London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) has announced a public consultation on plans to use its Northern Runway on a routine basis, seeking to boost capacity at the hub. 

While Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, does have two runways, the Northern Runway can only be used if the main runway is not in use as they are currently too close together for use at the same time. 

The airport operator said on August 25, 2021, it therefore proposes to shift the centerline of the Northern Runway 12 meters to the north, which would enable dual runway operations in accordance with international safety standards.

The Northern Runway would be utilized only for departures of smaller aircraft, and would use existing flight paths. 

The main runway would continue to be used for all arrivals and larger departing aircraft.  

Gatwick estimates the scheme will help reduce delays and congestion and increase capacity to 75 million passengers per year by 2038.

Passenger numbers fell to 10.2 million in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, down from 46.6 million in 2019.

“While we are currently experiencing low passenger and air traffic volumes due to the global pandemic, we are confident that Gatwick will not only fully recover to previous passenger levels, but has the potential to continue to grow back into one of Europe’s premier airports,” Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer of Gatwick Airport, commented.

The public consultation will run for 12 weeks from September 9, 2021.