Gatwick Airport has rarely been out of the headlines in recent days, with new security measures and a much derided plan to link the location to rival Heathrow via an underground rail link boosting its profile.
Today it is the turn of airport to reclaim the agenda, setting out plans for a three-month public consultation on its draft master plan for the next decade.
As an independent airport, Gatwick is looking ahead to 2020, setting out in detail the developments required for the property to make the best use of its single runway.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport said: “Our ambition is to compete to grow and become London’s airport of choice.
“Today we set out our vision for the future and how we can grow to handle 40 million passengers by 2020.
“Our plans focus on continuing to improve service levels by investing in the airport, our employees and in the communities we serve.
“I encourage those who live and work around Gatwick to share their views with us.”
Much of the development needed to support growth is already underway, argues Wingate, through Gatwick’s £1 billion investment programme.
This week, Gatwick opened its new £45 million 19-lane state-of-the-art security area that will see passengers benefiting from a fast, smart and efficient security experience.
Next month, a £75 million expansion of its North Terminal will be complete, creating more space with new check-in desks and baggage facilities.
Longer term plans will see projects that will enable Airbus A380 operations, expand North Terminal security search area, provide additional pier-served aircraft stands and reconfigure the North Terminal international departure lounge.
Gatwick is also exploring ways of using its existing runway more efficiently – with the Conservative-led coalition government baring any new runways in the south of England in the near future.
Growing traffic during off-peak periods when existing runway capacity is not being fully utilised is one option open to Gatwick.
Bringing in newer, larger aircraft at Gatwick will also encourage growth in passenger numbers and this will require some minor adjustments to the airfield and the way passengers are handled from these aircraft.
The aviation industry contributes £53 billion to the UK economy every year.
Gatwick currently generates around £2 billion annually to the economy of London and the south-east.
It also directly employs 2,500 people, with an additional 23,000 airport jobs and a further 10,500 jobs in the local area being directly or indirectly supported by the airport.
This plan supersedes the 2006 interim master plan published by former owners BAA.