Tel: 020 7248 2227 RSS FeedRSS feed

Qatar Airways new service between Edinburgh and Doha – and others – avoiding need for connecting flights

A new non-stop flight between Edinburgh Airport and Doha in Qatar is to be launched next year. It will be operated x5 per week by Qatar Airways, which serves more than 100 international destinations from Doha. The 787 Dreamliner aircraft will fly all year round on the route, providing connections to Australian hubs in Perth and Melbourne. It will be the Dreamliner’s first scheduled service from Scotland. Officials at Edinburgh Airport have long wanted to attract a major Middle Eastern carrier to allow them to compete with Glasgow, which provides a twice daily Emirates service to Dubai. There will also be a US Airways route linking Edinburgh with Philadelphia. Scotland’s Transport Minister Keith Brown hailed the move as “excellent news” for the aviation sector and said the new route was “yet more evidence of the strong bonds we are building with Qatar. The direct flights remove the need to use Heathrow for hub connections.  In 2014 Scotland has the Commonwealth Games, and the Ryder Cup and wants to get in more visitors to these, as well as other business and tourists.

.

 

 

20 November 2013 (BBC)

Qatar Airways to launch new service between Edinburgh and Doha

Qatar Airways
The Qatar Airways service will operate five days a week from Edinburgh Airport

Related BBC Stories

A new non-stop flight between Edinburgh Airport and Doha in Qatar is to be launched next year.

The service will be operated five days a week by Qatar Airways, which serves more than 100 international destinations from Doha.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will fly all year round on the route, which will provide connections to Australian hubs in Perth and Melbourne.

It will be the Dreamliner’s first scheduled service from Scotland.

Officials at Edinburgh Airport have long wanted to attract a major Middle Eastern carrier to allow them to compete with Glasgow International, which provides a twice daily Emirates service to Dubai.

On Monday it was revealed US Airways is to launch a route linking the capital with Philadelphia.

Richard Oliver, Qatar Airways country manager UK and Ireland, said: “We are pleased to be able to bring our five star service to Edinburgh and look forward to providing new options for Scottish travellers flying to the Middle East and beyond.

“Passengers will benefit from the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner with Qatar Airways award-winning service.”

Scotland’s Transport Minister Keith Brown hailed the move as “excellent news” for the aviation sector and said the new route was “yet more evidence of the strong bonds we are building with Qatar.

“The Scottish government has worked hard to foster links with the Gulf States, promoting Scotland as a market leader in oil and gas and a great place to do business.

“Direct services make Scotland a more attractive destination for both tourists and businesses by removing the need for extra connecting flights. This not only helps the economy by boosting tourism, but also encourages overseas trade and investment.

“The eyes of the world will turn to Scotland in 2014 with a programme of events that includes the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and a second Year of Homecoming and we are keen to share these exciting times with our friends around the world.”

‘Real advantage’

Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s chief executive, said: “We’ve been promising our friends and partners across the city and the country a Middle Eastern route for a number of years now.

“I am ecstatic to be sharing this news today and would like to thank all for their patience and support.”

He said the announcement was the result of “real understanding and collaboration”.

“I hope that it can continue as I think that it gives our country a real advantage when talking to airlines and making the case for Scotland,” he said.

“We rebranded our airport for a reason. We wanted to reflect our ambition and raise our aspirations.

“We can now say with growing confidence that Edinburgh is where Scotland meets the world.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-25019495

.

and

Qatar Airways to fly to Edinburgh

By Graham Smith
20 Nov 2013 (Buying Business Travel)

Qatar Airways will begin a five-weekly direct service between Doha and Edinburgh from May.

The carrier will deploy a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a two-cabin configuration, with 22 seats in business class and 232 in economy, on the new route.

Qatar will fly to Edinburgh on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May 28,

Flight QR 027 will depart Doha at 08.00 and arrive in Edinburgh at 13.15 local time. Return service QR 028 will leave Edinburgh at 14.45 and land in Doha at 23.40 local time.

Edinburgh will be the Qatar’s third UK destination – it currently operates five flights daily to Heathrow and 10 per week to Manchester.

Scottish transport minister Keith Brown said: “This new direct service is excellent news for Scotland’s aviation sector and provides yet more evidence of the strong bonds we are building with Qatar.

“The Scottish government has worked hard to foster links with the Gulf states, promoting Scotland as a market leader in oil and gas and a great place to do business.”

Qatar’s Doha-Edinburgh route, when launched, is set to be the first scheduled Dreamliner service from a Scottish airport.

Charter carrier Thomson Airways flew the Dreamliner from Glasgow to Cancun and Orlando during the summer 2013 season.

US Airways announced earlier this week that it is launching a non-stop daily service between Philadelphia and Edinburgh next summer.

United is also introducing Edinburgh-Chicago services from May 2014.

edinburghairport.com

qatarairways.com

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/2021687-qatar-airways-fly-edinburgh

.

.


 

.

and

18 November 2013

US Airways to offer new service between Edinburgh and Philadelphia

US Airways
US Airways is a major American airline, which has its headquarters in Arizona

A new non-stop flight between Edinburgh and Philadelphia is to be launched by a major airline next year.

The scheduled service will be operated daily by US Airways between May and October. It was welcomed by ministers and tourism chiefs.

They said it was a “timely vote of confidence in Scotland” as it prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in 2014.

A 176-seat dual-class Boeing 757 aircraft will be used on the route.

Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s chief executive, said: “This is another great result for Edinburgh.

“Next summer will be a hugely exciting time with the Ryder Cup and Year of Homecoming to look forward to.”

He added: “We’re pleased to be working with US Airways and allowing more American passengers to experience all that Scotland has to offer.

“Scots will also have the chance to visit this amazing city and the added opportunity to travel onwards to destinations like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii.

“This is not just an achievement for Edinburgh Airport but for the wider city and we’re delighted to be able to share our success with our partners.”

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “This announcement will bolster Scotland’s economy by supporting tourism, trade and investment, and also helps to strengthen our enduring relationship with the United States.

“Improving direct routes overseas helps to reduce the need for travellers to make extra connecting flights via London or the continent, making Scotland even more attractive to tourists and businesses.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors from the United States to Scotland in 2014 as the eyes of the world focus on our exciting programme of events which includes the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and a second Year of Homecoming.”

The service will begin on 23 May and run until 1 October.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-24985909

.

.


 

.

12 September 2013 (BBC)

United Airlines to offer new service between Edinburgh and Chicago

The only non-stop flight linking Edinburgh with Chicago has been announced for next summer.

The route will be operated by United Airlines.

It will operate five times weekly from 23 May to 12 June, daily from 13 June to 2 September and four times weekly between 3 September and 6 October.

Flight times will be eight hours 35 minutes westbound and seven hours 45 minutes eastbound.

The Edinburgh-Chicago flight will depart Edinburgh at 10:25, arriving in Chicago at 13:00 the same day.

The return flight will depart Chicago at 18:00, arriving in Edinburgh at 07:45 the following day.

Home town

Bob Schumacher, United Airlines’ managing director sales for the UK and Ireland, said: “Having recently celebrated 15 years of operations in Scotland, we’re delighted to expand our schedule with seasonal non-stop service to Chicago, United’s home town.

“Next year’s Homecoming promotion and Ryder Cup at Gleneagles make it the ideal time to launch these flights, which will offer our customers an increased range of travel choices and opportunities.”

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “By improving direct routes overseas, we can help reduce the need for travellers to make extra connecting flights via London or the continent, support tourism, trade and investment and so further strengthen Scotland’s economy.

“The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2014 and, as we host international sporting stars at the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup and celebrate another Year of Homecoming, we hope to welcome visitors from across the world, not least from the United States with whom we share strong and enduring bonds.”

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said the new route was “a fantastic validation of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole”.

He said: “We are delighted to have played our part in developing this route with the other agencies and government departments that make up Team Scotland.

“This collaborative approach works and we look forward to bringing many more international routes to Edinburgh in the coming months.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-24066552

.

.


 

.

and

3 July 2013 (BBC)

New non-stop flight route links Edinburgh with Toronto

The only non-stop flight linking Edinburgh with Canada has been launched.

The route between the Scottish capital and Toronto is being operated by Air Canada rouge.

The airline will operate three flights a week and the new route will add to the £83m spend which Canadian tourists already generate for the Scottish economy.

It has been welcomed by VisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay.

As the first flight from Canada arrived in Scotland, he said: “The launch of this new direct route is an amazing moment for Edinburgh in what has been a long and important relationship between Canada and Scotland. With this new direct route another part of the network jigsaw is complete.

“Canadians have always had a strong affiliation with our country and, as we prepare to welcome the world with Homecoming, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in 2014, the timing of this new service is perfect.”

Air Canada rouge is the new budget leisure subsidiary from Air Canada and operates a fleet of Boeing 767-300ER and Airbus 319 aircraft.

Michael Friisdahl, president and chief executive officer of Air Canada rouge, said: “We are excited to launch this new route between Toronto and Edinburgh, which marks one of our first three flights from Canada to Europe.”

Trade links

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Air Canada to Edinburgh Airport and we are sure they’ll have a very successful summer. This new direct service from Toronto to Edinburgh is yet another example of how we listen to our customers and work hard to ensure they have the best choice of routes possible.

Toronto's skylineThe new route links Edinburgh with Canada’s largest city, Toronto

“Edinburgh Airport is where Scotland meets the world and it’s hugely exciting to now offer a direct service to Canada which I’m sure our Canadian and Scottish passengers will take full advantage of. Toronto is an important international hub for us and this new route will allow us to establish and maintain crucial trade links for both economies.”

VisitScotland markets Scotland extensively to Canadians and has operated sales missions to Toronto and Montreal. A recent competition saw 4,500 Canadians entering to win a dream trip to Scotland.

In September, VisitScotland will be taking part in Destination Britain North America in Las Vegas. Organised by VisitBritain, the event will see VisitScotland staff meeting with Canadian and American tour operators, promoting exciting Scottish events such as the Year of Natural Scotland, Homecoming 2014, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

Tourism is of crucial importance to the Scotland. The industry employs 270,000 people in 20,000 businesses and contributes £11 billion annually to the economy. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.

Canada is one of Scotland’s largest international visitor markets, with more than 100,000 visits made in 2011.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-23169109

.

.

.

 

.

 

Read more »

SSE challenges Airports Commission at the High Court on “apparent bias” due to involvement of Geoff Muirhead

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has launched a High Court bid to force the Airports Commission to revise its work on the future of aviation expansion in the UK. SSE’s case, asking that the Airports Commission should re-determine its so-called “sift criteria” for assessing growth options, was heard by Mrs Justice Patterson. SSE claims that the sift criteria process was infected by apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, then still a member of the Commission, had worked as Chief Executive for – and continued to work for – MAG. The sift criteria will ultimately guide the Commission in its final decision on where any new runways in the UK should be built. SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, argued that Mr Muirhead’s resignation was too late to save the sift criteria proceedings and that his involvement had tainted and was continuing to taint the activities and decisions of the commission by reason of apparent bias. The DfT said “there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.”  The Commission said its processes to date were “appropriate and robust”. Mrs Justice Patterson said she will make a decision on the matter in writing at a later date.
.

