ANASE study on attitudes to aircraft noise to be updated to show real impact of Heathrow flight paths

The Sunday Times reports that on 26th February the researchers who worked on the ANASE (Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) study of the effect of aircraft noise will publish an updated report. The 2007 ANASE was an expensive and extensive study, looking at what levels of aircraft noise annoyed people being overflown.  It found that, contrary to the “prevailing wisdom” the widely used 57 decibel contour was not the actual threshold of community annoyance. In reality, much lower noise levels caused annoyance, and also upset and disturbed people. The research suggests that significant annoyance starts at about 50dB.  The reality is that many areas (including Putney, Battersea, East Sheen, Barnes and Ealing), which are not included in the 57dB contour are badly affected by aircraft noise.The ANASE study was shelved, partly due to methodological criticisms. Now it is being updated and published by councils opposed to an increased number of flights over London, if Heathrow was to be allowed another runway.  Researchers say subsequent European research into aircraft noise backs its initial ANASE  findings. 



Heathrow noise ‘really annoys 1m’

23.2.2014 (Sunday Times)

Full Sunday Times article at:

MORE than 1m people may be affected by the noise of planes taking off and landing at Heathrow — almost four times the number claimed by the government.


Opponents of plans to build a third runway at Heathrow will seize on the findings next week as they urge the Airports Commission, which is assessing possible new runways, to reject expansion.


Under this measure, adopted in 1990 but based on research carried out in 1982, about 258,500 people are said to be affected by noise around Heathrow. However, residents in London areas outside the 57dB zone, including Putney, Battersea, East Sheen, Barnes and Ealing, have long complained that they, too, suffer from the noise of airliners overhead.


The Anase report was first commissioned by the Labour government in 2001 and published in 2007, although ministers were quick to distance themselves from its findings.


Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth council, called on Davies to stop “clinging” on to the 57dB measure. “To continue with this benchmark would be a gross injustice to flightpath communities and politically untenable. It would be wide open to legal challenge,” he said.

Full Sunday Times article at:

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Huge protest in centre of Nantes against new airport – forceful police resistance; some rioting, violence and injuries

A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50 – 60,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas. The issue has become very political in France. With elections coming up this  year, the Prime Minister (and former Mayor of Nantes and ardent backer of the new airport) is thought unlikely to back down from pressing for the airport. However, it is not thought likely that there will be forceful evictions of the farmers and activists who are occupying the land allocated for the airport, called the ZAD – Zone à Défendre as it would be unpopular. An opinion poll found 56% of those surveyed were against the new airport. The courts have ruled it can go ahead, but there are appeals on ground of the law on water and on biodiversity.   And blog.  Comment from a Nantes resident.


Construction of the new airport at Notre Dame des Landes is due to start this year but has not yet begun, and the airport opening target date has been pushed back from 2017 to at least 2019.

Protest against airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes degenerates

22.2.2014  (Le Monde)

Imperfect translation into English : 

Original French at

La manifestation des opposants à l'aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes a dégénéré samedi 22 février à Nantes.

It is 17.00 hours and in Nantes, and Olivier Niol , 45, tries to maneuver his big green tractor to leave the Franklin Roosevelt during in the center of the city. The cloud of tear has almost reached him and he struggled to open his eyes.

A few dozen yards behind him, groups of protesters and riot police respond with stones , bottles and flares on one side and to the police , decided to clear the city center, tear gas concussion and a water cannon. Before the farmer’s tractor, which has come from Morbihan where he raises poultry , stands at the same time , the closing meeting of the manifestation of opponents airport Notre-Dame -des- Landes ( NDDL ) which brought together tens of thousands of people.

“The party is ruined , the organizers are overwhelmed by the radical fringe on which they rely since the beginning of this movement ,” the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique denounces.  She reported eight people wounded on the side of law enforcement , all hospitalized and dozens of men bruised and ten arrests. Journalists have also been violently attacked by opponents . No report on the number of people injured on the protesters side was available on Saturday night.

A dozen businesses were severely damaged. Crackers are also attacked a police station, an agency of the Vinci group , dealer airport project , but also street furniture or catenary SNCF to block the movement of trains. At least two construction equipment but also a barricade and a car were also burned.

The clashes left four wounded among the police .


The clashes left four wounded among the police.



The opposition to this project , dear to Prime Minister Jean- Marc Ayrault, former mayor of Nantes, and supported by the government, it is all at the same time : the will to fight with the police and CRS of a government that wants “force through ” this project according to critics ; and the political and legal battle to block any runway opening .

On Saturday in the streets of Nantes on Saturday, there were associatives , farmers, leftist militants ( Left Front, ZIP, etc.). , Environmentalists, trade unionists and anti-capitalist , often more extreme , as among a section of those who occupy the ZAD , the activity area deferred that has become the area to defend.

Read: Notre-Dame-des-Landes: opponents of the airport still mobilized


Police and gendarmes have used tear gas and water cannons against the activists.


20 000 and 60 000 TS MANIFESTAN

At the dispersion, it is difficult to assess the exact number of participants since the event was quickly cut into several pieces. The side of the prefecture, it was announced “around 20,000 protesters with nearly 1,000 demonstrators radicals ready for the battle that could not be controlled by the organizers “ .

The organizers themselves, claiming between 50,000 and 60,000 protesters and 520 tractors. Is more than 17 November 2012,  when 30,000 people marched to reoccupy the grove north of Nantes and against police violence.  “This is the biggest mobilization of the movement” , say the representatives of the ” coordination “of all associations opposed to the project, (ACIPA) and” Buddy “, farmers near the Confédération Paysanne and anti-capitalist living in the ZAD.  “This day is a success and the various components of the fight remain united on the area”  they said on Saturday night, in a joint statement. 


According to the prefecture, the event attracted around 20,000 protesters.


“With 65 coaches coming from 200 regional opposition groups that exist throughout France , we see that the front of solidarity has widened rejoices Julien Durand of ACIPA (inter Citizen Association of the populations concerned by the draft Airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes). And according to am IFOP opinion poll released today, a majority of French (56%) did not support the transfer of the current airport of Nantes Atlantique, to the new site that must be built in the grove at Notre Dame des Landes.. We do not really see how politically, the government can can persist . 

It is also what Olivier Niol believes, driving his tractor. “More and more farmers are opposed.  The farmer who lent me his tractor to come to Nantes – mine gave up the ghost before arriving – is not committed to the Confédération Paysanne, but he is tired that of the decline in farmland,  says this robust poultry farmer.  I do not see why the government would not back down on this issue, as they have given way several times to the right.  The government is losing the vote of the  left wing small peasant farmers.


In the parade in Nantes, Saturday, Feb. 22.



In the parade in Nantes, Saturday, Feb. 22 .

The case – beyond legal hazards  of the Court, were filed by opponents early in February against the orders of the prefecture on the law concerning water  and the law on protected species taken in late December – is eminently political . In the protest, many people wanted  the two heads of the executive.. “No to Ayraultport of Notre Dame des Landes ,” reads the slogans everywhere.

If the proximity of municipal elections suggests a break and no probability of intervention against the zadistes and occupants of some six farms which are still operating in the area of future construction, as well as twenty houses still occupied by individuals, whose vigilance is unabated .

“I do not believe the works will start there in the coming months ,”  says José Bové MEP Europe -Ecologie -Les Verts .  They cannot move the protected species, there are elections : any attempt by Jean- Marc Ayrault to send in the forces on the ground would meet stronger opposition even than in November 2012 . The political risk is too great. ”  The government will not back down because this is absurd , also ensures the co-chair of the Left Party , Jean -Luc Mélenchon . All surveys showed the damage this airport would cause would be for nothing. Why do you want to do it in these conditions? ”


Peasant mobilization was strong in Nantes, where the procession was attended by 530 tractors.


In the event, some brocardent, kindly Greens suspects remain in the government majority. “Europe-Ecologie Yellow” , denounced on a sign, Jean-Marie, a teacher came from Rennes . Driving as a big green tractor, Thomas Rabu, 35, came from the region Ancenis with fifty colleagues. “They need to realize they will not feedbitumen “ says the young sheep farmer. Throughout the procession, largely good-natured and enlivened by many clowns benefits, it is a leitmotif. “Yes vegetables, not bitumen. 

Peasant mobilization, in the opening day of the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris , is strong. Jean-François Guitton, a leader of Pal 44 (Collective of professional agricultural organizations outraged by the airport project) came from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois, to manifest . Dairy farmer with 80 cows, also member of the Confédération Paysanne, very present in the procession, he explains that “the FNSEA is against the airport project, but can not s’ display with Conf ‘and environmentalists “ . For him, “it was necessary to mark a strong political move before the municipal because beyond NDDL, too many candidates have projects artificial soil for larger areas of activity or construct housing “ .


Participants, in turn, fired bullets at the police and attacked a police station as well as an agency of the Vinci group.


Beyond the fighting, would have preferred to avoid the organizers, the balance is positive according to them. “Government can not s’ stubborn and want to move in strength , says Françoise Verchère, collective CEDPA (Collective elected doubting the relevance of the airport). mobilization is not weakening and it must take into account. 

A prefecture in Nantes, the green light is expected for the transfer of protected species. “All appeals opponents were lost by them , says Mickaël Doré, sub-prefect in charge of the case. crystallizes many different oppositions . This is the first time we will build a new airport for twenty years. We will consider all environmental aspects of this issue. But there is no question that a minority of violent opposition opposes a project democratically decided. 



Comment from a resident of Nantes:

Some of the media coverage of the protests have given a distorted account, with mentions of “pillaging anarchists” and “individuals who are very violent”. This fits in with the whole right wing media discourse of “Nantes saccagé” (~”sacked” as in Troy).

I was there on Saturday, and I fear some of the media coverage is misleading. It is true that Vinci, Nantes Métropole and Police Nationale Offices were damaged and spraypainted, and fires started at bus shelters, at a municipal building site, and one, very theatrical, barricade, but all of the shopping streets behind the police line were entirely unmolested.

This created a rather surreal atmosphere, with street battles going on at only a few tens of metres from
a) peacefully chatting demonstrators (the vast majority 30,000 against maybe 100 hotheads/agent provocateurs/’black bloc’) and
b) Nantes’ usual Saturday shopping crowd, who were entirely unmolested unless they got a gust of tear gas, which the police here let off with unnecessary abandon.

…. and two film clips of peaceful protesters below.

 YouTube film clips:

  1. Peaceful protesters

    1 min video clip shows a peaceful part of the Nantes demo – just people walking, drumming, costumes. Not violent. …

    2 min video taken from a high window of part of Nantes demo showing peaceful protest & police tear gas throw at them …


    Contrasting with (1 min 10) short film clip of the protester violence and the police response with water canons etc;




Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls condemns the violence

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault “condemns in the strongest terms the violent acts committed by a thousand radical demonstrators,” according to a statement released by Matignon. “In a democracy, the right to challenge and protest against a project is legitimate. But such violence is unacceptable, and nothing could justify ” added Mr. Ayrault, former mayor of Nantes, favorable. “He commends the work of the prefect and the police” at the violence.

For its part, the Interior Minister Manuel Valls has challenged the ultra-left and “Black Blocs” , ” very violent ” , who “engaged in abuses and intolerable violence: Molotov cocktails, bolts, paving thrown on the police, destroying shop windows, vandalizing a number of shops, street furniture and the entrance of a police station ” . Manuel Valls expressed his fear that “isolated groups continue this urban guerrilla” . (AFP)




Press release from the organisers of the anti- airport demonstration on Feb. 22nd

The event today has witnessed unparalleled mobilization.

520 tractors coming from all neighboring districts have been counted,  twice as many as on March 24, 2012 in Nantes. This marks a massive involvement of the small farmer world . Vigilant tractors are ready to intervene on the zad (ZAD is Zone a Defendre).

