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In Toronto expansion of lakeside Billy Bishop airport is strenuously opposed by thousands whose lives it would adversely affect

Pearson airport is the main airport for Toronto. It has several long runways, can take large jets, and had around 35 million passengers in the past year. By contrast, Billy Bishop waterfront airport is tiny, lying along the lake edge close to central Toronto. Its one runway, by the water, is only about 1,200 metres and it had 2 million passengers last year. There are plans to greatly expand Billy Bishop airport, with the runway extended by 200 metres at both ends, to take jets rather than the current turboprops. There are plans for greatly increased numbers of passengers. There has been very vocal opposition from the local group, NoJetsTO, who fear having this enlarged airport will have highly negative impacts on the city, creating noise, air pollution, water pollution, disruption to leisure activities that take place on the lake, traffic congestion, interference with childrens’ learning in school, and lowering the quality of life of many living in the area. They say the large jets should stay at Pearson airport, which is well equipped to deal with them. Now the airport’s plans, by Porter Airlines, will not be considered by the city until February. Toronto city’s executive committee voted to defer debate of the controversial proposal till February 4 or to a specially called meeting. 
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Location of Billy Bishop airport

Map showing location of Billy Bishop airport

 

A bit of background on Billy Bishop airport, Toronto 

Pearson airport has several long runways of over 3,000 metres, and between September 2012 and September 2013 it had over 35.6 million passengers, and over 435,000 aircraft movements.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Pearson_International_Airport

By contrast, Billy Bishop’s main runway is about 1,200 metres long, and in 2012 it had 2 million passengers and some 114,000 aircraft movements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Bishop_Toronto_City_Airport


 

Billy Bishop airport is located on the Toronto Islands, south-west of Downtown Toronto. The airport has one main east-west runway, two shorter runways, and a seaplane base, Billy Bishop Toronto City Water Aerodrome. The airport is used for regional airline service and for general aviation, including medical emergency flights (due to its proximity to downtown hospitals), small charter flights, and private aviation. Under its operating agreement, jet aircraft are banned from the airport, with the exception of MEDEVAC flights.

The airport is operated by the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), a Government Business Enterprise incorporated by letters patent issued under authority of the Canada Marine Act. The airport is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The airport’s hours of operation are 6:45 am to 11:00 pm, except for MEDEVAC flights.  Passenger traffic increased 46% from 2009 to 2010.

In April 2013, Porter announced a conditional purchase of 12 Bombardier CS100 passenger jets, with an option to purchase 18 more. Porter president Robert Deluce announced that the airline would seek an extension of the main runway by 336 m, 168 metres (551 ft) at either end, to accommodate the longer landing and takeoff requirements of the aircraft. The airline would also seek an exemption for the CS100 aircraft from the jet ban at the airport imposed in the 1983 Tripartite Agreement of the airport. The changes would require the agreement of the Government of Canada, the Toronto Port Authority and the City of Toronto. The TPA announced that it would await the direction of Toronto City Council on the potential expansion.A new community group “NoJetsTO” was formed to collect opposition to the plan to allow jets at the airport. The City of Toronto started consultations in September 2013, both online and at “town hall” sessions, to produce a report from staff for presentation to Council. As consultations began, Porter increased its request to 200 metre extensions at each end of the runway. The Toronto Port Authority notified the City of Toronto that it was seeking an extension to the tripartite agreement beyond 2033 as a condition of the runway extension plan.

The staff report was released to the public on November 28, 2013 and staff recommended putting off consideration of the plan until 2015, due to incomplete information and the various unresolved issues, including the CS100 noise information, Transport Canada regulations, and Toronto Port Authority requirements. The report also noted that the airport does not have a “Master Plan” unlike other airports, and staff suggested is essential for consideration to extend the tripartite agreement. The plan is to be discussed by the City Council executive committee and full Council in December 2013. The board of Waterfront Toronto endorsed the report, stating “serious transportation, road congestion, and community impact issues created by the airport’s current operations” be addressed before any new plans are considered.

… and there is a lot more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Bishop_Toronto_City_Airport

 


 

Island airport expansion dreams are city’s nightmare: Hume

Porter Airlines may be a city asset, but one that pales in comparison to the waterfrontA plane comes in to land at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island. Porter Airline's wish to use jets would require runway extensions, a move that is running into opposition.

A plane comes in to land at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island. Porter Airline’s wish to use jets would require runway extensions, a move that is running into opposition. By COLIN MCCONNELL / TORONTO STAR 

By:  Urban Issues
4.12.2013

When the board of Waterfront Toronto endorsed a city report that recommends against approving the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport until 2015, it introduced a note of sanity into the madness now unfolding at the foot of Bathurst St.

Though Porter Airlines founder Robert Deluce would have us believe that his delusions of jet-fuelled grandeur are compatible with waterfront revitalization, they are anything but.

Indeed, his arguments, which are full of half-truths and unquestioned assumptions, are transparently self-serving and wholly inconsistent with the interests of Toronto.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly may support expansion, but he will live to regret that. In truth, Deluce’s intentions would spell disaster, not just for the waterfront, but the larger city.

To begin with, allowing jets to operate at the Island Airport would be incredibly dangerous; there simply isn’t enough space for jets to take off and land safely and besides, there’s a bird sanctuary just east. Anyone who remembers the Miracle on the Hudson in 2009 knows the impact a bird strike can have.

Worse still, Billy Bishop, unlike other airports, doesn’t have a usable north/south runway. The main east/west landing strip works under most, but not all, conditions. Lengthening the north/south runway to accommodate headwinds would mean taking over parkland.

Even if Deluce’s revamped airport meets minimal safety requirements, the margin of error is disturbingly small. Billy Bishop’s main runway is less than 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), maybe 5,200 after expansion. The CSeries jetliners need a minimum of 4,000 feet to take off and 4,400 to land. However, at their maximum weight, they need 4,800 to take off, and 4,400 to land.

Interestingly, the jet’s manufacturer, Bombardier, operates a 7,000-foot runway at Downsview. And if a crash were to occur at Billy Bishop, could the airport respond quickly and effectively?

But for Kelly, blithely unconcerned about safety, the issue is economic; he sees the Island Airport as a financial asset whose value we have yet to fully exploit. Deluce likes to say that the economic impact of his airline is $1.5 billion annually. That number, highly suspect, pales in comparison to many billions a revitalized waterfront will add to the city.

In other words, Kelly’s argument is a good reason for not expanding Billy Bishop. But Deluce has never relied on rational thought to make his case. While the Waterfront Toronto board was meeting Monday afternoon, he was busy lobbying the deputy mayor in his city hall office.

“How did we get in this position?” asked former Toronto chief planner and WT director Gary Wright at the same meeting. “Some things just intuitively don’t make sense. Are there better things to spend scarce public money on than Billy Bishop?”

Another WT director, former city councillor Joe Pantalone, said approving Deluce’s request would be like “jumping off a cliff.” Such a decision, he insisted, “would be foolhardy.”

Ross McGregor, also a director, was “tempted to reject outright the proposed expansion.”

But the loudest applause went to board member and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy. “I’d like to hear from the children,” he said in reference to pupils at The Waterfront School, located a stone’s throw from the airport. “They should be part of this.”

Already those kids are breathing some of the most polluted air in the city and dodging traffic to get to and from classes. Some Deluce supporters have even suggested the school be torn down to make way for airport parking.

If ever there was a case of putting planes before people, this is it. To accede to Deluce and his monomaniacal demands would cost the city billions. It’s simply not worth the price.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/04/island_airport_expansion_dreams_are_citys_nightmare_hume.html

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Toronto committee delays debate on controversial island airport expansion plans

by ELIZABETH CHURCH AND KALEIGH ROGERS

(The Toronto Globe and Mail)

Porter Airlines expansion plans for Toronto’s Island airport will not be considered by the city until the new year.

The city’s executive committee voted to defer debate of the controversial proposal to bring jets to the waterfront airport until their next meeting on February 4 or to a special meeting to be called by the chair.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, chairing the meeting for the first time since he was given most of the Mayor’s powers by council, put forward the motion saying the extra time would allow for more information to be gathered.

Only two members of the committee voted against the delay – Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Peter Milczyn.

Mr. Ford, who was relegated to a seat between councillors Peter Leon and Frank Di Giorgio, said waiting a month to have the debate would not change anything. “You are either for or against it,” he said.

Mr. Milczyn argued that enough time had been spent on the issue, saying the report should be shelved.

The decision to defer the debate was the first major move by Mr. Kelly in his new role as the de facto leader of council. As he entered the committee room before the vote, Mr. Kelly pledged to keep focused on the city’s business in spite of the new bombshell allegations involving Mr. Ford and his involvement with hard drugs and gangs.

“The mayor is no longer at the centre of affairs here at the city so I see this as a personal issue and not a political one,” he said. “The government of the City of Toronto goes on unaffected.”

After the vote, Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce said he was still encouraged by the support he’s gotten from councillors. He said if the executive wants a little more time to bring all the parties to the table and find solutions to the lingering questions outlined by city staff – among them noise, traffic and health impacts – he supports the decision.

“I think the step that was taken today is an important one and the proper one to take,” Mr. Deluce said. “There certainly are solutions to any of the items that have been identified by city staff and they’re not anywhere near as big as what would be indicated by some of the opponents.”

As he spoke, a group of citizens opposed to the expansion who had attended the meeting watched, sometimes shouting out jeers at Mr. Deluce.

Councillor Adam Vaughan, an opponent of the expansion who represents the downtown ward that includes the airport, said despite the delay, the answer when executive committee brings the report to council will still be “no.”

“There is no will because there is no way to make this situation work,” he told reporters outside of the meeting.

“This project has never about whether or not the jets are quiet enough – we don’t know, they’ve only been tested once – it has always been about whether or not you can fit an airport the size of Ottawa International Airport on the waterfront without a massive, and I mean a massive, half-billion plus investment.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/debate-on-island-airport-expansion-delayed-until-february/article15780691/

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4.12.2013
Deputy Mayor proposes to defer decision on Billy Bishop Airport expansion

Porter Airlines seeking to extend runways, fly jets out of island

 

By  David Nickle (City Centre Mirror)

Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly will move to defer considering Porter Airline’s request to expand the Billy Bishop Airport for as long as a month, to buy time to deal with the myriad of issues raised about the proposal in a staff report.

Kelly announced his intentions Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 4, in advance of Thursday’s meeting of Toronto’s executive committee.

“At the meeting tomorrow of the executive committee I shall be moving to defer consideration of the report to either the first executive committee meeting in the new year or a meeting called by the chair,” said Kelly, who will himself be chairing Thursday’s meeting, the first since Mayor Rob Ford was stripped of his powers by Toronto Council.

The question of what to do with the Island airport was to have been a major debate at the committee.

Last week, city staff came out with a report cautioning against proceeding with a plan to extend the runways and allowing the airport to accommodate jet aircraft.

The report indicated there are too many unanswered questions.

Noise testing on the new jets Porter is proposing to fly won’t be finished until May, and the Toronto Port Authority — which operates the airport — has not presented a long-term plan for the airport. As well, it’s unclear who would pay for the $300 million in transportation infrastructure that would be necessary land-side to support an expanded airport.

Staff have recommended deferring the matter until the spring of 2015, when hopefully some of those matters can be clarified.

But Porter’s Bob Deluce has been lobbying councillors hard to go ahead with the plan now — arguing that expanding the regional airline to allow for longer hauls is essential to the airport’s survival.

Kelly, who supports the Porter plan, had been trying to convince councillors to support a conditional approval of the plan, but on Wednesday he said that he was making “a lateral maneuver” for fear that council might kill the plan altogether if it went through.

“You want to bring as many people as possible along with you,” said Kelly.

“You want, to the degree that you can, build a consensus among the people that are your supporters…. I think that this is an important initiative for the City of Toronto, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity of growing one of our most important assets. I don’t want to risk its defeat.”

Kelly met for the first time with Mayor Rob Ford since council transferred most of the mayor’s powers to the deputy mayor, and the two discussed Kelly’s plan.

The mayor was not supportive.

“Porter Airlines are a reputable company, they proved they can do it,” Ford said. “Let’s get on with it. I’m going to move a motion to go ahead with it and you’re either on side or not on side.”

Ford said he has been getting calls urging support for the airport expansion, and said a month-long delay wouldn’t resolve anything.

“Let these quiet jets get in here and let this man get direct flights down to Houston instead of stopping over in Chicago like I had to,” he said.

Ford said he trusted Deluce not to leave the city holding the bag on infrastructure requirements.

“Mr. Deluce is a proven businessman,” said Ford. “I don’t think he’s going to stick us with a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Reporters caught up with Deluce as he was between meetings at Toronto City Hall. He offered no comment on the matter, but said he would do so Thursday following the meeting.

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/4254380-deputy-mayor-proposes-to-defer-decision-on-billy-bishop-airport-expansion/

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No Jets T.O. – Save Toronto’s Waterfront

About Us

What We Want

NoJetsTO is a coalition of concerned citizens dedicated to preserving Toronto’s mixed-use waterfront and a boutique Island Airport. Representing residents across Toronto, the non-partisan organization NoJetsTO opposes the expansion of the Island Airport through jet aircraft and extended runways. NoJetsTO’s goal is to preserve the current state of the Island Airport by protecting the Tripartite Agreement that governs it.

To reiterate, we are NOT opposed to the status quo at the Island Airport.  We are opposed to turning the Island Airport into a Pearson-on-the-Lake.

http://www.nojetsto.ca/about-us/

Issues

Toronto’s cherished waterfront is at risk. Porter-owner Robert Deluce wants jets on our waterfront to maximize his profits. He is only a City Council vote away from making it happen – if we don’t stop him.

