BAA plans pounds 100m-a-year Gatwick expansion

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BAA, THE airports operator, yesterday said it was planning a multi- million expansion at Gatwick to cater for an extra 10 million passengers a year and to relieve pressure on its three London airports.

The company said it was drawing up plans to extend the international departure lounge in its north terminal. The plans would be submitted later this year and, if approved by the local council, the extension would be completed by the end of 2000.

The company already has permission for an 81,000 sq ft extension to the south terminal, which will be ready by the end of this year, and it is understood the new development could be of a similar size. A spokesman said the company was planning to invest pounds 100m a year over the next few years to improve and expand Gatwick.

BAA is pushing ahead with the development because of the delay to its plans for a fifth terminal at Heathrow caused by the public inquiry, which took 525 days to hear all the evidence.

The inspector is not expected to produce his report for another two years and a final decision could take six months.

"We have been planning for a long time to increase the number of passengers to around 40 million at Gatwick," he said.

BAA expects the 95 million passengers who use Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted to double by 2015. It has submitted plans for a development at Stansted that will allow it to handle 15 million passengers.