Wandsworth Council says it has vowed to fight plans by the Airports Commission to increase the number of night flights over London. The Government’s second stage consultation on a new night flight regime proposes no significant changes to the existing rules despite new evidence on the health and social impacts of sleep deprivation caused by aircraft noise. The consultation documents say the Airports Commission will make recommendations for night flights in its final report in 2015. Flightpath communities in Battersea and Putney already suffer an average 16 early morning arrivals before 6am. They complain bitterly about these pre 6am flights (classified as night flights) and suffer from sleep deprivation and fatigue which affects their work and undermines their quality of life. The DfT’s own impact assessments link prolonged exposure to night flights to serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, strokes and hypertension. The Commission’s first report uses the outdated ‘57 decibel’ Leq metric to define aircraft noise impacts. That has infuriated noise campaigners who claim it grossly underestimates a flightpath noise footprint, and does not properly represent the noise experienced. The Commission will now look at some more effective metrics.
Wandsworth Council vows to fight night flight threat
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia believes there are already too many night flights
Wandsworth Council has vowed to fight plans by the Airports Commission to increase the number of night flights over London.
The Government’s second stage consultation on a new night flight regime proposes no significant changes to the existing rules despite new evidence on the health and social impacts of sleep deprivation caused by aircraft noise.
The consultation documents say the commission led by Sir Howard Davies, which is reviewing airport capacity, will make recommendations for night flights in its final report in 2015.
Flightpath communities in Battersea and Putney complain bitterly about pre 6am flights (classified as night flights) and suffer from sleep deprivation and fatigue which affects their work and undermines quality of life.
The Department for Transport’s own impact assessments link prolonged exposure to night flights to serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, strokes and hypertension.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “We already suffer an average 16 early morning arrivals before 6am.
“Davies has already recommended more night flights without basing this on any credible evidence of the noise impact on local communities.
“He is relying on a study of people’s attitudes to noise that was carried out more than 30 years ago.
Sir Howard’s first report uses the outdated ‘57 decibel’ marker to define aircraft noise impacts which has infuriated campaigners who claim it grossly underestimates a flightpath noise footprint.
Davies has also shortlisted Heathrow as a potential location for new runways despite its existing noise impacts being far more severe than any other airport in Europe.
Wandsworth Council warns that more runways will mean more flightpaths and greater demand for night flights.
Better noise metrics than the discredited Leq to be used by Airports Commission in appraising short-listed runway schemes
Date added: January 28, 2014
In a blog, John Stewart says that at long last – and not before time – the Airports Commission is now considering improving on the Leq system. In the past, aircraft noise has been measured and averaged out, to give an Leq figure. This has been convenient to the aviation industry, as it gives an unrepresentative reflection of the reality of the noise, as experienced by those living below flight paths and being disturbed. For example, by averaging noise events over a period it is possible to claim that one Concorde flying overhead is the same, in noise terms, as having a Boeing 757 flying overhead, every 2 minutes, for almost 4 hours. Clearly that is not a sensible noise metric to use, when deciding to inflict more aircraft noise on thousands of people. The 57Leq contours have always been used to produce contours, in theory indicating where the noise is “annoying”. Now the Commission will be also using other metrics – and require the promoters of the short-listed schemes to use them. One is Lden, where noise is measured over a 12 hour day; a 4 hour evening; and an 8 hour night; with 5 and 10 decibels being added to the evening and night levels respectively to reflect the lower background noise levels at these times. And a 54 db LAeq metric. And N70 – which measures the number of aircraft above 70 decibels passing overhead. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow to hold 6 week consultation (starting 3rd Feb) with households on their north-west runway plan
January 17, 2014
Heathrow will start a six week consultation with local households on 3rd February, lasting till 17th March. It will ask for their views on Heathrow’s own short-listed north-west third runway plan. The airport wants to get its application as acceptable as possible to locals, to give it more chance of being permitted. “The results will help Heathrow understand what is most important to local residents and will be used to refine the runway proposal before it is resubmitted to the Airports Commission in May.” The consultation will be by post, and will be sent to the 120,000 households and businesses likely to be most impacted by the proposed plans. Those outside this area will have the opportunity to share their views online. There will also be drop-in events in nine local areas, to give people the chance to ask questions and “influence the plans.” The results will be shared with the Airports Commission, as part of Heathrow’s evidence. Heathrow knows that the issue of noise is key, and they will fail in their runway plans if there is strong enough opposition by enough people, on noise. They are hoping “mitigation” measures will be enough to reduce opposition. In reality people from huge areas of London, currently hardly affected by Heathrow aircraft noise, would be affected by this runway. Click here to view full story…
Airports Commission interim report recommends setting up an Independent Aviation Noise Authority
January 3, 2014
The Airports Commission’s Interim Statement on 17th December, advocating runways at Heathrow and Gatwick, also said it also recommended: “The creation of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations.” The Commission says that decisions made by the DfT or the CAA at present, and they are often seen not to be fair, and to be driven by political considerations and that the CAA is beholden to the industry that provides its funding. An independent body might over come this. The Commission says: “An independent, national authority with a credible and authoritative voice on noise issues could be of significant value. ….It could also act as a statutory consultee on other noise related issues, including involvement in planning inquiries which would have implications for populations affected by aircraft noise…..The authority could also play a role in the delivery of longer-term plans for additional airport capacity. ….should include responsibilities for advising the Secretary of State for Transport and the CAA in respect of appropriate noise compensation schemes.” The establishment of the Independent Aircraft Noise Authority would require primary legislation; setting it up will take time. Meanwhile there is work on noise to be done. Click here to view full story…
BA fears cuts to early morning Heathrow flights before 7am – says cuts would have “dramatic impact” on business travellers
November 16, 2013
British Airways wants to keep as many flights into Heathrow in the early morning as it can. It is saying it does not want restrictions on flights before 7am. BA’s head of sales and marketing Richard Tams said any further restrictions on landings at Heathrow between 04.30 and 07.00 each day could have a “dramatic impact on business travellers.” Currently only 16 flights are allowed to land at Heathrow between 04.30 and 06.00 with a total of 65 take-offs and landings allowed between 06.00 and 07.00 each day. The current night flights regime will remain in place till October 2017. BA says “These early morning flights are critical because a lot of flights from the US and the Far East land during this period – they are critical for people transiting through London.” Not letting BA have these flights – which are deeply unpopular with thousands of Londoners, who get woken up too early – would, says BA, “dramatically impact the schedule we could offer out of London.” Usual situation – it’s a question of the health and quality of life (and sleep) for thousands, up against t he ability of BA to make more money.
Government to make no significant change to night flights regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted until Airports Commission report
November 11, 2013
In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports,Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be publishes later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.
Evidence on how the 57 Leq noise contours for Heathrow fail to fully reflect aircraft noise impacts
November 11, 2013
In a blog on the anomalies of how aircraft noise is currently measured, John Stewart writes of the odd situation where roads in London are regarded as quiet, ignoring the obvious impact of Heathrow flightpaths overhead. This arises in areas such as Clapham, which are well outside the 57 Leq contour, which it is wrongly alleged, is the limit at which aircraft noise is a problem, or annoys/upsets people. The number of complaints about aircraft noise that come from areas well beyond the 57 Leq contour are evidence that it is not a measure that reflects reality. A better system for measuring aircraft noise experienced is Lden (day, evening, night) with noise in evening and night given a higher weighting, to reflect the greater impact, and greater annoyance, it has on those overflown. The European Commission requires member states to use 55Lden when drawing up their noise maps. That is more realistic than 57 Leq. It is understood that Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, is looking seriously at a more realistic noise metric.
Heathrow has highest weekly number of (noisy) 747 flights of any world airport
November 10, 2013
Figures from Anna aero, which celebrates routes, flights, links etc and associated airports, show that Heathrow continues to have by far the highest number of Boeing 747s of any other global airport. 747s are noisy planes, as well as being huge. They are likely to be as noisy as – or even noisier than – the A380. Some studies show the A380 being up to 5 decibels quieter at some measurement stations, though it depends on which engines the planes are using; the noise is both from engines and airframe. The 747 – 400 is ranked as Quote count 4 on departure and 2 on arrival. By comparison the A320 series is ranked at about 2 and 1 respectively. Anna aero shows Heathrow has 298 weekly departures of Boeing 747s, with the next highest airport Taipei with 174. Then third is Frankfurt, with 150. Now the A380 has taken over for new orders, there have been fewer and fewer new 747s being delivered, with just 20 ordered in the past 5 years and zero ordered in 2013.
Gatwick airport is working hard on its PR to win support for its runway bid. It has recruited a number of agencies to help with this, and is reputed to be spending some £10 million on its public relations. It is lobbying London councils that oppose expansion at Heathrow, on the principle that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Now Stewart Wingate has told a meeting of business people in Scotland that expanding Gatwick could be better for the Scottish economy than expanding Heathrow. He is announcing a new study into airport expansion and Scottish connectivity, commissioned through Northpoint Aviation, that considers levels of access and demand today, and the impact of expanding Gatwick on Scotland. Gatwick plans to return to Scotland in due course, with more details and to lobby for support. Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are working hard to ensure that capacity constraints in the South-east don’t limit our future ability to access such vital national and international markets, and in the short-term this remains an issue.” Spending more on PR, Gatwick’s media relations manager, Heather Griffiths, said consumer perceptions were an “important strand” in the broader comms effort on their runway bid.
