Stansted to have summer only flights to Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas (competing with Gatwick)

At present, Stansted doesn’t have flights to the  profitable destinations of Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas.  Most people going to Orlando in Florida go from Gatwick, with Manchester as the 2nd largest route. Almost everyone going to Cancun from the UK goes from Gatwick.  Most people going to Las Vegas go from Gatwick, with Heathrow in second place, and Manchester third.  But now Stansted is planning flights by Thomas Cook to those three cities, just over a month this summer and next summer.  Passengers to those three destinations make up about 3.6% of all Gatwick passengers.  Passengers to Las Vegas from Heathrow only make up about 0.3% of total passengers.  Manchester (same owners as Stansted) already has flights to Orlando and Las Vegas.
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Summer holiday flights to Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas take off from Stansted

18.7.2015 (Herts and Essex Observer)

The first of three inaugural Thomas Cook Airlines flights to the USA and Mexico from Stansted took off on Friday (July 17) when a plane departed for Orlando in Florida.Today (Saturday) sees the first Thomas Cook flight from the Essex hub to Mexican holiday and honeymoon destination Cancun, and on Monday the airline’s first flight to Las Vegas departs.Balloons, a three-tier celebration cake and Disney singers with children’s gift bags delighted passengers from check-in through to the departure gate on Friday’s flight, creating an amazing buzz to bring the best of Orlando to Stansted Airport.Christoph Debus, chief executive of Thomas Cook Airlines, said: “This weekend is huge for us as we deliver on our promise to provide great quality flights at superb prices to iconic US destinations.

“We’re doubling our departures to Orlando next summer to four times a week, making Stansted a great partner for us to offer the best experience to our customers.”

Andrew Harrison, Stansted Airport’s managing director, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the return of long-haul services to Stansted this weekend as Thomas Cook launch flights to the USA and Mexico.

“These flights to Orlando, Las Vegas and Cancun will be a fantastic addition to our destinations board and the first of what will be a growing long-haul offer from Stansted in the coming years, providing people in our catchment with greater choice and value.”

Orlando, the fifth largest city in Florida, is the theme park capital of the world. Last year its tourist attractions and events – including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld – drew more than 62 million visitors. Its airport is the 13th busiest in the US and the 29th busiest in the world.

When do the flights go?

Stansted to Orlando: Fridays and Sundays for July and August this summer. Summer 2016 departures are on Sunday, Monday, Wednesdayand Fridays from July 17 to August 29. Additional half-term holiday flights are scheduled for May and October 2016. Prices are from £800.

Stansted to Cancun: Saturdays from July 18 to August 15 this summer and then July 16 to August 20 next summer. Prices from £758.

Stansted to Las Vegas: Mondays from July 20 to August 17 this summer. For 2016 the flying day is a Thursday between July 21 and August 25. Prices starting from £676.

http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Summer-holiday-flights-Orlando-Cancun-Las-Vegas/story-27440044-detail/story.html
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CAA data on airports already having flights to those North American holiday destinations

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2014Annual/Table_12_1_Intl_Air_Pax_Route_Analysis_2014.pdf
Number of passengers in 2014
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Orlando
Gatwick    705,046 passengers (1.85% of total passengers)
Heathrow   656
Belfast International   1,243
Birmingham   650
Cardiff   632
Glasgow   72,405
Manchester   426,879

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Cancun
Gatwick   388,195 (1% of total passengers)
Stansted   292

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Las Vegas
Gatwick   317,843   (0.83% of total passengers)
Heathrow   228,236   (0.31% of total passengers)
Edinburgh   485
Glasgow   307
Manchester   97,983

Total passengers in 2014

Gatwick    38,094,000
Heathrow   73,371,000
Stansted   19,958,000

 

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Luton has plans for direct rail line to cut train journey from central London to 20 minutes

Luton airport wants to have a rail link that connects directly to the Midlands mainline and reaches central London in 20 minutes. Luton is starting a £100 million project that would increase its passenger capacity by 50%, up to 18 million per year. That follows a significant upgrade of the nearby stretch of the M1 and the creation of its own airport junction.   Currently getting to the airport by public transport is a hassle, and airport staff agree that it puts off many travellers despite Luton’s destinations offered by easyJet, Wizz Air and Ryanair. Luton wants to be an integrated part of the transport network. The work starting now is to increase aircraft runway access, the number of boarding piers, and terminal space (including more shops) should be finished by 2020. The airport’s operators — Aena, the Spanish-owned largest airport group in the world and Ardian private equity — are funding the present construction programme, the question of who pays for a rail link is unresolved. The airport’s freehold is owned by Luton borough council and Aena and Ardian’s operating concession expires in 2031. So will the taxpayer have to pay for rail improvements? Luton wants to attract Norwegian from Gatwick, and Vueling from Heathrow.
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Luton Airport reveals plans for direct rail line that would cut train journey from central London to just 20 minutes

  • Plans part of £100m project that will increase passenger numbers by 50%
  • Current journey time includes bus travel from London Airport Parkway
  • But airport bosses look to connect terminal direct with Midlands mainline 

The Bedfordshire airport, though marketed as London’s fourth airport, has submitted plans for a £100million upgrade of the site that will increase passenger capacity by 50 per cent as well as enhance the customer experience.

And key to that is cutting any journey time to and from the airport from the capital.

London Luton Airport has put forward its plans for a £100m upgrade that it hopes will enhance the customer experience when travelling

Currently the shortest train journey from London to Luton Airport Parkway is 20 minutes from St Pancras International, but passengers are forced to ride a bus for the final mile of the journey.

With waiting times, and stops along the way, this can mean the journey time is almost doubled.

But the project is looking at the idea of connecting the airport directly to the Midlands rail line, which will mean the entire journey will take 20 minutes non-stop.

Speaking to The Times, chief executive at the airport Nick Barton said: ‘The bus service meets the basic criteria [but] the plan is to come up with a long-term solution.

‘The options are around a mass passenger system which could be light rail or heavy [conventional] rail.’

And Ollie Jaycock, head of Marketing & Strategic Affairs at London Luton told MailOnline Travel: ‘The project has been gearing up over the last year to see how building and improvement work could improve the transport infrastructure at the airport.

‘The greatest opportunity for us to do that is rail, and there are two big things we are trying to do.

“Firstly we are working with the Department for Transport to increase the number of fast trains that leave London St Pancras, we want four fast trains an hour as oppose to one.

Then the final piece of the jigsaw is how we can speed up the ‘last mile,’ and that is the biggest hurdle for us.

‘We are working with central government to see whether there could be a direct rail solution for this.’

While the Davies Commission recommended Heathrow for a 3rd runway, [the 7th for the London area, including Southend] it also said: ‘It is imperative that the UK continues to grow its domestic and international connectivity in this period, and this will require the more intensive utilisation of existing airports other than Heathrow and Gatwick.’

And it appears London Luton Airport is doing just that. The aim is to increase passenger footfall from the current 12 million to at least 18 million by 2026.

As well as looking into a direct rail service, Luton Airport will be added to the Oyster Card network in September.

The project also plans to double existing retail space and develop a new world-class executive lounge, as well as improve road travel links in and out of the terminal.

Passenger numbers at London Luton Airport grew by 16 per cent in June compared with the same month last year. A record-breaking 1.2million passengers travelled through the airport in June, marking 15 months of consecutive growth.

Luton offers a choice of low-cost airlines including Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air, yet it is believed the staggered journey to and from the airport puts many travellers off.

A spokesperson for the airport added: ‘At the moment you can get to the Airport from London St Pancras in just 20 minutes and we’re working closely with the train operators to introduce more frequent fast trains from London, the Midlands and the South East.

