David Burrowes, the MP for Enfield Southgate, has called for high-powered drone owners to be forced to sign a register after British Airways flight BA727 from Geneva was struck by a device as it came in to land at Heathrow on 17th, probably in the Richmond area. Mr Burrowes, who sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the gadgets can no longer be treated as an “innocent leisure pursuit” because of the security risks and potential for mass casualties. He also suggested looking at introducing licences for some of the more sophisticated models in order to aid police and investigators. There have been numerous incidents of near misses in the past year or so, with Heathrow having the UK’s largest number. Tens of thousands of drones, which can cost between £25 and £20,000 with the high-end ones being able to reach 6,000 feet, have been bought across Britain in the last few years and can be used without a licence or having to register with the CAA. Mr Burrowes said “at the very least there should be a register for the owner of drones.” Owners of those that are capable of rising to several thousand feet should be “willing to accept a basic registration system.” Currently the police do not have records of drone ownership. The CAA has a code for the use of drones.
Heathrow plane pose risk of causing mass casualties
By David Churchill (Evening Standard)
18 April 2016
A London MP has called for high-powered drone owners to be forced to sign a register after a British Airways flight was struck by a device as it came in to land at Heathrow Airport.
David Burrowes, who sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the gadgets can no longer be treated as an “innocent leisure pursuit” because of the security risks and potential for mass casualties.
He also suggested looking at introducing licences for some of the more sophisticated models in order to aid police and investigators.
He was speaking after a BA flight from Geneva in Switzerland was yesterday struck by what is believed to be a drone as it came in to land at Heathrow following a string of near misses in recent months.
The pilot of flight BA727 reported being hit at about 12.50pm [earlier, as it landed at about 12.35pm] as the Airbus A320 approached Terminal Five with 132 passengers and five crew on board.
Tens of thousands of drones, which can cost between £25 and £20,000 with the high-end ones being able to reach 6,000 feet, have been bought across Britain in the last few years and can be used without a licence or having to register with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr Burrowes, also MP for Enfield Southgate, told the Standard: “You can’t just treat drones as an innocent leisure pursuit, it’s something that does and can cause serious security risks and potentially life-threatening risks.
“I think at the very least there should be a register for the owner of drones.
“I think if you’re going to be buying these high-powered drones, which are different from the toy drones which can’t go above trees because they have special powers to be able to go up into the skies, if you’re willing to buy that type of sophisticated drone you should be willing to accept a basic registration system.
“One of the problems for police is they haven’t got much chance of enforcing things if they don’t know who owns these drones and so they need help to do this.”
He said the Heathrow incident was “appalling”, adding: “The prospect of drones colliding with planes is very serious. We can’t just ignore it.”
Scotland Yard has launched an investigation after the pilot reported that the plane was hit by what he believed was a drone. No arrests have been made.
A force spokesman added: “The flight landed at Heathrow Terminal Five safely. It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) “drone code” says the unmanned craft should not be flown above 400 feet and kept away from planes, helicopters, airports and airfields. Those with cameras fitted should also be kept 50m from people, vehicles, buildings and other structures.
A BA spokesman said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.”
‘Drone’ hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow, with no damage caused
April 18, 2016
The British Airways flight BA727 from Geneva was hit by a drone as it approached Heathrow (in the Richmond area) at about 12:50pm on Sunday 17th. The plane was an Airbus A320, with 132 passengers and five crew on board. After landing safely, the pilot reported an object – believed to be a drone – had struck the front of the plane. It did not do serious damage, and a BA spokesman said the plane “was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.” This is thought to be the first time a drone has actually hit a plane, with many previous incidents of near misses. BA is giving the police “every assistance with their investigation” and the Metropolitan Police are asking the public to help if they have information. The CAA said it is illegal to fly drones near airports, and the penalties include imprisonment. In March, BALPA called for research by the DfT and the CAA into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports between 11th April and 4th October 2015. The effect could be serious if a drone smashed into the cockpit windscreen, or if it crashed into an engine. Unlike with bird strikes, the drones carry lithium batteries – there is concern these could cause a serious engine fire.
Moves to tighten rules on drones have been promised by the government after theLabour party and pilots’ unions called for urgent action, including a possible register of drone users and “geo-fencing” of airports, after a British Airways plane was struck on its descent into Heathrow.
Sunday’s incident is believed to be the first such collision between a passenger plane and a drone, after a series of near misses that led pilots to warn that a strike could be disastrous. The Air Accidents Investigations Branch said it would launch an inquiry.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it would hold a public consultation before a strategy is published later this year. Labour has accused ministers of dragging their feet after aviation authorities confirmed a number of potentially serious incidents in 2015, including 23 near misses between aircraft and drones in six months investigated by the UK Airprox Board.
A DfT spokesperson said: “The government is leading efforts with international bodies to develop a stringent regulatory framework focusing on safety and a working group is looking at the issue.”
However, Labour said the working group had been in existence since 2013. The shadow aviation minister, Richard Burden, said: “Yesterday’s drone collision with a plane sadly comes as no surprise and we should be thankful that the pilot was able to land the plane safely. For months we have seen a rising number of near misses and Labour has consistently urged the government to wake up to the problem.
“We know drones pose a very real threat to public safety and we should learn the lessons from places like the US which have been quick to introduce a registration process.”
He added: “We need action but we are still yet to see even a consultation on the options. This now must happen as soon as possible.”
The Metropolitan police were contacted by the pilot and are investigating the incident. However, in most incidents confirmed by the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Airprox Board, the operator of the drone has not been traced by police, although flying drones in the vicinity of airports is against the law.
Breaching drone rules would generally be summary offences with penalties decided by a court, but a more serious offence of recklessly endangering an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
A CAA spokesperson said: “Drone users have to understand that when taking to the skies they are potentially flying close to one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world – a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders and light aircraft.”
The pilots union Balpa has been calling for a register of users, after a series of incidents at major airports around the country including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester in the last year. Steve Landells, Balpa’s flight safety specialist, said: “Frankly it was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike, given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don’t understand the risks and the rules.”
He added: “Much more education of drone users and enforcement of the rules is needed to ensure our skies remain safe from this threat.”
Other industry experts joined the call for tighter rules. James Stamp, the global head of aviation at KPMG, said: “People who fly drones in controlled airspace are potentially putting lives in danger, and should be subject to the strongest possible sanctions available under the law. A number of practical steps should be taken, including requiring drones to be registered, tougher penalties for irresponsible behaviour, and technology-based solutions that will prevent the drones entering restricted airspace in the first place.”
Earlier this year the Oxford Research Group thinktank highlighted the risk of civilian drones being used by terrorist or criminal groups, and suggested “geo-fencing”, where manufacturers would be required to install the GPS coordinates of no-fly zones in drones to prevent them functioning in those areas.
The rules on drones
The Civil Aviation Authority sets the regulations for the use of drones, or “small unmanned aircraft” weighing 20kg or less. The drone user must:
Ensure its operation does not endanger anyone or anything.
Maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the drone to monitor its flight path (normally keeping it within 500 metres horizontally and 150 metres vertically).
Not allow any article to be dropped from the drone to endanger persons or property.
Not fly a drone above 150 metres or in the vicinity of airports without air traffic control approval.
