Decision Time: Heathrow vs. Gatwick – The Facts

Posted: 12 October 2016 | International Airport Review | 32 comments

Ahead of the government’s decision on airport expansion in South East England, International Airport Review has created a comprehensive infographic displaying the key facts associated with proposed expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick airports:

Gatwick vs Heathrow infographic

Click on image above to view the full infographic

In addition, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, has provided his opinion on the airport expansion debate. Speaking exclusively to International Airport Review Mr Caplan said:

Darren Caplan, AOA“The Airport Operators Association has consistently said that the UK needs to compete in both established and emerging markets, and that this requires excellent aviation connectivity right across the country, ensuring the UK has both vibrant point to point airports and world class hub capacity. We support all airports that wish to grow and we believe in making best use of existing capacity at UK airports.

“We support the assertion made in the Government’s statement last December that the UK requires more capacity and the AOA is clear that aviation can grow sustainably in future whilst delivering for UK plc. So we welcomed the completion of the Airports Commission’s Final Report in the summer, and supported the assertions already made in the Commission’s Interim Report of 2013 that we need both airport expansion and to make better use out of existing capacity. We are continuing to call for the Government to respond fully to the Airports Commission recommendations as quickly as possible this year, to maintain momentum, remove uncertainty and ensure the UK gets the additional capacity it so vitally needs as soon as possible.”

32 responses to “Decision Time: Heathrow vs. Gatwick – The Facts”

  1. Tim Webb says:

    It has to be Heathrow for the whole country’s benefit!

  2. Derek Jones says:

    LHR is a global hub that needs to expand to retain its position. LGW is not and will never be a global hub. Expanding it is a waste of time and money and will drive airlines away from the UK to AMS and FRA. Did we learn nothing from the white elephant that is STN? Shut the nimbies up and focus on what is best for UK plc

    • Gary says:

      My take is that Heathrow will always remain the a hub, but the question is around capacity, for which Gatwick is ideally positioned to deliver in a more cost effective, environmentally friendly and timely solution to the need.

  3. Richard says:

    There should be an option for both.
    In order to truly satisfy demand and put the UK at the forefront of servicing worldwide travel both Heathrow and Gatwick need an additional runway.

    • John says:

      I’m with Richard. For the sake of UK plc both airports should get an extra runway. LGW would deliver first giving growth to the economy earlier and then LHR would deliver giving it the chance to regain it’s title as the World’s bussiest international hub. With both getting runways there will be more competition, more choice, more jobs. And I say this living … , you guessed it, right under the flight path.

  4. Larry says:

    You can try to push “sh..” uphill for so long, but sooner or later someone has to be realistic about this and make the right decision.
    Given London’s hopeless roads and connections anyway, why keep Heathrow? I spent over 1hr in a taxi getting from Heathrow to downtown, disgraceful, cost me over 100 quid, and it wasn’t even busy hour!!
    I’ll fly Gatwick and take the train there, makes perfect sense. Cheaper to upgrade, takes the same time by train, has better future expansion availability etc etc.
    Heathrow? A “has been” airport in desperate need of decommissioning and returning it (and the neighbourhood) to “normal life”. Even after upgrades, rebuilds and new terminals, it still is a royal pain in the you know what!

  5. Dave says:

    > “Heathrow will extend the night flight ban by 1.5 hours if given expansion approval”

    Heathrow’s undertaking to postpone the start of daily flights until 5:30am fails to satisfy the condition laid down by the Airports Commission (6am start) and yet they claim that it does. How does that work?

  6. Lee says:

    We know that a hub airport is more vital to maintain a lead on Paris and Amsterdam. But, is it possible to fund both and let LGW prove if it can attract global airlines from LHR to new destinations – despite any loss of revenue from hub passenger transfers. Then LHR will not be breaching greater (3rd runway) capacity for a long time to come. Having been alongside LHR all of my life, I know that the whole economy to the west of London is underpinned by its presence (irrespective of the noise complainers who benefit from it).

    • Carol says:

      “We know that a hub airport is more vital to maintain a lead on Paris and Amsterdam. But, is it possible to fund both and let LGW prove if it can attract global airlines from LHR to new destinations”

      In fact, the government would only be funding Heathrow – Gatwick will not require any public funding at all whereas Heathrow will need around £6bn of taxpayers money. Gatwick sounds better all the time, doesn’t it?

  7. Gautam Venkatesh says:

    I think Gatwick is the only choice for another runway. I live near Gatwick and I think Gatwick is a responsible neighbour. Gatwick involves in the Local Community initiatives and cares about the people around. Environmentally, Gatwick is the only option.

    • Steve Howells says:

      Its great call by Gautam, as GAL is a very responsible neighbour, offers great access to the airport, great customer service and superb facilities! Gatwick is an absolute no brainer in terms of cost, environmental impact and disruption to the surrounding areas during and after construction work compared to Heathrow.

  8. Alastair McDermid says:

    Heathrow R3 will never happen.

  9. Daniel Cooke says:

    Gatwick is an absolute no brainer in terms of cost, environmental impact and disruption to the surrounding areas during and after construction work compared to Heathrow. Shame the decision is to be made by the leather arm chair and cigar brigade as opposed to what public opinion and logic suggests.

  10. Ashwin Soni says:

    Crawley will thrive bringing more jobs, opportunities and wealth for present and future generation.

  11. Not sure exactly when it was, but at some point the debate turned from being a general one about airport capacity for London & the South East and the UK, to an “either/or” argument.

    In fact, the only future-proof way of dealing with this issue is to build an additional runway at BOTH airports, and to do it without further delay. Gatwick’s would probably be quicker to build, but Heathrow’s would be just as essential.

