Writing in “Buying Business Travel”, Tom Newcombe asks whether there really is as much need for business travel as the proponents of aviation make out. He says that while air travel can indeed be vital for business, it should be used both sparingly and wisely. He asks whether Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission is actually asking the right questions. “What would show greater imagination and ambition would be for the commission to recognise that, in the 21st century, businesses will eventually decouple travel from growth.” Travel is not an end in itself, but productivity and output. “Those who regularly travel on business know that the excitement of jet-setting can soon wear off and actually interfere with, rather than aid, productivity.” A key factor in reducing flights is changing organisational culture. For example, air travel is often considered prestigious – the more important you are the more the company will spend on your travel. However, this “conventional truth” can be turned on its head – by understanding that the more valuable an employee’s time, the less of it should spend on a plane or sitting in traffic.
Guest column: Is your trip necessary?
by Tom Newcombe (Digital Editor, Buying Business Travel)
While travel can be vital for business, it should be used both sparingly and wisely.
The tussling over which UK airport to expand is a distraction from whether or not Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission is actually asking the right questions.
What would show greater imagination and ambition would be for the commission to recognise that, in the 21st century, businesses will eventually decouple travel from growth.
Travel can be a vital component for most businesses, but it’s not an end in itself. Productivity and output are the true measures of success, so these need to be central to decisions – not only for the Davies Commission but also for decision-makers inside organisations choosing when and how to travel.
The Chancellor’s announcement in the recent Budget to reduce long-haul Air Passenger Duty (APD) is based on the assumption that businesses both want, and need, to fly. Those who regularly travel on business know that the excitement of jet-setting can soon wear off and actually interfere with, rather than aid, productivity.
The One in Five Challenge is a scheme, led by WWF and taken over by Global Action Plan (GAP) in January, to encourage companies to commit to cutting 20% of their business flights within five years. Evidence from businesses taking part in this scheme demonstrates that business growth and increased travel do not go hand-in-hand. Reducing the number of flights taken by employees can benefit businesses looking to limit their environmental impact, cut costs, increase productivity and help their bottom line.
Over the last four years of the One in Five programme, 13 participants have achieved their targets, including BT, Lloyds TSB and Vodafone UK. In the third year of the programme, each company involved had reduced their flights by an average of 38 per cent, leading to average yearly savings of £2 million and 3,000 tonnes of CO2.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, two of the successful One in Five Challengers are telecommunications companies. They understand how to maximise the use of state-of-the-art technology to replace travel where appropriate, making their businesses more efficient and productive.
BT was the first to complete the challenge. Using audio, video and web-conferencing as a key solution to reduce the need to travel, BT reported an increase in productivity and an improved work life balance for employees. Vodafone UK cut flights by 26 per cent in a single year by ensuring that employees can communicate with each other through video-conferencing, instant messaging and web collaboration software.
A key factor in reducing flights is changing organisational culture. For example, air travel is often considered prestigious – the more important you are the more the company will spend on your travel – but successful One in Five Challengers have turned this conventional ‘truth’ on its head, by instilling an understanding that the more valuable your time, the less you should spend on a plane or sitting in traffic.
GAP’s recent rail report, Changing Gear: Taking Business Travel into the 21st Century, ( Changing_Gear_Global_Action_Plan ) emphasises the importance of business understanding the full costs of travel choices. Compare a journey from London to Glasgow, including transfers and connections, in terms of productivity – end-to-end, the journey may take 30% longer by train rather than plane.
However, on the train, the worker can spend the majority of the journey with access to a phone signal and wifi, with approximately 90% productivity. The same journey by aeroplane requires the passenger to turn off all connectivity on devices during the flight, so the journey end-to-end is only 50% productive.
Accounting for productivity, the train may be more cost- and time-effective. [Especially for domestic trips, with good wifi].
We should welcome growing signs of a shift in business travel behaviour and encourage businesses to look at the most effective way to conduct business.
The Davies Commission should re-frame their focus and consider overall productivity, rather than assume that travel is necessary for growth.
In our new report, Changing Gear: taking business travel into the 21st century, we challenge the sustainability of business travel in the UK. We also offer 7 steps to reenvision the role of travel in your organisation.
The report highlights the opportunity offered by remote conferencing. It also showcases the importance of choosing the most productive way to travel. For example a trip from London to Scotland may be shorter by airplane, however staff are often more productive going by train.
By using our seven steps to sustainable travel, businesses can save money, reduce CO2 emissions and improve the well-being of their employees.
We have compiled the evidence from case studies with a global retailer, a major insurance company, an IT services consultancy and an international bank to help you reduce the negative impacts of business travel.
The Rail Partnership
The Rail Partnership is an alliance between Global Action Plan, thetrainline.com Business, East Coast Trains, Virgin Trains and ScotRail that launched in 2013. Together we have worked with companies to rethink when to travel, how to travel, and how to measure the impact of travel across an organisation.
Changing Gear builds on our first travel report Business in Motion, published in 2012.
Despite huge advancements in sustainability practices and communications technologies over the past 30 years, UK organisations have made little or no progress on the business travel agenda.
We still default to face-to-face meetings and reward ‘high fliers’ with air miles, company cars and fuel cards. The more important you are, the further we fly you. We drive to work every day because “that’s just what we do”, and while travel unquestionably has a necessary role to play in delivering business growth, the context has changed significantly, in a way that can no longer be ignored.
Today we are all aware that travel has a hugely damaging impact on our environment, air quality, congestion within our local communities, on employee stress and work-life balance, and an ever-increasing cost on the bottom line. We are even facing reporting and regulatory pressure, yet still progress is limited.
So we asked “why?”
Clearly, business travel continues to exist because it serves a purpose. In today’s global and complex organisations, it plays an essential role in relationship development, team cohesion and knowledge building. however, technology, context and expectations have transformed over the past three decades, while travel behaviours have remained stagnant. naturally there are times when meeting in person saves a thousand emails but there are also many instances when the eight hour flight simply wasn’t worth it, the face-to-face meeting would have been quicker and more productive online, and too much of our
working week is spent in the car, rather than doing our job. unless we investigate our travel behaviours and understand how they can best serve our 21st Century organisation, we cannot claim to be operating smartly or effectively.
Throughout our research we found attitudes towards business travel to be simplistic,
regarding it as either a good or bad activity.
Those in the ‘good’ camp will avoid the issue altogether, and those in the ‘bad’ favour banning travel for as long as is permissible to do so.
These approaches can work in the short term but ultimately result in little substantive change, and leave both business and employees feeling the tension of an unsolved problem. This is where we stepped in.
We started by re-framing the question.
Instead of “how can we stop business travel?” we ask “why do we travel, where does it add value, and how can we reduce its negative impact?” This opens up a whole new opportunity for organisations to innovate and think smarter. This paper outlines how to approach the question differently and how to implement your answer in an achievable, sustainable way that adds value to your business.
The majority of people interviewed perceived the quickest option as the most productive, UK flights as quicker than rail, and driving as a productive and safe mode of travel. Our work shows these assumptions to be false but without understanding these myths and identifying viable alternative options that are quicker, safer and more productive, initiatives are unlikely to work.
if 50% of travel could be cut by half through clients utilizing teleconferencing and video conferencing, not only would there be reduced travel time and financial expenditure, we could be more productive and have a better work life balance.
The more valuable your time, the less productively you travel. Senior employees are more likely to fly and drive in the UK instead of travelling by train or using video-conferencing.
Travel is a high risk, high impact, high cost activity that, through lack of centralised data and analysis, most companies know little about.
Young talent increasingly cites work-life balance and sustainability as major considerations for employer choice, yet we still reward ‘high fliers’ with company cars, personal car parking spaces and air miles.
Business travel impacts every employee in the organisation, yet many travel policies don’t have a named owner.
Business travel is managed and measured from a risk and cost perspective but we justify it by the value we think it creates.
Why do people travel:
The strong face to face culture to provide excellent service drove frequent business travel. Whilst 100% of those frequent travelers interviewed felt confident using the Video Conferencing facilities available, the diversity of the three businesses meant not all sites interfaced with each other.
The current high-end video conference offering was suite-based rather than desk-based, limited by oversubscription. in some areas travel was required to clients in remote locations, necessitating frequent car use.
Flights are chosen with regards to schedule and nearest airports – nothing else. Carbon footprint doesn’t come into the process at all.
. Fear Factor:
Listening to bookers and travelers from regional offices highlighted the ‘Fear factor’ of travelling to the london hQ via public transport. This resulted in behaviours such as taking a 40 mile taxi into the city, despite excellent wifi-enabled, quick and easy public transport links.
