Short haul flights clogging Heathrow runways with some 25% to short haul destinations
A new study HACAN of flights using Heathrow has revealed that out of the top 10 destinations, by number of flights, only one, New York, is long haul. The rest are European or British destinations. Based on number of daily flights, New York, with 61 flights a day, tops the table. It is followed by Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Edinburgh. Overall around 20 – 25% of flights from Heathrow are to short haul destinations. That is around 100,000 flights (out of a total now of nearly 480,000 annual flights). Although the mix is slightly different in 2013 from earlier research in 2006, the proportion is about the same. Of the European flights, some 45% are over distances of less than 500km, which could be made by rail. Many of these journeys have the potential to transfer to high-speed rail. Due to the rise of Eurostar, flights from Heathrow to Paris have fallen from 60 per day in 2006 to 35 now. And Brussels flights have decreased from 30 to 19 in that time. It makes much more sense to use Heathrow for long haul flights, especially to the new “growth” economies.
A new study from HACAN reveals that nine out the ten top destinations served by Heathrow are short haul. Only one, New York, is long haul. The rest are European or British destinations. New York, with 61 flights a day, tops the table. It is followed by Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Edinburgh.
The study comes seven years after a similar one published by HACAN in 2006. That study placed Paris top of the league. However flights to the French capital have fallen dramatically since Eurostar has taken off – down from 60 a day to 35. And Brussels flights have decreased from 30 to 19.
HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “Eurostar has shown that the train can take the strain. There is scope to cut the number of short haul flights using Heathrow. It would free up slots for more long haul flights from the emerging economies of the world – places like China and India. There will always be a need for some short haul flights at Heathrow but Britain’s premier airport should be focused on intercontinental flights.”
The report points out that, although Heathrow’s runways are almost full, the airport has the terminal capacity to accommodate 20 million extra passengers a year. It argues that “the most sensible use of both the terminal and the constrained runway capacity would be to bring in more passengers, particularly from the ‘growth’ economies, using larger planes.”
It concludes that “replacing many short-haul flights with long-haul would be the most cost-effective alternative to more runways in the South East”.
4 page report at
Destination of Average Number of Daily Flights using Heathrow* in 2013:
New York – 61
Dublin – 39
Amsterdam – 38
Frankfurt – 36
Paris – 35
Edinburgh – 35
Manchester – 29
Munich – 28
Madrid – 26
Zurich – 26
*average taken over two weeks
Of all UK flights, about 70% or more are short haul. (DfT UK aviation forecasts)
At Heathrow around 20 – 25% of air transport movements are for short haul flights.
At Heathrow, around 35% of passengers on international trips (excluding domestic) are travelling to or from Europe link (short haul flights are generally smaller planes, with more passengers per flight on long haul).
The list of arriving flights on any day at Heathrow can be seen at link