Putney MP takes on Heathrow over 4am flights
Fleur Anderson MP has asked Heathrow to stop the increasing number of very early morning flights. She asked Transport Ministers for action after receiving complaints from residents about being woken up at 4am. In response, Transport Minister Baroness Vere revealed that over 400 extra night-time flights were allowed during summer 2022. These are in addition to the 16 flights ‘allowed’ every night.
On Friday, Ms Anderson also held a crunch meeting with Heathrow Managers to let them know how much this affects Putney residents and to demand a reduction.
Commenting after the meeting, Ms Anderson said: “I have seen a more than tenfold increase in constituent complaints about the noise in the past month. I know how much it affects so many people’s mental and physical health. One constituent said: ‘Having lived in the area for more than 13 years, I can safely say that the problem is worse than it has ever been’
“Exhausted constituents have told me that they are woken up as early as 4am and the data I have uncovered makes it clear to see why. During the summer there was a ‘perfect storm’ of reduced airspace due to the war in Ukraine and increased industrial action by air traffic controllers in European cities. Low visibility at other airports and limited hotel accommodation for stranded passengers were also factors. There was one additional flight as a result of the death of Her Majesty. This resulted in additional flights being given the green light to land early.”
“I made it clear that I hope these were exceptional circumstances and I be keeping a very close eye on numbers of early flights. I have urged Heathrow to speed up their plans to make less noise through choosing quieter aircrafts for early flights and having steeper approaches so that the planes are higher. If improvement in air traffic flows are not matched with improvements in noise pollution for my constituents, I will be extremely angry.”
“When the night flight quota is next reviewed, I will be having my say and demanding that it is reduced. It goes without saying that I will continue to oppose a third runway and Heathrow expansion in all its forms. I invite my constituents to continue to share their experiences and views with me on Heathrow Airport.”
In the meeting, the Airport Manager acknowledged the increase in night flights and explained that the vast majority of the extra flights have been dispensed under the category of widespread and prolonged disruption.
Addressing concerns raised by Ms Anderson that Heathrow was simply giving poorly performing airlines a get out of jail free card, the Airport Manager insisted this was not the case. Every dispensation has to be investigated the next day and justification given to the Government who expect airlines to cancel flights they know will land too late or too early.
He assured Ms Anderson that each dispensation is properly investigated and are only granted if it is demonstrated that the airline has no control.
When asked what assurances Heathrow can give her sleep-deprived constituents, the Airport Manager said that he expects the situation to quieten down as ATC flow issues are gradually resolved and demand levels out.
He further stressed that the airport is doing its best to mitigate the noise through regular airline engagement initiatives like the Quiet Night Charter and the Fly Quiet and Green League Table as well as through improved transparency on statistics.
See Fleur’s recent representations on Heathrow in Parliament here:
- Fleur’s written questions: Written questions and answers – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament
- Fleur’s letter to the Minister on night flights: Letter: Night Flights at Heathrow – Fleur Anderson MP
- Fleur’s question to the Minister during Transport Orals on 13th October: Topical Questions – Hansard – UK Parliament