Gatwick Vs. Heathrow…and the winner is?


There has been an ongoing conflict between Heathrow and Gatwick airport recently, due to the proposed plans for expanding just one of them.

A combined £6 million has been spent on marketing campaigns alone and with this weekend’s news it seems the process could be starting to pick up some speed.

Yesterday, BBC news London published that budget airline EasyJet have confirmed they are backing Heathrow, even though their main hub is Gatwick. What was their reasoning behind the decision? They fear airport charges will increase for customers if Gatwick were to expand.

That’s bad news for a budget airline!!

Gatwick tried to fight their cause; stating it will create more competition for airlines resulting in the prices to lower.

It seems like a bit of an “It’s all about me and my needs” situation to me…

What about the other stakeholders involved? I know there is a public consultation process, where they listen to the public voices, but there is some controversy surrounding the authenticity of this.


A representative from the Aviation industry has this to say…

“Overall Heathrow ticks all the boxes and in the short term is the best investment; it has excellent transport links and is situated within easy access from both the north and south and is already internationally recognised as the UK hub”


So who’s currently in conflict at the moment?


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It’s like a battle of the sexes!


The conflict has got so bad recently that Heathrow were reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority for making false claims about airport benefits with their expansion.

Just makes you wonder how much of the information is true? Are we all being conned into making the wrong decision?


So how do we ultimately resolve these conflicts?

Well, there are three factors that each of the groups will be thinking about.


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In regards to the ‘Rights’, no one party has the ‘Right’ to expand their airport and in terms of ‘Interest’, different parties are going to be fighting their cause about “how it’s going to help the airport”. The main aspect this vote is driven by is ‘Power’. Not the ‘Power’ of the airports, or the public or the airlines but ultimately the ‘Power‘ of the government who are making the final decision.

I personally think it should be decided through the ‘Right’s approach because it’s the fairest way. I also think a mediator should come into the process, as well as representatives from the public, airports and government bodies; to allow a fair multiple stakeholder decision.

Don’t YOU agree?

The government needs to sit down and listen to the airports representatives but also determine which airports position is most valid in these circumstances, with a mediator present to allow all thoughts to reach the table.

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Using a collaborating approach, the problem can be easily solved together amongst the different parties, fairly, equally and based upon actual facts and figures that will determine the best option.



I guess only time will tell…

Take the Poll and let me know who you think will be the winner within this conflict!!



(All diagrams and images were either created by Paige Hiley or taken by Paige Hiley)



19 thoughts on “Gatwick Vs. Heathrow…and the winner is?

  1. sarumecho says:

    I could be a cynic and say the issue will be resolved by the decision makers (ie the government) based on the marginal seats in West London, and deciding for LHR would lose them votes. The saddest part about it is that the more informed (ie the people who actually bothered to read the Davies Report into the options) would know that the extra runway at Heathrow would actually IMPROVE the sound footprint of all current air traffic across London, because most planes would approach from the west. That’s over Windsor castle BTW, which might irritate a monarch, but what the hey.

    I am conscious of the LHR argument more than the Gatwick one, for the simple reason that Heathrow was once the busiest airport in the world, and it’s been usurped by Dubai. Heathrow is a symbol of the UK’s position as a global air hub- which Gatwick will never be.

    But whether the right reasons will actually be decisive in an election year? Doubtful…it’s a power political game, alas

    • paigehileypr says:

      Hi Catherine, you make some interesting points here. So do you think there should be an appointed neutral mediator to tackle the decision making process between the government? Or do you think there is just no way of controlling the decision making process; it’s simply the way the government want it to be – will happen?

  2. Steve says:

    Although, personally, I believe that the expansion of Heathrow would be the better of the two options from both an economic and personnel point of view based on the fact of how long it take to get to and from Gatwick, and how much longer it will take with the additional passenger number into Gatwick if it was expanded, I believe the better option is to expand the regional airports. This would both stop the number of people needing to travel to and from these London based airports, but it should also help in expanding the regional economies, and is that not what the Government keeps talking about…..

    • paigehileypr says:

      Hi Steve, Thanks for contributing with your opinion – It looks like you are getting a lot of other followers agreeing with your comment about the expansion of regional airports being a better option. How do you think it will turn out? Gatwick or Heathrow? You can take the poll above and make your choice.

