Heathrow chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, hushes hubbub over 24/7 airport comment by Heathrow board member

A Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, recently said Heathrow should have 24 hour flights, planes should be allowed to fly all night, and that Brits make an “excessive” fuss about aircraft noise. This has hugely embarrassed Heathrow, which has been trying hard to claim a 50% increase in flights will result in less noise … square that one.  Now, in response to the awkward and off-message remarks by Al Baker, Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Heathrow, said: “Mr Al-Baker’s views are his own and do not represent the views or policy of the Heathrow board or executive committee. We recognise that adding the flights Britain needs for growth must come hand in hand with reducing aircraft noise for residents. Round the clock flying from London is not an option. We take the concerns of local communities very seriously and have never argued for 24-hour flying.” Anti expansion campaigners were highly critical of the airport, and its need to urgently rush out reassuring comments due to the embarrassment caused by Mr Al-Baker putting his foot in it. Question is why Mr Al Baker was not aware that this, though revealing, was not a helpful or acceptable comment to make, from Heathrow’s point of view.

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City Diary:

Heathrow chairman hushes hubbub over 24/7 airport

Sir Nigel Rudd has distanced himself from fellow Heathrow board member Akbar al-Baker’s remarks that Britons make an “excessive” fuss about noise.

Akbar Al-Baker, the colourful chief of Qatar Airways, is flying solo with his blue-sky thinking for the UK’s transport hubs.

Mr al-Baker, who sits on the board of Heathrow, recently caused a stir by claiming Britons make an “excessive” fuss about noise pollution, and should accept that Heathrow must operate 24 hours a day to remain competitive.

Diary is still waiting for a response from HM the Queen, whose Windsor Castle address sits “exactly below” the flight path of one of Heathrow’s runways.

But, in the meantime, Heathrow chairman Sir Nigel Rudd has added to the turbulence by stressing that Mr al-Baker’s views are very much “his own”, and “do not represent the views or policy of the Heathrow board or executive committee”. “Round the clock flying from London is not an option,” Sir Nigel tells Diary.

Even Boris Johnson’s chief aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, pondered yesterday whether Qatar Airways’ commercial interests are “entirely congruent with Britain’s national interest”.

But al-Baker doesn’t need to fear the executive ejector button just yet. Given that his Qatari airline owns 20pc of Heathrow, Diary suspects he will be on the board for the long haul.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/citydiary/10844779/City-Diary-Heathrow-chairman-hushes-hubbub-over-247-airport.html

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Heathrow’s second biggest shareholder, Akbar Al-Baker, calls for flights 24-hours a day

This Is Local London: Akbar Al-Baker is the head of Qatar Airways  
Akbar Al-Baker is the head of Qatar Airways

Heathrow director has told residents living under the flight path, “you will not even hear the aircraft passing over your house” as he called for the capital’s biggest airport to fly 24 hours a day.

Akbar Al-Baker, the head of Qatar Airways who sits on Heathrow’s executive board and represents the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, made the comments at a new flight launch event this week.

His company is the second biggest shareholder in the airport with a 20 per cent stake.

“If you live under the flight path of an airport, I assure you, over a period of time you will not even hear the aircraft passing over your house.”

The comments were met with concern from anti-expansion protesters.

John Stewart, chairman of Hacan, said: “He has no idea what it is like to live under the Heathrow flight path.

“He has no evidence to say the noise will only be an issue within the airport itself.

“Our other concern is that this man is not only a director of Heathrow but his company is the second biggest shareholder in it.”

But the west London airport distanced itself from the comments and said it had never argued for round-the-clock flying.

Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Heathrow, said: “Mr Al-Baker’s views are his own and do not represent the views or policy of the Heathrow board or executive committee.

“We recognise that adding the flights Britain needs for growth must come hand in hand with reducing aircraft noise for residents.

“Round the clock flying from London is not an option. We take the concerns of local communities very seriously and have never argued for 24-hour flying.”

Campaigners slammed the airport and said they rushed out comments due to embarrassment caused by Mr Al-Baker’s claims.

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/londonnews/11225193.Heathrow_s_second_biggest_shareholder_calls_for_flights_24_hours_a_day/?ref=rss

 

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Earlier:

 

Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, says Heathrow should have 24 hour flights

One of the Board members of Heathrow Airport is Akbar Al Baker, who is the CEO of Qatar Airways and led the development of the new Doha airport. He is on the Board because Qatar Holdings bought a 20% stake in Heathrow in 2012. He has caused a storm of protest after claiming, with stunning insensitivity and demonstating a woeful lack of understanding of British democracy, that Heathrow should have 24 hour flights – ignoring the well-being of those overflown. The benefit would be that his companies would be more profitable. Akbar Al Baker said Britons make an “excessive” fuss about noise levels from aircraft flying over their homes” and home owners living under flight paths “wouldn’t even hear the aircraft” after a while.” He appears not to understand that in Europe, unpopular and damaging major developments cannot just be steamrollered through, as they perhaps can be in the Gulf States. Mr Al Baker thinks European airports should open 24 hours a day if they want to compete with the emerging Gulf hubs in Dubai and Doha. Though rapidly denied by Heathrow, which distanced itself from Mr Al Baker’s comments, it is indicative of a way of thought which people may fear is prevalent on the Heathrow board.

Click here to view full story…

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Earlier still:

Head of Qatar Airlines, Al Baker, joins Heathrow board as its 2nd Qatari member

10.2.2013

The head of Qatar Airways who has said the prospects for the UK economy would be “catastrophic” without a third runway at Heathrow has joined the board of the airport’s parent company.  He joins Ali Bouzarif, who is from the Qatar Investment Authority, taking up the two seats handed to Qatar Holding in return for the 20% stake it bought in the airport conglomerate last October.  The two men have been appointed to represent the interest of the sovereign wealth fund and its investment. Their appointment has not yet been announced by Heathrow, and they are not yet listed on its Board members website. Qatar Airlines is part-owned by the Qatari royal family. The appointment of Al Baker has the potential to anger other airlines, particularly rivals from the Middle East, as some may fear he may hold more sway when further slots become available. Qatar owns the Shard, part of Canary Wharf, part of Barclays, the Olympic Village, part of Sainsburys, part of the Stock Exchange, Harrods etc.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=628

 

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