This is the key message from London Stansted’s response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted which closes this week.
Chris Wiggan, Stansted Airport’s Head of Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, said:
“As the UK economy improves and passenger and freight movements continue to grow at Stansted, it is vital that Government recognises this potential and retains our full night flight quota limit. Whilst we understand that night noise is an important issue for airport communities, a reduction in the limit would have a damaging effect on the UK economy and only serve to transfer movements to airports with greater environmental impacts.
“Stansted is unique in the South East as the only airport with a dedicated freight as well as a passenger operation. Over 1,000 people are employed in the freight operation, 500 alone at FedEx’s UK base at Stansted. The speed of delivery that air freight can offer is an increasingly important factor for many modern businesses, especially where just-in-time practices and high value commodities are concerned. For example, Royal Mail’s London Gateway at Stansted processes 5 million items per night that allows the latest possible collection time from customers whilst guaranteeing next day delivery.
“Night flights are not only critical to the express freight industry, they are important for passenger services and support the operations of affordable leisure and long haul travel. Airlines like Ryanair and easyJet rely on flying in the early and late hours to maximise efficiency of their aircraft to help keep ticket prices down for passengers. It is also vital that any future night flights regime takes into consideration the Airports Commission process and supports airports in making the best use of available runway capacity in the UK over the short and medium term.
“Since the current night regime began in 2007, Stansted has made significant strides to reduce its noise footprint with the introduction of the latest generation of quieter and more efficient aircraft and now serves one of the youngest fleets in operation in the UK. In partnership with our Noise and Track Keeping Working Group, we continue to explore and trial operational procedures that help to reduce noise impacts for our local communities, including slightly steeper angles of approach for some arriving aircraft to reduce the noise contour associated with all operations, especially night time arrivals.
“It’s essential that Government policy strikes the right balance between the economic, environmental and social impacts of aviation. In striking this balance Government should take full account of the critical role Stansted Airport and night flights play in supporting the growth of the economy, both in our region and the UK as a whole,” concluded Mr Wiggan.
Founder of the Newport Business Association, Cllr Jeremy Rose, added:
“Night flights are vital for business travel and commerce into and out of Stansted Airport. Private charter flights and business travel should not be restricted. With modern technology, flight path GPS handling and noise reduction technology, it is possible to have minimal impact on the environment. By using these capabilities, Stansted should break free from restrictive practices and be the hub and leader for business flights in the UK, supporting the economic growth in the area.”