Heathrow stays silent over night flights plan
Bosses fail to commit to ban if third runway is built
HEATHROW bosses have again failed to commit to ending night flights with a third runway, despite this being a condition set out by the Airports Commission.
The airport’s chief executive John HollandKaye said there was a ‘real opportunity to significantly reduce night flying’ with expansion, but stopped short of committing to a ban.
The Airports Commission earlier this year recommended a new runway at Heathrow but only if a number of conditions, including an end to flights before 6am, could be met.
Mr Holland-Kaye appeared before MPs on the environmental audit committee on November 4, when he was grilled about the airport’s position on night flights.
“There are huge benefits to local communities for getting rid of the early morning scheduled arrivals between 4.30am and 6am,” he told them.
“Equally, there is a big cost to that for the UK economy because those are very valuable trading routes to the Far East, Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s not easy to resolve that. We are working on it.
“I’m confident that we will be able to find a way through that and that there’s a real opportunity to significantly reduce night flying at Heathrow with expansion.”
He added that the airport was not ready to make an official public statement on night flights but would do so ‘in due course’.
Anti-expansion campaigners staged a demonstration outside Portcullis House ahead of the committee meeting.
John Stewart, chairman of the action group HACAN, which opposes a third runway, said following the meeting: “For the first time I can remember a Heathrow CEO has talked about the possibility of a real reduction in night flights. However, we believe they are so disturbing to so many people that a complete ban on planes before 6am should be introduced whether or not a third runway is built.”
The Airports Commission was set up in 2012 by the government to investigate the need for aviation expansion, particularly in the southeast.
It published its final report, which also stated expansion at Heathrow should only go ahead if air quality targets were met, in July. The government has yet to announce whether it supports a third runway at Heathrow or a second one at Gatwick, but it is expected to do so before Christmas.
An alliance of councils opposed to expansion at Heathrow recently produced their own report , questioning the commission’s findings.
n DEMONSTRATION: Anti-expansion campaigners protest outside Portcullis House