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HACAN Blog: Heathrow’s noise proposals are welcome, but beware a 3rd runway……

Writing in a blog for HACAN, John Stewart  welcomes the proposals by Heathrow Airport to reduce noise – through respite periods, steeper approaches, improved sound insulation and n fines for the noisier aircraft. Of course Heathrow understands that, unless it is shown to be dealing with noise, there is no possibility it will get approval for a new runway. HACAN has worked with Heathrow on a number of its proposals and it is in the interests of HACAN’s members get improvements to the current noise situation.  However, any improvements in the amount of aircraft noise are unlikely to survive the building of a third runway. The sheer number of planes would wipe out virtually all the benefits. With a third runway, the number of planes which could use Heathrow would rise from 480,000 to over 700,000. A four runway airport, such as the Policy Exchange is promoting (but which Heathrow believes is not necessary), would allow 960,000 aircraft to use the airport. History suggests that it is the increase in flight numbers which causes the real noise problems for residents.

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Heathrow’s noise proposals are welcome, but beware a 3rd runway……

May 30, 2013

Blog by John Stewart 

Heathrow Airport’s proposals to reduce noise, published today, are welcome. There is little doubt that, if they were implemented, they would cut noise for residents. Measures such as respite periods, steeper approaches, improved sound insulation and the plan to fine the noisier aircraft will improve the noise climate.

Some of the proposals, of course, are dependent on the cooperation of other bodies before they could be implemented. Steeper approaches, for example, would require permission from Government and the agreement of Air Traffic Control. But the intent is there: Heathrow Airport is proposing concrete measures which will improve matters for residents.

Of course Heathrow understands that, unless it is shown to be dealing with noise, there is no possibility it will get approval for a new runway. And that is part of the motivation of it producing them now and releasing them at this time – within a month it will be submitting its eagerly awaited plans for a third runway to the Airports Commission.

HACAN has worked with Heathrow on a number of its proposals – in particular the plans for introducing respite periods. Whatever our differences on expansion (and on night flights), it is in the interests of our members for us to get improvements to the current noise climate at the airport. We want to be able to point to practical improvements on the ground.

However, our belief remains that these improvements are unlikely to survive the building of a third runway. The sheer number of planes would wipe out virtually all the benefits. With a third runway, the number of planes which could use Heathrow would rise from 480,000 to over 700,000. A four runway airport, such as the Policy Exchange is promoting (but which Heathrow believes is not necessary), would allow 960,000 aircraft to use the airport.

History suggests that it is the increase in flight numbers which causes the real noise problems for residents. The big deterioration in the noise climate – and the big rise in HACAN’s membership – coincided with the last significant rise in flight numbers between about 1991 and 2001. It was a time when individual planes became quieter but that was off-set by the sheer volume of aircraft flying overhead. The chances are that the same thing would happen if a third runway was built.

Incidentally, the impact of a dramatic increase in flight numbers is not reflected in the annual noise contours published by the Government. That is because the metric used to measure noise annoyance assumes annoyance levels will remain the same if the number of aircraft operations are doubled so long as the individual aircraft noise levels are reduced. Not reflected in the reality on the ground.

John Stewart chairs HACAN and is the author of “Why Noise Matters”, published by Earthscan, 2011

http://hacan.org.uk/blog/?p=116

 

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See earlier

 

Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures, such as ranking airlines on noise

Date added: May 30, 2013

Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals that aim at “reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity”. These come in a report entitled “A quieter Heathrow” with the aim of defusing opposition to another runway (or two) by attempting to make Heathrow, as it is, a little less noisy for those who are now overflown. Heathrow’s efforts to cut noise come under the headings of quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities. Heathrow says it will rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are; it will increase fines for airlines that break noise limits; it will try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches. Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow. In reality, though new planes produced today are slightly quieter than older ones, the difference are not large. What those overflown notice is the sheer number of noise events. HACAN welcomed the programme of noise reductions -but  the huge increase in flight numbers from a new runway “would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”

Click here to view full story…

 

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Balfour Beatty may sell Exeter airport due to financial problems

Exeter airport was sold by Devon County Council to the airports group of British infrastructure company, Balfour Beatty, in early 2007. Now Balfour Beatty has started looking for buyers for its 60% stake, according to Sky news. The price is not known. Balfour Beatty has not been doing well in recent years, and they issued their second profits warning in six months, blaming “extremely tough” market conditions etc.  The airport has not been doing well. The number of travellers using Exeter Airport topped one million in 2007 but has been falling since then, though the rate of decline has slowed since 2009. In 2012 passenger numbers were down to  697,074, following a drop of nearly 4% in 2011.   About 250 people are directly employed by the airport, with a further 50 working at car parks, catering and retail concessions on the site.  The remaining shareholding in Exeter airport is owned by Galaxy, a specialist fund which is backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.

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Balfour Beatty looks to sell Exeter airport stake – Sky News

A Balfour Beatty construction worker walks onto a site in London August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Wed May 29, 2013 (Reuters)

British infrastructure company Balfour Beatty has started looking for buyers for its 60 percent stake in Exeter International Airport, Sky News reported on Tuesday.

The price of the stake sale, which is at an early stage, is still unclear, the report added.

The group warned last month that its 2013 profit would be significantly below its expectations, hit by worsening market conditions and poor operational performance at its UK construction arm.

The FTSE-250 company sold stakes in five private finance projects earlier this month, as its management team is speeding up a revamp of its asset portfolio, Sky News said on its website.

Balfour Beatty could not be reached for comment outside regular business hours.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/28/uk-balfourbeatty-stakesale-exeterairport-idUKBRE94R10T20130528

 

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Exeter Airport sale rumoured

29.5..203 (TravelMole)
Balfour Beatty is looking for a buyer for its 60% stake in Exeter International Airport, according to Sky News.

The construction company led a buy-out of the airport from Devon County Council for £60 million in 2007, but according to news reports it has begun early talks with parties who might be interested in buying its share.

In August last year, Balfour wrote down the value of its holding in Exeter Airport from £12m to zero, saying that “whilst underlying trading has not deteriorated we believe that the timing for recovery of passenger numbers has gone further out, particularly in the light of the imposition of increased Air Passenger Duty rates”.

The remaining stake is held by Galaxy, a specialist fund backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.

http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2006605

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Plymouth airport debate reignited

 May 30, 2013 ( Plymouth Herald)
 

TRANSPORT links to Plymouth have once again come under the spotlight as speculation mounts over the future of Exeter International Airport.

Majority shareholder Balfour Beatty is reportedly sounding out potential bidders for its 60 per cent stake in the airport.

And the group battling to reinstate Plymouth’s closed down airfield says it shows the city should have been at the hub of aviation to the region.

The news comes just days after Flybe, the West Country’s last remaining airline announced it had sold its arrival and departure slots at Gatwick Airport to Easyjet.

Plymouth City Airport closed in 2011 and campaign group Viable is now attempting to take it over from leaseholders Sutton Harbour Holdings.

Viable spokesman Raoul Witherall said: “Viable has been making the case for a long time that the aviation fundamentals in the South West are strongest in Plymouth, and Exeter and Newquay have question marks over them.”

Newquay Airport confirmed earlier this month that its passenger numbers had fallen by a fifth for five years running.

The Cornish airport has seen a drop of 25,000 passengers in the last two years, with city-based campaigners blaming the demise of Plymouth’s airport on its struggle.

Now it has emerged that Balfour Beatty is understood to be keen to offload its stake in Devon’s only airport, at Exeter, amid pessimism about the prospects for a recovery in passenger numbers.

About 250 people are directly employed by the airport, with a further 50 working at car parks, catering and retail concessions on the site.

The remaining shareholding in Exeter airport is owned by Galaxy, a specialist fund which is backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.

Devon County Council sold the airport in 2007 to a consortium led by Balfour Beatty for £60million.

The likely value of any deal to sell the FTSE250-listed group’s stake is unclear, as is the identity of any interested parties.

In August, Balfour wrote down the value of its stake in the airport from £12million to zero, stating that “while underlying trading has not deteriorated we believe that the timing for recovery of passenger numbers has gone further out, particularly in the light of the imposition of increased Air Passenger Duty rates”.

The number of travellers using Exeter Airport topped one million in 2007 but has been falling since then, though the rate of decline has slowed since 2009.

Last year passenger numbers were down nearly two per cent, to 697,074, following a drop of nearly four per cent in 2011.

In the longer term, the airport’s master plan projects traffic levels reaching 3.25 million passengers a year.

Balfour Beatty declined to comment on Sky News reports that it is seeking bidders for its stake in the airport.

A spokesman for Exeter Airport said: “We cannot comment on any such speculation, which is an issue for the parent company.

“As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual for our staff and passengers.”

The sale process is reported to be at an early stage and follows two profit warnings from Balfour Beatty in the space of six months.

The loss of Plymouth’s airport coincided with heavy flooding in other parts of Devon which saw rail links to the city cut off during severe weather last year.

Now rail bosses have devised plans to end the repeated passenger misery at flooding blackspot Cowley Bridge, near Exeter.

Network Rail, the state quango which runs the track, has drawn up a programme of ten projects to avoid interminable delays on the western route if heavy rain returns.

Action to reduce the frequency of flooding at Cowley Bridge is the most significant of the schemes, which will cost £31million in total.

The proposal is now with the Department for Transport, which will decide whether to sign off on extra funding for the 10 schemes after ordering Network Rail to carry out the post-flooding review.

The resilience of the rail network is now seen as even more important following the loss of Plymouth’s air link, and the region having just one fully dualled road into the far South West despite long-standing calls for improvements.

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Fresh-concerns-Plymouth-s-transport-link-Exeter/story-19131577-detail/story.html#axzz2Ul0hzPrj

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And a bit of history:

 

Airport Sold for £60 million to RCA

Friday 05 January 2007

DEVON County Council has sold Exeter International Airport for £60 million to Regional and City Airports (Exeter) Ltd (RCA) in a deal described as good news for the airport’s future and the county economy.

RCA brings both the investment expertise and infrastructure development skills of Balfour Beatty, the UK’s leading engineering, construction and services group, and the airport operational skills of London City Airport to the task of building on the airport’s impressive growth record of recent years.

RCA say they want Exeter to become “the natural airport of choice for the region.” RCA was the unanimous choice of the County Council’s all-party steering group, chaired by Cllr Greenslade, which has overseen the sale process.

As part of the sale London City Airport will provide additional management expertise through a technical services agreement to support the further growth and development of Exeter International Airport.

The County Council will retain a “golden share” and a non executive seat on the board of Exeter International Airport. The golden share will protect the Council’s interests by requiring the new owners to provide and maintain airport facilities to a set of objective criteria based on Civil Aviation Authority regulations and Department for Transport security regulations.

Councillor Greenslade said “RCA were the unanimous choice of the all party steering group which has overseen the sale process.  I am grateful to the steering group and County Council officers and advisors for the work that has been done. The bid submitted by RCA was outstanding and we are confident that the future success of Exeter International Airport for the people of the county and the Devon economy will be assured. It is also very good news for the mployees of EIA and the airlines that use the airport. Regional and City Airports have an excellent track record at London City Airport not least in terms of the care they take to be good neighbours to the community who live around the airport. We are assured that they will take the same care with operating Exeter International Airport.

