The Airports Commission (= Davies Commission) has published ‘Aviation connectivity and the economy’, the second in a series of discussion papers through which it hopes to invite submissions and build the evidence base from which to assess the UK’s airport capacity needs. The paper looks at how the aviation connectivity of the UK contributes to the UK economy. It examines the drivers of connectivity and how well connected the UK is to the world and how it performs in comparison to other European countries (or if the UK is falling behind its neighbours). It considers whether aviation connectivity supports economic growth by facilitating trade, investment and innovation and it looks at options for measuring connectivity. The deadline for consultation is the 19th April.
The response from GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign www.gacc.org.uk ) is a useful critique of the consultation, revealing in a short, very readable, but hard hitting document many of the flaws and the errors in the economics of the connectivity discussion document. Connectivity Response from GACC March 2013
8.3.2013 (Government press release)
The Airports Commission has today published ‘Aviation connectivity and the economy’, the second in a series of discussion papers to build the evidence base to inform its assessment of the UK’s airport capacity needs.
The paper explores how the aviation connectivity of the UK contributes to the economy of the country. It examines the drivers of connectivity and how well connected the UK is to the world and how it performs in comparison to other European countries. It considers whether aviation connectivity supports economic growth by facilitating trade, investment and innovation and it looks at options for measuring connectivity.
Sir Howard Davies, the Chair of the Airports Commission, said:
Understanding the value of airport connectivity and whether we are falling behind other countries is one of the key issues we need to understand. This paper attempts to summarise our current state of knowledge and invites responses to help us to develop our understanding.
The paper further demonstrates the Commission’s evidence based approach to deciding on the scale, nature and timing on any need for additional capacity. Parties are invited to submit evidence to the Commission on the issues raised in the paper..
Notes to editors
The Airports Commission was launched on 2 November 2012. Its terms of reference require that it should report no later than the end of 2013 on:
- its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK’s global hub status
- its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next 5 years – consistent with credible long term options
. Its terms of reference also require that it should report no later than summer 2015 on:
- its assessment of the options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs, including their economic, social and environmental impact
- its recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs
- its recommendation(s) for ensuring that the need is met as expeditiously as practicable within the required timescale
We have set out in the document a number of particular areas in which we would value evidence, case studies and other submissions. To inform those preparing submissions on valuing the benefits of aviation connectivity, we set out below a number of further specific
questions of interest. Note that this list is by no means exclusive and we would welcome submissions covering any other topics or issues relevant to Airports Commission’s work on understanding the value of aviation connectivity to the UK, and whether and how this might be affected by capacity constraints at UK airports.
Submissions of evidence should be no more than 15 pages long and should be
emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org clearly marked as a response
to the ‘Aviation Connectivity and the Economy’ paper.
.Just looking at what they say on tourism:
Tourism: In 2011, Britain was visited by 31 million people who spent about £18 billion. In addition outbound tourism supports UK-based jobs in the tourism sector and provides benefits to UK residents who would like to travel to faraway places.
3.38 Most overseas visitors arrive in the UK through an airport, and as Figure 3.4 demonstrates. The only UK tourism markets where non-aviation modes of transport have a significant share (France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands) are from those countries where rail or sea transport provide a viable alternative to flying.
3.39 Aviation is essential in supporting both inbound and outbound tourist activity to and from Britain. In 2011, nearly three quarters of 31 million visits made to the UK by overseas residents started at an airport. Earnings from overseas visits stood at £18 billion, 84 per cent of which was spent by people who arrived by air.
3.40 In the same year, UK residents made 57 million of visits abroad on which they spent £32 billion. While inbound tourism has unambiguously positive impact on UK’s GDP as tourist expenditure boosts economic activity in the British Isles, there are various arguments and counter-arguments on how beneficial outbound tourism is to the UK economy. On one hand, since expenditure of UK residents abroad is higher than expenditure of overseas residents visiting the UK, tourism flows contribute to UK’s negative trade balance with the rest of the world. On the other hand, outbound tourism may have positive economic impacts on the UK economy to the extent to which it supports UK-based jobs in the travel and airline industries, and boosts high street consumer demand before trips are made – the latter has been valued at around £27 billion per year. [26 - an ONS reference].
3.41 The Government Tourism Policy [27 - a DCMS reference - tourism policy 2011] promotes domestic tourism for UK residents and supports the growth of the sector’s international market. One of the strategies to promote that growth is based on attracting four million extra visitors to England over the next four years, particularly from emerging economies such as China. Recent Office for National Statistics data indicate that travellers to the UK from many emerging markets although accounting for only a small proportion of visitors to the UK, tend to spend a higher than average amount per visit in the UK, as set out in the Figure 3.5.
3.42 About 9 million visitors a year travel to the UK through Heathrow, on average
each of them spends about £1,600 per visit, much more than an average visitor arriving in the UK who spends about £600. [28 - an ONS reference]
3.43 VisitBritain forecasts that, in comparison with 2011, by 2020 the number of tourists from China and India would roughly double if all passenger demand to travel to the UK could be accommodated (i.e. not taking into account airport capacity constraints) and if no barriers to travelling (such as visas) were present (Table 3.2).
3.44 Since tourists often value direct connections when choosing their holiday destinations, direct connectivity from the UK to emerging economies is likely to attract inbound tourism from these countries in the future.
3.45 Lack of direct connectivity available to tourists who want to travel to the UK may however not be the most important barrier to travelling and the impact of
[Reference 28 ONS, IPS 2011; Visit Britain, ] other such factors – e.g. ease of
obtaining a UK tourist visa and the relative attractiveness of the UK as a tourist destination – should also be carefully considered in any assessment of the role of any constraints in aviation capacity or connectivity as a barrier to inbound tourism from emerging markets.
Airports Commission Publishes Guidance Document and First Discussion Paper on Demand Forecasting
February 1, 2013 The Airports Commission, under Sir Howard Davies, has now published 2 documents that will begin its dialogue with stakeholders, including the public, on the subject of aviation capacity. The first publications is a guidance document which serves as an invitation for parties with an interest in the future of the UK’s aviation policy to submit their ideas for making best use of existing capacity and on adding new capacity in the longer term. The document seeks views on the short, medium and long term options and provides parties making submissions with information on the commission’s timetable of work, as well as guidance on the factors that are of interest to the commission. The second paper is a discussion paper on demand forecasting. The paper seeks to examine the role of forecasting as a tool to help enable the commission in addressing the range of issues that will play a part in their assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the UK’s future aviation capacity and connectivity needs. There are a range of deadline dates for comments on different aspects – the two earliest deadlines being 15th March 2013. Click here to view full story…
The deadline for comment on demand forecasting is 15th March 2013
Airports Commission under Sir Howard Davies. Membership and terms of reference announced
November 2, 2012 The government has today announced the full membership and terms of reference of the Airports Commission, to be chaired by Sir Howard Davies, and to “identify and recommend to Government options for maintaining the UK’s status as a global aviation hub.” The government says it has identified individuals with a range of skills, backgrounds and experience to sit on the committee. The Commission also intends to appoint a panel of expert advisors. Members are: Sir John Armitt, former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority; Professor Ricky Burdett (LSE); Vivienne Cox (was at BP Alternative Energy); Professor Dame Julia King (a member of the CCC); Geoff Muirhead CBE (former CEO of Manchester Airports Group). The terms of reference are that it will “The Commission will examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub; and it will identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.” And it should “should engage openly with interested parties and members of the public,” etc Click here to view full story…
BA’s first A380 is to be delivered in July 2013, with the 2nd in September and the 3rd in November. BA will start using its first A380 for flights to Los Angeles, starting in October and then on its Hong Kong route from November. BA has ordered 12 A380s, and has options on 7 more, meaning it can buy them at an agreed price in future. The A380 is meant to be a very fuel efficient plane per passenger kilometre, and it would be if it had more than 800 passengers, which it could carry if there was all one class. However, airlines like to have as many First class, and business class (or equivalent) seats as possible, so none has more than 550 or so passengers. BA’s A380s will only have 469 seats. Of these, 14 are First class, 97 are business class, and only 303 are Economy class, which take up the least space each. While Airbus makes extravagant claims about how fuel efficient the plane is, these never given details of how they are calculated – the number of passengers on the plane, and the length of flight are important, but not stated. It is not likely that with a load factor of some 80% and 469 seats, that the BA A380s will be particularly fuel efficient, per passenger kilometre. Tweet
British Airways announces first A380 routes to Los Angeles and Hong Kong
by Mark Caswell
5 Mar 2013 ( Buying Business Travel)
British Airways has confirmed that Los Angeles will be the launch destination for its first A380 aircraft from this October. The superjumbo will be rostered onto the Heathrow-LAX route from October 15, with tickets on sale from today.
BA will then add the A380 to its Hong Kong route from November 15, with tickets also on sale from today. [Appears to be swapping the plane used, not adding another service to Hong Kong]
To launch the ticket sales, BA is offering World Traveller return tickets to LA for £499 (£559 for Hong Kong services), with the option to upgrade to World Traveller Plus for an extra £380, and Club World fares starting from £3,800 for two people.
BA’s A380 configuration will accommodate 469 passengers in four classes:
First: 14 seats at the front of the main deck.
Club World (business class): 44 seats on the main deck, 53 seats on the upper deck.
World Traveller Plus (premium economy): 55 seats on the upper deck.
World Traveller (economy): both decks, total 303 seats.
British Airways confirms first 787, A380 delivery dates
September 17, 2012
787 in British Airways’ livery. Courtesy, BA
British Airways (BA) has announced delivery dates for the first of its 24 Boeing 787s and 12 Airbus A380s.
