GIP to put London City airport up for sale this year – might raise £2 billion?

London City airport is to be put up for sale by GIP by the end of the year, who want to capitalise on the rising global demand for air travel.  GIP owns 75%, with Oaktree Capital owning the remainder, but both have agreed to the sale. GIP also has the main stake in Gatwick airport, and Edinburgh but say they are not selling these now.  It is thought the airport might fetch as much as £2bn, which the FT says would be a multiple of over 60 times the company’s EBITDA in 2014. GIP bought the airport for about £750m in 2006 from Dermot Desmond; he had paid £23.5m for it in 1995 from Mowlem. The airport is trying to get planning consent for work to increase the annual number of passengers to 6 million per year by 2023, (4.1 million in 2014) but this has been blocked by Boris, due to noise. London City is appealing against this and may hear the outcome next year. City airport has already been granted permission to increase ATMs from 70,000 to 120,000 per year. It is widely believed that GIP would sell Gatwick soon, after the government makes a decision on if/where there might be a new runway. Last month, GIP said it would be prepared to give a legally binding promise that it will not sell out for a quick profit if the government decides to opt for a runway at Gatwick. 



London City Airport could fetch £2bn after being ‘put up for sale’

Global Infrastructure Partners wants to sell the airport in the next few months, according to reports

5.8.2015 (Telegraph)

By Andy Trotman

London City Airport could fetch £2bn after being put up for sale by US investment firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), according to reports.

The owners of the international airport, located in the Royal Docks in Newham, are currently hiring advisers with a view to selling the site within the next few months.

“The market demand for quality airports is very high,” Michael McGhee, director for transport at GIP, told the Financial Times.

GIP owns the majority of London City Airport, holding a 75pc stake, but Oaktree Capital, which owns the other 25pc, has agreed to the sale, the FT claimed.

GIP also owns 42pc of Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport but is not believed to looking to sell those assets.

The firm did not return calls for comment.

GIP bought London City Airport in 2006 for around £750m from Irish businessman Dermot Desmond.

The airport, which was developed by engineering company Mowlem in 1986, boasts a single 1,500 metre runway and due to its proximity to the City, mainly serves business travellers. It handles planes that fly to European destinations such as Amsterdam, Dublin, Madrid and Florence.

It welcomed a record 3.6m passengers last year, up 8pc on 2013.

However, expansion could be difficult. London Mayor Boris Johnson cited noise concerns when he blocked planning permission to increase the size of the site to accomodate 6m passengers. The airport is awaiting the result of an appeal against that decision.
It is the 15th busiest airport in the UK.




London’s City airport up for sale


A £2bn price tag would represent a multiple of just over 60 times the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in 2014 — although people familiar with the business noted that the airport’s adjusted earnings that year were significantly higher.

GIP bought the airport for an estimated £750m in 2006 from Dermot Desmond, the Irish financier, who paid just £23.5m for London City in 1995 from Mowlem, the UK construction group.

However, the airport’s value could be limited by its battle to get planning permission for a £200m development that would increase the number of passengers the airport handles to 6m by 2023. It won planning permission from Newham council in February, which was then blocked by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, the following month over noise concerns. London City is appealing against the mayor’s decision and expects to hear the outcome next year.

Permission would enable it to extend the terminal as well as construct a new taxiway, aircraft stands and arrivals building. It would also help open up the airport to new destinations, such as the Gulf, the Middle East, Russia, north Africa and the US east coast. The airport has already been granted permission to increase the number of flight movements from 70,000 to 120,000 a year.


Last month, GIP said it would be prepared to give a legally binding promise that it will not sell out for a quick profit if the government decides to opt for expansion at Gatwick over Heathrow, which was recommended by the Airport Commission in July.

Full FT article at



London City Airport challenges Boris’ decision to block its expansion plans, over ‘noise ghetto’ fears

Boris Johnson blocked London City Airport’s expansion plans in late March, as he said it would create a “noise ghetto” for people living under the flight path. Now, as expected, London City Airport has appealed to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, against the decision. On March 26th Boris ordered Newham council to reject the plans on the grounds of noise disturbance and because the airport was intended for business rather than leisure. Under the plans, take-offs and landings were expected to increase from 70,000 a year to 111,000,with passenger numbers doubling to 6 million by 2023. It would also be able to accommodate larger planes, (and be more profitable). This coupled with the airport’s plans to use new PBN technology to create a much narrower and concentrated flight corridor over Wanstead, Leytonstone and Leyton had prompted fears that noise could become an issue. The airport says it is appealing because of the jobs it creates, and its economic impact. The decision by Greg Clark could take 5 months.

Click here to view full story…

Boris turns down London City Airport expansion plans on noise grounds

Boris Johnstone, the Mayor of London, has refused London City Airport’s plan to expand on noise grounds. In a letter he has instructed Newham Council, who had approved the application, to refuse it. The Mayor says the application does not “adequately mitigate and manage its adverse noise impacts.” Newham’s decision was always dependent on the Mayor’s approval. London City Airport wanted permission to build new taxiways to permit larger planes to use the airport. It also wanted more car parking spaces. The decision will be a bitter blow to the airport as it will now no longer be able to bring in the larger planes it wanted to serve new destinations. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which campaigned against the expansion plans, said “The airport is paying the price for being so cavalier about noise. Quite simply, Boris did not believe its claims that it was dealing adequately with noise. We salute his decision”. The decision appears to be final, and it is unclear whether London City Airport can appeal to the Secretary of State. They may do so.

Click here to view full story…

London City Airport expansion plan gets go-ahead but campaigners say it will create ‘noise ghettos and misery’

Newham Council has granted planning approval London City Airport’s plans for an extended terminal, a new taxi-way and additional parking stands for larger aircraft. A new six-storey four-star hotel with up to 260 bedrooms will also be built on site. The expansion will increase the number of take-offs and landings at the airport from 70,000 a year to 111,000 and will almost double the number of passengers to 6 million a year by 2023. The number of aircraft stands will increase from 18 to 25, and the newer, larger planes they will accommodate will expand the airport’s reach from destinations in western Europe to Russia and North Africa. It has been described as a boost for London’s aviation capacity, while the arguments for and against a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick (or neither) continue. There are claims for a large number of jobs, and Newham believes many will be for their residents – and there are claims of huge economic benefit for the local and UK economy. The expansion involves the tripling of the size of the terminal to 51,800 ft square and will see the number of flights increase from 38 to 45 during peak morning and evening rush hour times. Building work, subject to final planning approval being given by Boris, is expected to start by the end of 2015, with the first new aircraft seen on the runway in 2016.

Click here to view full story…

and more news   London City Airport News



Read more »

Independence of Airports Commission questioned over Howard Davies’ role in Prudential, which recently bought more Heathrow property

Campaigners against a 3rd Heathrow runway have questioned the independence of the Airports Commission and its chairman, Howard Davies. It has been revealed that he is a board member of Prudential, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway. He chairs its risk committee, which reviews and approves group investment policies as well as advising the board on risks in the company’s “strategic transactions and business plans”. The Guardian reports that Prudential embarked on a £300m spending spree on properties around Heathrow, just as the commission prepared to deliver its final report, on 1st July. Prudential has an asset management business, M&G. In 2013 it bought the Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 for £21m and an earlier investment with planning permission for a large hotel close to where the proposed 3rd runway would be built. In May and June 2015 M&G bought more property including cargo depots and a business park a short distance from Terminal 4. Howard Davies also, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow. The Teddington Action Group say Davies’ links with Prudential undermines the impartiality and credibility of the Commission’s recommendations.



Independence of Airports Commission questioned over chair’s Prudential role

Howard Davies sat on board of insurer, which spent £300m on properties around Heathrow as commission prepared to deliver report

By Harry Davies (Guardian)


Campaigners against the expansion of Heathrow have questioned the independence of the Airports Commission after it emerged that its chairman is a board member of an insurance group which invested in property nearby months before the commission recommended construction of a third runway.

While chairing the commission, Sir Howard Davies sat on the board of Prudential, which embarked on a £300m spending spree on properties around the airport in west London just as the commission prepared to deliver its long-awaited report in July.

The commission’s final report, which concluded expansion at Heathrow is the “clear and unanimous” choice and urged the government to act quickly, has reignited a fierce battle between rival airports, environmentalists and senior politicians.

FTSE-listed Prudential has a multimillion-pound portfolio of Heathrow investments through its M&G asset management business, which includes its 2013 purchase of the Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 for £21m and an earlier investment with planning permission for a large hotel close to where the proposed third runway would be built.

In the two months before the Davies commission delivered its final report, Prudential’s property business made further investments in £300m of commercial property around the airport, including cargo depots and a business park a short distance from Terminal 4.

Sir Howard Davies says Prudential’s risk committee ‘has no involvement in investment decisions made by M&G funds on behalf of clients’ and denies seeing ‘any details’ of holdings by the funds.

Davies chairs Prudential’s risk committee which reviews and approves group investment policies as well as advising the board on risks in the company’s “strategic transactions and business plans”.

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and London mayor contender, said Davies should never have been made chairman of the commission. “News that [Davies] has also been earning hundreds of thousands of pounds from a company that has been investing heavily in Heathrow property surely puts an even greater question mark over the validity of the commission’s work,” said Goldsmith.

Teddington Action Group has raised concerns about Davies and potential conflicts of interest.  The spokeswoman for the local residents’ campaign group claimed the links between him and Prudential undermined the impartiality and credibility of the commission’s recommendations.

“It is outrageous that somebody who is meant to be independently advising on whether there is a need for increased airport capacity has ties with a company involved in Heathrow,” she said.

A spokesman for the commission defended the review, saying: “The Airports Commission is content that its process has been robust and that it has acted impartially throughout.”

Davies told the Guardian that the committee had “no involvement in investment decisions made by M&G funds on behalf of clients” and denied seeing “any details” of holdings by the funds.

A spokesman for Prudential said its board members have “no role in individual investment decisions”.

Davies – who becomes chairman of 73% taxpayer-owned RBS in September – – did not declare his financial interests in Prudential in the commission’s register of interests, including shares and more than £370,000 in fees received while chairing the body.

The commission required Davies to declare financial interests in companies “dealt with” by the commission. In a document published in June, he declared smaller shareholdings in British Airways parent company IAG and aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce, which he had sold off in 2013.

Davies said his position at Prudential was in the public domain and published on the Airport Commission’s website along with roles he held at Morgan Stanley and a New York-based hedge fund.



