Government says no to mixed mode, but BAA brings in two-way flying anyway

Just as residents were breathing a sigh of relief that the government has said no to mixed-mode operation at Heathrow, BAA is about to cancel alternation on westerlies for the next six weeks as part of "essential maintenance" works at the airport. As an internal BAA report confirms:

"Note: This means that:

Whether on easterlies or westerlies the same areas will be overflown"

Alternation will continue during the day on easterly flights during the maintenance work.

Murad said: "BAA insist it’s only mixed mode if planes are taking off and landing on both runways at the same time, but please, spare us the semantics. If you’re under one of these flight paths this means you simply won’t get any respite during the day. The Government may have turned down requests for permanent two-way flying, but BAA seem intent on introducing mixed-mode, however they call it, by hook or by crook."

Murad Qureshi AM added: "The current arrangements ensure alternation which means flights swapping to different flight paths at 3pm each day, so that people underneath get some respite from the flight path above them for part of the day. Suspend alternation and you cancel that respite."



Murad Qureshi is a Londonwide Labour Assembly Member and is the Assembly’s Labour Group Environment spokesperson.

BAA are keen to increase flight numbers at Heathrow, but requests for a third runway and the introduction of mixed-mode flying patterns have been turned down by the Government

Runway Alternation

This is the current practice where planes, when they land over West London, switch runways at 3pm. This gives the people in many parts of West London a half day’s break from the noise.


At present, when the landing planes switch runways at 3pm, so do those taking off. It means that planes land and take off from separate runways. If runway alternation is abolished, planes would be landing and taking off from the same runway (at least for part of the day). That is called mixed mode.

Mixed mode flight operations were precluded under the Cranford Agreement, which stood from 1952 until 2009.

Murad represents the London Assembly on the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC)

Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee is an advisory body constituted by Heathrow Airport Limited in respect of Heathrow Airport in accordance with Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982

Presentation given to HACC on 4th August 2010 about the planned maintenance works:

In June 2010 the Assembly passed a motion unanimously opposing mixed mode at Heathrow:


"This Assembly welcomes the government’s decision to refuse a third runway at Heathrow and the BAA announcement that it would not seek planning permission for a further runway at Heathrow. However, this Assembly would strongly oppose any increase in the number of flights from its airports in and around London by other means, such as mixed mode operations, more night flights or expansion at London’s airports

The Assembly notes the long standing opposition of the Parties in the coalition government to any increase in flights, mixed mode operations, night flights or expansion at London’s airports, and calls on the Government to firmly and openly reject any increase in the number of flights at BAA’s London airports."

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