In America, Santa Monica municipal airport is situated right in the heart of the suburbs, with take off and landing routes right over thousands of homes. There are serious questions about the effects of the airport’s operations on public health and quality of life. In 2015 an operating agreement between the FAA and the City of Santa Monica will expire.The city of contends that it will then have more control over how the airport is used. But the FAA has vowed to battle to keep the airport going. There were around 105.000 take offs and landings in 2010.
Location of Santa Monica airport, within a residential suburb
Battle over Santa Monica Airport’s future revs up
When leases expire in 2015, the city says, it won’t be obligated to operate the facility as an airport. The FAA disagrees, standing with pilots and passengers. Foes cite noise, pollution and plane crashes.
Mar Vista resident Virginia Ernst looks skyward as a jet flies over her home… (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times)
November 26, 2011
| By Martha Groves (Los Angeles Times)
Does the endgame loom in the decades-long tussle over Santa Monica Airport?
In 2015, all land and building leases at the airport expire, and city officials — and thousands of Westside residents weary of life in the flight path — say the obligation to operate the facility as an airport ends too. Santa Monica has hired consultants to study the 227-acre campus and early next year will begin asking for the public’s input on potential future uses.
The Federal Aviation Administration, meanwhile, asserts that the city must operate the airport in perpetuity under a 1948 “instrument of transfer.” The agency, long a potent adversary on the airport issue, has vowed to stand pat for pilots and passengers.
The dispute could well end up in court. At the least, it is revving up an ongoing battle that has pitted flight-school operators and convenience-loving Westside jet-setters against airport opponents fed up with noise, pollution and plane crashes — most recently in August, when a student pilot in a small plane clipped a tree and plunged into the side of a Santa Monica house. Although many residents embrace the airport for its economic value and its dog park, athletic fields, art galleries and plane-watching opportunities, activists say the risks and disruptions outweigh the benefits.
“A lot of people in the community would really like to see the airport closed,” said Cathy Larson, who lives in Sunset Park at the airport’s western edge. “There are lots of obstacles to achieving that.”
Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Mar Vista, Venice and other neighborhoods surrounding Santa Monica, has dived into the turbulence, citing constituents’ complaints about the aerial meanderings of student pilots in the densely populated area and elevated levels of potentially hazardous particles from jet exhaust and lead from propeller-plane fuel. “The airport doesn’t belong there anymore,” he said. “…There’s no physical buffer between the airport and the lungs of my constituents.”
Santa Monica Airport, established in 1917, is described on a city website as the oldest continuously operating airport in Los Angeles County. After Santa Monica acquired the original 170 acres in 1926, the property became the home of Douglas Aircraft Co., whose DC-3 would introduce average Americans to commercial air travel in the 1930s. At its peak, the company had 44,000 employees, and both Los Angeles and Santa Monica encouraged the building of housing right up to the airport’s perimeter.
Before the United States entered World War II, the federal government leased most of the airport from the city to provide security for Douglas, a major defense contractor. After the war, the federal government returned the improved and expanded property to the city under the “instrument of transfer.”
When jets began using the airport in the 1960s, the city imposed restrictions and, at one point, a total jet ban, which aviation advocates successfully challenged in court in the 1970s. In 1981, the Santa Monica City Council voted to close the airport when legally possible but finally agreed to a 1984 settlement that kept the airport open while imposing strict noise rules.
Amid the booming economy in the early to mid-2000s, the airport saw a dramatic increase in high-powered jets used by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and casino magnate Steve Wynn. The number of jet takeoffs and landings has been on the decline since peaking in 2007 at more than 18,500; still, the number last year was more than triple the number in 1993. The overall number of takeoffs and landings — including single- and twin-engine planes and helicopters — has dropped by nearly 30% in the last decade, to 104,950 last year.
In 2007, the city voted to ban high-performance jets with fast landing speeds, including larger and more powerful Gulfstreams, Bombardier Challengers and Cessna Citations. The FAA invalidated the ban, and the city appealed to federal court, which upheld the FAA’s ruling.
“It really ties in with the 1% vs. the 99% issue,” said Martin Rubin, a Los Angeles air-quality activist who has helped lead the charge against the airport. “The 1% are jet-setting in and out of Santa Monica Airport … and polluting the air for a large number of residents.”
One recent afternoon, Virginia Ernst, whose back door is 337 feet east of the runway end, retreated into her home to avoid the fumes of jets idling before takeoff. “I’ve totally lost the use of my yard,” said Ernst, an area resident for nearly 50 years. “It’s like I’m a prisoner in my home.”
On Wednesday, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) will hold a hearing on air quality at Santa Monica Airport at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center Community Room in West Los Angeles.
Santa Monica Airport pollution could prompt legislation, Lieu says
December 1, 2011
Lead, ultrafine particles and other aircraft emissions at Santa Monica Airport could pose health risks for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, scientists said Wednesday evening at a hearing in West Los Angeles.
The studies are “highly disturbing,” said state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Air Quality. Lieu said emissions could be exposing Westside residents, especially children, to potentially dramatic health effects, including lower IQs, asthma and bronchitis.
A standing-room-only crowd of about 120 Westside residents attended the hearing at the Felicia Mahood senior center, where researchers presented results from studies at or near LAX and Santa Monica Airport. The scientists included a medical doctor and researchers from UCLA, as well as representatives of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Westside residents testified about their worries over noise and pollution. Laura Silagi of Venice spoke of hearing the “constant roar and drone of planes.”
Lieu said the findings raised serious questions about the effects of the airport’s operations on public health and quality of life. He added that his policymaking committee would explore whether to put forth legislation to curb possible ill effects.
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, said Thursday that the agency had taken steps to limit emissions at the airport by, for example, telling pilots not to start their engines until shortly before takeoff.
He added that no one has yet made any formal emissions-reducing proposals for the agency to evaluate or comment on.
The city of Santa Monica contends that it will have more control over how the airport is used come 2015, when all leases at the property expire. But the FAA has vowed to battle to keep the airport going.
