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Heathrow Operational Freedoms Trial

Volume 568: debated on Friday 18 October 2013

I am announcing today the publication of reports by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) on the recent trial of operational freedoms at Heathrow airport.

The trial, which ended in February, permitted the more flexible use of the airport’s runways and departure routes, in specified circumstances, in order to help improve punctuality, reduce delay and enhance resilience.

I would like to thank both organisations, as well as NATS, the airport’s air traffic control services provider, for all of their hard work on the trial, as well as local stakeholders who engaged with the CAA and HAL to help shape the exercise.

These reports will be relevant to the Airports Commission’s work on short and medium-term options for the UK’s existing airport infrastructure. The commission’s interim report covering such options is due to be published at the end of the year and the Government have invited the commission to review the CAA and HAL reports to help inform its work in this area.

Once the interim report is published, the Government will consider the findings of the Airports Commission, CAA and HAL collectively to inform their next steps on the freedoms. In doing so, the Government will also have regard to any wider package of short and medium-term measures that might be recommended by the commission in its December report.