European Commission launches legal action against UK over failure to reduce air pollution

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities. There has been a long-running legal battle between London and Brussels over the 16 urban centres in the UK that will not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a 5-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules. 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline. The EC has now started the legal case, which is likely to result in hefty fines of many millions of ££s which should have the effect of accelerating efforts to tackle air pollution. The zones included Greater London and the South East. The legal case has been precipitated by the environmental campaign group ClientEarth. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe.  The UK government now has 2 months to respond to the EC’s legal action. The Heathrow area has bad air quality levels, due partly to the planes but with an even higher proportion from the intense road traffic, especially diesel vehicles, that the airport attracts.
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EU Commission launches legal action over UK air quality

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent,

BBC News

20.2.2014

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution.

The EU says that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are “excessive” in many British cities.

The Commission says that this gas can lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.

Britain was supposed to meet EU limits by 2010, but the government admits that London won’t achieve this standard until 2025.

The UK’s problem with dirty air stems from the EU’s air pollution directive, which came into force in 2008.

It set limits on the the levels of air-borne contaminants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, gases that are produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

They are an important element of ground-level ozone, which can damage human health as well as plants and animals.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which in the main is produced by diesel cars and trucks, can inflame the lining of the lungs and lead to respiratory disease.

It is of particular concern to people living near roadways in big cities and those suffering with asthma.

Excess gas

Controlling the amount of this gas in air has proved particularly difficult for the UK.

For the purposes of air pollution, the UK is divided into 43 zones.

In 2010, when the EU restrictions were meant to come into effect, the levels of nitrogen dioxide were exceeding the limits in 40 of these 43 areas.

Member states were able get an extra five years’ grace if they put in place plans to cut levels of NO2. The UK admitted that the limits relating to 16 zones including London, could not be met by the revised deadline of 2015.

For many of these areas, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Merseyside and Glasgow, the government believes the levels can be reached by 2020.

In London though, they admit it is likely to be 2025.

For the EU, this is far too long. They’ve decided to launch the first case against a member state for breaching the limits on NO2.

Several other EU members, including France, Sweden, Denmark and Greece have also exceeded the levels, but the EU denied that the UK was being picked on.

Sat image
Europe’s nitrogen dioxide emissions in 2008 as seen from an ozone measuring instrument on a satellite

“Our priority is to protect public health and the environment,” said European Commission spokesman Joe Hennon.

“We think that’s what the people of the UK would want as well.”

What might have tipped the EU’s hand was a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last year.

In a case brought by environmental campaigners ClientEarth, the judges agreed that the government was in breach of an obligation to reduce air pollution.

In the judgement, Justice Lord Carnworth wrote that “the way is now open to immediate enforcement at national or European level.”

The campaign group believes that, in addition to the Supreme Court verdict, the scale and the duration of the UK’s breaches made the EU action inevitable.

“The UK has some of the worst NO2 levels in Europe, they’re a national disgrace,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer with ClientEarth.

“London has a particular problem, in some streets it is three or four times above the legal limits.”

The legal process could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice where the UK would face huge fines if found in breach of the directive.

If the government is to cut levels it will need to take drastic actions, say campaigners. Around half of new car sales are diesel powered, they say. There will need to be strict low emissions zones in cities.

“Germany implemented low emissions zones very early,” said Alan Andrews.

“They have 60, we just have the one in London and ours doesn’t include cars – it’s a low standard.”

Another option is cutting speed limits.

“The evidence from Germany suggests they can reduce NO2 by 10-15% on heavily polluted roads, but the scale here in the UK is so big they need to be looking at everything possible to tackle the problem,” said Mr Andrews.

The UK has two months to respond to the European Commission.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that Britain wasn’t alone in breaching the NO2 limits, pointing out that in 2012, 21 member states reported their emissions did not comply with the annual mean target.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades. Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge,” said a spokesman.

“That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26257703

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The main pollutants

  • Particulate matter – fine dust emitted by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Experts are particularly concerned about particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres
  • Sulphur dioxide – emitted by power generation, industry and shipping. Damages health and acidifies land and water
  • Nitrogen oxides – released by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Harms health and contributes to acid rain
  • Ammonia - emitted by livestock and through the use of fertilisers. Damages health and causes acidification
  • Volatile organic compounds – emitted from solvents, vehicles and power generation. They are a key component of ground-level ozone
  • .
  • .
  • The invisible killer

    • Campaigners say that research shows air pollution causes around 29,000 early deaths in the UK every year
    • Across the EU, more than 400,000 people died prematurely in 2010 from air pollution, according to the Commission. As well as deaths, 100 million work days are lost every year through illnesses like asthma.
    • The direct costs to society, including damage to crops and buildings, amounts to 23bn euros every year
    • .
    • .

      Related BBC Stories


The levels of air pollution at and around Heathrow are monitored by Heathrow Airwatch at http://www.heathrowairwatch.org.uk/dashboard/

 


 

The European Commission’s press release:

Commission takes action against UK for persistent air pollution problems

Nitrogen oxides like NO2 are emitted by road vehicles, shipping, power generation, industry and households. They are a key component in increased levels of ground-level ozone, which is very harmful to human health. They cause acid rain, damaging plant and animal life in forests, lakes and rivers, and harming buildings and historical sites. They can also cause eutrophication, when an excess of nutrients such as nitrogen oxides and ammonia threatens biodiversity through the excessive growth of plants like algae.

For details of European air quality legislation:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/index.htm

The time extension website:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/legislation/time_extensions.htm

 

 


 

EU launches legal action against UK over air pollution

Commission kicks off long-awaited legal proceedings over UK’s failure to comply with air quality rules

By BusinessGreen staff

20 Feb 2014

Congestion charge C road sign in London

The UK’s continuing failure to meet legally binding EU air quality standards looks set to land the government in court, after the European Commission today launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities.

The latest development in the long-running legal battle between London and Brussels was sparked after the UK government acknowledged that 16 urban centres across the country would not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a five-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules.

Moreover, the government has said that 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline.

Consequently, the European Commission has today kicked off legal proceedings against the UK, raising the prospect of multi-million euro fines and increasing pressure on the government to accelerate efforts to tackle air pollution.

“EU legislation contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels,” the Commission said in a statement. “Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question.

“The Commission is therefore of the opinion that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Directive, and a letter of formal notice has been sent.”

The statement also confirms that the zones deemed to be in breach of the rules are Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, the Potteries, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, the East, the South East, the East Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands and the North East.

The Commission was under pressure to act after a legal case brought by environmental campaign group ClientEarth led to a Supreme Court ruling that the UK is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive and as such “the way is open to immediate enforcement action at national or European level”.

James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, said that urgent action was now needed from the government to tackle air pollution and head off the EU’s legal action.

“We have the right to breathe clean air and the government has a legal duty to protect us from air pollution,” he said in a statement. “The Commission has singled out the UK following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe. If [Environment Secretary] Owen Paterson wants to avoid another disaster for his department he will need an ambitious plan to protect people from deadly diesel fumes.”

He added that the government should focus on delivering a “national network of low emission zones to save lives and making the UK a world leader in clean transport”.

The UK government now has two months to respond to the European Commission’s legal action.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed out that the UK was not the only EU state to fail to meet the conditions of the Air Quality Directive and insisted that it was investing in tackling air pollution.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades,” said a spokesman for the department. “Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge. That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2330023/eu-launches-legal-action-against-uk-over-air-pollution

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Earlier:

Heathrow third runway would treble air pollution deaths, study warns

Research is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at Britain’s major airports
  • Roland Pease (BBC)
  • 12 October 2012

Premature deaths from Heathrow pollution would treble by 2030 if a third runway is built, according to an academic study to be published next week.

Even if the airport does not expand, increased numbers of flights will lead to a more than doubling in the number of deaths from pollution, the authors conclude.

The research, which is sure to be seized on campaigners and politicians opposed to Heathrow expansion, is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at the major airports of Britain. It reveals there would be major health benefits if Heathrow operations were replaced with a new hub in the Thames estuary.

“The main issue with Heathrow is it’s essentially in the middle of a major population centre,” says Prof Steven Barrett, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory for aviation and the environment and senior author of the study. “Also, because of the prevailing winds in the UK, emissions tend to get blown over the whole of London. An airport in the Thames estuary is well away from any major conurbation, and the prevailing winds would carry pollution out over the English Channel and North Sea.”

The study, which has been accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Environment, focuses on the public health effects of operations at the 20 largest airports in the UK, in particular those around London. It is not only exhausts during landing and take-off that degrade local air quality. Taxi-ing, airport support equipment and the jet-fuelled auxiliary power units that generate onboard electricity also add to the pollution burden.

The researchers conclude that, based on 2005 data, UK airports contribute to 110 early deaths each year, mostly due to lung cancer and cardiopulmonary complaints. Of those, 50 can be attributed to Heathrow alone, they calculate.

With government figures projecting a more than 50% rise in air travel over the next two decades, the public health effects are also expected to increase. If Heathrow is expanded with a third runway to allow for unconstrained growth, the airport would be responsible for 150 early deaths; UK-wide deaths would be 260. Even without the third runway, mortality figures will rise substantially. The researchers expect 250 deaths UK-wide, though those directly attributable for Heathrow would be 110, as other airports would carry more traffic.

The researchers also modelled the radically different scenario of closing down Heathrow altogether and moving its operations to a new hub in the Thames Estuary – sometimes referred to as “Boris island” after the proposals by the London mayor, Boris Johnson.

That would save 60 lives UK-wide, and the new expanded hub itself would be responsible for 50 early deaths, the same as Heathrow now, the study found. Relocating the airport would not make a big difference to the airport’s impact on climate change via CO2 emissions from planes.

The projections are likely to feed into the government’s consultation on aviation and are due to be discussed next week by the London assembly’s health and environment committee, according to its chair Murad Qureshi.

Epidemiologist Fintan Hurley, who led a major inquiry into pollution risks for the government’s advisory committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP), welcomed the report, but noted that the additional effects of car and lorry journeys to Heathrow had not been included in the analysis. Future changes, by the addition of rail links for example, should be included in any full comparison of airport plans, he said.

The committee study headed by Hurley concluded in 2008 that 29,000 premature deaths are caused annually in the UK by air pollution. He said: “While 110 deaths is small compared with air pollution deaths in the UK as a whole, there would be major investigations if we had 110 deaths annually in the UK from aeroplane crashes.”

“Every death,” said Barrett, “represents an average of 10 years of lost life.”

Many of the deaths could be avoided by relatively simple measures, Barrett argued. Airplanes get their electricity from onboard auxilliary power units – small jet engines that are often left running while the planes are at the stands. Plugging into the airport electricity supply would reduce those emissions. As would the use of electric vehicles for airport support operations. And using desulphurised fuel would add only 2% to fuel costs, while reducing the health effects by 20%. Altogether, mitigation efforts could halve the pollution from airport operations.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Aviation is a far smaller contributor to air pollution than road traffic, however we are already taking significant steps to tackle the problem. For example, we subsidise local public transport so people can travel for free without the need for a car. We also charge airlines based on how green they are – so the cleanest aircraft are charged less to land at Heathrow.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/oct/12/heathrow-third-runway-air-pollution

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Also

Heathrow air pollution in relation to 2013 being the “Year of Air”

23.1.2013

The European Commission has announced that 2013 is the ‘Year of Air’ with key European air pollution legislation up for review.  The review represents a tremendous opportunity to improve public health by tightening air quality standards. Clean Air in London (CAL) believes that key outcomes from the ‘Year of Air’ must include continuity and the further tightening of health and legal protections. Increasing ‘flexibility’ in air pollution laws would weaken existing health and legal protections and is therefore unacceptable.  There is a consultation by the EC,  on options for the revision of the EU Thematic Strategy on air pollution and related policies, with the closing date on 4 March 2013. Heathrow is a major contributor to air pollution in West London, both from the airport itself and associated road traffic. Information from Hillingdon Council showed a clear correlation between the number of air transport movements and the levels of NOx.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=690..and

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EC stance on air pollution in London could affect ability of Heathrow to expand

4.11.2012

Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 areas of the UK areas were refused by the European Commission in June. The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly.   The worst offender is London, where it is estimated that there over 4,000 ‘excess deaths’ per year from air pollution. This could have implications for Heathrow expansion. Air pollution is recognised by the government as the 2nd-biggest public health threat, after smoking. A judgement will be made at a later date on government plans to delay meeting NO2 standards in major cities until 2020 – or in the case of London, 2025. The EC decision addresses the shorter term, whereas a 3rd runway at Heathrow could not be operation for about 10 years. However, the tough stance by the EC suggests that any plan for Heathrow expansion, which increased air pollution and prevented limits being met, would face legal action. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1367 

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‘Unclear’ who would pay UK air quality fines, say experts

February 21, 2014 (Air Quality News)

Air quality experts and politicians react to the EU’s legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards, which could result in £300m fines each year

Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to take the UK to court over its failure to meet standards for nitrogen dioxide, but have questioned whether it would be the UK government or local authorities paying the £300 million fines that could be levied as a result.

Yesterday (February 20), the European Commission announced that it was pursuing legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline (see airqualitynews.com story).

Emissions from road and traffic pollution is largely to blame for the UK’s failure to comply with EU standards for nitrogen dioxide

As a result, the UK could face EU fines of up to £300 million for every year that it fails to comply with the air quality standards.

Roger Barrowcliffe, chair of the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) – a membership organisation for air quality professionals – said it was currently unclear who would have to pay such a fine – but that as a result of Local Air Quality Management legislation giving more responsibility to councils, it could be local authorities footing some of the bill.

However, he told airqualitynews.com: “Should the government pass them on to local authorities, this will be very harsh and counterproductive to good local air quality management, which is struggling for resources at local level in any event.”

Mr Barrowcliffe also said he was “surprised” it had taken so long for the Commission to take the decision, but that the government really needed to target road transport emissions if the UK is going to reach compliance for nitrogen dioxide.

And, he was also unimpressed with the Commission’s new package of air quality policies launched in December (see airqualitynews.com story), which he described as “anaemic”.

Euro 6

Mr Barrowcliffe said: “Will the EU’s legal action against the UK make a difference? This gets to the heart of the matter in my view. There is a reasonable basis for thinking that by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with nitrogen dioxide. It is clearly a problem that will be solved in time. It depends whether it is worth the EU spending more money to get there faster.”

He added that the next five years were “really crucial” for nitrogen dioxide emissions as “we will have a much clearer idea of whether the Euro 6 emission standards have delivered.”

However, he did have some sympathy for politicians in charge of air quality. He said: “Is government doing enough? Clearly not because if you define success as lowering concentrations fast enough to meet the limits then no one is doing enough. However, if you put yourself in their position what levers have you got to improve the situation?

“It takes political muscle to put in place LEZs. I think obviously it is clear to most people that you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver. You don’t need to be in air quality management to understand that.”

Mr Barrowcliffe commented: “It will be interesting as we come towards the general election next year how this plays out, if at all, in the political arena.”

Green Party

Green Party MEP for South East England and air quality campaigner, Keith Taylor, had little sympathy for the UK government meanwhile.

Speaking to airqualitynews.com, he said: “I think what we have to remember is that the UK played their part in actually setting the standards back in the late 1990s. Since then they have not really improved things in any meaningful way, and that is a matter of very deep regret for the near 30,000 people a year who are dying because of poor air quality. We should not have set up the standards if we were not prepared to meet them.”

Asked whether he thought the legal action would help improve air quality in the UK, Mr Taylor said: “If the government won’t comply because it is the right thing to do, then perhaps they will if they face a £300 million fine each year.”

But, he added: “I do not want the EU to have to fine the UK, especially because the public have already paid the price in terms of health – it would add insult to injury.

“Quite how they want to discharge the fine I don’t know. There was talk of the fines being paid by the local council which would be totally irresponsible.”

London Assembly

London in particular was singled out as having the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions of any city in Europe, and is not expected to comply with EU standards until 2025 – 15 years later than the EU target of 2010.

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi – who also chairs the Assembly’s health and environment committee – told airqualitynews.com that he thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London, “whoever that will be at the time”.

He said: “I would much rather we responded to the public health issue than the fear of facing a £300 million fine. Air pollution is a silent killer of thousands of people and I would like to think that was the reason for dealing with this problem.”

Mr Qureshi said it could potentially be a big political issue at the upcoming EU elections in May 2014.

He said: “The right may say that this is unwarranted from the EU, while those on the left may welcome this environmental intervention. It could be seen as an issue of sovereignty, but the EU really has been leading the way on environmental issues for many years now.”

http://www.airqualitynews.com/2014/02/21/unclear-who-would-pay-uk-air-quality-fines-say-experts/

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Read more »

European Commission opens the floodgates to public aid for airports and low-cost airlines

Responding to the announcement of the new EC guidelines on state aid allowed to airports and  airlines in the EU, the European transport NGO “Transport & Environment” said it was outraged at the increase in subsidies to be allowed.  The guidelines will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year. This means an increased flow of taxpayers’ money towards regional airports for at least the next decade, and allow infrastructure aid for expanding airport facilities to continue permanently – regrettably including no meaningful checks on duplication of airports within a few hundred kilometres of each other. The guidelines also declare that past operating aid, which up till now has been illegal, will retroactively be made legal. T&E says this “gives a new blank cheque to airports and airlines that fail to boost local economies. Why must everybody pay so that the better off can fly more often and for cheaper?” Operating aid is designed to cover the cost of running small airports, such as personnel and maintenance. Instead, operating aid has been used to lower airport fees to attract low-cost carriers, distorting competition and fuelling artificial demand for flying.
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Commission opens the floodgates to public aid for airports and low-cost airlines  

Brussels, 20 February 2014  (Transport & Environment)

The European Commission today published its final guidelines on state aid for aviation, which will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year.

The guidelines sanction an increased flow of taxpayers’ money towards regional airports for at least the next decade, and allow infrastructure aid for expanding airport facilities to continue permanently – regrettably including no meaningful checks on duplication of airports within a few hundred kilometres of each other. The guidelines also declare that past operating aid, which up till now has been illegal, will retroactively be made legal.

Transport & Environment (T&E) expresses outrage that the guidelines open the floodgates to increased operating aid for airports.

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “The Commission openly acknowledges that operating aid is the most distortive form of aid. Yet with its new state aid guidelines, it not only legalises past subsidies, but also gives a new blank cheque to airports and airlines that fail to boost local economies. Why must everybody pay so that the better off can fly more often and for cheaper?

Operating aid is designed to cover the cost of running small airports, such as personnel and maintenance. Instead, operating aid has been used to lower airport fees to attract low-cost carriers, distorting competition and fuelling artificial demand for flying. Giving taxpayer money to airports in the form of operating aid has been illegal in the past, as it is a basic principle of competition law that EU states propping up one industry over another distorts trade.

In its rules published today, the Commission legalised this aid and granted an ‘amnesty’ to previous aid, declaring it legal retroactively. The final guidelines are not subject to parliamentary oversight and will be used for the Commission’s legally binding future decisions.

State aid is the primary reason that smaller airports have grown so much faster than larger airports. In the period between 2004 and 2012, airports under 1m passengers grew by 135%, airports under 5m passengers by 79% and airports over 5m passengers by ‘only’ 29%.

Making operating aid legal is a quick fix by the Commission to make its life easier. Countless regional airports have been abusing subsidies for a decade knowing full well it was illegal. Instead of turning a blind eye to the dirtiest subsidy in the EU, the Commission should have established sound environmental and economic sustainability criteria for recipients of this aid,” Hemmings concluded.

Aviation is the most carbon intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global warming. If aviation were a country it would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions – between Germany and Korea. Yet Europe already exempts airlines from fuel taxes, and airline tickets from VAT; subsidies worth EUR 40 billion. Now they have been given the green light to expand state aid subsidies, which will promote more highly polluting low-cost flights.

http://www.transportenvironment.org/

http://www.transportenvironment.org/press/commission-opens-floodgates-public-aid-airports-and-low-cost-airlines

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The formal adoption and publication of the new guidelines in the Official Journal in all EU official languages is foreseen for March 2014. For information purposes, the text of the new guidelines is available in English at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

  Guidelines adopted on 20 February 2014 – Policy brief: New State aid rules for a competitive aviation industry )


 

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Earlier:

European Commission Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

February 20, 2014

The European Commission has now adopted new guidelines on how Member States can financially support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The EC says the guidelines are “aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market.” The aim is to ensure fair competition for flag carriers down to low-cost airlines, from regional airports to major hub airports and avoid overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports. Aid is allowed if there is seen to be a genuine need for accessibility by air to a region. Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. Airports will less than 700 000 passengers a year get more favourable treatment. Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The formal adoption of the new guidelines in is expected by March 2014.