All details on the Teddington Action Group website at  

with letter from the Treasury solicitor, replying to the TAG claims here

and the letter from TAG to the Secretary of State at DfT here

Wikipedia on Conflict of interest:




More on Howard Davies’ possible conflicts of interest



Patrick McLoughlin was appointed to be Sec of State for Transport on 4th September 2012. link  That was the same day that Justine left.

This Guardian article implies the Airports Commission was set up by George Osborne. 2nd Sept 2012 Link

The Airports Commission’s formation was announced by Patrick McLoughlin on 7th September when he said: “The government has asked Sir Howard Davies to chair an independent Commission ….”  Link

So the planning for that must have happened at least two months earlier – ie. by early July. At that time Justine Greening would have been at the DfT. So it seems the appointment of Howard Davies was done by Osborne, and not the DfT?


Link with Singapore’s GIC

Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) own 11.2% of Heathrow Airport Holdings.  Link  and   HAL link

“In 2009 [1.2.2009] Davies was appointed as advisor to the Investment Strategy Committee of the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC). Two years later he joined its International Advisory Board. Davies resigned from both positions in September 2012, on appointment to the chair of the Airports Commission.”  Link

GIC said: “We welcomed our new advisers, Sir Howard Davies on 1 February 2009, and Dr Martin Leibowitz on 1 April 2009, to provide insights on global investment policy matters to our Board Investment Committee. ”  Link 

The sale of Gatwick airport was agreed in October 2009 and completed in December 2009.  Link 

Howard Davies joined the GIC ( Investment Strategy Committee of the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore ) in 2009 (month not specified but it must have been by December).

Airports Commission website

At the start of the Airports Commission, they introduced the members etc on 2nd November 2012.   Link 

That gives a short list of the activities of the other commissioners. Not Howard Davies himself.

There are no other documents from the Airports Commission, on its website, other than its (operating protocol – nothing on Howard Davies in that) at its start.  See Link  for links to its earliest documents.

The only document showing any shares or interests of Howard Davies,in relation to the Airports Commission was dated 29.6.2015. This was disclosing the IAG shares and the Rolls Royce shares, in response to the challenge by the Teddington Action Group. Link

It is possible there are documents held by the DfT etc, on earlier conflicts of interest – on the setting up of the Airports Commission.   That would appear unlikely, as they did not pick up on the much publicised conflict of interest that emerged about Geoff Muirhead.  Link 



Links between Davies and companies that will benefit from an expanded Heathrow

Today we are publishing information which uncovers previously undisclosed relationships between the Airports Commission chair Sir Howard Davies, and companies that stand to gain from an expanded Heathrow:GIC Private Ltd and Prudential Assurance.

The Singapore based company GIC Private Ltd (formerly known as Government of Singapore Investment Corporation) first acquired joint control of BAA plc, owner of Heathrow, in April 2006 by buying a 10% stake. It was reported in 2014 that GIC owned 11.2% of the shares in Heathrow Airport Holdings.

In letters to TAG, a Treasury solicitor has acknowledged that Sir Howard was an advisor to GIC, (Davies’ role included advising them on “new growth opportunities”) but claimed he relinquished this role when taking up the appointment of chairman of the Airports Commission in 2012.

The Commission’s lawyers confirmed to TAG that Sir Howard has been a non-executive director of Prudential Assurance since 2010. It has been reported that Prudential, through its investment subsidiary M&G Real Estates, acquired hotels around Heathrow (Hilton and Shiva Hotels) in 2013.

M&G are reported to have applied for, and been granted, planning consent for the re-development of the Heathrow Summit Centre. In June 2015, it was reported to have restructured its interests to take full ownership of Heathrow Corporate Park.

Sir Howard is waiting to take up the chairmanship of the Royal Bank of Scotland.  RBS is the lead banker for companies that own Gatwick and Heathrow.  The Airports Commission’s first task was to discern whether the south-east needed more airport capacity.

Lawyers for the Commission denied grounds for presumed or apparent bias but admitted Sir Howard’s interest in RBS had not appeared as a Declared Interest on the Airports Commission’s website. Sir Howard also failed to declare his links to GIC Private Ltd and Prudential Assurance.

A spokesperson for TAG said: “The Commission’s work has been held up by the Government as a truly independent review of the country’s future aviation strategy. For communities living in the shadow of Heathrow who face even more noise and toxic pollution if Heathrow expands, the revelations that the Chair of the Commission has links to a number of companies who stand to gain from an expanded Heathrow is astonishing. £20million of taxpayer’s money has been spent on the Commission and we now demand answers: what information did Sir Howard declare prior to his appointment and how much did the Government know when they appointed him?”


12 June 2015 – TAG give notice of their intention to seek a Judicial Review of the Commission’s work in respect of the following:
1. that potential conflicts of interest had arisen due to Sir Howard’s accepting the Chairmanship of the Royal Bank of Scotland (the banker for companies which own Gatwick and Heathrow airports).
2. that the Commission’s May 2015 consultation on air quality was rushed and insufficiently publicised, so they had not had a fair chance to respond.

22 June 2015 – RBS announces a delay to Sir Howard taking up his new post as Chair of the Bank until after he had completed his work with the Airports Commission.

1 July 2015 – The Airports Commission publishes its final report recommending a new third runway be built at Heathrow Airport.

2 July 2015 – The Airports Commission’s solicitor responds to TAG’s pre-action letter of claim:
• Denying that Sir Howard had a legal interest in RBS while Chair of the Commission stating “No resolutions have yet been passed to put him on the board of RBS or make him chairman. He therefore has no formal employment or other contractual relationship with RBS during his tenure as Chair of the Commission“.
• In responding to TAG’s assertion that Sir Howard’s interest in RBS had not appeared as a Declared Interest on the Airports Commission’s website, the Commission’s lawyers admitted that this was an oversight which had been rectified. Then, in seeming contradiction to its suggestions that Sir Howard had no legal interest in RBS, states “The fact of his future role was widely reported in the press at the time and has thus been in the public domain since then“.
• Furthermore, in seeking to demonstrate that a conflict of interest was not possible, the Airports Commission’s solicitor writes: “A protocol was put in place to ensure that RBS did not share any information relating to its aviation work with Sir Howard at any time during his tenure as Chairman of the Commission“.

10 July 2015 – TAG writes further letter to Airports Commission stating that Sir Howard’s involvement with GIC Limited and Prudential Assurance gives rise to allegations of apparent bias as a fair-minded observer would conclude that there was a real possibility that Sir Howard has been biased. TAG’s letter also highlights that Sir Howard’s Declared Interests makes no mention of his involvement with the two companies – despite this being revised by the Commission in March and then again in June 2015 to include his new post at RBS.

27 July 2015 – Response from Treasury Solicitor which:
• Confirms Sir Howard joined GIC in 2009 and was appointed to its International advisory board in 2011 but claims he resigned in 2012 upon being appointed chairman of the Airports Commission.
• Admits that Sir Howard is a director of Prudential and that M&G is a subsidiary of Prudential. It is admitted that Sir Howard owns shares in Prudential although it is denied that Sir Howard has any remuneration directly from M&G’s investments.
• The Solicitor does not respond to the point that these positions were not listed in Sir Howard’s Declared Interests on the Commission’s website, but instead states that they were in the public domain – via Wikipedia.


The attached letters between TAG, the Department for Transport and the Airports Commission revolve around pre-judicial review action TAG launched on 12 June, questioning Sir Howard’s acceptance of the Chairmanship of the Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS.

Document 1 – 12 June 2015 TAG pre-action protocol letter to Airports Commission and Department for Transport
Document 2 – 2 July 2015 Treasury solicitor’s response to pre-action protocol letter on behalf of the Commission.
Document 3 – 10 July 2015 TAG follow-up letter to Airports Commission
Document 4 – 27 July 2015 Treasury solicitor’s response to TAG’s letter of 10 July 2015

150331-Register-of-Interests-Form-Howard-Davies.pdf (March 2015)

150629-Register-of-Interests-Form-Howard-Davies.pdf (June 2015)




GIC announces changes to its Board

01 Nov 2012

[It contains no mention that Howard Davies is meant to have stepped down in September 2012].

GIC today announced that Dr Richard Hu Tsu Tau will retire from the GIC Board with effect from 30 November 2012.
Dr Hu’s association with GIC started when he was appointed a director of the GIC Board in 1981. He was then Chairman and Chief Executive of Shell Group of companies and his appointment to the GIC Board, the first from the private sector, paved the way for other such appointments.
He also succeeded the first GIC Managing Director, Mr Yong Pung How, in 1983. In December 1984, Dr Hu stepped down as Managing Director and in 1985, he was appointed Minister for Finance. He held this cabinet position till 2001. In addition to being on the GIC Board, Dr Hu was also the founding Chairman of GIC Real Estate, the real estate arm of GIC, from 1999 when it was corporatised as a separate entity. Over the 10 years till 2009, under Dr Hu’s stewardship, the real estate group developed from a department investing mainly in US office properties to one of the most globally diversified real estate investors in the world.
Attached is a copy of the letter of appreciation from Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Chairman of GIC, to Dr Hu on his retirement from the Board.
Mr Lim Siong Guan, Group President, GIC, said, “On behalf of GIC, I would like to thank Dr Richard Hu for his invaluable contributions to GIC over the last 31 years as a Board director. GIC has benefitted tremendously from his keen insights, his steady hand and his ready help which has enabled GIC to hone its investment skills, as well as to develop its perspectives and leadership. ”
GIC also announced three new board appointments:
a) Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, with effect from 1 November 2012.
Mr Hsieh is currently an adviser to PrimePartners Group and a Director of United Overseas Bank Limited.
b) Mr Loh Boon Chye, with effect from 1 November 2012.
Mr Loh will assume the appointment of Deputy President Asia Pacific at Bank of America Merrill Lynch on 1 December 2012.
c) Mr Gautam Banerjee, with effect from 1 January 2013.
Mr Banerjee is Executive Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Singapore until his retirement on 31 December 2012.
Attached are short biographies on Messrs Hsieh, Loh and Banerjee.
Mr Lim added, “We are pleased to welcome Mr Hsieh, Mr Loh and Mr Banerjee to the GIC Board. They add to the private sector leadership and investment experience among Board directors, and GIC looks forward to tapping their experience and networks of contacts.”




Read more »

Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader could scupper plans for Heathrow 3rd runway

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party could scupper plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, as he has now declared his opposition to it.  The three other Labour contenders, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall,  all support the plan to expand Heathrow.  Jeremy Corbyn appears most likely to win the leadership contest.  If the Conservative party needs to get a Heathrow runway approved in Parliament, he may need Labour to be behind it. When the Airports Commission issued their final report on 1st July, Labour supported a Heathrow runway and wanted a quick decision by the Government to get on with it.  But now Mr Corbyn said: “A third runway at Heathrow would mean 4,000 homes demolished and 10,000 people displaced. It would cause massive increases in noise and air pollution and inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners. UK air pollution is already above EU limits, and 30,000 people are dying every year because of it”. He wants better transport links to airports, betteru se of existing capacity, and more even spread to the regions. Of the London Mayoral candidates, Tessa Jowell, Gareth Thomas and David Lammy back Heathrow, and Sadiq Khan, Christian Wolmar and  Diane Abbott are against.


Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of Labour party could scupper plans for third runway at Heathrow

Corbyn has joined the likes of Boris Johnson in opposing the plans

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party could scupper plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport after he came out against the project.

Although the three other Labour contenders all support the plan to expand Heathrow, the left-wing backbencher has become the bookmakers’ favourite to win the contest.

Supporting nominations by constituency Labour parties closed at midnight. Late on 31 July Mr Corbyn was ahead with 147, followed by Andy Burnham on 110; Yvette Cooper on 109 and Liz Kendall on 18.  Members vote individually and do not have to attend nomination meetings, but the figures are another sign of the strong grassroots support for Mr Corbyn.

Labour’s stance on Heathrow matters because David Cameron is believed to be moving in favour of the third runway endorsed in July by the Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies. However, the Prime Minister might need the votes of the Labour Opposition to secure Commons backing for the plan, because several Conservative MPs would almost certainly vote against it – including Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and Zac Goldsmith, who hopes to succeed him in the job next May.

Mr Corbyn told The Independent: “A third runway at Heathrow would mean 4,000 homes demolished and 10,000 people displaced. It would cause massive increases in noise and air pollution and inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners. UK air pollution is already above EU limits, and 30,000 people are dying every year because of it.”

The Islington North MP added: “We should be ensuring our existing national and regional airports are linked effectively by public transport and work together to maximise existing capacity and help spread economic benefits across the country.”

In contrast, Mr Burnham believes it is time to “just get on with it” following the Davies report. He is backing Michael Dugher, one of his supporters, who as shadow Transport Secretary last month  dropped Labour’s opposition to Heathrow expansion under Ed Miliband.

Ms Kendall was the first leadership runner to endorse  a third runway.  She said: “The country has to get behind this now – the time for fudge and indecision is over. Many thousands of jobs right across the country depend on Britain maintaining an international hub airport that keeps pace with the rest of the world. With my leadership, Labour will be a party of jobs and work – so I will back the commission’s decision. We need to act now.”

Ms Cooper, who has put tackling climate change at the heart of her leadership campaign, said the Heathrow project should go ahead provided the environmental safeguards proposed by the commission are introduced. She said: “We have spent a very long time on this; we do need to get on with it. The experts have looked at it and made a recommendation. I think we should go with it.”

Before the 2010 election, Mr Cameron gave a “no ifs, no buts” pledge to oppose a third runway, but ministers say the latest scheme is very different to the one proposed then.  He has appointed two strong supporters of Heathrow expansion, the Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid, to a Cabinet committee that will consider the Davies blueprint, while omitting five Cabinet ministers who oppose it.Heathrow has also split the candidates hoping to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor next May. Dame Tessa Jowell and Gareth Thomas back expansion  but it is opposed by Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott and Christian Wolmar, while David Lammy would support it if there were a new regulator with powers to limit noise and air pollution.




1.7.2015 (Labour List)

Labour today confirmed they will back Heathrow expansion – but the party are not completely united on the issue.

Today the Airports Commission, also known as the Davies Commission, has recommended that a third runway should be built at Heathrow. It was thought the Commission might leave room for expansion to take place at Gatwick. However after three years of investigation, the Commission has concluded that it is “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow is the best place for a new runway to be built. Only if noise and air pollution conditions are met.

Labour have decided to back this expansion. Michael Dugher, Shadow Transport Secretary, is thought to personally be in support of the runway. Before the party officially declared their position at PMQs this lunchtime, Dugher said:

“Labour has always been clear that more airport capacity is vital to Britain’s economic success and we need action if we are to maintain our status as Europe’s most important aviation hub.

“We will scrutinise the Airports Commission’s final report carefully. If the recommendation can meet a number of tests, including consistency with our climate change obligations, we will take a swift decision to back Sir Howard Davies’ proposals.”

On a similar note, Labour MP Louise Ellman, who chair of the transport select committee, said she strongly supported the Commission’s recommendations:

“Sir Howard’s findings echo those of the committee I chaired in the last parliament, when we concluded that a third runway at Heathrow was necessary for the UK to maintain its status as an international aviation hub.

“A new runway at Heathrow would also help to meet the current capacity shortfall, and provide a much-needed opportunity to improve connectivity from airports across the regions and nations of the UK.”

Harriet Harman confirmed Labour’s support for a third runway at PMQs today, telling Cameron that if he were to bring forward legislation supporting the Davies Report’s findings, Labour would vote in favour. Cameron said the Government would come to a decision by the end of the year. The PM face pressure from current London Mayor Boris Johnson and the likely Tory candidate for the job in 2016, Zac Goldsmith, to oppose a third runway.

However, Labour, like the Conservatives, are divided over the issue. London Mayoral candidates Diane Abbott, Sadiq Khan and Christian Wolmar (who is also a transport expert) are all opposed to expansion.

Khan, former shadow justice secretary, came out against a third runway recently despite having previously backed the proposition. The MP for Tooting has argued that expansion should be ruled out on the grounds of “awful air quality”, noise and inadequate infrastructure. Of all the candidates in the race (excluding Wolmar, who has never been an MP) Abbott is the only one who voted against a third runway at Heathrow under Gordon Brown.

Not all mayoral candidates are anti-expansion; Gareth Thomas has declared his support for a third runway.He argued: “I think Londoners support airport expansion and understands the number of jobs it can bring to the area. There is a vociferous minority opposing expansion, but I am not sure they representative of what most Londoners think .”

Tessa Jowell is thought to be in favour of expansion but has previously said she was waiting for the publication of the Davies Commission until she declared her official position. She has yet to make a statement on this. Similarly David Lammy has offered his tentative support for the proposals




London Mayoral candidates:

Labour Mayoral candidate David Lammy backs Heathrow 3rd runway, as “good for London and good for Londoners”

London Mayoral candidate, Tessa Jowell backs Heathrow runway, and wants a speedy decision – but knows H3R unpopular

Labour candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan:”I will do everything I can to stop Heathrow expansion” 1.7.2015

Labour mayoral candidate Diane Abbott, against Heathrow runway. Has been for some time. …
Diane for London @DianeforLondon
#LondonSelects “one of the most important things to cut air pollution in London is to stop the building of a 3rd runway” @HackneyAbbott



Read more »

Hounslow Council “positive and productive” and “better working relationship” with Heathrow

Labour led Hounslow council responded to the Airports Commission’s final report recommending a 3rd Heathrow runway, by saying that while the council is opposed to a bigger Heathrow, they want “a better and successful Heathrow.” They continue say they are against a 3rd runway, or any relaxation on runway alternation, or more than 480,000 flights per year. However, the extent of the council’s opposition is much reduced. It says it wants the “very best noise protection and pollution control measures for our residents – and in particular, our schools.” But it adds: …”we welcome the report’s recommendation that the new runway should come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects, including a noise levy, and that night flights would be banned. … we …. have recently developed a positive and productive relationship with Heathrow, which has resulted in many improvements for local people…” In June the council denied rumours it has withdrawn from the 2M group, which opposes a Heathrow third runway. Hounslow is noticeably on better terms with Heathrow, hoping to get benefits if a runway is permitted.  Hounslow teamed up with Hillingdon Council to oppose a planning application which would enable more departures over Cranford. 



Response to Heathrow third runway

1 July 2015

Commenting on today’s publication of the Airports Commission’s report on expanding aviation capacity, the Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran said:

“While we have been opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by the addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights, we nevertheless want a better and successful Heathrow. But we will continue to push for the very best noise protection and pollution control measures for our residents – and in particular, our schools.

“This recommendation by the Airports Commission will obviously have a huge impact on Hounslow. We will analyse the report in detail and, in due course, consider it thoroughly at a special meeting of councillors. We will also be seeking the views of our local MPs. We will then be able to give a full response.

“What we can say now, however, is that we welcome the report’s recommendation that the new runway should come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects, including a noise levy, and that night flights would be banned.

“We also want to say that we have recently developed a positive and productive relationship with Heathrow, which has resulted in many improvements for local people – both in terms of noise protection and employment opportunities. We hope this will continue.”



Hounslow Council has ‘better working relationship’ with Heathrow

6.6.2015  (Get West London)

By  Robert Cumber

But council leader denies rumours it has withdrawn from the 2M group, which opposes a third runway at the airport

Hounslow Council has a “better working relationship” with Heathrow but remains firmly opposed to expansion at the airport, its leader has insisted.

The two have been on noticeably friendlier terms recently, compared with their somewhat stormy former dealings.

In March, they even issued a joint press release from the property conference MIPIM in Cannes, where the council was promoting itself to potential investors as a gateway to London due to its proximity to Heathrow.

Teaming up like this would have been almost unthinkable just a few years ago, when the council took a much more oppositional stance to Heathrow.

It helped fuel rumours the council had withdrawn from the 2M group, a somewhat nebulous alliance of local authorities opposed to a third runway at Heathrow.

But Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran has insisted it remains part of the 2M coalition and its “better not bigger” Heathrow mantra still stands.

“Our position hasn’t changed. We’ve always taken a pragmatic view. We have to recognise Heathrow’s a big employer and brings many benefits as well as disadvantages,” he toldgetwestlondon.

“I think Heathrow has changed and that’s allowed us to ensure we work [with them] in a pragmatic way. We wanted them to finish off the work they were doing insulating schools, which they have done.”

Councillor Steve Curran, Hounslow Council's cabinet member for regeneration, addresses a business conference at Hounslow Civic Centre on Monday, February 10

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran


“There’s a better working relationship with the new chief executive (John Holland-Kaye) and we can still work together even if we disagree,” he added.

“We need to make sure we do the best for our residents. We want to reduce the noise pollution and ensure our children are educated in classrooms that are fit for purpose.

“Some councils take a different view and are less pragmatic. That’s up to them.”

Mr Curran’s last remark may have been a reference to neighbouring Hillingdon, where council leader Ray Puddifoot has backed London mayor Boris Johnson‘s proposal to close Heathrow and build up to 45,000 new homes there.

Hounslow Council wants Heathrow to remain open, albeit with just two runways.

But it has teamed up with Hillingdon Council to oppose a planning application which would enable more departures over Cranford – something which is currently the subject of a public inquiry after councillors in Hillingdon last year rejected Heathrow’s application to build new taxiways.


Hounslow Borough Council’s website says: 

Heathrow – better, not bigger

A fair deal for Hounslow

We’re lobbying the government as they put together new legislation about UK aviation. We want to make sure everyone has their say in the future of Heathrow Airport – we want it better, not bigger.

We want:

  • To keep the government’s annual cap of flights at Heathrow to 480,000
  • To keep runway alternation which gives residents under the flight path some relief during the day
  • No return to plans for a third runway
  • A complete ban on night flights
  • To improve and expand schemes to reduce Heathrow noise for residents, businesses and communities

We recognise the important role Heathrow plays in Hounslow’s economy. More than 11,000 Hounslow residents (around 10 per cent of our working population) are employed at the airport.

Yet it also causes serious congestion on our road and rail networks, and produces massive environmental and health impacts with noise and air pollution.

Thousands of our residents, schools and businesses are severely affected by airplanes, with flights overhead every 90 seconds, including 16 night flights before 6am. These night flights have been proven to have a serious affect on the health and wellbeing of local people.

Despite these impacts, the aviation industry pushes to expand Heathrow beyond its current, barely sustainable size.

We want the government to stick to its policy of limiting the size of Heathrow as well as taking further actions to lessen the negative effects on our local economy and community.

We know this is something that really matters to our residents and businesses. Find out more about our plans on these pages.





Read more »

Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd runway

The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves.  It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….”  The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.  So if the taxpayer has to pay, that means the runway costs us even more.


Heathrow will be ‘ginormous’ error for UK travel, says Boris

Allies of Boris Johnson believe a finding about Gatwick in a recent report was hidden 

by Sam Coates Deputy Political Editor (The Times)

July 31 2015

Full article in the Times here


The mayor of London believes he has uncovered a key fact buried by the Airports Commission that undermines the case for a third runway at Heathrow.

An analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the commission’s final report found that Heathrow would only serve four domestic destinations by 2030 if it got a third runway. It now serves seven.

Much of the support for expansion at Heathrow rests on the idea that it will be a hub serving the rest of the country…. and improve domestic connectivity.

Boris:  “The commission’s own forecast, once winkled out of its data, is that a third runway would not increase Heathrow’s links to other airports in the UK but would see them fall by nearly half. It is why a third runway is no more than a ginormous, short-sighted and environmentally catastrophic red herring slap bang in the western suburbs of our city.”

Full article in the Times here



As Daniel Moylan says on Twitter (31.7.2015)

admits to PA that a third runway will deliver UK domestic routes only with public subsidies. Cost to taxpayer keeps rising.

Rob Gibson commented on Twitter: 31.7.2015

Public subsidies beyond those that already exist are unlikely due to EU competition rules.


Support for Heathrow runway from regional airports

Liverpool airport backs Heathrow 3rd runway:

Liverpool John Lennon airport believes an expanded Heathrow would offer the opportunity for other UK airports to further grow their networks, something that is crucial for generating growth across the whole country, not just London and the southeast.

Chief executive, Andrew Cornish, said: “Liverpool John Lennon airport welcomes this news and now urges the government to give the go ahead of this important expansion of Heathrow so that regional airports such as Liverpool can soon benefit too by the opening up of access to the UK’s hub airport for improved worldwide connectivity.”


Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle back Heathrow runway

Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle have all recognised increased capacity at the country’s only hub airport will deliver benefits for the whole of the UK.

Improving connectivity, boosting economic growth and job creation were cited as the most compelling reasons for the endorsement.

The expansion would connect both Scotland and England’s regions to emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India.





From Times graphic:

Domestic connections 1

TfL says:

Flights from the UK’s main hub airport to UK regional airports have dwindled as capacity has become more stretched. Since 1990, 11 domestic routes to Heathrow have ended making it much more difficult for businesses in places like Cornwall to trade internationally.

The Airports Commission’s final report

There is a lot written about regional connectivity and the regional airports.

Final Report

Here are a few relevant extracts: 

Page 263

Efficient and rapid access to the best possible international connectivity, including
long-haul links to emerging market destinations, will also play an important role in
supporting economic growth in the major city-regions of the Midlands and the North,
in line with the Government’s evolving policy to create a Northern Powerhouse, and
helping to rebalance the UK economy. While regional airports including Manchester
and Birmingham are attracting rising numbers of long-haul services, particularly on
routes to international hubs such as Dubai, New York and Hong Kong, other, more
marginal, links are always likely to depend upon the greater weight of demand in the
London market. As discussed above, this demand is strongest at Heathrow. Enhanced
domestic aviation links to the airport, combined with the direct link to HS2 at Old Oak
Common and the Western Rail Link from Reading will ensure that the benefits of
expansion at Heathrow are felt across the English regions.
• Expansion is likely to protect and bolster domestic services in and out of
London leading to a rise in the number of passengers and frequency of
services on the thickest routes.

• The Government should alter its guidance to allow the introduction of
Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis and should
use them to support a widespread network of domestic routes at the
expanded airport.

• Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) should implement additional measures to
enhance domestic connectivity, including introducing reduced charges
and start-up funding for regional services.


Impacts of Heathrow expansion on domestic connectivity

Capacity constraints at Heathrow Airport have seen the number of domestic
connections decline at the airport over recent years. No daily service has operated
between Heathrow and Liverpool since 1991, Inverness since 1997 and Durham
Tees Valley since 2008. On many of the remaining domestic routes the frequency of
service has reduced; over the past 20 years the number of daily services operating
to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh has fallen by over a third.

15.2 This reduction in connections to London and – through the connections afforded by
Heathrow – its broad international route network has been of grave concern to the
UK’s nations and regions. In responses to consultation (and to the Commission’s
Discussion Paper 6: Utilisation of the UK’s Existing Airport Capacity, which was
published in June 2014), a large number of councils, elected representatives,
business groups and Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the UK stressed the
importance and desirability of retaining, renewing or establishing links to Heathrow.
Often these parties cited the serious influence that the loss or gain of a connection
to Heathrow can have on a nation or region’s economy
15.3 Expansion will provide a valuable opportunity to reverse the long-standing trend of
declining domestic links into the nation’s hub airport, providing new slots for airlines
to operate services to and from areas of currently unserved demand. Expansion will
also protect and bolster existing domestic services into London, leading to a rise in
the numbers of passengers on, and the frequency of, the thickest routes. This
remains the case to 2050, the furthest point to which demand is forecast, as shown
in Figure 15.1.

15.4 The new slots made available at Heathrow would allow airlines to establish new
domestic links to the capital, re-establish lost connections and increase frequencies
on those that are already in place. Heathrow Airport Ltd and easyJet’s consultation
responses argued that were the low-cost carrier to move to the airport, it would
seek to develop new services to Inverness, Jersey, Belfast International and the Isle
of Man. And a number of regional airports’ consultation responses stressed the
strength of demand for services into London and the South East from their areas.
To support this point, the National Connectivity Task Force put forward analysis
considering the latent demand for services from the UK regions to the capital,
suggesting that in 2040 domestic services could utilise 136-175 additional daily slot
pairs at an expanded Heathrow, compared to current day slot allocation of 55 daily

slot pairs. This would equate to 6.5% of runway capacity at the expanded airport
being utilised for domestic services, up from 4.2% currently.
15.5 Moreover, these developments should be considered in the context of the advent of
HS2, as well as improved rail speeds and frequencies on the Great Western and
Midland Main Lines. As with the provision of new slots for domestic flights, these
improvements will substantially enhance the UK’s internal connectivity,
strengthening the transport links between London and the country’s major cities.
They will also widen the catchment area of Heathrow itself, bringing the nation’s hub
airport and the strong international connectivity that it provides within a two hour
journey time of 20 million people, and a three hour journey time of 38 million people,
via surface transport.

15.6 As a result, expansion will generate significant economic benefits across the UK’s
nations and regions. Improved links to London and the South East, combined with
the lower cost of transport and increases in the level of international trade, will boost
productivity in regional economies. Using the carbon-traded forecast the
Commission’s macroeconomic assessment suggests that 60% of the economic
impact of expansion may be felt outside London and the South East as businesses
all over the country feel the benefits of increased connectivity and openness. When
an assessment is undertaken with carbon emissions constrained to the CCC
planning assumption the economic benefits are less strong, but they continue to be
well distributed across the country, in similar proportion to the carbon-traded

15.7 Against this positive outlook, it is important to note that even in the event of
expansion, a number of competing pressures may limit the increase in domestic
services to an enlarged Heathrow. One such pressure could be continuing
competition from overseas hubs, which may still be able to offer cheaper services,
higher frequencies, or more convenient connections on some routes. An expanded
Heathrow is also likely to see rapid growth in demand, which may relatively quickly
begin to exert pressure on slots during the most popular periods.

15.8 The Commission’s forecasts reflect these pressures and suggest that without
specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow
may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future than the seven served currently.
It would still however see more than the three domestic routes predicted to be
available from the airport without expansion


and there is much more ….

15.15 The only viable way of ring-fencing slots for certain services is via the use of Public Service Obligations (PSOs), which allow the state to provide subsidies to a carrier on a route which is not commercially viable. EU Member States are entitled to establish PSOs in respect of air services between two airports in the European Community, where one of these airports serves a peripheral or development region, and where the air service is considered ‘vital for the economic and social development of the region which the airport serves’. As PSOs constitute State aid interventions, their use is carefully monitored by the European Commission, in order to protect against distortions of competition in the Single Market.

15.16 The UK has in the last 12 months established two PSOs, one from Newquay Airport to London Gatwick and the other from Dundee Airport to London Stansted. Both routes were subsidised out of the Government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF), a £20 million fund set aside by the coalition Government to safeguard routes to and from the London airport system and the UK regions


Read more »

British Airways-owner CEO, Willie Walsh, opposes new Heathrow runway as too expensive to airlines

British Airways-owner IAG does not support the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway, its chief executive said, because the costs of the project does not make sense for the airline. Willie Walsh said: “We think the costs associated with the third runway are outrageous and certainly from an IAG point of view we will not be supporting it and we will not be paying for it.  …We’re not going to support something that increases our costs.” British Airways is the biggest airline at Heathrow [it has around 50% of the slots]. An expanded Heathrow with a new runway would be partly paid for by higher charges to airlines. In May this year he had said “the cost of all three [runway] options are excessive and would translate into an unacceptable increase in charges at the airports.”  Not to mention the problems of politics and unacceptability to the public.   The Airports Commission’s final report says, with a new runway at Heathrow, “The resulting impact on passenger aeronautical charges across the Commission’s four demand scenarios for Heathrow is an increase from c. £20 per passenger to a weighted average charge of c. £28-30 per passenger and a potential peak of up to c. £31.”


