2M Claim Night Flights to Double Next Year

'Early morning smoothing' will allow more landings before 6am

Lobby group 2M are claiming that changes 'buried' in a technical appendix of the Airports Commission report will allow Heathrow airport to double night flights next year.

Leader of Wandsworth Council and 2M spokesman Ravi Govindia said the proposal called ‘early morning smoothing’ would increase the nightly quota from 16 to 35 flights. It would allow the airport to increase the number of plans landing between 5am and 6am but then just use one runway for flights between 6am and 7am. The report authored by Sir Howard Davies says that this would reduce delays.

The ‘smoothing’ procedure is one of Davies’ short term recommendations and will be trailed from 2015.

Cllr Govindia said: “I just don’t think the Airports Commission has done enough work on noise to properly understand the problems experienced by people under the flightpath. We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out what is in store for us."

A Heathrow spokesperson said, “We know noise is a concern for local residents and at the moment we have arrivals on both runways between 6 and 7. The idea we publicised in May last year was to move some of those flights earlier in the schedule. That would mean more flights before 6, but allow arrivals on only one runway between 6 and 7 – giving residents predictable periods free of aircraft noise. The purpose of the trial would be to understand whether people view this as an improvement or not. The number of aircraft movements per day would not increase as part of this.”

The Davies commission’s first phase report also says the south east of England will need two new runways by 2050 and two Heathrow expansion schemes are shortlisted.

Cllr Govindia continued: “Today there 725,000 homes in the area around Heathrow where noise exceeds the standard EU measure for annoyance. This compares to 11,900 around Gatwick and 9,000 around Stansted. But so far Davies is not adopting the EU standard for noise (55Lden) so he can claim fewer people are affected. This is keeping Heathrow in the running for new runways.

“We believe the Davies commission has a duty to show that noise, air quality and public transport problems can all be resolved before advocating a new runway scheme. Our job is to make sure he arrives at the full cost for each of these measures – not just the figures that Heathrow want us to believe.”

There is currently a consultation ongoing- Shaping Heathrow's North West Runway Proposal - in which the Airports Commission is soliciting views about the expansion of Heathrow.

To sign up for the council’s Heathrow e-newsletter email aviation@wandsworth.gov.uk with ‘subscribe’ in the subject box.

February 19, 2014