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Anti-noise campaigners living under Heathrow's busy flight path urged the government to think twice about relaxing rules on night flights to avoid summer travel chaos. More flights could be allowed to take off and land between 11.30pm and 6.30am to help airports cope with demand during peak season. The Department for Transport said it wanted to "minimise disruption for passengers" but the plan has worried Londoners already struggling to get a good night's sleep.
'Paying with their health'
Retired psychotherapist Tim Walker lives beneath Heathrow's flight path in Forest Hill and said Londoners were already "paying with their health".
"I understand that they have an issue and I think they need to find an alternative," Tim told ITV News.
"I don't think that the overflown communities of London should be paying for these additional flights with their health.
"Heathrow flights come over this area in the east and they also curve in over the north east of London and south west too.
"I'm confident millions of people would recognise what we're saying about being woken up," Tim added.
Airlines get quotas for the number of night flights than can operate between 11.30pm and 6.30am at Heathrow. But these limits mean flights can be cancelled if they are delayed.
"We are focused on minimising disruption for passengers this summer, and working with airports on when it could be appropriate to use their powers to allow additional night flights in certain circumstances," the Department for Transport said.
"These powers would allow airports to minimise serious disruption and hardship to passengers, while making sure local residents are not unduly affected by noise.
"Any changes to overall night flight quotas would be subject to consultation," the statement added.
The aviation sector is struggling to cope with the rising demand for travel amid staff shortages after cuts made during the Covid pandemic.
There are also difficulties obtaining security clearance for new recruits.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was “no excuse for widespread disruption” and holidaymakers “deserve certainty”. Tens of thousands of passengers have suffered flight cancellations and huge queues at airports in recent months. Demand for travel will surge again as schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland break up for summer this week, while the academic year for those in England and Wales ends in around three weeks.
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