Flybe calls for flight in­creases at Northolt

Air­line urges move in wake of Heathrow de­ci­sion

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger

A MA­JOR re­gional air­line has re­newed its calls to in­crease the num­ber of com­mer­cial flights at RAF Northolt in the wake of the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to back ex­pan­sion pro­pos­als at Heathrow Air­port.

Flybe said the govern­ment should in­crease flights at the air force sta­tion in Ruis­lip ‘to fast track the ben­e­fits of re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity’.

On Tues­day Oc­to­ber 25, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and the cab­i­net backed ex­pand­ing Heathrow by build­ing a third run­way to in­crease flights to up to 700,000 a year.

A state­ment from Flybe, re­leased on Tues­day, said: “Flybe has been en­cour­aged by Heathrow’s re­cently an­nounced plans to sup­port re­gional flights and wants to see these plans pro­gressed.

“With­out such flights, the UK re­gions will miss out on much-needed con­nec­tiv­ity to the cap­i­tal and to long haul des­ti­na­tions via Heathrow.

“In the in­terim, Flybe be­lieves the govern­ment should al­low sched­uled com­mer­cial flights to and from RAF Northolt to fast-track the ben­e­fits of re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity.

“The new ca­pac­ity at Heathrow will take a decade or more to build and Northolt is avail­able right now.”

Com­mer­cial flights at RAF Northolt are cur­rently re­stricted to 40 per day un­der Na­tional Air Traf­fic Ser­vices guide­lines and are nor­mally re­stricted to 8am to 8pm.

In 2013, the govern­ment an­nounced it would be in­creas­ing the self-im­posed cap on com­mer­cial flights from 7,000 to 12,000, in or­der raise more money from the site.

The in­crease was ex­pected to take around three years with the to­tal move­ments, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary, to reach around 17,500 this year.

There is no cap on the num­ber of mil­i­tary flights.

The Min­istry of De­fence de­clined to com­ment on Flybe’s calls to in­crease flights, but a spokesman did say: “RAF Northolt has spare ca­pac­ity and there­fore, as per govern­ment pol­icy, per­mits com­mer­cial air­craft to use its fa­cil­i­ties.

“For the fu­ture, wider govern­ment de­ci­sions on south-east avi­a­tion and run­way ca­pac­ity will in­form any de­ci­sions re­gard­ing Northolt fly­ing op­er­a­tions.”

North Hilling­don res­i­dent Anna Wil­liams has penned a let­ter crit­i­cis­ing Hilling­don Coun­cil for not at­tempt­ing to in­ter­vene when the num­ber of com­mer­cial flights in­creased to 12,000.

The 67-year-old re­tired lec­turer has called Hilling­don ‘a failed coun­cil’. Ms Wil­liams, who has lived in the bor­ough for 35 years, said: “When the num­ber of com­mer­cial jets at Northolt aero­drome in­creased from 7,000 to 12,000, this coun­cil failed to be­come in­volved at any level.

“This was jus­ti­fied by a naive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of mil­i­tary ju­ris­dic­tion – that the op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures of the MOD could not be chal­lenged even though the ma­jor­ity of flight move­ments are com­mer­cial and a ma­jor health risk to res­i­dents was im­mi­nent.

“The dou­ble stan­dards with its ac­tions over the third run­way are glar­ing.

“The ef­fects of pol­lu­tion and air­craft noise – heart and res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease and short­en­ing of life – on res­i­dents and their chil­dren are now well doc­u­mented and are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly un­ac­cept­able to the pub­lic.”

She said her con­cern now is com­mer­cial flights will in­crease with­out con­sul­ta­tion and that res­i­dents would not be given the time to try to chal­lenge any in­crease.

The Gazette has ap­proached Hilling­don Coun­cil for a re­sponse.

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