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Campaigners back government plans for overhaul of air routes network

CAMPAIGNERS for changes to flight patterns of aircraft departing and arriving at London Luton Airport have joined airport executives in welcoming the government’s decision to provide funding to reboot the UK’s airspace modernisation programme.

The Department for Transport has earmarked £5.5 million for London Luton and 20 other UK airports to develop and assess ways to upgrade the current use of airspace and the route network.

Local campaign groups LADACAN, STAQs and Harpenden Sky joined London Luton in calling for the government to step in after the financial impact of the pandemic threatened the future of the programme, which aims to deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys.

Neil Thompson, London Luton’s operations director, said: “This announcement is very welcome news and we are extremely grateful to the local community groups for backing our campaign. Like our roads and railways, airspace is a vital piece of infrastructure yet it has remained largely unchanged since the start of the jet age. 

“An overhaul is long overdue and will bring benefits for the industry and the travelling public, as well as for the environment and local communities. LLA has been at the forefront of this programme since its inception and remains committed to its future.”

Andrew Lambourne, chair of the LADACAN campaign against aircraft noise, added: “This is a potential win-win for government, industry, noise-affected communities and carbon reduction. Airspace modernisation is 30 years overdue with aircraft still flying route patterns dating from the 1950s and 1960s. 

“Luton Airport’s departing flights are often held low due to conflicts with flights from other airports preventing continuous climb and creating unwanted noise. This funding gives us all a chance to resolve those issues if approached in the right way.”

The plans will be delivered by the Airspace Change Organising Group. Its head Mark Swan said: “We are delighted that the government has reaffirmed the essential role that airspace modernisation will play in helping the aviation industry to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will continue to work with our partners across the industry to ensure this programme is one that delivers for all of the UK.”


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