely than residents to indicate that their air travel usage was likely to remain the same over the next 3 years (83%), however given that the majority of businesses were currently not using any air travel this was perhaps unsurprising. A tenth (9%) of all businesses indicated their air travel usage was set to increase, and this rose to 24% among those already using air travel. There were only a minority of respondents (4%) who felt their air travel usage was likely to decrease.

Among residents, drivers of this increase were linked to ‘changes in personal circumstances’ such as better health and greater income (mentioned by 32% of residents expecting an increase), and a general desire to ‘want to go abroad more’ (28%). For businesses the increase was primarily associated with having ‘more customers overseas’ (mentioned by 44% of businesses expecting an increase). As we might expect given this finding, businesses expecting a greater level of turnover over the next 12 months were significantly more likely to expect their air travel usage to increase (18%).

The different ways in which air travel is utilised between businesses and residents was also reflected in the methods used to get to the airport. The greatest proportion of residents relied on getting a lift in a vehicle not subsequently left at the airport (33%), with 27% travelling in a vehicle which was then left at the airport. For businesses this situation was reversed, with 39% leaving their vehicle at the airport and 20% getting a lift. This is most likely as a result of the greater likelihood of businesses to make shorter, domestic flights. Residents in Crawley were significantly more likely to use a minicab or taxi (49%), most likely as a result of their greater proximity to the airport.

Gatwick airport was the airport most likely to be used for flights for the majority of residents (86%) and businesses (80%). The proximity of the airport was the primary driver of usage, with 76% of residents indicating their reasons for using the airport used most frequently was because it was ‘close to home’, although a further 26% also mentioned the fact that the airport ‘offers desired locations’. For businesses there was a similar story, with 60% mentioning the airport they used most frequently was used because it was ‘close to work’ and 23% mentioning it was because it was ‘close to home’. Businesses were slightly more likely than residents to indicate they used an airport as a result of it offering ‘desired locations’ (33%).

Importance of airports and attitudes to air travel

In addition to taking flights, a total of 43% of residents were able to suggest other reasons why airports were important. The main reasons mentioned included ‘allowing family to visit’ (16%), or specific work related reasons, where the respondents or a member of the respondents family works at an airport (12%), this was a frequently provided response among Crawley residents (35%). More general economic reasons for the importance of airports as providers of business were also mentioned by 10% of residents.

Businesses were provided with a more specific list of reasons for the potential importance of air travel and asked to rate them in terms of their importance. Similar proportions of businesses rated ‘bringing overseas suppliers to your organisation’ and ‘bringing overseas customers to your organisation’ as being ‘less important’ (82% respectively). With slightly fewer businesses, but still a majority, rating the importance of ‘allowing the import of stock or raw materials’ and ‘allowing the export and transport of goods and services your organisation produces’ as being ‘less important’ (79% and 78% respectively). ‘Maintaining contact with other parts of your organisation’, was mentioned as ‘less important’ by the vast majority of businesses (92%).

Interestingly, whilst a majority of businesses still rated the importance of air travel to their ‘…organisation overall’ as being ‘less important’ (68%), this was significantly fewer businesses than those rating each of the more specific reasons as ‘less important’, suggesting that at a broader level, a number of organisations were identifying with the airport as an important driver of the local economy. This is supported by later findings in the survey. Organisations that never use air travel were significantly more likely to consider each of these reasons as unimportant compared to those businesses using air travel. Businesses in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex were those most likely to rate the importance of airports to their ‘…organisation overall’ as being ‘important’ (19%, 27% and 27% respectively).

Airports themselves may be important to businesses, as separate from air travel more generally, and although two thirds of businesses rated airports as ‘less important’ as places ‘which provide business for your customers’ (66%), and three quarters rated airports as ‘less important’ as places ‘which provide business for your organisation’ (75%), around three fifths of all businesses rated as airports as ‘important’ for being places ‘which add value and strengthen the local economy’ (59%). This suggests that whilst many businesses do not receive direct benefits from an airport, they nevertheless perceive the airport to be an important element of their local economy.

Businesses in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex were generally more likely to rate all of these reasons as ‘important’ compared to businesses based in Adur, Arun, Chichester and Worthing. This was particularly true when looking at the importance rating given to airports ‘as a place which adds value and strengthens the local economy’. Indeed, for businesses based in Crawley this factor was rated as important by 81% of businesses.

