UK cockpit union BALPA is backing a proposal for London Gatwick to use its back-up runway for regular operations as part of a measure to increase airport capacity.

Gatwick’s operator is due to unveil a draft masterplan on 18 October, based on three possible growth scenarios, before inviting comment.

While it has yet to detail its plans, the operator points out that it has sought to explore ways to make the “best use” of its runway system, “including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use”.

Gatwick has two parallel runways – the main one, 08R/26L, is 3,316m in length while the companion 08L/26R is shorter at 2,565m.

But they are separated by just 200m, and this presents independence limitations to approach paths.

“Safety and security are always our key priorities and any new development would be fully compliant with all international safety requirements,” says Gatwick’s operator.

Gatwick had submitted a plan to the UK Airports Commission for a second parallel runway, to the south, which would have increased the runway spacing to 1,045m and allowed simultaneous independent operations.

But the UK government has opted instead to pursue expansion of London Heathrow, with a third runway at the hub.

Gatwick’s potential capacity enhancement through use of its existing runways has drawn support from BALPA.

General secretary Brian Strutton says that “something needs to be done soon” to increase capacity at the main London airports.

“If it is approved by the [regulators] 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,” he adds.

Source: Cirium Dashboard