I would also like to pay tribute to the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, the management and staff of Exeter International Airport who under the ownership of Devon County Council have taken the Airport from a loss making position, which was subsidised by the County Council, to an operating profit position which has made it such an attractive asset for sale. In saying this I would pay tribute to our local airline Flybe who have shown confidence in Exeter International Airport and helped to grow the operations at Exeter to a level we could have only dreamed of a few years ago.”

Cllr Richard Westlake, Chairman of the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, said: “Exeter International Airport has gone from strength to strength under Devon County Council’s stewardship. I would like to thank the airport management and staff for the great contribution they have made to the airport’s development. I look forward to Exeter International Airport achieving even greater success under the ownership of Regional and City Airports.”

Balfour Beatty Statement

Commenting on the deal, RCA Director of Airport Management, John Spooner, said: “This is a great start to the new year for the airport, for RCA and for Flybe. Together, we have a vision for Exeter International Airport, in which it becomes the natural airport of choice for the region. We aim to deliver an efficient, high-quality service and offer excellent value for money.

Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction and services group, announced that Regional and City Airports (RCA), its specialist airport investment and development group, has completed the acquisition of Exeter and Devon International Airport Ltd, which owns Exeter International Airport, for a consideration of £60 million.

The acquisition is being financed through £31 million of equity, with Balfour Beatty as the lead investor. The remainder of the consideration will be satisfied by limited recourse borrowings, with HSBC as financial adviser and lead arranger. London City Airport, through a technical services agreement, will be Balfour Beatty’s operational partner at the airport.

Commenting on the sale, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler, said: “Exeter International Airport is one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the UK and it is anticipated it will handle over a million passengers in 2006/2007. We anticipate further strong growth in passenger numbers and have a clear operational and development plan for the airport over the long term, which takes our growth forecasts fully into account. Our vision for Exeter International Airport is that it should become the airport of choice for the region.”

Exeter International Airport is positioned within a strong local economy with a high propensity to fly and has significant opportunities to increase both its share of the regional market and the use of the airport by the population in the surrounding area. The airport will be substantially redeveloped with new terminal facilities, new aircraft stands and, in the longer term, further  terminal capacity, stand and taxiway development.
It is anticipated that a new departures building will be constructed by 2010.

The initial development phase will also include improvements to the airport’s surface access, stand and apron enhancements and an increase in car parking capacity. In the longer term, further terminal and ancillary facilities expansion is envisaged to be carried out over three phases.

http://www.exeter-airport.co.uk/archived-news?item=24

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Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures, such as ranking airlines on noise

Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals that aim at “reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity”. These come in a report entitled “A quieter Heathrow” with the aim of defusing opposition to another runway (or two) by attempting to make Heathrow, as it is, a little less noisy for those who are now overflown. Heathrow’s efforts to cut noise come under the headings of quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities.  Heathrow says it will rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are; it will increase fines for airlines that break noise limits; it will try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches. Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow. In reality, though new planes produced today are slightly quieter than older ones, the difference are not large. What those overflown notice is the sheer number of noise events. HACAN welcomed the programme of noise reductions but – the huge increase in flight numbers from a new runway “would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”

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Heathrow to rank airlines on noise pollution

Crowds building in Barnes ahead of anti-expansion rally 
Residents complained about noise levels at a protest last month
 30 May 2013 (BBC)

Bosses at London’s Heathrow Airport are to rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are as part of a plan to try to make the area quieter.

Heathrow chiefs also want to increase fines for airlines that break noise limits and try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches.

Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow.

A Fly Quiet programme is to begin later this year.

Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) welcomed the programme but said residents were still opposed to the prospect of expanding the airport.

‘Matter of contention’

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and, as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.”

He said the airport would continue to work with airlines, traffic control company Nats, policy makers and residents to reduce noise further while “safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides”.

A report published by the Independent Transport Commission on Wednesday on the future of Britain’s aviation infrastructure highlighted the fact that the area around Heathrow is more densely populated than Stansted or Gatwick.

It said, at the moment, the noisiest aircraft may not be scheduled to land or take off during the “night period” (23:00 to 07:00) and during the “night quota period” (23:30 to 06:00) aircraft movements are limited both by number and by a noise quota.

It added: “The noise from these early-morning, long-haul arrivals has long been a matter of contention for households around Heathrow.”

Last month, at a protest against the possibility of expanding Heathrow, west London residents spoke of the noise from early-morning flights.

John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “These measures are welcome and will improve the noise climate for residents.

“But all the good work could be undone if a third runway was built and the huge increase in flight numbers would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”

Councillor Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: “It looks as though Heathrow is beginning to listen to the council and residents who have said loudly and clearly in our consultation that they want a better not bigger Heathrow.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22711211

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Heathrow to name and shame noisy airlines

Heathrow airport plans to name and shame noisy airlines for the first time.

An aircraft comes in to land at Heathrow Airport in west London

The two-runway airport said its new noise reduction measures are part of ongoing efforts to work with local communities Photo: Reuters

30 May 2013  (Telegraph)

Airlines found guilty of breaking noise limits will also face bigger fines in excess of £1,000, under plans published on Thursday.

The airport, which is the focus of a fierce debate over whether it should be allowed to build extra runways, has unveiled a series of proposals to reduce the impact of noise on local communities.

It plans to rank the 80 airlines that use Heathrow according to how much noise their aircraft produce during take-off and publish a league table every three months via its website.

Heathrow is also in discussions with airlines over a more draconian regime of fines if aircraft break the maximum number of decibels allowed during certain times of the day.

The two-runway airport said its new noise reduction measures are part of ongoing efforts to work with local communities.

However, the proposals are likely to be seen as a charm offensive ahead of a renewed expansion campaign. Heathrow recently told the Government-backed Airports Commission that a third runway would be sufficient to solve Britain’s aviation capacity problems for the “foreseeable future”.

Noise produced by aircraft using Heathrow affects more people than any other airport in Europe. The impact on local communities has been a major sticking point in the airport’s campaign for expansion.

Colin Matthews, the chief executive of Heathrow, insisted the measures are “not about adding new runways at Heathrow”.

But he added: “Heathrow recognises if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.”

Heathrow argues that it is “significantly quieter” than it was four decades ago and improvements in technology will lead to aircraft becoming quieter still. The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.

Heathrow is also testing other potential ways of minimising noise, such as aircraft landing at a steeper angle so they don’t fly so close above residential areas.

A new scheme to better insulate schools is also under consideration and the airport is working with the national air traffic control service NATS to test different departure routes.

Fines for aircraft that break maximum noise levels currently range between £500 and £1,000. Maximum levels are set according to the time of day, with fewer decibels allowed during the night.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10087618/Heathrow-to-name-and-shame-noisy-airlines.html

Comments under the article :

It is not just schools that suffer the noise nuisance!  Anyone living near the flight path let alone under the flight path have their days and nights routinely disturbed by excessive aircraft noise.  No platitudes or meaningless consultations will alter the fact that it is just unacceptable.  It is completely impractical to insulate homes and schools and business premises to a level that excludes aircraft noise.  Indeed, why should people living under or near the flight path have to keep their windows shut all day and all night and be denied the enjoyment of their gardens or nearby parks because of excessive noise from aircraft?

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and another says:

Two new less noisy planes will not replace the thousands of older noisier models… also steeper landings will be unpopular with passengers and also dictated by wind and weather conditions which will largely outlaw them!

This is just a pre-sell to gain support… but it will fail!

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and another says:

” The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and
the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.”

This has primarily been based on the ICAO noise certification system which relies on standardised tests with microphones at fixed positions. In the case of landing approaches the monitor is 2 km from touchdown and efforts to reduce noise there may be irrelevant to the experience suffered by those further away. Residents in vocal neighbourhoods 9 to 12 km from the airport (Barnes) may find that a new Rolls-Royce powered A380 is as noisy or noisier than the old Boeing 747 jets it is meant to replace.

Heathrow does not yet have a network of monitors to measure the disturbances caused to many of the communities badly affected by its planes. Sydney and Chicago do much more to gain an accurate measure of their impact on their neighbours.

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Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures

30 May 2013 (Heathrow Airport press release)

 

  • Airlines to be ranked on noise performance
  • New noise insulation scheme being piloted
  • Airport to propose significant increase in noise fines

Heathrow today publishes ‘A quieter Heathrow’, a report setting out Heathrow’s commitments to reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity.

In the report, Heathrow makes a range of new commitments on noise which include publicly ranking airlines on ‘noise performance’, trialling new departure routes with NATS, proposing to trial steeper approaches into Heathrow, establishing a new noise insulation scheme to replace the existing schemes, exploring innovative solutions to noise insulation for schools such as ‘adobe’1 buildings and proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits.

As well as connecting the UK to long-haul markets around the world and supporting more than 100,000 local jobs, Heathrow recognises that an airport of its size has downsides for people living nearby, in particular aircraft noise. ‘A quieter Heathrow’ brings together a range of measures to meet the Government’s aspiration ‘to strike a fair balance between the negative impacts of noise and the positive economic impacts of flights’2.

The report focuses on five areas:

quieter planes,

quieter operating procedures,

noise mitigation and land-use planning,

operating restrictions and

working with local communities.

These measures mean that aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are on average 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines which land at other world airports.

Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow, says: ‘Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise. We will continue to work with airlines, NATS, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise whilst safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides.’

‘A quieter Heathrow’ is not about adding new runways at Heathrow. It sets out important steps that can, and are, being taken now to reduce aircraft noise. However, Heathrow recognises that if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.

Heathrow’s actions to reduce the impact of noise include:

Quieter planes: Heathrow encourages the quietest aircraft through higher charges for the noisiest aircraft and reduced charges for the quietest aircraft. The airport will be proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits and, later this year, launching a ‘Fly Quiet’ programme which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise performance at Heathrow.

Quieter operating procedures: Heathrow operates runway alternation, uses Continuous Descent Approach and ‘Noise Preferential Routes’. New trials will include a departure route trial, investigating the impact of ending the practice of ‘westerly preference’ and proposing to trial steeper approaches as part of the next night noise regime. Heathrow will also propose a significant increase in noise fines for aircraft that exceed departure noise limits at night.

Noise mitigation and land-use planning: The airport offers noise insulation for community buildings and homes, financial assistance with relocating to ‘quieter’ areas and campaign for local planning authorities to restrict new developments in the noisiest areas. From 2014, we plan to launch a new ‘Quieter Homes’ programme incorporating lessons from a pilot we are currently running.

Operating restrictions: The number of ‘night flights’ permitted at Heathrow is restricted by an annual ‘cap’ and there are noise restrictions on aircraft departing late at night and early in the morning. Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place for arrivals scheduled to land between 4.30am and 6am not to touch down before 4.30am. In addition, departures are not scheduled between 11pm and 6am.

Working with local communities: The airport works with local authorities and resident groups such as HACAN to trial new operational procedures that could provide noise respite, keep residents up to date through a dedicated noise website and use proceeds from noise fines to fund local community projects. A new social media service will be launched to update residents on unscheduled changes to operations which may impact on noise and aim to continually improve Heathrow’s global ranking for community engagement on aircraft noise, benchmarked by independent analysis.