The first 787-8 is expected to arrive in May 2013; [now, of course, delayed by an unknown amount of time, due to the battery fire problems] a further three of the type should be delivered by year end. The first three A380s will be delivered in July, September and November 2013.
BA, which split its long-haul aircraft order between the two types, has 12 A380s on order plus seven options, as well as eight 787-8s and 16 787-9s (ATW Daily News, Sept. 28, 2007). The A380s will replace the carrier’s older Boeing 747s; the 787s will initially replace its 767 fleet.
A BA spokeswoman said the carrier will announce initial routes for the two new types later this year. The A380 is widely expected to be used initially on high-density Far East routes—such as Singapore and Hong Kong—and possibly to New York JFK.
The planes will only have 469 seats, of which only 303 are Economy class. There are a total of 14 first class seats, with 97 Club World seats (all of which take up much more space on the plane than Economy seats).
On the planes, there will be 14 seats in first class on the main deck, which will also feature 44 club world (business class) seats, plus 199 seats in world traveller (economy).
On the upper deck there will be 53 business class seats, 55 seats in world traveller plus (the premium economy class) and 104 seats in economy.
Wikipedia says, of the A380s that have been sold so far:
Passenger capacity varies with the seat configuration chosen by the operating airline. While the A380-800 is certified for up to 853 passengers (538 on the main deck and 315 on the upper), achievable with a one-class configuration, Airbus references a “comfortable three-class” 525-passenger configuration in their marketing material however few airlines have configured A380s with that many seats.
Airlines’ announced capacities range from 407 passengers (Korean Air) to over 644 (Emirates Airline, in two classes), with an 840-passenger one-class layout reportedly planned by Air Austral.
As over 80% of the fully laden take-off weight of a modern aircraft such as the Airbus A380 is craft and fuel, there remains considerable room for future improvements in fuel efficiency
Airlines like Emirates boast of how fuel efficient the A380 is, but their page at https://www.emiratesgroupcareers.com/english/about/environment/A380_environmental_facts.aspx is pure greenwash, giving no references for its claims, and no information about how many passengers it is assuming are on the plane, and for what length of flight it was measured – which are both important – when it gives its per passenger fuel efficiency figures. Very unscientific and very inefficient (or disingenuous) not to define these properly.
Emirates blithely say - giving no definitions etc, so the claim is meaningless:
“The Airbus A380 is one of the most environmentally advanced aircraft in the sky. With fuel efficiency as low as 3.1 litres per 100 passenger kilometres, ultra quiet engines, and a host of light-weight components, Emirates A380s fly more passengers further and more efficiently than other large commercial aircraft. Emirates worked closely with Airbus to make the A380 dream a reality, and the result is a green giant that is the pride of our fleet.
“The A380’s fuel efficiency is better than most modern small passenger cars in terms of fuel economy per passenger kilometre – this is a key advantage in reducing our emissions and maximising eco-efficiency.
“Emirates’ A380s were specially selected with the Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, which save a further 500,000 litres of fuel per aircraft per year than other alternatives The greater fuel efficiency of the GP7200 engines on Emirates’ A380s results in the lowest emissions of any large commercial aircraft – a meagre 75g of CO2 per passenger kilometre.”
Critics say “Airbus officials may be stretching their math by calculating for more passengers than most A380 flights will actually carry. Furthermore, critics argue, the plane’s technological improvements are simply what is to be expected in any new airplane.
“”Megajets are not the way to greener, or cleaner, skies,” said Alan Durning, executive director of Northwest Environment Watch in Seattle, Washington. “On almost no count is the A380 particularly green.”"
Boeing, not surprisingly, says the seat-mile cost differential between its 747 airliner and the A380 is very slim.
Airlines use the ample space aboard the A380 for cocktail lounges and business conference rooms. That reduces passenger capacity and cause the fuel consumption ratio to go up. Most airlines configure their A380s with fewer than 500 seats. And what if the Airbus flies at less than full capacity? Most long haul flights are only at around 80% load factor. (But having so many high-fare seats, the plane might still be profitable to fly, as most passengers are paying over the odds).
Using the same data for the A380 gives 0.032 litres/passenger km. link[Using figures of maximum 644 passengers with 2 classes, range of 15,400 kilometers, and fuel capacity of 320,000 litres]. [Airlines generally have fewer passengers: for instance, Singapore Airlines offers 471 seats and a standard configuration is 555 seats. Not 644 seats].
Airbus claims that the A380 800 consumes 17% lesser fuel per passenger than second biggest Jumbo Jet in the market ( Boeing 747 400).
International engine builder Rolls-Royce did not pay any corporation tax in the UK in 2012. It reported a record year for profits ( £1.4bn in pre-tax profit in 2012, an increase of 24% on 2011) but paid nothing to the Treasury and received £3m in credit. It paid no UK corporation tax in 2011 either. Rolls Royce said most of its sales were abroad and its tax liability was reduced because of its investment in research and development. However, MPs said companies had an obligation to pay tax if they were making a profit. Their accounts show Rolls-Royce paid £218m in taxes abroad where it said it conducts 85% of its business. Director of campaign group Tax Research UK said: “Legality is not the question. The big question is, is it right, is it fair and have we got the proper tax system?” Chris Williamson, Derby North MP said successful companies in the UK are successful partly because of the investment that’s made in public services, in education, in infrastructure to enable them to flourish. And they should pay tax. So much for government boasts about how profitable the aerospace industry – combined with civil aviation – is for the UK. BAA, BA and EasyJet also pay little UK tax. See below.
Rolls-Royce produces engines for air, sea and land
International engine builder Rolls-Royce did not pay any corporation tax in the UK in 2012, its annual report has revealed.
The firm, which employs 12,000 people in Derby, reported a record year for profits but paid nothing to the treasury and received £3m in credit.
It said most of its sales were abroad and its tax liability was reduced because of its investment in research.
MPs said companies had an obligation to pay tax if they were making a profit.
Rolls-Royce’s annual financial statement, released in February, shows it made £1.4bn in pre-tax profit in 2012, an increase of 24% on 2011.
Foreign tax bill
But for the second year in a row its tax bill in the UK remained at zero, with the company receiving £3m in credit.
The firm refused to be interviewed but told the BBC most of its sales were abroad and its tax bill reflected this.
According to its records, last year Rolls-Royce paid £218m in taxes abroad where it said it conducts 85% of its business.
And it said its tax liability was reduced because of the millions it spends on research and development.
Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, said he had written to the chief executive of Rolls-Royce for more information.
He said: “We do need to get to the bottom of the story. All companies, irrespective of how many people they employ, have an obligation to pay tax if they are making profits here.
“We have to remember that successful companies in the UK are successful partly because of the investment that’s made in public services, in education, in infrastructure to enable them to flourish.”
Labour John Mann MP, who campaigns on tax issues, said: “There is no reason for Rolls-Royce, or any other company, not to be paying their fair share.
“That’s where the HMRC needs to use the powers it’s got properly, but also if it thinks it needs more powers and changes in the law [it needs] to come forward.”
Economist Richard Murphy, director of campaign group Tax Research UK, said it did not appear to be fair that a profitable company was not paying any UK tax.
He said: “Legality is not the question. The big question is, is it right, is it fair and we have got the proper tax system?”
A spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC ensures that multinationals pay the tax due in accordance with UK tax law.
“We have been very successful in reducing tax avoidance by large businesses in recent years.
“We relentlessly challenge those that persist in avoiding tax and have recovered £29bn additional revenues from large businesses in the last six years, including £4.1bn in the last four years from transfer pricing enquiries alone.
Aerospace firm Rolls-Royce to axe 400 jobs at engine plant as unions blame government defence cuts
‘Short sighted cuts’ to blame for planned slashing of jobs Antsy site near Coventry employs 800 people but plans to shed 378 jobs
By ANNA EDWARDS
22 January 2013 (Daily Mail)
Aerospace firm Rolls-Royce has announced plans to shed nearly 400 jobs at one of its plants – but is blaming it on the government, a union has claimed.
The firm is consulting on shedding the jobs at the Ansty site near Coventry in the Midlands, according to trade union Unite.
The announcement puts 378 jobs at risk, the union says, adding that staff were informed of the company’s plans in an internal memo.
The Rolls Royce site plans to axe nearly 400 jobs, it told staff in an internal memo
Unite has further claimed Rolls-Royce is proposing to shut the plant in the next few years but has put the blame for the company’s decision on the Government for what it called ‘short-sighted’ cuts to the national defence budget.
Ian Waddell, Unite’s national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding, said the company had sent an internal memo to staff detailing its proposals.
He said: ‘The blame for the loss of these highly skilled jobs in the key defence sector lies with the Government and its short-sighted determination to ram through massive spending cuts in the defence budget.
‘Once again, Unite calls for a coherent defence industrial strategy to be drawn up as matter of urgency to safeguard jobs and a defence industry at which Britain excels. ‘This is vital – otherwise more high-skilled jobs will be lost, perhaps forever. ’There is a very long timescale for consultation and implementation, so we hope that compulsory redundancies will be avoided. However, the underlying reason for the job losses is the Government’s defence spending cuts announced a couple of years ago.
‘The scrapping of the Harrier jumpjet fleet, for instance, has led to redundancies at the Ansty factory, which will close.
‘Meanwhile, work from Germany will be transferred to Rolls-Royce’s site at Bristol.
‘Unite will be seeking an early meeting with management to discuss the implications for our members and we will taking every step to safeguard their employment now and in the future.’
He said bosses at Rolls-Royce had acted ‘fairly’ by giving as much notice as possible to the staff of the company’s plans to shut down the plant.