 

 

SSE takes battle with Airports Commission to High Court over Stansted ‘bias’

Written by COURT REPORTER (Herts and Essex Observer)

22.11.2013

 
STOP Stansted Expansion today (Friday, November 22) launched a High Court bid to force the Airports Commission to revise its work on the future of aviation expansion in the UK.The campaigners went to London to ask Mrs Justice Patterson to order Sir Howard Davies’ team to re-determine its so-called “sift criteria” for assessing growth options.SSE claims that original determination in May this year was infected by apparent bias because a then member of the panel worked for the owners of Stansted.

The claim centres on the role that Geoff Muirhead, former chief executive of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), played in the panel which considered the sift criteria. Those findings will ultimately guide the commission in its final decision on where any new runways in the UK should be built.

Although Mr Muirhead retired as chief executive in October 2010, and MAG only bought Stansted after he was appointed to the commission in November 2012, the group says he was still working as an ambassador for £75,000 a year when he sat on the panel. And, although he resigned from the commission in September, Paul Stinchcombe QC argued today that this was too late to save the sift criteria proceedings.

He continued: “Mr Muirhead had tainted and was continuing to taint the activities and decisions of the commission by reason of apparent bias.”

He claimed that, despite the group bringing this to the attention of the commission and the Secretary of State for Transport, for almost eight months they “resolutely refused to take any action” and allowed Mr Muirhead to remain on the five-man commission.

He said that the sift criteria “set the direction of travel” for the commission and appeared “very strongly to favour the expansion of Stansted”. This he added, would be to the potential considerable advantage of MAG.

MAG has submitted two proposals to the commission – a two runway option and a four runway hub airport which he said “would make Stansted the largest airport in the world”.

Since Mr Muirhead stood down in September, in the wake of pre-action letters from the group, Mr Stinchcombe said that the commission and the Secretary of State have refused to comply with requests from the group to look afresh at the sift criteria.

He continued: “They did so notwithstanding that the replies to the pre-application protocol letters confirmed, for the first time, that Mr Muirhead had participated in their determination; and notwithstanding that we now know that, when the commission determined the sift criteria, Mr Muirhead was aware, or ought to have been aware, of proposals for the significant expansion of Stansted.”

The challenge is being brought by Peter Sanders, pictured, and Brian Ross, SSE’s chairman and economics advisor respectivly.

Mr Stinchcombe explained: “One of the main difficulties associated with expanding Stansted beyond its existing runway is that this would have very serious landscape and cultural heritage impacts, far more so than in respect of the expansion of any other airport location.”

The commission maintains that Mr Muirhead’s resignation preceded any evaluation by it of the proposal for the expansion of Stansted and that a fair-minded and informed observer with knowledge of the circumstances would not have concerns that there was a real possibility of bias.

It says that the claim is far too late to challenge consideration of the sift criteria in May and that the contention that consideration was infected by apparent bias is “fundamentally flawed”. It says that in the pre-action correspondence, the group had sought Mr Muirhead’s resignation and therefore its main objective had been achieved.

The judge is to reserve her decision in order to give it in writing at a later date.

http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/News/Uttlesford/SSE-takes-battle-with-Airports-Commission-to-High-Court-over-Stansted-bias-20131122124203.htm

.

There was much debate between the legal teams on the concept of what the “fair minded individual” would think, whether any bias might have an “operational effect”, and of the precautionary principle.

.


 

.

see also

 

Stop Stansted Expansion in Airports Commission High Court ruling call

22.11.2013 (BBC)

Geoff Muirhead was a former chief executive at Manchester Airports Group, owners of Stansted Airport
Geoff Muirhead was a former chief executive at Manchester Airports Group

Criteria underpinning decisions over new runways are “infected by apparent bias”, a campaign group claims.

The Airports Commission was set up in 2012 to examine runway capacity and future “connectivity needs”.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claims a former commissioner had a conflict of interest and says the High Court should delay any publication of options.

The Department for Transport denies claims of bias and said “decisions taken to date are robust”.

At the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Patterson said she will make a decision on the matter in writing at a later date.

The campaign group’s claims centre on the role of Geoff Muirhead, who is a former former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted since February.

In September, he stepped down as one of the five commissioners appointed by the Commission after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed.

SSE claims he retired as MAG’s chief executive after 22 years with the group but was then immediately reappointed as “a highly paid ambassador to MAG, a role he continued to fulfil even after he was appointed to the Airports Commission”.

Stop Stansted Expansion campaign
Stop Stansted Expansion wants publication of any option shortlists delayed

‘Acted properly’

Brian Ross, SSE’s economics adviser, said: “With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world’s busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged.

“For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the commission as its only commissioner with first hand knowledge and experience of the aviation industry.”

Mr Ross said it was not enough simply to remove Mr Muirhead from the Commission.

SSE wants the High Court to order the commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, “to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved”.

The Department for Transport maintain that Mr Muirhead “acted properly” at the commission but stood down to “avoid any perception of a potential conflict of interest”.

A DfT spokesman said: “Both the department and Sir Howard agree that there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.”

An Airports Commission spokesman rejected SSE’s claims and described its processes to date as “appropriate and robust”.

The spokesman said its selection criteria “were informed by public consultation and incorporate a wide range of environmental, economic and social factors – including local environmental issues such as impacts on landscape and the built heritage.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-25050344

.

.


 

.

Earlier:

 

Stop Stansted Expansion lodged papers at High Court alleging Airports Commission criteria “infected by apparent bias” due to Geoff Muirhead

October 15, 2013

The Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE) have lodged papers at the Royal Courts of Justice alleging that the criteria being applied to decide on possible options for new runway sites in England are “infected by apparent bias”. SSE want High Court judges to order the Government-appointed Airports Commission to delay the publication of any shortlist of options until the “sift criteria” have been re-determined. They argue that there was apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, a recently-resigned member of the Commission, had a conflict of interest. Mr Muirhead is a former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted since February. He stepped down from the Commission three weeks ago after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed. “For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the Commission.” The High Court is being asked to order the Commission “to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved”. Brian Ross, from SSE, said: “With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world’s busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged.”         Click here to view full story…

 

.

and

.

 

Stop Stansted Expansion calls time on Airports Commission and DfT with High Court challenge on 14th October

October 13, 2013

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called time on the Airports Commission and the Secretary of State for Transport and on 14th October will file a Judicial Review application to ensure fairness in determining the way forward on the issue of aviation capacity. Specifically, SSE will be asking the High Court to order the Commission to re-determine the ‘sift criteria’ (in effect the selection criteria) for assessing airport expansion options and to delay the publication of any shortlist of options until the sift criteria have been re-determined. SSE’s legal challenge is on the grounds of apparent bias and concerns the role played by Mr Geoff Muirhead, one of five commissioners appointed to the Airports Commission last year. Mr Muirhead resigned from the Airports Commission three weeks ago, after an initial intervention by SSE’s lawyers. Details will be available from 12 noon on 14th October. Brian Ross, from SSE, said: “With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world’s busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged.”

Click here to view full story…

 

Read more »

India – people resist airport land grabs, evictions and conversion of their land from agricultural to industrial use

Rose Bridger, writing in the Ecologist, says rural communities all over India are battling against a land grab of epic proportions for airport building. There is currently a boom in domestic aviation in India, and there is a particular problem of rural land-take in Kerala. Large tracts of farmland and wildlife habitats are being handed over to corporations for high carbon industries such as mines, steel plants, manufacturing, agribusiness plantations, roads, dams, oil refineries, power plants and logistics parks as well as airports. The requisite road network and associated land developments often extend the airport footprint over a far wider area. Supposedly a new airport would bring in more tourists. But often it would destroy much of what is attractive to visitors. The land grab has been met by tumultuous protests by people defending their land and livelihoods. Compensation is often negligible, subject to lengthy delays, or even non-existent. Rehabilitation programmes are similarly inadequate. All too often, those  evicted are left destitute - granted neither new plots of land and housing comparable to what they have lost, nor employment at the project that displaced them. 
.

 

India – people resist airport land grabs

By Rose Bridger

21st November 2013  (Ecologist)

Rural communities all over India are battling against a land grab of epic proportions. And one of the biggest causes of land grabs is for airports to support India’s domestic aviation boom. Rose Bridger reports from Kerala, where four new ‘green field’ airports are meeting stiff local resistance.

The government is pulling out all the stops to support domestic aviation growth.

On a massive scale, large tracts of farmland and wildlife habitats are being handed over to corporations for mines, steel plants, manufacturing, agribusiness plantations, roads, dams, oil refineries, power plants and logistics parks.

A failed model of development is being imposed at breakneck speed, based on fossil fuel dependency and maximising extraction and consumption of resources.

The land grab has been met by tumultuous protests by people defending their land and livelihoods. Compensation is often negligible, subject to lengthy delays, or even non-existent. Rehabilitation programmes are similarly inadequate. All too often, evictees are left destitute - granted neither new plots of land and housing comparable to what they have lost, nor employment at the project that displaced them.

Affected communities also have concerns beyond their own future. Loss of wildlife habitats and biodiversity is of such a monumental scale that entire ecosystems are destroyed. Encroachment onto farmland reduces food supplies, in a country where one in five citizens go hungry.

PHOTO: One of many protests against a greenfield airport at Aranmula. Photo: Aranmula Paithruka Grama Karmasamithy.

One important aspect of the land grab is airport expansion, and new airports. There are ambitious projects at various stages of planning, approval and construction all over India. New airports on undeveloped sites, are called ‘greenfield’ airports. The requisite road network and associated land developments often extend the airport footprint over a far wider area.

Three greenfield airports are planned in Kerala, one of the smallest states in India – at Aranmula, Wayanad and Anakkara. All three sites consists of biodiverse wetlands and paddy fields where farmers cultivate rice and other crops. Plans for a proposed airport at Aranmula encompass four villages – Aranmula, Mallappuzhasserry, Mezhuveli and Kidangannur.

Fertile, biodiverse wetlands which would be paved over are surrounded by densely forested hills, which would be levelled off. More than 40 hectares have already been filled in, using earth from a nearby hillock.

Satellite images show the pale brown strip in sharp contrast to the vast expanse of lush green surrounding it. The disruption caused to irrigation and flood control is an indication of the disastrous ecological consequences should the airport be built.

About 3,000 families may face eviction. The campaign against the airport is led by theAranmula Heritage Village Action Council and there have been major protests for more than two years, including rallies, fasting, an attempt to storm into the developers’ office and a human chain of hundreds of people.

Reputable organisations report that claims by the developer, KGS Group, to be in legal possession of the land are false, and that granting of clearances by government agencies, for filling in of wetlands and other development activities, is fraudulent and illegal.

Supposedly, the new airport would bring in more tourists. But it would destroy much of what is attractive to visitors. Aranmula has been declared a global heritage village by UNESCO. It is renowned for metal mirrors made from unique clay and an annual snake boat regatta along the Pampa River. The runway would be less that 1 kilometre from Aranmula’s famous temple, visited by pilgrims from far and wide. Aircraft noise would not be conducive to peaceful contemplation.

PHOTO: A protest against Wayanad airport. Photo: Krishibhoomi Samrakshana Samithi. The writing translates: ‘Remove the proposed Wayanad (Cheekkalloor) airport project. This project will replace the paddy fields, wiping out farmers, farm labourers, ordinary people and tribes, by destroying drinking water and food’

Proposals for an airport at Wayanad are being vigorously opposed by 200 farmers from the villages of Cheekkalloor, Eranelloor and Mechery. The 200 hectare site yielded 526 tonnes of rice last season. Farmers also cultivate many other crops including coffee, cardamoms, coconut, palm, tapioca and medicinal plants. The area is a sanctuary for migratory birds.

As with the Aranmula project, the airport would require bulldozing of hills, plus removal of trees and shrubs. Villagers have blocked officials from entering the site to conduct surveys and burned a misleading pamphlet promoting the development. Most recently, on 11th October, about 1,000 farmers and agricultural workers participated in a march against the project.

PHOTO: An airport in Anakkara would pave over rice fields. Photo: saveanakkara.com

Plans for a greenfield airport at Anakkara are remarkably similar to the Aranmula and Wayanad projects. The 200 hectare site is important for food production, one of few remaining paddy fields in the district planted with incresingly rare indigenous varieties of rice. Other crops such as peppers, vegetables, coffee and cardamoms are cultivated. TheSave Anakkara Forum is fighting against the scheme. About 6,000 families would be evicted and there is no rehabilitation plan.

The two proposed airports at Anakkara and Wayanad are intended to provide connectivity with a hub airport. The industry term for this is a ‘feeder airport’, which is ironic, as, if the projects go ahead, farmland will be paved over and the loss of productive farmland will be irrevocable.

Plans for second airports for two major cities, Goa and Mumbai, on greenfield sites, have been delayed by farmers’ resistance to land acquisition for over a decade. Land acquisition for a second airport for the tourist magnet city of Goa, at Mopa, is displacing farmers cultivating rice, lentils, mangos and cashew nuts. People from 12 villages lost a court hearing over land acquisition in January. But they continued farming the land and uprooted yellow markers designating it as airport property.

The proposed second airport in Mumbai, at Navi, threatens to encroach on agricultural land and remove swathes of mangroves, which are the foundation for unique coastal ecosystems and protect inland areas from flooding. In October, the Bombay high court permitted clearing over 160 hectares of mangroves and 400 hectares of mudflats for the airport.

Expansion of existing airports also requires large tracts of land, causing turmoil in neighbouring communities, including at Birsa Munda, Imphal and Chennai. Protests against Birsa Munda Airport’s expansion over fertile land have involved hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people since 2007. In September 2012 security could not prevent a small group of displaced villages from entering the site with cattle and ploughs, and digging up plots of land they claimed still belonged to then.

Expansion of Imphal Airport has displaced over 100 settlements since 1960, yet much of the land remains unutilised inside the airport fence. In 2008, agitation by affected villagers culminated in pitch battles with police.

Over 5,000 people, including farmers who have cultivated rice for five decades, have been affected by land acquisition for a parallel runway for Chennai Airport. The runway plan has been dropped, and the United People’s Forum for Survival is campaigning for the land to be denotified without delay.

With expansion of Chennai Airport stalled, a proposed greenfield airport at Sriperumbudur, just 30 kilometres away, is back on the agenda. The site spans over 18 square kilometres, predominantly agricultural land with several lakes. In August 2010, 3,000 people from 26 villages demonstrated against the scheme, and police attacked themwith a baton charge.

A farmers’ movement against a greenfield airport in Bellary also met with a police baton charge, when they formed a road block in 2009. Land earmarked for the Bellary project, in the villages of Chaganur and Siriwar, was fraudulently categorised as ‘barren’. In fact, the land was fertile and farmers harvested two crops per year and paid taxes for irrigation.

Here hundreds of agricultural workers protested, fasting and performing a mock funeral of the government land acquisition notice. In 2012, a group of Bellary farmers made a successful appeal to the High Court to have the land denotified, and urged the government to allot the land to a co-operative society of landless labourers, for them to recultivate it.

In June, India’s central government put both Bellary and Sriperumbudur airports back on the agenda, and expedited a fourth international airport in Kerala, on a greenfield site in Kannur. The Kannur project is barely 75 kilometres aerial distance from the paddy fields earmarked for an airport at Wayanad. Land acquisition disputes have dogged the project, and more than 30,000 trees are to be felled.

Situated on a site of over 8 square kilometres, the airport will be surrounded by golf courses, business parks, logistics facilities and a convention centre. The key to this airport centric urban form, the ‘aerotropolis’, is that the airport owns the land around it and generates non-aeronautical revenue from its development.

India’s first aerotropolis, Andal, met with forceful opposition since land acquisition commenced in 2009. Farmers stormed government offices, uprooted fencing and marked out their land with bamboo poles that they guarded round the clock.

Andal is now operational, but ongoing agitation has resulted in the project area being reduced from 12 to 9.7 square kilometres. The runway is restricted to helicopter flights because 400 farmers refuse to part with land to move electricity pylons out of the way.

The primary objective of India’s greenfield airport programme is to increase domestic flights. These journeys could be substituted by improving the road and rail network, slower than travelling by plane, but resulting in far lower carbon emissions.

When GS Bawa, General Manager of Airports Authority of India, approved 15 greenfield airports in October, he stated that the new airports would ‘provide improved air connectivity to Tier- & Tier-3 cities’. He described the projects as ‘feeder airports’, to generate traffic for underutilised airports and reduce traffic for busy ones.

The government is pulling out all the stops to support domestic aviation growth. In April, the aviation ministry announced that, in order to increase traffic to 89 towns with small airports, for regional air connectivity, state governments would be expected to provide free land and all airport infrastructure, and to waive property tax and reduce fuel tax for domestic flights.

The West Bengal government moved quickly to reduce fuel tax, slashing it to zero for a three year period at Andal and Bagdogra, another domestic airport. Other state governments are anticipated to follow suit.

Without this raft of subsidies, it is likely that new airports will languish under-utilised or even empty. India already has airports with no flights. Of 115 airports run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), 44 are not operational, the majority closed because they are not economically viable.

CAPA (Centre for Aviation), a respected aviation industry consultancy, is doubtful about the feasibility of planned airports’ traffic projections, stating that “all too frequently they seem to be floated without taking into account whether there is a market that can support viable air services”. Furthermore, CAPA says that “In certain cases, regional airports appear to be exercises in securing land for commercial activity.”

Land acquisition for airports and associated development progresses inexorably, based on unreliable air traffic projections. The only certainty is that converting land from agricultural to industrial use increases its commercial value.

Farmland is being converted to real estate. Thousands of people all over India are occupying their own land against an aggressive aviation land grab. The examples in this article are a small fragment of a nationwide picture.

From my own research I am aware of about 50 sites where communities are resisting being wiped off the map. Their struggle is relevant to campaigns concerned with land rights, food sovereignty, ecological protection, social justice and governance.

Rose Bridger (@RoseKBridger) is the author of Plane Truth: Aviation’s Real Impact on People and the Environment, published by Pluto Press. Her website is athttp://rosebridger.com.

The book may be bought at http://bit.ly/16Q6bw8.

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2168133/india_people_resist_airport_land_grabs.html

 

.


.

See also

Farmers near Khed, in the Pune area of India, to demonstrate about airport purchase of their land

12.11.2013There are a large number of greenfield sites in India where airports are planned, with the country rushing to build ever more airports, partly in increase domestic aviation. There is much opposition locally, by land owners whose land is appropriated and who are moved off their land. Many are not given fair compensation. There is a possible “international” airport planned for Pune, some 80 miles south east of Mumbai. There are plans to put it partly on a Special Economic Zone, at a place called Khed. This would require also compulsorily purchasing 500 hectares of undulating agricultural land (some irrigated) that is privately owned, to make an airport with 2 runways, each of 4,000 metres, on a site of total area 1,268 hectares. Many families would be displaced. One report says: “The farmer leader claimed that the assured financial package to farmers has not been given despite the fact that the firm was formed six years ago.” There are some 950 farmers involved, and there will be a demonstration against the land purchases on 18th November. The airport’s construction is proposed to begin in 2015.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18362

 

.

and

.

Opposition in Kerala, southern India, to proposed airport at Anakkara – with displacement of people and destruction of agricultural land

31.10.2013The Indian government is keen to increase the flow of  tourists into Kerala. Though there are two large airports which serve the area, at Kochi and Thiruvanthapuran, there is pressure to build more. One of the sites under threat of an airport is Anakkara, which is inland, and less than 150 km from Madurai airport. There is considerable opposition – one source says the local people are united in their opposition – in the area, which is an agricultural area. The airport would take well over 500 acres, much of which now grows paddy, as well as pepper, coffee and cardamom cultivation areas. There is an Anti-Airport Agitation Council that is fighting the  plans. They say hundreds of families would have to be relocated, as the area is densely populated.  The purpose of the airport is solely to increase tourism, and would largely benefit the private sector. Those opposing the Anakkara plans  have set up social networking campaign sites such as Save Anakkara Blog and Anti-Anakkara Airport on Facebook, explaining reasons why the airport project should not be implemented.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18179

.


.

and

Opposition in Kerala in south west India to building of a new airport at Aranmula

2.8.2013

In Kerala, in the south west of India, there are plans for a private company to build a large new airport, for low cost airlines, at Aranmula. The site is within 100 km of two international airports – at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.  These airports bring in tourists to Kerala, and it is intended that it brings in pilgrims to a nearby site. The land at Aranmula is greenfield, and there are plans to take at least 350 acres, and perhaps much more for an aerotropolis.  Local people fear it could destroy paddy land and damage the region’s water source. They also fear it could harm the town’s ‘heritage’ tag and damage the structure of a temple located just a few hundred metres from the project site. There are concerns that the airport would not be profitable, due to its two neighbours, which are not full. The airport has aroused intense opposition over the past two years, and there have been many protests. The opponents have a Facebook site, and have been feeling they are alone in their fight, being unaware of the extent of other airport opposition elsewhere in the world. The Indian government recently announced it  proposes to build 17 new airports in 11 states. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17445

.

.

.

 

Read more »

Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic,Lufthansa and Tui sell their 21% stake in NATS to UK pension fund

Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic, TUI Travel and Lufthansa have agreed to sell most of their stakes in NATS to Britain’s biggest pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). USS will pay £152m for 49.9% of the “Airline Group”, which owns 41.9% of NATS. The deal indirectly gives USS a 21% stake in Nats, which handles more than 6,000 flights a day. Thomas Cook and TUI each issued statements to the London Stock Exchange saying they sold their stakes for £38m and that Nats was not a core part of their operations. BA, easyJet and the Monarch Airlines retirement plan, the other owners of the Airline Group, will keep their stakes. A spokesman for the Airline Group said BA and easyJet were the two companies most reliant on Nats so they kept their stakes to maintain their influence over operations. Nats is controlled by the government, which has a 49% stake plus a special share. The government had intended to sell half its stake but ministers changed their minds when faced with a potential outcry (Feb 2011) over letting air traffic control out of public hands.
.

 

Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic sell air traffic control stake to pension fund

Universities pension fund will pay £152m for 49.9% in Airline Group, while BA, and easyJet  retain ownership
  • 19 November 2013 (Guardian)

National Air Traffic Services Heathrow

The new air traffic control tower at Heathrow airport run by the National Air Traffic Services. Photograph: David Levene

Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic, TUI Travel and Deutsche Lufthansa have agreed to sell most of their stakes in National Air Traffic Services (Nats) to Britain’s biggest pension fund.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) will pay £152m for 49.9% of the Airline Group, which owns 41.9% of Nats. The deal indirectly gives USS a 21% stake in Nats, which directs air traffic above the UK and handles more than 6,000 flights a day.

Thomas Cook and TUI each issued statements to the London Stock Exchange saying they sold their stakes for £38m and that Nats was not a core part of their operations.