I wouldn’t know what to do when I got to London. I would just get a taxi so I don’t have to think about how to get there – I’ve never taken the underground before, I wouldn’t’ know what to do. Informed choices:
Fifty percent suggested they would like to consider carbon emissions when booking and a number did not feel confident they knew the current travel policy. A desire for more information from all interviewees highlights the mis-alignment of travel compared to the established ‘green’ culture elsewhere in the business.
To make more sustainable travel choices, I need to be provided with the information – what are the more sustainable options?
. Replacing travel with technology
The established use of video Conferencing internationally has begun to cascade to the regional offices. Celebrating best practice can help establish new social norms, for example 22% of the Video Conferencing within one regional office was direct to London, replacing 15 train journeys, helping drive productivity and reduce costs. Examples such as these are important to build confidence and empower employees in an organisation with a range of IT abilities.
. Who travels?
From conversations with the frequent travellers it became clear that as a consultancy company the demand from clients for visibility at their sites is crucial to the business, and therefore travel culture.
“We need to be with customers, that is what is important.” Valuing productivity:
Of those interviewed, two thirds mentioned the importance of personal productivity when choosing travel methods. however when explored, this meant arriving at their destination quickly to allow them to be more productive at their client site rather than during the journey or through the day end to end.
There was also a commonly voiced perception that the internet connection on trains was insufficient for the productivity required.
“Using the internet on trains is ‘unworkable’ and a ‘waste a time’. Travel by plane is more
comfortable and quicker.”
. Culture of video conferencing:
As an iT consultancy, advanced telecommunications, online meetings, desktop sharing, web and video conferencing are part of the organisation. There was 100% awareness of video and teleconferencing across those interviewed with the majority feeling confident with its use. Video conferencing equipment comes ‘as standard’ within all main organisational offices and an overarching ‘conference call culture’ exists within the organisation.
“If clients were to get into the 21st century i.e. teleconferencing then i could cut my travel in
half – it’s frustrating.”
The Aviation Environment Federation gives an interesting commentary on the Airports Commission’s latestcall for evidence, which considers possible means to promote more effective use of regional airports. AEF says that while the Commission maintains its firm support for a new runway to bolster the UK’s connectivity to emerging markets, the paper suggests it would not be opposed to some scaling back in airport capacity in the regions. The Commission’s vision appears to be of an increasingly centralised airports system focussed on London. The Commission appears to challenge claims from some regional airports that they significantly benefit the wider UK economy. It notes that regional airports predominantly – and increasingly – cater to tourist travellers, the Commission argues that “aviation connectivity… facilitates outbound tourism, as well as inbound, so the net impact is unclear.” If the Commission’s final recommendation is to be a significant scaling back in activity at regional airports in order to allow growth in London, it can expect to face major obstacles.
New Airports Commission paper questions future growth of regional airports
12.6.2014 (Aviation Environment Federation – AEF)
The Airports Commission’s latest call for evidence – published this week – considers possible means to promote more effective use of regional airports. The work comes in the context of the Government’s broad support for the growth of regional airports, as set out in the Aviation Policy Framework, alongside the Commission’s recommendations for South East expansion.
Both domestic travel and the route networks served by regional airports have been waning, the paper notes, and many regional airports have failed to deliver anything like the levels of growth they formerly anticipated.
But while the Commission maintains its firm support for a new South East runway to bolster the UK’s connectivity to emerging markets, it would not, this new paper suggests, be opposed to some scaling back in capacity elsewhere.
A shift towards a more centralised airports system?
The Commission’s vision appears to be of an increasingly centralised airports system focussed on London. Despite reductions in domestic travel and route networks, people remain well served in terms of air connections around the UK, the paper argues, and:
“some consolidation of the market may be absorbed without causing significant diminution of connectivity to either individual regions or the UK as a whole. Indeed, it may be argued that consolidation of the UK’s regional airports into fewer, larger airports could enhance regional connectivity, as larger airports serving bigger catchment areas could attract a wider range of services, enhancing route networks and other services.”
Separate consideration is given to airports supporting London and the South East, with an overall conclusion that while some surface access improvements are desirable, particularly to Stansted, there is considerable scope for expansion along the lines set out by the airports themselves.
In terms of economic contribution, the Commission appears to challenge claims from some regional airports that they significantly benefit the wider UK economy.
Noting that regional airports predominantly – and increasingly – cater to tourist travellers, the Commission argues that “aviation connectivity… facilitates outbound tourism, as well as inbound, so the net impact is unclear.”
The paper takes a cautious approach to the possible benefit of Government subsidies, for example questioning whether the recently-announced Regional Air Connectivity Fund (with the first route being awarded recently between Dundee and Stansted) will be able to provide sufficient financial contribution to the setting up of new air routes to affect their viability.
And despite lobbying from some airports for tax relief through differential application of Air Passenger Duty, the Commission does not consider this an effective measure.
Decline in regional airports may be structural and long term
While capacity constraints may have had some impact on the loss of domestic routes, the Commission argues, fundamentally it is lack of demand that has led to the loss of these services:
“Ultimately, the ‘squeezing out’ of domestic routes at capacity constrained airports is a product not just of airports’ charging policies, but of insufficient domestic demand to warrant the use of larger planes. There is nothing intrinsic to domestic services which require them to use smaller planes.”
Therefore, the Commission argues, there is a need to identify“what factors affect the underlying demand for domestic air services, and how these may have shifted in recent years.”
Since reduced demand both preceded the recession and has not picked up after it to the extent that other parts of the aviation market have, and since the drop off also pre-dated the APD increase, the explanation is unlikely to be clearly economic, argues the Commission.
In fact it may relate as much to competition from improved rail services including facilities such as wifi and access to phone networks, the development of long haul routes from regional airports (such that passengers have no need to hub through London), and the relative attractiveness of overseas hubs.
Regional airports in the context of a carbon cap
The Airports Commission made an early commitment to work within the constraints of the Climate Change Act, and the Committee on Climate Change (which advises on delivery of the Act) has made clear that aviation emissions can only be kept to levels compatible with the long term climate target if demand is constrained.
The Airports Commission’s interim report argued that demand in the South East will be strong enough to justify a new runway even if a carbon cap is applied, but while this has never been spelled out, a significant expansion of South East demand would be possible only at the expense of regional airports.
If the Commission’s final recommendation is to be a significant scaling back in activity at regional airports in order to allow growth in London, it can expect to face major obstacles.
Many regional airports have significant room to grow, and Master Plans that set out ambitious expansion plans. Allowing for some drop off in demand from historic highs may be one thing, but as forthcoming analysis by AEF will show, the growth plans of many regional airports would in fact need to be actively – and significantly – curtailed to allow for an increase in CO2 emissions from a new runway.
For the Government to impose retrospective restrictions on regional airport activity in order to allow SE airport expansion while remaining within carbon limits could have significant economic consequences for the affected airports.
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the principal UK non-profit making environmental association concerned with the environmental effects of aviation.
We promote a sustainable future for aviation which fully recognises, and takes account of, all its environmental and amenity effects, ranging from aircraft noise issues associated with small airstrips or helipads to the contribution of airline emissions to climate change.
AEF is a membership organisation and we provide advice and information to our members.
Gatwick airport’s publicity machine is saying the area’s road network would be left ‘better than or the same’ if a second runway was built at Gatwick. It is claiming its planned infrastructure improvements will make it ‘road and rail ready’ by 2021 for a new runway. And “with no additional cost to the taxpayer.” They want to “create a regional transport hub to help drive economic growth across the entire area.” Works on a new junction on the A24 are due to start now and could last 18 months, while roadworks have been ongoing on the A23 near Handcross since 2011. Gatwick’s spokesman, Hugh Sumner, said of the local road network’s ability to cope with any additional strain: “Our commitment is we are going to leave the road systems working better than or the same in 2050.” But the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), which opposes a 2nd runway, questioned the contents of the transport document. Brendon Sewill, chair of GACC, said: “The document published by [Gatwick Airport Limited] contains 10% inaccuracies, 20% inconsistencies, and 50% wishful thinking.” TfL appreciate the huge strain a new Gatwick runway will place on surface transport networks, which Gatwick is attempting to gloss over.
“Two runway Gatwick could provide regional transport
hub for area” – say airport bosses
The area’s road network would be left ‘better than or the same’ if a second runway was built at Gatwick according to airport bosses.
As part of its bid to be selected for expansion by the Airports Commission in 2015 the airport revealed its planned infrastructure improvements this week, which it says will make it ‘road and rail ready’ by 2021 for a new runway.