Not fly it within 150 metres of any congested area, or crowd of people, without CAA permission.
Luton plans to replace its much-maligned bus transfer service, from the station to the airport, and instead build a light rail link, costing £200 million. The 1.3 mile rail link could cut the journey time from London St Pancras to the Luton airport terminal to less than 30 minutes, which is faster than the time to Gatwick. It would connect to the terminal from within the Luton Airport Parkway railway station, one level above the platforms. A normal rail link has not been possible due to the steepness of the climb uphill to the terminal. The automated light rail service will be funded by Luton Borough Council, which owns the airport freehold and owns the necessary land. The role of the council will be controversial and the scheme will need to be scrutinised for conflict of interest. The airport is spending a further £110 million on redeveloping its terminals and layout to expand capacity from 9 million to 18 million passengers per year by 2020. EasyJet, the biggest airline using Luton, said the redevelopment was a key factor in its pledge to double the size of its operations there over the next decade. A planning application would be made in autumn for work to begin in 2017. The DfT is also working to enable travel between London and Luton by Oyster card or contactless payment by 2018.
Luton airport to replace bus transfers with £200m light rail link
Link between airport and local train station set to make transfers to London faster than those from Gatwick to capital
By Gwyn Topham, Transport correspondent (Guardian)
Friday 15 April 2016
Luton airport plans to park its much-maligned bus transfer service once and for all and build a £200m light rail link to the nearest railway station.
The fast-track service would make journey times between the capital and Luton airport faster than for those flying via Gatwick, the airport claimed.
The 24-hour, automated light-rail link would replace the buses currently used to transfer travellers between the station and the terminal, making the fastest complete journey from Luton airport to London St Pancras less than 30 minutes.
The 1.3-mile link will be funded by Luton borough council, which owns the airport freehold. While the station is almost adjacent to the airport perimeter, it is around 40 metres downhill from it, making a fixed rail link difficult to build.
Luton airport is spending a further £110m on redeveloping its terminals and layout to expand capacity to 18 million passengers a year by 2020.
The chief executive, Nick Barton, said: “We’re delighted Luton borough council is making the investment. It’s perfect for us: we’ve been on a journey but there’s always been that fundamental gap between the terminal and the very good train service – served by a bus, which just isn’t good enough.”
The rail link would connect to the terminal from within the railway station, one level above the platforms.
Barton said: “It’s raising the game and raising our standard. When you get to Luton Airport Parkway you will think that you’re actually at the terminal.”
EasyJet, the biggest carrier at the airport, welcomed the news, saying the redevelopment was a key factor in its pledge to double the size of its operations there over the next decade.
A planning application would be made in autumn for work to begin in 2017.
While Barton cautioned that it would need to “be scrutinised more closely than a normal application” because of any perceived conflict in the council’s ownership of the airport, which is let as a long-term concession, all of the land required is already owned by the council.
He said Luton was working closely with the Department for Transport to remove barriers to rail travel to the airport, including tackling any ticketing confusion, and allowing passengers to travel between the airport and London using Oyster card or contactless payment by 2018.
Luton would also benefit from the upgrade of Thameslink trains, as well as being served by St Pancras, Barton said.
“The whole train story is just transforming and this is the next big – but very big step – to making that journey superb.”
The news is likely to prompt further chagrin at the rival Stansted airport, where hopes of a fast rail connection to central London have been dampened by Network Rail concluding that upgrades would only shave 2-5 minutes from the current 45-53 minute train journey.
Passenger numbers grew 17% to 12.3 million in 2015 at Luton, which indirectly employs more than 8,600 staff. The airport serves 123 destinations, mainly operated by low-cost and charter airlines.
Luton Airport’s £200m light rail link proposals could see it vying with Gatwick for passengers
15.4.2016 (Business Daily)
New proposals for a £200m light rail link from Luton Airport Parkway train station to London Luton Airport could significantly cut journey times to the airport from central London.
The plans, which have been put together by Luton Borough Council, would see the introduction of driverless trains to ferry air passengers from the train station, replacing the current shuttle service which takes 15 minutes.
Running 24 hours a day, the proposed 1.4 mile rail link would also connect with the airport’s parking facilities and, if approved, could cut journey times from London St Pancras to below 30 minutes according to the airport.
This would make journey times quicker from the middle of the capital than the comparable journey to Gatwick.
The proposals have been designed by developers Arup and are pencilled in for a 2020 completion date, pending planning approval which is due to be submitted in the Autumn.
Nick Barton, chief executive, said: “We’re delighted Luton borough council is making the investment. It’s perfect for us: we’ve been on a journey but there’s always been that fundamental gap between the terminal and the very good train service – served by a bus, which just isn’t good enough.“
“It’s raising the game and raising our standard. When you get to Luton Airport Parkway you will think that you’re actually at the terminal.“
The airport is currently carrying out a £110 million redevelopment of its main terminal and is looking to introduce Oyster ticketing to Luton Airport Parkway by 2018.
“1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – the secret to great campaigning” – according to John Stewart, who has been awarded the Long-Term Achievement Award by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation. John has been an environmental campaigner for over 30 years. In the 1980s and the 1990s he was centrally involved n the campaign against road building. He chaired and organised an umbrella group of campaigners across the UK, fighting a huge expansion plan for motorways and trunk roads. Then in the 1990s John became involved in campaigning against the aviation industry. He became Chair of HACAN in 2000, and after 2003 chaired a diverse coalition of campaigners which successfully defeated plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2010. John chaired the AirportWatch network until 2014. He has also been Chair of the Campaign for Better Transport, and the UK Noise Association, as well as being on the steering group of the Campaign Against Climate Change. He has written a number of publications, including “Why Noise Matters”, in 2011. In 2008 John was voted Britain’s most effective environmental campaigner, by the Independent on Sunday. He is leading campaigns against the current Heathrow 3rd runway threat, and against unacceptable levels of aircraft noise.
The Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) was established in 2005 to help develop a new generation of campaigners who are tackling the root causes of injustice. Set up in memory of Dame Sheila McKechnie, SMK is entirely dedicated to helping campaigners create positive and lasting social change.
SMK runs programmes for individuals and groups providing support, advice and a place to share information on key areas of effective campaigning: from strategy, tactics, and targets to evaluating successful campaigns.
The Independent on Sunday has come out with its list of the top 100 environmentalists in the UK. It is a quirky list–many of the names are little known to people in Britain, let alone the rest of the world. They have been chosen for the impact they have made, many on local issues, rather than for their great fame. The top environmentalist is John Stewart, a man who has been working quietly for years on transportation issues and now spearheads the campaign against airport runway expansion at Heathrow Airport, outside London.
The IoS Green List: Britain’s top 100 environmentalists
Sunday, 12 October 2008
“Britain’s most successful transport campaigner has come top of the first comprehensive list of the country’s most effective greens, compiled by The Independent on Sunday.”
“The little-known John Stewart, who leads the onslaught against a third runway at Heathrow, soundly beats far more high-profile figures – from Jonathon Porritt to Zac Goldsmith, from Sir David Attenborough to Prince Charles – to take the honour. He does so in the wake of an important breakthrough for his campaign – the announcement by the Conservative Party that it plans to scrap the runway in favour of high-speed rail links that would supplant short-haul flights.”