Jets belong at Pearson – not our waterfront. But Porter wants to turn the boutique Island Airport into a Pearson-by-the-Lake with jets, extended runways and almost twice as many passengers.

Here’s why it’s a terrible idea:

Porter’s dangerous jet plans are more or less openly supported by the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) that operates the Island Airport. To learn the truth about the TPA’s bogus ad campaign, click here.

Jets Belong at Pearson Airport. Period.

Flickr_Photo_Boeing_737_before_Take-Off_2013-11-02It’s great that Porter wants to grow – but don’t put jets on Toronto’s cherished waterfront. If Porter wants to play in the big leagues, they should go to the big leagues airport – Pearson.

Pearson has plenty of capacity to grow. And with the new rail link opening in spring 2015, a 25-minute train to the airport will leave Union Station every 15 minutes.

Toronto’s Island Airport as a boutique, regional airport is fine. What we don’t need is a Pearson-by-the-Lake.

Jets on Our Waterfront = More Pollution, More Gridlock, Less Fun

Monika_MacMillian_Photo_Harbourfront_2013-10-22Toronto’s waterfront is our biggest asset – stretching from Mimico to the Scarborough Bluffs. And jets will wreck it. The Harbourfront alone attracts 17 million visitors every year. It’s our front yard and fun getaway.

Revitalizing our waterfront has created 40,000 jobs and $3.2 billion in economic benefits; another $4 billion are projected.

The plan to double passenger numbers at the Island Airport will lead to 1.4 million additional cars in downtown, making gridlock even worse.

Expanding the runway will mean less Lake Ontario to enjoy. It will impact tour boats, sailboats, kayaks and even ferries.

Air pollution will affect neighbourhoods from Etobicoke to Scarborough. Property prices and tourism will take a hit. For our waterfront, jets will mean more pollution, more gridlock – and less fun. Read more.

Putting Our Health at Risk

CD_Photo_Face_Masks_2013-11-04Jets are bad for your health – study after study shows that. Less fuel efficient than the turboprops, they burn more fuel less cleanly. No wonder – the Bombardier CS100 is twice as heavy as the current Q400 turboprop plane.

Jet pollutants are linked to increased rates of cancer, asthma and bronchitis as well as other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Some jet pollutants are linked to developmental problems in children, tripling the odds of having mental delays at age 3.

Numerous Toronto physicians are speaking out against the jet plans – because they know how dangerous they will be for our health and especially the health of our children.

With flight paths from Mimico to the Scarborough Bluffs, many Torontonians will be affected by the pollution. Read more.

Creating Safety and Environmental Hazards

Flickr_Photo_Nesting_Cormorants_Close-Up_Medium_2013-09-10Jets on Toronto Island will be a safety hazard – with bird strikes just waiting to happen from hundreds of thousands of birds from the surrounding green spaces

Fuel gets to the Island Airport by truck – put on ferries. Four times every day. This is set to double with jets. That’s the equivalent of two Lac-Mégantic-sized tanker cars.
Without a treatment system at the Island Airport, toxic de-icing fluids and fuel spills can get into the City’s sewer system – and ultimately end up in the lake. Read more about the impact on Lake Ontario here.

Dredging_Today_Photo_Lakefill_2013-10-04The jets will need longer runways. That means paving the lake – at least 4 football fields long.
Another risk: jet blasts – winds up to 190 km/h generated on and before takeoff. That’s powerful enough to knock over boats.Read more about safety risks here.

Bottom line: with damage to bird sanctuaries and protected green spaces to the equation, jets on our waterfront are a reckless proposition. And let’s not forget how harmful carbon emissions are for the climate.

Wasting Our Taxpayer Dollars

Metrolinx_Photo_Station_UP_Express_2013-09-24We are revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront with $1.4 billion of our tax dollars – plus $2.6 billion in private sector investments. Why would we want to throw this away? We are also spending almost $500 million in tax money for the Union-Pearson Express.

Porter plans to double passengers to 4 million per year, turning Queens Quay into an airport road –

Waterfront_Toronto_Graphic_Simcoe_Slip_2013-10-05

while we are currently spending almost $200 million to turn into a world-class boulevard. The City is thinking about new traffic lanes, parking lots – even an underground streetcar station and moving sidewalks! Who will pay for all that?

There are even proposals to tear down a school, a community centre and the Canada Malting heritage site to make way for a parking garage. Read more.

http://www.nojetsto.ca/issues/

 

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Mayor’s adviser admits ‘Boris airport’ may be dumped by Airports Commission

Boris Johnson’s aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, has admitted that proposals for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary are “at risk” of being ditched by Sir Howard Davies when he publishes a shortlist of options for additional runway capacity in the South East on 17th DecemberThe mayor has also put forward suggestions to transform Stansted (an area he does not represent in any way) “out of all recognition” into a new four-runway hub and advocated closing Heathrow and transforming it into a new London borough with up to 80,000 new homes. This week a jobs report from three councils in the Heathrow area, Hounslow, Slough and Ealing, will spell out the dangers of shutting Heathrow. The airport claims that the 76,600 people it directly employs would be made redundant overnight if Heathrow was to be replaced by a massive estuary airport, but the 3 councils’ report is likely to put the figure far higher. The councils say the closure of Heathrow would have a huge impact on thousands of families.” Curiously and inconsistently, Boris is not bothered about the harm his Stansted plans would inflict on people there, but Mr Moylan talks about Heathrow expansion inflicting misery on a million people, or developing Gatwick into a four-runway hub airport.
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Mayor’s adviser admits ‘Boris airport’ may be dumped

Boris Johnson’s adviser concedes that if Davies Commission rules any options out, the Mayor’s proposed island airport is “most at risk”

7 Dec 2013

Boris Johnson’s aviation adviser has admitted that proposals for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary are “at risk” of being ditched by Sir Howard Davies when he publishes a shortlist of options for additional runway capacity in the South East.

Daniel Moylan has conceded that the Mayor of London’s plans to build a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain in north Kent, or on an artificial island in the outer Thames Estuary, are vulnerable if Sir Howard, the chairman of the Government’s airports commission, decides to limit the number of options for further investigation.

The commission is expected to publish a short list of proposals on where and how to build new runway capacity in the South East on December 17.

Commissioners received 58 proposals in response to a consultation and Sir Howard has pledged to whittle down the options to just a “handful” before he delivers his recommendations after the general election in 2015.

Many of the proposals are not deemed serious contenders, such as designs for a futuristic “drive-through” airport. But Sir Howard is also under pressure to rule out some of the more realistic options, which include a new hub in the Thames Estuary, a third runway at Heathrow, expansion at Stansted and a second airstrip at Gatwick.

Mr Moylan, the mayor’s chief adviser on aviation, has conceded that if Sir Howard decides to reject some of the leading proposals, a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary is most likely to be dismissed. “I think the option that is most at risk, being frank, is a new airport in the estuary,” he told a group of airport representatives last month.

“If something is going to be ruled out, I think Davies is likely to rule that out rather than anything else,” he said at the event organised by Insight Public Affairs.

Sir Howard may, however, appease advocates of a new hub airport to replace Heathrow by shortlisting Stansted, Mr Moylan said.

The mayor has also put forward suggestions to transform Stansted “out of all recognition” into a new four-runway hub and advocated closing Heathrow and transforming it into a new London borough with up to 80,000 new homes.

Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group, has said that “developing capacity at a number of airports is likely to be best for passengers”.

This week a jobs report from three councils in the Heathrow area, Hounslow, Slough and Ealing, will spell out the dangers of shutting Heathrow. The airport claims that the 76,600 people it directly employs would be made redundant overnight under Mr Johnson’s plan.

The council report is likely to put the figure far higher, with one aviation source saying the findings were “devastating”.

A source close to the three councils said: “This report is the first comprehensive analysis of Heathrow’s economic impact. It reveals that the loss of jobs in the area has been hugely underestimated. This report throws down the gauntlet to policymakers. It shows that their decisions will have a huge impact on thousands of families.”

Mr Moylan told The Telegraph that Mr Johnson remains convinced it is “absolutely necessary” that both Stansted and the Isle of Grain should feature on the commission’s short list.

“If the estuary proposals are eliminated then it is incumbent on the Airports Commission and ministers to come clean with Londoners and the public about whether they can really contemplate inflicting the misery of an expanded Heathrow on a million people or developing Gatwick into a four-runway hub airport.

“Trying to shoehorn a major airport into a site half the size of Paris Charles de Gaulle would hamstring Britain in the global race and pretending that we may not need a hub airport, but could instead carry on spreading our runways around the South East, would fly in the face of all the evidence from our competitors overseas.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10503292/Boris-airport-may-be-dumped.html

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Telegraph article discussing some of the issues for the Airports Commission’s interim statement, due on 17th December

The Airports Commission will make its interim announcement on 17th December, on short term measures, and its short-list of runway options for the long term. The Telegraph writes about this with great enthusiasm at the prospect of aviation capacity equivalent to the size of Gatwick today being added to the south east, (mainly to accommodate more leisure air travel). Some of the points they make are that, predictably, the Airport Operators Association (AOA), say after 2015 any Prime Minister “who rejects the findings of that commission in 2015 would look very weak.” Heathrow expansion would need at least £4 – 6 billion of public funding for the road and rail links. It appears that MAG is lukewarm on the idea of a mega-hub at Stansted. Even Boris’ own advisers fear the tide may have turned against any of the Thames Estuary options, which have been fiercely attacked by critics for the associated costs. Stewart Wingate of Gatwick fears the commission could simply choose to drop the  most whacky options, and just ask for more work to be done on the most ones – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and an airport in the Thames Estuary. It is not yet clear if the commission will shortlist a location or a specific option there (they don’t yet have enough detail on them to choose). Several groups, including Heathrow hedged their bets by submitting more than one option, which met the various “sift” criteria in different ways.
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The UK hasn’t had a new runway in 60 years – that could soon change

In nine days’ time (17th December), one man hopes to end half a century of government inertia over how to expand London’s airport capacity

747 Airport Heathrow Jet Plane Runway Take off Uk

Heathrow handled a record 70m people last year, compared with 63,000 in 1946 Photo: Alamy

7 Dec 2013

When a select group of ministers, reporters and paying passengers boarded a converted Lancaster bomber at Heathrow Airport on January 1, 1946, they knew they were part of a historic event in British aviation. What they didn’t realise was just quite how significant it would prove to be.

A large crowd gathered in front of the Avro Lancastrian, codenamed “Star Light”, to hear Britain’s then civil aviation minister, Lord Winster, say a few words before the plane took off for Buenos Aires.

But as they settled into the 13-seater British South American Airways aircraft, they could not have imagined that they would be taking off from what would turn out to be the last full-length runway to be built in the South East.

More than six decades after their aircraft lifted off the Tarmac for the first commercial flight from Heathrow Airport, the aviation industry has changed beyond all recognition.

Heathrow handled a record 70m people last year, compared with 63,000 in 1946, when passengers waited in floral-patterned armchairs in former military marquees on the side of the airfield.

London’s six airports – Gatwick, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Stansted and Southend – collectively saw 135m passengers pass through their doors last year, while across the UK 221m passengers took commercial flights in 2012.

That demand will only gain altitude over the next 40 years, according to forecasts.

The Department for Transport, for instance, estimates UK airports will need to cope with 445m passengers by 2050.

But while the industry has taken great leaps forward in demand and technology, one crucial debate has remained stuck in the hangar since that day in 1946: where to build new runway capacity to cope with the extra demand.

The lack of progress hasn’t been achieved without a good deal of effort.

Since 1963, when a government committee shortlisted 18 possible sites for a major new airport in the South East, no fewer than 12 policy documents, commissions or White Papers have been produced to solve the thorny issue of where to build new runways in the London area.

These included the 1971 Roskill Commission, which recommended Cublington in Oxfordshire as the site for a new airport, and the 2003 Future of Air Transport White Paper, which supported a third runway at Heathrow and a second at Stansted.

All of the plans got precisely nowhere.

Groups such as the Aviation Foundation, a coalition of airlines and airports, point out that while Britain has been crippled by indecision over the past 50 years, rival economies in Europe have forged ahead with expansion.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam has five main runways, while Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle each have four. Heathrow, Britain’s largest airport, has two.

“Airport policy in the UK has been a case study in political short-termism. Successive governments have failed to take action and as a result our hub airport is full, limiting the number of vital connections to growing economies around the world,” says Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD).

But in nine days’ time, one man hopes to take a major step towards ending 50 years of inertia.

City grandee Sir Howard Davies, the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, will publish the first report from the Airports Commission, a body set up by the Government last year to supposedly lay the tortuous runway debate to rest.

Although the commission will not report its final recommendations until after the general election in 2015, giving rise to accusations that the Coalition has kicked the problem into the long grass, Sir Howard has pledged to publish a shortlist of options in his interim report, expected on December 17.

This time, businesses and airlines are hoping the commission’s work will stick.

“I think a Prime Minister of the day who rejects the findings of that commission in 2015 would look very weak,” says Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for Britain’s airports.

Since it was set up last November, the commission has published five discussion papers designed to address the most contentious aspects of the debate – from how future demand forecasts are drawn up, to connectivity with foreign economies and jet noise suffered by communities.

The commission received 58 proposals on how to solve Britain’s looming aviation capacity crunch – a figure Sir Howard has next month promised to slim down to “just a handful”. Some of the proposals will be easier to rule out than others.

Among the suggestions received was a £12.6bn magnetic levitation train alongside the M25, which could link the five biggest London airports in just 24 minutes. Poor odds are also likely to be offered on plans for a new four-runway airport near Abingdon in Oxfordshire – close to the Prime Minister’s constituency in Witney – making the cut. Another scheme included a “drive-through airport”.

Flights of fancy aside, the bigger players have spent more than £1m on developing their proposals, indicating the high stakes at play.

Heathrow has submitted three possible locations for a third runway, varying in cost between £14bn and £18bn.

The airport has so far refused to back one single option, but has highlighted that two of its proposals, one to the south west of its current site and the other to the north west, would cause less disruption to local communities than a third, cheaper site, to the north, over the village of Sipson in Hillingdon.

The south-west option would involve building a 3,500-metre runway over the village of Stanwell Moor in Surrey at a cost of £18bn and would increase Heathrow’s capacity to 130m, up from 80m at present. It would require the demolition of 850 properties but could not be delivered until 2029, three years later than a proposed site to the north west, over Longford and Harmondsworth in Middlesex, involving the loss of 950 homes and two listed buildings.

The airport insists most of the funding for a third runway would come from the private sector, although it has raised the prospect of a £4bn to £6bn public subsidy to build and improve surface transport links.

Heathrow’s main rival, Gatwick, insists it could increase capacity in the South East for a fraction of the cost of expanding Heathrow.

Gatwick argues it could build a second runway for between £5bn and £9bn on land that has been safeguarded for that purpose since 2003. It has suggested three possible layouts for a second runway, but believes the airport’s capacity would be able to grow to between 60m and 90m, compared with the 34.2m passengers handled last year.

Britain’s connections to fast-growing economies abroad could also be improved by building a second runway at Stansted at a later date, Gatwick says. Heathrow would remain open under the plans submitted by Gatwick, but would not be allowed to expand – an approach it has described as creating a “constellation” of two-runway airports.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owner of Stansted, has hedged its bets by pointing out to the commission that the Essex airport could double the number of flights it handles without any significant new investment in infrastructure.

Should the commission decide that the UK would best be served by a bigger hub airport, Stansted could be expanded to four runways with capacity for 140m to 160m passengers a year, MAG says. However, observers in the debate suggest MAG is lukewarm on the idea of a mega-hub at Stansted.

“At Stansted, to be blunt, we have plenty of spare capacity. The airport is barely half full,” Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said last month.

When the commission kicked off its investigation late last year, aviation analysts believed the debate would develop into a bitter dogfight between Heathrow and London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, who has proposed three possible locations for a new hub airport.

The mayor argues that only a hub will deliver the connections that the UK will need to remain competitive in future – an argument that is also promoted by Heathrow, but bitterly contested by Gatwick.

Johnson believes a new four-runway airport on the Isle of Grain in north Kent – in the inner Thames Estuary – would strike the best balance between improving the UK’s connectivity and reducing the effect of aviation on local communities. He has also proposed – seemingly as a fall-back position – transforming Stansted “out of all recognition”.

A hub airport on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary off the Kent coast – a scheme dubbed “Boris Island” when the Mayor first backed it – also remains on the table. If allowed, Johnson would shut Heathrow and turn it into a new London borough, accommodating 80,000 homes and more than 40,000 jobs, the Mayor’s office claims.

However, even the Mayor’s own advisers fear the tide may have turned against any of the Thames Estuary options, which have been fiercely attacked by critics for the costs associated with the scheme. Transport for London said a new hub airport, which would not see the first planes take to the air until 2029, would require £4bn to £5bn a year of net government spending in the nine years between 2019 and 2028.

Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s aviation aide, recently conceded that the option “most at risk” of being cut from Sir Howard’s shortlist is a new airport in the Thames Estuary. He believes that Stansted could be left on the table to appease those who believe London needs a larger hub airport, but that it should not be located at Heathrow.

“I think the option that is most at risk, being frank, is a new airport in the Estuary,” Moylan said at an event organised by Insight Public Affairs. “If something is going to be ruled out, I think Davies is likely to rule that out rather than anything else.”

Others believe this month’s shortlist could be less refined. Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick airport, fears the commission could simply choose to drop the left-field options, such as a drive-through airport, and ask for more work to be done on possible expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and an airport in the Thames Estuary.

He is urging the commission to narrow down the options to just two runners – Gatwick and Heathrow – to reduce uncertainty for local communities who will face up to two years of “blight” before the preferred option is named in 2015.

“I think people need to know where they stand,” Wingate said. “At the earliest opportunity, Sir Howard should narrow that shortlist – the sooner you can actually see the real options the better.”

Another uncertainty preying on the minds of airport bosses and campaign groups is whether the commission will shortlist a location or a specific option.

In May, the commission published a list of “sift criteria” – factors against which proposals would be judged. These included the economy, environment, cost and people, although the commission did not clarify how it would prioritise the various criteria.

Several groups, including Heathrow and Transport for London, hedged their bets by submitting more than one option, which met the various criteria in different ways. For example, while Heathrow’s north-west option is cheaper, at £17bn, it would involve the demolition of 950 local homes, as opposed to 850 under the south-west scheme.

Aside from the official proposals submitted by the airports themselves, other parties have suggested how to transform certain sites. Heathrow Hub, a project backed by the City banker Ian Hannam, believes it is possible to extend the airport’s two existing runways and split them into four independent air strips.

Should the commission merely shortlist locations, some stakeholders are concerned there could be another lengthy process to whittle down the various proposals for each site.

But lawyers suggest it could be difficult for the commission to choose one specific option at each location due to the difference in detail between the various submissions.

“Are they going to shortlist options or are they going to list locations?” one source asked. “Originally we were expecting options, but it’s difficult to compare apples with pears. How do you compare options which vary in detail?”

Questions also arise over who would be forced to pay for a detailed business case and sustainability assessment to be carried out for an option that had not been proposed by the site’s owner – a task that would cost several millions of pounds.

Some organisations have privately expressed concerns that the consultation has effectively turned into a tendering process.

“That’s a very different thing. If you are going to ask people to tender for something, you have got to tell them what the something is that you want. How many passengers is it meant to cater for? What is the funding envelope?” said another official.

The commission has already seen off one legal challenge, from Stop Stansted Expansion, which raised concerns over the influence that could have been exerted by a former commissioner, Geoff Muirhead, over the shortlist. Mr Muirhead stepped down from the commission in September, after it emerged that he was still being paid £150,000 a year by Stansted’s owner, MAG, when he was appointed to help Sir Howard.

Further legal challenges are inevitable, according to some, although lawyers suggest that the way the commission has structured its work has been specifically designed to fend off a judicial review following the Department for Transport’s recent court battles over the HS2 project.

While the department could potentially face another challenge in court, businesses point out that the biggest battle will be played out in the corridors of Westminster.

With the commission’s final report not due until after the next election, there are no guarantees the next government will agree to fund the recommendations.

Businesses have already started lobbying the political parties to ensure that Sir Howard’s final decision will not join the graveyard of failed aviation policy papers and investigations that have piled up over the past 50 years.

More than 100 of Britain’s leading companies, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group and WPP, last month launched a campaign, Let Britain Fly, [strange allusion to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake"] urging the political parties to make specific manifesto commitments following the Airports Commission’s first report.

“We would like all of the political parties to commit to acting on the findings of the commission now, whatever those findings may be,” the AOA’s Caplan said.

It may be 60 years since the last full-length runway was built in the south-east of England, but it looks like being a few years yet before Britain decides whether it wants to build another one.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10501891/The-UK-hasnt-had-a-new-runway-in-60-years-that-could-soon-change.html

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Thousands delayed after flights delayed and many cancelled due to NATS air traffic control technical problems at Swanwick

Thousands of passengers were left stranded on Saturday after hundreds of flights were grounded at airports following a technical fault at the country’s main air traffic control centre. The problem at Swanwick led to delays to flight across southern England, Ireland and Europe, with Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, and ot others badly affected. Problems began when the control centre’s computer systems failed to automatically switch from night to day operations, forcing flight controllers to carry out the procedure manually.  Only a few airspace sectors are needed at night, with more in use from early morning, when the increasing number requires a larger number of controllers handling them. The problem was with the telephone system, causing NATS difficulty reconfiguring the sectors. The fault took much of the day to fix, and there were large numbers of flight delays and cancellations, with stories of those affected and inconvenienced.  The Swanwick centre opened in January 2002 at a cost of £623 million. NATS said their system is not simply internal telephones, it is the system that controllers use to speak to other ATC agencies both in the UK and Europe and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe. (And there are plans perhaps to add another runway in the southeast, adding the equivalent of another Gatwick to the system?)
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Thousands delayed after flights grounded at UK airports

Serious computer glitches at the country’s main air traffic control centre left hundreds of passengers stranded at some of the UK’s major airports

 

By , and Edward Malnick  (Telegraph)

7 Dec 2013

 [NATS had no further information on their website http://www.nats.aero/ ]

Thousands of passengers were left stranded on Saturday after hundreds of flights were grounded at airports following a technical fault at the country’s main air traffic control centre.

The problem at Swanwick air traffic control centre led to delays to flight across southern England, Ireland and Europe, with Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, Southampton, London City and Dublin airports reporting flight delays.

Manchester Airport was also caught up in the chaos and flights south from Edinburgh were also affected.

The fault might not be fixed until 6pm, according to reports on Saturday afternoon.

From FlightRadar24  http://www.flightradar24.com

Problems began when the control centre’s computer systems failed to automatically switch from night to day operations, forcing flight controllers to carry out the procedure manually.

The Swanwick centre, which opened in January 2002 at a cost of £623 million, reduces its operations at night when only a handful of the average 5,000 flights the centre handles every 24 hours are in the air.

Only a few airspace sectors are needed at night, with more sectors becoming operational as traffic builds up in the early morning. As these sectors grow, so does the number of controllers handling them.

But on Saturday morning problems with the telephone system led to Nats having difficulty reconfiguring the sectors.

A Nats spokesman said: “Due to a technical problem at Swanwick we are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night-time to daytime operation. At night, when it’s quiet, we can combine sectors of airspace.

“When it gets busy in the daytime, we split the sectors out again. The voice communications system is configured to enable this to happen.

“We experienced a technical problem in the early hours of this morning, which means that it hasn’t been possible to reconfigure the voice communications system to split out the sectors for the busier daytime traffic in some areas of the UK enroute airspace.

“Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible, but this is resulting in some delays. Safety has not been compromised at any time, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience being caused to passengers.”

Stansted Airport warned that all of its departing flights were subject to delays of between 30 minutes and two hours.

Gatwick Airport said 20 per cent of its departures had been delayed, with passengers warned they could wait for “a couple of hours”.

At Heathrow planes were departing every five minutes instead of every 90 seconds and more than 40 flights were were cancelled between 2pm and 5pm on Saturday afternoon.

Sergio Coelho, 26, an entrepreneur from California, was among passengers told their 10.50am flight to Casablanca from Gatwick had been cancelled.

Instead they would be driven on a shuttle bus to Heathrow to take an evening flight.

“None of us were told it was cancelled until we got here and there is no one at the check-in desk to talk to us,” he said.

“Most of the people on this flight will miss all of their connecting flights.”

Mr Coelho said he had intended to take a train to travel 60 miles from Casablanca to Rabat, Morocco’s capital, where he was due to stay with friends, but feared the delay would mean he was too late to make the journey.

“I’m probably going to be stranded now in a country I have never been to,” he said.

Redouane Jamil, 50, a designer who was meant to be on the same flight, said: “Air Maroc here didn’t seem to know what was going on. I needed to be there on time because I’ve got meetings over there.

“I had booked a car to pick me up and I’m going to have to phone to either cancel it or get them to pick me up later so I can get home.”

Daisy McAndrew, another passenger, said she had been caught in the “unholy mess” at Gatwick as she tried to fly to Barcelona for work.

“As ever, staff have been fantastic but they know nothing other than the fact it is going to be a very, very long delay – very frustrating,” Ms McAndrew said.

“And also, it’s embarrassing, isn’t it? When you look around a lot of people on my plane are not British, they are flying British Airways, they are probably trying to get back to Spain and they will inevitably be thinking this is something that could have possibly been prevented.

“It doesn’t show our air traffic control system or our travel system in a good light.

“I have never heard of an example where every single plane is grounded – it’s quite eerie when I look out of the window to see the tarmac in Gatwick, normally so busy, and also the sky above Gatwick which is normally busy – completely static, there’s nothing moving.”

Eugene and Joan O’Sullivan, both 74, from Worlingworth, Suffolk, flew from Lima to Madrid for a connecting flight to Gatwick, only to be delayed for two hours in the Spanish capital.

Arriving at Gatwick shortly before midday, Mrs O’Sullivan said: “We heard various stories – they first told us we would be delayed for half an hour and then it was another 40 minutes. We were eventually stuck there for two hours.”

Mr O’Sullivan added: “Are we pleased? No.”

Helena Lucas, the Paralympic sailor, wrote on Twitter: “Lots of angry people at Heathrow! Customer services is crowded with unhappy people! My flight looks on time fingers crossed!”

Ryanair warned of “significant flight delays and possible cancellations” and said it had been advised of an equipment failure within UK air traffic control.

Flights at Cardiff Airport were also experiencing delays, with a flight to Paris delayed with no estimated time of arrival.

A flight to Malaga has been delayed from 9.10 to an estimated take-off at 10.55, with one to Amsterdam delayed from 10.25 to an estimated time of 11.10.

A spokesman for Cardiff Airport said: “Both (departures and arrivals) have been delayed because of the knock-on effect of the late arrivals of the service. We are currently looking at an estimated 1hour 40 minutes delay.”

EasyJet warned passengers to expect delays throughout the day, possibly spilling over into Sunday.

In a statement the airline added: “We’re doing everything we can to ensure that our passengers are well taken care of while our flights await clearance to depart, by keeping them up to date with the latest information and providing them with free refreshments on board.”

The delays added to the disruption to transport links following the storms which hit Britain on Thursday night, causing flooding in Scotland, north Wales and the east coast.

The Association of British Travel Agents said: “Customers due to travel today should liaise with their airline to establish if there are any changes to their flight arrangements. Furthermore, customers should be prepared for potential delays and are advised to carry essential items such as medication in their hand luggage.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10502466/Thousands-delayed-after-flights-grounded-at-UK-airports.html

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The software failure happened when the 23 controllers working overnight were due to hand over to the 125 on the day shift at around 06:00 GMT.


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Stansted: Flights Resuming After NATS Glitch

8th December 2013, (Heart)

Picture by Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Airline passengers at Stansted may face further delays today, after a major air traffic control glitch caused major disruption at airports across the UK and Ireland.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed yesterday after problems with a telephone system at the National Air Traffic Service (Nats) centre in Swanwick, Hampshire.

Thousands of people endured hours of frustration as flights were affected across the country, including the major airports of Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.

The problem was resolved at about 7.30pm yesterday, Nats said, and while the disruption is likely to have a knock-on effect today, the three main London airports predicted a largely trouble-free day.

A statement from Stansted Airport reads: “Due to an ongoing air traffic control issue affecting airspace in southern England, flights to and from Stansted Airport are currently subject to delay and possible cancellation.  

For more information, and to check the status of their flight, passengers are advised to check their airline website before setting off to the airport.

To speak to a member of our Customer Contact Centre call 08714 777 747.”

A spokesman for London Heathrow said last night: “There are no planned flight schedule changes for Sunday.

We still advise passengers to check with airlines prior to travelling though.”

Gatwick said that operations had returned to normal and it was “not anticipating significant disruptions” today.

The problem occurred when the 23 controllers on a night shift at Swanwick handed over to the 125 controllers on the day shift at about 6am.

Nats’ night-time operating system, which combines sectors of airspace for when it is less busy, did not properly switch over to the daytime system, causing a communication problem with the centre’s internal telephones. 

They stressed that safety was not at risk at any time.

Heathrow was the worst affected, with 228 cancellations – 112 in arrivals, and 116 departures, with most being short-haul flights.

A spokesman for the airport said the cancellations represented 15% of their usual daily total of 1,300 flights going in and out of the airport. 

Frustrated passengers were left in long queues to rebook flights, while others reported having to wait for hours to speak to airline representatives.

The glitch affected flights across Europe, with 1,300 flights, nearly 8% of all traffic in Europe, “severely delayed”, according to Eurocontrol, the European organisation for air navigation safety. 

A spokesman for Nats said last night: “As of 7.30pm we had handled 3,250 flights today – around 90% of the traffic handled last Saturday (3,613 flights).”

In a statement yesterday, Nats apologised for the disruption, saying: “The reduction in capacity has had a disproportionate effect on southern England because it is extremely complex and busy airspace and we sincerely regret inconvenience to our airline customers and their passengers.

To be clear, this is a very complex and sophisticated system with more than a million lines of software.

This is not simply internal telephones, it is the system that controllers use to speak to other ATC agencies both in the UK and Europe and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe. 

This has been a major challenge for our engineering team and for the manufacturer, who has worked closely with us to ensure this complex problem was resolved as quickly as possible while maintaining a safe service.”

http://www.heart.co.uk/cambridge/news/local/stansted-flights-resuming-after-nats-glitch/

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Airports Commission input into National Infrastructure Plan on improvements to surface access to main airports

Sir Howard Davies wrote to George Osborne on 26th November, on surface access to airports. This has influenced the National Infrastructure Plan for 2013, now released. The Airports Commission says that as adding any new runways will take a decade (or decades), in the interim “there is a strong case for attaching a greater strategic priority to transport investments which improve surface access to our airports.” The letter gives specific recommendations on improving surface access at UK main airports.  On Heathrow it recommends: “Recognising the importance of encouraging modal shift towards more environmentally sustainable forms of transport at Heathrow, not only for supporting future expansion plans [!?] but also for optimising the airport’s operations within its current capacity constraints, the Government should work with Network Rail to undertake a detailed study to find the best option for enhancing rail access into Heathrow from the south. Initial indications are that up to roughly 15% of Heathrow’s passengers in the London and South East region could benefit from improved Southern Access.” They “remain concerned that the proportion of users (particularly workforce) accessing Heathrow using private cars remains high, with consequent implications for air quality.”
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Airports Commission welcomes surface transport improvements

Surface access recommendations featured in National Infrastructure Plan

4.12.2013 (Airports Commission website)

National Infrastructure Plan 2013

Ref: ISBN 978-1-909790-57-5, PU1576PDF, 1.07MB, 152 pages

In the National Infrastructure Plan published today (4 December 2013), the government has set out its intention to act on the Airports Commission’s surface access recommendations.

Welcoming this move, Sir Howard Davies said:

I am pleased that the government has acted on our recommendations to enhance surface access to some of our major airports. Improving the quality of surface transport links can play an important part in optimising how we use our existing infrastructure in the short and medium term. We will present further recommendations for making the best use of existing capacity in our interim report, which we will deliver later this month.

As part of its work on making the best use of existing airport capacity, the Airports Commission has considered a range of measures to improve surface transport links to airports.

The Commission recognised that the 2013 National Infrastructure Plan and Autumn Statement presented the opportunity for early progress on this issue. Accordingly, Sir Howard Davies wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26 November 2013 to set out the Commission’s recommendations for a short term package of surface transport improvements that would help optimise the use of existing airport capacity, whatever decisions might be taken in the longer term.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/airports-commission-welcomes-surface-transport-improvements

The letter is

Surface access letter

PDF, 358KB, 10 pages


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The letter says:

In our interim report we will explore some operational changes which will allow the
nation to make better use of existing airport capacity in the short term. We will also
produce a shortlist of options for additional runway capacity in the longer term, which
we will examine in more detail in the second phase of our work. All of those longer
term options will inevitably take a substantial period of time to plan and build, even if
political consensus in support of our recommendations can be secured. We therefore
face a period, probably of a decade or more, before any significant new
infrastructure can be brought on line to alleviate the capacity constraints facing the
sector.

In the interim there is a strong case for attaching a greater strategic priority to
transport investments which improve surface access to our airports. Surface
transport improvements can encourage more use of airports which currently have
spare capacity, improve the passenger experience, and make airports more
attractive to airlines. Clearly, the needs of other users of the transport network must
be considered, and we have taken them into account in reaching our
recommendations, which in many cases would deliver substantial and wider positive impacts and benefits. However, for the foreseeable future, some greater weight should be placed on the needs of existing airports and their users when taking decisions on transport investment.

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It sets out specific recommendations for  Gatwick, Stansted, Heathrow, Manchester, and Other Airports. 

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On Heathrow specifically, the letter says (in its Annexe):

Heathrow

Heathrow airport is already operating close to its capacity limit and that its ability to open routes to new markets is constrained by that lack of spare capacity. In addition, there are works already in progress, notably Crossrail and Westem Rail Access, which will bring huge improvements to the quality of Heathrow’s surface access.

However, we remain concerned that the proportion of users (particularly workforce) accessing Heathrow using private cars remains high, with consequent implications for air quality around the airport. We therefore think that there is a case for plugging the remaining gaps in the airport’s rail access, which are primarily to the south.

This problem has been recognised before and a proposed remedy was sought through the Airtrack scheme. This would have provided a rail link into the airport from Guildford, Reading and London Waterloo.

However, the scheme was cancelled due to concems over its cost (£673m) and its impact
upon local transport networks, particularly level crossings in a number of towns along the route (some of which would only have been open for a few minutes in each hour). Since then, a separate proposal (Airtrack Lite) has been put forward which attempts to alleviate some of these issues.

We think there is a case to look again at rail access to Heathrow from the South. This may involve revisiting the Airtrack proposal or developing fresh ideas.

Accordingly, in respect of Heathrow, we recommend:

Recommendation 10:

Recognising the importance of encouraging modal shift towards more environmentally sustainable forms of transport at Heathrow, not only for supporting future expansion plans but also for optimising the airport’s operations within its current capacity constraints, the
Government should work with Network Rail to undertake a detailed study to find the best option for enhancing rail access into Heathrow from the south. Initial indications are that up to roughly 15% of Heathrow’s passengers in the London and South East region could benefit from improved Southern Access.

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Our understanding is that this study would require some time to do its work, although its budget would likely be less than £1 m. Its eventual recommendations may have a cost of several £100ms, but a full study will bring a better understanding of the costs and benefits of the options in this area.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263208/surface-access-letter.pdf

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An AirportWatch member commented:  “And what would air quality be like with the extra 20 million vehicle journeys per year that a third runway would bring?”

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See also

 

Airports Commission surface transport improvement plans for Gatwick airport including £180 million station upgrade

Date added: December 5, 2013

Sir Howard Davies (Chairman of the Airports Commission) has written to George Osborne, on the subject of surface access to airports. He says that as adding any new runways will take a decade (or decades), in the interim “there is a strong case for attaching a greater strategic priority to transport investments which improve surface access to our airports.” The Airports Commission have recommended improvements for Gatwick including improvements to the train station, which could cost £180 million – “subject to the airport providing an appropriate contribution to the costs of the scheme.” It is not currently regarded as being well suited to travellers, especially those with heavy luggage, so better luggage space would need to be added. The Commission says Gatwick is succeeding in getting more long haul routes, and due to capacity constraints at Heathrow, “we believe that the UK’s interests to enable passengers to more effectively access Gatwick’s increasing connections to new markets, as well as its existing route network.” The government says it will provide £50m towards the redevelopment of the station, subject to satisfactory commercial negotiations with Gatwick airport.

Click here to view full story…

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Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France

The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal.

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There are 3 committees in the European Parliament considering the proposal for changes to the inclusion of aviation in the ETS:  Industry, Research & Energy;  Transport & Tourism and Environment. The report from the Environment committee is good – it is at ENVI draft report Nov 2013 . The other two are disastrous as they exempt all international flights from the ETS (only intra-European flights are in) until at least 2017.  Meanwhile UK, France and Germany have also come out with a proposal to exempt all international flights from the ETS.

 

 

Caving in on the cave-in

Wednesday 4 December 2013  (European Voice)

by Dave Keating (European Voice’s environment reporter)

It’s not looking good for the European Commission’s proposal to undo an EU law that would have charged all airlines for the emissions of flights taking off or landing in Europe. An increasing number of member states and MEPs are coming out in opposition. But they don’t have a problem with the retreat. They say the Commission isn’t retreating far enough.

Last week Germany, France and the UK told a meeting of member states that they want to change the proposal to a more complete surrender. The Commission proposed to change the law so that emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States.

Seeing the writing on the wall, many MEPs are now quickly lining up against the Commission as well. But the Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat.

Sovereignty spat

The ETS Directive, adopted in 2008 by the Parliament and member states, mandates that from January 2012 all flights leaving or landing at an EU airport must purchase credits for the carbon emissions they have emitted.

But after global powers including China, India, Russia and the United States objected on sovereignty grounds, the Commission announced it would temporarily exempt non-EU airlines from the rules, to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) room to reach a deal for a global market mechanism to reduce aviation emissions.

The freeze is set to expire at the end of this year. In September the EU offered to permanently exclude emissions which take place outside EU airspace – if ICAO at least agreed a timeline to a future global mechanism. Unlike with the freeze, foreign airlines would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports.

ICAO did adopt a timeline to a future deal in 2020, and so in October the European Commission made good on its offer, proposing to exempt from the ETS any emissions that take place outside of EU airspace. This angered many in the European Parliament, as well as many European airlines, which said the Commission was caving in to foreign pressure even though nothing real had been agreed at ICAO.

However even this offer from the Commission did not mollify the foreign powers. Charging their airlines anything for emissions, even those that take place inside EU airspace, would be a violation of sovereignty, they insist.

The proposal to amend the ETS legislation has to be approved by the Parliament and Council.  Airbus, fearful of retaliatory action from China, has been leaning on Berlin, Paris and London to change the proposal so that only flights flying entirely within the EU would be subject to the ETS.  Such flights are, obviously, almost entirely operated by European airlines. Foreign airlines operating in Europe will be off the hook.

This week Finnish centre-right MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola, who is leading the file in the Parliament’s industry committee, submitted a report backing the intra-EU approach.

Centre-right German MEP Peter Liese, who leads on the issue in the environment committee, is defending the Commission’s airspace approach. [See the Draft Report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety entitled "Draft report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in view of the implementation by 2020 of an international agreement applying a single global market-based measure to international aviation emissions"  at  ENVI draft report Nov 2013 ].

Meanwhile many Green and Socialist MEPs are still furious that the EU caved in so easily on this issue and they do not want to vote for any change to the law.

Though the upcoming Parliament vote on this issue may be split, it’s pretty clear who will win this fight in the end. With Berlin, Paris and London all intent on changing the legislation to match the demands of third countries, it’s very unlikely that the Commission’s original proposal will see the light of day. And there are few with the appetite left to fight for it.

A traumatic experience

The aviation emission dispute has been fairly traumatic for Brussels lawmakers. It now appears certain that a democratically-enacted law, which Berlin, Paris and London all approved back in 2008, will be easily bent through foreign pressure. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. Admitting this limit to EU influence and respect in the world has been a tough process.

“Why do we even bother making laws?” one disgruntled Parliament assistant grumbled to me. “The US just comes in and says, no, that’s not your law, this is your law.”

The irony, of course, is that a similar inclusion of international aviation in carbon trading was part of the US climate change bill that was being drafted back in 2008. That climate bill eventually failed. But what if it hadn’t, and the US had included foreign flights in its cap and trade scheme? Would the international community have demonstrated the same lack of respect for US law as it has for EU law? Would Washington have been so willing to change its laws because of the displeasure of its global partners?