British Airways-owner CEO opposes new Heathrow runway as too expensive

June 8, 2015 (REUTERS)

British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L) does not support the building of a new runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, its chief executive said, because the costs of the project does not make sense for the airline.

“We think the costs associated with the third runway are outrageous and certainly from an IAG point of view we will not be supporting it and we will not be paying for it,” IAG chief executive Willie Walsh told reporters on a call on Friday.

British Airways is the biggest airline at Heathrow. The airport is operating at full capacity and wants to build a third runway but faces significant political challenges to do so.

An expanded airport would be partly paid for by higher charges to airlines.

“We’re not going to support something that increases our costs,” Walsh added.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle)



From the Times: 


The owner of British Airways has promised to do everything in its power to prevent a third runway being built at Heathrow.

Indicating that International Airlines Group is prepared to go to the courts to prevent the expansion of Heathrow, Willie Walsh, its chief executive, said: “We will challenge it by any and every avenue open to us. We are not prepared to pay for it.”

… Full article at


Also:  (from the Guardian article )

“The questions that need to be asked haven’t been addressed,” said Walsh. “If it does receive political support, it still has a big challenge to be addressed in terms of financing.

“This issue of financing was glossed over and was put in there as if it was a done deal … The debate hasn’t really started yet.”

Walsh said IAG currently pays Heathrow around £800m to £900m annually and would not countenance higher charges that would raise that bill by 50%.

He said that if he was the chief executive of Heathrow, where BA alone now has 51% of the landing slots and the enlarged IAG will soon have 56%: “I’d be concerned about my ability to finance this project.”

…..Walsh labelled Gatwick as confused, adding: “They seem to think that some pot of money could fund a runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick. I’ve made clear that I see no business case for Gatwick … the case that they’ve put forward doesn’t stand up to any level of scrutiny.”

……… and it continues



See also:

Gulliver in the Economist  “BA’s big bluff on a third runway at Heathrow”

It appears from the records of who the Airports Commission had meetings with that they only met IAG once.  (They met Virgin once, Emirates once, and EasyJet 4 times).

Airports Commission lists of meetings with stakeholders


29.4.2013 IAG.

2.2.2015 EasyJet

10.11.2014 EasyJet

23.5.2014 EasyJet

14.6.2013 EasyJet

1.7.2013 Emirates

15.7.2013 Virgin


See also:

Willie Walsh says Heathrow 3rd runway is a “vanity project” with outrageous costs

British Airways boss Willie Walsh has said that the costs of Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway would be “outrageous”. He said: “At the moment this is a vanity project by the management of Heathrow who are driven to build a monument to themselves.” Walsh said that even if Heathrow gained another runway it would be lagging behind Dubai as a global hub by the time it is built. “It is based on inefficient infrastructure which is not fit for purpose. Airlines and consumers are looking for lower costs when it comes to flying but airports only seem to be looking at higher costs.” Heathrow was already one of the most expensive airports in the world and was now “talking about raising costs by 50% to build the extra runway”. His criticism may be the start of negotiations to ensure BA is not landed with a huge bill to fund Heathrow expansion. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “Willie Walsh is saying that a 3rd runway won’t deliver benefits for the aviation industry that are worth paying for. This could turn out to be curtains for the third runway unless this is no more than clever negotiating tactics by one of the sharpest operators in the business.”

Click here to view full story…

Earlier Willie Walsh had said:

BA’s CEO, Willie Walsh, says post-election indecision will block building of any new south east runway

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has again said that there will not be a new south east runway. He has often said this before, but this time he sees the likelihood of political indecision after the election as an additional issue. Willie Walsh thinks  that to build a runway, there would need to be “political consensus across all the parties – not just coalition partners.”  He also warned that the cost of each of the 3 runway proposals would all be prohibitive.  The expense would lead to higher landing costs, and airlines would not find that acceptable.  Willie Walsh reiterated his view that there was “no business case” for a 2nd Gatwick runway,  with not enough demand from airlines for it.   He has said in the past that Gatwick does not have the same international attraction as Heathrow.  He commented that Heathrow was already “the most expensive airport around.”  There would be huge political difficulties in pushing through an unpopular runway, with dubious benefits even to the airlines.



And in 2014:

By  (Guardian)

Heathrow expansion is a “lost cause”, according to the airport’s largest airline, despite a cross-party pledge to make a quick decision on new runways in the next parliament.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, said Britain’s political class lacks the character required to push through a policy as controversial as a third Heathrow runway.

“Historically, politicians have not been brave enough and I don’t think they will be brave enough going forward. You need a big shift in the politics of the country,” he said. However, Walsh warned a Conservative or Labour-led government against choosing Gatwick for an extra runway, adding that the case for growing the capital’s second-largest airport is “significantly weaker.”

He said: “The airport does have capacity. You could make a case to build a second runway. The case is significantly weaker – and I don’t care what scale you want to use – than the case you can make to expand Heathrow.” He added that Gatwick did not have the same international attraction. “You won’t find many airlines that say ‘God I’d love to be able to fly to Gatwick’. That’s why this isn’t a business issue, an economic argument. It’s a political argument and the politics of expanding Heathrow are significantly more difficult than the politics of expanding Gatwick.”


Willie Walsh still wants 3rd runway – but “Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport”

Interview in the Independent on Sunday with Willie Walsh. He wants a 3rd Heathrow runway, though he unwillingly accepts it will not happen. He says he stopped campaigning when “the Conservatives said they were not going to support it.” … “I accept it…. I’ve not done anything since.” Now, he says, there is “not sufficient political will – it’s seen as too risky to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Even Labour, which did back the idea when in government, has changed. “Ed Miliband was the only member of the Labour Cabinet against the 3rd runway. Now he’s the leader”…. “It’s highly unlikely we will see a 3rd runway. Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport.”  We can, Walsh says, dismiss Boris Island for a start. “There’s no support for Boris island other than from Boris.” As for Sir Howard, it does not matter what he concludes, because “whatever he does will be handed over to politicians, none of whom are bound by his recommendations”.  So with no new runways we just reach south east airport capacity and UK aviation stops growing? Yes, says Walsh.



Landing charges now and with a new runway:

The Airports Commission’s final report says:

Page 108 of

Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway

Commercial Viability


The costs of the scheme, the ongoing costs of the airport and the financing required to support this (discussed in the next section) are met through a combination of aero and non-aero revenues. For a given demand scenario, the aero revenue can be used to determine the average per passenger charge that would be needed to meet the financing requirements. The resulting impact on passenger aeronautical charges across the Commission’s four demand scenarios for Heathrow is an increase from c. £20 per passenger to a weighted average charge of c. £28-30 per passenger and a potential peak of up to c. £31 as summarised in the table below.[ See P 108 for the table].




AEF says: “At Gatwick, passengers could be expected to pay an average of £15-18 for landing fees compared to £8 today.  link


Information on Heathrow’s charges:



Among many other charges, per plane for noise, emissions etc there are:

“2. Departing Passenger Charges

2.1 The charge per departing Passenger (other than Transfer Passengers or Transit Passengers) is:

European Destinations £31.63

Other Destinations £44.41


2.2 The charge per departing Transfer Passenger or Transit Passenger is:

European Destinations £23.72

Other Destinations £33.31

See clause 17.1 for the meaning of European Destinations. Destinations not designated as European Destinations will be subject to the Other Destinations charge.”







Read more »

End of the line for European over-night sleep trains, with the relentless rise of low cost air travel

It used to be possible to make a number of longer journeys between cities in Europe by sleeper train. Though not always the most comfortable night’s sleep, and with the added interest of sometimes needing to share a couchette, they were a relatively low carbon way to travel a long way, without the need or expense of a hotel for the night. But now more and more of these night services are being terminated, and those that remain don’t have enough investment to keep them up to modern standards of comfort. As the price of air travel is so low, due to subsidy (air travel in Europe pays no fuel duty, and no VAT; the highest tax is APD from the UK at €13 per return trip), over-night rail journeys cannot compete on price.  In an article in Passenger Transport, Jonathan Bray bemoans the sad decline of these train routes, which made longer trips around Europe possible, by a low carbon route.  It is short sighted of governments to cut these routes, and to focus instead on every cheaper air travel, and the more sexy (and higher carbon) high speed rail schemes. The rail routes may be needed in future, as a less carbon intensive form of travel.  Governments and the rail companies need to be ambitious about the contribution over-night train services can make to decarbonising travel.



Dark night of the railway’s soul



A journey on a sleeper train lingers in the memory, but what was once a coherent pan-European network is now being eroded

The classic Flanders and Swann song ‘The Slow Train’ mourned the loss of great swathes of the UK rail network in the 1960s through its incantation of evocative station names lost to the Beeching cuts. Perhaps we are now due a chanson version of those rather larger European places that have lost their sleeper service. Berlin to Paris; Paris to Madrid; Amsterdam to Warsaw; Barcelona to Milan; Berlin to Vienna; Brussels to just about everywhere.

What was a coherent network, which nightly and confidently spanned the continent, is becoming an increasingly ragged, bleary-eyed, and vulnerable shadow of its former self.

Starved of cross-subsidy and financial support whilst billions are pumped into high speed rail and aviation dodges its environmental on-costs.

Losing out as national rail companies start to free themselves of geographical constraints and obligations, whilst at the same time seeking to ward off new entrants that fill the gap.

Starved of the capital needed to meet passengers’ expectations and to operate within an increasingly technically complex, but operationally simplified, environment. All leaving what was an interlocking European overnight network enfeebled and of wildly varying quality.

Sleeper journeys linger in the memory. The upper tier of a three-tier third class metre gauge sleeper in India, where you slid yourself between the bed and the ceiling into a space with the headroom of what felt like a coffin – except coffins don’t have fans in a dusty cage that I also somehow had to make space for. The only way to keep the claustrophobia at bay, and keep myself from Edgar Allan Poe-inspired dreams, was to position myself so I could see the floor of the compartment. Or the St Petersburg to Murmansk sleeper, which I used en route to an island in the White Sea, which as with all ex-Soviet sleepers are ruled by formidable ‘provodnitsas’ (female attendants), have a samovar in every carriage and where travellers get their slippers and nightwear on as soon as they are in the compartment. Or the sleeper that used to run from Calais Ville to the South of France – seemingly full of rail men from the south east of England on their ‘priv’ tickets. In my couchette compartment there was a French man who slept embracing his racing bicycle, though whether out of devotion, comfort or parsimony, was unclear.