[Sadly the IoS no longer has this story on its website].
Earthshakers: the top 100 green campaigners of all time
London City Airport has strengthened its comms team with the appointment of the Department for Transport’s Andrew Scott as PR Manager, “as the airport develops plans for expansion and prepares to mark its 30th anniversary in 2017.” Andrew Scott joins City Airport’s four-strong comms team and will be responsible for campaigns “which promote the airport’s time saving and convenience proposition to customers.” His role will also include oversight of the UK and 6 key European markets, which are supported by PR agency Grayling. Scott was a press officer at the DfT for 9 -10 months since July 2015, before that a media officer at the Museum of London, and before that at WPP (a huge advertising and PR company). Barclaycard’s Kimberley Hayden has also joined City Airport’s comms team as internal comms executive, and will be “responsible for employee engagement, including production of Airport Life magazine, 500 free copies of which are circulated internally each month.” The head of comms has been Charlotte Beeching, since December 2014. The airport now has new owners – Canadian pension funds – and is hoping to be allowed expansion “which would enable up to 6.5 million passengers by 2025.”
London City Airport enhances comms team
April 12, 2016
by Richard O’Donnell (Gorkana)
London City Airport has strengthened its comms team with the appointment of the Department for Transport’s Andrew Scott as PR Manager, as the airport develops plans for expansion and prepares to mark its 30th anniversary in 2017.
Scott joins City Airport’s four-strong comms team and will be responsible for campaigns which promote the airport’s time saving and convenience proposition to customers.
His role will also include oversight of the UK and six key European markets, which are supported by PR agency Grayling.
Scott was previously a press officer at the Department for Transport and, before that, a media officer at the Museum of London.
Alongside his appointment, Barclaycard’s Kimberley Hayden has also joined City Airport’s comms team as internal comms executive.
Hayden, a former copywriter at Barclaycard, will be responsible for employee engagement, including production of Airport Life magazine, 500 free copies of which are circulated internally each month.
The enhanced comms team comes as the airport develops further plans for expansion, prepares to mark its 30th anniversary in 2017, and adds to its 48 destinations. This summer the airport will begin new routes to Berlin, Bergerac and Alicante.
Charlotte Beeching, head of comms at City Airport, said: “With record growth, new ownership, millions being invested and major expansion plans in the pipeline, we have an important story to tell. By strengthening the comms team, we will ensure that story is heard loud and clear, to support the future growth of the business.”
The airport is also awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry into its proposed City Airport Development Programme (CADP), which was blocked by the Mayor of London in March 2015.
If approved, the airport plans to add seven new aircraft stands, a parallel taxiway and terminal extensions, which would enable up to 6.5 million passengers by 2025 and open up new routes to the US, Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe.
See also – on the issue of “revolving door” between government and the aviation industry:
Revolving door revolves again: Vickie Sheriff (used to work at 10 Downing Street) to be Heathrow head of comms
September 23, 2015
There have for a long time been concerns about the “revolving door”, by which people switch between working high up in the aviation industry, and working high up in Government. The concern is that they may bring too much influence, from their earlier employer. Now it is announced that Vickie Sheriff it to become head of communications for Heathrow airport. Earlier she had worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. She went to the DfT and then Diageo in 2014. Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left earlier this year to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications. This is the job that was previously held by Vickie Sheriff. (Simon Baugh was not actually meant to be advising ministers on the new runway issue till 1st September, when he had been at the DfT for 6 months). Heathrow also appointed a new consumer PR agency in the summer. There have been several other high profile examples of the “revolving door” in the past, including Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair and then went to BAA as head of comms.
London City Airport hires Grayling to target European market
May 29, 2012
by John Owens (PR Week)
London City Airport is set to launch a major comms effort aimed at the European market, amid ambitious growth plans.
The airport has brought in Grayling to help promote its services in Germany, Spain and Ireland, as it seeks to expand from three to eight million passengers a year. The appointment follows a competitive pitch process.
The agency has been handed a retained corporate brief to enhance the airport’s reputation with potential corporate clients.
Grayling’s work takes place against a backdrop of concerns over the need for increased air travel capacity in London. There have been fears around access during the Olympics, following passport control problems at Heathrow.
London City Airport corporate comms director Jeremy Probert said the brief followed a new commercial strategy drawn up to accelerate growth.
‘Part of our commercial strategy is to add new routes and attract airlines – this brief supports that. By enhancing London City Airport’s reputation abroad and communicating the benefits of flying into the airport, we aim to increase passenger numbers, leading to increased frequency, larger aircraft and new airlines.’
He added: ‘It’s now reached the point where outside assistance is needed – specifically outside assistance with a knowledge of the markets in which our key end-of-route targets are located – to support and enhance the work of the in-house comms team and the sales team.’
Ursula Colgan, director of international client services at Grayling, said that the work would emphasise the airport’s convenient proximity to the capital. She explained that the brief would involve teams working in the three countries, with London acting as a hub for the work.
A £4m roster review by BAA, the owner of Heathrow and Stansted airports, is currently under way, in which agencies have been asked to pay around £1,000 to be considered for the work.
PR Manager, London City Airport. March 2016 – Present (2 months)
Press Officer, Department for Transport (DfT), July 2015 – Present (10 months)
Senior Account Executive, Burson-Marsteller. October 2010 – August 2012 (1 year 11 months) “My role was as a senior account executive in be more…, the consumer brand marketing arm of Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations firm part of WPP.” (sic) https://uk.linkedin.com/in/andrew-scott-7b673b2a
Heathrow may face more competition for hub traffic from Dublin, if there is a 2nd runway in 2020 – and airlines prefer using Dublin rather than Heathrow. This might mean Heathrow being partly sidelined. In May 2015 Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, was bought by IAG (International Airlines Group) – which owns British Airways. As part of IAG’s takeover there was the benefit of new routes and more long-haul flights from Dublin, where Aer Lingus is one of the two main airline customers, along with Ryanair. Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO, said in 2015 that owning Aer Lingus would allow IAG “to develop our network using Dublin as a hub between the UK, continental Europe and North America, generating additional financial value for our shareholders”. Willie Walsh believed that buying Aer Lingus was a wise move, as it was “inevitable” that Dublin would get a 2nd runway in the next few years. IAG believes that it can expand the group’s flights via Dublin or Madrid – especially if there is no new runway at Heathrow. It could have the impact of removing business from Heathrow – British Airways is the largest airline there with around 50% of the slots.
Heathrow faces competition from Dublin
By Vincent Boland in Dublin (Financial Times)
London Heathrow is to face more competition in the battle among Europe’s hub airports after Dublin said it would build a second runway by 2020.
As the UK government continues to postpone a decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow, the announcement on Thursday by the Dublin Airport Authority will fuel the debate over whether London’s hub risks being further sidelined by the delay as rival airports move ahead with expansion plans.
The announcement comes a year after Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, was bought by International Airlines Group. IAG owns British Airways, and as part of its takeover proposal it promised new routes and more long-haul flights from Dublin, where Aer Lingus is one of the two main airline customers, along with Ryanair.
The significance of a second runway at Dublin is that it gives Willie Walsh even more of an alternative to a 3rd runway at Heathrow. After the Dublin runway plans were dropped in 2010, Walsh set in train his alternative: link up with Madrid and the new routes that offered (particularly to South America, the one continent not well served by Heathrow); buying Heathrow slots of other airlines (which he could convert to long-haul should the market be there) and expanding his base in Dublin.
IAG given clearance by Irish government to buy its 25% shares in Aer Lingus takeover
May 27, 2015
International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, is set to take over Aer Lingus in a deal that values the airline at €1.4bn after the Irish government agreed to sell them its 25% stake. The Dublin government’s agreement to sell their stake was critical for the deal to progress. Donohue said: “IAG has provided additional information and certain commitments in relation to its proposal.” IAG has further extended guarantees about routes to Ireland from Heathrow, from five to seven years, although they remain some way short of the decade-long commitment Dublin had sought. The guarantees also are dependent on airport charges being limited to inflation. The government has secured important guarantees on the maintenance of Aer Lingus’ iconic brand, and its head office staying in Ireland. There are also some assurances over protecting existing Irish jobs at Aer Lingus, which wants to continue to use Irish crew bases. Ryanair still owns 29% of Aer Lingus shares. About 46% is owned by Aer Lingus. The 24 landing slots Aer Lingus controls at Heathrow are among the most lucrative for BA. The Heathrow-Dublin link is one of the busiest in Europe, and highly profitable.
Dublin Airport may buy 40 homes, already badly affected by noise, in bid to step up 2nd runway plans
April 9, 2016
Dublin airport was given consent for a 2nd runway in 2007, but due to the recession it was not started. There are now plans to start work in 2017, for completion in 2020, though as much has changed in the years since 2007 on the aviation market, questions are asked about whether the original consent should still be valid. Due to the inevitably increased noise from the 2nd runway, it is likely that around 40 houses (mainly in the St Margaret’s area 2-3km from the airport) would be bought by the airport, and negotiations are planned. Triple glazed window insulation will probably also be suggested for hundreds of other properties including schools. A spokeswoman for the St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group said the affected 30 home owners in her association are devastated but have no choice. The airport has assessed the level of noise necessitating house purchase based on 90 days of the airport’s busiest months from June to September. Residents, some of whom have been in the area for three generations, fear that a 2nd runway, with increasing frequency, growth in long haul services and more larger aircraft Dublin would compound the noise problem. The 40 homes are those affected now. (There would be a whole lot more with a 2nd runway).
Heathrow rules out IAG using Dublin as a third runway
By Joel Lewin and Peggy Hollinger in London (Financial Times)
Heathrow has dismissed suggestions that Dublin could act as a so-called third runway for International Airlines Group, a key argument in IAG’s contentious €1.4bn bid for Aer Lingus.
Advisers to the UK-based airline group have argued that it can expand Aer Lingus by redirecting some transatlantic passengers through Dublin airport, which would free up capacity at London’s congested hub for other routes.
But such arrangements would not relieve the pressure on Heathrow, said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of the UK’s largest airport, which is campaigning to build a third runway.
“Dublin is a great airport, but if you look at what London needs — more long-haul connections to growing global markets, more export capacity — there is only one solution. To expand Heathrow. Dublin won’t do it, Gatwick won’t do it.”
British Airways, IAG’s flagship airline, is the largest carrier at Heathrow, which is operating at near full capacity on its two runways.
Aer Lingus is based at Dublin airport, which has one runway and, unlike Heathrow, some spare capacity. Gatwick, the UK’s second-largest airport, also has one runway, but wants permission to expand because it is busy at peak periods.
Work to build Dublin 2nd runway could start in 2017 for completion in 2020
April 8, 2016
Dublin airport is to press ahead with building a 2nd main runway, resurrecting plans that were approved in August 2007 but then put on hold when Ireland was plunged into financial crisis after 2008. The 2 mile runway will be cost about €320 million (£258m) with work starting in 2017. It may be ready by 2020, to meet rising demand. Passenger numbers at Dublin are now back up to where they were before the recession, and although the airport is not yet at full capacity, it is congested at peak hours. There were around 25 million passengers in 2015. Passenger numbers are expected to rise further. Dublin to London is one of the world’s busiest international air routes, while the facility to pre-clear US immigration in Ireland has made Dublin popular with transatlantic travellers. Ireland cut is small charge of €3 on air tickets in 2013, while Northern Ireland continued to charge £13 in APD. Many people therefore travelled from Northern Ireland to Dublin, to save money. Ryanair has over 40% of the flights at Dublin backs the runway, as does IAG. Willie Walsh has said he might consider using Dublin more if Heathrow got a 3rd runway, and raised charges sharply. There are some conditions restricting night flights very slightly, (65 per night 11pm to 7am) with the 2nd runway.
There have been 28 incidents of roof damage by wake vortices in Florsheim from planes approaching Frankfurt airport, since the 4th runway opened in October 2011. The most recent incident was seen by a witness, who observed – on a day with little wind – the sudden wind, like a squall moving tree branches, and then the roof tiles being lifted off the house roof. The plane involved was a 777. Fortunately the tiles fell into the yard outside the house, and the family were indoors. The damage to roofs is yet another reason for intense opposition to the runway, from local residents who suffer its negative impacts. People say the heavy planes should not be allowed to fly over their homes, as the heavier the plane, the more likely is a wake vortex. The local authority requires Frankfurt airport operator Fraport AG to pay for work to bracket and secure roof tiles across much of the centre of Florsheim due to the numerous vortices. There can be problems in getting the tiles secured in older buildings, and this can cost the home owner money. Frapport is unwilling to pay if the roof is not already in good order. Wake vortices occur mainly in still weather, when wind does not disperse the vortex – that is turbulence from the wing tips.
The house in the street Riedstraße 75 is one of the last buildings before the edge of the field in Flörsheimer Northeast. Very close to the New Cemetery this is actually a very quiet residential area. Since the opening of the northwest runway in Autumn 2011, but it has arriving aircraft coming in to land at a low altitude over the residential area. The noise of the jet turbines is not only burden on the residents under the flight path. On Thursday afternoon, it there was wake damage in the Riedstraße. Vortices that had been triggered by a plane flying overhead, tore a hole in the roof of the house at number 75 and also left in the yard a scene of destruction. “The whole house shook,” says the 14-year-old Alina Weindorf, who was at home at the time of the incident. “It sounded as if a bomb was coming down in the far distance,” says the girl.
As a squall
Helga Reisz, an employee of a Flörsheimer funeral home, noticed the wake turbulence at a funeral. From the adjacent cemetery she happened to be watching as the incident occurred. First, she noticed that a plane was approaching in particularly deep (? low) approach of Riedstraße, said the eyewitness. “I even wondered whether it was going to land behind the chapel in the cemetery,” says Helga Reisz. This was at 13:58. When the Flörsheimerin a moment later turned towards the bell in front of the funeral parlour, she could not believe her eyes. They saw that the trees on the edge of the cemetery were moving, as if a violent squall had come up. Then she watched as the tiles lifted off the roof of a residential building in the Riedstraße, and chattering slid off the roof.