‘From December 2015 trains will operate services throughout the night, with at least two trains per hour, so you can get to the airport or get home quickly after you land even when your flight is in the early hours.

‘We’re upgrading the shuttle bus service between the station and the airport so you are picked up and dropped off right outside the terminal.

‘We’re also looking into a longer-term improvement such as a mass passenger system that could be light or conventional rail.’

Sophie Dekkers, director of UK Market for easyJet, who are based at the airport, told MailOnline Travel: ‘London Luton Airport is a hugely important part of our London airport strategy and it remains our head office base.

‘The transformation of the airport was a key factor in our commitment to double our passenger numbers at London Luton Airport over the next 10 years and we have ambitious plans for growth which will result in an even greater range of business and leisure destinations for our passengers.

‘We have already started this expansion with new routes for next winter in addition to those which launched earlier this Summer. We are also basing three more aircraft at the airport this year and we’re really pleased to be supporting the airport in this way.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3168164/Luton-Airport-reveals-plans-direct-rail-line-cut-train-journey-central-London-just-20-minutes.html
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See also The Times, article at

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/transport/article4502713.ece

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Colnbrook residents complain Slough refuses to reveal details of secret agreement with Heathrow

Colnbrook Views has submitted an FoI request after Slough Borough Council refused to allow publication of its agreement with Heathrow, made in February.  Slough and Spelthorne are the only two councils openly backing a 3rd Heathrow runway.  While the Council’s CEO is telling business leaders that Slough will be the premier place for businesses to relocate by 2019, there is a veil of secrecy over the nature of its agreement with the Airport , though some bits have been made public.  Heathrow has apparently agreed on various conditions including a guaranteed £100,000 annual contribution by the airport for 15 years toward a new “strategic partnership”.   Communities in Colnbook and nearby are not persuaded that they will get much benefit, though the Council CEO has said there will be more noise insulation, some “improved infrastructure, roads, bus services” etc.  There appears to be little on mitigation for those most affected. However, the heads of agreement from February sets out a commitment to a range of measures to boost the wider Slough economy, improve access to the airport from Slough town centre, and support airport-related expansion beyond Heathrow’s extended perimeter and existing commercial zones in the borough.
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Slough refuses to reveal details of secret agreement with Heathrow

18.7.2015  (Colnboork Views)

 

Colnbrook Views yesterday submitted a Freedom of Information request after Slough Borough Council refused to allow publication of its agreement with Heathrow. 

 

Slough CEO Ruth Bagley is telling business leaders today that Slough will be the premier place for businesses to relocate by 2019.

Slough Borough Council has thrown a veil of secrecy over the nature of its agreement with Heathrow Airport – insisting it has given “quite a lot of detail” already.

The agreement reached between SBC and Heathrow in February saw the Council commit to support Heathrow’s plans for expansion into the parish in return for measures including a guaranteed £100,000 contribution by the airport for 15 years toward a new “strategic partnership”.

We have given quite a lot of detail about what we’re discussing with Heathrow in our press releases

In its press release accompanying the agreement the Council said the new partnership would provide specific support and mitigation “for communities closest to the airport, including Colnbrook”. On being pressed by Colnbrook Views in February on what that entailed, Slough responded viaStreetlife to say:

“This includes the enhanced noise stuff – which is almost unlimited – but also improved infrastructure, roads, bus services (so people who are nearest don’t have to go on a convoluted journey to actually get there) and similar. Exact details still being thrashed out”.

However the 3-page “heads of agreement” signed on February 3, seen by Colnbrook Views and others in the community, actually has more far-reaching aims, and (so far) little if anything to do with mitigation for those most affected.

It sets out a commitment to a range of measures to boost the wider Slough economy, improve access to the airport from Slough town centre, and support airport-related expansion beyond Heathrow’s extended perimeter and existing commercial zones in the borough. Given its earlier statement in February that it would be looking for Heathrow’s help to redesignate green belt for housing that’s a double-whammy for any defence to the SIFE Pre-Inquiry which begins on Monday.

What the agreement does NOT include is any specific mitigation for those most affected communities beyond what has already been previously announced by Heathrow before the Airports Commission consultation ended (and subsequently dismissed by Sir Howard as less than “world class”).

And, disturbingly, half the first year’s Partnership funding is already earmarked to a project which will increase the misery for Colnbrook residents. We can’t say what that involves while Slough’s gagging order remains in place – but needless to say it covers a topic never too far from of our thoughts (given it dominates the local skyline).

The Council spokesperson said more information would be made available in due course:

We appreciate residents, particularly in Colnbrook, are keen to know as much about this as possible and we will be publishing more information as and when we can.

The full impact of the agreement – and the extent of Slough’s sellout of its easternmost ward – has to be seen to be believed. For this reason we are pushing for the document to be released at the earliest opportunity.

SBC’s refusal to share the document publicly, despite being widely “leaked” already, suggests the Council is worried about a backlash.

The Council decision came through just before close of business on Friday.

http://www.colnbrook.info/slough-refuses-to-reveal-secret-agreement-with-heathrow/

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See earlier:

Slough Borough Council lists its financial demands on Heathrow, if it gets a 3rd runway

Slough Borough Council is supportive of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. With Spelthorne, they are the only two councils near Heathrow that do back a new runway. Slough has now submitted their council response to the Airports Commission consultation, but it includes many points on which the council wants extra funding, if there is a new runway. Slough Council expects to be compensated for loss of council tax from residential properties,  loss of business rates from commercial land lost; and loss of business rates from closure of the Colnbrook incinerator. They want Heathrow to pay for insulation of public buildings, especially schools, throughout the whole of Slough; fixed noise monitoring stations across all affected areas of Slough, with the airport paying for their operation; and replacement of the Grundon incinerator, with no break in service, all at Heathrow’s expanse. They also expect extension of the Slough Mass Rapid Transit  bus system to Heathrow, which has been halted due to lack of money. And Slough wants Heathrow to contribute towards the cost of air quality monitoring, recognising much is due to the airport. And the list continues

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/01/slough-borough-council-lists-its-financial-demands-on-heathrow-if-it-gets-a-3rd-runway/

 

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Prestwick Airport losing still more money – Scottish Government may have to “lend” up to £25 million by end of 2016

Losses made by Prestwick airport have increased over the past year, since it was bought by the Scottish government for £1 in November 2013. The airport made a loss of £4.1 million in 2014/15  which was larger than the loss of £3.9 million the previous year. They said it was “another challenging year” but said there were “promising signs in a number of areas” including freight business and military activity.  However, the loss of some Ryanair flights  (to Glasgow Airport  from October 2014) could be “more severely felt” in the current financial year. Pre-tax losses for 2014/15 stood at £8.9 million – almost double the £4.6m loss before tax the previous year.  The airport’s loan from the Scottish government has also increased, rising from £4.5 million at the end of March 2014 to £10.8m at the end of March this year. That could increase further, with ministers having budgeted for a total of up to £25 million of loan cash for the airport by the end of 2015/16. (Presumably with little prospect of the taxpayer getting much of that back).  The government hopes to return Prestwick to a profit before selling it back to the private sector, ministers have warned that could take time. By buying the airport, some 3,200 jobs were safeguarded.  The number of passengers using Prestwick was 1,660,811  in 2010; 1,295,676  in 2011;  1,067,243 in 2012; and 1,145,561 in 2013 and 912,400 in 2014.

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Losses increase at Prestwick Airport

20.7.2015 (BBC)

Losses have increased slightly at the Scottish government-owned Glasgow Prestwick Airport over the past year.

The airport, which was bought by Scottish ministers for £1 in November 2013, returned a loss of £4.1m in 2014/15.

