Heathrow offers free landing for first electric plane

Heathrow Airport has announced that the first electric aircraft to regularly use its services will not have to pay landing charges for an entire year – a prize worth nearly £1m.

It is hoped this will incentivise airlines to invest in electric technology, increasing demand, and speeding up the arrival of zero-emissions flights at the UK’s biggest airport.

“The next frontier is zero-carbon flying, and I hope this prize will help to make it a reality at Heathrow by 2030,” the airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said.

There are already more than 100 electric aircraft projects underway across the world, and the current industry thinking is that the planes could be touching down at major international airports by 2030.

With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, it is hoped that electric aircraft, which could be quieter, cleaner and more efficient than today’s fleet, will play a critical role in cutting emissions.

The latest incentive is just one of many measures that Heathrow has designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth, and deploy their cleanest and quietest aircraft.

It hands out a number of environmental charges for aircraft, and its quarterly Fly Quiet and Green league table tracks airline performance on noise and emissions targets.

Aviation minister, Liz Sugg, said: “Heathrow’s initiative is an innovative programme which will encourage airlines to invest in electric-hybrid aircraft. Our Aviation Strategy will also consider further ways to support the sector.”

The airport is also in partnership with Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech to further the take-up of more sustainable biofuels, and is nearly 60% towards its zero-carbon goal for airport infrastructure.

In the next few months, Heathrow said it would be publishing its carbon-neutral growth roadmap, setting out how it will deliver growth from a carbon-neutral third runway.

It has also started working towards operating carbon-neutral airport infrastructure by 2020 – a key step towards being zero carbon by 2050 – and continues to reduce carbon in its supply chain.

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