12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
In an attempt to improve Heathrow Airport’s recovery time after disruption, it will be permitted to use its two runways for both landings and take-offs.
The airport already does this in exceptional circumstances, but new rules from the Department for Transport (DfT) will mean this can happen more often.
The move means more flights can land and take off in a shorter period of time, improving Heathrow’s capacity, but those living near the airport could be worse affected by noise.
Currently, Heathrow’s two runways run on an alternating system, whereby one is used for take-offs and the other for landings, with the roles reversed at 3pm each day. This means people living near the runways get a half-day respite from the noise of planes landing or taking off over their houses.
Heathrow had previously campaigned for its runways to be “mixed mode” (used for take-offs and landings) at all times, but this was denied in January 2009 by the then Labour government in favour of a third runway, plans for which have since been scrapped by the current Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
Villiers has also previously vetoed mixed mode runways. In September 2010, she said the benefits of mixed mode in terms of capacity were outweighed by the impact it would have on local communities.
Today, however, Villiers said that using runways for both take-offs and landings would “deliver greater reliability for passengers”.
The DfT was also keen to clarify in a statement that its proposals are “different from mixed mode, which involves planned arrivals and departures from both runways throughout the day”.
When Heathrow can use its runways for both landings and take-offs is unclear, however, with the DfT stating only that this would be permitted after disruptions by “poor weather or other problems”, and that the airport operator will have more flexibility to decide.
Trials of the new measures will be run between November 2011 and February 2012, said Villiers, with a second phase to run from July to September 2012, likely to cover the period of the Olympics.
“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.”