LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Gatwick airport, the second-busiest in Britain, will publish draft expansion proposals on Thursday which will include using its second, emergency runway.
The airport is hoping to add new flights to overcome a Summer capacity crunch, despite local opposition over safety, noise and environmental concerns.
Gatwick, 30 miles (50 km) south of London, competes with Britain and Europe’s busiest airport Heathrow, 20 miles west of London. Two years ago, Gatwick lost out to its bigger rival as the site selected by the UK government for a new runway.
The airport is, however, operating at full capacity in the Summer when its mainly leisure customer base travels most.
“Gatwick has previously said it is exploring how to make best use of its existing runways, including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use,” said a spokesman for the airport, which is owned by investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners and other investors.
Local group Communities Against Gatwick and Noise Emissions (CAGNE) opposes expansion on the grounds of increased aircraft noise and the negative social and environmental impacts of more flights and additional passengers travelling to the airport.
Using the emergency runway for flights would also be unsafe says CAGNE.
“We could see planes touching wings and planes having to cross runways to reach the piers, which are all safety concerns,” the group said in a statement.
Gatwick said safety would be its key priority.
“Any new development would be fully compliant with all international safety requirements,” the spokesman said.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison