Officers at Hillingdon Council are recommending refusal of Heathrow’s planning application, which would enable regular take-offs over Cranford (a residential area just east of Heathrow’s northern runway). There has been a 60-year old gentlemen’s agreement that planes do not take off over Cranford, which would become an impossible place to live, if take-offs to the east were allowed. This was a verbal agreement made in 1952. Heathrow has applied to Hillingdon Council for permission to carry out the necessary taxi-way work to enable scheduled departures to the east from the northern runway. Hillingdon Councillors are due to make their decision at a Planning meeting on 11th February, but officers have recommended refusal on the grounds too little compensation has been offered to mitigate the impact of extra noise on residents and schools in Cranford and surrounding areas. The Cranford Agreement was repealed in 2009 by the Labour government to reduce the noise burden on those to the airport’s west, in Windsor and Maidenhead, who consequently have to put up with more planes overhead.
Location of Cranford, east of the Heathrow northern runway
Heathrow’s plans to end 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement could be grounded
Officers at Hillingdon Council recommend refusal of Heathrow Airport’s planning application, which would enable regular take-offs over Cranford
Plans to allow aircraft to regularly take off over Cranford, ending a 60-year old gentlemen’s agreement, could be grounded.
Heathrow Airport has applied to Hillingdon Council for permission to carry out the necessary taxi-way work to enable scheduled departures to the east from the northern runway.
Councillors are due to make their decision next Tuesday (February 11), but officers have recommended refusal on the grounds too little compensation has been offered to mitigate the impact of extra noise on residents and schools in Cranford and surrounding areas.
“Officers do not consider that the application properly assesses noise impacts and these are considered to be crucial in the light of impacts on the health and wellbeing of residents or on educational establishments (local schools),” they wrote.
“The application also fails to provide adequate mitigation for those who are acknowledged to suffer from significant increases in noise.”
The Cranford Agreement was a verbal deal struck in 1952 preventing departures from Heathrow over Cranford because it was considered the noise would be unbearable for those living so close to the northern runway.
It was repealed in 2009 by the then Labour government to reduce the noise burden on those to the airport’s west, in Windsor and Maidenhead, who consequently have to put up with more planes overhead.
Heathrow estimates ending the agreement would mean more noise for 4,000 people to the east of the airport but quieter days for 10,500 to the west, though Hillingdon Council believes the adverse impact has been underestimated.
Hounslow Council has raised concerns about the impact on schools under the northern flight path, describing the proposed mitigation measures as inadequate.
But it stopped short of opposing the planning application outright as it recognises there would be benefits for some of its residents living under the southern flight path, particularly those in and around Hatton Cross.
Parents at Cranford Primary School, which lies under the northern flight path have started a petition against ending the Cranford Agreement in practice.
Gulvinder Bains, whose nine-year-old daughter attends the school, said: “The noise is already quite bad but if these plans get the go-ahead it would be a lot worse. We’re worried about the impact on the quality of children’s playground time.”
WHAT DOES ENDING THE CRANFORD AGREEMENT MEAN?
Under runway alternation, planes use one runway for departures and the other for arrivals, with the roles reversing at 3pm every day.
Aircraft must take off and land into the wind. Most of the time this means they depart to the west but during easterly winds, which happen about 30 per cent of the time, they have to take-off to the east, over London.
Because the Cranford Agreement has historically prevented take-offs over the village from the northern runway, during easterly winds planes have to use the southern runway for departures and the northern one for arrivals – even if this means switching the roles designated under runway alternation.
Ending the agreement in practice, as Heathrow wants to do, would enable runway alternation to operate uninterrupted regardless of the wind – guaranteeing residents their alloted period of peace.
It would mean quieter days for thousands of people to the west of the airport and although it would lead to more noise for people in Cranford, supporters argue that quieter planes mean the din would be less deafening than when the agreement was signed more than 60 years ago.
However, there are concerns the move would pave the way for mixed mode, under which each runway could be used simultaneously for departures and arrivals.
Mixed mode could reduce delays and potentially allow more flights at the airport, though the current cap of 480,000 arrivals and departures a year would first have to be lifted.
It is not presently allowed and Heathrow has said it has no desire to introduce it, even should it get the go-ahead for a third runway.
But officers at Hillingdon Council have suggested should councillors approve the planning application to enable take-offs over Cranford that a clause preventing mixed mode ought to be inserted.
A limited number of aircraft have already taken off over Cranford since the agreement ended in 2009, during so-called ‘operational freedom’ trials.
These allowed both runways to be used for departures or both for arrivals for a short period when delays were building up, in a bid to reduce the backlog.
Enabling works to allow implementation of full runway alternation during easterly operations at Heathrow Airport including the creation of a new ‘hold area’ at the western end of the northern runway, the construction of new access and exit taxiways, and the construction of a 5 metre high acoustic noise barrier to the south of Longford Village.
Recommendation : Refusal
The 116 Page officer’s report for consideration by the Major planning applications Committee of Hillingdon Council has now appeared on their website as part of the agenda for the Tuesday 11th February meeting :
Report of the Head of Planning, Green Spaces and Culture
The application seeks permission for physical works to land next to the north and south
runways at Heathrow Airport. The works include the creation of a new ‘hold area’, new
access and exit taxiways and a noise barrier (acoustic fence) on land adjacent to the airport.
The development on the runways would normally be carried out under Permitted
Development rights. However, these rights are removed if the development triggers the
need for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) by virtue of giving rise to likely
significant environmental effects. Whilst the physical works are relatively minor, they enable
Heathrow Airport Limited to implement the ending of the Cranford Agreement. As a
consequence, the works will directly result in operational changes to the airport that are
likely to have significant noise and air quality effects in the context of the EIA Regulations
Currently, the airport has significant restrictions on the use of the northern runway for
departures over Cranford. This was a result of a ministerial decision in 1952 to protect the
residents of Cranford from adverse noise impacts from the airport. In 2009 the Government
announced the ending of the Cranford Agreement; however the airport cannot change its
operations until the physical infrastructure works have been completed.
This planning application is for the necessary enabling works to Heathrow’s northern runway
to be fully used for take-offs to the east over the village of Cranford. These works will
therefore effectively implement the Government’s decision to end the Cranford Agreement.
The applicant presents the case that the full runway alternation provides a more equitable
distribution of the adverse impacts of noise, and potentially allows more respite periods to
be scheduled for those under the flight paths to the west of the airport.
The Council accepts that there are large numbers of people, particularly in the Royal
Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, who will benefit from greater periods of respite from
noise when plays take off to the east over Cranford. However, the Council needs to
carefully consider the impact on those who will experience a significant increase in noise.
The submitted planning material tries to identify and assess the environmental implications of the proposals, and suggests ways by which compensation could be offered or mitigation introduced. It also makes references to modern planes now being quieter.
However, as set out in this report, the submitted technical material is considered inadequate and insufficient in a number of areas. Officers do not consider that the application properly assesses noise impacts and these are considered to be crucial in light of the impacts on the health and well being of residents or on educational establishments (local schools). The application also fails to provide adequate mitigation for those who are acknowledged to suffer from significant increases in noise.
It is also considered that aircraft operations facilitated by the development would result in a
significant and unacceptable worsening of local air quality, to the detriment of the health of
the local population. No specific or adequate mitigation measures are proposed as part of
the application to address this concern.
The Environmental Statement does not comply with the 2011 Environmental Impact
Assessment Regulations as it does not adequately assess the effects of the development. It also does not adequately consider cumulative impacts with other proposed operational
changes. The applicant does not consider it necessary to assess the cumulative impacts
with those recommended by the Airports Commission because no decision has been made to proceed with them yet. The applicant argues it is simply a recommendation for the
Department for Transport to consider. The Council does not agree with this approach.
There is clear guidance on what should be encompassed by a cumulative assessment.
The Council considers the recommendations of the Airports Commission to be suitably advanced to be captured by the Infrastructure Planning Commissions definition of cumulative development.
Although not explicit in the application, (nor assessed in terms of environmental impact), the proposed works could facilitate the introduction of ‘mixed-mode’ operations and other
operational changes recommended by the Airports Commission to the Department for
Transport albeit within the existing cap of 480,000 air traffic movements per annum and
night time operating constraints. If the applicant were to apply for mixed-mode operations
this would raise significant concerns given the potentially serious and adverse noise impact that this would have on local communities.
With this in mind, if Members are minded to approve this application, Officers would strongly recommend that a condition is imposed on the planning permission which prohibits mixed-mode operations and those recommended by the Airports Commission.
Finally, part of the Longford noise barrier is to be constructed within the Green Belt. As a
consequence, the applicant is required to demonstrate very special circumstance. No such
justification has been presented and therefore this part of the development is considered
A shuttle bus to transport passengers from Cardiff centre to the airport has carried on average fewer than 4 passengers a journey since its launch in August 2013. The service is funded by the Welsh government, with the cost suggested to be around half a million ££s. The bus runes every 20 minutes and has so carried an average of 2,778 passengers a week. Last month the Conservatives said the service was “unsustainable”. A review of the service has been carried out by Prof Stuart Cole from the University of South Wales. Cardiff airport was bought by the Welsh government for £52m in March 2013 and the bus service is part of the strategy to reverse a slump in passenger numbers.A local MP said: “At almost half a million (pounds) in Welsh Labour government subsidy, that’s an exceptionally expensive service to support and on current passenger numbers is simply unsustainable.” But a Cardiff Business School transport expert said such services were needed to convince airlines there would be passengers available. “Airlines planning cycles are such that they’re not just going to start routes instantly. It’s going to take [6 - 12] months, to attract routes into the airport and, therefore, it’s a bit like the chicken and egg.”
Cardiff Airport shuttle bus averages four passengers a journey
The bus goes from the airport into Cardiff Central station
A shuttle bus to transport passengers from Cardiff to the airport has carried on average fewer than four passengers a journey since its launch, figures show.
Funded by the Welsh government, the bus has carried on average 2,778 passengers a week since August.
It runs every 20 minutes from the airport at Rhoose to the centre of Cardiff.
Last month the Conservatives said the service was “unsustainable”.
The figures for the shuttle bus were released by the Welsh government on its Freedom of Information (FOI) log.