British Airways, easyJet and the Monarch Airlines retirement plan, the other owners of the Airline Group, will keep their stakes.

A spokesman for the Airline Group said BA and easyJet were the two companies most reliant on Nats and that they kept their stakes to maintain their influence over operations.

Nats is controlled by the government, which has a 49% stake plus a special share. The government had intended to sell half its stake but ministers changed their minds when faced with a potential outcry over letting air traffic control out of public hands.

USS was considered a suitable buyer because it would be a long-term investor. Nats was controversially part-privatised by the Labour government in 2001.

Nats said: “As we continue to expand and develop, USS’s insight and expertise will undoubtedly benefit the continued growth of the business and we look forward to mutual future success.”

The travel companies had been looking to reduce their stakes in Nats for months. Other potential buyers were said to have included infrastructure companies and overseas air traffic controllers.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/19/thomas-cook-virgin-atlantic-sell-air-traffic-control-stake-pension

.

also Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20131119-700477.html?dsk=y

 


.

NATS press release

19.11.2013

NATS statement on the Airline Group share sale to USS

NATS welcomes USS (The Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited) as shareholders and a member of the Airline Group and we look forward to working with USS representatives on the NATS Board.

It is testament to the strength of the business that an investment in NATS matches the long-term criteria of the UK’s largest pension fund, with their long-term commitment to provide high quality pensions for the higher education sector.

USS acquiring a 49.9% non-controlling stake in The Airline Group, which is a 41.9% shareholder in NATS, is the most significant change in ownership since the company became a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in 2001.

Since then, our delay and safety performance have improved significantly and we have introduced innovative measures to help generate significant fuel savings for our customers, all while reducing the underlying controllable operating costs by around a third in real terms in our regulated business. Our strategy has delivered service innovation to existing customers and attracted a range of new contracts, allowing NATS to strengthen its core UK business whilst expanding to operate internationally in more than 30 countries.

As we continue to expand and develop, USS’s insight and expertise will undoubtedly benefit the continued growth of the business and we look forward to mutual future success.

http://www.nats.aero/news/nats-statement/

.

.

 

.

Earlier

Airlines warn Tories not to sell Government 49% stake in NATS

6.2.2011

Seven of Britain’s leading airlines have warned the government not to sell Nats,
the national air traffic control service, arguing that the system is a key strategic
asset not suitable for full privatisation.   
In a letter obtained by the Observer, the Airline Group warns of “highly damaging” consequences if the state sells all of its 49% stake, an option under consideration by transport secretary Philip Hammond.  The Airline Group, which has a 42% stake in Nats, said in the letter to Hammond that it would sell its interest if the government failed to retain a shareholding of at least 25%.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=2795

 

.

.

earlier

Airlines warn Tories not to sell Government 49% stake in NATS

Edit this entry.

6.2.2011 (Observer)
Seven leading carriers condemn government plans as ‘highly damaging’ for a key
strategic asset
by Dan Milmo

Seven of Britain’s leading airlines have warned the government not to sell Nats,
the national air traffic control service, arguing that the system is a key strategic
asset not suitable for full privatisation.

In a letter obtained by the Observer, the Airline Group warns of “highly damaging” consequences if the state sells
all of its 49% stake, an option under consideration by transport secretary Philip
Hammond.

The Airline Group, which has a 42% stake in Nats, said in the letter to Hammond
that it would sell its interest if the government failed to retain a shareholding
of at least 25%.

Peter Read, the group’s chairman, said a government sell-out would risk relegating
Britain to the status of a bit-player in discussions over reforms of European
air traffic control: “It would be highly damaging if we were left on the sidelines
to watch while others, notably France, Germany and Spain, decided the future of
the air traffic control [ATC] industry. The evidence indicates a real risk that
such an outcome would occur if the UK was the only country without a government
shareholding in its national ATC company. The country’s interests would be best
served if the government were to retain a significant shareholding, perhaps 25%
as a minimum.”

Highlighting the consequences for future airline ownership in Nats, he said:
“The absence of a government stake would make it difficult to justify continued
airline participation in the ownership of Nats.”

The group – British Airways, Virgin, bmi, EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook and Tui Travel – bought its shareholding in 2001 when the Blair administration part-privatised
the business. The carriers are concerned that the government’s remaining Nats
stake is among assets earmarked for disposal by the chancellor, George Osborne, alongside the potential sale of the Tote, a stake in the Royal Mail and part
of the student loan portfolio.

Read said the government’s need to raise money was “understandable” but it must
not be to the detriment of the UK’s main air traffic controller. Citing a recent
reduction in flight delays caused by air traffic control, he said: “It would be
in no one’s interest, including the government’s, if Nats were to revert, even
partially, to its bad old ways.”

Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, said any sale of the government’s
Nats stake would be “ideologically driven” and about “short-term profit” rather
than safety and security: “They should listen to the warning from the airlines
that the country’s best interests would be served by government retaining at least
a 25% stake. If they go ahead with this reckless plan, Labour will oppose their
plans and vote against them in parliament.”

Potential bidders for the Nats stake include UK service company Serco, Gatwick
airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners and Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace
and defence giant.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The DfT remains in discussions
with the Treasury over Nats and no announcement will be made until the budget
next month.”

Nats, which handled 2.2m flights in 2009, posted a pre-tax profit of £78.3m in
the year to 31 March 2010, on turnover of £755m. In the current financial year
it has already paid shareholders an interim dividend of £20m.
see earlier

Budget 2010: Air traffic control organisation Nats to be sold off

Treasury in talks to fellow shareholders about selling off its 49% stake in Nats
air traffic control service

by Dan Milmo

  • Control tower, Edinburgh airport

     

  • The government is planning to sell off its stake in Nats, the national air traffic
    control service. Above, control tower at Edinburgh airport. Photograph: Danny
    Lawson/PA

Britain’s national air traffic control service could follow the High Speed One rail link into full private ownership after the government raised the sale of its shareholding
in Nats (formerly known as National Air Traffic Services) today.

The Treasury is to open discussions with fellow shareholders in Britain’s dominant
air traffic controller over selling its 49% stake, the chancellor, George Osborne,
said in his budget speech today. Nats is 42%-owned by a consortium of airlines includingeasyJet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, with 5% controlled by staff and a further
4% owned by airport group BAA. A spokesman for easyJet said the airline would
oppose selling the shareholding to a private investor more interested in profit
than running an efficient service.

“Profit should not take precedence over the efficient running of UK airspace,
so we will need to look at this carefully,” he said. The spokesman added that
easyJet would not support a sale that would lead to higher air traffic control
charges.

Nats was heavily criticised for its handling of the unprecedented six-day closure of British airspace in
April, after a cloud of volcanic ash drifted across the UK. However, blame was
later shifted by airlines towards the Civil Aviation Authority, which oversaw
the safety guidelines that grounded millions of passengers and thousands of flights.

Prospect, the union that represents more than 3,000 air traffic controllers,
said the proposal was a “short-sighted” and a “knee-jerk” reaction.

“A safe, efficient and effective air traffic control system is of crucial interest
not only to the UK economy but also to every member of the travelling public,”
said Garry Graham, Prospect’s national secretary for aviation. “This proposed
sale has nothing to do with supporting a safe and effective air traffic control
system and is entirely Treasury-driven.”

On Monday the government put a 30-year concession to operate the High Speed One
rail link up for sale and hopes to raise £1.5bn from the process. Eurotunnel, owner of the Channel tunnel, confirmed that it is interested in
bidding as part of a consortium. The Treasury also confirmed today that it is
exploring the sale of the Tote betting service and the Dartford river crossing.
see earlier

‘Shake-Up’ Of Air Traffic Control Service NATS

16.10.2009  (Yahoo news)

Airlines are discussing a shake-up in the ownership of the National Air Traffic Control Service, Sky News can reveal.

Nats is part-owned by a consortium of commercial airlines and directs aircraft
through UK air-space.

The Government currently retains a 49% stake in the business.

Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman said:  “There are seven airlines which collectively
form the airline group. They own 42% of Nats.

“Some of these airlines including Virgin Atlantic and bmi, which is now owned
by German airline Lufthansa, are keen to sell their stakes in the airline group
to generate cash.

“But there is one stumbling block which is that easyjet, which is another member
of this airline group, does not want the others to sell out.”

He added: “There are also a couple of other potential obstacles to the sale of
this stake.

“One is that none of the airlines can sell until Prestwick, the new national air traffic control
centre, is completed, which is due to take place in the early part of next year.

“The other is that the Government, which owns 49% of Nats, has a right of veto
over any plans by the airlines to sell at any point in the future even after Prestwick
is completed.”

Nats was not on the list of public assets that Gordon Brown earlier this week said would be sold to raise a total of £16bn.

Kleinman said: “That’s partly because it’s potentially very, very sensitive,
particularly in the run-up to the General Election. Nats is what you might call
a strategic asset.”

Nats operates at 15 UK airports.  It handled two million flights and 220 million
passengers in 2007.

In 2001, Nats became a public-private partnership, and in 2008, it made profits
of £66m.  It has debts of £538m.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20091015/tuk-shake-up-of-air-traffic-control-serv-45dbed5.html

 

 

 

.

 

Read more »

European Commission approves state aid for the construction of French airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes

There are plans for a new airport for Nantes, in western France, to be built some 12 miles to the north of the town, at Notre Dame des Landes. The new airport has been fiercely opposed. The proponents of the new airport claim the existing one is now full, with over 3.5 million passengers, and planes over-fly Nantes. The European Commission has decided that it is suitable to give a public subsidy of €150 million to the company to develop the new airport, Société Aéroports du Grand Ouest. The EC says this is compatible with the EU rules on State aid, and they say it will help improve regional connectivity and links with the rest of the EU, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market. This appears to be a very bad decision on the use of public money. The Commission seems to have believed everything it has been told by the authorities who want to build the airport. There is, in reality, no congestion at the existing airport and the economic benefits were hotly challenged in a report by CE Delft, commissioned by the local campaign. It is also worrying that the Commission is agreeing to State Aid for an airport in what is generally quite a wealthy area.
.

 

State aid: Commission approves aid for the construction of French airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes

Brussels.

20.11.2013 (Europa)

The European Commission considers that the public subsidy granted by France to Société Aéroports du Grand Ouest, a company situated in Nantes in western France, for the construction of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes Airport, is compatible with the EU rules on State aid. The project will help improve regional connectivity without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.

The Aéroport du Grand Ouest project will relocate Nantes Atlantique Airport, situated near the city of Nantes, to the site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a little over 20 km to the north of Nantes. The main aim of the project is to meet regional development requirements and to resolve the congestion problem at the existing airport. Following the tender procedure, the contract for implementing the project was awarded to Société Aéroports du Grand Ouest, a subsidiary of the Vinci group.

The French authorities notified a subsidy of EUR €150 million to the Commission in July 2013. The Commission assessed the measure in the light of the EU guidelines for State aid in the aviation sector, adopted in 2005. The investigation carried out by the Commission showed that the infrastructure project helped achieve an objective of common interest by tackling the congestion of the existing infrastructure. Furthermore, the French authorities presented a business plan for the project, which showed that the public subsidy was necessary to implement the project and in proportion to the objective pursued.

The assessment of the measure in question in accordance with State aid legislation is without prejudice to the procedure currently under way to ensure that the project complies with European environmental law.

nantes airport

Current airport some 3 miles south west of Nantes. Proposed site of new airport at Notre Dame des Landes, some 12 miles north west.

