New arrival routes for Luton Airport could see flights over other parts of Beds, Bucks and Cambs
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Luton Airport currently shares arrival routes and two holds with Stansted, a situation which has been described as "unsustainable" due to both airports' size.
A delay at one airport can impact the other, with similar delays, noise and carbon emissions.
Today's consultation proposes a new aircraft hold for Luton Airport above the St Neots and Huntingdon area, along with separate routes "further out and higher up". This is to ensure its operations don’t clash with Stansted.
The joint consultation, co-sponsored with air traffic control provider NATS, is looking at two options:.
> Option one focuses upon higher altitude arrival routes from the new hold, with the latest air navigation technology (Performance Based Navigation - PBN) at altitudes of around 8,000ft and above to separate Luton's arrivals from Stansted’s.
> Option two, described as the "preferred" choice, offers the same but with added "pre-determined" routes spread out to wider areas outside Luton.
Area affected by the proposed changes include parts of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. An online postcode tool (available in the virtual exhibition here) allows anyone in these areas to see what the changes may mean for them.
Lee Boulton, from NATS, said: “The number of flights into 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.”
To comply with COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, representatives from the airport 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 to subject matter experts. A virtual exhibition will offer everyone access to all the information they need to make an informed decision and provide feedback that will help determine the final proposal.
Neil Thompson, operations director at Luton Airport, added: “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 develop the final proposals."
To view the consultation and submit comments, please visit here. The consultation runs until February 5.