A review of the service has been carried out by Prof Stuart Cole from the University of South Wales.
Previously, the Welsh government said it was always intended to carry out the review to see whether changes were needed,
The airport was bought by the Welsh government for £52m last March and the bus service is part of the strategy to reverse a slump in passenger numbers.
Last month Welsh Conservative leader and South Wales Central AM Andrew RT Davies described the service as a “publicly funded ghost train” .
“As a local resident I regularly see this bus invariably empty, except for the driver.
“At almost half a million (pounds) in Welsh Labour government subsidy, that’s an exceptionally expensive service to support and on current passenger numbers is simply unsustainable,” he said.
In a statement, on Thursday, Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart said she had now received Prof Cole’s report.
“Professor Cole has made a number of short term and longer term recommendations on how we can improve the service,” she said.
“I am now considering the review’s findings and will update (assembly) members in due course.”
Mrs Hart said the review “identifies that the objectives for a fast and frequent service between the city centre and the airport have been met”.
Express bus service for Cardiff Airport under review
10 January 2014 (BBC)
The bus service runs every 20 minutes from Cardiff to the airport
….. much the same as the article above, then …….
“Reliable transport links are integral to the success of Cardiff Airport, but at present this route simply isn’t providing value for money,” he added.
‘Chicken and egg’
But Cardiff Business School transport expert Dr Andrew Potter said such services were needed to convince airlines there would be passengers available.
“Airlines planning cycles are such that they’re not just going to start routes instantly,” he said.
“It’s going to take six months (or) 12 months, to attract routes into the airport and, therefore, it’s a bit like the chicken and egg.
“You need the bus routes to attract the airlines and you then get the airlines to get the passengers onto the buses.”
“At certain times of day you do get more people on the buses anyway, because the flights come in in peaks and troughs, there are busy times and quiet times.
“But you can’t have the bus service at the busy times and stop it at the quiet times because you’ve still got to use the asset somehow, it’s still costing you money.
“So you may as well run it for a small number of passengers than have it sitting around, still with the cost.”
Dr Potter warned changes to the service, such as making it available for people living near the airport could slow the service down and make it less attractive to air passengers.
“If you look at a lot of other airports, they actually have a mix of services going to an airport, express ones that take you to the city centre and then more local buses, that then feed into that, and serve the local community.”
Gatwick airport recently struck a deal with European low fares Norwegian Airlines, which hopes to start low-cost transatlantic flights to 3 US airports using 787 Dreamliners. It has given Gatwick airport a boost, with its excitement about its planned 3 flights per week to New York after July 2014, and 2 flights per week each to Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale. These may cost as little as £150 one way. However, there is now a lot of opposition by unions in both the USA and in Europe about the way Norwegian employs Thai air crew, for salaries that are very much lower than those paid to US or European employees, so it can undercut its rivals. Employment costs in Norway are high. Airline unions and pilot groups have asked European and US authorities to deny Norwegian Air Shuttle’s request for a new long-haul license, accusing the budget carrier of trying to avoid taxes and skirt employment laws. It now plans to register the operation in Ireland and keep using Thai crew along with some American staff. There are fears that air crew will lose their fundamental rights, including the freedom to assemble, and the freedom to collectively bargain. Attempts to fly cheap long-haul routes date back to the 1970s, when Laker Airways flew from London to New York. It went bankrupt in 1982.
Unions Lobby To Halt Norwegian Long-haul License
February 5, 2014 (Airwise news)
Airline unions and pilot groups asked European and US authorities on Wednesday to deny Norwegian Air Shuttle’s request for a new long-haul license, accusing the budget carrier of trying to avoid taxes and skirt employment laws.
Norwegian this year became the only European budget airline to launch long-haul operations, flying to North America and Asia from the Nordics with Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
It now plans to register the operation in Ireland and keep using Thai crew along with some American staff.
Labour groups including the transportation sector of AFL-CIO and the Air Line Pilots Association International argued that the plans are intended to take advantage of regulatory loopholes and leave safety oversight in doubt.
“This setup will deny the workers their fundamental rights, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to collectively bargain,” Lee Moak, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association International told a news conference in Oslo after meeting Norwegian officials.
He added that the plan would give the carrier an unfair economic advantage over other European and US airlines.
Describing the claims as false, Norwegian’s spokeswoman Anne-Sissel Skaanvik said: “We follow all the laws and regulations in all the markets we operate in and we offer competitive wages to all of our employees.”
Attempts to fly cheap long-haul routes date back to the 1970s, when Laker Airways flew from London to New York. It went bankrupt in 1982 when rivals cut fares and squeezed it out of the market.
Norwegian started flying on relatively uncompetitive routes such as between Oslo and Fort Lauderdale, but now plans to launch a London-New York service.
It said it can afford to undercut its rivals, sometimes by 20 to 40 percent, due to the 787’s 20 percent lower operating costs.
The Irish Aviation Authority rejected any suggestion it was not capable of oversight. “The IAA already provides safety regulation of Ryanair to the highest international standards,” it said.
New 7 year deal between Gatwick and Norwegian, that includes airline’s backing for 2nd runway
Gatwick airport has struck a deal with European low fares airline Norwegian, which includes getting their active support for the airport’s plans to get a 2nd runway. This comes weeks after the CAA agreed that Gatwick can make bespoke commercial arrangements with its airlines. Norwegian is to start low-cost transatlantic services to 3 US airports, using Boeing 787 Dreamliners next summer in addition to an increased European network. It is expected that there will be 3 flights per week to New York after July 2014, and 2 flights per week each to Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale. These may cost as little as £150 one way. The number of destinations served by Norwegian from Gatwick will rise to 33 in 2014 with 6 aircraft based there. This will make Norwegian one of the top 4 airlines at Gatwick during 2014. Low fares to the USA is expected to draw in more passengers. The airline’s CEO said: “Norwegian is very supportive of Gatwick’s runway expansion plan which would mean that the airport could offer even better operating facilities in the future.”
October 30, 2013 (News in English from Norway)
Its pilots have been threatening to go on strike, its new long-haul routes are deeply troubled and now Norway’s once high-flying Norwegian Air faces a passenger boycott. The boycott is being urged by one of Norway’s top labour leaders, who claims the airline is trying to undermine the Norwegian welfare state.
Norwegian’s pilots have won a pensions dispute with their employer. PHOTO: Norwegian Air/Hans Olav Nyborg
Norwegian Air has gone from being a successful low-fare carrier within Europe to being plagued by labour and service problems mostly tied to its new long-haul service to Asia and North America. PHOTO: Norwegian Air/Hans Olav Nyborg
The boycott call comes after state broadcaster NRK reported on its nightly national newscastDagsrevy on Tuesday that Norwegian’s new Thai flight attendants have base pay of less than NOK 3,000 (USD 500) a month. That’s a fraction of what the airline’s Norwegian flight attendants earn.
“I don’t see any reason at all to fly on Norwegian when it behaves in this manner,” Stein Gulbrandsen, head of Norway’s largest labour organizationFagforbundet, with more than 300,000 members, said on NRK’s national radio stations Wednesday morning. He equates the extremely low pay to social dumping.
Two Thai cabin crew members posing with Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos on the airline’s first flight to New York. NRK has revealed that the Thailand-based crews are paid a fraction of what Norwegian cabin crews receive. PHOTO: Norwegian Air
Two Thai cabin crew members posed with Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos after the airline’s first flight to New York. NRK has revealed that the Thailand-based crews are paid a fraction of what Norwegian cabin crews receive. PHOTO: Norwegian Air
The Thai flight attendants based in Bangkok who work on board Norwegian’s new long-haul flights between Bangkok, Oslo and New York receive some additional payments, for example when they work on a 12-hour shift between Oslo and Bangkok, but that payment (called atillegg) amounts to NOK 200 (USD $34).
“We have to look at that as a gross provocation,” Gulbrandsen said.
He sits on the trade union organization’s powerful arbeidsutvalg (working committee) and doesn’t only want Fagforbundet’s roughly 340,000 members to stop flying on Norwegian. He’s urging all Norwegian passengers to boycott the airline.
“Respectable organizations and respectable people don’t patronize operations that are trying to undermine the Norwegian welfare state,” said Gulbrandsen.
‘Well above’ average pay in Thailand
A smiling Thai flight attendant, dressed in her Moods of Norway-designed uniform, confirmed on air Tuesday night that she was earning base pay in Thai bhat that was the equivalent of NOK 3,000. NRK’s interview with her was monitored by Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen and he did not refute the figures, but claimed that NOK 3,000 is “well above” the average monthly wage in Thailand.
He conceded that the flight attendants don’t work in Thailand, and have expenses when they are on layovers in Oslo and New York, for example, for which they’re paid an extra NOK 800. NRK reported that Norwegian’s foreign flight attendants often walk long distances from their hotel to a grocery store to save on eating expenses.
Sandaker-Nielsen claimed, however, that the Thai flight attendants do live in Thailand and have accepted Norwegian’s pay offer. “The amount our cabin crews sit with every single month when they get their salaries paid by us is much higher than what the average pay is in Thailand.
Unions call for political response
Gulbrandsen isn’t impressed and Norway’s trade union confederation LO has also criticized Norwegian and cancelled its travel agreements with the airline.
“The Norwegian government authorities can’t sit still and accept that the respectable labour agreements we have here in Norway are undermined in this way,” Gulbrandsen said, adding that he hopes for some political response. The airline registered its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in Ireland, though, so that it would not be forced to hire higher-paid Norwegian crews on board its low-fare long-haul routes.
Norway’s flight attendants’ unions have also urged boycotts of cut-rate carrier Ryanair, leaving Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) as an apparently acceptable locally based airline on which union members can travel internationally in good conscience. SAS, though, has also been plagued by labour trouble over the years, with analysts and not least Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary blaming the unions for SAS’ severe financial losses.
Four of the largest American airlines are lobbying United States transport authorities to ban Norwegian Air flights from landing in the country. The US airlines claim Norwegian’s Irish-registered fleet and use of Asian personnel with cheaper working conditions violates an aviation agreement between the US and the European Union, giving Norwegian an unfair competitive advantage.
Norwegian Air’s first new Boeing 787 Dreamliner finally landed at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen on June 30. The airline has now begun testing them before putting them into service on Norwegian’s new long-distance routes to Bangkok, New York and Fort Lauderdale.