  3. nick says:

    There are many advantages and disadvantages to both, Heathrow has a strong market position and is internationally recognised as the HUB airport of the UK, it has the structure and experience already to cope with the pax flow increase, in terms of transport links it’s very well connected by almost every type of onwards transport available. Gatwick has certainly improved over the last few years since being sold off as part of the break up of BAA, the new found competition have ment a revamp of passenger services and a general refresh but it struggles slightly due to its position south of London making in a difficult journey by road at peak times, I have no doubt that gatwick could cope with the increased pax volume providing all airport business partners are consulted during the planning stage. In terms of regional airport expansion this sound great in theory and could work well in practice but there are some significant hurdles to over come, firstly the idea of having a hub airport is that It can accommodate both international and domestic services and that a passenger can from that airport travel to as many possible destinations from there, to be able to provide the same service across several regional airports would require fast and effective transport links between them, this would require not only significant investment from central government and councils but also from the transport industry itself, something that’s difficult to secure during times of prosperity let alone decline, further more airport expansion always has a catch 22 so to speak and this is especially so with regional ports, airport development will always be looking to see what new business/airlines/routes expansion can secure before investing where as airlines will be looking to see what infrastructure is in place before committing to a new operation and when u look at how many small airports have closed or become virtual ghost towns over the last few years you can see the concern of to many airports and to much competition. Overall all ideas have there strengths and weaknesses and personally I’d love to see the regional airports get a crack at it but looking and the current state of the industry and the investment required for all options, in the short term Heathrow offers the best return for the least amount of work. However it should be noted that even a third runway will only give Heathrow so much breathing and a more permanent solution would need to be looked at……oh and as for the people living near by who would be affected it’s not nice to think they may be forced from their homes however anyone who’s moved in in the last 5 years would have been well aware of the possible expansion and those that have been there longer still knew they were moving close to the busiest airport in the UK and would or should have been aware that at some point it’s expansion could affect them, provided that they are well compensated and are consulted and considered when planning the time scale for eventual eviction then really fairs fair as horrible as that may seem

    • paigehileypr says:

      What would you say is the most important stakeholder in this case then Nick? Do you still think it is the public even though, like you pointed out, they were informed of the expansion early on? Or do you think it is the airlines who’s business could be affected?

  4. Dan says:

    This on going battle of the airports will continue for many years! For as long as I remember campaigns have gathered pace on both arguments for expansion, with government white papers published decisions made and then revoked. With the looming elections I’m sure the current government will make a choice to please the masses then after the results will revoke that option.

    To the real issue of which airport would cope with the infrastructure of any expansion Id have to back LHR, as it’s at the heart of most of the UKs crossroads, it has the power of the national airline and its prestious routes, I echo the previous comment that LHR has a place to maintain that has been demised in recent years by Middle Eastern airport with the space and money to expand, however, with every improvement at LHR the like of DXB put in two! LHR will always be restricted in comparison and I believe the true way to improve connectivity at this hub would be using the European model of creating an intermodel hub, remove some domestic routes, coupled with investment in high speed rail options, making these rail journeys into book able connections to the travelling public as seen with Lufthansa and German rail operator ICE. This will allow LHR to open routes to long haul destinations. Many other major hubs have also gained with the acceptance of low cost models, a view not shared by the money greedy owners of LHR, shunning low cost operations until recent years. Put simply the expansion at LHR will provide little to no option to benefit air travel, instead it will make the rich richer providing more slots to the current serving airlines, which will add capacity, add routes but ultimately not improve competition.

    LGW hampered by its location and lack of facility to fast road or rail connections from anywhere aside London. LGW currently not operating to capacity has soo much more to improve on before an expansion is needed, loosing large airlines to LHR as slots are traded and capacity created. LGW is let down by the support of the nations large airlines, with low cost taking the march at the airport prestigious airlines are pulled away and facilities not live up to the competition. Until a hub system can be established at LGW there is little attraction to new airlines and increased competition. Personally I feel this is an area that Sir RB could capitalise on and bring the failed Little Red brand to LGW creating a domestic/ long haul hub and spoke. Instead the large UK airlines focus on leisure markets from LGW.

    To summarise both airports have a case to need expansion to continue in the competitive market, however, both need to improve infrastructure and support networks to really seize the opportunity that expansion will bring.
    My personal vote is a split decision, I would like to see LHR regain its glory of the past and remain a competitive hub with the big European 3 (FRA AMS CDG) however, to create a second hub at LGW would improve competition and make the travel market that little more interesting for passengers and airlines alike.

    • paigehileypr says:

      You have interesting views Dan! Having a split decision seems to be something that a few people have; do you not agree with some of the comments who have raised the point that regional airport expansion should be an option?

  5. Dr B says:

    First of all, from a totally subjective point of view, I can get to Gatwick relatively easily on the train but it is a grim place. Getting the train out of there after a lovely holiday is truly a depressing experience and I can only imagine what kind of first impression it creates for the newly arrived tourist. Gatwick’s connections are poor, whether that is getting out onto the M23 and then enjoying the view at the deadlocked junction on the M25, or paying over the odds for a ‘fast’ train into Victoria from where it’s a pain to get anywhere else. Who needs that?
    On the other hand, Heathrow is already a monster, and the infrastructure needed to support expansion goes beyond a simple runway. I’m just grateful, when I’m travelling west on the M25, that I get to turn off at junction 12 just before I get caught up in the airport traffic. Someone has referred to ‘getting back to the glory days of the past’ but air travel was a lot different then and a lot less accessible, and we do not live in the same world.
    Air travel isn’t going away, so surely regional expansion is the sensible option, or at the very least Birmingham and Manchester. There is already too great a loading on London and its environs, and we should stop pretending that it is otherwise.
    And in terms of the adverts, Gatwick obviously wins. I’m not saying it wins the argument, but it wins the battle of the best advert. Heathrow is making claims it can’t possibly substantiate, whereas Gatwick takes the human view. We mustn’t forget the people factor in all of this, and I really don’t think it’s acceptable for a lot of people to lose their homes so a few people can make ridiculous amounts of money.

