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Heathrow pledges to "go electric"

PRESS RELEASE  Jan 04, 2016

LONDON, England - The go-ahead to install over 135 more chargers for at least another 260 electric vehicles has been given today at Heathrow to help shift greater numbers of vehicles used on and around the airport to electric power and it signals a greater ambition to ‘turn Heathrow electric’.

Today’s commitment is just one of the many made by Heathrow Airport Limited @yourHeathrow as it publishes updates to the three blueprints published in the past year. These documents set out a series of action plans and milestones for how the airport will reduce noise, emissions and traffic and help to make Heathrow the most environmentally responsible hub airport.

Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye said:

“2015 saw us commit to a series of action plans that will make us a better neighbour, by reducing noise, emissions and traffic. Today we are providing an update on the very significant progress already being made, thanks to the commitment of the airport community. But we know that we need to do more, and in the coming months will set out even more ambitious plans that will make an expanded Heathrow the most environmentally responsible hub airport in the world.”

The reports provide a traffic-light rating – Red, Amber, Green - against each of the commitments published in the blueprints along with a supporting commentary. They show that 70% of the promises have been put into action and the remaining 30% are in progress with none not started.

Highlights from the three updates published today include…
On reducing noise:

• The Airbus A320 family of aircraft currently make up about 50% of all traffic movements at Heathrow. Low-noise technology is currently fitted onto only a small proportion of the Airbus A320 fleet, representing about 5% of air traffic movements. But in the next 18 months, retrofitting will be accelerated considerably by airlines, thus reducing noise significantly

• In 2016 we will work with NATS to set a target for meeting first preference runways during night time alternation in order to offer more predictable respite to local people – currently first preference runways are utilised 50% of the time, but this could be increased greatly to make respite more predictable, especially between 4.30 and 6am.

• Penalties on airlines using older, noisier aircraft are working – Heathrow is on track to become the first large European airport to be free of the oldest and noisiest classification of aircraft – known as ‘Chapter 3’.

• The latest Fly Quiet Programme League – which ranks airlines according to their noise performance shows a clear upward trend over the last two years in airlines’ use of the quiet flight procedure Continuous Descent Approach (CDA). This arrival procedure requires less engine thrust and keeps the aircraft higher for longer, helping to reduce noise. Since the launch of the Fly Quiet League, Polish operator LOT has almost doubled its use of CDA to 98 per cent. From July to September this year, 258 out of 263 LOT arrivals used this quieter approach into Heathrow. This dramatic improvement is due in large part to Heathrow’s collaborative approach to working with its airlines to encourage them to reduce their impacts on local communities.

• Disrupted schedule flights that take-off late - after 11.30pm at night - have almost halved in number (267 flights left late in the eight summer months from March to 31 October 2015, compared to 414 over the same period in 2014) and the trend is set to continue

• Heathrow provided funding for five local schools to install ‘adobe domes’ – special outdoor constructions that protect pupils and teachers from noise outdoors – seven more will be funded in 2016

On reducing emissions:

• Environmental landing charges for airlines will double from January 2017 – from £8.57 per kg of NOx emitted to £16.51 per kg – providing another incentive to use cleaner aircraft

• Heathrow will invest £16.2m in 2016 to upgrade and extend coverage of pre-conditioned air units and electric power provision at gates to reduce aircraft emissions on parking stands

• High level talks between Heathrow and major airlines that will see an early phase-out of older aircraft that don’t meet the international emissions standard (ICAO CAEP) will continue in 2016, complementing existing financial incentives for the best international emissions standard aircraft

• Monitoring of reduced-engine taxiing by departing aircraft was introduced, with 25% of eligible departures reporting reduced-engine using in taxiing, so reducing on-airfield emissions.

• 21 electric vehicle chargers are available now to passengers in short-stay car parks free of charge, a publically-accessible hydrogen refuelling station is also based at Heathrow and zero-emission vehicles are already being added to its fleet of 400 vehicles, supported by a £250,000 investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure during 2015.

