IATA claims Heathrow night flight ban would ‘damage’ UK economy – meaning a proper night ban is unlikely with a 3rd runway

Heathrow has always been very resistant to any effective ban on night flights, other than for a brief period in the middle of the night – it has never supported a period long enough to enable those overflown to get 7 or 8 hours of quiet in order to have a peaceful full night’s sleep. Now the aviation industry global trade lobby, IATA says a “total ban on night flights at ­Heathrow would “seriously damage” the UK’s economic competitiveness by hitting important export industries and regional growth.” IATA does not want any impediment to air cargo, which increasingly relies on overnight delivery, or reduced connecting flights that are used by some business passengers. The DfT currently allows Heathrow 5,800 flights per year between 11.30pm and 6am – about 16 per night on average. These flights are deeply unpopular, especially those touching down from 4.30am, heard over much of London up to 20 minutes earlier. The idea that flights could be rotated, at night, between three runways, is being used to try to persuade people that night flights should be permitted. Rotating flights between runways would NOT provide the quiet 7 – 8 hour period needed, for tens or hundreds of thousands overflown by Heathrow planes.

Heathrow night flight ban would ‘damage’ UK economy, major trade body IATA claims

By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)
29 APRIL 2018

A total ban on night flights at ­Heathrow would “seriously damage” the UK’s economic competitiveness by hitting important export industries and regional growth, a major aviation body has warned.

The Airports Commission is proposing a six and a half hour total ban on flights at Heathrow, that the International Air Transport Association (Iata) fears would hamper air cargo, which increasingly relies on overnight delivery, and reduce connecting flights of use to business passengers.

At present overnight flights are allowed, but subject to a strict quota managed by the Department for Transport. The airport is currently restricted to 5,800 take-offs and landings a year between 11:30pm and 6am compared to its 1,300 daily scheduled flights.

“Just-in-time manufacturing processes, lack of consumer patience to wait for goods, and time and temperature sensitive shipments such as pharmaceuticals and fresh produce, mean air cargo is a crucial link in the transport chain,” Iata, which represents the world’s 278 airlines, said. “Late night departures are important for UK business, facilitating these vital cargo exports.”

In terms of connectivity to UK regions, Iata said early morning arrivals were “vital for passengers’ business connections into London and the UK regions”. “Early morning arrivals are particularly important for onward connections for same-day appointments and meetings, or for rapid freight delivery,” it said.

Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director-general, said a ban would create an “enormous restraint” on passenger and cargo flights. “When you make projections into the future, you see that restricting the number of arrival and departure hours will be a significant restraint on long-haul destinations such as Asia,” he said.

“This is bad because traffic will only increase from Asia and the relationship between Heathrow and Asia should be increasing significantly.” Mr de Juniac said he appreciated local communities would be concerned about noise and pollution but that Heathrow was already well behind its rivals in Europe and risked falling further back if a total night ban was implemented.

“Heathrow is already at a competitive disadvantage compared to key hub airports in Europe in terms of aircraft movements in this time period,” Mr de Juniac said.

“Heathrow has 42 arrivals and no departures and has fewer flights than Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Munich or Frankfurt. Madrid has an incredible ten times the number of flights.”

Mr de Juniac added that with a third runway, night flights could be rotated between runways to reduce the impact on nearby communities.

The expansion of Heathrow is being debated by MPs now after the transport committee warned in March the airport risked losing a legal challenge against its third runway unless it met a raft of tough conditions on landing charges, pollution and public transport.

The airport recently finished its 10-week consultation on plans for the expansion in which night flights will have been a crucial issue for communities under the flight path.




Heathrow airport itself would probably be happy not to have night flights, (if it did not thereby lose any money) as it would reduce the massive opposition there is to them, and to the noise made by planes using Heathrow in general. However, the airlines will not support any effective ban on night flights, and Heathrow makes money from the airlines operating them.  

See earlier:


DfT confirms numbers of night flights – till 2022 – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will not be cut

Changes to the night flights regime, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have been delayed for several years. The DfT has now produced its Decision Document on the issue. Anyone expecting meaningful cuts in night flights, or noise from night flights will be disappointed. There is no change in numbers, and just some tinkering with noise categories.  The DfT says night flights from Heathrow will continue until (if) the airport is expanded, and it just hopes airlines will be using slightly less noisy planes. Pretty much, effectively, “business as usual.” Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said he had to “strike a balance between the economic benefits of flying and the impact on local residents.” The DfT objective is to: “encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the existing benefits of night flights”. But it says: “Many industry responses welcomed the recognition by government of the benefits night flights offer and highlighted the importance of night flights to the business models of airlines, for instance by allowing low-cost airlines to operate the necessary minimum amount of rotations a day, or the benefits to the time-sensitive freight sector through enabling next day deliveries. ”    



15. The rules for next regime are summarised in the table below.

….. and it goes on …..