There were 63 coaches from all regions of France , twice as many as came for the human chain . This is evidence of a national mobilization and the connection between the struggle at Notre Dame des Landes and other struggles against large and imposed unnecessary projects (les grands projets inutiles et imposes)

There were between 50,000 and 60 000 people , more even than in the event that marked the reoccupation of 17 November 2012. This has been the largest movement of mobilization .

The parade was festive , creative and determined, with batukadas (? translation?) , salamanders, giant crested newts , animal masks to mark people’s refusal to allow the destruction of protected species and the so-called compensation measures.

Speeches and events were held until 18.00 hours in the Daviais square .

The prefecture had chosen to put Nantes under siege and prevent us from being visible in the city center. This is the first time that a demonstration has been banned from the Cours des 50 Otages.  A part of the procession passed through the Beaulieu island. Another tried to go through the route originally planned and faced violent police repression shot with rubber bullets , tear gas and stun grenades . This did not prevent the demonstrators  remaining en mass in the streets of Nantes until the end .

There are different ways for people to express themselves in this movement. The government is deaf to the anti- airport protest , so  it is not surprising that some anger is expressed . What could happen if there was  a new intervention in the zad ?

This day has been a success and the various components of the fight remain united on the ground. The opposition has only grown over  30 years. The government has no choice but to abandon the airport project !



In the original French:

—– Communiqué des organisateurs de la manifestation anti-aéroport du 22 février.

La manifestation d’aujourd’hui a connu une mobilisation inégalée.

520 tracteurs, venus de tous les départements limitrophes ont été comptés, deux fois plus que le 24 mars 2012 à Nantes. Cela marque une implication massive du monde paysan. Les tracteurs vigilants sont prêts à intervenir sur la zad.

Il y avait 63 bus venus de toutes les régions de France, deux fois plus encore que lors de la chaîne humaine. C’est le signe d’une mobilisation nationale et de la connection entre Notre Dame des Landes et d’autres luttes contre les grands projets inutiles et imposés.

Il y avait entre 50 et 60 000 personnes, plus encore que lors de la manifestation de réoccupation du 17 novembre 2012. Il s’agit de la plus grosse mobilisation du mouvement.

Le défilé a été festif, créatif et déterminé, avec des batukadas, salamandres, tritons géants, masques d’animaux marquant le refus de la destruction des espèces protégées et des mesures dites de compensation.
Des prises de paroles et animations ont eu lieu jusqu’à 18h square Daviais.

La préfecture avait choisit de mettre Nantes en état de siège et de nous empêcher d’être visible dans le centre ville. C’est la première fois qu’on interdit à une manifestation d’emprunter le Cours des 50 Otages. Une partie du cortège est passée par l’île Beaulieu. Une autre a essayé de passer par le trajet initialement prévu et a fait face à une répression policière violente avec tir de flashball, gaz lacrymogènes et grenades assourdissantes. Cela n’a pas empêché les manifestants de rester en masse dans les rues de Nantes jusqu’à la fin.

Il existe différentes manières de s’exprimer dans ce mouvement. Le gouvernement est sourd à la contestation anti-aéroport, il n’est pas étonnant qu’une certaine colère s’exprime. Que pourrait-il se passer en cas de nouvelle intervention sur la zad ?

Cette journée est un succès et les différentes composantes de la lutte restent unies sur le terrain. L’opposition ne fait que croître depuis 30 ans. Le gouvernement n’a pas d’autre choix que d’abandonner le projet d’aéroport !





French anti-airport protest turns violent

22.2.2014  (France 24)

Protesters opposed to plans to build a new airport in the French city of Nantes smashed shop windows Saturday and hurled paving stones at police, who answered with tear gas and water cannons.

The protesters are opposed to the airport as it is set to be built on protected swampland.

Thousands swarmed the picturesque western city’s central Petite Hollande square, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the pet project of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Local government estimates there were 20,000 protestors present while protest organisers estimate that there were closer to 50,000 people.

A short distance away from the main protest, about 1,000 radical environmentalists staged a more violent protest, smashing shop windows and trashing a post office and the local offices of Vinci, the contractor on the airport project in nearby Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The demonstrators pulled up paving stones from the Nantes tramway and threw them at charging police, along with bottles, emergency flares and other projectiles.
Six police were wounded in the clashes and four protesters were arrested, officials said.

Police said the more mainstream protest organisers were “overwhelmed by the radical fringe they’ve relied on from the start”.

Ayrault, who was mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012, condemned the violence.

Violence ‘unacceptable’

“In a democracy, the right to oppose and protest against a project is legitimate, but such violence is unacceptable, and nothing can justify it,” he said.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls echoed his criticism and said the “ultra-left” and foreigners had turned the protest into “urban guerrilla warfare”.

The protest comes two months after local officials gave the final go-ahead for preliminary work on the 580-million-euro ($795-million) project, which was approved in 2008.

Construction is due to start this year but has not yet begun, and the airport opening target date has been pushed back from 2017 to at least 2019.

The airport is set to have an initial annual capacity of four million passengers. Supporters say it will provide a major boost to tourism in western France and on the Atlantic coast.

A poll published Saturday by French polling agency Ifop reported that the majority of French citizens (56%) are opposed to the airport’s construction.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)






Police clash with pillaging anarchists in western France as airport protest degenerates

22.2.2014 (Star Tribune)

PARIS — Riot police moved into the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, clashing with hundreds of anarchists who broke shop windows, destroyed bus stops and pillaged the city center.

At least eight police officers were hospitalized after violent confrontations with up to 1,000 “radicals,” the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantique region said. Fourteen people were detained.

The rioters had joined an estimated 20,000 people protesting plans to build a regional airport. Officials did not say whether protesters were injured.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the delinquents were from the “radicalized ultra-left” and were waging an “urban guerrilla” campaign.

“These are individuals who are very violent.” Valls said on iTele TV station.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the attackers, some wearing hoods and helmets. However, after night fall, approximately 200 were reportedly still roaming the Nantes city center.

There have been numerous, sometimes violent, demonstrations against the building of an airport in Notre Dame des Landes, a pet project of Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a Nantes native. The anti-airport protests, mounted since 2009, have brought together an unlikely alliance of farmers, ecologists and anarchists — who call themselves ZADists, based on the French acronym for “development zone.” The farmers trying to save their land have depended on the ZADists to keep their protest alive.

It was unclear whether the ZADists were joined by even more radical elements. The interior minister referred to ultra-leftist groups also active in Germany, Italy and elsewhere.

The prime minister issued a firm condemnation of the violence, saying “nothing can justify it.”




The Nantes protest and rioting against proposed airport –                blog by John Stewart

Date added: February 24, 2014

In a blog about the huge demonstration, part of which turned in to rioting, at Nantes against the proposed new airport, John Stewart looks at how this protest came about – and its relevance to other large infrastructure projects in Europe. The Nantes protest organisers say as many as 50,000 people attended, from supportive protest committees from areas across France. The politics of this airport project have taken on national interest and significance, and also linked into opposition to “Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposes” (useless, imposed mega-projects). The people passionately fighting plans for a new airport in unspoiled French farming countryside are linked to those opposing HS2 and other schemes like a high-speed rail in Northern Italy and cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Romania. All these projects have managed to get support from very disparate sections of society. They all have real doubts about the economics or the necessity of the project; also they have land, homes, countryside or communities to defend; there is significant local opposition; and they also attract in outside opposition, from people with a variety of perspective as well as environmental.

Click here to view full story…






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Partners Group including Strathclyde Pension Fund also bidding to buy Glasgow airport

Ferrovial has recently made a bid to buy Glasgow airport as well as Southampton and Aberdeen airports. Now Glasgow city council’s pension fund – the Strathclyde Pension Fund (the wealthiest council pension fund in the UK) – is part of a bid consortium that is also bidding for Glasgow airport. The consortium includes Partners Group and Zurich Airport. Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm. A decision by the Strathclyde Pension Fund group to try and buy Glasgow could spark a bidding war. The bid is supported by the Glasgow city council leader and the Renfrewshire council leader. If their bid was successful, public involvement in a takeover for Glasgow would place it in direct competition with Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish Government last year. That could mean a political conflict between Labour-run Glasgow and the SNP administration at Holyrood.  The Strathclyde Pension Fund has spread its investments across a wide range of areas and has a stake in Samsung and Apple, as well as property portfolio which includes a Wolverhampton shopping centre and an office block in Hong Kong.



Partners Group enters race for Glasgow airport

By Jane Wild (FT)
February 20, 2014

A second bidder has entered the race for Glasgow airport, after Ferrovial’s offer was confirmed this week.
A consortium led by Partners Group, a Swiss-based private equity company, is bidding for the airport, in partnership with Strathclyde Pension Fund and Zurich airport, a person with knowledge of the talks said.





Air wars: Glasgow set to back new bid for city airport

By Vivienne Nicoll
Local government correspondent

Glasgow is set to launch an audacious bid to buy the city’s airport. The city council’s pension fund – the Strathclyde Pension Fund – is part of a bid consortium which includes Partners Group and Zurich Airport.

Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm with more than 30 billion Euros in investment programmes under management in private equity, private debt, private real estate and private infrastructure.

Spanish firm Ferrovial is also keen on snapping up Glasgow. It owns London Heathrow Airport as well as 25% of Heathrow Airport Holdings, which owns Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton Airports.

A decision by the Strathclyde Pension Fund group to try and buy Glasgow could spark a bidding war.

Insiders say the consortium regard the West of Scotland airport as a good investment.

The move to buy Glasgow is supported by city council leader Gordon Matheson and Renfrewshire council leader Mark Macmillan.

They regard the airport as a vitally important asset to the West of Scotland in general but to Glasgow and Renfrewshire in particular.

If their bid was successful, public involvement in a takeover for Glasgow would place it in direct competition with Prestwick, which was acquired by the Scottish Government last year. That could mean a political conflict between Labour-run Glasgow and the SNP administration at Holyrood.

Room for Prestwick as well as Glasgow as airport competition intensifies

Strathclyde Pension Fund has assets of £13.5bn, making it the wealthiest council pension fund in the UK. Its members include the 12 local authorities which made up the former Strathclyde Regional Council.

However, the fund has around 200,000 members including present and former council staff and a number of private companies like bus giant First.

The pension fund has spread its investments across a wide range of areas and has a stake in some of the biggest companies in the world including Samsung and Apple.

It also has a property portfolio which includes a Wolverhampton shopping centre and an office block in Hong Kong.

Glasgow Airport was owned by the former Glasgow Corporation but in 1975 an agreement was reached to transfer its ownership to the British Airports Authority.

Manchester Airport is one of only a few airports in the UK still in the ownership of local councils. It is owned and managed by Manchester Airports Group, a holding company owned by the 10 metropolitan councils of Greater Manchester.

Last year, the consortium decided to buy Stansted Airport and 35.5% of the group went to Australian investment fund Industry Funds Management.

In the battle to win the bid, pension fund managers face a major battle in their attempts to wrestle control of the west coast hub.

They could be caught up in a bidding war after Madrid-based Ferrovial reportedly tabled an opening offer of £800million earlier this week for Glasgow and the airports at Aberdeen and Southampton.

Ferrovial is the world’s largest transportation infrastructure company and is cash rich. Technically, it already owns Glasgow which is part of Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) which also owns the other two airports.

The Spanish firm have a 25% stake in HAH and is its biggest single shareholder. But it’s looking to expand business interests in the UK and reports suggest it wants outright control of Glasgow Airport and the others.

Ferrovial took control of what was BAA in June, 2006, at a time when officials in Glasgow were celebrating the hub’s 40th anniversary.

The Spanish conglomerate has so far refused to comment on reports of a bid although sources insist the speculation is true. That would suggest Glasgow Airport could shortly be the centre of a bidding war and if the price is right analysts say the Spaniards will withdraw and approve a deal.

The sale price for Glasgow is likely to generate a lot of haggling. Edinburgh Airport, which snatched Glasgow’s crown as Scotland’s busiest airport years ago was sold off recently. The agreed price was £800m.

