Gatwick Sees Long-Term Traffic Slowdown

October 13, 2011

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London's Gatwick Airport said its predicted rate of long-term growth in passenger traffic would be lower than previously expected because of tough economic conditions and an uncertain outlook.

Gatwick on Thursday started a three-month public consultation on its draft master plan for the airport, looking ahead to 2020. The report also looks at ways of making the best use of the airport's single runway whilst providing scenarios for growth to 2030.

"The rate of growth in traffic is lower than previously disclosed, reflecting current economic conditions and outlook," Gatwick said in a statement.

"Over the next 10 years Gatwick Airport Limited expects annual traffic to grow to 40 million passengers. Gatwick Airport Limited believe that the Airport could, by 2030, handle around 45 million passengers on one runway with two terminals."

The plan supersedes the 2006 interim master plan published under previous owners BAA.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick airport, said the airport was exploring ways of using its existing runway more efficiently, growing traffic during off-peak periods when existing runway capacity is not being fully utilised and bringing in newer, larger aircraft at Gatwick to encourage growth in passenger numbers.

Gatwick, operated by Global Infrastructure Partners, also said underlying passenger traffic grew 3.3 percent in the six months to September 30, helped by growth on European routes by low-cost airlines operating from Gatwick.

Gatwick reiterated its expectation that 33.6 million passengers would travel through the airport in the year to end March.

Earlier this week rival UK airport operator BAA said growth in passenger traffic at London's largest airport, Heathrow, slowed last month.

BAA said passenger numbers at London's Heathrow rose 1.4 percent to 6.3 million in September compared to the same month a year ago -- less than the growth seen at the hub in previous months.

(Reuters)