28 incidents since the opening of the northwest runway
The recent wake-damage in Riedstraße 75 was the 28th incident of its kind in Florsheim since the opening of the Northwest runway in October 2011, said Mayor Michael Ante Brink (SPD) on request of the district journal.The last incident of damage in the Riedstraße occurred in May 2015 in Austraße. The spring is apparently a typical period for the formation of wake vortices, writes Flörsheimer administrative boss who has almost become in recent years about wake damage. The formation of vortices depends on the weather.Ante Brink further explained that a vortex could particularly hit the ground if it is not too windy. The aircraft which caused the damage on Thursday have, can be identified precisely because of the witness observation and a review on the Internet, explained the mayor.It had been a Boeing 777 aircraft. This particularly heavy machinery are often cause of dangerous air turbulence, emphasizes Michael Ante Brink, who appeals to the Flörsheimer to leave secure their roofs. “You see what could happen,” he says, after the damage in the Riedstraße.
A new rail link between Heathrow and London Waterloo has moved a step closer after a Network Rail study suggested there was a strong case for the project. The Southern Rail Access proposals would connect Heathrow to Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke, possibly via Feltham and Hounslow. This is part of the long-awaited Southern Rail Access proposals. A Network Rail feasibility study suggests the work would cost between £700m and £1.8bn, depending on which route is chosen. There are three route options, and all are considered to be good or very good value irrespective of whether a third runway is built at Heathrow. Of the three, a semi-fast Heathrow to Waterloo service, via Richmond, was the best value London link. However further appraisal is needed. Heathrow airport is enthusiastic about the rail link, as it would connect more passengers and “treble our rail capacity by 2040.” Heathrow also hopes it would help reduce local rail traffic, if passengers get to and from the airport using the rail link. Hounslow Council earlier this year recommended a new southern link to Heathrow via Feltham, with trains running on an elevated track via a new station in Bedfont. The separate consultation on the proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow, from Reading, ends on 4th April.
New Heathrow to Waterloo rail link would connect airport with Surrey rail network
30 MARCH 2016
BY ROBERT CUMBER (Get Surrey)
The Southern Rail Access proposals would connect the airport to Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke, possibly via Feltham and Hounslow
A new rail link between Heathrow Airport and London Waterloo has moved a step closer after a major study suggested there was a strong case for the project.
Trains would run between Heathrow, London Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke stations as part of the long-awaited Southern Rail Access proposals.
A new feasibility study by Network Rail suggests the work would cost between £700m and £1.8bn, depending on which route is chosen.
Network Rail found almost all of the options on the table represented either good or very good value irrespective of whether a third runway is built at Heathrow, although it said further appraisal is needed.
Chris Joyce, head of surface access at Heathrow Airport, said: “A new rail link connecting Heathrow to south London and Surrey is a huge opportunity to connect an additional 4.8m passengers and allow us to treble our rail capacity by 2040.
“This is great news for passengers who will have even more public transport options to and from the airport. It’s also really good news for Heathrow’s neighbours as it will minimise road traffic in the area.
“Southern rail access in addition to Crossrail, Western Rail Link, HS2 via Old Oak Common and an upgraded Piccadilly Line service will place Heathrow at the heart of an integrated rail system.”
Network Rail’s findings suggest a semi-fast Heathrow to Waterloo service, via Richmond, was the best value London link, with two other options under consideration:
A stopping service to Waterloo, with two trains per hour via both Hounslow and Richmond
And a new tunnelled rail line linking Feltham to Heathrow Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 in four to five minutes
Hounslow Council earlier this year recommended a new southern link to Heathrow via Feltham, with trains running on an elevated track via a new station in Bedfont.
Network Rail said the study had been carried out to inform the government of the options and enable potential funders to decide whether they merited further development.
Consultation began in February this year over the proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow, which cut would journey times between the airport and Reading to 26 minutes.
Heathrow Airport rail link could see tunnels run under Egham and Magna Carta site
1 APR 2016 [Presumably an April Fool story – but hard to tell !]
BY MATT STRUDWICK (Get Surrey)
The National Trust said “the best environmental mitigation measures” would be expected if plans for the £800 million to £950 million route were to go ahead
A new £950 million rail link to improve access to Heathrow south of the airport could involve tunnels running underneath Egham and the site of the sealing of Magna Carta on Runnymede Meadows.
Network Rail’s 75-page feasibility study into its Southern Rail Access proposal put forward five possible new routes which would allow trains to run between the airport, London Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke stations.
Depending on which route is chosen, work is expected to take between 12 months and six years to complete and cost between £700 million and £1.8 billion.
One proposed £800 million to £950 million route involves a tunnel going under the Windsor Lines, Egham area and National Trust owned land in Runnymede, bypassing the level crossings, until rising to rejoin the existing network between Egham and Virginia Water.
A spokesman for the National Trust said: “As these plans are at a very early stage we will of course need to understand more about how this could impact upon our special place at Runnymede.
“Where tunnelling elsewhere has impacted upon National Trust land, for example at Hindhead Commons, we have worked closely with developers to ensure that the best environmental mitigation measures have been put in place.
“We would insist that, if these plans were to go ahead, we would expect the same to happen at Runnymede.”
The first option involves building a new line from the airport under Stanwell Moor Road before resurfacing to connect with the Staines line – similar to the much criticised and abandoned Airtrack scheme in 2011.
2. The second option is the same as the first, with a chord rail added to run in parallel with the A308 Staines by-pass before reconnecting to the Egham Line.
3. The third option involves a further extension than the first, with the route remaining at surface level running alongside the M25 motorway to the Virginia Water- Weybridge Line, rejoining the existing network between Virginia Water and Chertsey.
The final route involved tunnelling a rail line from west of Feltham to Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 with services then continuing on to Terminal 5. All would require Network Rail to acquire land using Compulsory Purchase powers.
Surrey County councillor for Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, Robert Evans, said: “This is long overdue, but we need to be very careful. It’s 75 pages of analysis and they need to decide which is the best option and will cause the least disturbance.
“People will be concerned about tunnelling underneath their properties and purchase orders. There are a huge number of options here and they need to be looked at very carefully.”
The Labour councillor and former Member of the European Parliament said Heathrow is the only airport in Europe with such a bad rail service. “Whether people live around the airport or not, they take a minicab rather than a bus because it takes forever,” he said.
“In other countries people get to the airport by train, but with Heathrow you can’t. I think we need to look at this very carefully and shouldn’t reject it out of hand.”
Network Rail found almost all of the options on the table represented either good or very good value irrespective of whether a third runway is built at Heathrow, although it said further appraisal is needed.
Andrew McLuskey, Green Party candidate for the forthcoming by election in Staines South and Ashford West, said: “As part of my campaign, and my sense of civic responsibility, I have felt it my duty to find out the details of this disturbing project which will certainly affect the people I hope to represent.
“Frankly what I have discovered, on a first reading, is most concerning.
“No one is against legitimate progress or improving public transport services to Heathrow. However, these should not be pursued regardless of cost to the quality of life of local residence or indeed to Health and Safety issues generally. Also Network Rail have been incredibly slow to release details of the possible schemes.”
Network Rail said the study had been carried out to inform the government of the options and enable potential funders to decide whether they merited further development.