These actions mean that Heathrow today is significantly quieter than it was four decades ago. Since the early 1970s, when the jet age began, both the area and the number of people within Heathrow’s noise footprint have fallen around tenfold3. This is despite the fact that during the same period the number of aircraft using Heathrow each year has nearly doubled and the number of dwellings within the footprint has also increased significantly. The fall in population within each contour has continued in recent years, as the newest generation of aircraft like the A380 ‘superjumbo’ has started to enter service with airlines.

Recent research by industry-body Sustainable Aviation suggests that this trend will continue. Its Noise Road-Map suggests that by 2050 advances in aircraft technology will allow the number of flights in the UK to double without an increase in aircraft noise4.

- Ends –

Notes to editor:

 

 

1Adobes are igloo-like shelters constructed from bags of earth and plaster. They can accommodate approximately 30 people and their construction and shape can help reduce aircraft noise. Heathrow has recently worked with Hounslow Heath Primary School to part-fund the installation of Adobe buildings in its playground, to allow pupils to study outside, without being disturbed by aircraft noise. Heathrow is looking at how it could adopt this approach with other schools around Heathrow. [Details and photo at link ]

Department for Transport, Aviation policy framework, 22 March 2013, p.55

3Based on CAA data presented to T5 Inquiry and supplemented by ERCD Report 1201 Noise Exposure Contours for Heathrow Airport 2011. http://www.heathrowairport.com/static/Heathrow_Noise/Downloads/PDF/ERCD-Reports-1201-Noise-Exposure-Contours-for-Heathrow-Airport-2011.pdf

4Sustainable Aviation Noise Road-map, 23 April 3013.

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http://mediacentre.heathrowairport.com/Press-releases/Heathrow-publishes-commitments-on-noise-reduction-measures-57f.aspx

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Stanwell Councillor ridicules Heathrow ‘naming and shaming’

By Chris Caulfield
June 05, 2013  (Get Surrey)

NAMING and shaming noisy airlines and plans to fine them up to £1,000 for breaches of acceptable levels have been dismissed as a “cosmetic exercise”.

Stanwell and Stanwell Moor’s new Labour county councillor, Robert Evans, has slammed the proposals, issued by Heathrow Airport on May 29 against increasing noise for people living near the runways.

The report, A Quieter Heathrow, sets out plans to trial new departure routes, steeper landings and a ‘significant’ increase in fines for airlines that cause excess noise in an attempt to show that expansion and noise reduction could potentially go hand in hand.

Heathrow’s chief executive officer, Colin Matthews, said the airport was “at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise” and that despite flight levels almost doubling since the 1970s, fewer people were affected by noise.

Cllr Evans, whose own party pushed through plans to expand the airport to the north and build a third runway before being voted out at the last general election, compared the plans to “window dressing”.

“Heathrow’s plans for addressing noise pollution are merely a cosmetic exercise to soften the area up for expansion,” he said.

“A voluntary code for airlines and a £1,000 fine for the noisiest aeroplanes is simply not good enough.”

Instead, Cllr Evans, a former MEP, favours a complete and properly enforced ban on flights between 11pm and 6am.

He said: “Heathrow is alone among Europe’s airports in having evolved in such a built-up area. As such, it is beholden to recognise the plight of people living in the worst-affected areas, like Stanwell Moor.

“In addition, there should be better grants for double and triple glazing to homes on the flight paths.

“Heathrow is a big employer in this area and its future is hugely important to the local community. For these reasons, noise pollution, the health and wellbeing of the community is a major issue locally.”

The report focuses on five areas: quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with communities.

These measures, operators say, mean aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are, on average, 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines that land at other world airports.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2135130_councillor_ridicules_heathrow_naming_and_shaming

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 Comments from AirportWatch members 

The report seems to be very honest and as such it probably will inspires hope in many who read it. However, at East Midlands we’ve experienced similar media spins and the honest answer is that it simply doesn’t work and nor it it ever likely to do so. The newer and relatively quieter aircraft still intrude, more especially so during the night and shoulder periods and if we ever have a summer with outdoor meals and entertainment the nuisance will continue to be 24/7.

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EU limits on air pollution are already being breached in a couple of places round Heathrow; imagine the pollution levels with 3/4 runways. How do Colin Matthews & Co think they are going to get round this.  I read a few years ago that the DfT were contemplating a tunnel over the M4 to reduce air pollution that a third runway would bring!  With 4 runways they will no doubt have to put a tunnel over the M25 as well.

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I would agree that it “seems” plausible – but fear it is cleverly spun to inspire hope.The “quieter planes” myth is very much based on the ICAO certification classification – and I am still unconvinced that the 2km from touchdown measurement for approach landings that defines the certification is very relevant to the actual experience of the majority of the population who are disturbed by flights dropping into Heathrow. Nor do those communities have much noise monitoring of what is actually happening in their areas (the official monitors are all in narrow arcs close to the airport – primarily to catch take-off noise).

Heathrow also peddles the importance of maintaining daily runway alternation to provide respite with one hand while advocating removing it to provide “operational freedoms” and early morning capacity with the other.

I regret that the suggestions of more extensive independent noise monitoring that were mooted in the draft aviation framework seem to have got lost in the published final version.

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It might soon become very quiet if the planes actually doubled their
approach angle as shown in the misleading “steeper approach” diagram
on page 25 !!

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For “quieter planes” etc. read “marginally less-noisy planes” etc. The rate of improvement in noise performance, especially for landings, is almost zero these days: though it can be measured with sensitive instruments the improvement is barely discernible with the Mk. 1 detector.  As is the industry’s habitual practice they’ll simply dump a few more movements onto the runway(s), working on the thoroughly discreditable “noise budget” approach – the same unpleasant approach which permits them to carry forward unused quota units from one period into the next – “because we didn’t make so much noise as we bid for last time, we can make a bit more this time”.
The likely gains through steeper approaches may prove illusory for most airports, even if a 5.5 degree CDA can be flown right up to the point where the aircraft is flared for landing, where the nearest dwellings to the touchdown point can be as small as 2.5kms even where a displaced threshold can be contrived. Reverse thrust is likely to be needed to avoid running out of runway, with an aircraft full of passengers, shifting the noise burden further towards the distant end of the runway. The real beneficiaries are likely to be the manufacturers and repairers of aircraft landing-gear, brakes and tyres: lots more kinetic energy to be absorbed, methinks, and sometimes (as at City) an energetic landing causes the nose-gear to collapse – we haven’t heard many cheers of support for steeper approaches from the airframe builders.
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Claims were made at a Heathrow Holdings meeting last week that they may be coming forward with new proposals; possibly with a third runway being sited either to the west or south of the airport.They might also want the “option” of a fourth runway.Of course they do! Their assumption is that noise is the main barrier to expansion and no consideration is given to the increase in air pollution that a third runway(and an additional twenty million vehicle journeys) would bring nor where the extra traffic would go on the ever more congested roads in West London.
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More hype from Heathrow, exactly the same sort of bilge issuing from another airport press office, a la ‘fuel-sipping, whisper-quiet aircraft’ variety…

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Think tank, Independent Transport Commission, recommends one hub airport, at Heathrow, Stansted or Thames Estuary

A charity land use and transport think tank, the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), have produced a report – to be submitted to the Airports Commission, on airport capacity. The ITC report says one major hub airport is needed, in order to compete with European rival airports. Heathrow cannot be left as it is.  They say using two London airports to share the load will not do.  They also say that if that hub is not Heathrow, then Heathrow would need to close, in order to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business. Closing Heathrow would have immense implications, with 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport.  Its closure would have impacts on their families and the communities in which they live  - but release a huge area of land (some 1,200 acres for profitable re-development….. though a town the size of Peterborough would be needed for the new hub airport. Their report follows a call for evidence last summer.  The ITC’s key worry seems to be that “…we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.” 

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29 May 2013 (Independent Transport Commission press release)

INDEPENDENT TRANSPORT COMMISSION (ITC) RECOMMENDS A SINGLE INTERNATIONAL HUB AIRPORT FOR THE UK

The Independent Transport Commission (ITC) announces the launch of its report, Flying into the Future: Key issues for assessing Britain’s aviation infrastructure needs.”

The report is based on the wide range of submissions received by the ITC in response to its Call for Evidence during Autumn 2012. The key findings are as follows:

First, the report identifies the crucial importance of good aviation connectivity for the
UK economy and jobs. The report concludes that investing in our aviation infrastructure is a
critical challenge that must be met if the UK is to maintain investment from growing
economies such as China and India. We face capacity constraints in both long-haul and
short-haul travel, particularly in South-East England.

Second, the report notes that short-haul connectivity can be improved by developing our regional airports, close to local and regional catchment areas.

But third, improving long-haul connectivity – and even maintaining the UK’s position in the
face of growing competition from rival European airports – means ensuring that the UK
continues to host a top-tier European hub airport. This means an airport with
significantly more capacity than Heathrow today.

The report rejects alternative suggestions such as 2 small hubs, or connecting different airports as a “virtual hub”: they would not compete effectively and would leave the UK increasingly dependent on connections via 3rd country hubs in order to reach global destinations.

The report suggests the most likely sites for an improved hub are Heathrow, Stansted or the Thames Estuary. It recognises that any decision will be contentious and that the Airports Commission and the Government will need to balance many factors.

But it highlights 4 major issues:

Closing Heathrow: the ITC concludes that if a major new hub is developed at Stansted
or in the Thames Estuary, Heathrow will almost certainly have to close. This will have
major implications, and needs far more attention than it has yet received.

Costs and charges: on the basis of preliminary, broad-brush, estimates, the ITC fears
that airlines and passengers might face charges at a new Estuary Airport more than
twice those for an expanded Heathrow, and two-thirds more than at an expanded
Stansted. It is essential that far more robust costings are produced for all options and
the implications for charges and international competitiveness clearly understood.

A new town? Building a major new hub, whether at Stansted or elsewhere, could require
urban development including homes, schools, and local transport. The ITC estimates the
size of such development would be on the scale of a new Peterborough for a 4-runway
hub. This needs to be considered as much as the airport itself.

Noise is the biggest local issue, particularly for Heathrow. But the report notes that
planes are getting quieter and proposes an assessment of whether a package of
measures – perhaps including moving the runways westward – would enable Heathrow to
provide the extra connectivity needed while also reducing the problem of noise for
Londoners.

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The report is being submitted to the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.

The ITC will consider what further research should be commissioned to follow up particular issues of importance, with a view to assisting policy makers on this vital economic and infrastructure decision.

The report will be published on the ITC website at: www.theitc.org.uk.
Independent Transport Commission  is Registered Charity: 1080134

http://www.theitc.org.uk/docs/99.pdf


The ITC report:

Flying into the Future: Key issues for assessing Britain’s Aviation infrastructure needs

(May 2013)      title= Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)   41 pages


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29 May 2013 (BBC)

Heathrow ‘would need to close’ under airport plans

Stephen Hickey
Stephen Hickey said London Heathrow was losing its advantage to European competitors

If the government decides to expand Stansted or build a new estuary airport to form the UK’s major air hub Heathrow Airport will need to close, a transport think tank has said.

The Independent Transport Commission said a major capacity airport is needed to compete with European rivals.

It said Heathrow would have to close to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business.

Its report will be submitted to the government’s Airports Commission.

‘Major impacts’

The commission’s report, which a number of bodies – including airport protest groups and airport authorities – contributed to, concluded that one major hub is needed.

