Heathrow has announced that an extra 25,000 flights a year could come through the airport before the third runway is built.

An eight-week consultation over Heathrow’s operations and airspace is part of a nationwide review of UK capacity by National Air Traffic Services (Nats).

Heathrow’s proposal involves planes coming into land on both runways at the same time during busy periods in order to maximise capacity. This would accommodate another 68 flights a day but would mean lifting the current cap of 500,000 flights a year.

It would also mean an increase in noise pollution for those who live near the airport. Local residents currently get a break every day as the direction of flight is alternated. However, some parts of London, such as the south-east might get some respite from the noise.

John Stewart, from Hacan, the Heathrow noise reduction campaigning group, said: “Although the third runway will clearly bring many losers, one long-lasting impact of these proposed changes is that a break from aircraft noise would be guaranteed to many more people than who currently enjoy it, as Heathrow would make the biggest changes to its flight paths since opening in 1946.”

The airport is also to start planning routes for flights for when the third runway opens, which is expected to happen in the next decade.

Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “We are committed to delivering expansion responsibly and we encourage everyone to have their say and take part.”

She added: “It is crucial that our plans maximise the benefits of expansion across the country, including for the communities closest to us.”

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