This was up from £3.9m the previous year.

Prestwick accepted it had been “another challenging year” but said there were “promising signs in a number of areas”.

The annual reports from TS Prestwick Holdco Limited – the company set up up to acquire the airport on behalf of Scottish ministers – warned the loss of some Ryanair flights to Glasgow Airport could be “more severely felt” in the current financial year.

Pre-tax losses for 2014/15 stood at £8.9m – almost double the £4.6m loss before tax the previous year.

Return to profit

The airport’s loan from the Scottish government has also increased, rising from £4.5m at the end of March 2014 to £10.8m at 31 March this year.

That could increase further, with ministers having budgeted for a total of up to £25m of loan cash for the airport by the end of 2015/16.

The Scottish government took the airport into public hands after former owner Infratil earmarked it for closure.

While the government hopes to return it to a profit before selling it back to the private sector, ministers have warned that could take time.

The annual report said there had been “positive signs in a number of areas” at Prestwick, including freight business and military activity.

But it added: “The largest driver of revenue is linked to passenger volumes and the associated passenger spend.”

While it said load factors had increased, it added the number of flights has “seen an overall decline as total capacity has been reduced”.

The report warned: “This will be more severely felt in the next financial year to 31 March 2016 following Ryanair’s decision to open a base at Glasgow Airport from October 2014.”

Airport chief executive Iain Cochrane said: “Following another challenging year the airport continues to work to turn around the financial performance and there are promising signs in a number of areas, though growing the passenger business remains a challenge whilst air passenger duty exists at its current level.

“The airport is a frontrunner in the process to become the first designated UK spaceport and is continually looking for opportunities to maximise both income and the broad scope and opportunity offered as a strategic national asset.

“The recent appointment of four high-calibre non-executive directors brings considerable new knowledge and experience to help drive the business forward.”

‘Long-term investment’

A Scottish government spokesman said that by stepping in to save the airport, it had safeguarded 3,200 jobs and secured a vital infrastructure asset that contributes more than £61m annually to the Scottish economy.

He added: “These financial results are as we expected. As we made clear at the start of the acquisition process, this is a long-term investment. There is no quick fix to turn Glasgow Prestwick Airport around but there are real opportunities to improve in all areas of the business.

“Our investment is on a commercial basis and takes the form of loan funding. This attracts a market rate of interest in line with state aid rules. The recent Audit Scotland report confirmed that we are highly likely to generate a return on this investment.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said the latest figures were a “massive blow for Scotland’s transport, business, infrastructure and tourism industries.

He added: “As one of Scotland’s busiest airports, Prestwick should be thriving not operating at a loss.

“When it was announced that the airport was to be publicly owned, we issued an warning at the time, stating that it would take an enormous effort to get the airport back in to profit.

“The Scottish government needed to have the courage to do what was necessary, rather than simply pouring money into something without accruing any benefit.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-33593817

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Earlier:

Prestwick Airport to be sold to Scottish Government for £1 – and other failing regional airports look to business parks and housing

12.11.2013

Infratil, which currently owns Prestwick Airport, has said the airport is expected to be sold to the Scottish Government for £1.  The sale is due to be completed by Wednesday, 20 November. Infratil said the airport’s value had been “fully impaired” – effectively written off – after Prestwick and sister airport Manston in Kent were collectively valued at £11 million in March.  Infratil bought Prestwick from Stagecoach in 2001 for £33m.  Manston is being sold to Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag for an expected £400,000. Scottish Ministers are taking over Prestwick airport, which is losing £7m a year, to avert its closure and safeguard 1,400 jobs, including 300 at the airport. Infratil described its investment in the airports to have been “unsuccessful for Infratil” and that while such regional airports looked like a good investment 5 years ago, they now are not as  they are reliant on “robust air traffic growth driving demand.” Other failing airports are looking to  create business parks on their land, and housing – to try and make money out of them.    

 

Glasgow Prestwick Airport may be given to the Scottish Government for nothing

October 11, 2013       The owners of Glasgow Prestwick, New Zealand company Infratil, have suggested they may give away the airport for nothing. The Scottish government has announced it is negotiating to buy the unprofitable airport, and hopes to conclude detailed negotiations with the company by 20 November. Scottish government said it was the “only realistic alternative to closure”. In a statement on its website, the company said it did not expect any transaction “to give rise to material proceeds”. Prestwick was put up for sale last March after heavy annual losses. Several investors expressed interest but no offers were made. Infratil has also been trying to sell its other unprofitable UK airport, Manston. In May 2013, Infratil announced that it had written down the value of both airports to £11m. Infratil has agreed to ensure the airport is kept fully open and operational during the negotiation process. In 2012 Prestwick had around 1 million passengers, compared to 2.4 million at its peak in 2005.

Click here to view full story…

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SNP, which won just 1.45 million votes in the election, says it will decide the vote on a SE runway

The SNP have 56 MPs, and each was only voted by an average of about 23,000 voters, which is a much smaller number than even Conservative MPs, and massively less than LibDems, UKIP or the Greens. Nevertheless. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will decide on whether a runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick (they are not wise enough to appreciate no runway is needed). The SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry said the party was “neutral” between Heathrow and Gatwick, while earlier it had been thought they favoured Heathrow. The SNP will “negotiate” with both airports, to see which gives them a better deal and they will vote for whichever gives Scottish people the cheapest flights, and “guaranteed connections with international flights” which Scotland has not been able to provide for itself.  The  SNP is aware that people in England, especially those to be adversely affected (or evicted from their homes) by a runway did not get the chance to vote for or against the SNP. The runway is largely an English matter. But Zac Goldsmith warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes.  (Combined anti-Heathrow party votes of LibDems, UKIP and Greens were 7.45 million. SNP votes were 1.45 million).
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Nicola Sturgeon: Decision over third Heathrow runway will be decided by SNP vote

21.7.2015 (Standard)

Nicola Sturgeon today blew the battle between Heathrow and Gatwick wide open by saying her 56 MPs at Westminster will vote for the airport that gives a better deal for Scots.

In an exclusive interview with the Standard, SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry declared the party was “neutral” between a third runway at Heathrow and a second at Gatwick.

The SNP would decide which airport to back after hearing how each would answer Scottish demands for cheaper ticket prices and guaranteed connections with international flights.

“That does not mean we do not care about environmental issues or the effect it would have on people locally,” he said. “Whatever decision must be made in the most balanced way.

“But my primary job is to represent the people of Scotland.”

The prospect of Scottish MPs acting as kingmakers on a decision affecting millions of resident and businesses in the South-East is bound to infuriate some Londoners, but Mr Hendry said Scottish interests were also at stake.

It will dismay bosses at Heathrow who thought the SNP’s support for a third runway was guaranteed.

Heathrow lobbyists have been pressing for a free vote at Westminster to settle the matter, in the belief that Scottish and Northern Irish MPs would automatically back them on the basis of better connections offered by the UK’s hub airport.

But Mr Hendry said he would be negotiating with both airports and with the Government on behalf of Scots. “We are absolutely neutral at the moment,” he said. “The Airports Commission report has given Heathrow the nod but it specifically did not rule out Gatwick either.” Setting out Scottish demands he said: “The key thing for us is that for too long Scotland has done pretty badly in terms of maintaining routes from regional airports, particularly Inverness and even Aberdeen.”

Ticket prices were routinely higher for Scots going abroad via London, he said: “The first thing we will be looking for is a fair deal in terms of onward flights. It is costing Scottish consumers much more per head. Onward connections are much more expensive — the prices are ridiculous.”

