News: Heathrow Airport renews NATS partnership

Heathrow Airport has extended its strategic partnership with air traffic services company, NATS.

The extension will see the current contract run through to 2030.

NATS and Heathrow have had a long and successful relationship, working together to operate the busiest and most efficient dual runway airport before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019 Heathrow was the seventh busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers, regularly seeing over 1,300 daily air traffic movements.

One year later and that figure had fallen to just 134, as countries closed their borders to control the spread of the virus.

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In the face of such a dramatic fall, NATS turned its operational experience towards working with the airport to understand when to close and reopen its stands, terminals and runways.

That analysis helped keep costs as low as possible while ensuring the airport remained open to the vital medical, cargo and vaccine flights that needed it.

Kathryn Leahy, Heathrow director of operations, said: “We’re looking forward to continuing this partnership as Heathrow recovers from the most challenging period in the airport’s history.

“NATS was quick to adapt when two of the world’s busiest runways were brought to a near standstill by the pandemic, and we’re excited to work with their teams and take advantage of the latest technologies, to ensure our airport is even more efficient and resilient as we modernise our airspace.”

Traditionally scheduled to 98 per cent capacity, NATS and Heathrow have a track record of collaborating on ways to improve operational performance and resilience.

In 2015, Heathrow arrivals became the first in the world to be separated by dynamically calculated time-based intervals, rather than traditional set distances.

That change cut headwind related delays by 62 per cent, improving on time performance while also cutting airline fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

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