Heathrow may stop pushing for mixed mode or more night flights – to improve its chance of getting another runway

The Financial Times reports that Heathrow will soon make its submission to the Airports Commission, and it will not be pushing for mixed mode (ie. take offs and landings on the same runway). The Commission’s deadline for comment on ways to make better use of existing capacity is 17th May. The FT also thinks Heathrow will not be pushing for more night flights. The airport knows the extent of opposition to both mixed mode and to night flights over London. Those affected by aircraft noise hold dear their half day of respite, when flights change runway for landing at 3pm. However, this tactic by Heathrow is thought to be a calculated move in order to increase its chances of getting permission for a 3rd (and maybe even a 4th runway). The airport appears to hope it has more chance of getting what it wants, with less opposition.  The fear by those already heavily over-flown is that mixed mode could increase the total number of air transport movements from some 480,000 now to around 530,000 and that could be seen as a temporary measure to increase the throughput of the airport.




May 12, 2013

Heathrow ready for U-turn over more flights

By Andrew Parker (Financial Times)

Heathrow airport is preparing for a U-turn by dropping its support for contentious arrangements that would increase its number of flights by allowing aircraft to take-off and land on runways simultaneously.

In a long-awaited submission to the independent commission looking at how to preserve the UK’s status as a leading international hub, Heathrow is expected to say this week that it does not support so-called mixed-mode operations on its runways.

….. and it continues ………

……“We are not proposing any increase in the number of night flights permitted at Heathrow. While night flights are valuable to the economy, they also disturb local residents.”

…. Full FT article at 






Commons Transport Committee wants a 3rd Heathrow runway + perhaps later a 4th runway

May 10, 2013      The House of Commons Transport Committee gathered evidence on airport capacity at the end of 2012, to submit to the Airports Commission. They have now produced their report “Aviation Strategy” in which they say they reject “calls for a new hub airport east of London and urge the Government to permit the expansion of Heathrow where a 3rd runway is long overdue.” Its Chairman, Lousie Ellman, said “We recognise that demand for air travel across the UK is forecast to grow, believe that aviation should be permitted to expand and accept that more capacity is necessary to accommodate sustainable aviation growth.” Also “We conclude that a 3rd runway at Heathrow is necessary, but also suggest that a 4-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate 2 new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.” It mentions establishing “a national scheme to ensure adequate compensation for people affected by noise from expansion at Heathrow.” The report also want HS2 to go to Heathrow; better rail links to Gatwick and Stansted; advantages for regional airports; and reassessment of APD and its effects (which demonstrates how much industry lobbying has influenced the report). HACAN said the Committee’s report was predictable.   Click here to view full story…


“London First” calls for more intensive use of Heathrow runways with mixed mode in submission to Airports Commission

May 9, 2013     ”London First” is an aggressively pro-growth, pro London business lobby organisation, whose stated mission is to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business.” It has sent in a submission to the Airports Commission, calling for expansion of Heathrow and the ending of runway alternation. This would mean both runways being used for much of the day, in “mixed mode”. London First believes that fitting some 10% more fights into Heathrow will solve the UK’s economic ills, and takes a dashingly cavalier attitude to the impact of the extra noise on the quality of life of Londoners overflown. They appear to either not understand how aircraft noise impinges on the lives of those under flight paths, or deliberately seek to underplay the problems, and exaggerate the small reductions in noise that aircraft manufacturers have achieved. They use noise figures from the time of Concorde to give the impression there has been a huge noise reduction. London First also recommend that Gatwick and Stansted be allowed to compete more effectively, and have better rail services, to take some business from Heathrow.     Click here to view full story…



Heathrow considering a range of runway options including long & short 3rd runway, and 4 runway airport at Haddenham or White Waltham

May 3, 2013    ”Aviation Week” has reported that Heathrow is considering at least 10 expansion options which are being whittled down. These “Heathrow 2025: Masterplan Options & Indicative Layouts” documents – seen by Aviation Week – were produced by the Mott MacDonald consultancy. Four of the options are a short 3rd runway north of the airport, at Sipson – or a long 3rd runway there. Another two options are for a 4 runway airport (each the same design) either at Haddenham or at White Waltham. Haddenham is about 15 miles east of Oxford, and building a vast airport there, in countryside, would mean the virtual removal of two villages, Chearsley and Long Crendon. White Waltham is a small general aviation airfield about 15 miles west of Heathrow and close to Maidenhead. The 4 runway airport design could potentially handle 140 million passengers and 800,000 air traffic movements a year, (compared to some 70 million passengers and around 480,000 movements now) – so that is just under twice Heathrow’s capacity today. The current designs are early drafts developed last year, and Heathrow will be “making its considered submission to the Airports Commission in July.”     Click here to view full story…



Airport capacity in London is currently underused, says new London Assembly report

May 1, 2013     The London Assembly’s Transport Committee has published a report – “Airport Capacity in London” – which suggests existing airport capacity in London, including at Heathrow and Gatwick, could be used more effectively. Their research shows Stansted (summer 2012) was only 47% full; Gatwick was 88% full; Luton was 49% full. At Heathrow there is terminal capacity for 20 million more passengers, so if larger planes were used, there is ample surplus capacity – though landing slots are 99% filled. To encourage passengers to switch from Heathrow, the report says improving transport access from central London to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted is needed – for example, by better rail connections and actively promoting public transport. The report questions the alleged “need” for additional hub airport capacity, as the vast majority of passengers using Heathrow few direct, point to point, rather than transferring. The report also notes that 75% of flights from Heathrow are short haul and that London remains the best connected European city to 23 fastest growing economies. The Transport Committee hopes its report will inform the Airports Commission, and says the Commission must examine whether better use of existing airport capacity could be an intelligent cost-effective alternative to building new airports or runways.     Click here to view full story…



Airports Commission Publishes Guidance Document and First Discussion Paper


The Airports Commission, under Sir Howard Davies, has now published 2 documents that will begin its dialogue with stakeholders, including the public, on the subject of aviation capacity. The first publication is a guidance document which serves as an invitation for parties with an interest in the future of the UK’s aviation policy to submit their ideas for making best use of existing capacity and on adding new capacity in the longer term. The document seeks views on the short, medium and long term options and provides parties making submissions with information on the commission’s timetable of work, as well as guidance on the factors that are of interest to the commission. The second paper is a discussion paper on demand forecasting. The paper seeks to examine the role of forecasting as a tool to help enable the commission in addressing the range of issues that will play a part in their assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the UK’s future aviation capacity and connectivity needs. There are a range of deadline dates for comments on different aspects – the two earliest deadlines being 15th March 2013.https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=650