Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield, will table an amendment to legislation currently before MPs to require airlines to maintain routes if investment and jobs depend on it. He wants to revive air links to London from regional airports such as struggling Durham Tees Valley. The idea will also be put to Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers when a delegation, led by Mr Wilson, meets her on April 24, to discuss the Durham Tees Valley Airport problems. He wants the committee considering the Civil Aviation Bill to examine the possibility of a clause, which would require an obligation to continue to fly because of the impact on the Tees Valley of withdrawing flights to London.
New bid to help London air links
14th March 2012 (Northern Echo)
By Rob Merrick
A FRESH attempt to revive air links to London from regional airports such as struggling Durham Tees Valley will be made by a North-East MP.
Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield, will table an amendment to legislation currently before MPs to require airlines to maintain routes if investment and jobs depend on it.
The idea will also be put to Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers when a delegation, led by Mr Wilson, meets her on April 24, to discuss the Durham Tees Valley Airport problems.
Mr Wilson said: “This amendment is another way of protecting airports like Durham Tees Valley Airport.
“If the legislation proposed had been in place when BMI pulled its London flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority could have said ‘you have an obligation to continue to fly because of the impact on the Tees Valley’.
“I want the committee considering the Civil Aviation Bill to examine the possibility of the clause, which has the support of MPs in the Tees Valley area.”
It is the second proposal put forward to try to breathe life into the airport, hit by a £1.6m loss and passenger numbers dwindling to about 200,000 a year.
Last month, a deal was struck that meant the Peel Group took back control of the airport, ensuring it will remain a commercial business, but doubts remain over its long-term future.
James Wharton, the Tory MP for Stockton South, urged the new Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to apply for a public service obligation (PSO) agreement, to secure a lucrative Heathrow slot. There has been growing criticism that Heathrow has reserved slots for only six UK airports – down from 21 in 1995 and compared with 250 such arrangements across Europe.
However, Mr Wilson, while backing the idea of a PSO, said the cost – up to £2m a year – will be beyond the reach of the cashstrapped enterprise partnership.
Similar calls for more PSOs have been made for many years, without success.
Mr Wilson’s amendment would allow the Government to impose an obligation on an airline to operate a specified route “if a socioeconomic case can be built for the route to continue”.
It would be imposed as part of the licence conditions for operating another route, following consultations with the Civil Aviation Authority, airport and airline.
This is not actually new. The same thing happened in 2009:
BOSSES FIGHT TO PROTECT DURHAM TO HEATHROW ROUTE
Durham Tees Valley Airport is pushing the government to impose a public service obligation (PSO) on routes to London in order to protect the vital link.
It is thought that airport bosses are attempting to secure the route to London Heathrow after Bmi cancelled its operations from the travel hub, the Northern Echo reports.
Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, who met airport group director Hugh Lang, told the newspaper: “There is no simple solution here. It is important that the option of a PSO is thoroughly considered.”
“We have accepted that there can be a case for intervention in the market where particular regions are disadvantaged,” she continued.
Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said he was considering the scheme.
In related airport news, a specialist security company is working with Manchester Airport to create a high-speed baggage screening system.
Bosses have spent £2 million on the Rapi-Scan Systems X-ray scanning project, which is currently on trial at the facility, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Public Service Obligation (PSO)
In transportation law of the European Union, public service obligation or PSO is an arrangement in which a governing body or other authority offers an auction for subsidies, permit the winning company a monopoly to operate a specified service of public transport for a specified period of time for the given subsidy. This is done in cases where there is not enough revenue for routes to be profitable in a free market, but where there is a socially desirable advantage in this transport being available. The use of PSO can be applied to many mode of transport, including air, sea, road or rail. In many cases the introduction of PSO has been a way to privatize former government owned transport. The infrastructure is often separated from the operation, and may be owned by the governing body or by a third party. The authority may also maintain the ownership of the vehicles, such as ferries or rolling stock.
Traditionally, public transport has been operated through a company wholly owned by the state with monopoly, like a national railway company. Alternatively, private companies were granted privileges (with or without subsidies) granting them an unfair monopoly. In later years many markets have been deregulated, especially in Europe, paying the lowest bidding operator to carry out the traffic at regular auctions.
…. and more on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_service_obligation
PSO flights from Cardiff Airport to Anglesey
Public Service Obligation Flights
On 21 February 2007 the airport announced that the airport would host the first Public Service Obligation (PSO) service to be operated in Wales. Inverness based airline Highland Airways would fly several services each day between Anglesey Airport and Cardiff. BAe Jetstream 31 aircraft were allocated to the route and it was hoped it would provide a quicker alternative to commuters travelling between North and South Wales, who otherwise rely on the A470 road or rail. The PSO service would be subsidised by the Welsh Assembly Government for three years; after this period, the route must be completely viable to continue. In May, the Anglesey service was claimed as a success, with over 1,000 seats being booked on the service within weeks of its announcement. There are options for up to 10 flights a day. On 25 March 2010 Highland Airways went into administration, prompting the suspension of flights. Manx2 was named as the new operator of the service on 29 April 2010 and won a 4 year contract serving the route in December 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Airport
and PSO flights at Derry, in Northern Ireland
At the end of 2008, British Airways, operated by Loganair as a franchise agreement, ceased the Glasgow International route which had operated for 30 years, following the loss in July 2008 of their public service obligation route to Dublin. This route is now operated by Aer Arann. Aer Lingus Commuter had previously operated the route until 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Derry_Airport
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The Frankfurt campaigners have won a partial night flight ban at Frankfurt in the teeth of opposition from the airlines and the regional government. The local government had allowed 17 flights per night between 11pm and 5am. Local campaigners say the High Court has now ruled that there is a ban on all flights between 11pm and 5am. The number of hours of the ban is similar to the one that operates, in theory, at Heathrow (11.30 – 4.30) but it is a significant achievement for the campaigners. There can still be a total of 133 flights over the full period of 10pm to 6am – so during the periods of 10 – 11pm and 5 – 6am. The campaigners at Frankfurt say: “This Frankfurt decision will encourage you all at Paris, London and Amsterdam, but as well at Madrid, Barcelona and other airports of Europe. Frankfurt will be the first big Hub having a night flight restrictions!”
By Karin Matussek
Mar 14, 2012
Fraport AG (FRA) and the state of Hesse may lose their bid to operate 17 night flights on a new Frankfurt runway, a judge said at a hearing today because of concern from local residents.
The plan for 17 flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. at the hub’s new north-west runway may violate residents’ rights to noise protection, Presiding Judge Ruediger Rubel said in a preliminary assessment at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. The law requires a heightened demand for express freight to justify night flights, he said.
“The trial court found that the numbers didn’t show that there was such a heightened demand for express freight flights,” said Rubel. “We would be bound by those findings.”
The runway and night flights are being challenged by local residents, neighboring cities and businesses. The state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, in 2007 approved Fraport’s plan to build an additional runway and a third terminal, enabling Europe’s No. 3 airport to handle more flights. The state allowed an average of 150 night flights while capping the number between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. at 17.
While allowing the runway to be completed and used, a lower court in October temporarily blocked flights between those hours because it said the residents were likely to prevail on that part of their case.
Volker Gronefeld, a lawyer for Hesse, said the top court should overrule the trial court, because the findings weren’t convincing. While the trial court recognized in principal that there is a demand for night flights, it required too high a threshold to approve them, he said.
The court may also require changes to Fraport’s operation of an average of 150 flights from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., said Judge Rubel. Using a calendar year as the reference period to calculate the average allowed more flights on some days during seasonal peaks, he said.
“You cannot turn the night into day,” said Rubel. “The law says you have to pay special attention to the residents’ interests in having a night’s rest.”
Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) lost a separate bid in the lower court to increase the number of flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It has asked the top court for permission to appeal and Leipzig judges still have to decide on that request. That case isn’t part of today’s hearing.