Chris Joyce, head of surface access at Heathrow Airport, said: “A new rail link connecting Heathrow to south London and Surrey is a huge opportunity to connect an additional 4.8 million passengers and allow us to treble our rail capacity by 2040.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have undertaken a relatively high level feasibility report, and the next step would be a series of more detailed engineering studies.”
Public urged to provide their views on proposed rail link to Heathrow as deadline for feedback approaches
Wednesday 30 Mar 2016
Network Rail press release
Network Rail is urging residents and businesses to provide their views on plans for a new link connecting the rail network from the west to London Heathrow, ahead of the latest deadline for feedback of Monday 4 April.
The proposed link forms part of Network Rail’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers.
Subject to planning permission, the link includes a 5km tunnel from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel directly to the airport from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, without the need to change at London Paddington.
This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers, with travel times expected to be around 26 minutes from Reading and seven minutes from Slough.
Shorter, more direct journeys to and from London Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales, enabling these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.
To help develop the plans for the rail link, the project team has carried out extensive consultation with businesses and local communities along the proposed route. The feedback received from the first round of public events will be used to help the project team refine their plans and identify ways in which to minimise disruption during the construction process, should planning permission for the rail link be received.
Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to provide us with feedback throughout our consultation events. This will prove to be invaluable in helping us to develop the scheme and look at ways we can minimise disruption, should we receive planning permission.
“While we have further engagement events to come, we are at the point in the project where we have the opportunity to further adapt our plans according to the views of local people, and so I would encourage anyone who has not yet had the chance to comment to do so ahead of 4 April.
“The proposed rail link presents many opportunities for residents and businesses across the Thames Valley, south west and west. It will not only provide millions of passengers with faster journeys, but will also help to relieve congestion at London Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.”
Councillor Sohail Munawar, commissioner for social and economic inclusion at Slough Borough Council, said: “The rail link will transform travel to and from Heathrow, delivering a seven minute journey from Slough to the airport.
“Given the numerous personal and economic benefits this will bring Slough residents and businesses and the impact its construction will have in our borough, it is particularly important local people get to have their say.
“I urge people to fill in the questionnaires and make the most of the opportunity to have their say.”
Residents and businesses who would like to comment on the latest plans for the proposed rail link can do so via the project website, by calling 03457 114141, or by filling in one of the consultation leaflets that were distributed at the recent events.
A summary of the feedback received and the project team’s response to this will be available via a public consultation report that will be published on the Planning Inspectorate’s website later this year.
The proposed rail link will leave the Great Western Main Line at a new junction between Langley and Iver station and link in with existing railway platforms at Heathrow Terminal 5. It will provide the capacity for four trains per hour in each direction from Reading to Heathrow via Slough, with alternate services calling at Twyford and Maidenhead.
About Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail’s £40bn spending plan for Britain’s railways for the five year period up to 31 March 2019. The plan is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to tremendous growth the railways have seen – a doubling of passengers in the past twenty years. The plan will deliver a bigger, better railway with more trains, longer trains, faster trains with more infrastructure, more reliable infrastructure and better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.
Virgin Atlantic has signed an accord with Flybe, aimed at feeding passengers from smaller European cities onto its flights to the US and Caribbean. From April 2nd passengers can book tickets to travel from one of 18 UK or European airports, and connect onto a Virgin Atlantic flight at Manchester, Glasgow or Gatwick. The deal will encourage people travelling to and from 14 Flybe destinations to use Virgin’s Manchester-based flights. It will also provide through ticketing between 4 cities and its Glasgow flights. Newquay will link with operations at Gatwick. Virgin Atlantic will also introduce routes from Manchester to San Francisco and Boston in summer 2017, with San Francisco getting its first-direct flights from Manchester. Flight frequencies to Barbados will increase. The Flybe agreement comes after Ryanair said Virgin is among airlines with which it is discussing possible feeder services. spokesman said: “We look forward to offering easy connections to some of our most popular destinations including the US cities of Orlando and Las Vegas.” A Manchester spokesman said these new long haul destinations would “prove popular with leisure travellers. Virgin and Flybe deal will mean more passengers from regional airports can connect onto a Virgin flights at Manchester, Glasgow or Gatwick.
Virgin Atlantic Unveils Flybe Code-Share Deal, and adds US routes
By Benjamin D Katz (Bloomberg)
March 30, 2016
The Accord will help feed Manchester, Glasgow, and Gatwick bases. Virgin boosts links to San Francisco, Boston
Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. signed an accord with regional carrier Flybe Group Plc aimed at feeding passengers from smaller European cities onto its flights to the U.S. and Caribbean.
The code-share deal will encourage people traveling to and from 14 Flybe destinations to use Virgin’s Manchester-based services and provide through ticketing between four cities and its Glasgow flights. Newquay in Cornwall will link with operations at Gatwick.
Virgin Atlantic will also introduce routes from Manchester to San Francisco and Boston next summer, with San Francisco getting its first-direct flights from Manchester, the Crawley-based company said in a statement. Frequencies on an existing service to Barbados will increase.
The Flybe agreement comes after Ryanair Holdings Plc listed Virgin among carriers with which it was discussing possible feeder services.
Passengers on Flybe code-share flights will be able to check themselves and their bags through to their final destination at the point of departure. Flybe has been looking for a new partner since 2014, when it quit an unprofitable venture that had fed Finnair Oyj’s network.
Virgin Atlantic, which is 49% owned by Delta Air Lines Inc., almost doubled pre-tax profit to £22.5 million in 2015. Its biggest base remains Heathrow, where the Little Red unit founded to help boost passenger numbers from Scotland and Manchester was closed down last year.
Virgin Atlantic has announced a codeshare agreement with regional carrier Flybe.
30.3.2016 (Buying Business Travel)
From April 2 passengers can book tickets to travel from one of 18 UK or European airports, and connect onto a Virgin Atlantic flight at Manchester, Glasgow or Gatwick airports.
Virgin Atlantic’s EVP of commercial Erik Varwijk said the partnership offers opportunities to reach customers looking to travel long-haul from key cities throughout UK and Europe.
“We look forward to offering easy connections to some of our most popular destinations including the US cities of Orlando and Las Vegas,” said Varwijk.
Virgin is also introducing Manchester airport’s first ever direct flights to San Francisco and brand new service to Boston.
The services will start in summer 2017.
Manchester airport managing director Ken O’Toole said: “Securing the first ever direct flight between Manchester and San Francisco is a significant moment for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, it gives the 22m passengers living within two hours of Manchester Airport yet another great long haul destination to choose from and it is sure to prove popular with leisure travellers.
“Secondly, it will deliver a deliver a real boost to the North’s economy by providing a direct link to the world’s leading location for tech and biomedical start-ups, which is now home to some of the biggest brands on the planet, like Google, Twitter and Uber.”
