THE NUMBER of night flights into Heathrow and Gatwick is likely to be reduced under suggestions to be published today by the Department of Transport.
Ministers, wary of further court action following their defeat by local authorities in the High Court in September over an earlier scheme, are likely to put forward suggestions which will put a bar on any growth in night flights.
However, this will anger the airlines, which have been pressing the Government to increase the number of night flights through a quota system which penalises noisier aircraft. The charter airlines argue that unless they can slightly increase the number of flights each year in line with growth in demand, particularly in the summer holiday season, they face extra costs. They want their planes to land at night in readiness for take-off after the night flight period ends at 6am.
The airlines are considering legal action. A spokesman for Britannia Airways, said: 'We will be faced with higher costs and that will push up the price of holidays.'
Local groups will welcome stricter controls. John Boulton, of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, said: 'At last common sense seems to have partially prevailed.'