Gatwick boss flying the airport’s flag north of the border
27th January 2014 (This is Local London)
Gatwick Airport’s chief executive is north of the border this week promoting greater connectivity between London and Scotland against the backdrop of the hotly-anticipated Scottish Independence Referendum.
Stewart Wingate is visiting Glasgow and Edinburgh this week with a message explaining how expanding Gatwick could be better for the Scottish economy.
Mr Wingate is due to announce a new study into airport expansion and Scottish connectivity to an audience of business leaders assembled at the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce. The study, commissioned through Inverness-based Northpoint Aviation, will consider levels of access and demand today, best practice around other European countries, and will assess the impact of a second runway at Gatwick on Scotland’s connectivity to London and the world. Gatwick Airport will return to Scotland to present the study’s findings and seek more views in due course.
Mr Wingate said: “The debate over airport expansion in the South-east is not just about what is good for London – it is about delivering economic benefits, more affordable travel and greater connectivity for passengers throughout the UK.”
He continued: “Scotland is very important to Gatwick and our planned expansion will protect competition and deliver cheaper travel to more destinations for the people of Scotland.”
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted that the chief executive of London Gatwick has come to Glasgow to listen to the views of our members. “Access to London is vital for the businesses we represent and for the success of the local and national economies, and Stewart has recognised that today.”
He said: “We are working hard to ensure that capacity constraints in the South-east don’t limit our future ability to access such vital national and international markets, and in the short-term this remains an issue.”
Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 200 destinations in 90 countries for around 35 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South-east, generating around 23,000 on-airport jobs and a further 13,000 jobs through related activities. Gatwick is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.
SCOTS travellers would be able to access more low-cost international routes if Gatwick Airport was given the go-ahead to build a second runway, its chief executive has said.
Stewart Wingate has made the case for expanding Gatwick over Heathrow to business leaders in Glasgow during a visit to the city.
Mr Wingate, previously customer services director for BAA at Glasgow Airport, said: “The debate over airport expansion in the South East is not just about what is good for London, it is about delivering economic benefits, more affordable travel and greater connectivity for passengers throughout the UK. Scotland is very important to Gatwick and our planned expansion will protect competition and deliver cheaper travel to more destinations for the people of Scotland.”
Gatwick Airport prepares to review consumer and digital PR
23 January 2014
by John Owens (Campaign Live)
Gatwick Airport is in the early stages of drawing up a brief for its consumer and digital PR accounts, which are handled by The Red Consultancy and Rabbit respectively.
The review comes as the airport seeks to move on from winter chaos and show off its global credentials to consumers while the Government considers how best to grow Britain’s transport capacity.Gatwick media relations manager Heather Griffiths said that both agencies had been invited to repitch for the work, with the formal procurement process likely to begin next month.
Referencing Gatwick’s sale by Heathrow owner BAA to Global Infrastructure Partners, she said: “Gatwick has come a long way in four-and-a-half years of new ownership and has really transformed not just in terms of its facilities but how it is perceived.
“Traditionally it has been a leisure airport but there is a growing business element to it, and it now serves a lot more long-haul routes. It’s about changing the perception of it from a ‘bucket and spade’ holiday [carrier] to a world class facility.”
Gatwick has pledged to spend a further £1bn in the airport between this year and 2019 as it makes the case to be allowed a new runway in the South East amid fraught political considerations.
In a report released earlier this month, and ahead of a final recommendation expected in 2015, the Airport Commission shortlisted a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick as likely final contenders for airport expansion.
However, Gatwick’s image will not have been helped by travel delays over Christmas, which prompted an apology from CEO Stewart Wingate.
Consumer perceptions were an “important strand” in the broader comms effort around the Airport Commission’s deliberations, Griffiths claimed, adding:
“Passengers are at the heart of the aviation debate, and any activities we do in digital and consumer will need to show an awareness of what’s happening more widely. It is about getting people involved in the debate and ensuring their views are heard, with social media a really important part of that.”
Gatwick Airport appoints MI6 HQ architect Sir Terry Farrell to promote its 2nd runway plans
July 9, 2013 Gatwick Airport has appointed a leading architect, Sir Terry Farrell, to help in its plans to build a 2nd runway. Sir Terry will help Gatwick in its proposals for a “constellation of 3 London airports” with 2 runways each – 2+2+2. Gatwick hopes competition between it, Heathrow and Stansted was “the best solution for London”. Sir Terry’s previous projects include the MI6 building and Home Office headquarters in London and Incheon Airport in South Korea. Sir Terry’s firm, Farrells, will look at the impact on London of having competing airports of equal size compared to a single “mega-hub” airport. He said: “The world city of London, with the largest aviation market in the world, is the hub and its airport infrastructure needs to evolve and grow around the city” and that “a single mega-hub airport is at significant odds with what London needs.” Click here to view full story…
Gatwick airport employs PR agencies to help sway opinion in favour of 2nd runway
Gatwick Airport has brought in Fishburn Hedges (a corporate PR agency) and the London Communications Agency on an integrated PR and public affairs brief, in order to try to drum up support for building a 2nd runway. Both agencies will work directly with the airport’s communications staff. They will be aiming to work at the local and regional level to “engage key stakeholders in London and West Sussex.” Gatwick is currently developing detailed expansion plans that could double the airport’s annual capacity to around 70 million passengers and will submit its case to the Airports Commission shortly. Local campaigners have fought the threat of a second runway for years, as it would have seriously negative environmental and quality of life impacts for the area. Gatwick is legally prevented from starting a 2nd runway before 2019. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=610
Heathrow’s investors are to be targeted as part of a campaign by residents, MPs and local authorities who argue a 3rd runway in west London will be “politically undeliverable”. Campaigners will highlight the potential risk to shareholders of spending millions of pounds developing detailed plans for a new runway, when they are likely to face the same level of fierce and determined opposition that led to a previous scheme being ditched in 2010. MPs, local authorities and anti-Heathrow campaigners have met to draw up a plan of attack. These include Zac Goldsmith MP, John McDonnell MP, representatives of Richmond, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Wandsworth councils and HACAN. The main shareholders at Heathrow now are Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial (25%), Qatar Holding LLC (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (13.29%), the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (11.88%), Alinda Capital Partners (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (8.65%). The 3rd runway is also strongly opposed by Boris Johnson. Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s chief aviation adviser, said: “The Mayor shares HACAN’s view that the expansion of Heathrow is neither acceptable nor politically deliverable.” A report by KPMG for the Airports Commission indicated the funding problems for either a new Heathrow, or a Gatwick, runway.
Campaigners target airport investors over Heathrow site
Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners have met MPs and local authorities to draw up a plan of attack to highlight the potential risk to shareholders of spending millions of pounds developing detailed plans
By Nathalie Thomas (Telegraph)
27 Jan 2014
Heathrow’s investors are to be targeted as part of a campaign by residents, MPs and local authorities who argue a third runway in west London will be “politically undeliverable”.
Campaigners will highlight the potential risk to shareholders of spending millions of pounds developing detailed plans, when they are likely to face the same level of opposition that led to a previous scheme being ditched in 2010.
Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners have met MPs and local authorities to draw up a plan of attack, after the Airports Commission last month shortlisted two possible options for expansion.
The commission, set up by the Government to solve the thorny question of airport expansion in the South East, won’t deliver its final recommendation until 2015. However, airports are currently refining their proposals before a public consultation later this year.
Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) has met MPs including Zac Goldsmith and John McDonnell, as well as representatives of Richmond, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Wandsworth councils.
They intend to stress to shareholders, who include Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial and one of the UK’s largest pension funds, that their investment plans will face strong protests.
Campaigners also plan to hammer home their belief that a third runway is “politically undeliverable” even if it is recommended by the Commission’s chairman, Sir Howard Davies.
Protesters believe the issue of noise will be insurmountable, despite arguments by third runway promoters that noise pollution will lessen due to developments in aircraft technology.
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “The last Labour government failed to get through its plans for a third runway. The opposition from residents, environmentalists and politicians of all parties was just too great. Three years on, the prize which Heathrow Airport wants above all else remains politically undeliverable.”
Daniel Moylan, Boris Johnson’s chief aviation adviser, said: “The Mayor shares HACAN’s view that the expansion of
Heathrow is neither acceptable nor politically deliverable.”
But a spokesman for Heathrow pointed to a poll conducted by Populus which found that people in west London are more likely to vote for their MP if they support Heathrow expansion than if they oppose a third runway.
Heathrow’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, claimed the findings showed the political cost of supporting a third runway had been “vastly overstated”.
Sir Howard last week revealed that the Coalition told his commission to deliver its findings after the General Election in 2015, although he believed a report could have been published earlier.
The commission last month narrowed down the options for airport expansion to include a third runway to the north-west of Heathrow’s current site. A second proposal by Heathrow Hub, a company backed by City financier Ian Hannam, to extend the airport’s north runway and then effectively split it in two, also made the cut.
A second runway at Gatwick was the third option to make the shortlist.
