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NEWS Last modified on October 16, 2018

Heathrow's £1 million incentive for first airline to launch electric-hybrid aircraft flights

It will no doubt be accused of a publicity stunt, but London Heathrow today announced that it will waive up to £1 million in landing fees for the first airline to introduce a regular electric-hybrid aircraft service from the UK gateway.

The figure is based on not paying landing fees for an entire year at Heathrow.

In celebration of Green GB Week and inspired by the first flight short electric-powered flight carrying two passengers at Oslo Airport earlier this year, Heathrow claims that it is looking to leverage its role as one of the world’s leading airports to drive sustainable change across the industry.  

There are already more than 100 electric aircraft projects underway across the world and current industry thinking suggests electric aircraft could touch down at major international airports by 2030.

Innovators are facing two main hurdles though – the cost of development and current demand.
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The £1 million incentive – dubbed 'the grand innovation prize' – was unveiled by Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, at the BusinessGreen Leaders’ Summit in London today.

The airport insists that the move is designed to incentivise airlines to invest in electric technology, helping to increase demand and speed up the arrival of zero-emissions flights at the UK’s biggest airport.

He said: “Heathrow has long been a leader in sustainable aviation. We championed carbon neutral growth in global aviation, which will come into effect in 2020. 

"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 currently incentivises airlines to bring their greenest fleet to Heathrow through the use of environmental charges, and will continue to work with airlines to develop these incentives in the future.
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The prize comes alongside Heathrow’s existing plans to decarbonize the industry and pursue clean growth, including the quarterly 'Fly Quiet and Green' league table which tracks airline performance on noise and emissions targets, and a partnership with Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech to further the take-up of more sustainable biofuels.

Industry reaction to the offer has been generally positive.

Airbus chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini, for example, said: “We commend Heathrow Airport’s initiative to jump-start the adoption of hybrid-electric technologies with the launch of the grand innovation prize!”

While easyJet CEO, Johan Lundgren, commented: “With Heathrow’s announcement today, it is clear they share easyJet’s ambition for a more sustainable aviation industry. 

"We support airports who are encouraging airlines to operate the most sustainable aircraft and welcome this initiative from Heathrow Airport.
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"We already operate the newest generation Airbus Neo aircraft and are partnering with US firm Wright Electric who has the ambitious target of designing an all electric commercial aircraft in the next decade. 

"We firmly believe it is not if, but when, electric commercial aircraft become a reality.” 

The UK's Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: “The government is committed to cutting carbon emissions and promoting new environmentally-friendly fuels in transport, including in the aviation industry.

"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 development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”



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