The environmental effects of peak hour air traffic congestion: The case of London Heathrow Airport

The commercial air transport sector currently faces the serious and seemingly incompatible challenge of meeting growing consumer demand for flight whilst reducing its environmental impact and meeting increasingly stringent international emissions targets. Growing demand for air travel combined with improvements in environmental performance in other industrial sectors means that commercial aviation has become a key focus for tackling climate change. The aim of this paper is to quantify the impacts of capacity-induced airport congestion using the case of London Heathrow Airport. The paper quantifies the environmental effect of airborne delays to inbound aircraft at the heavily constrained London Heathrow Airport on emissions and local air quality. The findings reveal that the additional CO₂ and NOₓ emissions resulting from airborne delays are significant and will increase if capacity constraints on the ground are not addressed. The results are analysed in the context of Heathrow's climate change targets and current debates surrounding expansion and the challenge of reconciling environmental sustainability with aviation growth.


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  • Accession Number: 01605386
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 13 2016 10:36AM