It’s thought likely that Ferrovial executives could be looking for something similar if they opt to drop their interest in having outright control to a new position of a sell-off.




Council supports multimillion-pound bid for Glasgow Airport

Gordon Thomson  (Herald Scotland)

COUNCIL and business leaders have backed plans for a multi-million takeover bid for Glasgow Airport by a group including the city’s £13.5billion pension fund.

Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, ­yesterday welcomed news that a consortium including Strathclyde Pension Fund was making overtures to the Spanish owners Ferrovial.

Representatives of a possible bid have expressed interest to Heathrow Airport Holdings in buying the airport and would like guidance on how to initiate a bid of around £500 million.

Councillor Gordon Matheson said: “Glasgow Airport has huge strategic importance for our city and also the wider regional and national economies.

“It is Scotland’s principal long-haul gateway and has an extensive schedule of European and domestic flights including vital routes to the Scottish islands.”

Councillor Matheson said the bid brought together strong “regional interest” and strategic management skills. It also offered the “best possible opportunity to meet the needs of local business and leisure travellers.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said it was encouraging to see such interest in the airport as a key point for jobs, investment and economic growth in the area.

He said: “I believe the ­combination of locally-based involvement backed by international investment and financial expertise would be ideally placed to meet and benefit from our region’s economic interests and maximise the growth potential for investors.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief Stuart Patrick insisted he would welcome investment that grows the business.

He said: “Glasgow Airport is the most important transport asset the city has for business to access markets abroad.

“The management team has been doing an excellent job in growing it over the last three years and we support any owners who can provide investment funding that will maintain that growth.

“Clearly the two councils understand the importance of the airport but naturally the consortium will be making its decision on investment returns.”

Only when due diligence is completed will a bid be tabled.

The move to purchase the airport is to be made by major investors including the Strathclyde Pension Fund. The pension fund has £13.5billion of assets and the consortium will be led by Swiss-based Partners Group, a global private markets investment management firm that masterminds more than €30bn of investments.

A spokesman for the Partners Group said: “We can confirm we are in the process but can’t give you any information regarding the timing.”


Comment from an AirportWatch member:

I’m wary of taking too much comfort from this rumour: even if the AENA privatisation fails (and Lord knows, the Spanish government needs the cash), AENA is the junior partner in a two-organisation partnership: the other being AXA, which has very deep pockets indeed.




Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow & Southampton airports – hoping to make more profit than at Heathrow

February 18, 2014

Ferrovial had made an offer – for an undisclosed amount – to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports from its partners in Heathrow Airport Holdings. The price might be as much as £800 million. Ferrovial is the largest shareholder in Heathrow, with 25%. Heathrow Holdings has made it clear for sometime that it is eager to sell its other remaining airports. It is understood that Ferrovial is not making the offer in partnership with any other company, though some reports suggest that Australian infrastructure companies Macquarie and Industry Funds Management are also involved. It is not known if Ferrovial’s bid will be accepted. A Portuguese bank has valued the 3 airports at £952m using an equity value/earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 12.3 times for Aberdeen and Glasgow and 10.7 times for Southampton. Ferrovial bought BAA in 2006 for £10.3bn. It has since offloaded Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh in order to lower its debt. Now it is keen to buy again. Ferrovial hopes UK regional airports will grow strongly for the next few years, if the UK economy starts to grow, as they have a large amount of unused capacity. By contrast, the CAA has limited the amount Heathrow can charge airlines for landing charges, so decreasing the return available from Heathrow.      Click here to view full story…



Speculation that GIP, Ferrovial and MAG interested in buying Aberdeen Glasgow and/or Southampton airports

November 13, 2013      Sky News has learned “from banking sources” that various infrastructure investors are interested in buying Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports – amid expectations that their owner, Heathrow Holdings, will opt to sell them – to focus on its ownership of Heathrow. It is understood that Heathrow is considering a plan to offload, following a string of unsolicited approaches from prospective buyers. Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) which owns Gatwick and City airports, has expressed an interest in buying Aberdeen airport, although it has not yet made a formal bid. A number of Heathrow’s shareholders and board members are said to be keen to dispose of the 3 regional airports but its board has not yet made a formal decision. Ferrovial now only owns 25% of Heathrow,and is reported as now likely to be interested in buying one or more of the airports, through a separate vehicle. MAG is also understood to want to buy one or more of them.    Click here to view full story…







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FT reports that uncertain privatisation of AENA casts doubt over its stalled Luton expansion plans

Spanish airport operator, AENA, bought Luton airport in summer 2013 from Abertis. AENA is one of the world’s biggest airport operators in terms of passenger numbers, and manages Spain’s major airports. It also owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. The FT says that now their plans are in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future. Luton is the UK’s 5th largest airport in terms of passengers, and is the base for easyJet. AENA had plans to expand Luton, taking its annual number of passengers from around 9 million to 18 million – plans that have been fiercely opposed locally. AENA had plans to compete with French airport operator ADP, Germany’s Fraport and Singapore’s Changi. The FT says now AENA’s future is unclear and whether it will allow it to be largely privatised. This is having an impact on its Luton plans. The Luton expansion is being held up, or is on a back burner. The privatisation is a political matter within the Spanish government, and whether it has to sell assets to rescue the nation’s economy. The government hope to avoid selling much of AENA, and if it stays under state control, its Luton expansion plans may be scrapped.  




Stalled Aena plan casts doubt over Luton revival

21.2.2014 (FT)

By Jane Wild and Miles Johnson

When Spain’s airport authority bought Luton airport last year it was supposed to be an emblem of the start of international expansion. Six months later, the plan is in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future.

But analysts in Spain say that if Aena’s privatisation is derailed, Luton would no longer make sense as an asset in its portfolio, and that raises the prospect of a sale.

Full FT article at




Abertis pulls out of Luton Airport concession in favor of Aena, Ardian

Dec. 3, 2013

Spanish infrastructure company Abertis has completed the sale of its interest in the management of London Luton Airport to a consortium consisting of Spain’s airport management and air navigation services provider Aena and independent investment company Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity). The proposed sale was announced at the beginning of August, subject to necessary authorizations. These have now been secured and the sale concluded for £433 million ($704).





London Luton Airport acquired by Ardian and AENA

NOVEMBER 28, 2013    (Reuters PE Hub)

Ardian and AENA have completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport concession from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infrastructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.


The joint venture consortium of Ardian and AENA today confirms that it has completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport (“LLA”) concession for £394.4 million in equity value from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infraestructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.

The joint venture partners will now look to work with the airport management and all stakeholders to deliver a planned programme of changes to London Luton Airport which will transform the airport and deliver an enhanced customer experience.

London Luton Airport is the fifth largest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers. Last year the airport served 9.6 million passengers with departures to over 100 destinations worldwide.

AENA is the world’s largest airport operator with some 200 million passengers a year, and Ardian is an independent private investment company.

AENA operates 46 airports in Spain, including Madrid (45 million annual passengers) and Barcelona (35 million passengers) and participates directly and indirectly in the management of another 15 airports worldwide. Ardian, through its Infrastructure funds, is a major European long term investor in assets that provide people with essential services in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.

Jose Manuel Vargas, AENA’s executive chairman, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Ardian and the London Luton Airport management team, the local council, the carriers and all stakeholders to help deliver an airport that delivers a quality experience for more customers and supports strongly the local economy.”

Mathias Burghardt, Head of Infrastructure of Ardian, said “As shareholders who hold to a long term perspective, we look forward to providing the certainty and stability necessary for the management of London Luton Airport to succeed. London Luton Airport must fulfil its role within the London airport system and add to the life and economy of Luton and the surrounding area in a sustainable way.”


Notes to Editors:

AENA is the world’s leading airport operator in terms of passenger numbers and serves some 200 million passengers a year. It manages all Spain’s major airports and owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. Madrid-Barajas, a key European hub for South Atlantic flights, handled 45 million passengers in 2012 and is Europe’s fifth largest airport and Barcelona-El Prat, with 35 million, passengers is Europe’s ninth. Other large airports operated by AENA include Palma de Mallorca (22.6 million passengers), Malaga (12.5 million) and Alicante (8.8 million). AENA’s modern and functional airports are designed to improve passengers’ experience in the airport and offer a wide range of top quality retail and catering services.

Founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, Ardian is a premium independent private investment company with assets of US$36bn managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which is managed and majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling growth in economies across the world. Ardian’s investment process blends discipline and conviction with a long-term philosophy.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 300 employees working through ten offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Zurich. The company offers its 255 investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset classes, including Funds of Funds (primary, early secondary and secondary), Direct Funds including Infrastructure, Small and Mid-Market Enterprise Capital, Innovation & Growth, Co-Investment and Private Debt.

London Luton Airport is one of the UK’s largest airports and carried 9.6 million passengers in 2012. The Airport directly and indirectly employs over 500 and 8,000 staff respectively, is a key economic driver for the region and a major base for ‘low cost’ or ‘no frills’ air travel.

easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Monarch, Thomson, EL AL, Blue Air and Flybe operate from the airport, departing to 100 destinations including services to Europe, Africa, and Asia, with onward connections to Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Beijing and Bangkok via Tel Aviv.



AENA adds Luton Airport to its portfolio

1 August 2013 Spain’s AENA and the infrastructure fund of AXA Private Equity are to acquire the management concession for Luton Airport from TBI for £394.4m. Luton Airport is publicly owned by Luton Borough Council but is operated, managed and developed by a private consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL). TBI, which is jointly owned by AENA (10%) and Spanish infrastructure group abertis (90%), became the majority shareholder in LLAOL in March 2001. AENA said the acquisition of Luton marked its first step in a strategy to replace those minority stakes with a portfolio of airports in which it has management control. The purchase will be financed by existing credit lines and by the sale of the minority stakes. Luton handled 9.6m passengers last year, making it both the UK’s and AENA’s fifth biggest airport.The Spanish government plans to partially privatise AENA in the coming months. For more details of the Luton deal from AENA click here and for a statement from abertis here.


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Redhill Aerodrome runway appeal, for a hard runway, dismissed by Planning Inspector

Plans to build a hard runway in place of its 3 existing grass runways at Redhil aerodrome have been refused by a planning inspector. The owners of Redhill Aerodrome, RAV, had wanted the hard runway in order to have aircraft movements all year, even in bad weather, and to increase the number of flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year.  Following last month’s public inquiry, the planning inspectorate ruled the development was “inappropriate” and could “harm the green belt”. Reigate and Banstead Council and Tandridge Council rejected the scheme last year, saying it was inappropriate development in Green Belt,  so RAV appealed. Local residents groups and Surrey Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) were among objectors who gave evidence to the inquiry.  Local Conservative MPs Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah lodged formal objections against the development, saying the economic case was weak and it would cause major detrimental impacts on the surrounding area. The airfield flooded as a result of heavy storms last month.



Concrete runway for Redhill Aerodrome turned down

Redhill Aerodrome under water
The airfield was under water after heavy rain during storms earlier this year


Plans to build a hard runway in place of grass at a Surrey airfield have been turned down by a planning inspector.

The owners of Redhill Aerodrome had wanted to replace its three grass strips and increase the number of flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year.

They said the move would have protected 140 jobs and created 120 more.

Following last month’s public inquiry, the planning inspectorate ruled thedevelopment was “inappropriate” and could “harm the green belt”.

The aerodrome is home to more than 20 companies and has been in operation for about 80 years.

‘Weak argument’

Reigate and Banstead Council and Tandridge Council rejected the scheme last year.

Residents groups and Surrey Campaign for the Protection of Rural England were among objectors who gave evidence to the inquiry.

Local Conservative MPs Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah lodged formal objections to the development and have welcomed the inspectorate’s decision to refuse the aerodrome’s appeal.

Mr Blunt, who represents Reigate, said the aerodrome’s argument that the development would bring economic and employment benefits to the area had been “weak”.

“It was my riposte that our borough’s economy and employment situation are comparatively strong, certainly when put against the picture nationally: unemployment is at 1.7% in Reigate, whilst is it 3.8% across the UK as a whole,” he said.

Mr Gyimah, the MP for East Surrey, said the proposal represented “a completely inappropriate use of green belt land, and would have had a major detrimental impact on the surrounding area”.

Redhill Aerodrome said a hard runway would have helped prevent flooding as the current grass runways could get waterlogged very easily.

The airfield flooded as a result of heavy storms last month.

In a statement, it said it was “extremely disappointed” by the inspector’s decision.

“It is a great pity that the livelihoods of so many people and the opportunities for additional jobs, training and apprenticeships have been given so little weight,” it added.


Related BBC Stories



Redhill Aerodrome runway appeal dismissed by Planning Inspectorate


A planning inspector has backed two councils’ decisions to refuse Redhill Aerodrome’s hard runway plans and dismissed the airfield’s appeal

Redhill Aerodrome

Redhill Aerodrome’s final attempt to replace grass runways with hard surfaces has ended in failure after the Planning Inspectorate dismissed its appeal.

Aerodrome bosses wanted to replace the three grass strips with a single 1,349m-long hard runway along with 420m of approach lighting – at 60m intervals at either end of the runway, on 5m columns – drainage and a habitat management area.

Last year, planning committees at both Tandrige District Council and Reigate & Banstead Borough Council rejected the plans, declaring it inappropriate development of the green belt.

These decisions sparked an appeal from the aerodrome, which was heard over five days in January, before inspector Diane Lewis dismissed the appeal on Tuesday (February 18).

She said: “The harm to the green belt by reason of the inappropriate development, the loss of openness and the encroachment into the countryside has substantial weight.

“The harm to landscape character has moderate weight and the slight adverse visual impact a small amount of weight.

“The limited harm to the quality of life and learning environment through noise disturbance and the failure to satisfactorily resolve the capacity and mode of travel issues provide additional weight against the proposal.

“The overall weight against the proposal is very strong.”

Despite turning it down, Ms Lewis said the aerodrome’s business case, which included the addition of 140 jobs and a £12.4m boost to the economy, were “realistic outcomes”, something dismissed by councillors last year.

The aerodrome’s application had substantial public opposition, with local MPs Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah speaking publicly against the runway plans.

Objections came from Nutfield and Salfords & Sidlow parish councils and Keep Redhill Aerodrome Green (KRAG).

Redhill Aerodrome bosses also applied to install a hard runway in 2011, an application which was once again thrown out by both councils.




Response from KRAG  (Keep Redhill Airfield Green)


20th February 2014


KRAG supporters are delighted that the Planning Inspector Diane Lewis has quickly dismissed the appeal by owners RAV to develop Redhill Aerodrome.

The Inspectors full judgement is available to view or download HERE

KRAG secretary Paul Murray said:

“The appeal has been refused because the proposal was judged to have been an inappropriate development within the Green Belt. This is exactly what we have always said. The failure of RAV to prove Very Special Circumstances as a means to overcome inappropriate development appears to severely restrict their options to develop the site. It is important to remember that RAV bought this site as a rural Aerodrome that was wholly situated within the Green Belt.

RAV’s persistent attempts to develop the site have placed a long running and unreasonable pressure upon the local community to defend our Green Belt against speculative development. The expense incurred by the local community has been substantial and we hope that RAV will now take a realistic view that the site cannot be developed in the manner they appear to favour.

Should they decide to make further development proposals we believe that RAV should make a serious attempt to properly engage with the local community instead of going through the minimal process of community involvement that they are required to by current planning regulations. Such an open and reasonable approach would demonstrate a genuine commitment to community involvement.”

KRAG said:

We are delighted to inform you that having reviewed all the written evidence and heard the oral evidence The Inspector has supported our community and dismissed RAV’s appeal regarding their proposal to build a hard runway.

The Inspector supported our view that the “very special circumstances” submitted by The Applicants did not outweigh the importance of preserving The Green Belt.

The Inspectors full judgement is available on the KRAG web site:

We are pleased to thank all the KRAG supporters and members of the local
communities who attended the hearing in support of those giving evidence.

We also thank all those who submitted their observations to The LPA’s and
The Inspector. Every piece of evidence has helped to bring about this
important decision.

KRAG will remain vigilant and monitor RAV’s response.   We also intend to seek information regarding alternative plans that the aerodrome owners may be considering  in relation to the site.





Redhill aerodrome hard runway Inquiry continues into second week

January 11, 2014

Plans to build a hard runway and associated infrastructure at Redhill Aerodrome have been under examination this week at a Public Inquiry. The inquiry will continue into next week. The aerodrome currently has two grass runways but the owners want a hard runway to allow for larger aircraft, longer flying hours and year-round flying. They have made a succession of planning applications, all of which have been refused. The airfield is wholly within the Green Belt and is reached by narrow, winding lanes. The vast majority of local residents oppose it, as do the local MPs, Parish Councils, conservation groups and Surrey Green Party. The Inquiry has been packed and lively. Officers from Reigate & Banstead and Tandridge Councils defended the decision to refuse the runway, and individuals and representatives of local groups raised a very wide range of reasons for objecting, including noise, traffic and road safety, disruption of views and flooding. Green Belt is a key issue, as is the importance of “localism” so if local people are strongly against a proposal, that should mean it is rejected. The Inspector’s decision will be made some after the end of the inquiry.     Click here to view full story…


Redhill aerodrome hard runway application public inquiry to last several days

January 7, 2014

Redhill Aerodrome has for years been trying to get a hard surfaced runway, to replace its current grass runway, so it can operate larger planes and it can also operate in wet weather. Their application has been rejected, most recently in June 2013 by both Tandridge and Reigate & Banstead councils. The public inquiry into the hard runway plans takes place on 7th January 2014, in Redhill, and will last several days. As well as the two district councils opposing the plans, they are also being fought by two parish councils and the local campaign group, KRAG. The extent of the damage to the Green Belt, and to the local community, is a key issue in the Inquiry. “One of the 5 purposes of Green Belt policy is to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. The introduction of the proposed development would not assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; it would conflict with that purpose.” The jobs argument is being used by the airport’s legal team, which claims a hard runway would secure the 140 on-site jobs and create120 more jobs by 2030. The local community group, Keep Redhill Aerodrome Green branded the Aerodrome’s case as “weak” and “contains numerous assumptions, unsubstantiated statements, omissions and factors which remain unproven.”   Click here to view full story…


Redhill Aerodrome hard runway plans rejected

June 7, 2013   Councillors have thrown out plans for a hard runway at Redhill Aerodrome because it would “scar” the landscape. The aerodrome currently only has grass runways, so cannot operate in bad weather. But the aerodrome’s owners, RAV, say they will appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Both Tandridge and Reigate & Banstead councils decisively rejected the plans to build a 1,349m-long concrete runway . A planning officer’s report had recommended councillors reject the scheme on the grounds of inappropriate development in the green belt. The new runway would have enabled the air field to increase air traffic movements by about 72% by flying in wet weather. The applicant had “dismally failed” to argue a case of special circumstances in order to gain approval to develop green belt. Opponents said 90% of households were against the hard surfaced runway, and a local councillor agreed with many residents in saying that there was “no merit” to the application which would “spoil the rural area” if given approval.    Click here to view full story…



and more at 




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Ealing Council Leader voices strong opposition to night flights: “One arrival before 6am is one too many”

Ealing Council have added their voice to the complaints about the recommendation buried in an appendix to the Airports Commission interim report that there could be double the number of Heathrow night flights as at present.  Ealing Council is part of the 2M group, which is an all-party alliance of more than 20 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. Leader of Ealing Council and 2M spokesman, Cllr Julian Bell, said: “We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out increases in night flights are proposed.” Ealing and the 2M group have fought for years for a ban on night flights, and do not find an increase acceptable.  The proposal is one of the short or medium-term recommendations to make maximum use of the existing runways at Heathrow.  Under a proposal called ‘early morning smoothing’, Heathrow would be allowed to land additional planes between 5am and 6am, which is classified as the night quota period. The aim is to minimise delays and could allow the airport to manage with one runway for arrivals between 6am and 7am. 



Double number of Heathrow night flights recommended

19th February 2014 (Ealing Times)

Ealing Times: Flights alert: the 2M Group is prepared to go to court again to halt expansion
Flights alert: the 2M Group is prepared to go to court again to halt expansion

THE Airports Commission plans to recommend more than double the number of night flights into Heathrow from next year, the 2M Group of councils has revealed.

Leader of Ealing Council and 2M spokesman, Cllr Julian Bell, said the proposal to increase the nightly quota from 16 to 35 flights is ‘buried’ in a technical appendix to Sir Howard Davies’ interim report on airport expansion.

Under a proposal called ‘early morning smoothing’, Heathrow would be allowed to land additional planes between 5am and 6am, which is classified as the night quota period.

Sir Howard says the extra flights would minimise delays and could allow the airport to manage with one runway for arrivals between 6am and 7am, instead of two, which is the existing system.

Communities in places across west London are deeply opposed to flights before 6am as they affect their sleep and are possibly linked to health issues.

The ‘smoothing’ procedure is one of the short-term recommendations and will be trialled from 2015.

“We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out increases in night flights are proposed.

“This council has fought for years for a ban on night flights. We’ve challenged the current scheme in the courts.

“One arrival before 6am is one too many. People are entitled to a decent night’s sleep.”

The Davies commission’s first phase report says the south east of England will need two new runways by 2050 and two Heathrow expansion schemes are shortlisted.

Cllr Bell continued: “Today, there are 725,000 homes in the area around Heathrow where noise exceeds the standard EU measure for annoyance. This compares to 11,900 around Gatwick and 9,000 around Stansted.

“We believe the Davies commission has a duty to show that noise, air quality and public transport problems can all be resolved before advocating any increase in flights.

“This means considering the actual impact – not just the figures that Heathrow want us to believe.

“Back in 2010 the 2M Group defeated the last expansion proposals in the High Court. Nothing has changed and the grounds on which Heathrow expansion was stopped are the same today.

“There is just no credible environmental case for adding 200,000 flights to an airport located in the midst of one of the most densely built-up parts of the country. Heathrow is simply in the wrong place for that kind of expansion.”

The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.

Members are not anti-Heathrow but work together to improve the environment and protect the quality of life for local people.


More information on 2M is online at

To let Sir Howard Davies know your views email




Council Leader says Hounslow will ‘fight to the last’ to prevent mixed mode at Heathrow

February 14, 2014

Hounslow Council have voiced their opposition to a report by York Aviation saying that using mixed mode on both Heathrow runways would, allegedly ” boost UK economy by £206 million a year” from 2023, They say mixed mode is not acceptable and Hounslow residents will not tolerate losing their half days of relief from plane noise. The report was commmissioned by the City of London Corporation and business pressure group London First, which are both keen to seen aviation expansion – both in the short term, and in the longer term by adding a new runway. They do not appear to be concerned about the level of noise this would subject Londoners to. At present there is (most of the time, except for when the A380 lands and in other situations) one runway is used for arrivals and one for departures, with the roles switching at 3pm each afternoon to ensure some respite for those under the flight paths. 80% of Hounslow residents are in favour of keeping runway alternation. Hounslow Council’s deputy leader Colin Ellar said: “We will fight to the last to protect our residents from being subjected to more aircraft noise. While Heathrow is very important to us economically, the introduction of mixed mode flies in the face of a better airport.”      Click here to view full story…



Full details of extent of Heathrow night flight plans ‘dug up’ by Leader of Wandsworth Council

February 13, 2014

The full extent of the Government’s plans to increase night flights into Heathrow has been “dug up” by anti-noise campaigners in the technical appendix of an Airports Commission’s interim report. The report was publicised on 17th December. The appendix shows that the number of planes allowed to land at Heathrow before 6am will increase from 16 to 35 from next year. Leader of the anti-Heathrow nights flights opposition, Ravi Govindia (also Leader of Wandsworth Council) said: “We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out what is in store for us.” Heathrow wants the amount of “stacking” to be reduced before the morning rush-hour. They say residents would be given “respite” from the noise, by having more in alternate weeks, followed by a week without planes. Mr Govindia, who is also the leader of the 2M group of 20 councils opposed to expansion of Heathrow, said people on the final approach flight paths into Heathrow were “deeply opposed” to the early-morning arrivals, which affect their sleep and are linked to serious health issues. The Airports Commission said: “We have recommended a trial of early-morning smoothing. A trial provides the opportunity for communities around Heathrow to experience and comment on the impacts.”    Click here to view full story…



“London Councils” – representing 32 London boroughs & councils – calls for an end to night flights from 2017

February 5, 2014

“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.”

Click here to view full story…



And a bit of history:

Night flight councils lose High Court battle

24.5.2008   (BBC)

Three councils have lost their High Court claim that the government did not deal
with the intrusive effects of aircraft noise at Heathrow at night.

London’s Richmond and Wandsworth councils, and Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, had challenged ministers’ pronouncements on noise levels.   They wanted judges to overrule decisions on which type of plane, and how many, could land before 0600 BST.

But the High Court said the issues had been dealt with three years ago.

Wrongly classified

Mr Justice Sullivan said it was an “abuse” of the court process for the councils to launch a “root and branch attack” in relation to the same issues rather than address the compensatory measures – such as sound insulation of houses – put forward by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The judge heard that the Boeing 747-400 RR – the main type of aircraft used by airlines during the night quota period at Heathrow – had been wrongly classified at too low a noise level.

The councils argued that by not acting on the discrepancy, the government had failed in its duty to protect residents from excessive noise at night.

The judge said the Transport Secretary had acted on expert advice on noise levels.  That advice was open to dispute, but he was not “setting off on some frolic of his own”.

He also said the government had remedied the situation with a later consultation
document aimed at mitigating the effects of night noise.

‘Fight goes on’

Reclassification would have forced airlines to substitute quieter aircraft or withdraw early morning services.

There are about 16 early morning arrivals each day between 0430 and 0600.

Wandsworth Council’s leader, Edward Lister, said the ruling emphasised “the current
night-flight arrangements are designed for the benefit of the airlines”.

“It’s not clever to have drafted an important environmental policy in such a way that no-one can understand it.

“By not being explicit in its aims the government leaves the clear impression that looking after residents’ interests comes a very poor second.”

His counterpart in Richmond, Serge Lourie, added: “All the councils will be stepping
up their call for a complete ban on night flights.”

The court challenge was supported by Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and
Fulham, Hounslow and Hillingdon councils and the Greater London Authority.

All the councils are members of the 2M Group, which opposes Heathrow expansion.





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European Commission launches legal action against UK over failure to reduce air pollution

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities. There has been a long-running legal battle between London and Brussels over the 16 urban centres in the UK that will not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a 5-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules. 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline. The EC has now started the legal case, which is likely to result in hefty fines of many millions of ££s which should have the effect of accelerating efforts to tackle air pollution. The zones included Greater London and the South East. The legal case has been precipitated by the environmental campaign group ClientEarth. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe.  The UK government now has 2 months to respond to the EC’s legal action. The Heathrow area has bad air quality levels, due partly to the planes but with an even higher proportion from the intense road traffic, especially diesel vehicles, that the airport attracts.


EU Commission launches legal action over UK air quality

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent,

BBC News


The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution.

The EU says that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are “excessive” in many British cities.

The Commission says that this gas can lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.

Britain was supposed to meet EU limits by 2010, but the government admits that London won’t achieve this standard until 2025.

The UK’s problem with dirty air stems from the EU’s air pollution directive, which came into force in 2008.

It set limits on the the levels of air-borne contaminants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, gases that are produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

They are an important element of ground-level ozone, which can damage human health as well as plants and animals.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which in the main is produced by diesel cars and trucks, can inflame the lining of the lungs and lead to respiratory disease.

It is of particular concern to people living near roadways in big cities and those suffering with asthma.

Excess gas

Controlling the amount of this gas in air has proved particularly difficult for the UK.

For the purposes of air pollution, the UK is divided into 43 zones.

In 2010, when the EU restrictions were meant to come into effect, the levels of nitrogen dioxide were exceeding the limits in 40 of these 43 areas.

Member states were able get an extra five years’ grace if they put in place plans to cut levels of NO2. The UK admitted that the limits relating to 16 zones including London, could not be met by the revised deadline of 2015.

For many of these areas, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Merseyside and Glasgow, the government believes the levels can be reached by 2020.

In London though, they admit it is likely to be 2025.

For the EU, this is far too long. They’ve decided to launch the first case against a member state for breaching the limits on NO2.

Several other EU members, including France, Sweden, Denmark and Greece have also exceeded the levels, but the EU denied that the UK was being picked on.

Sat image
Europe’s nitrogen dioxide emissions in 2008 as seen from an ozone measuring instrument on a satellite

“Our priority is to protect public health and the environment,” said European Commission spokesman Joe Hennon.

“We think that’s what the people of the UK would want as well.”

What might have tipped the EU’s hand was a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last year.

In a case brought by environmental campaigners ClientEarth, the judges agreed that the government was in breach of an obligation to reduce air pollution.

In the judgement, Justice Lord Carnworth wrote that “the way is now open to immediate enforcement at national or European level.”

The campaign group believes that, in addition to the Supreme Court verdict, the scale and the duration of the UK’s breaches made the EU action inevitable.

“The UK has some of the worst NO2 levels in Europe, they’re a national disgrace,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer with ClientEarth.

“London has a particular problem, in some streets it is three or four times above the legal limits.”

The legal process could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice where the UK would face huge fines if found in breach of the directive.

If the government is to cut levels it will need to take drastic actions, say campaigners. Around half of new car sales are diesel powered, they say. There will need to be strict low emissions zones in cities.

“Germany implemented low emissions zones very early,” said Alan Andrews.

“They have 60, we just have the one in London and ours doesn’t include cars – it’s a low standard.”

Another option is cutting speed limits.

“The evidence from Germany suggests they can reduce NO2 by 10-15% on heavily polluted roads, but the scale here in the UK is so big they need to be looking at everything possible to tackle the problem,” said Mr Andrews.

The UK has two months to respond to the European Commission.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that Britain wasn’t alone in breaching the NO2 limits, pointing out that in 2012, 21 member states reported their emissions did not comply with the annual mean target.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades. Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge,” said a spokesman.

“That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”


The main pollutants

  • Particulate matter – fine dust emitted by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Experts are particularly concerned about particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres
  • Sulphur dioxide – emitted by power generation, industry and shipping. Damages health and acidifies land and water
  • Nitrogen oxides – released by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Harms health and contributes to acid rain
  • Ammonia - emitted by livestock and through the use of fertilisers. Damages health and causes acidification
  • Volatile organic compounds – emitted from solvents, vehicles and power generation. They are a key component of ground-level ozone
  • .
  • .
  • The invisible killer

    • Campaigners say that research shows air pollution causes around 29,000 early deaths in the UK every year
    • Across the EU, more than 400,000 people died prematurely in 2010 from air pollution, according to the Commission. As well as deaths, 100 million work days are lost every year through illnesses like asthma.
    • The direct costs to society, including damage to crops and buildings, amounts to 23bn euros every year
    • .
    • .

      Related BBC Stories

The levels of air pollution at and around Heathrow are monitored by Heathrow Airwatch at



The European Commission’s press release:

Commission takes action against UK for persistent air pollution problems

Nitrogen oxides like NO2 are emitted by road vehicles, shipping, power generation, industry and households. They are a key component in increased levels of ground-level ozone, which is very harmful to human health. They cause acid rain, damaging plant and animal life in forests, lakes and rivers, and harming buildings and historical sites. They can also cause eutrophication, when an excess of nutrients such as nitrogen oxides and ammonia threatens biodiversity through the excessive growth of plants like algae.

For details of European air quality legislation:

The time extension website:




EU launches legal action against UK over air pollution

Commission kicks off long-awaited legal proceedings over UK’s failure to comply with air quality rules

By BusinessGreen staff

20 Feb 2014

Congestion charge C road sign in London

The UK’s continuing failure to meet legally binding EU air quality standards looks set to land the government in court, after the European Commission today launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities.

The latest development in the long-running legal battle between London and Brussels was sparked after the UK government acknowledged that 16 urban centres across the country would not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a five-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules.

Moreover, the government has said that 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline.

Consequently, the European Commission has today kicked off legal proceedings against the UK, raising the prospect of multi-million euro fines and increasing pressure on the government to accelerate efforts to tackle air pollution.

“EU legislation contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels,” the Commission said in a statement. “Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question.

“The Commission is therefore of the opinion that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Directive, and a letter of formal notice has been sent.”

The statement also confirms that the zones deemed to be in breach of the rules are Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, the Potteries, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, the East, the South East, the East Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands and the North East.

The Commission was under pressure to act after a legal case brought by environmental campaign group ClientEarth led to a Supreme Court ruling that the UK is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive and as such “the way is open to immediate enforcement action at national or European level”.

James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, said that urgent action was now needed from the government to tackle air pollution and head off the EU’s legal action.

“We have the right to breathe clean air and the government has a legal duty to protect us from air pollution,” he said in a statement. “The Commission has singled out the UK following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe. If [Environment Secretary] Owen Paterson wants to avoid another disaster for his department he will need an ambitious plan to protect people from deadly diesel fumes.”

He added that the government should focus on delivering a “national network of low emission zones to save lives and making the UK a world leader in clean transport”.

The UK government now has two months to respond to the European Commission’s legal action.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed out that the UK was not the only EU state to fail to meet the conditions of the Air Quality Directive and insisted that it was investing in tackling air pollution.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades,” said a spokesman for the department. “Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge. That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”






Heathrow third runway would treble air pollution deaths, study warns

Research is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at Britain’s major airports
  • Roland Pease (BBC)
  • 12 October 2012

Premature deaths from Heathrow pollution would treble by 2030 if a third runway is built, according to an academic study to be published next week.

Even if the airport does not expand, increased numbers of flights will lead to a more than doubling in the number of deaths from pollution, the authors conclude.

The research, which is sure to be seized on campaigners and politicians opposed to Heathrow expansion, is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at the major airports of Britain. It reveals there would be major health benefits if Heathrow operations were replaced with a new hub in the Thames estuary.

“The main issue with Heathrow is it’s essentially in the middle of a major population centre,” says Prof Steven Barrett, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory for aviation and the environment and senior author of the study. “Also, because of the prevailing winds in the UK, emissions tend to get blown over the whole of London. An airport in the Thames estuary is well away from any major conurbation, and the prevailing winds would carry pollution out over the English Channel and North Sea.”

The study, which has been accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Environment, focuses on the public health effects of operations at the 20 largest airports in the UK, in particular those around London. It is not only exhausts during landing and take-off that degrade local air quality. Taxi-ing, airport support equipment and the jet-fuelled auxiliary power units that generate onboard electricity also add to the pollution burden.

The researchers conclude that, based on 2005 data, UK airports contribute to 110 early deaths each year, mostly due to lung cancer and cardiopulmonary complaints. Of those, 50 can be attributed to Heathrow alone, they calculate.

With government figures projecting a more than 50% rise in air travel over the next two decades, the public health effects are also expected to increase. If Heathrow is expanded with a third runway to allow for unconstrained growth, the airport would be responsible for 150 early deaths; UK-wide deaths would be 260. Even without the third runway, mortality figures will rise substantially. The researchers expect 250 deaths UK-wide, though those directly attributable for Heathrow would be 110, as other airports would carry more traffic.

The researchers also modelled the radically different scenario of closing down Heathrow altogether and moving its operations to a new hub in the Thames Estuary – sometimes referred to as “Boris island” after the proposals by the London mayor, Boris Johnson.

That would save 60 lives UK-wide, and the new expanded hub itself would be responsible for 50 early deaths, the same as Heathrow now, the study found. Relocating the airport would not make a big difference to the airport’s impact on climate change via CO2 emissions from planes.

The projections are likely to feed into the government’s consultation on aviation and are due to be discussed next week by the London assembly’s health and environment committee, according to its chair Murad Qureshi.

Epidemiologist Fintan Hurley, who led a major inquiry into pollution risks for the government’s advisory committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP), welcomed the report, but noted that the additional effects of car and lorry journeys to Heathrow had not been included in the analysis. Future changes, by the addition of rail links for example, should be included in any full comparison of airport plans, he said.

The committee study headed by Hurley concluded in 2008 that 29,000 premature deaths are caused annually in the UK by air pollution. He said: “While 110 deaths is small compared with air pollution deaths in the UK as a whole, there would be major investigations if we had 110 deaths annually in the UK from aeroplane crashes.”

“Every death,” said Barrett, “represents an average of 10 years of lost life.”

Many of the deaths could be avoided by relatively simple measures, Barrett argued. Airplanes get their electricity from onboard auxilliary power units – small jet engines that are often left running while the planes are at the stands. Plugging into the airport electricity supply would reduce those emissions. As would the use of electric vehicles for airport support operations. And using desulphurised fuel would add only 2% to fuel costs, while reducing the health effects by 20%. Altogether, mitigation efforts could halve the pollution from airport operations.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Aviation is a far smaller contributor to air pollution than road traffic, however we are already taking significant steps to tackle the problem. For example, we subsidise local public transport so people can travel for free without the need for a car. We also charge airlines based on how green they are – so the cleanest aircraft are charged less to land at Heathrow.”




Heathrow air pollution in relation to 2013 being the “Year of Air”


The European Commission has announced that 2013 is the ‘Year of Air’ with key European air pollution legislation up for review.  The review represents a tremendous opportunity to improve public health by tightening air quality standards. Clean Air in London (CAL) believes that key outcomes from the ‘Year of Air’ must include continuity and the further tightening of health and legal protections. Increasing ‘flexibility’ in air pollution laws would weaken existing health and legal protections and is therefore unacceptable.  There is a consultation by the EC,  on options for the revision of the EU Thematic Strategy on air pollution and related policies, with the closing date on 4 March 2013. Heathrow is a major contributor to air pollution in West London, both from the airport itself and associated road traffic. Information from Hillingdon Council showed a clear correlation between the number of air transport movements and the levels of NOx.


EC stance on air pollution in London could affect ability of Heathrow to expand


Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 areas of the UK areas were refused by the European Commission in June. The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly.   The worst offender is London, where it is estimated that there over 4,000 ‘excess deaths’ per year from air pollution. This could have implications for Heathrow expansion. Air pollution is recognised by the government as the 2nd-biggest public health threat, after smoking. A judgement will be made at a later date on government plans to delay meeting NO2 standards in major cities until 2020 – or in the case of London, 2025. The EC decision addresses the shorter term, whereas a 3rd runway at Heathrow could not be operation for about 10 years. However, the tough stance by the EC suggests that any plan for Heathrow expansion, which increased air pollution and prevented limits being met, would face legal action. 



‘Unclear’ who would pay UK air quality fines, say experts

February 21, 2014 (Air Quality News)

Air quality experts and politicians react to the EU’s legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards, which could result in £300m fines each year

Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to take the UK to court over its failure to meet standards for nitrogen dioxide, but have questioned whether it would be the UK government or local authorities paying the £300 million fines that could be levied as a result.

Yesterday (February 20), the European Commission announced that it was pursuing legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline (see story).

Emissions from road and traffic pollution is largely to blame for the UK’s failure to comply with EU standards for nitrogen dioxide

As a result, the UK could face EU fines of up to £300 million for every year that it fails to comply with the air quality standards.

Roger Barrowcliffe, chair of the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) – a membership organisation for air quality professionals – said it was currently unclear who would have to pay such a fine – but that as a result of Local Air Quality Management legislation giving more responsibility to councils, it could be local authorities footing some of the bill.

However, he told “Should the government pass them on to local authorities, this will be very harsh and counterproductive to good local air quality management, which is struggling for resources at local level in any event.”

Mr Barrowcliffe also said he was “surprised” it had taken so long for the Commission to take the decision, but that the government really needed to target road transport emissions if the UK is going to reach compliance for nitrogen dioxide.

And, he was also unimpressed with the Commission’s new package of air quality policies launched in December (see story), which he described as “anaemic”.

Euro 6

Mr Barrowcliffe said: “Will the EU’s legal action against the UK make a difference? This gets to the heart of the matter in my view. There is a reasonable basis for thinking that by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with nitrogen dioxide. It is clearly a problem that will be solved in time. It depends whether it is worth the EU spending more money to get there faster.”

He added that the next five years were “really crucial” for nitrogen dioxide emissions as “we will have a much clearer idea of whether the Euro 6 emission standards have delivered.”

However, he did have some sympathy for politicians in charge of air quality. He said: “Is government doing enough? Clearly not because if you define success as lowering concentrations fast enough to meet the limits then no one is doing enough. However, if you put yourself in their position what levers have you got to improve the situation?

“It takes political muscle to put in place LEZs. I think obviously it is clear to most people that you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver. You don’t need to be in air quality management to understand that.”

Mr Barrowcliffe commented: “It will be interesting as we come towards the general election next year how this plays out, if at all, in the political arena.”

Green Party

Green Party MEP for South East England and air quality campaigner, Keith Taylor, had little sympathy for the UK government meanwhile.

Speaking to, he said: “I think what we have to remember is that the UK played their part in actually setting the standards back in the late 1990s. Since then they have not really improved things in any meaningful way, and that is a matter of very deep regret for the near 30,000 people a year who are dying because of poor air quality. We should not have set up the standards if we were not prepared to meet them.”

Asked whether he thought the legal action would help improve air quality in the UK, Mr Taylor said: “If the government won’t comply because it is the right thing to do, then perhaps they will if they face a £300 million fine each year.”

But, he added: “I do not want the EU to have to fine the UK, especially because the public have already paid the price in terms of health – it would add insult to injury.

“Quite how they want to discharge the fine I don’t know. There was talk of the fines being paid by the local council which would be totally irresponsible.”

London Assembly

London in particular was singled out as having the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions of any city in Europe, and is not expected to comply with EU standards until 2025 – 15 years later than the EU target of 2010.

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi – who also chairs the Assembly’s health and environment committee – told that he thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London, “whoever that will be at the time”.

He said: “I would much rather we responded to the public health issue than the fear of facing a £300 million fine. Air pollution is a silent killer of thousands of people and I would like to think that was the reason for dealing with this problem.”

Mr Qureshi said it could potentially be a big political issue at the upcoming EU elections in May 2014.

He said: “The right may say that this is unwarranted from the EU, while those on the left may welcome this environmental intervention. It could be seen as an issue of sovereignty, but the EU really has been leading the way on environmental issues for many years now.”




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Bavarian Administrative Court rules that building a 3rd runway at Munich airport is lawful

The Bavarian government in southern Germany have been trying for some time to get consent for a 3rd runway at Munich airport, to the north of the existing airport. The 300 or so runway opponents in the  court greeted the news with boos and by singing the Bavaria national anthem. On 19th February the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) ruled that the runway can go ahead, when they rejected the 17 lawsuits against the project. The project was halted by a referendum in June 2012, when by a majority vote the people of Munich expressed their opposition to the runway, which would demolish the village of Attaching. However the legal judgement is not the end to the story, and the fight is expected to continue. Those opposed to the runway point out that a runway is not needed as the number of flights has fallen over recent years and the current runways have plenty of spare capacity, with the advent of larger aircraft. Though the result of the 2012 referendum was only valid for one year, the political parties in Munich are very aware if local opposition to the runway, and they need their votes. It is the state government and economic lobbies that want the runway.  Opponents.will fight on.


Opponents of the 3rd runway after the verdict
In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

Bg0zY8RIIAEhYcu Munich verdictAfter the court verdict 



Court supports third runway at Munich

Airport expansion at MUC back on the table

Court supports third runway at Munich

 19.2.2014 (ttg nordic)

A court in Munich has put its weight behind plans for a third runway at Germany’s second-biggest airport. Expansion would help airlines eager to expand capacity in Europe’s biggest economy.

A public vote on a third runway in Munich in 2012 went against expansion, a blow to airlines like Lufthansa and Air Berlin struggling under a ban on night flights in Frankfurt and endless delays in the opening of a new airport in Berlin. But this vote was legally binding only for one year.

Public opposition to expansion at MUC remains high, but there is hope that public opinion can be won round given the importance of growing demand for travel. The airport handled 38.36 million passengers in 2013.

“The ruling […] gives Munich Airport a chance to cope with the growth in traffic that is forecast for the coming years,” the airport’s chief executive, Michael Kerkloh, said.




Tumult in the court  – third runway should be built

19.2.2014 (B5 actuel – German news)

Thumbs up for the expansion of Munich Airport: The Bavarian Administrative Court ruled that the building permit for a third runway was lawful. The plaintiffs sang a verdict protest the Bayern anthem.

n purely legal terms, the third runway in the Erdinger Moos may thus be built.Judge Erwin Allesch rejected all 17 claims against the planning decision. An appeal was denied. That makes it the opponents almost impossible yet to take legal action against it. What now remains to them is a denial of leave to appeal on Bundesverwaltungsgerichtin Leipzig. In addition, the plaintiff should bear the costs of the proceedings.

Loud protest in court

At the sentencing hearing, the opponents were busload be indented. The hall in the Bavarian Administrative Court was hopelessly overcrowded. After the verdict was announced, they voted in the hall at the Bavaria anthem.Then it was turbulent: Some vented their displeasure, agreed to a chorus of whistles or shouting “mess”, “poor Germany”, in chants chanted several opponents: “We are the people”. Until it was too much Allesch judge and he let the room cleared. The Court secured a large contingent of police. Above all, the citizens Attac Hing do not want to give up the fight against the runway. In a statement they announced not to accept the decision today. The municipal area is directly adjacent to the Munich airport.

“Public interest outweighs”

In his short justification told Judge Allesch it speak nothing against the planning decision. Neither adverse environmental impacts, or to nature protection, yet issues of demand.Looking at the forecasts of future take-offs and landings he could see no serious defects. The load of the people were within the legal limits. Even against the conservation law will not violate.Although Allesch curtailed, the runway would mean a substantial intervention into a bird sanctuary, but there is sufficient compensatory measures. Overall outweighs the public interest.

Reactions to the runway judgement

The opponents of the project are horrified. “With the decision to start and third runway at Munich Airport is the 1224 years old Bavarian village Attaching and thus destroyed by almost 1000 Bavarian citizens home,” writes the local citizens’ initiative. The village community will continue to fight for their future, they say. One of their main arguments is: “If there were a third runway already, should Attaching, due to the severe stress from noise, wake vortices and pollutants in the applicable legislation, will no longer be built at this point.” The spokesman of all Bürgeriniativen, Hartmut Binner, called the state government to “take leave of money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

For the Greens in the parliament, the ruling is not a surprise, but state chair Sigi Hagl described the decision not to allow revision as a “strong piece.” Hagl renewed its criticism of the project: “” The road is bad for the residents and the environment and it is simply superfluous, because the growth forecasts smash regularly on reality. “She appealed to the policy in Munich, even after the local elections, the citizens vote to respect against the web.



Graphic illustrating the location of the proposed 3rd Munich runway


Startbahn-Urteil: Das sagen unsere User

Runway judgement – what our  users say

– from a German news report    19.2.2014

There are various comments from the opponents of the runway. They are, of course, all in German. Google translate makes a hash of the translation, but below are some extracts with the gist of the comments along these lines:

What counts here is the opinion of citizens only if they tick when choosing the option the CSU [the Christian Social Union in Bavaria] wants.

Interesting to see already how little binding the plebiscite (referendum) has been. The people of all of Munich voted on the issue of the 3rd runway, and they voted against it, but which had not been thought possible. And now there is a decision to allow the runway.

It is a shame that it is not the people who are allowed to decide, but corporations and business enterprises in our country. This is why you should choose at the next municipal election the parties that will be against the runway in future. The CSU is only for electoral reasons for the runway. You never know what the SPD will do. . . that leaves only the Greens …

Whether this works out for good or bad, the fact is that has once again the business lobby has won, by promising more jobs. That is and has always been a sham. .




Third runway at Munich may be built

The Bavarian Administrative Court clears the way for the third runway at Munich Airport.         It rejected all 17 claims against the billion € project. Built still is not now. 

19.2.2014 (Die Welt)

A plane takes off from the airport in Munich.  A third runway has been controversial for years

Photo: APA plane takes off from the airport in Munich. A third runway has long been controversial

The controversial third runway at Munich Airport can be built from a legal perspective. The Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) rejected all 17 claims against the billion project, which in 2012 is currently still on ice after a referendum held in Munich, however.

The years since competitive project conflicted with neither environmental nor noise reasons, said the presiding judge Erwin Allesch. “The planning authority has its powers and its discretion not exceeded.” The planning, to no defects.

However Allesch came almost 20 minutes is not to end his remarks. At the 300 runway opponents in the courtroom acknowledged their defeat with loud boos and the singing of the anthem Bavaria. There were tumultuous scenes.

Judge did admit hall

Long time no rest returned a, finally let the judge vacate the hall and was then still interrupted by “We are the people” calls. Gradually, the enemy finally left the room, only process participants and media representatives were allowed to stay.

The revision of the judgment did not permit the court, the costs must be borne by the applicants. But the tough years of struggle for the runway expected to continue in spite of the judgment for a while.

Previously, citizens’ groups were announced to take a so-called leave to appeal against it before the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

Airports Council welcomes judgment

Their spokesman, Hartmut Binner, announced to strengthen the resistance yet. He appealed to the state government, “to say goodbye to money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

The Airport Association ADV, however, welcomed the ruling. It was an important decision for the future development of Germany’s second largest airport. “At the same time it is a good sign for all airports in our country,” said ADV-chief executive Ralph Beisel.

Several municipalities, the Federal Nature Conservation in Bavaria (BN) and private citizens have appealed the authorization granted by the Free State in 2011 planning permission for the four-kilometer-long runway near Freising. On the slopes every hour can take off or land 30 aircraft. The process had attracted 46 days of negotiations for almost a year.

Referendum has one year validity

The runway opponents keep the project superfluous, because the number of take-offs and landings had declined continuously on Germany’s second largest airport in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often full to the last seat.

Regardless of the process, the project is located since 2012 against a refusal citizens’ decision of the people of Munich on ice. The Bavarian capital as co-owner of the airport may thus disagree with the construction of a shareholders’ meeting.

There, however, unanimous decisions are necessary. The referendum has only valid for one year, but all of Munich city hall parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote. The state government and the economy, however, favor the construction of the runway.



Original German:

Die umstrittene dritte Startbahn am Münchner Flughafen darf aus rechtlicher Sicht gebaut werden. Der Bayerische Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VGH) wies alle 17 Klagen gegen das Milliardenprojekt ab, das nach einem Bürgerentscheid in München 2012 derzeit allerdings noch immer auf Eis liegt.

Dem seit Jahren umkämpften Projekt stünden weder Umweltschutz- noch Lärmgründe entgegen, sagte der Vorsitzende Richter Erwin Allesch. “Die Planungsbehörde hat ihre Befugnisse und ihren Ermessensspielraum nicht überschritten.” Die Planung weise keine Mängel auf.

Allerdings kam Allesch über fast 20 Minuten nicht dazu, seine Ausführungen zu beenden. An die 300 Startbahngegner im Gerichtssaal quittierten ihre Niederlage mit lauten Buhrufen und dem Absingen der Bayernhymne. Es kam zu tumultartigen Szenen.

Richter ließ Saal räumen

Lange Zeit kehrte keine Ruhe ein, schließlich ließ der Richter den Saal räumen und wurde auch danach noch von “Wir sind das Volk”-Rufen unterbrochen. Nach und nach verließen die Gegner schließlich den Saal, lediglich Prozessbeteiligte und Medienvertreter durften bleiben.

Die Revision des Urteils ließ das Gericht nicht zu, die Kosten des Verfahrens müssen die Kläger tragen. Doch das zähe jahrelange Ringen um die Startbahn dürfte auch trotz des Urteils noch eine Weile weitergehen.

Bereits zuvor hatten die Bürgerinitiativen angekündigt, vor dem Bundesverwaltungsgerichtshof in Leipzig eine sogenannte Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde dagegen einzulegen.

Flughafenverband begrüßt Urteil

Ihr Sprecher, Hartmut Binner, kündigte an, den Widerstand noch zu verstärken. Er appellierte an die Staatsregierung, “sich von Geld und Ressourcenverschwendung und von der Missachtung des Bürgerentscheides im Namen des Volkes zu verabschieden”.

Der Flughafenverband ADV begrüßte hingegen das Urteil. Es sei eine wichtige Weichenstellung für die künftige Entwicklung des zweitgrößten deutschen Airports. “Gleichzeitig ist es ein gutes Zeichen für alle Flughäfen in unserem Land”, sagte ADV-Hauptgeschäftsführer Ralph Beisel.

Mehrere Kommunen, der Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (BN) und Privatleute hatten gegen die vom Freistaat 2011 erteilte Baugenehmigung für die vier Kilometer lange Startbahn nahe Freising geklagt. Auf der Piste können stündlich 30 Flugzeuge starten oder landen. Der Prozess hatte sich mit 46 Verhandlungstagen fast ein Jahr lang hingezogen.

Bürgerentscheid hat ein Jahr Gültigkeit

Die Startbahngegner halten das Projekt für überflüssig, weil die Zahl der Starts und Landungen auf Deutschlands zweitgrößtem Airport in den vergangenen Jahren kontinuierlich zurückgegangen sei. Tatsächlich gibt es weniger Flugbewegungen, weil die Maschinen immer größer werden und oft bis auf den letzten Platz ausgelastet sind.

Unabhängig vom Prozess liegt das Projekt seit 2012 wegen eines ablehnenden Bürgerentscheids der Münchner Bevölkerung auf Eis. Die bayerische Landeshauptstadt als Miteigentümerin des Flughafens darf somit dem Bau in der Gesellschafterversammlung nicht zustimmen.

Dort sind aber einstimmige Beschlüsse notwendig. Der Bürgerentscheid hat zwar nur ein Jahr Gültigkeit, doch sehen sich alle Münchner Rathausparteien auch längerfristig an das Votum gebunden. Die Staatsregierung und die Wirtschaft befürworten hingegen den Bau der Startbahn.



Green light for Munich airport expansion

Green light for Munich airport expansionCapacity at Munich airport will increase by 30 flights a day. Photo: DPA
20 Feb 2014 (The Lccal – Germany’s news in English)

Bavarian authorities gave the green light on Wednesday for a much-disputed third runway to be built at Munich airport, rejecting the results of a city referendum.

The Bavarian Administrative Court turned down 17 cases filed against the building of the new runway, which will increase airport capacity by 30 flights an hour, in front of a courtroom filled with 300 angry protesters.

Shouting broke out when it was announced that despite a 2012 referendum voting against the runway, legally there was nothing to stop construction beginning.

Judge Erwin Allesch said that a third runway – plans for which have been in the pipeline for years – would not be detrimental enough to the environment nor disruptive enough for those living nearby, for it not to be built.

As soon as plans were announced in 2011, protesters joined forces in an attempt to stop them. It was, they said, a pointless venture as the number of flights taking off and landing at the airport had been dropping every year.

The new runway will be four kilometres long and stretch out to near the suburb of Freising.

Dr Michael Kerkloh, chairman and CEO of Munich Airport’s operating company, said: “This is an extremely important signal for the future development of Munich Airport.

“The ruling underscores the fact that our planning, including the extensive measures taken to protect people and nature, have stood up to an exacting review by an independent court.”

He added in a statement: “Munich Airport still has the opportunity to handle the projected traffic growth in the coming years and maintain its position among Europe’s major air transportation hubs.”

Airport union ADV welcomed the court’s decision to give construction the go-ahead. “It is a good sign for airports everywhere in the country,” said union head Ralph Beisel.




On 17th February:

Judgment on Wednesday

Munich Airport: Green light for 3 Runway?

Paul Winterer,  (Alendzeitung, Munchen)
On Wednesday, the verdict is the planned third runway. Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

On Wednesday, the ruling on billion project of the third runway in the Erdinger Moos falls – and it seems that proponents currently have the better cards.

Munich – For nearly a year the judges have rolled files to speech battles of the process involved and consulted on record. It’s about one of the largest German construction projects: the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) has to decide on the approval of the billion-dollar third runway at Munich Airport.


On Wednesday announced the 8th Senate the highly anticipated verdict.

Numerous municipalities, the federal government conservation (BN) and private people complain against the planned four kilometers of runway, could take off or land up to 30 aircraft on the hourly. Defendant is the Free State of Bavaria, who issued the building permit. The Airport Company (FMG) is joined as a party as a builder.

The course of the process according to it likely to be a defeat for the plaintiff. Even BN-county chairman and Greens Member of Parliament Christian Magerl expects a “not positive judgment.”

An indication for the dismissal of the claims could be the end of the process, the rejection of over 200 evidence submitted by the VGH. The 20 March 2013 evidence was begun after 46 days of the hearing on 15 January came to an end.

Applied for the Free State Land Attorney Anton Meyer, “the complaints all dismissed.” For the runway opponents, however, the third runway is superfluous, because the number of takeoffs and landings has declined steadily in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often too busy to the last seat.

In addition to the judgment process participants expect with voltage if the VGH permits an appeal to the Federal Administrative Court. Then the losers could call the next instance directly.

Otherwise there is the possibility of leave to appeal. The Supreme Administrative Court in Leipzig would then have to decide whether to deal with the case or not.

But there is a third way. BN attorney Ulrich Egger cold does not rule out that the Munich judges ask their colleagues Luxembourg by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), before they make their decision. He wants to still consider several legal issues for conservation by the ECJ.

The referral to the ECJ would the judgment of 8 Senate delayed by about a year. But even without ECJ still take a long time before the judgment is final. A decision on the next instance falls before the autumn.

If the political level of the billion dollar project. In a referendum, the Munich rejected the runway construction in June 2012. The city could not approve the project in the shareholders’ meeting – so that the track was shelved.

The referendum has only valid for one year, but all Rathaus parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote.

It is also conceivable kind nationwide white and blue referendum. But for this is currently lacking even the foundation. Because referendums are only possible to draft legislation – so far at least.





Munich campaign hands in 80,000 signature petition against 3rd runway to state parliament

July 24, 2013

On 17th July, the BUND Naturschutz (the largest environmental organisation in Germany) and the “AufgeMUCkt” Action Alliance handed in a petition to the state parliament against the construction of a third runway at Munich Airport. Nearly 80,000 people have signed the petition from all over Bavaria. The petition was handed to the Chairman of the Economic Committee (CSU) and someone from the Environment Committee at the parliament. The campaigners asked the politicians to please take note of the will of the people and decide against allowing a new runway. One campaign leader, Helga Stiegl Meier explained that, among other things, the number of aircraft movements at Munich Airport has been stagnate for years, which she said proves that there is no need for a 3rd runway. Another spokesman said the region has no need of furher aviation expansion, and sustainable transport in Bavaria is facing very different challenges, such as future supplies of cheap oil. The new parliament will have to decide after the state elections in the autumn on a third runway.     Click here to view full story…


Munich conference – airport residents’ campaigns across Europe connect their fight against the aviation lobby

25.6.2013Over 250 people from across Europe attended the European Aviation Campaigners Conference in Munich at the weekend, where they heard accounts of campaigners against expansion in many different countries. The conference produced a manifesto which included a call for an end to night flights and an end to tax-breaks for the aviation industry.  They also called for no more runways to be  built in Europe, and a shift from short-haul flights to rail,  the abolition of subsidies for the aviation sector  and active control of noise. The conference also had sessions on effective campaigning, including direct action.   Those who attended the conference came away inspired. They were in no doubt that the conference will stimulate collective across Europe to campaign for change. The united call is to ‘tame the aviation industry’.  They say health, independent living, and an intact environment must have higher priority than economic interests. There is an English version of the Manifesto at this link. 