It discounted the idea of a dual airport dubbed ‘Heathwick’, developing competing hubs across the UK or keeping the status quo at Heathrow.

Stephen Hickey, from the Independent Transport Commission, said: “Heathrow has now been overtaken by many of its competitors on mainland Europe and that will be a loss to the UK and London.

“At the moment we have the benefit of one of Europe’s top hub airports.

“The risk is we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.”

In September, the government launched a review of how the UK might expand its airport capacity in the South East.

Options included adding a third runway at Heathrow, adding a second runway at Gatwick and building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

‘Prime location’

The report, Flying into the Future, stated: “In the event of a decision to develop a major hub airport at either locations [Stansted or the Thames Estuary], we do not see how the current Heathrow could continue to operate.

“The majority of our respondents share this view.”

It said it does not believe enough consideration has been given to the possible loss of jobs or the potential cost of compensating airline businesses which have invested in Heathrow.

Closing Heathrow would have “major impacts on the 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport as well as their families and the communities in which they live”, it said.

But it added that releasing some 1,200 hectares of land – the size of Kensington and Chelsea – could offer “unparalleled opportunity for redevelopment for housing and other uses in a prime west London location”.

Respondents to the Independent Transport Commission included residents group HACAN, Richmond Heathrow Campaign, Transport for London, Gatwick Airport and Heathrow Airport.

The commission is funded by a range of donors, Mr Hickey said, including airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Airports Commission will make its final report to the government in the summer of 2015.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22694466

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Thames Estuary hub ‘would need Heathrow to close’

Closure of Heathrow would give investors confidence by forcing airlines to move airports. Picture: BAA Airports Limited

Closure of Heathrow would give investors confidence by forcing airlines to move airports. Picture: BAA Airports Limited

May 29, 2013  (London 24)

Heathrow Airport would have to close if a so-called “Boris Island” Estuary hub were to be built to improve the UK’s airport capacity, according to a new report.

Far more attention needs to be paid to the consequences for the west London gateway of expanding elsewhere, an Independent Transport Commission study suggests.

The report, which is to be submitted to the government’s Davies commission on airport capacity, says development at Stansted may have similar implications – in both cases closure would be necessary to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business.

Charges at a Thames Estuary airport would likely be twice those at an expanded Heathrow, and 65 per cent more than at a developed Stansted, the study argues.

Though authors admit these figures are just “prelimary, broad brush” estimates.

They add that the prospect of a new “Peterborough-sized” town being built up around a new four-runway hub airport should be taken more deeply into consideration.

The report is based on a range of submissions to the ITC, from respondents including Transport for London, Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and anti-Heathrow expansion campaign groups.

The government’s commission on airport capacity, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to report in mid-2015.

http://www.london24.com/news/transport/thames_estuary_hub_would_need_heathrow_to_close_1_2213891

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Earlier

In Summer 2012 the ITC put out a call for evidence on:

Aviation Futures: What are the strategic choices for aviation capacity in the UK?

This Call for Evidence was launched in July 2012 on the subject ‘Aviation Futures: What are the strategic choices for aviation capacity in the UK?‘ [Please see this linked page for information.] [No linked page is given ... AW].   The consultation was designed to provide insights into the challenges facing UK Aviation Strategy, and to inform the ITC’s research on this subject. The submission was followed by a number of oral evidence hearings at Rothschild during November 2012.

The Questions on which submissions were sought included:

  • Is there a need for greater aviation connectivity and capacity in the UK, and of what type? i. Is there a need for greater ‘hub’ capacity or not? ii. Is the need limited to South-East England or more widespread?
  • Over what timescales do we need to solve our aviation needs, both in the short and the longer term?
  • What would be the implications of failing to provide additional capacity?
  • What are the key criteria for determining environmental acceptability of any development?
  • If more capacity is needed, what are the main options to solve this and what are the issues they raise?

Submissions: We received many excellent responses and are grateful to all who contributed. A list of submissions may be requested from the ITC Secretariat, but due to the submission of sensitive information we do not intend to publish responses online.

.http://theitc.org.uk/docs/38.pdf

The ITC Call for Evidence posed five key questions.

First, is there a need for greater aviation capacity in the UK, and of what type?

Second, over what timescale do we need to solve our aviation needs?

Third, what are the risks of failing to provide additional capacity?

Fourth, what are the key criteria for determining environmental acceptability of any development?

And finally, if more capacity is needed, what are the main options to solve this and what are the issues they raise?

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The ITC

The list of commissioners of the ITC is at http://www.theitc.org.uk/dyn.php?page=3

The list of patrons of the ITC is at http://www.theitc.org.uk/54_Patrons.html

The list of funders (including many airports) of the ITC is at http://www.theitc.org.uk/5_Funding.html

 

The ITC say their mission statement is:

Mission

The Independent Transport Commission is committed to providing insight and analysis of long-term strategic issues facing the fields of transport and land use. Our mission is to explore the long-term consequences of current policy, consider new approaches and make recommendations on the way forward.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lydd airport expansion decision to be challenged at the High Court by RSPB and LAAG

Plans for expansion at Lydd airport were initially proposed in 2010, and were given the go-ahead by the government in April after a public inquiry.  Now campaigners opposed to development at Lydd have lodged an appeal against the government decision.  The airport wants a runway extension of almost 300m and a new terminal, and development to allow up to 500,000 passengers per year, up from hardly any now. The RSPB and Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) have lodged separate appeals. The RSPB says that the area where the  airport is situated, Dungeness, is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world – it is protected at global, European and UK levels. “The stakes are too high to risk the future of one of our best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which we consider to be flawed.”  The airport would damage the wildlife and landscape. LAAG argues the expansion plan is unsafe due to the airport being in such close proximity to Dungeness nuclear power station.

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28 May 2013  (BBC)

Lydd Airport: RSPB appeals over expansion

Lydd Airport terminal design
Lydd Airport bosses want the airport to take up to 500,000 passengers a year
 

Campaigners opposed to development at Lydd Airport in Kent have lodged an appeal against a government decision to allow the airport to expand.

The £25m project, also known as London Ashford Airport, includes a runway extension of almost 300m (328yds) and a new terminal.

The RSPB and Lydd Airport Action Group have lodged separate appeals.

The airport’s bosses said government permission for expansion was a “victory” for common sense.

The plans, which were initially proposed in 2010, were given the go-ahead by the government in April after a public inquiry.

Lydd Airport said development would see an increase of 500,000 passengers a year.

Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s South East regional director, said: “Dungeness is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world – it is protected at global, European and UK levels.

“Over recent years, our concerns about the impact of expanding nearby Lydd Airport led to the need to argue our case at a public inquiry.

“The stakes are too high to risk the future of one of our best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which we consider to be flawed.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-22686761

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Related BBC Stories

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Airport expansion on ‘vital’ nature reserve to be challenged in court

RSPB and locals will fight to protect marsh used by migratory birds at Dungeness

 28 MAY 2013

Controversial plans for a major extension to an airport which sits next to one of Britain’s most important nature reserves – as well as a nuclear power station – are to be challenged in court, it was announced today.

The RSPB will appeal the outcome of a public inquiry, as well as the government’s decision to give permission for the plans to go ahead, in the High Court. And a local campaign group has said it has also launched a High Court challenge in a bid to have the decision quashed and force the government back to the drawing board.

The planned expansion would see the tiny Lydd airport, which welcomed fewer than 500 passengers in 2011, capable of serving more than 500,000-a-year; thereby placing it in Britain’s top 30 airports for annual passenger numbers.

But its opponents, some of whom have been fighting for more than 10 years, say that it is under one of the largest migratory bird routes in the South of England and expressed fears its growth could lead to more bird strikes.

The Lydd Airport Action Group is basing its fight on planning grounds because of the proximity to Dungeness Power Station and is bringing action under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The RSPB, on the other hand, is exercising its right to appeal the government’s decision, which was taken last month following a public inquiry and inspector’s report. The two actions are being taken separately.

Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s south east regional director, said: “Dungeness is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world.

”It is protected at global, European and UK levels. It is home to species found hardly anywhere else in the UK. It is also a crossroads for migrating birds stopping off on their epic global journeys. The stakes are too high to risk the future of one of our best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which we consider to be flawed.“

A spokesman added that the RSPB was worried about what it called ”perversions“ in the public inquiry. He added: ”Dungeness is of huge importance globally. It would be remiss of us not to ensure that this decision is tested fully where we believe the inspector has not done so.

Louise Barton of the Lydd Airport Action Group said: “This [expansion] is not needed, all sorts of things about it are strange.” She added that the group and its lawyer Matthew Horton QC would be looking for “inconsistencies in the decision-making process”, on which to base their challenge.

The airport, which is also known as London Ashford Airport, is on the Romney Marsh in Kent. The plans, costing £25m, include a 294-metre runway extension, a 150-metre starter extension, plus a new terminal building. Its owners say they have already spent £35m over the past 10 years modernising the airport, which has operated on the Dungeness Peninusula since 1954.

Greeting last month’s approval, the airport’s executive manager Hani Mutlaq said it was a “victory for common sense and for the people of Romney Marsh”.

The plans will create jobs, boost tourism and revive a long-standing economic blackspot as well as provide sorely-needed additional airport capacity in the south east, he said.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The planning decision from April took into account all the relevant issues and representations.

”That decision has been supported by the local district council, the county council and the local MP. We will respond in due course to the legal submission.“

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/airport-expansion-on-vital-nature-reserve-to-be-challenged-in-court-8635098.html

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.Lydd airport expansion decision to be challenged at the High Court

by Kent Online reporter
27.5.2013

 

An action group has lodged an appeal at the High Court against the government’s decision to allow Lydd Airport to expand.

Airport bosses want to extend the runway and build a new terminal for around half a million passengers each year.

But the Lydd Airport Action Group, is hoping to quash the decision announced last month.

The airport, on Romney Marsh, wants a 960ft runway expansion for passenger jets and a new terminal building for 500,000 passengers a year.

Its controversial bid for planning permission was first submitted more than six years ago and faced strong opposition by some residents, environmentalists and the RSPB.

A public inquiry ended in September 2011 and it was announced in April ministers have agreed with a planning inspector’s recommendation to grant approval for the £25million development.

It was hoped construction work on the runway would begin soon after.

Damian Collins, who represents Folkestone and Hythe, hailed the approval – which will bring a jobs boost to the area – as “excellent” when it was announced.

He added: “The expansion allows the runway to be lengthened so flights can be operated over a longer distance.

“At the moment planes are only allowed to fly as far as the south of France, but this will allow flights further into Europe, into Spain and open up a lot more routes.”

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the decision will “irreversibly damage the wildlife habitat and beautiful landscape unique to the area”.

In a separate move, the bird charity RSPB has issued a legal challenge to the decision.

A statement issued, said nearby Dungeness was one of the most important wildlife sites in the world – protected at global, European and UK levels.

It said the area was home to species found hardly anywhere else in the UK. It was also a crossroads for migrating birds stopping off on their epic global journeys.

Speaking as the challenge was submitted, Chris Corrigan, RSPB South East regional director, said: “After careful consideration we have now issued a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision.

“The stakes are too high to risk the future of one of our best and most important places for nature without testing the basis for this decision which we consider to be flawed.”

