FAiR citizens’ movement in Chicago wins the right to take part in talks on flight paths

O’Hare airport in Chicago has 10 runways. The local campaign group, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been campaigning for some time for all the diagonal runways to be used, in order to distribute the noise more fairly over surrounding areas. Now FAiR has won the right to have a seat at the table in talks about the noise problem with Illinois State and Chicago City officials and the FAA. A new Joint House Resolution also acknowledges the validity of city and suburban residents’ complaints about the drastic increase in planes, noise and pollution since the October 2013 changes in flight patterns and runway usage at the airport – due to NextGen (the US equivalent of PBN and concentrated flight paths that are becoming a serious problem in the UK). In addition, the resolution calls for the city to ask the FAA to delay any action regarding the diagonal runways due to be decommissioned until all hearings and meetings are completed. They also want the FAA to hold meetings about the aircraft noise problem in the areas newly impacted by the October 2013 changes. FAiR say the only three previous hearings on the O’Hare Modernization Plan held in 2005 were intentionally conducted outside the noise contour area and were minimally announced to the public.


FAiR’s Citizen­ Led Movement Succeeds Again!

1.6.2015 (FAiR – Fair Allocation in  Runways, in Chicago – near O’Hare airport)

FAiR is a coalition of community organizations dedicated to the equitable distribution of O’Hare aircraft traffic.

FAiR Has Achieved Its Main Demand and Will Have a Seat at Table with City, FAA and Elected Officials

Following on the heels of the passage of its legislation in Senate Bill 636 last week in the Illinois Legislature,the Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition is now pleased to announce the passage this week of House Joint Resolution 0083 (HJR83,view it at www.ilga.gov), which finally provides FAiR the seat at the table it has sought since its inception and also acknowledges the validity of city and suburban residents’ complaints
about the drastic increase in planes, noise and pollution since the October 2013 changes in flight patterns and runway usage at O’Hare airport.

HJR83 calls for three additional meetings to be held by August 2015 to assess the impact so far of the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP) and guarantees that FAiR will have an
equal seat at the table in those discussions with the Chicago Department of Aviation, the FAA, the Mayor’s Office and State elected legislative leaders.

In addition, the resolution calls for the city to ask the FAA to delay any action regarding the diagonal runways due to be decommissioned until all hearings and meetings are completed, and asks that the FAA hold its already­ announced four hearings also on the noise impact of the OMP only in areas newly impacted by the October 2013 changes.

This is critical, as FAiR alleged and a Sun­Times investigation revealed that the only three previous hearings on OMP held in 2005 were intentionally conducted outside of the noise contour area and were minimally announced to the public.

“This is a huge, huge victory for everyone in both the city and suburbs whose quality of life has been diminished by the massive increase in planes, noise and pollution.” said Jac Charlier, FAiR Co­Founder.  “We’ve built FAiR into the largest citizen ­led civic movement around and it has a tremendous voice. Very special thanks to to Senator Mulroe and Representative Martwick, who pushed so hard for their constituents and all those impacted by O’Hare. They did not give up when SB637 got stalled and came up with an alternate solution.”

He added that, “The citizens will finally have the seat at the table that they have been
asking for and that they rightly deserve. We can finally have the community conversation we knew needed to take place before major decisions about O’Hare are ever made again. This coming together of citizens, communities, elected officials is exactly what we’ve been working towards to find solutions that balance the importance of O’Hare with the needs of the neighborhoods and their people.”

FAiR has always maintained that keeping all diagonal runways open and operational would provide many options for solutions to the high concentration of planes, noise and pollution over a narrow band of dense residential areas east and west of the airport.

Since 2013, FAiR was told repeatedly by the CDA’s former commissioner that state law prohibited more than eight runways at the airport. FAiR launched its “Save the Diagonals” campaign earlier this spring seeking to change that state law.