Santa Monica Residents Sick of Their Airport
Some say the air pollution, noise and danger should end
By Gordon Tokumatsu and Bill French
Thursday, Dec 1, 2011 (NBC Southern California)
John Wilson’s latest “wakeup call” about Santa Monica Airport came last August. His childhood home was just a few dozen yards from the scene of a plane crash. It’s a neighborhood located right under the noisy flight path.
The images were seen around the world. A student pilot was pulled alive from the wreckage after his plane crashed into a wall, narrowly missing a home that belongs to one of Wilson’s neighbors.
“If it had been a jet, I think it would have been a whole block taken out,” said Wilson.
It’s that concern coupled with pollution, noise and the growing urban cluster nearby that have left a vocal number of residents pushing for a major change.
The critics believe 2015 will be their chance to bring about a big change. That year, an operating agreement between the FAA and the City of Santa Monica will expire.
Wilson and others say it might be time for the place to shut down, for good.
“I’m thinking entirely,” says Wilson. “Yeah. It’s just a little bit too close.”
Joseph Justice, who operates ”Justice Aviation” at Santa Monica Airport, has a unique perspective.
“I can understand that,” said Justice. “I live two blocks away from LAX.”
Justice’s flight school produced the young man whose plane crashed last August. He says crashes like that one are rare.
“When was the last time a student pilot crashed off this airport?” asks Justice. “Nobody remembers.”
As for air pollution and noise, he points out that Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Venice and other communities nearby are already noisy and polluted from freeways and congestion.
“It was an airport when they came in,” said Justice. “The deed said it was an airport. And I’m sure many of them are very upset.”
He says they’re upset because realtors may have convinced some of them that the airport will inevitably be shut down. He says that’s simply not true.
“If the FAA didn’t want it to be an airport, of course, I doubt it would still be here,” he says.
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Birmingham airport, under Paul Kehoe, continues to push to expand. It hopes its runway extension will start in July 2012. It also hopes to have direct flights to China, and that this will boost the local economy. They want Birmingham airport to be the new hub, and effort and funding to be spent on that, rather than a Thames estuary airport. The airport says it has planning consent for as many as 30 million passengers per year.
Birmingham Airport and MG to cooperate; call for China flights
12.12.11 (UK Airport News)
A bid to boost trade between the West Midlands and China has been unveiled – with a new agreement between Birmingham Airport and MG Motor UK.
The two high-profile regional businesses have also highlighted the need for a direct air link to China.
The new tie-up between the airport and Chinese-owned MG centres on an agreement to foster trade links between the West Midlands and China.
Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, said: ‘MG Motor UK has the Chinese connections – they are the guys who know who are buying the air tickets. As we embark on our runway extension project next year, we are keen to hear from, and work with, businesses that would benefit from a direct air link.’
William Wang, managing director of MG Motor UK, said: ‘We would welcome Chinese airlines to take advantage of the growing demand for air services between Birmingham and China. A Birmingham to Shanghai route alone would enable hundreds of business flights a year to operate, reducing the need for passengers to transit via other airports or take long car journeys to other UK airports to catch flights. This service would play an important part in the investment from China in Birmingham and the West Midlands.’
Building work on a 400 metre runway extension is scheduled to begin next July with completion by the end of 2014, which would make direct flights from Birmingham to the likes of China, Russia, India and the West Coast of America possible.
Business group calls on Government to back Birmingham Airport not Boris Island
01.12.11 (UK Airport News)
Birmingham business leaders have urged the Government to reject plans for a new ‘Boris Island’ airport in the Thames Estuary and turn Birmingham Airport into the UK’s new hub airport instead, the Birmingham Post reports.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said the city’s airport would be ready to cope with up to 30 million extra passengers once a new runway extension is built.
Speculation that the Government is giving serious consideration to a new airport in the South-east was sparked by George Osborne said that ‘we will explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow’ in his budget speech this week.
Some reports interpreted this as a hint that the Government will back proposals for a new airport on an artificial island in the sea North-east of Whitstable, in Kent, which are supported by London mayor Boris Johnson.
The Department for Transport insists that it has made no decision about how air capacity should be improved. A seven-month consultation on the future of the UK’s airports ended in October and Ministers are considering the responses.
The Chamber is pushing for the Government to make more use of Birmingham Airport – and argues that the planned high speed rail line from London to Birmingham, with a station planned at the airport, will make it an attractive solution for passengers from the south.
Michael Ward, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘We have excellent transport links to London and once HS2 is built it will take the same amount of time to travel from Euston to Birmingham Airport as it would be to travel from Euston to Edgware Road on the Underground.’
Birmingham Airport slam CBI over support for London expansion
27.11.11 (UK Airport News)
Birmingham Airport has criticised the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) over its support for expansion of London airports, the Birmingham Post reports.
The CBI is urging the Government to build a third runway at Heathrow, or a new airport in the South-east of England, but the claim by CBI Director-General John Cridland that ‘Britain will be left behind in the premier league of nations’ if Ministers fail to increase runway capacity in or around London has infuriated Birmingham Airport, which sees itself as a natural site for expansion rather than the ‘overheated’ capital.
John Morris, Head of Government and Industry Affairs at Birmingham Airport, has written to the CBI requesting an urgent meeting with Mr Cridland.
He told the newspaper that the CBI appeared to be split over the issue, since the organisation’s West Midlands branch is supporting expansion of Birmingham Airport. He points out that other European countries have more than one major airport, including Germany which is building its sixth.
He said that Birmingham Airport has the capacity to take an additional nine million passengers a year immediately, with planning consent to expand towards 30 million.
Pprune on 5.1.2011 (by Nigel Osborne) said:
Re runway extension;
It has now been reduced to 350 metres from the original 400m and the road diverted a bit more to put enough spacing between the end of the extension and the diverted road .
A bridge will therefore not be needed, although the RESA ( Runway end safety area) goes from the intended “recommended” to lesser “statutory” distance but enough space between to comply with CAA regs.
The 4 construction companies putting in tenders were confirmed today and one will be selected and announced in February.
Start date for diverting the A45 will be July 2012, start date for runway extension June 2013 completion 2014.
