Boss of Dubai Airports shows just how callous his industry is: wants Heathrow open 24/7 regardless of noise…
Heathrow and its airlines are extremely unwilling to get rid of night flights, regardless of how much health damage (and reduction in quality of life) they cause to people overflown. Now Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, shows clearly just how little the industry cares about the welfare of residents, or the opinions of those negatively affected by his industry. Talking to the Independent, he asked: “Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours? …. imagine all that investment, all that amazing infrastructure sitting idle for a third of the day [which, of course, it is not – flights operate till after 11pm and start at 4.30am…] ” He seems to want people to believe that new “quieter” aircraft (only marginally less noisy than those now) will make all the difference … He also wants Heathrow to work in “mixed mode” for both runways, to get the maximum number of flights. The naked, uncaring, unreconstructed capitalism is stark. MPs take note – this is the sort of man who runs airlines, and wants Heathrow to do their bidding, at the expense of Londoners etc. [Akbar Al Baker, Heathrow board member and CEO of Qatar Airways, did the same in 2014 – to Heathrow’s embarrassment…]
Heathrow should open 24/7 – not build another runway, says Dubai airport boss
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, asks: ‘Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours?’
The boss of the world’s busiest airport for international passengers has urged night-time restrictions at Heathrow to be abandoned.
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, has said new, quieter aircraft mean that the current rules on noise at Britain’s busiest airport are unnecessary.
He told The Independent: “Unlike Dubai, where we’re 24/7, the airports in the UK are closed for about a third of the day. So you imagine: all that investment, all that amazing infrastructure sitting idle for a third of the day.
“Aircraft technology and the environmental impact of them has been so drastically reduced over the past few decades by investment in new technologies.
“Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours?”
While Heathrow is technically open 24 hours, it has has some of the strictest limits of any hub airport in Europe, to reduce the noise nuisance for local residents.
Takeoffs and landings between 11.30pm and 6am are capped at 5,800 annually, an average of 16 per night. Noisier aircraft are banned entirely.
Around a dozen flights are scheduled to arrive each day between 4.30am and 6am, mainly from Africa, Asia and Australia.
The first departures of each day are scheduled for 6am: Austrian Airlines to Vienna, TAP Portugal to Lisbon and Swiss to Zurich. The last of the day is the 10.45pm Aeroflot flight to Moscow from Terminal 4 – although if delays build up there are sometimes later departures.
In April, the Transport Select Committee urged the government to consider a night-time ban of seven hours, longer than at present.
Mr Griffiths has been running Dubai Airports for 10 years. Prior to that he was chief executive at Gatwick, which is the UK’s second-busiest airport and has the most heavily used runway in the world.
He also urged “mixed mode” working to extract more capacity at Heathrow. At present the standard pattern is for one runway to be used only for departures, the other only for arrivals, until 3pm when the arrangement switches. The idea is to give some respite to local residents.
But using both for takeoffs and landings would enable more capacity to be unlocked.
The Dubai CEO said the impact would be minimal is if quiet, modern jets were used.
But John Stewart, chair of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (Hacan), the pressure group representing residents around the airport, said: “Night flights remain a huge concern local residents. In the foreseeable future new technology will not change that.”
The International Air Transport Association, representing airlines, has long opposed airport curfews, saying: “Night-time operating restrictions have a negative impact on airlines, passengers and local economies.”
Meanwhile a former project manager, John Busby, has told The Independent that the need for an additional runway could be negated by increasing the number of passengers on each aircraft.
“An increase in the average passenger numbers per flight from 150 in 2007 to 170 in 2016 and then to 255 will add the 50 per cent to its capacity anticipated with the runway,” he said.
And here is another of his ilk, wishing 24/7 misery on Londoners, to increase his airline profits. Sick …
Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, says Heathrow should have 24 hour flights
One of the Board members of Heathrow Airport is Akbar Al Baker, who is the CEO of Qatar Airways and led the development of the new Doha airport. He is on the Board because Qatar Holdings bought a 20% stake in Heathrow in 2012. He has caused a storm of protest after claiming, with stunning insensitivity and demonstrating a woeful lack of understanding of British democracy, that Heathrow should have 24 hour flights – ignoring the well-being of those overflown. The benefit would be that his companies would be more profitable. Akbar Al Baker said Britons make an “excessive” fuss about noise levels from aircraft flying over their homes” and home owners living under flight paths “wouldn’t even hear the aircraft” after a while.” He appears not to understand that in Europe, unpopular and damaging major developments cannot just be steamrollered through, as they perhaps can be in the Gulf States. Mr Al Baker thinks European airports should open 24 hours a day if they want to compete with the emerging Gulf hubs in Dubai and Doha. Though rapidly denied by Heathrow, which distanced itself from Mr Al Baker’s comments, it is indicative of a way of thought which people may fear is prevalent on the Heathrow board.
That had to be hurriedly defused and hushed up by the Heathrow Chairman:
Heathrow chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, hushes hubbub over 24/7 airport comment by Heathrow board member
A Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, recently said Heathrow should have 24 hour flights, planes should be allowed to fly all night, and that Brits make an “excessive” fuss about aircraft noise. This has hugely embarrassed Heathrow, which has been trying hard to claim a 50% increase in flights will result in less noise … square that one. Now, in response to the awkward and off-message remarks by Al Baker, Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Heathrow, said: “Mr Al-Baker’s views are his own and do not represent the views or policy of the Heathrow board or executive committee. We recognise that adding the flights Britain needs for growth must come hand in hand with reducing aircraft noise for residents. Round the clock flying from London is not an option. We take the concerns of local communities very seriously and have never argued for 24-hour flying.” Anti expansion campaigners were highly critical of the airport, and its need to urgently rush out reassuring comments due to the embarrassment caused by Mr Al-Baker putting his foot in it. Question is why Mr Al Baker was not aware that this, though revealing, was not a helpful or acceptable comment to make, from Heathrow’s point of view.
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