January 2014 ”Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited is in turn owned by FGP Topco Limited, a consortium owned and led by the infrastructure specialist Ferrovial S.A. (25.00%), Qatar Holding LLC (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (13.29%), the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (11.88%), Alinda Capital Partners (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10.00%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (8.65%) “
The KPMG report
Scale of taxpayer contribution needed for Heathrow or Gatwick runways shown up in KPMG report for Airports Commission
A report dated December 2013 by accountants, KPMG, for the Airports Commission, says a 3rd runway at Heathrow could require £11.5bn of government support, (ie. money from the taxpayer) while a 2nd runway at Gatwick may need as much as £17.7bn of taxpayer contributions. An airport in the Thames Estuary would need even more from the taxpayer – maybe £64 billion. The report contradict claims by airport operators that an extra runway could be financed either exclusively or predominantly by the private sector. Gatwick has said it could build a 2nd runway for £5bn to £9bn with no government aid. Heathrow has raised the prospect of £4bn to £6bn of taxpayer support to improve rail and road links, but has argued that a 3rd runway, at a cost of £17bn, would be largely funded by the private sector. The KPMG analysis also highlights the potential burden of building a new runway on passengers, who would pay higher ticket prices. KPMG says these would have to rise by 136% at Gatwick to repay the money borrowed. That would mean charges at Gatwick rising by 2.5% above inflation every year from 2019 to 2050. At Heathrow charges would need to rise by 13% initially and then by 2.5% above inflation. Repaying the money takes till 2050. Unless charges for passengers rise enough, the public (many of whom do not fly) will have to stump up the funds.
Plans for the £14.8 billion Crossrail line across London originally envisaged – in 2008 – a £230 million contribution from Heathrow, to reflect the benefit it is expected to gain from the link to central London, Maidenhead, and Brentwood. But now it emerges that the taxpayer must cover a £160 million shortfall, which Heathrow will now not pay. Now Heathrow will only pay £70 million. [Heathrow is pushing hard for a 2nd runway - surely if it got that, it would need all the rail passengers from Crossrail that it can get]. The CAA has said that with the airport already running at or near capacity, (it is not at capacity for terminal space, only runway space) Crossrail would deliver no net benefit in terms of additional passengers. After the CAA set aside a provisional pot of £100 million to pay towards Crossrail, the DfT lowered its proposal to £137 million, and now down to £70 million. The National Audit Office said the shortfall means that the DfT’s contribution to the project will rise from £4.8 billion to almost £5 billion; but this remains inside the £5.2 billion set aside in case it failed to secure sufficient funding from private sources. Crossrail is now half built and is due to open by December 2019. It will run from Maidenhead, via Heathrow, out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.
Taxpayers to cover Heathrow’s £160 million Crossrail shortfall
The taxpayer must cover a £160 million shortfall in private-sector funding for the Crossrail project after the Department for Transport failed to secure the expected contribution from Heathrow, a report revealed today.
Plans for the £14.8 billion rail line envisaged a £230 million contribution from Heathrow, to reflect the benefit it is expected to gain from the link to central London, Maidenhead in Berkshire, and Brentwood in Essex.
But Heathrow’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, calculated that with the airport already running at or near capacity, Crossrail would deliver no net benefit in terms of additional passengers. After the CAA set aside a provisional pot of £100 million, the DfT lowered its proposal to £137 million, but this month the regulator decided that Heathrow’s contribution will be just £70 million.
The shortfall means that the DfT’s contribution to the project will rise from £4.8 billion to almost £5 billion, but this remains inside the £5.2 billion set aside in case it failed to secure sufficient funding from private sources, said spending watchdog the National Audit Office.
It found that taxpayers’ interests had been “well protected” in the project, which is “on course to achieve value for money” and to be fully open by its promised 2019 delivery date.
CROSSRAIL has been praised for sticking to its budget and overall schedule by the National Audit Office, despite a smaller-than-expected contribution from the private sector.
With the £14.8bn railway across London now half-built, the spending watchdog said Crossrail was set to provide good value for money.
“The sponsors and Crossrail Limited have so far done well to protect taxpayers’ interests, by taking early action to stop costs escalating and, during construction, tightly managing the programme,” said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO.
The route, co-sponsored by TfL and the Department for Transport, will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east when it is fully open by December 2019.
BAA, now known as Heathrow Limited, had originally pledged to chip in £230m towards construction in 2008, but this month pared back its contribution to £70m as part of negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority on its five-year spending plan. Canary Wharf and Berkeley Homes are paying some of the construction costs for new stations.
Crossrail is expected to choose a train supplier in the first half of this year, in a contract set to be worth £1bn. The government had hoped to fund most of this deal using private cash, but axed the plan last May amid worries that the funding system could delay delivery of the trains.
“[T]he strategic need for Crossrail has become clearer over time as increased population and employment growth in London have been forecast,” the NAO said.
The funding framework for Crossrail was put in place in October 2007 when the Prime Minister announced that Crossrail’s cost will be met by Government, the Mayor of London and London businesses.
Following the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, a funding envelope of £14.8bn was agreed to deliver the Crossrail scheme in its entirety.
The key elements of the funding package are as follows:
The Mayor of London, through Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), will contribute £7.1bn. This includes a direct contribution from Transport for London of £1.9bn and contributions raised through the Crossrail Business Rate Supplement (BRS), section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
Crossrail farepayers will contribute towards the debt raised during construction by TfL.
Government will contribute by means of a grant from the Department for Transport of £4.7 billion during Crossrail’s construction.
London businesses will contribute £4.1bn through a variety of mechanisms, including the BRS.
Over 60% of Crossrail’s funding will come from Londoners and London businesses.
Network Rail will undertake works costing no more than £2.3bn to the existing national rail network raised through projected operating surpluses from the use of Crossrail services.
There are also considerable additional financial contributions from some key beneficiaries of Crossrail:
The construction of Crossrail is part funded by the City of London Corporation, which has agreed to make a direct contribution of £200m and in addition will seek contributions from businesses of £150m, and has guaranteed £50m of these contributions.
BAA has agreed to a £230 million funding package. (BAA now replaced with Heathrow Ltd).
Canary Wharf Group has agreed to contribute £150m towards the costs of the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station at Canary Wharf. Canary Wharf Group will also design and build the new station.
Berkeley Homes has agreed to construct a station box for a station at Woolwich.
The £14.8 billion funding envelope for the project is a fully inclusive cost, allowing for both contingency and expected inflation.
Taxpayers pay £1bn to fund Crossrail rolling stock
1 March 2013 (BBC)
New trains for London’s Crossrail scheme are to be fully funded by the taxpayer so that the £14.8bn project can start on time.
Initial plans for the £1bn Crossrail rolling stock procurement involved £350m public sector contribution.
But now the entire amount will be paid for by the public purse in a move the government said was “an appropriate course of action”.
Labour called the move “another humiliating transport shambles”.
Crossrail will connect 37 stations from Heathrow Airport and Maidenhead in the west, through central London and out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.
It is due to be completed in 2018.
Transport for London said the arrangement will help to ensure a deal for the new trains will be in place in 2014, with delivery and testing starting in 2017 ready for the opening of the new tunnels to passengers in late 2018.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Nothing must get in the way of this fabulous new railway and it is fantastic news that we can now crack on with buying the wonderful fleet of brand spanking new trains.”
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said the Department for Transport remained committed to the use of private finance in transport projects “where it provides value for money and fits with our timetables for planned investment”.
But he added that government believed Crossrail funding decision was “an appropriate course of action to deliver a very complex and unique infrastructure project within the delivery timetable”.
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: “This is yet another humiliating transport shambles.
“Labour has spent two years urging ministers to learn the lessons from the botched Thameslink contract.”
TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “Taxpayers will be astonished to find that their contribution to Crossrail is to increase by such a huge amount.”
The 100% taxpayer funding arrangement was welcomed by rail unions RMT and TSSA.
RMT leader Bob Crow said: “This is a hugely important development.”
TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: “We welcome the fact that Tory ministers recognise that it is cheaper and quicker to have publicly-funded new trains.”
A paper has been prepared for GACC by the distinguished naturalist and author Jeremy Early. It shows why Gatwick - and towns downstream – are liable to flood. And that the situation would be made worse by the construction of a new runway and associated infrastructure. Jeremy points out that Gatwick has areas of higher land in its vicinity, which increase the amount of rainfall that has to be drained away. In addition the huge amount of development locally consisting of impermeable surfaces, makes the flooding in several parts of Crawley, other local villages, and at Gatwick Airport understandable. Jeremy points out that Crawley is built on a floodplain and the Environment Agency has said: ‘The decision to site Gatwick Airport across 3 watercourses means that it is vulnerable to flooding from all 3 watercourses as well as local drainage. Run-off from main airfield paving flows by gravity to a storage pond and is then discharged by pumps directly to the River Mole.” They consider the chance of the North Terminal flooding again to be high (about 8% chance). The report considers it misguided to plan to use 900 hectares of greenfield site to create a 2nd runway involving a vast quantity of impermeable surfaces, not to mention associated infrastructure, roads, homes etc.