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Flights at Manchester airport were brought to a standstill for about 40 minutes, by a whippet that had got away from its owners and got into a cargo area, and (perhaps?) onto the runway. A flight from Turkey was forced to divert to Birmingham because of the Saturday morning drama – and a dozen other flights were delayed. The airport said: “Basically, if there is any lost animal on the runway, we have to stop all flights straight away. Fortunately, we’ve cleared the backlog.”
by Yakub Qureshi
December 17, 2011 (Manchester Evening News)
Flights at Manchester airport were brought to a standstill – by a whippet.
Managers were forced to shut down a runway after the whippet managed to evade security and run loose at the UK’s 4th busiest airport.
A flight from Turkey was forced to divert to Birmingham because of the Saturday morning drama – and a dozen other flights were delayed.
Airport staff spent forty minutes chasing the animal across the tarmac after it ran away from its owners and slipped past a manned access point into a cargo area.
A local family were walking the pedigree dog near to The Rompers pub when the racing pedigree – capable of speeds of up to 35mph -slipped away.
Crews instantly issued an alarm to cease all take-offs and landings after it was spotted on the runway at 10.40am.
It is the second day in the row there have been delays at the airport after flights were held up on Friday because of 3mm of snow.
Gary Brown, the airport’s duty manager, said it took crews some time to corner the animal.
He said: “It took some time to catch it. The airfield is obviously quite a big area. Because of the delay there was a build up of flights and we had to suspend a Turkish Airways flight from Istanbul. It was diverted to Birmingham, refuelled and has now made its way up here.
“Basically, if there is any lost animal on the runway, we have to stop all flights straight away. Fortunately, we’ve cleared the backlog.”
The animal was later safely re-united with its family. Fortunately, passengers who forced to wait in departure lounges saw the funny side.
Among those caught up in the delays was DJ Clint Boon, who tweeted: “Delayed flying from Paris because of industrial action. Delayed landing at Manchester due to “dogs on the runway”. I love this city.”
In July there were delays when a pink flamingo forced the closure of the runway.
The bird – nicknamed Ringo – evaded capture for almost five hours before being caught.
Ringo the flamingo
‘Sorry for the delay… there’s a flamingo on the runway’: Airport workers left in a flap as bird evades capture for FIVE hours
5th July 2011
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A controversial deal allowing Iran Air to refuel at Manston airport will come to an end. It was claimed Iran Air planes were using the airport to dodge US sanctions. Iranian planes are banned from refuelling in countries that have economic ties with America. but can avoid sanctions by filling up at privately owned airports such as Manston. Iran Air has been refuelling at Manston for around eight months and they have now decided to make other arrangements.
2.12.2011 (This is Kent)
A controversial deal allowing Iran Air to refuel at Manston airport will come to an end, the Isle of Thanet Gazette can reveal. Airport boss Charles Buchanan said the company would not be using the airport any more, but said this had nothing to do with recent publicity over the arrangement.
It was claimed Iran Air planes were using the airport to dodge US sanctions. Mr Buchanan said:
“By accepting Iran Air flights for refuelling there is nothing wrong being done. What we are doing is in conjunction and in liaison with the Department of Transport and is not offending any relations.”
Iranian planes are banned from refuelling in countries that have economic ties with America. but can avoid sanctions by filling up at privately owned airports such as Manston. The Iran Air flights are allowed to land at Heathrow however they are not able to refuel for the journey home at any airport that has trade links with the US. Mr Buchanan said:
“The arrangement is coming to an end. It has been going on for around eight months and they have now decided to make other arrangements.”
Mr Buchanan said he did not know where Iran Air will refuel from now on.
thisiskent 2nd Dec 2011
In the glare of the floodlights at a remote Home Counties airfield the crew of an Iran Air passenger jet set about a discreet spot of sanctions busting. The bizarre sight of the Tehran-bound plane has become a regular event as it refuels at one of the UK’s smallest airports so the scheduled flight can return to Iran.
Banned from filling up at Heathrow because of Western-imposed sanctions, the plane with up to 266 passengers has just made the quick hop to a virtually deserted Kent International Airport at Manston. Two fuel trucks bearing the insignia of Manston airport quickly arrive to make sure the jet has enough fuel for the six‑hour flight home.
For the past three months the regular Iran Air flights have taken a 40-minute diversion from Heathrow to the dimly-lit airfield near Ramsgate three times a week on the scheduled service to the Middle East.
On Thursday the Airbus 300-600, flight number IR170, landed at 5.40pm and taxied to an area near the tiny terminal building. It remained on the ground for an hour as the fuel was delivered and officials at the privately-owned airfield were paid for the transaction. Just a day earlier another Tehran-bound Iran Air jet from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was spotted landing at Manston for a refuelling stop.
A spokesman for struggling Manston Airport, owned by loss‑making New Zealand company Infratil, insisted the deal was not breaching guidelines in place against the hardline regime of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over its nuclear programme. He said:
“We are complying with all the regulations laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority. There is no reason why we shouldn’t do it. As a small airport we have to do business where we can. We have flights from Iran Air refuelling on a regular basis.”
Infratil also owns Glasgow Prestwick Airport but together with Manston the two UK airports made a combined loss of almost £6million last year as passenger numbers fell. Oil giants BP and Shell have refused to service the Iranian jets at Heathrow and only this week the US joined the UK in announcing tough new measures against Iran. The UK said it was cutting all ties with Iranian banks as Chancellor George Osborne said all credit and financial institutions had to cease trading with Iranian ones.
Two-thirds of Iran Air’s planes are already banned from flying within Europe because of safety concerns. The Iran Air planes are able to land safely at Manston, a vital RAF base during the Second World War, because of its long runway. Manston Airport is considered a sanctions loophole as it has no direct business links with the US, which fears the Iranians are developing a nuclear bomb.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said:
“We don’t get involved in the politics of whether it is right for the planes to land there because of sanctions in place in the UK.”
Express.co.uk 27th Nov 2011
Much more on the No Night Flights website
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Peel Airports has put their 75% stake of the airport up for sale, as it is losing money had too few passengers. Most airports have seen a drop in traffic, but for Durham Tees Valley it’s been more of a nose-dive than a controlled descent. In 2006, more than 900,000 passengers passed through its doors. This year that will have come down to 200,000. The recession has hit and airlines have also increasingly deserted Durham Tees Valley for the safety of bigger airports.
