England

Sadiq Khan urges swift decision on Gatwick expansion

Latest Gatwick expansion image Image copyright Gatwick Airport
Image caption Gatwick has released images of what an expanded, two-runway airport would look like

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Theresa May to make a quick decision on airport expansion in the South East.

Mr Khan said the new Prime Minister should make the final decision on whether a new runway should be built at Gatwick or Heathrow a top priority.

He underlined his support for a second runway at Gatwick rather than a third at Heathrow.

The government said last month a decision would be deferred until a new Conservative leader was in place.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sadiq Khan backs expansion at Gatwick over Heathrow

Mr Khan was at Gatwick as the West Sussex airport announced a £200m programme of investment until 2021.

Projects include expansion of both the north and south terminal departure lounges and immigration halls, upgrading shopping facilities, and extra aircraft parking stands.

The airport said it would bring total investment over the next five years to £1.2bn.

"Gatwick is the front door to London for millions of visitors," said Mr Khan.

"The new prime minister has a very important decision to make regarding new airport capacity, and I urge her to rule as swiftly as possible in favour of a second runway at Gatwick, which would bring substantial economic benefits."

During the mayoral election, Mr Khan opposed a third runway at Heathrow, saying Gatwick Airport should be expanded.

The Airports Commission, set up to look into airport capacity in south-east England, published its findings in favour of Heathrow on 1 July 2015.

Since then, the final decision has been delayed by the government.

Following the EU Referendum, the then Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said a decision would not be made until at least October, pending a leadership contest in the Tory party.

But Theresa May became Prime Minister on Wednesday unopposed.

Heathrow said there were significantly greater benefits to its proposal to build a third runway.

"The Airports Commission disagree with Sadiq Khan and Gatwick," said a spokesman.

"Brexit makes the Commission's conclusion that, with Heathrow expansion, 'the benefits are significantly greater, for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy', even more persuasive."

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