Heathrow, sounding a bit desperate, might make a comment on night flights “in a few months’ time”

One of the conditions the Airports Commission put on a new Heathrow runway was a ban on night flights, between 11.30pm and 6am. Heathrow has been very unwilling to agree to this, with John Holland-Kaye saying in February that he was yet to “engage” with the government and airlines on the subject. He has also tried to claim there would be fewer night flights with a 3rd runway. Now, as the government is preoccupied with the EU referendum (23rd June) and not considering the runway question, and there has been a lot of negative publicity about Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye (bit of desperation?) is saying the airport may agree to the ban. He said:  “We’re consulting with airlines and local communities about how we can deliver what the Airports Commission is asking for. … We’ll be able to make a solid comment on that in a few months’ time.” But that statement gives no indication of actually getting rid of night flights.  It is unclear how consulting local communities is going to get airlines to alter the way they schedule flights, to avoid the night period.  Or whether it would mean more flights between 11 – 11.30pm, and more from 6 –  7am, reducing the benefit of the short period without planes. People need more than 6½ hours sleep, so worse noise at the shoulder periods would be little improvement.
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Heathrow softens stance on night flight ban for third runway

By Ben Martin (Telegraph)
21 APRIL 2016

The boss of Heathrow has signalled the airport may soften its stance on a night flight ban so that it can win Government backing for a £17.6bn third runway.

Last year, the Government-appointed Airports Commission concluded that Heathrow should only be allowed to expand if it agrees to a ban on all scheduled flights between 11.30pm and 6am so that local residents are not disturbed by jet noise.

Since then, Heathrow has said it is “confident” it can “significantly reduce” night flights but has fallen short of saying it will attempt to meet the Commission’s restriction. However, John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, suggested today that the hub may go beyond a reduction in night flights and agree to the ban that the Commission recommended.

“We’re consulting with airlines and local communities about how we can deliver what the Airports Commission is asking for,” Mr Holland-Kaye said. “We’ll be able to make a solid comment on that in a few months’ time.”

An agreement on a night flight ban would be significant, as it is considered a stumbling block to Heathrow’s politically contentious runway plans. David Cameron, the prime minister, delayed a divisive decision on whether Heathrow or Gatwick should be allowed to expand until after European Union referendum on June 23.

“All policy is off the agenda while we go through the EU referendum, government has ground to a halt,” conceded Mr Holland-Kaye, who was speaking as privately owned Heathrow released first-quarter results. “Once the decks are cleared on June 23 we can get on and make the big decisions and the prime minster needs to be thinking about his legacy: how is he going to set up this country for future success?”

In the first quarter of the year, Heathrow’s revenues rose 3.2pc to £642m, while pre-tax profits before exceptional items increased to £23m from £19m a year earlier. On a statutory basis, the airport fell to a £39m quarterly pre-tax loss from a £71m profit in 2015. The loss was due to £62m in fair value adjustments to Heathrow’s investments and property.

….. and it continues  ….  (on drones)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/21/heathrow-softens-stance-on-night-flight-ban-for-third-runway/

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Earlier: 

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.

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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.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/11/heathrow-not-willing-to-accept-a-ban-on-night-flights-saying-it-constrains-links-to-regional-airport/

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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.

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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.

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