15.12.2011 (BBC – North East and Cumbria)
Durham Tees Valley Airport has been put up for sale by majority shareholder Peel Airports.
Airports are supposed to be places of excitement and possibility as travellers bustle in and out of the terminal. But frankly Durham Tees Valley Airport
feels full of anything but possibility.
When I arrived to film there at 3pm, it was almost desolate inside, with no sign of a passenger.
The newsagents and bar were closed, the café deserted, the check-in desks empty.
The airport travel agency was optimistically open, but had no customers, and I’m guessing that most of the brochures were not offering flights from Durham Tees Valley.
It did liven up when around 40 people turned up for a flight to Amsterdam. Most were foreign students heading home for Christmas.
Many were grumbling about the £6 facility fee all passengers have to pay for the privilege of using the airport.
But once they had passed through to the departure lounge, the sense of desolation soon returned.
It was a clear illustration of why the company that runs the airport has put its 75% stake up for sale.
In its official statement Peel Airports said it had made the decision because: “(Durham Tees Valley) no longer fits within the company’s strategic plans for its portfolio of airports.”
To translate, that means it just has too few passengers.
Most airports have seen a drop in traffic, but for Durham Tees Valley it’s been more of a nose-dive than a controlled descent.
In 2006, more than 900,000 passengers passed through its doors. This year that will have come down to 200,000.
There are a whole host of factors you can blame.
The problems in the North East economy will have depressed demand, as will have rising aviation taxes.
Airlines have also increasingly deserted Durham Tees Valley for the safety of bigger airports.
The empty seats say it all – Durham Tees Valley Airport has seen a big decline in passengers
Some have even pinned the decline on the decision to change the airport’s name (it was Teesside until 2004).
And then of course there is that facility fee.
But whatever the cause, this is an airport struggling to survive.
Yet Peel Airports does believe it can be sold as a going concern.
Director Steve Gill said: “Already we are talking to a few interested parties who have expressed a keen interest in looking at the option of acquiring the business.
“We feel there will be a future owner who will have the capability to turn the airport round and take it back to where it should be.”
But is that realistic at a time of economic turbulence and rising air passenger duty?
Peel argues that despite those difficulties, projections still suggest more people will be travelling by air in a decade’s time.
It just depends whether a company will be prepared to tough it out in the short to medium term.
The danger is that no airport operator comes forward and alternative uses have to be found.
That’s certainly the concern of Stockton South Conservative MP James Wharton.
He said: “We wouldn’t want to see the airport become an industrial or housing estate, not just because of the effect on the local economy, but also because of the potential impact on people living nearby who wouldn’t want to see more traffic and further housing out of this development.”
That was echoed by Sedgefield Labour MP Phil Wilson.
He said: “I want to see the airport flourish in the future and I do not want to see the land to be sold off for a housing development, so Peel’s confirmation that it wants to sell it as a going concern is welcome.
“I have also asked the Transport Minister to meet with me and a cross-party group of MPs from the area to discuss the importance of Peel’s announcement and what else can be done to secure the future of the airport.”
Passengers check in for a flight to Amsterdam but the airport owners say there are too few people using the services
Its future was also raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by Darlington MP Jenny Chapman.
David Cameron told her that the big issue for the airport was investment and not ownership.
The question is, will Durham Tees Valley find an owner who wants to invest, or might it have had its moment?
One thing’s for sure, you only need to visit there on a winter’s afternoon to know that something has to change if it is to survive.
Durham Tees Valley Airport ‘must rid itself of passenger burden’
5.1.2012 (Northern Echo)
DURHAM Tees Valley Airport should turn its back on passenger flights in order to secure its immediate future, according to a group representing the interests of private aircraft owners.
The airport, which made a loss of more than £2m in the last full financial year, has seen passenger numbers plummet in recent years and was put up for sale last month by its majority shareholder, Peel Airports Limited.
John Elliott, a director of the Durham Tees Valley Airport Private Owners’ Group, who has flown privately from the airport for more than 20 years, said a rethink was now required to avoid the risk of total closure.
In an open letter, which has been sent to MPs and neighbouring local authorities, the group said it had witnessed the decline of the airport and was not surprised it was being put up for sale or “likely to close”.
It said: “Despite the call for investment in the airport, it is clear what it really needs is stabilisation, in order that it is preserved for a future time, a decade ahead or more, when a recovery of passenger traffic may return.
“Who is going to invest in a failing airport with two other large airports close by?”
The group said the airport should rid itself of the burden of the high cost of handling passenger traffic and operate for the time being as a general aircraft airfield, meeting the needs of airport-based businesses, as well as freight aircraft, the police and air ambulance, and flying clubs.
Mr Elliott said: “Attempts have been made to make it a successful passenger airport for many years and it is clearly not going to happen.
“What we are saying is at least retain it in a viable state for eventual development in the future when economic circumstances may change, which is better than losing it altogether as an airfield.
“We are concerned about the loss of the airport, and the choice may have to be between a slimmed-down operation as a general aircraft airfield or nothing at all.”
Responding to the letter, a spokesman for Peel said: “Future operations at the airport would be a matter for any prospective buyer.”
Meanwhile, in a separate development, a spokeswoman for international aviation company Cobham, which is based at the airport, confirmed it had been in talks with Peel about the airport’s future, although she would not comment when asked if it was possible the firm could leave the site.
Monica Hallman said: “Cobham is a significant operator from Durham Tees Valley Airport and has been in discussion with Peel about its future.
We look forward to discussing our operations there with the prospective new owners.”
Cobham, which provides civil and military flight inspection services, has a multimillion pound contract with the Ministry of Defence and employs about 50 people in the region.
