UK pilots back Gatwick runway capacity plan

The British Airline Pilots’ Association has responded positively to the news that Gatwick plans to use its emergency runway to increase capacity.

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said the union had always been in favour of extra capacity across the United Kingdom.

“With Heathrow and Gatwick already running pretty much at full capacity, something needs to be done soon. If it is approved by the regulator and complies with safety rules, then by using its emergency runway Gatwick can provide much-needed capacity in the south east, which we would welcome.”

The airport’s latest draft plan is set to be released on Thursday and will go out to public consultation, an airport spokesman said.

It is understood that the emergency runway would be used for smaller aircraft departures, as part of future growth plans.

An airport spokesman said it was “exploring how to make best use of its existing runways, including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use. This would deliver an incremental increase in capacity that complements the expansion schemes of other airports across the South East.”

Opponents to expansion at the West Sussex airport have called it “a second runway by the back door”.

BALPA said it was also urging the UK government to take a final decision on Heathrow expansion, which it believes will be even more vital in a post-Brexit UK to support the national aviation industry.