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Public consultation to open for new arrival routes into London Luton Airport

Posted: 19 October 2020 | | No comments yet

The consultation will allow local residents and communities to shape the outcome of the proposed plans to separate Luton and Stansted’s arrival routes and holds.

London Luton serves 17 million passengers in 12 months

Public consultation to help to determine new arrival routes for flights into London Luton Airport (LLA) will open on 19 October 2020 and run to 5 February 2021, offering residents and communities in the surrounding areas the chance to have their say and shape the outcome.

LLA currently shares arrival routes and holds with London Stansted Airport (STN), a unique and unsustainable situation for airports of this size in the UK. Any delay at one airport, either in the air or on the ground, impacts the other and can cause additional delay, noise and carbon emissions. The proposed changes will separate routes further out and higher up and create a new hold for Luton arrivals, to ensure that operations for Luton and Stansted don’t impact each other.

The joint consultation – co-sponsored by LLA and UK air traffic control provider, NATS – is looking at two options to simplify the arrival routes for flights into the country’s fifth busiest airport and segregate them from Stansted’s, ensuring optimum safety.

The first option uses the latest air navigation technology (Performance Based Navigation – PBN) at higher altitudes (approximately 8,000ft and above) to separate Luton Airport’s arrivals from Stansted’s, with air traffic controllers tactically descending and directing aircraft from approximately 8,000ft to land. The second, preferred option, is the same, but extends the availability of PBN to final approach, which allows a predictable, more equitable distribution of flights for communities beneath. 

London Luton Airport - Map of affected areas.

Credit: London Luton Airport – Map of affected areas.

The proposals being put forward by LLA and NATS affect areas not only in the immediate vicinity of Luton Airport, but also wider areas across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. An online postcode tool allows anyone living or working in these areas to see what the changes may mean for them.

To comply with COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, representatives from LLA and NATS will host a number of webinars and virtual meetings throughout the consultation period to present the details of the proposal to local communities, airspace users, businesses and MPs. These will replace traditional ‘town hall’ meetings and drop-in events and provide a platform for participants to put questions forth to subject matter experts. A virtual exhibition will offer everyone access to all of the information they need to make an informed decision and provide feedback that will help to determine the final proposal.

Neil Thompson, Operations Director at London Luton Airport, said: “Any airspace change can have impacts for a wide variety of people. Local communities may be affected by noise, airlines will see a change to the routes that they fly and local airspace users may see changes too. That’s why, over the last 18 months, we’ve been working hard with NATS, local community representatives, airlines and others to help to develop the final proposals in this consultation. It’s now really important that we hear from the wider community during the 15-week consultation.”

Head of Swanwick Development at NATS, Lee Boulton, said: “The number of flights into London Luton Airport has increased significantly in recent years, and our controllers have had to delay aircraft and manually manage each flight to ensure safety. This proposal is all about ensuring safety and the consultation is a great opportunity for people to give us their feedback and help shape the proposed options, so that the airspace around the airport operates more effectively into the future.”

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