For the EU, the cave-in is already guaranteed. The question now is how big it will be. The choice now lies between partial retreat and full retreat. The EU will most likely choose the latter. It’s a less-than-inspiring saga for Europe, and it’s one that lawmakers seem to want to get behind them as quickly as possible.

http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice-blogs-dave-keating/3554.aspx?blogitemid=1823

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See also

 

Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

November 29, 2013      .

The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly.

Click here to view full story…

 

 

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Airports Commission surface transport improvement plans for Gatwick airport including £180 million station upgrade

Sir Howard Davies (Chairman of the Airports Commission) has written to George Osborne, on the subject of surface access to airports. He says that as adding any new runways will take a decade (or decades), in the interim “there is a strong case for attaching a greater strategic priority to transport investments which improve surface access to our airports.” The Airports Commission have recommended improvements for Gatwick including improvements to the train station, which could cost £180 million – “subject to the airport providing an appropriate contribution to the costs of the scheme.”  It is not currently regarded as being well suited to travellers, especially those with heavy luggage, so better luggage space would need to be added. The Commission says Gatwick is succeeding in getting more long haul routes, and due to capacity constraints at Heathrow, “we believe that the UK’s interests to enable passengers to more effectively access Gatwick’s increasing connections to new markets, as well as its existing route network.” The government says it will provide £50m towards the redevelopment of the station, subject to satisfactory commercial negotiations with Gatwick airport.
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December 4, 2013

Gatwick rail link funding approved

By Andrew Parker (FT)

Full FT article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/beb386c0-5ce6-11e3-a558-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2mYUl6tAi

Ministers have accepted recommendations by a body investigating Britain’s airports that could lead to significant improvements to Gatwick’s train station and rail links at Stansted and Heathrow.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is calling for improvements to surface transport links to the three main airports in the southeast of England, which are mainly focused on enhancements to the rail network.

These improvements, if implemented in full, could cost £2bn and are intended to ensure better use of existing runway capacity.

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Full FT article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/beb386c0-5ce6-11e3-a558-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2mYUl6tAi

 


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Airports Commission welcomes surface transport improvements

Surface access recommendations featured in National Infrastructure Plan

4.12.2013 (Airports Commission website)

National Infrastructure Plan 2013

Ref: ISBN 978-1-909790-57-5, PU1576PDF, 1.07MB, 152 pages

In the National Infrastructure Plan published today (4 December 2013), the government has set out its intention to act on the Airports Commission’s surface access recommendations.

Welcoming this move, Sir Howard Davies said:

I am pleased that the government has acted on our recommendations to enhance surface access to some of our major airports. Improving the quality of surface transport links can play an important part in optimising how we use our existing infrastructure in the short and medium term. We will present further recommendations for making the best use of existing capacity in our interim report, which we will deliver later this month.

As part of its work on making the best use of existing airport capacity, the Airports Commission has considered a range of measures to improve surface transport links to airports.

The Commission recognised that the 2013 National Infrastructure Plan and Autumn Statement presented the opportunity for early progress on this issue. Accordingly, Sir Howard Davies wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26 November 2013 to set out the Commission’s recommendations for a short term package of surface transport improvements that would help optimise the use of existing airport capacity, whatever decisions might be taken in the longer term.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/airports-commission-welcomes-surface-transport-improvements

The letter is

Surface access letter

PDF, 358KB, 10 pages


 

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This is what the letter says, in relation to Gatwick:

Annex

 Recommendations on short term surface transport measures 

Gatwick

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Recommendation 1:

The Government should work with Network Rail and Gatwick Airport to implement a significant enhancement of the airport station, with an emphasis upon making the station more accessible to users with luggage (which should also enhance access for users with disabilities). The Government should pursue an ambitious (circa £180m) option for enhancing
the station through the construction of a new concourse and ticket hall with enhanced access to platforms, subject to the airport providing an appropriate contribution to the costs of the scheme. .

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Recommendation 2:

There is a need to improve the suitability of the Gatwick Express rolling stock to make it more suitable for airport users, for example by the provision of additional luggage space. The Government should take opportunities to enhance it where they exist in the franchising system.

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Recommendation 3:

The Government should work with train operators to promote the introduction of paperless ticketing facilities for journeys to and from Gatwick Airport station.

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Recommendation 4:

The Government and Network Rail should accelerate work to produce a detailed plan for the enhancement of the Brighton Main Line, with a particular emphasis upon enhancing capacity and reliability, so as to accommodate growth in both airport and commuter traffic. This could focus on the alleviation of particular pinch points (such as East Croydon).

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Recommendation 5:

The Government should work with the Highways Agency to develop a forward route strategy for the sections of the motorway network connecting to Gatwick Airport, with a particular emphasis on the connections between the M25, M23 and the airport itself. This strategy should consider options for expanding the slip-roads between the roads in question, which could become substantial congestion pinch points.

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Since the sale of Gatwick Airport, its new management has sought to increase the number of long haul destinations served by the airport and has already achieved some successes in this area. In light of the capacity constraints at Heathrow, we believe that the UK’s interests, in the window until any new capacity can be brought online, lie in enabling passengers to more effectively access Gatwick’s increasing connections to new markets, as well as its existing route network.

This is reflected in our recommendations.

We have also recognised the other pressures that exist upon the surface access links serving Gatwick; particularly the Brighton Main Line. We understand that this limits the extent to which the airport’s surface access might be improved in the short to medium term; London must remain open for business for residents and commuters, as well as for international travellers.
However, we believe that there are some works that can be done, particularly in terms of taking further the planned enhancements to the airport’s station.

The station is not, at present, well suited to the needs of airport users. Its configuration is poor, particularly for passengers with luggage who are forced to wait for the rather inadequate lifts provided or else struggle with their bags on narrow escalators. This does not provide the best welcome to intemational visitors or send the message that the airport is well suited to long haul airlines and their customers.

In respect of the further enhancement of the airport station, we believe there is a strong case for taking forward a significant programme of improvements (costed at £180m in 2008), which would completely replace the existing concourse and ticket hall with a new facility. We believe that represents the best means of enhancing the passenger experience at Gatwick and hence the airport’s ability to attract new long haul routes.

We have also reviewed a more modest scheme with costs below £50m, which would focus on improvements to the platforms and some modest refurbishment of the existing concourse and ticket hall. We do not believe that this would offer an attractive solution. However, since the airport itself would be a substantial beneficiary of the work, we recommend that the
implementation of the more ambitious proposal should be subject to it making an appropriate contribution to the overall cost.

Ticketing facilities at the station are also poor and the range of tickets and fares available can be confusing. We have noted the London Assembly Transport Committee’s proposal that Oyster facilities be provided at Gatwick Airport Station. We support this, but also note that paperless ticketing systems are rapidly evolving. We therefore recommend that Gatwick station be incorporated as soon as possible into the Oyster system or any successor.

The Gatwick Express service forms a key part of the airport’s surface transport offering, but we are concemed that it faces a number of challenges in supporting the airport’s connectivity growth. These challenges arise largely from a lack of capacity on the Brighton Main Line, but there are also clear reasons to suspect that the rolling stock’s configuration is not ideal for an
airport express service. We also need to recognise that while Gatwick Airport Station and the Gatwick Express are used by a number of commuters as well as aiport users, the primary purpose of these facilities is to support the airport. We believe that the configuration of both the station and the rolling stock needs to reflect this.

In respect of the studies into future enhancement of the Brighton Main Line and the M25 and M23, my understanding is that Government, Highways Agency and Network Rail would, in any event, have needed to undertake this work before too long, due to the growing demands and pressures on the infrastructure. Our recommendations, therefore, should be seen as a call for
the acceleration of this work and for due consideration to be given for the needs of airport users. I believe that the costs of the respective studies should not exceed £1 m each.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263208/surface-access-letter.pdf

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London Gatwick welcomes Government funding for the redevelopment of Gatwick Rail Station

4 December 2013 (Gatwick Airport press release)

London Gatwick today welcomes the Government’s announcement that it will contribute £50m of funding to kick-start the redevelopment of Gatwick’s rail station – The Gatwick Gateway.

The announcement, made today as part of the revised National Infrastructure Plan, recognises Gatwick’s important role in UK aviation and the need to ensure a world-class railway station for both existing and future passengers.

The Government’s funding commitment follows a letter from the Independent Chair of the Airports Commission Sir Howard Davies to the Chancellor, which recognises Gatwick’s success in increasing the number of long haul destinations served, and includes a series of recommendations on improving surface access to enable passengers to more effectively access new and existing routes.

Of the 35 million passengers using Gatwick airport each year, 14 million arrive or depart by rail; making it the busiest airport station in Britain. Not only does the airport provide the fastest routes into the City and West End, it also connects directly to over 120 stations throughout London and the South East.

This connectivity will be further improved upon completion of a £53m project to improve platform capacity in early 2014 and with the introduction of the Thameslink franchise later that year.

As passenger numbers at Gatwick continue to grow, with new airlines flying to more destinations, the redevelopment will be vital in ensuring a world-class passenger experience both now and in the future. The airport’s analysis with Network Rail shows that a station with this number of passengers requires a concourse at least double the size of the existing facilities just to meet the current demand.

The National Infrastructure Plan also outlined a number of further measures for surface access at Gatwick, including accelerating a Network Rail study into the Brighton Mainline, incorporating the Gatwick to London route on a planned trial of smart ticketing and including access to Gatwick in the Highways Agency study on local motorways.

Commenting on today’s announcement, London Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, said:

“We are pleased that the Airports Commission has taken on board our recommendations on how to ensure growth at our airport in the short and medium term and maintain the UK’s position as one of the best connected countries in the world.

“This new funding is a welcome and positive first step toward delivering the new Gatwick Gateway rail station. We have worked well with Network Rail on our current rail improvement project and are looking forward to working with them, the Treasury and the Department for Transport to leverage this initial investment.

“Gatwick currently has the highest percentage of passengers accessing the airport by rail of any UK airport and as we continue to grow the number of global routes served by legacy, charter and low cost airlines, the package of measures announced today will help us deliver a world-class passenger experience for Britons and visitors alike.”

John Dickie, Director of Strategy & Policy, London First said “The rail station at Gatwick has been neglected for far too long. For many visitors, it’s their first impression of the UK so we welcome this plan for improvement. Alongside enhanced services under the new rail franchise and the many improvements made to the airport itself, this is a key step in improvements that are good for Gatwick, good for London and good for the UK.“

Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, said “This is more great news for the airport and for the Gatwick Diamond area. The station is currently undergoing a £53million refit and we should start to see the benefits of the new Platform Seven in 2014. This money will go some way towards developing further public transport access to the Airport and I look forward to learning more about the plans.”

http://www.mediacentre.gatwickairport.com/News/London-Gatwick-welcomes-Government-funding-for-the-redevelopment-of-Gatwick-Rail-Station-87e.aspx

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see also

Airports Commission input into National Infrastructure Plan on improvements to surface access to main airports –  Heathrow recommendations

Date added: December 5, 2013

Sir Howard Davies wrote to George Osborne on 26th November, on surface access to airports. This has influenced the National Infrastructure Plan for 2013, now released. The Airports Commission says that as adding any new runways will take a decade (or decades), in the interim “there is a strong case for attaching a greater strategic priority to transport investments which improve surface access to our airports.” The letter gives specific recommendations on improving surface access at UK main airports. On Heathrow it recommends: “Recognising the importance of encouraging modal shift towards more environmentally sustainable forms of transport at Heathrow, not only for supporting future expansion plans [!?] but also for optimising the airport’s operations within its current capacity constraints, the Government should work with Network Rail to undertake a detailed study to find the best option for enhancing rail access into Heathrow from the south. Initial indications are that up to roughly 15% of Heathrow’s passengers in the London and South East region could benefit from improved Southern Access.” They “remain concerned that the proportion of users (particularly workforce) accessing Heathrow using private cars remains high, with consequent implications for air quality.”

Click here to view full story…

 

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VisitBritain data shows countries with highest spending by inbound tourists: top is USA (13% of the total), France (8%), Germany (7%) and Australia (5%)

Visit Britain has commissioned a report, by Deloitte and Oxford Economics. The report indicates that the tourism sector in the UK is worth some £127 billion per year now, and might grow at 3.8% per year. They say it might be worth £257 billion to the UK economy by 2025. Their report says that UK income from foreign tourists in 2012 was £24 billion, (giving a net UK tourism deficit from outbound tourists of £13.8 billion). The £24 billion contributed £6.7 billion to HMRC. Data for 2012 show that the countries whose visitors to the UK spent the most were the USA (by far the most at 13% of the total), France (8%), Germany (7%) and Australia (5%).  Then Ireland, Spain and Italy at 4% each. By far the largest number of visitors came from France (12% of the total), next Germany at 10% and USA at 9%. Predictably those who have come long haul spend more on their visits than Europeans. In 2012 about 73% of inbound visitors reached the UK by air. In 2012 there were 179,000 visits by Chinese people to the UK (0.6% of all overseas visits). They accounted for 1.7% of all nights in the UK by overseas visitors, and they spent £300m spent, accounting for 1.6% of the total spent whilst in the UK by overseas visitors.
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Inbound Tourism – Updated April 2013

Inbound tourism facts (from VisitBritain)
Trends

The table below shows trends in inbound tourism for the period 2002 to 2012 based on the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey.  The number of visits peaked in 2007 at 32.8 million, since when there were several years of slight decline followed by small increases in 2011 and 2012.  After a long period during which the average spend per visit hovered at a little under £500 there has been a marked increase in the past four years, driven on by the relative weakness of sterling.

The long-term trend is for the average length of time each inbound visitor stays in the UK to decline, however the figure has been fairly stable for the past six years.  In line with many other developed economies the UK has an international tourism balance of payments deficit.  This increased both rapidly and consistently in the decade to 2008, but has shrunk by over a third in recent years as Britons took fewer overseas trips.

