Flybe ‘proposes domestic flights from RAF Northolt’

Flybe is reported to have sought permission to operate regular commercial flights from RAF Northolt, the west London airfield usually reserved for executive jets.

The regional carrier has applied to the Ministry of Defence for clearance to fly twice a day to five cities, according to the Sunday Times.

RAF Northolt is just 15 miles from central London and 10 miles north of Heathrow. About two-thirds of its current air traffic is business jets, with the rest RAF and government flights.

Flybe is understood to have told ministers that opening up Northolt to commercial flights would ease fears that cities, such as Liverpool and Newcastle, were gradually losing their air services to London airports.

Airlines at Heathrow have steadily axed regional domestic flights in favour of more lucrative long-haul services.

The move will reawaken the debate about whether Northolt could be used to relieve pressure on capacity-squeezed Heathrow.

A cabinet sub-committee meets this week to recommend whether a new runway for the southeast should be built at Heathrow or Gatwick.

Flybe is thought to have proposed replacing business jet services with the same number of regional flights using turboprop aircraft, which are quieter than most business jets.

The MoD gave a non-committal reply to Flybe’s original application in August, the newspaper reported.

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