London’s largest airport is to drop its support for increased night flights and mixed-mode operations on its runways, sources close to the airport are reporting.
In a calculated move, the airport is expected to alter its stance on mixed-mode operations – where planes can take off and land simultaneously, using the airport’s multiple runways – and increasing the number of night flights it operates in order to increase its chances of receiving ministerial permission to build the controversial third – and potentially a fourth – runway.
The claims, which were published by the Financial Times, are said to have come from a source close to the airport’s management; suggesting that Heathrow Airport Holdings – the airport’s owners – are going to focus solely on building additional runways in a bid to lessen some of its vocal opposition.
These changes are expected to form a core part of the airport’s upcoming submission to the Independent Airports Commission on long-term solutions to its aviation capacity. It is also likely to contain claims for modest capacity growth through the ability to accommodate aircraft with a larger capacity, like the Airbus A380 and the Boeing Dreamliner.
A source for the Financial Times also said that the airport was looking to show that the number of people adversely affected by aircraft noise would decrease in the future. Through improving technologies, such as those which make aircraft quieter and give the ability for aircraft to make steeper descents, they claim that fewer people will be disrupted by the noise – a problem which is key to the opponents of the expansion.
The FT quoted the airport as saying “All options for new capacity are worth the Airports Commission considering, although mixed mode is not being promoted by Heathrow. 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.”
Whilst Heathrow has previously argued for mixed-mode operations on a third runway, it encountered strong opposition from residents under the flight paths. They will be hoping that this proposal, coupled with lessening noise, will quell some of the proposal’s critics.