Unite said that the scrapping of the Harrier jumpjet fleet has led to redundancies at the Ansty factory
The 200-acre Rolls-Royce site at Ansty employs about 800 people and handles the refit and repair of both aeroplane and marine engines.
Components for the company’s Trent series of civil aviation engines are also manufactured on the site.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: ‘We are in consultation with trade unions over reductions in our defence workforce at Ansty.
‘We hope to achieve this without compulsory redundancies.
‘Ansty also conducts civil aerospace business which is not affected. ‘In a large and complex company there is a continuing need to align resource and customer demand. Overall group employment at Rolls-Royce remains fairly constant.’
BAA’s group net debt rose by 3.6% from £10.4bn in 2010 to £10.8bn in 2011
BAA’s passenger numbers have recovered since the low point of the credit crunch, but its balance sheet is still in the red. BAA’s group net debt rose by 3.6% from £10.4bn in 2010 to £10.8bn in 2011. Their first quarter pre-tax loss was £231.4m. The business owes more than £10bn, and so has a large annual interest bill (it paid out £388m last year), and spends £1bn annually on improving its airports. BAA has not made a quarterly profit since it was acquired in 2006. It has not paid corporation tax in years, has borrowed even more to pay investors who leveraged up to the hilt when they bought the business in the first place. Does paying a sizeable dividend appear wise when you owe £10bn and you haven’t made a profit in years?
The effective tax rate is lower than the standard rate of corporation tax in the United Kingdom principally due to the impact on deferred tax balances of the reduction in corporation tax rate announced in the 2012 UK Budget.
Sleep scientists at the University of Surrey have found that sleep deprivation affects hundreds of genes involved with inflammation, immunity and cells’ response to stress. This might help explain why some people who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cognitive impairment. Researchers took whole-blood RNA samples from 26 participants after they had spent a week sleeping 8.5 hours a night, and the same participants after a week of sleeping for just 5.7 hours. That amount of sleep is not unusual for many people, and an estimate from the USA is that perhaps 30% of American adults sleep for under 6 hours. (The study did not look at sleep disturbance, as is the case for aircraft noise). The study found genes related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress were all affected by the experiment. Some were more active, and some less, during sleep deprivation. Other studies have found lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and type II diabetes. It can affect blood sugar levels, and hormones that control appetite. There are also effects on hypertension, elevated risk of stroke and of heart disease.
The experimental conditions mimic what many people experience on a regular basis(Source: BrianAJackson/iStockphoto)
Sleep deprivation affects hundreds of genes involved with inflammation, immunity and cells’ response to stress, British researchers have found.
The findings might help explain why some people who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cognitive impairment.
Sleep expert Derk-Jan Dijk and colleagues from theUniversity of Surrey took whole-blood RNA samples from 26 participants after they had spent a week sleeping 8.5 hours a night, and the same participants after a week of sleeping for just 5.7 hours.
The expression of genes in blood offers a view into what is happening in other organs of the body, including the brain and liver, which are more difficult to test repeatedly, the authors note.
After each week, ten blood samples were taken from each participant at three-hourly intervals, during a period of total sleep deprivation that helped the researchers control the effects of light, activity and food on gene expression.
The experimental conditions mimic what many people experience on a regular basis, the researchers note in their article.
“According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 per cent of civilian adults in the United States report an average sleep duration of six hours or less.”
Comparing the two sets of samples, the researchers found that 444 genes were down-regulated after the sleepless week, and 267 were up-regulated.
Genes related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress were all affected by the experiment.
“The identified biological processes may be involved with the negative effects of sleep loss on health,” the researchers say.
Window to biological mechanisms
The results “contribute to the developing evidence that poor or insufficient sleep is a health risk,” comments Australian sleep researcher John Trinder from the University of Melbourne.
The new findings also open a window into the mechanisms that underpin the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, notes sleep researcher Andrew Vakulin from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.
“It’s a snapshot of what’s going on,” he says. “It’s summarising what’s getting turned off and on and gives us the ability to look at things much more closely now.”
The new study also offers scientists avenues for studying why different individuals are more susceptible to the consequences of sleep deprivation, says Vakulin.
Sleep deprivation impairs fat cells’ ability to respond to insulin, a study shows
- Insulin regulates metabolism and is involved in diabetes - Lack of sleep may trigger the body’s stress response - The small study needs to be confirmed in different populations, settings
People who consistently get too little sleep face bigger concerns than daytime fatigue and crankiness. Over the long term, sleep deprivation also increases the risk of serious health problems including obesity and type II diabetes.
Scientists have come up with a number of plausible explanations for this increased risk. Various studies have shown, for instance, that how much we sleep can affect blood sugar levels, hormones that control appetite, and even the brain’s perception of high-calorie foods.
A small new study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, adds a key piece to the puzzle by drilling down to the cellular level: Sleep deprivation, the study found, impairs the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates metabolism and is involved in diabetes.
In the study, seven healthy young men and women spent a total of eight days and nights in a sleep lab. They were allowed to sleep normally on four of the nights, and on the other nights they were limited to just 4.5 hours. In order to neutralize the effects of appetite or overeating, the researchers strictly controlled the participants’ meals and calorie intake.
After the four nights of sleep deprivation, blood tests revealed that the participants’ overall insulin sensitivity was 16% lower, on average, than after the nights of normal sleep. Moreover, their fat cells’ sensitivity to insulin dropped by 30%, to levels typically seen in people who are obese or who have diabetes.
“This is the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years just from four nights of partial sleep restriction,” says Matthew Brady, the senior author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “Fat cells need sleep, and when they don’t get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy.”
Specifically, the participants’ fat cells — which were collected via biopsy and analyzed — required nearly three times as much insulin to activate an enzyme known as Akt, which plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar. If insulin resistance of this sort becomes persistent, excess sugar and cholesterol can accumulate in the blood, increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Previous sleep-lab studies have found that insufficient sleep can affect overall insulin sensitivity, but this is the first to identify a concrete cellular mechanism that might underlie the well-established links between sleep, diabetes and obesity.
“This takes the research on the effect of sleep deprivation on metabolism one step further, by revealing a molecular mechanism involved in the reduction of total body insulin sensitivity,” says Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center, in Seattle, who was not involved in the study.
“If you want to make a causal argument that short sleep is causing diabetes,” Watson adds, “one of the key elements is coming up with a physiological mechanism by which this would happen.”
Brady and his coauthors aren’t yet sure how exactly fat cells recognize and register sleep deprivation. One possibility, they say, is that lack of sleep triggers the body’s stress response, leading to the release of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, which are associated with insulin resistance.
The new findings will need to be confirmed in different populations and settings. The study included only seven people (and just one woman), and they were all young, healthy, and lean, so the results can’t necessarily be extrapolated to people who are older or overweight.
Likewise, the sleep deprivation in the study was relatively drastic and short-lived. It’s unclear whether less severe sleep deprivation over longer periods of time — a more common real-world scenario — would have the same effect on fat cells.
Health.com: How much sleep do you really need?
If the results are borne out in the future, the good news is that the treatment for the type of insulin resistance seen in the study is straightforward: sleep more.
Sleep is “as important to your health as a healthy diet and exercise,” Watson says. “Until somebody invents a procedure or a pill that’s going to approximate all aspects of sleep, really what you’re left with is what is a pretty simple treatment… Just turn off the computer and go to bed earlier.”
Researchers know that lack of sleep can lead to impaired glucose tolerance, reduced insulin sensitivity and elevated blood pressure (iStockphoto)
People who sleep more or fewer than seven hours a day, including naps, are increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, a US study shows.
Sleeping fewer than five hours a day, including naps, more than doubles the risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke, the study conducted by researchers at West Virginia University‘s (WVU) faculty of medicine and published in the journalSleep says.
The study found sleeping more than seven hours also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Study participants who say they slept nine hours or longer a day, were one-and-a-half times more likely than seven-hour sleepers to develop cardiovascular disease.
The most at-risk group was adults under 60 years of age who slept five hours or fewer a night.
They increased their risk of developing cardiovascular disease more than threefold compared to people who sleep seven hours.
Women who skimped on sleep, getting five hours or fewer a day including naps, were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
Short sleep duration was associated with angina, while both sleeping too little and sleeping too much were associated with heart attack and stroke.
The study, led by Associate Professor Anoop Shankar of the WVU’s department of community medicine, analysed data gathered in a national US study in 2005 on more than 30,000 adults.
The results were adjusted for age, sex, race, whether the person smoked or drank, whether they were fat or slim, and whether they were active or a couch potato.
The authors of the WVU study were unable to determine the causal relationship between how long a person sleeps and cardiovascular disease.
But they pointed out that sleep duration affects endocrine and metabolic functions, and sleep deprivation can lead to impaired glucose tolerance, reduced insulin sensitivity and elevated blood pressure, all of which increase the risk of hardening the arteries.
A separate study, also published in Sleep, showed that an occasional long lie-in can be beneficial for those who cannot avoid getting too little sleep.
In that study, David Dinges, who heads the sleep and chronobiology unit at the University of Pennsylvania , found 142 adults whose sleep was severely restricted for five days – as it is for many people during the work week – had slower reaction times and more trouble focusing.
But after a night of recovery sleep, the sleep-deprived study participants’ alertness improved significantly, and the greatest improvements were seen in those who were allowed to spend 10 hours in bed after a week with just four hours sleep a night.
Modern society is becoming more sleep-deprived and fatter, but are the ‘epidemics’ related? Tim Olds and Carol Maher take a closer look at the evidence.
22.2.2012 (ABC Science)
The idea of ‘sleeping yourself thin’ has a lot of appeal. So much nicer than the cold morning jogs and the low-calorie lentil soup. “Just another half hour, darling, I’m trying to lose weight.”