Overnight train journeys linger in the same way that little does from a flight, other than possibly relief that this time it wasn’t too aggravating. Of all these sleeper journeys I’ve made over the years the worst one was the last one I took earlier this year on the ‘ Thello’ service from Paris to Milan. It was the worst, partly because the air con did nothing much more than hint at the possibility of cooling the swelter of the couchette, which, despite the sun repelling grime on the windows, was at a temperature and humidity at which you are advised you shouldn’t leave dogs in cars. A problem which staff in a variety of ‘uniforms’ strove inconclusively to address. But it wasn’t these deprivations that made it the worst sleeper journey I’ve done: it was the worst because it felt like this was another sleeper that was being run badly in order to kill off demand. Even though it was very busy, any of the users (including me) would surely think twice about taking it again, or recommending anyone else to use it.

To kill off sleeper trains like this is a mistake because with their nightly cargoes of sleeping and dreaming souls the sleeper train not only gets people from A to B in a conveniently unconscious state – whilst saving on the cost of a hotel room – it also makes a wider statement about how railways see themselves, and how they will be seen by the wider world. Sleeper trains are a remnant of when the railways were long distance and international travel – but also a statement of future intent.

That in a world where cheap flights cannot last forever (because ultimately either they, or the planet, has to go) that the railways have the vaulting ambition to be part of the solution. A universal offer of trains that not only go fast in the day, but also go bump in the night. Available for those who cannot, or do not wish to fly. Enabling rail to cover all the bases. An extra string to the traveller’s bow. Another tool with which to chip away at the carbon edifice we know has to be scaled back.

There’s more to it too. Sleepers show that rail is a mode of travel that has hinterland, that makes and holds memories, that is more than the sum of its moving parts. More than a means by which accountants can move people in the smallest amount of personal space they can, as fast as they can, for as great a yield as they can, in an environment where for all intents and purposes you could be on rails or in the sky. Sleepers show that rail can still find place for its most culturally resonant and artistically celebrated format – time and time again on the page and on the screen.

More than that too – the sleeper train is also the railways’ ambassador – after all a symbol of tension or rapprochement between nations is when sleeper trains are withdrawn and reinstated. Between, say, India and Pakistan or within the former Soviet Union. With the European dream reduced to a brutal fiscal cage fight what a time for Brussels to look the other way whilst the ambassadors of the railways are carelessly discarded.

None of this cuts any ice in the gin and tonics of the executives of the big European rail powers it seems. The national giants of the European rail scene seem more interested in buying out the railways of other countries than they are in providing an overnight train between those same countries.

Much more focused too on unleashing the very coach competition that will undo the secondary long distance rail routes. Perhaps so they can focus on turning long distance rail into a one trick pony (though admittedly a hell of a trick) of high speed rail instead of a wider vision of rail as central to the wider task of decarbonising and socialising long distance travel wherever it can.

But if the big rail powers and Brussels don’t get it some of their customers do and a fight back is underway. On June 21 at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof activists from the ‘Back on Track’ campaign, which is fighting to save the international sleeper train network, set out folding beds with cards stamped with the names of places now denied a sleeper link.

Activists on the platforms in Zürich to protest against reduction of night trains. Similar actions are planned Europe-wide on the 20.6.2015

Parallel actions took place in Basel, Bern, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Odense, Paris and Vienna over that same weekend. The biggest protest yet by those infuriated by the loss of the most civilised way to travel between some of Europe’s largest cities.

Alongside this political fightback there are other signs and signifiers that the night train has not died peacefully in its sleep. At one end of the spectrum step forward Russia’s state-owned railway’s new high-end overnight services from Moscow to Paris and the South of France, that partly recreates the recently withdrawn Berlin to Paris overnight.

At the other end of the spectrum there are entrepreneurs like the London Sleeper Company, which is pitching a plan for a new overnight services that could use the channel tunnel to provide London with sleeper services to Barcelona, Milan, Berlin and Zürich.

Closer to home there is the UK’s investment in the Cornish ( link ) and Scottish ( link ) night trains. Services that survive for all the reasons set out above – their utility for travellers, alongside their cultural and political resonance as symbols that an increasingly fractious UK still wishes to be united by nightly sleeper train.

However, for all this there’s no doubt that across the board the European night train network is in a bad place. Yet sometimes what looks like a result of inevitable progress turns out not to be so. Sometimes the financial numbers change – like the cost of air travel is likely to – upwards. Attitudes change too – the night train could fuse its environmental credentials, its cost and time advantages, and the way it makes travel into an event, to gain new generations and types of travellers, as well as regaining old ones. And the tracks between Europe’s great cities will still be there for when this particular dark night of the railway’s soul comes to an end.


About the author: PTEG is the Passenger Transport Executive Group. Jonathan Bray is director of the PTEG Support Unit. Before joining PTEG in 2003, his background was a mix of transport policy and transport campaigning.

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.


See the Back on Track campaign




Back on Track is a European network to support improved European cross-border passenger train traffic.

Back on Track petition

No more cuts – Develop Europe’s long-distance rail!

Trains can create the best and most environmentally friendly connections across Europe. But a wave of closures of long-distance rail services has swept through our continent. We are facing an important Climate Summit later this year and this is the time to get back-on-track!

This is our message to the railway companies and the politicians:

We demand:

  • No more cuts – maintain all long-distance European rail services
  • Develop direct trains between major cities in all European countries, both by day and (!) by night
  • Establish a European rail timetable information and ticket booking system

The Back on Track coalition will take your opinion to the rail companies and to EU with some more practical proposals. Have a look and see what we will do with your support.





End of the line for European sleeper trains? Protests as night services are cut amid fierce competition from budget airlines

  • Commuters believe train travel is being overshadowed by aviation market
  • Calls for governments and operators to focus more on infrastructure
  • Protesters turn up at train stations in pyjamas to voice anger at cuts
  • In contrast, investment made into UK’s night-train routes and services 

Budget air travel has revolutionised tourism in Europe, but it’s claimed train services have been derailed in the process – a blow for those who are afraid of flying.

One rail worker even claimed it was easier to travel by train on the continent 40 years ago.

Night trains have been hardest hit and protests took place across Europe at the weekend against the phasing out of many cross-country sleeper services.

Protests took place in stations across Europe, such as here in Berlin, against cuts in European train sleeper services

Commuters dressed in pyjamas to emphasise their anger at the service cuts and lack of investment

European rail operators and politicians believe increased competition between budget airlines and rail operators is to blame with investment in trains diminishing as budget air travel soared higher.

Bernhard Knierim, from the Back on Track campaign group, which wants more investment in the train network, told MailOnline Travel: ‘It is totally incomprehensible that more and more international trains are discontinued, while everyone talks about the climate being at risk.

‘Trains are the most climate friendly way to travel over long distances, and they are also a very comfortable means of travel. This is especially true for night trains, because one can cover a long distance overnight and arrive well-rested at the destination the morning.

‘However, the European Union insists on their ideology of all train companies being in competition with each other. The result is that the companies make life very hard for each other and there are fewer and fewer cross border trains. This cannot be the merging Europe we want.’

In Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday, those unhappy with the cutting of many sleeper routes turned up in their pyjamas to speak out. This continued through the weekend, with a pyjama party thrown in the Swiss capital of Bern yesterday.

Similar demonstrations took place in trains stations in Germany, who have also been affected by a reduction of sleeper services.

Parallel actions took place in Basel, Bern, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Odense, Paris and Vienna over the weekend; a total of 11 cities in six different countries.

The message from the protestors was clear, night trains not night planes should be invested in

The message from the protestors was clear, night trains not night planes should be invested in

The Amsterdam to Copenhagen service was cancelled last year, and similar moves were made on the Paris to Berlin, Hamburg and Munich sleeper route.

The Amsterdam to Prague and Warsaw sleeper is set to be cut back to run from Cologne to Warsaw and Prague.

In addition to the loss of the service between Berlin and Paris, recent cancellations include Berlin –Vienna (direct daytime train), almost all international trains in the Baltic States, Berlin–Krakow (day and overnight trains), Paris–Madrid and Bucharest–Sofia (overnight trains).

Also affected are all overnight services to and from Brussels, a city that once boasted direct links with Berlin, Milan, Moscow, Vienna and Warsaw. It will lose its last remaining long-distance EuroCity route to Switzerland in 2016.

People arrived at Bern train station in their overnight gear to voice their anger at sleeper service cutbacks

The actions are in stark contrast to sleeper services in the UK, where investment has been made to breathe new life into this way of travelling.

Both the Caledonian (London to Scotland) and the Night Riviera (London to Penzance) services have been heralded for bringing back a bit of romance to train travel.

With China and Russia also similarly investing heavily in their night trains, many Europeans feel they are getting short-changed in the services being offered.

Mr Knierim added: ‘Anyone who takes the environment seriously should not allow the increasing degradation of cross/border rail links.

‘This forces people to switch to flying. Night trains are the most comfortable and most environmentally friendly way to travel over long distances across Europe.’

Fellow campaigner Jon Worth added: ‘Train travel is the greenest and most civilised way to travel.

‘Yet within Europe, and especially between European countries, it gets harder and harder as services are cut.

‘There are ways to make cross/border rail appealing and profitable. I am exasperated the railway companies cannot see this.’

Mark Smith, who runs the award-winning Man on Seat 61 railway blog told MailOnline: ‘High-speed trains have made travel around Europe far easier by train – but for longer journeys such as Paris-Madrid or Paris-Berlin a time-effective sleeper train is a far better alternative.

‘The loss of these overnight trains makes a large hole in the travel options for those of us who don’t want to fly, or who can’t. Hefty track access charges have been a significant factor in their loss – yet the track and signalling are still there, with no apparent saving from the wthdrawal of these trains.

‘With airlines paying no tax or duty on their aviation fuel (the equivalent of you or me filling up our car at 70p per litre), the EU say they want to promote less polluting forms of travel, but seem to be promoting policies which have the opposite effect!’

Speaking to the Guardian, Joachim Holstein, 53, a conductor with German state railway Deutsche Bahn, believes rail travel throughout Europe was actually easier 40 years ago.

‘You used to be able to undertake train journeys of 2,000 kilometres without changing trains, from Munich to Athens, Warsaw to Brussels, Copenhagen to Paris. Now that is impossible and it’s getting ever more difficult to cross Europe by train, which seems so contrary to what Europe stands for.’

Back on Track believes the cross-Europe rail network needs investment and is a vital cog in the ‘European Project’, the Guardian reported.

The cut in sleeper train services is also a blow to people with a fear of flying, or whose ill health meas they can’t use aviation as transport.

