Half Day Respite to Continue

Residents welcome Heathrow Airport’s decision to drop its backing for mixed-mode

Heathrow campaigners have welcomed the confirmation from Heathrow Airport that it is no longer supporting the introduction of mixed-mode at the airport.  Nigel Milton, head of public affairs, told the London Assembly’s transport committee yesterday that Heathrow Airport would not be seeking to persuade the Davies Commission that mixed-mode was a solution to ease runway capacity at the airport.  This confirms a statement from Heathrow earlier this month that mixed-mode would “be a lot of pain for nor much gain. ”

At present, aircraft landing over West London switch runways at 3pm to give residents a half day’s break from the noise.  Under mixed-mode planes both runways would be used throughout the day.  According to Department of Transport figures, mixed-mode would increase the number of flights using the airport from 480,000 per year to at least 560,000.  A separate system applies at night.

Mixed-mode had been seen as a quick way to increase capacity at the airport.  However, it has become clear it would take many years to put in place.  NATS (National Air Traffic Control) has said that it would need some years to reconfigure the flight paths to ensure that planes could land and take off safely.  Moreover, mixed-mode could not be introduced without a public enquiry taking place as the current cap of 480,000 flights would be breached.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “This is both a welcome and very significant move.  It is very hard to see any Government proposing mixed-mode if it doesn’t have the backing of Heathrow Airport.  Residents will heave a huge sigh of relief as it is the half day’s break from the noise which makes life bearable for so many people under the flight paths.”  

February 21, 2013