And for once, science seems to be on our side. Insufficient sleep has been associated with everything from suicide to memory loss, hyperactivity to failure at school, immune problems to … obesity.
Short sleepers are fatter. Most population studies find a U-shaped relationship between sleep duration and the likelihood of being overweight or obese, the risk being lowest in normal (seven to eight hours per night) sleepers, and higher for those sleeping less than five hours or more than nine hours a night.
Studies in the lab have helped to identify some possible mechanisms. When people are sleep-deprived, blood sugar levels are elevated, sympathetic nervous system activity is higher, and levels of leptin and ghrelin (hormones which respectively suppress and stimulate appetite) are tilted in favour of over-eating. All of this would be expected to lead to fat accumulation.
What’s more, it seems that the obesity epidemic has coincided with an epidemic of sleep loss. Our work has shown that over the last 100 years, globally, kids have lost 75 minutes of sleep a day, although Australia has gone against the trend, with Australian kids sleeping longer than before. About half of all adults say they need more sleep, the average perceived sleep deficit being about 25-30 minutes per night.
In an interesting article in the Observer, Gwyn Topham explores the current competition between Middle Eastern airlines (Emirates, Etihad) from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, (with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha airports), and Heathrow and European hub airports. They sit at the crossroads from Europe to the east and between Africa and Asia, which are young and vibrant markets, and have lots of money and no capacity constraints. Intriguingly, Heathrow boss Colin Matthews – who now counts Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund as a major shareholder with a 20% stake and has Al-Baker on his board – has started to make a virtue of the growth of the Gulf hubs, as well as Istanbul. He twice suggested that projections of growing passenger demand in the UK might have to be downplayed. Can the vast oil wells in the desert successfully nurture not just one but three burgeoning aviation hubs, two within an hour’s drive of each other? With growing demand from India and China, perhaps they can.
Emirates’ concourse for A380s is another staging post on new Silk Road
While the debate rages about airport expansion in Europe, the ambitious Gulf hubs are growing fast – and look set to become the global interchanges of the future
By Gwyn Topham
The new concourse at Dubai international airport, designed to accommodate Airbus A380s. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA
Multiplying lanes, stretching runways and new terminals in the sands may not be everyone’s idea of making the desert bloom. But in Abu Dhabi, where the aviation industry has grown up almost as spectacularly as the skyscrapers on the shoreline, the sheikhs who bankrolled the towering investment do not doubt that the fruits will come.
While London’s great and good grapple with the question of airport expansion, the world beyond is changing, as those running Britain’s biggest airport and airline know all too well – frequently expressing their frustration that rivals are “eating our lunch” and leapfrogging them to aviation’s top spot.
The announcements last week that Etihad Airways – based in Abu Dhabi – was splurging $70m (£47m) to secure three Heathrow slots, (from India’s Jet Air - link) while British Airways saw its profits wiped out and its parent company, IAG, record a near-€1bn (£863m) loss, will not have made them much happier.
“In aviation,” says Jos Nuihuis, the boss of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, mischievously enjoying his role as the current chief beneficiary of Heathrow’s inability to build another runway, “you have to take the chance when it’s your turn.”
While the northern hemisphere and transatlantic traffic draws the money, Europe’s five hubs can do battle. But the political geography is changing and the crossroads of the world look ever more likely to be located in the Middle East.
Developments at the three expanding hubs in Qatar [main city is Doha] and the United Arab Emirates [main cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi] underline that shift. The UAE’s biggest airline, Emirates, last month completed the opening of an entire 20-gate concourse at its Dubai airport base purely for its fleet of giant A380s, Airbus’s flagship aircraft which typically carry 500-plus passengers.
Etihad – which was established less than a decade ago – announced that passenger numbers had passed 10 million a year and it was turning increasing profits, as plans to double the airport capacity take shape.
And in Qatar, the $15.5bn Hamad International airport [in Doha - map] opens next month with a 4,850m runway fit for fleets of A380s to take off in the desert heat.
The ambition is immense, as is the speed and scale of the growth to date. Qatar’s airport will be able to handle 28 million passengers a year on opening, but chief executive Akbar al-Baker is planning extensions for 50 million by 2020, when the state hosts the football World Cup.
In the gleaming new headquarters of Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi, the airline’s chief executive, James Hogan, spells out a vision of being a “truly global airline”. Staff drawn from 125 countries come through the training facility on site, the graduating class photos spreading along the walls showing a multinational mix in each intake.
With 70 planes, Etihad is the smallest of the Gulf airlines, and all three have orders that will more than double their existing fleets. “With aircraft technology you can fly to all points in the world from the Gulf,” Hogan says. “We fly to 86 cities and connect well [at] Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi itself as a destination is becoming more relevant.”
For many British passengers, long-haul to the south and east of the globe has meant going on the classic Kangaroo route to Australia via Asia. But the longer range of modern aircraft and the rise of the Gulf hubs has set a new course for the Gulf and south east Asia.
Etihad’s investment in, and partnership with, Virgin Australia is one way that the journey now bypasses Singapore and Heathrow too. More notably, at the end of this month Emirates will take over from the ousted British Airways in a partnership with Australian flag carrier Qantas.
Qantas’s UK general manager, Eric Jelinek, said it was an “amicable divorce” from Heathrow’s largest carrier: “BA understands our reasons and that things have changed.”
He doesn’t extend the metaphor, but has the air of a man whose airline has found a younger, richer, more glamorous partner, really going places and unsullied by previous trysts. This is Emirates’ first alliance, and Qantas is clearly overjoyed to have been chosen. For its Australian passengers flying via Heathrow, it offered five European destinations, with two stops. Now it can sell 33 with just the one stop. Qantas has since reported a surge in ticket sales from Australia to Europe.
The Gulf hubs are undoubtedly well-placed to update some long-established routes. As Hogan, a native Australian, puts it: “It’s the new Silk Road.” But, he adds: “What people forget is that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh are huge populations. And even in the Middle East: at a point, post-Arab spring, when the Middle East normalises, Iraq and Iran have huge numbers of young people who want to travel.
“If you think within three hours’ flying time we have India – for them this is a weekend destination, a short break destination, an educational or medical care destination.
“You want sun, beaches, restaurants, shopping, it’s here all year round. The Gulf states, the subcontinent and the Middle East all see Abu Dhabi as a destination in its own right, as well as all the through traffic.”
If Dubai’s tourist industry and hotel scene is well-established, Abu Dhabi has plans to make a different type of tourist sit up, with a new Louvre, Guggenheim and national museum in fantastical designs from the world’s leading architects on a newly linked island on the city’s edge.
Such breathtaking, vaulting ambition typifies the Gulf but also leads many observers to question if these are Ozymandian dreams, unsustainable follies in the sand. Can the vast oil wells in the desert successfully nurture not just one but three burgeoning aviation hubs, two within an hour’s drive of each other?
John Strickland, an independent aviation consultant, believes so: “Probably they can. If you look at where they’re sitting and the aircraft they’re operating, they can serve pretty much anywhere in the world. None of them are having any difficulty filling their planes.”
Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst at HSBC, predicts: “They will grow very seriously and gain status as major global aviation hubs. They sit at the crossroads from Europe to the east and between Africa and Asia, which are young and vibrant markets.” But the backing of their governments has, he says, been the driver that has capitalised on that geographical logic.
Strickland points out that, while the political aspirations of the various emirates mean that all want their own flag carrier and hub, and are backing aviation to the hilt, all three airlines are believed to be heading for profitability (although the accounts are not all transparent). “You’re not talking about carriers which are bleeding as businesses or in terms of the profits.”
Etihad’s own strategy of investing in partner airlines is questioned by some analysts – “when you see them buying parts of Air Seychelles or Air Berlin you do wonder what they’re doing,” says one – but the depth of the airline’s pockets is emphasised by moves to take a major stake in Indian airline Jet to secure its three Heathrow slots.
“Remember that the European flag carriers are retreating,” Hogan says. “You’re not going to see them operating into Tripoli, Basra, Baghdad.” Not to mention other destinations closer to home: “We fly into Manchester. BA isn’t flying out of Manchester.”
This, says Strickland, shows where Gulf airlines can directly compete with Heathrow right now. “While we’re agonising about runways in the south-east, they have no capacity constraint and can offer a very attractive proposition to travellers in the UK. If you’re in Manchester or Newcastle you can bypass London altogether.”
Intriguingly, Heathrow boss Colin Matthews – who now counts Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund as a major shareholder with a 20% stake and has Al-Baker on his board – has started to make a virtue of the growth of the Gulf hubs, as well as Istanbul.He twice suggested at a business event last week that projections of growing passenger demand in the UK might have to be downplayed as aviation’s focus shifts, meaning that a third runway, rather than a new four-runway facility outside London, might be sufficient for future needs.
Scant consolation, perhaps, for a struggling European aviation industry that could do without the competition – and unfair competition with subsidised fuel, some have complained, although Hogan says it is “a myth” that he has access to free kerosene or money.
Strickland, though, suggests that the future is one where the Gulf players become ever more prominent, but also more integrated – and those that embrace them will do best. “Capacity constraints here are going to help their growth, and some of the markets are ones that Europe cannot access. Traffic flows such as China to Africa or even Asia to Latin America are going to be the great growth of the 21st century.”
