Short-Haul Flights: Clogging up Heathrow’s Runways

The number of flights using Heathrow could be cut by around 100,000 a year if there were no flights to and from the destinations where there already is a good rail alternative, according to research released today (1) by campaign group HACAN ClearSkies.

The research, published to coincide with a national day of action against short haul flights (2), has unearthed some startling figures. It shows that Paris, with 60 flights a day, is Heathrow’s top destination. Amsterdam, in second place, has 50 flights each day. And Brussels, just over two hours from London by train, has 30 daily flights. In total there are around 100,000 flights each year serving the towns with the best rail connections: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Middlesbrough.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “The huge number of short-haul flights using Heathrow has shocked us. The purpose of Heathrow should be to link London up with long-haul destinations, particularly the United States and the growing economies of China and India. These short-haul flights are simply clogging up the airport. Even if their numbers could just be halved, there would be no need to build a third runway or get rid of runway alternation. In fact, overall flight numbers could probably be reduced.”

HACAN is calling for Government action to cut the number of short-haul flights using the airport. The report recommends increasing Air Passenger Duty on all short-haul flights significantly, with the highest increases on routes serving the destinations where there is already a viable rail alternative (3).


Notes for Editors:

(1). Research attached

(2). The National Day of Action has been called by the direct action organisation, Plane Stupid. For further info:

(3). Air Passenger Duty (APD) is levied on air tickets. In addition to reducing the number of people taking short-haul flights, an increase in APD could compensate for the amount of revenue the Exchequer loses as a result of the fact the aviation industry pays no tax its fuel and is zero-rated for VAT. In the longer-term there would need to be additional taxes and charges — such as an Emissions Charge — imposed on aircraft to ensure that the aviation industry pays the full cost of the environmental damage it causes. This report has simply identified increasing APD as the easiest and quickest measure that could be taken.

For further information contact John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650 — (Thursday, Friday, Saturday — mobile will be best)