UK inbound tourists and tourism deficit 2003 - 2013

 

Top 10 Markets

The top ten inbound markets for the UK in terms of number of visits during 2012 accounted for two in three visits (66%).  It is noteworthy that only two long-haul markets, the USA and Australia, appear in the top ten.  Looking at spending by inbound visitors, the top ten markets account for 54% of all spending, with the USA worth almost £1 billion more than the next most valuable market, France.  All of the top ten markets measured in terms of value are ‘developed’ rather than ‘emerging’ source markets for international tourism.

   UK tourism 2013 top markets by volume and value

 

See more details below - for countries not listed above.

[In 2012, the number of visitors from China was tiny by comparison. 179 (thousand), and they spent about £300 million - less than half the amount spent by Dutch visitors, less than half the amount spent by Australians. See below for details . AW comment]
Fastest Growing and Declining Markets

Two out of the five markets which have recently shown the highest absolute growth in value (on average during the last five years) are markets in close proximity to the UK, namely France and Switzerland. It is notable that the value of the Australian market has grown on average by around £62m and the Chinese by around £45 million per year 2008-12.  The ‘relative’ growth in value on average over the last five years shows the rapid rise in importance of emerging markets China, UAE and Brazil. Whilst both the USA and Japan have shown growth in recent years in terms of visits both markets are considerably smaller than in the 1990s.

The markets which have declined most on average across the last five years in terms of absolute reduction in spending are topped by the large Republic of Ireland market.  The ‘relative’ decline figures show that the value of visits from Greece and Poland have decreased by 11% and 10% respectively on average each year across the last five years.

UK inbound tourism spend growth and decline

 

Journey Purpose and Seasonal Spread

In 2012 nearly two-in-five inbound visits to the UK were for a holiday (38%), while almost a quarter (24%) were for business.  Looking at the share of visitor nights by journey purpose it is clear that trips to visit friends or relatives (VFR) account for the largest share (39%), thanks to the fact that these trips involve a longer than average length of stay.

By contrast VFR trips account for a lower share of inbound visitor spend (21%) than they do of visits (29%), while holiday and business spending (40% and 24% respectively) are in line with their respective share of visits (38% and 24%).

In 2012 the period April to September accounted for over three in five holiday visits (30% April to June, 32% July to September), whilst only around one-in-six (17%) were in the first three months of the year.  By contrast business visits show a more even seasonal spread (23%-27%), while VFR trips are more likely to take place in the last two quarters of the year (27%, 26%) than the January to March (21%) period.

2012 purpose by season  see http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/inboundtourismfacts/

Mode of Travel

The UK enjoys excellent global connectivity, with well over 100 countries having direct air connections to the UK in 2012.  It can be seen from the pie chart that in 2012 almost three quarters of inbound visitors reached the UK by air.

As visitors who travel by air tend to spend more per visit than those using other means of transport the share of visitor spend accounted for by visitors who fly to the UK stood at 84% in 2012.

Visitors who do not travel by air are almost evenly split between those who travel by ferry (14%) or use the Channel Tunnel (13%).

Air – 73%

Tunnel -13%

Sea – 14%

 

Distribution by area

London is a key destination for inbound visitors to the UK.  In 2012 15.5 million visitors spent time in the capital, spending over £10bn.  This represents 54% of all inbound visitor spending.

The rest of England attracted 12.8 million inbound visitors who spent an estimated £6.2bn, representing 33% of all inbound visitor spend.  Scotland attracted 2.2 million visitors and 8% of all visitor spending, with the equivalent figures for Wales being 0.9 million visits and 2% of visitor spend.  The ‘other’ category includes visits to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, along with those visitors whose nights in the UK were spent travelling.

Note that some 1.8 million visitors from overseas made ‘day trips’ to the UK in 2012, with these visits generating £301 million of spending.

 

London    16.8 million visits. £11,256 million
England    13.6 million visits. £7,141 million
Scotland    2.4 million visits. £1,680 million
Wales    0.9 million visits. £353 million
Northern Ireland   0.4 million visits. £208 million

 

http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/inboundtourismfacts/

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Data country by country, from VisitBritain

at http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/markets/

 

The USA is Britain’s third most important market for volume of visits and top for the amount spent by visitors.

France is Britain’s most important market for volume of visits and the second most important for the amount spent by visitors.

Germany is Britain’s second most important market for volume of visits and third for the amount spent by visitors.

Australia is Britain’s tenth most important market for volume of visits and fourth for the amount spent by visitors.

Switzerland is Britain’s 11th most important market for volume of visits and 10th for the amount spent by visitors.

The Netherlands is Britain’s fifth most important market for volume of visits and eighth for the amount spent by visitors.

Spain is Britain’s sixth most important market for both volume of visits and the amount spent by visitors.

Italy is Britain’s seventh most important market for both volume of visits and the amount spent by visitors.

Japan is Britain’s 24th most important market for volume of visits and 17th for the amount spent by visitors.

China is Britain’s 28th most important market for volume of visits and 19th for the amount spent by visitors.

Hong Kong is Britain’s 38th most important market for volume of visits and 27th for the amount spent by visitors.

Brazil is Britain’s 22nd most important market for volume of visits and 24th for the amount spent by visitors

India is Britain’s 16th most important market for volume of visits and 15th for the amount spent by visitors.

Canada is Britain’s 14th most important market for volume of visits and ninth for the amount spent by visitors.

Russia is Britain’s 25th most important market for volume of visits and 22nd for the amount spent by visitors.

Austria is Britain’s 19th most important market for volume of visits and 32nd for the amount spent by visitors.

…….. and there is data on many more at

http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/markets/

 

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“British Tourism: job creation powerhouse”

16th November 2013   (Visit Britain press release)

  • Tourism economy set to grow 3.8% per annum – faster than manufacturing, construction and retail
  • Currently worth £127bn and growing to £257bn by 2025 – 10% of UK GDP
  • Supporting 3 million jobs throughout the UK in 2013 (9.6% of UK employment)
  • Accounted for one third of net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012 (175,000 additional jobs) – and forecast to grow to 3.7 million jobs by 2025
  • Inbound tourism the driving force of growth
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Tourism’s central role in creating new jobs across Britain has been underlined in a report today from Deloitte, Tourism: jobs and growth’, commissioned by VisitBritain. [Report by Deloitte and Oxford Economics, though Oxford Economics is well known for using extravagant multipliers for their job and economic benefits estimates.  AW comment]

Since 2010 tourism has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK in employment terms, responsible for one-third of the net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012. Recent employment growth in the sector has been ‘stellar’ over this period says the report – more than four times the rate of manufacturing.

The report forecasts that the tourism economy will be worth around £127 billion this year (2013), equivalent to 9% of the UK’s GDP. It supports over 3 million jobs, that’s 9.6% of all jobs and 173,000 more than in 2010. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – significantly faster than the overall UK economy (with a predicted annual rate of 3% per annum) and much faster than sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail.

Britain will have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025 – just under 10% of UK GDP and supporting over 3.7 million jobs, which will be around 11% of the total UK employment. Those jobs would be distributed throughout the UK – for while urban areas such as London, Birmingham or Edinburgh have the highest number of jobs in tourism, the relative level of tourism-related jobs tends to be higher in our rural and coastal areas. During this period of job creation, productivity in the tourism sector is also expected to increase by 2% per annum.

Deloitte has examined the relationship between the rise in tourism spending and job numbers. They have found that every £54,000 increase in spending in the sector creates a new tourism job in the UK.
Tourism’s impact is amplified through the economy, so its influence is much wider than just the direct spending of tourists. Deloitte estimates the tourism GVA multiplier to be 2.2, meaning that for every £1000 generated in direct tourism GVA there is a further £1200 that is secured elsewhere in the economy through the supply chain.
Inbound tourism 

Inbound tourism will continue to be the fastest growing tourism sector, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year. The value of inbound tourism is forecast to grow from over £21bn in 2013 to £57bn by 2025, with the UK seeing an international tourism balance of payments surplus within a decade – almost forty years since the UK last reported a surplus.

If Britain were to become as successful as its European competitors in the new emerging growth markets for tourism (such as China), with further investment it could increase the value of inbound tourism by an additional £12bn by 2025 – an increase to £69bn or over 20% on the base forecast.

Christopher Rodrigues, VisitBritain Chairman said:“Tourism has become a bedrock of the UK economy – generating a third of the UK’s net new jobs between 2010 and 2012 – and still has the ability to grow at levels that will lead other industries out of the economic slowdown.

“Deloitte’s report suggests that by 2025 Britain could have an industry worth over £257 billion (56% more than in 2013 in real terms) supporting 3.8 million jobs – across the country and at all skill levels.
“Inbound tourism is already one of Britain’s top export industries and will continue to be the fastest growing sector of the industry, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year.

“Inbound tourism’s record performance since the Olympics bodes well for the future but to achieve the industry’s full potential we need to continue to raise our game, marry policy and marketing and promote Britain even more aggressively overseas.”

Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant, added:“We have showcased the best of Britain to the world in the last three years with some massive, memorable events, creating a huge boost for the tourism industry. More visitors are flying in and spending record amounts of cash and it’s clear that the size of the prize going forward is big. Tourism can continue to play an increasingly important role in Britain’s economic recovery, with jobs created and real career opportunities for many.”  

http://www.visitbritain.org/mediaroom/pressreleases/tourismreport.aspx

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This is the VisitBritain Market Overview of China:

Market Overview – dated November 2013

Key insights from the Market SnapshotLatest Insights and General Market Conditions chapters

Click on the link to go straight to the full Market Profile

Global Context

  • International tourism expenditure (US$bn): 102
  • Global rank for international tourism expenditure: 1
  • Number of outbound visits (m): 46.8
  • Most visited destination: Hong Kong

Inbound to the UK in 2012

  • 179,000 visits, accounting for 0.6% of all overseas visits to the UK
  • 4 million nights, accounting for 1.7% of all nights in the UK by overseas visitors
  • £300m spent, accounting for 1.6% of the total spent whilst in the UK by overseas visitors
  • Compared to five years ago there has been a 25% increase in visits, a 40% increase in nights and a 69% increase in spend

Latest Insights

  • China’s new tourism law kicked in at the beginning of October, seeking to better protect tourists from misleading pricing and practices engaged in by some travel businesses. While there have been grumbles from the trade about a downturn in business this autumn due to the necessity of increasing tour prices to make up for the abolition of tours sold below cost that then included forced tipping or shopping trips to generate commission, the China National Tourism Administration has commented that this in fact shows that the law has had a positive impact and that the market is currently normalising, with any temporary downturn feeding into the long-term health of the industry. However, examples are already being cited of travel businesses managing to skirt the new regulation by rebranding tours as independent travel packages — only for travellers to find themselves part of a larger group of ‘independent’ travellers when they arrive at their destination.
  • Media coverage was all positive on the latest alterations made to the British visa application process, announced during George Osborne’s visit to China in October. Three key measures were announced, namely the introduction of a pilot scheme allowing selected Chinese travel agents to apply for UK visas by submitting the EU’s Schengen visa form, the implementation of a new 24-hour ‘super priority’ visa service from summer 2014, and consideration of the expansion of the VIP mobile visa service beyond Beijing and Shanghai to the rest of the country, sending visa teams to applicants in order to collect their forms and biometric data.

General Market Conditions

  • China’s population of 1.3 billion is still growing at 0.5% per annum
  • More than 400,000 UK residents describe their ethnicity as Chinese
  • In 2011/12 almost 80,000 Chinese born students were enrolled to UK Higher Education establishments
  • China is expected to account for 19% of the global economy by 2018 and is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of cars
  • By 2022 the number of urban households that can be described as ‘affluent’ or ‘upper middle class’ is set to number 225 million
  • There are an estimated 643,000 High Net Worth Individuals in China, with the typical millionaire aged in their late 30s and most saying that they intend to send their children abroad for at least part of their education
  • While English is taught at school those most proficient tend to be found working in companies that frequently deal with western countries
  • The ‘Mid Autumn Festival’ is an increasingly popular time for taking a foreign trip

Download the full Market Profile for comprehensive coverage on these topics.

http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/markets/china/overview.aspx

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Government and VisitBritain to launch “China Welcome” initiative to get more income from Chinese tourists to UK

The UK is blatantly trying to get as many high spending Chinese tourists  as possible to visit, and more importantly – as the government sees it – spend their money here. More and more of it. The shameless touting for Chinese business is, frankly, embarrassing.  We don’t even try to be subtle in our desire to leech money out of tourists from China. Now all the stops are being pulled out to increase visitor numbers – including making obtaining visas easier. Sec of State at DCMS, Maria Miller, will launch a “China Welcome” initiative in Spring 2014, and Visit Britain says the initiatives to attract more Chinese could see 650,000 Chinese visitors per year by 2020, spending about £1.1 billion in the UK. There were 179,000 visits to the UK by Chinese people in 2012, which was 0.6% of all overseas visits to the UK. They spent about £300 million in 2012. The UK travel industry is salivating at the prospect that “In the last 12 months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102 billion.” VisitBritain says number of Chinese tourists coming to the UK was up (?21%) in the first half of 2013 compared to a year earlier, and their spending was up by much more. Airports are keen to benefit, with Birmingham jumping in, to get its share. Earlier this year, VisitBritain said the UK’s tourism economy will be worth around £127 billion in 2013. They hope UK  tourism will be worth £257 billion per year by 2025.

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Initiative launched to attract more Chinese tourists to UK

By Phil Davies (Travel Weekly)

3rd December 2013

Initiative launched to attract more Chinese tourists to UK
Culture secretary Maria Miller (pictured) has outlined plans to make the UK the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.The China Welcome initiative, to kick off next spring, was unveiled as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day visit to China.It will showcase, promote and develop how the UK travel industry caters to the needs of Chinese visitors.

