Heathrow could see end to airport congestion with big increase in capacity


Heathrow could see end to airport congestion with big increase in capacityPA

Heathrow Airport may not need a new runway as strict rules on take-offs and landings are eased next month, The Independent reported.

The airport's congestion crisis could be solved with a 'silver bullet' solution unlocking up to 25 per cent more slots and allowing an extra 120,000 flights a year without an additional building.

Europe's busiest airport could introduce 'mixed mode' flying, where runways are used for both take-offs and landings at the same time meaning there would be no need for a third runway or a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

From 1 July, new rules will come into force increasing the number of circumstances for simultaneous runway use to be permitted.

Chief executive of Virgin Atlantic Steve Ridgway told The Independent: 'Mixed mode ... would allow a more efficient use of the existing, overstretched runways at Heathrow.'

When its working to full capacity, which it does most of the time, Heathrow can handle up to 44 departures and 43 arrivals every hour. Its nearest rival Gatwick has up to 54 movements an hour and is the world's busiest single-runway airport.

The move would allow more cities to be served non-stop from Heathrow and for airlines eager to expand snapping up more slots.

The looser rules on runway use at Heathrow are part of a trial taking effect on 1 July to reduce busy skies and delays on ground. It will allow more overnight flights from North America and Asia to land before 6am rather than 'stacking' over South-east England.

After an experiment this year, Heathrow's owner BAA said: 'Few residents interviewed knew about the trial or noticed its impacts.'

The tests do not allow any increase in aircraft movements and a switch to mixed mode would lift capacity without breaching the night-time curfew. However, west London residents could expect noise from arriving aircraft when the wind is from the west, which is 70 per cent of the time.

Chair of the anti-expansion group HACAN ClearSkies John Stewart said: 'The half-day period of peace and quiet would disappear and there would be a plane every 90 seconds all day long.'

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