The Welsh Public Accounts Committee has said Cardiff Airport is missing its passenger targets and lacks a long-term plan to expand. The airport was bought by the Welsh Government for £52 million in 2013. The decision to buy and the price paid caused controversy, but the Public Accounts Committee said ministers had had “a clear rationale” for going ahead with the deal. The transport minister said swift action saved the airport from closure. After the airport was taken into public ownership, passenger numbers rose from 995,000 to 1.079m in 2013-14, but in 2014-15 the numbers declined to 1.005m. The airport now expects numbers to rise to 1.4m by 2017-18, although the business plan produced at the time it was bought projected passenger figures of around 2 million by that date. Some consider the airport was only worth £20 – £30 million and the Welsh government paid too much. Flybe announced it would operate flights between Cardiff and London City Airport during the six week closure of the Severn rail tunnel from 12 September to 21 October. “Aviation Wales” hopes Air Passenger Duty will be devolved, so they can cut it. Bristol airport is very anxious about this, and launched a “A Fair Flight for the South West” campaign, fearing a loss of passengers to Cardiff.
The decision to buy and the price paid caused controversy, but the Public Accounts Committee said ministers had had “a clear rationale” for going ahead with the deal.
The transport minister said swift action saved the airport from closure.
Edwina Hart added that customer satisfaction was at an “all-time high”.
After Cardiff Airport was taken into public ownership, passenger numbers rose from 995,000 to 1.079m in 2013-14, but in 2014-15 the numbers declined to 1.005m.
The airport now expects numbers to rise to 1.4m by 2017-18, although the business plan produced at the time it was purchased projected passenger figures of around 2m by that date.
On the cost of the purchase, the committee refers to the range of independent valuations offered to ministers, including one by KPMG that suggested the site was worth £20m-£30m.
The report said: “We remained unconvinced that the Welsh Government had a clear negotiation strategy, and we question the decision to make an initial offer of £55m, with a view to negotiating the purchase price down afterwards.”
Committee chair and Conservative AM Darren Millar said it was clear the airport had been “in decline” before 2013, and “prospects for turning it around under its previous ownership were bleak”.
“We also recognise the importance to Wales of having its own international airport and the wider benefits for Wales arising from this,” he said.
“However, although the airport has the potential to grow significantly, we note its progress against the acquisition business plan in terms of passenger growth are behind target.”
The report said Glasgow Prestwick Airport produced business plans looking up to eight years ahead, while Cardiff Airport had only two-year plans.
Responding, Mrs Hart said: “If we had not acted swiftly the airport would have undoubtedly closed.
“Instead, customer satisfaction is now at an all-time high with 1.2m passengers using the airport over the past 12 months – the highest level since 2011.”
Airport managing director Debra Barber said: “We would like to make it very clear that while we report to our holding company with a rolling two-year business plan, we operate with much longer term projections.
“The PAC [Public Accounts Committee] is looking backwards. We are continuously forward-looking with a real vision for the future of the airport.”
Bristol airport, that has taken many of Cardiff airport’s passengers over the past years, fears the devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales. That would mean Cardiff flights being cheaper than those at Bristol and other English airports.
South West economy risks losing £843m and 1,569 Jobs as tax on flying set for devolution to Wales
12th Feb 2016 (Bristol Airport press release)
The South West economy is set to lose £843 million and 1,569 jobs if the power to set Air Passenger Duty (APD) is devolved to the Welsh Government, according to figures released today.
Launching its campaign for “A Fair Flight For The South West”, Bristol Airport has published a report highlighting the risks to the South West economy of APD devolution to Wales – something that the Chancellor is likely to announce at this year’s Budget on 16th March.
The risks of APD devolution to Wales include:
The loss of £843 million in gross value added (GVA) from the West of England economy over the next decade.
The loss of 1,569 jobs in the West of England over the next decade.
The likely loss of almost a third of Bristol Airport’s existing air routes, and long-haul routes expected to be launched soon, reducing choice for passengers from the region, air access for overseas visitors, and trade links for the local economy.
A 25% drop in passengers travelling from Bristol Airport by 2020 – seriously damaging a regional business which generates almost £400m in GVA and supports 11,000 jobs for the regional economy.
…… and it continues at length ….. for full article see
Meanwhile an organisation called “Aviation Wales” naturally is very keen on Wales doing away with Air Passenger Duty. They say:
One of the most hotly debated topics concerning Wales and in particular, Cardiff Airport is the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) ………
The Silk Commission report on devolved powers to Wales recommended that Air Passenger Duty be devolved and the current UK government is bound by election promise to review it.
Air Passenger Duty currently stands at £26 (£13 lower rate for cheapest class) for trips under 2000 miles and £142 (£73 lower rate for cheapest class) for long haul flights.
A devolved power over APD would allow the Welsh Government to lower that rate offering Wales as an attractive point of entry and exit from the UK in particular to long haul passengers and long haul operators providing a massive boost to the Welsh Economy. [In reality, it is likely that it would just make it cheaper for Welsh people, and nearby English people, to fly off on leisure journeys abroad, taking their money out of the area and out of the UK, boosting the tourism deficit. There is more movement of tourist OUT than tourists IN. AW comment].
The thought of Cardiff Airport being a more affordable destination for UK visitors has caused Bristol Airport to instigate Project Fear (or “A Fair Flight for the South West” as they call it) which will show the people of the South West that their region will become a desolate wasteland and they will all be speaking Welsh if APD is devolved.
….. and it continues at length …. at “Air Passenger Duty: Its Our Right” (sic)
Some other recent news stories about Cardiff airport:
Conservatives demand more routes for Cardiff Airport after £3.5m government loan
February 6, 2015
Tory party members have called for the value of Cardiff Airport to be made public – two years after it was sold to the Welsh Government for £52 million. Conservative politicians have criticised the airport’s failure to attract new flights, but the Labour Welsh Government said securing routes was a long term process and that a route development loan had yet to come into play. In November 2014 ministers announced that Cardiff Airport was to get a £3.5m loan to help develop new routes, as part of the Welsh Government budget for 2015/16. That happened after Lufthansa-owned Germanwings said it would close its service to Dusseldorf in 2015. The Tories want the airport improved and then sold back to the private sector, and so far there is evidence that the money from hard-pressed taxpayers has achieved much. A LibDem councilor commented: “The big question remains… where is the plan?” Labour said: “The Conservatives need to show some patience, especially when demanding to see the results of a £3m loan that will not be available until the next financial year.”
Cardiff Airport drop in passenger numbers prompts Tories’ private ownership call
October 22, 2014
The Welsh Conservatives have called for Cardiff Airport to be returned to private ownership after September saw a year-on-year drop in passenger numbers of 7%. The fall was described as “expected” by the Welsh Government. An air industry insider said: “This is more bad news for Cardiff Airport – and the figures don’t include the imminent closure of the CityJet route to Glasgow. The downward trend is noticeable – in August the passenger numbers were down 8.2% at 135,900.” Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “These reports of a near double digit decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport in the past two months compared to 2013 are deeply concerning. Welsh Conservatives disagreed with Labour’s decision to spend £52m buying Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, Labour ministers must work hard to help it achieve its potential.” There will soon be one Ryanair flight per week from Cardiff to Tenerife. All just holiday traffic. Bucket ‘n spade.