Background

Nantes Atlantique Airport is located some ten kilometres from the city of Nantes. Over the last five years its passenger traffic has risen by 40%, reaching a total of 3 631 693 passengers in 2012, compared with the airport’s estimated annual capacity of 3 500 000 passengers. The nearest airports (Rennes, Angers, Vannes) are mainly national in scope and/or do not allow for the development of aeronautical infrastructure.

Certain regions are hampered by poor accessibility from the rest of the European Union, and the major hubs are facing increasing levels of congestion. Regional airports play an important role in ensuring the accessibility of Europe’s regions. Against this backdrop, the Commission’s aim is to establish more equitable conditions of competition in the aviation sector, while at the same time allowing regional authorities to meet accessibility and transport needs. The application of State aid rules to the aviation sector is part of the Commission’s efforts to improve the competitiveness and growth potential of the European Union air transport sector. The European Commission has launched a procedure to revise the current rules (seeIP/13/644).

Today’s decision concerns one of around 60 on-going cases in the aviation sector relating to the financing of airport infrastructure and operations and airport/airline agreements.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.37125 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website, once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-1125_en.htm

Nantes area map airports

Map showing location of airports in the area from http://www.mapsofworld.com/international-airports/europe/france.html

.

.


.

Earlier:

Consultation on rules for European Commission state aid to airports and airlines

18.9.2013Under the European Commission, state aid is granted to various sectors of the economy. However, a key issue is the impact it has on distorting the market, and giving an unfair advantage to those companies or organisations receiving it. Airports and airlines are one sector that receives large amounts of state aid through the EC. The Commission’s DG Competition is tasked with overseeing state aid. There have been earlier sets of guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, but there is a current consultation – due to end on 25th September (which may be extended). The exact amount of state aid given to the aviation sector is somewhat shady, but is at least €3 billion, for those subsidies that are fully notified.There have been widely publicised cases, such as that of Ryanair at Charleroi airport. Transport & Environment have produced an easy-to-read briefing on the state aid situation, and people are urged to respond to the consultation. The state aid gives the aviation industry unmerited subsidy, and helps to encourage very high carbon travel.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17424

.

and

.

Economist: Proposed EU rules on state aid aim to stem the flow of money from taxpayers’ pockets to Ryanair

18.10.2013Article in the Economist gives a useful set of insights into airport subsidies at small airports across Europe, which are now due to be reduced after consultation. The Economist says Europe has over 450 airports, mostly small and loss-making. About 85% are publicly owned. Local politicians’ enthusiastic sponsorship of airports, to boost regional economies, has in turn contributed to the rapid growth of low-cost airlines, since the airports have used their subsidies to offer cheap landing fees and other sweeteners to persuade the cheap carriers to fly there.  Ryanair is the sole or dominant carrier at many of the airports under investigation, and has been getting effective subsidies of as much as €11 per passenger. There may be as much as €3 billion of taxpayers’ money given in EU-approved aid to small airports each year, and more that is not sanctioned.  EU laws ban state aid if it seriously distorts markets and though there have been many investigations into this, none has yet reached a conclusion. Some smaller airports will find it hard to pay Ryanair and other budget airlines enough to keep them flying there. With tighter rules, some of the 80-odd European airports with under 1m passengers will be at risk of closing.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18014

.

.

and

Bankrupt Alitalia to get € millions of state aid from Italy’s state postal service

10.10.2013

The near-bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia is to receive an emergency capital injection from Italy’s state-owned post office. Italy’s government did not say how much Poste Italiane SpA, the Italian postal service, would be investing – but it might be up to €100 million.  The Italian government hope the link between  Poste Italiane and Alitalia would lead to a synergy of logistics, in passengers and cargo.  Italy’s civil aviation authority had warned just hours earlier that the airline risked being grounded if new financing was not found urgently. Alitalia needs some €455 million to stay afloat. The Italian government justified what amounted to state intervention saying Alitalia was considered a national asset.   It filed for bankruptcy in August, as high staff costs, industrial relations issues and surging oil prices further dented its finances. It is being suggested that Alitalia might be able to merge with Air France-KLM to help get it out of its financial problems. Alitalia went bankrupt in 2008, and was re-launched in 2009.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17904

.

 

 

Read more »

Cameron failed to deliver on promise of ‘greenest government ever’ and environmental commitments, say NGOs

In a report called “Nature Check 2013″ the consortium of 41 environmental NGOs has set out a range of environmental commitments made by this government, and their progress on them. The Government has failed to deliver on more than a third of the pledges it made to improve the natural environment and has made “good progress” on less than a fifth. The report shows, comparing progress over the past 3 years, that the Coalition’s environmental record had “steadily worsened” during its time in office and found that 79% of the population believe it has not lived up to its pledge to be the “greenest government ever”. Dr Elaine King, director of the consortium said: “We’re told an economy in crisis is a higher priority than nature in crisis. Yet the Government is missing a huge opportunity – a healthy environment helps the economy and enhances people’s health and wellbeing.” On the pledge “We will maintain the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other environmental protections, and create a new designation – similar to SSSIs”…they are failing.They are making only moderate progress on two others relating to the planning system.
.

 

Cameron failed to deliver on promise of ‘greenest government ever’, say NGOs

 

Report claims Coalition’s record on the environment has steadily worsened as more than a third of pledges not met

19 November 2013

The Wildlife and Countryside Link’s report “Nature Check 2013″ -An analysis of the Government’s natural environment commitments

The Government has failed to deliver on more than a third of the pledges it made to improve the natural environment and has made “good progress” on less than a fifth of them, according to research published today.

A report by a consortium  of 41 NGOs concluded  that the Coalition’s environmental record had “steadily worsened” during its time  in office and found that 79  per cent of the population believe it has not lived up to its pledge to be the “greenest government ever”.

“David Cameron promised the greenest government ever. Using the Government’s own promises as a yardstick, these findings show he’s  failed to stick to his plan,”  said Dr Elaine King, the director of the consortium,  known as the Wildlife and Countryside Link.

“We’re told an economy in crisis is a higher priority than nature in crisis. Yet the Government is missing a huge opportunity – a healthy environment helps the economy and enhances people’s health and wellbeing,” she added.

The report, by organisations including the RSPB, WWF, RSPCA and The Wildlife Trusts, said the Government was “falling short” when it came to protecting the green belt, farm animal welfare, developing marine conservation zones and reversing declines in wildlife.

It also criticises the  controversial badger cull, designed to reduce bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

The report quotes the Government’s promise to “implement a carefully managed and science-led policy of badger control as part of a balanced package of measures to control bovine TB and to support the cattle industry”. It  concludes that it has failed  in that and eight other  commitments.

“The [bovine TB reduction] policy being implemented is neither balanced nor science-led, especially with regard to the relative lack of resources being directed to sustainable disease control measures, such as badger vaccination,” the report says.

But David Cameron stood by his record.

Asked about those Conservatives who say they can no longer vote for his party because planning reforms have led to more development on greenbelt land, the Prime Minister said: “I think that planning reform is important. It’s important that we build more houses because the average age of the first-time buyer has crept into the 30s and I believe in a socially mobile opportunity society where people can achieve their dream of home ownership.”

Although the report is largely critical of the Coalition, it finds that “some areas show progress, demonstrating that the Government is capable of providing green leadership”.

It praises the Government for making good progress in helping to develop a Common Fisheries Policy, a strong response to ash dieback disease and providing global leadership on protecting elephants, rhinos and whales.

The report rates four of the Government’s 25 commitments to the natural environment as green (showing good progress) – or 16 per cent -  with ranked 12 amber (moderate progress) and nine – or 36 per cent – red (failing).

Of the commitments which were rated in a similar report a year ago, 20 per cent have got worse and only 10 per cent have improved.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cameron-failed-to-deliver-on-promise-of-greenest-government-ever-say-ngos-8947991.html?utm_source=indynewsletter&utm_medium=email20112013

.


 

.

Land Use Planning pledges

In the Land Use Planning section of the report, there are three items rated (for 2011, 2012 and 2013). These have not done well – amber light means “moderate progress” and red light means “failing”.  Page 41 of http://www.wcl.org.uk/docs/Link_Nature_Check_Report_November_2013.pdf

greenest government ever

.

.
The Wildlife and Countryside Link’s report “Nature Check 2013″ -

An analysis of the Government’s natural environment commitments

.

 

.

Read more »

“Let Britain Fly” taken to task for exaggerating and wrongly claiming London’s economy is being damaged by any lack of runway capacity

In a blog, John Stewart pours some cold water on the infant “Let Britain Fly” campaign launched today.  Its proud parent, London First, surrounded by a glittering array of big names from the business world, overdid the hyperbole.  Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said that it was not acceptable for politicians “to dither” over new runways “and let our economy wither.”   She even went on to ask somewhat over-dramatically, “Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?” Baroness Valentine must know this is exaggeration, even scaremongering. Whatever the pros and cons of expansion in the longer term, the facts are clear: there is no rush for a decision to be taken.  The DfT has said that there is enough spare runway capacity in London and the South East until nearly 2030.  And survey after survey shows that London remains the top city for business in Europe because of its unparalleled air connections to the rest of the world.  Let Britain Fly – and London First – will lose credibility if they continue to exaggerate the urgency of the need for expansion. Giving the impression that London’s economy is in crisis because of a lack of runways is simply not true.
.

 

19/11/2013

Hype and exaggeration mark the birth of Let Britain Fly

Blog on Let Britain Fly, By John Stewart

Let Britain Fly had a difficult birth today.  Its proud parent, London First, surrounded by a glittering array of big names from the business world, overdid the hyperbole.  Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said that it was not acceptable for politicians “to dither” over new runways “and let our economy wither.”   She even went on to ask somewhat over-dramatically, “Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?”

Baroness Valentine must know this is exaggeration, even scaremongering.  Whatever the pros and cons of expansion in the longer term, the facts are clear: there is no rush for a decision to be taken.  The Department for Transport has said that there is enough spare runway capacity in London and the South East until nearly 2030.  And survey after survey shows that London remains the top city for business in Europe because of its unparalleled air connections to the rest of the world.

The annual, and influential, survey, carried out by global property consultants Cushman & Wakefield, The European Cities Monitor rates London the top city in which to do business in Europe.  In 2011, it found London topped the league for the 22nd year out of 22.Cushman & Wakefield commented: “London is still ranked – by some distance from its closest competitors – as the leading city in which to do business. Paris and Frankfurt remain in second and third place respectively.”  The survey found London owes its position to its excellent links to the rest of the world. It has the best external transport, best internal transport and top telecommunications.  The 2012 survey produced the same result.

Despite the alleged “dithering” more passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world.  Paris, its nearest European competitor, is in 5th place.

There is a genuine debate to be had about future airport capacity but Let Britain Fly – and its parent body London First – will lose credibility if it continues to exaggerate the urgency of the need for expansion.

London First and its backers also face another challenge. It is easy for London to make general calls for airport expansion without exploring its impacts on local communities.

We hear the obligatory words that the needs of local residents must not be overlooked.   But it has never publically faced up to the question: is there any occasion when the environmental and social impacts of expansion at any particular airport are so unacceptable that expansion should be ruled out, whatever the economic benefits?  It needs to do so if it is to engage fully in the debate.

Let Britain Fly will have a gilded childhood.  £500,000 is going to be spent over the next two years.  But its parent body and supporters need to get over the excitement of its birth, calm down and stop giving the impression that London’s economy is in crisis because of a lack of runways.  It is simply not true.

.


.

Campaign – ‘Let Britain Fly’ – launched by London First, calls for urgent action to increase airport capacity

Date added: November 20, 2013

On 10th October, business lobby group London First announced it would be launching a new campaign called “Let Britain Fly”. It has now had its blast of publicity, with a splurge of media coverage. The campaign will cost £250,000 and London First is seeking £25,000 each from businesses, trade unions and London boroughs to fund it. They have got a number of Britain’s large companies, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Next, Associated British Foods, WPP and many others to sign up. They want a new runway built somewhere, complaing the UK has not built a new one in the south east for 70 years. They want politicians of all parties to agree on the principle that airport capacity must be expanded in the South East “to ensure Britain remains competitive”. They want there to be no delays in getting a new runway built. The campaign stems from the questionable belief that airport capacity constraints threaten “to hamper the UK’s success as a global business centre and at the same time the ability to forge a lasting economic recovery”.

Click here to view full story…

 

.


.

Business leaders demand action on airport expansion

Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson, believes that delays mean ‘airlines, the public and the economy are all suffering’
19 November 2013
 

Business leaders and senior backbenchers have lambasted politicians past and present for failing to expand airport capacity in South East England.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, said: “While MPs from all parties kick airport capacity around like a political football, airlines, the public and the economy are all suffering.

“The UK can’t afford any more wasted opportunities. It must make sure that any solution is just that – a solution to the UK’s chronic capacity shortage, not an expensive, politically expedient white elephant.

Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, told The Independent: “Over past years, governments have failed to actually take a decision. They might have said what they thought should happen, but it’s never actually gone ahead. Time is now running out. If we don’t do something about expanding our hub capacity, our rivals will continue to expand to our detriment.”

The criticisms were made at the launch of a pro-expansion campaign funded by UK industry, called “Let Britain Fly”. More than 100 business leaders are demanding that the next government acts on the recommendations of the Airport Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.

Interim proposals are due in December, with the full Davies Commission report expected shortly after the 2015 general election. Sir Howard has already indicated that his commission will favour at least one additional runway, but no political party has agreed to be bound by his recommendations.

John Allan, chairman of Dixons Retail, said “For too long, this issue has been placed in the ‘too difficult’ box. We can’t afford to be gifted amateurs in the world economy – we’ve got to become more professional. We need to come together on this issue and forge a cross-party agreement.”

Graham Brady MP, chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, said: “I meet business people in all parts of the north of England who are ‘muddling through’ by hubbing at airports on the Continent. I’d rather they were changing planes in London rather than in then Holland or Germany or Paris.”

But anti-expansion campaigners accused the new campaign of lacking focus. John Stewart of HACAN Clear Skies, which opposes a third runway at Heathrow, said: “It is too easy simply to make general calls for airport expansion without exploring its impacts on local communities. Let Britain Fly needs to do this if it is to become a serious player in the debate.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/business-leaders-demand-action-on-airport-expansion-8950427.html

.

.

 

 

 

Read more »

Campaign – ‘Let Britain Fly’ – launched by London First, calls for urgent action to increase airport capacity

On 10th October, business lobby group London First announced it would be launching a new campaign called “Let  Britain Fly”.  It has now had its blast of publicity, with a splurge of media coverage. The campaign will cost £250,000 and London First is seeking £25,000 each from businesses, trade unions and London boroughs to fund it. They have  got a number of Britain’s large companies, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Next, Associated British Foods, WPP and many others to sign up. They want a new runway built somewhere, complaing the UK has not built a new one in the south east for 70 years. They want politicians of all parties to agree on the principle that airport capacity must be expanded in the South East “to ensure Britain remains competitive”. They want there to be no delays in getting a new runway built. The campaign stems from the questionable belief that airport capacity constraints threaten “to hamper the UK’s success as a global business centre and at the same time the ability to forge a lasting economic recovery”.
.

 

Expand Britain’s airports, top businesses urge

Leading British companies back a new campaign – ‘Let Britain Fly’ – calling for urgent action to increase airport capacity

Anti-austerity strikes cause flight cancellations

More than 100 businesses are backing a new campaign urging action on airport capacity. 
By , Leisure and Transport Correspondent (Telegraph)

19 Nov 2013

More than 100 of Britain’s leading companies, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group and WPP on Tuesday joined forces to call for an end to almost 70 years of inertia over airport capacity in Britain.

A new campaign urging politicians to secure Britain’s future as a global business centre has attracted support from some of the biggest names in the City, including Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, Rupert Soames of Aggreko, George Weston of Associated British Foods and Next chief executive Lord Wolfson.

The “Let Britain Fly” campaign will mark a significant development in the debate over new runways in the South East, which has so far been dominated by airports, airlines and business lobby groups.

While the campaign will stop short of backing a single solution, members hope politicians from across the spectrum will agree on the principle that airport capacity must be expanded in the South East to ensure Britain remains competitive.

A government-appointed commission examining where new runways should be built will not deliver its final recommendations until 2015, but it is understood business leaders are keen to avoid further delays which could be caused by a lack of political consensus.

In an article for The Telegraph ahead of today’s campaign launch, Sir Martin says capacity constraints threaten “to hamper the UK’s success as a global business centre and at the same time the ability to forge a lasting economic recovery”.

He adds: “We live in a world where connectivity is key – not only in digital but also in physical terms. This means we urgently need MPs to put our long-term national interest ahead of short-term politics”.

The campaign comes as Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, prepares to publish a shortlist next month of the potential sites where extra runways, or even a brand new airport, could be built.

Britain has not opened a new full-length runway since the Second World War.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10458373/Expand-Britains-airports-top-businesses-urge.html

.

The list of their signatories is at http://letbritainfly.com/our-signatories/


.

19/11/2013

Hype and exaggeration mark the birth of Let Britain Fly

Blog on Let Britain Fly, By John Stewart

 

Let Britain Fly had a difficult birth today.  Its proud parent, London First, surrounded by a glittering array of big names from the business world, overdid the hyperbole.  Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said that it was not acceptable for politicians “to dither” over new runways “and let our economy wither.”   She even went on to ask somewhat over-dramatically, “Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?”

Baroness Valentine must know this is exaggeration, even scaremongering.  Whatever the pros and cons of expansion in the longer term, the facts are clear: there is no rush for a decision to be taken.  The Department for Transport has said that there is enough spare runway capacity in London and the South East until nearly 2030.  And survey after survey shows that London remains the top city for business in Europe because of its unparalleled air connections to the rest of the world.

The annual, and influential, survey, carried out by global property consultants Cushman & Wakefield, The European Cities Monitor rates London the top city in which to do business in Europe.  In 2011, it found London topped the league for the 22nd year out of 22. Cushman & Wakefield commented: “London is still ranked – by some distance from its closest competitors – as the leading city in which to do business. Paris and Frankfurt remain in second and third place respectively.”  The survey found London owes its position to its excellent links to the rest of the world. It has the best external transport, best internal transport and top telecommunications.  The 2012 survey produced the same result.

Despite the alleged “dithering” more passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world.  Paris, its nearest European competitor, is in 5th place.

There is a genuine debate to be had about future airport capacity but Let Britain Fly – and his parent body London First – will lose credibility if it continues to exaggerate the urgency of the need for expansion.

London First and its backers also face another challenge. It is easy for London to make general calls for airport expansion without exploring its impacts on local communities.  We hear the obligatory words that the needs of local residents must not be overlooked.   But it has never publically faced up to the question: is there any occasion when the environmental and social impacts of expansion at any particular airport are so unacceptable that expansion should be ruled out, whatever the economic benefits?  It needs to do so if it is to engage fully in the debate.

Let Britain Fly will have a gilded childhood.  £500,000 is going to be spent over the next two years.  But its parent body and supporters need to get over the excitement of its birth, calm down and stop giving the impression that London’s economy is in crisis because of a lack of runways.  It is simply not true.

.


.

The “Let Britain Fly” campaign wrote to hundreds/thousands of people today to say:

http://letbritainfly.com

The Let Britain Fly founding statement has been signed by over 100 business leaders from Britain’s top companies, along with organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, British Hospitality Association, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and London First – you can view the full list and the statement on the website: http://letbritainfly.com

Let Britain Fly has successfully renewed the debate on how we secure Britain’s aviation future. It has received coverage in the FT, The Telegraph, BBC News online and ITV News, whilst figures including Sir Richard Branson, Sir Rod Eddington, Sir George Iacobescu and Sir Martin Sorrell have all written articles of support. Finally, the campaign has tonight been endorsed by a leader comment in the Evening Standard.

Whilst we are pleased with the coverage today, the launch of Let Britain Fly is merely the start of a programme of activity. Throughout this Parliament, in the run-up to the 2015 General Election and beyond, we will work hard to keep this issue at the top of the political agenda and maintain the pressure on our politicians to act in the national interest and take swift action to modernise our airports’ infrastructure.

With this in mind we hope you will join and support us in the coming months and years.

Gavin Hayes

Campaign Director, Let Britain Fly

c/o London First
3 Whitcomb Street, London WC2H 7HA
D: 020 7665 1435 T: 020 7665 1500 F: 020 7665 1537
gavin@letbritainfly.com  www.letbritainfly.com
Twitter: @LetBritainFly

 

.


.

Director, Gavin Hayes.

He has an interesting background. He joined London First on the 29th July as their Aviation Campaigns Director. He joined from a job as General Secretary of Compass, a left/green pressure group within the Labour Party. He’s a member of the Labour Party. He was formerly with an organisation called Policy Review Intelligence which seems to have been critical of the banking crises. Looking at his tweets on twitter, he is clearly a man of the left. Does all this mean, I wonder, if the main target of the London First campaign is Labour?

.


 

.

Earlier

London First getting businesses to fund campaign “Let Britain Fly” to press for airport expansion

10.10.2013London businesses are to fund a major campaign for airport expansion after Sir Howard Davies said the Airports Commission provisionally is backing new runways in the South-East. Business group London First will put pressure on the main political parties to heed the Commissions’s recommendations when published after the 2015 election. The “Let Britain Fly” campaign will cost £250,000 and London First is seeking £25,000 each from businesses, trade unions and London boroughs. The cash will be used to fund academic studies and advertising. The lobby group insists it will not campaign in favour of one particular airport. It believes extra flights can be put on at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick  in the next five years regardless of the outcome of a decision on runways. The City of London Corporation is set to contribute to the campaign, with Canary Wharf Group, Sir Robert McAlpine, the Berkeley Group, John Lewis and Segro also committed. “London First” is an aggressively pro-growth lobby organisation, whose stated mission is to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business.”http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=2653..


 

.

Their “founding statement” says:

Founding statement

Access to high quality international air travel is vital to attract new business to Britain and for the success of the wider economy. Yet unless action is taken in the near future to modernise our airport infrastructure our capital city could face an air capacity crunch. London Heathrow has been full for over a decade, whilst all of the capital’s airports, including Gatwick and Stansted are forecast to be full by the mid-2020s.Historically as a country we have always forged strong global connections and been at the forefront of harnessing the dynamism of new economies. For the last three centuries or more Britain has been home to the busiest port or airport, infrastructure that has played a strategic role in making us the economic power we are today.Now more than ever Britain’s economic competitiveness demands greater international connectivity. While trade patterns are dominated by traditional partners, global economic growth is increasingly being driven by emerging markets. Easy access to developing and developed markets is a key to boosting growth and creating jobs. Yet our capital city is already at a competitive disadvantage with fewer weekly flights than its European rivals to seven of the eight growth economies identified by the IMF. Over 20 emerging market destinations are served by daily flights from other European cities but not from London. Britain is quickly falling behind.If our economy is to flourish in the future it is vital we continue to be one of the best connected countries in the world. This is why we believe Britain remaining Europe’s most important aviation hub is of strategic national importance. If our politicians fail to act there is a real risk that our economy will lose its competitive edge. Aviation policy should form part of a wider transport and infrastructure plan which reconciles different economic priorities across Britain, with modernised aviation and transport infrastructure contributing to economic growth in all parts of the country.Whilst we support the Airports Commission in coming up with a sensible aviation policy, we have concerns that unless its solutions win cross-party support, the growing economic cost of deferring a strategy to deliver new runways – which is costing our economy billions in trade and investment every year – will not be halted.Our ask of politicians

Before the next general election we urge the three main party leaders to immediately acknowledge the need for more air capacity, commit to finding a cross-party solution to modernise our airport infrastructure; and in their manifestos commit to be guided by what the Airports Commission recommends for the long-term; pledging to maintain, protect and enhance Britain’s status as a global aviation hub.

It’s time to Let Britain Fly.

http://letbritainfly.com/founding-statement/

.


.

Media coverage of the launch on 19th November of “Let Britain Fly”

Read more »

“Have regional airports had their day in the sun?” Plans by some for business parks, housing etc in future

The Northern Echo writes: “Have regional airports had their day in the sun?” They look at loss-making regional airports, after the news that Manston and Prestwick are to effectively be sold for £1 each.  Others are surviving on bail-outs from taxpayers.  From Prestwick to Newquay, numbers of passenger at UK regional airports plummeted after 2007 as airlines withdrew flights and consolidated services at the major hubs in response to a reduction in both leisure and business traffic. Durham Tees Valley has been particularly badly hit, and continues to lose money – perhaps £4 million this year. Its owner, Peel, are proposing a business park with housing for the airport, and that sort of plan is becoming commonplace. Peel have launched similar plans at Robin Hood Airport, which includes a pub, offices, and industrial buildings. Newcastle airport’s masterplan aims to include 2 business parks. Cambridge has a scheme to build up to 1,500 homes on land adjacent to the airport, and Manston wants to develop a campus with student accommodation.
.

 

Loss making airports sold for £1, but will to see them survive is out there

14th November 2013   (Northern Echo)

By Andy Richardson

Have regional airports had their day in the sun?
Have regional airports had their day in the sun?

LOSS-MAKING regional airports are changing hands for as little as £1 and surviving on bail-outs from taxpayers.  Business Editor Andy Richardson looks at the race to keep the regions flying.

REGIONAL airports took a battering during the recession.

From Prestwick to Newquay passenger numbers plummeted after 2007 as airlines withdrew flights and consolidated services at the major hubs in response to a reduction in both leisure and business traffic.

The controversial UK flight tax Air Passenger Duty (APD) had a disproportionate effect on regional operations.  [The airlines and airports like to blame Air Passenger Duty, which is not a  realistic claim as APD is only £13 for any short haul return flight to European destinations (£26 for a domestic return flight). This always ignores the way in which airlines try to add charges to the cost of travel for anything they can think of, and also bump up the cost of fares in popular times such as school holidays - they don't show the same concern about the iniquity of a £13 tax in relation to those. ] 

Larger regionals, such as Newcastle International, Leeds/Bradford and Manchester managed to weather the worst effects of the downturn, but Durham Tees Valley (DTV) was among the hardest hit, suffering a 77 per cent drop in passenger numbers.

It will record losses of about £4m this year, and owners Peel expect the operation will continue to haemorrhage cash unless its latest rescue bid takes off.

Peel has repeatedly insisted that it regards DTV as a long-term investment. Other regional operators have lost patience and cut their losses.

This week, New Zealand firm Infratil wrote-off the assets of its UK airports, Glasgow Prestwick and Manston in Kent.

The company said it had reduced the value of both sites from £14.5m a year ago to zero.

The announcement came as the Scottish government entered talks with Infratil over buying the unprofitable Prestwick operation.

Manston Airport is being bought for £1 by Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group.

Prestwick, where Elvis Presley touched UK soil for the first and only time, in 1960, is also expected to be sold for £1.

Ministers hope to conclude negotiations with the company next week in a deal that will re-nationalise a piece of Scottish infrastructure that possesses strategic and economic significance.

Official figures predict that passenger numbers will recover slowly as the economy edges into recovery mode, prompting regional airports to look for other means of generating income.

The model that Peel is proposing at DTV, which incorporates a business park with housing, is becoming commonplace.

Peel has already launched similar plans at Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster, which includes a pub, offices, industrial buildings, along with new roads and footpaths.

Manchester’s proposal for an airport city is well underway.

Backed by investment from the Chinese government it will create more than 400,000 sq m of business space as well as a hotel, conference centre and shops.

Newcastle International’s masterplan aims to almost double passenger numbers, and create thousands of jobs by 2030 via two business parks.

Cambridge International has a scheme to build up to 1,500 homes on land adjacent to the airport,  (see link) and Kent International has plans to develop a campus with student accommodation.  (see link).  [Manston say there would be an airport campus outside the airport and adjacent to it, with " a combination of student accommodation – 500 units, 300 low cost houses for rent and 700 houses for sale;" ]

Southend Airport, backed by a £100m cash injection from owners the Stobart Group, is one of the few regional operations which has seen an increase in passenger numbers. Peel has insisted that a mixed use site is the best way forward for DTV, and that no Plan B is in reserve if its latest rescue bid fails to get off the ground.

 http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/news/10807077.Loss_making_airports_sold_for___1__but_will_to_see_them_survive_is_out_there/?ref=rl
.
.

.

Housing at heart of Durham Tees Valley Airport blueprint for future

14th November 2013

By Joe Willis, Regional Chief Reporter  (Northern Echo)

A BLUEPRINT to secure the long-term future of Durham Tees ValleyAirport (DTVA) will be unveiled today – with the sale of land for housing at the heart of the rescue plan.

Bosses say the development of up to 400 homes would generate millions of pounds for investment back in the airport.

The money would be used to pay for nine new hangars, 9,600 sq m of office space and industrial units covering 16,820 sq m to expand the existing Northside Employment Park.

According to DTVA strategic planning director Peter Nears, author of the DTVA Master Plan 2020 and Beyond, rent from the new occupants would make the airport viable and protect existing scheduled flights to Aberdeen and Schiphol, in Holland.

“The airport has land assets, which provide the development opportunities we must pursue if we are to improve the whole DTVA operation.”

The 180-page plan could be used to convince the Government to approve funding towards the first phase of the long-awaited Southside industrial park after two previous bids for regional growth fund money failed.

Delivery of the plan would create up to 3,800 new jobs, plus a further 450 jobs during construction phases and add more than £348m to the regional economy, the airport claims.

As well as protecting existing routes, bosses say it could help secure new routes to other UK and European destinations.

The publication of the plan comes after DTVA confirmed the airport was cancelling the majority of its holiday charter services in a bid to cut costs – a move which will lead to an unconfirmed number of redundancies.

The plan proposes between 250 and 400 homes on land to the west and north of the terminal, including a field previously earmarked for a business park.

The housing would include areas of open space and children’s play areas on site.

The terminal building will be reduced in size and remodelled. An extension to St George’s Hotel is also proposed.

The two-month consultation begins today and runs until January 10.

Doris Jones, Darlington Borough Council member for Middleton St George, has immediately expressed concern about the houses.

She said developers had already targetted the village for more than 700 homes.

“People are fed up with developers wanting to build houses upon houses and no services to go with them and now the airport wants to build 400 more.

“The school can’t cope with one more child and the surgery is bursting at the seams.”

Stockton South MP James Wharton also spoke out last night criticising the consultation process, with no consultation event proposed outside Darlington or the airport.

However, Darlington MP Jenny Chapman welcomed the master plan.

“This wouldn’t have been anyone’s first choice as a way forward for the airport, however if we want to keep DTVA open we need to be flexible and we have to settle for a compromise,” she said.

Sedgefield MP, Phil Wilson said he would like to hear the views of his constituents.

But he added: “It would seem that Peel and DTVA have come up with a plan which would secure the future of the airport in the long to medium term with the potential of creating many more jobs in the area to complement those created in Newton Aycliffe by Hitachi.”

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham, also backed the rescue plan, describing it as “bold and ambitious”.

To view the master plan, visit dtva-master-plan.co.uk

Consultations events will be held at the St George Hotel at DTVA on November 21 and at the Dolphin Centre, in Darlington, on November 28. More events are planned, the airport said.

 http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/10807005.Housing_at_heart_of_Durham_Trees_Valley_Airport_blueprint_for_future/
.

.


.

CAA data showing the regional airports where passenger numbers have fallen:

All of 2012

From CAA data December_2012_Airport_Statistics

AIRPORT Number of flights in 2012 % change in flights from 2011 Terminal passengers in 2012 % change in passengers  from 2011
TOTAL OF UK AIRPORTS that have reported so far (20.1.2013)  1,880,730 -1.5 200,331,803217,787,803 +0.9
HEATHROW          471,390 -1     69,983,174 +0.9
GATWICK          240,456 -1.7     34,220,418 +1.7
MANCHESTER          160,490 +1.6     19,655,333 +4.5
STANSTED (from Heathrow website) 131,409 - 4 17,456,700 - 3.2
LUTON            71,792 -0.5      9,614,423 +1.1
EDINBURGH          102,905 -2.1      9,194,434 -2
BIRMINGHAM            84,090 +0.3      8,916,209 +3.6
GLASGOW            72,319 +3.4      7,150,231 +4.3
BRISTOL            50,664 -3.8      5,916,286 +2.6
LIVERPOOL            35,856 -21.4      4,458,638 -15
NEWCASTLE            43,666 -2.2      4,354,730 +0.4
EAST MIDLANDS            54,757 +0.6      4,067,915 -3.3
ABERDEEN            98,823 +4.2      3,328,602 +8
LONDON CITY            64,310 +5.3      3,016,664 +0.8
LEEDS BRADFORD            30,227 -8.6      2,968,708 +1.1
BELFAST CITY            35,921 -11.4      2,246,202 -6.3
SOUTHAMPTON            38,645 -5.5      1,693,478 -3.9
JERSEY            37,040 -2.3      1,441,780 -1.3
PRESTWICK 8,156 -18.3      1,066,917 -17.6
CARDIFF            13,966 -13.1      1,013,386 -16.1
GUERNSEY            33,964 -9.7         862,369 -4.2
ISLE OF MAN            22,996 -2.7         695,610 -0.7
EXETER            12,106 1.4         695,058 -2
DONCASTER SHEFFIELD 4,381 -24         693,129 -15.6
BOURNEMOUTH  7,196 15         689,913 +12.6
SOUTHEND 7,268 477.3         616,974 +1353.8
CITY OF DERRY (EGLINTON) 3,114 -18.9         398,209 -1.8
SCATSTA            13,626 4.6         304,426 +5.6
BLACKPOOL  9,607 8         235,191 -0.2
HUMBERSIDE            12,523 -2.5         233,687 -14.4
NEWQUAY 4,747 -31.3         166,272 -20.7
DURHAM TEES VALLEY  4,202 -17.9         164,826 -13.4
ISLES OF SCILLY (ST.MARYS)            10,157 -4.5           97,012 -13.6
ALDERNEY 6,652 -10.4           64,165 -7.7
DUNDEE  2,706 -4.8           54,642 -11.4
LANDS END (ST JUST) 5,785 5.3           31,964 -3.4
MANSTON (KENT INT)  687 -53.3             8,262 -77.8
OXFORD (KIDLINGTON) 723 963.2             6,599 +342.6
LERWICK (TINGWALL) 1,547 0.5             5,042 -2.7
SHOREHAM  435 -22.7               480 -24.3
LYDD   97 -4.9               445 -10.3
COVENTRY   738 276.5                  - 0
.

