CBI report hopes to get Airports Commission to back a huge hub – for ever increasing aviation
Date added: September 1, 2014
The CBI has produced a report, putting pressure on the Airports Commission (don’t they all…) to “deliver recommendations to solve the UK’s shortage of runway capacity and spark new connections with the export markets of tomorrow.” They want a huge hub airport with plenty of spare capacity to grow further, which allegedly is needed for economic growth. Part of the report’s title is “The Hub is the Nub.” They want a new runway soon, with spades in the ground by 2020. They then want a second new runway well before 2050. The report looks entirely, from a very narrow perspective, on growth of the economy. It looks only at business. The words tourism, leisure travel, holiday, carbon emissions, and climate change do not feature at all. Nor noise. It is written with heavy blinkers to realities outside business and continuous growth perspectives. Heathrow has interpreted it as backing their runway. The report does not in fact specify which airport they want; they just want two more runways, and what the hell with any other impacts or consequences. Perhaps they are not aware that the vast majority of UK flights are low cost, for holidays, leisure of visiting friends and family. By airlines that make little profit.
CBI press release about their report:
The UK must prioritise a single hub airport with spare capacity to support trade
Decision must support UK’s emerging market air links. Having a single UK hub with spare capacity to add new routes is critical to the UK’s long-term sustainable growth, according to a new CBI report.
With future export opportunities increasingly in emerging, high-growth economies, the CBI urges the Airports Commission to deliver recommendations to solve the UK’s shortage of runway capacity and spark new connections with the export markets of tomorrow.
Building on 2013 findings that demonstrate that eight new routes to emerging markets alone would generate as much as £1bn a year in trade, the report highlights that by drawing on both transfer passengers and local populations, hub airports are best placed to act as a catalyst for these new routes. Research by Steer Davies Gleave, for the CBI, shows that from a sample of 15 emerging markets, hub airports serve on average nearly three times as many destinations as point-to-point airports (27 to 8 destinations), while also delivering almost twice as many flights on the routes that are served – 1.5 daily flights from hubs on average, compared to 0.8 from point-to-point.
With the UK’s hub capacity at Heathrow already full, the UK is falling behind on direct flights to emerging markets. The report highlights that by drawing heavily on transfer passengers, the UK’s EU competitors with their own unconstrained capacity are creating connections to new destinations within the BRICS such as Xiamen in China and Recife in Brazil, as well as links to the major markets of the future, like Peru, Indonesia, Taipei and Chile.
Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“The Chancellor has set businesses ambitious targets for increasing the UK’s exports, and there is simply no way of achieving these goals without upping our game in emerging markets.
“Our analysis last year demonstrated that connectivity is the lifeblood of trade, but it also highlighted that the UK is already falling behind, so every day we delay making a decision, makes matters worse.
“First and foremost, UK business wants action. There can be no more excuses – we need to see the Airports Commission deliver a strong case for new capacity and a clear schedule for delivery, and politicians to commit to spades in the ground by the end of the next Parliament.
“But this research shows that while all airports have a role to play in growing the UK’s connectivity, not all airports play the same role.
“While no-one can predict the future of air travel, the track record shows that it tends to be hub airports that deliver the new connections to emerging markets that we desperately need.
“With Heathrow full and the UK slipping behind in the race for new connectivity, it is essential that the Airports Commission delivers a solution that addresses the ticking time bomb of our lack of spare hub capacity.”
The research demonstrates that spare capacity is important because where a hub becomes constrained, airlines tend to focus on strengthening routes to markets that are already popular, rather than using transfer passengers to spark new routes.
This explains why the UK has done particularly well in growing new routes to emerging markets like India: with around 1.45 million people of Indian descent living in the UK, ground passenger demand is high. It also explains why the UK’s track record with China, Brazil and Russia has been much less impressive, with the UK ranking in 4th or 5th place when it comes to capturing a share of EU flights to these markets in the last 20 years.
Ms Hall said:
“Transfer passengers are the key ingredient that help make new routes thrive, but without spare capacity, they tend to get squeezed out.
“There is little appetite from business users to land at one airport in the south-east, collect baggage, clear customs and then travel to a dedicated long-haul airport.
“This means that if we are to spark new connections that drive trade, we need a solution that creates spare capacity at a single-site hub.”
The report warns however that the Airports Commission cannot afford to ignore the UK’s wider network of airports in its recommendations if maximum connectivity is to be achieved. As well as expanding the range of direct connections on offer across the UK, the report demonstrates that where competition exists on routes, airfares are significantly reduced. Using transatlantic flights as an example, the research shows that routes that are served by multiple airports at each side tend to be as much as £500 cheaper than those served by just one destination at each end.
As a result, the report warns that the Airports Commission must deliver a solution that injects competition for routes wherever possible, urging the Commission to deliver an action plan that boosts ground access infrastructure to airports across the UK, as well as kick-starting the process of deciding where a second new runway in the south-east might be required by 2050.
Ms Hall said:
“It’s not a case of either / or when it comes to improving hub capacity in the south-east or point-to-point connectivity across the UK.
