01 April 2007

London Heathrow airport slots and the A380

One consequence of the EU-US "open skies" agreement will be that, with the end of the UK-US Bermuda II agreement, more UK and US airlines will be able to serve routes between London Heathrow (LHR) airport and the United States (other EU airlines will also gain access). A major constraint on this will be the lack of takeoff and landing slots at LHR.

Airport Coordination Ltd, who control slots at LHR, has issued a three-page brief dated 26 March 2007 on the situation. Logically LHR slots may be about to get a whole lot more expensive.

A further dimension to the issue of slot constraints is that the A380 aircraft some major carriers will be seeking to operate into LHR may require greater wake turbulence separation from other aircraft during landing and takeoff thereby reducing hourly runway capacity. In June 2006 ICAO was issuing guidance on this subject. British Airways (BA) Chief Executive Willie Walsh touched on some of the implications of this in a lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society on 13 November 2006 (Flight International carried a report on this in a short article).

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