In principle, the majority of residents agree that ‘people should be able to travel by plane as much as they want to’ (81%). However, once the concept of building ‘new terminals or runways’ was introduced support declines, although the majority still agreed that even if this level of development was necessary ‘people should be able to travel by plane as much as they want to’ (57%). However, less than half would support this principle if ‘additional infrastructure such as roads and housing are needed to support the expansion of airports’ (46%). Three quarters of residents (72%) agreed that ’air travel is important to the economy of West Sussex’. Generally, the more frequently someone takes flights the more likely they are to support the building of new terminals, runways and infrastructure.

Attitudes toward expansion at respondents nearest airport

Gatwick Airport was the closet airport for the vast majority of residents (79%) and businesses (82%). Over three quarters (77%) of residents were able to suggest advantages of expanding the airport closest to their home, with the main advantages suggested relating primarily to jobs (48%) and the economy (30%). Overall, respondents in Horsham, Mid Sussex and Crawley were those most likely to mention an advantage with local airport expansion (83%, 87% and 88% respectively). Crawley respondents were significantly more likely to mention ‘jobs’ than those in all other districts, including Horsham and Mid Sussex.

A slightly smaller number of residents (69%) were able to suggest disadvantages of local airport expansion, with the most often mentioned disadvantages being negative environmental impacts (48%), which was often ‘more noise from flights’ (mentioned by 33% of respondents). Additionally, more than a quarter made a comment related to ‘transport’ (26%) and this was primarily that expansion would lead to ‘...more congestion on the roads’ (25%). It was respondents in Horsham and Mid Sussex that were significantly more likely to mention a disadvantage at this question. Amongst Horsham respondents, this was driven by higher mentions of ‘transport’, especially ‘...more congestion on the roads’ (36%) and also by higher mentions of ‘...increased pollution’ (26%), something also mentioned comparatively more by those in Crawley (26%).

Fewer numbers of businesses (44%) were able to suggest advantages of expansion at their closest airport, although this significantly outweighed the number of businesses able to suggest a disadvantage (21%). Advantages mentioned by businesses focused primarily on having ‘more access to customers/ markets in the UK’ (15%), ‘improvement to the economy of the local area’ (12%) and having a ‘greater range of destinations available’ (10%). Businesses in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex were those most likely to identify at least one advantage of local airport expansions (72%, 49%, 55%).

Of those disadvantages mentioned, businesses were most likely to indicate something related to the ‘environment’ (13%) and this was most often ‘...more noise from flights’ (9%) followed by ‘...increased pollution’ (7%).

Attitudes toward expansion of runway capacity in the South East

Just under half (44%) of all residents surveyed agreed that there is a need for more runway capacity in the South East, 26% of residents disagreed. Among businesses agreement levels were slightly higher, with over half (51%) agreeing that more runway capacity was needed and 18% disagreeing.

Among both businesses and residents, more frequent users of air travel were more likely to agree that more capacity was needed. Businesses in Crawley were those most likely to agree that more runway capacity was needed (62%).

Attitudes towards options for expanding runway capacity in the South East, including expansion at Gatwick Airport

Residents and businesses were provided with a number of options for expanding runway capacity in the South East, and asked to rate their support for each option. The various options included:

Building a second runway at Gatwick

Building a third runway at Heathrow

Building a second runway at Stansted

Building a brand new airport in the Thames estuary, which is the area to the east of London where the Thames runs into the English Channel

Building a brand new airport, but not in the Thames estuary

Among residents the option most likely to be supported was building a second runway at Gatwick, with 48% of residents giving this option a support rating of 5 or 4, more than a quarter (28%) gave this the highest score of 5 out of 5, indicating that they fully supported the building of a second Gatwick runway. However there were a quarter of residents who did not support it (26%).

Support was higher among businesses, with over half (53%) indicating they would support the building of a second runway at Gatwick, and just under a quarter of businesses (23%) indicating they would not support this option.

Younger residents were generally more supportive of each of these options than older residents. Businesses located in Crawley were more likely to support a second runway at Gatwick than businesses located in Chichester (67% vs. 46%).

More regular business users of air travel were significantly more likely to support the building of a second Gatwick runaway.

Given the tendency for expansion at Gatwick airport to be the one option supported by the greatest number of West Sussex businesses and Residents, it was unsurprising to find that the building of a second runway at Gatwick was the preferred option mentioned by the greatest number of residents when asked to indicate which of the provided options would be their preference (42%), however, this still meant that for the majority of residents (58%) the building of a second runway at Gatwick was not their preferred choice. For businesses a slight majority would prefer to see expansion take place at Gatwick (52%).

