Heathrow and communities around the airport could benefit from
reduced delays, less stacking and fewer unscheduled night flights
at the UK's busiest airport as part of a trial of new
measures announced today by Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers.
The measures are set out in the final report by the
Government's South East Airports Taskforce which has been
published today. They are focused on making Heathrow more
resilient and better able to recover on days when the airport’s
operations are disrupted by poor weather or other problems. When
such problems occur, these proposals would allow, exceptionally,
both Heathrow's runways to be used simultaneously for
either arrivals or departures as a way to cut delays and
cancellations and get punctuality back on track.
The Taskforce also endorsed plans for a switch to a smarter, more
effective and more passenger-friendly airport security regime for
all UK airports - details of which have also been published today
Set up to identify operational improvements at the UK's
three busiest airports - the South East Airports Taskforce
included representatives from airlines, airport operators,
regulators and other interests.
Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said:
"Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports play a vital
role in supporting the UK economy. Improving the reliability of
these airports, particularly Heathrow, was a priority for the
"These measures have the potential to deliver greater
reliability for passengers, while reducing the impact of
unscheduled night flights on local communities. 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
"Coupled with today's proposals to give UK
airports more flexibility in the way they deliver airport
security, passengers should begin to see real improvements. I am
grateful to all Taskforce members for working so constructively
together to help make our airports better."
Under existing arrangements, Heathrow operates largely on a
runway alternation system, whereby one runway is used for arrivals
and the other for departures - with the roles reversed halfway
through the day to provide respite from noise for residents living
near the end of the runways. The Government has made clear its
support for the continuation of runway alternation.
Currently, BAA are permitted, under certain circumstances, to use
both runways simultaneously for arrivals to clear major backlogs
of flights waiting to land - a process known as Tactically
Enhanced Arrival Measures (TEAM). Under the proposals put forward
today, there would be more flexibility for the operator as to when
these measures would be used and this approach would be extended
to cover departures.
Trials of the new measures will be run over the autumn and next
summer. They will be overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority, the
UK’s independent aviation regulator, and will involve BAA working
closely with local residents to ensure transparency, take account
of their views and monitor the impact of such operations on those
communities nearest the airport.
The Taskforce's proposals will now be taken forward by
the airports and the Government will reconvene the group in a
year's time to review the progress made.
The Government announced its intention to change the way aviation
security is regulated in October, and has today published
proposals for consultation. Over recent years, the regulation of
aviation security has been largely focused on a series of
prescriptive security processes which airport operators are
required to follow.
Under the proposed changes, operators will instead be required to
deliver a series of security outcomes. This will give them
flexibility to devise more tailored, innovative and
passenger-friendly processes to achieve the required outcomes.
Drawing on the highly successful approach taken to aviation
safety, these reforms are expected not just to maintain today’s
high levels of security, but to enhance them by embedding and
encouraging a culture of improvement in the methods of delivering security.
Notes to Editors
1. The South East Airports Taskforce was formed in June 2010.
Membership comprises:- BAA Heathrow- BAA Stansted- Gatwick
Airport- Civil Aviation Authority- NATS- British Airways- Virgin
Atlantic- easyjet- Ryanair- Air Transport Users Council (functions
now transferred to CAA)- London First- Aviation Environment
Federation- Airport Operators Association 2. The final report of
the Taskforce, along with reports from the Punctuality, Delay and
Resilience sub-group can be found on the DfT website at:
3. Over the course of a year Heathrow operates normally for around
three hundred days (‘green days’), experiences moderate disruption
on around 50 days (‘amber days’) and severe delays on 15 days
where on-the-day recovery is not possible. 4. The trial of
operational freedoms at Heathrow will run in two phases. Following
engagement with local communities, the first phase will run from
November 2011 to February 2012, followed by a further period of
public engagement to assess the impact on local communities. The
second phase will run from July to September 2012, with the added
benefit of providing increased resilience during the Olympic
games. The measures are only to be used to recover from serious
disruption, and the Government will now work with BAA and the CAA
to develop a series of safeguards. 5. These tactical procedures
are different from "mixed mode" which involves
planned arrivals and departures from both runways throughout the
course of the day. The Government has been clear that it remains
committed to runway alternation at Heathrow. 6. Details of the
proposals for a new outcome focused, risk-based security regime
can be found at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-21.
The consultation is due to close on 7 November 2011. Press
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