Norwegian Air invested in Boeing 787 Dreamliners to operate long haul flights between Asia, Norway and the USA. The planes were plagued by technical problems, delaying the intercontinental service. Now American pilots and airlines are challenging Norwegian’s US routes, claiming the use of lower paid Asian employees violates an EU/US aviation agreement. PHOTO: Norwegian Air
American Airlines, Delta, United and US Airways have joined the fight against Norwegian Air, following complaints made by a powerful American airline pilots’ organization to the Department of Transport last week, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported.
The American fleet is angry Norwegian is using its Thai-based crew to fly long-haul routes between Bangkok, Oslo and New York. Some personnel earn less than NOK 3,000 (USD 500) a month, a fraction of local Norwegian wages. The US pilots and airlines say it’s a blatant attempt to get around EU/US laws and agreements, using a loophole to beat the competition.
Norwegian has denied any wrongdoing, saying it has stuck to the rules and will continue to do so. “These airlines have dominated the skies over the Atlantic, and keep ticket prices high,” Anne-Sissel Skånvik, Norwegian’s communications chief told DN. “They certainly don’t want competition.”
“Establishing in the EU was done to get traffic rights that we don’t have now,” Skånvik said. “It’s difficult to think that the Americans will pursue a policy where a license given to a European Economic Agreement country isn’t a problem, such as it is today, but a license to a European company is out of the question.”
Norwegian’s main rival, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has also raised concerns over Norwegian’s moves to slash personnel costs. SAS told DN last week the US airlines’ bid to get Norwegian’s American permits revoked will raise issues of principle at an international level.
Financial analysts are also watching the case to see how Norwegian fares in the US. “Norwegian has determined that much of its long haul will be linked to the American market, so it’s important there’s not too much nonsense in the establishment of the new routes,” Preben Rasch-Olsen from research and advisory firm Carnegie told DN. “Norwegian is groundbreaking in many ways, both in how they think and act. The American companies see Norwegian as a threat.”
BY SINE NEUCHS THOMSEN
SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 (Scand -Asia.com)
Thai cabin crew on Norwegian’s new route to Bangkok is paid around 100.000 Thai baht per month. Norwegian labor union leader calls it social dumping.
Norway’s fast expanding airline Norwegian, which just opened new routes to Bangkok and New York is accused for committing social dumping, online paper NA24 reported.
The cabin crew on the dreamliner route Oslo-Bangkok-Oslo is paid a salary of approximately 100.000 baht per month, which is about three times more than an average high salary in Thailand.
But the fact that the cabin crew is not paid a Norwegian salary and do not have the same work conditions as if labored in Norway, led the Norwegian government and the leader of the labor union Parat to accuse the airline for social dumping.
Leader of the union Hans-Erik Skjæggerud said that he is not asking for Norwegian salary and work conditions for all employees in Norwegian, but only for those who through their work are connected to Norway.
“What we mean is, that employees flying on Norwegian routes who’s production is in Norway, should have Norwegian conditions. In other words, employees who are flying Oslo-New York-Oslo and Oslo-Bangkok-Oslo are supposed to have Norwegian conditions. Those who work for Norwegian and fly Spain-England-Spain are of course supposed to have Spanish conditions. That is also what we claim in the current Ryan-air case we are running,” Skjæggerud said.
The reaction to the Thai cabin crew’s work conditions comes after online paper NA24’s article that focused on exactly that.
Skjæggerud feels that the NA24 story makes it sound like he and the Norwegian government are interested in exporting the Norwegian work conditions. But that is wrong, he explained.
“We just do not wish Kjos (Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos) or O’Leary (Ryanair CEO) to import foreign work conditions to Norwegian production,” Skjæggerud said.
Head of communications at Norwegian, Mr. Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen has commented on the claims by Parat.
“The Thai staff have a contract with a recruitment agency in Bangkok. We have no reason to doubt the information they gave Nettavisen NA24 regarding the wages. The staff know themselves how much they earn and the interviewee Jui is probably more honest that the unionbosses of Parat who are known to spread misinformation,” says Norwegian’s Communications Manager Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen to NA24.
“Parat tries to claim that when an aircraft is is inside Norway then it can be defined as “Norwegian production” which they seem to own. That is the essence of their argument. But aircraft operated by our competitors like Thai, Qatar and United flying between Norway and Asia and USA is not defined as Norwegian merely because they land in Oslo,” Sandaker-Nielsen says.
On 31-Dec-2013, Norwegian Air Shuttle implemented changes to its corporate structure, involving the establishment of two fully owned subsidiaries – one in Norway and one in Ireland. Each has its own air operator’s certificate (AOC), although the Irish company, which is the vehicle for Norwegian’s long-haul operation, does not yet have a permanent AOC.
Norwegian’s fledgling long-haul network includes services from Scandinavia to Bangkok and two US destinations: New York and Fort Lauderdale. From summer 2014, it will add Los Angeles, Oakland andOrlando to its US destinations and London Gatwick will become its first trans-Atlantic base outside Scandinavia.
Norwegian’s new structure aims to minimise the costs of its long-haul operations, in particular labour costs. With widebody aircraft registered (and an AOC application) in Ireland, crew based in Thailand and elsewhere, a Norwegian brand and destinations increasingly focused on the US, Norwegian’s long-haul business model is market leading to say the least. US airlines and unions predictably oppose its foreign air carrier permit application, deriding its “flag of convenience” (a misnomer in this case) approach to gaining an “unfair” advantage.
Two principal operating subsidiaries and ‘country-specific resource companies’
Under Norwegian new corporate structure, there are two principal operating subsidiaries. The Norwegian operating subsidiary operates from NAS’ existing Scandinavian bases and employs all pilots permanently employed in Scandinavia on the same wages and conditions as previously. Norwegian’s statement says that other staff remain employees of the parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.
However, it has also been reported that its Swedish cabin crew are to be transferred to contractor Proffice (Afonbladet/Boarding.no/TheForeigner.no, 19-Dec-2013).
In Oct-2013, when announcing the planned changes to the corporate structure, NAS said “fully owned country-specific resource companies will be established”. Pilots hired outside Scandinavia were to be offered permanent employment in the respective resource companies, starting with those in Finland in 1Q2014, followed by those in Spain and the UK. Currently, these pilots are contract staff rather than permanent employees.
The Irish company awaits a permanent AOC and a US foreign air carrier permit
The purpose of the Irish operating subsidiary is to secure traffic rights to fly out of Europe and so is Norwegian’s long-haul vehicle. This subsidiary, named Norwegian Air International Limited (NAI), has a temporary AOC, with the authorisation of Norway’s aviation authorities, pending the approval of its application to the Irish Aviation Authority for a permanent AOC.
NAI has also applied to the US Department of Transport for a foreign air carrier permit to access traffic rights in accordance with the US-EU Open Skies agreement. While neither application has yet been approved, sources in Norwegian told CAPA that both are proceeding according to its plans. In the meantime, Norwegian is continuing to operate its international operations with existing AOCs and its existing long-haul subsidiary Norwegian Long Haul. Norway is part of the European Economic Area, but not part of the European Union. An Irish AOC for NAI will give it the same traffic rights as other EU-based carriers.
Predictable opposition from US airlines and labour unions
The US foreign air carrier permit application has met with strong opposition from some major US airlines and from US pilot representative bodies, including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA).
Delta, United, American and US Air submitted a joint reply to NAI’s application on 20-Dec-2013, in which they referred to Article 17 bis of the US-EU agreement. According to the carriers’ joint reply, this recognises that “the opportunities created by the Agreement are not intended to undermine labour standards or the labour-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.”
They argue that not only do NAI’s plans violate the US-EU agreement, but they also fail to meet the DoT’s public interest standard. They say that a key objective of the standard is “strengthening the competitive position of [US] air carriers to at least ensure equality with foreign air carriers”, but that US carriers’ competitive positions would be “unfairly and unlawfully compromised by approval of the NAI scheme”.
In a press release on 17-Dec-2013, ALPA took a similar line to that of the US airlines and said “Norwegian Air International was clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom on labour and working conditions”.
ALPA added that the NAI scheme raised the spectre of the “flag of convenience” business practice that “undermined the U.S. maritime industry”. It also called on the Irish government not to grant NAI an AOC. For its part, on 23-Dec-2013, SWAPA criticised Norwegian for attempting to utilise a “venue shopping strategy”, whereby a carrier chooses “which” set of regulations from “what” country it chooses to follow.
Cheaper labour: a key objection for opponents and a key motivation for Norwegian
A key element of the objection expressed both by the US airlines and pilot bodies is that NAI will reportedly employ crews under lower wage employment contracts that are neither European nor US (the ALPA press release suggests that individual employment contracts are governed by Singapore law).
This is also a key element of Norwegian’s motivation for this new structure. Norway is a very high wage economy and also has substantially higher social charges than in most European countries (or the US). Norwegian law prohibits the employment of staff from outside the European Economic Area. Not only will NAI avoid Norwegian labour costs, but it will also avoid Irish labour costs under the proposed scheme as Irish regulations are more flexible.
Norwegian is already using such tactics to minimise labour costs on long-haul operations, employing crew based in Bangkok. This led to complaints by Scandinavian labour unions, almost prompting a pilots’ strike in Oct-2013. According to reports in the Scandinavian media, pilot union Parat claimed that Thai cabin crew are paid only NOK3,000 (USD540) per month, below the minimum wage in Norway and other parts of Europe. The reports also say that the airline puts the figure at NOK15,000 (USD2,700) per month after taking account of various allowances. Norwegian says that its Bangkok cabin crew wages are the same as other Asian-based crew.
Norwegian’s head of communications has defended his airline’s attempts to bring new competition to routes between Europe and the US, rejecting the complaints of US carriers. “These airlines have dominated the skies over the Atlantic, and keep ticket prices high,” said Anne-Sissel Skånvik, “they certainly don’t want competition.” (NewsinEnglish.no, 27-Dec-2013).
Norwegian is also recruiting US-based crew, who will be on US contracts.