In early April Senator John Mulroe (D­10th) met with FAiR and subsequently introduced two bills: SB 636, which called for increasing the total number of runways allowable at O’Hare Airport from 8 to 10, and SB 637, which would have prohibited the decommissioning of the diagonal runways and mandate that they be maintained for equitably distributing air traffic around O’Hare.

SB 636, with an amendment added by Rep. Marty Moylan (D­55th) calling for stricter noise measurements, passed both chambers of the Illinois Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB 637 ran into difficulty regarding the question of which entities may make decisions about runways at O’Hare and ultimately was not passed. The joint resolution, sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick (D­19th) in the House and Sen. John Mulroe in the Senate, clarifies that only the FAA and City of Chicago may make those decisions, and calls for a pause in further runway projects until the impact on residents can be fully assessed.

“I’m relieved the diagonals will remain in place while the meetings take place. I’m heartened that the city is finally going to meet with FAiR,” said Colleen Mulcrone, Leadership Team member. “So many elected officials, when we met with them about this issue, were eager to be supportive when they realized the drastic impact on residents … Senator Mulroe, Rep. Moylan, Rep. Martwick, Congresswoman Duckworth and Congressman Quigley, who himself has spoken loudly on this issue …I’m so grateful for their leadership and action. Now that it’s finally clear that the city has the authority to make decisions about the runways, I’m
eager for FAiR to meet with them to talk about solutions, and hopeful for a good outcome for all of our communities.”




The Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition is a rapidly growing movement of citizens and civics on Chicago’s Northwest side and the near Northwest suburbs.

FAiR is the leading voice for both city and suburban residents negatively impacted by the new runway takeoff and landing patterns. FAiR supports the economic engine that is
O’Hare while also seeking a real role in when and where those engines fly over the residents, homes, parks and schools of impacted communities. FAiR recognizes that two more runways are yet to be completed and the problems posed by yet more massive increases in airplane traffic will only become worse if citizens do not have a voice in the process.
FAiR requests residents report airplane noise complaints online throughout the day at www.fairchicago.org or 800­435­9569. Citizens and civic organizations are invited to learn more about and join FAiR at www.fairchicago.org. 

FAiR is also on Facebook

FAiR is also on Twitter 


See earlier:

Illinois State Senate passes bills designed to reduce O’Hare jet noise

In late 2013 the flight paths at Chicago O’Hare airport were changed, and since then thousands of residents have been exposed to far more aircraft noise. The authorities are trying to find ways to reduce their noise exposure.  The Illinois Senate has now unanimously approved legislation to mitigate jet noise by increasing the cap on the number of runways to 10 from 8, and prohibiting the city of Chicago from closing and demolishing any of the airport’s 4 diagonal runways. The aim is to distribute the noise more evenly. The two bills are aimed at expanding O’Hare flight paths are going next to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration.  If one of the diagonal runways is closed, its flights will be distributed to the other runways, causing more noise for some people. Keeping 10 runways operational at O’Hare would increase maintenance costs. And while all 10 runways would never be used simultaneously, the more complex airfield layout could create safety risks involving more planes taxiing across runways on their way to the gate or other runways. Noise complaints filed online and to a city-operated hot line totalled 39,500 in January, setting a new monthly record.  In 2014, for the whole year, noise complaints totalled 268,211, also an all-time high.





Chicago voters get chance to be heard in public ballot on O’Hare airport noise problem

Chicago O’Hare airport has a new 4th runway that opened in October 2013 as well another new 5th runway that is due to open in late 2015. Others are planned. Since the start of 2014 there has been a distinct change in the flight paths, and huge opposition to the change. The number of complaints to the airport have risen sharply, month after month. However (and how often this has been heard from UK airports too) the authorities claim the numbers are false, as some people complain multiple times. This masks the fact that some don’t complain at all, being unsure how to, and being unconvinced that the airport will take any notice whatsoever. There is now a ballot of residents in 7 affected suburbs of Chicago, but all such referendums in Illinois are only “advisory.”  The questions being asked are on whether the FAA should create and enforce mandatory “fly-quiet” hours around O’Hare. The restrictions would replace the existing voluntary guidelines that ask airlines and pilots to try to reduce noise impacts after 10 pm. Another asks if aircraft noise should be reduced after 7pm,  and people are also asked about more noise insulation being available.  Airport had about 66.9 million passengers in 2013.  Chicago O’Hare on Wikipedia.





