Heathrow Airport furious NATS didn’t tell them about critical flight path changes
Heathrow Airport has issued a strong statement this afternoon explaining that they had not been informed by NATS (National Air Traffic Control) about critical changes to flight paths that took place west of the airport in June 2014. Residents in the affected areas – Ascot, Binfield, Virginia Water and Bracknell – have consistently complained about the increase in flights over their areas. Heathrow Airport admitted that trials had taken later in 2014 but argued that now that the trials have finished, things have returned to normal.
It now appears that Heathrow had not been told about the 2014 change which is still in place. It means that planes are flying in more concentrated flight paths over the affected areas.
In a strong statement Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “I am very concerned that NATS made this change without informing the airport or affected communities about its potential impact, particularly given its effects on some of the same areas to the west of the airport that were affected by the airspace trials we ran last year. Because of the assurances we received, we in turn told residents in good faith that no changes had occurred. That is unacceptable and I unequivocally apologise to local residents. At my request, the Chief Executive of NATS has agreed to urgently review his company’s processes to ensure that NATS shares this information with the airport to prevent this happening again in the future.”
Heathrow has asked NATS to revert to the pre-2014 flight paths but, so far, NATS has not done so.
John Stewart, chair of the campaign group HACAN, which campaigns on behalf of residents, said, “This should be a wake up call for NATS. In future, they need to be crystal clear with both the airport and with local communities about what they are doing.”
Stewart added, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Heathrow in saying NATS now need to revert to the pre-2014 flight paths. Residents have suffered for too long.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). Heathrow Airport’s statement: COMPTON FINAL STATEMENT 17 March 14
For further information:
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650