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Article from BTNews 8 FEBRUARY 2021

Night-time flight restrictions

New government suggestions pose a problem for cargo aircraft operators.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has opened a two-stage consultation programme seeking views on the night-time operation at certain major airports beyond 2022, and also in the national context.

Stage 1 of this consultation has two purposes with the first one to preserve the proposal to maintain the existing night flight restrictions for the designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) from 2022 to 2024, and controversially stop what is termed QC4 rated aircraft, their movements during the night quota period (23:30 to 06:00).

What DfT fails to acknowledge is that whilst the Boeing 747-400 stands out as a QC4 aircraft, and is now being quickly withdrawn by major airlines, it is still a popular all-cargo aircraft and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.  In the past night-time operations have been popular for cargo operations, with slots available and loading available 24/7.  

Reactions to this section of the consultation will allow the DfT to make a final policy decision on the regime for the designated airport beyond 2022 in summer 2021. Closing date is midnight on 3 March.

The DfT is also seeking early views and evidence on policy options for the Government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024, and nationally. Here the closing date is 31 May.

The Department plans to publish stage 2 of the consultation in 2022 which will set out firm proposals for the designated airports beyond 2024.


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