Chicago O’Hare airport new runway & flightpaths creating huge opposition by those now over-flown

Chicago O’Hare airport currently has many runways but not all can be used simultaneously. The airport has been building more, reducing the lengths of others, to get three parallel runways can be used together. There has been a lot of controversy about the plans over many years, with compulsory purchase of land, from residents who did not want to move.  There is now huge protest against the noise. A group representing city and suburban home-owners, the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition (FAiR), is asking the Chicago Aviation Commissioner to resign or for the Mayor to fire her.  FAiR say there is  “mounting frustration over the lack of response from the Mayor on possible remedies concerning “the ceaseless airplane noise” since air-traffic patterns were changed last autumn.  The Aviation Commissioner has refused to consider altering the use of runways at night to spread out jet noise instead of concentrating it over one or two air corridors. FAiR says she has made up her mind that there will be no change at O’Hare no matter how many citizens demand change, no matter what solutions are proposed and no matter how devastating the impact of her decisions on families, children and seniors, and even entire neighbourhoods. 



Read more »

The city of Phoenix is suing the FAA due to noise from NextGen flight path changes

The City of Phoenix, Arizona, is suing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over flight path changes – part of NextGen – that have led to aircraft noise that’s plaguing parts of the city. The Mayor said the city has tried to resolve the issue numerous times, but the FAA hasn’t proposed any meaningful changes. The noise problem started in September 2014 when the FAA  implemented the new flight paths.  City officials, the FAA and some airlines have met to try to work out some improvements, but the FAA say that would take 6 – 12 months to do. Hence the lawsuit as Phoenix city say the solutions don’t do enough to make up for hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the city’s noise mitigation efforts. The FAA has not been very helpful. A city spokesperson said: “The FAA’s actions have caused the community extreme discomfort, with many unable to sleep at night or pursue normal daily activities.” It claims the FAA caused “a negative impact on the Phoenix community without proper due process, notification and consideration.”  Phoenix plans to reach out to other US cities facing similar problems, to join in the lawsuit. Other cities troubled by noise due to NextGen changes are Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.


Phoenix Suing FAA Over Noisy Flight Path Changes in City

Phoenix is suing the Federal Aviation Administration over flight path changes that have led to aircraft noise that’s plaguing some historic neighborhoods.

Mayor Greg Stanton said Monday the city has tried to resolve the issue numerous times, but the FAA hasn’t proposed any meaningful changes.

Stanton said Phoenix is “left with no choice but to sue.”

Residents have sent thousands of complaints to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport since the FAA implemented the new flight paths last September.

A Phoenix spokeswoman said the city plans on filing the suit within the next 24 hours.

City officials say the FAA and several airlines met last week to discuss options directly with Sky Harbor, but no changes have been made “to provide meaningful and comprehensive noise relief.”

The FAA sent a letter to Phoenix city manager Ed Zuercher on Monday saying it supports several of the city’s solutions including voluntary night-time noise reduction procedures, but said it will take six months to a year to complete.

Zuercher replied on behalf of city officials saying the solutions don’t do enough to make up for hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the city’s noise mitigation efforts.

Phoenix city councilman Michael Nowakowski said the FAA never came to planned community meetings, and later, failed to compromise during meetings between FAA and city staff.

Nowakowski plans to reach out to other cities across the country facing similar problems to join in the lawsuit.

The FAA declined to comment on the upcoming lawsuit, but says the changes were part of the agency’s nationwide NextGen program.

