Heathrow should adopt ‘mixed mode’ use of its dual runways to immediately aid the airport’s capacity crunch before any new runways are developed.
The call comes from the Guild of Travel Management Companies which warns that it would take at least a decade before any new runways could become operational to ease congestion in the southeast of England.
The guild believes that relieving capacity constraints in the short term is critical to the UK economy’s growth through ensuring greater direct connectivity with merging markets.
The GTMC estimates that using both runways for take-offs and landings (mixed mode) would add an additional 50,000 flights a year, equating to around 65 additional flights a day during normal operating hours.
The recommendation is backed up by a poll of more than 1,000 frequent business travellers, which found 62% in favour of the option of more use of Heathrow’s existing runways.
The GTMC also believes there should be no movement by authorities to limit the amount of night flights currently allowed during the 11pm–7am period. Business travellers surveyed by the GTMC showed that night flights are a key component of international business with 49% saying that they had used night flights more than three times a year.
The guild was responding to last week’s publication of a summary of submissions to the government’s Airports Commission.
The GTMC focused its submission on Heathrow and the soonest possible increase in air capacity and connectivity while emphasising that longer term boosts to capacity are vital but will take considerable time to come online.
Business travellers reflected the preference for additional capacity at Heathrow with 82% of those surveyed saying that additional capacity at the airport would benefit their business more than at any other site.
But Heathrow’s plan for a third runway, even if given the green light, could not be delivered before 2023 with proposals for Stansted and a new airport in the Thames estuary not deliverable until 2032 and 2034 respectively.
GMTC chief executive Paul Wait said: “Short-term measures are within the government’s gift and we call on the secretary of state for transport to lead efforts to release capacity but also to ensure that the right balance is struck between capacity to be used for new routes and retained for resilience.
“The GTMC calls on the government to hold the line on night flights and recognise that they are a vital artery of connectivity to both emerging and traditional markets.”
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