Heathrow Airport Operational Freedoms Trial: CAA Oversight

The Government has appointed the CAA to supervise the Operational Freedoms trial at Heathrow Airport. Operational freedoms allow the airport to deploy certain tactical measures to improve punctuality and reduce delay


The Heathrow Operational Freedoms trial stemmed from a recommendation by the Government's South East Airports Taskforce.  The CAA was appointed by the Minister of State for Transport to independently oversee and scrutinise the industry's implementation of the Taskforce's recommendations on punctuality, delay and resilience, one of which concerned operational freedoms.  For more information about the work of the Airport Performance Facilitation Group (APFG) which the CAA chaired, please click here.  The APFG has now completed its work, and the CAA has produced a report on its oversight of the Heathrow Operational Freedoms trial.

The Heathrow Operational Freedoms trial was in two phases. The first phase ran from 1 November 2011 until 29 February 2012. The second phase ran from 1 July 2012 until 28 February 2013. More information about the trial can be found in a series of reports which can be downloaded from the links below.

For information about the way the CAA approached its oversight role, please follow this link 


On 18 October 2013, the CAA published a report (CAP 1117) with our independent analysis on the conduct and effects of the Heathrow Operational Freedoms trial.  Our report supplements the more detailed final report on the trial by Heathrow Airport Ltd itself.  At the Government's request, we have submitted our report to the Airports Commission. Heathrow Airport Ltd also produced an additional report on future application of operational freedoms, which is outside the scope of the CAA report.

For more information please follow the links:

CAP 1117 Heathrow Airport Operational Freedoms Trial: the CAA's supplementary views on Heathrow Airport's end-of-trial report (18 October 2013)

CAA covering letter to the Airports Commission (18 October 2013)

CAA letter to the Airports Commission regarding local air quality analysis (19 November 2013)

Written Ministerial Statement (18 October 2013)


The CAA produced two earlier reports on the trial, both concerning Phase 1.  The first was a mid-trial interim report. The second was a report at the end of Phase 1, which supplemented the airport's own report on Phase 1 and made recommendations for Phase 2.

Heathrow Airport Ltd also produced a mid-trial report on the first half of Phase 2, covering the summer period 1 July until 31 October 2012.

CAA interim report on Phase 1 (February 2012)

As part of its role overseeing the two phases of the Operational Freedoms trial, the CAA was asked by the Minister of State to produce an interim report on the first phase of the trial before it ended on 29 February 2012.  This interim report is based on data collected in November and December 2011.  It sets out the background to the trial; the CAA's approach in overseeing it; how the trial operates; how the airport has engaged with local communities about it; how often the freedoms have been used; the measurable outcomes so far; and the main issues it has faced.

This is an interim report on the first two months of the trial's first phase and does not offer conclusions as to the trial's impact.

CAA interim report to Minister of State on first phase of the trial  (please note that this version was amended 23 February 2012 to incorporate a correction to Figure 6.8)

CAA supplementary views on Heathrow Airport's report on Phase 1 (May 2012)

This CAA report sets out our views on the first of two reports by Heathrow Airport on the Operational Freedoms trial.   It is intended to supplement Heathrow’s report by providing an independent view on the conduct and effects of the first phase of the trial, as well as providing a number of recommendations to influence thinking on the design of the second phase which is intended to begin on 1 July 2012. The recommendations made in this supplementary report build on those made in the CAA’s interim report referred to above.

Heathrow Airport end-of-season report on Phase 2 (July to October 2012)

Heathrow Airport produced a mid-trial report on the first half of Phase 2, covering the summer season part of the trial from 1 July to 31 October 2012.



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