Click here to view full story…


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The truth behind (not so) cheap flights – the immense annual state subsidies to small airports & cheap airlines

February 18, 2014

In a recent blog, Jacek Krawczyk, who is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic & Social Committee, describes how the current system of state subsidies to European airports and airlines works – and how damaging its effects are. He says aviation needs to be treated like any other business, a “level playing field” without financial help given to some airlines, and the sector should have less subsidy. In response to the question how Ryanair flights can be so cheap, the answer is that they get subsidies for flying into small regional airports. This artificially boosts demand for flights. As much as 20% of Ryanair’s revenues are from subsidies, from reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds. These subsidies could be as much as €10 per passenger to the airline. Krawczyk says almost half of European airports (of which there are too many) generate losses, and more than half if state aid is subtracted from their revenues. The low cost carriers say they get cheap deals with airports by standard business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts of subside direct from governments, from being out-competed by the low cost carriers. “There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent.”

Click here to view full story…


 

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European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

February 17, 2014

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February. The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible. Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

European Commission Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

The European Commission has now adopted new guidelines on how Member States can financially support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The EC says the guidelines are “aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market.” The aim is to ensure fair competition for flag carriers down to low-cost airlines, from regional airports to major hub airports and avoid overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports. Aid is allowed if there is  seen to be a genuine need for accessibility by air to a region.  Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. Airports will less than 700 000 passengers a year get more favourable treatment. Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The formal adoption of the new guidelines in is expected by March 2014.

 

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Brussels, 20 February 2014  (Europa)

State aid: Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

The European Commission adopted today new guidelines on how Member States can support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The guidelines are aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market. They are part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition (see IP/12/458).

Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said: “The new state aid guidelines are a key ingredient for a successful and competitive European aviation industry. They will ensure fair competition regardless of the business model – from flag carriers to low-cost airlines and from regional airports to major hubs. Our aim is to ensure the mobility of citizens, while preserving a level playing field between airports and airlines.”

The new guidelines for State aid to airports and airlines promote sound use of public resources for growth-oriented initiatives. At the same time, they limit distortions of competition that would undermine a level playing field in the Single Market, in particular by avoiding overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports.

Key features are:

  • State aid for investment in airport infrastructure is allowed if there is a genuine transport need and the public support is necessary to ensure the accessibility of a region. The new guidelines define maximum permissible aid intensities depending on the size of an airport, in order to ensure the right mix between public and private investment. The possibilities to grant aid are therefore higher for smaller airports than for larger ones.
  • Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. To receive operating aid, airports need to work out a business plan paving the way towards full coverage of operating costs at the end of the transitional period. As under the current market conditions, airports with an annual passenger traffic of below 700 000 may face increased difficulties in achieving full cost coverage during the transitional period, the guidelines include a special regime for those airports, with higher aid intensities and a reassessment of the situation after 5 years.
  • Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The compatibility conditions for start-up aid to airlines have been streamlined and adapted to recent market developments.

The formal adoption and publication of the new guidelines in the Official Journal in all EU official languages is foreseen for March 2014. For information purposes, the text of the new guidelines is available in English at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

  Guidelines adopted on 20 February 2014 – Policy brief: New State aid rules for a competitive aviation industry )

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Background

Member States’ public funding of airports and airlines is currently assessed under the 1994 and 2005 Aviation Guidelines. The 1994 Aviation Guidelines were adopted in the context of the liberalisation of the market for air transport services and contain provisions for assessing social and restructuring aid to airlines in order to provide a level playing field for air carriers. They were complemented in 2005 by guidelines on the public financing of airports and on the start-up of airline services from regional airports. Today’s guidelines replace both the 1994 and the 2005 aviation guidelines.

Today, air transport contributes significantly to the European economy and plays a vital role in the integration and competitiveness of Europe. During the last decade, the market environment of the aviation industry has changed considerably. The EU’s liberalisation of air transport in 1997 paved the way for the emergence of low-cost carriers growing at a fast pace since 2005. In 2012 for the first time, low-cost airlines (44.8%) exceeded the market share of incumbent air carriers (42.4%), a trend which continued in 2013. The business model of low-cost carriers is intrinsically linked to small and uncongested regional airports allowing for quick turnaround times. This category of airports is predominantly publicly owned and subsidised by public authorities on a regular basis. Whilst certain regions are still hampered by poor accessibility and major hubs are facing increasing levels of congestion, the density of regional airports in certain areas has led to substantial overcapacity of airport infrastructure relative to passenger demand and airline needs.

In view of the significant market changes that have taken place in the last decade, the Commission has initiated a review of its aviation aid guidelines, with a first public consultation in 2011 aiming in particular to determine whether a revision would be necessary (see IP/11/445). The new guidelines take into account also the comments gathered in the second public consultation (July 2013, see IP/13/644) and the intensive dialogues with Member States, public authorities, airports and airlines, associations and citizens. The guidelines take stock of the new legal and economic situation concerning the public financing of airports and airlines and specify the conditions under which such public financing constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). When financing involves state aid, the guidelines set out the conditions under which it is compatible with the Single Market. The Commission’s assessment is based on its experience and decision-making practice, as well as on its analysis of current market conditions in the airport and air transport sectors; it is therefore without prejudice to its approach towards other infrastructures or sectors.

New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.

See also MEMO/14/121

 

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-172_en.htm

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Earlier:

The truth behind (not so) cheap flights – the immense annual state subsidies to small airports & cheap airlines

Date added: February 18, 2014

In a recent blog, Jacek Krawczyk, who is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic & Social Committee, describes how the current system of state subsidies to European airports and airlines works – and how damaging its effects are. He says aviation needs to be treated like any other business, a “level playing field” without financial help given to some airlines, and the sector should have less subsidy. In response to the question how Ryanair flights can be so cheap, the answer is that they get subsidies for flying into small regional airports. This artificially boosts demand for flights. As much as 20% of Ryanair’s revenues are from subsidies, from reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds. These subsidies could be as much as €10 per passenger to the airline. Krawczyk says almost half of European airports (of which there are too many) generate losses, and more than half if state aid is subtracted from their revenues. The low cost carriers say they get cheap deals with airports by standard business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts of subside direct from governments, from being out-competed by the low cost carriers. “There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent.”

Click here to view full story…


 

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European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

Date added: February 17, 2014

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February. The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible. Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

Bavarian Administrative Court rules that building a 3rd runway at Munich airport is lawful

The Bavarian government in southern Germany have been trying for some time to get consent for a 3rd runway at Munich airport, to the north of the existing airport. The 300 or so runway opponents in the  court greeted the news with boos and by singing the Bavaria national anthem. On 19th February the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) ruled that the runway can go ahead, when they rejected the 17 lawsuits against the project. The project was halted by a referendum in June 2012, when by a majority vote the people of Munich expressed their opposition to the runway, which would demolish the village of Attaching. However the legal judgement is not the end to the story, and the fight is expected to continue. Those opposed to the runway point out that a runway is not needed as the number of flights has fallen over recent years and the current runways have plenty of spare capacity, with the advent of larger aircraft. Though the result of the 2012 referendum was only valid for one year, the political parties in Munich are very aware if local opposition to the runway, and they need their votes. It is the state government and economic lobbies that want the runway.  Opponents.will fight on.
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gegner-der-dritten-startbahn-nach-der-urteilsverkuendung
Opponents of the 3rd runway after the verdict
In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/inhalt.urteil-zu-flughafen-muenchen-gericht-dritte-startbahn-darf-gebaut-werden.843df5e6-0843-4363-b738-34151b10c1e0.html


Bg0zY8RIIAEhYcu Munich verdictAfter the court verdict 

 


 

Court supports third runway at Munich

Airport expansion at MUC back on the table

Court supports third runway at Munich

 19.2.2014 (ttg nordic)

A court in Munich has put its weight behind plans for a third runway at Germany’s second-biggest airport. Expansion would help airlines eager to expand capacity in Europe’s biggest economy.

A public vote on a third runway in Munich in 2012 went against expansion, a blow to airlines like Lufthansa and Air Berlin struggling under a ban on night flights in Frankfurt and endless delays in the opening of a new airport in Berlin. But this vote was legally binding only for one year.

Public opposition to expansion at MUC remains high, but there is hope that public opinion can be won round given the importance of growing demand for travel. The airport handled 38.36 million passengers in 2013.

“The ruling [...] gives Munich Airport a chance to cope with the growth in traffic that is forecast for the coming years,” the airport’s chief executive, Michael Kerkloh, said.

Reuters

http://www.ttgnordic.com/news/item/7120-court-supports-third-runway-at-munich

 


 

Tumult in the court  – third runway should be built

19.2.2014 (B5 actuel – German news)

Thumbs up for the expansion of Munich Airport: The Bavarian Administrative Court ruled that the building permit for a third runway was lawful. The plaintiffs sang a verdict protest the Bayern anthem.

n purely legal terms, the third runway in the Erdinger Moos may thus be built.Judge Erwin Allesch rejected all 17 claims against the planning decision. An appeal was denied. That makes it the opponents almost impossible yet to take legal action against it. What now remains to them is a denial of leave to appeal on Bundesverwaltungsgerichtin Leipzig. In addition, the plaintiff should bear the costs of the proceedings.

Loud protest in court

At the sentencing hearing, the opponents were busload be indented. The hall in the Bavarian Administrative Court was hopelessly overcrowded. After the verdict was announced, they voted in the hall at the Bavaria anthem.Then it was turbulent: Some vented their displeasure, agreed to a chorus of whistles or shouting “mess”, “poor Germany”, in chants chanted several opponents: “We are the people”. Until it was too much Allesch judge and he let the room cleared. The Court secured a large contingent of police. Above all, the citizens Attac Hing do not want to give up the fight against the runway. In a statement they announced not to accept the decision today. The municipal area is directly adjacent to the Munich airport.

“Public interest outweighs”

In his short justification told Judge Allesch it speak nothing against the planning decision. Neither adverse environmental impacts, or to nature protection, yet issues of demand.Looking at the forecasts of future take-offs and landings he could see no serious defects. The load of the people were within the legal limits. Even against the conservation law will not violate.Although Allesch curtailed, the runway would mean a substantial intervention into a bird sanctuary, but there is sufficient compensatory measures. Overall outweighs the public interest.