Few differences were recorded here between residents in the different districts, although those in Adur were significantly more likely to choose ‘a second runway at Gatwick’ than those in Arun or Chichester (54% vs. 39% and 34%), while Crawley and Worthing respondents were more likely to choose this option than those in Chichester (49% and 47% vs. 34%). Among residents who agree that more runway capacity is needed in South East England, the majority indicated a second runway at Gatwick’ (54%) as their preferred option for achieving this expansion.

Among businesses the differences between districts were more clear cut, with businesses in Crawley significantly more likely to indicate a preference for expansion at Gatwick (71%) than those in other districts. Preference for Gatwick expansion was also high among businesses in Worthing (61%) and Arun (61%).

Respondents who disagreed with the need for more airport capacity picked a range of options, although the Gatwick option was the one chosen by most (26%). For businesses this difference was even more pronounced (64% to 27%).

The main reasons given by residents for supporting the building of a second runway at Gatwick were that it was ‘...in the interest of local people to make their air travel faster and better with more choice’ (mentioned by 20% of residents supporting the expansion), while slightly less made very general comments regarding how ‘more capacity is required (general comment)’ (18%) or that ‘expansion is a good idea (general comment)’ (16%). Among businesses who support building a second runway at Gatwick frequent reasons given were because ‘Gatwick is in a convenient and accessible location with available land’ (23%) or ‘expansion would be a boost for the local business community’ (20%).

Just over a fifth of residents said that they didn’t support a second runway at Gatwick because they just felt that ‘there is no need for more airport capacity in the South East’ (mentioned by 22% of residents not supporting the expansion). However concerns over the environmental impacts of building a second runway were frequently mentioned by residents with a fifth commenting that they felt ‘expansion would cause too much air & noise pollution’ (20%) and more than one-in-ten said that ‘overall, environmental consequences outweigh any need for more capacity’ (16%). Similar reasons for not supporting the second runway at Gatwick were given by businesses. These included concerns over the environment and local area, including the fact that ‘expansion would dramatically affect local home and countryside’ (24%) and ‘expansion would cause too much air and noise pollution’ (23%).

Preference for runway type

Among residents there was a slight preference for a ‘wide-spaced’ runway (selected by 38% of respondents) over a ‘parallel’ runway (30%), with 14% indicating no preference. Around a twentieth of residents (7%) indicated they didn’t have enough information to answer, with a similar proportion (5%) refusing to answer the question on the grounds of not wanting any second runway - these last two responses were unprompted.

A similar proportion of businesses as residents indicated a preference for a ‘wide spaced’ runway (38%), whilst slightly fewer mentioned a preference for ‘close-parallel’ (27%). A fifth had no preference (19%). Businesses based in Crawley were those most likely to be in favour of a ‘wide spaced’ runway (44%), whereas businesses based in Worthing were those most likely to indicate ‘no preference’ (40%).

Attitudes toward aircraft noise

Over half of all residents agreed that the current level of aircraft noise that Gatwick creates is acceptable (57%), with only a twentieth (6%) disagreeing that the level of noise generated was acceptable. For businesses agreement levels were similar (55%), although disagreement levels were slightly higher (10%).

Agreement levels were significantly higher among Crawley residents (78%) and businesses (81%).

Slightly fewer residents agreed with the statement ‘given the benefits it would provide, an increase in aircraft noise from a second runway at Gatwick would be acceptable’ (44%), with a fifth disagreeing with this statement (20%). Businesses demonstrated a slightly higher level of agreement with this statement (47%) and a slightly lower level of disagreement (17%).

Again, agreements levels were significantly higher among Crawley residents (57%) and businesses (61%).

For both businesses and residents agreement with these statements were influenced by attitudes to air travel in general, with those supporting the building of a second runway at Gatwick and agreeing with the need for more runway capacity in the South East more likely to agree with each of these statements.

Resident Conclusions

Conclusion 1: Most residents do take flights and the evidence suggests that demand is likely to increase over the next few years.

The majority of residents take flights and these are primarily leisure flights and usually taken for holidays or to visit family and friends. While the majority believe that the number of flights they will take in the next 3 years will ‘stay the same’ (64%), almost one-in-four felt this number would ‘increase’ (24%), with this proportion increasing to a third amongst residents aged 16-34 (33%). In contrast, less than one-in-ten felt the number would decline (8%). In this context, it seems likely that demand for flights amongst West Sussex residents is only likely to go up over the next few years.

Conclusion 2: Generally, residents support the principle of unrestricted air travel and they are more likely to agree than disagree that the South East needs more runway capacity.

