Heathrow Airport will ground all planes for six minutes during Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on Saturday afternoon. The West London airport will also divert planes away from their usual flight path close to Windsor Castle where the funeral is set to take place according to a spokesperson for the airport.
A national one minute silence is due to be observed at 3 pm on Saturday to mark the start of the funeral and Heathrow Airport doesn’t want the sound of jet planes to divert attention away from the sombre occasion.
To make sure absolute silence is maintained, the airport will ground planes for a total of six minutes – preventing any planes from taking off during that period and diverting planes due to land away from the airport for a six-minute period.
The sight of planes coming into land at Heathrow flying over Windsor is so common that both the Queen and Prince Philip were said to be able to tell the difference between different types of planes as they buzzed over Windsor castle – a mere six miles from the UK’s busiest airport.
Heathrow announced its plans to stop all flights on a Twitter account set up to address noise complaints from residents who live over the various flight paths around the airport.
“To coincide with the national one minute silence at 15:00 on Saturday 17 April for His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, there will be a stoppage on all Heathrow arrivals and departures for a period of six minutes,” the airport said on Twitter.
“During the funeral service no Heathrow arrivals or departures will fly over the area,” the statement continued.
The stoppage will likely have little effect on operations at the airport as traffic is still heavily down because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions. While Heathrow used to operate close to 100 per cent capacity, passenger numbers were down by over 82 per cent in March compared to before the pandemic.
Flights won’t start picking up until May 17th at the earliest when a general ban on non-essential international travel is due to be lifted. However, most people arriving at Heathrow will be subject to tough health rules and only arrivals from a select few ‘Green List’ countries will be able to skip quarantine altogether.
The British government isn’t due to reveal what countries might make the Green List until early May.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.