Former boss of Cardiff airport says its expansion plans are massively unrealistic, without public subsidy
August 27, 2014
Keith Brooks, the former chief executive of airports group TBI, said Cardiff Airport’s passenger forecast is “massively unrealistic” and that it needs to be more realistic in its expectations. Last week, in an unexpected move, it was announced that the airport’s chief executive Jon Horne will stand down next week after only 18 months in the role. The airport’s director of operations will be interim managing director. While Cardiff airport has not published any specific short to long-term passenger growth targets, since being taken over by the Welsh Government for £52m last year it has arrested year-on-year decline. Annual passenger numbers now stand marginally up at just over one million. Keith Brooks said: “They have had massively unrealistic expectations of what they can do in this period [since acquisition]…..Aviation is a very slow moving industry and negotiations with airlines take a long time.” Getting a significant low-cost carrier, like Ryanair, to expand routes from very low levels would require “significant subsidy” inducements. That means government subsidy, and tax payers’ money. The Welsh government “will not just be able to turn things around in a short period of time.”
Welsh Economy Minister says Cardiff Airport likely to return to profit only in ‘long-term’
March 21, 2014 The Welsh Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, has said that Cardiff Airport – now in public ownership – is likely to return to profit eventually, but not in the short term. She said its downward spiral is no longer continuing. The airport finally becoming profitable is a “long-term” strategy. She was giving evidence to the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee on the airport, which was bought by the Welsh Government for £52m at the end of 2012. Ms Hart suggested there wouldn’t be a quick sale of the airport back into the private sector, which the Scottish Government is seeking for the newly-nationalised Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire. Pressed by the Plaid Cymru economy spokesman on when the government expected the taxpayer to recoup its investment. She said the Budget announcement for support for regional airports to set up new routes would apply to Wales and that they would “wait for the detail of it”, but confirmed the Welsh Government is likely to bid in for funding. Chancellor George Osborne announced a £20m annual fund will be used to encourage new routes from regional hubs like Cardiff.
In a blog for the Huffington Post, AEF’s James Lees explains how the way airspace change happens now is unsatisfactory, and many complicated issues need to be resolved before aircraft noise is inflicted on communities. At present, no consultation is needed for new flight path trials which are aimed at increasing capacity at airports. The negative impacts of being exposed to high levels of annoying noise, especially at night, are now well known. It is anachronistic that aviation is exempt from noise nuisance laws going back 90 years. The CAA says airspace is “in need of modernisation” with an “unprecedented” number of airspace change proposals in the coming years. These changes could involve new flight paths and new people being overflown. James says these communities should be involved throughout the process and their interests should not be overridden by those of the industry, which benefits from the changes. There is also a clear need for better government policy on aircraft noise, and there are key questions to be dealt with by the DfT. These include: Does Government think it’s acceptable for new flight paths to expose new communities to aircraft noise? And should aircraft be ‘concentrated’ down increasingly narrow routes? What is the public health impact? Read the full blog.
New Flight Paths: Bulldozing Over Your House Tomorrow?
23.3.2016 (Huffington Post)
By James Lees, Research and Communications Officer, Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)
Imagine this. You live on a relatively quiet road on the way out of town. There’s a bit of traffic as some people use your road on their way home but you expected that when you moved in.
One day, you wake up and overnight bulldozers have turned your road into a motorway with car after car rushing past your house. You later find out that because the council is only ‘trialling’ the change, nobody had to tell you about it.
How would you feel about that? You’d probably be a bit surprised, and most likely very annoyed. You’d probably feel a bit like Arthur Dent in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, waking up to find Earth is in the way of a galaxy bypass and about to be destroyed (in terms of being bewildered and still in your pyjamas).
It’s similar to the recent experiences of people living in communities around Gatwick,Heathrow, Birmingham, and most recently Edinburgh airports, all of whom have been subjected to new flight paths as part of trials aimed at increasing capacity at airports.
Many of the communities affected experienced a ‘step-change’ in the number of flights overhead, suddenly being overflown up to every two minutes. For others, it was the very first time they had experienced life under a flight path and the profound effects that high levels of aircraft noise can have on your health and well-being.
Long-term exposure to aircraft noise leads to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Aircraft noise can cause sleep disturbance which can in turn have a debilitating effect on your day-to-day life.
It can also impede memory and learning in school children, with primary school pupils exposed to high levels of noise around Heathrow Airport two months behind their counterparts in schools exposed to aircraft noise levels five decibels lower.
Not everybody responds to aircraft noise in the same way and part of the response to noise of all forms is emotional, and influenced by factors such as an individual’s attitude to the noise source, whether they have any control over it, and whether they expect to hear it.
In the recent cases of new flight paths though, whole communities have been in uproar. This could be because a sudden change in noise exposure is linked to much greater disturbance than ‘steady state conditions’. It could also be because the changes were trials, so required no consultation (hence the Arthur Dent bewilderment).
Or maybe it could be because unlike changes to physical infrastructure, airspace changes don’t legally require any compensation payments. Maybe even it was because aviation is exempt from noise nuisance laws going back 90 years. [ link ]
The experiences of communities around Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Edinburgh could become increasingly common. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), airspace is “in need of modernisation” and that means there’s going to be an “unprecedented” number of airspace change proposals in the coming years. These changes could involve new flight paths and new people being overflown.
If changes are to be made to airspace, then communities should be involved throughout the process and their interests should not be overridden by those of the industry, which stands to benefit from the changes.
By way of response to the vociferous complaints of affected communities, the CAA launched a consultation last week on a new process that aims to allow for much better community engagement.
However, having a transparent and open process is only one part of the problem. We also need clearer policy from Government and that’s why AEF brought together 24 community groups to call on David Cameron to deliver that.
Key questions need answering. Does Government think it’s acceptable for new flight paths to expose new communities to aircraft noise? And should aircraft be ‘concentrated’ down increasingly narrow routes, reducing noise for some people but potentially creating ‘noise ghettos’ for those who are overflown?
Finally, how will changes in airspace affect the health burden from aircraft noise? The industry argues that aircraft are getting quieter but annoyance from aircraft noise is increasing, and a recent report by the EU stated that more people will be affected by aircraft noise in the future, not fewer.
There are no easy answers to some of these questions but it’s vital that the Government and CAA start to give communities more of a say, give clarity about what’s acceptable when it comes to flight path change, and make it clear how the impacts of noise on health and well-being will be reduced in the future.
If we’re successful in moving these issues up the agenda, hopefully the aviation industry won’t be able to bulldoze new flight paths over your house tomorrow.
CAA consultation launched (ends 15th June) on the process of airspace change
March 15, 2016
The CAA has launched it long awaited consultation on the process of airspace change. One of the reasons has been the unprecedented level of opposition, anger, frustration (and in some cases despair) caused by the unsatisfactory manner in which flight path changes have been introduced in recent years. The CAA, NATS and the airports have lost what confidence the public had in them before, due to their inabilities to communicate properly with those suffering from aircraft noise problems. The CAA says: “While not everyone will agree with every potential decision on how we develop the infrastructure of our airspace, the methods used to reach those decisions need to be well understood and accepted. One of our aims is to restore confidence in the process where it is currently lacking.” The CAA says one of the ways to make their processes more transparent and publicly accessible is: “an online portal to provide a single access point for anyone to view, comment on and access documents for every UK airspace change proposal.” However, many important and relevant areas are outside the consultation, such as Government policy, which the CAA’s process must follow, and “changes to flight paths which result from decisions made by air traffic control providers and outside the CAA’s control”. The full document is 140 pages in length, and will take time for those who plan to respond to fully understand.