Reactions to the runway judgement

The opponents of the project are horrified. “With the decision to start and third runway at Munich Airport is the 1224 years old Bavarian village Attaching and thus destroyed by almost 1000 Bavarian citizens home,” writes the local citizens’ initiative. The village community will continue to fight for their future, they say. One of their main arguments is: “If there were a third runway already, should Attaching, due to the severe stress from noise, wake vortices and pollutants in the applicable legislation, will no longer be built at this point.” The spokesman of all Bürgeriniativen, Hartmut Binner, called the state government to “take leave of money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

For the Greens in the parliament, the ruling is not a surprise, but state chair Sigi Hagl described the decision not to allow revision as a “strong piece.” Hagl renewed its criticism of the project: “” The road is bad for the residents and the environment and it is simply superfluous, because the growth forecasts smash regularly on reality. “She appealed to the policy in Munich, even after the local elections, the citizens vote to respect against the web.

http://www.br.de/nachrichten/flughafen-muenchen-startbahn-100.html

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infografik-umstrittene-neue-startbahn-in-muenchen

Graphic illustrating the location of the proposed 3rd Munich runway


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Startbahn-Urteil: Das sagen unsere User

Runway judgement – what our  users say

– from a German news report    19.2.2014

There are various comments from the opponents of the runway. They are, of course, all in German. Google translate makes a hash of the translation, but below are some extracts with the gist of the comments along these lines:

What counts here is the opinion of citizens only if they tick when choosing the option the CSU [the Christian Social Union in Bavaria] wants.

Interesting to see already how little binding the plebiscite (referendum) has been. The people of all of Munich voted on the issue of the 3rd runway, and they voted against it, but which had not been thought possible. And now there is a decision to allow the runway.

It is a shame that it is not the people who are allowed to decide, but corporations and business enterprises in our country. This is why you should choose at the next municipal election the parties that will be against the runway in future. The CSU is only for electoral reasons for the runway. You never know what the SPD will do. . . that leaves only the Greens …

Whether this works out for good or bad, the fact is that has once again the business lobby has won, by promising more jobs. That is and has always been a sham. .

http://www.merkur-online.de/lokales/freising/freising/startbahn-urteil-sagen-unsere-user-3374324.html

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Third runway at Munich may be built

The Bavarian Administrative Court clears the way for the third runway at Munich Airport.         It rejected all 17 claims against the billion € project. Built still is not now. 

19.2.2014 (Die Welt)

A plane takes off from the airport in Munich.  A third runway has been controversial for years

Photo: APA plane takes off from the airport in Munich. A third runway has long been controversial

The controversial third runway at Munich Airport can be built from a legal perspective. The Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) rejected all 17 claims against the billion project, which in 2012 is currently still on ice after a referendum held in Munich, however.

The years since competitive project conflicted with neither environmental nor noise reasons, said the presiding judge Erwin Allesch. “The planning authority has its powers and its discretion not exceeded.” The planning, to no defects.

However Allesch came almost 20 minutes is not to end his remarks. At the 300 runway opponents in the courtroom acknowledged their defeat with loud boos and the singing of the anthem Bavaria. There were tumultuous scenes.

Judge did admit hall

Long time no rest returned a, finally let the judge vacate the hall and was then still interrupted by “We are the people” calls. Gradually, the enemy finally left the room, only process participants and media representatives were allowed to stay.

The revision of the judgment did not permit the court, the costs must be borne by the applicants. But the tough years of struggle for the runway expected to continue in spite of the judgment for a while.

Previously, citizens’ groups were announced to take a so-called leave to appeal against it before the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

Airports Council welcomes judgment

Their spokesman, Hartmut Binner, announced to strengthen the resistance yet. He appealed to the state government, “to say goodbye to money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

The Airport Association ADV, however, welcomed the ruling. It was an important decision for the future development of Germany’s second largest airport. “At the same time it is a good sign for all airports in our country,” said ADV-chief executive Ralph Beisel.

Several municipalities, the Federal Nature Conservation in Bavaria (BN) and private citizens have appealed the authorization granted by the Free State in 2011 planning permission for the four-kilometer-long runway near Freising. On the slopes every hour can take off or land 30 aircraft. The process had attracted 46 days of negotiations for almost a year.

Referendum has one year validity

The runway opponents keep the project superfluous, because the number of take-offs and landings had declined continuously on Germany’s second largest airport in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often full to the last seat.

Regardless of the process, the project is located since 2012 against a refusal citizens’ decision of the people of Munich on ice. The Bavarian capital as co-owner of the airport may thus disagree with the construction of a shareholders’ meeting.

There, however, unanimous decisions are necessary. The referendum has only valid for one year, but all of Munich city hall parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote. The state government and the economy, however, favor the construction of the runway.

 

http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article124993047/Dritte-Startbahn-in-Muenchen-darf-gebaut-werden.html

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Original German:

Die umstrittene dritte Startbahn am Münchner Flughafen darf aus rechtlicher Sicht gebaut werden. Der Bayerische Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VGH) wies alle 17 Klagen gegen das Milliardenprojekt ab, das nach einem Bürgerentscheid in München 2012 derzeit allerdings noch immer auf Eis liegt.

Dem seit Jahren umkämpften Projekt stünden weder Umweltschutz- noch Lärmgründe entgegen, sagte der Vorsitzende Richter Erwin Allesch. “Die Planungsbehörde hat ihre Befugnisse und ihren Ermessensspielraum nicht überschritten.” Die Planung weise keine Mängel auf.

Allerdings kam Allesch über fast 20 Minuten nicht dazu, seine Ausführungen zu beenden. An die 300 Startbahngegner im Gerichtssaal quittierten ihre Niederlage mit lauten Buhrufen und dem Absingen der Bayernhymne. Es kam zu tumultartigen Szenen.

Richter ließ Saal räumen

Lange Zeit kehrte keine Ruhe ein, schließlich ließ der Richter den Saal räumen und wurde auch danach noch von “Wir sind das Volk”-Rufen unterbrochen. Nach und nach verließen die Gegner schließlich den Saal, lediglich Prozessbeteiligte und Medienvertreter durften bleiben.

Die Revision des Urteils ließ das Gericht nicht zu, die Kosten des Verfahrens müssen die Kläger tragen. Doch das zähe jahrelange Ringen um die Startbahn dürfte auch trotz des Urteils noch eine Weile weitergehen.

Bereits zuvor hatten die Bürgerinitiativen angekündigt, vor dem Bundesverwaltungsgerichtshof in Leipzig eine sogenannte Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde dagegen einzulegen.

Flughafenverband begrüßt Urteil

Ihr Sprecher, Hartmut Binner, kündigte an, den Widerstand noch zu verstärken. Er appellierte an die Staatsregierung, “sich von Geld und Ressourcenverschwendung und von der Missachtung des Bürgerentscheides im Namen des Volkes zu verabschieden”.

Der Flughafenverband ADV begrüßte hingegen das Urteil. Es sei eine wichtige Weichenstellung für die künftige Entwicklung des zweitgrößten deutschen Airports. “Gleichzeitig ist es ein gutes Zeichen für alle Flughäfen in unserem Land”, sagte ADV-Hauptgeschäftsführer Ralph Beisel.

Mehrere Kommunen, der Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (BN) und Privatleute hatten gegen die vom Freistaat 2011 erteilte Baugenehmigung für die vier Kilometer lange Startbahn nahe Freising geklagt. Auf der Piste können stündlich 30 Flugzeuge starten oder landen. Der Prozess hatte sich mit 46 Verhandlungstagen fast ein Jahr lang hingezogen.

Bürgerentscheid hat ein Jahr Gültigkeit

Die Startbahngegner halten das Projekt für überflüssig, weil die Zahl der Starts und Landungen auf Deutschlands zweitgrößtem Airport in den vergangenen Jahren kontinuierlich zurückgegangen sei. Tatsächlich gibt es weniger Flugbewegungen, weil die Maschinen immer größer werden und oft bis auf den letzten Platz ausgelastet sind.

Unabhängig vom Prozess liegt das Projekt seit 2012 wegen eines ablehnenden Bürgerentscheids der Münchner Bevölkerung auf Eis. Die bayerische Landeshauptstadt als Miteigentümerin des Flughafens darf somit dem Bau in der Gesellschafterversammlung nicht zustimmen.

Dort sind aber einstimmige Beschlüsse notwendig. Der Bürgerentscheid hat zwar nur ein Jahr Gültigkeit, doch sehen sich alle Münchner Rathausparteien auch längerfristig an das Votum gebunden. Die Staatsregierung und die Wirtschaft befürworten hingegen den Bau der Startbahn.

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Green light for Munich airport expansion

Green light for Munich airport expansionCapacity at Munich airport will increase by 30 flights a day. Photo: DPA
20 Feb 2014 (The Lccal – Germany’s news in English)

Bavarian authorities gave the green light on Wednesday for a much-disputed third runway to be built at Munich airport, rejecting the results of a city referendum.

The Bavarian Administrative Court turned down 17 cases filed against the building of the new runway, which will increase airport capacity by 30 flights an hour, in front of a courtroom filled with 300 angry protesters.

Shouting broke out when it was announced that despite a 2012 referendum voting against the runway, legally there was nothing to stop construction beginning.

Judge Erwin Allesch said that a third runway – plans for which have been in the pipeline for years – would not be detrimental enough to the environment nor disruptive enough for those living nearby, for it not to be built.

As soon as plans were announced in 2011, protesters joined forces in an attempt to stop them. It was, they said, a pointless venture as the number of flights taking off and landing at the airport had been dropping every year.

The new runway will be four kilometres long and stretch out to near the suburb of Freising.

Dr Michael Kerkloh, chairman and CEO of Munich Airport’s operating company, said: “This is an extremely important signal for the future development of Munich Airport.

“The ruling underscores the fact that our planning, including the extensive measures taken to protect people and nature, have stood up to an exacting review by an independent court.”

He added in a statement: “Munich Airport still has the opportunity to handle the projected traffic growth in the coming years and maintain its position among Europe’s major air transportation hubs.”

Airport union ADV welcomed the court’s decision to give construction the go-ahead. “It is a good sign for airports everywhere in the country,” said union head Ralph Beisel.

http://www.thelocal.de/20140220/green-light-for-munich-airports-third-runway

 

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On 17th February:

Judgment on Wednesday

Munich Airport: Green light for 3 Runway?

Paul Winterer,  (Alendzeitung, Munchen)
On Wednesday, the verdict is the planned third runway. Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

On Wednesday, the ruling on billion project of the third runway in the Erdinger Moos falls – and it seems that proponents currently have the better cards.