A paper has been prepared for GACC by the distinguished naturalist and author Jeremy Early. It shows why Gatwick - and towns such as Dorking and Leatherhead which lie downstream - are liable to flood. And that the situation would be made worse by the construction of a new runway and associated infrastructure.
[As Crawley (100,000+ residents) and Horley (20,000+ residents) have developed, the watercourses have been diverted into a total of 75 culverts with an overall length of 5,430
metres.] ‘Once water enters a drainage network, it flows faster than either overland or subsurface flow. With less storage capacity for water in urban basins and more rapid run-off, urban streams rise more quickly during storms and have higher peak discharge rates than do rural streams. In addition, the total volume of water discharged during a flood tends to be larger for urban streams than for rural streams.’
In addition, the Mole has ridges and hills in close proximity and elevated ground always tends to increase the intensity of rainfall through what is known to meteorologists as the ‘seeder-feeder mechanism’. The December  rainfall totals for Dorking and Leatherhead were 210mm and 215mm respectively, whereas the figure for Heathrow Airport, which has little in the way of elevated ground close by, was less than 100mm. Varied elevation explains why, in 24 hours on 23-24 December 2013, Pease Pottage [village] and Reigate had 70mm of rain and Charlwood had a lower total, 58mm. The Pease Pottage figure, combined with the huge amount of development consisting of impermeable surfaces that has occurred locally, makes the flooding in several parts of Crawley (including Bewbush, Ifield, Langley Green, Maidenbower, Three Bridges and Tinsley Green) and at Gatwick Airport including the North Terminal understandable. (Flooding is either pluvial, from surface water, or fluvial, from watercourses; pluvial flooding usually disperses into watercourses, adding to their flows.) One unnamed resident of Tinsley Green, quoted in the local press, said that the flooding in Crawley was worse than in any other area she saw driving to Brighton and back on the morning of 24 December.
Crawley is built on a floodplain and as the Environment Agency points out: “The decision to site Gatwick Airport across three watercourses means that it is vulnerable to flooding from all three watercourses as well as local drainage. Run-off from main airfield paving flows by gravity to a storage pond and is then discharged by pumps directly to the River Mole. As the 1 in 100 chance flood level in the Mole is at the same level as the ground level at the North Terminal, the system is totally dependent on the pumps and on-site storage, with the latter likely to be inadequate at times of prolonged high rainfall due to its modest volume.
“It is estimated that there is currently a 1 in 20 (5%) chance of Main River flooding closing Gatwick Airport, and with 10% increase in flows due to climate change, this increases to a 1 in 12 (8%) chance. The probability of flooding of the North Terminal area due to backing up from local drainage depends on the storm duration and intensity and it is understood that the on-site drainage capacity was designed for a 1 in 5 (20%) probability event.’ The map below (Environment Agency) shows the Flood Zones around Gatwick Airport and Horley. Flood Zone 2 (pale blue) comprises land having between a 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 annual probability of flooding. Flood Zone 3 (mid-blue) comprises land having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of flooding. The Flood Zones ‘show the extent of the natural floodplain if there were no flood defences or certain other manmade structures and channel improvements.”
On the admission of a spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport quoted in thisislocallondon.co.uk [see below] on 8 January 2014, an unspecified quantity of water was pumped into the River Mole from at least one flood storage reservoir/ balancing pond at the airport on 24 December 2013. She said: ‘The reservoir will have been opened. The river flooded in a way which was unexpected in terms of the modelling we have conducted with the Environment Agency. The problems we had were because it was unexpected.’ This action – effected under the terms of an Environment Agency permit – did not cause the damaging flooding at Leatherhead and other areas, but it can hardly have helped. Perhaps the permit and its validity require reassessment, since to some observers there may be a suspicion that the rule ‘I’m all right, Jack’ applies with Gatwick Airport. The Environment Agency’s Upper Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme (UMFAS) was estimated to cost £15 million, of which the British taxpayer would contribute £11 million, GAL £4 million and Crawley Borough Council £100,000. The fairness of this division could make for an intriguing discussion. Be that as it may, the Scheme involved raising Tilgate Dam and river restoration and environmental mitigation works in Grattons Park (both already effected); creating a flood detention reservoir at Worth Farm (expected to be operational early in 2014); replacing the existing dam at Clay’s Lake with a new and higher dam (scheduled for summer 2014); and installing a flood detention reservoir at Ifield. The last-named has been put on hold, seemingly because of major cutbacks in funding for the Environment Agency by the Department for Environment.
Gatwick Airport has spent £20 million on a flood resilience scheme for the South Terminal and is spending £8 million on an additional on-site flood resilience scheme. Despite the substantial expenditure, on 16 October 2013 the South Terminal experienced flooding in an electrical substation, forcing a switch of passengers to the North Terminal. Even assuming that these works and those included in UMFAS are all completed within two or three years, can either the Environment Agency or GAL guarantee that, given an extreme weather event, there will be no flooding in Crawley, Horley or at Gatwick Airport? That alleviation in the upper reaches of the Mole will automatically be beneficial for all those who live close to the river downstream? This is to be doubted if, say, 50mm or more of precipitation were to fall rapidly on saturated ground, as it may well in the short-term let alone the long-term given the local topography and recent rainfall records. On 17 January 2014, after 36.8mm of rain fell in 24 hours at Charlwood, six flood warnings were issued for the River Mole and its tributaries, including at Gatwick Airport.
Given that it was constructed on a floodplain with a number of watercourses running through the site, the fact that Gatwick Airport is located where it is must be seen as somewhat eccentric. So how eccentric, not to say misguided, would it to be to use 900 hectares of greenfield site to create a second runway involving a vast quantity of impermeable surfaces? To build the associated infrastructure, led by tens of thousands of new homes and numerous roads, in an area vulnerable to flooding? Even with the consistent use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), which in the most effective examples can involve significant land take, making them unpopular with developers, could there ever be certainty that the local watercourses would not sometimes behave ‘in a way which was unexpected in terms of the modelling’? Could there ever be certainty that there would not be a significant cost on occasions to homeowners living close to the Mole and its tributaries, to the environment and to wildlife? No guarantees made on this particular subject would be likely to convince an observer possessing the capacity to make reasoned judgements based on evidence.
Mole Valley District Council is offering to help some residents affected by the recent floods
Mole Valley District Council is offering council tax support to certain residents who have had to vacate their homes due to the recent floods.
The authority has announced it will provide financial support through a discretionary hardship provision fund for some residents whose household insurance does not cover flooding.
The council will consider granting a discount equivalent to its element of the council tax bill, approximately 10 per cent, for the period the property is empty.
The deal is subject to remedial works taking place to make it habitable again up to a maximum of twelve months.
Council leader Chris Townsend said: “Mole Valley District Council is sympathetic to the circumstances that those residents affected by the floods are experiencing.
“We are committed to doing as much as we can to support our communities through what has been a challenging period for the district.”
Flooded properties in Mole Valley that are substantially emptied of furniture are usually given a council tax holiday of 28 days.
If the property remains furnished but the resident moves to alternative accommodation, they are still liable to pay council tax at the full amount – and could potentially be liable for council tax at both addresses.
Coun Townsend said: “This is where insurance companies should step in, but if not, MVDC can help.”
Each case will be considered on its own merits.
For more information, call Mole Valley District Council’s revenue section on 01306 879293.
ie. taxpayer subsidy if it turns out that Gatwick airport releasing water did not help the flooding situation for people downstream. The details of what actually happened are still being ascertained.
Local Surrey Guardian newspaper asks: “Was Leatherhead sacrificed in the floods to save Gatwick?”
January 17, 2014
After exceptionally heavy rain and wind on 23rd December, Gatwick airport had serious problems with unexpected flooding, with many flights cancelled or delayed. It is still unclear to what extent actions taken at the airport to divert water from its holding ponds and prevent the airport from flooding meant more water surged down the River Mole, making flooding worse downstream in areas such as Dorking, Leatherhead and Cobham. It is understood that investigations are under way, and councillors for Leatherhead are seeking clarifications from the airport. The local press reported that an Environment Agency spokesman had said that Gatwick airport are constructing a further water storage reservoir directly on the Gatwick stream. The Gatwick Stream, where river levels rose rapidly, meets the River Mole south of Horley. Flooded residents feared that the contents of Gatwick airport’s balancing ponds may have been dumped into the River Mole and sluice gates further down were not opened in time. Click here to view full story…
Passengers stranded at Gatwick Airport as flooding causes power outages
by SIMON CALDER (Independent)
Tuesday 24 December 2013
Thousands of people remain stranded at Gatwick airport after a power outage caused by flooding has closed the airport’s north terminal.
A statement from Gatwick airport read: “Gatwick has 250 departing flights in total today. Out of 133 departing flights from North Terminal, 15 have been cancelled while 58 have departed. South Terminal is operating as normal.
“The cause of the power outages – flooding from the River Mole into airfield substations and North Terminal – is related to the heavy rain overnight and fixes for the issues are being progressed as quickly as possible.
“Gatwick would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to some passengers today and we are working hard to keep disruption to a minimum.”
The main airline at Gatwick, easyJet, had cancelled a total of 54 flights by 2pm. It was offering any passengers due to depart from Gatwick the chance to re-book to another date free of charge.