Gronefeld told the court it should have added the carrier’s cases to today’s hearing to take their arguments into account. Lufthansa, TUI AG and Thomas Cook AG’s Condor are affected by the current preliminary ban on night flights, according to Fraport.
Rubel said at the first day of hearings yesterday that the state’s decision to allow the 17 night flights may already be flawed because local residents and communities weren’t adequately heard on the issue.
Lufthansa, TUI AG (TUI1) and Thomas Cook AG’s Condor are affected by the current preliminary ban on night flights, according to Fraport.
The Leipzig court will issue its rulings on April 4 at 10:00 a.m. local time, the court said in an e-mail today.
Frankfurt 17 Night Flight Rule May Be Lifted, Top Court Says
By Karin Matussek
March 13, 2012 (Business Week)
The state of Hesse’s plan to allow 17 nights flights on a new Frankfurt airport runway may face additional reviews after a German court said local residents and communities weren’t adequately heard on the issue.
Residents who challenged Fraport AG (FRA)’s expansion and night flights may win that part of the case on procedural grounds, Presiding Judge Ruediger Rubel said at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig today. The state would have to grant the plaintiffs a new hearing and issue a new decision. The court’s assessment is preliminary and may change after hearing arguments, he said.
“The court’s task isn’t to make its own planning decisions, it’s rather to review whether the authorities’ planning violated rights,” Rubel said when opening the hearing. “The law grants the authorities a wide leeway and it’s not our task to come up with better ideas to substitute those of the competent planning body.”
The runway and night flights were challenged by local residents, neighboring cities and businesses. The state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, in 2007 approved Fraport’s plan to build an additional runway and a third terminal, enabling Europe’s No. 3 airport to handle more flights. The state allowed an average of 150 night flights and capped the number between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. at 17.
A lower court approved the extension in 2009 while asking the state of Hesse to review its decision on night flights because of noise concerns. While allowing the runway to be completed and used while the case is pending, in October the lower court temporarily halted flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. because it said the residents were likely to prevail on that part of their case.
The state of Hesse, the target of the lawsuit, defends the project, including the 17 night flights, and is supported by Fraport, which is participating in the case.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) had lost a separate bid in the lower court to expand the number on flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It has asked the top court for permission to appeal and Leipzig judges still have to decide on that request. Lufthansa, TUI AG (TUI1) and Thomas Cook AG’s Condor are affected by the current preliminary ban on night flights, according to Fraport.
The hearing will continue tomorrow.
To contact the reporters on this story: Karin Matussek in Leipzig via firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons in London at aaarons@Bloomberg.net
German Court to Begin Review of Frankfurt Night Flight Ban
Bruce Barnard, Special Correspondent
Mar 12, 2012 (The Journal of Commerce Online)
Lufthansa, airport cargo volumes have been hit by the ban
A German federal court will begin a hearing tomorrow, March 13, to decide whether to extend a controversial ban on night flights at Frankfurt airport that has seriously disrupted freighter operations at Europe’s second largest air cargo hub.
Lufthansa Cargo has warned it will cut investment at Frankfurt and reduce its freighter fleet if the Leipzig court upholds the ban, which came into effect at the end of October.
Lufthansa says the ban on flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time will cost around $52 million a year, as freight has to be re-routed to airports with 24/7 operations.
The carrier, which has lost customers, mostly in the U.S., because it can no longer guarantee next-day delivery, canceled three weekly freighter flights from Frankfurt to China following the ban. It has been diverting other Asia-bound flights to Cologne-Bonn airport, where it also stationed one of its 18 MD-11 freighters for flights to New York and Chicago.
Lufthansa Cargo was due to operate 10 of 17 night time flights before a local court imposed a surprise ban to curtail aircraft noise.
Fraport, the airport operator, and Lufthansa have sought to placate local residents with further noise reduction measures, including higher flight paths, extra sound proofing of windows and the purchase of houses under the flight path.
More than 50 percent of German air freight — around 2.3 million tons — flies out of Frankfurt, of which a third was transported on night flights.
Lufthansa says it can resume night flights in June or July if the court ends the ban.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.
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Munich airport is Lufthansa’s 2nd largest base in Germany after Frankfurt. A third runway has been proposed for the airport and last week, a variety of supporters from across the political and business spectrum got together to promote the benefits of an additional runway. A decision is due in June as to whether the airport can proceed with its plans. Campaigners are getting organised to oppose the planned building of a new 3rd runway at Munich. The case for a new runway there is weak because the existing runways are nowhere near capacity, most of the flights from Munich are domestic so could transfer to rail, and there is very low unemployment in the area.
Anna Aero 15.3.2012
Anna Aero article at:
Fast-growing Munich Airport wants to grow even more with a third runway. While the decision will be made in June, political and business supporters showed their support of the project at a press event last week. Posing with the banner [there is a photo on the Anna Aero article] were Bernhard Loos, Citizens’ Initiative for Runway 3; Josef Schmid, CSU leader in Munich city council; Alexander Reissl, SPD leader in Munich city council; Michael Mattar, FDP leader in Munich city council; Michael Kerkloh, CEO Munich Airport; and Manfred Rothkopf, Munich and Upper Bavaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Last year, passenger numbers at Munich Airport grew by an impressive 8.8% to 37.8 million (despite the introduction at the beginning of the year – 2011 - of the government’s so-called ‘eco-tax’ – see below), enabling it to overtake Rome Fiumicino as Europe’s 6th busiest airport. However, it seems likely that the Bavarian airport will slip back to seventh in 2012 as Istanbul’s Atatürk airport was busier than Munich in the second half of 2011.
With Munich now firmly established as Lufthansa’s second hub, the German flag-carrier accounts for over 60% of scheduled seat capacity and 65% of all scheduled flights at the airport. With subsidiaries Austrian, germanwings and Swiss accounting for a further 3% of capacity, Lufthansa’s dominance at the airport is clear.
A third runway has been proposed for the airport and last week, a variety of supporters from across the political and business spectrum got together to promote the benefits of an additional runway. A decision is due in June as to whether the airport can proceed with its plans.
airberlin is the second-busiest carrier at the airport with around 9% of seat capacity, competing with Lufthansa on several domestic routes, as well as offering a range of leisure destinations. germanwings and Condor each account for less than 2% of scheduled seat capacity while the busiest non-German airline serving Munich is easyJet with just 1.5% of seat capacity, spread across routes to four destinations in the UK; Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester.
Scheduled capacity relatively flat this summer
Based on analysis of OAG schedule data, it would appear that scheduled capacity at Munich airport this summer is relatively unchanged from last year. A snapshot comparison of seat capacity by country market for the first week of June in 2012 compared with the first week of June 2011 shows that half of the top 15 are showing a year-on-year decline in capacity, while half are showing growth.
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 June 2012 and w/c 6 June 2011
Capacity reductions of more than 5% appear to be occurring in the domestic market as well as on routes to Austria and the UK. However, six of the top 15 country markets are registering capacity growth of more than 5% with UAE (+24%), Romania (+14%) and Turkey (+12%) leading the way. The capacity growth in the UAE market has been achieved by Emirates choosing to operate an A380 on one of its two daily frequencies.
German aviation tax
The Netherlands had its own, yearlong experiment with an aviation tax, but revoked it in July 2009 after it saw Dutch hubs like Maastricht Aachen Airport lose passengers to rivals in neighboring countries, including Germany.
The levy cost Dutch airports, airlines, and related businesses between 1.2 and 1.3 million euros in lost revenue, according to a study by Amsterdam Aviation Economics, a research institute affiliated with the University of Amsterdam. [They claim German travellers are not choosing to go to airports across the border in Austria or Holland, to avoid the air passenger tax].
The German aviation tax is at €8 per one-way flight within Europe, €25 for medium-haul services to the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, and €45 for long-haul flights. The tariff only applies to flights originating in Germany. The German Finance Ministry reported the duty raised €434 million euros in revenues in the first half of 2011.
[Compared to the UK Air Passenger Duty, which after April 2012 will be £13 for a return journey within Europe, £65 for a trip between 2,000 and 4,000 miles, then £81 and £92 in the higher distance bands].
However, for travelers, the tax can double the total cost of a bargain ticket. That has driven Irish budget carrier Ryanair to cancel some of its services from Weeze Airport and add flights at Maastricht. Meanwhile, rival airline Germanwings has launched a service linking Maastricht to Berlin 12 times per week.
No to Third Airport Runway
Munich Airport anti-3rd runway demonstrations
Munich News Sun 30 Oct 2011
Around 7000 people converged on Marienplatz on Saturday to oppose the construction of a third runway at Munich Airport.
Organisers ‘AufgeMUCKt’ claimed the event, the first of two such planned demonstrations, was a resounding success and highlighted public opposition to the airport expansion. They are hoping to acquire 27,000 signatures for a petition to force a referendum on the issue in the Bavarian State Parliament.
Various Green Party politicians spoke at the demonstration and urged Munich citizens to stand behind their push for a public debate on the matter.
Munich Airport expansion approved despite opposition
Published: 26 Jul 2011
Proponents of a bigger Munich Airport have cleared a major hurdle: Bavarian officials have approved the construction of a third runway to increase the capacity of Germany’s second largest air hub.
Expected to be finished by 2015, the expansion would allow 120 planes to take off and land at the airport per hour instead of the current 90.
The approval comes as airport officials hope to turn Munich into a major hub on par with Germany’s largest, Frankfurt Airport. But it is facing steep opposition from some residents and conservationists who are backing lawsuits to stop the expansion.
The airport says it’s sticking close to its current ambitious plans. By 2025, officials hope to play host 58 million passengers each year instead of the current 35 million. That would put it level with where Frankfurt stands today.
Klaus-Peter Siegloch, president of the Federation of German Aviation Industry (BDL), called the runway expansion indispensable.
It would ensure that “tens of thousands of people at the Munich hub find work,” he said.
Proponents of the expansion say there are safeguards in place to appease critics. Flights on the third runway will only be allowed between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. And the airport is offering to pay property owners affected by airport noise market value for their property.
But expansion opponents AufgeMUCkt (a play on words using Munich’s airport code MUC) said its concerns, which include excessive noise and environmental destruction, are not being addressed.
Debate over a possible airport expansion has gone on for about six years. About 85,000 complaints from citizens and more than a dozen municipalities have been registered during a lengthy consultation process.
People concerned about the airport’s plans can still lodge complaints until November.
Munich could become a German Heathrow if local opposition manages to block 3rd runway plans
John Stewart and some other campaigners recently visited Germany, to see the current protests against airport expansion there. John has written about their visit. He says campaigners are getting organised to oppose the planned building of a new 3rd runway at Munich. The case for a new runway there is weak because the existing runways are nowhere near capacity, most of the flights from Munich are domestic so could transfer to rail, and there is very low unemployment in the area. Visiting Frankfurt, they attended one of the regular Monday evening protests. The movement there driven by the concern about climate change, have brought together a first-rate coalition of environmental activists, local residents, sympathetic politicians and academic experts. They are a considerable force to be reckoned with.
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Lawmaker blasts possibility of expanding JFK Airport into Jamaica Bay
Opposition cites environmental damage and threat of bird strikes
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 15, 2012,
Dan Mundy, president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, sits in his yard, which overlooks Jamaica Bay in Broad Channel, Queens. Mundy is opposed to extending JFK Airport runways into Jamaica Bay.
A freshman lawmaker has taken up the rallying cry of local environmentalists by urging the Port Authority not to expand John F. Kennedy Airport into Jamaica Bay.
Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach) blasted the suggestion by the Regional Plan Association to look into filling “dead” parts of the federally protected wildlife refuge to accommodate more runways.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is doing its own aviation study — and expanding capacity at Kennedy Airport is one of the options under consideration, an agency official said.
“There are lots of reasons why this is not a good idea,” said Goldfeder, who recently sent a letter to the Port Authority making his position clear. “My community has been more than vocal in opposition to this planned expansion.”
Dan Mundy, president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, which advocates for protecting and restoring the bay, said the proposal could disrupt the eco-system of the roughly 9,100-acre bay.
“It’s a very critical habitat area. There’s all kinds of fish and aquatic life there — and birds also,” he said. “Nobody would be thinking of filling the Grand Canyon.”
Aviation consultant Ken Paskar said disrupting the bay could also raise the risk of a bird strike — the sort that led US Airways Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River in 2009.
“Birds and airports don’t mix,” said Paskar, who is also president of the Friends of LaGuardia Airport, a group formed to oppose the construction of a waste transfer station in College Point, near LaGuardia.
Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said the agency “will be sure to take the Assemblyman’s concerns into consideration” on expanding the airport.
The “agency understands JFK’s proximity to Jamaica Bay and the wildlife it supports,” he said in a statement.
The controversy was ignited after the Regional Plan Association, a transportation research, planning and advocacy group, suggested expanding runways into Jamaica Bay in a report released last year.
Robert Pirani, a vice president at the organization, stressed this was just one of many recommendations on how to make airports more efficient.
“Going into Jamaica Bay poses a lot of environmental concerns,” he said. But “the congestion at the region’s airports is a serious problem and we need to take a hard look at all the options.”
Newark, JFK airports eye expansion as demand expected to rise
July 06, 2011,
By Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
Star-Ledger File PhotoNewark Liberty International Airport, pictured here, could be targeted for an expansion, along with John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports in New York.
NEWARK — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is studying how to expand capacity at its airports amid warnings the region could lose billions of dollars in economic opportunity in the coming decade if travelers fly somewhere else.
In requesting proposals for an airport capacity study, which were due Friday, the Port Authority cited a January report by the nonprofit Regional Plan Association.
The study projected demand for air travel in the region would dramatically outstrip total capacity at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International Airports over the next two decades. A 2007 warning from the Federal Aviation Administration was also cited as a reason for considering expansion .
The association study found regional demand will reach 130 million annual passenger trips by 2029, up from the current capacity of 110 million. Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and JFK are now nearing capacity, having handled a total of 103 million passengers in 2010.
At Newark Liberty, passenger trips are projected to rise by almost 33 percent within 30 years.
In 2010, there were 33.1 million trips at the airport, where capacity is 36.4 million. And demand is seen rising to 37.1 million in this decade, to 41.6 million for the 2020s and to 48 million for the 2030s.
“It’s good that they moved that quickly,” said Jeffrey Zupan, a senior fellow at the association and lead authority of the January report.
Heavy air travel already contributes to Newark Liberty’s consistent ranking as one of the costliest and most frequently delayed airports in the country.
The airport had the highest average domestic ticket price of any major airport for the past two quarters. It had the four recurring flights that are most often delayed in the nation last year, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The planning association called for replacing a short, east-west runway at Newark Liberty with a third north-south runway that would handle more large-jet traffic.
A new runway, which would parallel the New Jersey Turnpike, is estimated to cost $5 billion, including relocation of Terminal B and parts of Terminals A and C.
Expansion options for JFK could add another $10 billion, the planning group found.
“What I understand is that they’ve asked the consulting firms to review our work,” Zupan said of the Port Authority’s request for proposals.
Ron Marsico, a Port Authority spokesman, said the cost of a capacity study had not been established.
Air traffic control technology is another factor in capacity, dictating how close together jets can safely fly, and how frequently they can land and take off. The FAA is hoping to replace its current radar-based system with a satellite positioning system known as NextGen, starting late in this decade. But with the cost of NextGen projected at $40 billion, Zupan said, its timely implementation is no sure thing.
