London Luton welcomes airspace modernisation funding

With government help, the industry can identify how to create quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys

London Luton Airport (LLA) has welcomed the Department for Transport’s decision to provide £5.5m in funding to restart the UK’s airspace modernisation programme.

The redesign of UK airspace is the first to occur since the 1950s. Over the decades before the pandemic struck, the number of routes were growing, and flight demand was increasing resulting in long delays, noise and pollution.

London Luton Airport
Photo London Luton Airport 

Local campaign groups – including LADACAN, STAQs and Harpenden Sky – joined the airport in calling for the government to step in. The financial strain caused by the global pandemic jeopardised the future of the programme, in which the aim is to help deliver quicker and cleaner journeys.

“Like our roads and railways, airspace is a vital piece of infrastructure, yet it has remained largely unchanged since the start of the jet age,” said Neil Thompson, operations director at LLA. “An overhaul is long overdue and will bring benefits for the industry and the travelling public, as well as for the environment and local communities. LLA has been at the forefront of this programme since its inception and remains committed to its future.”

Andrew Lambourne, Chair of LADACAN, also reiterated the benefits of the new funding: “This is a potential win-win for government, industry, noise-affected communities and carbon reduction”.

According to the Department of Transport, enabling the creation of a more efficient airspace benefits passengers and communities as well as airports.

“Modernising our ‘sky motorways’ could put an end to the days of circling the airport waiting for a landing slot, improving efficiency and leading to flights that are quicker, quieter and greener than ever before,” said Robert Courts, aviation minister.

The government has pledged £7bn for the aviation sector since the beginning of the pandemic, whilst identifying how to restart international travel.

Funding of £5.5m has been made available to LLA, alongside 20 other UK airports so operations to develop and assess the upgrading of airspace structure and route networks can go ahead.

Recommendations put forward by the Global Travel Taskforce will be published next month and international travel is set to resume from May 17 at the earliest.