The new program is designed to save fuel, reduce emissions and make air travel more efficient nationwide as airplanes are able to make more efficient and direct flight paths in and out of airports.

Other cities where residents have been complaining of noise amid the new flight paths include Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.



Phoenix sues FAA over ‘extreme discomfort’ from airplane noise

By Holly Yan, CNN

June 2, 2015

Phoenix city officials say there was no due process when the FAA changed its flight paths. The FAA says it supports adjusting some departures and restricting some turns for early flights

How bad is the airplane noise over Phoenix?

Bad enough that some residents can’t hear each other talk. Bad enough that many can’t sleep. Bad enough that the city is now suing the Federal Aviation Administration.

“When I talk to my wife, I can’t hear what she says,” Phoenix resident Michael March said.

March, who lives 8 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport, said the problem has gone “from zero, or non-existent, to constant.”

The cacophony started last September, when the FAA changed flight paths in the Phoenix area. Both the FAA and airlines said the changes would increase safety and decrease fuel costs, the city of Phoenix said.

“The FAA’s actions have caused the community extreme discomfort, with many unable to sleep at night or pursue normal daily activities,” the city said in a statement. It claims the FAA caused “a negative impact on the Phoenix community without proper due process, notification and consideration.”

“The FAA decided to move a highway in the sky without following legal requirements to consult with stakeholders,” city councilwoman Kate Gallego said.

The FAA said Monday that it has not seen the lawsuit and can’t comment on pending legislation.

But in a letter to the city manager Monday, FAA regional administrator Glen Martin said the agency supports certain changes, such as adjusting westbound departures and restricting some turns for early flights.

March said serious changes can’t come soon enough. He said the noise isn’t just obnoxious for residents — it could threaten home values and affect air quality closer to homes.

“It is super frustrating, and we’ve had no hope,” he said.

March said he hopes the city’s lawsuit will make the FAA think again about changing flight plans over other cities.

“All we want is just the old flight patterns to be put back,” he said. “We feel that the FAA screwed up.”




See earlier:

In USA the FAA’s new air traffic control system NextGen is causing major noise pollution

The American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s new air traffic control system NextGen is causing considerable upset in parts of the USA, in the same way that precision navigation that is being promoted by the CAA is in the UK. The overhaul of airspace and flight paths in the USA is intended to save airlines fuel and time. But the new routes are causing misery to the people who now find themselves, unexpectedly and with no warning, under them. One resident, in Phoenix, said:  “If you can imagine yourself at an air show, that’s what it would sound like.” Planes sometimes every 30 seconds for hours at a time.  “Am I angry? Absolutely. I’m furious.” In Phoenix planes now fly low over heavily populated neighbourhoods.  The Mayor said the FAA did not hold a single public hearing notifying neighbours of the change, nor did the agency ever meet with him. The Mayor commented: “I think that the choice that was made to have such a disproportionate impact over such a small number of people is really fundamentally unfair and unacceptable.”  A 2012 Congressional FAA authorization bill fast-tracked the roll out of NextGen by exempting it from normal environmental impact reviews and public hearings. NextGen is also causing problems for people at JFK and LaGuardia airports.







Read more »

EasyJet CEO, Carolyn McCall, again says there is no economic case for a Gatwick runway

Carolyn McCall, the CEO of EasyJet – the largest airline using Gatwick airport – has again said that there is no “economic reason” to build a 2nd runway at Gatwick. She believes it does not need to expand, because of a lack of demand from passengers. She would prefer a runway at Heathrow, as EasyJet and other airlines are “queuing up to get in”. They could make more profit there. Though the airlines want a new Heathrow runway, it is both physically, geographically, environmentally and politically very, very difficult indeed. Gatwick is also geographically and environmentally very, very difficult. For Gatwick to build a new runway, the cost would have to be paid by the airlines, which means flights costing more for passengers. As the budget airlines make thin profits (perhaps £7 per passenger after tax), adding on an extra £30 + to a return trip is utterly contrary to the low cost airline business plan. On dirt cheap flights, £30 extra is enough to matter.  Even though easyJet is currently Gatwick’s biggest customer, Ms McCall said it had “never proved it can really be the kind of airport that Heathrow is.”  Heathrow slot pairs can cost £25 million, but EasyJet got their Gatwick pairs for about £1 million.