Peel serve councils ‘dilution notice’ on Durham Tees Valley Airport
10.12.11 Local authorities on Teesside have been ordered to pay £4.3m to retain their current stake in Durham Tees Valley Airport, the Journal reports. They have been informed by majority owners Peel Airports Limited (PAL) that they must either pay the cash or face a reduction in their shareholdings. Peel has informed Stockton Council – the lead of the six local authority shareholders – of its intention to serve a ‘dilution notice’. That means unless the councils of Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, Darlington and Durham, agree to proportionately match investments made by Peel, their shareholding will be reduced At the moment they hold shares of 25%. However, these will be reduced to 10.8% if the money is not contributed. (UK Airport News link)
More information about the airport at Durham Tees Valley Airport
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The government has ruled out building a new runway at Heathrow and there are restrictions on further expansion at Gatwick and Stansted. Some business groups say that London will lose out to other European countries if more airport capacity is not built near the capital. Justine Greening, appearing at the parliamentary select committee on transport, said she was looking at ways of making better use of existing capacity and it would be wrong to draw conclusions on future plans ahead of the publication of the government’s draft strategy on aviation expected in the Spring.
Ms Greening became transport secretary in October
Transport Secretary Justine Greening has clashed with MPs about the idea of a new airport for London.
She was asked by the transport select committee whether she backed the plan for an airport in the Thames Estuary, dubbed “Boris Island” due to its backing by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
But she said MPs had not appeared to understand Mr Johnson’s stance and had “no details” behind their questions.
The chair of the committee told her that her remarks were “out of order”.
Ms Greening was giving evidence to the committee on the transport plans outlined in last month’s autumn statement.
‘Out of order’
But the hearing became heated when Louise Ellman, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, asked the transport secretary whether she was going to “explore the Boris Island idea”.
In response, Ms Greening asked the cross-party committee whether they had read any of the witness statements provided by Mr Johnson as part of a “call for evidence” on airport capacity in London.
“If anyone has, I would be interested if you could raise your hands,” she said.
But Mrs Ellman said this was not the way the committee conducted its hearings, telling her: “No, no, no, we are asking you the questions.”
Ms Greening went on to suggest that if the MPs “had actually read that evidence”, they would know that the London Mayor had not explicitly called for a new airport to be located in the Thames Estuary, east of the capital, but rather for a new “hub airport” in the south-east of England.
Mrs Ellman told the transport secretary that “it is not for you to suppose or assume or think anything” but to answer the committee’s questions about the issue raised.
But the transport secretary said the MPs were trying to “pin her down” on a subject that she preferred not to discuss as she did not want to “jump a process that is already under way”
And she added: “I think it is also incumbent on the committee to, in a sense, have some kind of details behind questions”.
But Mrs Ellman told her: “Secretary of State. That is not in order. This meeting, we ask you the questions. You may have whatever thoughts you wish but your role is to answer questions.”
Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng, whose Spelthorne constituency includes Heathrow airport, said the transport secretary had failed to address the issue.
“You are head of a very important department,” he said. “This is a major strategic issue and you simply flannelled and have not given any kind of direction or what your way of thinking is on this.”
The transport secretary rejected this and said ministers were “considering all the proposals that have been put to us”, adding “of course that includes proposals from people like the mayor”.
The government has ruled out building a new runway at Heathrow and there are restrictions on further expansion at Gatwick and Stansted.
Business groups have warned that London will lose out to other European countries if more airport capacity is not built near the capital.
But Ms Greening said:
“I do think it is incumbent on us to come up with a strategy which is well thought through… and will stand the test of time,” she said.
Earlier in the session, Ms Greening confirmed the government would back a further 21 transport upgrade schemes in England proposed by councils.
It will contribute £586m towards the £854m total cost of the road, rail and bus schemes over the next four years. The commitment, she told MPs, showed the government really understood the value of investing in transport infrastructure “as a driver of economic growth”.
The extra funding comes on top of that outlined for 20 schemes in last month’s autumn statement.
More news and information on a Thames Estuary airport at
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Councillors in Leeds have accused the airport of ignoring communities living near the airport. The airport had around 2.8 million passengers in 2008, and around 2.7 milion in 2010, and want to increase the number to 4 million per year. They are now building at the airport to provide a new departure lounge, more shops, a large walkway to the aircraft etc. Councillors say there will be no additional infrastructure to support the expected big increase in passengers, and the road traffic congestion that would bring.
Councillors have hit out at the increase in traffic expansion will cause.
13 December 2011 (Yorkshire Evening Post)
Major airport extension plans at Leeds Bradford are ignoring the communities who live in the area, claim local councillors.
The airport announced plans last week to expand its capacity from three to four million passengers a year.
Local councillors point out that there was nothing included in the announcement of any additional infrastructure to support the expected big increase in passengers.
Liberal Democrat councillors for Horsforth Brian Cleasby and Chris Townsley are strongly critical of the plans which they believe will pile more traffic on to roads already suffering severe congestion.
Coun Chris Townsley (Lib Dem, Horsforth) said: “Many of the extra passengers coming from the south and the east will go through Horsforth to get to the airport.
“It’s all well and good the airport saying they want this massive expansion but they clearly haven’t given the slightest bit of thought to the effect they’ll have on local communities.
“Five years ago council officers declared that the A65 had reached its capacity. Nothing has been done to improve the situation yet today we find the airport director trying sell a pup to our community.
“A bigger airport must have improved roads, both to and from it.”
Coun Brian Cleasby (Lib Dem, Horsforth) said: “There is no consideration given in these plans to improve the road infrastructure leading to the airport.
“I have heard the chief executive of the airport say he wants to maximise the airport’s income from parking charges.
“This is outrageous, given how many times I have told him of my concerns that traffic from the east and south is being directed through Horsforth and Rawdon.
“The situation is so bad that route finder websites have started to direct traffic off the A65 and onto minor roads like Layton Lane in Rawdon as they reckon that’s now the quicker route.
“Quite frankly, the airport is trying to sell a pup to our community.”
Leeds Bradford Airport embarks on £11m upgrade
Huddersfield Daily Examiner 8.12.2011
BOSSES at Leeds Bradford Airport have unveiled plans for an £11m investment in passenger facilities. More than 100 construction workers will be involved in the project, which is due for completion next summer. The airport said the upgrade would create capacity for a further million passengers a year – taking its annual total to 4 million. The scheme includes creating a new departure lounge, a new range of food and drink outlets, more shops, a large walkway to the aircraft next to the terminal building and an increased security office. Details …..
