NATS has begun testing a new operational procedure at London Heathrow Airport, as part of its strategy to better manage air traffic and reduce the average holding times by at least 25% from the current time of just under eight minutes.
The trial is being carried out in collaboration with French air traffic control provider DSNA, the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre and Prestwick Control Centre.
Under the testing programme, air traffic controllers in the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland will be asked to slow down aircraft within 350 miles of London, if delays in the Heathrow holding stacks start to build.
The move aims to help to minimise delays on arrival and decrease the time aircraft are stacked at Heathrow Airport.
NATS operations managing director Martin Rolfe said: "This is the first cross border arrivals management, or XMAN, trial of its kind anywhere in the world, and a great example of partnership working for the benefit of our customers and a potential future model for the industry.
"We expect the trial to be a significant benefit to our airline customers in terms of fuel savings.
"Slowing aircraft down during the en-route phase of flight when they are much higher will save fuel and CO2 emissions, while reducing the impact of noise for those living under the holding stacks in the south-east of England."
The trial, which is also being conducted in a partnership between members of FABEC and the UK/Ireland FAB, will continue until the end of 2014.