London’s Gatwick Airport is set to introduce its latest draft plan to use its emergency runway as a secondary landing strip as a means to deal with the growing traffic at the airport.

The move, which is part of the airport’s future growth plans, follows the airport’s failure to secure a government-supported expansion programme.

A spokesperson for Gatwick told media sources: “Airports are required to publish new master plans every five years, setting out their future growth plans and Gatwick has consistently confirmed it will do so before the end of this year.

“The draft plan will set out for our local communities, partners, airlines and stakeholders three possible growth scenarios, which we will then open up for views and feedback.

“With Heathrow and Gatwick already running pretty much at full capacity, something needs to be done soon.”

“Gatwick has previously set out it is exploring how to make best use of its existing runways, including the possibility of bringing its existing standby runway into routine use.”

Smaller aeroplanes will use the emergency landing strip.

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It is estimated that use of the standby runway will help boost Gatwick’s passenger capacity by 20% to 30%, equating to 84,000 extra flights per annum.

Responding to the news, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) general secretary Brian Strutton said: “BALPA has always been in favour of extra capacity across the UK, and with Heathrow and Gatwick already running pretty much at full capacity, something needs to be done soon.

“If it is approved by the regulator[s] and complies with safety rules, then by using its emergency runway Gatwick can provide much-needed capacity in the south-east, which we would welcome.”

In June, Gatwick introduced a £1.11bn proposal to expand part of the North Terminal with six new departure gates.