Hugh Sumner, Gatwick’s senior transport advisor who worked on theLondon 2012 Olympics as director of transport for the Olympic Delivery Authority, said they hoped to create a regional transport hub to help drive economic growth across the entire area.
A second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow are options shortlisted by the Davies Commission on airport capacity in the South East of England.
It is due to give a final recommendation to central Government after next year’s General Election.
Gatwick has previously said that a new runway could be delivered by 2025 if chosen.
Works on a new junction on the A24 south of Broadbridge Heath are due to start on Monday June 9 and could last 18 months, while roadworks have been ongoing on the A23 near Handcross since 2011.
Asked about concerns over the local road network’s ability to cope with any additional strain Mr Sumner said: “Our commitment is we are going to leave the road systems working better than or the same in 2050.
“If you have a better road system coming through, better junctions and better flows then a second runway is the obvious choice.”
He told the County Times they had done extensive traffic modelling to show the road network surrounding the airport had ‘a huge amount’ of capacity and resilience.
Meanwhile Gatwick said planned improvements could see a doubling of rail capacity with 10,000 extra seats to London every hour.
Through the new Govia Thameslink Rail Franchise, due to take over from Thameslink, Southern, and Great Northern franchises, extensive changes are planned to the Gatwick Express service by 2016.
Mr Sumner said they hoped to create an ‘integrated transport hub’ that would blend together road, rail, coach, and bus passengers to create a ‘superb Gatwick Gateway’.
He said they would ‘leave a different transport proposition for the future, driving a ribbon of economic growth north and south’.
“I firmly believe a second runway is the best thing for the region and the local community and the nation just as the Olympics was for London,” Mr Sumner added.
“I think the important message to them is we care as an enterprise. Gatwick cares. It’s the right thing for the community, we will stand by them and work with them.”
He continued: “Gatwick will be road and rail ready for a second runway by 2021 with no additional cost to the taxpayer. The ease at which these improvements can be delivered adds yet more weight to the obvious case for a new runway at Gatwick.
“Gatwick already has the highest proportion of passengers travelling by public transport and these improvements will help encourage even more. We want 60 per cent of our customers to use public transport, comparable with the best globally and better than any UK airport.”
But the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), which has opposed a second runway at Gatwick, questioned the contents of the transport document.
Brendon Sewill, chair of GACC, said: “The document published by GAL [Gatwick Airport Limited] today contains ten per cent inaccuracies, 20 per cent inconsistencies, and 50 per cent wishful thinking.
“GACC will be undertaking a comprehensive study of the impact of a new runway on road and rail congestion and will be publishing it later this summer.”
The group is urging town and parish councils in the areas that might be affected by a second runway to organise public meetings to help residents understand the airport’s current consultation.
The ‘Airspace Consultation’ was launched by Gatwick last week and presents several options for departure routes, which the airport says is part of a wider programme of changes needed to deliver the UK Future Airspace Strategy. These are legally required to come into effect in 2020.
But one of the options would see the continuation of a trial flight path which started sending aircraft over Warnham and surrounding villages in February, much to the anger of residents who say the tranquillity of countryside life has been shattered by near-constant aeroplane noise throughout the day.
Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) was set up in response and has organised a drop-in session for residents to view large-scale maps within the airspace consultation documents at Warnham’s Comrades Club on Thursday June 12 from 7pm.
It is also looking at the possibility of organising similar events in Rusper and Slinfold before the consultation closes in mid-August.
Sally Pavey, chair of CAGNE, described how the flow of planes overhead, from 6am to 10.50pm, was having a massive impact on residents’ mental health and wellbeing.
She said that any of the new consultation options would see planes flying over houses which had previously not been under a flight path where homeowners had paid a premium for their property not to live under a Noise Preferential Route (NPR).
She added: “We will battle on because at the end of the day we have rights to peace and tranquillity because we have lived there for 35/40 years.
“We should have rights not to have this forced upon us.”
Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of runway options – says TfL
Date added: June 10, 2014
The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria. Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” The Thames estuary proposal had not compared the surface access needs, like for like. She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association wants the Government to divert funds raised via Air Passenger Duty to help pilots to train. Currently pilot training is expensive and lengthy, so BALPA says it is only for the wealthy. They say it can cost £100,000 to train, and pilots have to take out loans or turn to their families for help. (As with many other career choices). In reality, as BALPA and the Telegraph conveniently forget, Air Passenger Duty exists on air travel because it pays no VAT and no fuel duty. The Treasury therefore charges APD to go some way to make up for the unfair tax advantages that air travel has, (for various anomalous and historic reasons). Experienced pilots are high earners. The government has never charged APD as an environmental tax, and it has never been willing to hypothecate it to the aviation industry, for its own purposes. Giving money from APD, which is needed for general government expenditure, would be akin to using tax from the sale of champagne to help fund the training of wine tasters. And where would the government make up the tax short-fall from?
BALPA says: “Use Air Passenger Duty to help pilots with £100,000 debt”
British Airline Pilots’ Association calls on Government to divert funds raised via Air Passenger Duty to ensure a career in the cockpit isn’t just for the wealthy
Taxes raised via the hated [hated by the Telegraph, which has campaigned against it for years, and misses no opportunity to whinge about it]Air Passenger Duty should be used to help aspiring pilots with the £100,000 cost of training and to ensure flying isn’t just a career for a wealthy few, a union has urged.
Pilots are racking up debts of £100,000 and are often forced to turn to their families, bank loans and credit cards to meet the cost of training, according to the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).
The union is pressing the Government to use a portion of funds raised via APD – a tax which is met by passengers through ticket prices and will raise £3.9bn for the Treasury in 2015/16 – to make sure that Britons who aren’t from wealthy backgrounds are not excluded from becoming pilots.
Balpa says other industries, such as construction and shipping, already operate similar schemes. In a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society on Wednesday, Balpa’s chairman, Captain Mark Searle, pointed to the maritime “tonnage tax” and the Construction Industry Training Board as potential blueprints.
“It is a myth that there is currently a shortage of pilots in the UK but it is certainly becoming harder for people without serious financial backing to take up a career in the cockpit,” he said.
“Paying to train a generation of pilots who have been priced-out of their dream is a smart way of using an unfair tax [APD is NOT an unfair tax. It is levied by the Treasury to ensure that aviation, though remaining under-taxed, at least pays some tax. It pays no VAT and it pays no fuel duty. APD is charged because of this. There is no reason why flights should be a tax-free sector. AW comment] on flying to provide some return to aviation. It works in construction and maritime and, with Government and industry support, we could help ensure that the UK has a system in place to train new pilots to as the industry and economy grows.”
A recent survey of cadet pilots showed that more than half were going cap in hand to their parents for financial support while a third had taken out bank loans, were relying on credit cards or re-mortgaging their homes to pursue their chosen career.
Balpa has found that one in six newly qualified pilots are trying to make do on £500 a month or less in their first jobs, as they have to juggle repayments on loans.
The harsh reality of pilot training is at odds with the stereotypical image of pilots’ glamorous, jet set lifestyles.
Air Passenger Duty is a general tax on air travel. It has never been intended as an environmental tax, but merely to make up for the under-taxation of the aviation sector.
The industry has been asking for years for the money raised by the tax to be given to them, to help them with making flying less environmentally harmful. The government has never agreed to hypothecate the tax – ie. not to apportion it to some particular use. The tax goes into general taxation, as do most other taxes.
There is no logic in giving APD money to pilots. Any more than giving taxes raised by sales of wine and spirits to those who want to set up vineyards, or train to be wine tasters.
New rates of APD after 1st April 2015 compared with during 2014:
1. APD was introduced in 1994 by Ken Clarke, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, not as an environmental tax but because he considered the aviation industry to be lightly taxed compared to other sectors, largely arising from its exemption from fuel duty and VAT.
2. It was initially set at £5.00 for short haul economy travel, which accounts for more than three quarters of all air travel. In 1997 Ken Clarke doubled APD to £10.00 for short haul economy flights.
3. Gordon Brown halved the short haul economy rate of APD in 2001, put it back up again to
£10.00 in 2007 and Alistair Darling raised it to £11.00 in 2009. George Osborne increased it to £12.00 in 2010. There was no increase in 2011 but it was raised to £13.00 in April 2012. Thus, for the vast majority of passengers APD has increased by just £3.00 (30%) over the past 8 years. (£10 in 2007. £13 in 2015
4. APD is payable only on departure from a UK airport and so the basic Band A rate of £13.00 is for a round trip to an overseas (anywhere in Europe) destination. APD is however payable on both legs of a domestic round trip within the UK.
