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How Heathrow is getting on with delivering Britain's new runway

Since the Government made the decision to back Heathrow expansion as its preferred option in 2016, the Heathrow team has been getting on with the task of delivering this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project.

Expanding Heathrow is a crucial part of ensuring future generations can compete for global trade. Expansion will create up to 180,000 new jobs and £187 billion in economic benefits across the country.

Just like the London Olympics, Crossrail and Thames Tideway before us, we have embarked on a process of looking at every detail of our plans and how we can optimise them, to provide the best outcomes for passengers, airlines, our local community, and all regions and nations around the UK.

We’ve taken a quick look below at some of the key areas our teams have been working on to bring this project to life.

From 17th January 2018 we’ll be looking to you, the residents and businesses of Britain, to help shape our plans and have your say on the improvements we’re proposing.

The future for air travel, as well as airport design and construction...

Since our initial expansion plan was shortlisted in 2014 and then chosen by the Airports Commission in 2015 as the best answer to the UK’s airport capacity crunch, a lot has changed in terms of airport design and technology around the world.

As a result, our Future Heathrow team has been busy looking at up and coming technology and design elements to ensure the expanded airport can take advantage of new developments to provide the best experience for our passengers.

Getting on with Heathrow expansion

Since the Government announced its support for Heathrow expansion as its preferred option in 2016, our team has been getting on with the task of delivering this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project.

In order to deliver the expansion of Heathrow, we’ll need land for the runway, terminals and taxiways. But there’s other land we’ll need too beyond this for things like local river diversions, commercial buildings to support the operation, to relocate existing buildings and to use as temporary construction sites.

Over the last 12 months we’ve been assessing the potential sites and have a range of options that we want to hear views from our local communities about.

We’ve also shortlisted sites across the UK to act as locations for off-site construction throughout the process – this will not only ensure expansion benefits are spread more widely across the UK, but also reduce the impact on local communities during construction.

Reducing costs for passengers and airlines

Through innovative thinking around phasing the construction of our plans, we’ve been able to generate a number of options for how expansion can take place at the airport, all while passenger charges remain broadly the same as they are today.

While the construction timing of the new north-west runway has not changed, there are a number of different airfield and terminal configuration options that have been explored as possible ways of smoothing out costs of the project while still maintaining high-levels of passenger experience.

These options could enable the delivery of an expanded Heathrow for £2.5bn less than the plans submitted to the Airports Commission.

The options that would enable the identified £2.5bn cost reductions involve three things:

  • Repositioning new buildings over existing public transport and baggage infrastructure. This includes building additional capacity at both Terminals 2 and 5 rather than a dedicated terminal or satellite building between today’s northern runway and the new northwest runway
  • Technological advancements which reduce the amount of terminal space required to process passengers without compromising experience
  • More efficient phasing of capacity construction – incrementally increasing terminal capacity in blocks to better match growing demand

Keeping our commitments to local communities

We are clear that expanding Heathrow doesn’t come at any cost. That’s why delivering expansion will also mean keeping all our commitments to the local community, including banning scheduled night flights between 11pm and 5.30am, expanding Heathrow within air quality limits, creating new jobs and apprenticeships locally, and driving new opportunities for local businesses.

Listening to our neighbours and stakeholders is an integral part of how we will continue to shape our expansion plans in a fair and transparent way. Over the next year we will hold a number of consultations to help this process.

An important part of expanding Heathrow will be the changes that have to be made to airspace and flightpaths around Heathrow to accommodate the new runway. The starting point for this is to build a set of principles or ‘rules’ that will form the basis for redesigning future flightpaths.

Our first consultation, to be held early next year, will provide an opportunity for the local community to shape these principles. Flight paths around Heathrow haven’t changed since the 1960s and 70s despite the rapid increase in air travel and aircraft technology.

As a result, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redesign the airspace around Heathrow in a way that can reduce noise impacts on the local community and we want to hear your views.

What's next? How you can get involved

Over the last year, we have been working to develop different options for building an expanded Heathrow that is fit for the future.

Help shape Heathrow's new runway plans

In January we will launch our first planning consultation on our expansion plans.

At this stage, these are just options and no final proposals have been decided upon. On 17th January 2018 we will launch our first consultation on the expansion plans since the Airports Commission process, where we will encourage people to get involved to help shape the project.

The consultation will allow our communities, at this early part of the process, to help define our plans for an expanded Heathrow.

This will be the first of two major consultations on these plans. By doing two rounds of consultation we are giving our communities an early opportunity to understand the options we are considering, share their views, and help shape the final plan.

In the last decade Heathrow has been transformed with over £11bn of investment in creating new facilities such as Terminal 2 and Terminal 5, which were both delivered on time and on budget.

Now we are looking to expand Heathrow in order to keep improving the UK’s hub airport, and help secure Britain’s future as an outward-looking trading nation post-Brexit.

We look forward to hearing from you on this next important step in expanding Heathrow.