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BA pushes for 'mixed mode' at Heathrow

16.12.06

British Airways has urged the airports operator BAA to support the simultaneous use of both Heathrow runways for take-offs and landings - referred to as mixed mode - the Telegraph newspaper reports. The airline claims the introduction of mixed mode operations would raise capacity by 15 percent and cut pollution.

At present, runways alternate their operations as a result of an agreement dating back to the 1950s to protect the residents of Cranford, east of the northern end of the runway, from excessive noise. In a progress report on the 2003 Aviation White Paper, the Government said yesterday that it would consult next year on mixed mode at Heathrow.

Willie Walsh, the BA chief executive, said introducing mixed mode could raise the current limit on aircraft movements from 480,000 a year to 520,000 - 550,000, and reduce the emissions from planes as they wait to land. He said reducing such queuing would cut emissions from BA aircraft alone by 76,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, which was 'equivalent to the emissions from 150 round trips to New York'.

Walsh said the Cranford Agreement was out of date because planes were now much quieter, though residents and environmental groups are expected to oppose mixed mode. He belives BAA has been far too slow to make the case for such operations.

'I don't think they have been as active as they should have been. I will be meeting with Stephen Nelson [BAA chief executive] and seeking assurances from him that they will be championing mixed mode,' he said.

Mr Walsh also welcomed the Government's reiteration that it still planned a third short runway at Heathrow, if it could satisfy noise and pollution criteria, and urged that this take priority over a second runway at Stansted.

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