Munich – For nearly a year the judges have rolled files to speech battles of the process involved and consulted on record. It’s about one of the largest German construction projects: the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) has to decide on the approval of the billion-dollar third runway at Munich Airport.

Display

On Wednesday announced the 8th Senate the highly anticipated verdict.

Numerous municipalities, the federal government conservation (BN) and private people complain against the planned four kilometers of runway, could take off or land up to 30 aircraft on the hourly. Defendant is the Free State of Bavaria, who issued the building permit. The Airport Company (FMG) is joined as a party as a builder.

The course of the process according to it likely to be a defeat for the plaintiff. Even BN-county chairman and Greens Member of Parliament Christian Magerl expects a “not positive judgment.”

An indication for the dismissal of the claims could be the end of the process, the rejection of over 200 evidence submitted by the VGH. The 20 March 2013 evidence was begun after 46 days of the hearing on 15 January came to an end.

Applied for the Free State Land Attorney Anton Meyer, “the complaints all dismissed.” For the runway opponents, however, the third runway is superfluous, because the number of takeoffs and landings has declined steadily in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often too busy to the last seat.

In addition to the judgment process participants expect with voltage if the VGH permits an appeal to the Federal Administrative Court. Then the losers could call the next instance directly.

Otherwise there is the possibility of leave to appeal. The Supreme Administrative Court in Leipzig would then have to decide whether to deal with the case or not.

But there is a third way. BN attorney Ulrich Egger cold does not rule out that the Munich judges ask their colleagues Luxembourg by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), before they make their decision. He wants to still consider several legal issues for conservation by the ECJ.

The referral to the ECJ would the judgment of 8 Senate delayed by about a year. But even without ECJ still take a long time before the judgment is final. A decision on the next instance falls before the autumn.

If the political level of the billion dollar project. In a referendum, the Munich rejected the runway construction in June 2012. The city could not approve the project in the shareholders’ meeting – so that the track was shelved.

The referendum has only valid for one year, but all Rathaus parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote.

It is also conceivable kind nationwide white and blue referendum. But for this is currently lacking even the foundation. Because referendums are only possible to draft legislation – so far at least.

http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/inhalt.urteil-faellt-am-mittwoch-flughafen-muenchen-gruenes-licht-fuer-die-3-startbahn.69702aea-2618-4a5b-b5b0-bc8de5e93229.html

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Earlier:

Munich campaign hands in 80,000 signature petition against 3rd runway to state parliament

July 24, 2013

On 17th July, the BUND Naturschutz (the largest environmental organisation in Germany) and the “AufgeMUCkt” Action Alliance handed in a petition to the state parliament against the construction of a third runway at Munich Airport. Nearly 80,000 people have signed the petition from all over Bavaria. The petition was handed to the Chairman of the Economic Committee (CSU) and someone from the Environment Committee at the parliament. The campaigners asked the politicians to please take note of the will of the people and decide against allowing a new runway. One campaign leader, Helga Stiegl Meier explained that, among other things, the number of aircraft movements at Munich Airport has been stagnate for years, which she said proves that there is no need for a 3rd runway. Another spokesman said the region has no need of furher aviation expansion, and sustainable transport in Bavaria is facing very different challenges, such as future supplies of cheap oil. The new parliament will have to decide after the state elections in the autumn on a third runway.     Click here to view full story…

 

Munich conference – airport residents’ campaigns across Europe connect their fight against the aviation lobby

25.6.2013Over 250 people from across Europe attended the European Aviation Campaigners Conference in Munich at the weekend, where they heard accounts of campaigners against expansion in many different countries. The conference produced a manifesto which included a call for an end to night flights and an end to tax-breaks for the aviation industry.  They also called for no more runways to be  built in Europe, and a shift from short-haul flights to rail,  the abolition of subsidies for the aviation sector  and active control of noise. The conference also had sessions on effective campaigning, including direct action.   Those who attended the conference came away inspired. They were in no doubt that the conference will stimulate collective across Europe to campaign for change. The united call is to ‘tame the aviation industry’.  They say health, independent living, and an intact environment must have higher priority than economic interests. There is an English version of the Manifesto at this link.   http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3813 

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Munich residents vote against new 3rd runway at Munich airport – 54% said NO

June 17, 2012    Munich residents voted against development of a 3rd runway, in a poll by the City of Munich, which owns 23% of the runway (state and federal government own the rest). Just over 54% of polled voters were against the new runway and 45.7% in favour, according to preliminary results of the vote on Sunday.  Though the city only owns part of the airport, this is thought to be a veto. Munich Mayor Christian Ude said he would accept the result “without ifs or buts.” Bavaria’s state government, however, said it still hopes the runway could eventually be built. Munich is Germany’s second-biggest airport. The vote has dealt another blow to airlines clamouring for growth in Germany. A German district government ruled in favour of the €1.2 billion euro Munich runway project almost a year ago. This vote shows, quote: “how difficult it has become to make clear the significance of important infrastructure projects in our country,’ according to the Munich airport chief. Click here to view full story…

 


 

 

Munich votes against third runway

Munich votes against third runway

18 June 2012 (The Local – German news in English)

The people of Munich voted against the construction of a third runway in a referendum held on Sunday. The result is a sharp slap in the face for the leading parties in the Bavarian capital.

The latest results showed 54.3% of the people of Munich voting against the expansion of Germany’s second biggest airport, and 45.7% in favour. The result did not suit the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who all campaigned for a decision in favour.

As many as 32% of the 1.04 million eligible voters showed up at the polling booths – way over the 10% hurdle needed to make the referendum valid.

The result means that the city council is now obliged to vote against the new runway in its capacity as part of the airport’s operating company. The airport is co-run by the federal government, the Bavarian state government, and the city of Munich – the council’s vote will effectively block construction.

According to CSU head Horst Seehofer and Munich mayor Christian Ude of the SPD, the third runway would have increased the airport’s capacity from 90 to 120 departures and arrivals per hour.

The ‘Yes’ campaigners said this was necessary, since the airport will soon reach the limit of its current capacity. While some 40 million passengers are expected to pass through Munich airport this year, some 58 million are projected to be using the airport annually by 2025.

http://www.thelocal.de/20120618/43211

 


 

New AirportWatch BLOG.  The German Spring Takes Off

15th June 2012    On the weekend that campaigners occupy the centre of Munich, John Stewart outlines the story of the nationwide protests against airport expansion taking place in Germany, at Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.  And the implications this has for aviation policy in the UK.  At a time when the industry is pressing once again for a third runway at Heathrow, it likes to give the impression there is little real opposition to expansion in the rest of Europe.  The German experience tells a very different story. “It is impossible at this stage to predict what will happen in Germany.  Or in France.  But the protests have almost certainly changed the landscape forever.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to expand airports anywhere in Western Europe.  That is the new reality that governments and the aviation industry have got to face up to.”  Read the blog

 

Opponents of the third runway climb Siegestor (Victory Tower) in Munich

8.6.2012 (de Bild)

Action against third runway at Munich

Environmentalists have with a spectacular action on Friday in Munich protested against the planned third runway at the airport.  They fixed banners reading “Stop the third runway madness!” on the Victory Tower. And “No on 17.6.». The organization Robin Wood appealed to the electorate, to vote against the construction of the runway in Erdinger Moos in the referendum on 17 June.  The activists were supported by Germany Plane Stupid, a community of action against the airport expansion. Their common demand: Their common demand: A statement by Mayor Christian UDE (SPD), on how he is able to justify supporting the expansion of the airport, as well as the Festival for the environment and sustainable mobility ,as patron of Streetlife. Link to article 

 

 

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Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow & Southampton airports – hoping to make more profit than at Heathrow

Ferrovial had made an offer – for an undisclosed amount – to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports from its partners in Heathrow Airport Holdings. The price might be as much as £800 million.  Ferrovial is the largest shareholder in Heathrow, with 25%. Heathrow Holdings has made it clear for sometime that it is eager to sell its other remaining airports.  It is understood that Ferrovial is not making the offer in partnership with any other company, though some reports suggest that Australian infrastructure companies Macquarie and Industry Funds Management are also involved.  It is not known if Ferrovial’s bid will be accepted.  A Portuguese bank has valued the 3 airports at  £952m using an equity value/earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 12.3 times for Aberdeen and Glasgow and 10.7 times for Southampton. Ferrovial bought BAA in 2006 for £10.3bn. It has since offloaded Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh in order to lower its debt. Now it is keen to buy again.  Ferrovial hopes UK regional airports will grow strongly for the next few years, if the UK economy starts to grow, as they have a large amount of unused capacity.  By contrast, the CAA has limited the amount Heathrow can charge airlines for landing charges, so decreasing the return available from Heathrow. 
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Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports

The bid from biggest single shareholder in Heathrow airport is thought to be worth £800m
By , transport correspondent  (Guardian)
  • 17 February 2014
Glasgow airport: the Ferrovial bid comes in conjunction with two Australian partners, Macquarie and Industry Funds Management.

Ferrovial, the biggest single shareholder in Heathrow, has made a bid to buy Heathrow Airport Holdings’ three other British airports outright.

The Spanish infrastructure company is believed to have made a bid worth £800m for Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.

The bid comes in conjunction with two Australian partners, Macquarie and Industry Funds Management. Ferrovial has struggled in Spain with the slump in the construction sector and is looking to strengthen its hand in airports again.

A Ferrovial-led consortium bought the then BAA in 2006 but has since sold down its stake to 25%. Some of the group’s other major holdings – Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh – were sold off under the direction of the Competition Commission, leaving Heathrow airport itself as by the far the biggest driver of profits for the group.

The sovereign wealth funds and pension funds on Heathrow’s board – Britannia Airport Partners, Singapore’s GIC, Qatar Holding and Alinda Capital Partners – are believed to be willing to divest the other holdings and focus solely on the UK’s largest airport.

Ferrovial and Heathrow both declined to comment.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/17/ferrovial-buy-aberdeen-glasgow-southampton-airports

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Of the remaining stakes in FGP Topco, Heathrow’s parent company, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund holds 20%; Canadian pension fund CDPQ has 135; the Singaporean wealth fund 12%; Alinda Capital Partners 11%; the Chinese sovereign wealth fund 11%; and the Universities Superannuation Scheme holds 9%.