 

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentish_express/news/Action-group-lodges-appeal-against-1202/
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PRESS RELEASE :
LAAG LODGES APPEAL WITH HIGH COURT OVER LYDD AIRPORT DECISION.
Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) has lodged an Appeal with the High Court of Justice over the government’s decision to grant Lydd Airport permission to extend it’s runway and build a new terminal to support a passenger throughput of 500,000 per annum. The application is brought under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to quash the decisions of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Transport made in their letters dated April 10th, 2013. LAAG is represented by Matthew Horton QC.

 

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Scots want APD devolved to Scotland before 2014 Games and London flight guarantees

In 2014 the 2014 the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland. This, together with the recent decision by Flybe to sell all their landing slots at Gatwick, has prompted more calls to the Treasury,by the Scottish government to, get devolution of APD (Air Passenger Duty).  Scotland wants to both deal with their own air travel tax, and also get guarantees of London airport slots for Scottish flights.  Heathrow and Gatwick prefer larger planes to more profitable long haul destinations, and smaller planes from domestic airports are less lucrative for them. The Scottish government are claiming that the extra cost of £13 per flight within the UK (£26 for a return flight) is deterring tourists coming from London. As air travel pays no fuel duty and no VAT, removing or reducing APD would make the sector even more under-taxed than it is at present. The Flybe Gatwick slots will be taken over by EasyJet, which is likely to use them for more profitable destinations abroad, as that would make more money for shareholders than UK flights.

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Air Passenger Duty:  Air travel is not over-taxed.  In reality it is very lightly taxed. Air travel from and within the UK pays Air Passenger Duty, because there is no VAT on any element of the aviation industry and they are zero rated, and because they pay no fuel duty.  If there was no APD the industry would be even more under-taxed. Details


 

Brown wants airport tax answers

27 May 2013  (Herald Scotland)

TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown has demanded an urgent update on the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland and the protection of Scotland’s access to London airports.

His call to the Treasury, which handles the tax, came as the head of the national tourism agency warned over the impact of the duty on visitors to the country.

The move comes in the wake of last week’s announcement that Flybe had sold all its take-off and landing slots at Gatwick airport to easyJet for £20m, prompting concerns about the Inverness-Gatwick service. High levels of APD and landing charges at London airports were cited by Flybe as factors in their decision.

Mr Brown said: “Whilst we have sought and received welcome assurances from easyJet on its continuing commitment to Inverness, there can be no guarantees at this stage that overall capacity and service provision will not be diminished.

“Myself and other Scottish ministers have raised the issues of APD and access to London with Danny Alexander and his colleagues in the Treasury repeatedly, warning of the danger both presented to the Scottish economy.

“Perhaps now that Mr Alexander’s own constituency in the Highlands is set to suffer the consequences, these warnings might be taken more seriously.” He said the punitive levels of APD are cited repeatedly by airlines and airports as obstacles to securing new routes and maintaining the existing ones.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Times are tough for tourism businesses and visitors are increasingly looking for best value. We need the UK Government to look at how we can make our tourism industry more competitive.

“There are major concerns that the UK and Scotland may price itself out of the market for overseas visitors.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport/brown-wants-airport-tax-answers.21190531

 

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Call to devolve air duty before 2014 Games

6.5.2013 (BBC)

Aircraft on tarmac
Air Passenger Duty charges in the UK range from £13 to £188
[£13 is the standard rate for any journey within Europe or any distance under 2,000 miles. The cost is only £188 for a first class passenger flying to Australia or equivalent distance. Details of APD ]

The Scottish government, airports and tourism leaders have called on the UK government to devolve Air Passenger Duty (APD) before the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

They said high APD charges could put off tourists from flying to attend the Glasgow and Perthshire events.

Last year, a report from Scotland’s three largest airports said APD could lead to a cut in passengers.

It said the Scottish economy could lose £210m a year in tourism spend by 2016.

A UK Treasury spokesman said: “Whether to devolve air passenger duty to Scotland remains under review.”

The level of APD depends on the country to which an airline passenger is flying.

When flying from any British airport there are four bands based on the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country, ranging from £13 to £184.

There is concern that the duty is applied uniformly across the UK, with no consideration given to the differences between a large hub airport like Heathrow, and smaller regional airports such as Dundee.

The majority of MSPs believe the Scottish Parliament should have control over the aviation tax.

New regime

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Scotland will welcome the world in 2014 courtesy of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, and yet we are in the absurd situation of increasing costs for people who intend to visit Scotland.

“The ‘World Economic Forum, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013′ shows that the UK has amongst the highest aviation taxes and charges in the world, ranked 139th out of 140.  [That is because aviation is generally not taxed, due to outdated agreements dating back to the 1920s when air travel was a novel industry].

“I would urge the UK government to deliver devolution of APD as soon as possible so that we can develop a regime that makes Scotland more competitive.”

A Transport Scotland study found that a family of four on a return flight in economy class from the US would have to pay £268 in air passenger duty. [ie. They are paying £67 each].

A couple from Spain would have to pay £26 to fly home from Scotland. [ie. only £13 each].

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “As we look ahead to the spectacular opportunity to reposition Scottish tourism when Scotland welcomes the world in 2014, I know that the industry is extremely anxious about how accessible and competitive Scotland will be in terms of access by air.”

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said airlines were questioning the viability of basing planes in Scotland because of APD.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-22419713

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Comparing rail with air ticket price – even paying APD travel by air is still cheaper

[Even for domestic flights within the UK, on which APD is charged for both parts of a return journey - as both take off from UK airports - the cost of air travel is generally cheaper than the equivalent rail journey.

For instance, taking a  random trip - London to Aberdeen, for one person, travelling on 5th June and returning on 6th June, the cost by rail is about £147 at the cheapest  link  and around £100 by air  link .]

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Concerns over Flybe’s Gatwick slots sell-off to Easyjet

23.5.2013 (BBC)

Business leaders and politicians have raised concerns over the future of Inverness’s links with London Gatwick.

A three-times-a-day service operated by Flybe is in doubt following the airline’s decision to sell all of its take-off and landing slots at Gatwick.

Easyjet, which also operates a Gatwick-Inverness service, is set to take over the slots next March in a £20m deal.

There are worries that the frequency and timings of the Inverness connections will be affected.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said he had been in contact with Easyjet.

He said: “The prospect of cuts to Inverness Gatwick services is deeply worrying and I have requested an urgent meeting with Easyjet, with a view to ensuring capacity on this service is maintained.

“While I welcome the confirmation that the current level of service will continue until March 2014, it is essential for the economic development of the Highlands region that the service is maintained beyond summer 2014.

“I have already had discussions with Easyjet this morning and will be keeping in regular touch to press the case.”

The Inverness and Scottish chambers of commerce, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Highland Council and politicians are among those raising concerns.

The sale is part of a cost-cutting programme for the airline. About 600 workers have been made redundant and pilots have agreed a 5% pay cut.

Flybe serves a number of destinations directly from its Gatwick hub, including Belfast, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Newcastle and Inverness.

The airline said the deal was subject to shareholders’ approval and that it would continue to operate all the slots until March 2014.

Stewart Nicol, of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said the availability of connections at the moment meant Highland firms could do a day’s business in London.

Drew Hendry, leader of Highland Council, said he hoped Easyjet would recognise the importance of the Flybe service to the region’s economy.

Fraser Grieve, the Highlands and Islands manager for the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), expressed concern about the deal and called for urgent steps to safeguard the flights.

He said: “Flybe’s decision highlights the vulnerability that regional routes into London face as a result of a lack of capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and the financial value of these slots.

“The air connections to and from Inverness are vital economic links and the move to Easyjet will likely result in both a loss of service and a lack of competition on the route.”

He added: “The UK’s leading international gateways must be able to accommodate the economic needs of the whole of the UK.

“Oil and gas services and food and drink in the north are two of the UK’s leading exports and they must be able to reach overseas markets. Tourists and investors must also be able to get to the north of Scotland.”

SNP MSPs have accused Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander of “hypocrisy” in a political row over the future of Gatwick-Inverness links.

Mr Alexander, who is MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and chief secretary to the Treasury, said “astronomical increases” in landing charges at Gatwick had hit Flybe hard.

Mr Alexander said: “Last year’s Civil Aviation Authority investigation changed nothing, but we need to press Gatwick to think again in the light of the damaging economy impact.

“There is clearly an opportunity for Easyjet to strengthen its Inverness to Gatwick services, but keeping early morning and late evening services will be critical for business, as will the ability easily to connect onto international flights.”

He added: “I welcome Easyjet’s positive commitment to building on its Inverness connections, as well Flybe’s commitment to maintaining its other services.”

‘Working tirelessly’

However, the SNP said the cost of the UK government-levied Air Passenger Duty (APD) was to blame and had hampered Flybe’s ability to make its links profitable.

Fergus Ewing, SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn, said: “The loss of these services would be a hammer blow for the Highlands.

“The Inverness Flybe service is the one used by Danny Alexander to get to Westminster – and now it is being withdrawn, in part because APD is too high.

“That is because of the taxation policies of Danny Alexander’s own government – and he is guilty of the most appalling hypocrisy on this issue.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said that both Scottish and UK governments had failed to protect the Gatwick-Inverness link.

She said: “Government action is required north and south of the border to help to sustain and grow Scotland’s aviation market.

“Our airports are working tirelessly to serve the needs of Scotland but they are being hamstrung by a lack of support from government.

“Our politicians at Westminster and Holyrood need to recognise the critical role that our air links play in our economy and deliver the right environment and support for both the airports and airlines.”

Easyjet said it was looking into the possibility of maintaining some of Flybe’s Highland links with London.

A spokeswoman said Easyjet was already committed to serving Inverness and carried twice as many passengers as Flybe to London each year.

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Continue reading the main story

image of Douglas FraserAnalysis   Douglas Fraser, Business and economy editor, Scotland

With a hiatus over Britain’s aviation policy, the future of London’s airport is often seen as an issue for Londoners.

And while it’s a noisy row for those under the flight paths, the economic impact of the bottlenecks in London matters at least as much to those who fly in as those who fly out.

It matters most to those regional airports with passengers dependent on connecting to global flights.

While the competition authorities have stepped in to ensure competition on Heathrow’s links with both Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the break up of BAA’s control of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is leading to less regulation.

Meanwhile, the high cost of landing/takeoff slots drives airlines to seek high returns on their investments, which tend to come from larger aircraft flying longer distances.

That hits connections to the rest of Britain. And while rail services into London have improved for much of England, travellers from Scotland still need to be able to connect by air.

At least as important, Scottish tourism – which is a big employer, particularly in the Highlands – needs competitive and well-timed air links through Heathrow and Gatwick, without which many inbound travellers may not be bothered heading north.

It’s an even bigger problem for Newquay in Cornwall, with slow train links and no other airline currently providing a service into Gatwick.