“If we don’t do NextGen,” he warned, “and we drag our feet with runways, this region is going to suffer terribly.”
JFK AIRPORT EXPANSION THREATENS BAY
Letter of Opposition to Runway Expansion Plan
Forwarded to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward
225 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
Dear Mr. Ward:
The undersigned organizations write to express our strong opposition to recent proposals to expand John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) into Jamaica Bay. Such an expansion would irreversibly harm what is not simply New York City’s ecological crown jewel but a wetlands and estuarine area of national importance. We ask that the Port Authority consider other available alternatives for meeting the region’s airport capacity needs.
Jamaica Bay encompasses more than 25,000 acres of water, marsh, meadowland, beaches, dunes and forests in Brooklyn and Queens, all accessible by subway. It contains a federal wildlife refuge the size of 10 Central Parks, a portion of Gateway National Recreation Area, Bayswater State Park and nearly a dozen city parks. It provides nursery and foraging habitat for the region’s fisheries and other marine life – indeed, Bay waters adjacent to JFK are renowned for some of the region’s best fishing for bluefish and striped bass — and is a critical bird habitat area that is visited annually by what is estimated to be nearly 20 percent of North America’s bird species. It is also home to various endangered and threatened species – from sea turtles to peregrine falcons.
Jamaica Bay provides visitors with opportunities to enjoy nature and all its bounty, and to find relative quietude and respite in the middle of a noisy and frenetic metropolis. In announcing last year that New York City was committing more than $100 million to reduce water pollution in the Bay and to restore its marsh islands, Mayor Bloomberg described Jamaica Bay as “without question one of the most bountiful wildlife habitats in the entire Northeast. It is important to the people who live in the area for its rich biodiversity, the recreation it offers, and the protection the marshlands provide from flooding.” U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Salazar has described it as one of America’s “great urban parks” and just last month outlined ambitious plans to further enhance Jamaica Bay’s natural resource and recreational value to surrounding communities.
A study released in January by the Regional Planning Association (RPA) and funded by the Port Authority surveyed a range of alternatives for meeting projected future aviation demand in the region. The analysis encompassed a variety of expansion projects and operational improvements at the region’s major and regional airports. The array of alternatives included certain alternatives for JFK that would extend existing runways into Jamaica Bay, build new runways in the Bay, and/or significantly increase Bay overflights.
Such an expansion of JFK would have unacceptable adverse impacts on Jamaica Bay. Hundreds of acres of the Bay would need to be permanently filled in, something currently prohibited by federal law. Intrusive commercial jet noise would increase, potentially dramatically. Wildlife conflicts with aviation safety would escalate. Finally, water pollution from the airport, which currently discharges the run-off from the millions of gallons of toxic de-icing fluids used each winter directly into the Bay, would likely increase.
Our groups do not oppose efforts to increase the region’s aviation capacity. The RPA report identifies a number of alternatives that would satisfy the authors’ most optimistic projections of long-term aviation demand growth, including an additional runway at JFK that does not require filling or additional overflights of Jamaica Bay, expansion of Newark Airport (which can be done within the existing footprint), build-out of the regional airports, and technological improvements in air traffic control. We strongly recommend that the Port Authority consider such alternatives in lieu of further consideration of expanding JFK’s runways into Jamaica Bay.
We are confident that you share our view that Jamaica Bay is a natural treasure of singular value. We look forward to continuing to work with you to protect and restore it as a cornerstone of New York City’s and the region’s environmental legacy for generations to come.
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In a report the GLA Environment Committee calls on the Government to adopt a new method of measuring aircraft noise. It found that the method recommended by the EU more accurately reflects noise disturbance. Under the method traditionally used by the UK Government, just over 250,000 people are said to be disturbed by noise from Heathrow. But the EU method puts the figure at 725,000. HACAN welcomes the report and urges the Government to take account of its findings. The current way of measuring noise says planes are not a problem in places like Putney or Fulham! This is clearly untrue. The EU method gives a more accurate picture of the true numbers affected by noise. In a wide-ranging report, the Committee also recommended that the noise measurements from Heathrow and London City Airport should be combined to reflect the way people who live under both flight paths hear the noise.
GLA (Greater London Assembly) website:
Tackling air and noise pollution around Heathrow
14 MARCH 2012
The Environment Committee’s new report sets out a series of actions that could help tackle air and noise pollution around Heathrow airport.
Air quality around Heathrow could be significantly improved by better public transport links to help reduce the number of people who travel to and from the airport by car.
Plane Speaking, by the Environment Committee, highlights the fact that passenger numbers at Heathrow could grow by a third to 95 million, and calls for steps to be taken to ensure the growth in passengers does not make air quality around the airport worse.
Heathrow is already the second worst area in the capital for poor air quality, which can cause serious ill-health and premature death.
Of particular concern is the significant contribution to poor air quality made by people using private cars and taxis to get to and from the airport – and at the moment almost two-thirds of the 69 million passengers using Heathrow every year travel by car.
Improving public transport links – alongside the introduction of more greener, quieter planes and ensuring the airport’s on-site vehicles meet the latest EU emissions standards – is essential to tackling the problem.
The report also looks at noise pollution around Heathrow, which now affects people living up to 20km away. The Committee believes there is scope to develop a tighter and more consistent approach to dealing with the impacts of aircraft noise, and recommends that more stringent standards are adopted and the trigger point at which people quality for noise insulation assistance is lowered.
The report sets out a number of actions, including:
- Introducing incentives to encourage people to use buses and coaches
- Expediting the upgrade of the Piccadilly line and extending its current operating hours by one hour at either end of the day
- Consideration of more robust measures to reduce the level of drop-off and pick-up traffic
- Ensuring Crossrail offers the service levels to take on the growing numbers of passengers coming into central London
- Making sure Heathrow is linked to the new planned high speed rail network which will help to minimise long car journeys to the airport
- Using incentives to encourage airline operators to remove the most polluting aircraft from their fleets more quickly and switch to more greener, quieter planes
- Ensuring Heathrow’s on-site vehicle fleet meets the latest EU emissions standards
There is a short video about the report’s key findings:
This report builds on the Committee’s previous report on environmental conditions around Heathrow. (see below).
Read the new report, Plane Speaking: Air and noise pollution around a growing Heathrow airport:
Plane Speaking report March 2012.pdf (53 pages)
In a report published today the Greater London Assembly Environment Committee calls on the Government to adopt a new method of measuring aircraft noise. It found that the method recommended by the European Union more accurately reflects noise disturbance. Under the method traditionally used by the UK Government, just over 250,000 people are said to be disturbed by noise from Heathrow. But the EU method puts the figure at 725,000.
HACAN welcomes the report and urges the Government to take account of its findings. The current way of measuring noise says planes are not a problem in places like Putney or Fulham! This is clearly untrue. The EU method gives a more accurate picture of the true numbers affected by noise.
In a wide-ranging report, the Committee also recommended that the noise measurements from Heathrow and London City Airport should be combined to reflect the way people who live under both flight paths hear the noise. The report also wants the Government, jointly with Heathrow Airport, to commission a full independent health assessment of the impact of the airport’s operations on local communities. And it recommends a wide range of improvements to public transport serving the airport.
The report, Plane Speaking, can be found on the Greater London Assembly website.
Note: Currently, when measuring aircraft noise, the Government averages out the noise over a 16 hour day. The EU method averages it out over a 12 hour day, a separate 4 evening period and an 8 hour night period. It adds 5 decibels to the evening period, and 10 decibels to the night, to allow for lower background noise levels at these times.
The report’s recommendations are that:
Heathrow Airport Limited, in consultation with airline
operators, should seek to implement an earlier time frame
within which aircraft below CAEP/4 standard are removed from
We recommend that Heathrow Airport Limited adopts a more
ambitious target of 60 per cent of its passengers to travel to
and from the airport using public transport and that this target
is incorporated in the revised Surface Access Strategy.