Gatwick does not need new runway, says easyJet chief

8.6.2015 (The Times)

The head of Britain’s busiest airline has weighed into the debate over the future of airports by insisting there was no “economic reason” to build another runway at Gatwick.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, said the country’s second-busiest airport did not need to expand, because of a lack of demand from passengers. She insisted that an additional runway at Heathrow should be preferred choice of the government, claiming that airlines — including easyJet — were “queuing up to get in”.


A spokesman for Gatwick said: “We have always maintained that easyJet’s position is based on its own narrow commercial interests.”



Full Times article at 







Necessary rise in price per flight at Gatwick with a 2nd runway:

“In order to pay the cost of a second runway, the Commission states that passenger charges would rise from £9 at present to ‘between £15 and £18, with peak charges up to £23.’ ”

This is from the Airports Commission consultation document, November 2014, para 3.41.



See earlier:

Gatwick’s main airline, easyJet, questions Gatwick case for 2nd runway and does not want to pay higher landing charges


Carolyn McCall, CEO of  EasyJet, the largest airline at Gatwick, has said passengers want expansion at Heathrow, not at Gatwick.  Ms McCall said easyJet is “quite concerned” at the prospect that Gatwick’s  landing charges would rise to pay for a 2nd runway.  They are having confidential talks with the airports on future charges.  EasyJet makes on average £8 profit per seat.  If Gatwick’s charges doubled from the current £9  to an average of £15 to £18 (or even up to £23) as predicted by the Airports Commission, this would hit EasyJet’s economics.  Ms McCAll said: “This whole issue of capacity should be about where the demand is. Airlines have to want to go into that airport, and the congestion we have is predominantly around the Heathrow hub. Passengers need to really value what this infrastructure brings, and if they don’t see any benefit it’s going to struggle.” A new runway risked emulating unpopular toll roads. “It will be years and years before [passengers] see any positive effect.”  As one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing airlines, EasyJet’s opinion will need to be given careful consideration by the Commission.





Willie Walsh says there is no business case for a 2nd Gatwick runway – BA has Gatwick’s 2nd largest number of passengers

Willie Walsh, the head of IAG, will not support a 2nd Gatwick runway, even if it is chosen by the Airports Commission or backed by the next government. He does not believe there is a business case to support its expansion, and there is insufficient demand from airlines for extra capacity at Gatwick. Mr Walsh campaigned heavily for a 3rd Heathrow runway before 2010, but has made frequent comments indicating he does not believe UK politicians will have the “courage” to build that. Willie Walsh says British Airways would resist higher landing charges, which would be necessary to fund a runway – either at Heathrow or Gatwick. (EasyJet has also said in the past they don’t want a new runway, if it means substantially higher charges – their model is low cost). BA would want lower costs, not higher costs, from a new runway. IAG’s shares have now risen as it has now made a profit at last, and will be paying its first dividend (and maybe some UK tax). Gatwick’s main airline is EasyJet with around 37% of passengers, and British Airways 2nd largest at around 14%.




