2 DECEMBER 2019
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Following a controversial runway resurfacing project costing £23m, RAF Northolt, just five miles north of Heathrow, has reopened to military aircraft and, most debatably, to civil operators.
The Regional and Business Airports Group (RABA) is campaigning to suspend commercial flights at Northolt until the proper planning process has been followed.
Report indicate the Ministry of Defence is allowing private jets to fly into the aerodrome, which is not licensed by the CAA. The situation is not dissimilar to the tragic crash of a Piper Malibu with pilot David Ibbotson and footballer Emiliano Sala aboard, now subject to non-insurance allegations.
In a letter to Flight International magazine, Biggin Hill Airport chairman Andrew Walters objected to the current situation.
“The private sector is always prepared for competition and we are not seeking to stop RAF stations accepting civil aircraft, but it must be reasonable to expect a level playing field, as enshrined in our monopolies and competition legislation – and for government to comply with its own regulations,” he wrote.
It would appear Northolt does not have an CAA/EASA aerodrome licence, does not have a civil airport planning consent (there were 9,000 civil flights and fewer than 2,000 military ones in 2018), and has hundreds of obstacles on and around the airfield that would prevent it qualifying.
BTN asks: “Are the civil aircraft insured”?
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Angelika Voss, East Anglia
Your comparison of business jets to a light aircraft flown by a private pilot is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. I would have expected you to know better!
David Starkie, London
Yes, it is perhaps unfortunate that Flybe's Q400s are using valuable slots and airspace (given wake turbulance issues) at LHR. My flight the other week was waiting in line on the taxiway behind one of theirs. The result of a Heathrow charges discount (bribe) to get the regions on-side for LHR R3 (even though the regions lose out as a consequence (as the Airports Commission's data shows. Better if the Q400s were to use Northolt.
Malcolm Ginsberg, London
Mr Pocock is quite correct. BTN supported an imaginative scheme to allow some new regional services into Northolt. However initiative by Heathrow has found slots for Flybe and in the future Virgin Connect from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Guernsey and Newquay. Northoltís civil need is no longer and when the third runway is opened the RAF can take an enclave at Heathrow. More domestic destinations will be added. Itís a win-win situation for the locals, exchequer and country.
Chris Pocock, Uxbridge
This is the same airfield that the founder of BNTN was touting as a domestic short-haul feeder for Heathrow...
Simon Grigor, Harrow
'could be London's largest and most valuable building site'. Anyone already sitting for hours on the A40 during the rush-hour will pray that it never comes to this: the local infrastructure could not cope.