Richmond Heathrow Campaign say Heathrow does not need to be expanded to better service more passengers, and to more destinations

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign have made a submission to the Airports Commission on making best short and medium term use of Heathrow. They say Heathrow can be improved, and the amount of aircraft noise caused by Heathrow flights reduced, if there is a (1). More even distribution of aircraft movements across each hour of the day to avoid disruption and delay in peak hours and to end night flights.   (2). Increase the seating capacity of the Heathrow air fleet (i.e. more larger aircraft and fewer small aircraft), in order to increase the number of passengers per aircraft movement within the 480,000 movements limit operating in unbroken segregated mode.  (3). Reverse the strategy of attracting ever more transfer passengers to Heathrow, in order to free up terminal and aircraft capacity for more terminating passengers within the legal limit of 480,000 movements limit operating in unbroken segregated mode.  The Campaign says reducing 20 million transfers a year would free up runway capacity in whole or in part for around 140,000 flights a year from over-subscribed destinations to new destinations. There is a similar improvement as loads are increased from 149 to 187 passengers per flight.




The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s submission to the Davies Commission’s discussion paper is at

Proposals for making the best use of existing airport capacity in the
short and medium terms”  (23 pages)


 The summary:

Heathrow does not need to be expanded to service more passengers

It is often said Heathrow is at capacity, but three proposals submitted by Richmond Heathrow Campaign to the Airports Commission suggest Heathrow could double its passengers without a 3rd runway or mixed mode.

1. Better use of daytime runway slots

A more even distribution of Heathrow flights across each hour of the day could improve resilience and provide headroom to eliminate night flights.

2. Better use of plane capacity

Increasing the seating capacity of the air fleet using Heathrow would facilitate full use of Heathrow’s terminal capacity of 90 million passengers a year (current use is around 70 million). At the Heathrow Terminal Five Public Inquiry it was expected that by 2016 the average number of passengers per flight would be 187, but in 2012 it averaged only 149 passengers.

3. Better serving London and the South East

Reversing the growth in international transfers (currently around 20 million passengers a year connect at Heathrow between overseas destinations) could free up capacity for replacement by a growing number of terminating passengers on international flights (currently around 45 million) and free up runway capacity for additional destinations. International transfers overall are harming rather than benefiting Heathrow and incur no air passenger duty.

These proposals could be achieved by reducing market imperfections and regulatory disincentives such as in the use of runway slots and absence of air passenger duty on international transfers, and in the case of night flights by introducing a ban.


Passenger growth and increased connectivity with less noise and pollution

These proposals mean that:

  • Passenger growth could be achieved without having to go above the legal limit of 480,000 flights a year or end runway alternation. The proposals avoid increased numbers of flights and so make new runways and mixed mode unnecessary.
  • Connectivity could be increased. Reducing 20 million transfers a year would free up runway capacity in whole or in part for around 140,000 flights a year from over-subscribed destinations to new destinations. There is a similar improvement as loads are increased from 149 to 187 passengers per flight.
  • Resilience could be improved without the operational freedoms that were recently trialled and which resulted in less runway alternation and hence less noise respite.
  • The existing high levels of night noise could be reduced and additional noise and pollution from more flights avoided.

Richmond Heathrow Campaign say their proposals are scalable, flexible, low cost, and low risk

These proposals are:

  • flexible in providing for passenger growth and increased connectivity in terms of both the number of destinations and service frequency as sought by the market.
  • relatively low cost and low risk compared to new runways and mixed mode.
  • scalable – that is, not ‘all or nothing’.
  • capable of immediate start and then incremental implementation
  • supportive of passenger preference for direct flights.
  • mutually supportive of each other.

To see our detailed submissions please visit our Davies Commission Responses page. 


Also  (from Windsor and Maidenhead Observer)


Expansion into Heathrow may not even be necessary after a new report found the airport could accommodate 400 more flights per day without expansion.
The research, by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign, argues this could be achieved using bigger, fuller planes and concentrating on getting passengers directly to and from London rather than ‘the current obsession’ with transfer passengers.
Peter Willan, chair of the Richmond Heathrow Campaign, said: “”We are always hearing that we need to expand Heathrow in order to serve more destinations – our research shows that is not the case.
“Transfer passengers are taking up valuable seats which would be better used by people who want to come to visit London or to do business here.”
John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, “This is an important report which challenges the view that expansion is the only way forward for Heathrow.
“It shows the airport could serve many more destinations, including new destinations in emerging economies like China and India, if commonsense measures were taken to improve the way the existing airport is run.”

Comment from an AirportWatch member:
There are important questions to be asked about how the airport is currently run and the paper deals with some of these. It could be beefed up with more criticism from the CAA report on the Airport Passengers Facilitation Group oversight of the South East Airport Taskforce recommendations on making airports better. Critical parts of the SEAT work such as the performance charters to get the different players in the airport community working together and the capacity management guidelines to get proper understanding of the totality of factors that determine capacity have seemingly been ignored / kicked into the long grass. It isn’t clear if there is any mechanism in place to address them. The CAA report raises the issue and seems to be asking if there is any appetite for fundamental reform.


Richmond Heathrow Campaign group gets plan on the runway

7th June 2013  (Richmond & Twickenham Times)

Chairman: Peter WillanChairman: Peter Willan

A Richmond campaign group may finally get its voice heard, after it submitted alternative plans to the Airports Commission on how to deal with increased passenger numbers at Heathrow.

Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) submitted the proposals to the Department for Transport and said it was the only group not focusing on runways.

Under RHC’s proposals, Heathrow could cater for the forecasted 35m extra passengers by 2050 by making better use of plane capacity, using bigger aircrafts and changing flight transfer schedules according to need.

Chairman of RHC Peter Willan said: “We have put forward a solution that does not involve an additional runway.

“What we are finding is that there is a vacuum and our idea is really filling it because in the past people haven’t provided another solution and we are filling that gap and finding people are interested in what we have to say. Fundamental research has gone into this.”

He said the airport should focus on transfers rather than adding runways and rearrange transfer flights according to need.

RHC’s solution, according to Mr Willan, is low cost, low risk and can be implemented straight away.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will produce a report in 2015 with recommendations to the government on how to deal with airport capacity in the long term.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, who has long made his opposition to expansion at Heathrow clear, said he was confident the commission would make the right decision.

He said: “I have faith in Sir Howard Davies and I am sure he is asking the right questions.”