.

Marshall plans 1,500 homes near Cambridge airport

The owner and operator of Cambridge airport, Marshall Group, will shortly submit plans for a mixed residential and commercial development on a 125 acre site north of Newmarket Road and High Ditch Road.

4 Feb 2013

As well as the new homes, the plans are likely to include a school, a commercial hub, a new petrol filling station, playing fields and open space amenity land, the Marshall Group said in a statement. The new development will be named ‘Wing’.

The development land is owned by Marshall of Cambridge, which is part of the Marshall Group.

“Since our foundation in Cambridge in 1909, Marshall has been a cornerstone of the local community and we are very proud of our contribution to the skills base and the creation of employment which has been of benefit to the local economy,” said Marshall Group chief executive Robert Marshall.

“We are also very aware of the shortage of good quality housing to support the needs of Cambridge’s growing economy, and our employees.  This long term project represents the start of an exciting period of investment in the growth of our businesses,” Marshall said.

“Marshall has a good track record of community involvement and listening to residents and we will be encouraging them to continue doing this,” said Councillor Lewis Herbert to a local newspaper when Marshall first revealed its plans in November.

“The site is on one of the most congested and difficult roads in the city and ensuring that it is a high quality development with excellent transport links will be key to its success, especially in making sure that it fits in with the existing and strong communities in Abbey and Fen Ditton,” Herbert said.

Subject to approval of the planning application, construction of the site is likely to begin in 2015.

http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/february/marshall-plans-1500-homes-near-cambridge-airport/

Read more »

Prestwick Airport to be sold to Scottish Government for £1 – and other failing regional airports look to business parks and housing

Infratil, which currently owns Prestwick Airport, has said the airport is expected to be sold to the Scottish Government for £1.  The sale is due to be completed by Wednesday, 20 November. Infratil said the airport’s value had been “fully impaired” – effectively written off – after Prestwick and sister airport Manston in Kent were collectively valued at £11 million in March.  Infratil bought Prestwick from Stagecoach in 2001 for £33m.  Manston is being sold to Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag for an expected £400,000. Scottish Ministers are taking over Prestwick airport, which is losing £7m a year, to avert its closure and safeguard 1,400 jobs, including 300 at the airport. Infratil described its investment in the airports to have been “unsuccessful for Infratil” and that while such regional airports looked like a good investment 5 years ago, they now are not as  they are reliant on “robust air traffic growth driving demand.” Other failing airports are looking to  create business parks on their land, and housing – to try and make money out of them.
.

 

Prestwick Airport set to be sold for £1

  • by ALASTAIR DALTON (Scotsman)
  • 12th November 2013

PRESTWICK Airport is expected to be sold to the Scottish Government for £1, owner Infratil said today.

The sale of the loss-making Ayrshire airport is due to be completed by Wednesday, 20 November.

Infratil said the airport’s value had been “fully impaired” – effectively written off – after Prestwick and sister airport Manston in Kent were collectively valued at £11 million in March.

The firm bought Prestwick from Stagecoach in 2001 for £33m.

Ministers are taking over the airport, which is losing £7m a year, to avert its closure and safeguard 1,400 jobs, including 300 at the airport.

In a statement, the New Zealand firm said: “The Scottish Government notified Infratil of its intention to pursue an acquisition of Prestwick Airport by 20 November. It is expected that the sale price will be £1.”

Manston is being sold to Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag for an expected £400,000.

Infratil described its investment in the airports to have been “unsuccessful for Infratil”, which showed the potential for “game changing” events.

The firm said: “Five years ago, such airports were much sought after by investors, but the global financial crisis and onerous green taxes on airlines materially changed the prospects of ‘edge of city’ airports, which were reliant on robust air traffic growth driving demand.

“While the financial outcomes were very poor, Infratil has shown it is a responsible owner, even during very lean times.

“The airports were kept operational and will be sold in better condition than they were purchased.

“Best wishes are extended to the new owners and the management and staff who have done a great job through a trying period.”

http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/prestwick-airport-set-to-be-sold-for-1-1-3185181

.


 

.

 Earlier:

Glasgow Prestwick Airport may be given to the Scottish Government for nothing

October 11, 2013

The owners of Glasgow Prestwick, New Zealand company Infratil, have suggested they may give away the airport for nothing. The Scottish government has announced it is negotiating to buy the unprofitable airport, and hopes to conclude detailed negotiations with the company by 20 November. Scottish government said it was the “only realistic alternative to closure”. In a statement on its website, the company said it did not expect any transaction “to give rise to material proceeds”. Prestwick was put up for sale last March after heavy annual losses. Several investors expressed interest but no offers were made. Infratil has also been trying to sell its other unprofitable UK airport, Manston. In May 2013, Infratil announced that it had written down the value of both airports to £11m. Infratil has agreed to ensure the airport is kept fully open and operational during the negotiation process. In 2012 Prestwick had around 1 million passengers, compared to 2.4 million at its peak in 2005.

Click here to view full story…

 


 

Loss making airports sold for £1, but will to see them survive is out there

14th November 2013

By Andy Richardson

Have regional airports had their day in the sun?
Have regional airports had their day in the sun?

LOSS-MAKING regional airports are changing hands for as little as £1 and surviving on bail-outs from taxpayers.  Business Editor Andy Richardson looks at the race to keep the regions flying.

REGIONAL airports took a battering during the recession.

From Prestwick to Newquay passenger numbers plummeted after 2007 as airlines withdrew flights and consolidated services at the major hubs in response to a reduction in both leisure and business traffic.

The controversial UK flight tax Air Passenger Duty (APD) had a disproportionate effect on regional operations.

Larger regionals, such as Newcastle International, Leeds/Bradford and Manchester managed to weather the worst effects of the downturn, but Durham Tees Valley (DTV) was among the hardest hit, suffering a 77 per cent drop in passenger numbers.

It will record losses of about £4m this year, and owners Peel expect the operation will continue to haemorrhage cash unless its latest rescue bid takes off.

Peel has repeatedly insisted that it regards DTV as a long-term investment. Other regional operators have lost patience and cut their losses.

This week, New Zealand firm Infratil wrote-off the assets of its UK airports, Glasgow Prestwick and Manston in Kent.

The company said it had reduced the value of both sites from £14.5m a year ago to zero.

The announcement came as the Scottish government entered talks with Infratil over buying the unprofitable Prestwick operation.

Manston Airport is being bought for £1 by Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group.

Prestwick, where Elvis Presley touched UK soil for the first and only time, in 1960, is also expected to be sold for £1.

Ministers hope to conclude negotiations with the company next week in a deal that will re-nationalise a piece of Scottish infrastructure that possesses strategic and economic significance.

Official figures predict that passenger numbers will recover slowly as the economy edges into recovery mode, prompting regional airports to look for other means of generating income.

The model that Peel is proposing at DTV, which incorporates a business park with housing, is becoming commonplace.

Peel has already launched similar plans at Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster, which includes a pub, offices, industrial buildings, along with new roads and footpaths.

Manchester’s proposal for an airport city is well underway.

Backed by investment from the Chinese government it will create more than 400,000 sq m of business space as well as a hotel, conference centre and shops.

Newcastle International’s masterplan aims to almost double passenger numbers, and create thousands of jobs by 2030 via two business parks.

Cambridge International has a scheme to build up to 1,500 homes on land adjacent to the airport, and Kent International has plans to develop a campus with student accommodation.

Southend Airport, backed by a £100m cash injection from owners the Stobart Group, is one of the few regional operations which has seen an increase in passenger numbers. Peel has insisted that a mixed use site is the best way forward for DTV, and that no Plan B is in reserve if its latest rescue bid fails to get off the ground.

 http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/news/10807077.Loss_making_airports_sold_for___1__but_will_to_see_them_survive_is_out_there/?ref=rl
.
.

.

Housing at heart of Durham Tees Valley Airport blueprint for future

14th November 2013

By Joe Willis, Regional Chief Reporter

A BLUEPRINT to secure the long-term future of Durham Tees ValleyAirport (DTVA) will be unveiled today – with the sale of land for housing at the heart of the rescue plan.

Bosses say the development of up to 400 homes would generate millions of pounds for investment back in the airport.

The money would be used to pay for nine new hangars, 9,600 sq m of office space and industrial units covering 16,820 sq m to expand the existing Northside Employment Park.

According to DTVA strategic planning director Peter Nears, author of the DTVA Master Plan 2020 and Beyond, rent from the new occupants would make the airport viable and protect existing scheduled flights to Aberdeen and Schiphol, in Holland.

“The airport has land assets, which provide the development opportunities we must pursue if we are to improve the whole DTVA operation.”

The 180-page plan could be used to convince the Government to approve funding towards the first phase of the long-awaited Southside industrial park after two previous bids for regional growth fund money failed.

Delivery of the plan would create up to 3,800 new jobs, plus a further 450 jobs during construction phases and add more than £348m to the regional economy, the airport claims.

As well as protecting existing routes, bosses say it could help secure new routes to other UK and European destinations.

The publication of the plan comes after DTVA confirmed the airport was cancelling the majority of its holiday charter services in a bid to cut costs – a move which will lead to an unconfirmed number of redundancies.

The plan proposes between 250 and 400 homes on land to the west and north of the terminal, including a field previously earmarked for a business park.

The housing would include areas of open space and children’s play areas on site.

The terminal building will be reduced in size and remodelled. An extension to St George’s Hotel is also proposed.

The two-month consultation begins today and runs until January 10.

Doris Jones, Darlington Borough Council member for Middleton St George, has immediately expressed concern about the houses.

She said developers had already targetted the village for more than 700 homes.

“People are fed up with developers wanting to build houses upon houses and no services to go with them and now the airport wants to build 400 more.

“The school can’t cope with one more child and the surgery is bursting at the seams.”

Stockton South MP James Wharton also spoke out last night criticising the consultation process, with no consultation event proposed outside Darlington or the airport.

However, Darlington MP Jenny Chapman welcomed the master plan.

“This wouldn’t have been anyone’s first choice as a way forward for the airport, however if we want to keep DTVA open we need to be flexible and we have to settle for a compromise,” she said.

Sedgefield MP, Phil Wilson said he would like to hear the views of his constituents.

But he added: “It would seem that Peel and DTVA have come up with a plan which would secure the future of the airport in the long to medium term with the potential of creating many more jobs in the area to complement those created in Newton Aycliffe by Hitachi.”

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham, also backed the rescue plan, describing it as “bold and ambitious”.

To view the master plan, visit dtva-master-plan.co.uk

Consultations events will be held at the St George Hotel at DTVA on November 21 and at the Dolphin Centre, in Darlington, on November 28. More events are planned, the airport said.

 http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/10807005.Housing_at_heart_of_Durham_Trees_Valley_Airport_blueprint_for_future/

Read more »