Asked if his stance should alarm west London residents worried about noise and air quality, he said: “We share common purpose. We want to make sure we get the best overall solution.”

The SNP did not want people to “suffer undue noise” and was concerned about keeping the country’s carbon footprint as low as possible.

But Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and frontrunner to be his party’s mayoral candidate, warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes.

Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, argued that the SNP should abstain on a Westminster vote on locating a new runway in the South-East.

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@JoeMurphyLondon

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/nicola-sturgeon-decision-over-third-heathrow-runway-will-be-decided-by-snp-vote-10404238.html

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Number of votes and number of MPs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

The SNP obtained 1,454,436 votes at the May 2015 general election and they have 56 MPs.

The LibDems obtained 2,415,862 votes and they have 8 MPs.

UKIP obtained 3,881,099 votes and they have 1 MP.

The Greens obtained 1,157,613 votes and they have 1 MP.

Neither the LibDems, UKIP nor the Greens want a Heathrow runway. They had between them 7,454,574  votes. (By contrast, the SNP has 1,454,436 votes.)

And the SNP says it will be the deciding party in a vote on a runway??


 

Number of votes per MP

Just  25,970 voters on average elected each SNP  MP.

Compared to 3.8 million voters for one UKIP MP.

And 1.1 million voters for one Green MP.

32,900 voters per English Conservative MP.

349,000 voters per Lib Dem MP.

and so on.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.11.41


Comment by an AirportWatch member: 

Always assuming the outcome would be decided by a free vote in the Commons which I have already read is highly unlikely particularly in view of Tory divisions over the issue of airport expansion.

The SNP’s former position was for expansion at Scottish airports;

“Meanwhile, the Scottish government has said the focus should be on the continued development of direct long haul services to and from Scotland and the north of England.

Air Passenger Duty
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond argues that will require major changes to the way Air Passenger Duty (APD) is levied.

The aviation industry says reducing or abolishing APD would strengthen the business case for new international routes from Scotland.

Mr Salmond said: “We’re actually inhibited by the concentration of international flights at Heathrow, where they can’t cope because of huge congestion problems.

“It would be far better to have an effective devolution of Air Passenger Duty which would allow us to attract more direct international flights into Scotland and, indeed, the north of England.”
(BBC News 12/11/2014)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-30024526

 

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Birmingham airport passenger numbers rising, but total number of flights almost the same as in 1998

The total number of flights (ATMs) using Birmingham airport was around 89,000 in 2014, compared to around 88,000 in 1998.  The number rose to a peak of around 116,000 in 2003. But  due to larger planes and higher load factors, the actual number of flights has fallen in recent  years.  See below.  The airport handled 6,607,000 passengers in 1998.  In 2014, the number of passengers using Birmingham airport was about 9,698,340 (6.4% up on the 9,118,570 in 2013 – and 46.8% more than in 1998).  By comparison, the growth in air passengers across all UK airports last year was 4.3%.  Birmingham says the number of passengers in June was 2.8% above the number in June 2013, and the number in May was 1.3% higher than in May 2014.  The airport says there was an increase of 20% in long haul routes compared to June 2014, and  “demand continues to grow in this market.”  The airport CEO Paul Kehoe said:  “We’re expecting our long-haul traffic to increase further in the coming months, following the recent launch of direct charter flights to Beijing, which will operate throughout the summer with Hainan Airlines.” Most passengers are on European leisure flights.  A single runway airport could handle over 30 million passengers per year, so Birmingham is very far below its capacity.
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Record June as Birmingham Airport welcomes 1m passengers

21 JULY 2015 (Birmingham Post)
BY GRAEME BROWN

A total of 988,916 people used the airport across the month, which represented a 2.8 per cent rise on June last year

Birmingham Airport has enjoyed the busiest June in the its history after almost a million passengers passed through.

A total of 988,916 people used the airport across the month, which represented a 2.8 per cent rise on June last year.

Long-haul traffic experienced significant growth in June, up 20 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive.

He said: “Throughout 2015, we’ve seen passenger records smashed almost on a monthly basis and June was no different. It was particularly pleasing to see long-haul traffic increase by 20 per cent too, compared to the same period last year; a clear sign that demand continues to grow in this market.

“We’re expecting our long-haul traffic to increase further in the coming months, following the recent launch of direct charter flights to Beijing, which will operate throughout the summer with Hainan Airlines. The route is proving to be incredibly popular with inbound and outbound passengers, offering plenty of encouragement for the future.”

June’s passenger numbers mean the Airport has now achieved five record-breaking months in 2015, as January, March, April and May also saw a record number pass through the terminal.

A rise in demand for scheduled routes to Keflavik, Perpignan, Amritsar, Madrid and New York JFK boosted the statistics.

http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/record-june-birmingham-airport-welcomes-9694537?ptnr_rid=150400&icid=Untitled6

 


Birmingham airport Air Transport Movements (ie. flights) per year (CAA data) – thousands

http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=80&pagetype=88&pageid=3&sglid=3

1998    88

1999     98

2000    108

2001     111

2002     112

2003    116

2004    109

2005    113

2006    109

2007     104

2008     103

2009     94

2010    85

2011    84

2012     84

2013    85

2014    89


 

The number of passengers using Birmingham airport (CAA data) – thousands 

1998    6 607

1999    6 935

2000    7 492

2001    7 712

2002    7 911

2003    8 924

2004    8 797

2005    9 311

2006    9 056

2007   9 134

2008    9 577

2009    9 093

2010    8 564

2011    8 608

2012    8 916

2013    9 114

2014    9 698

 


 

Passengers month by month in 2014  (2015)  from Anna Aero data

www.anna.aero/wp-content/uploads/european-airports.xls

January     549 150  ( 611 171 )
February   577 627 ( 629 541 )
March       654 376 ( 736 735 )
April          759 568 ( 770 468 )
May           893 874 ( 904 484 )
June         960 506
July           1 049 499
August      1 103 605
Sept          1 007 684
Oct            877 123
Nov           646 275
Dec           621 457

Birmingham Total Passengers in 2014   9 698 349 (6.4% up on 2013)

Birmingham Total Passengers in 2013   9 118 579

Airport passengers for the UK as a whole rose by  about 4.3% in 2014, compared to 2013)

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Record Passenger Numbers for Birmingham Airport in May

25 June 2015

Birmingham Airport has recorded the busiest May in its history, as over 900,000 passengers passed through the terminal last month.

Latest figures reveal the Airport handled a total of 904,860 passengers in May, beating its previous record for the month set in 2014 by 1.3%, according to Birmingham Airport.

May’s passenger numbers mean the Airport has now achieved four record-breaking months in 2015, as January, March and April also saw a record number pass through the terminal.

Scheduled traffic in May accounted for 81% of the total figure, with charter passengers making up the remaining 19%

Paul Kehoe, the airport’s chief executive, said: “May has been another great month for Birmingham Airport in 2015, seeing records smashed yet again. Passenger numbers in May were given a significant boost thanks to the launch of new routes to New York JFK with American Airlines and Barcelona with Spanish airline Vueling, both offering a British Airways codeshare, allowing customers to redeem BA air miles and Avios points.

“Last month represents the fourth record-breaking month this year, which tells me the demand to fly from Birmingham is getting stronger and stronger. This summer alone, we’re getting ready to welcome a series of 34 direct charter flights between Birmingham and Beijing with Hainan Airlines, as well as Emirates introducing a third daily service to Dubai.”

One hundred percent growth was seen on scheduled routes to New York JFK, Madrid, Athens, Reykjavik and Rome, as well as growth to La Rochelle (+92.5%), Guernsey (+80.3%) and Amritsar (+68.9%).

Charter services to Catania (+185.2%), Cancun (+114.5%) and the Greek island of Lesbos (+100%) also experienced significant growth.

http://www.finchannel.com/index.php/business/travel-news/item/45883-record-passenger-numbers-for-birmingham-airport-in-may

Read more »

Villagers turn to civil disobedience in battle against third runway at Heathrow

Writing in the Guardian, Sandra Laville reports on how some residents of the Heathrow villages, facing eviction and loss of their homes and communities, refuse to be cowed by the airport threat.  Some, who have never broken the law before have been forced by circumstances not of their choosing, to adopt civil disobedience as they fight to save their way of life.  Some of the 13 activists from Plane Stupid, who cut through Heathrow’s perimeter fence and occupied land close to the northern runway last week came from Sipson.  They felt their actions were justified not only because of the homes to be bulldozed and the community to be lost, but because of the hugely increased carbon emissions that a runway would cause. They will appear at the Uxbridge magistrates’ court on 19th August, accused of aggravated trespass.  One commented: “I find the whole idea of direct action and of being arrested very stressful. But I feel it has to be done.”  On the 20th July local builder, Neil Keveren (previously chairman of anti expansion group, SHE) went to court for his action in blocking the access tunnel to Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 for 20 minutes recently. He was given a £895 fine. Some think this may become like the long battle for Greenham Common.
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Villagers turn to civil disobedience in battle against third runway at Heathrow

Faced with destruction of Harmondsworth and other villages, residents began taking matters into their own hands – and things escalated sharply

With its 11th century church, listed buildings and 15th century timber barn managed by English Heritage, Harmondsworth is a paean to reverence, tradition and antiquity.

Faced with destruction of their village as they know it, to make way for a third runway at Heathrow, however, some residents have begun to adopt tactics such as civil disobedience as they fight to save their way of life.

That campaign escalated sharply last Monday, when 13 individuals cut through the patrolled perimeter fence around Heathrow in the early hours of the morning, chained themselves together and lay down on the northern runway in the name of the campaign group Plane Stupid, closing the runway for three hours and cancelling 13 flights.

Among them were individuals who have never taken part in civil disobedience or been arrested before. One of the protesters, Eddie Thacker, 26, who has lived for two years in Sipson, one of three villages which face destruction, predicted there would be much more direct action to come, as residents and seasoned activists fight to stop the third runway being built.  
In Harmondsworth alone 780 homes will be destroyed and at least one primary school torn down should the bulldozers move in and destroy half the village. But it is not just the destruction of bricks and mortar that is inspiring such action, it is the impact of a third runway on climate change.  
Like Greenham Common, Thacker believes, the fight to stop aviation expansion will become a defining battleground. “This is going to be the environmental struggle of our times and it has to be won if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change,” he said. “This is a such a key battleground environmentally in terms of climate change, and people are beginning to be inspired by this kind of action.”  
Another of those arrested on Monday, a 23-year-old gardener from west London, who moved to Sipson two years ago to become part of the campaign against the airport, said he was taking part because he saw evidence from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research that if aviation growth is not reduced by 2037, all of the carbon that it is safe for the UK to emit will come from flying alone. “I find the whole idea of direct action and of being arrested very stressful,” he said. “But I feel it has to be done.”  
Thacker and his 12 associates have been charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome. They are to appear in Uxbridge magistrates’ court on 19 August.  The other protesters include Graham Thompson, one of the co-founders of Plane Stupid, who believes the issue of climate change has been played down in the debate over the aviation expansion.  
“We are increasingly concerned that David Cameron is going to perform a U-turn and that his no ifs no buts no third runway was a false promise,” he said. “We thought it was important to get climate change right back into the debate. The biggest source [it is one of the biggest, but not the biggest… AW note]  of emissions is aviation, you cannot keep expanding aviation and claim as this government has done to be serious about tackling climate change. We have to cut emissions urgently.”  
While Thompson has been arrested in the past, some long-time residents who have lived entirely law abiding lives are also taking up civil disobedience. 
The day after the Davies commission came down in favour of Heathrow expansion, Neil Keveren, a builder who was born in Sipson and lives in Harmondsworth, drove his van into the access tunnel for Terminals 2 and 3, parked up, climbed on to the roof and unfurled two banners, “residents against expansion” and “no ifs no buts no third runway”. 
Keveren stayed for 20 minutes before he was arrested and spent six hours in a cell. He is due to appear in court on Monday 20th.  
“I want them to know they are not holding all the cards,” he said. “They took away our democratic choice by kicking the Davies commission decision into the long grass before the election.  I am not a member of Plane Stupid but I would be proud to be one, I’ve never broken the law before, but I felt this had to be done. 
“People have made life choices based on no third runway – where to send their kids to school, where to bury their elderly. There is no wriggle room for Cameron in this, the new scheme is no different to the old one, it is just as disastrous.”   
The government has indicated it will make a decision on whether to back a third runway at Heathrow by the end of the year.  
For one resident, the combination of direct action from groups such as Plane Stupid, and the will of the villagers, could be vital in the weeks and months ahead as the fight against expansion escalates.
Ruth Bacon has lived on Summerhouse Lane in Harmondsworth since 1949 when Heathrow had just one runway, and since then has been fighting to stop its incremental expansion.   
Now 86, her home would be bulldozed to make way for a third runway. “I’ve been to all the protest meetings in the past and will keep doing so,” she said.   
“I’ve been positive all the way through that we can stop this if we all stick together. Last time this all came up one of those young protesters promised she was going to come and lie down outside my house if the bulldozers come. And I thought, well that would be nice, wouldn’t it?”  

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/19/harmondsworth-villagers-civil-obedience-battle-against-third-runway-heathrow?CMP=twt_environment%5egdneco

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Harmondsworth could be the Greenham Common of a generation say protesters as court dates set

20 JULY, 2015 (Colnbrook Views)

As court dates are set for protesters involved in the two separate incidents at Heathrow Airport in recent weeks, activists warn that Harmondsworth will be the Greenham Common of a generation and the defining battleground for “a fight against catastrophic climate change”.

The Guardian yesterday reported that protesters from Plane Stupid arrested following the protest on the northern runway last Monday will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on August 19.

Twelve protesters were arrested in total, charged with “aggravated trespass” and “entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome”, according to the paper.

During the protest Police told the activists they could face civil claims from the airport running into millions of pounds for the disruption, but the airport appears to be taking a softly softly approach.  Heathrow’s vast media machine completely ignored the protest, posting only a brief note about the disruption itself.

Neil Keveren, previously chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion, who carried out a separate unofficial protest in the access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3, appeared in court today.  Keveren said he had never broken the law before but felt it had to be done.

They took away our democratic choice by kicking the Davies commission decision into the long grass before the election.

He spent six hours in a police cell following his protest.

Featuring an 86-year old whose home will be demolished to make way for a third runway, The Guardian notes that law abiding residents of Harmondsworth are increasingly prepared to turn to direct action in the face of broken promises. It quotes one resident as suggesting that Harmondsworth could be the Greenham Common of a generation, the defining battleground of “a fight against catastrophic climate change”.
http://www.colnbrook.info/harmondsworth-could-be-the-greenham-common-of-a-generation-say-protesters-as-court-dates-set/

 

Read more »

Heathrow campaigners provide the (suit)case against the runway, in holiday reading material for David Cameron

On 20th July, the day before Parliament broke for its summer recess, campaigners from national organizations and local groups opposed to expansion at Heathrow packed a holiday suitcase for David Cameron’s summer holiday – with material they believe he should read and view on his holiday before he makes up his mind on a 3rd runway.  They were joined by the new Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and the veteran opponent of Heathrow expansion, Baroness Jenny Tonge.  Organised by HACAN, some of those at the event were campaigners from Greenpeace, FoE, CBT, AEF, SHE , RHC and CAIAN.  Items packed into the suitcase included “Heat,” a climate change book by George Monbiot; a video showing Harmondsworth; the most recent IPCC report; AirportWatch briefings on economics, noise, carbon emissions, and air quality; maps showing areas of London to be impacted by flight paths from a 3rd runway; a “No Ifs, No Buts, No third runway” beach towel; and John Stewart’s book  “Why Noise Matters.” The case was then wheeled off in the direction of Downing Street.  HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This diverse range of groups gives a flavour of the formidable opposition David Cameron will face if he gives the green light to a third runway.”

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The (Suit)Case Against Heathrow Expansion

20.7.2015 (HACAN)

Group

The suggestions of reading material for David Cameron, on a Heathrow runway


Good short video  from Meridian TV on the event:

http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2015-07-20/anti-runway-campaigners-pack-suitcase-for-david-cameron/


 

On 20th July, the day before Parliament broke for its summer recess, campaigners from  national organizations and local groups opposed to expansion at Heathrow packed a holiday suitcase for David Cameron’s summer holiday – with material they believe he should read and view on his holiday before he makes up his mind on a third runway.

They were joined by the new Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and the veteran opponent of Heathrow expansion, Baroness Jenny Tonge.

Stuff being put in

The items for David Cameron

Items packed into the suitcase included “Heat,” a climate change book by George Monbiot; a video showing Harmondsworth, the village facing destruction if a third runway goes ahead;  the most recent IPCC report; AirportWatch briefings on economics, noise, carbon emissions, and air quality;  maps showing areas of London to be impacted by flight paths from a 3rd runway; a “No Ifs, No Buts, No third runway” beach towel; and The Transition Handbook.  HACAN, the campaign body which had organized the event outside Parliament, donated the book “Why Noise Matters.”

Simon Clydesdale Greenpeace beach towel

Beach towel, from Greenpeace

james on the Ipcc report

AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) with a reminder about the IPCC report

Represented at the event were campaigners from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Campaign for Better Transport, AirportWatch, the Aviation Environment Federation, HACAN, Stop Heathrow Expansion, the Richmond Heathrow Campaign, Ealing Noise Action Group, Teddington Action Group and CAIAN (which represents many communities west of the airport).

Having put their reading suggestions in the suitcase for the Prime Minister’s holiday reading, it was they  wheeled off in the direction of Downing Street.

Suitcase rolling off

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This diverse range of groups gives a flavour of the formidable opposition David Cameron will face if he gives the green light to a third runway. This is a fun event but with a serious message. We are saying loudly and clearly to the Prime Minister that there is widespread and diverse opposition to a third runway and that he would do well to spend at least part of his summer holidays reflecting on the case against expansion of Heathrow.”

www.hacan.org.uk

A diverse rage of campaigners gathered in London today to urge David Cameron to reject a 3rd runway at Heathrow.  They packed his holiday suitcase with material (including a beach 'towel' with his Heathrow promise on it, various books on noise, global warming and air polution, a passport pledge etc ) that they felt would help him make up his mind.  Campaigners came from national organizations – Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Aviation Environment Federation and Campaign for Better Transport – and local organizations: HACAN, Richmond Heathrow Campaign, CAIAN, Stop Heathrow Expansion and Transition Heathrow.  They were joined by the Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and former Richmond MP Baroness Jenny Tonge. 20 July 2015. Guy Bell, 07771 786236, guy@gbphotos.com

Photos by Guy Bell, 07771 786236, guy@gbphotos.com

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Ciudad Real airport, cost €1.1 billion to build, sold for €10,000 to Chinese group, perhaps for cargo airport

An abandoned Spanish airport which cost about  €1.1bn to build has been sold for €10,000 (about £7,000)  in a bankruptcy auction.  The deal includes the runway, hangars, the control tower and other buildings. However, the terminal and parking facilities were not part of the sale. Ciudad Real’s Central airport, located about 235km south of Madrid, became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, the year the airport opened. It was meant to be an alternative to Madrid’s Barajas airport.  The operator of the airport went bankrupt in 2012 after it failed to draw enough traffic.  Ryanair used it briefly.  A group of British and Asian international investors, Chinese group Tzaneen International, tabled the single bid in Friday’s auction. There was no other interest. The receiver had set a minimum price of €28 million.  If no better bid is received by September, the sale will go through. Tzaneen reportedly plans to invest €60 – €100 million in the airport and make it a cargo hub. The offer is for the airport infrastructure only, not adjacent land.  It has a long runway and was designed to handle 2.5 million passengers per year. It is thought that  Chinese companies want to make it their “main point of entry into Europe”.
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Billion-dollar Spanish airport sold for 10,000 euros

Chinese company only bidder in auction for Ciudad Real’s Central airport, whose operator went bankrupt in 2012.

An abandoned Spanish airport which cost about 1.1bn euros ($1.2bn) to build has been sold for 10,000 euros in a bankruptcy auction.

Ciudad Real’s Central airport, located about 235km south of the capital Madrid, became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, the year the airport opened.

The operator of the airport went bankrupt in 2012 after it failed to draw enough traffic.

Chinese group Tzaneen International tabled the single bid in Friday’s auction, Spanish news agency Europa Press said.

The receiver had set a minimum price of 28m euros. If no better bid is received by September, the sale will go through, the news agency said.

Tzaneen International reportedly plans to invest up to 100m euros in the airport and make it a cargo hub. The offer is for the airport infrastructure only, not adjacent land.

Central has one of Europe’s longest runways and was designed to handle 2.5 million passengers a year.

The construction was heavily funded by the Caja Castilla La Mancha savings bank, the first of Spain’s troubled savings banks to be bailed out in 2010.

Another largely unused airport and symbol of wasteful spending is Castellon, on Spain’s eastern coast. It cost about 150m euros and opened in 2011.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/billion-dollar-spanish-airport-sold-10000-euros-150718140728677.html

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The Telegraph adds:

British investors buy Spain’s €1bn Don Quixote airport for just £7,000

17.7.2015

Ciudad Real airport, in the central Castilla-La Mancha region, has been closed since 2012, despite opening only four years prior to closure.

The regional authorities raised an estimated €1billion in private investment to build it. They had hoped it would draw millions of visitors each year to Ciudad Real and the surrounding area, which is known as the home of Miguel de Cervantes’s fictional knight Don Quixote.

But the airport itself soon became seen as a quixotic venture, drawing just 33,000 travellers in 2010.

The airport was previously made available at a price of €80 million, with that sale expiring on July 10 without any takers, allowing lower offers to be made.

The purchaser is Tzaneen International, a group of Britsh and Asian investors, who were the only group to have made an offer in an auction.

Although three weeks remain for counter offers, little interest has been reported in the airport on the part of other companies.

The deal will include the landing strip, hangars, the control tower and other buildings. However, the terminal and parking facilities were not part of the sale.

Despite paying such a low price for the facilities, Tzaneen International said in a statement that it plans to invest between €60m and €100 million in the airport and that “several Chinese companies are interested in making it into their main point of entry into Europe”.

Initially, Ryanair was the only carrier to use it, before abandoning the facility. The regional government then subsidised three flights a week by low-budget airline Vueling before it too pulled out.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/11747577/British-investors-buy-27m-Spanish-airport-for-just-7000.html


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Spain’s Ciudad Real airport sold at auction for €10,000

18.7.2015 (BBC)

……… with lots of photos of the unused airport …. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33578949

A group of international investors has won a bankruptcy auction for an abandoned airport in central Spain with a €10,000 (£7,000) offer – 100,000 times less than it cost to build.

The investors were the only bidders for Ciudad Real airport, south of Madrid, completed during Spain’s boom years.

But it is not clear if the sale will go ahead as another buyer could still step forward outside of the auction process.

The winning bid was made by a Chinese-led consortium of investors.

The group, Tzaneen International, says it wants to make the airport an entry point into Europe for Chinese companies.

The white elephants that dragged Spain into the red

Minimum price

Ciudad Real airport, located 235km (146 miles) south of Madrid, was meant to be an alternative to Madrid’s Barajas airport.

It cost more than €1bn to built. It opened in 2008 but went bankrupt and closed in 2012.

There is still a possibility that another buyer could meet the minimum price of €28m set by the receiver for the sale to go through before the end of September.

The central Spanish airport has a capacity for 2.5 million passengers per year.

It is one of a number of “ghost airports” constructed during Spain’s building boom that did not attract enough passengers.

A similar fate has befallen Castellon airport in the east. It opened in 2011 but has not received a single flight.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33578949

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See earlier:

Sad story of Ciudad Real Airport – a massive white elephant – that sits abandoned in central Spain

Ciudad Real International Airport in central Spain opened in 2009 to much hype and fanfare. The airport, which was meant to handle overflow from Madrid’s Barajas airport, cost some €1.1 billion to build, including a large amount of public funding for infrastructure. The site is next to a town of just 72,000 people on the sparsely populated Castilian plain and lies more than 140 miles from Madrid. It was even named after Don Quixote, the deluded Castilian gentleman of Cervantes’s famous novel, before wiser heads renamed it simply “Central”. Although launched by local private investors, the project has been fulsomely supported by the regional government of Castilla La Mancha and was financed by CCM, the regional savings bank, or caja. There were initially intended to be huge Don Quixote themed attraction nearby, which did not materialise. Only Vueling flew there. The airport closed, as a massively loss-making white elephant, in April 2012 and now sits almost abandoned – except for some car testing. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2013/02/is-cheap-long-haul-a-flight-of-fancy/

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Empty Ciudad Real airport – a silent witness to Spanish boom

 

Ciudad Real, 140 miles south of Madrid
24.2.2011

By Victor Mallet in Ciudad Real

Airports are usually noisy places, but at Ciudad Real in central Spain the silence
on a weekday morning is broken only by the sound of birdsong.

As Spain struggles to cut its budget deficit to avert another eurozone sovereign
debt crisis, and as its politicians prepare for local elections, Ciudad Real Central
– one of the country’s largest and most modern international airports – has become
a monument to the financial folly born of the property boom and exacerbated by
regional politics.

“It’s the silent airport,” says an airport employee, finishing her coffee in
the cavernous departure hall. It is a Thursday, and there are no passengers because
not a single flight is scheduled to depart.

“An airport in the middle of the desert. It’s scandalous,” says Lorenzo Bernaldo
de Quirós, partner at Freemarket Corporate Intelligence and a fierce critic of
what he sees as excessive devolution leading to waste of public money. “Every
province wants an airport, just as they all want a university.”
One airline – Vueling, the low-cost arm of Iberia – runs two flights a week to
Paris and four to Barcelona, with help from regional government subsidies. In
winter, private jets occasionally bring wealthy hunters to shoot partridge and
deer.

To critics of Spain’s devolved system of government, with its 17 autonomous regions,
50 provinces and 8,100 municipalities, the airport was a predictable but avoidable
fiasco.

The site is next to a town of just 72,000 people on the sparsely populated Castilian
plain and lies more than 140 miles from Madrid. It was even named after Don Quixote,
the deluded Castilian gentleman of Cervantes’s famous novel, before wiser heads
renamed it simply “Central”.

The airport, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since mid-2010, officially
cost €450m ($620m), but the bill reaches about €1bn when publicly funded infrastructure
and running costs so far are included.

Although launched by local private investors, the project has been fulsomely
supported by the regional government of Castilla La Mancha and was financed by
CCM, the regional savings bank, or caja. In 2009, CCM became the first Spanish caja to
be rescued during this economic crisis. It received €3bn in aid from a deposit
guarantee fund, now the airport’s largest shareholder, and was absorbed in a merger
backed by €1.5bn from the public bank rescue fund.

“In Spain, given the tremendous growth of recent years, people thought that anything
could be done, that it would be easy and quick and would make lots of money,”
says Francisco Cañizares, a municipal councillor in nearby Ciudad Real and a member
of the right-wing Popular party (PP), which opposes the Socialists currently in
charge of the central government and the region of Castilla La Mancha.

“In principle it was a private airport, but the ones who put in most money were
public, essentially CCM.”

PP leaders, who are expected to do well in this year’s regional elections against
their Socialist rivals, sense the public mood is turning against waste and bureaucracy
in Spain’s multi-tiered system of government. “Spain can’t compete in Europe or
the world with autonomous regions aspiring to become mini-nations,” said José
María Aznar, former PP prime minister, recently.

Bond market investors appear to have accepted that Spain has brought its central
government deficit under control, but they are now focusing on the growing burden
of regional and municipal debt.

When new regional governments take over after the May elections, says Mr Bernaldo
de Quirós, they are likely to find the accounts in worse shape than previously
believed, as happened in Greece in 2009 and in the Spanish region of Catalonia
at the end of last year. “People will question the reliability of the public accounts,”
he says.

Defenders of the status quo insist Spain is no worse than most other European
countries. “The level of development that Spain has now would have been impossible
without the autonomous regions, because it’s impossible to run a country with
the centralised territorial system of the 19th century,” says Javier Burón Cuadrado
of law firm Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, who advises the association of municipalities
and provinces.

Even the airport has its defenders. They point out that it was conceived when
Madrid’s Barajas airport was congested, was supposed to have a high-speed railway
station, and was opened in 2008 in the depths of the economic crisis. José María
Barreda, Socialist premier of Castilla La Mancha, insists the airport’s moment
will come, and denies it was a “get-rich-quick scheme”.

Meanwhile, tranquillity reigns at the sleepy airport. There is, briefly, a noise
like that of an approaching aircraft. But it is only the whoosh of a high-speed
train on its way from Seville to Madrid.

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Read more »

Heathrow gets 270 businesses to ask David Cameron to support building 3rd runway

Heathrow has got some 270 business people, many from companies with a clear direct financial interest, to write an open letter to David Cameron to ask him to get on quickly with building a Heathrow runway.  They make the usual claims about the lack of a runway holding back the growth of UK business across the UK, and of limiting future investment in the UK.  The actual connection between the runway, and all these good things, is never clearly set out, and the runway would in reality largely be used for holidays or visiting friends and family. The business people say in their letter that the runway would ” improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country.”  Curiously, they never mention stimulating imports. They want the UK to be macho and show it is willing and able to “take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the 21st century” and “doing nothing will put Britain’s economy in a perilous position.”  It claims “a majority of people in Heathrow’s local communities” back the runway. No evidence for that is given. Meanwhile Heathrow is encouraging passengers to send an easy-to-fill-in-with-no-effort postcards, to David Cameron, asking him to expand Heathrow immediately. Daniel Moylan tweeted: “Move fast on Heathrow? Before we work out the cost to taxpayer and passenger and the harm to residents? Got it.”
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Over 270 business leaders unite to call on the Prime Minister to back Heathrow expansion

19.7.2015 (Heathrow airport press release)
– Business chiefs urge the Prime Minister to back the clear and unanimous recommendation from the Airports Commission to expand Heathrow

– Lack of capacity at Heathrow is holding back the growth of UK businesses across the country and limiting future investment in the UK
Over 270 of Britain’s business leaders signed an open letter to the Prime Minster demanding the Government implement the Airports Commission’s clear and unanimous recommendation to expand Heathrow.