Norwegian’s wholly owned Irish aircraft finance company
In Aug-2013, Norwegian announced the establishment of a fully owned asset management company incorporated in Ireland, with USD as its functional currency. The asset management company operates as lessor of Norwegian-operated widebody aircraft, beginning with the Boeing737-800 delivered in Sep-2013. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, two of Norwegian’s three Dreamliner aircraft are owned by DP Aircraft Ireland Limited and leased to Norwegian.
At the time of the Aug-2013 announcement, Norwegian said: “Ireland is the largest aviation finance cluster in Europe which makes the country a natural location given Norwegian’s global expansion and large aircraft orders.” In addition to limiting the group’s currency exposure, the new company allows it to take advantage of favourable tax rates in Ireland.
Every possible tactic to minimise costs on long-haul, but there are challenges
Norwegian appears to be using every possible tactic to minimise costs for its long-haul operations. While having an Irish operating subsidiary may also give it increased flexibility in terms of traffic rights, its principal advantage would seem to be the flexibility it gives to employ staff in other countries, wherever they may be based.
This allows it to avoid Norway’s high labour cost environment. Its decision to establish an asset management company in Ireland allows it greater efficiency in its aircraft-related costs. Nevertheless, even according to Norwegian’s own expectations, long-haul profitability will take some time to achieve. Moreover, a leisure focused point-to-point long-haul network with remotely based employees and aircraft brings marketing and operational challenges.
See related report: Norwegian improves its 1Q2013 results, but widebody profits may be one for the long-haul
Other European LCCs have taken advantage of EU liberalisation of traffic rights and, to some extent, labour laws, to establish pan-European operations. Norwegian is the first to attempt to circumvent the web of regulations that have previously prevented any carrier from establishing truly pan-global operations. Norwegian is still very small on long-haul, but it is clear that US competitors do not feel comfortable at the threat its future growth could bring.
Norwegian needs to secure the pending approvals, but US airline whinging is misplaced
Just as the likes of easyJet and Ryanair have occasionally bumped heads with regulators in Europe, often prompted by competitors and unions, it is to be expected that Norwegian will not always enjoy a totally smooth path on its own expansion trajectory. As long as its applications for a US foreign air carrier permit and Irish AOC remain outstanding, there is a risk that they will not be approved. US carriers have become more vocally protectionist recently, notably voicing objections to the planned expansion of the Gulf carriers into US markets.
What is clear is that Norwegian needs to secure the pending approvals for operations that will allow it lower labour costs than the very high levels that apply in Norway if its long-haul ambitions are to remain economically feasible. Even then, as CAPA has commented previously, the opportunity to find meaningful sources of cost advantage on long-haul is not as great as it was when LCCs started to eat into the short-haul market.
See related report: Norwegian Air Shuttle: Asia’s longhaul LCC model comes to the N Atlantic (but watch falling profits)
On the other side of the debate, and especially in the light of this latter point, the whinging of Norwegian’s trans-Atlantic competitors seems misplaced.
They would perhaps be better served by seeking to lower their own costs and to promote their products and networks than by attempting to harness regulators to prevent competition that will surely come from somewhere, some time. As long as there are regions of the world where labour costs are lower than in other regions, it is inevitable that a global industry such as aviation will find ways to arbitrage those differences.
But a US industry that is now reaping the financial benefits of Chapter 11 restructuring and consolidation is reluctant to rock the boat with the powerful pilots’ unions – a strategy that may come back to bite them as those same unions become more anxious to share in the new-found profitability of their employers.
“London Councils” is a cross-party organisation which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London and works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. It has responded to the 2nd stage of the government’s consultation on night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted by repeating its call for a total ban on night time flying from 2017. At present there is no ban on flying from the three airports at night but a limit on take-off and landing is in place. At Heathrow this is currently 2,550 in winter and 3,250 in summer. Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee, said: “Night flights are an unacceptable part of the capital’s airport operations. This consultation is disappointing as it discusses keeping the current system, or extending the time period of the restrictions. It does not allow a proper assessment of the economic or health implications of banning night flights, which is what the majority of our residents want.” London Councils believes night flight noise is a serious well-being issue and has a big impact on quality of life for ordinary Londoners. “Any new technical and operation procedures could help, but ultimately communities across the capital would like a ban on night flights from 2017.”
“London Councils” says about themselves:
London Councils represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion.
London Councils makes the case to government, the Mayor and others to get the best deal for Londoners and to ensure that our member authorities have the resources, freedoms and powers to do the best possible job for their residents and local businesses.
………. London Councils acts as a catalyst for effective sharing among boroughs – be that ideas, good practice, people, resources, or policies and new approaches.
The strategic direction of London Councils is set by the Leaders’ Committee. Meeting eight times a year, our Leaders’ Committee comprises the Leaders of all of London’s local authorities. There is also a cross-party Executive Committee which guides the organisation’s day-to-day work.
London Councils has responded to the second stage of the government’s consultation on night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted by repeating its call for a total ban on night time flying from 2017. At present there is no ban on flying from the three airports at night but a limit on take-off and landing is in place. At Heathrow this is currently 2,550 in winter and 3,250 in summer.
Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “Night flights are an unacceptable part of the capital’s airport operations. This consultation is disappointing as it discusses keeping the current system, or extending the time period of the restrictions. It does not allow a proper assessment of the economic or health implications of banning night flights, which is what the majority of our residents want.
“London is a world city and excellent transport links are vital to our economy. But as lively, vibrant and exciting as London is, it can also be noisy at ground level during the night and in the early hours without huge jets thundering overhead too. I believe this is a serious wellbeing issue and has a big impact on quality of life for ordinary Londoners. I’d like to see a frank and open discussion with all the options on the table.”
London Councils’ response also refers to three new studies which add to evidence of health risks associated with aircraft noise. Councils want the government to make a firmer commitment towards acknowledging and mitigating possible health risks associated with night flights.
In one answer London Councils highlights that a trial designed to cut early morning noise carried out in south London proved controversial. ‘The ‘Early Morning Respite’ trial had some serious negative noise impacts to Lewisham residents and particularly to those in the Brockley area,’ the consultation response states. It goes on to acknowledge that ‘Heathrow is engaging with the residents affected, who have also witnessed a general increase in aircraft noise’.
Councillor West added: “London Councils supports further investigations on any procedures that offer a potential for reducing aircraft noise, both day and night. Any new technical and operation procedures could help, but ultimately communities across the capital would like a ban on night flights from 2017.”
In November 2013, the Department for Transport (DfT) launched its second stage consultation on the next night flight regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
DfT has proposed a three year regime which will retain the main features of the current regime, although some minor changes will be made to restrict the noisiest aircraft. This three-year regime, which will be in place until October 2017, is shorter than recent regimes in order to align it with the work of the Airports Commission.
As highlighted in our response to the Stage 1 consultation, London Councils have consistently opposed any night flights due to the significant negative impacts on local communities. For the next regime, London boroughs would have wished to see more stringent restrictions which reflects actual needs, incentivises the upgrade to quieter aircraft fleets and protects the night sleep of neighbouring communities.
Zac Goldsmith challenges Heathrow to take a leaf out of Gatwick’s book
Friday 7th February 2014
By Amy Dyduch (Local Guardian)
Zac Goldsmith has challenged Heathrow to match Gatwick’s pledge to reduce the impact of aircraft noise for people living under the flight path.
In a recent expansion of its noise insulation scheme, to be rolled out from April, homes around Gatwick can apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing, while loft insulation has increased by up to 40 per cent.
If Heathrow was to adopt a similar scheme up to 70,000 homes would be eligible to apply for funds – nearly double the current number.
The Conservative MP for Richmond Park said Gatwick’s move was a bold and responsible one by an airport willing to adapt to aircraft noise in line with the latest scientific evidence.
He said: “Heathrow continually downplays the effects of aircraft on the community in its bid to expand its airport, and is using wildly outdated formula for its own insulation scheme.
“Even without expansion, the airport already impacts more people than all other major European airports combined, and it’s time for the management to tackle the issue responsibly and seriously.”
There are currently about 40,000 homes around Heathrow eligible for noise insulation and the airport publishes a quarterly league table to benchmark how quiet individual airline fleets are and how quietly they are flown.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “Our proposal for a third runway would see fewer people affected by noise than today due to quieter aircraft and new flight paths.
“We have said that if government supports a third runway at Heathrow then any areas which do experience new noise or a significant increase in noise should be eligible for free noise insulation.”
Business leaders in Birmingham have criticised the Airports Commission’s interim report, released on 17th December, for overlooking the “crucial role” Birmingham Airport could play, in allegedly supporting the local and national economy. The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said the potential for the airport to capture thousands of new passengers was not being considered. It has written to MPs Louise Ellman, chair of the Common’s Transport Select Committee, and committee member Chloe Smith to outline its view. The GBCC would like to invite Ms Ellman and other members of the Transport Select Committee to visit businesses in Birmingham “to showcase how Birmingham Airport can help drive the export-led recovery.” The GBCC says it is pleased that Birmingham Airport has been identified as a long-term option for development. They say that “the catchment area for Birmingham Airport is home to half a million businesses (approximately 25% of British business) and has the largest share of manufacturing activity of all airport catchment areas.” Also that the Commission “could have gone much further in exploring the role of both HS2 and other economic assets across the West Midlands.”
Business leaders condemn government report for not recognising Birmingham Airport’s economic potential
3rd February 2014 (The Business Desk)
By Duncan Tift – Deputy Editor
Business leaders in Birmingham have criticised a government report on the future of UK airports for overlooking the “crucial role” Birmingham Airport could play.
The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said the potential for the airport to capture thousands of new passengers was not being considered.
It has written to MPs Louise Ellman, chair of the Common’s Transport Select Committee, and committee member Chloe Smith to outline its view.
GBCC chief executive Jerry Blackett said he was disappointed the recent Airports Commission interim report had overlooked the crucial role Birmingham Airport played in supporting the local and national economy.
“I would be delighted to invite you and other members of the Transport Select Committee to visit businesses in Birmingham to showcase how Birmingham Airport can help drive the export-led recovery,” he told the MPs.
“While we are pleased that Birmingham Airport has been identified as a long-term option for development in the Airports Commission, we believe that the report has not demonstrated a modal shift in UK aviation policy and has not fully examined the role of aviation in supporting the rebalancing of the UK economy.