“While a hub is key to getting new routes started, at that point where emerging market opportunity turns into established trading partner, we need the means to move quickly to win new business.
“A thriving network of point-to-point airports will deliver another major plus for business users – affordability. Where demand exists, we need to take action to support the development of direct links, injecting competition wherever possible.
“Figures show that if people can’t easily get to an airport, they won’t use it, so sometimes our infrastructure on the ground is the missing link to the new air connections we need.
“We also can’t ignore the next capacity crunch which looms on the horizon by 2050. If we are to avoid yet another damaging investment hiatus that put a brake on competition in the south-east, it’s important we think ahead now.”
The CBI is calling on the Airports Commission to deliver recommendations that:
1. make a strong political and economic case for action in the next Parliament, with a clear schedule that delivers spades in the ground by 2020.
2. set out clearly the type of capacity required to maximise the UK’s connections with the rest of the world. The CBI recommends hub capacity at a single location as the best way of boosting connectivity with new markets.
3. set out a compelling narrative for how to bolster competition by maximising links across the UK, developing an action plan to make the best use of our existing capacity by improving surface access.
4. give politicians a clear timetable for the consideration of additional capacity beyond 2030 to prevent another capacity crunch in the future.
The call from Britain’s leading business organisation attracted controversy after other airports received a press release that appeared to have been sent to Heathrow and back to the CBI before being issued to other parties, including the London mayor’s office, which favours the Thames estuary option, and Gatwick.
The report argues that hub airports are best placed to act as a catalyst for new routes, serving on average nearly three times as many destinations as point-to-point airports and having a higher frequency of flights.
Katja Hall of the CBI said: “UK business wants action. There can be no more excuses – we need to see the Airports Commission deliver a strong case for new capacity and a clear schedule for delivery.”
She said that while all airports could help develop UK connectivity, not all the airports played the same role. “While no one can predict the future of air travel, the track record shows that it tends to be hub airports that deliver the new connections to emerging markets that we desperately need.”
Hall said Heathrow was full and research showed that when a hub became constrained airlines strengthened popular routes rather than investigating emerging markets.
“If we are to spark new connections that drive trade, we need a solution that creates spare capacity at a single-site hub,” she added.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow airport, said: “This recommendation by the CBI essentially shows that British business is backing Heathrow as the UK’s only hub airport to connect the country to global growth.”
The mayor’s aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, said the Heathrow option was too constrained and too environmentally damaging for extra growth. “A third runway there, on its own, would not offer the spare capacity the CBI rightly calls for,” he said. “And a second runway at Gatwick would of course mean that Britain had given up on having a hub airport altogether. So we need to find a new site for Heathrow, where it can grow. That should be to the east of the capital.”
A spokeswoman for Gatwick said the most important consideration for the commission was a solution that was both speedy and deliverable.
She said: “A new runway at Gatwick would liberate capacity for more hub traffic at Heathrow and provide UK with two world-class airports, able to address all travel markets and airline models.
“Once you take into account existing developments in aircraft technology and current aviation trends, it is clear that Gatwick is the best and obvious solution. We are surprised that in forming a view of the future of aviation policy, the CBI has chosen not to address the future of the industry itself.
“It is hard not to question the impartiality of a report that arrives in your inbox with Heathrow’s email disclaimer attached to it.”
Asked why some material had gone via Heathrow and back to the CBI before reaching Gatwick, the CBI said it had been an administrative error. A spokesman said the CBI decided to give five member companies “advanced sighting” and while Heathrow was first, Gatwick was sent the report a little over an hour later, when the sender copied and pasted over the information from the earlier email.
Heathrow said it first received the report on Friday morning, and had issued its own public response soon afterwards, shortly before Gatwick saw the report.
John Stewart, the chair of the Heathrow opposition group Hacan (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), said: “It’s clear that the CBI has plumped for Heathrow without giving any consideration whether a third runway is politically deliverable in the real world. Although branded as an independent report it would not surprise me at all if Heathrow had not used its influence within the CBI to get this result.”
Head of CBI backs Heathrow 3rd runway while CBI wants all parties to sign up to Commission’s recommendations in advance
20.7.2013Sir Mike Rake, the new president of the CBI, thinks building a 3rd runway at Heathrow is a “no-brainer” and that the Government should get on with increasing aviation capacity immediately. The CBI has always backed massive aviation expansion, rather predictably. He said: “Despite the fact I live near there, I think we should have started a third runway several years ago and I think other projects should follow from that.” He admitted that Heathrow is not the only option and also called for a 2nd runway to be built at Gatwick. “We need to decide quickly and get on with it,” he said. His personal views appear to be slightly at odds with the CBI itself. On Thursday, the CBI released its response to the Airports Commission into airport capacity, stressing that it was open to whatever solution could gain cross-party support and lead to speedy growth. They said all three major parties must sign up to Commission’s recommendations in advance, to avoid going back to square one in 2015. The CBI remains the only business group that does not unequivocally back an enlarged Heathrow as the way to deliver the alleged economic growth.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3881