London Gatwick is proposing to bring its existing Northern Runway into regular use alongside its Main Runway. This is a plan which will support a significant uplift in trade and tourism


The Northern Runway project is set to bring industry-related employment and economic benefits to the region and wider country, with the potential to attract more overseas visitors to London and the South East, and facilitate greater import-export activities.

A report by Oxford Economics suggests that this could result in the creation of an additional 35,500 jobs as a result of increased imports, and an extra 28,700 jobs through higher levels of inbound tourism.

Trade Opportunities

The development of the Northern Runway is set to more than double the airport’s cargo capacity. If London Gatwick’s plans are approved, the forecast 382,000 annual Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) by 2038 will provide increased opportunities for cargo transportation.

Many of the additional slots will target long-haul services, enabling greater volumes of ‘belly cargo’ to be carried by wide-bodied aircraft between key international markets, including the USA, Middle East, and Asia.

The volume of imports handled by London Gatwick is forecast to increase to around 161,500 tonnes in 2038, over twice the amount handled in 2019.

It would also bring job opportunities across the airport and along the air-freight supply chain in sectors including logistics, warehousing and transportation. The Oxford Economics report highlights that if the Northern Runway comes into routine use, trade-facilitated employment across the UK would reach 167,500 jobs by 2038. This is 35,500 more jobs than without the development.

The increased productivity of businesses trading globally through London Gatwick is expected to contribute significantly to regional and national economic growth. The surge in imports alone is forecast to add a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £9.8 billion to UK economy by 2038 – more than twice the value in 2019 and £2.1 billionngreater than without the Northern Runway development.

Jonathan Pollard, London Gatwick’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “London Gatwick already makes a significant contribution to the local, regional, and national economies, through direct and indirect jobs, tourism, and global trade opportunities.

“Many businesses and individuals across the South East are supported by having Gatwick on their doorstep. We are confident that by bringing our existing Northern Runway into regular use – and therefore offering even more global connections – we can provide a huge boost to the region, for both people and businesses.

“These figures demonstrate the substantial benefits to be gained through increased capacity and greater resilience at Gatwick.”

Driving tourism growth

In addition to boosting trade, the regular use of the Northern Runway has the potential to drive significant growth in the tourism sector.

By improving connectivity and accommodating greater numbers of international visitors, inbound tourism is predicted to increase by 61%, with substantial economic impact. Forecasts suggest international visitor numbers will reach nine million in 2038 with the development – 1.6 million more than a situation using London Gatwick’s current runway capacity.

With the potential to facilitate more long-haul routes, London Gatwick will attract more tourists from some of the world’s most lucrative markets, including China and the USA. The subsequent rise in inbound travel spend will benefit a wide range of businesses and is predicted to contribute £8.74 billion to the economy by 2038 – £2 billion more than without the Northern Runway development.

In turn, the increase in sector spending will demand more jobs, stimulating economic growth in the surrounding region where most of the related employment opportunities will be focused. By 2038, it is predicted that the impact of the Northern Runway could support a total of 130,700 tourism-industry jobs, both directly and indirectly within the tourism value chain – 28,700 more than without the Northern Runway project. This also represents a significant increase from the 84,100 jobs supported in 2019 and underscores the positive impact the Northern Runway Project will have on this industry.

Alison Addy, London Gatwick’s Head of External Engagement and Policy, said: “With inbound visitors to the UK forecast to reach 37.5 million this year – and a significant proportion of these travelling to London and the South East – it’s clear the significant contribution London Gatwick plays in supporting the thriving tourism industry, alongside local, regional and national economies.

“Businesses and individuals associated with the tourism industry – from family-run B&Bs and independent taxi drivers, to major tourist attractions and hotel chains – benefit from having London Gatwick facilitating visitors from around the world.

“We are confident that by bringing our existing Northern Runway into regular use – and by offering more global connections – we can further boost this vital part of our local, regional and national economies, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the tourism industry supports.”

London Gatwick launches new STEM centre

The STEM centre will strengthen the airport’s existing educational outreach efforts, through the provision of a dedicated space for school children to learn about STEM disciplines and related careers.

Thousands of students aged 4-18 from across schools and colleges in the South East and London regions are set to benefit from field trips and interactive sessions held at the airport’s new facility. Equipped with classrooms, quiet-spaces and lab functionalities, London Gatwick’s STEM centre provides theoretical and hands-on learning opportunities, led by the airport’s construction and engineering teams.

Jacqueline Cave, London Gatwick’s Education and Skills Specialist, said: “Students will have the chance to get involved in lots of engaging and fun activities in our new STEM centre. This includes water treatment experiments, bridge-building, and the construction of solar-powered electrical cars. A mocked-up engineering rig within the centre will also give students the chance to practice changing the lights along the runway under a time limit.”

Aligned with London Gatwick’s ‘Employment, Skills and Business Strategy’, the STEM centre will play a crucial role in fostering local talent and encouraging young people to explore potential STEM-related careers within the aviation industry. London Gatwick’s new STEM centre will contribute to the airport’s ambitious target of one million student engagements by 2030.

Melanie Wrightson, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at London Gatwick, said: “We are thrilled to launch the STEM centre at London Gatwick. We have a proud record of supporting young people into the workplace and we aim to inspire the next generation to build their skills and access the amazing opportunities in STEM. Our new centre can help us achieve that.”

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