Anti-Gatwick expansion group plays down passenger record

Brendon Sewill ENGSUS00120131001155923
Brendon Sewill ENGSUS00120131001155923

Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) said larger planes and fewer empty seats explained the airport reaching a record-breaking 40 million passengers per year.

A Gatwick spokesman said it hit the milestone for the first time this weekend ten years earlier than predicted by The Airports Commission.

The commission recommended expanding Heathrow Airport instead of Gatwick in its final report which it published in July.

A GACC statement said: “It is the number of landings and take-offs which create a need for a new runway.”

Larger planes and fewer empty seats explained statistics which stated passenger numbers were up 25 per cent while flights were up only five.

GACC chairman Brendon Sewill said: “At this rate of growth Gatwick and Stansted and Luton won’t be full for at least fifty years!”

A Gatwick spokesman said the Government was due to make a decision on airport expansion in weeks.

Gatwick CEO Steward Wingate said: “To reach 40 million passengers a year is a tremendous achievement and sets a global benchmark for a single runway airport. We have grown rapidly under new ownership and the benefits of competition are clear for passengers - more choice, higher standards and lower fares. It will not be long however before we are full. That is why Gatwick needs a second runway.

“We have reached this milestone ten years ahead of the Airport Commission’s prediction that we would do so in 2024. The Commission’s Report has unravelled in recent months and we now know beyond doubt that there is a fundamental error at the heart of the Report. Whether the Report is flawed is no longer a matter of debate, it is a statement of fact. Traffic forecasts obviously underpin the economic figures in the Report so people will make their own judgement on the economic credibility of the Commission’s work.

“Illegal air quality has prevented Heathrow expansion twice in the past and it is worse today than it was then. A third runway at Heathrow would fail again as it would be illegal. So the choice is clear - expansion grounded at Heathrow once again with Britain losing out, or expansion taking off at Gatwick with Britain reaping the benefits.”

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