Virgin Atlantic, Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Hilton Worldwide, Gretna Green, Celtic Manor in Wales, the John Lewis partnership, Bicester Village, Harrods and The Roman Baths in Bath are backing the promotion.

They are already providing information in Mandarin and adapting to attract more Chinese visitors.

VisitBritain will work with businesses to build on this progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarin-speaking guides – as well as translated websites and visitor literature.

VisitBritain aims to attract 650,000 Chinese visitors a year by 2020, worth almost £1.1 billion.

The tourist agency has endorsed UKInbound’s launch of the first Chinese Tour Guide Accreditation Scheme in the UK. Courses will start in London in February, with support from Capela Training, China Holidays and London & Partners.

Today’s announcement in Shanghai was also a call for more tourism businesses to sign up and get involved. Signatories will benefit from an increased competitive edge and better recognition from Chinese tourists, the government claims.

Miller said: “Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning. We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative.

“The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists.

“We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.”

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe added: “In the last 12 months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102 billion.

“We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2013/12/03/46225/initiative-launched-to-attract-more-chinese-tourists-to.html

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Birmingham Airport joins campaign to bring more Chinese visitors to UK

Deal with travel specialist Caissa will promote Birmingham as a gateway to Britain

Birmingham is the fourth most popular destination for Chinese visitors to England

Birmingham Airport has announced a new partnership with a travel specialist in a bid to attract more Chinese visitors to the region.

Birmingham now the fourth most popular destination for Chinese visitors to England and the airport deal with Caissa forms part of the Visit Britain ‘China Welcome Campaign’.

Caissa will work with the airport in promoting Birmingham as a gateway to the United Kingdom for Chinese tourism.

China is currently one of the fastest growing visitor source markets for the UK tourism industry at a rate of 20 per cent year-on-year over the past few years. The Chinese visitor market is worth more than £1 million to the West Midlands economy.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “Birmingham’s profile as a visitor and business destination is growing at a global level, but we must ensure we do our homework and continue to follow through on our promise of a first class destination.

“While direct flights from Birmingham to China may be the ultimate goal, there is much to be done to get there.

“Persuading major airlines that there is a business case is the start and these agreements will help us prove our commitment to making such routes work.”

Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport chief executive, said: “This will enable the UK and the Midlands region to showcase its rich heritage and world class tourist attractions.”

Neil Rami, head of Marketing Birmingham, said: “China is a hugely important market for Birmingham and the wider West Midlands and we are determined to make it a first choice for Chinese visitors looking to enter the UK.”

http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/birmingham-airport-joins-campaign-bring-6366922

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“UK aims to become China’s most welcoming destination”

3.12.2013  (Visit Britain press release)
  • SoS Maria Miller announces China Welcome campaign in Shanghai
  • New partnership between Birmingham Airport and CAISSA
  • Target to secure 650,000 Chinese visitors spending £1.1 billion by 2020 across Britain

 

Today, as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day visit to China, Secretary of State forCulture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, will announce an initiative to make Britain the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.

The China Welcome campaign, launching in the Spring of 2014, will showcase, promote and develop how the UK travel industry caters to the needs of Chinese visitors. Founding members who have committed to the initiative – including Virgin Atlantic, Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Hilton Worldwide, Gretna Green, Celtic Manor in Wales, the John Lewis partnership, Bicester Village, Harrods and The Roman Baths in Bath – are already providing information in Mandarin, adapting their product offer and attracting a significant number of Chinese visitors as a result.

VisitBritain will work with businesses to build on this progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarin-speaking guides – as well as translated websites and visitor literature – to ensure that Chinese visitors to the Britain get as much out of their trip as possible.

VisitBritain has already endorsed UKInbound’s launch of the first Chinese Tour Guide Accreditation Scheme in the UK. Courses will start in London in February, with support from Capela Training, China Holidays and London & Partners.

Today’s China Welcome announcement, taking place at an event on the Shanghai Bund, is also a call for more tourism businesses to sign up and get involved. Signatories will benefit from an increased competitive edge, better recognition from Chinese tourists and, subsequently, more business from China.

At the event Maria Miller will also announce that Birmingham Airport and CAISSA – supporters of China Welcome – are working together to increase the number of Chinese visitors CAISSA brings into the UK through Birmingham Airport.  The partnership between Birmingham and CAISSA will see the development of new holiday packages and the introduction of special initiatives designed to welcome the Chinese visitor arriving at Birmingham Airport, an airport at the heart of Shakespeare’s England.

Tourism spend and visits from China have soared in the latest 2013 figures. The Chinese inbound market has grown faster in percentage terms than any other of VisitBritain’s twenty-two priority markets, with spend up by 132% (to £181m) and visits up by 21% in the first half of 2013 compared to the first half of 2012.¹

The combined effect of improved aviation capacity, streamlined visa processing, VisitBritain’s marketing efforts under the GREAT banner and the China Welcome programme aims to secure 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020, worth nearly £1.1 billion annually to the UK economy.

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said of the campaign: Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning. We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative.

“The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists. We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.”

Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain added:“In the last twelve months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102 billion. We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”

Earlier this month VisitBritain held its biggest China trade mission to date in Chengdu, with 43 UK suppliers meeting over 75 Chinese buyers. In September, British Airways launched a new direct route from Chengdu to Heathrow.
Notes to editors:

1. Figures from the Office for National Statistics relate to Q1 and Q2 of 2013

2. VisitBritain’s priority markets: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, USA

3. Companies currently signed up to China Welcome

http://b2b.visitbritain.org/Preview/newslettermail.aspx?cultureInfo=en-GB&cid=186804&subschduleid=9950&act=serverlink

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Easyjet launches Chinese website

 3 Dec 2013 (Buying Business Travel)

Easyjet has launched a Chinese website to cater for the growing number of passengers from China who fly with the airline on their trips in Europe.

The Luton-based carrier has seen bookings by Chinese citizens for travel on its European routes increase by 25 per cent in the last year.

Having already launched US, Russian and Brazilian homepages, the Chinese version is the 22nd Easyjet homepage around the world.

The move coincides with Prime Minister David Cameron’s trade mission to the Far East to boost trade ties between the UK and China.

Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall said: “This year Easyjet has seen a 25 per cent increase in bookings from China versus 2012.

“The demand from Chinese customers is predicted to continue to grow over the coming years which means that, with a dedicated homepage, Easyjet is ideally positioned to capture more of the market of the millions of Chinese who are travelling to and within Europe every year.”

Easyjet said that Paris was the most popular European destination for Chinese citizens, followed by Milan, Rome, Nice, Barcelona, London, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Cameron praised Easyjet’s move: “As we compete in the global race, I welcome Easyjet’s move to launch a dedicated Chinese homepage and their commitment to Visit Britain’s China Welcome Charter, all of which underlines that Britain is open for business.”

Culture and tourism secretary Maria Miller added: “We are doing all we can to make it easier for Chinese businesses and tourists to come to Britain and enjoy the best our country has to offer.”

Last month, Easyjet announced it will launch two new routes from Gatwick to Brussels and Strasbourg in March 2014.

easyjet.com/cn

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/0321733-easyjet-launches-chinese-website

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This is the VisitBritain Market Overview of China:

Market Overview – dated November 2013

Key insights from the Market SnapshotLatest Insights and General Market Conditions chapters

Click on the link to go straight to the full Market Profile

Global Context

  • International tourism expenditure (US$bn): 102
  • Global rank for international tourism expenditure: 1
  • Number of outbound visits (m): 46.8
  • Most visited destination: Hong Kong

Inbound to the UK in 2012

  • 179,000 visits, accounting for 0.6% of all overseas visits to the UK
  • 4 million nights, accounting for 1.7% of all nights in the UK by overseas visitors
  • £300m spent, accounting for 1.6% of the total spent whilst in the UK by overseas visitors
  • Compared to five years ago there has been a 25% increase in visits, a 40% increase in nights and a 69% increase in spend

Latest Insights

  • China’s new tourism law kicked in at the beginning of October, seeking to better protect tourists from misleading pricing and practices engaged in by some travel businesses. While there have been grumbles from the trade about a downturn in business this autumn due to the necessity of increasing tour prices to make up for the abolition of tours sold below cost that then included forced tipping or shopping trips to generate commission, the China National Tourism Administration has commented that this in fact shows that the law has had a positive impact and that the market is currently normalising, with any temporary downturn feeding into the long-term health of the industry. However, examples are already being cited of travel businesses managing to skirt the new regulation by rebranding tours as independent travel packages — only for travellers to find themselves part of a larger group of ‘independent’ travellers when they arrive at their destination.
  • Media coverage was all positive on the latest alterations made to the British visa application process, announced during George Osborne’s visit to China in October. Three key measures were announced, namely the introduction of a pilot scheme allowing selected Chinese travel agents to apply for UK visas by submitting the EU’s Schengen visa form, the implementation of a new 24-hour ‘super priority’ visa service from summer 2014, and consideration of the expansion of the VIP mobile visa service beyond Beijing and Shanghai to the rest of the country, sending visa teams to applicants in order to collect their forms and biometric data.

General Market Conditions

  • China’s population of 1.3 billion is still growing at 0.5% per annum
  • More than 400,000 UK residents describe their ethnicity as Chinese
  • In 2011/12 almost 80,000 Chinese born students were enrolled to UK Higher Education establishments
  • China is expected to account for 19% of the global economy by 2018 and is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of cars
  • By 2022 the number of urban households that can be described as ‘affluent’ or ‘upper middle class’ is set to number 225 million
  • There are an estimated 643,000 High Net Worth Individuals in China, with the typical millionaire aged in their late 30s and most saying that they intend to send their children abroad for at least part of their education
  • While English is taught at school those most proficient tend to be found working in companies that frequently deal with western countries
  • The ‘Mid Autumn Festival’ is an increasingly popular time for taking a foreign trip

Download the full Market Profile for comprehensive coverage on these topics.

http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/markets/china/overview.aspx


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British Tourism: job creation powerhouse

? date November 2013   (Visit Britain press release)

  • Tourism economy set to grow 3.8% per annum – faster than manufacturing, construction and retail
  • Currently worth £127bn and growing to £257bn by 2025 – 10% of UK GDP
  • Supporting 3 million jobs throughout the UK in 2013 (9.6% of UK employment)
  • Accounted for one third of net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012 (175,000 additional jobs) – and forecast to grow to 3.7 million jobs by 2025
  • Inbound tourism the driving force of growth

Tourism’s central role in creating new jobs across Britain has been underlined in a report today from Deloitte, Tourism: jobs and growth’, commissioned by VisitBritain.

Since 2010 tourism has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK in employment terms, responsible for one-third of the net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012. Recent employment growth in the sector has been ‘stellar’ over this period says the report – more than four times the rate of manufacturing.

The report forecasts that the tourism economy will be worth around £127 billion this year (2013), equivalent to 9% of the UK’s GDP. It supports over 3 million jobs, that’s 9.6% of all jobs and 173,000 more than in 2010. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – significantly faster than the overall UK economy (with a predicted annual rate of 3% per annum) and much faster than sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail.

Britain will have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025 – just under 10% of UK GDP and supporting over 3.7 million jobs, which will be around 11% of the total UK employment. Those jobs would be distributed throughout the UK – for while urban areas such as London, Birmingham or Edinburgh have the highest number of jobs in tourism, the relative level of tourism-related jobs tends to be higher in our rural and coastal areas. During this period of job creation, productivity in the tourism sector is also expected to increase by 2% per annum.

Deloitte has examined the relationship between the rise in tourism spending and job numbers. They have found that every £54,000 increase in spending in the sector creates a new tourism job in the UK.
Tourism’s impact is amplified through the economy, so its influence is much wider than just the direct spending of tourists. Deloitte estimates the tourism GVA multiplier to be 2.2, meaning that for every £1000 generated in direct tourism GVA there is a further £1200 that is secured elsewhere in the economy through the supply chain.
Inbound tourism 

Inbound tourism will continue to be the fastest growing tourism sector, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year. The value of inbound tourism is forecast to grow from over £21bn in 2013 to £57bn by 2025, with the UK seeing an international tourism balance of payments surplus within a decade – almost forty years since the UK last reported a surplus.

If Britain were to become as successful as its European competitors in the new emerging growth markets for tourism (such as China), with further investment it could increase the value of inbound tourism by an additional £12bn by 2025 – an increase to £69bn or over 20% on the base forecast.

Christopher Rodrigues, VisitBritain Chairman said:“Tourism has become a bedrock of the UK economy – generating a third of the UK’s net new jobs between 2010 and 2012 – and still has the ability to grow at levels that will lead other industries out of the economic slowdown.

“Deloitte’s report suggests that by 2025 Britain could have an industry worth over £257 billion (56% more than in 2013 in real terms) supporting 3.8 million jobs – across the country and at all skill levels.
“Inbound tourism is already one of Britain’s top export industries and will continue to be the fastest growing sector of the industry, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year.

“Inbound tourism’s record performance since the Olympics bodes well for the future but to achieve the industry’s full potential we need to continue to raise our game, marry policy and marketing and promote Britain even more aggressively overseas.”

Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant, added:“We have showcased the best of Britain to the world in the last three years with some massive, memorable events, creating a huge boost for the tourism industry. More visitors are flying in and spending record amounts of cash and it’s clear that the size of the prize going forward is big. Tourism can continue to play an increasingly important role in Britain’s economic recovery, with jobs created and real career opportunities for many.”  

http://www.visitbritain.org/mediaroom/pressreleases/tourismreport.aspx

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EU proposal to phase out state aid to small regional airports after 10 years prompts worries of “closure of 100 small airports”

In July 2013 there was a consultation on rules for state aid to European airports and airlines. There are concerns that state aid and subsidies to small airlines, or to start up air routes to small airports, distort the market. The airports and airlines that benefit are keen to see the state help continue and say it has a marked effect on boosting their local economies, and creating wider benefits than just the companies involved. Now the EU has suggested state aid should not be given to small airports until they become profitable – and many of them will not be profitable. State aid should only be for a transition period of 10 years maximum. It is suggested by parts of the aviation industry that this could lead to “the closure of around 100 airports” around Europe. The Swedish argue that their small regional airports are vital, as surface links are impossible over the huge distances. The EU’s Committee of the Regions has called for public financial support for airport infrastructure construction and development not to be considered a state aid. They say “A 10-year transition phase for all airports with under 3 million passengers per year cannot work,” and the different situations of different airports must be taken into account. They want airports with less than 1 million passengers per year to get support beyond the 10 year transition period. 
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What the consultation on state aid to airports and airlines said on the phasing out was:

17. Against this backdrop the present Aviation guidelines introduce a new approach to the assessment of compatibility of aid to airports and airlines:

(a) Whereas the 2005 Aviation guidelines left open the issue of investment aid, these revised guidelines define maximum permissible aid intensities depending on the size of the airport. However, for large airports with a passenger volume of over 5 million per annum, investment aid should not be declared compatible with the internal market.

(b) For a transitional period of 10 years, operating aid to regional airports can be declared compatible.

(c) The compatibility conditions for start-up aid to airlines have been streamlined and adapted to recent market developments.
104. In order to provide proper incentives for efficient management of the airport, the aid amount is, in principle, to be established ex ante as a fixed lump sum covering the expected funding gap of the operating costs (determined on the basis of an ex ante business plan) during a transitional period up to 10 years. For these reasons no ex post increase of the aid amount will be considered compatible

107. By [10 years after the beginning of the transitional period] at the latest, all airports must have reached full coverage of their operating costs and no operating aid to airports will be allowed henceforward, with the exception of operating aid granted in line with general State aid rules.
109. The Commission will approve operating aid to airports for a transitional period of no longer than 10 years beginning on [Begin of the transitional period].

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2013_aviation_guidelines/aviation_guidelines_en.docx

 

  • January 2014: Adoption of the new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines

 


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Revised EU state aid rules ‘could lead to closure of 100 small airports’

4.12.2013 (Euractiv)

The proposed revision of state aid rules to airports and airlines, unveiled by the European Commission in July this year, link will allow start-up aid for launching a new route during a limited period of time and allow operating aid to airports under certain conditions for a 10-year transitional period.

The Commission launched a public consultation over the revised rules but EU regions, especially those that have seen their economic development boosted by local airports, find the new rules “worrying”.

10 year transition phase

Speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Assembly of European Regions on 2 December, Annabelle Lepièce, a lawyer representing the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon, warned that “if the guidelines are applied as the Commission intends to, it could lead to the closure of around 100 airports” around Europe.

Lepièce criticised the EU executive’s plan to decrease operating aid to airports until they become profitable.

“Some of them will never become profitable,” Lepièce claimed, although some of these small airports contribute “immensely” to the economic development of the regions.

The lawyer cited the example of a French village, Saint André de Roquelongue, near Carcassonne in South-West France, which was entirely revived over the past ten years following the construction of a nearby regional airport. Thanks to the connection, the village was repopulated by younger people, mainly Brits, even leading to the opening of a new school.

Similar concerns were raised by Swedish MEP Marita Ulvskog, a social democrat. Sweden is a sparsely populated country where regional airports are “a necessity”, she claimed. With 21 people per square kilometer, the country suffers important geographic handicaps, which local airports help alleviate.

Road and rail are no alternative for big trips, she explained, as driving from north to south can take 21 hours and high speed trains go only “as far north as Stockholm”. Hence, she said domestic flights are a “basic component” of the country’s economy given the lack of alternatives.

“A 10-year transition phase for all airports with under 3 million passengers per year cannot work,” said Catiuscia Marini, link who drafted a report on the matter for the Committee of Regions. “It is not possible to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach in this field, the diversity within this category of airports is huge and there are completely different situations that must be taken into account.”

“The EU’s regions request, therefore, the European Commission allows the possibility to support, beyond the transition period, at least airports with a yearly traffic rate of below one million passengers,” she told EurActiv in an emailed statement.

In a letter to the Commission, sent in September, Swedish Social Democrats MEPs expressed their concern that “the vast majority of [Swedish] regional airports have no prospect of ever making a profit because of the small economies of scale outside of the major urban areas”.

While the Commission foresees specific conditions for so-called Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI), experts fear that most of the airports will fail to be considered as such, as the EU Executive’s definition is seen as “too restrictive” and “not sufficiently harmonised”.

Public mission

In its draft opinion, the Committee of Region calls on the European Commission to consider state aid to regional airports as a public mission.

“What is the Commission trying to do? Interfere in the economic policy of the member states?” asked Olga Simeon, an Italian representative from the Venice region who helped draft the report.

“In most cases, public investments in airports [...] help better connect the region with other transport modes. They grant advantage to the whole economy, not to one enterprise. Intermodality investments should be considered a public mission,” she said.

For the Regions, it should also be made clear that micro-airports with less than 300,000 passengers per year should fall outside of the Commission’s scope as they “cannot affect competition between member states, as  defined in the article 107 of the [EU treaty]”, Simeon concluded.

Charleroi airport

However, not all regional airports are small.

In Belgium, the Brussels-South airport in Charleroi manages 6.5 million passengers per year, and has become a viable alternative to the Zaventem (Brussels) national airport, which complained to the European Commission over the generous state aid granted by the Wallonia region to welcome the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair. The case is currently being investigated by the Commission.

The impressive growth of small airports such as Charleroi has also been denounced, albeit for different reasons, by environmental NGOs, such as Transport and Environment:
“It seems small airports are exploding rather than struggling. State aid is the primary reason that smaller airports have grown so much faster than larger airports. This serious and unfair distortion of competition must be addressed urgently”, the NGO said, adding that “state aid for Charleroi should be out of the question as long as it offers rates so far below market rates”.

The investigation is still ongoing, and it will not be clear before the summer of 2014 whether the alleged aid the airport received was legal or not.

But it does prove the Committee of Regions’ point that there should not be a “one-size-fits-all” approach for state aid rules when it comes to regional airports.

“We want a tailored approach and ask for a review of the rules based on the specific needs of each region,” a spokesperson for the Committee of Regions said.

Next steps:

External links by Euractiv:

European Institutions

Other stakeholders

http://www.euractiv.com/transport/eu-state-aid-rules-lead-closure-news-532105

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Member States’ public funding of airports and airlines is currently regulated by the 1994 and 2005 Aviation Guidelines.

The 1994 guidelines were adopted in the context of the liberalisation of the market for air transport services and contain provisions for assessing social and restructuring aid to airlines in order to provide a level playing field for air carriers.

They were complemented in 2005 by guidelines on the public financing of airports and on the start-up of airline services from regional airports.

Neither of the guidelines has an expiry clause, but in view of the significant market changes that have taken place in the last decade, the European Commission initiated a review, with a first public consultation in 2011 aiming in particular to determine whether a revision is necessary (see IP/11/445).


 

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EU State aid rules must not apply to airport infrastructure development

29.11.2013  (European Union, Committee of the Regions)

The Committee of the Regions has called for public financial support for airport infrastructure construction and development not to be considered a state aid. The opinion drafted by the President of the Umbria Region, Catiuscia Marini (IT/PES), also calls for a wider flexibility in state aid rules aimed at making regional airports more competitive as well as promoting intermodality.

With nearly 830 million passengers in 2012, airports have become increasingly important for the EU’s competitiveness. For this reason, regions and cities request the chance of mobilising significant public resources for their modernisation and improvement. “Tight control of state aid
regulation in the EU is unique in the world. In the aviation sector we compete with other global player such as the U.S., Asia and the Middle East, who offer serious financial support for their airports and airlines placing our operators at a heavy disadvantage” said rapporteur Marini, adding that: “We should consider making our strategy for airports more flexible, consistent with the global challenges facing us, and closer to local communities’ needs”.

The opinion, adopted by the Committee of the Regions at the 28-29 November plenary session, comes in the context of the modernisation of State aid rules launched by the European Commission in 2012, and in view of its revised Community Guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports.

According to EU regions and cities representatives, public support for infrastructure construction and development must not be put on an equal footing with private investment, as it often constitutes a form of fully-fledged economic policy measures and cannot therefore be considered as state aid. If the Union is to meet Europe 2020 objectives, efficient and modern regional infrastructure are a key factor and it is among the duties of all levels of government to promote concrete progress on this field. These principles should also specifically apply to public financing of airport intermodality, acknowledged as a top priority by the EU, which can have a huge impact on regions’ economy, citizens’ mobility and territorial cohesion.

For airports that see between 300 000 and three million passengers pass through each year, the Commission foresees a ten year transitional period leading to full autonomy from public financial support. The opinion points out that a strict transition period cannot be effective with regards to the diversity of airports falling into this category. Therefore, the CoR requests that public support for airports receiving under one million passengers per year will be still allowed, even after the end of the transition period and that the following rules will be based on the outcome of a mid-term review.

Given that 40% of EU airports have a yearly traffic under 300 000 passengers, the CoR calls for a wider margin of manoeuvre including state subsidies for small regional airports. These airports often connect the most isolated or disadvantaged areas and carry high costs that can hardly be lowered because of the limited target market. Public support is therefore key to keep them alive.

http://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/airport-infrastructure-state-aid.aspx
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Previous press releases

http://www.netherlandscorporatenews.com/archive/inp/2013/12/02/T256.htm

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Lufthansa receives boost from EU court

By Nicholas Hirst  (European Voice)
21.11.2013
A German court cannot dismiss state aid allegations against Ryanair and Frankfurt Hahn airport.

A German court should suspend suspected state aid from Frankfurt Hahn airport to Ryanair pending a European Commission investigation into the matter, the European Court of Justice ruled today.

In 2006 Lufthansa asked a German regional court to order Frankfurt Hahn airport to recover and terminate alleged subsidies given to Ryanair.

But the German court ruled in favour of Frankfurt Hahn airport and Ryanair, finding that there had been no subsidies. This was despite the Commission itself having opened an investigation into the terms and conditions offered by Frankfurt Hahn to its main client Ryanair.

After an appeals court told the regional court to reconsider its ruling, it again indicated that it had doubts about whether there had been any illegal state aid. The regional court asked the ECJ what importance it should give to the Commission decision to open an investigation.

The European Union’s highest court ruled today that a national court is, at the very least, obliged to impose provisional measures stooping alleged subsidies where they are the subject of a Commission investigation.

Where the court entertains doubts as to whether the Commission is correct, it may ask the ECJ to rule but cannot simply allow the alleged state aid to continue.

But such rules could prove very disruptive, a lawyer specialising in state aid told European Voice.

If a national court is obliged to suspend alleged state aid pending a Commission decision, the recipient may be forced off the market even if the state aid is subsequently declared legal, he explained.

The Commission’s own investigation into Ryanair in relation to Frankfurt-Hahn has gone on for a little over five years.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “The Commission will take a decision in this case after the adoption of the next guidelines on aviation in 2014. The Commission has proposed draft new rules in July and is analysing the replies to the public consultation. The draft new rules foresee in particular new provisions on aid granted to compensate the operating losses of airports.”

http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2013/november/lufthansa-receives-boost-from-eu-court/78828.aspx
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 Earlier:

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

July 2013

Under 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

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and from Transport & Environment:

Key points about State aid to airports and airlines:

  • Aviation should not receive state aid except in very limited circumstances (e.g. remote islands, for example in the north of Scotland). It is not appropriate to give it to airports to subsidise cheap Ryanair holiday flights, or trips to second homes.
  • Aviation is the most climate intensity mode of transport, per unit time travelled, and it has significant impacts on citizens’ health across Europe, largely through noise pollution b ut also by  local air pollution, (and indirectly, by adding to the burden of more CO2 on the global climate).
  • Aviation is already receiving the indirect subsidies of being VAT and fuel tax free: this has recently been estimated to be worth €39 billion per year in the EU.  The UK has Air Passenger Duty, which goes some small way to compensate for the lack of VAT or fuel tax, but other European countries have even more under-taxed aviation sectors.
  • At the moment aviation receives at least €3 billion a year in State aid, and that is just the subsidies that are know about and properly recorded. The figures are not made transparent or clear, and are not easy to ascertain.
  • There is much unreported State aid so the Commission must make sure that ALL State aid to aviation is notified to the Commission, and that it is easily accessible in a publicly-available database.
  • Day-to-day operating aid is a hugely distortive form of State aid and should not be allowed. Operating aid is just one of the forms of State aid that is given; others are for infrastructure costs to airports, and the other is start up aid to airlines for new routes.
  • Past illegal aid should not be made legal retroactively, as this sends the signal to the industry to disregard the future guidelines as well and disadvantages those parts of the industry that actually complied with the past law
  • No airlines should get aid for start-up routes –if airlines are not prepared to take the risk of whether a route will be profitable then it is clear that taxpayers should not either. At present, State aid is often given to airports or airlines that a prudent private investor would reject. This is only acceptable if there is a strong social need for flights (eg. for an airport on a small island, with slow or difficult alternative transport).
  • It is clear that much taxpayer money across Europe has been wasted on airports. Only the Commission can ensure, through levelling the playing field that this does not happen in the future. The revision of these guidelines is the perfect opportunity to do so.

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Details of the state aid and its problems are in the T&E briefing at State Aid for Airports and Airlines

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