Instead, European long-haul airlines might, Strickland suggests, have to emulate a Ryanair-style model on a global basis. Passengers now are used to taking an Irish plane from Stockholm to Madrid. That possible evolution might mean BA flying passengers from Latin America to China via a future BA base – in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Europe’s aviation industry has to get used to the fact that the Gulf money it has seen splashed again last week has radically tilted aviation’s playing field, even more than the sponsorship of Man City and Paris St Germain has skewed football. Even the analyst who questions Etihad’s investment strategy, likening it to the ill-fated SwissAir that was dragged under by partner airlines, points to an essential difference: “Switzerland has got a lot of chocolate. And the UAE has got a lot of oil.”
PROFITS POINT TO POSSIBILITY OF MERGERS
Veterans of the airline conference circuit are familiar with the sight of Gulf airline executives getting irritated when their western rivals make offhand allegations about their “subsidised” financial performance. Claims of state-underwritten fuel budgets and landing fees may goad senior figures at Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, but they can at least flaunt robust annual figures in response. It is a boast that few European or American rivals can repeat, with the entire industry achieving a profit margin of little more than 1%.
For 2011-12, Emirates reported net profit of 1.5bn dirhams (£272m), from 5.38bn dirhams the previous year, still strong for the industry. In 2012, Etihad trebled its net profit to an admittedly modest $42m (£30m), but that compares with a near-€1bn (£863m) loss at International Airlines Group. Qatar, however, made a “very small loss” in 2011-12, according to its chief executive, because of high fuel costs.
Nonetheless, some see the Gulf airlines as having a permanent cost advantage with none of the capacity constraints faced by the likes of BA. As a consequence, a European airline merging with a Gulf player, even being taken over by one, is a possibility over the next decade. Etihad has taken tentative steps, acquiring stakes in Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia and Air Berlin, but a full-blown deal is restricted by EU regulations, which currently limit foreign ownership of EU airlines to 49%
MUMBAI– Etihad Airways, which is in talks to acquire a stake in Jet Airways (India) Ltd., has bought the Indian carrier’s three pairs of landing and departure slots at London’s Heathrow airport for $70 million.
The transaction, and expectations that the two companies are close to announcing a deal on Jet’s stake, drove the Indian carrier’s shares up more than 19% to close at 534.85 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange, where the benchmark index rose 0.7%.
The agreement for the landing and departure slots was signed Tuesday, Etihad said in a statement Wednesday. Jet will continue to use the slots on lease, the Abu Dhabi-based company said.
Takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow, the busiest airport in the world, are a highly prized commodity and sell for millions of dollars as the airport is running at full capacity.
Etihad said its talks to make an investment in Jet are progressing. A Jet spokesman declined to comment.
A deal to sell a stake to Etihad will give Jet much needed funds to expand operations and retire part of its debt, as well as an access to Etihad’s global network. Etihad will get a bigger chunk of the Indian air passenger market.
While the talks are continuing, the transaction for the Heathrow slots will give Jet some immediate cash.
Officials at India’s aviation ministry had said that Jet was looking to sell a 24% stake to Etihad for $300 million.
But recent media reports said the deal was stuck as Etihad wanted more representatives on Jet’s board than the Indian airline was willing to offer. Following these reports, Jet’s shares fell 17% in seven sessions through Tuesday.
“The Heathrow deal is a positive development and highlights the close relationship between the two airlines,” said Amber Dubey, an analyst at KPMG.
He expects the stake deal to also go through.
India last September allowed foreign airlines to buy up to 49% stakes in Indian carriers. Local rules don’t allow foreign airlines to take management control of local carriers.
The move was aimed at helping India’s aviation industry which has been hit by high fuel prices and interest rates, and stiff competition. National carrier Air India hasn’t posted a profit since 2007 while Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., hit by a cash crunch, grounded operations since Oct. 1.
Another company interested in India’s aviation market is AirAsia Bhd.The Malaysian carrier last week said it approached the Indian government to set up a budget airline along with the Tata Group and another Indian investor.
Virgin Atlantic has unveiled details of its UK domestic service, which is being called, Little Red. It will launch on 31st March in Manchester, 5th April in Edinburgh and 9th April in Aberdeen, with a total of 26 daily services to Heathrow. Little Red will be Virgin’s first ever domestic flights in the UK. Virgin won key Heathrow take-off and landing slots after Bmi was taken over by IAG last year. Virgin hopes these domestic flights will feed traffic onto its international service. Virgin says Little Red will compete with BA on domestic air routes. BA operates around 52 daily flights between Heathrow and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. BA also runs services to Scotland from Gatwick and London City airports.Apparently Virgin has partnered with a number of brands “to offer exclusive products on board including Irn Bru on Scottish flights, plane shaped Tyrells crisps and Bacardi Martini miniatures. It will later offer Krispy Kreme doughnuts, yoghurts from The Collective Dairy and Rude Health granola” ! Why ?!
Virgin Atlantic is to call its soon to launch domestic airline services Little Red as it looks to take on BA in the region.
Little Red will be Virgin’s first ever domestic flights in the UK and aims to deliver Virgin Atlantic’s “rock and roll spirit,” the airline said.
Little Red will offer free check in luggage up to 23kg, pre-assigned seats and complementary food and drinks including snacks and hot breakfasts on early morning flights.
It has also partnered with a number of brands to offer exclusive products on board including Irn Bru on Scottish flights, plane shaped Tyrells crisps and Bacardi Martini miniatures. It will later offer Krispy Kreme doughnuts, yoghurts from The Collective Dairy and Rude Health granola.
Sir Richard Branson says the new service will challenge BA’s “monopoly” of UK flights from Heathrow since its acquisition of bmi by parent company IAG. It also aims to offer passengers more flexibility to connect with Virgin Atlantic’s international flights.
Sir Richard adds: “Virgin Atlantic has been on an incredible journey since we started with a single plane 29 years ago. Little Red represents the next step on that journey as we go head to head with British Airways to provide domestic flights that deliver Virgin Atlantic’s rock and roll spirit as well as real value for money.”
The launch will be the supported by press, social, outdoor, digital and radio activity.
It will fly 26 daily flights between London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Virgin announced it was to launch flights between Scotland, Manchester and Edinburgh in December.
Virgin to compete with BA’s Scotland to Heathrow links
Virgin Atlantic said British Airways’ monopoly on the Heathrow links is seriously harming consumers
10 December 2012 (BBC)
Virgin Atlantic has set out details of its plans to compete with British Airways on Heathrow links with Scotland.
It is to fly six round trips between the London airport and Edinburgh, with three round trips linking it with Aberdeen.
The airline says 150 people will be employed as a result of the move.
Virgin Atlantic will take over landing slots from BMI, after it was bought by British Airways owner, IAG.
From 31 March 2013, the planes are to be operated by Aer Lingus, but will be in Virgin Atlantic livery.
Scheduling is intended to appeal to business travellers wishing to spend a day working in either capital city, with departures from 06.40, as well as linking to international flights in to and out of Heathrow.
Having already committed to fly Heathrow to Manchester, this is the start of short-haul flights for Virgin Atlantic.
It has seen the opportunity to compete with its long-time British Airways rival, after regulators required it to give up slots to ensure competition is retained on Heathrow’s links to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
As BMI had given up its Glasgow-Heathrow route, regulators did not insist on competition on that route. However, an assessment by the European Commission found there has been a significant increase in British Airways fares on the Glasgow route since BMI withdrew early in 2011.
Steve Ridgeway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said British Airways’ monopoly on the Heathrow links is causing “serious consumer harm” which his company intends to challenge.
“Virgin Atlantic will offer millions of passengers in Scotland and Manchester connections around the world through our and our partners’ long-haul network, with the additional benefit of providing direct services to and from London Heathrow,” he said.
“This is a robust business model that will protect competition to and from Heathrow for the long-term.”
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, welcomed the Virgin Atlantic plans, adding: “We are still concerned about the absence of competition on the Glasgow-Heathrow route, and will continue to promote its re-introduction, as well as our desire for better direct international connectivity.
“We also reiterate once again our calls for Air Passenger Duty to be devolved as quickly as possible to provide the means to incentivise new direct international services from Scotland.”
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: “These services operating from Edinburgh and Aberdeen will provide direct links to and from London Heathrow, as well seamlessly linking into Virgin’s long-haul network creating new links between Scotland and the rest of the world.
“Together, this will only benefit Scotland’s business and leisure travelers.”
Research by the company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) suggests that when travelling domestically for business, air journeys are preferred to rail if the rail journey is over 3 hours, despite potential cost savings (the company is paying). But there are differences between routes. The time taken to get to the airport, and from the airport to the final destination need to be taken into account. There is recognition that useful work can be done on the train, so that is not time wasted. For trips between Manchester and Edinburgh, about 90% of business travellers go by air. Business trips from Birmingham to Edinburgh or Glasgow are generally by air. But business travellers between London and Manchester are about 3 times as likely to go by train, rather then air (journey time is 2hours 11mins by train, and about half that by air). HRG now have a phone app that enables the traveller to compare times and costs of domestic rail/air journeys.
Time is money – HRG survey reveals journey time more valuable to business travellers than cost
Wednesday February 27 2013
Three is the magic number, according to Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the international corporate services company, when corporates are choosing whether to travel by air or rail.
HRG’s research on traveller behaviour shows that when travelling domestically for business, air beats rail as soon as the rail journey is over three hours despite potential cost savings.
Business travellers are three times more likely to book rail over air for the two hours 11 minute London to Manchester route, although the flight takes half the time as the train journey. Rail bookings are also nearly as common as air reservations for London to Newcastle route, in which the train journey is just under three hours – almost three times as long as the corresponding flight.
Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director at HRG, says: “We have seen a noticeable trend for clients to accept longer journey times. Travellers do understand that they can get more work done on a train, but actual cost and time savings aren’t always clear. For example, a time factor often overlooked when choosing travel arrangements is the distance and time it takes to get from the train station to the city centre or airport. Time equals money, so clients must make sure that their travel policies reflect this for the total door-to-door journey, rather than just the air or rail travel time.”