In principle, the majority of respondents agree that ‘people should be able to travel by plane as much as they want to’ (81%). However, once the concept of building ‘new terminals or runways’ was introduced support declines, although the majority still agreed that even if this level of development was necessary ‘people should be able to travel by plane as much as they want to’ (57%). However, less than half would support this principle if ‘additional infrastructure such as roads and housing are needed to support the expansion of airports’ (46%). These findings highlight the difficulty some residents when trying to reconcile their desire to fly, and to fly more in future, with the need to provide the airport capacity to do so.

Conclusion 3: Air travel is seen as key driver of the local economy, although it does not follow that residents want to see airport expansion to boost the economy.

It is clear that residents can see the economic benefits provided by air travel with the majority agreeing that ‘air travel is important to the economy of West Sussex’ (72%). Additionally, when asked to outline the main advantages of expanding their nearest airport (which for most is Gatwick) respondents primarily talked about the positive impact on jobs and the economy. However, this does not necessarily mean that as a result there was overwhelming support for increasing airport capacity, as only around half agreed that ‘in order to boost the economy, new terminals and runways should be built’ (51%).

Conclusion 4: Gatwick airport dominates usage amongst West Sussex residents and is considered by most to be their nearest airport.

More than four-fifths (85%) of residents who take flights have flown from Gatwick in the last 3 years compared to only two-fifths who’ve used the next most frequently used airport which was Heathrow (41%). The main reason for this is because Gatwick is ‘close to home’ for most residents and reflecting this almost four-fifths stated that Gatwick was their ‘nearest airport’ (72%). As a result, the effect of any development at Gatwick is likely to be felt by most West Sussex residents.

Conclusion 5: Often, residents have an ambivalent attitude towards airport expansion, being able to see both the advantages and disadvantages.

While it is true that residents were more likely to agree than disagree that ‘the United Kingdom currently needs more runway capacity in South East England’ (44% vs. 26%), these figures highlight that this was not a view that was held overwhelmingly. However, it is also clear that some residents hold contrasting views about airport expansion, meaning that the issue of increasing runway capacity is not necessarily black and white. For example, those who agreed with the statement ‘in order to protect the local environment, we should limit the expansion of airports’ were less likely than those who ‘disagreed’ to ‘agree’ that that ‘the United Kingdom currently needs more runway capacity in South East England’ (31% vs. 66%), as might be expected. However, this does mean that almost a third, while agreeing that airport expansion should be limited, also felt that more runway capacity was needed. Additionally, the majority of residents were able to mention at least one advantage that would be provided by the expansion of their nearest airport but it was also the case that the majority could mention at least one disadvantage as well. These findings suggest that many residents are likely to have mixed feelings about increasing airport capacity (if it is indeed increased) and are never likely to be entirely comfortable with it.

Conclusion 6: Of the five options presented to residents for increasing runway capacity in the South East, ‘building a second runway at Gatwick’ was the one with the highest level of support.

When asked to consider how more runway capacity could be achieved in the South East, none of the five options presented to residents was supported by the majority of respondents. However, the option with the highest level of support was ‘building a second runway at Gatwick’ (48%), which had higher levels of support than ‘building a second runway at Stansted’ (38%) and ‘building a third runway at Heathrow’ (34%). The two options with the lowest level of support were those referring to ‘building a brand new airport’ and for both, respondents were significantly more likely to indicate that they didn’t support this option than they were to say that they did support it. Additionally, when asked to make a choice of the five options, the one chosen by the highest proportion of residents was ‘a second runway at Gatwick’ (42%), although his means that that the majority did not choose this option.

Business Conclusions

Conclusion 1: Businesses are less likely to be users of air-travel than residents, but when air-travel is used it is generally more frequently and over shorter distances.

A third of businesses had employees which utilised air travel for business purposes (31%). Over half of business air travel users were using domestic flights (57%), significantly higher than the proportion of residents using domestic flights, and most likely reflects the different purposes for which air travel is used by business and individual users. Businesses generally using air travel as a mechanism for meeting clients/ customers and attending conference and trade shows. Whilst the total proportion of businesses utilising air travel was lower than air travel usage among residents, among business users of air travel, the frequency of usage was generally higher. The vast majority of businesses indicating their air travel usage would ‘stay the same’ (83%), although this was dominated by non users of air travel. It was still the case that the proportion of businesses expecting an ‘increase’ in air travel outweighed those expecting a ‘decrease’ by around two to one (9% to 4%), another indication that demand for air travel is set to increase in the region.

Conclusion 2: There is a general perception among businesses that air-travel and airports are economically important, even among low users of air-travel.