Heathrow Airport Limited should set out options for reducing
the level of drop-off and pick-up traffic in the revised Surface
The Committee recommends that Network Rail undertake a full
economic appraisal of its proposal to address peak capacity
shortfall in the Thames Valley region by increasing the planned
Crossrail peak stopping service from four to ten trains per
hour, at the earliest opportunity.
In the interests of developing a more sustainable approach to
rail transport around Heathrow airport and affected areas
within the South East, we recommend that the Department for
Transport develop a Heathrow forum comprising of the full
range of transport partners, specifically tasked with
developing integrated rail transport solutions. We would wish
to see the forum in place by September 2012.
We recommend that Transport for London and Heathrow
Airport Limited work together to establish a communications
plan to increase awareness of available bus and coach services
and to develop a range of behavioural measures and incentives
to encourage more airport workers and passengers to use
existing services, with a view to incorporating them in the
revised Surface Access Strategy.
We recommend that Transport for London involve Heathrow
Airport Limited, in the procurement process for buses used in
routes serving the airport, by seeking their views on the
appropriateness of the size and design of the vehicles.
We recommend that Government adopt the 55dB Lden
threshold that airport operators are required to apply when
developing noise action plans to manage the impacts of
aircraft noise, and as set out in the Environmental Noise
(England) Regulations 2006, to develop noise contours used to
inform national policy and future airport development planning
In the interests of maintaining a consistent approach to noise
insulation mitigation schemes across London’s airports, we
recommend that Heathrow Airport Limited set a 59dB Lden
threshold at which local residents and communities can qualify
for noise insulation in its revised scheme.
We recommend that Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee,
and London City Airport Consultative Committee trial periodic
joint meetings, annually or bi-annually, to consider matters of
We recommend that the Government jointly with Heathrow
Airport Limited should commission a full independent health
assessment of the impact of the airport’s operations on local
The Government consultation on the current arrangement for
night flights at the Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports,
should include a comprehensive review of the latest evidence
on the adverse health impacts of night aircraft noise, including
any evidence on productivity losses associated with disturbed
sleep. The review should be set alongside an objective analysis
of the economic value of such flights.
Flights of Fancy: Can an expanded Heathrow meet its environmental targets?
This Environment Committee report warns that key safeguards set by the Government to limit the environmental impact of a potential third runway at Heathrow may not be fit for purpose.
Expanding the UK’s busiest airport would mean an initial increase in capacity of 125,000 annual flights and 15 million extra passengers in 2020 when the runway first opens, and this is forecast to increase even further.
The Government has set out conditions on noise, air quality and climate change to manage the negative environmental impact of the potential development. But a new report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee reveals unmistakeable limitations in some of these conditions and how they would be met.
The report makes a number of recommendations relating to noise, air quality, emissions and governance to strengthen the environmental conditions.
Flights of Fancy PDF
As part of its future work programme, the Committee will review the latest data on air quality and noise at Heathrow airport and its surrounding areas
Flights of Fancy – submissions received PDF
Read more »
Tim Yeo, who is a former Conservative environment minister in John Major’s government, is calling on the government to drop its opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. Tim Yeo is now chairman of the parliamentary energy and climate change committee, said the inclusion of aviaiton into the EU ETS meant it would not lead to an increase in emissions. Mr Yeo thinks it is more practical to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, rather than an estuary airport – which is in the wrong place, and for which the costs are unquantifiable. Yeo backs the line that Britain must have a “world class transport infrastructure” if it was to be “a world class economy in the 21st Century”.
13 March 2012 (BBC)
Tim Yeo claims the coalition has the ‘wrong policy’ over London airports
A former Conservative environment minister is calling on the government to drop its opposition to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the energy and climate change committee, said new EU rules on aviation meant it would not lead to an increase in emissions.
The coalition scrapped Labour’s plans for a third runway at Heathrow when it came to power.
It followed widespread opposition from councils, residents and green groups. It also ruled out any additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
A consultation on UK aviation policy is considering whether a new airport, partially built on reclaimed land in the Thames Estuary, could be feasible. That is also opposed by environmental groups and local councils.
But Mr Yeo, who was a minister for countryside and environment in John Major’s government, told BBC Two’s Daily Politics: “I think it’s more practical to build a third runway.
“I think the problem with a new airport is the problem – the costs are enormous and probably unquantifiable, it’s also in the wrong place. People don’t live in the Thames estuary, they tend to live in west of London, north of London.”
He said Britain must have a “world class transport infrastructure” if it was to be “a world class economy in the 21st Century”.
“We’ve just got to be brave with the coalition partners and say ‘We want Britain to be in the premier league economically in the 2020s’. That means more airport capacity and particularly the hub.”
Mr Yeo said new rules which require any airline that lands or takes off within the EU to take part in its emissions trading scheme gave “cover for change in the coalition’s position”.
The new rule, which came into force in January, means that all airlines have to add up greenhouse gas emissions from flights that begin or end at EU airports, and must pay a small charge, or trade carbon permits on the EU emission trading scheme, if they exceed their allowance.
Mr Yeo said: “That means building another runway does not increase emissions because they are already subject to the EU cap. I believe this is the moment for the coalition to change its policy.”
Business groups and trade unions have also recently urged the government to to support airport expansion, including at Heathrow, in an effort to boost the UK’s economic recovery. Airport operator BAA has also launched a poster campaign on London’s Tube.
But Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said she would not reconsider a third runway at Heathrow, and Labour has also said it is “off the agenda”.
In May 2010, the previous Labour government’s plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow were scrapped when the coalition government took office.
BAA withdrew its plans for a second runway at Stansted at the same time and any expansion of Gatwick before 2019 has also been ruled out.
The Conservatives and Lib Dems had both opposed the plan in opposition, preferring improved rail links instead.
Read more »
Dacorum Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed the expansion of Luton Airport on 6th March and gave it a clear thumbs down. Committee Members voted to recommend that the Council object to the expansion of the airport to 18m passengers per annum, and were particularly concerned about the noise impact that would be caused by the extension of the operations – particularly during the night. They expressed the following concerns, among others: * the expansion needs to be taken forward in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way; * all impacts must be properly accounted and mitigated for; and * the proposal must minimise disturbance to local communities. Any expansion must be underpinned by effective noise and environmental controls.
It’s official: Dacorum Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed the expansion of Luton Airport on 6th March and gave it a clear thumbs down.
Committee Members voted to recommend that the Council object to the expansion of the airport to 18m passengers per annum, and were particularly concerned about the noise impact that would be caused by the extension of the operations – particularly during the night.
The minutes of the Committee should be on the Dacorum Borough Council website by the end of this week.
HALE welcomes this news as a clear signal that local communities are really concerned about the very real negative impacts that such a huge expansion in capacity would have both on quality of life and on transport infrastructure. The sheer number of replies on our site from people concerned about noise, night flights and traffic problems make the point very clearly.
Will Luton Borough Council listen to what the community is saying ?
Dacorum Borough Council
The Dacorum Borough Council
Strategic Planning and Regeneration Overview & Scrutiny Committee Agenda item on the subject of Luton Airport expansion, for their meeting on 6th March 2012, is at
Strategic Planning and Regeneration Overview & Scrutiny
Appendix 1 – draft London Luton Airport expansion response to consultation
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on a pre application consultation on behalf of
the owner, London Luton Airport Limited. This is being pursued through the futureLuToN:Optimisation project.
We would respond as follows:
The Council is very mindful of the potential impact on the Borough of future proposed
changes to the operation and capacity of London Luton Airport (LLA). We note that the
planned expansion from 9.5 million passengers per annum (mppa) (2011) to 18 mppa
(2024/25)) will increase numbers to a level currently equivalent to that served by
Stansted Airport. Dacorum lies close to the airport, much of its landscape is of high
quality, and many residents are already directly affected by overflight of urban areas
and associated noise and night flight issues.