EasyJet says it would fly from Heathrow, “if it was right for us” debunking Gatwick’s Heathrow myth

Gatwick airport, in its bid to try to persuade the powers-that-be of its suitability as the site of a new runway, has often said that the low cost airlines would not fly from Heathrow. However, easyJet has now said that it would consider flying from an expanded Heathrow.  Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said it would look at flying from Heathrow in future “if it was right for us”, and it if wasn’t too expensive. Gatwick claims that the increase in demand for air travel will be for short haul flights, mainly to Europe or countries adjacent to Europe. Heathrow claims the demand for air travel in future will be long haul.  According to Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, Heathrow is inaccessible for low-cost airlines and charter carriers due to its high landing charges. But Ms McCall points out that easyJet already flies to and from other hub airports in Europe, such as Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Though Heathrow has high landing charges, so do the other European  hub airports. Ms McCall made her comments shortly after easyJet announced a 7-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal, potentially forcing out British Airways. It made no mention of a 2nd Gatwick runway.






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NATS and Heathrow agree strategic business partnership – to make more money all round

In April 2015, NATS and Heathrow Airport entered a new strategic partnership, which NATS says signals “a fundamental change to the relationship between the airport and air traffic services provider.”  As part of the agreement, Heathrow and NATS will jointly create a long term business partnership with shared objectives aligned to what Heathrow is seeking to achieve over the coming years.(ie. it wants a 3rd runway). The partnership mentions “specific incentivised targets in areas from delay performance and service resilience through to cutting aircraft noise.” They hope their partnership will “realise benefits for airlines and help deliver a world class passenger experience for the travelling public.” (*ie. benefits for passengers, but only the least they can get away with, in terms of noise for those being over-flown.).  NATS says: “We’ve moved from being an important supplier to true partners with aligned goals that allow us to share both the rewards of success and consequences of failure in a totally transparent and accountable way.” Last year NATS lost the contract for the airspace below 4,000 feet at Gatwick to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS),starting in October 2015. And after the problems in March when NATS did not properly inform Heathrow of flight path changes, things can only improve …




NATS and Heathrow agree strategic partnership

8.6.2015  (NATS press release)

NATS and Heathrow Airport have entered a new strategic partnership, signalling a fundamental change to the relationship between the airport and air traffic services provider.

As part of the agreement, Heathrow and NATS will jointly create a long term business partnership with shared objectives aligned to what Heathrow is seeking to achieve over the coming years.

The partnership is performance led and has at its heart a set of working principles and specific incentivised targets in areas from delay performance and service resilience through to cutting aircraft noise.

Through the partnership NATS and Heathrow Airport will seek to drive year-on-year performance improvements through innovations in service and technology that realise benefits for airlines and help deliver a world class passenger experience for the travelling public.

Derek Provan, Heathrow Airport Airside Director, said: “At Heathrow Airport we have a challenging decade ahead.  By bringing together the knowledge, experience and resources of our combined organisations we will be better placed to meet the demands of our airfield and customers going forward.”

Mike Stoller, NATS Director of Airport Operations, said: “NATS has worked with Heathrow Airport for decades, but this really is a big shift in the nature of that relationship. We’ve moved from being an important supplier to true partners with aligned goals that allow us to share both the rewards of success and consequences of failure in a totally transparent and accountable way.”

The strategic partnership agreement was signed in April.

Note to editors:

The agreement has been signed between NATS Services Ltd and Heathrow Airport Ltd.





Comment from an AirportWatch member: 

It looks to be as if Heathrow are looking to have more say in NATS decisions, particularly in the light of last year’s fiasco when Heathrow were not told of the changes.  That brought to a head a frustration with NATS that had been simmering for quite some time.

At the most recent meeting, the 3rd on 18th May, of the Heathrow Community Noise Forum, this agreement was not mentioned.



see also

Germany’s DFS air traffic service beats NATS to control Gatwick flights below 4,000 feet

Gatwick Airport’s air traffic control services are to be provided by a German state-owned company from next year. A 10-year contract for services below 4,000ft around the airport has been given to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS). The service has been provided for more than 30 years by Hampshire-based NATS, which will continue to navigate air traffic above 4,000ft. NATS said it was disappointed, but it was too early to say if jobs would go. DFS is wholly owned by the German government and operates 16 airports in Germany as well as providing air traffic control across the country. Gatwick management said it was planned that, after a period of transition, DFS would start work in October 2015. The successful bid by DFS comes a year after a UK pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) beat DFS for a 20% stake in NATS. The Airline Group, which had owned 42% of NATS before the sale, chose USS rather than DFS to buy the 20%, which meant that a partial de-facto merger between two of the largest European Air Navigation Service Providers did not happen.





