Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours
International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”
IAG has well over 55% of the slots at Heathrow. It is by far the largest airline using the airport, with others having holdings of around 3% or less.
IAG does NOT intend there to be a six and a half hour ban on scheduled night flights, let alone a ban on all flights.
IAG submission to Transport Cttee
Some extracts from the IAG submission to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into the draft Airports National Policy Statement, pushing through the Heathrow 3rd runway
- Alongside the question of cost, IAG is concerned that the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.
- The NPS sets out a wide range of possible measures to support communities affected by noise and emissions. BA has made considerable progress in reducing noise impacts introducing more modern, quieter aircraft and through tactical improvements. IAG and BA will continue to work cooperatively with the Government, HAL, NATS and local communities to reduce environmental impacts but IAG is concerned that the measures set out in the NPS should be part of a balanced approach.
- Major improvements have been made thanks to BA’s introduction of some of the newest and quietest aircraft and the retirement of 21 noisier Boeing 747s and 767s. Further orders of new aircraft from 2018 will again reduce noise at source and BA will also have completed the retrofit of its existing A320 fleet with airflow deflectors to reduce approach noise.
- Thanks to these kind of measures, between 2006 and the end of 2017, the average noise Quota Count (QC) for the BA long-haul fleet will have dropped by 27% for departures and 30% for arrivals – which means a direct reduction in noise for local residents. For night quota flights the reduction has been even greater with the arrival average QC reduced by 40% between summer 2006 and summer 2016 seasons and by 65% between winter 2006 and winter 2015 seasons, as BA has deployed the A380 and other quieter types.
- Local communities have therefore benefited over this period from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.
- As well as the reduction in noise from more modern aircraft, BA has consistently sought to minimise noise through operational procedures, and to incorporate them into standard operating practices. BA was a pioneer in Continuous Descent Approach procedures and continues to take action in this area. We constantly evaluate different approaches to assist noise reduction and have taken other actions such as optimising the deployment of landing gear so as to minimise this source of aircraft noise.
- IAG is greatly concerned by the proposals to restrict night operations unreasonably as are recommended by the NPS.
- It proposes a 6.5hr ban on scheduled night flights, somewhere between 23:00 and 07:00. The Airports Commission recommendation was for a ban on scheduled flights between 23:30 and 06:00, whilst Heathrow Airport have proposed a ban on scheduled flights between 23:00 and 05:30. IAG is concerned that the Government does not fully understand the implications for the timing of the ban in the NPS.
- Opening the UK’s premier hub airport at 07:00 would directly impact the competitiveness offered to UK consumers and businesses: it would be opening two hours later than Frankfurt (3 hours later taking into account the local time difference). This early morning period is key to the connectivity offered by airlines at Heathrow to provide as many destinations as conveniently as possible to the customer. As we have indicated above, connectivity is vital to the economic success of the airport and to the UK, not least as it competes with other European hubs. The Government should be careful not to throw away the benefits of new quieter aircraft by specifying economically damaging timings for any new night restrictions.
- In order to make the best use of the new capacity to increase UK connectivity, and to maintain airport resilience, the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.
- Analysis by CEPA estimates that the existing night quota period flights contribute £364m GVA to the UK’s economy. UK consumers benefit as these flights support c. 1,800 jobs – excluding cargo impacts – and contribute £69m in tax revenues. York Aviation have estimated the economic contribution from cargo night quota period flights at Heathrow to be an additional £630m GVA giving a total economic benefit to the UK of almost £1bn per annum.
Full submission by IAG can be seen at
● People who live under a flight path are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basle, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
It suggests that noise affects the body’s metabolism, leading to increased blood sugar levels. Aviation noise and that of other traffic may have a bigger impact on the onset of diabetes than air pollution, mainly through disturbed sleep, it says.
People should sleep with their windows closed to reduce the chance of being woken by aircraft overhead, the study suggests.