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Earlier:

Flybe to end all domestic flights from Gatwick by March 2014 after selling its 25 slot pairs to easyJet

May 23, 2013        Flybe is to stop all of its Gatwick flights after agreeing to sell all its 25 pairs of slots to EasyJet for £20 million, as it needs the money. That only leaves Flybe with a few London slots, at Luton. Flybe will leave Gatwick the end of March 2014. That means the end of its flights from Gatwick to Belfast City, Guernsey, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay. EasyJet is under no obligation to replace domestic flights, and will just use the slots for the most profitable holiday routes. There are concerns in Inverness about losing their Gatwick link. Flybe launched an expensive complaint to the CAA in 2010, complaining about the level of its charges. However the CAA ruled in September that Gatwick was within its rights to raise its landing fees for smaller aircraft, as it prefers to use slots for larger planes carrying more passengers. Flybe has been hit because on domestic flights, APD of £13 is charged on both legs of a journey. Flybe’s Chairman, Jim French said that even if Gatwick did not want its passengers, other airports would, and Flybe would work to ensure that the “UK’s regional passengers don’t get left in the cold.”     Click here to view full story…

 

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Scottish airports and York Aviation lobbying, yet again, for a cut in APD

1.11.2012Scottish airports are, yet again, hoping to get a drop in Air Passenger  Duty, to try and keep flights under-taxed. Edinburgh, Glasgow and 
Aberdeen airports are calling on the UK government  to abolish APD or at least frozen and then reduced.  A new report by York Aviation (they produced one in February 2011 for BAA Scotland) says Scotland will lose 2 million passengers and £210 million a year in lost tourist spending because of APD. Strangely, this figure is massively higher than it was only a year and three quarters ago.  In February 2011 York Aviation only said that  ” …over the next three years, Scottish airports will lose around 1.2 million passengers, with the largest numeric losses on domestic services.” So a very sharp increase.  Dodgy assumptions and calculations? York Aviation and the airports, as they always do, only consider tourist income of visitors coming to Scotland, and completely ignore the money lost by Scots flying out to spend their holiday money abroad. And of course, completely ignores the tax breaks that air travel receives from paying no VAT and no fuel duty.    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3491 

Tax on air passengers ‘costs Scotland £210m’

Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports want the air passenger duty tax abolished.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/tax-on-air-passengers-costs-scotland-210m-1-2609000

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Scottish government says it will seek powers if re-elected to cut APD to help boost flights

22.2.2011  (GreenAir online)

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has said his Scottish National Party
will seek powers to reduce UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) on Scottish air travellers
if re-elected to office in parliamentary elections in May. Salmond believes lowering
the duty would reduce airline fares and help encourage tourism and inward investment
to Scotland.
The call coincides with the release of a report commissioned by BAA-owned Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports that estimates last November’s hike in APD could lose Scotland’s airports more than one million passengers over the next three years and cost the Scottish economy £77 million ($124m) in lost tourism spend. 
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Remarkable absence of concern about safety of Londoners in media reports of BA plane engine fire

While a BA plane limped back right across London, flying over miles of the city and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Londoners, with one burning engine and the outside of the other damaged – the media seem not even to consider the safety aspects of the story.  It seems the cause of the problem could be a technical fault with the plane, rather than a bird strike. The Telegraph writes about the large number of passengers getting away for the bank holiday weekend, and how their flights are delayed.  Simon Calder writing in the Independent takes the opportunity of heading his article “Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity” though he does have the decency to add one comment from a member of the public in his piece to say that  “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”

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Heathrow fire: weekend breaks hit by flight emergency

Thousands of families have had their bank holiday break ruined after being stranded at Heathrow following the emergency landing of a British Airways airbus.

Heathrow was due to handle 225,000 passengers, about 35,000 more than normal

By , Transport Editor (Telegraph)

24 May 2013

The airport was forced to cancel 193 flights on one of the busiest days of the year after closing both its runways when the service to Oslo turned back following an engine fire.

Heathrow was due to handle 225,000 passengers, about 35,000 more than normal. Its operation was thrown into disarray by the shutting down of the southern runway, which was used for departures from 8.24 to shortly after 9 am.

The northern runway, which was handling arrivals was closed from 8.43 until 10.38 am.

While the closures were comparatively brief they had a devastating impact on Heathrow’s operation.

British Airways cancelled all short-haul flights until 4pm in an attempt to contain the chaos and enable it to salvage its operation for the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Thousands of passengers milled around the terminals trying to find alternative flights. With many services full, hopes of a short getaway were dashed.

Three people who had been on the plane were treated for minor injuries after it was forced to return to Heathrow shortly after taking off, after what a British Airways spokesperson said was a ‘technical fault.’

A number of eyewitnesses reported seeing smoke billowing from the back of the plane. Clive Cook was walking with his daughter and saw the plane crossing the Thames near Battersea Bridge. He told Sky News: “I looked up and saw the plane coming through the clouds and the right engine was on fire. It wasn’t smoking, it was on fire.

“This plane was coming over and suddenly the tone of the engine changed dramatically. I can almost say it sounded like it was a blow-out or an explosion.”

British Airways said two pilots and three crew members had been on board the flight, which took off from Heathrow at about 8.16am.

They said they could not confirm the cause of the incident and that the Air Accident Investigation Branch at British Airways would now be conducting a full investigation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10078800/Heathrow-fire-weekend-breaks-hit-by-flight-emergency.html

 

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Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity

24.5.2013
By Simon Calder  (Independent)
……. second part of article ……….

The southern runway was temporarily closed as fire crews took up position ready for an emergency landing on the northern runway. The aircraft landed at 8.43am, and came to a halt on the runway facing into the wind – normal practice to reduce fire risks. The evacuation was carried out quickly and safely. Mark Freeman, the duty manager at Heathrow, praised the emergency services and BA “for their calm professionalism in assisting passengers and making the aircraft safe”.

The northern runway remained closed for almost two hours, causing widespread delays. More than 20 incoming flights were diverted to other UK airports – many to Gatwick, Luton or Stansted, but others to Cardiff, Bournemouth and Manston in Kent.

Around 200 flights to and from Heathrow were cancelled in the wake of the incident. All British Airways services to domestic and European destinations up to 4pm were axed, while Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic also cancelled flights.

A party of 100 schoolchildren from Newcastle planning to fly to Rome for a holiday last night returned by bus to Tyneside. Charlotte Wathey, a parent, said, “Shame on BA for cancelling completely rather than flying late to Rome. You would think that with a party of that size, BA would have made every effort to get them away late, rather than not at all.” BA told passengers: “These cancellations will help us to stabilise our schedule, allowing us to get as many customers away as possible in these difficult circumstances”.

Passengers on flights that did operate faced delays of up to four hours. Eurocontrol in Brussels tweeted that users of Heathrow should “expect heavy delays all today”. Disruption continued into the evening, with later services to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Geneva cancelled.

The incident happened at the start of one of the busiest weekends of the year, the start of half-term for many families. British Airways had planned to carry close to half a million passengers between Friday and Monday, but many of the 128,000 expecting to travel yesterday saw their planes grounded. Passengers whose flights are cancelled go to the back of the queue to be re-booked on the next available flight.  The emergency added impetus to the debate over airport capacity in South-east England, partly from those calling for extra capacity to reduce disruption.

Laurie Price, an advisor to the All-Party Aviation Group, said: “All BA short-haul services cancelled till 4pm due to one incident is absurd. Heathrow just has no resilience.”

One comment on The Independent’s website read: “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”

In a separate incident, a Pakistan International flight from Lahore to Manchester was given an RAF fighter escort after two passengers were reported to have made threats to the purser. The Boeing 777, with 297 people on board, was diverted to Stansted – the airport designated for handling suspected terrorist incidents. The aircraft landed safely at the Essex airport, where two men were arrested.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/emergency-landing-at-heathrow-sparks-further-controversy-over-london-airport-capacity-8630408.html

 

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The Financial Times says:

Heathrow runway closed by emergency landing

By Andrew Parker and Hannah Kuchler

Travellers trying to get away early for the bank holiday weekend suffered significant disruption at Heathrow on Friday after a British Airways aircraft had to make an emergency landing at the airport due to problems with at least one of its engines.

More than 200 flights were cancelled, including 25% of BA’s schedule ….

….. As a result of the runway disruption, BA cancelled about 170 outbound and inbound short-haul flights to domestic and European destinations. Heathrow deals with 1,300 inbound and outbound flights each day, including 670 operated by British Airways.

….. full article at  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d60cf9c6-c44a-11e2-bc94-00144feab7de.html#axzz2UIV1hYsv

 

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Also Evening Standard at

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/fire-drama-on-heathrow-jet-delays-as-plane-makes-emergency-landing-with-smoke-pouring-from-engine-8630422.html.

 

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Investigators probe British Airways jet after emergency landing at Heathrow

25 May 2013  (Evening Standard)
…. extracts …..

Air accident investigators were probing an emergency landing by a British Airways passenger jet at Heathrow amid reports that a technical fault in the aircraft could be to blame.

Seventy five passengers and five crew were evacuated safely from Flight BA762 to Oslo, Norway, after it returned to the London hub with one engine on fire.

It was reported that vibrations and whistling noises were heard in the cabin during a flight made by the aircraft to Heathrow from Stavanger, also in Norway, on Thursday evening.

A British Airways spokesman said today: “While the aircraft is the subject of an AAIB investigation it would be inappropriate to discuss the previous technical status of this plane.”

……. Both runways at Heathrow were shut for a time after the incident and although they re-opened later, BA cancelled all short-haul flights until 4pm – affecting the travel plans of thousands of people flying off for the bank holiday weekend and school half-term holidays.

A full report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) could be some time away, but the branch could publish an interim report laying out the basic facts quite soon.

The AAIB will take into account not only crew, passenger and eyewitness statements but also data from the flight recorder.

Investigators will look into reports that part of the left-hand engine casing, which was shown to be off after the plane landed, actually detached on take-off.

The two pilots completed the landing on Friday after passengers described how “big flames” were seen coming from the right-hand engine.

The flight had left Heathrow at about 8.16am and had returned to the west London airport shortly after 8.40am.

A picture taken from inside the plane also showed an engine cover on the left-hand engine had come loose, indicating that that engine, too, had been damaged, which could also have affected the other engine.

Birdstrike has also been suggested as a possible cause of the crash.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/investigators-probe-british-airways-jet-after-emergency-landing-at-heathrow-8632188.html

 

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Damaged BA plane on one engine and trailing smoke from the other, flies right across London for emergency landing at Heathrow

A British Airways flight (BA 762) from Heathrow to Oslo was forced to turn back immediately after take off, due to what is likely to have been bird strike.  The Airbus A319 was powered by two IAE V2500 engines. The left engine appears to have hit an object at take-off, which stripped off the engine cowling. The right engine then may have hit something, and there are observer accounts of a bang. The plane did a large loop around London, in order to land again, using only the left engine. Many observers saw, and recorded, the plane – trailing smoke from the right engine, as it flew right across London. The plane made a safe landing, though passengers were evacuated down emergency chutes, and there were only 3 minor injuries. Heathrow airport was disrupted for hours due to the emergency landing. While those in favour of expanding the airport are likely to use this dangerous incident to call for more airport capacity (so Heathrow can cope with incidents without delays) it would be more relevant and more responsible to question how safe it is to have disabled planes flying miles over densely populated London. Luckily this time, there was no crash.  With Heathrow airport hoping to get another runway (or two) the safety issue of flying more and more planes over hundreds of thousands of people has to be confronted.

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map heathrow to battersea

Click map to enlarge. The plane flew miles over highly populated central London and London suburbs, with one engine on fire.