However, travellers still opt for flights over longer train journeys that take over three hours. Although the three hour 31 minute Manchester to Edinburgh rail route offers an approximate savings of 56%, only one in ten business travellers opt for it over the alternative 55 minute flight.
Despite rail savings per trip ranging from 24% – 37%, the routes Birmingham to Edinburgh, Glasgow to London and Glasgow to Birmingham are not commonly used by business travellers. It appears that business travellers judge the four to five hour journey times to be too long, prompting travellers to book flights instead.
Tony Berry, Industry and Airfare Distribution Director at HRG says: “We advise clients to always explore their options. Competition between airlines and rail companies on UK domestic routes is constantly evolving and with change comes opportunity for our clients to really benefit. Our comprehensive, up-to-the-minute data ensures that our clients can get the best value – both in terms of journey time and cost.”
The newest version of HRG i-Suite, launched at the Business Travel Show in London last month, offers an air versus rail price comparison tool. To maintain cost transparency, clients are able to see the price difference between comparable air and rail journeys when they book travel arrangements.
HRG i-Suite, HRG’s web-based portal that integrates a self-service reservation tool, data consolidation and reporting, expense management and traveller tracking capabilities, as well as the recent HRG i-Suite mobile application. The mobile application provides immediate access for travellers on the move.
Business travellers prefer to fly rather than take the train if the rail journey is over three hours, irrespective of any potential cost savings.
That’s according to research from Hogg Robinson Group, which showed that while the three hour 31 minute Manchester-Edinburgh rail route offers an approximate cost saving of 56%, only 10% of business travellers opted for it over the alternative 55 minute flight.
And, despite rail savings per trip ranging from 24%-37%, the routes Birmingham to Edinburgh, Glasgow to London and Glasgow to Birmingham are not commonly used by business travellers, with the four- to five-hour journey times deemed to be too long.
However, corporates are three times more likely to book rail over air on the London-Manchester route, despite the flight taking half the time of the two hour 11 minute train journey.
Rail bookings are also nearly as common as air reservations for London-Newcastle, where the train journey is just under three hours – almost three times as long as the corresponding flight.
Stewart Harvey, group commercial director at HRG, said: ‘We have seen a noticeable trend for clients to accept longer journey times.
‘Travellers do understand that they can get more work done on a train, but actual cost and time savings aren’t always clear. For example, a time factor often overlooked when choosing travel arrangements is the distance and time it takes to get from the train station to the city centre or airport.
‘Time equals money, so clients must make sure that their travel policies reflect this for the total door-to-door journey, rather than just the air or rail travel time.’
Tony Berry, industry and airfare distribution director at HRG, added: ‘We advise clients to always explore their options. Competition between airlines and rail companies on UK domestic routes is constantly evolving and with change comes opportunity for our clients to really benefit.
‘Our comprehensive, up-to-the-minute data ensures that our clients can get the best value – both in terms of journey time and cost.’
The newest version of HRG’s i-Suite, launched last month, offers an air versus rail price comparison tool.
East Coast Trains is slashing the cost of its Scottish Executive ticket between Edinburgh and London in a bold move to win more business from airlines.
The ticket will cost only £99 return compared to the usual £199 from this Sunday (February 3) until March 4.
This offer is only available through TMCs, and as with the normal Scottish Executive deal it is booked in standard class but automatically upgraded to first class, which means it does not contravene travel policy when first class travel is forbidden. The walk-up “anytime” return first class fare is £416.
The ticket is bookable up to 18.00 on the day before travel, and the return ticket is flexible. It includes complimentary at-seat meals in first class, and free wifi.
With a journey time of 4h-4h 30m between the two capitals, East Coast is already chipping away at airlines’ market share. This has increased by 2% in the last year to 24%, whereas from Newcastle to London it has reached 60%.
“We are already seeing modal shift by business travellers from air to rail, and we are steadily gaining share on Edinburgh-London,” said an East Coast spokesman.
“The latest National Passenger Survey by transport watchdog Passenger Focus shows we have achieved 92% overall satisfaction, the highest score on East Coast since the survey was launched back in 1999.”
East Coast is currently being run by the Department for Transport, and no date has been fixed for the franchise to be re-let. An intermediate business or premium economy-style class may then be introduced.
John Stewart, a leading campaigner against Heathrow expansion, Chairman of HACAN and of AirportWatch, has found his name on a “blacklist”, fuelling claims that such secret files have been more widely used than thought. John believes this list may be behind the reason why he was barred from the US in 2011, on a speaking tour, with no reason given. He has no criminal convictions, does not belong to a trade union and worked in retail before taking up peaceful campaigning. When his plane landed in New York he was escorted off it by armed guards and sent home. John has been told by the GMB union that he was on a blacklist previously thought to have only contained names of alleged “troublemakers” and trade unionists from the building industry. The Standard comments: “If this is true, the problem becomes very disquieting indeed. It’s hard to think of anything more inimical to the modern spirit of openness and transparency than the existence of a secret blacklist circulating between employers and institutions. And if it includes people whose only offence is to hold views or conduct campaigns that some companies or institutions find troublesome, it becomes downright frightening”.
Heathrow campaigner barred from US was on secret blacklist
27.2.2013 (Evening Standard)
John Stewart, a leading campaigner against Heathrow expansion, has found his name on a “blacklist”, fuelling claims that such secret files have been more widely used than thought.
Mr Stewart, 63, chairman of pressure group Hacan (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), believes it could explain why he was barred from the US in 2011 with no reason given.
Mr Stewart, who is from Clapham, has no criminal convictions, does not belong to a trade union and worked in retail before taking up peaceful campaigning. When his plane landed in New York he was escorted off it by armed guards and sent home. He had planned a speaking tour with fellow campaigners.
Mr Stewart has been told by the GMB union that he was on a blacklist previously thought to have only contained names of alleged “troublemakers” and trade unionists from the building industry. “It could explain why I was refused entry to America in 2011,” he said. “The list seems to have been around for some years. It’s worrying that somebody like me, without convictions, can find myself on a blacklist like this.”
Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP and environmentalist, said he was astonished: “If John Stewart has been refused entry to the States because of his Heathrow campaign, the tolerance threshold must be astonishingly low. He is superbly effective, but it’s hard to think of a more civilised campaigner.”
The list was found in 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s Office, which enforces data protection rules, raided an organisation called the Consulting Association in Droitwich, Worcestershire. It has now closed.
Most of the 3,213 people on the list were construction workers and the database was used to vet staff for the industry. It included details about workers’ personal relationships, trade union activity and employment history. But the GMB estimated 200 names were of green campaigners. Tamsin Omond, of Climate Rush, was also on the list.
Alternative explanations for the US barring Mr Stewart could be that he did not have a work visa, and was travelling with a man who claimed to have superglued himself to Gordon Brown. The US Embassy would not comment. GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “The blacklisting scandal now widens to include abuses of basic freedoms like the right to travel abroad. Some on the list never worked in construction, so who put them on it and why?”
The blacklist of individuals regarded as troublemakers that was compiled by a body called the Consulting Association and revealed by the Information Commissioners after a raid in 2009 was disturbing in itself, and calamitous for the job prospects of more than 3,000 people whose names were on it and who were sometimes given short shrift by potential employers.
But until now it has been taken as read that the blacklist chiefly affected people working in the construction industry, including trade union activists and those who raised health and safety concerns at work. Now, the GMB union says that it included the names of 200 environmental activists.
One of them is John Stewart, who has led a good deal of the opposition to the expansion of Heathrow Airport. He is respectable, retired, with no criminal convictions and a reputation as a formidable campaigner. Two years ago, he was refused entry to the US, and escorted off a plane by armed guards with no reason given. He feels now that this may be because his name appeared on the list.
If this is true, the problem becomes very disquieting indeed. It’s hard to think of anything more inimical to the modern spirit of openness and transparency than the existence of a secret blacklist circulating between employers and institutions. And if it includes people whose only offence is to hold views or conduct campaigns that some companies or institutions find troublesome, it becomes downright frightening, particularly if it affects people’s basic rights, including freedom of movement. Totalitarian regimes have secret lists of troublemakers; Britain has the Freedom of Information Act.
It is not clear whether Mr Stewart was barred from America because he was classed as a potential agitator or for some other reason; the US does not give explanations. But he should know what use was made of his data. Plainly, the Government has some way to go to reinforce a culture of openness in private industry as well as public institutions. Good citizens must be free to engage in public-spirited campaigns without fearing for their rights.
Barred from America – John Stewart on US refusal to allow him to visit America
John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch and of HACAN, was denied entry to the USAon 29th September, though no reason was given and he qualified for entry under
the US visa waiver scheme. John questions how a a mysterious call was made by
some person or some organisation which had access to the flight’s passenger list,
alleging that he had made threats to the President; a call that ensured that he
would be subject to detailed questioning at JFK. 9.10.2011
Barred from America
I have been barred from America. Or, more precisely, I have been denied a visa
to do a series of talks about the successful campaign to stop a third runway at
London’s Heathrow Airport.
It all started in dramatic fashion when I was escorted off the plane by six armed
American policemen minutes after it had arrived at JFK Airport on Thursday 29th
September. I was rushed through customs past the waiting queues of passengers
straight to Immigration Hall. Over the next seven hours I was to remain there,
questioned by the Immigration Service, the FBI, and the American Secret Service
before being put on a plane back to Heathrow.
