Gatwick Airport bosses are to begin work on detailed plans for a second runway which would double annual capacity to 70 million passengers.
No runway will be built before 2019 due to a 1979 legal agreement. The plan and proposal, which will be assessed by an independent commission, will assess the environmental and economic impacts of a new runway.
Chief Executive Stewart Wingate believes that a new runway would be “affordable, practical and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key markets” and added that a further development at Gatwick had “clear practical advantages” over expansion at Heathrow.
“Over the last three years we have transformed the airport, invested around £650m and have a strong track record for delivering key routes to growth markets,” he said.
“However, we must now look to the future when Gatwick will become full and outline its long-term role in ensuring London has an efficient and resilient airport system that creates the crucial connectivity London and the UK needs.”
Runway development at Gatwick is currently opposed by the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign on environmental grounds. Local residents also disagree with the project due to the belief that the new runway will cause extra noise and lessened air quality.
Gatwick serves 197 destinations and currently handles about 34 million passengers a year. The commission, led by former Financial Services Authority boss Sir Howard Davies, will return an opinion in 2015.