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Night flights - Early morning arrivals

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Please note the animation is provided to illustrate this part of the consultation topic and does not show where flight paths are today or will be in the future.

With today’s two runway operation, Heathrow’s early morning arrivals land on one runway between 4.30am – 6.00am.

For an expanded Heathrow with three runways, we are looking at opportunities to schedule these early morning arrivals later, to provide a longer time without flights at night.

We still need to maintain the same number of pre-6am arrivals as we currently have, but our aim is to start our operation later than today. This will mean we need to narrow the window within which these flights land.

It is important to understand the difference between the scheduled time (the times shown on arrival and departure boards) and the time planes arrive or depart from the runway.

Using arrivals as an example:

  • The scheduled time of an arrival is the time that the plane reaches the airport stand (when the plane stops at the terminal gate and you get off);
  • The runway time is the time the plane touches down on the runway.

Today, there is approximately 15 minutes between the plane touching down on the runway and it taxiing to the airport stand (although this will vary between flights and times of the day).

It is the same for departures, the scheduled time is the time the plane will push back from the gate and the runway time will be approximately 15 minutes later when it takes off.

We want to know whether you would prefer us to use one runway for scheduled arrivals from 5.30am (runway time of 5.15am - affecting fewer people), or two runways for scheduled arrivals from the slightly later time of 5.45am (runway time of 5.30am - affecting more people than the previous option).

For a further overview explanation please view the video above. Alternatively, read more at Night flights - Early morning arrivals.


4a. To help inform our consideration of the options, we want to know whether you would prefer for us to:
Please note the exact times are subject to further evaluation of the options.

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