5. APD raised £2.6 billion for public finances in 2011/12 and this is planned to increase to £3.9 billion by 2015/16. APD would, however, need to rise to four times its current level to offset the value of the industry’s exemption from fuel duty and VAT. If airlines paid the same level of fuel duty and VAT as road users, the cost to the aviation industry would be around £10.5 billion a year.
6. Not only do airlines pay no VAT on fuel, they are exempt from VAT on everything they buy
relating to the provision of air transport services. Mostly, VAT is not charged in the first place; aircraft and aviation fuel, for example, are zero rated. However, where VAT is charged, the airlines claim this back and in 2010/11, HMRC paid UK airlines a VAT rebate of £583 million (net).
7. In 2010/11, one of the latest years for which a detailed HMRC breakdown is available, 77% of passengers paid APD at the short haul economy rate (Band A).
8. Whilst it is true that “passengers can end up paying £194.00 tax on some flights”, as we are repeatedly told by the industry, this is the very top rate of APD and applies only to first class and business class passengers on long haul flights to countries whose capital city is more than 6,000 miles from London. Less than 0.4% of all air passengers fell into this category in 2010/11. From 2015 the top rate goes down to £142, as the top two bands for APD are amalgamated.
9. Regarding the alleged negative impacts on the UK economy of the recent hikes in APD, it is worth noting that overseas leisure trips by UK residents reduced from 60.1 million in 2008 to 49.2 million in 2011 – a fall of 10.9 million (21.5%) whilst the number of foreign tourists coming to the UK fell by less than 300,000 (1.6%) over the same period, from 23.8 million to 23.5 million. The effect of this was to reduce the UK’s tourism trade deficit by £6.8 billion and to boost spending in the domestic UK tourism industry by £5.1 billion over the same period (2011 vs 2008).
10. Finally, those in the aviation industry who are pressing the Government for APD to be reduced should explain how they would propose to make up the revenue shortfall to the Exchequer. Should we sack some more policemen, teachers or nurses? Should we cut pensions or welfare benefits?
Or should we raise VAT and/or extend its scope?
(the aviation industry has not questioned the accuracy of any of these figures).
Salary and conditions
Salaries vary according to the airline that you are employed with, the type of aircraft you are flying and your experience. The starting salary for a newly qualified first officer working for a small operation may be around £21,000. Starting salaries for those in larger companies are higher at around £22,000 – £24,000.
Salaries for more experienced pilots could range from £36,000 to £48,000 in a first officer role.
The starting salary for a captain with a medium-sized airline may range from £57,000 to £78,000, while those with the major operators could earn from £97,000 to more than £140,000.
A pilot’s salary is often incremental, rising with each year of service with the company.
Benefits usually include a pension scheme, various allowances and discounted travel.
This greatly depends on the airline and the type of aircraft flown. Salaries tend to increase with each year of service with a company, says BALPA so even if you are initially paid a low wage, the situation may well improve after several years of employment.
Salaries vary according to the airline a pilot is employed with, the type of aircraft being flow and experience gained. The starting salary for a newly qualified first officer working for a small operation may be around £22,000 (or US $35,000).
Starting salaries for those in larger companies are higher at around £24,000 pa to £28,000 pa (US$38,000 to US$45,000) .
Salaries for more experienced commercial pilots could range from £28,000 (UD$45,000) to £44,000 (US$70,000) in a first officer role. The starting salary for a captain with a medium-sized airline may range from £54,000 (US$87,000) to £75,000 (US$120,000), while those with the major operators could earn from £97,000 (US$156,000) to over £140,000 (US$225,000).
British Airways is one of the best airlines to fly for in terms of average salaries. Our calculations suggest that a long-haul pilot with lots of experience could well reach the £130,000 mark. Even some low cost airlines like Ryanair can pay their senior captains up to £100,000.
Flight Duty Pay is additional pay that can affect monthly take-home, although not all airlines around the world use this system. It varies from company to company but essentially Flight Duty Pay is an element of pay based on a pilot being at work, in addition to basic salary. Often this is taxed at a different rate to the main salary. Flight Duty Pay can be a flat rate per sector or an hourly rate, and can be based on duty time or flight time.
It’s worth remembering that a pilot’s salary is often incremental, rising with each year of service within the company. And benefits and rewards should be taken into account too. These usually include a pension scheme, various allowances, health cover and discounted travel.
James Colman joined Gatwick in April 2012 as their chief lobbyist, to promote their second runway bid. He is now leaving. His title was Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director. Previously he was at British Gas where he was Head of Communications. The airport website blurb says of him: “He has a wealth of corporate communications experience, including 14 years working with blue-chip companies (eg John Lewis Partnership and PepsiCo.) and organisations across the UK, Europe and globally, mainly in the FMCG, retail and energy sectors. The Telegraph’s City Diary says he is “credited with playing a “key role” in getting the Gatwick bid off the ground” …. and he “has packed his bags for an – as yet unnamed – new destination.” Mr Colman’s successor has not yet been found, but a Gatwick spokesman said the recruitment process is “under way”. In February 2013 Gatwick brought in Fishburn Hedges and the London Communications Agency (LCA) on an integrated PR and public affairs brief, as part of its second runway lobbying.
Mr Colman’s departure after just over two years as Gatwick’s corporate affairs and sustainability director leaves Gatwick’s expansion plans, currently on the Airports Commission’s shortlist of three, without a pilot at a rather critical point.
Mr Colman’s successor has not yet been found, admits a Gatwick spokesman, although the recruitment process is “under way”. “During [Colman’s] time, Gatwick’s campaign for a second runway has come a long way, and we are now widely seen as the only deliverable solution for the UK,” claims the source.
James Colman. Gatwick’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability.
James Colman to join Gatwick as Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director
22 February 2012 (Gatwick airport press release)
James Colman to take up post in April 2012
Gatwick Airport announced today that James Colman will be joining the Executive Management team as Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, taking up the post in April.
He will lead a team of 22 people spanning media and PR, Public Affairs, Internal Communications, Airport Communications and Corporate Responsibility.
2012 will be a critical year for the Government’s new aviation policy and James will be responsible for positioning Gatwick in the critical debates about the future of UK aviation, as well as continuing to promote Gatwick as London’s airport of choice, emphasising quality of customer service compared with its competitors.
James brings with him a corporate communications background, including 14 years working with blue-chip companies and organisations across the UK, Europe and globally, mainly in the FMCG, retail and energy sectors.
James is currently with British Gas where he is Head of Communications and an Executive Team member for the £3 billion B2B side of the energy company. He was previously with communications consultancy Luther Pendragon working with companies such as John Lewis Partnership and PepsiCo.
Prior to that, for ten years he worked for Sancroft, a leading Corporate Responsibility and Communications consultancy, working for a number of EU and US based multinational companies including Vodafone, Coca-Cola and Tesco.
On his appointment, James Colman said: “Gatwick Airport is setting a new benchmark for what passengers and airlines should expect from a leading airport, with some very exciting plans for the future. That is why I am delighted to be joining Gatwick, and leading its award-winning communications team at such a critical and exciting time.”
James Colman, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director
James joined Gatwick in April 2012 from British Gas where he was Head of Communications. He has a wealth of corporate communications experience, including 14 years working with blue-chip companies and organisations across the UK, Europe and globally, mainly in the FMCG, retail and energy sectors.
Previously, James was with communications consultancy Luther Pendragon working with companies such as John Lewis Partnership and PepsiCo. Prior to that for ten years he worked for Sancroft, a leading corporate responsibility and communications consultancy.
Gatwick brings in Fishburn Hedges and LCA to support second runway bid
February 05, 2013
Gatwick Airport has brought in Fishburn Hedges and the London Communications Agency (LCA) on an integrated PR and public affairs brief, as it looks to gain support for building a controversial second runway.
Both agencies will work directly with Gatwick’s comms team, with Fishburn Hedges providing strategic and public affairs support. LCA will work for the airport at a local and regional level as Gatwick engages key stakeholders in London and West Sussex.
Allowing a second runway at Gatwick is just one of several options for airport expansion in South East England, which has been a difficult issue for the Government.
After coming under pressure last year to reverse the Coalition’s commitment not to allow another runway at Heathrow, the Prime Minister set up an Independent Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to look into options for expansion and report its findings after the 2015 General Election.
Gatwick is currently developing detailed expansion plans that could double the airport’s annual capacity to around 70 million passengers and is to submit its case to the commission over the coming months.