“The catchment area for Birmingham Airport is home to half a million businesses (approximately 25% of British business) and has the largest share of manufacturing activity of all airport catchment areas.”
The potential of the airport to attract new business has never been better underlined than the decision by low cost carrier Flybe to increase the number of flights it makes from the airport.
In one of its largest ever investment in regional services, the airline is launching seven new flights from Birmingham, siting three new jets at the airport and creating 50 new jobs.
It says the expansion is warranted because of the potential of the airport to attract the new business.
The move has also established Birmingham as its largest regional base.
Blackett adds: “In 2008, the value of West Midlands exports stood at around £16.8bn. By 2012, this had increased to £22.6bn, with exports to Asia growing rapidly. The Birmingham Airport runway extension, opening later this year, will put the airport in the top six longest runways thus enabling longer haul flights.
“Businesses in the Birmingham Airport catchment area are exporting more goods to emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East than any other airport. As we have seen, the burgeoning middle-class in China has driven demand for products by West Midlands manufacturers, such as Jaguar Land Rover, and this will rapidly increase demand for air connectivity. We need to ensure that this growth story is not stifled by a lack of access to emerging markets.”
This was a point made by the head of the West Midlands UK Trade & Investment organisation, Paul Noon. Speaking at the announcement of the new Flybe flights he said the expansion of the airport was good news for businesses looking to tap into new opportunities in Europe.
Blackett said the interim report also omitted a detailed examination of the transformational effects of HS2 on Birmingham Airport and the regional economy.
“Birmingham Airport’s close proximity to the HS2 Interchange Station means it would benefit substantially from the HS2 connectivity packages and transport improvements that have been proposed by Birmingham City Council and Centro, thus expanding its catchment even further,” he said.
“The Airports Commission report could have gone much further in exploring the role of both HS2 and other economic assets across the West Midlands, such as UK Central. We feel that the Airports Commission interim report largely represents conventional thinking. As such, we would encourage you to visit Birmingham businesses to highlight the challenges and opportunities to develop a regional airport strategy.”
Airports Commission publishes interim report with 2 options for a runway at Heathrow and 1 at Gatwick. Estuary still being considered
December 17, 2013
The Airports Commission’s interim report has put forward 3 options for a new runway, and have kept their options open on an estuary airport. There would only be one runway, not two and they consider this should be in operation before 2030. At Heathrow the choices are a north west runway, 3,500 metres long, destroying Harmondsworth; and an extension westwards of at least 3,000 metres, of the existing northern runway. They also consider a wide spaced Gatwick runway to the south. The Commission also says “there is likely to be a demand case for a 2nd additional runway to be operational by 2050.” They claim this is “consistent with the Committee of Climate Change’s advice to government on meeting its legislated climate change targets.” Stansted is ruled out, and on the Thames Estuary they say: “The Commission has not shortlisted any of the Thames Estuary options because there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage. It will undertake further study of the Isle of Grain option in the first half of 2014 and will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other short-listed options.” The report also contains recommendations to the government for immediate action to improve the use of existing runway capacity. Among others, these include better airspace organisation and surface transport improvements such as enhancement of Gatwick station, a rail link from the south to Heathrow, and a rail link between Heathrow and Stansted. Click here to view full story…
Birmingham Airport publishes proposals for its future growth – including 2nd runway – to the Airports Commission
July 26, 2013 Birmingham Airport has made a submission to the Airports Commission on its future growth plans. It hopes to grow from 9m passengers a year now to 70m, (the size of Heathrow currently) while allegedly reducing the number of people affected by night noise. They are aware that the Commission is looking at the number affected by noise in the proposals submitted. Birmingham airport says its current runway extension will allow it to handle 27m passengers a year and it has the potential for a 2nd runway to be built some time after 2030 – if the demand required it – costing under £7 billion. The airport estimates that by using the new runway for night flights, it would remove over 13,000 people from the 57dB night noise contour. Birmingham airport say they have support from a large number of businesses in the area, and are well placed for business travellers who are keen to avoid Heathrow and get direct flights to Birmingham. “We have recommended to the commission a network of great long-haul airports to serve Britain’s great cities. Our proposals show that Birmingham Airport is in a position to sit at the heart of this network, serving a valuable catchment area and relieving pressure on congested airports in the South East.” Click here to view full story…
Gatwick’s new £53 million station platform has been opened. Transport Minister Susan Baroness Kramer formally opened Platform 7 and its associated facilities. First Capital Connect, hopes having this new platform will mean better services for passengers going to the airport, and that it will unblock a bottleneck on the Brighton main line. With some 14 million people arriving at, or departing from the airport by rail each year, (about one third of passengers) improvements were necessary for the “passenger experience.” The Brighton Main Line is one of the busiest routes in the UK and the new platform at Gatwick should mean fewer delays for passengers using the line, as well as those getting off or on at Gatwick. The news coverage of the opening is characteristically gushy. This is part of a large redevelopment of the airport station – the Gatwick Gateway. Baroness Kramer said: “Gatwick makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we must make sure facilities are upgraded for the benefit of passengers. That is why we have committed a further £50 million [taxpayer money - see below] towards the complete redevelopment of the station.” Stewart Wingate said the improved station “will allow us to compete even more for passengers and airlines wanting to come to London and the South-east region.”
New £53 million platform opened at Gatwick Airport Station
3rd February 2014 (Redhill, Reigate & Horley Life)
Gatwick’s long-awaited “crucial” new £53 million platform has been opened. Transport Minister Baroness Kramer formally opened Platform 7 and its associated facilities this morning, signalling the first step in a “major redevelopment” of the lynch-pin airport station.
Rail chiefs hope the new platform will improve services for passengers going to the airport, and will unblock a bottleneck on the Brighton main line.
The ceremony marked the culmination of more than £80 million of investment in the line over the New Year.
It also marked a triumph over adversity for rail operator Network Rail, whose workers battled through the recent storms and floods to finish the major project on time and on budget, as well as renewing signalling equipment at London Victoria, and replacing rails at Stoats Nest Junction, near Purley.
Baroness Kramer said: “Gatwick makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we must make sure facilities are upgraded for the benefit of passengers. “That is why we have committed a further £50 million towards the complete redevelopment of the station.”
She added: “ I am delighted to open this new platform and thank staff for their work during horrendous weather.”
Tim Robinson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Sussex, said: “Managing growth is a challenge, but a good one to have. “Gatwick Airport is significant not just as an important station for passengers, but an important part of the UK’s infrastructure. “We recognise that and this £53 million investment is crucial to keep trains flowing and improve the experience of passengers from all stations in the region.” More than a third of Gatwick Airport’s 35 million passengers a year arrive by train, and that figure is expected to rise, along with demand along the railway in Sussex. Growth on the line is currently hitting 7% per year and is expected to go up by 22% by 2020.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern, which provides services in south London, between central London and the South coast, through East and West Sussex, Surrey and parts of Kent and Hampshire, said: “Running around 2,300 train services per day over some of Britain’s most congested track is always a challenge. “This major investment will improve the flexibility and reliability of the network in this critical section of the Brighton Mainline. “ He said: “As a result, passengers should see an improved travelling experience to accompany our other efforts to drive up service quality on our trains and stations.”
Gatwick Airport Station, which is operated by Southern and also served by First Capital Connect, is directly linked to 129 stations, and a further 700 can be reached with just one change.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick chief executive, said: “London Gatwick is already the best connected UK airport by rail and this upgrade will benefit the broad range of people that the airport station attracts, from tourists to the business traveller.”
He said: “ It will allow us to compete even more for passengers and airlines wanting to come to London and the South-east region.”
He added: “This is the first step in our vision for a further major redevelopment of the airport station – the Gatwick Gateway. “We recognised that with over 14 million people arriving or departing by rail, that an investment had to be made to improve the passenger experience in and around the airport.”
First Capital Connect managing director David Statham, said: “The Brighton Main Line is one of the busiest routes in the UK and the new platform at Gatwick is fantastic news for passengers. “This part of the line can be frustrating, particularly during disruption, and this work should mean fewer delays.”
The new station platform is the latest in a long line of developments and improvements at Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world.
Its current owners, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the majority shareholder of a group of international investment funds, unveiled a £1 billion programme of improvements designed to transform the passenger experience at Gatwick in 2010. Since then, Gatwick has scored a string of airport firsts and innovations, including the opening of Jamie Oliver’s first airport restaurant and a Harrods branch, has won a number of key international routes, and has had millions of pounds worth of improvements already spent on it.
London Gatwick has today opened Platform 7 at its Gatwick Airport rail station, as a £53m joint project with Network Rail is completed. Transport Minister Baroness Kramer was on site to officially open the platform that will deliver greater reliability for airport passengers and commuters.
This exciting project was made possible thanks to a joint campaign between Gatwick Airport, local business groups and airlines who backed the delivery of this new platform and helped secure the investment needed.
The new platform and section of rail line will allow for fast trains from both London Bridge and London Victoria to travel through the station more quickly, with Gatwick contributing £7.5m to the project to ensure the upgrade could take place.
Passengers and commuters can already travel between Gatwick and London Victoria in 30 minutes, Gatwick and London Bridge in 28 minutes and be in the financial district of Canary Wharf in under 45 minutes. Signalling upgrades will allow for more reliable travelling times in preparation for service improvements associated with the Thameslink Programme upgrade, which increases the number of trains and range of destinations from Gatwick from 2018.
The project also incorporates wider benefits that will allow for a better passenger experience throughout the airport. The station concourse itself has seen a major refurbishment with new flooring providing an open and light space.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick Chief Executive, said: “London Gatwick is already the best connected UK airport by rail and this upgrade will benefit the broad range of people that the airport station attracts, from tourists to the business traveller. It will allow us to compete even more for passengers and airlines wanting to come to London and the South East region.
“This is the first step in our vision for a further major redevelopment of the airport station – the Gatwick Gateway. We recognised that with over 14 million people arriving or departing by rail that an investment had to be made to improve the passenger experience in and around the airport.”
Baroness Kramer, Transport Minister, said: “Gatwick makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we must make sure facilities are upgraded for the benefit of passengers. That is why we have committed a further £50 million towards the complete redevelopment of the station. I am delighted to open this new platform and thank staff for their work during horrendous weather.”