The map above only shows the route from Battersea into Heathrow.   Mercifully the damaged plane managed to get to Heathrow.    This is not a reassuring day for the hundreds of thousands of Londoners overflown by increasing numbers of planes.

 

Plane ‘On Fire’ Flying Over Central London

A British Airways plane had to return to Heathrow airport as it made an emergency landing with smoke billowing from the aircraft.

Friday 24 May 2013 (Sky News)

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There are also two videos on the page

Video: Witnesses Saw Flames From BA Plane

Video: Emergency Landing: View From Plane

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Almost 200 flights have been cancelled at Heathrow after a plane made an emergency landing with flames seen coming from an engine.

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A British Airways plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport as eyewitnesses reported seeing the aircraft “on fire” flying over central London.

A man who only gave his first name as Jamie told Sky News: “As you looked up you could just see the flames being chucked out of the engine … It was on full fire when we saw it.”

There have been 186 flight cancellations in total and BA has cancelled all short-haul flights in and out of the West London airport until 4pm.

Passengers evacuate British Airways plane after emergency landing at Heathrow
Passengers evacuate the plane on the runway

Passengers are experiencing delays of up to 40 minutes with departures and 25 minutes with arrivals.

Both runways were initially closed as the London Fire Brigade confirmed that they had attended to an “aircraft fire,” but they have since reopened.

The disruption comes at the start of one of the year’s busiest travel periods as people head abroad for the Bank Holiday weekend.

The fire damage to the right engine of the British Airways plane at Heathrow Airport.
Fire damage to the right engine as the plane is towed away
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Normand Boivin, Heathrow Chief Operating Officer, said: “The temporary closure will result in a number of cancelled flights throughout the day and passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport.”

Clive Cook, who lives under the flight path, told Sky News: “The actual engine itself was on fire.

“This plane was coming over and suddenly the tone of the engine changed dramatically, and I could almost say it sounded as if it was like a blowout, or an explosion.”

BA plane makes emergency landing
Emergency services inspect the Bitish Airways aircraft
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What happened on the Oslo bound aeroplane is not thought to be terror related and all passengers are safe and well.

Sky News presenter Jeremy Thompson was on a different flight coming into Heathrow and said that the pilot told them that they were being held up by a “bird strike” on a plane.

A plane has had to make an emergency landing at London Heathrow
The route of the plane across London
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A statement from British Airways said: “Flight BA762 departed Heathrow at 8.16am and returned at 8.43am due to an engine technical fault. The Airbus A319 aircraft was carrying 75 customers and five crew.

“The aircraft landed safely and cabin crew evacuated customers using emergency slides.  Airline colleagues are now caring for customers in the airport terminal.

“The airline has begun a full investigation into the incident and is working with the Air Accident Investigation Bureau to establish the cause.”

British Airways plane makes emergency landing at Heathrow
The other engine seen from inside the plane
 

Sky’s Richard Suchet added: “Shortly after it was airborne, somebody in air traffic control spotted a fault with one of the engines and alerted the pilot. The pilot then turned round and came back to the airport.”

According to The Aviation Herald, as the plane took off “a loud bang from the left hand engine was heard and the left hand engine’s cowling doors went missing.

“While positioning for a return to Heathrow another loud bang was heard from the right hand engine, and the cowling doors went missing and the engine was trailing smoke.”

A plane has had to make an emergency landing at London Heathrow
A trail of smoke can be seen coming from the plane while in mid-air
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Captain Mark Searle, chairman of airline pilots’ association Balpa, congratulated the crew for the way the situation was handled.

He said: “As pilots we spend our whole career training to manage incidents such as this in order to avoid an incident becoming a disaster.”

Images taken from inside the plane show the engine that was not on fire exposed as it is overworked.

Commenting on the damage to the covering around that engine, aviation safety investigator, David Gleave, said: “It’s not got much structural strength in it at all so it doesn’t affect the ability of the aeroplane to actually hold onto its engine and keep it on the wing.”

http://news.sky.com/story/1095039/plane-on-fire-flying-over-central-london

 

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Remarkable absence of concern about safety of Londoners in media reports of BA plane engine fire

Date added: May 24, 2013

While a BA plane limped back right across London, flying over miles of the city and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Londoners, with one burning engine and the outside of the other damaged – the media seem not even to consider the safety aspects of the story. It seems the cause of the problem could be a technical fault with the plane, rather than a bird strike. The Telegraph writes about the large number of passengers getting away for the bank holiday weekend, and how their flights are delayed. Simon Calder writing in the Independent takes the opportunity of heading his article “Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity” though he does have the decency to add one comment from a member of the public in his piece to say that “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”

Click here to view full story…

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The Independent adds:

Pictures taken from inside the plane in today’s incident showed an inspection cover loose on the left-hand engine.

Mr Learmount said: “This cover is to a plane what a bonnet is to a car. It should not have been open. Something caused it to be dislodged.

“Pictures of the plane flying with smoke coming from it indicate that the aircraft was being powered entirely by the left-hand engine. Most likely there was external damage to both engines.

“Damage of this kind is consistent with a bird strike although at this stage we just don’t what happened.”

and

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http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/24/uk-britain-heathrow-idUKBRE94N07L20130524

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/heathrow-airport-reopens-runways-after-british-airways-plane-on-fire-over-london-makes-emergency-landing-8630408.html

 

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Reuters adds:
….  a director of Norweigan firm TradeWinds, who was aboard the flight, said the casing of the left engine started to come away during take off and that the right engine exploded as the plane was coming into land.

“As the plane started to gather speed on the runway for take-off, the engine casing came loose and started flapping and at the point of take-off it snapped off with a loud bang,” he added.

“On the descent back into Heathrow the right engine burst into flames, creating an orange glow visible throughout the cabin. People were relatively calm until the engine blew and then started to panic.”

and

The temporary closure will result in a number of cancelled flights throughout the day, he said. About 1,300 flights take off and land at Heathrow every day.

BA, the airport’s largest airline at Heathrow, said it had cancelled all its short-haul flights to and from Heathrow until 1500 GMT on Friday.

The emergency landing could bring renewed calls for Heathrow to be expanded.

and

BA’s A319s are powered by two IAE V2500 engines made by the International Aero Engines consortium, part-owned by Pratt & Whitney parent UTC.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/24/uk-britain-heathrow-idUKBRE94N07L20130524

 

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AirportWatch comment:

Instead of calling for Heathrow to be expanded, a reasonable person might consider there to be calls for Heathrow to be reduced in size.  Today a plane, with an engine on fire, travelled – with smoke pouring from its damaged and closed-down engine, many tens of miles around and across London.

The footage of the plane, trailing smoke from the burning engine, and the comment that this could be seen from Battersea.  Battersea is about 16 miles from Heathrow.

The plane also flew around London, and right across the whole city from the east, with the burning engine.  It will have flown over thousands of people.  A crash anywhere along that route would involve ploughing into a huge number of homes, offices etc.  This plane just taking off for Oslo would have been full of fuel, so any crash on London would have been disastrous.

Presumably it dumped fuel somewhere outside London, before coming in across London. Otherwise, it was carrying a lot of fuel, as well as having an engine on fire.

Surprising that the media comments on this story are ignoring (deliberately, or from journalists not thinking about it?) the safety implications.

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One comment in the Independent:

So that’s [at least] two aircraft in the last five years that have struggled in to land at Heathrow:

17th January 2008: Boeing 777, from Beijing, iced-up fuel, just made it over the perimeter before crash-landing; and
24th May 2013: Airbus 319, just taken off for Oslo, possibly bird strike (tbc), port engine failure, & stbd engine fire, managed to turn back and land.

Both came in over densely populated areas while in severe distress.

In the world of safety management these are near-misses. If nothing fundamental changes there will be more. At the risk of stating the obvious, sooner or later one won’t make it.

 

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Since the incident:

 

Questions asked by London Assembly about the BA plane with a burning engine flying over millions of Londoners

June 1, 2013      Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, has written to Heathrow authorities to ask why the BA aircraft with its engine ablaze was routed to fly back into Heathrow last week rather than being diverted elsewhere. Richard’s questions followed worried enquiries from Wandsworth councillors Rosemary Torrington and James Maddan who represent the riverside Thamesfield ward on the flightpath. He received a prompt response Heathrow’s Government Relations Manager: “The normal procedure in these circumstances if for the Captain to decide what is the safest course of action, and this is what happened in this case. This is an approved procedure.” Richard Tracey commented that the damaged aircraft flew over Slough, Watford, parts of Essex, Battersea, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith and Hounslow. “This is complete madness. Three or four million people on the ground were put at risk and thousands of travellers from Heathrow had their flights cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Stansted, Luton, Cardiff, even Manston”. “We are now seriously considering taking this further , including talks with Heathrow and British Airways.”      Click here to view full story…

 

Heathrow emergency landing of BA plane with engine on fire: Engine cowls had been left unlatched

May 31, 2013     Air accident investigators say the doors on both engines of the BA flight that made an emergency landing at Heathrow last week had been left unlatched. This was due to human error. Air accident experts said the coverings – the fan cowl doors – broke off and punctured the right engine’s fuel pipe, damaging the aircraft’s systems. The engine was extensively damaged. The jet flew back to Heathrow, on one engine, with smoke trailing from the other, right across heavily populated London. It landed safely. The findings were made in an interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is examining the cause of the emergency It will make its final report in a couple of months. The fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure. BA confirmed that 2 different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off. David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”. Airbus said there had, in the past, been 32 reported incidents of fan cowl doors not being shut.   Click here to view full story…

 

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Remarkable absence of concern about safety of Londoners in media reports of BA plane engine fire

May 24, 2013     While a BA plane limped back right across London, flying over miles of the city and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Londoners, with one burning engine and the outside of the other damaged – the media seem not even to consider the safety aspects of the story. It seems the cause of the problem could be a technical fault with the plane, rather than a bird strike. The Telegraph writes about the large number of passengers getting away for the bank holiday weekend, and how their flights are delayed. Simon Calder writing in the Independent takes the opportunity of heading his article “Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity” though he does have the decency to add one comment from a member of the public in his piece to say that “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”   Click here to view full story…

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Job losses caused to Essex / London economy by expanded operations at Southend airport

With the arrival of easyJet flights using Southend airport over the past year, its number of passengers rose from a tiny number to around 720,000 in the year up to the end of February. The airport and the local authorities were bullish about the number of jobs that would be created and the boost to the local economy.  However, in reality it has turned out that almost all those using the easyJet holiday flights are Brits going abroad, with very few coming in the other direction.  On estimates (by government) of the cost of providing one job, the amount of jobs lost by the UK economy due to the exodus of British residents abroad can be calculated.  It costs around £24,000 to £28,000 to create a job. ONS data for 2011 shows the average Briton spent £557 per foreign trip.  With 325,000 Brits flying out of Southend, it can be calculated that the amount of money being sucked out of the UK economy would potentially support many thousand jobs (5,000 or 6,000 jobs or more) here, if that money was spent in the local economy instead. The airport employs about 500 people and claims more work around the airport, but in reality many of those are just jobs that have moved from elsewhere. Not many new jobs.