The airport was sold by Heathrow owner BAA in 2009 to a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is the majority shareholder.
Rival options the commission is expected to decide on include expanding Heathrow or Stanstead and building a new airport in Thames Estuary.
Gatwick’s plans include evaluations of the environmental and economic impacts on the local area, which is likely to be fraught as campaigners have protested that the expansion will harm the environment and raise noise levels. It is legally committed not to build a second runway before 2019.
James Colman, corporate affairs and sustainability director at Gatwick Airport, said: ‘We believe a second runway at Gatwick could present the best long-term solution to the future capacity constraints in the South East.
‘We have the room to grow and our continued investment is proof that we’re putting passengers first. Fishburn Hedges and LCA are proving to be crucial partners for our team as we ensure we make our voice heard in this important debate.
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is producing a series of five briefings to raise awareness among policy makers of the areas of uncertainty in the Airports Commission’s work. The 1st briefing is called “Should the UK build a new runway?” and looks at whether the Airports Commission’s new runway recommendation was a foregone conclusion, highlights important uncertainties about the Commission’s claims on both economics and environmental impacts, gives an overview of the Commission’s work so far and outlines their next steps. It questions the claim there will be sufficient demand in the South East to justify one new runway by 2030 and possibly a second by 2050. AEF says passenger demand forecasts have been successively revised downwards since 2007 and all major political parties now reject the idea that demand should be met whatever the environmental cost. AEF also challenges forecasts of business travel growth, and how aviation can meet noise and carbon challenges.
AEF Policy brief: should the UK build a new runway?
2.6.2014 (Aviation Environment Federation – AEF)
The AEF is producing a series of briefings to raise awareness among policy makers of the areas of uncertainty in the Airports Commission’s work.
Our first briefing looks at whether the Airports Commission’s new runway recommendation was a foregone conclusion, highlights important uncertainties about the Commission’s claims on both economics and environmental impacts, gives an overview of the Commission’s work so far and outlines their next steps.
The rest of the briefing series – 4 more papers – will consider key questions that could remain unanswered by the Airports Commission and left for the next Government to decide, such as:
Are the economic benefits of a runway sufficient and robust enough to justify the social and environmental costs?
What is the benchmark for deciding whether or not the inevitable noise increases accompanying a new runway are acceptable?
What kind of policies (such as new taxes or constraints on regional airports) would be needed to ensure a new runway wouldn’t result in an overshoot of CO2 limits?
How important could the air pollution issue be in the decision on a new runway?
Our four additional briefings will be released over the next two months.
It came as no surprise that the Airports Commission recommended that a new runway should be built to meet future passenger demand (though the idea of an urgent
‘capacity crisis’ was laid to rest).
This should, the report recommended, be either at Heathrow – where two options
were shortlisted, a new North West runway and an option to extend the existing runway – or at Gatwick, where the shortlisted option is South of the current runway.
The option to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, was not specifically shortlisted. Yet it is to be explored in more detail
after an apparent last-minute decision not to rule it out, despite huge anticipated costs and opposition from the RSPB (whose membership is around 3 times that of all three main
political parties combined).
Their work in phase two
The Commission’s work this year involves an assessment of each of its shortlisted options and further consideration of whether a Thames Estuary options should be taken forward (with a decision expected in September). The Commission will then publicly consult on its shortlisted options in autumn.
Much of the Commission’s work this year would help with the efficient development and publication of an Airports National Policy Statement in the next Government’s term of
office. This would cement policy support for a new runway.
While economic and environmental impacts will be assessed in relation to each of the proposals, the Commission considers that a new runway is justified irrespective of these.
Key claims in the interim report
There will be sufficient demand in the South East to justify one new runway by 2030 and possibly a second by 2050.
But passenger demand forecasts have been successively revised downwards since 2007 and all major political parties now reject the idea that demand should be met whatever the environmental cost.
A shift eastwards in global economic power is making connections to emerging economies increasingly important, requiring better connections whether hub or point-to-point.
But business flights make up a small proportion of passengers and unnecessary flights are being replaced with video-conferencing. The assumption that the UK will suffer if business travellers interchange elsewhere is open to challenge.
Airport expansions should take account of noise and climate concerns.
But the Commission has not shown how emission levels can be kept to a level compatible with the Climate Change Act, or how expansion could be compatible with health-based noise limits.
AEF’s upcoming 4 briefings
We are producing four other briefings which look at the key
issues which the Airports Commission is considering and
highlight the challenges the next Government will still need
– Our noise briefing will review the Commission’s
proposals to deal with the ‘noise problem’, and explain
why they would come into play too late to deal with the
current noise problem. We will try to answer the key
question: can a new runway be operated within
acceptable noise limits?
– Our climate briefing will demonstrate the lack of policy
recommendations for keeping aviation emissions to a
level consistent with the Climate Change Act, and show
why building a new runway would stop the growth of
regional airports in their tracks, despite spare capacity
and permissions to expand.
– Our air pollution briefing will look at how the issue could
prove to be a show stopper at Heathrow and what a new
runway could mean for local air quality at Gatwick.
– Finally, our economics briefing will question whether
the expected economic return from a new runway is
sufficient and reliable enough to justify the risks to
people and the environment.
We are a policy-focussed NGO supported by individuals and community groups concerned with the environmental impacts of aviation. We work at national, EU and international levels (including participating in UN aviation talks) to secure effective regulation of the environmental impacts of aviation. We were one of only two NGOs to give oral evidence to the Commission on environmental issues.
The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria. Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” The Thames estuary proposal had not compared the surface access needs, like for like. She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn. . Tweet
These are the speaker presentations from the conference
One of the slides from Michelle Dix’s presentation:
Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of airport runway options.
Antony Oliver (Infrastructure Intelligence) 4 June 2014 Surface access costs for each of the airport development options being scrutinised by Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission (see below) must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria, Transport for London planning director Michele Dix warned this week. Presenting the findings of TfL’s on-going assessment work to inform the Airport Commission as it works towards recommending a preferred airport expansion option for the UK, Dix told delegates to the RunwaysUK Surface Access debate that it was vital that estimates by promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “We cannot assume that the schemes that are already committed to will absorb that growth. We have tried to assess what is required for each of the options on the table and find what is the minimal level and the optimal level. “Michele Dix, Transport for London “We want to make sure that when the Davies Commission makes its decisions we are assessing the options on a similar basis,” she said. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” Dix highlighted her concern that the original TfL supported inner estuary option, now being reviewed by the Davies Commission for possible inclusion on the shortlist, had suffered from not comparing the surface access needs like for like. She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.4bn. Similarly she said that the minimum “low” level required would be some £2.1bn at Heathrow, £0.4bn at Gatwick and £2.5bn for an estuary scheme. “TfL put forward the optimal provision for Thames Estuary. But that was being compared with the low provision that was put forward by others in their submissions. We are saying that you have to compare like with like.” Dix highlighted the additional public transport and road traffic burden that any new airport expansion would place on the capital’s transport networks adding that one of the critical factors was that the nature of flight times meant that airports tended to place more passengers load on the public transport at peak hours. “We cannot assume that the schemes that are already committed to will absorb that growth,” she said. “We have tried to assess what is required for each of the options on the table and find what is the minimal level and the optimal level. And then we could compare these with the figures included in each of the proposal schemers and with the objectives set by the Davies commission.” “We are literally playing catch up with our growth,” said Dix pointing out that even without additional airport capacity London was predicted to have to cope with an additional 5M trips on the rail network by 2030 and 10M trips by 2050. “It is a similar story on the road network – and with the growth forecast these things will only get worse.” Airport development “no game changer” in rail development strategy: Network Rail Network Rail strategy and planning director Paul Harwood agreed that meeting the challenge of growth on transport networks was critical but pointed out that the unprecedented growth witnessed on the railways meant that. Regardless of the addition of new airport capacity, “continued significant investment in the railways” was vital. “The three or four new airport proposals are not really game changers,” Paul Harwood, Network Rail “The three or four new airport proposals are not really game changers,” he said referring to their overall impact of growth estimates. “In the morning peak it represents a relative small percentage of usage on the infrastructure. But they do provide a significant amount of demand outside the peak.” “Looking at the surface access requirements of the three shortlisted options you need quite a lot of that investment anyway. It is all going in the same direction,” he said “However, without wishing to be too negative, the hub proposal is a different strategic direction – there is no doubt about it.” We haven’t really worked on the Estuary option. “That probably is a game changer but it is against the direction of travel – there is a busy network that you would have to integrate with so would require a big investment. The upside is that you would then see a high mode shift.” Airport expansion contenders set out their surface access options Speaking at this week’s RunwaysUK Surface Access debate the three Davies Commission shortlisted schemes plus the Inner Thames Estuary scheme set out and discussed their challenges and opportunities over surface access to the airport.