The Council expresses the following concerns:
the expansion needs to be taken forward in an environmentally sensitive and
all impacts must be properly accounted and mitigated for; and
the proposal must minimise disturbance to local communities.
Any expansion must be underpinned by effective noise and environmental controls.
2. Economic Role
The Council recognises the potential for regeneration and job creation associated with
the proposal. The draft National Planning Policy Framework encourages local
authorities to support sustainable economic development and to respond positively to
wider opportunities for growth. The Council recognises that the development of
capacity using the existing single runway is supported by the White Paper on Airport
Policy. LLA is of local and regional economic importance and is a major transport
gateway and hub. It is geographically well placed to meet longer term predicted growth
in passenger numbers stemming from the London Airports, and in particular to handle
short haul traffic.
Dacorum forms part of the LLA’s catchment and residents and businesses benefit from
having a shorter distance to travel to a major airport. The close proximity of and easy
connections to LLA is also a strong attraction for businesses to locate in the borough.
Residents and businesses who use LLA will also benefit from the proposed
improvements to passenger facilities, and there may well be direct and indirect
economic spin offs for the borough from its expansion.FutureLuToN:Optimisation has put forward a business case as one of its key arguments for the expansion of the airport. While potentially there could be a significant associated growth in jobs (around 4,000 directly and 1,750 indirectly predicted), the Council would like to see this scale of growth substantiated given general trends towards automation of operations, the provision of services online, and continuing downward pressure on staffing levels. Furthermore, we need to better understand the impact on the wider economy i.e. the location of new employment area(s) at Luton, and the effects it might have beyond Luton’s administrative area.
3. Environmental Impact
However, the proposed growth is going to have a significant effect on the environment
of and passenger movement within Dacorum that must be fully modelled and
The Council recognises that this is only an emerging preferred options consultation,
and there is clearly significant extra technical work that futureLuToN:Optimisation
needs to undertake to assess the impact of the proposal. For example, an
Environmental Impact Assessment is yet to be completed so that the environmental,
economic and transport impacts of the proposal can be fully gauged and mitigation
measures identified. We note you acknowledge this general point. At this preapplication stage it is difficult for the Council to be satisfied that this has been properly
assessed and measures put in place to address environmental and transport concerns.
4. Noise and Night Flights
Without adequate controls, the Council remains apprehensive over the potential
increase in aircraft movements over time, and their effects on levels of noise in and
frequency of night flights over Dacorum.
The Council does not accept your claim that noise levels will necessary decrease. In
addition, no reference has been made in the supporting material to the consequences
of the increase in community disturbance stemming from the greater frequency of
While peak noise levels may be falling, we are concerned that average noise levels
may be on the rise. The Council recognises that the fleet of smaller, older and noisier
airplanes is slowly being phased out and welcomes this. However, this is being offset
by a general trend towards the use of larger airframes that is tending to increase
average noise levels.
As well as problems with overflying the Borough’s towns and villages, any increase in
noise disturbance will impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This
area is prized for its tranquillity along with other rural parts of the borough.
Any plans for the expansion of LLA must be underpinned by tighter controls over
daytime and night time noise. In particular, the Council has been concerned that the
Night Noise Policy to the existing planning permission is not sufficiently robust at the moment, to the detriment of Dacorum’s residents. The expansion proposals represent
an ideal opportunity to put in place a more vigorous Night Noise Policy that is focussed
on meaningful protection of those residents affected by the proposals. The Council will
be seeking a commitment from you towards such an approach.
5. Transport and Highways
The Council welcomes the futureLuToN:Optimisation commitment to investing in
transport infrastructure for bus, car and rail travellers, and improving the road network
around the Central Terminal Area. This is a necessity if LLA is to accommodate the
increased passenger numbers up to 18mppa.
However, futureLuToN:Optimisation is yet to complete a full transport and traffic
modelling and for this to be assessed by the relevant highway authorities (i.e.
respectively county/district and the Highways Agency). In the absence of such a study
the Council remains concerned over peak period congestion problems in and around
LLA, particularly on those strategic and local routes connecting Dacorum to the airport
(e.g. M1, A5, A1081 and A505). It is clear that if not dealt with effectively, any increase
in congestion on the M1 (especially around junction 10A) is going to adversely affect
the functioning of the network of surrounding roads.
6. Other matters
The Council believes any expansion proposals must be developed in the light of the
existing operational constraints (e.g. the proximity of Heathrow airspace and Bovingdon
stack), possible route changes affecting LLA, and the future mix of aircraft and type of
flight (e.g. passenger, corporate and cargo). It is not clear to what extent the proposed
growth at LLA has taken into account such factors.
The Council is also concerned that the current development programme does not allow
sufficient time for representations to be properly taken into account and changes made
to the proposal, prior to submission of a planning application to Luton Borough Council
during April 2012. The Council considers the timescale to be unrealistic and to
undermine the credibility and purpose of the consultation exercise. More time should
be allowed for representations to be assessed and amendments to be incorporated into
The Council reserves the right to comment more fully as the development plans are progressed to the planning application stage
Campaigners expose the untruths in the PR newsletter being circulated by Luton Airport – especially over the explosive issue that the flights are getting noisier year on year. despite claims to the contrary by the airport and G L Hearn during the consultation on expansion. This is due to larger, heavier planes being used, and the trend is set to continue. Does misleading the public invalidate the consultation process? See www.hale.uk.net/in-touch and www.hale.uk.net/noise-gate
Back in 2009
Luton – Call for review of night flights
20th April 2009 Dacorum Borough Council is calling on Luton Airport to review the number of night flights from its runway. The council has written to the airport urging it to review its Night Noise Policy – to take effect from 1 April 2010, and says local residents are subjected to twice the number of night flights (36) than take-off from Heathrow (16). It is asking that aircraft movements do not rise above their current numbers during the night period. (BBC) Click here to view full story…
Read more »
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport says 3.3m passengers from outside the southeast travel to a crowded Heathrow, mostly for the simplest journeys to well-served, short-haul holiday destinations such as Mediterranean resorts. Holidaymakers from Birmingham flying to Malta or Lisbon are taking the slots needed by corporate passengers in London trying to reach valuable new markets. This makes no sense. No sense for British families or for British businesses. No wonder London’s business leaders are tearing their hair out. And this situation doesn’t help businesspeople in the regions hoping to attract investment to their own local economies. He says there are nine major runways outside of London that could better cater for regional passengers.
13th March 2012 (City AM)
by PAUL KEHOE, chief executive of Birmingham Airport.
A WORLD-CLASS city deserves world-class aviation links. Without them, businesses and jobs will drift away. With its crowded airports, limited long-haul options and unreliable air services, London faces exactly this threat. Something needs to be done.
For some, the answer is “Britain needs a bigger hub airport”. This ideology seeks to conflate concern about Britain’s economic growth with arguments for a third runway. Earlier this week, Heathrow posted advertisements targeting MPs at Westminster Underground with a thinly-veiled threat. “UK economic growth. This is your final call.” Strong stuff.
But a hub airport cannot answer London’s needs, let alone Britain’s needs.
Heathrow already handles 70m passengers a year, 31 per cent of the country’s annual total. Business travellers in and out of London undoubtedly prefer its convenience, although the unreliability of such an over-worked asset creates customer complaints.
The Department for Transport estimates Britain will need space for 125m more passengers a year by 2030. There is no way that Heathrow, even with a third runway, can possibly answer this demand.
A third runway could, at best, handle an extra 20m passengers a year, even after 10-15 year’s delay. But where would the other 100m passengers go? And what happens while it is built?
The simple maths of the situation demands that we look beyond Heathrow for the answer, and consider how our regional airports can help.