See also

Heathrow says it did not know flight path changes were continuing – blames NATS for not telling them

Heathrow and NATS had flight path trials during summer 2014, which ended on 12th November, due to intense opposition. See details. But complaints have continued and people have been adamant that the trials have not ended. Heathrow has given assurance after assurance that the trials have ceased, implying people are imagining the noise – or have become over-sensitive to it.  Now Heathrow and NATS have had to apologise. Heathrow says it did not know the trial affecting the “Compton” route to the south west and west of Heathrow had not ended, as NATS had not informed them.  As NATS and Heathrow work closely together, that is very hard to believe. Even if it could be credible, it reveals a markedly dismissive attitude to the thousands of upset residents, who have complained week after week. The airport had made no apparent effort to establish the facts, for many months. The areas particularly affected by this change are Virginia Water, Ascot, Binfield and some parts of Bracknell, which are experiencing a concentrated flight path. John Holland-Kaye said: “Because of the assurances we received [from NATS], we in turn told residents in good faith that no changes had occurred. That is unacceptable and I unequivocally apologise to local residents.”  However, NATS say they changed the route to improve the safe and efficient management of traffic departing from Heathrow and they are not planning to revert to previous procedures.






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Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ on runways by anti-Heathrow faction in Cabinet

A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who chairs the 9-strong group of Tory MPs representing constituencies around Gatwick, told the Tory chief whip, Mark Harper, this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves [ie. not take part in a decision, due to danger of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality] when the government considers the Airports Commission’s findings. The decision by the government must be taken in an impartial manner. The Gatwick area MPs are concerned that as well as Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, both keenly against a Heathrow runway, in Cabinet there are also Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who are openly against a Heathrow runway. The Gatwick MPs are concerned about a political stitch-up on the runway decision. They do not believe a runway at Gatwick is in the national interest.


Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ by anti-Heathrow faction

5.6.2015 (Guardian)
A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a third runway at Heathrow airport.

Mark Harper, the Tory chief whip, has been told by MPs opposed to a second runway at Gatwick airport that the government must make an impartial assessment when the Airports Commission publishes its findings this summer.

Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who is convening a nine-strong group of Tory MPs, told the chief whip in a meeting earlier this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves when the government considers the commission’s findings.

The Gatwick-area group, which met this week, fears that the London mayor plus three cabinet ministers opposed to or worried about a third runway at Heathrow – Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond – are planning to shape the government’s response to the commission. Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist and Tory MP for Richmond Park, has said he would trigger a byelection if the government opts for an extra runway at Heathrow.

One source said: “We are concerned about a political stitch-up. We would not stand for it. The government response to the Davies commission must not be fixed.”

Sir Howard Davies, the economist and incoming chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is due to publish the findings of the commission this summer. The independent commission, which was appointed after the coalition government and the Tory party were unable to overcome their differences on airport expansion in the south east, has been examining three options. These are: a third runway at Heathrow, the extension of the existing north runway at Heathrow, to allow it to operate as two separate runways, and a second runway at Gatwick airport.

The Gatwick-area group of MPs, which includes the former ministers Sir Nicholas Soames and Nick Herbert, is convinced there is an overwhelming case in favour of expanding airport capacity at Heathrow. The group also has the informal support of Sam Gyimah, the Tory MP for East Surrey, who cannot formally join the group because he is a minister.

