All Day Flights ‘Worse Than Third Runway’

Expansion using existing runways could mean 18 hours of noise

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2M Group of local authorities have warned that ministers might back off from building a third runway – but give the go-ahead to more frequent departures and landings on existing runways instead.

A decision on whether to allow BAA to increase capacity at the airport is expected before the end of the year. But the scale of opposition to a third runway and growing doubts about its affordability may instead lead ministers to seek to expand the airport’s capacity using existing runways.

If the agreement restricting take-offs to the east from the northern runway is abolished, this creates an immediate increase capacity – currently estimated at around one-eighth or 60,000 flights.

The Government has not set any limit on capacity from maximum use of runways. Based on the single runway at Gatwick which accommodates around 50 landings and take-offs an hour for much of the day, Heathrow's two runways could in time cope with an additional 170,000 flights a year.

Whatever the eventual growth in flight numbers the impact for many people will be all-day flights and all-day noise. The current relief provided at 3pm when aircraft switch runways will be lost.

John Stewart of HACAN said, “If people thought a third runway was bad, the damage caused by all-day flights on existing runways with no switch at 3.00pm will be far worse. There will be a huge outcry in west London if people see this expansion by stealth being imposed on them.”

The maps below show the likely effects on different communities of this change which could be introduced from as early as 2009.


October 15, 2008