Heathrow airport could increase capacity by around 5%, irrespective of whether a third runway is ever built at the UK’s busiest airport.
The airport launched a fresh eight-week consultation on January 8 seeking feedback on proposed changes to how it manages its airspace.
Consultation documents reveal Heathrow wants to kickstart expansion with an additional 25,000 annual air traffic movements, which it says can be accommodated on its two existing runways.
Currently, Heathrow is limited to 480,000 inbound and outbound flights per year. Increasing this cap will allow around 70 extra flight movements per day.
“Releasing capacity using our existing two runways could generate significant economic benefits as the first phase of expansion,” said the airport in its consultancy documents.
“This capacity – up to 25,000 additional ATMs each year – could be released on a phased basis soon after planning consent is granted, so that the benefits of expansion can begin to be delivered well before the third runway is complete.”
Last year, the government approved a new Airports National Policy Statement, which gives airports greater scope to maximise usage of their airspace.
The national policy statement also effectively gave outline planning permission for Heathrow’s third runway.