The project is part of a wider planned redevelopment of the airport station that was boosted by the Government announcing that it will contribute £50m of funding to kick-start the redevelopment – The Gatwick Gateway.
Today’s opening is also the beginning of a rail improvement programme that will see on-going upgrades over the next four to five years at Gatwick Airport station.
The Thameslink programme will provide an additional 50% capacity by 2018 following the introduction of new longer trains and infrastructure improvement that will deliver direct links from Gatwick to Peterborough and Cambridge.
Public funding for station upgrading:
London Gatwick welcomes Government funding for the redevelopment of Gatwick Rail Station
4 December 2013
London Gatwick today welcomes the Government’s announcement that it will contribute £50m of funding to kick-start the redevelopment of Gatwick’s rail station – The Gatwick Gateway.
The announcement, made today as part of the revised National Infrastructure Plan, recognises Gatwick’s important role in UK aviation and the need to ensure a world-class railway station for both existing and future passengers.
The Government’s funding commitment follows a letter from the Independent Chair of the Airports Commission Sir Howard Davies to the Chancellor, which recognises Gatwick’s success in increasing the number of long haul destinations served, and includes a series of recommendations on improving surface access to enable passengers to more effectively access new and existing routes.
Of the 35 million passengers using Gatwick airport each year, 14 million arrive or depart by rail; making it the busiest airport station in Britain. Not only does the airport provide the fastest routes into the City and West End, it also connects directly to over 120 stations throughout London and the South East.
This connectivity will be further improved upon completion of a £53m project to improve platform capacity in early 2014 [platform opened on 3.2.2014] and with the introduction of the Thameslink franchise later that year.
As passenger numbers at Gatwick continue to grow, with new airlines flying to more destinations, the redevelopment will be vital in ensuring a world-class passenger experience both now and in the future. The airport’s analysis with Network Rail shows that a station with this number of passengers requires a concourse at least double the size of the existing facilities just to meet the current demand.
The National Infrastructure Plan also outlined a number of further measures for surface access at Gatwick, including accelerating a Network Rail study into the Brighton Mainline, incorporating the Gatwick to London route on a planned trial of smart ticketing and including access to Gatwick in the Highways Agency study on local motorways.
Commenting on today’s announcement, London Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, said:
“We are pleased that the Airports Commission has taken on board our recommendations on how to ensure growth at our airport in the short and medium term and maintain the UK’s position as one of the best connected countries in the world.
“This new funding is a welcome and positive first step toward delivering the new Gatwick Gateway rail station. We have worked well with Network Rail on our current rail improvement project and are looking forward to working with them, the Treasury and the Department for Transport to leverage this initial investment.
“Gatwick currently has the highest percentage of passengers accessing the airport by rail of any UK airport and as we continue to grow the number of global routes served by legacy, charter and low cost airlines, the package of measures announced today will help us deliver a world-class passenger experience for Britons and visitors alike.”
John Dickie, Director of Strategy & Policy, London First said “The rail station at Gatwick has been neglected for far too long. For many visitors, it’s their first impression of the UK so we welcome this plan for improvement. Alongside enhanced services under the new rail franchise and the many improvements made to the airport itself, this is a key step in improvements that are good for Gatwick, good for London and good for the UK.“
Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, said “This is more great news for the airport and for the Gatwick Diamond area. The station is currently undergoing a £53million refit and we should start to see the benefits of the new Platform Seven in 2014. This money will go some way towards developing further public transport access to the Airport and I look forward to learning more about the plans.”
Heathrow airport has started its 6-week consultation, to ask people living near the airport how they can “improve” on their runway plans – and reduce opposition to it as much as possible. The airport is sending out 140,000 short (12 page) booklets, to many neighbouring boroughs, but not Richmond (where there is fierce opposition). The thrust of the consultation is on noise. It is extremely simplistic, and should not really be considered as a proper consultation. Except for people motivated to write a lot of their own text, there is no simple way to say “No, we do not support a new runway” in the consultation response form itself. There are no questions along those lines. The form only has two questions – the first asking respondents to rank a list of criteria; the second asking if people think it is more important to have fewer communities living under flight paths affected more badly, or more communities affected a bit less. There is stunningly little detail. Colin Matthews says: “This consultation is to make sure we correctly understand what local people value and that we can take their views into account as we refine our proposal.” Everyone with an interest in Heathrow and its runway plans should reply to the questionnaire, and tell Heathrow just what they think, in the space for responses in Question 3. The consultation ends on 16th March.
Heathrow’s six-week consultation asking for views on a fourth runway [sic !!?? - means 3rd] at the airport has launched today.
The airport wants feedback on its north-west runway plan, which has been shortlisted by the Davies Commission.
Heathrow’s chief executive Colin Matthews said: “We believe our proposal to expand Heathrow is the right way to deliver the capacity Britain needs to connect to fast growing economies around the world.
“This consultation is to make sure we correctly understand what local people value and that we can take their views into account as we refine our proposal.”
People in Richmond have not been sent one of the 140,000 questionnaires mailed out but can share their thoughts online.
Richmond Council leader Lord True said: “We know what the residents of this borough feel; no new runway, no more night flights, no expansion of Heathrow.
“They proved that by turning out in their tens of thousands at our referendum last year.
“Faced with the recent dismal report by the Davies Commission we need to be united and unequivocal in our opposition to expansion.”
For the consultation questionnaire, visit heathrow.com/localcommunity.
People can respond online, or they can ring a number to have a phone interview. Those who receive the booklets through the door can respond on the Freepost form, or they can attend one of the public exhibitions that are planned.
This is the entire online consultation response form content:
Shaping Heathrow’s north west runway proposal
A public consultation: 3 February – 16 March 2014
What factors do you think are the most important when planning a new runway?
All the factors listed below are important to local residents to varying degrees. Your response to this question helps us understand your priorities.
Please rank your top five in order of importance from 1 to 5 (1 = most important)
Loss of homes and businesses
National economic benefits
Range of national/international flight destinations
Viability of local communities
. Question 2
Which of the following statements best matches your attitude to noise relief from aircraft and the number of communities living beneath flight paths?
– Providing periods of significant noise relief for all communities is more important than limiting the number of communities living beneath flight paths.
– Limiting the number of communities living beneath flight paths is more important than providing periods of significant noise relief for all communities.
– Don’t know
How can we improve our proposal for a new runway?
Please use the space below to tell us your ideas or to mention any other factors not covered by Questions 1 and 2.
There is the opportunity of saying a lot more, in response to Question 3. The document says:
A public consultation – 3 February to 16 March 2014
3.2.2014 (Heathrow airport website)
In December 2013 the Airports Commission, an independent body set up by the Government, included Heathrow on its shortlist of options for additional runway capacity in the UK.
Of the three proposals Heathrow Airport submitted, our option for a runway to the north west of Heathrow is the one that’s been shortlisted for the further detailed consideration.
There’s still much work to do to refine our proposal before the Commission makes its final recommendation to Government in 2015. As part of this work, we are now consulting with residents and the businesses likely to be most affected.
Since we first published our outline plans for a new runway, we have welcomed comments and feedback from local residents. We really do want to hear your views.
This consultation provides another opportunity to say what you think about our proposal and the issues that are most important to you.
This site contains information on our proposal for a new runway at Heathrow, the next steps in the Airports Commission process and how you can help us shape our proposal.
You can complete the consultation response form right away by using the link to the right of this page. You may find it useful, though, to learn more about the consultation by reading theinteractive consultation document.
You can also use the links on the left to find out more about our proposals and the public exhibition sessions we will be holding across the local area during the consultation.
The public consultation runs from 3rd February to 16th March. I hope you will take this opportunity to get involved and let us know your thoughts on the future of Heathrow.
Gatwick airport continues to spend a lot of money in attempting to get backing for its 2nd runway and soften up opposition. It has now set up a new scheme – starting on 1st April – to give people overflown more double glazing and house insulation, to attempt to cut some of the noise. That, of course, does not work when the windows are open, or when people are outside – in a garden, or elsewhere. Gatwick says it is expanding its noise insulation scheme, to cover over 1,000 more homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. People will be able to apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing for their windows and doors as well as loft insulation; ie the scheme could cost Gatwick some £3 million in total. They are now taking the 60 Leq contour, rather than the 66 Leq contour, as in the past – hence increasing the catchment area. They are also extending the area covered by 15km to both west and east of the airport. Stewart Wingate said “We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was”… Gatwick is pushing hard to compare the noise problem it causes with the much larger noise problem caused by Heathrow, where flight paths go over many more densely populated areas. They ignore the issue of the low level of background noise around Gatwick, compared to background noise in a city or large town.
Imagine this huge noise area, doubled, 1 – 1.5 km south of the existing runway, if Gatwick was allowed a second runway.
Gatwick Double-Glazing Pitch Seeks Noise Edge in Heathrow Battle
By Robert Wall (Bloomberg)
February 03, 2014
London Gatwick airport sought to put noise reduction at the center of a campaign to be chosen as the location for a new runway ahead of the U.K.’s Heathrow hub with a pledge to upgrade more than 1,000 homes with double glazing.
Gatwick will provide 3,000 pounds ($5,000) per house — about 3 million pounds in total — to fund measures including loft insulation and enhancements to windows and doors, the airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, said today.
Gatwick’s campaign for local backing comes as Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, begins distributing booklets on its rival growth plan to 140,000 households and businesses. A government commission into runway capacity in southern England, led by Howard Davies, highlighted the two sites as best-suited to the expansion required to maintain London as a major air hub.
The Gatwick plan “takes into account both the increased sensitivity people have towards noise levels, as well as the frequency of how many times they might be overflown,” the airport said. While the extension of noise-control measures could double the number of homes involved to 2,000, some 70,000 would have to be covered if the same criteria were applied in Heathrow’s much more densely populated hinterland, it said.
Heathrow Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Colin Matthews said in a separate release that its six-week consultation beginning today will seek to determine what local people most value so that the expansion plan can be refined accordingly.
Heathrow revealed last month it was looking at shifting one proposed location for a third runway further south to reduce an overlap with the M25 highway that circles London and avoid destruction of historic buildings including a barn built in 1426 said to rival Westminster Abbey for architectural merit.
Even then, constructing an additional landing strip would involve demolishing 950 homes.
Gatwick said it has widened the catchment area for homes qualifying for insulation by setting the baseline at 60 Leq — a measurement of decibel levels over an extended period — rather than 66 Leq previously.
The noise contour has also been extended along flight paths by 15 kilometers (9 miles) east and west of the airport.
Gatwick, Europe’s busiest single-runway airport, said that with a second strip its noise would affect 11,800 people, less than 5 percent of the number already impacted by Heathrow today. It also argues that growth would be swifter and less costly than at Heathrow, which has broad airline backing.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
.Above is a very rough drawing of approximately what the noise contour – requiring sound insulation etc – might look like with the addition of a second runway to the south (rough line in red showing indicative outer margin of area even the airport acknowledges is very badly affected). Drawing from AirportWatch, not from Gatwick airport, though based on the Gatwick map above..
Airport says: “London Gatwick announces most innovative noise mitigation scheme in Europe”
3 February 2014 (Gatwick airport website)
Ground-breaking scheme increases noise boundary by 15km each end of the runway
Number of homes which will now be eligible has increased by over 40%
Community must come first says Gatwick
Gatwick challenges Heathrow to match scheme on the day Heathrow starts community consultation
Today, London Gatwick has announced it is significantly expanding its noise insulation scheme, making it the most innovative of any airport in Europe. The new scheme will cover over one thousand more homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. They will be able to apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing for their windows and doors as well as loft insulation. This will mean that over 40% more homes will be protected from noise than are covered with the old scheme.
The major changes to the scheme are two-fold. First the noise boundary for the scheme has increased by using a lower level of noise from 66 Leq to 60 Leq as a baseline with the boundary line drawn flexibly to ensure entire roads and communities are included. Secondly, the noise contour boundary has been drawn along the flight paths by 15km to both the east and west of the airport. We are not aware of any other airport in the world offering a scheme of this magnitude.
Crucially, the scheme takes into account both the increased sensitivity people have towards noise levels as well as the frequency of how many times they might be overflown. If the new scheme is taken up by all eligible households in the Gatwick area it would cover around 2,000 homes. As a comparison, if the same scheme was applied to Heathrow it would have to cover around 70,000 homes due to the fact aircraft have to overfly densely populated areas of London. A similar scheme at Heathrow would extend to Windsor in the west and Putney in the east, covering landmarks such as Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens.
The impact of both the level and frequency of aircraft noise on local communities needs to be a critical issue for the Airports Commission’s assessment of the Heathrow and Gatwick runway proposals. Gatwick’s noise impacts are already significantly lower than at Heathrow. With a second runway, the number of people impacted by noise at Gatwick would be up to 11,800. This is equivalent to less than 5% of the people Heathrow impacts today¹. Heathrow currently impacts more people than all of the other major European airports combined² and under their current expansion plans over 700 additional flights could use the airport each day.
Commenting on the proposals Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick CEO, said: “The leadership position we have taken on aircraft noise today shows the importance we attach to our local community as we continue to compete and grow from a single runway, but also as we plan to build a second. We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was which is why we are now extending our noise insulation scheme to cover the 30km flight path east and west of the airport.
“It is crucial that the UK has a deliverable, quick and affordable solution to where the next runway will be. Gatwick can give the UK the economic benefits it needs at an environmental cost it can afford. The role of local communities is critical and must not be over looked. As Heathrow starts to consult its local communities about a third runway they should break their silence about noise and think seriously about following our lead.”
Independent noise expert Dr Ian Flindell said: “Extending the boundaries of Gatwick’s new noise insulation scheme to include more people at lower sound levels is a very innovative departure from existing practice, and demonstrates a huge commitment to the surrounding community. It appears to be among the most generous of similar schemes I have seen across other European airports and possibly worldwide. Aircraft noise can be a very serious issue for many people living near airports, and anything that the airport can do to mitigate this problem is entirely worthwhile.”
Notes to Editors
High resolution versions of the Gatwick and Heathrow maps attached to this release can be downloaded here:
¹ The CAA’s annual noise contours show that Heathrow impacts around 239,000 people today.
² Source: Dft Draft Aviation Policy Framework Consultation July 2012.
Changes to Gatwick’s Noise Insulation Scheme include:
Leq is a measurement used to express the average sound level over a 16-hour, 92-day summertime average.
Contours based on 60 Leq, which has been improved from the previous 66 Leq. This automatically widens the contour area covered.
Noise at 60 Leq level can be compared to listening to a conversation a short distance away. In comparison, 66 Leq is more akin to hearing a vacuum cleaner a short distance away.
The east and west boundaries have been expanded by 15km each way from the point of aircraft touchdown. This covers a significantly larger area at each end of the runway, where local people suffer from noise from approaching aircraft.
Gatwick offered all local households eligible for the previous scheme the opportunity to comment and feedback on it before designing the new scheme, as well as local authorities and Gatwick’s consultative committee GATCOM.
Gatwick will write to every household eligible under the new scheme in advance of 1 April to outline the process for applying for scheme.
About Dr Ian Flindell
Dr Ian Flindell is widely known across Europe as an independent acoustics consultant and as a teacher and researcher at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR).
He is a recognised expert in subjective acoustics, specialising in the assessment and management of environmental noise, particularly around airports, and has contributed to the development of standards, regulations and methods of assessment.
Dr Flindell has been an expert witness at major airport development public inquiries (for British Airports Authority plc) and co-authored the UK government report (for Dept. of Transport) ‘Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources (2007). He has also managed ISVR’s contribution to various EU projects including ‘Sound Engineering for Aircraft (SEFA)’ and ‘Community Oriented Solutions to Minimise Aircraft Noise Annoyance (COSMA)’.
London Gatwick has announced it is significantly expanding its noise insulation scheme – which it says will make it the ‘most innovative airport in Europe’.
The new scheme will cover over 1,000 more homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent, meaning more than 40% more homes will be protected from noise than are covered with the old scheme.
And householders will be able to apply for up to €3,500 towards double-glazing for their windows, and doors as well as loft insulation.
As part of the new scheme, the noise boundary has been increased by using a lower level of noise from 66 Leq to 60 Leq as a baseline, with the boundary line drawn flexibly to ensure entire roads and communities are included.
Secondly, the noise contour boundary has been drawn along the flight paths, by 15km to both the east and west of the airport, and Gatwick says, it is not aware of any other airport in the world ‘offering a scheme of this magnitude’.
The scheme is also said to take into account both the increased sensitivity people have towards noise levels, as well as the frequency of how many times they might be overflown.
If the new scheme is taken up by all eligible households in the Gatwick area, it would cover around 2,000 homes.
Gatwick says the impact of both the level and frequency of aircraft noise on local communities needs to be a critical issue for the Airports Commission, who will recommend next year, whether Heathrow or Gatwick should have an additional runway built.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick CEO, says: “The leadership position we have taken on aircraft noise today shows the importance we attach to our local community as we continue to compete and grow from a single runway, but also as we plan to build a second.
“We understand the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was, which is why we are now extending our noise insulation scheme to cover the 30km flight path east and west of the airport.
“It is crucial that the UK has a deliverable, quick and affordable solution to where the next runway will be. Gatwick can give the UK the economic benefits it needs at an environmental cost it can afford. The role of local communities is critical and must not be over looked.
“As Heathrow starts to consult its local communities about a third runway they should break their silence about noise and think seriously about following our lead.”
The extended noise insulation programme will roll out from April 1, 2014.
Gatwick throws down gauntlet to Heathrow over noise insulation
Gatwick extends insulation scheme to cover more households, and challenges Heathrow to follow suit
Gatwick is extending its noise insulation scheme to stretch 30km and has challenged Heathrow to follow suit, as the battle for an extra runway hots up.
As Heathrow launched its consultation about plans for a third runway at the airport today, Gatwick announced it would offer noise insulation to an extra 860 homes within the 60 Leq noise contour.
The airport, which itself wants a second runway, challenged Heathrow to match its offer – meaning it would have to cover an estimated 70,000 households, from Windsor in the west to Putney in the east.
Heathrow already offers free sound proofing measures, including double glazing, ventilation and loft insulation, to some 40,000 homes under the flight path.
Gatwick’s current scheme covers just under 1,200 homes within the noisier 66 leq contour. It claims the new offer, covering a total of 30km of rural land from east to west, will be the most generous in the world when it is rolled out in April 1 this year.
Gatwick’s announcement marks a fresh intensity in the fight for a new runway, with the Airports Commission having whittled down the options to a shortlist of three: two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.
Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “The leadership position we have taken on aircraft noise today shows the importance we attach to our local community as we continue to compete and grow from a single runway, but also as we plan to build a second.
“We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was which is why we are now extending our noise insulation scheme to cover the 30km flight path east and west of the airport.”
The Leq scale is used to measure average noise over an extended period; 66 Leq is comparable to that from a vacuum cleaner, while 60 Leq is that of a nearby conversation.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Around 40,000 homes are eligible for noise insulation under Heathrow’s current noise schemes.
“Our proposal for a third runway would see fewer people affected by noise than today due to quieter aircraft and new flight paths. We have said that if government supports a third runway at Heathrow then any areas which do experience new noise or a significant increase in noise should be eligible for free noise insulation.”
Heathrow today launched a six-week consultation about its plans for a new runway to the north-west of the existing two.
Booklets are being sent to 140,000 homes and business around the airport asking for people’s views on the new runway’s operation. These will be used to revise its final proposal, due to be submitted to the Airports Commission in May.
People will also be able to have their say at a series of exhibitions, with locations including Brentford Holiday Inn on March 6, from midday to 8pm, and Hounslow Civic Centre on March 8, from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion campaign group HACAN, has branded the consultation a ‘PR exercise’, claiming the real issue is whether a new runway is needed in the first place.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has made a detailed submission to the DfT consultation on night flights, calling for Government action to end the scourge of these flights. The government consultation proposes that Stansted should continue to be allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow and far more than are needed. The 12,000 cap was set in 2006, when Stansted was still expanding rapidly, and a 2nd runway was planned. However, today Stansted is handling 30% less traffic than in 2006. Logically allowing Stansted 12,000 night flights a year can no longer be justified. SSE argues that those living under Stansted’s flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, ie. a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions. Stansted handled just over 8,500 night flights last year – well below the Government limit of 12,000. SSE is pressing for the limit to be cut to 7,500 night flights from October 2014 and then further reduced by 500 flights each year until night flights are totally phased out. The recent announcement by British Airways that it pulling the plug on its cargo operations at Stansted means that reducing the number of permitted night flights at Stansted from 12,000 to 7,500 should now be easily achievable.
Government must act to end night flights
31 January 2014 (Stop Stansted Expansion)
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has made a detailed submission to the Department for Transport (DfT) calling for Government action to end the scourge of noisy night flights.
SSE’s submission is in response to a Government consultation which proposes that Stansted should continue to be allowed 12,000 flights a year between the hours of 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow and far more than are needed.
The 12,000 cap was set in 2006 at a time when Stansted was still expanding rapidly. The Government anticipated that a second runway would soon be built and that more night flights would be needed. However, today Stansted is handling 30% less traffic than it was in 2006 and its plans for a second runway were cancelled in 2010. In all the circumstances, allowing Stansted 12,000 night flights a year can no longer be justified.
Stansted handled just over 8,500 night flights last year – well below the Government limit.
SSE is pressing for the limit to be reduced to 7,500 night flights from October 2014 and then further reduced by 500 flights each year until night flights are totally phased out. The recent announcement by British Airways that it pulling the plug on its cargo operations at Stansted means that reducing the number of permitted night flights at Stansted from 12,000 to 7,500 should now be easily achievable.
SSE’s submission also argues that those living in the vicinity of Stansted and under its flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which should mean a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions on night flights.
SSE has also highlighted the particular disturbance caused by night flights at Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels are generally very low. The submission also calls for an immediate ban on aircraft using reverse thrust at night except in emergencies.
Martin Peachey, SSE’s noise adviser, commented: “For years the Government has been promising that it will bear down on aircraft noise at night. However, night flights at Stansted are still increasing, not decreasing. It’s time to reverse that trend and set a firm timetable for phasing out night flights altogether.”
This is the second part of a two-stage consultation process which began in January 2013. The new arrangements will come into force in October this year. www.stopstanstedexpansion.com
Stansted: Campaigners call for end to airport’s night flights
by Andrew Hirst (EADT)
Monday, February 3, 2014
Campaigners have called on the Government to bring an end to the “scourge” of noisy night flights at Stansted Airport.
The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group believes the current cap of 12,000 night flights a year, which is twice the amount permitted at Heathrow, is “far more than needed”.
SSE’s noise advisor Martin Peachey said: “For years the Government has been promising that it will bear down on aircraft noise at night.
“However, night flights at Stansted are still increasing, not decreasing.
“It’s time to reverse that trend and set a firm timetable for phasing out night flights altogether.”
The group made its submissions in response to a Government consultation which proposes to maintain the 12,000 flight limit between the hours of 11.30pm and 6am.
SSE believes the limit is outdated, having been made at a time, in 2006, when the airport was still expanding rapidly.
With Stansted handling 30% less traffic than it was in 2006, and plans for a second runway cancelled in 2010, the group claims that allowing 12,000 night flights a year “can no longer be justified”.
The submission also argued that those living in region had the right to a full eight hours sleep, rather than the six and a half hours included in the definition of a “night flight”. It also highlighted the particular disturbance caused at Stansted because of its rural location and the very low levels of background noise.
A DFT spokesman said: “Aviation plays an important role in the UK economy, but the government recognises the impact night flights have on people and expects the industry to reduce noise and minimise demand for night flights where alternatives are available.
“We will consider carefully all responses to the current consultation on night noise, which ends on Monday 3 February, and will respond in due course.”
Stansted Airport’s Chris Wiggan has previously said: “As the UK economy improves and passenger and freight movements continue to grow at Stansted, it is vital that government recognises this potential and retains our full night flight quota limit.
“Whilst we understand that night noise is an impor-tant issue for airport commu-nities, a reduction in the limit would have a damaging effect on the UK economy and only serve to transfer movements to airports with greater environmental impacts.”
Calls for a new airport for the Yorkshire region have emerged as a Wakefield council urged the scrapping of HS2 in favour of a wider package of transport improvements. Wakefield councillors voted to oppose HS2 scheme which would see high speed trains passing through the district to a new stop in the centre of Leeds. The council wants a broader debate on the future of transport in the North including alternative proposals for high speed rail, investment in the road network and a possible long term replacement for Leeds-Bradford Airport. This would be better connected to major roads and rail lines and with room to expand over the longer term. It is thought that the current location of the airport is poor, and does not encourage more to use it. Some consider it may make better economic sense to invest money in improved transport links to the existing airport. Those considering moving the airport say looking 20, 30, 40 years ahead there might be a better location so the airport is better linked to HS2, built on land around the M1, A1 and M62. However, a new airport could cost £5 billion. Who is going to pay for that?
Calls for new Leeds airport
by James Reed
29 January 2014 (Yorkshire Evening Post)
A NEW airport to serve Leeds could be needed to make sure the city thrives in the coming years, according to council leader Keith Wakefield.
Discussions are underway over whether a new airport should be built that connects with the proposed high speed rail line into the city and major roads.
Council leaders in West Yorkshire are concerned that Leeds-Bradford Airport’s location makes it hard to reach and could limit its growth.
Talks are at a very early stage but it is likely any new airport would be on land around the M1 and A1.
Coun Wakefield said: “We want Leeds and Yorkshire to be as ambitious as any other region.
“The existing operators of Leeds-Bradford have been very good and increased passenger numbers but if we are to make sure aviation is a key part of our transport strategy we have to recognise there are limitations on the existing location.
“If we are looking 20, 30, 40 years ahead there might be a better location so it can link with HS2 and create a transport hub.”
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box has also called for a new airport to be considered as part of wider improvements to transport in the region.
Tony Hallwood, aviation development and marketing director at Leeds-Bradford Airport, said: “Leeds-Bradford can meet the long term need for air travel in Yorkshire and we can continue to grow at a fast pace.
“That would be assisted through road and rail links from across the region. We could invest in those now and we could be ready to deliver over the next four or five years. A new airport could be decades away.”
Scrap HS2 and move Leeds Airport next to M1 says council
by James Reed Political Correspondent (Yorkshire Post)
30 January 2014
CALLS for a new airport for the region have emerged as a Yorkshire council urged the scrapping of HS2 in favour of a wider package of transport improvements.
Wakefield councillors yesterday voted to oppose the HS2 scheme which would see high speed trains passing through the district to a new stop in the centre of Leeds.
Council leader Peter Box called for a broader debate on the future of transport in the North including alternative proposals for high speed rail, investment in the road network and a possible long term replacement for Leeds-Bradford Airport.
The Yorkshire Post understands early stage discussions have been held over whether Leeds-Bradford, which has long been criticised over its location, can ever match the area’s long term economic ambitions.
Questions are being asked about whether it makes better economic sense to invest money in improved transport links to the existing airport which may have limited scope for growth or consider the more radical option of a new airport on a site better connected to major roads and rail lines and with room to expand over the longer term.
Coun Box said: “What Wakefield wants to do is to campaign for what we need and not what we have been given.
“What we need is greater connectivity. We need investment in our highways network to go alongside improving rail, including east-west links, and we need investment in a new airport.”
He pointed to an alternative plan, known as High Speed UK, as an example of how high speed rail could be built in a different way and improve connections between more towns and cities.
High Speed UK, devised by rail engineers and backed by the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, would follow the M1 corridor with a spur heading west from Leeds and Sheffield across the Pennines to Manchester and a further heading north to Scotland.
Leeds City Council remains supportive of HS2 but is also among those suggesting that there could be a case for a new airport.
Coun Wakefield said: “We want Leeds and Yorkshire to be as ambitious as any other region.
“The existing operators of Leeds-Bradford have been very good and increased passenger numbers but if we are to make sure aviation is a key part of our transport strategy we have to recognise there are limitations on the existing location.
“If we are looking 20, 30, 40 years ahead there might be a better location so it can link with HS2 and create a transport hub.”
Talks are at a very early stage but it is likely any new airport would be on land around the M1, A1 and M62 and connected to a new high speed rail line.
Tony Hallwood, aviation development and marketing director at Leeds-Bradford Airport, said it was the fastest growing UK airport last year and would continue to grow this year by offering eight new destinations.
“Leeds-Bradford can meet the long term need for air travel in Yorkshire and we can continue to grow at a fast pace.
“That would be assisted through road and rail links from across the region. We could invest in those now and we could be ready to deliver over the next four or five years. A new airport could be decades away.
“A new airport could cost £5 billion. Who is going to pay for that?”
The Government is pressing ahead with HS2 with work due to start on the first phase between London and Birmingham in 2017. Services on the second phase of the project stopping at stations at Meadowhall and New Lane, in Leeds, are due to start in 2032.
Mark Goldstone, head of policy at the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “HS2 must be viewed as part of a wider integrated transport network for the Leeds City Region and we need to be thinking now about how each part of the region benefits from the increased capacity it will provide.
“There is little point being able to get into and out of Leeds city centre more efficiently by HS2 if there is poor connectivity onwards to Bradford, Wakefield or Huddersfield for example.
“We are hopeful that the proposed Combined Authority with access to significant funding for regional transport schemes should address some of these connectivity issues.”
HS2 Ltd, the Government company developing the project, is currently consulting on the route it will take through Yorkshire and the North West.
In its current form it will split north of Birmingham into a Y with one section taking trains to Manchester and another going through the East Midlands before arriving in Yorkshire.
It is proposed that trains will stop at a new station at Meadowhall before heading north to a point east of Leeds where one spur will head into the city centre and another will continue to a point eight miles short of York where it will connect with the existing network.
North Yorkshire County Council has expressed its support for HS2 but questioned the decision to have a second station in Leeds and the difficulties that could cause passengers connecting using existing services.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 is set to boost the economy in West Yorkshire by around £1bn a year.
“Wakefield could also benefit from released capacity as result of journeys moving on to the high speed line and we are eager to hear from the council about how this could be used.
“But HS2 is just one part of the plan. Westgate Station has recently had a £8.6m upgrade to improve facilities and access, while plans for Kirkgate are set to completely renovate the station.”