‘Some are scared to fly, others have health conditions and may just find it far more relaxing to get on a train and arrive refreshed at their destination the following day,’ added Holstein.



How an uneven transport market is killing off green options – while the highest CO2 forms are the cheapest

An interesting blog by a PhD student, researching behaviour change and air travel, looks at the problem of unfair competition between low carbon forms of transport – such as rail – with high carbon flying. Depressingly, many overnight sleeper trains across Europe are now being cut.  Due to the tax exemptions of aviation, paying no VAT and no fuel duty, the market for air travel is rigged. This makes low-carbon travel choices uncompetitive and eventually unprofitable, so they are ended. T&E has estimated the industry’s tax exemptions cost EU governments around €10 billion.  It is also the case that those who travel the most, the furthest, or fly first/business class are the most subsidized.  Because of the tax breaks and subsidies, as well as significant economies of scale enabled by the rapid growth of low cost carriers, air fares have become, on average, 1.3 % cheaper every year since 1979 – a third cheaper in real terms than they were 20 years ago. In stark contrast, rail fares have risen, on average, by 1.2% since 1995.  Transport choices are being reduced, and we risk being on a path to flight dependency, with the lower emissions types being priced out of competition.



Read more »

Ipsos Mori poll across UK shows 33% don’t want airport capacity increased (60% do). Only 13.2% want Heathrow runway.

The Evening Standard commissioned a poll by Ipsos Mori, of attitudes to a new runway – or a new airport. It was a telephone poll, of 1,026 adults across the UK, between 18th and 20th July. It found that 60% thought there should be some airport capacity expansion. 33% though there should be no expansion (and 7% did not know). Of the 60% in favour, 44% (ie. 26% of the total) either wanted a new airport or expansion of an airport other than Heathrow or Gatwick. Only 22% of those wanting expansion wanted a Heathrow runway (ie. 13.2% of the total sample) and only 24% (ie. 14.4% of the total sample) wanted a Gatwick runway. Those figures really are very small. Asking the whole sample, including those who did not think airport expansion was needed, what were the most important issues the Government should consider on where a runway should be built, the very highest number said “impact on the natural environment” (39%) and the second highest was “noise created for local residents” (30%). Other issues like total costs, support of local residents, local air quality and traffic congestion were all important (about 11 – 15%). The message being taken from the poll is not only that backing for a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is very small, and there is no consensus, but also that there is more backing for a new airport elsewhere – or expanding another airport (regional?)


Only 13.2% of the total backed a Heathrow runway, and only 14.4% of the total backed a Gatwick runway. 33% of the total said UK airport capacity should not be increased.

More Brits want new airport, not Heathrow or Gatwick expansion – new poll

27.7.2015 (Evening Standard)

By Nicholas Cecil

More Britons support building a new airport to meet the country’s aviation needs than favour expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick, a poll shows.

The new findings, in an Ipsos MORI survey for the Standard, will revive the debate about Boris Johnson’s proposals for a Thames Estuary airport, just as the Government appears set to back a third runway at Heathrow.

Thirty per cent of those who believe the UK needs more aviation capacity favoured an entirely new site, compared to 24 per cent who backed a second runway at Gatwick and 22 per cent who preferred a bigger Heathrow.

A third of all respondents said they did not believe Britain’s airport capacity should be increased.

By far the biggest concern over expansion was the impact on the natural environment. Thirty-nine per cent named this as one of the most important issues the Government should consider when deciding on where to locate a new runway.

How much noise such a development would create for local residents was cited by 30 per cent. This was double the figure for generating jobs and economic growth.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “Most Britons want our airport capacity increased, but there is no clear consensus on the best solution.

“At the moment, though, the public’s view is dominated by issues of environmental impact and noise rather than jobs or cost.”

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, has recommended a third runway at Heathrow,  rather than expanding Gatwick, having earlier dismissed the proposal for a “Boris island” airport in the estuary.

Sir Howard — the new Royal Bank of Scotland chairman — concluded that the economic benefits of a bigger Heathrow outweighed the environmental impacts, when compared to a second runway at Gatwick. But critics argue that Heathrow cannot expand while also meeting EU air pollution limits, and say this part of the commission’s report is flawed.

The commission concluded a third runway could be built and operated provided it did not delay London complying with the EU air quality rules. As long as one area of the capital had even more filthy air than Heathrow, then another runway could not be blamed for a delay, it argued.

But this stance could be challenged in court, and the Government has been warned of the risks of pressing ahead with Heathrow expansion on the basis of the commission’s conclusions on air quality.

“People are quite rightly aghast at the environmentally catastrophic expansion of Heathrow, and realise that increasing capacity at Gatwick will fail to deliver the long-term capacity and economic benefit that we need,” said Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s chief adviser on aviation.

The Government has pledged to make a decision on airport expansion by the end of the year.

Heathrow’s case appeared to have been bolstered last week, after it emerged that Mr Cameron had set up a committee to decide on the issue which did not include five Cabinet ministers who have previously voiced opposition to a third runway.

Downing Street said the committee’s make-up followed usual procedures, with ministers included from the departments with the greatest policy interest.–new-poll-10418667.html



Table from Ipsos Mori, with additional notes by AirportWatch

Ipsos Mori runway survey 2



The Ipsos Mori summary of their report:

Most Britons believe airport capacity should be increased

Ipsos MORI Political Monitor July 2015



Field work  18th to 20th July 2015

Public say the impact on natural environment and noise are the key considerations for airport expansion

The majority of Britons believe that the country’s airport capacity should be increased, according to the latest Ipsos MORI Political Monitor. Six in 10 (60%) say it should be increased with one in three (33%) disagreeing. Men, Conservative supporters, private sector workers, those in the South and the middle classes are most likely to support further expansion.

Support for increasing airport capacity

Among those who think that Britain’s airport capacity should be increased, three in 10 (30%) say a new airport should be built. Another 24% say that Gatwick Airport should be expanded with a second runway and a further 22% prefer a third runway at Heathrow. Fourteen per cent say an airport other than Heathrow or Gatwick should be expanded (with Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted amongst those mentioned).

which one of the following do you think is the best way of increasing Britain’s airport capacity?

Two in five (39%) say that Government should take into account the impact on the natural environment as an important consideration when deciding where a runway should be built. Three in ten (30%) say noise pollution should be a key factor, followed by generating jobs and growth and support from local residents (both 15%).

Considerations for new runway

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:

“Most Britons want our airport capacity increased, but there is no clear consensus on the best solution – remembering that this poll covered the whole country, not just London and the South East. At the moment, the public’s view is dominated by concerns about environmental impact and noise rather than jobs or cost.”

Technical Note
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,026 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 18-20 July 2015. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.


Read more »

Study in the USA by MIT shows air pollution from aircraft ‘responsible for 16,000 deaths per year worldwide

A study by MIT published in the US journal, Environmental Research Letters, has found that air pollution emissions from civil aircraft could be responsible for the premature deaths of 16,000 people around the world every year, with an economic cost of up to £13.5 billion. Of that cost, about £5.8 billion was in Europe.  The study looked at aircraft emissions at 968 airports around the world in 2006, and used local air quality dispersion modelling.  It found that the majority (87%) of the calculated 16,000 deaths per year from aviation emissions were attributable specifically to PM2.5.  The MIT study looked at air quality and human health impacts of aviation at three different scales:  – local level (less than 1km from airport);   – near-airport level (less than 10km);  –  global (up to 10,000km from source). It found about a quarter of the premature deaths (4,000) were near airports, from emissions from planes on the ground, landing and taking off.  The authors of the study said the societal costs of aviation air pollution “are on the same order of magnitude as global aviation-attributable climate costs, and one order of magnitude larger than aviation-attributable accident and noise costs”.  Aviation is expanding each year globally.


Aircraft emissions ‘responsible for 16,000 deaths per year’

Air pollution emissions from civil aircraft could be responsible for the premature deaths of 16,000 people around the world every year, with an economic cost of up to £13.5 billion, according to a US study.

The study looked at aircraft emissions at

The study looked at aircraft emissions at 968 airports around the world.

It found that the majority (87%) of the calculated 16,000 deaths per year from aviation emissions were attributable specifically to PM2.5.

Based on 2006 levels of ozone and particulate matter PM2.5 emissions from aircraft, the study – published in volume 10 of the journal Environmental Research Letters – calculated the number of premature deaths using local air quality dispersion modelling from 968 airports around the world, alongside and population density data.

And, of the approximate US$21 billion (£13.5 billion) global economic cost estimated from these deaths, the study found the highest cost was in Europe at more than US$9 billion (£5.8 billion).

Authors of the study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claim the work is the first to analyse air quality and human health impacts of aviation at three different scales

– local level (less than 1km from airport),

– near-airport level (less than 10km) and

– global (up to 10,000km from source).

This is because, according to the study, aviation emissions impact surface air quality “at multiple scales – from near-airport pollution peaks associated with airport landing and take-off emissions, to intercontinental pollution attributable to aircraft cruise emissions”.

However, the study found that around a quarter (roughly 4,000) of the overall estimated deaths could be linked to emissions from aircraft landing and take-off.

Study authors also said the societal costs of aviation air pollution “are on the same order of magnitude as global aviation-attributable climate costs, and one order of magnitude larger than aviation-attributable accident and noise costs”.

The number of air passengers is set to increase over the coming two decades, and the study comes as the UK government considers a controversial recommendation that a third runway is built at Heathrow to increase capacity – a recommendation which is at odds with the views of air quality campaigners (see story).

Related Links:

– Environmental Research Letters volume 10: ‘Global, regional and local health impacts of civil aviation emissions’



Airports Commission urges Heathrow air quality commitment

1.7.2015  (Air Quality News)

By Michael Holder

A third runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if there is a binding air quality commitment that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed, the Airports Commission said today.

The call for a commitment on air quality comes in the long-awaited 342-page report issued today (July 1). In the report, the Commission unanimously concluded that the option to build a third runway at Heathrow “presents the strongest case” for increasing the UK’s airport capacity “and offers the greatest strategic and economic benefits”.

It said that expanding Heathrow would also generate up to £147 billion in GDP impacts over 60 years, provide around 40 new destinations from the airport and more than 70,000 new jobs by 2050.

However, the Commission – led by Sir Howard Davies – stressed that any such expansion should be combined with a “significant package of measures to address its environmental and community impacts”.

Without appropriate air quality mitigation in place, the report states that both Heathrow expansion schemes which have been considered “would delay compliance with the Directive and hence would not be deliverable within the legal framework”.

The report adds that it would accordingly need to be demonstrated that by 2030, air monitoring receptors in the vicinity of the expanded airport site will “not report the highest concentrations of NO2” in the London sector.

