Holland-Kaye still not prepared to accept ban on night flights before 6am, even to get 3rd runway
Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, says the airport has yet to “engage” with the government and airlines about the possibility of ending night flights, before making any commitment. A ban on flights before 6am was one of the conditions the Airports Commission stipulated – in July – must be met for a 3rd runway to be built at Heathrow. But 7 months after the publication of the commission’s report, Heathrow is still avoiding giving any confirmation it is prepared to accept that requirement. In December the government announced there would be a further delay in making a runway location decision, which cam as an unpleasant surprise to Heathrow – which had presumed it would be given the nod, but with a range of conditions. Holland-Kaye has tried to avoid any condition on his hoped-for runway, that might be irksome or costly. He continues to make bullish statements about how likely he feels the runway will be approved. He tries to make out that there would be fewer night flights with a 3rd runway…. and he is yet to “engage” with the government on the subject. Heathrow, in its PR, mistakes local support for a 3rd runway by people employed by the airport, or hoping to work there – for (quite different) support more widely among those not depending on Heathrow for their income.
Heathrow yet to ‘engage’ with government on night flights ban
9 FEB 2016
BY ROBERT CUMBER (Get Surrey)
The airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye says it needs to work with the government and airlines before making any commitment
Heathrow’s boss says the airport has yet to “engage” with the government about the possibility of ending night flights at Heathrow.
A ban on flights before 6am was one of the conditions the Airports Commission stipulated must be met for a third runway to be built at Heathrow.
Yet seven months after the publication of the commission’s report, Heathrow has yet to give a firm commitment on whether it is prepared to accept that requirement.
Speaking publicly on expansion for the first time since December, when the government announced it was postponing its decision on a new runway until this summer , Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it was too early to make any commitment on night flights.
“We’ve said there are no show stoppers in what the commission has said, and there’s an opportunity with a third runway to significantly reduce the amount of night-flying,” he said.
“We will work with the government and our airlines before we make an announcement that goes any further than that.”
Pressed further on when he might be ready to make such a statement, he replied that he had yet to “engage” with the government on the subject.
Addressing Heathrow’s Ready to Deliver conference in Euston on Monday (February 9), Mr Holland-Kaye said he believed there was no obstacle to a third runway.
He claimed the vast majority of MPs were in favour and by coming up with a vastly different plan, Heathrow had performed a U-turn so the Prime Minister, who famously promised before the 2010 election that there would be no third runway, wouldn’t have to.
The conference also heard from a number of other supporters of Heathrow expansion, including Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, who said it was the best option for businesses in the north east.
Jags Sanghera, who volunteers for the Southall Community Alliance, said most people he spoke to supported expansion at Heathrow because it would mean many more local jobs.
He said employment was the number one issue for most local residents, ahead of concerns about noise or air pollution, but it was important to ensure people living on the airport’s doorstep had fair access to better-paid, “high quality” jobs.
“In my experience the vast majority of residents, businesses and faith leaders in Southall are fully in support of expanding Heathrow,” said Mr Sanghera, who now works in community liaison for the developers behind the Southall Gas Works site.
The conference was held on the day transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the parliamentary transport committee he hopes a decision on a new runway will be taken by late July.
Heathrow not willing to accept a ban on night flights, saying it constrains links to regional airports
John Holland-Kaye is hugely confident that he will get a new runway, saying he was now “80%” sure that David Cameron’s decision would be for Heathrow. The Airports Commission suggested a condition that there would be a complete ban on flights between 11.30pm and 6am due to the unacceptable noise of night flights. Mr Holland-Kaye says night flights were not something to “throw away lightly”. Heathrow currently is allowed 5,800 night flights per year, meaning an average of 16 arriving each morning, typically between 4.30am and 6am. British Airways wants to keep night flights, and is Heathrow’s largest airline. Last week Mr Holland-Kaye said shifting night flights to later slots would damage connections to the rest of the UK. “If I talk to regional airports, they all want to see early morning arrivals into Heathrow. They want a flight that comes in from their airport before 8 o’clock in the morning so people can do a full day’s work, can do business in London or can connect to the first wave of long-haul flights going out. You are very quickly going to use up all of the first two hours of the morning if we have a curfew before 6 o’clock, particularly as we then have to move the 16 flights. That really constrains the ability of UK regions to get the benefits from an expanded hub. So it is not something we should throw away lightly.” Heathrow’s links to regional airport would actually fall, with a 3rd runway, according to the Airports Commission.
John Holland-Kaye again will not commit to no Heathrow night flights (11.30pm to 6am) at Environmental Audit Committee hearing
When the Airports Commission final report was published on 1st July, one of the conditions of a 3rd Heathrow was that there should be no night flights. The report stated: “Following construction of a third runway at the airport there should be a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period 11:30pm to 6:00am” and “the additional capacity from a third runway would enable airlines to re-time very early morning arrivals.” Already by its statement on 6th July, Heathrow was trying to cast doubt on the conditions, with John Holland-Kaye saying: “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Asked directly again, at the Environmental Audit Committee session on 4th November, if Heathrow would accept no night flights, he said Heathrow “we are not in a position to do that yet.” It had not yet accepted a ban on night flights, and the airport was “confident we will be able to find a way forward” in discussions with airlines and government, and it could “significantly reduce” night flights. Mr Holland-Kaye instead talked of the alleged economic benefit to the UK of flights between 4.30 and 6am. He was asked by Committee members whether the government should agree to a Heathrow runway, (perhaps by December) before Heathrow firmly committed to the no night flights condition. Mr Holland-Kaye could not give an answer.
Heathrow may oppose ban on night flights, and ban on 4th runway, as price for 3rd runway
Heathrow is to press the government to loosen the conditions attached to a 3rd runway going ahead, unwilling to agree either to a ban on night flights or on a 4th runway. These were two important conditions suggested by the Airports Commission, to make a 3rd runway acceptable to its neighbours. However, Heathrow sees the conditions as negotiable, and John Holland-Kaye brazenly said he was confident Heathrow would be given the green light to expand and that “it wouldn’t make sense” for the prime minister to oppose a new runway now. Even if Heathrow does not agree to important conditions. Holland-Kaye wants to have a “conversation” about conditions with government. It is used to trying to have “conversations” with local residents, in which the airport generally manages to get its way, with only minimal concessions. Heathrow does not want lose lucrative night flights: “We have a significant number of routes to Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s getting key trading partners into the UK to start their business. It’s very popular because it’s an important route.” Holland-Kaye said the airport would “comment later on the package of conditions as a whole”, but he noted that “we do have the ability, physically” to build a 4th runway.