The airline has reserved 450 rooms in hotels around the airport, and will secure more if needed. Six flights will now depart tomorrow.
British Airways has cancelled 22 flights in and out of Gatwick, to destinations including Rome, Venice and Naples. Three round-trips to Edinburgh have also been cancelled.
From 1pm today, all the airport’s departing flights will now be leaving from the south terminal.
A BA spokesman said: “We are experiencing long flight delays at Gatwick. Gatwick Airport is investigating the fault and trying to restore power as soon as possible. We are sorry for the delays and our customer service teams are doing all they can to help customers. We strongly urge customers to check their flight details on ba.com before leaving for the airport.”
Ryanair uses the South Terminal, but decided to delay its services by an hour to Cork, Shannon and Dublin by an hour “To ensure all those affected by rail delays at Gatwick get home”.
The airport’s IT systems were also affected. One passenger, “Nievey C”, tweeted: “Jesus Christ @Gatwick_Airport if your computers aren’t working & there’s no source of visible info, at least make your announcements audible.”
New results from WWF’s “One in Five Challenge”, a programme to help organisations cut 20% of flights within 5 years in favour of lower-carbon ways of staying connected, show that some of the UK’s leading companies have cut flights by 38% and flight expenditure by 42% over a 3-year period, saving them over £2 million and over 3,000 tonnes of carbon. Organisations that have achieved the One in Five Challenge, include BskyB, BT, Capgemini, Lloyds TSB, Microsoft UK, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Vodafone. The Challenge has helped companies to make significant inroads into cutting their costs and carbon from business travel and to change their business travel behaviour in favour of alternatives such as rail and video-conferencing. These results, together with other WWF-UK analysis which shows a significant, long-term decline in business flying in the UK, point to a permanent change in meeting and travel practices, questioning the business case for UK airport expansion. Having developed the One in Five Challenge and run it successfully for over 4 years, WWF is handing “One in Five” to Global Action Plan (GAP), the UK’s leading environmental behaviour change charity helping business to reduce environmental impact.
WWF-UK: Companies profit by flying less
24 January 2014
New results published today from WWF’s One in Five Challenge, a programme to help organisations cut 20% of flights within five years in favour of lower-carbon ways of staying connected, show that some of the UK’s leading companies have cut flights by 38% and flight expenditure by 42% over a three-year period, saving over £2 million and 3,000 tonnes of carbon on average.
Organisations that have achieved the One in Five Challenge, including BskyB, BT, Capgemini, Lloyds TSB, Microsoft UK, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Vodafone, have cut far more flights, more quickly than anticipated.
The latest results from the third annual report show that since launching the One in Five Challenge in 2009, WWF-UK has helped companies to:
Cut 141,000 flights
Save £26 million in avoided flights
Fly 113 million fewer kilometres
Reduce their emissions by 32,000 tonnes of CO2.
The Challenge has therefore helped companies to make significant inroads into cutting their costs and carbon from business travel and to change their business travel behaviour in favour of alternatives such as rail and videoconferencing. These results, together with other WWF-UK analysis which shows a significant, long-term decline in business flying in the UK, point to a permanent change in meeting and travel practices, questioning the business case for UK airport expansion.
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK said: “The impressive results of the One in Five Challenge show that reducing business flying in favour of lower carbon alternatives simply makes good business sense. It is the smart way for organisations to stay connected in an increasingly carbon-constrained world. WWF believes that business will continue to fly less – not more – in future and that decisions on UK airport capacity need to reflect this fact. Companies profit by flying less.”
A travel policy that includes business flight reduction
Senior management who support less flying and who set a good example
A set of flight reduction measures that are specific to the circumstances and characteristics of each Challenger
A comprehensive staff engagement programme
A review system that acknowledges the achievements of staff in reducing business flights.
Having developed the One in Five Challenge and run it successfully for over four years, WWF-UK is now handing over management of this programme to Global Action Plan (GAP), the UK’s leading environmental behaviour change charity helping business to reduce its impact on the environment.
Trewin Restorick, Chief Executive of Global Action Plan, said: “We are thrilled to be taking over running the 1 in 5 Challenge. Smarter travel choices cut business costs, reduce pollution and can lead to more a more productive and engaged workforce. Global Action Plan will be using our skills and experience to build on the incredible foundation created by WWF-UK. We will help existing partners deliver further improvements, widen the number of companies involved and share results with policy-makers and the business community.”
12 UK firms drive down costs and carbon footprint by cutting flights 38 per cent through WWF One in Five initiative
By Will Nichols (Business Green)
23 Jan 2014
A WWF initiative to help 12 leading organisations reduce their businessflights has helped participants save an average of over £2m over three years.
BT, Microsoft, BskyB and the Scottish Government are among the members of the campaign group’s One in Five Challenge, which commits participants to cutting business flights by a fifth over five years. Other members of the group include Marks & Spencer, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Skanska, Vodafone, Capgemini, Lloyds TSB, and Balfour Beatty.
WWF’s latest report shows the group’s members have on average cut flights by 38 per cent and flight expenditure by 42 per cent, avoiding 3,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process.
Moreover, organisations maintained reductions through each year of the programme even through cuts become steadily more difficult after the first year when the obvious changes are made. Savings after the first year of the scheme totalled £14m across 10 participants, while in the third year seven companies shared £15m worth of savings and in the fourth year six companies recouped £13m.
Since the challenge was launched in 2009, participants have cut out 141,000 flights, travelling around 113 million fewer kilometres – equivalent to around 150 return trips to the moon.
In doing so, they have saved a total of £26m in avoided flight costs and reduced emissions by 32,000 tonnes of CO2. In addition, they are said to have realised some unexpected benefits, such as productivity gains from increased collaboration, faster decision making, and less time spent out of the office.
WWF said the methods used to reduce flights varied among the participants, indicating that the organisations use measures that work most effectively for their circumstances.
Some of the policies used include undertaking staff engagement programmes to set travel targets and question the need for corporate trips, as well as introducing requirements for corporate carbon reporting, increasing the use of remote conferencing, and replacing flights with rail travel.
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said the results showed that companies profit from flying less.
“Reducing business flying in favour of lower carbon alternatives simply makes good business sense,” he added. “It is the smart way for organisations to stay connected in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.”
The trends seen in the report echo the bigger trend which has seen a drop in business air travel as communication technology becomes more advanced.
Figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority show business flying to and from Heathrow has fallen 23 per cent since 2000, while Office for National Statistics data indicates across the UK business air trips have fallen 13 per cent – a decline that began well before talk of a “capacity crunch” at UK airports and several years prior to the recession. In 2012, just 16 per cent of UK flights were taken for business purposes, compared to 22 per cent in 1998.
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.
Liese to block ETS aviation remedy
By Dave Keating
23.1.2014 (European Voice)
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, who is shaping legislation on the integration of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, will today (23 January) call on the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law unless member states start enforcing the existing law.
Liese will be backed at a press conference by environmental groups and the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which has complained that the EU’s “surrender” on the issue will hurt European airlines and benefit their competitors from outside the EU.
All planes landing or taking off at EU airports became subject to fees in the EU’s carbon market as of 1 January 2012. However, after howls of protest from Russia, China, India and the US, the Commission froze application of the charges for non-EU flights. That freeze is scheduled to end soon.
In response to what it says were positive developments toward developing a global mechanism to reduce aviation emissions last year, the Commission in October proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace.
In the meantime, EU regulators are not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese, who supports the Commission’s approach, is calling on the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges.
Liese will say that a vote scheduled for the environment committee on 30 January should go ahead, but that the plenary vote should not be scheduled until member states co-operate.
Because of the way France and Germany transposed the ETS directive, they only have the legal authority to punish non-compliant airlines for one year. This authority will expire on 1 May. The MEPs believe that the two countries are trying to run out the clock until then, and that after 1 May they will say their law simply doesn’t allow them to punish the foreign airlines. Sources say France currently has no intention of enforcing the directive, while Germany is pleading with the Chinese airlines to voluntarily comply.
MEPs believe they have leverage because member states need this rule to be in place before foreign airlines become liable at the end of the freeze on charges. On Tuesday the Parliament’s transport committee backed the member states, rejecting the Commission’s ‘airspace’ approach. However the environment committee has the lead on the file and is expected to side with the Commission.
The European Parliament proposes to assess all airlines for CO2 emissions while overflying 27 European Union members plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the North Sea and the Mediterranean – despite ICAO consensus to develop a global scheme by 2016.
Despite an apparent historic consensus at the ICAO Triennial Assembly in Montreal in early October to develop a global market-based mechanism for managing aircraft emissions, the European Commission (EC) has pressed ahead with plans to implement emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the meantime. The key difference lies in the fact that the new policy would apply only to fuel burned within European airspace, rather than cover full intercontinental flights to and from European cities.
But, crucially, it would still apply to non-EU airlines, provoking renewed resistance from the air transport industry, even though European officials always made clear their intention to take some form of limited unilateral action ahead of implementation of the envisioned worldwide system.
“It would take us back to the brink of a trade war, a situation the industry certainly would want to avoid,” warned Paul Steele, senior vice president of member and external relations for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), at a media event last month in Geneva, Switzerland.