Today, our aviation system encourages travellers from all over the country to make their way to Heathrow for even the simplest journeys. The landing charge regime caps Heathrow’s prices, despite well-documented over-demand. And the national carrier has withdrawn foreign destinations from regional airports.
This leads to a bizarre situation where 3.3m passengers from outside the southeast travel to a crowded London airport based in one of Europe’s worst traffic bottlenecks mostly for the simplest journeys to well-served, short-haul holiday destinations such as Mediterranean resorts.
Holidaymakers from Birmingham flying to Malta or Lisbon are taking the slots needed by corporate passengers in London trying to reach valuable new markets. This makes no sense. No sense for British families or for British businesses. No wonder London’s business leaders are tearing their hair out. And this situation doesn’t help businesspeople in the regions hoping to attract investment to their own local economies.
A more balanced and integrated approach would recognise that there are nine major runways outside of London that could better cater for regional passengers.
For instance, Birmingham Airport currently handles 9m passengers and it has the spare capacity to double this figure to 18m passengers today. Construction has started on a runway extension that will increase capacity to 36m passengers by 2030. If Birmingham could have its travellers back, it would free up slots at Heathrow for flights to emerging markets. Airports like Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh can make a similar contribution.
The government’s aviation review is an opportunity to think boldly about how to use existing resources. As a starting point, the government should look hard at the revenue regime imposed on London’s airports. Unlike other airports, income to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is capped by the Civil Aviation Authority. For instance, Heathrow can earn no more than £16.99 per passenger. The more it makes from shopping, the less it can charge airlines for landing fees. This regime was meant to protect consumers from over-charging at a time when BAA owned all three of London’s airports. With Gatwick sold and Stansted on the auction block, this regime seems out of date and it works against consumers’ interests. Clearly a businessman travelling to the Far East is more valuable than a teenager seeking cut-price thrills in Ibiza. Heathrow should be allowed to charge more.
I happen to think that if market forces were freed from the dead hand of regulation, we could see Heathrow fulfil its natural role as the premier airport for a global city. Reliability would increase, there would be more slots for long-haul travel and the airport’s owners would, quite reasonably, see income increase.
Some would go further and impose a congestion charge on Heathrow. This would certainly speed up the repatriation of passengers to regional airports. I am not sure, but this is something the government should certainly consider.
My vision of British transport in the twenty-first century is one where a manufacturer in Manchester can fly straight from a regional terminal to a factory in Guangzhou on Monday, return on Tuesday and be selling goods in London on Wednesday having taken the morning high-speed train.
A modern economy demands more than one crowded airport. It needs a fully integrated transport network.
Paul Kehoe is the chief executive of Birmingham Airport.
Read more »
Virgin Atlantic was now focusing on expansion in America and Australia rather than the UK. Branson’s announcement is intended to put pressure on the government to expand Heathrow. He made the somewhat bizarre statement that “If there is one thing that is holding the country back it was the decision by all three parties to do the cowardly thing and that was to say they wouldn’t allow a third runway.” So that explains the economic downturn?? Virgin’s problem is that it cannot get enough slots at Heathrow, especially if BA buys BMI. So as a bit of a bribe, Branson says Virgin would be willing to invest £5bn in expansion at Heathrow with new routes and take on thousands of new people, if the Government reversed its position on the 3rd runway. Another strange comment is that ” in 5 to 10 years planes would burn clean fuel and have quieter engines.” What ??
Sir Richard Branson: Virgin expansion finished in UK
Sir Richard Branson has revealed that Virgin Atlantic would invest up to £5bn in the UK if the Government reversed its “incredibly damaging” block on any expansion at Heathrow.
10 Mar 2012
In one of his most outspoken attacks on Coalition policy, Sir Richard said that Virgin Atlantic was now focusing on expansion in America and Australia rather than the UK.
Thousands of jobs which could have been created in the UK have gone elsewhere, he said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.
Although Virgin Atlantic officials said that the airline had launched some new routes from Heathrow and invested in its presence at Terminal 3, Sir Richard said that the company had “effectively ground to a halt” in Britain.
Sir Richard said that having a review without including Heathrow, as the Government intends, “makes no sense whatsoever”. BAA, the owner of Heathrow, is considering legal action against the review because of its limitation.
“I think the Heathrow decision was purely political and incredibly damaging,” Sir Richard, the president of Virgin Atlantic said. “If there is one thing that is holding the country back it was the decision by all three parties to do the cowardly thing and that was to say they wouldn’t allow a third runway.
“Heathrow came to a grinding halt five years ago. Virgin hasn’t been able to offer many new routes out of Heathrow in the last five years. There would be a whole lot of destinations that we would be flying to and new destinations that we don’t fly to today.
“We can’t wait for another aviation review. Virgin would be willing to invest £5bn in expansion at Heathrow with new routes and take on thousands of new people [if the Government reversed its position]. Sometimes brave politicians need to change their mind and we need brave politicians on both sides of the political spectrum to put the country before party.”
Sir Richard said he was sceptical about an airport in the Thames Estuary although he has pledged to look at the option. He warned it could be-come a “white elephant” and take up to 20 years to build.
“The idea of a Thames Estuary airport, we’re looking at it but for it to make sense you would have to close Heathrow down and that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Heathrow area,” he said.
“That would be even more politically disastrous for anyone who made that decision.”
Sir Richard said that in five to 10 years planes would burn clean fuel and have quieter engines. That meant there was now less reason to object: “The aviation industry could quite rapidly go from being a polluting industry to being one of the cleanest industries.”
In a separate development, a group of business leaders write in today’sSunday Telegraph that the Government should also look at using more capacity at the UK’s regional airports.
“Airports outside of the South East can provide additional capacity,” the letter signed by chambers of commerce heads says.
“Birmingham Airport could double its passenger numbers today. Manchester Airport could handle 50m passengers a year by 2050. Airports such as Liverpool, Manston, Doncaster and Blackpool could collectively accommodate tens of millions of extra passengers a year.”
There are some quite pithy comments below this article. Some more libellous than others. This one gives the flavour of several:
“If you believe this, you will believe anything. If you ever have to shake hands with Branson, check that you have all your fingers afterwards. Great pity The Sunday Telegraph gave him more free publicity. A total charlatan if ever there was one.”
“Virgin expansion finished in UK” Thank God for that.
Read more »
Germaine Greer, writing about the threat of a Thames Estuary airport says “concerns about the environmental impact of airports are always expressed in terms of the health of the human population. There is no concern for the health of the planet, though this will be the same thing in the end. It is perhaps the bitterest irony that a new airport for London may become a necessity because Heathrow has become too big and too dirty to use without incurring massive fines for excessive pollution. …. The environmental consequences [of an airport offshore] may be less obvious to humans, but for a vast range of other earthlings, they are certain to be catastrophic. Once the toxic fallout from jet engines has entered and accumulated in the food chain, the Thames may become once more what it was less than 100 years ago, a poisonous sluice.”
A new airport in the Thames estuary would have a catastrophic impact on its biodiversity and undo years of hard work, warns Germaine Greer.
Jet threat : an artist’s impression of the Thames Hub Photo: Andrew Crowley/pa/alamy/graphics DT
10 Mar 2012
What’s so special about the Thames Estuary? The names are not romantic: Dartford, Thurrock, Mucking, Holehaven, Benfleet, Southend. There’s nothing special about a mosaic of flood meadows, grazing marshes, saline lagoons, chalk pits, mudflats, reed beds and shell banks. Common as dirt, you might say. Some kinds of dirt are special.
Take Two Tree Island, 640 acres of land on the other side of Ray Gut from Leigh-on-Sea, less than five miles across the water from the Isle of Grain. Around the island, which for most of the last century was a sewage farm and a rubbish dump, there are dense beds of sea grass. Sea grasses stabilise the sea floor, slow currents comb detritus and larvae out of the water flow, and provide nurseries for fish, shellfish, crustaceans and an array of other creatures. Seagrass beds are among the most biodiverse habitats on earth, but everywhere they are in trouble. Between them, Two Mile Island and Maplin Sands are hosts to the largest surviving continuous population of eel grass (Zostera noltii) in Europe.