“We have to look at the whole of the South East capacity not just central London,” said Foster and Partners’ Huw Thomas. “How we grow to the east is our key task. Make no mistake we will have to because that is where people will live.” Thames Hub says: “Surface access is critical and a key component of the airport evolution and the way our economy will develop” Thomas set out a range of surface assess options to a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain including the use of the existing classic railway, new high speed trains and local services. Together these would provide some 17 trains an hour and 11,800 passenger journeys in each direction plus new road, park and ride capacity and freight transport solutions. “Surface access is critical and a key component of the airport evolution and the way our economy will develop,” he said. “If we are thinking 30 to 50 years from now for future generations it is about the way London is going to grow and where future generations will live and where they will want connectivity. It is not about cramming a quart into a pint pot any more but about taking the right decisions about what we do with road and rail and housing and where we put that critical infrastructure.”
Head of Airport development Julia Gregory set out Gatwick’s vision to boost public transport access to the airport from the current 45% of passengers to 60% by the time a second runway was operational in 2021, putting some 15M people within 1 hour of the airport with a tripling of rail capacity. Gatwick says: “Gatwick also serves the regional economy. We have shown that there is room for everyone [commuters and air passengers] to use the railway.” The new “Gatwick Obviously” surface access strategy she said would see a new Gatwick Express service on line by 2016 and the upgraded Thameslink service reach the airport by 2018 which, with trains to London every 2.5 minutes and a connection to 175 railway stations, would provide an unrivalled public transport solution. “We are delivering capacity for the user but also for the UK economy,” she said. “Gatwick also serves the regional economy. We have shown that there is room for everyone [commuters and air passengers] to use the railway.” In addition to the improvement to the hard shoulder running on the M25 and M23, Gatwick has also committed to 100% fund a doubling of capacity at junction 9 of the M23, improving the local road network and provide 9km of new walking and cycle routes or the local population. “We are not looking to introduce a congestion charge as a result of the scheme and we are not looking for public subsidy either,” said Gregory. “Our infrastructure required is planned, committed and funded. Gatwick is the best connected, best for the economy and best for the passenger.”
Simon Earles, Heathrow Airport’s head of surface access strategy said the airport had listened and engaged with its stakeholders so as to develop a surface access strategy that underpinned plans to expand the UK’s premier hub airport. Heathrow says: “Heathrow is a truly integrated transport hub. We are planning a step change in public transport use and no new airport related traffic.” “Heathrow is critical for trades – for imports and exports. It is the premier port by value in the UK,” said Earles, highlighting that Heathrow is about more than just passenger services. “Our plans include the doubling of capacity for freight.” But passengers are of course a key part of the Heathrow mix and building on the current London Underground lines and Heathrow Express service, Earles said the airports plans included increasing from the current 18 trains an hour into the airport to 40 by 2040. “Rail is critically important to our future,” he said highlighting the “committed and credible plan” to triple the numbers of seats and double the number of trains into the airport. “Heathrow is a truly integrated transport hub. We are planning a step change in public transport use and no new airport related traffic.” Critically the Heathrow plans also include major changes to the M25 access into airport with new exit strategies and a new access route to the central terminal area via the south to relieve pressure on the northern entrance. “A congestion charge is planned to control traffic flows around the Heathrow area – but only if required,” he added.
Airports are only as good as their ground transport links, Heathrow Hub promoter Mark Bostock reminded the Runways UK delegates this week as he set out plans for a step change in access to the UK main hub airport using an innovative northern hub interchange. Heathrow Hub says: “Crucially we are proposing to close junction 14 to increase the separation between the airport junctions and helps safeguard land for future runway extensions.” “Heathrow is in the right place,” he said reiterating the folly of attempting to create a new hub elsewhere. “The surface access solution needs a very integrated approach. The key is bringing the front door of the airport closer to the road and rail network.” The new rail hub would be sited between Paddington and Reading and connect passengers to the airport in five minutes using automated people movers at 90 second intervals thus avoiding the need to create any expensive new direct train connections to the airport from the west to achieve 60% of passengers using public transport. In addition the scheme would see access from the M25 revamped by removing junction 14 and providing greater capacity exits at other junctions. “The critical problem is not capacity but weaving traffic on the M25,” he explained. “Our solution is to use more dispersed access to the airport and it is a solution that I think has been welcomed by the Highways Agency. Crucially we are proposing to close junction 14 to increase the separation between the airport junctions and helps safeguard land for future runway extensions.” http://www.infrastructure-intelligence.com/article/jun-2014/level-playing-field-transport-costs-vital-proper-assessment-airport-runway-options . . Slide from Michele Dix’s presentation. Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning, Transport for London
Heathrow and Gatwick set out their rival claims at RunwaysUK conference on airport surface access
June 3, 2014
The organisation, RunwaysUK, which describes itself as a neutral platform for debate on the rival runway schemes, held an interesting and productive half day conference on surface access to airports. There were accounts by Heathrow, Gatwick, Heathrow Hub and the Thames estuary scheme proposers of their plans for road and rail access, as well as contributions by TfL, Network Rail and others with an interest. It is recognised that adding a runway in the south east would come with immense transport strains on existing transport infrastructure. In order to meet requirements on the amount of passengers (and staff) using the airport to be by public transport, the airports know they cannot depend on road access alone. The pressure of extra passengers on networks that are already stretched, especially at peak times, is recognised – though Gatwick and Heathrow do their best to say their passengers will add little, and merely make rail services more profitable out of peak hours. Vexed issues remain of how much the taxpayer pays for transport services the airports benefit from, and what the cost of added congestion to road and rail services – from millions of extra air passengers being added – would cost the economy.
A petition calling on British Airways to stop selling trips to see captive whales and dolphins at SeaWorld has attracted more than 94,500 signatures. It is calling on BA to end their links with attractions that include captive marine mammals. The increasing number of signatures on the petition comes as 2 new beluga whales are delivered to SeaWorld San Diego. The animals’ natural habitat is in arctic and sub-arctic waters, swimming huge distances each year. A lifetime in a concrete tank awaits them at SeaWorld, and “training.” Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a charity that works to protect cetaceans, is backing the petition as part of a wider campaign to stop tour operators, including BA, Virgin Holidays and Thomas Cook, from offering trips to see captive whales and dolphins. BA responded to the petition on change.org, attempting to wash its hand of responsibility, by saying that it was up to consumers whether or not they opted to book trips to SeaWorld. BA is currently selling 3-day passes to SeaWorld Orlando. WDC said for BA to somehow claim that by selling these trips it is not part of the problem is bizarre.
The petition is calling on the airline, which sells holiday packages that include tickets to resorts such as SeaWorld, to end their links with attractions that include captive marine mammals.
The increasing number of signatures on the petition comes as two new beluga whales are delivered to SeaWorld San Diego. Atla and Klondike, a four-year-old female and an 11-year-old male, join others of the species already on display at the park. The park’s website says belugas are “one of our most sociable animals”.
Beluga whales average three to five metres in length and weigh up to 1,600kg. In the wild, where they are found in arctic and sub-arctic waters, they swim hundreds of miles up rivers in summer months to reach calving grounds.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a charity that works to protect cetaceans, is backing the petition as part of a wider campaign to stop tour operators, including British Airways, Virgin Holidays and Thomas Cook, from offering trips to see captive whales and dolphins.
British Airways responded to the petition on change.org by saying that it was up to consumers whether or not they opted to book trips to SeaWorld. A spokesperson said: “In common with many airlines and travel companies in the UK, we offer services intended to make the booking of holiday experiences more convenient for members of the public who wish to visit SeaWorld attractions.