( Data from Anna Aero European Airport Traffic Trends )
2010 passengers at Leeds Bradford: 2 725 643
Jan 2011 up 32.7%
Feb 2011 up 21.0%
Mar 2011 up 9.2%
Apr 2011 up 44.2%
May 2011 up 13.3%
Jun 2011 up 3.3%
Jul 2011 up 3.8%
Aug 2011 up 1.5%
Sept 2011 up 4.3%
Oct 2011 down -10.3%
2009 Passengers at Leeds Bradford 2.553 000
Jan 2010 down -16.4%
Feb 2010 down -8.5%
Mar 2010 2.5%
Apr 2010 down -3.2%
May 2010 4.9%
Jun 2010 10.1%
Jul 2010 10.0%
Aug 2010 9.5%
Sep 2010 8.8%
Oct 2010 16.5%
Nov 2010 16.9%
Dec 2010 14.3%
2008 Passengers at Leeds Bradford 2,860,000
More news about Leeds Bradford Airport at:
Leeds Bradford Airport News Stories
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Article about Kent concerns about an estuary airport. Include the threat of catastrophic bird strike and the destruction of wetland habitats protected by EU and global treaties. “They will cull all the birds but then they will sterilise the land. If you want to stop attracting birds to go near an airport you need to make sure the land is not attractive to them”. Lord Foster’s plan would destroy five nature reserves and disrupt hundreds of hectares of marshland designated as SPA under the EU Birds Directive and the Ramsar Convention. The RSPB -backed by a million members- sees the Thames Estuary as a test case.
Birds may keep estuary airport grounded
Thousands of migratory wading birds took wing as the tide filled the Thames Estuary. One of the great sights of coastal Britain, these winter visitors may thwart plans for an airport in the estuary, just as they did a decade ago.
George Osbourne told Parliament this week that he would look at all options other than the expansion at Heathrow, including an airport in the estuary, to maintain Britian’s standing as a global airline hub.
But at his mandarins return to the North Kent Marshes they will find a nascent protest movement driven by concerns over quality of life and the destruction of protected wetland habitats. They will also walk into a fierce debate about the Government’s promotion of green issues and localism, which opponents say would be undercut by the imposition of a vast infrastructure project.
Advocates of a new airport say that it is vital to stop Britain falling out of the front rank of the world economy. Our very status as a trading nation and tens of thousands of jobs depend on increasing aviation capacity – or so they say.
Some including Boris Johnson back an island airport off the Kent shore of the Thames estuary. Lord Foster of Thames Bank, architect of airports in Beijing and Hong Kong, and of the terminal at Stansted, proposes four parallel runways on shore at the Isle of Grain.
But a visit to the estuary illustrated the drawbacks. The shore is a winter home to some 47 species on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds “amber list‚” – endangered birds with fewer than 300 breeding pairs in Britain.
As flocks of dunlin, knot curlew and turnstones massed on the mudflats yesterday, a skein of Brent geese flew over Grain Costal Park, at the end of lord foster’s runways, at the perfect height to be sucked into airliner engines.
The threat of catastrophic bird strike and the destruction of wetland habitats protected by EU and global treaties were both cited when the government abandoned plans for an airport ten miles up river at Cliffe in 2005.
“They will cull all the birds but then they will sterilise the land. If you want to stop attracting birds to go near an airport you need to make sure the land is not attractive to them” said Samantha Dawes, conservation manager for the RSPB.
Lord Foster’s plan would destroy five nature reserves and disrupt hundreds of hectares of marshland designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive and the Ramsar Convention, a treaty designed to preserve wetland habitats.
Boris Island would damage the Outer Thames Outer Protection Area – a vital wintering ground for red-throated divers. The RSPB backed by a million members, sees the Thames Estuary as a test case.
There are signs that Mr Osbourne is ready for that fight. He said in his Autumn Statement that he would stop the “gold plating of EU rules things like habitats”, putting “ridiculous costs” on British business. The Government then announced that it would review the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.
In the estuary, councils and residents are also ready. Robin Cooper, director of regeneration for Medway Council, said that up to 6000 homes would be destroyed on the Hoo Peninsula.
“We have not seen that kind of move in this country since the slum clearances of the 1960s,” he said, adding that an airpot handling 150 million passengers a year would put impossible strain on transport across the South East. ‚”To add another 150 million people into the most congested part of would create gridlock.”
There is no room to house the likely airport workforce of almost 100,000. “We physically could not accommodate that number of houses‚” Mr Cooper said. Noise and air pollution would affect 250,000 residents in Kent and many more on the Essex shore.
Yet to an outsider like Boris Johnson, the attraction of an airport on flat land near the capital that spares 5 million Londoners who live under Heathrow’s flight paths is compelling.
The Kent shore already has much heavy industry. The Isle of Grain is surrounded by three power stations. It is home to London Thamesport, a container terminal, and it ships in 20 per cent of the gas brought into Britain. Five vast gas storage tanks and chimneys spewing sulfurous waste into the sky have not put off the birds.
In Great Expectations Dickens portrayed the Medway marshes as a forbidding place. The villages of Cliffe, Grain, Allhallows, Stoke Cooling and High Halstow are ready to fight off this latest onslaught.
“We all work together and we would certainly work together to defeat these proposals” said Gill Moore, founder member of Friends of the North Kent Marshes protest group. “It seems so strange that the Government predicts that Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be full by 2030, but it has ruled out expanding them. Theresa Villiers, the Minister of State for Transport said: “e’ve got no plans to build an airport in the Estuary, or in Medway or in Kent.‚”
Mr Johnson told LBC radio: “And that’s the problem. They’ve got no plans. I think they need to get one.”
North Kent Marshes are protected by EU Birds Directive and the Ramsar Convention. Hundreds of hectares of unique wetland habitat are threatened. Flocks of geese and gulls are dangerous to aircraft.
The Government would have to prove a compelling case in the national interest. It would have to convince a judge that all possible alternatives have been properly considered and found unworkable.
