The London Assembly, an elected body that is part of the Greater London Authority, has called for a ban on night flights from London’s Heathrow Airport.
The Assembly’s health and environment committee has asked for the ban, with an insistence that at the very least night flights should be reduced and the flight path changed. According to the committee, more than two thirds of night flights currently approach the airport from the east, bringing them in over central London and disturbing the sleep of thousands of residents.
The committee said, ‘At the very least, planes arriving overnight should approach from the west of London when weather allows. This would reduce noise disturbance for around 110,000 people in areas like Isleworth, Richmond and Hounslow, but increase it for 15,600 in parts of Windsor, Datchet and Stanwell Moor.’
There are currently around 15 flights per night that land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6.00am. These are mainly flights that are in-coming from the Far East that land after 5.00am.
The chairman of the Assembly’s sub committee, Murad Qureshi, said, ‘We want to see the end of Heathrow night flights. It is unacceptable that thousands of Londoners are unable to get a good night’s sleep because of planes flying over the capital. If they must continue, landing more planes from the west of London would at least share the noise burden more equally.’
In response to the committee’s statement, the Airline Operators Association (AOA) said that it was fostered by misunderstanding and lack of awareness. Darren Caplan, an AOA executive, said, ‘Every night flight is made for a good reason – whether postal, freight or passenger services. Businesses and households rely on night flights for overnight mail delivery and transfer of urgent parts and medical supplies. Demand for both leisure and long-haul business travel also necessitates night flights. During the summer, there is a 30 percent increase in demand for leisure travel which, due to airport and aircraft capacity constraints, can only be provided at night.’