We offer similar arrangements in regard to theme parks and other places of interest at many destinations on our global network. Whether members of the public choose to make use of these arrangements is entirely up to them.” It added that animal welfare at SeaWorld parks was a matter for the relevant US authorities but that it had no reason not to have confidence in the expertise of those bodies. On its website, British Airways is currently selling three-day passes to SeaWorld Orlando from £77 per person. It claims to offer customers the chance to “get up close to marine animals and ride exhilarating rides” and “interact with dolphins.” For the San Diego park, it promises the opportunity to see “playful dolphins, magnificent white beluga whales and friendly penguins.” Danny Grove, a spokesperson for WDC, said: “It is cruel and for BA to somehow claim that by selling these trips it is not part of the problem is bizarre. They are an active part of the whole process, and make money from it, not an innocent bystander. Virgin Holidays is listening to our requests and we feel BA can, and should do better.” Telegraph Travel reported earlier this year on Virgin’s response to the WDC campaign, in which the holiday company said it was beginning an “engagement process” to investigate the debate around captive cetaceans as it expects its industry partners to meet required welfare standards. Since then, Virgin has had discussions with WDC regarding the campaign. Danny added: “WDC launched its campaign in April asking [holiday companies] not to sell these trips and we were then pleased to be asked by Virgin to engage in recent face-to-face discussions about the issue. British Airway’s response however, is very disappointing.” This month, STA Travel, the student travel company, stopped selling trips to SeaWorld, citing low demand from customers. It also dropped elephant rides because of welfare concerns. A SeaWorld spokesperson said: “For SeaWorld there is no higher priority than the health and well-being of our animals and any claims to the contrary made by these extremists are simply wrong. As we have said many times, SeaWorld, not extreme animal rights groups, is a true animal welfare organisation with the highest standards of care, state-of-the-art animal habitats, and a commitment to animal welfare, education and conservation that spans five decades.” “SeaWorld Parks operate under U.S. Governmental animal welfare law, including the Animal Welfare Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and are fully accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums. We set the highest standards in the zoological community for the care and interpretation of marine mammals. ” The spokesperson added that anyone wishing to read about SeaWorld’s animal care can consult its website. A poll conducted earlier this year by responsibletravel.com, an online travel agent for responsible holidays, and the Born Free Foundation, found that 86 per cent of people would not wish to visit a marine park to see whales and dolphins as part of an overseas holiday.
10 JUNE 2014 (Whale and Dolphin Conservation blog)
WDC welcomed the invitation to participate in Virgin’s recent meeting held in Miami, Florida on June 3-4 of last week, the purpose of which was to provide high quality stakeholder input to a landmark debate on the issue of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.
Pro and anti-captivity representatives were present. Virgin’s destinations supply chains (e.g., ‘swim with dolphin’ programs and aquaria) were represented, as well as experts from welfare and conservation organizations actively engaged in the issue of captivity.
In late February, WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) launched its campaign asking tour operators (including Virgin Holidays) not to sell trips to places like SeaWorld.
A few days later, Sir Richard Branson made a simple announcement that Virgin Holidays will not partner with any organization that does not pledge to never again take whales and dolphins from the sea.
Shortly after that, Virgin announced that it was to begin an engagement process (starting with the meeting in Miami) to gather a broad spectrum of information and opinion regarding the debate on captive whales and dolphins and the role of tourism in the global protection of these magnificent, intelligent and socially complex creatures.
This process is a positive move towards WDC’s aim of eventually ending tourism that supports the confinement and cruel trade in whales and dolphins.
Fundamental to real, incremental and positive change towards a brighter future for whales and dolphins in captivity is Sir Richard’s pledge. Although the pledge seems fairly straightforward and simple, it is anything but.
The difficult part is defining what exactly this pledge means, and how it should be implemented. This is where the hard work began, and continues, in our dialogue with Virgin Holidays.
Explicitly stated as part of this pledge is Sir Richard’s belief that no dolphins or whales should ever again be killed by humans, or taken from the ocean for marine theme parks.
On its own, the pledge could be applied to all of the pressing issues confronting whales and dolphins in the wild, and the threats posed to their health and welfare. However, as the pledge’s focus is on captivity and the role of tourism in influencing the global protection of the oceans, we hope that we can make clear for Virgin the critical connections between tourism and the international capture and trade in dolphins for marine parks, and the demand created by all captive facilities – whether supplied by whales and dolphins bred in captivity or those taken from the wild.
This engagement process is historic. It is the first time that whale and dolphin welfare experts, the tourism industry and the aquarium industry, including SeaWorld, have literally come to the same table to discuss these important issues.
We may not all agree, but it is a place to start in finding some common ground towards real, progressive change for whales and dolphins in the wild and in captivity. Change can take many forms, and we are committed to this process of addressing captivity, step by step. It is going to be a long process – incremental steps will be required, but we are in it for the long term and proud to be involved from the start.
I am confident that we can all do better for whales and dolphins in captivity, not least with the leadership of Richard Branson and the Virgin brand.
“In common with many airlines and travel companies in the UK, we offer services intended to make the booking of holiday experiences more convenient for members of the public who wish to visit SeaWorld attractions.
We offer similar arrangements in regard to theme parks and other places of interest at many destinations on our global network. Whether members of the public choose to make use of these arrangements is entirely up to them.
We note the concerns you have raised in relations to animal welfare. We feel sure you will be aware that regulation of animal welfare at SeaWorld is a matter for the relevant federal and state authorities in the US.
We have no reason not to have confidence in the expertise of these authorities in what is a highly specialised field far removed from the world of aviation.”
Sign the pledge if you feel BA should stop promoting tourism that makes them profit, from the suffering and poor treatment of sea mammals.
The billionaire founder of the Virgin group comes under attack in a new campaign by Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a global charity that works on the conservation and protection of cetaceans.
Sir Richard’s company sells packages to SeaWorld, where whales and dolphins perform in tanks for tourists.
WDC has made a video showing Sir Richard’s head superimposed onto a naked body, with subtitles that suggest: “don’t make a whale pay so you can make some profit on your Virgin holiday” and “selling package trips to SeaWorld sucks/ do you really need the cruelty bucks”.
The WDC campaign, which is also targeting operators such as Thomas Cook, Cosmos, Thomson and First Choice, is calling for holidaymakers to sign a petition asking Virgin Holidays and the other tour operators to stop selling trips to theme parks like SeaWorld.
The campaign appears to have achieved some success: Virgin Holidays told Telegraph Travel today that it has begun an “engagement process” to investigate the debate around captive cetaceans as it expects its industry partners to meet required welfare standards. As part of this six-month process, Sir Richard plans to visit some theme parks and other tourist facilities in person.
Sir Richard said: “I’ve instructed Virgin Holidays not to deal with any organisations that do not pledge that they will never again take cetaceans from the sea. We hope other holiday companies will follow suit. Since – I believe – that animals bred in captivity cannot safely be released, we will examine what is best to do with this issue and others in the engagement process.” SeaWorld is not the only attraction offering shows starring the mammals – others include Discovery Cove in the US and Atlantis in Dubai – but it is the most high profile in the UK. The WDC campaign literature argues that guidance from Abta, the UK travel association of which Virgin and others are members, recommends that “animal handling and contact by the public should be discouraged” and that “animals should be able to escape other individuals, public view and interaction at all times”. On its website, WDC asks why the trips are being offered to the public and why the likes of Virgin Holidays are “still profiting from the cruel captivity industry.” The charity said it is singling out Branson because of his ongoing involvement in marine conservation, and argues that this is at odds with selling holidays that include trips to SeaWorld. Virgin said that its engagement process will gather a broad spectrum of opinion from the scientific community, commercial partners, other travel companies, the general public, conservation organisations and the travel industry, to improve the company’s knowledge of issues surrounding animal welfare in the travel industry. WDC claims that five SeaWorld orcas were taken from the wild and that “most of the orcas held by SeaWorld die in their teens.” It also says that an orca at SeaWorld would have to circle its tank 1,400 times to match the distance it would naturally travel in the wild each day. In an entry posted yesterday on his blog, Sir Richard wrote: “I believe no dolphins or whales should EVER again be killed by humans, or TAKEN from the ocean for marine theme parks. However, as far as I know, animals that have been bred in captivity cannot safely be released. So if the ones who are currently in captivity have to be kept there it is critically important that they are treated properly and given the necessary environment to thrive. As long as this criteria is met I believe access to these magnificent creatures in the proper humane conditions – alongside ocean research and exploration – can help to educate our children and improve our understanding.” Last year, a documentary film called Blackfish, a Native American name for killer whales, brought international attention to the plight of orcas kept in captivity, telling the story of Tilikum, a killer whale held by SeaWorld. It also showed the dangers associated with keeping the creatures in tanks, after Tilikum was involved in the killing of three people. Also in 2013, the group PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, bought shares in SeaWorld so that it could attend shareholder meetings, and called for the theme park group to release all its captive cetaceans into the wild. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10664715/Richard-Branson-criticised-for-selling-SeaWorld-trips.html . .