Munich residents vote against new 3rd runway at Munich airport – 54% said NO

June 17, 2012    Munich residents voted against development of a 3rd runway, in a poll by the City of Munich, which owns 23% of the runway (state and federal government own the rest). Just over 54% of polled voters were against the new runway and 45.7% in favour, according to preliminary results of the vote on Sunday.  Though the city only owns part of the airport, this is thought to be a veto. Munich Mayor Christian Ude said he would accept the result “without ifs or buts.” Bavaria’s state government, however, said it still hopes the runway could eventually be built. Munich is Germany’s second-biggest airport. The vote has dealt another blow to airlines clamouring for growth in Germany. A German district government ruled in favour of the €1.2 billion euro Munich runway project almost a year ago. This vote shows, quote: “how difficult it has become to make clear the significance of important infrastructure projects in our country,’ according to the Munich airport chief. Click here to view full story…




Munich votes against third runway

Munich votes against third runway

18 June 2012 (The Local – German news in English)

The people of Munich voted against the construction of a third runway in a referendum held on Sunday. The result is a sharp slap in the face for the leading parties in the Bavarian capital.

The latest results showed 54.3% of the people of Munich voting against the expansion of Germany’s second biggest airport, and 45.7% in favour. The result did not suit the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who all campaigned for a decision in favour.

As many as 32% of the 1.04 million eligible voters showed up at the polling booths – way over the 10% hurdle needed to make the referendum valid.

The result means that the city council is now obliged to vote against the new runway in its capacity as part of the airport’s operating company. The airport is co-run by the federal government, the Bavarian state government, and the city of Munich – the council’s vote will effectively block construction.

According to CSU head Horst Seehofer and Munich mayor Christian Ude of the SPD, the third runway would have increased the airport’s capacity from 90 to 120 departures and arrivals per hour.

The ‘Yes’ campaigners said this was necessary, since the airport will soon reach the limit of its current capacity. While some 40 million passengers are expected to pass through Munich airport this year, some 58 million are projected to be using the airport annually by 2025.



New AirportWatch BLOG.  The German Spring Takes Off

15th June 2012    On the weekend that campaigners occupy the centre of Munich, John Stewart outlines the story of the nationwide protests against airport expansion taking place in Germany, at Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.  And the implications this has for aviation policy in the UK.  At a time when the industry is pressing once again for a third runway at Heathrow, it likes to give the impression there is little real opposition to expansion in the rest of Europe.  The German experience tells a very different story. “It is impossible at this stage to predict what will happen in Germany.  Or in France.  But the protests have almost certainly changed the landscape forever.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to expand airports anywhere in Western Europe.  That is the new reality that governments and the aviation industry have got to face up to.”  Read the blog


Opponents of the third runway climb Siegestor (Victory Tower) in Munich

8.6.2012 (de Bild)

Action against third runway at Munich

Environmentalists have with a spectacular action on Friday in Munich protested against the planned third runway at the airport.  They fixed banners reading “Stop the third runway madness!” on the Victory Tower. And “No on 17.6.». The organization Robin Wood appealed to the electorate, to vote against the construction of the runway in Erdinger Moos in the referendum on 17 June.  The activists were supported by Germany Plane Stupid, a community of action against the airport expansion. Their common demand: Their common demand: A statement by Mayor Christian UDE (SPD), on how he is able to justify supporting the expansion of the airport, as well as the Festival for the environment and sustainable mobility ,as patron of Streetlife. Link to article 








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Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow & Southampton airports – hoping to make more profit than at Heathrow

Ferrovial had made an offer – for an undisclosed amount – to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports from its partners in Heathrow Airport Holdings. The price might be as much as £800 million.  Ferrovial is the largest shareholder in Heathrow, with 25%. Heathrow Holdings has made it clear for sometime that it is eager to sell its other remaining airports.  It is understood that Ferrovial is not making the offer in partnership with any other company, though some reports suggest that Australian infrastructure companies Macquarie and Industry Funds Management are also involved.  It is not known if Ferrovial’s bid will be accepted.  A Portuguese bank has valued the 3 airports at  £952m using an equity value/earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 12.3 times for Aberdeen and Glasgow and 10.7 times for Southampton. Ferrovial bought BAA in 2006 for £10.3bn. It has since offloaded Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh in order to lower its debt. Now it is keen to buy again.  Ferrovial hopes UK regional airports will grow strongly for the next few years, if the UK economy starts to grow, as they have a large amount of unused capacity.  By contrast, the CAA has limited the amount Heathrow can charge airlines for landing charges, so decreasing the return available from Heathrow. 


Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports

The bid from biggest single shareholder in Heathrow airport is thought to be worth £800m
By , transport correspondent  (Guardian)
  • 17 February 2014
Glasgow airport: the Ferrovial bid comes in conjunction with two Australian partners, Macquarie and Industry Funds Management.

Ferrovial, the biggest single shareholder in Heathrow, has made a bid to buy Heathrow Airport Holdings’ three other British airports outright.

The Spanish infrastructure company is believed to have made a bid worth £800m for Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.

The bid comes in conjunction with two Australian partners, Macquarie and Industry Funds Management. Ferrovial has struggled in Spain with the slump in the construction sector and is looking to strengthen its hand in airports again.

A Ferrovial-led consortium bought the then BAA in 2006 but has since sold down its stake to 25%. Some of the group’s other major holdings – Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh – were sold off under the direction of the Competition Commission, leaving Heathrow airport itself as by the far the biggest driver of profits for the group.

The sovereign wealth funds and pension funds on Heathrow’s board – Britannia Airport Partners, Singapore’s GIC, Qatar Holding and Alinda Capital Partners – are believed to be willing to divest the other holdings and focus solely on the UK’s largest airport.

Ferrovial and Heathrow both declined to comment.


Of the remaining stakes in FGP Topco, Heathrow’s parent company, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund holds 20%; Canadian pension fund CDPQ has 135; the Singaporean wealth fund 12%; Alinda Capital Partners 11%; the Chinese sovereign wealth fund 11%; and the Universities Superannuation Scheme holds 9%.



See also FT article (££) at

Ferrovial offers to buy UK regional airports



Analysts said Ferrovial would see an opportunity to expand the smaller, unregulated airports at a time when the CAA’s ruling on higher landing charges was decreasing the return available from Heathrow. Ferrovial has said the return the CAA is offering on Heathrow is not sufficient to generate investment.

Ferrovial also has a construction business, affording it the opportunity to do expansion works itself.




Speculation that GIP, Ferrovial and MAG interested in buying Aberdeen Glasgow and/or Southampton airports

November 13, 2013      Sky News has learned “from banking sources” that various infrastructure investors are interested in buying Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports – amid expectations that their owner, Heathrow Holdings, will opt to sell them – to focus on its ownership of Heathrow. It is understood that Heathrow is considering a plan to offload, following a string of unsolicited approaches from prospective buyers. Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) which owns Gatwick and City airports, has expressed an interest in buying Aberdeen airport, although it has not yet made a formal bid. A number of Heathrow’s shareholders and board members are said to be keen to dispose of the 3 regional airports but its board has not yet made a formal decision. Ferrovial now only owns 25% of Heathrow,and is reported as now likely to be interested in buying one or more of the airports, through a separate vehicle. MAG is also understood to want to buy one or more of them.    Click here to view full story…







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“Independent Transport Commission” produces yet another report advocating a 3rd Heathrow runway

A small think tank on transport, called the “Independent Transport Commission” (many of whose members are backers are from the aviation industry) has commissioned another report, reiterating their claim that the UK needs a hub and so a 3rd runway at Heathrow is needed. The main reason they give is: “To protect and develop the UK’s global “direct” connectivity and to ensure new routes are launched from the UK before our European competitors.” They produced a similar report in May 2013, calling for a large hub, though at that stage they also backed Stansted or the estuary for their mega airport. This new report does not mention climate or carbon emissions once, and suggests another runway might be added by mid century.  It has looked at the hub-and-spoke model and its associated issues, and the long distance point-to-point model – and they advocate one large hub for most of the long haul traffic, at least “for the foreseeable future.”  The report highlights the role of transfer passengers in making long-haul routes viable and say only a hub with at least 3 runways (ie Heathrow) “would allow airlines to provide an extensive network of long-haul routes”.  The UK aviation lobby is terrified of being out-competed by European rivals, and Heathrow not being “top hub”. 



Heathrow’s case for expansion bolstered by think-tank findings

February 16, 2014
By Jane Wild (FT)  ££

Full FT article at



The February  2014 ITC report  

Aviation: the optimal size of a Hub airport

The optimal size of a UK Hub Airport (February 2014)


Full Text (1.5 MB)



The report’s conclusion says:

In Flying to the Future the ITC argued that the major aviation connectivity challenge
for the UK was not in the short-haul area – which has been very well served by
the growth of low-cost airlines and airports around the country – but in sustaining
and enhancing direct connectivity with global destinations; and that increased
hub capacity was crucial to address this.

We currently host the world’s busiest international airport, yet more traffic from the
UK’s regional airports hubs abroad than via Heathrow. Before adding ‘new’ demand,
recapturing that traffic could increase passenger numbers by 12 per cent,
ATMs by 8 per cent and destinations by 7 per cent.

In this report we conclude that:

a) we cannot forecast significant changes in the structure of aviation. Longhaul
remains likely to rely very heavily (though not exclusively) on the hub
and spoke business model and aircraft entering service now will still feature
strongly in airline fleets in the 2030s;

b) to protect and develop the UK’s global “direct” connectivity and to ensure new
routes are launched from the UK before our European competitors, the prime
need remains to develop our hub capacity;
c) over time, a three runway airport might mean up to 70 more destinations but
paradoxically we believe the first instinct of airlines will be to increase routes to
some of the more mature markets;

d) a three runway hub airport is likely to be sufficient to meet anticipated needs
until at least the middle of the century and these three runways need to be at
the same physical site i.e. the current Heathrow or a new Isle of Grain airport ;

e) but in planning for the longer term, the Airports Commission should address
now what might happen if, in the middle of the century, it becomes clear
further capacity is required;

f) we agree with the earlier views of the ITC that an extra runway at Gatwick
would not offer the same opportunities for developing connectivity.




 Earlier – in May 2013

Think tank, Independent Transport Commission, recommends one hub airport, at Heathrow, Stansted or Thames Estuary

The Independent Transport Commission (ITC), have produced a report – to be submitted to the Airports Commission, on airport capacity. The ITC report says one major hub airport is needed, in order to compete with European rival airports. Heathrow cannot be left as it is.  They say using two London airports to share the load will not do.  They also say that if that hub is not Heathrow, then Heathrow would need to close, in order to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business. Closing Heathrow would have immense implications, with 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport.  Its closure would have impacts on their families and the communities in which they live  – but release a huge area of land (some 1,200 acres for profitable re-development….. though a town the size of Peterborough would be needed for the new hub airport. Their report follows a call for evidence last summer.  The ITC’s key worry seems to be that “…we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.”



The ITC May 2013 report 

Flying into the Future: Key issues for assessing Britain’s Aviation infrastructure needs

(May 2013)      title= Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)   41 pages







The list of commissioners of the ITC is at

The list of patrons of the ITC is at

The list of funders (including many airports) of the ITC is at







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