Passengers using Heathrow and communities around the airport could benefit from reduced delays, less stacking and fewer unscheduled night flights at the UK’s busiest airport as part of a trial of new measures announced today by Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers.
The measures are set out in the final report by the Government’s South East Airports Taskforce which has been published today. They are focused on making Heathrow more resilient and better able to recover on days when the airport’s operations are disrupted by poor weather or other problems.
When such problems occur, these proposals would allow, exceptionally, both Heathrow’s runways to be used simultaneously for either arrivals or departures as a way to cut delays and cancellations and get punctuality back on track.
The Task-force also endorsed plans for a switch to a smarter, more effective and more passenger-friendly airport security regime for all UK airports – details of which have also been published today for consultation.
Set up to identify operational improvements at the UK’s three busiest airports – the South East Airports Taskforce included representatives from airlines, airport operators, regulators and other interests.
Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said:
“Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports play a vital role in supporting the UK economy. Improving the reliability of these airports, particularly Heathrow, was a priority for the Task-force.
“These measures have the potential to deliver greater reliability for passengers, while reducing the impact of unscheduled night flights on local communities. Trialling these changes will allow their benefits and impacts to be assessed and there will be extensive engagement and consultation with local communities before any decision is taken on whether to make the changes permanent.
“Coupled with today’s proposals to give UK airports more flexibility in the way they deliver airport security, passengers should begin to see real improvements. I am grateful to all Taskforce members for working so constructively together to help make our airports better.”
Under existing arrangements, Heathrow operates largely on a runway alternation system, whereby one runway is used for arrivals and the other for departures – with the roles reversed halfway through the day to provide respite from noise for residents living near the end of the runways. The Government has made clear its support for the continuation of runway alternation.