“…it is still difficult to avoid the conclusion of most experts and many trainers: orcas are profoundly ill-suited to life in a tank. “Of all the places to keep killer whales in captivity,” says Jett, “SeaWorld is the best – that’s a pretty sad statement. Some animals can adapt to life in a captive environment, but killer whales are clearly not one of them. We can’t come close to duplicating their life in the wild.”
“For all the outrage over Blackfish, it is business as usual at SeaWorld. After some aggressive ticket discounting, its profits in the third quarter of 2013 soared to $120m. “
VisitEngland is to tackle the widening gap between tourism to London and the rest of England. Since 2008 the number of inbound trips to London has increased by 14%, while the number of trips to other areas of England is still 4% lower than it was before the recession. A conference entitled: “Mind the Gap: Addressing the Tourism Divide” is discussing whether there is enough investment in infrastructure outside London. The regions want a larger proportion of tourism income. The Deputy chair of the Regional Growth Fund Independent Advisory Panel said: “We now need to … boost tourism outside London. This means promoting the use of regional airports and making in-bound tourists more aware of all the visitor attractions across the country with ready-made packages they can take up before they leave home.” VisitScotland said securing new direct flight routes has been invaluable to their increase in tourism. A report for Visit Britain in late 2013 showed tourism spending in London was 47% by international tourists (53% domestic) but 21% international (79% domestic) for the rest of England. No reason for further emphasising the London/regions divide by yet another south east runway.
Tourism gap between London and the regions widens
10.6.2014 (Travel Mole)
VisitEngland is to tackle the widening gap between tourism to London and the rest of England.
Since 2008 the number of inbound trips to London has increased by 14%, while the number of trips to other areas of England is still 4% lower than it was before the recession.
Deputy chair of the Regional Growth Fund Independent Advisory Panel, Lord Shipley said: “We now need to embrace the opportunity this presents to boost tourism outside London.
“This means promoting the use of regional airports and making in-bound tourists more aware of all the visitor attractions across the country with ready-made packages they can take up before they leave home.”
Meanwhile Visit Britain statistics released yesterday showed a 20% rise in international spend in Scotland with it outperforming London and the UK as a whole.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said: “With the success of Brave and the Year of Natural Scotland, the country benefited from an unprecedented level of international marketing which attracted more visitors from overseas and a 20% spike in spend.
“Securing new direct flight routes has also been invaluable, making it easier for visitors to reach Scotland and connect with our stunning urban and rural attractions.”
Speaking at the RunwaysUK Surface Access debate on 2nd June, Oliver Mulvey of the Airports Commission Secretariat confirmed that final go-ahead by the government for any new runway would take at least a year following publication of the Commission’s final report after the General Election in 2015. Planning consent for a new runway is unlikely to come before March 2020 (with an election in May 2020) despite government efforts to streamline the controversial planning process using the Airports Commission. It would take the new government at least a year to produce the necessary National Policy Statement on runways. It might take 2 years to agree the NPS. After that, Mr Mulvey confirmed there are 2 possible routes: “The first is a planning application under the 2008 Planning Act. The other is the Hybrid Bill route, as for HS2. Both have their own risk and costs associated with them. ….All our dates show the middle of the next decade  as the earliest a new runway could open.” The planning process for a NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) – which a runway would be – is itself a long process.
New UK runway consent unlikely before March 2020, RunwaysUK debate told
by Antony Oliver
4 June 2014 (Infrastructure Intelligence)
Planning consent for new airport runway capacity in the UK is unlikely to come before March 2020 despite government efforts to streamline the controversial planning process using Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission
Speaking at the RunwaysUK Surface Access debate this week, Oliver Mulvey of the Airports Commission Secretariat confirmed that final go-ahead for any new airport expansion would take at least a year following publication of the commission’s final report after the General Election in 2015.
“If the government was to decide in principal very quickly that it wanted to act on our recommendation we think that it would take about a year from that decision in principal to produce a national policy statement,” explained Mulvey.
“If the government was to decide in principal very quickly that it wanted to act on our recommendation we think that it would take about a year from that decision in principal to produce a national policy statement,” Oliver Mulvey, Airports Commission
“Following that there are two potential pathways down which to move,” he added. “The first is a planning application under the 2008 Planning Act the other is the Hybrid Bill route. Both have their own risk and costs associated with them. Which is the most appropriate would depend on which recommendation was chosen. All our dates show the middle of the next decade as the earliest a new runway could open.”
The knock on effect, added Pinsent Mason’s partner Robbie Owen, was no planning consent was likely until 2020 at the earliest, pointing out that the on-going Commission work to assess schemes was still very much only a preplanning process.
“If government agrees with the outcome then we will move to the proper planning process,” he said. “And if a national policy statement process was kicked off in, say, Spring or Summer 2016 you might just about get consent for a new runway by March 2020 before the election in May.”
Former transport minister Steve Norris also warned that delaying a decison until after the election was a mistake saying that even if government did decide to act on the advice of the Commission – not due until after the 2015 election – it was unlikely that MPs would be able to approve this policy before the middle of the next Parliamentary term.
“We will see an answer [from government] at the earliest mid-2017,” said Norris.
“The report will not appear until after the election and will then have to be considered by the department,” he added. “It won’t be covered by the 2008 Act and Infrastructure Act requirements so ministers will be able to take as long as the want to make a decision which I suspect means that the earliest it will emerge is the first quarter of the following year. Therefore a decision will not follow at least before the first half of the next parliament.”
“It’s reasonable to ask government to makes its mind up as it then allows a national policy statement to actually be approved by parliament,” said Norris, agreeing that even after reaching a decision, forming that national policy statement could take perhaps as long as two years
“If a national policy statement process was kicked off in, say, Spring or Summer 2016 you might just about get consent for a new runway by March 2020 before the election in May.” Robbie Owen, Pinsent Masons
However, Norris was less certain about whether the Davies Commission process would actually be able to deliver a decision.
“If Davies gives government the answer that it is looking for it will welcome it and might even do something about it,” he said. “If it give the answer that it is not really looking for then it will welcome it but the reality is that government will shelve this if it believes that the result is politically undeliverable.”
Norris described the estuary solution is “a brilliant answer to the wrong question” and said that he feared that expansion at Heathrow could be simply politically undeliverable.
“For any government to agree to further development would expose itself to being indifferent to the environmental problems and the issues around more overflying – it would be a brave government that did it,” he said. “If there is a virtue in the Gatwick proposal it is that it just has more actuals in it and fewer imponderables.”
Mulvey of the Airport Commission set out for delegates the process that was now underway to assess the three shortlisted schemes and determine whether or not an Inner Estuary option should be taken forward for further consideration.
“This is not just about London and the South East. We are trying to find a long term airport strategy that works for the whole of the UK,” he said. “We recognise the importance of London and South East airports and their developed routes network provide support the wider UK transport connectivity. We will be looking for surface access strategies that provide good surface access to London and across the South East but also that have a wider regional dimension.”
My understanding of the likely process for a new runway is that following the Commission submitting their final report in the Summer of 2015, the process could be as follows:
1. Firstly, it depends on the views of the Government and whether they are willing to use the Commission’s report or whether they want to do their own review on the Commission’s findings first (so that could take varying amounts of time)
2. If they are happy with the report, much of the Commission’s work could easily be converted by the Secretary of State for Transport into a National Policy Statement (NPS) on airports with a sustainability appraisal, including a recommendation of where a runway could go (plus reasonable alternatives). And I don’t think people are sure how much consultation would be required bearing in mind the amount of consultation the Airports Commission will have done. So I’m not sure how long this period will take – it could be passed fairly quickly.
3. The NPS is then subject to parliamentary approval. Once the NPS is finalised and approved it will be the major consideration for any airport NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project).
4. So then the airport will submit its planning application officially – and that will probably be more or less ready to go following all of the work done by the Airports Commission (so not clear how much of the pre-application stage will be necessary)
5. This will then go through the NSIP process (which could take about a year):
a). Pre-application – at this point the developer is required to consult on their plans before submitting an application. I think this stage will already have been done during the Airports Commission’s process
b). Examination – this is the formal consultation when you can submit your representations and speak at any hearings (lasts up to 6 months)
c). Decision – Planning Inspectorate has 3 months to write a report for Secretary of State who has a further 3 months to make the decision to give development consent order
d). Following that it is possible to judicial review the Secretary of State’s decision, but as far as I am aware, any challenge at that point cannot be based on the contents of NPS.
The alternative approach to the NPS would be a Hybrid Bill (part private, part government) as used in HS2, Cross Rail etc. And I can see how it can be applied for airports: “The changes to the law proposed by a Hybrid Bill would affect the general public but would also have a significant impact for specific individuals or groups.”