Currently, the highest levels of NO2 in London are on the Marylebone Road, which is the receptor used to report air quality levels for the Greater London area to the EU.

The Commission concludes, though, that “although expansion results in increases in emissions these levels are small when viewed in the national context”.

Commenting on the Commission’s recommendations, Sir Howard Davies said: “At the end of this extensive work programme our conclusions are clear and unanimous: the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s capacity through a new northwest runway.”

He also urged the government not to delay making a final decision as this would be “increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy in the twenty-first century”.

Today's report includes this table of the NO2 impacts of the three schemes


Set up in 2012, the Commission looked at three schemes for UK airport capacity expansion: a third runway at Heathrow; extending the existing northern runway at Heathrow; and building a second runway at Gatwick Airport in Sussex.

Today’s report describes each option as “credible”, adding that “none of the schemes would lead to an exceedance of air quality objectives at any receptor relevant to human health in 2030”.

Gatwick Airport has previously criticised both the Heathrow expansion schemes for their perceived impact on air quality, while claiming that its own expansion scheme would have no impact on the UK’s ability to meet EU legal air pollution limits (see story).

Today’s report also states that the Gatwick second runway scheme is “not forecast to cause any exceedences of legal limits by 2030”.

But, according to the Commission’s report, while the Gatwick scheme is “feasible”, the additional capacity from this scheme would be more focussed on short-haul intra-European routes and the economic benefits would be “considerably smaller”.

It also states that advice from Natural England has indicated that ecological sites around Gatwick are “more likely to be sensitive to changes in air quality than the sites around Heathrow”.

Meanwhile, the report does concede that extending the Heathrow northern runway would deliver similar economic benefits to the preferred third runway option, in addition to being less costly and require the loss of fewer homes.

However, it believes that extending the northern runway at Heathrow provides a smaller increase in capacity and is “less attractive from a noise and air quality perspective”.




Global, regional and local health impacts of civil aviation emissions


Steve H L Yim, Gideon L Lee, In Hwan Lee, Florian Allroggen, Akshay Ashok, Fabio Caiazzo, Sebastian D Eastham, Robert Malina and Steven R H Barrett

Aviation emissions impact surface air quality at multiple scales—from near-airport pollution peaks associated with airport landing and take off (LTO) emissions, to intercontinental pollution attributable to aircraft cruise emissions. Previous studies have quantified aviation’s air quality impacts around a specific airport, in a specific region, or at the global scale. However, no study has assessed the air quality and human health impacts of aviation, capturing effects on all aforementioned scales. This study uses a multi-scale modeling approach to quantify and monetize the air quality impact of civil aviation emissions, approximating effects of aircraft plume dynamics-related local dispersion (~1 km), near-airport dispersion (~10 km), regional (~1000 km) and global (~10 000 km) scale chemistry and transport. We use concentration-response functions to estimate premature deaths due to population exposure to aviation-attributable PM2.5 and ozone, finding that aviation emissions cause ~16 000 (90% CI: 8300–24 000) premature deaths per year. Of these, LTO emissions contribute a quarter. Our estimate shows that premature deaths due to long-term exposure to aviation-attributable PM2.5 and O3 lead to costs of ~$21 bn per year. We compare these costs to other societal costs of aviation and find that they are on the same order of magnitude as global aviation-attributable climate costs, and one order of magnitude larger than aviation-attributable accident and noise costs.

The paper itself is at

Read more »

Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay




Heathrow boss rules out footing the bill for road and rail works

John Holland-Kaye has dismissed the Airports Commission’s suggestion that it pays the £5bn in road and rail upgrades if a third runway is built

The boss of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion from Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of the Airports Commission, that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a third runway is built.  [See page 224.  Point 11.7 of Airports Commission final report].

A new runway in west London would require significant transport upgrades, including encompassing part of the M25 in a tunnel.

These so-called surface access costs are normally funded by the taxpayer, but Sir Howard had suggested there was scope for negotiation between the airport and the Government, and indicated that Heathrow and its investors could bear all of the costs.

Speaking at the airport’s half-year results on Friday, chief executive John Holland-Kaye ruled out the idea.

“Those are things that the Government should be paying for anyway,” he said. “That’s the way these things work, that government funds road and rail, aviation is funded privately, so that’s what we expect to happen here.”

Surface access aside, the commission estimated that a third Heathrow runway would cost £17.6bn. The airport on Friday posted 5.9pc increase in first-half revenues to £1.3bn. Pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of June climbed to £120m from £23m a year earlier.




The Airports Commission’s final report

This report includes the comment (pages 227 and 228):
“Financeability – the scheme capital costs are paid for by the airport as incurred through raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator. In this context, the peak levels of debt and equity required are key outputs of the analysis, which have been subject to further scrutiny by investors, lenders and other market participants as part of the assessment.
11.16 The commercial viability of the three schemes is based on the ability of the airport users to bear the additional costs (weighted average aero charge figures above in Table 11.4) and the ability of the airport operator to raise and service the additional finance (peak equity and peak debt figure).
11.17 In considering the ability of the airport users to bear the costs, analysis undertaken by the Commission suggests that all of the three shortlisted schemes are commercially viable propositions, without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs, which would not increase the weighted average aero charge by more than two pounds for any scheme (the Commercial Case and the report Cost and Commercial Viability: Sources of finance discuss this in more detail).”


Total of £20 billion of surface access improvements needed??

See also a briefing on the costs of surface transport needed, to support a Heathrow 3rd runway, from the RHC (Richmond Heathrow campaign)

This says:

“What impact would a new runway at Heathrow have on Surface Transport?

“Demand for road and rail transport in London is set to rise substantially. 52 million passengers currently end or start their journeys at Heathrow. This, without a third runway, is set to rise to 90 million by 2050. With a third runway it will be 112 million – a 100% increase on today.

“Transport for London (TfL) has calculated that an investment of up to £20 billion will be needed to support this increase. The consequences of inadequate investment would be poor travelling experience on public transport and increased resort to road transport, generating more air pollution and traffic congestion.”

Reference TFL response to APPG on surface access (27 March 2015)

from RHC



Heathrow is already wriggling on other conditions for its runway:

See also:


Heathrow hints it may oppose ban on night flights as price for third runway

Chief executive says airport needs to discuss Davies commission requirements, including outlawing fourth runway, with government
23.7.2015 ( Guardian)
Heathrow is to press the government to loosen the conditions attached to a third runway going ahead, with the airport reluctant to accept a proposed ban on night flights or legislation against further expansion.


Its chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said he was confident Heathrow would be given the green light to expand and that “it wouldn’t make sense” for the prime minister, David Cameron, to oppose a new runway now.

Speaking on the busiest day for passengers in the airport’s history, Holland-Kaye said it was still considering how to respond to the Davies commission’s recommendation. The commission gave clear backing to expand the west London airport rather than Gatwick, but stressed that it should only go ahead with measures to address concerns about noise and air quality.

However, Holland-Kaye signalled that Heathrow is not yet prepared to accept all such measures: “We need to talk with government and airlines. There’s a conversation to be had over the next few months as the government assesses the report.”

While most of the commission’s 11 requirements, including compensation topping £1bn to buy out homeowners or provide for insulation schemes, echo Heathrow’s own pledges, the airport is particularly concerned by a ban on scheduled night flights between 11.30pm and 6am. Holland-Kaye said banning early-morning arrivals would impact on lucrative business routes: “We have a significant number of routes to Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s getting key trading partners into the UK to start their business. It’s very popular because it’s an important route: we have to have some time to reflect on those and discuss them with government and airlines.”

Heathrow has said that proposed legislation to bar any fourth runway can only be a decision for government – but in 2013, the airport outlined how it could expand further, as opponents including Boris Johnson, the London mayor, made the case for a four-runway hub. The commission’s earlier analysis said a further runway in the UK would likely be demanded by 2050, and Heathrow projects its own passenger numbers to almost double to 130m annually with a third runway. Holland-Kaye said the airport would “comment later on the package of conditions as a whole”, but he noted that “we do have the ability, physically” to build a fourth runway.

He said he was confident the debate between Heathrow and Gatwick had been won, despite the rival airport’s claims that the process was “flawed and unfair”. Holland-Kaye said the airports commission recommendation “was absolutely clear … it has come up with a package that meets everyone’s objections.”Heathrow has scheduled planning summits with suppliers and discussions with local schools and colleges about apprenticeships, although the government has yet to endorse the commission’s verdict. But given the recommendation, Holland-Kaye asked: “How can the prime minister do anything other? He set up the commission, we’ve met all the criteria. How could he then choose something else? It doesn’t make sense.”

Cameron is chairing a cabinet subcommittee which opponents of Heathrow have condemned for omitting all its prominent cabinet critics, predominantly ones with constituencies in west London. Holland-Kaye said it was “a good sign that the wheels of government are starting to move towards a decision” and welcomed the inclusion of the Scottish and local government ministers “because it underlines it’s a national decision”.

Heathrow is reviewing its security in anticipation of further action by anti-expansion protesters, after 13 activists from the campaign group Plane Stupid broke in and blocked a runway earlier this month, resulting in 22 cancelled flights. Holland-Kaye said it caused “minimal disruption” because the protesters were contained at the end of the runway but added: “These are anti-aviation protesters, they are professionally organised and they’ve been rehearsing this; it was a military-style operation.

”We are reviewing our security not just in response to this incident but other things they could do. Other things we do not want to advertise.”

He said: “We completely support the right to protest, but this was putting themselves at risk and other people.”

Passenger numbers were set to pass 242,000 on Friday as families started the summer holidays, making it the airport’s busiest day of all time. The first six months of this year saw total numbers rise 1.3% to 35.5 million and pre-tax profits increase to £120m.




Heathrow wants “discussions with government” to negotiate runway conditions set by Airports Commission

The Airports Commission recommended a 3rd runway at Heathrow, subject to a number of conditions (noise, compensation, local consultation, air quality etc). But Heathrow is not keen on these conditions, and now says it is “seeking discussions with government ” on them. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said Heathrow “would have to consider” the demand from the Commission that there should not be night flights, and that there should be a legal prohibition on a 4th runway. The point of conditions is that they are, well as they say, conditions. But Heathrow says: “We will work with the government to make sure we have a solution that can be delivered. I am not saying today that we will accept all the conditions that have been put down.” Airlines would not like night flights, as they make long haul routes less profitable and problematic. Heathrow’s hope of getting conditions, all recommended for good reasons, removed or reduced will only increase the level of hostility towards the airport by its opponents. Whitehall sources say the government will state its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be November?) — but will then launch a fresh consultation.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »