Improving its passenger service would undercut Heathrow’s case for a 3rd runway

 In much the same way as landowners, especially in the Green Belt, tend to try to let their land get into such bad condition that planners allow planning permission on it, so it is with Heathrow. A comment piece by Philip Stephens, an associate editor of the Financial Times, reflects how Heathrow has a vested interest in managing to make the service they provide inadequate. The more passengers are inconvenienced – and told it is because the airport is so full – the stronger Heathrow hopes its case becomes to be allowed to expand. Philip says: “Absolute genius…….[Heathrow wants passengers to believe that] … If the government gave the go-ahead for expansion – specifically a 3rd runway – all would be well. Try that again: the only way to improve the dismal lot of passengers is guarantee Heathrow still higher profits. As I said, brilliant!” And “Heathrow dominates London’s air traffic and the two companies [Heathrow and BA] have a quasi-monopoly. They are extracting large rents. This is how monopolists behave, the more so when overseen by a weak regulator. Most importantly, a half-decent level of passenger service would be counter-productive because it would undercut the case for that 3rd runway.”


“How Heathrow makes money out of misery”

[Extracts from a longer article]

Genius. Absolute genius. Stranded again at London’s Heathrow airport, I suddenly grasped the power of public relations. Heathrow may be one of the world’s worst as well as busiest airports, but its operator Heathrow Airport Holdings and lead airline British Airways have unearthed the philosopher’s stone. They have turned their manifest failings into a potentially golden asset.


It was the half-apology offered by a hapless employee that revealed the vaulting bravado of airport operator and airline. Yes, the baggage system was in meltdown and, yes, flight delays were nowadays the norm. The two companies, though, were blameless. The problem was that Heathrow was overcrowded. If the government gave the go-ahead for expansion – specifically a third runway – all would be well. Try that again: the only way to improve the dismal lot of passengers is guarantee Heathrow still higher profits. As I said, brilliant!


The economic case for a so-called mega-hub is undermined by HAH’s own figures and by advances in aviation technology. Heathrow admits that less than a third of its customers are the business travellers said to be vital to the regional economy. The rest are tourists, many of whom could quite happily travel from one of London’s three other airports. Transfer passengers account for less than 40 per cent of Heathrow’s traffic. They make money for HAH, but London’s gain is minimal. A new generation of fuel-efficient, sub-jumbo aircraft anyway heralds a shift towards more point-to-point journeys, undercutting the case for big hubs.


Maybe common sense will eventually prevail. Expansion of Heathrow would be madness. On the other hand, here is a sobering thought for the millions of passengers caught up in the traditional summer chaos at Heathrow: the more miserable your experience, the more likely those responsible will win a promise of still higher profits”


Full article at






Some comments from AirportWatch members:

Gatwick too uses the argument that increasing capacity would reduce delays. But the delays are not due to lack of capacity – they are due to scheduling more flights than the capacity can cope with – ie greed. There is no reason to believe that an increase in capacity would bring reduced greed. And the longer that passengers are kept in the airport the more money they spend there rather than on the high street.

In fact an airport will gain maximum profits when it is full – it only needs enough slack so that should routine variations in flight times etc do not cause it to back up so badly that it damages its reputation (so passengers and airlines go elsewhere) or so that it has to pay so much compensation that it would be cheaper to have less average custom. It is clear that the level at which this occurs is over 95% full – hence more capacity means (with a brief lag) MORE congestion.

Colin Matthew said, twice in my hearing, that he would like Heathrow to operate at about 97% capacity. That makes the best profit. It is always amazing to me how the airport makes out that this state of congestion is some sort of misfortune, visited upon it by some outside power – rather than entirely its own choice of operating mode. Let’s be clear: the degree to which Heathrow is “full” is completely its own choosing, and it is how it likes things to be.







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Flight path changes could create nationwide protests due to the scale of the areas affected

Writing in a blog, in response to the huge anger and upset there has been around Gatwick in response to the flight path trial over Warnham and nearby villages (called the ADNID trial, in the jargon), John Stewart anticipates that flightpath trials are going to be a real headache for the industry for years to come.  He says “flightpath” will be the ‘F’ word that will be on everybody’s lips over the next few years.  The big changes to flightpaths which are expected over the next 5 – 6 years could trigger protests on a scale that could exceed the opposition to any proposed new runway.  In their scope, they could be more like the ‘anti-roads’ protests of the 1990s. The aviation industry is currently undertaking the most far-reaching changes to airspace across the UK for 60 years, due to the EU scheme, SESAR.  It is changes to the Heathrow flight paths that are making the industry particularly nervous.  That’s the reason why flightpaths at Gatwick and London City are being looked at first – and why Heathrow is very tentatively experimenting with new take-off techniques. “What will worry Heathrow in particular is that the consultation on its flight path changes, expected around 2016/17, could coincide with the decision of the next Government as to whether or not to back a 3rd runway.”



Flight path changes could create nationwide protests


Blog by John Stewart

It will be the ‘F’ word that will be on everybody’s lips over the next few years.  ‘Flightpaths’.  The big changes to flight paths which are expected over the next five or six years could trigger protests on a scale that could exceed the opposition to any proposed new runway.  In their scope, they could be more like the ‘anti-roads’ protests of the 1990s.

The aviation industry is undertaking the most far-reaching changes to airspace across the UK for 60 years.  The driver behind it is something called SESAR.  It is an EU-scheme to make flight paths across Europe more efficient.  The industry would like simpler, more concentrated approaches and departures to increase capacity and reduce CO2 emissions.

Add in the fact that that the technology now exists for aircraft to be guided much more precisely and there is the potential for significant changes to flight paths.

However, the industry knows changes to flight paths can be toxic.  Look at the extent of the protests, and the degree of upset and anger that the current Gatwick trials have generated from villages that never expected to be overflown and from places which have seen a big increase in flights.

But it is changes to the Heathrow flight paths that are making the industry particularly nervous.  It is the reason why Gatwick and London City are being looked at first and why Heathrow is very tentatively experimenting with new take-off techniques.

What will worry Heathrow in particular is that the consultation on its flight path changes, expected around 2016/17, could coincide with the decision of the next Government as to whether or not to back a third runway.

However, the flight path issue will not be confined to London and the South East, though it there that the greatest pressure for change is coming from.  It potentially affects the whole country.  And this is why the protest could go nationwide.  It is quite possible to envisage a national network of the newly-overflown or badly-affected emerging containing lots of angry local residents.

The industry will try to forestall or minimize such protests by talking up the “winners” from any proposed changes.  And there will be winners.  Some areas will get less or no noise if the flights become more concentrated.  But I suspect this will off-set by the raw anger of those who find themselves living in the ‘noise ghettos’, particularly if they are significantly overflown for the first time.

The industry is looking to introduce measures to alleviate the pain of those who will be in the noise ghettos.  It is a key reason why they are looking at respite periods, steeper descent and take-off approaches and other operational measures.

The jury is very much out as to whether the industry will be able to do enough to pacify the noise ghettos.  If not the ghettos, like ghettos around the world, are likely to explode.  Just look at what has happened in Frankfurt when the flight paths were re-jigged when the 4th runway was built.  Nearly three years after is opened in 2011, thousands of people still occupy the terminal every Monday night in protest against the new flight paths.

A new runway will create protest.  But, unless it follows the pattern of the Heathrow 3rdrunway last time round and becomes an iconic environmental struggle, it will be confined to one area.  The flight path changes, by contrast, have the potential to generate nationwide protest.





For more about the flight path trial at Gatwick see


Villages up in arms as new Gatwick “ADNID” flight path shatters their peace and quiet


The Sunday Times has featured the story of the misery and upset being caused over villages in Sussex by a new trial flight path from Gatwick. The village of Warnham is particularly affected.  It is a quiet village, but now has planes taking off from Gatwick thundering overhead. Some of the affected residents are the mother-in-law of Boris Johnson, who said who say the noise is so loud that it sets off baby monitors and drowns out the sound of local church bells. Also Caroline Lucas, whose family owns the 215-acre Warnham Park, with a large herd of red deer, said: “How long will future generations stay here? That’s the question you have to ask.”  The 6 month  trial, of which there was no notice given to local residents, is of a new departure route for planes mainly bound for southern Europe, which are now turning south earlier than they normally do.  The airport says the trial is to find out if a new aircraft navigation system will allow air traffic controllers to reduce the interval between flights taking off from two minutes to one, potentially allowing more flights to take off at peak times.  ie. make Gatwick even busier than now.




New branches of CAGNE form in Kent and East Sussex, joining the original in West Sussex


The threat of a 2nd Gatwick runway, and the “trials” of new flight paths by Gatwick airport, has caused considerable upset in areas across southern Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent.  The flight path routed over the Warnham area (Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Winterfold, Rowhook, Slinfold and North Horsham) set in motion the formation of CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – to fight against the unwelcome noise intrusion into the lives of thousands.  CAGNE has now grown, as more and more people upset by the flight paths – and the threat of more – join forces.  There are now two other CAGNE groups, working in East Sussex and in Kent, as well as the original CAGNE in Warnham, West Sussex. A group of residents, formerly the Bidborough Environmental Action Group, are becoming CAGNE East opposing planes, flying day and night – an aircraft “superhighway” – over historic areas of the High Weald ANOB, most of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, Bidborough, Rusthall, Penshurst, Chiddingstone and Hever. CAGNE East strongly supports the High Weald Parish Councils HWPCAAG initiative, opposing Gatwick’s bid for a 2nd runway. 


New campaign group – CAGNE – formed to protest against Gatwick Airport noise


A new campaign group has formed in the Gatwick area, protesting against aircraft noise. Gatwick airport has been attempting to get good PR by claiming to do more than other airports to manage its aircraft noise.  However, infuriated residents living under a newly created departures flight path have formed the new group, called Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE).  It already has more than 300 frustrated members across Sussex, who are particularly angry at new flightpaths, of which the airport deliberately gave no prior notice. People at the villages of Rusper and Warnham, west of Crawley – which used to be quiet – have been horrified to find themselves subjected to relentless aircraft noise. Sally Pavey, a CAGNE member, said: “This is bringing misery to thousands of people and destroying the tranquility of parts of Sussex. It is wrong that all we can do is telephone the answer phone at Gatwick Airport to complain. ….we do not know if each complaint will be logged separately or if our address is only logged once.”  CAGNE has launched an online petition  calling on the DfT to stop the new flightpaths. The usual blandishment from the airport was that they “continue to take a responsible approach to noise reduction and mitigation.”







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Huge gathering at Notre Dame des Landes – 20,000 + expected – this weekend against new Nantes airport

A huge gathering is taking place this weekend, at Notre Dame des Landes, in western France, against the planned airport at Nantes. This airport has been proposed for years, to replace the existing Nantes airport. It has been bitterly and fiercely opposed, not only by those whose land and farms will be expropriated by the plans, and other local people who do not want their area and their countryside destroyed. It is also opposed by thousands of people from across France. This weekend is now becoming a regular annual protest, each summer. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people are expected for a huge festival, with music, poetry, speeches, fun and food sharing. Caravans of supporters have been making their way to Notre Dame des Landes, on foot and bike (as well as by car) for several weeks, some walking huge distances. The airport planning is bogged down in legal challenges and legal details. Though work was expected to start this spring, nothing has happened. This airport project is one of a number of Grands Projets Inutiles Imposés which are being fought not only in France, but in other European countries.


Nantes protest arrivals

The festive weekend and activist began a march with participants from all over France

On foot, by bike or car, they came from all over France. Opposed to the waste of land and what they call unnecessary and imposed major projects, these activists converged on Friday by late afternoon, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The retired farmer Michel Tarin, a figurehead of the anti-airport movement, led a three-kilometer walk in the bocage. As farmers of Larzac did in 1978, participants were provided with walking sticks, and these resonated rhythmically as people walked down the small roads towards the gathering..

All weekend takes place at Notre-Dame-des-Landes activist and festive gathering around the slogan “abandonment, it is now!” Supporters of anti-airport movement, Miossec, Sanseverino, or Pigalle must occur Saturday on the big stage. Sunday, we will hear Filoche and Heads Straight.The morning meeting will bring together twelve political stakeholders, including MEP José Bové.

Full program on

Nantes Irene 600 km


More stories, in French (or atrocious Google translation into English!) at  SccopIt! at




Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport: thousands of opponents expected this weekend 

3.7.2014 (Metronews.France)

AIRPORT – Opponents organize their large traditional festive weekend Saturday and Sunday at the site of the future airport of Nantes. Program debates, concerts, political speeches.

Last year, the gathering drew 9-25 of 000 people.

Last year, the gathering drew 9-25 of 000.Photo: Jean-Sebastien Evrard / AFP

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Heathrow 3rd runway would mean demolishing Colnbrook incinerator and relocating it – maybe to Stanwell?

The Heathrow airport plan for a 3rd runway to the north-west of the airport, demolishing most of Harmondsworth and making Sipson impossible to live in, also demolishes the current  incinerator at Colnbrook, run by Grundon.  In Heathrow’s expansion plans they propose that a new incinerator should be built just south of the airport, in Stanwell -between Long Lane and Stanwell Farm. This is, at best, controversial.  Residents are concerned about the prospect of an incinerator so close to their homes and with the spectre of the eco-park in Shepperton also looming, questions of just how much Spelthorne can take are being asked. The hope it, by advocates of locating a new incinerator there, that the prevailaing wind from the west would blow any pollution away from Stanwell, and towards the east or north east.  Incinerators are unpopular in most areas, as people fear not only dioxins in air pollution, but also the associated heavy traffic from lorries. People in Spelthorne are not convinced they want to host two large incinerators. 


Colnbrook incinerator location

 Location of Colnbrook incinerator at present

Relocated ‘super incinerator’ in Heathrow expansion plans

Local councillors have opposing views on the potential impact of the waste plant being moved

A relocated ‘super incinerator’ between Long Lane and Stanwell Farm, as part of the Heathrow Airport expansion plans, would be a “win-win” for residents, a councillor has claimed.

Approximate location of incinerator

 Approximate location of the proposed new incinerator, in Stanwell (AirportWatch map)

The community group Colnbrook Views pored over the full Airports Commission submission and said that “hidden as a spurious detail” was an orange shaded section outside the airport’s southern perimeter.

“This is a proposed relocation for Grundon’s super incinerator, which would be lost under the airport’s revised plans for an expanded airport,” they said.

Residents are concerned about the prospect of an incinerator so close to their homes and with the spectre of the eco-park in Shepperton looming, questions of just how much Spelthorne can take are being asked.

But one borough councillor sees things differently. Nick Gething, ward member for Ashford Common and cabinet member for economic development and fixed assets, said: “It’s actually in a neighbouring borough and given the prevailing winds, it’s actually probably better there for Stanwell than anywhere else.

“Given where the incinerator is, I presume there is more chance of them being down-wind.

“There are prospective plans that have come from Heathrow but it’s win-win as it’s more jobs and less pollution.”

His views, however, clashed with his Ashford counterpart, Cllr Carol Coleman, who said: “Well, I guess this means we are going to have two incinerators in Spelthorne then.

“I don’t support airport expansion at Heathrow anyway.

“I just think this is another reason why it shouldn’t happen at Heathrow.

“It’s not just a simple matter of expanding, it’s all the knock-on effects too.

“My concerns are about the heavy goods vehicles and this would just increase that even further. It won’t be a very nice area to live in at all.”

Andrew McLuskey, of Diamedes Avenue, was the first person to spot that Heathrow was eyeing up trenches of Stanwell Moor to make way for a flood pit.

He was equally displeased with this new potential move.

He said: “This issue will add to the concerns in Stanwell and Stanwell Moor about not being consulted by the local authorities or by the airport. We need to have some sort of meeting to be told what they really are planning.”

A spokesman for Heathrow said: “As part of our expansion plans, the waste incinerator at Colnbrook would need to be relocated.

“Heathrow will need to work with relevant local authorities and the operator, Grundon, to establish a suitable alternative site for the incinerator if the government approves a third runway.”



Colnbrook incinerator to move to Stanwell under Heathrow’s Third Runway plans

by ADMIN 17 JUNE, 2014  (from Colnbrook Views)

Spelthorne MP Kwarsi Kwarteng’s staunch support for a western expansion of Heathrow

may come back to haunt him come the next election. His constituents may not thank him in

2015 when they find the airport’s plans to concrete over large parts of Colnbrook will see

the Grundon super-incinerator moved … to Stanwell.

Grundon's controversial super-incinerator is to be replaced with a new facility in West Bedfont.

Never has the expression ‘you reap what you sow’ sounded more appropriate.

Hidden as a spurious detail deep in the schematics for what Heathrow Airport Ltd is calling its “refreshed north west master plan” is a little orange shaded blob just outside the airport’s southern perimeter. While it’s there on all of the maps, only on one page in Volume 3 of the 1,000 page technical submission will you find the key: ‘Energy from Waste Plant’.

Energy from Waste is key to Heathrow’s claim that its master plan will enable it to produce “at least 60% less carbon from energy use than in our baseline year of 2010″.

In addition to external electricity supplies, Heathrow currently already has a degree of on-site energy generation capability and it supplies waste material to Grundon’s super incinerator at Colnbrook Lakeside.

That will be lost when Grundon’s facility is under the new runway.

Heathrow is investing in grey-water recycling and plans to install massive solar farms to generate electricity for the new terminal.  However, redevelopment of the so-called ‘Energy from Waste‘ plant at Colnbrook Lakeside is considered imperative to both handling waste coming from the airport and generating electricity for the airport if it is to meet the its promises.

Nowhere in Heathrow’s submission has it spelt out the impact on the local community, who seem blissfully unaware of the implication.  Stanwell residents put up a vigorous defence to the airport’s earlier ‘South-West’ option, rejected by Davies.

But the proposed site of the new incinerator is West Bedfont, part of Stanwell.  In the shadow of Heathrow’s southern border West Bedfont, much like our own area, is surrounded by open spaces, football pitches, and within spitting distance of Bedfont Lakes Country Park.  The area is dominated by freight companies.

But unlike Grundon’s facility in Colnbrook residential properties will be only a few hundred yards away.

In December 2012 former Colnbrook ward councillor James Walsh hit out at Kwarsi Kwarteng’s support for building two new runways west of the current airport, which would have seen most of Poyle under tarmac.  Those plans, fortunately, were given short shrift by the Airports Commission, but Conservative Kwarteng has maintained his staunch support for the expansion of Heathrow in contrast to his colleague Adam Afriyie.

Kwarsi Kwarteng, Spelthorne's Tory MP, was elected in 2010, the same year as Grundon's incinerator in Colnbrook became fully operational.

Colnbrook with Poyle was set to join Spelthorne following the Local Government Boundary review in 2012.

Ironically, Kwasi is currently involved in a local campaign in his constituency opposing the construction of a waste incinerator in Charlton Village, even going as far as to call a debate in Parliament to discuss the issue.

Nobody in Colnbrook will miss Grundon’s toxic plume, or the continuing unwillingness to engage with residents on air pollution figures that have, at times, been off the scale.

And, Mr Kwarteng, your constituents may not appreciate what you have inflicted upon them either.



Eco Park



‘Lack of clarity’ over major Eco Park waste development

The National Audit Office has slammed Surrey County Council’s failure to deliver the Eco Park in Charlton Lane despite the project shelling out more than £100 million to its partner Sita Surrey

Artist’s impression of the planned eco park in Shepperton


Facts and figures relating to the Eco Park remain unclear according to a report into Surrey’s near £1 billion waste PFI contract.

The National Audit Office (NAO) published its findings on Surrey County Council’s plans for the Charlton Lane site on Tuesday, criticising the authority’s failure to deliver the Eco Park project that has already paid out more than £100 million to its partner, Sita Surrey.

The report, which also investigated sites in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, will now form the basis of a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee held before Parliament.

A spokesman for the NAO said: “It was clear from correspondence received by the NAO that there was a lack of clarity over both the facts and figures.”

He said the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had given good support and guidance to local authorities but that the nature of funding agreements with Surrey, which the department had inherited from its predecessors, made it difficult for it to withdraw or amend financial support to the contracts “even when significant infrastructure had not been delivered as planned”.

“The NAO has not sought to conclude on the value for money of the three contracts, as these matters are for local authorities’ auditors to examine,” the spokesman said. “Nor does it examine the value for money of the overall Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme managed by the department.”

The report states that Defra has had to ‘reprofile’ Surrey’s funding after it failed to deliver on its contracts.

This means the county’s cash flow between 2013 and 2016 is expected to be lower than it would have been under the original agreement, although the total amount paid by Defra during the full term of the agreement will remain unchanged.

To combat this, Surrey established a sinking fund in 2011 into which it deposited a proportion of the waste grant it had received each year since 1999, when it signed a 25-year integrated waste contract.

This contract is estimated to have cost the county £740m with Sita but Defra says this figure could be as high as £897m.

The waste deal includes performance targets for the recycling and recovery of waste and provision of residual waste treatment plants. These were originally expected to include two energy-from-waste plants but these have now been reduced to just the Eco Park.

Defra made a commitment to pay £204.7m towards the contract in 1999 and has paid this in instalments ever since.

The report states: “The nature of the contract meant that Surrey started to pay the contractor once the latter began to provide services under the contract, irrespective of whether all of the planned infrastructure had been delivered.

“Therefore, for the first 15 years of the contract, up to 2012-13, Defra paid each of the planned grant payments in full, even though not all of the planned facilities had been built.

“Defra’s payments to Surrey totalled £124m to March 31 2014.”




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Ryanair to move 7 routes from Preswick to Glasgow airport, only leaving 7

Glasgow will be Ryanair’s 3rd Scottish base, alongside Prestwick and Edinburgh. Ryanair has confirmed it is to start flying from Glasgow in October, with the launch of 7 routes.  It would operate 55 flights a week out of Glasgow from October as part of what it said was a £260m investment in Scotland, and hoped to bring an additional 850,000 passengers through Glasgow airport each year. Ryanair will continue operating from the publicly-owned Prestwick and has stressed its commitment to it, but some Ryanair destinations, including Dublin, would move from Prestwick to Glasgow. Ryanair is also to launch a new Stansted service from Edinburgh. The airline is the sole remaining scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish government for £1 last year. Ryanair will continue to fly on 7 routes from the Prestwick over the winter months. Only about half of Prestwick’s revenue is dependent on passenger traffic. Ryanair keeps its maintenance facility at Prestwick.


Ryanair to begin flying from Glasgow

3.7.2014 (BBC)

Glasgow International Airport will be Ryanair’s third Scottish base, alongside Prestwick and Edinburgh

Budget airline Ryanair has confirmed it is to start flying from Glasgow Airport in October, with the launch of seven routes.

The airline is to continue operating from the publicly-owned Prestwick and has stressed its commitment to the struggling Ayrshire terminal.

But it said some destinations, including Dublin, would move from Prestwick to Glasgow.

Ryanair is also to launch a new Stansted service from Edinburgh.

The airline is the sole remaining scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish government for £1 last year.

It will continue to fly on seven routes from the Ayrshire airport over the winter months. Only about half of Prestwick’s revenue is dependent on passenger traffic.

Maintenance facility

In a media conference on Thursday morning, Ryanair said it would operate 55 flights a week out of Glasgow from October as part of what it said was a £260m investment in Scotland.

It said it hoped to bring an additional 850,000 passengers through Glasgow International each year.

Ryanair’s existing once daily flight from Glasgow Prestwick to Dublin will now switch to Glasgow as part of an expanded three times daily business service between Glasgow and Dublin.

Despite this switch, Ryanair said it “remains committed” to its long-standing base at Prestwick, where the airline has a major maintenance facility.

Prestwick was taken into government ownership for a nominal sum of £1

It said it was currently in discussions with Glasgow Prestwick and the Scottish government to explore growth opportunities to and from Prestwick.

Ryanair said its winter routes from Glasgow will be to Bydgoszcz, Derry, Riga, Warsaw Modlin and Wroclaw.

Winter routes from Prestwick will be to Alicante, Barcelona Girona, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Malaga and Tenerife.

Ryanair also announced three new daily business flights between Edinburgh and London Stansted.

There will also be a total of 16 winter routes from Edinburgh.


Related BBC Stories

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Balsall Common and nearby villages to petition Sec of State to get unpopular Birmingham flight path trial reviewed

After the opening of the Birmingham airport runway extension on 1st May, the airport has been doing a “trial” of a new flight path. This will last for 6 months, till the end of October. The effect of this trial is to create a lot of aircraft noise over villages, Balsall Common in particular. Now the local group, the “Balsall Common Airport Action group” has organised a petition to the Secretary of State, asking that the proposed flight path changes should be reviewed, in view of the sharp increase in noise nuisance to the communities living at the southerly end of the extended runway and the failure of the trial to ensure aircraft follow the new flight path options accurately.  They are organising a protest on 5th July, and they will be going door to door, in the affected villages, gathering support and getting signatures for their petition. Local MP Caroline Spelman is backing the petition, as well as local politicians. People feel their complaints and constructive suggestions have been ignored, and that Paul Kehoe is wholly dismissive of residents’ views.  “It’s all about the money and business profits,” residents claim. 


An urgent Airport Petition against new flight paths and noise nuisance from Birmingham Airport.


MPs and Mayors join the fight against the new Birmingham Airport flight-paths

 3.7.2014  (Solihull Village residents)

MP Caroline Spelman, local councillors and ex Mayors are petitioning the Secretary of State regarding the unanticipated noise-nuisance from Birmingham Airport’s new proposed flight paths over once peaceful villages.

There is an official Petition … being taken by Caroline Spelman MP …. to Parliament  next week.

On Saturday July 5th residents and villagers, councillors and ex mayors, petitioning will gather outside Balsall Common Co-op shop and the newsagent One Stop in the village all day, from 8am to 7pm.

They will be walking the roads, making the rounds of local villagers in and about Balsall Common, and going door to door with their petition to save their communities and their children’s future.  The protest and the petition has been organised by the “Balsall Common Airport Action group’.

The petition was initiated by the village of Hampton in Arden, close neighbours of Balsall Common – and the “Balsall Common Airport Action group’ has been delighted to support.

Ballsall Common is the worst affected village, with first the threat of the HS2 line, which will rip through the village, with high speed trains creating a lot of noise – and they now also have the threat of increased aircraft noise too..

The flight path issue affects Hampton in Arden, Balsall common, Eastcote and other neighbouring villages.

Because of the immense noise increase and very low flying aircraft that residents have been subjected to, an urgent Airport Meeting has been set up and is taking place on Wednesday July 16 at 7pm at the secondary school, Heart of England, Balsall Common.

Many residents now view the Chief Exec of Birmingham airport, Paul Kehoe,  as a destroyer of communities, who during his airport career at various airports has left outrage in his wake.

This “action by the people for the people” – being carried out in the affected villages – is taking place after a heated meeting with the Airport on 21st June. This demonstrated the extent of the immense noise-nuisance and the pollution that has been created by the new flight paths proposed by Birmingham Airport… against the wishes of many residents.

People feel the chief executive and his staff were ‘defensive’ and aggressive at the last meeting in Hampton in Arden on the 21 June. Some residents almost came to fisticuffs in their frustration.

At the meeting on 21st June, local communities were appalled when only 3 junior staff arrived to answer the questions of over 100 residents, who were angry due to the flight-trials launched since May.

Mr Kehoe, the chief executive of the airport, has been viewed as instrumental in destroying communities in Luton and Bristol and has given the impression in his previous airport posts of being wholly dismissive of residents’ views when people from local communities have attempted to approach him.

“It’s all about the money and business profits,” residents claim. They are shocked at the underhand tactics that have been employed, as well as by the unanticipated roar of jet noise over their houses and schools, day and night.

The Airport Consultation is now being regarded as ‘unethical’ and dictatorial, as resident’s full, true views appear to be shut-out from the consultation, and people believe this flies in the face of democracy.

The noisy flight path trials began in May and will run for 6 unpleasant months, over villagers’ heads. The Civil Aviation Authority will make the final decision. More on the flight path trials from the airport’s website (see below).

But thousands of complaints sent to the Airport have been diverted and will not be shown to the CAA and decision panels. Many distraught and sleepless residents who claim their properties have been blighted, their lives destroyed, their sleep and health affected by the jet noise say they have had  letters saying their complaints will not be considered. There have been hundreds of worried complaints to the airport in recent months.

A recent article in a Solihull paper (Observer), showed anger of a Hampton in Arden councillor, Alison Rolf, about dubious tactics being used by the airport and their failure to fully advise residents of its activities.

Some say it is the end of village life in their villages.  Many want compensation or reduction in council tax, as the aircraft noise overhead means this is not the peaceful lifestyle they agreed to when moving into Solihull villages.

Low-flying, worryingly off-course, aircraft shooting over their gardens at all hours have ruined the summer for many in the villages: some are keeping doors and windows sealed shut due to thunderous noise-nuisance of the planes overhead. That is difficult and unpleasant in summer.

The Solihull MB Council has been criticised by residents as they were implicit in allowing this community destruction and agreeing to the runway extensions.

One very busy flight path roars roughshod over two of the Balsall Common village schools. The council is seen to have failed to defend its villages.  Many claim this is because the council have a interest/stake in the airport themselves.

The petition by the Solihull village residents is in protest to the increase in noise-nuisance and the lifestyle change that have been forced on them by the airport – whether they like it or not.


Dave Ellis is  spearheading the “Balsall Common Airport Action group’

He can be contacted at

Also Caroline Spelman MP

David Bell ex Mayor Solihull
Ex mayor David Bell will also be going door to door  with the  petition on 5th July.


For more information contact


Petition is below………

Public petitions to the House of Commons.

July 2014

“We wish to bring to the attention of the Secretary of State that local communities in the vicinity of Birmingham Airport Runway 15 have been significantly affected by the noise and disturbance of aircraft flying departure routes established by Birmingham Airport Ltd (BAL) as part of their air space change proposal.

BAL is conducting trial flights in relation to their preferred route options as submitted to the CAA (Options 5 & 6 of BAL’s proposal).

During the public consultation process the community raised significant concerns about the loss of the existing Noise Preferential Route (NPR), and accurately predicted a significant increase in noise disturbance.

Members of the community made detailed submissions to BAL highlighting how a departure that included a turn at altitude could closely replicate the existing Noise Preferential Route and accommodate the extended runway. This is an option that gained a great deal of community support but was rejected by BAL without any meaningful qualification.

Additionally the CAA has confirmed that two of the departure routes from Runway 15 are not producing the intended flight paths.

We should also like to bring to the Secretary of State’s attention that BAL has no mechanism for gathering community feedback on the trial routes being flown.  Given that a technically valid alternative exists, which would substantially accommodate the noise preferential routing, but was not included in BAL’s submission to the CAA, we have no other recourse but to submit this petition to The Honourable House of Commons.

Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House urgently review the proposed flight path changes at Birmingham Airport in view of the sharp increase in noise nuisance to the communities living at the southerly end of the extended runway and the failure of the trial to ensure aircraft follow the new flight path options accurately and to explore an alternative option which was previously submitted to BAL by the community itself and which would substantially minimise noise nuisance.


 Birmingham airport flight path trials (May – Oct 2014)                   .


The airport will be doing alternating month trials of two slightly different flight paths for take-offs to the south, arrived at after their consultation in 2013. Members of the public should tell the airport if they are not happy with the trials, though the consultation period is over.

Maps of the two options       

Deciding between Options


Flight path trial

The Birmingham airport website says, of its flight path trial:

Changes to Standard Instrument Departure procedures (SIDs) for Runway 15.

Birmingham Airport is running a six month airspace change trial to monitor and obtain further information in a live environment to support its existing Airspace Change Process.

The Airspace Change Process will lead to a new departure flight path to the south of the Airport as a result of the runway extension development. The trial will help to understand the actual impact of two viable flight paths – known locally as Option 5 and Option 6 – rather than theoretical modeling and provide a real life case study to support the submission.

The two options, Option 5 and Option 6, are alternated month by month, between May and October.  Link 

Birmingham airport says it prefers Option 5 over Option 6.

Birmingham option 5

A map of the two trial routes can be found here.


From Caroline Spelman’s website.

Caroline Spelman is MP for the Meriden constituency.

Airspace Change Proposal – update

As many of you will be aware, Birmingham Airport has been working on an Airspace Change Proposal related to flight paths south of the airport, since summer 2012.  I know that there has been a great deal of concern in the Meriden constituency about the changes that are expected to take place and the impact that these will have on the community.

Birmingham Airport has announced that it will be implementing a trial of two alternative flight paths from April 2014 (Option 5 and Option 6), as part of its Airspace Change Proposal.  Birmingham Airport’s preferred option is Option 5.  Maps of the two proposed routes can be found by following this link:

The trials will last for seven months and are intended to provide Birmingham Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with a clearer image of the feasibility and consequences of adopting either of these new routes.  These will enable us to see what the actual impact is likely to be rather than just theoretical modelling.  I have been told by Birmingham Airport that further details will be provided to affected communities closer to the start date of the trial.  Please do record and give any feedback to the CAA once the trials have begun.

I have repeatedly been informed by Birmingham Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority that there have not yet been any changes to Birmingham’s departure procedure, although I know there have been widespread concerns amongst residents that changes have already taken place.  As soon as constituents tell me their concerns, I take them up with Birmingham Airport and they assure me that every noise complaint made to the airport is investigated fully.

I know that the proposed changes could have a significant impact on many individuals, and so I continue to keep in regular communication with both Birmingham Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority.  I am determined to do all that I can to ensure the best outcome for residents.





See also

Birmingham Airport 6-month flight path trials – due to runway extension – to begin in May

April 11, 2014

It has been confirmed that controversial ‘alternative flight plans’ proposed by Birmingham Airport are to be trialled from May, for 6 months. Birmingham Airport has been developing an Airspace Change Proposal, required for a change to departure flight paths to the south of the Airport due to the runway extension. After considering two viable options in detail – and following extensive public consultations – the airport submitted its preferred route, Option 5, to the CAA in August 2013, saying it believed the overall environmental and operational attributes of both routes considered (Options 5 and 6) were ‘very marginal’. Perhaps due to news about the fury that has been generated in the Warham area by a new Gatwick flight path trial, Birmingham airport has agreed to carry out trials of both options, in order to better understand the actual impact of the proposed changes rather than theoretical modelling. The proposals sparked outrage in the affected villages when they were revealed last year. A final decision is expected in spring 2015 and the airport has reiterated that the trials are ‘not a further consultation’.

Click here to view full story…




Birmingham Airport ‘ignored’ views of residents, say campaigners

Date added: August 25, 2013

Birmingham Airport has been accused of ‘totally ignoring’ the views of local residents over proposed flightpath changes to pave the way for the £65 million runway extension. The long-running Battle of Balsall Common looks set for further skirmishes, There is a Balsall Common Airport Action Group, and their campaigners have voiced their dismay at the airport’s preferred option for aircraft taking off to the south. The airport says this route avoids the most populated areas, Barston, Hampton-in-Arden and Balsall Common and is positioned further away from Catherine-de-Barnes and Knowle. The Action Group say the airport has ignored their comments in the consultation, and that the new flightpaths will see planes flying over their area at between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, increasing noise nuisance and pollution. The airport’s public affairs director said “We believe the best option has been put forward that impacts the fewest number of people in areas closest to the airport.”    Click here to view full story…











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Holland-Kaye wants raised Heathrow landing charge, and public subsidy by cutting APD, to pay for runway

John Holland-Kaye has now taken over as CEO of Heathrow, from Colin Matthews. He has already angered airlines by saying he wants to give an adequate return to foreign investors in a 3rd runway, by raising the landing charges at Heathrow. Mr Holland-Kaye wants the landing charge to rise – in real terms – from £20 now, per passenger, to £24 within a few years, and it might rise to £27 by around 2040 (though predictions that far ahead are futile). Heathrow has been battling with its regulator, the CAA, for years on the level of its aeronautical charges.  The CAA recently cut its cost of capital to 5.35% in the 5 years to 2019, though Heathrow says its weighted average cost of capital needs to be 6% in the period between 2019 and 2048, to repay its investors. Mr Holland-Kaye also let slip that he wants a cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long haul flights, which would effectively be a loss to the Treasury, and thus be the equivalent of a public subsidy, for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The level of APD on the longest flights was cut this year in the budget, combining the two top distance bands, effectively giving them a government subsidy.  He also said he “could not rule out the case for a 4th one in the future.”


Heathrow passengers to pay for third runway

Airline passengers flying from Heathrow face higher ticket prices if the airport is allowed to build a third runway.

The airport is proposing to raise the “aeronautical charge” from the current £20 per passenger to £24 to help pay for the estimated £17 billion cost of building a new runway. These charges, which are regulated by the CAA, are usually passed on by airlines to the passengers.

Heathrow’s new CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Financial Times that the increase in charges would be required to ensure the company saw a return on its investment.

“It is a real-term increase that we believe our passengers are prepared to pay in order to get to the global markets they need to get to,” Holland-Kaye told the FT.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said that the proposed increase in charges was part of its submission to the Airports Commission which is considering whether Heathrow or Gatwick should be allowed to expand.

Heathrow has said it would be able to open a third runway by 2026 if given the green light by the next government.

“Ticket prices will continue to rise as part of the plan to support the third runway investment,” she told BBT. “This is because of supply and demand – at the moment there is great demand for flights. But after the investment has been made, then landing fees will start coming down.”

Airlines have consistently objected to any increase in charges at Heathrow because of their already high level.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to submit its final recommendations for airport expansion in summer 2015 after the next general election.

Heathrow has claimed in its submission that a third runway would add 40 new routes from the UK and cut average fares by £320 due to the competition created by the increase in capacity.



Heathrow landing charges

Heathrow eyes jump in landing charges

………………..Landing fees, which are set by the regulator, [the CAA] are the biggest single source of revenue for Heathrow and were worth £1.5bn last year. They are usually passed on by airlines to passengers.

…………………Heathrow’s shareholders – led by Spain’s Ferrovial but also including Chinese, Qatari and Singaporean sovereign wealth funds – were, he said, prepared to invest in a third runway so long as there was “political consensus” behind the infrastructure, a “speedy planning” process and an “appropriate” regulatory regime.

Heathrow was, he said, looking at a £4 increase in the aeronautical charge, adding: “It is a real-terms increase that we believe our passengers are prepared to pay in order to get to the global markets they need to get to.” [No mention of the majority of leisure passengers that use Heathrow].

Heathrow is willing to explore ways to offset the impact of higher landing charges – for example, air passenger duty could be cut on long-haul flights.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority infuriated Heathrow this year by insisting on a real-terms cut in the airport’s landing charges – just as the company was completing its £2bn Terminal 2, which opened last month.

……………………..In a detailed submission about the third runway to the Airports Commission, Heathrow suggests an average aeronautical charge of almost £24 per passenger between 2019, when construction of the third runway could start, and 2048. The charge could peak at more than £27 before falling to less than £20 after 2044.

Heathrow estimates the airport’s weighted average cost of capital – a proxy for return on invested capital and a significant part of the regulatory formula for determining landing charges – to be 6 per cent in the period between 2019 and 2048.

This comes after the CAA angered Heathrow by cutting its cost of capital to 5.35 per cent in the five years to 2019.

Full FT article at



Willie Walsh on Air Passenger Duty:

Willie Walsh has been arguing against Air Passenger Duty (as have most airlines) for years, ignoring the inconvenient fact that it is levied by the  Treasury because air travel pays no VAT and not fuel duty – and so is significantly under-taxe.
One example of his opinions:

ut Walsh believes there was still an opportunity to scrap APD in the UK, a tax he believes is a “disincentive to invest in the UK, a disincentive to do business in the UK” and is “discouraging tourism”.

Walsh says the industry “made the mistake of standing back” while Gordon Brown doubled APD in 2006 for environmental reasons, but claimed that “not a single penny” of the money raised from APD goes towards environmental purposes.

He said: “We should continue to argue against APD. I know people say I shout on about things and nobody is listening but I’m going to continue shouting on about them. It doesn’t bother me if people don’t listen because ultimately I think they will listen.

“If we keep hammering home this issue, then maybe people will listen in the treasury and maybe they will accept that there is an issue that needs to be addressed here. At some point you have to hope that common sense prevails. On APD, I genuinely believe the UK economy would improve and would see increased growth if APD was removed.

“I think more and more people are coming on-side with us and more and more people are agreeing with us, and we need to mobilise people to ensure this issue does get addressed because it is impacting significantly on our competitiveness. It is a significant drag on UK competitiveness.”#







Chancellor cuts rate of Air Passenger Duty for long haul (over 4,000 miles) flights from 1st April 2015

March 19, 2014

In the Budget 2014 the Chancellor has announced that rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) are to be reduced for flights of over 4000 miles from London, from April 2015. Rates of APD will rise by the rate of inflation (RPI) during 2014. After 1st April 2015, distance bands for all journeys longer than 2,000 miles will all be lumped together. While the rate of APD during 2014 (from 1st April 2014) is £13 for a return trip below 2,000 miles (anywhere in Europe), and the rate for journeys of 2,000 to 4,000 miles in length is £69 – the rates from April 2015 will be £13 for the short flights, and £71 for all other distances. The rates of APD in 2015 for premium classes will be £26 and £142. Commenting on this retrograde move by the Chancellor, the Aviation Environment Foundation said it is a backward step environmentally and economically. Aviation is already massively under-taxed compared with the £10 billion that would be raised per annum if aviation wasn’t exempted from fuel taxes and VAT. APD was a means of redressing this problem but any cut means that taxes will have to be raised elsewhere to balance government spending. Long-haul flights contribute more greenhouse gases in absolute terms than shorter flights. It is therefore right that the duty is proportional to the distance flown and the associated emissions. Eliminating bands C and D breaks the link between environmental impacts and tax and breaches the principle of fairness.

Click here to view full story…





Heathrow proposes cutting airline landing charge rise to 4.6% above RPI for 5 years

23.7.2014In February Heathrow announced it was intending to increase its airline landing charges, from the current level of £17 per passenger to perhaps up to £25. This caused very negative responses from airlines that use the airport. Now Heathrow has moved to appease airlines by offering to reduce the rise it is seeking to charge between 2014 and 2019. Heathrow has submitted a plan to the CAA seeking approval to raise tariffs by 4.6% above inflation, as measured by the retail prices index (RPI), for the 5 years from April 2014. That is 1.3% lower than their earlier offer of a rise of 5.9%. It means a rise of £1 per  year, so a £5 rise by 2019. Gatwick has also agreed to scale back their planned fee increases. Earlier this year Willie Walsh called the airport “over-priced, over-rewarded and inefficient”.  However, the investors, including Ferrovial and the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, China and Singapore, who have spent more than £10 billion on the airport over the last decade, expect to see a good return on their investment ie. they want high fees to airlines.




Part of a long article, in CAPA, 

CAPA Profiles 

Airport charges: EC reports increased transparency in setting charges, but uneven implementation

includes the speculation that it was the CAA regulatory settlement on Heathrow charges that precipitated Colin Matthews decision to leave :


  • The interaction between charging levels, market power and investment commitments, and how necessary that investment is to the airlines. For example the UK‘sHeathrow Airport, which has some of the highest charges globally, upset airlines with plans to raise charges per passenger from GBP21.96 to GBP27.30 over a five-year period (almost 6% over inflation), which it claimed to be necessary to support its ongoing GBP3 billion investment programme. Those charges paid by airlines constitute the biggest single source of income for Heathrow Airport, raising GBP1.3 billion for Heathrow in 2012.
    Eventually, the UK CAA decreed that landing charges there should be reduced by a formula of retail price inflation (RPI) minus 1.5% every year between Apr-2014 and 2019 by which time the price per passenger would reduce to GBP19.10. With its investment programme allegedly in jeopardy at the very time it was trying to convince the Airports’ Commission that Heathrow Airport is the logical choice for the one single additional UK runway that the Commission will recommend to government – and which would be self-financed – Heathrow Airport Holdings reacted strongly. The decision may even have prompted the CEO to choose to resign.
    This is a clear case of airlines swaying opinion amongst the regulators, though not necessarily by consulting with the airport. Comparatively speaking both of the other two major London airports came out of the CAA’s deliberations in better shape.
    Gatwick Airport was offered a flexible regulatory approach based upon price and service quality commitments agreed between Gatwick and their airline customers, underpinned by a licence from the CAA, subject to a price cap that would apply in the event no commitments were forthcoming, with prices capped at RPI plus 1% for the five years from Apr-2014. Gatwick is alleged to have increased prices by 50% over the last five years.
    Meanwhile, Stansted Airport, which was deemed to have little market power (though it could increase as the London area becomes more capacity constrained), was told it should be removed from regulation and be free to strike its own agreements over charges directly with airlines. The reaction of Ryanair, the largest airline by far at Stansted, and one that frequently accused the previous owner, BAA of an obsession with building a ‘Taj Mahal’ there, was that the decision will mean a rise in charges and will result in “yet more damage to UK consumers and competition”;….”
  • Heathrow charges per aircraft type


[ AirportWatch member comments:

"I was surprised at the data presented in the CAPA Airports Charges and Benchmark Database which seemed to show that Heathrow had a standard landing charge across a variety of plane types and ended up being cheaper than the selected comparison airports for a 747 but expensive for a A320 or 737. It would be interesting to have this confirmed by the airport and get a comment on how this supports the claims that the airport incentivises new quiet planes." ]









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New branch of CAGNE – CAGNE East – formed in Kent, joining the original in West Sussex

The threat of a 2nd Gatwick runway, and the “trials” of new flight paths by Gatwick airport, has caused considerable upset in areas across southern Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent.  The flight path routed over the Warnham area (Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Winterfold, Rowhook, Slinfold and North Horsham) set in motion the formation of CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – to fight against the unwelcome noise intrusion into the lives of thousands.  CAGNE has now grown, as more and more people upset by the flight paths – and the threat of more – join forces.  There are now two other groups, working in East Sussex and in Kent, as well as the original CAGNE in Warnham, West Sussex. A group of residents, formerly the Bidborough Environmental Action Group, are becoming CAGNE East opposing planes, flying day and night – an aircraft “superhighway” – over historic areas of the High Weald ANOB, most of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, Bidborough, Rusthall, Penshurst, Chiddingstone and Hever. CAGNE East strongly supports the High Weald Parish Councils HWPCAAG initiative, opposing Gatwick’s bid for a 2nd runway. 




  • For more on the flight path trials, and consultations on airspace and flight paths see

  • Flight path changes and trials

  • GACC has now produced a detailed and excellent document, deciphering the badly written consultation document, and setting out the important facts so people can respond to the consultation.                                                                                                     GACC notes on Airspace Consultation Phase 2  –  July 2014

CAGNE finds its Lacey

 30.6.2014 (CAGNE –  Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – in the Gartwick area)
CAGNE_and_CAGNE_East (1)
Image of GACC Jane Vogt with Simon Byerley and Kealey Castle of CAGNE EAST, Sally Pavey and Bill Sorrell of CAGNE
CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – has joined forces with the Kent protest group against Gatwick Airport’s new runway.
A group of residents, formerly the Bidborough Environmental Action Group, will become CAGNE East in an effort to stop new flight paths, The Gatwick Superhighway of planes will fly day and night over historic areas of the High Weald AONB  (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), most of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, Bidborough, Rusthall, Penshurst, Chiddingstone and Hever..
 ‘Gatwick Airport plan to place a constant stream of low flying planes over historic sites and many homes that have not suffered aircraft noise before, and this is all before a second runway which would bring additional damage to these areas,’ said Simon Byerley of CAGNE East.
‘By working together we aim to raise community awareness of what is planned by Gatwick Airport, not only through the current changes to flight paths, but how a new runway will alter the Home Counties forever,’ said Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE.
CAGNE was formed this year by concerned residents after a trial route was instigated by Gatwick Airport over areas of West Sussex not previously overflown, affecting residents in Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Winterfold, Rowhook, Slinfold and North Horsham.
CAGNE East strongly supports the HWPCAAG initiative, the alliance of the parish Councils across East Sussex and West Kent who oppose Gatwick’s bid for a second runway. Both CAGNE and CAGNE East are also working very closely with Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, a volunteer group that has opposed Gatwick expansion since 1968.
‘GACC is continuing to lead the battle to protect the environment around Gatwick, opposing the outrageous plans of Gatwick Airport for new flight paths and a second runway.  We are delighted to have two new protest groups from the West and East working with us as members of GACC but bringing new strength to the battle in their own areas,’ said GACC Chair Brendon Sewill.
Residents can find out additional information at and concerned residents of Kent should contact

Contact details for the local groups:

GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

GACC is the long-standing community campaign at Gatwick airport, and has been active for some 5 decades. It is principle group in the area, with long experience and an immense amount of expertise and experience. The other groups below are all members of GACC. They all work closely with GACC.
Enquiries: Brendon Sewill (Chairman); Peter Barclay and John Byng (Vice-Chairmen)

CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions)

Twitter @cagne_gatwick
Enquiries –  Sally Pavey


Blog at
[The group has emerged from BEAG - the Bidborough Environment Action Group].
CAGNE East is the sister group of CAGNE.   CAGNE East is for all residents and local communities East of Gatwick Airport. Set up by concerned residents of Bidborough in Kent, it provides campaign support to a growing network of residents, communities, campaign groups, Parish Councils and NGOs who are all concerned about Gatwick expansion.
CAGNE East opposes a 2nd Gatwick runway, night flights and the proposed new ‘superhighway flightpaths’, which unchallenged, pose a grave threat to our way of life and our regional economy.
(The beagblog will continue to focus on aviation as well as other local environmental issues, and in the next month or so, (August 2014 perhaps) a new blog devoted entirely to aviation issues will be set up. Sadly these things have to be done, (in contrast to Gatwick airport with its massive budget and large number of staff) by volunteers, in their own time, fitted around work, family and other commitments. So, as they say ….. “Bear with ….” ! )
Enquiries –  Simon Byerley  and Kealey Castle

ESCCAN (East Susses Communities for Control of Air Noise).

There is also now a very active residents group in Crowborough, called ESCCAN  They want to keep a local focus for their concerns in the Crowborough area, and the protection of the Ashdown Forest.

WAGAN (Weald Action Group Against Noise) 

There is another local group,  WAGAN which is working very closely in support of HWAAG (High Weald Aviation Action Group). These groups are also working on blogs, and as with the case of CAGNE East, this depends on volunteers managing to fit in this work, unpaid, in already busy lives.


(High Weald Aviation Action Group) and the

HWPCAAG (High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group)

This has been formed to fight increasing noise and to oppose Gatwick’s bid for a 2nd runway. The group consists of eight parishes in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which are all adversely affected by Gatwick aircraft noise. The group consists of the Parish Councils of Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst and 4 other parishes. Their chair is Richard Streatfield, who is the Chairman of Chiddingstone Parish Council.  Email:



Photo: CAGNE drop in events to help residents understand what Gatwick want to do in the skies above us and how we can object. #CAGNE #RUSPER #WARNHAM #SLINFOLD #ROWHOOK #HORSHAM


CAGNE East and the BEAG (Bidborough Environment Action Group)

BEAG was originally intended as a very local and general environmental interest group. However, with more and more planes flying overhead and with more and more people joining from all over the area – Southborough, Tonbridge, Langton Green Rusthall, central Tunbridge Wells – and most of whom only really wanting to know about the planes, it became increasingly apparent that the Bidborough group was misnamed: there was a real need for a contact point where people concerned about increasing noise and pollution levels  from planes over West Kent could find out more about how Gatwick’s plans translate into the changes we are noticing in our local environment.
Core members of BEAG formed a more active team focussed on the Gatwick issue, and when the lead members of BEAG, Simon Byerley and Kealey Castle, met Sally Pavey things just clicked into place.
BEAG were impressed by the unique fusion of creativity, passion and professionalism in Sally’s approach and found, despite some very fundamental differences between the noise problems faced by residents under departures vs arrivals, that they shared some key objectives. This aviation issue is a David and Goliath situation – it seemed that joining with the CAGNE movement would best serve the interests of  residents in Kent, in the greater scheme of things.
The beagblog is to continue with its more general focus (gradual switch likely to the fracking debate – we have a bore hole in Bidborough that will go active next year.)
Simon Byerley is getting the CAGNE East blog up and running but unfortunately he has a full time job, and as all volunteer activity, this has to be fitted into an already full life.
The beagblog is a temporary contact point for the aircraft flight paths issue. A new, more informative CAGNE East site specifically for the aviation issue is planned.  It should be up and running by August (fingers crossed!)


Kent parish councils fight Gatwick Airport runway plan

26 June 2014  (BBC)
The parish councils said an expanded Gatwick would threaten both local tourism and the environment

Campaigners fighting a second runway at Gatwick are writing to the Airports Commission to object to the level of noise an expansion could cause.

Four Kent parish councils claim an additional runway would also damage local tourism and the environment.

Mitzi Quirk, from Chiddingstone Parish Council, said the village currently saw 10 planes per 20 minutes but expansion would take that to 45 an hour.

Gatwick Airport said building a new runway was in the local interest.

‘Intolerable noise’

Ms Quirk said: “We are concerned not just with the future, but with the current situation. So we’ve grouped together to make a more powerful body with other parish councils who are going to be affected and who are affected currently.

“Currently we must have something like 10 planes in 20 minutes. I think what their projection is 45 planes an hour.

“And if they currently come in at the height they do, it will be really very difficult to live with and it will affect a lot of people. And I don’t think anybody’s sanity could stand that, quite frankly.”

David Barren, who lives in Hever, said the village used to be tranquil but now the noise had become “totally intolerable”.

‘Create jobs’

Richard Streatfield, chairman of the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group, which covers Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst councils, said he had seen Gatwick expand “vigorously” from what was a local airport and under the plans it would more than double in size.

He claimed tourism businesses in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty brought about 186,000 jobs to the industry and created £1.6bn over a year, which would be threatened by Gatwick expansion because of the impact on the environment and because tourists would not want to visit.

But Gatwick argue a second runway would create thousands of jobs, offer new opportunities to businesses and promote economic growth and prosperity across the region.

“Gatwick is continuously working to reduce the noise levels at the airport, including designing flight paths that avoid the majority of populated areas and providing the most innovative noise insulation scheme in Europe,” it said in a statement.

“Should Gatwick build a second runway, we will also pay annual compensation equivalent to Band A Council Tax (currently £1,000) to all households most affected.”



High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group

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Gatwick’s retail income still about 22% of total – around net £3.72 on retail sales + £1.35 on parking per passenger

The Moodie Report has published figures for the retail income of Gatwick airport in the year to 31st March 2014. Gatwick’s retail income rose 9.7% on the level in 2013, from £123.2 million to £135.1 million. By contrast their aeronautical income (aircraft landing charges etc) rose by 11.1% from £285.8 million to £317.4 million. There was a 4.8% increase in passengers, to about 36 million. Gatwick’s car parking income rose by 12.9%, from £58.1 million to £65.6 million. In the year to March 2014, Gatwick made on average £1.35 per passenger on parking.   It made, on average, £3.72 per passenger from retail sales. This was up by 4.2% from the level in 2013, but only up 2.7% on 2011. There is now even more retail space, with even more food and beverage facilities. In the year to March 2011 their retail income was £115.6 million and the net retail income was £3.62 per passenger. ie. barely changed over 3 years, (up 2.7%). And that’s a new World Duty Free store opened, and 33 other new stores opened in the past year. Net retail income per passenger at Heathrow was £5.98 in 2011, and about £6.21 in 2012.  For both  Heathrow and Gatwick, retail income is about 22% or so of income.



Gatwick Airport posts +9.7% growth in retail income amid record traffic


Source: ©The Moodie Report

By Martin Moodie (The Moodie Report)

London Gatwick Airport’s retail income rose by +9.7% in the year ended 31 March 2014, easily outstripping passenger growth of +4.8% to 35.9 million.

Net retail income per passenger increased by +4.2% to £3.72, boosted by sustained investment in shopping and food & beverage facilities, the benefit of a full-year’s trading by the World Duty Free Group flagship store, and 33 new retail units opened during the period.

Total turnover rose +10.2% to £593.7 million with EBITDA (pre-exceptionals) up +14.2% to £259.4 million (see table below). This resulted in a profit of £57.5 million compared to a loss in the financial year ending 31 March 2013 of £29.1 million.

London Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick’s record performance and growth to around 36 million passengers this year demonstrates how we are successfully competing in the London market and why we are best-placed to deliver the UK’s next new runway.”

….. and he carried on with more spin about Gatwick  …… 


Gatwick’s retail income as a percentage of its total income (£123.2 cf. £538.9 million ) was 22.86% in 2013.

It was 22.76% in 2014.

Above and below: Heavy investment in food & beverage and retail has paid off with strong growth in spend per passenger and overall net retail income
Source: London Gatwick Airport
Source: London Gatwick Airport






Some earlier data about Gatwick’s retail income:


Gatwick retail spending

31.6 million passengers in year to March 2011 (35.9 million in year to March 2014)

Total retail revenue to March 2011 – £115.6 million (£135.1 million to March 2014)

Total income from parking £51.7 million in year to March 2011 (£65.6 million in 2014)

Net retail income per passenger £3.62 in year to March 2011 (£3.72 in 2014)

Retail revenue increases at London Gatwick airport

Andrew Pentol


Gatwick Airport Limited records total retail revenue of £115.6m in the year ended March 31 2011

Gatwick Airport Limited has revealed total retail revenue of £115.6m ($185.3m) for the financial year ended March 31 2011 compared to the £115m ($184.4m) for the same period last year.

According to Gatwick Airport Limited’s annual report, 31.6m passengers travelled through the airport, representing a 2.3% decrease year-on-year. The decrease in passenger numbers was driven by a number of factors, the most significant being the closure of aerospace in the three months to June 30 2010 following the eruption of mount Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland.

Despite the fall in passengers, duty-free, tax-free and specialist shops sales increased from £58.0m ($93m) in the year ended March 31 2010 to £58.9m ($94.4m) in the year ended March 31 2011.

Revenue from other in-store retail reached £36.5m ($48.5m) while net retail income per passenger rose £0.09 ($0.14) to £3.62 ($5.80) compared to the previous year.

Car parking income also increased £1.3m to £51.7m.

Gatwick Airport Limited is run by US investor Global Infrastructure partners following the acquisition of the airport from BAA.

Gatwick airport chief executive officer Stewart Wingate said: “We delivered strong performance in our first full year of new ownership despite the challenging environment and extraordinary events that affected major airports across Europe. Resilient passenger traffic combined with our relentless focus on cost efficiency helped us achieve solid financial results. We also successfully reinforced the business, enhancing our capital structure and establishing a strong liquidity position.

“We worked in partnership with the airlines to re-scope our new £1bn ($1.6bn) capital investment programme, which is now being delivered with greater efficiency and pace. Passengers and airlines are already benefitting from new, modern facilities and we are currently investing around £20bn ($32bn) per month. Operational performance and service standards have also improved significantly which is helping Gatwick compete to grow and become London’s airport of choice.”







How much profit do airports make from their retail activities, rather than flying?

Heathrow got around 21.3% of its income from retail in 2010, compared to 53% from aeronautical. On average each Heathrow passenger spent about £5.70 (maybe £5.90) at the airport, with women spending more than men (!) BAA data say frequent fliers spend more than infrequent fliers. In the year 2010/2011 Gatwick airport made £115.6m from retail, and another £51.7m  from car parking, with an average of £5.80 spent on retail per passenger. Stansted retail spending per passenger is about £4.00 to £4.20.  In the year 2010/2011 Heathrow made about £380 million per year on retail, Gatwick about £115, and Stansted net retail income fell from £79.8m in 2010 to £73.9m.  Manchester made about £70 million on retail, with about £3 per passenger.



European airports, like those in UK, make large part of their income as shopping centres

Investors in airports are being drawn to the profit being made by the real estate and retail income they generate. Among European airports, Aeroports de Paris derived 39% of its revenue from real estate and retail in 2011; Zurich took in 50.3%; and Danish airport operator Koebenhavns Lufthavne A/S collected 33.6%. At TAV (Turkey), the share was 33%, and at Vienna it was 19%. Airports generally get the majority of their retail revenue after passengers check in and go through security. Goldman Sachs lists retail revenue as a major factor in recommending European airports to invest in.  Two weeks ago, Fraport opened Pier-A-Plus, a terminal extension at Frankfurt, allowing Germany’s biggest hub to serve up to 6 million passengers a year and adding 50% to the airport’s retail space.  According to ACI, air passenger numbers in Europe are up 2.3% this year compared to 2011, but Eurocontrol forecast that annual traffic growth will average 1.9% over the next 7 years in Europe, due to high oil prices and a weaker economic outlook.




Airport retail: rise and rise of the shopping centre, with an airport attached


A huge, and growing, proportion of the money made by airports is from retail. It seems that the industry expects significant increases in this spending over the coming years, and airports do all they can to get passengers to spend as much time as possible in retail, put retail outlets in arrivals, etc etc and devise means for them to buy goods for collection on their return, to avoid baggage problems.  The industry expects most growth in the Far East, where women tend to spend a lot of designer brands. The airport retail industry finds passengers buy less when they are stressed by airport security waits and queues, and they buy more when calm and happy.  Airports need a ticket as proof of identity, so they can monitor the types of travellers, and the routes, which generate the most cash. Seems the Chinese, the Russians and the Nigerians tend to spend the most. At Heathrow, the average passenger spends £4.35. But for fashion, the average BRIC passenger spends £45.50.  No wonder BAA wants more.  




Airports and airlines eyeing up passengers to increase their retail spend

If the airlines can’t make enough profit from flying their passengers from A to B, then they want to extract every bit of cash they can from them, in the airport shops.  An anna-aero article discusses how airports and airlines might work more effectively together, to get passengers to buy more stuff. The airlines have more personal data about the passengers, and the airports want this data in order to maximise the retail earnings in their shops. But the airlines don’t want to share the chance of profit with the airports. The Chief Commercial Officer at Manchester Airports Group said  – “airport retail is vital precisely because airport charges paid by airlines are already well below the cost of the infrastructure they use.” The airports and airlines don’t see eye to eye on this. There is a problem for retailers, with the low cost airlines that limit baggage, and the ‘one-bag rule’, which is a disincentive to buy a lot at the airport.  An ACI conference next spring  will look at actual practical solutions to enhance “Airline-Airport Cooperation to Increase Passenger Spend.” 







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Heathrow’s noise claims do not stack up, according to new reports

Heathrow’s claims that a third runway will improve the overall noise climate for residents do not stack up, according to analysis done by HACAN. Their new briefing, “Do Heathrow’s noise claims stack up?” has compared Heathrow’s arguments with the findings of 2 recently-published reports (by the CAA and by the Mayor of London) and concludes that “Heathrow’s claims are unravelling in the face of the independent evidence.”  The most damning indictment of Heathrow is in the Atkins report showing their claim that a 3rd runway will mean “at least 30% noise reduction” by 2030 is based on the assumption that the new runway will be only operating at one-third capacity. Both reports challenge Heathrow’s prediction that 90% of the planes using the airport in 2026, when any new runway is expected to open, will be the quieter ‘new generation’ aircraft.  They are dubious of steeper landings, and believe people under the current flight paths will get shorter respite periods in order to give people under the new flight paths some respite too. HACAN chair John Stewart said the 2 new independent reports illustrate the near-impossibility of sorting out noise at Heathrow.



Heathrow’s noise claims do not stack up according to new reports


Heathrow’s claims that a third runway will improve the overall noise climate for residents do not stack up, according to campaign group HACAN.  HACAN Briefing  – Do Heathrow’s noise claims stack up?    29.6.2014

It has compared Heathrow’s arguments with the findings of two recently-published reports and concludes that “Heathrow’s claims are unravelling in the face of the independent evidence.”

HACAN tested Heathrow’s evidence against the arguments put forward by the Civil Aviation Authority ( Managing Aviation Noise ) in its new report on noise and the findings of a report from the consultancy firm Atkins carried out for the Mayor of London (1. See below).

The most damning indictment of Heathrow came from the Atkins report which showed the airport’s claim that a third runway will mean “at least 30% noise reduction” by 2030 is based on the assumption that the new runway will be only operating at one-third capacity. At full capacity, Akins shows, over one million people will be impacted, up from 725,000 today.

Both reports challenge Heathrow’s prediction that 90% of the planes using the airport in 2026, when any new runway is expected to open, will be the quieter ‘new generation’ aircraft.  And they are dismissive that the proposed steeper landing approaches Heathrow wants to introduce will have any significant impact on noise levels.

Atkins verdict on Heathrow’s plans to increase respite for residents is damming.  It argues that most communities will get less respite than they do today if a third runway is built.  At present people in West London enjoy a half day’s break from the noise when planes switch runways at 3pm.  This would be cut to a third if a new runway is built in order to give people under the new flight paths some respite.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “We used the new reports to reality check Heathrow’s claims.  The Airport came out badly.  Most of its claims do not have a ring of truth about them.  We could only award them 2 out of 5 on our reality score card.”

Stewart added: “Heathrow understands the need to deliver on noise.  It is the biggest political barrier to a third runway.  And its new proposals are an improvement on what went before but these two new independent reports illustrate the near-impossibility of sorting out noise at Heathrow.”

. . . . . . . . . .

(1). The Mayor of London published the Inner Thames Estuary Feasibility Study

. Its noise assessment was based on work commissioned by Atkins on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) from The Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) of the CAA to calculate noise exposure contours for a series of scenarios that were developed by Atkins, and that relate to Heathrow Airport.


HACAN Briefing  – Do Heathrow’s noise claims stack up?    29.6.2014



The two reports:

The CAA published Managing Aviation Noise -


The Mayor of London published the Inner Thames Estuary Feasibility Study .

Its noise assessment was based on work commissioned by Atkins on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) from The Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) of the CAA to calculate noise exposure contours for a series of scenarios that were developed by Atkins, and that relate to Heathrow Airport.


Hearthrow’s claims are at



Some extracts from the briefing below:


Quieter planes

Heathrow:  90% of aircraft at Heathrow will be ‘next generation’ technology like the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Airbus A320neo by the time the new runway opens.

CAA:   The CAA acknowledges aircraft will become quieter but is less confident than Heathrow about how quickly the quieter planes will be introduced.  Its report says: “Introducing new aircraft types is a slow and typically cyclical process that can be fraught with delays and issues, as recent experience with the introduction of both Airbus and Boeing’s new models, the A380 and 787, has shown. Even when new aircraft types are available, refleeting [converting the whole fleet to quieter planes] is a lengthy and expensive process for airlines, with significant resource impacts.”  It goes on to point out that hundreds of the aircraft types would need to be removed by 2026 if Heathrow Airport were to meet its target: “in early 2014, British Airways’ long-haul fleet consisted of 55 Boeing 747-400s, 21 Boeing 767-300s and 55 Boeing 777s.”  It could be 25 years before some of these planes were replaced.


Atkins (for the Mayor of London):   Atkins is even more doubtful than the CAA that the fleet mix will be as Heathrow Airport predicts by 2026 when a 3rd runway opens. It cites as evidence the fact that: “IAG (BA and Iberia) are still placing orders for conventional A320’s [one of the aircraft types that would need to be phased out].”  It is also sceptical the new aircraft would be significantly quieter than the existing ones: “An older Boeing 747-400 has an Lmax (peak noise event impact) when arriving at 1,000 ft of 86dB. An Airbus A380 has an Lmax arriving at 1,000 ft of 85dB. This represents a relatively insignificant difference, despite the A380’s much heralded status as a quieter aircraft.” [The A320neo is a bit less noisy].


  • There is real doubt Heathrow can defend its prediction that 90% of the planes using the airport in 2026 will be the quieter ‘new generation’ aircraft. 
  • There is also doubt that these quieter aircraft, when introduced, will cut noise for residents as much as Heathrow claims.  The Atkins report says the difference will be ‘relatively insignificant’.




Quieter Operating Procedures:

Heathrow: A mixture of steeper landing approaches, displaced landing thresholds (where aircraft touch down 700 metres further along the runway) and new flights paths brought in to avoid the most populated areas will cut noise levels.  link

CAA:  The CAA stresses that only a marginally steeper approach – 3.25 degrees rather than the current 3 degrees – is possible, and that even 3.25 might cause problems in low-visibility.  At Frankfurt 3.2 degrees is used but it reverts to 3 degrees at times of poor visibility.  Although a steeper descent approach would mean planes remain higher for longer, it concludes “the additional benefits of 3.2 degree approaches are relatively small.”  The CAA acknowledges that there would be noise benefits to displaced landing thresholds.

Atkins:  The Atkins Report doesn’t analyse the feasibility of a steeper approach, nor does it comment on the impact of displaced landing thresholds; it simply assumed both will be in place when it made its calculations of the total number of people likely to be impacted by a 3rd runway would be over 1 million.

Neither the CAA nor Atkins assesses Heathrow’s claims the “new flight paths will avoid the most populated areas.”   Partly this is because Heathrow has not yet published these new flight paths but probably also due to the recognition that altering flight paths will have a minimal overall impact since all of London is so heavily populated.  Moreover, as Atkins points out London’s overall population is likely to have increased significantly by 2026.



  • Steeper approach paths might reduce noise but the impact would be “relatively small”. 
  • There would be benefits from displaced landing thresholds (aircraft touching down further along the runway). 
  • Given the density of the London population – and the fact that the number of people living in London is expected to increase – it will be difficult to find “less populated” areas over which flight paths could be routed. 




The location of the new runway

Heathrow: “Our proposal sites a third runway one nautical mile (1.1 miles) further to the west than the previous proposal for a short third runway.  Every mile further west an aircraft lands means it is flying approximately 300 ft higher over London on its landing approach.



  • It is clear that this proposal would reduce the noise over West London a little.  It would not, in itself, benefit areas to the west of Heathrow.  This, though, would be mitigated by the fact aircraft would be landing further along the runway.




Periods of relief from the noise

Heathrow:  “We have maintained the principle of runway alternation.  This provides periods of respite from noise for all communities around Heathrow.”  link  It will also guarantee “periods without over-flights for every community.”   link  Heathrow argues that a 3rd runway would provide additional respite at night for residents under the current flight paths as they would only get night flights one week in every three.


Atkins:  Atkins questions how long these respite periods will be: “One of the few aspects of the current noise regime at Heathrow that  affords local residents any relief from aircraft noise are the periods of respite that are secured by operating the airport in ‘segregated alternate mode’. With one runway used for departures and the other for arrivals before being switched round at 3pm, this gives local residents half a day without aircraft overhead. However, Heathrow Airport have made clear that their three runway proposals would require at least one runway to operate in mixed mode at all times. For the majority of affected residents, that will mean just 4½ hours of respite a day within operating hours – half the respite offered to local communities today.”  Additionally, with the new flight path being close to the existing northern flight path it is probable that many people will be impacted by noise from both runways, thus making the period of real respite even shorter.


CAA:  The report doesn’t look at respite specifically but does point out that “anti-noise groups report complaints about aircraft noise (especially early morning or late evening noise) as much as 20 miles from the airport”.  It is not at all clear just how far Heathrow intends to, or is able to, extend its respite periods.



  • There is no doubt Heathrow recognizes the value of respite and is trying to ensure all communities have some respite but it is clear that people in West London, who currently enjoy a half day’s break from the noise, will see that cut to a third and it is unclear whether communities further from the airport will enjoy respite periods.  In fact, with the increased number of planes to be accommodated, it is possible that most communities will enjoy less respite than they currently do.  Heathrow has a lot more to do to convince on respite.




Noise Insulation

Heathrow: “£550 million will be allocated to noise insulation or compensation.”  link  Of that, £250 million will go towards noise insulation schemes for people under the flight paths. For people whose homes will be demolished it is committed to offering 25% above the unblighted market value of the property plus legal fees and stamp duty paid on a new home.

CAA:  The report found that in France, there is a statutory scheme to insulate all housing within the 55 dB Lden contour…….. funded through a noise tax on each departure, introduced on the 1st January 2005.


  • The Heathrow scheme is not ungenerous but the problem Heathrow will always face is the sheer numbers of people under its flight paths. It would cost Heathrow billions to match the Paris scheme of compensating everybody within the 55Lden contour.  It would never be possible.  The vast majority of those under the flight paths will remain uncompensated.








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