Gatwick urges constellation model for UK aviation

London Gatwick airport has recommended the constellation model for UK aviation in its paper on ‘Airports Operational Models.’

Gatwick has also responded to questions by the Airports Commission on the paper, particularly on the future trends in aviation, and on the pros and cons of the hub model. The airport has put forward a proposal for London to be served by a ‘constellation’ of the three major London airports, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, each with two runways in due course, and Gatwick first in line to be granted a second runway.

‘Our evidence shows that the ‘constellation’ approach will deliver the air connectivity London needs to remain a world city and for the UK to retain its status as one of the best connected countries in the world,’ a statement from airport said.

‘We also believe that Gatwick’s proposal is the only option that will create a level playing field between the airports and deliver true competition, which is necessary to drive higher frequencies, new routes and at better prices for the passenger,’ it said, adding: ‘Spreading capacity around London will also make airports more resilient to disruption and keep London and the UK open for business, whatever the weather or incident.’

‘It will also have significantly less environmental impact than other options such as expansion at Heathrow, which today impacts more people from a noise perspective than all of the other Western European hubs combined,’ it said.

According to Gatwick, London’s rating as a world city, with the world’s largest aviation market in terms of passenger numbers, is not because it has a ‘hub’ airport, but because of the consistent government policy that fosters liberalisation of the airline market and competition between airports. Other world cities, including New York, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow, operate a multi-airport or ‘constellation’ system, and handle greater numbers of passengers than cities relying on a single ‘hub’ airport.

London Gatwick agrees with the Airports Commission’s statement that the aviation market is in constant flux, and trends in travel are changing.

‘Around the world we see low cost carriers integrating with full service carriers; WestJet in Canada, Jet Blue in the US and Virgin Australia are all integrating with long haul carriers,’ the statement said.

Also, the introduction of ‘hub busting’ aircraft technology, such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350, will result in many more passengers flying direct to their destinations.

London Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said, ‘It is clear from the evidence we are gathering, with the help of some of the world’s leading aviation experts, that we need to develop an airports system in London and the south-east that is robust and flexible enough to adapt to any future outcome.’

He added, ‘A two-runway Gatwick, as part of a constellation of three major airports surrounding London, is the best option to provide flexibility in addressing an industry whose only constant is change.’