These days Two Tree Island is a nature reserve, and the locals care about it. They care about it so much that they got together to stop the egg thieves who came year after year to rob the nests of the island’s avocets. Now, of course, it is aircraft they must worry about. Grain, and a mid-river site nearby at Shifting Sands, are currently being suggested as possible sites for a proposed new international airport which carries, for now at least, the name of “Boris Island” after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
We don’t know whether an airport so close will disturb the avocets, or the wigeon and the Brent geese that feed there, and apparently we don’t care either. Boris’s brilliant wheeze can hardly be cancelled because of a few avocets. Or for a few plants like Least lettuce or bulbous foxtail or salt marsh goosefoot, or golden samphire. As for the invertebrates, only the insect charity Buglife could care about the rare beetles and bugs, weevils and horseflies that can live only on the three Ramsar wetlands in the estuary.
As far as most people are concerned, the Thames Estuary is simply the place where the muddy river dumps its sludge in the murky North Sea, the end of a drain carrying London’s dirty water. Drains are made to be built over, so we might as well park an airport over this one.
It’s not as if the Thames were the Grand Canal or even the Rhine. There’s no marvellous maze of jogging and cycling tracks, no chain of playgrounds, parks and gardens, very little to bring the citizens to the riverside. No carnivals. No regattas. What most people don’t know is that the Thames is now one of the cleanest metropolitan rivers in the world, and one of the most biodiverse, with 121 species of fish and untold numbers of marine invertebrates.
This pleasant situation is down not to good luck, but to hard work. The process began with the building of the London sewer (which eventually replaced the sewage farm on Two Tree Island) and continued with the improvement of water treatment technology at Beckton.
Originally the raw sewage was discharged straight into the Thames, but now the water is so clean you can drink it. You probably do. The Beckton sewage treatment plant at the end of the Northern Outfall Sewer is one of the biggest in Europe and set to get a whole lot bigger.
Thames Water is now upgrading the treatment plant to cope with the increased flows expected from the Lea Valley Tunnel and the Hammersmith Tunnel. Meanwhile it has been joined by what is rather euphemistically called a desalination plant, which takes river water at low tide and cleans it. Two ships, the Thames Bubbler and the Thames Vitality, are kept on the Thames to pump oxygen through the water whenever severely polluted run-off from overflowing sewers enters the river. Eventually Beckton will deal with this too.
What should not be forgotten by the champions of Boris Island is that, despite the construction of a whole system of flood barriers, the Thames remains at risk of flooding. The sea level is rising because south-east Britain is gradually sinking, righting itself after being tilted upwards by the weight of ice in northern Britain during the last Ice Age. What is more, the groundwater level is rising. In its natural state a river system can absorb most impacts, through its bordering reed beds and marshlands, but if these are to carry out their role as buffer zones, they need to keep their soft mobile edges. Only two per cent of the banks of the Thames is still in anything like a natural state.
How an airport would complicate the case is anything but clear. Wildlife depends on the alternation of drowned, wet, less wet and dry. The Thames Estuary provides a haven for an estimated 170,000 overwintering wildfowl, which is a pretty good reason for not putting an airport over it, and not just because of the risk to the birds. Like the visitors to Southend in its glory days, the birds come for the mud, and the worms that live in it.
Downstream from the Thames Barrier, in the estuary proper, the prospect is dreariest, unless you like tank farms and power stations. Tilbury Power Station is a classic of its kind, as is the 17th-century fort that nestles in its lee. Here the river spreads itself out, carrying its stained plume past Cliffe marshes, past Holehaven and Canvey Island to Southend. At Erith you might notice the stumps of trees that grew by the river 5,000 years ago. No matter how calm and sleepy or dim and dingy an estuary may look, it is a dynamic environment, that affects and is affected by the currents and tidal movements of the entire marine system from the Atlantic to the Baltic. Attempts to control it will be at best futile and at worst catastrophic. On both sides of the estuary, there are huge sandbanks that are constantly being shifted, pulled up and down the coast. The ecosystems of the Thames Estuary are complex and interdependent, and require management. Hence the setting up of the Thames Estuary Partnership.
Most Londoners, possibly including the Mayor, have never heard of the Thames Estuary Partnership. It was set up in 2000 to work “for the sustainable future of our estuary’’. The partnership is a charitable company with a board consisting of representatives of the Environment Agency, the Port of London Authority and Natural England.
The management committee consists of representatives of University College London, the RSPB, Thames Water, Kent County Council and Essex County Council. It has core funding from the various concerned agencies but most of the organisations (and there are dozens) participating in its projects have to be self-financing. TEP has a cute logo showing fishes swimming in clear blue water. Every year the partnership holds an annual forum; last year’s, which took place on November 10, discussed the Thames Tunnel preferred route, opportunities for freight on the river, the progress of the Balanced Seas marine conservation project, how planning can be linked with biodiversity and how it can work together with community interests. Not a word about an international airport in the Thames estuary.
Through the 20th century, all kinds of people – experts, tradespeople, volunteers, schoolchildren, local authorities – worked to return what was a dead river to life, and they succeeded. When a team from the Zoological Society of London spent three years (2004-2007) recording sightings of marine mammals in the Thames from Teddington to a line drawn between Shoeburyness and Sheerness, 691 animals were observed. After a co-ordinated campaign to involve the general public, all kinds of people – tourists, birdwatchers, anglers, the river police, yachtsmen – reported their sightings of harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, grey seals and harbour seals.
It is understood that dolphins and porpoises are showing signs of stress and reduced viability, and various international conventions have been imposed for their protection, none of them applying to the Thames Estuary. The professionals rejoiced that the public was becoming aware of the importance of biodiversity and looked forward to significant public support for the various Biodiversity and Habitat Action Plans . That was before Boris. The marine mammal survey of the Thames goes on, and the sightings continue, but for how much longer? How many of the animals seen in the Thames will soon be sick or dead?
Airports produce vast amounts of pollutants of various kinds; among the most damaging are the toxic wastes that accumulate on the tarmac and find their way into groundwater. Even supposing the run-off from the tarmac on Boris Island were to be carefully managed (a big ask in itself), there is no way of stopping the precipitation of burnt fuel residues into the shallow water of the estuary.
Of all possible sites for an airport, an estuary is the most vulnerable. Nice, Boston, Eilat and Singapore all have semi-offshore airports; Hong Kong and Osaka airports are built on offshore islands. In the case of Boston, since 2004 more than 6,000 gallons of hazardous materials have been spilt at Logan International Airport, which is nothing unusual. Now the clam-diggers who work the surrounding waters of Boston Harbour are finding thousands of putrid dead soft-shelled clams. The mortality among the clams has been noticed because they are a cash crop; the annihilation of a whole galaxy of other marine organisms has not been noticed at all. By now the toxins that killed those have entered the food chain, with results so far uncalculated.
Concerns about the environmental impact of airports are always expressed in terms of the health of the human population. There is no concern for the health of the planet, though this will be the same thing in the end. It is perhaps the bitterest irony that a new airport for London may become a necessity because Heathrow has become too big and too dirty to use without incurring massive fines for excessive pollution. As people become more aware of the consequences for their own health of air and noise pollution, the idea of building airports offshore becomes more attractive.
The environmental consequences may be less obvious to humans, but for a vast range of other earthlings, they are certain to be catastrophic. Once the toxic fallout from jet engines has entered and accumulated in the food chain, the Thames may become once more what it was less than 100 years ago, a poisonous sluice.
Have your say. Do the dangers of a new airport in the Thames outweigh the opportunities? www.telegraph.co/earth
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