Night flights before 6am should come to an end if a third runway is ever built. That is the view of Jock Lowe, the former Concorde pilot who heads up Heathrow Hub, the independent consortium proposing a new runway. And he is right.
Night flights shouldn’t be allowed anyway. And they are not needed. A seminal report from the European Commission published in 2005 concluded:
“the argument for night flights seems to be basically commercially rather than operationally driven.” European Commission Report 2005
But it argued that the airlines are able to avoid night flights (using any major airport in the world) by adjusting their schedules.
“If the same restrictions apply to all the competing airlines flying the European long-haul routes, they do seem to be able to adapt their schedules and get over slot availability, congestion, and connections, and fly by day.”
Night flights are operated largely for the convenience of the airlines. They will not ditch them voluntarily. It requires Government action to force them to do so.
HACAN has long argued that night flights at Heathrow should become a thing of the past. Well over half a million people living in and around London are overflown by night flights – more than any other city in Europe. They should go in 2017 when the Government next considers the night regime.
But any plan for a 3rd runway should assume no flights before 6am. It would be perfectly possible to accommodate the 16 flights that currently land pre-6am on the extra capacity provided by a new runway.
Aviation is an acquisitive industry. It wants but is rarely prepared to give. It wants a third runway at Heathrow above all else. So what is it going to give residents? No even a decent night’s sleep?