The European Parliament must vote on the plan by April for airlines to meet emissions reporting requirements for applicable flights in 2013. Schedules call for a preliminary vote to move forward on January 30 in the parliament’s environment committee. Upcoming elections in late May for most of the parliament’s 766 members appear sure to complicate the political wrangling.
The new plan still requires all airlines that fly into or out of airports in the European Economic Area (EEA) to account for their carbon dioxide emissions and purchase carbon credits for any that are not covered by an allowance of free credits. TheEEA comprises the 27 members of the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Airlines would not have to report their emissions while flying over Switzerland, which is a member of neither the EU nor EEA.
More than a dozen other countries, known as “the coalition of the unwilling”—including the US, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia—opposed the original EU-ETS scheme on sovereignty grounds. The U.S. Congress passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act 2011, barring U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the EU-ETS.
China used economic leverage, holding up a $12 billion order for Airbus aircraft. TheEU backed off, deferring in November 2012 to the forthcoming ICAO assembly and implementing a “stop the clock” policy that applied only to European airlines. The Chinese then allowed the order for Airbus A330s and A380s to proceed.
Plans for the EU to forge ahead on its own have drawn dissension within Europe. French, German and UK government leaders—three countries with huge stakes in Airbus—have publicly opposed the new EU emissions implementation.
Meanwhile, European low-fare carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair object to the prospect of EU-only fees diminishing their competitiveness against non-European airlines. European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) secretary general John Hanlon has called for reversion to an all-flights ETS as “the real way to remedy the reduction in environmental effectiveness, instead of the attempt to inflict further discriminatory and distortive penalties on those operators and their end-customers,EU citizens.”
Environmental groups consider the ICAO resolution, which calls a market-based mechanism plan by 2016 and implementation by 2020, a delaying tactic. Peter Liese, a spokeman for the European Parliament’s environmental committee, called the ICAO resolution “a very modest result.”
“We have no guarantee that a system will be introduced in 2020 and that the benefit for the environment is substantial,” he added. “There are too many ifs and buts. EU law has to be applied and we can’t give in to threats. We must not capitulate and be bullied by third countries.”
NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace
December 20, 2013
France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. Click here to view full story…
Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France
December 5, 2013
The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal. Click here to view full story…
Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS
November 29, 2013 .The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly. Click here to view full story…
Count us out of carbon-neutral growth measures, China and other major emerging countries tell ICAO
November 4, 2013 At the ICAO Assembly last month, it was agreed it would work towards a global market based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions, by 2020 – itself a weak position taking too long to start to deal with the issue. GreenAir online reports that now China says the adoption of a carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 without differentiated responsibilities would impede development of its international aviation activities. China and other emerging countries, with fast expanding aviation, say that though they may want goals to reduce international aviation emissions, it should be the responsibility of the developed countries to make the cuts. ie. this is further wrangling within the ICAO, which is why the organisation has failed over decades to get any agreement on practical action on aviation emissions. To add to the obstacles in getting progress on a MBM, the USA has objected to the de minimis provisions [ie. that the smallest countries, which contribute each below 1% of global aviation CO2 are excluded] in the Assembly climate resolution and the inclusion of the differentiated responsibilities principle. The deep divisions remain on this issue, between the developed and developing world. Click here to view full story…
The plan to take tourists up on joy-rides virtually into space must be one of the most environmentally irresponsible around. Perhaps indicative of a society that has lost sight of the concept of living within environmental limits, using resources wisely, and not flaunting excessive wealth. But space travel is what Branson plans. It is reported that Virgin’s “Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo,” VSS Enterprise, has just completed its third test flight. It has now reached the altitude of 13.5 miles or 71,000ft, but in order to be considered to be at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, it needs to get up to 62 miles or 328,084ft above the earth (called the Kármán line). These trips planned by Richard Branson are purely for “space tourists” and only those with exceptional wealth would be able to afford them, so it will be rich celebrities and rich business people only. The price is likely to be around £152,000 for a return ticket to the edge of space. Conspicuous consumption gone mad. This is a Branson PR statement: “2014 will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space.” They hope to reach the Kármán line this spring, and begin commercial operations later in 2014.
Will space travel become a reality for anyone but the privileged few?
Space tourism could now be just months away after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo reached an all-time high of 71,000 ft
Within decades of the Wright brothers taking to the air for the first time in December 1903 commercial aviation was linking Auckland to Amsterdam and Zurich to Zanzibar as the jet age took off.
Now barely five decades after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin wrote his name into the history books commercial space travel will be linking earth to the ether.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, the craft entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is hoping will soon herald a new age of pleasure trips around the cosmos, has just completed its third test flight.
But Sir Richard and his team still have some way to go to reach the Kármán line – the border where earth’s atmosphere ends and outerspace begins.
This lies 62 miles or 328,084ft above the earth – more than ten times higher than the flight path of the average passenger jet. SpaceShipTwo flew 13.5 miles or 71,000ft into the air recently – less than a quarter of the way to the Kármán line.
But Sir Richard has no doubt that before this year ends he, his adult children, Holly and Sam, and stars like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber will become the world’s first space tourists.
He said: “2014 will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space.”
And Jay Tate, director of Knighton’s Spaceguard Centre & Observatory, in Powys, has no doubt SpaceShipTwo will journey the remaining 48.5 miles to realise Sir Richard’s dream.
He said: “There is no reason why it shouldn’t – technically it’s not that terribly hard.”
Physically, the obstacles may be just a formality of running enough test flights to ensure everything is safe and ready to go. But financially space tourism is unlikely to see many of us enjoying the curve of the earth from the comfort of one of SpaceShipTwo’s seats any time soon.
At around £152,000 a return ticket to the edge of space is worth more than the average house in Wales.
But what of the future? Will anyone over 40 live to see the emergence of budget spacelines offering cut-price deals to the Kármán line? Trips where your soul-achingly beautiful view of the earth from 328,000ft is blocked by a morbidly obese man from Blackburn.
And where inspiration at a once-in-a lifetime experience enjoyed battles with relief that now you’re back on terra firma you can use the toilet.
Mr Tate believes it will be decades before competition sees space tourism become something other than a privilege only celebrities and the super rich can enjoy.
He said: “If commercial companies take it up then within a couple of decades or so we should be able to do that (go into space).”
Sir Richard is promising the craft will allow an “out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers”.
Since 2005 the company has accepted more than £42m in deposits from around 580 people, which is about 10% more than the total number who have ever gone to space.
Sir Richard, who owns Virgin Galactic with Abu Dhabi firm aabar Investments PJS, is v passengers five minutes floating around in space before they will return to earth.
Dr Xing Li, an Aberystwyth University expert on astrophysics and cosmology, said as a scientist it would be “beautiful” to be one of SpaceShipTwo’s privileged passengers.
But SpaceShipTwo travels at a super-sonic 2,500mph – more than four times faster than a passenger jet – and Dr Li believes it’s difficult to imagine anything that goes at that speed becoming affordable.
He said: “Now we don’t have supersonic flights because of the cost issue. At the moment I don’t see that it will be possible even in 30 or 40 years. It will only happen if we have some technological advance that would bring down the cost.”
Once operational Virgin Galactic believes it may fly up to 500 people in the first year to 18 months and 30,000 over 10 years. The firm plans to use a fleet of five models of SpaceShipTwo – with VSS Enterprise, named in honour of Star Trek, being the first.
Virgin Galactic say they would ultimately like to fly every day and even from the outset will journey into the heavens many more times than NASA’s Space Shuttle programme. But that shouldn’t be too difficult as in its 30 year history the shuttle programme ventured into space on average fewer than five times per year.
A spokesman said: “We should have flown as many passengers as every other space programme combined within a year or two of starting service.”
The firm hopes to reach the Kármán line by the spring, and begin commercial operations in the second half of the year.
Ryanair has announced plans to target business travellers in 2014, with a new “business product” coming in the next few weeks, and the appointment of a dedicated sales leader. They will be adding a new section to their website for groups and corporate travellers, and will offer them flexible tickets, reserved seating and fast-track through selected airports. Ryanair hopes to muscle into this market, offering lower charges to those travelling on business. However, critics in the field of buying business travel say Ryanair must start flying to more business destinations if they’re going to make a “serious dent” in the corporate travel market. At present Ryanair is at a disadvantage because from London it only operates out of Stansted and does not fly to many business destinations. There are not many frequent UK business travellers who will fly from Stansted. Until Ryanair have good networks and business destinations, they are unlikely to make a serious dent in the corporate market. Ryanair has copied easyJet, which got the idea of getting into business travel first. They have been “getting rather jealous” of it. However, a commentator experienced in buying business travel commented that easyJet now have a “good business product, especially with the adding of new routes to Brussels, Paris and Moscow.” Ryanair will have a struggle to catch up.
GTMC questions Ryanair’s move to target business travel
20 Jan 2014 (Buying Business Travel)
Ryanair must start flying to more business destinations if they’re going to make a “serious dent” in the corporate travel market, according to GTMC chief executive Paul Wait.
Speaking to BBT about Ryanair’s expansion plans, Wait said the airline is at a disadvantage because from London it only operates out of Stansted and doesn’t fly to many business destinations.