My papers had been in order. I was travelling on a Visa Waiver which the US
authorities encourage passengers to get if they are on relatively short visits
on business or to see family. I learnt from Fox News after I had arrived back
in Heathrow that, when I was in flight, a call had been made saying that a passenger
– myself – had made threats against President Obama –http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/delta-flight-investigated-after-threat-against-the-president-20110929-akd My Visa Waiver had been cancelled when I was in mid-flight.
The Police asked me about threats to the President as they rushed me through
customs but the threats hardly featured in my interviews with the Immigration
Service, the FBI and the Secret Service. When they discovered who I was they
were much more interested in my speaking tour. What seemed to worry them was
the fact that the Third Runway Campaign had included direct action, what the Americans
referred to as “civil disobedience”. They became particularly interested when
they realized that my fellow speaker in the tour was to be Dan Glass who, as member
of Plane Stupid, had taken direction action. (Dan is still waiting to hear whether
or not he will get a visa, months after applying).
I explained that the third runway campaign was led by residents; that direct
action formed just a part of it; that the direct action at all times was non-violent;
that I had not taken part in it; and that I had no criminal convictions. But
to no avail. The conversation with the FBI became surreal: concerns that I was
going to incite people at the meetings to engage in perhaps armed civil disobedience
against the airports. More details of the interviews can be found in this excellent
piece of investigative reporting by Kate Sheppard of the respected American journal
Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/environmentalist-terror-threat-john-stewart
But, in retrospect, the details of what I was or was not asked are not so important.
The fact remains that a mysterious call was made by some person or some organisation
which had access to the flights’ passenger list, alleging that I had made threats
to the President; a call that ensured that I would be subject to detailed questioning
at JFK. Was it somebody from the aviation industry or the security services themselves?
The question is posed in this news piece from ITN’s London Tonight: http://www.itv.com/london/arrested-at-jfk37177/ or http://youtu.be/1JSM0RHJ3ig
The feeling that some of the authorities did not want the Heathrow Story told
in the US was re-enforced when, back in London, I went to the American Embassy
to apply for a full visa. No, they said, not for this tour. If you want to come
back to the US at another time, for another reason, you can apply again. But
this case is closed.
Has Green Become the New Red in America? – by John Stewart
John was denied entrance into the USA on 29th September, after arrival at New York JFK airport, and six hours of questionning by the FBI, the American Secret Service and immigration officials. He asks “Just why are the authorities so keen to silence environmentalists?” The Bush Administration promoted the practice of excluding people from the US because of their beliefs: ideological exclusion. Has green become the new red, with environmentalists targetted?
I was denied entry to the United States on Thursday last week. I was coming
to America for a series of meetings and talks organized by the Aviation Justice
Express. I had been invited, along with Scottish community activist Dan Glass,
to talk about the successful campaign which defeated plans for a third runway
at London’s Heathrow Airport.
However I never made it beyond JFK Airport. I was escorted off the plane by
six law enforcement officers before being questioned for several hours by the
FBI, the American Secret Service and immigration officials. I was then sent straight
back to London. No reason was given.
I have now learnt via Fox News that I was alleged to have made some threats against
President Obama. That never came up in the questioning. I can only conclude
that this was simply an excuse to deny me entry to the country.
Just why are the authorities so keen to silence environmentalists? Has, as a
new book by Will Potter suggests, green become the new red? Are they now seeing
a green under every bed planting seeds of revolution and sowing sedition?
The campaign against the third runway at Heathrow was the most diverse ever assembled
anywhere in Europe to protest against an airport expansion. It included local
residents, many of whose politics are far to the right of President Obama, politicians
of all political parties as well as representatives of environmental NGOs and
green activists, some of whom took part in non-violent civil disobedience. It
was this coalition of interests, which I chaired, that persuaded Conservative-led
Government, when elected, to scrap the plans for the expansion of Heathrow.
The aviation industry in the UK, perhaps in the whole of Europe, had never suffered
such a reverse. Expansion at Europe’s busiest international airport had been
denied by a fiscally-conservative Government on the basis that the environmental
and economic arguments didn’t stack up.
If this process were to be repeated across Europe and the US, it would harm the
corporate interests of the aviation industry. Potter argues in Green is the New
Red that it is precisely to protect the profits of corporate interests that environmentalists
are being targeted. He has written, “Much like the Red Scare and the communist
witch hunts of the 40s and 50s, the Green Scare is using one word—this time, it’s
“terrorist”—to push a political agenda, instill fear, and chill dissent”.
There may be something else going on here as well. The Bush Administration promoted
the practice of excluding people from the US because of their beliefs: ideological
exclusion. Although the Obama administration has made some positive strides towards
putting an end to the practice, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing
that it should retire it for good.
A reduction in flying in the US would hit the profits of the aviation industry.
So a message which argues that flights should be curbed is one the American aviation
industry doesn’t want to hear. It would threaten its profits and corporate power.
It doesn’t want the public to know that high-speed rail could potentially provide
a realistic alternative to many short-distance flights in the US. Easier to silence
the messenger. But the message will be heard. The tour will go on. Dan Glass
and myself will be skyped into the events we were due to speak at across the country.
Abertis, the Spanish owner of Luton, Cardiff and Belfast International airports, may sell them. According to The Sunday Times, Abertis has decided to sell the 3 airports as part of a review of its €1 billion transport division, and Citi and AZ Capital have been appointed to review the division. Luton airport has been surrounded by controversy over its development plans with the local council opposing Abertis’ plans for its development. The Welsh government is reported to be on the verge of buying Cardiff airport, which has had a large drop in traffic during the past few years. Albertis’ airport assets in Bolivia were nationalised by President Evo Morales last week, and it has lost money in Spain in recent years. Campaigners at Luton said the timing of the sale was unfortunate, with the airport’s current planning application – for which planning permission has not been secured. The sale threatens the investment on which the airport’s hugely expensive expansion plans are based.
Comment from HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion)
Spanish infrastructure company Abertis is studying the possible sale of its airports division as part of its diversification strategy, Chief Executive Francisco Reynes said on Tuesday according to Reuters. London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL), the company which operates Luton Airport, is 90% owned by Abertis Infrastructuras S.A.
Abertis has asked Citigroup and AZ Capital to study options for its airports business, and is reportedly ”open to any option”, which could mean that part or all of the portfolio is sold. Abertis owns Cardiff and Belfast airports, though its interest in Luton is only in the operating concession, since the airport itself is owned by Luton Borough Council.
Andrew Lambourne of HALE said: “In terms of Luton Airport expansion the timing of this news couldn’t be worse, since it clearly threatens the investment on which their hugely expensive expansion plans are based. The airport has not yet secured its planning permission – and given the significant grounds for objection which range from apparent contravention of the local planning permissions and noise restrictions to huge concerns over public health and safety plus the unmodelled impacts on local road and rail infrastructure, this is not going to be an easy ride. And of course there is still uncertainty over whether the application is going to be called in, as it should be, for proper consideration as a national infrastructure project.
“In a climate where many business are consolidating rather than taking risks, particularly in an airport business so dependent on the future price of oil and on decisions by airlines who will be shopping around for the cheapest landing fees, a postponement of the planning application may well be in the best interests of Luton. The last thing Luton Borough Council would want is for them to overstretch and then go bust.”
Last year the Council initially announced that it would be terminating the operating concession and looking for a new operator prepared to invest in growth. The signs are that the hesitancy of LLAOL/Abertis to invest was based on the uncertainty over whether Abertis would continue to see value in its airport portfolio.
Luton airport is owned by the local council but operated by Abertis on a 30-year lease. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA
Three UK airports could change hands this year as part of a major review by their Spanish owners.
Cardiff airport is expected to be bought by the Welsh government next month, while Belfast airport and the contract to run Luton airport may also be sold.
Abertis, the company that owns the airports as part of a portfolio of 29 worldwide, is looking to pay down its €14.1bn (£12.2bn) debt pile by offloading its UK assets.
Bosses have already been negotiating with the Welsh government for the past three months over the sale of Cardiff airport and politicians are expected to make an offer in the next few weeks.
A spokesman for Abertis said: “We are conducting a review of all our airport businesses to see if a sale is possible. All options are open, including the sale of our UK airports.”
The company, which is the world’s largest toll road operator, has appointed Citi and AZ Capital to explore its options of selling off some non-core assets. Airports made up 8% of the group’s €4bn revenues in 2012.
The recent sales of Stansted and Edinburgh airports by Heathrow Airport Holdings for a combined £2.3bn are expected to be scrutinised by Abertis because both were sold for more than expected.
Last year Luton council, the owner of Luton airport which is run by Abertis on a 30-year lease and could be sold, threatened to scrap the contract unless the Barcelona-based company pledged to expand the airport.
That led to a £100m upgrade being agreed in August, with the hope of doubling passenger numbers to 18m a year.
Cardiff Airport has struggled in recent years, with passenger numbers halving in five years to 1 million. The Welsh government is planning to buy the airport for around £50m and is understood to have been conducting due diligence since November last year.
Belfast International has more than 4 million passengers and was purchased by Abertis in 1996 for £72m.
Abertis examines possible sale of airports division
Tue Feb 19, 2013 (Reuters)
* Plans expansion in Mexico and U.S.
* Posts flat core 2012 profit of €2.46 bln
* Targets 2013 core profit of €3.1 bln
* Shares up 0.2% (Adds potential airports sale, earnings targets)
MADRID, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Spanish infrastructure companyAbertis is studying the possible sale of its airports division as part of its diversification strategy, Chief Executive Francisco Reynes said on Tuesday.
Abertis, which also controls toll road and telecoms assets, has hired Citigroup and AZ Capital to study options for the business, valued by analysts at about 900 million euros ($1.2 billion).