The arguments against :
We cannot afford it. The plan by Lord Foster of Thamesbank would cost £50 billion, “Boris Island” up to £70 billion. Public finances are in meltdown. The public purse can ill-afford such a massive outlay. However, sovereign wealth funds are said to be waiting in the wings to bankroll Britain’s infrastructure.
It would disrupt Dutch and German airspace An airport east of London would put aircraft on collision course with jets flying into Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Estuary traffic would affect arrivals and departures from Amsterdam. Would also affect Luton, Stansted and London City airports and transatlantic flights from western Europe. None of these factors is insurmountable. But it would take lots of work (and money) to fix.
Sunken Shipwreck poses risk of explosion The SS Richard Montgomery sank off Sheerness during Second World War taking cargo of 1,400 tons of explosives to the mud below. Developers of a deepwater port on the opposite bank retrieved several live shells. A risky and expensive business, but can be done.
Who’s in favour
Boris Johnson Mayor of London The idea of a potential vote-winner for Mr Johnson, who is seeking a second term. Five million Londoners would be spared noise and air pollution. The environmental effects of aviation would be felt instead by people living in Kent and Essex.
Lord Foster of Thames Bank The off-shore architect is eyeing a legacy of epic proportions, having built airports in Hong Kong and Singapore. Sees the hub as part of a scheme that would include an orbital high speed railway, flood defences and tidal power.
Baroness Valentine of Putney, chief executive of business group London First, and
Simon Walker, director general of the institute of Directors, say all options must be considered.
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For residents of Grain village the Chancellor’s statement that the government will consider plans for an estuary airport next year was confirmation of the threat to their homes. Osbourne is sold on the idea that infrastructure investment can boost the UK by providing economic links for business and unlocking cash from British pension funds. He also unveiled a memorandum of understanding with the National Association of Pension Funds and the Pension Protection Fund to invest up to £20bn in projects such a the four-runway airport.
Chancellor believes massive investment in new aviation hub will boost UK economy
by Dan Milmo and Patrick Collinson
The Thames hub as envisaged by Norman Foster’s design company. Photograph: Foster & Partners/PA
There is a geometric beauty to the view from Kent’s Isle of Grain, as alignments of mudflat, estuary and sky dominate a horizon that, in the wake of this week’s autumn statement, could soon be scarred by dozens of airliners in the cause of economic prosperity.
George Osborne dropped the clearest hint yet that the government is warming to the notion of an airport on the Thames estuary, possibly built on this peninsula, as he pledged to “explore all options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status”. For residents of Grain village, it was confirmation that kickstarting the British economy poses a threat to their homes. “It’s ridiculous,” says Jackie Jones, a housewife and Grain resident of 21 years, walking her two dogs on the shoreline. “The economy has gone downhill so much that something has to happen. But I am not sure that pouring billions of pounds into this is the way forward.”
The chancellor begs to differ. He is sold on the idea that infrastructure investment can boost the UK by providing economic links for business and unlocking cash from British pension funds. He also unveiled a memorandum of understanding with the National Association of Pension Funds and the Pension Protection Fund to invest up to £20bn in projects such as power stations and high-speed rail lines, as well as the four-runway airport that would be built right over a quiet village in north Kent. A national infrastructure plan published this week mentioned 500 projects. All they need now is the money.
The Thames airport, unthinkable even a year ago, is becoming ever more feasible. Boris Johnson has campaigned for a new London hub airport in the face of increasingly weak opposition from the Conservative party. Tuesday saw the government come close to conceding that London’s mayor has given them a get-out from opposing new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
Johnson’s main lobbyist on a new airport is Daniel Moylan, deputy chairman of Transport for London, which runs the capital’s tubes and buses. He says: “I welcome the fact that the chancellor has said Britain must have a modern hub airport, and confirmed that there will be no expansion at Heathrow. This gives impetus to the search for a new location and the mayor is keen that it should be to the east of London. An urgent debate needs to take place.” Johnson has pushed his own idea of a floating airport – dubbed “Boris Island” – situated opposite Grain and off the Isle of Sheppey.
The renowned architect Lord Foster made an arresting contribution last month with proposals for a £50bn hub on Grain, in a project drawn up by his Foster & Partners, economics consultancy Volterra and planning specialist Halcrow. As well as an airport carrying 150 million passengers a year, it includes a new Thames flood barrier and a high-speed rail line that will connect to the High Speed One and High Speed Two routes. The plans are suitably futuristic but £50bn is a towering bill, dwarfing even the £32bn needed to build the HS2 route from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. For all the infrastructure headlines in the wake of Osborne’s statement, it was only a sketch of complex planning and funding needs.
There is, however, optimism about funding. Ben Hamer, an executive director at Halcrow, says initial discussions about the project have already taken place with sovereign wealth funds – the investment arms of rich states – and major banks. The issue for Halcrow is getting cross-party political backing. That, in turn, will help secure the seed funding to get the project up and running, followed by the multibillion-pound investment in constructing the site.
“If the government says it would love a Thames hub airport that would be a very strong market signal to investors that the risk of getting this through planning are going to be acceptable,” Hamer says, adding that there has been strong interest from Asia in the project. “They are looking for flagship projects.”
He also says that general interest from the financial sector appeared to be strong, and will be further bolstered by the chancellor’s announcement of a pension-fund-backed infrastructure programme. “We are having discussions with finance houses and we have invested a lot of our own time and energy on preparing the ground for funding.”
One scenario could involve the government taking the financial risk out of building the airport by paying a construction firm an agreed sum, plus costs, to put it together. Underwritten by the state, this would keep the cost of capital low. The asset would be handed over to the state on completion and sold to UK pension funds on a 30-year-lease – rather like High Speed One, the lease for which has been sold for £1.4bn to a Canadian grouping of the investment firm Borealis Infrastructure and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan fund. The new airport owner would pay off its multibillion-pound investment by pocketing the revenues over the ensuing three decades.
The issue with this plan is the involvement of the government at the beginning. In the absence of public money – a fair assumption under current spending constraints – construction of a Thames hub would rely on loans raised from the banking sector. But with beleaguered banks determined to shrink their balance sheets – and warned this week by Bank of England governor Mervyn King to put aside even more capital – the proposal could remain stuck in the mud.
