Heathrow told to stop moaning about capacity

Gatwick boss says claims about aviation in London are harming the economy

Gatwick's chief executive blasted a warning at his Heathrow counterpart yesterday, saying that moans about London's strangled aviation capacity are damaging Britain's business prospects and his base was enjoying strong growth from emerging markets.

"If we want to get economic growth going in this country we can't afford to be sending out a message that airports in London are closed for business," Stewart Wingate said. "Gatwick has the capacity to transport 11 million more passengers a year."

His comments came as aviation industry and business leaders met in London to beg the Government to set out a secure and long-term airport policy after "almost 50 years without effective action".

The Government is preparing to launch a consultation on aviation policy, having accepted the need for further runway capacity in South-east England but maintaining opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways-owner IAG, said: "We've had years of government inactivity on aviation policy and this consultation must result in a plan of action and the commitment to see it through – not another fudge.

"It's the UK that loses out while around the world they will rub their hands with glee as we stumble along our path of inactivity."

However, Gatwick, the world's biggest single-runway airport, showed that some parts of South-east aviation still have room to grow, by posting a 17 per cent surge in underlying earnings to £221.5m in the year to April after winning new routes to South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China.

Colin Matthews, the chief executive of Heathrow's owner, BAA, has centred his campaign to overturn the Government's rejection of its expansion plans on the idea that Britain's economy will be strangled by a lack of connectivity.

Heathrow claims its position as the UK's hub airport, with regional and short-haul flights helping to fill long-haul jets, means it alone can attract flights to fast-growing economies. And business bosses, including the CBI's chief executive, John Cridland, and Michael Spencer, the head of the broking giant Icap, are among those who have complained about Heathrow's constrained capacity.

But Mr Wingate said such comments are misleading. "If airlines read Heathrow's complaints about the capacity crunch, it might seem like there's no space in London," he said. "When we go to Asian carriers, the first conversation we have is to say, 'We have significant spare capacity, and it's at the times that you will want to land in London.' They can't believe it. It's really important that we get the message out there that Heathrow may be full, but Gatwick isn't, and nor is Stansted."

Gatwick, which the investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners bought from BAA for £1.5bn three years ago, saw its turnover grow 8.6 per cent to £517.4m last year. Passenger numbers grew 7 per cent to 33.8 million.

Mr Wingate said that Gatwick's £750m investment under new ownership was helping it to catch up with Heathrow. He said spending on technology meant it escaped some of the border delays that its major London rival is facing.

"The Borders Agency has national targets to achieve, and at Heathrow it has failed them most months," he said. "At Gatwick we have passed every month."

News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Adam Lallana, Juan Cala, Andy Carroll and Cameron Jerome
sportThe latest news and scores
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Telesales & Sales Support Apprentice

£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...

Client Relationship Manager - SQL, Python

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...

**Financial Services Tax**

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit