Landing Late In London: Which Airport Is Best?

By David Mumford

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There are a whole host of factors which can make flights to the London area a headache – particularly at night. The smaller airports close early in the evening, and few business jet want to go to the likes of EGLL/Heathrow or EGKK/Gatwick due to costs and slots.

With the massive reduction in airline traffic over the past two summers, most of the London area airports have been wide open for corporate jets. But now that scheduled flights are on the rise again (Heathrow predicts traffic this summer will be up to 65% of pre-pandemic levels) the chances of getting into a London airport in a corporate jet at night are getting slimmer…

Here is a quick rundown of availability as told by the FBOs (all times local!)

EGLL/London Heathrow
Open: H24
They have some slots available between 0700-2345. There’s a night ban outside these hours for all aircraft except medical flights and emergency diverts.
For urgent slots you can try lonacxh@acl-uk.org. For General and Business Aviation, you can arrange slots through a local handler.

EGKK/London Gatwick
Open: H24
Similar to Heathrow, there is a noise quota system in place at night (between 2300-0700 here).
The slot system is showing a fair number available during daytime hours, so best bet is to contact a local handler and they will try to sort you out. 

EGSS/London Stansted
Open: H24
However,
during the summer period there are only a few night slots available between 2300-0620 – only 10 per week!

EGLC/London City
Open: 0630-2200 weekdays, 0630-1230 Sat and 1230-2230 Sun.
There are slots available between these times. jetcentre@londoncityairport.com are who you need to speak to for handling and slot assistance there.

EGTK/London Oxford
Open: 0600-2230 and up to 2359 on request, seven days a week, year-round.
The thing you probably want to know about Oxford is while it takes just over an hour to drive to London, making it the furthest away of all the “London” airports, it also charges a third the price in terms of handling fees. You can contact the main FBO on info@londonoxfordairport.com

EGGW/London Luton
Open: H24
However, London Luton has some pretty strict night flight limits over the summer – ad hoc movements (i.e. BA/GA flights) are not allowed between 2300-0700, while no further night slots will be available to scheduled flights. Holders of existing day time slots will not be able to re-schedule them for the night period either. These rules will be in place from June 14 until Sep 16. More info

EGLF/Farnborough
Open: Monday to Friday 0700-2200 and 0800-2000 local time over the weekend – no extensions possible. Same times apply year-round.
Farnborough is a dedicated business aviation airport and can be contacted at ops@farnboroughairport.com

EGKB/Biggin Hill
Open: Monday to Friday 0630-2300 and at the weekends 0800-2200 local time, year-round.
This is a great airport for smaller corporate and charter operations to consider. A dedicated business airport, only 12 miles outside of central London, and you do not require slot. More info

EGWU/Northolt
Open: Monday to Friday 0800-2000 local time, Sat 0800-1500, Sun 1200-1900.
So not great for night flights, but pretty handy otherwise as Northolt is one of the closest GA-accessible airports to central London, as well as the closest airport to EGLL/Heathrow (8 miles away). Check this article for more info.

EGMC/Southend
Open: H24
But during the night period, 2300-0630, only aircraft classified with a Quota Count of 1 (QC) or less are permitted to take-off or land. Don’t know what a “Quota Count” is? Neither did we. Read on… More info

Big, noisy planes are a no-no at night

AIP Supplement 4/2022 came into force March 27, 2022. This is the new Noise Restrictions Notice for the EGLL/Heathrow, EGKK/Gatwick and EGSS/Stansted, valid for the summer period.

The first thing to know is the noise classifications have not changed, and the ones to look out for are any aircraft rated Quota Count 4 or more. 4 is a noise rating 96 – 98.9EPNdB. So any aircraft noisier than 96EPNdB might find they are restricted into certain airports after certain times.

Sorry, almost finished now. This whole Quota Count thing is essentially just a number assigned to an aircraft based on how big and noisy it is. Here’s a chart:

This is worth looking at if you think your aircraft might be in one of the noisier categories. Here’s the important bit:

  1. Any aircraft which has a quota count of 4 may not be scheduled to take off or land during the night quota period (2330 to 0600);
  2. Any aircraft which has a quota count of 8 or 16 may not take off or land during the night period (2300-0700).

Send us your spies

Send us your Airport Spy reports for all these airports so we can share the gotchas, the things to know, contacts to contact and anything else useful.

What’s Airport Spy? Well, you write a quick little postcard with “what happened” when you went to some airport somewhere. Then you, and others (that’s the magic), can refer to your notes for future flights to the same place. Try it here if you haven’t already.

If you have any further knowledge or recent experience to share, please let us know!


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David Mumford

David Mumford

OPSGROUP Helmsman of the B's: Blog, Bulletin, and Briefs. Question for us? Write to blog.team@ops.group.

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