WWF data show the case for airport expansion to deal with business travel demand ‘does not stack up’

WWF-UK has analysed figures from the CAA, which show business flights have shown a modest recovery since the financial crash, but are still below 2000 levels.  WWF says the data does not support the case for building new airport capacity for business travellers.  Despite an improvement in the economy, business flights have not picked up from the decline they have been experiencing for more than a decade. The number of business passengers is down 13% since 2000, and down as much as 23% in that time at Heathrow, where the aviation industry persistently argues for a 3rd runway – allegedly to benefit business travellers. Jean Leston, transport policy manager of WWF-UK, said: “The Airports Commission seems to have bought the line that business needs airport expansion. But where’s the evidence to prove it? At Heathrow, now the most likely site for a new runway, figures show that business flying has been on the decline for over a decade, even before the recession.”  The DfT forecasts have considerable uncertainties in forecasting business travel, as the extent to which electronic communication will replace air travel for some trips in future is unclear.

.

Business case for airport expansion ‘does not stack up’

WWF analysis shows business flights have shown a modest recovery since the financial crash, but are still below 2000 levels

Flight departures board at Heathrow Terminal 5

Business trips by air are down 13% since 2000, and as much as 23% at Heathrow. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The case for building new airport capacity for business travellers does not stack up, say environmental campaigners ahead of an independent commission’s report that is expected to suggest locations for new runways on Tuesday.

Despite an improvement in the economy, business flights have not picked up from the decline they have been experiencing for more than a decade, says WWF.

The green group analysed Civil Aviation Authority figures, [link to infographic]  which show business trips by air are down 13% since 2000, and down as much as 23% at Heathrow, where the aviation industry has argued for a third runway despite Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all opposing such an expansion. Although business flights have shown a modest recovery after they plunged between 2008 and 2009 following the financial crash, they are still well below 2000 levels.

The intervention comes as Sir Howard Davies’ Airports commission prepares to publish its interim report on Tuesday narrowing down options for new capacity, ahead of a final report due after the next general election in 2015. Early drafts have reportedly suggested a new runway at Heathrow and additional capacity at Gatwick.

Davies said in October that while some growth forecasts were “over-optimistic”, he believed the level of growing demand for flights was striking and that the UK needed new runways.

Jean Leston, transport policy manager of WWF-UK, said: “The Airports Commission seems to have bought the line that business needs airport expansion. But where’s the evidence to prove it? At Heathrow, now the most likely site for a new runway, figures show that business flying has been on the decline for over a decade, even before the recession.”

She continued: “We’re being sold airport expansion under false pretences. Heathrow’s growth projections simply don’t match the reality.”

A new campaign, Let Britain Fly, backed by the heads of 100 businesses including 3i Group, Asda, Hilton, John Lewis, Lloyd Banking Group, and UK Power Networks, launched in November to lobby for airport expansion. It cites Department for Transport figures suggesting [this links to the 2011 figures; the more up to date 2013 figures at link  ] business flight demand is forecast to grow 80% by 2030.

[AW note:  The DfT 2011 constrained forecast has 42 mppa business passengers in 2010 and 72 mppa in 2030  which is about 72% growth.  Page 153 of link  The figures in the 2013 DfT forecasts show 43.1 mppa business passengers in 2010, and 69.8 mppa in their central forecast, in 2030, which is a 62% increase. Page 157 of link    The forecasts have considerable uncertainties in forecasting business travel, as the extent to which electronic communication will replace air travel for some trips in future is unclear ]

A spokesman for the “Let Britain Fly”campaign said: “The case for airport expansion is compelling, Heathrow has been full for a decade whilst looking ahead all of London’s main airports are forecast to be full by the mid 2020s. Of course environmental concerns must be taken seriously but we should be mindful of the fact that the independent Climate Change Committee has concluded that a 55% increase in flights by 2050 is compatible with the UK’s carbon reduction targets.”

WWF says the decline in business flights is part of a structural shift by businesses, unconnected to the recession, as they move to embrace video-conferencing and save money.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/16/business-case-airport-expansion-wwf

.

.


 

Does the UK really need more runways for business flights? –  WWF interactive

16.12.2013 (Guardian)

Companies often make the argument that they need more airport capacity but the data, as this graphic commissioned by WWF shows, suggests business flights are on the wane

Part of the infographic from WWF  – showing what Heathrow would like to see happenWWF more Heathrow flights Dec 2013 But business flying at Heathrow has fallen by 23% since 2000 – and not because of capacity or the recession

WWF decline in business air travel Dec 2013The proportion of business flights, considering all of the UK, has fallen and is has not increased for years.

WWF share of business flights Dec 2013

.


 

.

There is no business case for airport expansion

16 December 2013 (WWF)

 WWF’s new infographic, published in advance of the Airports Commission interim report on the future of UK airport capacity, shows that business flying, far from taking off and needing airport expansion, has actually been on a steep descent for many years.

Preview of the one in five infographicWhat is more, our evidence shows that business flying is permanently grounded with little FTSE 500 interest in returning to pre-recession flying levels as business meeting and travel practices have shifted in favour of lower carbon alternatives.

When you also look at the evidence from WWF’s One in Five Challenge, which has helped some of the UK’s leading companies to cut 38% of their flights in three years, saving £ millions in the process, it makes good business sense to reduce flying now and in the future.

As the Airports Commission is expected to say that business needs airport expansion in order to grow and that alternatives such as rail and videoconferencing won’t replace flying, WWF thought it was important to tell our side of the story, showing the evidence that the Airports Commission appear to have ignored.

Let’s come clean on who airport expansion is really for. If business doesn’t need it, who does? Or is airport expansion simply a vanity project leading to more holidays? Whatever the Airport Commission says, WWF believes that airport expansion is completely incompatible with the UK Climate Change Act and is not needed as we have sufficient available capacity for aviation to grow within the limits recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.

Business are profiting from #FlyingLess. We don’t need new runways.

Visit the No business case for airport expansion infographic

http://www.wwf.org.uk/news_feed.cfm?6948/There-is-no-business-case-for-airport-expansion

Read David Nussbaum’s blog on airport expansion

.

.Data from the ONS survey, extracted by WWF-UK

Number of passengers.

Year Holiday Business Visiting friends or relatives Miscel laneous All Business percent
1998 28901 11632 8369 2860 51762 22.47%
1999 31020 11880 9062 2833 54794 21.68%
2000 33505 12722 10102 2894 59223 21.48%
2001 34380 11433 10540 2711 59065 19.36%
2002 35330 11578 11264 2915 61088 18.95%
2003 37725 11390 12468 3153 64736 17.59%
2004 40198 12140 14469 3630 70437 17.24%
2005 42497 13088 16177 3907 75669 17.30%
2006 44266 14070 18094 4620 81048 17.36%
2007 44490 14053 18610 4266 81418 17.26%
2008 44119 13393 18805 3748 80065.0 16.73%
2009 38144 10380 16795 3419 68737.5 15.10%
2010 35995 10028 15517 3129 64669.4 15.51%
2011 36778 10990 16611 2975 67354.4 16.32%
2012 36304 11074 17093 3115 67585.5 16.39%
Business change 2000-2010
-12.95%

ONS data

Extensive Travel Trends data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) are at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/search/index.html?newquery=travel+trends+

with 2012 data at  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ott/travel-trends/2012/rpt-travel-trends–2012.html

.

.

 

.