On reducing traffic:

• Road traffic to the airport has remained static whilst overall passenger numbers have increased. In 1991 40.5 million passengers created a total of 45.4 million car trips but in 2014, passenger numbers totalled 73.4 million creating 46.7 million car trips that year

• A new dedicated App providing real-time public transport and traffic information for passengers travelling on from Heathrow will be launched in 2016

• Heathrow Express introduced a range of new products in 2015 to make it more competitive and to attract families, for example cheaper advance tickets from £6.99 are now available online and under-16 year olds travel free. More ticket offers can be expected in 2016.

• A new £1 million local transport fund was created by Heathrow to develop and deliver local authority transport projects to reduce congestion – such as supporting bus routes

• 76,000 people work at the airport – it is the UK’s largest single site employer - and it already has the UK’s largest car-share network but Heathrow will launch a new app for employees to make it even easier to car share in 2016

• Heathrow colleagues will see new initiatives to encourage them to move to more sustainable transport modes of travel to work rolled-out in 2016

• New 24-hour bus services for Heathrow from the west began in 2015 providing alternatives to local car travel for employees in addition to the UK’s first free public transport zone (free buses) for an airport

• A new cycle plan developed with Sustrans to transform the experience for cyclists at the airport will be launched in the New Year. 16,500 people who work at Heathrow live within 5km of the airport. A new ‘cycle hub’ at Heathrow providing bikes and equipment for hire and sale was opened earlier in 2015.

During 2016, Heathrow’s blueprints will be reviewed, revised and republished.

Notes to Editors

1. Video footage of vox pops with Heathrow experts explaining various environmental measures taken are available in broadcast quality. A selection are available on YouTube to view here: airside electric vehicles; electric vehicle charging; electric vehicle fleet; hydrogen refuelling station; reduced-engine taxiing of aircraft and power and air on stands for aircraft.

2. Audio files of the same, plus images are also available.
3. Chapter 3 relates to an ICAO aircraft standard for noise management. See their website.

4. Reduced-engine taxiing: ‘eligible departures’ are defined as ones that do not require a runway crossing.

5. Media visits to the airport to see what Heathrow is doing to become more environmentally responsible can be arranged on request.


Quarter by quarter, an overview of existing commitments due to be delivered in 2016.

Quarter 1 (January-March)

• Heathrow’s Air Quality Strategy for 2020 and supporting Action Plan will be updated and published

• Results of a study into the proportion of aircraft at Heathrow meeting the best international emissions standard (ICAO CAEP) will be published to inform talks with airlines on the early phase-out of older aircraft

• Onward Travel Zones providing real-time public transport and traffic information will be rolled out in Terminals 3 & 4 and the Central Bus Station

• A new plan for improving the cycling experience around Heathrow will be published

• A new Drivers’ Charter for minicabs and their operators to help better serve passengers and the local community will be finalized

• A new car-share app for Heathrow employees will be launched

• Employee ‘commuter plans’ tailored to individuals will be piloted and rolled-out

• Steeper approaches trial (3.2 degrees instead of 3 degrees) started in September 2015 involving 20 airlines is due to complete

• Fly Quiet League Table for Quarter 4 2015 will be published

• Automatic monitoring for reduced-engine taxiing (RET) for arrivals will be introduced (automatic monitoring was introduced for departures in 2015)

Quarter 2 (April-June)

• New and updated blueprints to reduce noise, emissions and traffic will be published

• A new real-time onward travel information app and website for passengers will be developed

• Fly Quiet League Table for Quarter 1 will be published

Quarter 3 (July-September)

• £16.2m upgrade programme starts to pre-conditioned air and energy supply units for aircraft at gates in Terminals 2,3 and 5

• Steeper approaches trial report is due to be published

• Fly Quiet League Table for Quarter 2 will be published

• Sustainable transport incentives for Heathrow employees will be launched

Quarter 4 (October-December)

• Fly Quiet League Table for Quarter 3 will be published

Heathrow pledges to "go electric"

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