Heathrow night flights may return to airport capacity agenda: Guardian

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Aviation & Airports (General News), Heathrow
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

[Guardian] Proposals for night flights at Heathrow could be back on the agenda after the government said it had told the independent commission into aviation capacity to produce an interim report next year recommending “immediate actions”.

Government call for interim recommendations on airport capacity revives speculation over possible actions

Government call for interim recommendations on airport capacity revives speculation over possible actions. Photo: Wikipedia

The announcement will help David Cameron deflect claims he is continuing to dither over airport capacity. But the new timetable will reignite controversy over Heathrow well before the 2015 election and has fuelled speculation that night flights, or even dual use of Heathrow runways for both landing and takeoff – known as “mixed mode” –  may be put back on the agenda.

Sir Howard Davies, who is leading the inquiry, insisted he was “genuinely undecided” and “logically could not deny” speculation over any option, but said no one had asked him to examine specific questions about mixed mode, which would bring huge increases in air traffic and noise. He said he would be scrutinising even the government’s own forecasts for growing airport demand.

The former boss of the Financial Services Authority and the CBI industry group , who resigned as head of the London School of Economics last year, said he believed the key to a successful inquiry was formulating the right questions. He said he would start holding hearings in the spring. According to the announcement from the new transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, his task is “identifying and recommending to government options for maintaining this country’s status as an international hub for aviation”.

Davies said he would be recruiting no more than three or four members for the commission, including a “transport economist, but otherwise you’ll probably want people of judgment from a decent balance of backgrounds”. Names would be confirmed within seven to 10 days, he said.

The coalition agreement rules out a third runway at Heathrow. But Cameron’s removal of Justine Greening from the transport portfolio in this week’s cabinet reshuffle, and the apparent shelving of her own planned “call for evidence”, has been taken by many as a signal that a Conservative U-turn over the building of a third Heathrow runway is in motion – albeit slowly enough and sufficiently at arm’s length to avoid the electoral fallout. Davies’s ultimate conclusions will not be delivered until 2015, after the next election.

Labour supported expansion at the last election, but proposed the commission to the government a year ago, in part to overcome its own internal difficulties on the issue. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said Labour would “engage constructively”.

Davies said: “The issue is the extent to which they are committed to receiving its findings.”

He said he was under no illusions that his findings would……

Read the full story at The Guardian…..

&  – Guardian.co.uk,
September 2012

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