“We’re open to any option,” Reynes told Reuters in a telephone interview, while adding that the company would continue to study growth opportunities in Mexico and the United States without ruling out further investments in Spain.
The company’s airport assets in Bolivia were nationalised by President Evo Morales on Monday, though Abertis said that the widely expected move had no impact on its results.
Abertis posted a 0.2 percent rise in full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to 2.46 billion euros ($3.28 billion) on Tuesday, with motorway traffic growth in Latin America offsetting declines in Spain and France.
The company has suffered from its exposure to Spain, where a deep recession and high unemployment have weighed on traffic and propelled its drive for international expansion.
Last year it bought highway concessions in Chile and Brazil from Spain’s OHL, with 60 percent of EBITDA now generated outside Spain.
The company said it is targeting EBITDA of 3.1 billion euros in 2013 and sales of 5.1 billion euros, up from sales of 4 billion euros in 2012.
Net profit this year is expected to be about 600 million euros, against 613 million euros in 2012, with net debt targeted at 14.3 billion euros, slightly more than 2012′s 14.1 billion.
Abertis, shares of which were up 0.2 percent at 12.73 euros by 1120 GMT, said it may increase its dividend in the future after a full-year 2012 payout of 0.66 euros per share. ($1 = 0.7490 euros)
(Reporting By Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tomás Cobo and David Goodman)
The company runs 6,713 kilometres of motorways in Europe and operates more than a dozen airports in cities including London, Stockholm and Orlando. Abertis manages toll roads and parking garages, is owner of various television and radio transmission networks as well as of the concessionaire of London Luton Airport. (Wikipedia)
Airport owners and retailers claim Chinese tour operators are “striking Britain from their itineraries” because of the UK’s “cumbersome” visa system, which is costing the UK economy £1.2bn in lost tourist revenue. (They are not blaming APD). The Airport Operators Association and the UK Travel Retail Forum have written to 4 cabinet ministers, including George Osborne and Theresa May, outlining the problem. Airport operators and retailers say Chinese visitors spend 9 times the amount of US visitors passing through duty free. The airports etc want the Government to simplify the UK’s visa regime because at present, Chinese visitors view the UK’s visa system as “expensive, bureaucratic and lacking in transparency”, and it is easier to visit Europe (which can be done on just one visa, which is cheaper than the UK visa). Currently, Chinese nationals wishing to visit Britain on holiday have to get their fingerprints taken at one of 12 authorities in China. They also have to fill out a lengthy application form and pay more than if they were to visit the Schengen area of 26 European countries.
The airport owners and retailers seem to have forgotten to mention anything the Chinese tourists spend outside the airport, and impacts on the wider economy. This story is just what the aiports get out of it … There is arebuttal from Home Secretary, Theresa Villiers
Chinese tour operators ‘striking Britain from itineraries’ over visa rules
Airport owners and retailers claim Chinese tour operators are “striking Britain from their itineraries” because of the UK’s “cumbersome” visa system, which is costing the UK economy £1.2bn in lost tourist revenue.
Airport owners and retailers say Chinese visitors spend nine times the amount of US visitors passing through duty free.
The Airport Operators Association, which represents UK airports, and the UK Travel Retail Forum, representing airport shops, have written to four cabinet ministers outlining the problem, including George Osborne, the chancellor and Theresa May, the home secretary.
The letter urges the Government to simplify the country’s visa regime or risk Chinese tour operators sending tourists elsewhere in Europe – with easier access rules. At present, Chinese visitors view the UK’s visa system as “expensive, bureaucratic and lacking in transparency”, the letter warns.
Currently, Chinese nationals wishing to visit Britain on holiday have to get their fingerprints taken at one of 12 authorities in China. They also have to fill out a lengthy application form and pay more than if they were to visit the Schengen area of 26 European countries, including France and Italy.
Last year, the Government announced some changes intended to simplify the rules, including that the visa application form would be translated into Chinese from April. But businesses warn the changes do not go far enough. Fewer than 200,000 Chinese visitors came to the UK in 2011, the AOA said.
The AOA said Chinese passengers are by far the highest spenders in airport stores, spending nine times as much as US passengers.
Darren Caplan, AOA chief executive, said: “A key cause of this unwillingness to travel here is our visa system, which people view as expensive, cumbersome and bureaucratic. Yet we know that the average Chinese spends heavily when they do visit the UK, on average £1,600 per head, at least twice that of any other visiting nation.
“This represents a huge source of potential revenue for the Treasury, and a shot in the arm to the UK airports sector and travel industry.”
He said that liberalising the visa system could see billions of pounds a year extra flow into the British economy.
Sarah Branquinho, UK Travel Retail Forum chair, said: “Chinese visitors who overcome the hurdles to obtain a UK visa are inclined to spend substantially in our airport shops.
“This is evidence that, as well as being highly motivated to visit Britain, many Chinese are both affluent and discerning, displaying an appetite for brands and products with heritage and tradition – precisely those brands and products that our airport retailers are able to offer them. Accordingly, any increase in the number of visits the Chinese make to Britain would benefit this vibrant retail sector and the employment it generates.”
Retail spend at UK airport outlets accounts for a third of non-aeronautical revenue. The joint letter said: “This substantial contribution is vital to the ability of our airports to support their infrastructure investment and to maintain competitive aeronautical fees in the face of growing European competition.”
It added: “The only beneficiaries of our continuing reluctance to implement appropriate improvements to the system are our overseas competitors.”
The Home Office said it had already made changes to improve the UK’s visa system for Chinese nationals and was committed to making the system flexible.
Some 94% of applications for visas from Chinese nationals are successful, and in 2011, the UKBA processed 283,000 Chinese visas, a spokesman said.
He added that in the year to September 2012, the number of Chinese visitors to the UK rose by 7%
Britain wants more Chinese tourists, as they are high spenders. However, it may be that getting a visa to the UK is more difficult and more expensive than a visa for Europe (one for the whole EU zone) and so they go there instead of getting a second visa, for the UK. Although the figures are disputed, at least 25-50% (or more) more Chinese tourists are believed to visit France than Britain. A UK visitor visa requires lengthy forms with original supporting documents and costs £78, compared with the €60 (£47.60) that buys access to the whole European Schengen zone. The UK visa also requires biometric data, which involves applications in person, although Europe will follow suit next year. IAG has joined in the complaints about the UK visa system, saying it is bad for business and deters Chinese businessmen. Much of the power lies in the hands of Chinese travel agents and middlemen who arrange visits abroad and have considerable influence on visa applications. So the lack of Chinese tourists is nothing to do with needing more runways, or needing to cut APD. More to do with the visa process.
‘Our Chinese visa system is a service to be proud of’
20 Feb 2013 (Home Office website)
Home Secretary Theresa May explains why Chinese visitors to the UK are increasing and how our visa system compares to Schengen countries.
‘Our Chinese visa system continues to provide an excellent service in terms of processing time, convenience and value for money. It is a service we can be proud of.
‘But the continued use of spurious figures and skewed perceptions of the way we run our visa system is damaging its reputation. And it is the very people who claim to be pro-growth who are guilty of spreading this harmful message.
Chinese visas: the facts
‘Let me give you the facts about our visa offer. We have seen strong and sustained growth in visitor numbers from China, issuing visas to more than 95 per cent of applicants – equating to more than 205,000 visit visas.
‘We require less documentation and have twice as many visa application centres as Schengen countries. On average our visa application form takes just 10 minutes to complete – and can be completed online. We already provide visa guidance in Mandarin and will be translating the form later this year. What’s more, a UK business visit visa costs just £10 more than a Schengen visa and offers far more flexibility, allowing multiple entries within six months, compared to the Schengen visa which allows only one entry.
‘This is hardly ‘complex and bureaucratic’, which is why 90 per cent of those who use the system are positive about the service.
‘There’s been much comparison between the UK and France. The truth is that the UK and France issue roughly the same number of visas. Simply joining Schengen is not a ‘silver bullet’ to getting more visitors.
‘The reason a Schengen visa is valid for 26 countries is because there are no border controls between these countries. Our controls in northern France and Belgium are key to ensuring that only those the UK wants are allowed to enter the UK. I do not believe that the British public want us to become part of the Schengen system. And I am not prepared to jeopardise the integrity of our borders.
‘After years of uncontrolled migration our visa system and borders must remain strong in order to prevent would-be illegal migrants. Collecting a biometric is vital to this, helping us to ‘lock’ an individual into an identity. Schengen countries do not require this added level of security, which is another reason why we cannot countenance joining them. In 2011 we stopped over 1000 people from illegally entering the UK as a direct result of biometric visas – and have deterred countless others.
Best and Brightest
‘This government remains committed to continuing to attract the brightest and best people to Britain while protecting our border and cutting down on the levels of abuse we saw in the past. The latest statistics show this is working. Net migration has fallen by a quarter while the number of talented and hard working people with the ability to drive forward growth increases.
‘We have listened to feedback and practical suggestions from business and tourist sectors and implemented changes.
‘The UK Government is committed to boosting the number of Chinese visitors.
‘To make the most of the vast opportunities in China requires a genuine joint effort between the UK government and business. Government is doing its part. Not only have we made improvements to the visa system, we have launched the first ever cross-government campaign to market the UK overseas. Working alongside the British Council and Visit Britain, theGREAT(Opens in a new window) campaign is our biggest ever investment in marketing the UK.
‘The debate on visas has gone on far too long with inaccuracies and untruths, and without consideration for the integrity of our borders. It is time for a sensible debate which considers both the economic benefit of visitors and the strength of our borders. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive – we can, and I believe, do achieve both.
‘We are open to the brightest and the best. We are open to visitors who want to enjoy all the wonderful sights and experiences this country offers.’