The letter – sent from signatories ranging from FTSE chiefs and Britain’s key business and trade associations, to leading global brands and SMEs spanning the whole of the UK – sends a clear message that UK business growth and productivity is being held back by lack of capacity at Heathrow. As the UK’s biggest port and only hub airport, businesses rely on Heathrow’s global network to reach fast-growing emerging markets – more capacity will improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country.

Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the twenty first century.

The Prime Minister set up the Commission in 2012 to find the best way to maintain the UK’s status as an aviation hub. The business leaders signing the letter join SMEs from up and down the UK, politicians from across the political divide, major trade unions and a majority of people in Heathrow’s local communities in backing Heathrow’s expansion plans.

The choice the Prime Minister faces is clear – action on Heathrow is the only way to secure Britain’s future as a powerhouse in the global economy, whilst doing nothing will put Britain’s economy in a perilous position.

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye said:
“The Prime Minister showed leadership in establishing an independent Airports Commission. It unanimously concluded that expanding Heathrow is the best way of securing Britain’s future as a powerhouse in the global economy.
Now the Prime Minister has the opportunity to show he is serious about delivering Britain’s long-term economic plan by listening to businesses from across the UK and backing Heathrow expansion. This debate has never been about a runway – it is about the future of our country. Let’s get on with it.”

— ENDS —

Notes to Editors:

The full letter and signatory list is copied below:

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

17 July 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

The independent Airports Commission has made a clear recommendation that Heathrow is the right location for airport expansion. Heathrow’s new expansion plan ensures this can be done sustainably. The Commission’s final recommendation follows nearly three years of extensive consultation, evidence gathering and analysis. Now your Government must support this recommendation to expand Heathrow.

Heathrow puts Britain right at the heart of the global economy and has helped it become one of the world’s great trading nations.

But Heathrow – the UK’s only hub airport – has been operating at capacity for the past decade. This lack of hub capacity is holding back the growth of UK businesses who want to fly directly to emerging markets; trade and transport their goods via air freight; create more jobs and connect to the UK’s regions.

The Commission is clear: further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the twenty first century.

Now is the time for Government decision and action. Your Government must support UK businesses by implementing the Airports Commission’s recommendation and expand Heathrow.

Regards,

…….. and then the long list of signatories
http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Expansion-News-23/4761

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Daniel Moylan tweeted: 

  Move fast on Heathrow? Before we work out the cost to taxpayer and passenger and the harm to residents? Got it.

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and

Will a 3 runway serve more or fewer domestic destinations with daily flights than it does with 2 runways today?

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and

If HMG has to guarantee finance for £4bn Tideway Tunnel, what hope can pay £18bn for runway with no taxpayer support?

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Move fast on Heathrow third runway, bosses urge

More than 270 business leaders have urged the Government to back a third runway in west London

Commercial airplane taking off at London Heathrow Airport with Terminal 5 in the background, UK

More than 270 business leaders have called on David Cameron to end years of indecision and give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow.

The chairmen of FTSE 100 engineering giant Babcock International, British Land and the AA have put their names to an open letter from Heathrow chairman Sir Nigel Rudd urging ministers to support expansion of the west London airport.

The Prime Minister is under growing pressure to approve the measure after the government-appointed Airports Commission earlier this month made a “clear and unanimous” recommendation for a new runway at the site. Mr Cameron has promised a decision before 2016.

“Now is the time for government decision and action,” the letter says. “Your Government must support UK businesses by implementing the Airports Commission’s recommendation and expand Heathrow.”

The commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, spent almost three years and an estimated £20m deliberating how to tackle the impending aviation capacity crisis in the south-east of England. Heathrow is effectively full and Gatwick is close behind. The commission reviewed more than 50 proposals before concluding that another runway at Heathrow was the “best answer”.

Company executives including easyJet boss Carolyn McCall, O2’s Ronan Dunne, and Ted Baker chief operating officer Lindsay Page are now encouraging ministers to act on the recommendation. They are joined by the heads of business lobby groups and trade associations including Sir Gerry Grimstone, the chairman of TheCityUK, who is also the chairman of Standard Life, and Paul Drechsler, the incoming president of the Confederation of British Industry.

Sir Mike Rake, the outgoing deputy chairman of Barclays, has also signed the letter in a personal capacity, as have a host of small businesses across the UK.

“Heathrow puts Britain right at the heart of the global economy and has helped it become one of the world’s great trading nations,” the letter says. “But Heathrow – the UK’s only hub airport – has been operating at capacity for the past decade. This lack of hub capacity is holding back the growth of UK businesses that want to fly directly to emerging markets; trade and transport their goods via air freight; create more jobs and connect to the UK’s regions.”

Many local residents, concerned about increased air pollution and aircraft noise, vehemently oppose expansion. The environmental concerns have prevented the airport from securing clearance for another runway despite three official endorsements for a landing strip in the past 12 years.

There are fears that Mr Cameron faces insurmountable political obstacles.

The runway is opposed by prominent Conservatives Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, and five Cabinet ministers are also thought to be against expansion. Furthermore, backing Heathrow would leave Mr Cameron open to accusations that he has broken his “no ifs, no buts” promise in 2009 to block a third runway.

Heathrow also faces competition from Gatwick, which continues to campaign for another runway of its own. A second landing strip at the West Sussex airport failed to win a commission recommendation.

None the less, Gatwick has seized on Heathrow’s past failure to expand to say it remains the only “deliverable” option. It is also writing to Mr Cameron to voice concerns about the commission’s work.

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Some of the comments to the Telegraph article:
It is a no brainer that a third runway at Heathrow would be an unmitigated disaster for London’s already poor environment, health and quality of life. I’m not just talking about areas in the immediate vicinity of Heathrow. I live in East Sutton and even here the noise of aircrafts ascending, descending or hovering over could be deafening. Not looking forward to more aircrafts and noise for the benefit of these business leaders who would shuttle away to their country mansions to relax over the weekend whilst the rest of us suffer bad noise and health.
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All a waste of time. The Chinese have just bought for £7000 (or is it Euros?) their own European airport. They don’t need Heathrow or Gatwick, Schipol, Franfurt or CdG or any other overblown shopping centre with airport attached.
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Are bribes being offered? Why else would 270 business ‘leaders’ ask for west London to be thrown into the hell of a third runway – two are bad enough. Can the leaders of this country think of anything other than corporate profit?
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So by far the highest number of flights in the world are through London airports and we still need another two runways?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_busiest_city_airport_systems_by_passenger_traffic    London’s prosperity is not dependent on being a junction for the aviation industry

2014 statistics

Rank Metropolitan area Total
passengers
Airport(s) included
1. London 146,685,710 Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City, Southend[1]
2. New York City 120,195,058 JFK, Newark, LaGuardia
3. Tokyo 108,421,827 Haneda, Narita
4. Paris 96,208,332 Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Beauvais, Vatry
5. Atlanta 96,178,899 Hartsfield–Jackson
6. Chicago 91,255,037 O’Hare, Midway
7. Beijing 91,059,631 Capital, Nanyuan
8. Los Angeles 90,820,698 LAX, Long Beach, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Ontario
9. Shanghai 89,622,000 Pudong, Hongqiao[2]
10. Istanbul 85,592,229 Atatürk, Sabiha Gökçen
11. Dubai 82,469,523 Dubai, Al Maktoum, Sharjah
12. Moscow 77,341,000 Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo

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