The world’s busiest single-runway airport may have just found a way to utilize a second runway without actually building one. This comes as London Gatwick has published a new master plan to set growth in place over the coming decades.

In its own words, Gatwick has unveiled an "ambitious vision for the future," which aims to plan for the long-term at a time when it has continually been snubbed by the U.K. government in favor of building a new runway at Heathrow.

Gatwick has been under a local planning restriction for 40 years which has prevented a second runway being built before 2019. With that restriction soon to be lifted, and Heathrow’s additional runway likely to be secured, London’s second airport has been working on alternative ways to release extra capacity to capitalize on demand.

The most notable part of the new master plan will see a second runway released for use by departing flights, created out of the standby runway currently only used as a taxiway or backup runway.

With the expiration of the planning restrictions, the use of this second strip will be permitted. Meeting all safety requirements, the use of this runway would likely come into effect from the mid-2020s and would not increase the airport’s noise footprint, yet would allow a more efficient flow of traffic.

It is thought an additional 80,000 flights per year could be handled, representing a 30 percent increase on movements with the use of the second runway.

For true simultaneous operations, Gatwick’s two runways may need to be shifted further apart by 12 meters to satisfy the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) requirement of 210 meters between active runways when used by medium or heavy airplanes. This could be achieved by widening the main runway and shifting its center line further south.

In the meantime, the airport’s current main runway would be developed using new technology to increase its capacity further — despite at times already seeing gaps of mere seconds between departing and landing traffic at times.

With 45 million passengers using Gatwick last year, it is key as a gateway to London and for those living in the country’s south east.

Tim Wates, Chairman of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "A strong and growing Gatwick airport as the beating heart of the Coast to Capital region is the central theme of the LEP’s strategic vision, so we welcome the publication of Gatwick’s master plan today and wholeheartedly support its vision for future growth."

The unveiling of this new master plan is thought to signify the end of Gatwick’s official push to gain approval for a brand-new runway to be built at any time soon.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick said: "Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick — building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead."

The airport is looking forward to the completion of Boeing’s new GoldCare aftermarket maintenance, support and engineering hangar currently under construction. Due to open in early 2019, it will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area.

A 12-week consultation period will now take place before the final master plan is published early next year.