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Job losses caused by expanded operations at Southend airport

22.5.2013 (SAEN – Stop Airport Expansion and Noise, at Southend)

It is now becoming clear that very few foreign tourists are using the airport to visit the UK. Far from seeing a flood of Europeans arriving at the airport and spending their euros in our shops, it is clear that the bulk of tourists are people from Essex and London who are travelling abroad. Those councillors who believed that the airport would bring large amounts of foreign income to Essex have proven to be misguided.

The latest data from Southend Airport (LSA) suggests the number of passengers using the airport in the past year may be around 650,000. As each passenger is counted when they leave, and when they arrive, that is some 325,000 UK passengers flying abroad.  SAEN are still trying to obtain precise data from the local authorities and LSA but can provide an indication on this implications of what is beginning to emerge.  SAEN must also express their gratitude to David Amess MP who has been very helpful in trying to get the data relating to this important issue.

DfT data shows that on average aviation tourists spend £395 when abroad on holiday. So 325,000 tourists equates to a loss of around £128 Million from the Essex/London economy. This is equivalent to a loss of around 5,300 jobs. [ If we accept that the cost of creating a job in the UK is approximately £23,000 (National Audit Office, 1999). A figure of £28,000 per job created is given at  link ].

[ In reality, the estimate of the amount spent on average per UK tourist going abroad it low. The average spend per visit abroad fell from £572 in 2010 to £557 in 2011 - data from the ONS, Travel Trends 2011  That includes visiting friends and family, as well as holidays..  AirportWatch comment.  That would then come to £181 million, for 325,000 passengers, and even considering the cost of creating each job to be £28,000 , that would mean the loss of some 6,400 jobs].

What is clear is that very many people in south Essex and east London are being tempted to take trips abroad because of the close proximity of the airport. Had these people not flown abroad, and their disposable income been spent on goods and services within the UK, then thousands of jobs would have been sustained within the UK. It is a spectacular own goal for government to facilitate the export of wealth and jobs. Set against the approximately 500 jobs created at the airport (of which around 150 came from Stansted) is the loss of around 6,000 jobs caused by sucking money out of the local area. [The airport is very proud that some time in early 2012 it employed 500 staff  link  . Set that against the number of jobs probably lost - maybe over 6,000 - due to the export of UK money by the easyJet holiday passengers].

We are working to obtain precise data on this issue but we want all councillors to confront this now. This will help them to see how misguided the decision was to expand airport operations and we hope this will encourage them to oppose any further expansion in the future.

The Stobart group has just published its interim report  (see below) on results to the year ended 28 February 2013. Pages 5, 16 and 36 all make reference to the 5 million passenger capacity of the new terminal building.  This is a prospect that will fill people living near Southend airport with dread, particularly since the report shows that passenger numbers ‘only’ reached 723,053 in the year to the end of February. Local Southend residents are already suffering a reduced quality of life due to the over-flying.

For some time the public has been informed that it must expect to contend with a target of 2 million passengers per annum. The mention of an aspiration of 5 million is  worrying.

  • LSA is damaging the local economy by encouraging ever larger numbers of people to travel abroad. Very few foreign tourists are using the routes to travel to the UK.
  • The re-location of IPECO to the Saxon Business Park only moves jobs and does not create them. It leaves premises in the Aviation Way empty (moving jobs between industrial estates is not the same as creating jobs);
  • The JAAP (Joint Area Action Plan) is overly optimistic to suggest that large numbers of employers will relocate next to an airport that will impose noise disruption, danger and an increasingly congested road network. If anything, there is a danger that many employers, like the local population, would prefer to move away.

 

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By contrast, Southend Borough Council’s website states:

“London Southend Airport is a key regional and European transport hub, helping to generate important economic investment and jobs in Southend and the wider Thames Gateway.”

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(from the FT - link)

“Denise Rossiter, chief executive of the Essex Chamber of Commerce, said the majority of local residents had been supportive of the airport’s plans. “The airport has been a real feelgood factor,” she said. “Job creation has been phenomenal.”    Some 1,500 are employed in and around the airport, a rise of 500 this year. Many work in the area’s longstanding aircraft maintenance sector, which includes companies such as Ipeco, a maker of seats for Boeing aircraft, and ATC Lasham, an aircraft repair and maintenance business.”

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BBC 1 East news report on expansion at LSA

22.5.2013 (SAEN)

The SAEN committee has always known that the local press would fall over each other in a scramble to provide positive news about the airport (papers can only survive with advertising revenue).

But we have been bitterly disappointed with BBC coverage of the issue, which continually showed a bias in favour of the inaccurate and incomplete arguments made about job creation. The BBC continually seemed to pay a lack of attention to the adverse impact expansion was having upon the local community.

So it came as a surprise when the BBC contacted SAEN and asked to speak to people who were suffering an adverse impact. The BBC wanted to know about the human cost, the claims for financial compensation and even appeared to show an interest in the facts about jobs – that LSA is actually sucking £ hundreds of millions out of the Essex/London economy by encouraging ever more people to take their spending power abroad.

We are very grateful to two SAEN supporters who agreed to be interviewed by the BBC at very short notice. Our Vice Chairman was also interviewed, although only his comments about financial compensation were screened in the report that was broadcast.  While it is disappointing that the reality about the job losses airport operations are causing did not make it into the item, we were pleased that two of the three points did come out. The BBC allowed Alastair Welch to comment, which is fair; that is what balanced reporting is all about. What a shame, however, that the BBC and the local press publish so much from the airport, printing their propaganda, but so rarely permit SAEN to put our side of the argument.

Here is a link to a copy of the main BBC East report: – On YouTube

http://youtu.be/oFmAAkaYl-I

 

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Stobart annual report published

The Stobart group has just published its interim report on results to the year ended 28 February 2013. Pages 5, 16 and 36 all make reference to the 5 million passenger capacity of the new terminal building. Comment has been sought from the two local councils on the implications of what is said in the report.

http://www.stobartgroup.co.uk/news/general/stobart-group-results-for-the-year-ended-28-february-2013/

Also note further reference to capacity for 5 Million passengers on page 9 of the Stock Exchange report at http://saeninfo.wordpress.com/finacial/

 

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Standard speculates whether Labour cabinet tend towards backing Gatwick runway

The Standard says Labour was moving towards backing a 2nd runway at Gatwick before the Airports Commission was set up. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has already publicly ruled out a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and Ed Miliband is”sceptical” about it. Maria Eagle has also rejected Boris’s idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary, largely on cost grounds, branding it an “unworkable fantasy”. A 2nd runway at Gatwick cannot be built before 2019 under a legal agreement, but the Standard says Ms Eagle is understood to have seen a Gatwick runway as a stronger contender than expanding Stansted, if the South-East needed extra aviation capacity. Gatwick is opening new routes, including to the Far East, as it seeks to become a rival to Heathrow while Stansted still has spare capacity. Labour says it will await the Commission’s conclusions before drawing up its new policy. Supporting expansion at Gatwick, or Stansted, had also not been agreed by the shadow cabinet.

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Labour warms to Gatwick expansion

Labour was moving towards backing a second runway at Gatwick before a review was set up into Britain’s airport needs, the Standard reveals today.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has already publicly ruled out a third runway at Heathrow, doing a U-turn on Gordon Brown’s firm support for expanding the airport.

She has also rejected Boris Johnson’s idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary, largely on cost grounds, branding it an “unworkable fantasy”. A second runway at Gatwick cannot be built before 2019 under a planning agreement.

Ms Eagle, though, is understood to have seen such a development at the Sussex airport as a stronger contender than expanding Stansted, if the South-East needed extra aviation capacity.

Gatwick is opening new routes, including to the Far East, as it seeks to become a rival to Heathrow while Stansted still has spare capacity.

The shadow cabinet minister is adamant that the Davies Commission into the UK’s airport capacity should not be pre-empted. While Labour wanted Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the London School of Economics leading the review, to publish its final report before the 2015 election, it will await its conclusions before drawing up its new policy. Supporting expansion at Gatwick, or Stansted, had also not been agreed by the shadow cabinet.

However, both party leader Ed Miliband and Ms Eagle remain “sceptical” about another runway at Heathrow.Labour, like the Conservatives, is divided over the future of the west London airport.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/labour-warms-to-gatwick-expansion-8585741.html

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Earlier:

Labour leader Ed Miliband warns Sir Howard over risks of extra Heathrow runways

23.9.2013

Ed Miliband has had talks with Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission. Ed has expressed concern about the possibility of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, which would  put at risk Labour’s chances of winning several key marginal seats, including Battersea, Brentford and Isleworth, Ealing Central and Acton. Labour understands that a 3rd runway, or 4th, at Heathrow would cause more noise and pollution misery for hundreds of thousands of Londoners. Labour also insists that any airport expansion will have to meet the target of cutting aviation CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, as the Committee on Climate Change advise. However, the Standard says: “Labour is not ruling out supporting a bigger Heathrow but it is likely to demand convincing evidence that extra noise and pollution can be sufficiently mitigated.”  It adds: “Labour could be tempted to reject Heathrow expansion before the election” to boost its electoral chances. It also says: “Aviation sources said Sir Howard … was concerned that Ms Eagle was moving towards favouring a 2nd runway at Gatwick

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17527

 

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Labour denies Heathrow third runway U-turn – but there has been a shift away from opposition

12.12.2013Labour has played down reports that Ed Miliband is set to abandon his opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. But he is under pressure from the shadow chancellor Ed Balls to be more supportive when the Airports Commission reports next week  (though the report has been leaked already). A parliamentary row has been brewing over claims that No 10 has pressured the Commission into keeping a broader shortlist to avoid an early row focused on Heathrow  - though Heathrow appears to be the main focus.  Ed Balls in a recent speech to the CBI said he would like to see the Airports Commission make recommendations before the general election. The party’s previous shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, was shifted in the recent shadow cabinet reshuffle partly due to disagreements with Balls over HS2 and Heathrow. Eagle’s replacement as shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, has tried to be non-committal towards the Airports Commission, saying: “No party can say now that it will implement its recommendations when we simply don’t know what the costs of any proposals will be. Obviously the Conservatives and Lib Dems haven’t made any such commitments.” She said Labour would not rule any runway options in or out while the Commission was still deliberating.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18759.

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Full text of Maria Eagle’s speech, on Labour’s ideas on future aviation policy

31.10.2011

This is the full text of the speech by Maria Eagle, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, to the Airport Operators’ Association. This confirms Labour will not press for a 3rd Heathrow runway. However, she says “Any serious strategy for aviation and its crucial role in the UK economy cannot start from a position that rules out additional capacity in the South East.” This favours expansion at airports other than Heathrow. And also deeper aviation carbon cuts by 2050.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4659

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Labour joins call to fast-track airports review – to get Davies to report before 2015 election

23.10.2012

Labour has joined  Boris in demanding that a review into London’s airports be completed before the next election. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has warned that delaying the report of the independent commission to be headed by Sir Howard Davies until after 2015 risked “kicking the issue into the long grass.” Maria Eagle said  “There will therefore be no possibility of cross-party talks in advance of the election to establish whether consensus can be reached to support Sir Howard’s recommendations — and no opportunity to make the manifesto commitments that mean these are significantly more likely to become a reality.”  Labour has shifted its post-election position from being against a 3rd runway at Heathrow to being “sceptical” about  it.  Ms Eagle also said (at the AOA conference) that the delay in the review would make it harder to form a policy on the proposed high-speed rail route.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3138

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