More than half (60%) of aircraft due to land at Heathrow are delayed in holding patterns above London, according to a new report.
Air traffic control service NATS figures show that aircraft circling for a cumulative 55 hours a day are:
- Burning 190 tonnes of fuel a day
- Discharging 600 tonnes of CO2 a day
- Costing £119,000 in wasted fuel a day
Average delays for passengers held on a typical day range from four to 10 minutes, rising to 20 minutes during the late morning peak, when between 32 and 40 aircraft typically circle over London.
The NATS report estimates that Heathrow runs well 300 days of the year, while 50 days are "really difficult" and 15 are a "complete disaster".
NATS managing director Jon Proudlove told The Times: "It is not a great environmental story and it is not something we will be shouting from the rooftops.
“But it is important that people know that when you are operating at 98% capacity and you have the two most utilised pieces of infrastructure in the world [Heathrow and Gatwick] then one of the results is that you have airborne holding.”
With 476,000 flights a year and just two runways, Heathrow is the busiest international hub in the world.
British Airways/Iberia parent International Airlines Group recently admitted it had given up hope of seeing a third runway built and was looking to alterative airports such as Madrid for future growth.
More than 100 chairmen and chief executives have called on the government to consider building a four-runway island airport, backed by London mayor Boris Johnson, in the Thames Estuary to relieve the capacity crisis.
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