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.


Heathrow hints it may oppose ban on night flights as price for third runway

Chief executive says airport needs to discuss Davies commission requirements, including outlawing fourth runway, with government


By Gwyn Topham (Guardian)

Heathrow is to press the government to loosen the conditions attached to a third runway going ahead, with the airport reluctant to accept a proposed ban on night flights or legislation against further expansion.

Its chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said he was confident Heathrow would be given the green light to expand and that “it wouldn’t make sense” for the prime minister, David Cameron, to oppose a new runway now.

Speaking on the busiest day for passengers in the airport’s history, Holland-Kaye said it was still considering how to respond to the Davies commission’s recommendation. The commission gave clear backing to expand the west London airport rather than Gatwick, but stressed that it should only go ahead with measures to address concerns about noise and air quality.

However, Holland-Kaye signalled that Heathrow is not yet prepared to accept all such measures: “We need to talk with government and airlines. There’s a conversation to be had over the next few months as the government assesses the report.”

While most of the commission’s 11 requirements, including compensation topping £1bn to buy out homeowners or provide for insulation schemes, echo Heathrow’s own pledges, the airport is particularly concerned by a ban on scheduled night flights between 11.30pm and 6am. Holland-Kaye said banning early-morning arrivals would impact on lucrative business routes: “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: we have to have some time to reflect on those and discuss them with government and airlines.”

[Heathrow likes to believe the problem of road transport pollution is for others to solve (though much of the local road transport is airport-related).  AW note.]

Heathrow has said that proposed legislation to bar any fourth runway can only be a decision for government – but in 2013, the airport outlined how it could expand further, as opponents including Boris Johnson, the London mayor, made the case for a four-runway hub. The commission’s earlier analysis said a further runway in the UK would likely be demanded by 2050, and Heathrow projects its own passenger numbers to almost double to 130m annually with a third runway. 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 fourth runway.

He said he was confident the debate between Heathrow and Gatwick had been won, despite the rival airport’s claims that the process was “flawed and unfair”. Holland-Kaye said the airports commission recommendation “was absolutely clear … it has come up with a package that meets everyone’s objections.”

Heathrow has scheduled planning summits with suppliers and discussions with local schools and colleges about apprenticeships, although the government has yet to endorse the commission’s verdict. But given the recommendation, Holland-Kaye asked: “How can the prime minister do anything other? He set up the commission, we’ve met all the criteria. How could he then choose something else? It doesn’t make sense.”

Cameron is chairing a cabinet subcommittee which opponents of Heathrow have condemned for omitting all its prominent cabinet critics, predominantly ones with constituencies in west London. Holland-Kaye said it was “a good sign that the wheels of government are starting to move towards a decision” and welcomed the inclusion of the Scottish and local government ministers “because it underlines it’s a national decision”.

Heathrow is reviewing its security in anticipation of further action by anti-expansion protesters, after 13 activists from the campaign group Plane Stupid broke in and blocked a runway earlier this month, resulting in 22 cancelled flights. Holland-Kaye said it caused “minimal disruption” because the protesters were contained at the end of the runway but added: “These are anti-aviation protesters, they are professionally organised and they’ve been rehearsing this; it was a military-style operation.

”We are reviewing our security not just in response to this incident but other things they could do. Other things we do not want to advertise.”

He said: “We completely support the right to protest, but this was putting themselves at risk and other people.”

Passenger numbers were set to pass 242,000 on Friday as families started the summer holidays, making it the airport’s busiest day of all time. The first six months of this year saw total numbers rise 1.3% to 35.5 million and pre-tax profits increase to £120m.



4th runway location?

[The Airports Commission ranked the Heathrow Hub runway scheme – extending the current northern runway to the west – as its second choice for a runway.  What is there, other then difficulties with airspace and creating safe flight paths, in future to prevent Heathrow building that?   A southern runway scheme, over Stanwell Moor, would mean having to drain the reservoir and re-locate it. The reservoir is vital for London’s water.  As Sir Howard Davies said, at a presentation to the Lords Economic Committee, the UK has not built a large reservoir since the 1940s.  It would be a massive location and engineering feat to create one now].  AirportWatch note].




A few of the comments below the article:


Heathrow is managing to pull off a huge confidence trick.
If it wants more capacity it can shift holiday traffic to Gatwick and Stansted.
As others have pointed out, new, more efficient airliners are undermining the need to use Heathrow as a hub.
Birmingham airport has no flights to London, it has direct flights to India, Pakistan, Turkey, New York, Ashgabat, et al and passengers can hub via Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Dubai, etc. if necessary.
This shows that Heathrow’s main argument that a 4th runway is essential because it is the UK’s essential hub is spurious.
The Davies Commission was basically a fraud.
Heathrow is too big, is in the wrong place and if it’s allowed to expand even further will cause huge pollution problems, even more noise nuisance and as we’ve seen to day from the Heathrow’s arrogant boss, will saddle UK taxpayers with a colossal multi billion pound bill for infrastructure provision.
Whatever else, remember Cameron’s pledge, ‘no ifs, no buts, no Heathrow 4th Runway’.
If he breaks that promise, his word on anything else from that moment on will mean absolutely nothing.


What amazing stupidity. The Heathrow saga has taken the turn it had because both airlines and the Airport couldn’t see that unless they were willing to be a good neighbour to those living around the airport, they would not be allowed to expand. Night flights are a key issue. He clearly thinks that Heathrow expansion is in the bag! We shall see!

Laurence Johnson

Given most people have to traverse the worlds largest car park the M25 to get to Heathrow, what on earth is the point of creating more capacity?



See also:

Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay

The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built. Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway. John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”

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