Whilst the majority of businesses tended not to rate air travel as important to their businesses overall (69% felt it was ‘unimportant’), there was still an overarching perception that airports were ‘important’ as places which ‘add value and strengthen the local economy’ (59%). Despite the fact most businesses were not direct users of air travel; there was still recognition of the economic importance of air travel to the local and wider economy. Even among those businesses who did not agree with a need for more runway capacity in the south east, there were a third (32%) who indicated airports were important as places which ‘add value and strengthen the local economy’.

Conclusion 3: Around half of all businesses feel there is a need for more runway capacity in the South East.

Given the findings highlighted in the previous conclusion it was unsurprising to find that the number of businesses ‘agreeing’ that ‘the United Kingdom currently needs more runway capacity in South East England’ was significantly greater than those ‘disagreeing’ with this statement (51% to 18%). Throughout the business survey there was a tendency for those businesses optimistic about their future growth to display attitudes and perceptions that were more in favour of airport expansion and the economic benefits if increased air-travel capacity, which further highlights the general association among business users between economic growth and increased air-travel capacity.

Conclusion 4: Of the five options presented to businesses for increasing runway capacity in the South East, ‘building a second runway at Gatwick’ was the one with the highest level of support.

More businesses identified with ‘advantages’ of expansion at their nearest airport than those who identified ‘disadvantages’ (44% to 21%), with those businesses leaving in closest proximity to Gatwick being those most likely to identify advantages of airport expansion. As we might expect given this finding and given the finding that for the vast majority of businesses Gatwick was their closest airport, the number of businesses ‘supporting’ the building of a second runway at Gatwick Airport, outweighed those who ‘did not support’ expansion by 53% to 22%. It is clear that adding another runway to one of the existing airports would be more supported by the business community than building a new airport, with the next highest levels of support for ‘building a third runway at Heathrow’ (40%) and ‘building a second runway at Stansted’ (35%). The two options with the lowest level of support were those referring to ‘building a brand new airport’ and for both, respondents were significantly more likely to indicate that they didn’t support this option than did support it. Compared to the other options for increasing air-travel capacity in the South East, expansion at Gatwick was generally the preferred mechanism for increasing runway capacity, with over half of all businesses indicating it would be their preferred choice (52%). Even among those who businesses who disagreed with the need for more runway capacity in the South East, expansion at Gatwick was expansion option preferred by the greatest proportion of these businesses (27%).

Conclusion 5: Businesses had a tendency to focus on the general economic advantages of airport expansion, whereas the disadvantages were generally associated with the living environment and transport.

The primary advantages of expanding Gatwick Airport identified by businesses were generally associated with improving businesses performance or fostering economic growth, With the most common being ‘more access to customers/ markets in the UK’ (14%), ‘improvement to the economy of the local area’ (12%) and having a ‘greater range of destinations available’ (11%). In contrast the disadvantages with expansion tended to be focused on environmental considerations and transportation. The economic advantages of increased air-travel capacity tended to outweigh the non-economic disadvantages of airport expansion.

Conclusion 6: The perceived economic importance of air-travel and support for airport expansion generally increases in line with proximity to the airport.

Businesses in Crawley were significantly more likely to feel airports were ‘important’ as places which ‘add value and strengthen the local economy’ (81%), they were those most likely to identify the ‘advantages’ of expansion at their nearest airport (72%), as well as being those most likely to indicate that expansion at Gatwick was their preferred option for expanding capacity in the South East (71%).Businesses in Horsham and Mid Sussex also had an increased tendency to identify with airports and air-travel as a driver of economic growth, although not to the extent of Crawley businesses. Few differences were recorded between districts for the statement ‘given the benefits it would provide, an increase in aircraft noise from a second runway at Gatwick would be acceptable’, but it was noticeable that the district in which the majority of business agreed with this statement was Crawley (61%).

Conclusion 7: Businesses who identified with the economic importance of air-travel were more likely to accept the potential for increased noise from airport expansion.

Three quarters of businesses for whom air travel was ‘important’ to their ‘organisation overall’, agreed with the statement ‘the current level of aircraft noise that Gatwick airport creates is acceptable’ (73%) and two thirds agreed with the statement ‘given the benefits it would provide, an increase in aircraft noise from a second runway at Gatwick would be acceptable’ (65%), this compared to 51% and 41% among those for whom air travel was ‘not important’ to their ‘organisation overall’. This finding serves to reinforce the conclusion that businesses who accept the economic arguments in favour of increased air-travel capacity are those most likely to favour an increase in this capacity, with this association strongest for those businesses in closest proximity to an airport.