One possible solution lies in the national infrastructure plan. Osborne pledged just £5bn in new government cash for infrastructure projects but indicated that UK pension funds were ripe with untapped financial potential.
“We need to put to work the many billions of pounds that British people save in British pension funds, and get those savings invested in British projects. You could call it British savings for British jobs,” he said in the autumn statement, adding that the government was exploring guarantees and ways of letting city mayors borrow against future tax receipts in an echo of the vast municipally funded works that built Britain’s water, sewerage and road network in the Victorian era, as well as hospitals and schools.
Pension funds, which face the challenge of paying out fixed incomes to retirees when investment returns are at historic lows, like the concept of projects with reliable long-term income streams, such as toll roads and bridges. Airport landing fees and rentals from retail premises and parking could form an attractive income. Last week saw the creation of the Insurers’ Infrastructure Investment Forum, a joint initiative between the Association of British Insurers and the government, whose first task will be to create A-grade “infrastructure bonds” that will be attractive to pension funds.
But relying on pension funds for financing airport construction is still a remote prospect. Richard Abadie, infrastructure partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a one-time Treasury official overseeing public-private partnerships, says: “You have to ask: why isn’t pension fund investment in infrastructure happening already? They don’t believe the returns are high enough, and they don’t want to take construction risk. It’s banks that traditionally take on project finance risk and only after that will pension funds and insurers invest in the long-term cash flow to match their liability profiles. But the banks are under huge pressure to reduce their balance sheets.” He cited RBS’s recent decision to sell £5bn of its project finance loans to Mitsubishi, and new ‘Basel III’ bank capital requirements that will further constrain lending.
An alternative is for Britain to create a state infrastructure bank to channel loans into major projects. It could be structured along the lines of the European Investment Bank or state banks that are behind huge construction projects in Brazil, India, Mexico and some US states.
Until then, Lord Foster’s island airport may remain on the drawing board. Decades ago, the original estuary airport project was opposite Grain, on the north bank of the Thames at Maplin Sands. It was conceived in the boom years of the early 1970s, and in 1973 an act paving the way for construction was passed in parliament. But the project was one of the earliest casualties of the 1973-4 oil crisis and subsequent recession. As a new credit crunch beckons, proponents of the scheme will be hoping that history does not repeat itself – although the residents of Grain will not agree.
Friends of the North Kent marshes, on the bird and environment problems at http://northkentmarshes.com/?p=124
More news about the estuary airport at Thames Estuary Airport News
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On 1st December the GLA’s Environmental Committee will meet to look at how well new environmental controls around the City Airport are currently working, and if they would continue to be effective if the number of flights increases. The LCY now has permission from Newham Council to increase the number of flights from the current level of 73,000 to 120,000 per year, subject to tougher environmental controls for air quality and noise levels – which is likely to adversely affect residents in many London boroughs.
30 NOVEMBER 2011 (GLA)
What measures are being put in place around London City Airport (LCY) to reduce air and noise pollution for local residents now and in the future?
Building on its previous work, the London Assembly’s Environment Committee will hold a public meeting tomorrow to look at how well new environmental controls are currently working, and if they would continue to be effective if the number of flights increases.
The LCY now has permission from Newham Council to increase the number of flights from the current level of 73,000 to 120,000 per year, subject to tougher environmental controls for air quality and noise levels.
Residents across Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Greenwich, Hackney, Havering, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest are likely to be affected by an increase in flights.
The following guests will attend:
- Richard Gooding, OBE, – Chief Executive, London City Airport
- Stephen Moorcroft – Director, Air Quality Consultants
- Peter Henson – Partner, Bickerdike Allen Partners (noise specialist)
- John East – Divisional Director for Development Services, London Borough of Newham
- Jennifer Bishop – Airport Monitoring Officer, London Borough of Newham
The meeting will take place on Thursday, 1 December from 10am in the Chamber at City Hall (The Queen’s Walk, London SE1). Media and members of the public are invited to attend. The meeting can also be viewed via webcast.
Notes for Editors:
- See the Committee’s previous and current work on Heathrow expansion and noise and air pollution.
- See the full agenda for the meeting
- Read more about the Committee’s work on City Airport
- The Chair of the Environment Committee, Murad Qureshi AM, is available for interview.
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
Our Environment Committee is looking at measures London City Airport has in place to mitigate air and noise pollution around the airport and how it will manage any increases in pollution levels in the future.
The Committee is next planning to discuss the issue at its meeting on 1 December when it hopes to gain greater understanding of the impact of the airport’s monitoring processes and explore how it anticipates managing any likely environmental impacts if flights increase following economic recovery.
In July 2009, the London Borough of Newham gave London City Airport planning permission to increase annual flights to 120,000 annually, subject to strict environmental controls and monitoring. Our Environment Committee decided to carry out a review of the monitoring processes any action by the airport to mitigate any environmental impacts.
In January 2010, a campaigning group Fight the Flights launched a legal challenge to the planning permission, which was concluded this year, when Newham’s decision was upheld.
Since the Committee decided to carry out its review, flight numbers have fallen [ no, they have not, see below] due to the global recession and the closure of airspace because of volcanic ash in 2010.
The latest Annual Performance Report from the airport reported that during 2010 the statutory pollution limits for air quality were not exceeded. It also set out progress on measures to mitigate noise pollution and noted that ground running noise levels during 2010 were below the limit of 60dB.
For more information, read the background briefing report
London City Airport passenger data from the CAA www.caa.co.uk/airportstatistics and
Anna Aero data for UK airports for 2009, 2010 and 2011
2 780 716 in 2010
Jan -18.4% Feb -0.6% Mar -6.7% April 31.5% (ash cloud effect) May 10.8% June 2.4% July 7.2% Aug 10.3% Sept 6.7% Oct 4.0%
2.797,000 in 2009
Jan -7.9% Feb 5.9% Mar 7.0% April -27.1% May 2.1% June 10.6% July 8.5% Aug 15.8% Sept 8.8% Oct 0.8% Nov -6.2% Dec -25.0%
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