    • paigehileypr says:

      I totally agree Dr. B – Regional airport expansion should be an option the government should consider, it will help to drive more tourists to other locations and not just the two main hubs in London. What you say about Heathrow’s advert is completely right as well – Today news came out that the ASA have reprimanded Heathrow for making false claims on their adverts! How does that make you feel?

  6. Ashley Keir-Bucknall says:

    From an advertising perspective, I have to say that Gatwick’s wins hands down on the Out-of-home (OOH) billboard; it shows far better engagement than that of Heathrow.

    Although this area of current affairs (and the construction/aerospace industries) isn’t one I’m too well versed in, personally, despite agreeing with Dan that Heathrow possesses the level of infrastructure to support further expansion, I don’t necessarily agree that its expansion would be justified as (let’s be honest here), Heathrow is a behemoth in its own right and despite the recent addition of Terminal 5, airfare prices of its customers hasn’t been impacted on hugely as a result.

    I agree with Steve in that, generally speaking, it would be better to expand regional airports but, if the case is one of “the lesser of two evils” then I believe that Gatwick should be given the opportunity and investment to compete. However amazing Terminal 5 is – and it truly is amazing now that it works relatively smoothly most of the time – expanding LHR to me just smacks of unrestrained capitalism for the sake of profit, whereas I think if Gatwick was given the pitch then it would further stimulate investment into things like its aesthetics/connectivity which would further improve a ‘depressing’ area.

    Overall though, I really do think that the way this whole situation has been handled is quite frankly appalling, particularly considering the sheer lack of respect for those whose homes, workplaces and lives are affected – yes there’s a consultation, but how useful/valuable is it when its pretty apparent that the expansion is going to go ahead anyway?

    • paigehileypr says:

      You pose some interesting ideas Ashley! I’m not sure whether the government have actually considered a round the country regional airport expansion; but i’m sure if it was to cost a lot of money – that option would be out the window. I agree that the situation has been handled in an appalling way! Seems like children in a playground fight – How would you solve the conflict? Would you choose the RIGHTS option and use a mediator during the decision making process?

      • Ashley Keir-Bucknall says:

        Personally, I’d take the ‘rights’ approach as I think that’s the fairest way of handling the issue. But generally speaking, I’m a tad critical of such localised investment around London – cue my suggestion of expanding regional hubs. Although yes, they would cost a fair bit more, I think investment in this manner would long term be more effective as distributing capital and opportunities equally across the country. 🙂

      • paigehileypr says:

        I agree it is the fairer approach to take when dealing with government and economic situations that effect the country as a whole. I guess we will see what happens soon…. There might be room for regional expansion in the future!

    • paigehileypr says:

      That’s great! I saw the reply – thanks for getting back to me. I’ll take a look at this new post as well. More than welcome 🙂 It is interesting to see that you aren’t for a mediation technique to solve the conflict.

  7. Keith says:

    This is a massively complex set of arguments with so many publics [old school word I know..]at play. Who will win – who knows!?! At some stage what needs to happen is someone, somewhere needs to make a decision. Whatever that decision is will upset a whole load of people.

    But at the moment, the delay in the decision making process will only mean one thing – the UK gets left behind. Pretty sure Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai even will all be rubbing their hands together. They can all use the intervening period to grow and develop their own capabilities as a Western hub. Advances in plane technology could mean that long haul carriers could bypass the UK – Dubai to New York non-stop is already do-able on the new A380 planes – OK, so there aren’t that many of them at the moment but that’ll change.

    So the UK loses and the UK traveller loses. But it’ll keep the lawyers busy for years to come.

    • paigehileypr says:

      An interesting perspective Keith, you have also mentioned things I weren’t aware of. Just goes to show, that with whatever decision they make there will always been downfalls and like you said the longer they wait to decide the more likely other countries will be one step ahead of them!

  8. planningblogger14 says:

    I have currently seen your latest comment an my blog and yes, I do believe that generally Heathrow does have potential for expansion, but it doesn’t seem that it could be for the right reasons. Gatwick expansion is a great idea, but, even with the expansion, there would need to be more connectivity on roads and, with only one particular motorway running through the area, I do not think that it would be economically feasible to widen the motorway or create a new one in order to cope with the extra capacity.

    On the other hand, I think that Heathrow is better connected and, with a new railway station proposed for the Heathrow Hub concept, it would be much better for commuters and would be able to offer a variety of connections around the airport and into London and other place in the south-west. However, before any of this happens with Heathrow, the airport layout is, at the moment, not feasible, for economic growth and must be architecturally re-organised.

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