London’s airports need to be allowed to use their spare capacity through increased competition, according to the capital’s second largest airport Gatwick.
The Sussex airport has today (May 16) submitted its response to the Airports Commission which is looking at how to expand airport capacity in the south-east.
While Heathrow is running at 99 per cent capacity, Gatwick said that there is “significant unused capacity” across the capital’s other airports. Gatwick currently has spare capacity of around 24 per cent.
Gatwick said in its submission that attracting new airlines and long-haul routes could be achieved through “a more flexible approach to pricing, service and quality levels”.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO, said: “Gatwick is already leading the way in making the best use of its single runway and attracting new routes.
“However, to enhance this work, and encourage greater use of the spare capacity London does have today, it is key for the Airports Commission to encourage competition between airports through a more flexible approach to setting price, service and quality levels.
“By enabling competition, we can encourage new airlines to start services to key short and long-haul destinations and ultimately more passengers to travel.
“However it is critical that the Airports Commission balances the use of runway capacity with building resilience into London’s airport system. Airports should not be planning to fail their passengers – they should be planning to deliver certainty and an excellent service at all times.”
Gatwick is also arguing that there needs to be better rail services and train carriages to London’s airports to attract more airlines.
“Although it already has excellent rail links, the airport – as well as some of its airlines – believe more dedicated, high quality and value for money services into London are fundamental to encouraging greater use of its capacity,” said Gatwick in a statement.
The airport has also told the Airports Commission that it must examine the “level of resilience offered by London’s airports during times of disruption such as snow".
“Gatwick believes that ensuring levels of runway utilisation are not so high that airports have little or no ability to recover is key for passenger welfare,” said the airport.