“There aren’t many frequent UK business travellers who will fly from Stansted, so in essence that has to change first, he said.
“Until they’ve got good networks and business destinations, I just don’t see them making a serious dent in the corporate market, and it will take more than a new sales person for this to happen,” he added.
Wait also said the move might be due to Easyjet’s “very successful” move into this sector. “Ryanair might have been looking at Easyjet’s model and getting rather jealous,” said Wait.
“However, I don’t feel Easyjet is regarded as a low-cost carrier anymore. They’re a very efficient airline and now have a good business product, especially with the adding of new routes to Brussels, Paris and Moscow. So from a business travel perspective they’re definitely not a rival.”
No-frills airline Ryanair plans to target business travellers in 2014, with a new “business product” coming in the next few weeks, and the appointment of a dedicated sales leader.
A ‘Groups’ section has been added to their website and customers will soon be able to access flexible tickets, reserved seating and fast-track through selected airports.
Ryanair has also appointed Lesley Kane as its head of groups and corporate travel, previously head of sales and marketing Europe.
Chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “2014 is set to be a very exciting year for all groups and business passengers as Ryanair’s entry into these markets will significantly lower their costs of travel.
“‘We’re pleased to appoint Lesley Kane as Ryanair’s head of groups and corporate travel. Her extensive knowledge of sales and marketing, combined with her considerable experience from her time as head of Ryanair Direct will ensure the successful implementation of Ryanair’s new service improvements.”
Kane added: “I look forward to rolling out Ryanair’s new groups and business product offering in early 2014.”
Ryanair will launch a new service for business travellers in the coming weeks.
The carrier also said yesterday that it had appointed Lesley Kane as its new head of groups and corporate travel. She was previously head of European sales and marketing at the airline.
Ryanair is in the process of reinventing itself as it tries to lure more families and corporate travellers. The airline’s boss, Michael O’Leary, said in November that the new business products would include flexible fares that will allow business passengers to alter flight times and dates as part of their ticket price in the event that their schedule changes.
“Once we have identified that you are a business passenger flying with us, you might have a flex-fare option that would include features like fast-track through airport security, reserved seating and checked-in bags all built into the seat price,” he said at the time. “The key feature will be that you will be able to change the flights and the timings if your meetings change.”
Ryanair has also just launched a new ‘groups’ section on its website. The airline said the option would be of particular use to the likes of schools and sports clubs.
The carrier is poised to open more than 20 new routes from Ireland this year. Later this year it will begin receiving the first deliveries from an order for 175 aircraft it placed with Boeing in 2013.
In an interview with the ‘Sunday Independent’ this week, Mr O’Leary said Ryanair was working with Google as the internet giant plans to launch a new price comparison service.
“We’ll be sharing the Ryanair pricing through all of the Google outlets, so when you go in, there’ll be route selections, cheapest prices and so on. Google are developing a price-comparison thing themselves,” said Mr O’Leary.
“They want to launch with us and we’re working with them on that kind of product.”
RYANAIR LAUNCHES GROUPS & CORPORATE TRAVEL SERVICE
LESLEY KANE APPOINTED HEAD OF GROUPS & CORPORATE TRAVEL
15.1.2014 (Ryanair press release)
Ryanair, Europe’s favourite low fares airline, today (15 Jan) launched a new Groups & Corporate Travel service and announced it has appointed Lesley Kane (who moves from Head of Sales & Marketing Europe) as its Head of Groups & Corporate Travel, as it actively targets the group and business travel markets in 2014.
Customers can now access a “Groups” section on the homepage of the new and improved Ryanair.com website, which will be followed by a new business product (to be unveiled in the coming weeks) with flexible tickets, reserved seating and fast-track through selected airports, as Ryanair opens over 20 new routes from Ireland, and over 150 new routes from UK airports in 2014.
The launch of Ryanair “Groups” will be of significant interest to all travelling groups including schools, sports clubs and all other large party organisers and with more than 1,600 daily flights, connecting 186 destinations across 30 countries, both groups and business travellers will save time and money thanks to Ryanair’s Groups & Corporate Travel products.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:
“2014 is set to be a very exciting year for all groups and business passengers as Ryanair’s entry into these markets will significantly lower their costs of travel. We’re pleased to appoint Lesley Kane as Ryanair’s Head of Groups & Corporate Travel. Her extensive knowledge of sales and marketing, combined with her considerable experience from her time as Head of Ryanair Direct will ensure the successful implementation of Ryanair’s new service improvements.”
Ryanair’s Lesley Kane said:
“I look forward to rolling out Ryanair’s new groups and business product offering in early 2014. Ryanair is continually improving our customer service and has received numerous requests from group organisers and corporate businesses to develop and launch these new exciting products. From early 2014, groups and business customers will be able to enjoy the added benefits of our tailored products, which will support Ryanair’s passenger growth to over 110 million passengers by 2019.”
One banker said: “Already when you travel economy, as we generally do for short-haul flights, whether it’s British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, you do find it a slightly unexciting experience. But if you’re on Ryanair, it’s a drag.
“It’s the effort required to go through, and the large number of guys in shorts drinking beer in the airport and spilling it over your suitcase. You do feel out of place, so it’s a bit awkward.”
Sam Johar, chairman of headhunter Buchanan Harvey, said he had tried low-cost airlines when travelling for work but would not use Ryanair or easyJet again.
On his last attempt to fly easyJet, he said he was denied boarding. Staff told him he had to find a plastic bag to put his two small cases if they were to meet the single item hand baggage rule. He spent the night in a hotel.
Mr Johar said: “If you have a half-decent business, frankly you don’t want to be bothered by all this nonsense. You have better things to think about, and more financially rewarding things to think about, than saving €100.”
Ryanair wants a bigger slice of the market because business travellers are worth more than leisure ones. The introduction of Business Plus is part of its plan to lift its passenger numbers to 120m by the end of the decade, up about half on the 86m flown in the past year.
Easyjet launches new fare for business travellers to attract more – already around 10 million per year
Easyjet wants to make further inroads into the corporate market with the launch of a new “inclusive fare”, which will not be available directly from its website. The new fare is designed for corporate passengers and travel bookers, and will only be accessible through the aviation industry booking systems. The new fare will include a 20 kg hold bag and seat selection, with Easyjet insisting the overall price will be cheaper than booking the different elements separately. EasyJet says this fare “will help us to compete even more effectively with the legacy carriers as well as providing further choice and value for the 10 million-plus corporate travellers (about 10 million in 2012, and 9 million in 2011) who choose to fly Easyjet every year.” Easyjet has been targeting business travellers for several years and has stepped up its efforts in the last 12 months by signing a series of deals with TMCs and corporates around the UK and Europe.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17265..
Earlier news about EasyJet and business passengers:
easyJet to give its business passengers fast track through security
15.5.2013 (EasyJet)EasyJet is hoping to attract increasing numbers of business travellers. They had slightly over 10 million business travellers during 2012, up from around 9 million in 2011 and some 8 million in 2010. (Not all to or from the UK). The total number of easyJet passengers is around 50 million per year, so business is some 18% or so. EasyJet is now planning to offer free fast track through security for business passengers, to attract yet more. EasyJet claims that what business passengers want is low fares, and flexible fares, punctuality, quick boarding, friendly flexible fares, easy booking, allocated seating and fast security. From May 2013 fast track security will be provided to flexi fare passengers at 27 airports amounting to 54% of the airline’s business network and over the coming months will be expanded to more airports across easyJet’s network. Last year the number of business passengers travelling on Eurostar stayed level. In 2012 there were about 5,402,000 business trips made by Brits to Europe, and some 5,852,000 business trips made by overseas residents to the UK (74% of the Brits’ business trips by air, and some 69% of the European business trips)..http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1061
easyJet had 10 million business passengers in 2012, up from 9 million in 2011
Easyjet carried more than 10 million business travellers during 2012. That is compared to around 9 million in 2011 and some 8 million in 2010. The total number of passengers is around 50 million per year, so business is some 18% or so. Easyjet added that it expected to benefit from a deal signed in November to provide flights to employees working in the Scottish public sector for trips between London and Scotland. In September, a year after offering free flights to MPs returning to deal with the summer riots, easyJet was added to the list of preferred airlines for both Houses of Parliament. A deal for one year allows cheaper flights than flag carriers for European flights, and works through the Parliament travel management company Hillgate Travel.
23.7.2011 (Express – City & Business)By Philip WallerNO-frills airline easyJet yesterday forecast profits would take off after more
business travellers used its planes to hop across Europe, sending shares skywards.The Luton-based carrier predicted annual profits of up to £230million, well
ahead of the £174million expected by some brokers, lifting the stock by 55¼p to
368p.EasyJet said business people were taking advantage of its high‑frequency flightsbetween major European cities such as Berlin, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.The number of business travellers taking its services rose by a fifth in the
three months to June 30 as the impact of new flexi-fares began to kick in.The group said it had sold more than three quarters of its summer seats as people
booked breaks despite the economic gloom.Airline easyJet yesterday forecast profits would take off after more business
travellers used its planesA spokesman said: “While some consumer-facing businesses are having difficulties,
the family holiday is seen as something pretty essential.”EasyJet said revenue for the June quarter grew 23 per cent to £935million, also
boosted by growing ancillary revenues.Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “The strength of easyJet’s trading demonstrates
it is well placed to succeed.”