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See also FT article (££) at

Ferrovial offers to buy UK regional airports

17.2.2014

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Analysts said Ferrovial would see an opportunity to expand the smaller, unregulated airports at a time when the CAA’s ruling on higher landing charges was decreasing the return available from Heathrow. Ferrovial has said the return the CAA is offering on Heathrow is not sufficient to generate investment.

Ferrovial also has a construction business, affording it the opportunity to do expansion works itself.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/32002810-97c3-11e3-ab60-00144feab7de.html#axzz2tgWNBDGF

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Earlier:

Speculation that GIP, Ferrovial and MAG interested in buying Aberdeen Glasgow and/or Southampton airports

November 13, 2013      Sky News has learned “from banking sources” that various infrastructure investors are interested in buying Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports – amid expectations that their owner, Heathrow Holdings, will opt to sell them – to focus on its ownership of Heathrow. It is understood that Heathrow is considering a plan to offload, following a string of unsolicited approaches from prospective buyers. Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) which owns Gatwick and City airports, has expressed an interest in buying Aberdeen airport, although it has not yet made a formal bid. A number of Heathrow’s shareholders and board members are said to be keen to dispose of the 3 regional airports but its board has not yet made a formal decision. Ferrovial now only owns 25% of Heathrow,and is reported as now likely to be interested in buying one or more of the airports, through a separate vehicle. MAG is also understood to want to buy one or more of them.    Click here to view full story…

 

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The truth behind (not so) cheap flights – the immense annual state subsidies to small airports & cheap airlines

In a recent blog, Jacek Krawczyk, who is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic & Social Committee, describes how the current system of  state subsidies to European airports and airlines works – and how damaging its effects are. He says aviation needs to be treated like any other business, a “level playing field” without financial help given to some airlines, and the sector should have less subsidy. In response to the question how Ryanair flights can be so cheap, the answer is that they get subsidies for flying into small regional airports. This artificially boosts demand for flights.  As much as 20% of Ryanair’s revenues are from subsidies, from reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds.  These subsidies could   be as much as €10 per passenger to the airline.  Krawczyk says almost half of European airports (of which there are too many) generate losses, and more than half if state aid is subtracted from their revenues. The low cost carriers say they get cheap deals with airports by standard business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts of subside direct from governments, from being out-competed by the low cost carriers. “There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent.”
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The truth behind (not so) cheap flights

By Jacek Krawczyk

Jacek Krawczyk is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and rapporteur of the EESC’s opinions on civil aviation.

17.2.2014 (Euractiv)

As the European Commission publishes its new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines on 19 February 2014, Jacek Krawczyk argues that aviation needs to be treated as a business by restoring a level playing field in the sector and stop the race for subsidies.

It’s so nice to leave Brussels for the weekend and fly to Spain or Italy for less than 50 euros, isn’t it? Many of you, Dear Readers, have certainly enjoyed doing that dozens of times. Some of you have probably complained afterwards about the airline’s service, delays and restrictive luggage regulations or other tricks to get money out of you, but still it was great value for money, wasn’t it?

But have you ever wondered how it is possible to travel by plane for such a low price? If you haven’t, let me explain: you’ve paid more for the ticket than you think. The rest was taken from you in taxes

For some time now the European Commission has been due to publish new guidelines for state aid in the aviation sector – a long awaited documents that should lead to a more level playing field in aviation. Long awaited, because the distortions of competition in the sector are – according to key stakeholders – significant.

Legacy carriers are asking for public aid as they struggle with competitors from outside Europe and aggressive competition from low cost carriers. Many airports ask for public financing, as they are not able to cover operational costs. Almost half of the airports in Europe generate losses, more than half if we subtract state aid from their revenues.

New guidelines will for sure restrict state aid both for the airlines and for the airports. Some members of the European Parliament have already opposed that, arguing that regional airports must be subsidised, as they should be treated not just as companies but also as investments in regional development. In reality significant amounts of public money spent for this “regional development” indirectly supplies the very low cost carriers (LCC) which practices are distorting the competition. LCCs take advantage of their dominant position in negotiations with a majority of regional airports. They get such significant discounts in airport charges and other fees that operations are for most regional airports often barely profitable (if profitable at all). Regional airports, instead of investing in development, are fighting for survival and heavily subsidising carriers to fly from them by generating often-artificial demand.

What’s the scale of such indirect subsidies? This is very difficult to estimate, as most of the agreements between carriers and airports are confidential.

According to the Air Scoop’s report on Ryanair’s business model in 2011 approximately 20% of the company’s revenues may come from subsidies. According to press reports, when Air France complained about Ryanair to the European Commission in 2010, they estimated that at least 25 airports gave Ryanair the equivalent of €660 million in financial aid, with measures such as reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds.

According to Air Scoop’s report, the subsidies amounted to €10-11 per passenger!  Some estimates may not be correct and refer only to the biggest and most dominant LCCs, but it can be assumed that other market players with the same business model  gain from similar arrangements.

The representatives of the LCCs will no doubt retort that they do have preferential rates but they got them in fair business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts from the governments.

I agree with the second part: more and more airlines are asking for government help, arguing that different charges  and LCCs distort competition. They also complain about other burdens due to Europe’s ambitious targets for CO2 reduction, planned only for European companies (which distorts competition even more). As they can’t keep up in the market race, they ask for public aid. This often ends with an investigation by the European Commission and after months of proceedings aid is assessed as unjustified, ruining even the hardest efforts of such carriers to restructure themselves and become competitive again.

Currently, with more than 80% of airports in the EU dominated by one carrier (more than 40% of passengers), it is rather difficult to imagine that such negotiations have an entirely “business” character. Regional airports are fighting to keep a minimum quantity of traffic in order not to go out of business. They do this with the help of more and more subsidies. We have built a lot of airports in the EU using different types of public money just to create enough capacity for certain carriers to take advantage of the fact that there is not enough demand for air transport services there.

I hope that any new state aid guidelines will not only clarify the basic rules on public aid. There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent. The EESC has pointed out in its report on the revision of aviation guidelines that such a study is necessary in order to identify  not only the scope of aid but also the different “methods” of money transfer.

If European aviation is to be competitive, we must stop counting on the current “messy” state aid and treat aviation as a business again. Let’s stop the race for subsidies, restore a level playing field and get back to what companies should be best at: offering good service for a reasonable price and making decent profits for shareholders. What is at stake here is mobility of EU citizens. We need sustainable model of EU aviation and this takes more than fighting for next regional “donator”.

http://www.euractiv.com/transport/cheap-flights-analysis-533555

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Earlier:

European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

Date added: February 17, 2014

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February. The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible. Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.

Click here to view full story…

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Economist: Proposed EU rules on state aid aim to stem the flow of money from taxpayers’ pockets to Ryanair

19.10.2013Article in the Economist gives a useful set of insights into airport subsidies at small airports across Europe, which are now due to be reduced after consultation. The Economist says Europe has over 450 airports, mostly small and loss-making. About 85% are publicly owned. Local politicians’ enthusiastic sponsorship of airports, to boost regional economies, has in turn contributed to the rapid growth of low-cost airlines, since the airports have used their subsidies to offer cheap landing fees and other sweeteners to persuade the cheap carriers to fly there.  Ryanair is the sole or dominant carrier at many of the airports under investigation, and has been getting effective subsidies of as much as €11 per passenger. There may be as much as €3 billion of taxpayers’ money given in EU-approved aid to small airports each year, and more that is not sanctioned.  EU laws ban state aid if it seriously distorts markets and though there have been many investigations into this, none has yet reached a conclusion. Some smaller airports will find it hard to pay Ryanair and other budget airlines enough to keep them flying there. With tighter rules, some of the 80-odd European airports with under 1m passengers will be at risk of closing.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18014

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

July 2013Under the European Commission, state aid is granted to various sectors of the economy. However, a key issue is the impact it has on distorting the market, and giving an unfair advantage to those companies or organisations receiving it. Airports and airlines are one sector that receives large amounts of state aid through the EC. The Commission’s DG Competition is tasked with overseeing state aid. There have been earlier sets of guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, but there is a current consultation – due to end on 25th September (which may be extended). The exact amount of state aid given to the aviation sector is somewhat shady, but is at least €3 billion, for those subsidies that are fully notified.There have been widely publicised cases, such as that of Ryanair at Charleroi airport. Transport & Environment have produced an easy-to-read briefing on the state aid situation, and people are urged to respond to the consultation. The state aid gives the aviation industry unmerited subsidy, and helps to encourage very high carbon travel.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17424

 

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Government response rejects petition asking for no APD during school summer holidays

A petition to the Treasury has been created, asking that the government suspend or reduce Air Passenger Duty  (APD)during the school summer holidays. The petition says British families need quality time together at a time they legally can (parents are not meant to take children out of school in term time).  Quite why the families have to get on a plane in order to have quality time together is not explained.  As the number signing is now around 38,000 there has been a response from the government. They say “APD exists to provide revenues for the public services. Revenue from APD plays an important part in supporting this Government’s stabilisation of the UK’s public finances.” They add that APD is charged by the airlines, and they have the option of not  passing the cost on to the passengers. They also say that APD for the majority of flights, which are to Europe, is only £13 for a return trip. “The duty makes up a relatively small proportion of the total ticket cost. For example, it is less than 9% of the cost of an early booking for return flights for a family of four to Málaga in July 2014. Other charges imposed by airlines, such as fuel or luggage surcharges, can make up a much higher proportion of the total ticket price.” The industry ramps up the price of flights and holidays during July and August, by far more than the price of APD.  For instance, holiday price £2,015.59 in August and £1,214 for the same trip in late September.
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End the ‘Parent Trap’ – suspend or reduce APD over school summer holidays

Responsible department: Her Majesty’s Treasury

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/53002

I am calling on the government to help British families manage the “Parent Trap” of inflated holiday prices in summer by suspending or reducing the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for the annual school summer-holiday period of July and August. This will allow British families to enjoy much needed quality time together at the only time children are legally allowed to take holidays. This proposed tax break will ultimately benefit parents and teachers, who are corralled into taking holiday during the school summer break, when prices are already escalated.

 

This e-petition has received the following response:

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:

Air Passenger Duty exists to provide revenues for the public services. Revenue from Air Passenger Duty plays an important part in supporting this Government’s stabilisation of the UK’s public finances as the country’s economy recovers from the biggest financial crisis in generations, one of the deepest recessions of any major economy and a decade of growth built on unsustainable levels of debt.

Whilst meeting this objective the Government has still been able to deliver a real terms freeze to Air Passenger Duty for three years. During this time, rates for the vast majority of passengers have only increased by £1, and it is £13 on an economy flight to Europe. The duty makes up a relatively small proportion of the total ticket cost. For example, it is less than 9 per cent of the cost of an early booking for return flights for a family of four to Málaga in July 2014. Other charges imposed by airlines, such as fuel or luggage surcharges, can make up a much higher proportion of the total ticket price.

The liability to pay Air Passenger Duty sits with airlines rather than with passengers. This means that while airlines do tend to pass the cost of APD on wholesale to passengers, there could never be any guarantee of savings being passed on fully even if it were feasible to temporarily reduce it during the summer holiday period.

The Government’s approach to Air Passenger Duty is to ensure that the aviation sector makes a fair contribution to bringing down the deficit. The sector pays no tax on the fuel used in international and nearly all domestic flights. There is no VAT on international flights, and, unlike many countries, the UK does not charge VAT on domestic flights.

Alongside three years of real terms freeze to Air Passenger Duty the Government has also made funding available to help local authorities in England freeze their Council Tax for a third year in a row. Since 2011, the Government has announced successive increases in the personal allowance, so that from April 2014 the cumulative effect will have taken 2.7 million people out of income tax, and a typical basic rate taxpayer will see a cash gain of £705 per year. And the longest fuel duty freeze for over 20 years means that it costs £7 less every time a typical family fills their tank, and £10 less by the end of the Parliament.

The Government, of course, keeps all taxes and duties under review.

This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/53002

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Debate: should school holiday price hikes be banned?

Jan 30th, 2014
Feature by Moneywise editorial

The remarks of one furious father who found that Center Parcs charged £300 more for a villa stay during half term than in the previous week have gone viral.

Paul Cookson, from south Devon, vented his experience on Facebook, writing: “I am sick to death of being ripped off in this country”.

He encouraged fellow fed up parents to sign an online petition to get the issue debated by Parliament. The petition has had almost 150,000 signatures to date, meaning the issue will be discussed by MPs.

So should travel companies be prevented from hiking prices in the school holidays? Moneywise has put two experts on the subject – a parent and travel association ABTA – head to head to debate the issue.

“YES” SAYS RACHEL LACEY, MUM OF TWO AND MONEYWISE SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR
As I gaze out of my window and see that it’s yet again grey and wet – I can think of nothing better than soaking up some sun. Dreams of lazing on the beach, playing with the kids in the pool and showing them another part of the world is the perfect antidote to another cold, wet day.

But my eldest son has just started reception, so a dream is all it is. Now that we can go only go away during the school holidays we’re getting used to the idea of gambling with the weather and only having holidays here in the UK.

Sun aside, I’d love to take my boys abroad to give them exposure to other languages and other cultures, but it’s just too expensive. Even a week on a Spanish package holiday would set us back a few grand.

We investigated DIY Easter breaks around Nerja – the prices of villas were reasonably affordable, especially as we’d be splitting the cost with another family – but it was the flights that were the killer. More than £1,200 for four of us.”

That said, staying in the UK is by no means a cheap option. We’ve just booked a week in a Norfolk holiday cottage in August and it’s costing us £1,500. But at least there’s no air fares or ferry crossings to cough up for; just a tank of petrol, which thankfully doesn’t get more expensive the minute the schools break up.

Had we been able to take our breaks just a few weeks earlier, or later, all these holidays would have comfortably been in our price range – but the travel companies, airlines, ferry companies and hotels all know that with so many families needing to take their holiday during a limited number of weeks they can get away with ramping up their prices.

It’s not as if it’s only a problem during the summer. As our childminder is away during the February half term, we thought we might look into a short break at Center Parcs. We’ve done it a few times out of season and never paid much more than £300 for a four-night stay, but at half term that price is £900.

Of course, I get the laws of supply and demand, and accept that I will need to pay more at popular times of year but tripling the price either makes me think that Center Parcs is shamelessly profiteering or I’m just subsidising the bargain breaks offered to people to keep their resorts full during the quieter weeks of the year. Either way it’s not fair.

http://www.moneywise.co.uk/cut-your-costs/holidays/debate-should-school-holiday-price-hikes-be-banned

I don’t think taking kids out of school to go on holiday is the solution, I’d much rather see rules that prevent holiday companies imposing excessive price rises during school breaks and charging holidaymakers fair prices throughout the year. Why, after all, should I pay over the odds just so child-free holidaymakers can cash in with a cheap week away whenever they like?
“NO” SAYS A SPOKESPERSON FOR TRAVEL ASSOCIATION ABTA

Any attempt to make travel companies, who already operate in a very competitive market, artificially lower their prices during the school holidays would be highly unusual, controversial and impractical.

Although we can sympathise with the sentiment behind some parents’ comments in the media, the e-petition sparked by Mr Cookson’s Facebook comments could only raise false hopes that the government can or would want to apply a cap to freely-determined market prices.

The reason prices rise during school holidays and other busy periods is down to supply and demand – this is how all prices are set and it’s unrealistic to think that the travel industry, or any other competitive industry, could price their products any other way.

More people in the UK and across Europe want to take holidays in July and August, at Easter and at Christmas. During these periods there is increased demand for a finite number of hotel rooms and flight seats from families and other travellers across the continent. This demand for a finite supply sets the price.

ABTA believes that a sensible way of relieving the pressure of high demand during the short window of the current school holidays is for schools to consider staggering their holiday dates, thereby spreading the demand from families over a longer period.

Tour operators are being criticised, but it should be pointed out that they already offer some of the most family-friendly travel deals in the industry. Many offer cheaper prices and free child places for early bookers, and there may be excellent last-minute deals for those that can be flexible on destination, helping many families to take affordable holidays in the school breaks.

http://www.moneywise.co.uk/cut-your-costs/holidays/debate-should-school-holiday-price-hikes-be-banned

 

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“Independent Transport Commission” produces yet another report advocating a 3rd Heathrow runway

A small think tank on transport, called the “Independent Transport Commission” (many of whose members are backers are from the aviation industry) has commissioned another report, reiterating their claim that the UK needs a hub and so a 3rd runway at Heathrow is needed. The main reason they give is: “To protect and develop the UK’s global “direct” connectivity and to ensure new routes are launched from the UK before our European competitors.” They produced a similar report in May 2013, calling for a large hub, though at that stage they also backed Stansted or the estuary for their mega airport. This new report does not mention climate or carbon emissions once, and suggests another runway might be added by mid century.  It has looked at the hub-and-spoke model and its associated issues, and the long distance point-to-point model – and they advocate one large hub for most of the long haul traffic, at least “for the foreseeable future.”  The report highlights the role of transfer passengers in making long-haul routes viable and say only a hub with at least 3 runways (ie Heathrow) “would allow airlines to provide an extensive network of long-haul routes”.  The UK aviation lobby is terrified of being out-competed by European rivals, and Heathrow not being “top hub”. 
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Heathrow’s case for expansion bolstered by think-tank findings

February 16, 2014
By Jane Wild (FT)  ££

Full FT article at

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/54a19d2c-89a4-11e3-abc4-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2tZUqGsRc

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The February  2014 ITC report  

Aviation: the optimal size of a Hub airport

The optimal size of a UK Hub Airport (February 2014)

title=

Full Text (1.5 MB)

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The report’s conclusion says:

In Flying to the Future the ITC argued that the major aviation connectivity challenge
for the UK was not in the short-haul area – which has been very well served by
the growth of low-cost airlines and airports around the country – but in sustaining
and enhancing direct connectivity with global destinations; and that increased
hub capacity was crucial to address this.

We currently host the world’s busiest international airport, yet more traffic from the
UK’s regional airports hubs abroad than via Heathrow. Before adding ‘new’ demand,
recapturing that traffic could increase passenger numbers by 12 per cent,
ATMs by 8 per cent and destinations by 7 per cent.

In this report we conclude that:

a) we cannot forecast significant changes in the structure of aviation. Longhaul
remains likely to rely very heavily (though not exclusively) on the hub
and spoke business model and aircraft entering service now will still feature
strongly in airline fleets in the 2030s;

b) to protect and develop the UK’s global “direct” connectivity and to ensure new
routes are launched from the UK before our European competitors, the prime
need remains to develop our hub capacity;
c) over time, a three runway airport might mean up to 70 more destinations but
paradoxically we believe the first instinct of airlines will be to increase routes to
some of the more mature markets;

d) a three runway hub airport is likely to be sufficient to meet anticipated needs
until at least the middle of the century and these three runways need to be at
the same physical site i.e. the current Heathrow or a new Isle of Grain airport ;

e) but in planning for the longer term, the Airports Commission should address
now what might happen if, in the middle of the century, it becomes clear
further capacity is required;

f) we agree with the earlier views of the ITC that an extra runway at Gatwick
would not offer the same opportunities for developing connectivity.

 


 

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 Earlier – in May 2013

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

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

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3610

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The ITC May 2013 report 

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

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

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The ITC

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

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

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

 

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European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February.  The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible.  Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice.  It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.
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Commission to clarify state aid to airports

By Dave Keating (European Voice)
13.02.2014

‘Brussels South’ airport in Charleroi will no longer be allowed to receive state aid under guidelines to be issued by the European Commission on Wednesday (19 February).

State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation.

The Commission has 50 pending cases of such suspected violations of state aid rules, but none of them has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their competitors.

According to a draft seen by European Voice, the Commission is planning to allow operational state aid which may have been previously illegal, but only for up to ten years. This ten-year timeframe would begin now, not from when the state aid began. The draft appears to indicate that the previous aid would be given an ‘amnesty’, and the Commission would apply the new rules.

The news will be welcomed by some regional airports, but not all. The guidelines would also introduce a threshold saying that airports with more than three million passengers per year cannot receive state aid. This would rule out Charleroi, which has 6.5 million per year.

Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. They say it will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail. “The Commission openly acknowledges that operating aid is the most distortive form of aid,” said Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at green transport group T&E. “This would not only keep the status quo of billions of euros in public money to support loss-making airports and routes, but even to sanction past illegal aid practices.”

But the Airports Council International Europe (ACI) says that airports need the help. At an event on airport state aid last month, ACI president Arnaud Feist said that while the group welcomes the increased clarity, there are concerns about the impact of the rules on Europe’s remote regions. “Many MEPs share these concerns, and they have publicly called on [Commission] President [José Manuel] Barroso not to cause a shutdown in Europe by imposing unrealistic limitations on the financing of smaller airports,” he said. “The implications go beyond the aviation sector.”

http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/commission-to-clarify-state-aid-to-airports/79688.aspx

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Edinburgh Airport anger at Dundee subsidy

Gordon Dewar. Picture: Jane Barlow

Gordon Dewar. Picture: Jane Barlow

  • by DAVID McCANN
  • 13.2.2014

THE chief executive of Edinburgh Airport has questioned a decision to subsidise flights between Dundee and London with public money – claiming the move has “implications for fair competition”.

 

In an open letter, Gordon Dewar called on the Dundee City Council leader to justify the use of taxpayers’ money to retain routes to Stansted Airport – branded “vital” by the authority – when Edinburgh has 44 daily flights to the English capital.

Describing Dundee Airport as “publicly owned and loss making”, Mr Dewar said the council money would be better spent supporting a direct coach service to Edinburgh Airport.

It has been reported Dundee City Council will pay half the cost of running Dundee Airport’s new stand-in service to Stansted until a new operator can take over later this year. But Dundee council chiefs are tight-lipped about the value of their investment due to “commercial confidentiality”.

In his letter, Mr Dewar said: “From an economic appraisal perspective [Dundee City Council leader Ken Guild] would appear to be considering investing taxpayers’ money in saving a maximum of one hour’s access time but offering two frequencies a day to a single airport versus 44 frequencies a day to a choice of six London airports.

“Saving one hour’s drive at the Dundee end of the journey may therefore cost hours of waiting time in London waiting for a very infrequent service.”

He said he would be interested to hear the “economic justification” for the “saving between 20 and 60 minutes per passenger valued at something of the order of £2 per trip”.

Mr Dewar called for a meeting to discuss the issue and the “implications for fair competition and private investment in infrastructure for Scotland”.

Mr Guild said the London route had played an important role in the “ongoing regeneration of Dundee”.

He said: “We are keen that this service continues for the benefit of the city.”

Aviation expert Laurie Price, from Mott MacDonald consultants, expressed sympathy for Dundee’s position, arguing that, by Mr Dewar’s reasoning, Edinburgh Airport operations should be transferred to 
Glasgow.

He said: “As a private company, of course Gordon Dewar doesn’t want this but equally why is the tram link, being developed with public money, going out to the airport? How much public money went into that?

“I would imagine the subsidy going in from Dundee for air services from London is infinitely less than the public expenditure on the Edinburgh tram.”

Transport Scotland took a very political stance, insisting it will support both airports.

“We are confident there is a place for services from Dundee,” a spokesman said. “In Scotland’s increasingly competitive aviation sector we want to secure a future for the airport.”

 

The Letter

 

Dear Councillor Guild,

 

I noted with interest the recent media coverage around the creation of a new route between Dundee and Stansted airports. In particular, I was interested in the assertion that Dundee City Council was devoting funds to making the route viable.

I have to say that given the significant travel options and minimal travel time between Dundee and the airports in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, we were surprised with the announcement the description of the route as ‘vital’.

I would seek clarification on the application of a ‘development area’ in this case and the double subsidy that a route subsidy represents when operating out of a publically owned and loss making airport.

Can I ask you to review your decision and meet with me to explore getting better connections between Dundee and Edinburgh Airport thereby using public funds more effectively?…

…Perhaps a better response to improving connectivity and accessibility through investment would be to consider supporting a direct coach service to Edinburgh Airport or perhaps seeking a route change from the existing Dundee-Edinburgh service.

It is my belief, that the cost of subsidy should be measured against the alleged ‘benefit’ of avoiding a maximum of one hour’s worth of travel, whether that is by rail or road…

…I would very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue with you further where we can perhaps deal with the other issues of distortions of markets and implications for fair competition and private investment in infrastructure for Scotland.

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/edinburgh-airport-anger-at-dundee-subsidy-1-3304891

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China’s CAAC has granted Sinopec a license allowing aviation biofuel to be made from rapeseed, palm oil & soybean oil

China’s oil refiner, Sinopec, has been given a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel by airlines.  There was a biofuel test flight in 2013 using fuel made from from hydrotreated palm oil and recycled cooking oil.  Sinopec said it can now produce bio-jet fuel from a wide range of raw material feedstock, including rapeseed oil, palm oil and soybean oil ( which competes with human and animal food).  Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009, and its application for commercial use was accepted by CAAC in early 2012. Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of the fuel per year, from rape seed, cotton seed and waste cooking oil.  The company is considering joining with private enterprise in planting, collecting and processing these source oils, as well as getting waste cooking oil from McDonald’s. Sinopec claims their biofuels generate 45% less CO2 than conventional fuels.  China is the world’s largest oil importer and 58.1% of its 2013 came from imports.China is now the 2nd largest consumer of aviation fuel, consuming nearly 20 million tonnes per year. Its jet fuel demand is estimated to be expanding by 10% every year, while the global average is less than 5%. The production costs of aviation biofuel remain at least 2 – 3 times those of crude oil.
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China Sinopec gets government certification for aviation biofuel

Singapore (Platts)
12th Feb 2014

Chinese state-owned refiner China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, has been awarded formal government certification for its production of bio-jet fuel.

The biofuel, produced from biomass, was granted a Chinese Technical Standard Order Authorization (CTSOA) by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, signaling its approval for use in the aviation sector after having met all industy standards, Sinopec said Wednesday.

“The country’s bio-jet fuel [sector] has thus reached the commercialization stage,” it added.

Sinopec said it can now produce bio-jet fuel from a wide range of raw material feedstock, including rapeseed oil, palm oil and soybean oil.

The certification comes after the company successfully trialed the fuel in a test flight in April 2013 on an Airbus 320 aircraft owned by China Eastern Airlines.

The bio-jet fuel used on the flight was manufactured from hydrotreated palm oil and recycled cooking oil feedstock and produced by Sinopec’s Zhenhai refinery in eastern Zhejiang province.

The company said at the time it met the ASTM-D7566 standard, which is the international specification for aviation fuel containing synthesized hydrocarbons.

Sinopec said the key characteristics of bio-jet fuel are that it is renewable, has fewer impurities and emits lower greenhouse gases than conventional jet fuel.

The company, which started work on its bio-jet fuel project in 2009, did not detail current or future production plans for the fuel.

“We will use the certification of airworthiness as a starting point and continue, under the guidance of the CAAC, to expand the range of bio-jet fuel feedstock and develop more cooperation with domestic and foreign airlines to work toward commercializing bio-jet fuel for the industry,” the company said.

The CAAC will continue to regulate and monitor the development of the fuel to ensure it meets aircraft and engine manufacturer standards, Sinopec said.

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/agriculture/singapore/china-sinopec-gets-government-certification-for-27924085

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China approves aviation biofuel for commercial use

Feb. 14, 2014
by Katie Cantle (ATW – Air Transport World)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted Sinopec, China’s top oil refiner, a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

The license, the first of its kind to Sinopec, allows the company’s No.1 aviation biofuel to be used by airlines.

CAAC Flight Criteria Department director Xu Chaoqun said the development is a significant breakthrough for the country’s research, production and application of aviation biofuel.

Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009 and CAAC accepted its application for commercial use in early 2012.

Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of biofuel oil a year from materials such as plant seeds and recycled cooking oil. The regulator noted Sinopec will work to diversify biofuel sources, lower production costs and push forward commercial application of the fuel.

Biofuel is gaining popularity in China. Last April, China Eastern Airlines operated a test flight in Shanghai powered by No.1 aviation biofuel and the fuel went through several rounds of additional strict tests before it received approval. In addition, Air China became the nation’s first carrier to test a flight partly powered by biofuel, the result of a collaboration between PetroChina and Honeywell UOP’s green jet fuel in October 2011.

Industry analysts said the commercial viability of biofuel for use in jets still faces tough challenges because the treatment process of producing biofuel will push the cost up higher than regular fuel refinery.

http://atwonline.com/eco-aviation/china-approves-aviation-biofuel-commercial-use?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AtwDailyNews+%28ATW+Daily+News%29

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China’s aviation biofuel goes into commercial use

lXinhua,
February 12, 2014  (China.org)

China started commercial use of aviation biofuel on Wednesday, in a bid to ease fuel pressure and cut carbon emissions.

China’s top oil refiner, Sinopec, was given a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The license, the first of its kind, permits Sinopec’s No. 1 Aviation Biofuel to be used by airlines, some of which have showed willingness to cooperate with the refiner.

Xu Chaoqun, deputy head of CAAC’s Flight Criteria Department, said the development is a significant breakthrough for research, production and use of aviation biofuel.

The development also makes China the fourth country in the world to produce aviation biofuel, after the United States, France and Finland.

Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009, and its application for commercial use was accepted by CAAC in early 2012.

Last April, a test flight in Shanghai powered by the biofuel was a success, and the fuel went through several rounds of more strict tests before it was given the green light.

Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of such oil a year, from materials like rape seed, cotton seed and wasted cooking oil.

The refiner is also considering joining with private enterprise in planting, collecting and processing materials, after working with McDonald’s to collect cooking oil.

“Aviation biofuel is one of the major trends in global aviation,” said Xu. “With our research on aviation biofuel, we have built a set of technological standards, and will have a bigger say in international carbon emission reduction.” ‘ Research showed that carbon dioxide generated by biofuel is 45 percent or less than that produced by conventional fuel.

The International Air Transport Association forecast that 30 percent of aviation fuel will be biofuel by 2020, and a few western airlines have been testing commercial flights with biofuel since 2008.

China is the world’s largest oil importer and 58.1 percent of its 2013 supply relied on imports.

With an annual consumption of nearly 20 million tonnes, China has become the second largest aviation fuel consumer and demand is estimated to be expanding by 10 percent every year, while the global average is less than 5 percent.

By contrast, the country has abundant biofuel-refining resources: vast areas of oil-rich plants and a huge amount of wasted cooking oil.

However, analysts said there may be a long way to go until large-scale application of aviation biofuel due to costs.

Xu Hui, vice director of Sinopec’s Science and Technology Department, said the production costs of aviation biofuel are two to three times those of crude oil.

He said some three tonnes of wasted cooking oil can generate one tonne of biofuel, and collecting cooking waste suitable for refining is expensive.

Refiners and airlines have to split the cost, and the final price will be determined by the market based on emission-cutting efforts and an application scale, according to Xu with Sinopec.

“The most important thing for now is to diversify biofuel sources and upgrade technology,” said CAAC’s Xu.

http://www.china.org.cn/business/2014-02/12/content_31460807.htm

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