  12. Gary B says:

    Being involved heavily in construction in and around Heathrow, I would selfishly say to build the new runway at Heathrow.
    Having said that I lived my younger days in the shadow of Heathrow and still have close family that will almost certainly be heavily affected by it.
    Having thought carefully about all permutations I honestly believe that both Heathrow AND Gatwick should be the beneficiaries of additional capacity.

  13. John P says:

    Thinking big picture for UK Plc both Heathrow and Gatwick should get an extra runway. It’s mostly privately funded and will drive competition in London and with the likes of Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dubai, etc.

    UK was the leader in global aviation, let’s get back to being the leaders again!

  14. Chris Wortley says:

    Gatwick-It has the space and capacity for growth and the outlying population will be provided with job opportunities Heathrow is saturated and there is a lack of people resource.

    Having Gatwick and Heathrow provides for competition between the two.
    A good fast bullet rail link between the two airports provides the best of both worlds.

    Rail infrastructure improvement is a must for either airport.
    An hour in the Piccadily line from Kings/St Pancras is archaic and Heathrow express from the out of the way inconvenient Paddington is a farce.

  15. Geoffrey Baskir says:

    I’ll offer the comment that the choice of “both” was not offered, and in a perfectly competitive world, these two airports, being owned by different organizations, would make their own business decisions independent of each other, which would result in one new runway at Heathrow and another at Gatwick. To do anything different would be the equivalent of the EU making the decision to place a new runway at either Heathrow, Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam.

  16. Alan says:

    The point that is not discussed is the supporting transport infrastructure!
    Gatwick is not a hub but a point to point airport, therefore expansion of the road and rail infrastructure is where a vast amount of Government funding will be required. There is only one rail mode to Gatwick which is already choked to capacity on it’s way into London. one issue and it all stops.
    Similarly the road Network is not an option into London and the M25 is at and beyond capacity in the SE corner.
    So the Big question for Gatwick How do you Get the extra traffic away from the airport and dispersed into London or onward around the country??

  17. Glynn says:

    It is a shame that GB Plc is not being catered for. If it was then we would build three new runways, 1 at Heathrow to maintain a very important HUB Airport, 1 at Gatwick to enhance the south’s capacity which is only getting busier and 1 in the north to balance things up and assist with the northern hub we here so much about.

    However the best solution would have been to build a complete new Airport along with road and rail infrastructure etc, to rival the best in the world.

    But no we need to do things on the cheap and then complain when it all falls down.

  18. P says:

    How can Heathrow be considered based on the following:

    The M25 is choked to capacity. How many more lanes can the M25 be expanded to not to mention by how much will CO2 emissions increase by. Not to mention from personal experience Heathrow is nightmare logistically.

    Tax payers money needed to be used in the expansion of the Heathrow why? Gatwick – privatedly funded.

    Given the opportunity Gatwick can improve rail links and can provide long haul all over the world like Heathrow but you cannot expand one airport all the time and say the other cannot provide the service.

    Am I mistaken in saying that it was mentioned once Heathrow got Terminal 5 that they would be no or minimal expansion at Heathrow.

  19. Bill says:

    Why pay out billions of £££££’s on a new runway. Spend a fraction of that on a fast train link to Manston Airport which greedy developers want to turn into houses.
    Manston already has a heavy duty runway which was used to trial the A380.
    Is the fifth longest runway in the UK and certainly the widest and guess what…..the vast majority of the local populous are actually in favour of keeping the airport open… win I’d say….

  20. Jon B says:

    Both airports make a good prima facie demand case, and are of course now completely independent and privately owned. So UK Govt should allow both to proceed in seeking the necessary planning and environmental impact assessment approvals process, and then subject to which airport obtains those approvals first, the Boards of each airport can then determine whether in fact they have a robust business case.

  21. K says:

    There’s free Wifi at Heathrow. At Gatwick it’s costly and patchy. Enough said.

  22. Michael Adloz says:

    Although I live nearer Gatwick, I think Heathrow should get the new Runway. At least Heathrow supports british industry and companies whereas Gatwick seems to only buy French, German, American, anything but British. Gatwick’s idea of supporting British business is to offer 30 day payment terms (instead of the usual 120) to SME; but only if you give Gatwick a 20% discount!

  23. JM CHEVALLIER says:

    There is no doubt that a 3rd runway at LHR is making a lot more sense in terms of unconstrained aviation development.

    However, I do not believe any UK government will ever succeed in getting a new runway at LHR, while I anticipate far less obstacles at building a new runway at LGW.

    So the options are :
    – either deciding LHR and failing to get the project through
    – or deciding LGW with reasonable chance of success.

    As we say in French “le mieux est souvent l’ennemi du bien”.

  24. Gerard Stepien says:

    LHR has very good existing connections to London via Airport Express and Motorways.

    With the regeneration of Paddington Basin and The Oaks Project, LHR is the only natural and commercial choice for developing London’s position as major hub and Financial centre.

  25. Jim Watson says:

    This is shockingly bad journalism.. the Infographic doesn’t represent the facts on an equal basis or footing…e.g. mixing up percentages and fractions.. with a distinct slant to Gatwick. One would challenge who funded this work of total fiction… Gatwick Obviously…??!

    • International Airport Review says:

      Hi Jim,

      We appreciate your comment but would like to affirm that the infographic was made independent of any external influence.
      While you may see a bias towards Gatwick in the statistics this might be due to the fact that Heathrow do not disclose to us as much information as does Gatwick.
      International Airport Review does not wish to side with either option but instead provide a vehicle for the discussion of both options.

  26. It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you
    shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

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