EasyJet said it carried 14.4 million passengers in the quarter, up 17.3 per cent.
Its load factor – a measure of how full its aircraft were – rose 0.2 percentage
point to 86.3 per cent.
EasyJet’s largest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has said he may force
a shareholder vote over the airline’s plans to buy new aircraft from Airbus, resuming
a long-running dispute with the company he founded.
Nice try, but Ryanair must do more to win over agents
Business travel agents aren’t the only ones who remain underwhelmed by Ryanair’s decision to make its seats available on GDSs. [Global distribution systems (GDSs) are computerized, centralized services ]
Ryanair announced earlier this month that it was in talks with several GDS and planned to make its fares available on at least one by the summer.
However, when asked in a TravelMole poll if the move was enough to win over agents, almost two-thirds said ‘no’.
Earlier this month, the Guild of Travel Management Companies called on Ryanair to do more to convince members of its commitment to business travellers.
At the time, GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “Ryanair’s biggest job is convincing the GTMC’s members that it is more than losses that are forcing it to address the business travel sector.”
Ryanair lost €35 million in the first quarter of the year.
Wait said the airline’s decision to sell on GDSs was a move in the right direction but added that travel management companies would remain unconvinced “until they [Ryanair] commit to investing in the products and serviced required by both travel managers and the business travellers themselves”.
Global distribution systems (GDSs) are computerized, centralized services that provide travel-related transactions. They cover everything from airline tickets to car rentals to hotel rooms and more.
Global distribution systems were originally usually set up for use by the airlines but were later extended to travel agents. Today, global distribution systems allow users to purchase tickets from multiple different providers or airlines. Global distribution systems are also the back end of most Internet-based travel services.
Birmingham Airport managed to handle 9,119,709 passengers in 2013, which was the highest since 2008 and up + 2.3% compared to 2012. The 2013 number is still around 4.7% lower than the 2008 peak, but has been growing slowly since 2010. Most passengers continue to be on leisure trips, including long haul leisure, for example to Barbados and Gambia (those “seeking some winter sun over the Christmas break”). The airport hopes its runway extension will open during 2014, enabling flights by larger planes to long haul destinations. More passengers travel out from the area, on holiday trips, than travel in though the airport wants to attract more visitors from South-east Asia. Birmingham City Council, with 6 other West Midlands local authorities, owns 49% of the airport and has been handed a £13 million dividend after the airport had a “successful” year and reappraised its finances after the imminent completion of the runway extension. This will help fund the £5 million budget black hole in Birmingham’s 39 leisure centres and swimming pools. Birmingham and the other councils had earlier agreed to sacrifice dividend payments to help fund the £33 million runway scheme, and are now set to be rewarded for their generosity.
21.Jan 2014 (The Chamberlain Files – news about the Birmingham area)
Birmingham Labour councillors are in the almost unheard of position of discussing which public spending cuts to restore following a series of surprise upturns in the city council’s finances.
A controversial £125 million savings plan for 2014-15 looks like being scaled back to about £75 million after last minute changes to budget projections, including a £13 million windfall share dividend for the council from Birmingham Airport.
Council leader Sir Albert Bore told a Labour group meeting he discovered “a few weeks ago” that the local authority would be receiving £13 million from its airport shareholdings.
The payment reflects a reappraisal of the airport’s finances following completion of the runway extension, which is imminent.
Birmingham and the six other West Midlands councils, which own almost half of the airport shares, agreed to sacrifice dividend payments to help fund the £33 million runway scheme, and are now set to be rewarded for their generosity.
The £13 million payment was described as a “windfall” by deputy council leader Ian Ward at a cabinet meeting. Just under half of the sum will be given to the city’s 10 district committees to stave off possible sports centre and library closures, and the remainder will be used to offset other cuts.
Chamberlain Files understands Sir Albert was quizzed by Labour councillors and asked to explain when he first knew about the £13 million dividend payment, since the figure did not feature in an extensive public consultation exercise about a £125 million council cuts package.
The possibility of a cash windfall from the airport was not raised by the council at any of the public meetings staged during the consultation period.
Details of the airport dividend are in the monthly revenue budget monitoring report dealing with the council’s finances up until the end of November 2013. But the first official confirmation of the surprise windfall did not come until the report was tabled seven weeks later at the January 20 cabinet meeting.
A council spokeswoman said: “The city council’s month eight monitoring report represents the earliest opportunity to report the income following the Airport Company’s approval to the additional dividend.”
Any debate about when the council first knew it would receive a cash lifeline from the airport may appear pedantic, but the absence of the figure could be used by anti-cuts protesters seeking to prove through a judicial review that the 2014-15 budget and consultation is flawed.
When he launched the consultation Sir Albert announced that the cuts package would not be as great in 2014-15 as originally feared, although he still expects to have to save almost £300 million in 2015-16 and to close down completely some non-statutory services.
Other changes to the 2014-15 budget include an assumption that interest rate do not rise and that there are no wage awards for council staff. Lower inflation and a better government grant settlement than originally envisaged helped bring the £125 million forecast down to £88 million.
But the actual savings figure should fall to £75 million following receipt of the airport share dividend.
The slimmed down cuts package represents the first reversal for Sir Albert’s Jaws of Doom graph, depicting the amount the council has to save between 2010-11 and 2017-18. The projected amount is £839 million according to the budget consultation booklet, but that figure will have fallen by at least £13 million thanks to the airport cash.
The arrival of the dividend could be used by Sir Albert to caution against selling the city’s ‘crown jewel’ assets such as the airport shareholding and the NEC Group. A final decision on major asset sales is likely to rest on whether a one-off lump sum payment to the council is preferable to smaller but regular dividend payments.
Passenger Numbers Continue to Climb at Birmingham Airport
17 January 2014 (Birmingham Airport press release)
Birmingham Airport is celebrating yet another major milestone, as passenger numbers for the 2013 calendar year reach over nine million for the first time since 2009.
Latest figures reveal 9,119,709 passengers chose to fly through Birmingham Airport in 2013, a 2.3% increase compared to 2012.
The nine million milestone was achieved after the Airport enjoyed a busy December, which saw 574,854 passengers pass through the terminal, representing an 8% increase compared to the same period last year. December also saw the largest monthly percentage increase in 2013.
The biggest growth sector in December was non-EU charter services (+12%) to destinations including Barbados and Gambia, fuelled largely by passengers seeking some winter sun over the Christmas break and opting to travel from Birmingham Airport.
Paul Kehoe, the Airport’s CEO, said: “2013 has been a fantastic year for us in many ways. In terms of passenger numbers, we’ve seen consecutive growth in the past eight months, which has led to our best yearly performance since 2009.
“Helped by a strong December, over nine million people have decided to take advantage of the Airport’s world-class facilities and its growing network of flights throughout the past 12 months.
“We are now looking to build on this success in 2014, which will see the opening of our longer runway and with it, the capability to serve more long haul destinations than ever before.”
Scheduled routes that experienced particular growth in December included Stuttgart (+89.2%), Milan (+81.7%), Chambery (+74.7%), Funchal (+65.4%), Istanbul (+45%) and Belfast (+40.2%).
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, added: “The Airport’s strong 2013 performance is testament to the ongoing activity to promote the Greater Birmingham and Black Country region as a popular visitor destination.
“Over the past 12 months we have undertaken marketing campaigns with our tourism partners at VisitEngland and VisitBritain to strengthen links with countries including Germany and Italy. The significant recent growth in passengers from Stuttgart and Milan indicates that our work to grow the region’s profile and reputation is bearing fruit.
“The prospect of more of the international business community being able to fly to and from Birmingham in future months thanks to the Airport’s runway extension, coupled with our current work with European funding partners to attract more visitors from Southeast Asia, shows that 2014 could prove to be even more successful.”
Charter services seeing an increase in passengers included Barbados (+70.2%), Gambia (+21.4%), Austria (+8.9%), Finland (+5.6%) and Spain (+5.3%).
Scheduled services seeing an increase accounted for 87.9% of all traffic, whilst charter made up the remaining 12.1% of passengers flying from Birmingham Airport during the month of December.
The top scheduled destinations in 2013 were Dublin, Dubai and Amsterdam, and the most popular charter destinations were Dalaman, Palma and Tenerife.
Birmingham Airport windfall digs council out of £5m hole
Funds derived from Birmingham City Council’s shareholding in Birmingham Airport have come to the rescue of its ailing leisure offer
A major £5 million budget black hole in Birmingham’s 39 leisure centres and swimming pools has been filled after the city council scooped a windfall from its shares in Birmingham Airport.
The council, along with the six other West Midlands local authorities, owns 49% of the airport and has been handed a £13 million dividend after a particularly successful year for the Airport, including the construction of the runway extension.
Now Labour bosses have decided to use £5.2m from the windfall to plug the deficit in leisure services and save the rest for any budget problems which develop during the 2014/15 financial year.
The council has agreed an overhaul of sport and leisure which will see some centres closed, six new ones built and outside operators brought in.
The funding will see the leisure service maintained until the new strategy is implemented and facilities built.