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Aviation: Restricted Airspace

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th April 2011.

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Photo of Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what volume of traffic is expected for the period 13 July to 12 September 2012 within the restricted airspace referred to in the Home Office announcement of 7 March 2011.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what mechanisms will be put in place to manage traffic within the restricted airspace from 13 July to 12 September 2012.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the total loss of earnings for the period 13 July to 12 September 2012 for general aviation aerodromes and flying clubs located within the restricted airspace announced by the Home Office on 7 March 2011; what plans they have for a compensation package for businesses affected; and from which budgets such compensation will come.

Photo of Earl Attlee Earl Attlee Lords Spokesperson (Department for Transport), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The Department for Transport commissioned an air traffic review and airport capacity assessment study in late 2009. This estimated that between 17 July and 16 August 2012, the Games could be expected to generate approximately 240,000 additional commercial passengers over and above baseline traffic levels at the five core London airports. This would equate to approximately 200 additional commercial aircraft movements on peak days, an increase of approximately 6 per cent above baseline levels.

In addition, the study forecast over 10,000 business and corporate aircraft movements and approximately 240 heads of state flights during the Games period. On top of this, an as yet unquantified number of general aviation leisure flights might seek to operate in the airspace over the south-east of England during this period.

The study concluded that the forecast commercial, business and heads of state traffic could broadly be accommodated, but only by making efficient use of all existing airport infrastructure across the wider south-east. In order to maximise available capacity, of both airports and controlled airspace, the department is currently consulting on proposals temporarily to extend full airport slot co-ordination, currently only applicable at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City airports, to some 40 airports across the region expected to attract Games related traffic.

Separately, NATS, the air navigation service provider, is consulting on proposals temporarily to extend controlled airspace in certain parts of the region to provide increased airspace capacity for commercial air traffic in order to help manage the anticipated additional demand during the peak Games period.

As part of the commitment to deliver a safe and secure Games, the Government also announced, on 7 March, plans to impose certain temporary restrictions on the use of airspace over London and the south-east of England during the Games period. Most aircraft seeking to operate in the planned restricted and prohibited zones will be required to file a flight plan, establish and maintain two-way radio communication with the relevant control authority, transmit a discrete transponder code and follow air traffic control instructions. The aim of these security-driven measures is to enable all air traffic in this area to be monitored during this period. NATS and others are currently working to establish a flight plan reception process to deal with the anticipated additional demand. Significant enhancements to existing lower airspace radar service capacity are also planned to facilitate flying within the restricted zone in accordance with the announced requirements for operation in this area.

Initial work to assess the effect of the planned airspace restrictions on the aviation community as a whole has been undertaken and, through the CAA and others, we are now engaging with them further to ensure the impacts are fully understood. We are encouraging members of the aviation community to help us in this, and we will consider whether certain adaptations to the planned restrictions might be feasible, consistent with the overarching security considerations, before the measures are finalised in a Statutory Instrument to be made later this year.

There are no plans to provide compensation to those affected by the temporary airspace restrictions. However, as already mentioned, the Government, together with the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS, will work with the aviation community to see if local arrangements might be possible, in some cases, to limit the impact of the restrictions.

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