Air traffic routes over southeast England could be redrawn

NATS, the air traffic management company, has launched proposals aimed at reducing delays at airports in the south of England.

Proposals to redraw the aircraft route map across a large area of southeast England are the first fundamental overhaul in several decades for this area of airspace, NATS said.

The region is one of the most complex areas of airspace in the world, with routes in and out of major airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and London City as well as smaller airports such as Southend and RAF Northolt.

NATS director of operations Ian Hall said: “All these airports have grown considerably in the past 20 years – London City has grown from virtually nothing since the early ‘90s – and we have simply accommodated this growth within the existing airspace infrastructure.

“Just like bottlenecks on our roads, increased air traffic causes congestion in the airways meaning delay and extra fuel burn – and that has an impact on the environment.

Redrawing the routes would make them more efficient and reduce delay, Hall said. “It also gives us the opportunity to reroute them to avoid flying over as many towns and villages as possible, especially at lower levels. Overall we will reduce by some 20% the number of people affected by noise from departing aircraft flying below 4,000ft.”

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