BAA urged to abandon Heathrow ‘mixed mode’ operations support


Peace may be preserved for Heathrow residents as the council urges BAA to abandon support for mixed mode operations.


By Dee Dhara

Peace may be preserved for Heathrow residents as Wandsworth Council is urging BAA to abandon support for mixed mode operations at the airport.

Mixed mode, which allows Heathrow to use both of its runways for taking off and landing at the same time, was tested earlier this year – and a further trial started at the weekend.

Currently, one runway is used for take-offs and the other for landings. This pattern is changed halfway through the day to minimise noise disruption for local residents.

Leader of Wandsworth Council, Councillor Ravi Govindia, said: “Mixed mode has always been seen by the pro-expansion lobby at Heathrow as a stepping stone to a third runway.”

Heathrow were hoping to solve it’s capacity problems without the need for an extra runway with a potential extra 120,000 aircraft movements each year.

Heathrow can handle up to 44 departures and 43 arrivals every hour. It’s biggest rival Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport with up to 54 movements an hour.

At present, residents living under the flightpath get a half-day’s respite from noise when approaching planes switch runways at 3pm – a system known as runway alternation.

Mr Govindia added: “It is essentially a surrogate form of expansion which would damage the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of west Londoners.”

BAA boss Colin Matthews has expressed doubts about the system in the past.

British Airways boss Willie Walsh himself said the system will not work at the airport.

The call to bring an end to mixed mode is supported by the leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hounslow and Hillingdon councils.

The Coalition Government has vowed to retain the protection provided by runway alternation and each of the four councils expects to see this confirmed in the aviation policy statement due later this month.

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