The group says that Heathrow has better transport links – four nearby motorways (M4, M25, M3 and M40) compared with two for Gatwick (M25 and M23); and four tube and rail lines (Piccadilly line, Heathrow Express, a proposed link from Clapham Junction and a new Crossrail link), as opposed to the Brighton mainline which serves Gatwick. They also say that the Gatwick catchment area would not be able to house all the extra workers – estimated by the group to be higher than 100,000 – that would work at the airport and in related services. The group also says that the economic benefits of an extra runway at Heathrow vastly outweigh the benefits of building one at Gatwick.

But the group fears that the seniority of MPs with constituency interests near Heathrow means that the government may find a way of appeasing the London mayor, who sits on the Tories’ political cabinet, and other high-profile figures by naming Gatwick as the site for a new runway. In his acceptance speech after his election last month as the new Tory MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson said he would lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway” at Heathrow.

One source in the Gatwick co-ordination group said: “The MPs around Gatwick, who have organised into the Gatwick co-ordination group, are convinced that there is no national interest case to prefer Gatwick over Heathrow. There are also profound infrastructure and labour market issues that make the Gatwick option very difficult to deliver.

“Following the analysis we have seen, we think a recommendation for Gatwick is inconceivable unless it revolves around politics rather than the national interest. We want to make it clear to people that this would not be acceptable. When the Airports Commission is assessed by government, it should not be assessed by ministers who have a strong constituency interest.”

The Gatwick-area group also includes Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley; Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham; Henry Smith, MP for Crawley; Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden; and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

George Osborne believes that Britain must increase its runway capacity in the south east if it is to avoid losing out to rival European airports on new routes to emerging economies. The chancellor was the driving force behind setting up the Airports Commission in the last parliament to ensure the Tories abided by their 2010 manifesto commitment to “stop the third runway” at Heathrow and to “block plans for second runways at Stansted and Gatwick”.

Supporters of a third runway at Heathrow say it is the natural venue for increased capacity because it is Britain’s main “hub” airport connecting travellers from north America, Africa and the European continent to worldwide destinations. Supporters of Gatwick say that evolving travel patterns put a premium on airports, such as Gatwick, that offer “point to point” flights.




See also, on the same day:

Cabinet split over Heathrow ‘makes airport’s expansion undeliverable’


5.6.2015 (Evening Standard)

A cabinet split over Heathrow expansion has deepened in the run-up to the landmark report by Sir Howard Davies on how to tackle London’s aviation capacity crisis.

The appointment of Greg Hands as the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury means there are now five senior opponents of a third runway in the Cabinet.

In addition, diehard opponent Boris Johnson now joins fortnightly political Cabinet sessions. The anti-Heathrow campaign is also tipped to get “rocket boosters” if Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith bids to become Conservative candidate for Mayor on a clean and noise reduction platform.

The boost to the campaign against expanding the UK’s premier airport comes weeks before Sir Howard is expected to publish his long-awaited recommendation on whether to build new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

The Standard understands the report is nearly finished and will be published later this month.

One Tory source said there had been “a change in the mood music” from senior ministers in recent days, with some senior figures appearing to be more open towards Gatwick.

Mr Goldsmith told the Standard: “With so many heavyweight Cabinet ministers who are on record against Heathrow expansion, this project is politically undeliverable.”

Chelsea & Fulham MP Mr Hands is described by Tory colleagues as a “hard core” critic of expanding the UK’s premier airport, alongside International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

The fifth Cabinet critic is Home Secretary Theresa May, who met Airports Commission chief Sir Howard last year to lobby against night flights affecting her Maidenhead constituency.

The Standard has learned that Ms Greening will join forces with Mr Johnson and Mr Goldsmith later this month, with an event to highlight how parts of London currently untroubled by noise could suffer if expansion goes ahead.

Mr Johnson, Mayor of London, whose Thames Estuary airport idea was rejected by the Davies Commission, is said to be “increasingly optimistic” Gatwick will be recommended for a second runway.





See also:

Fears Cameron may opt for Gatwick runway, just to avoid Cabinet rift on Heathrow

The Airports Commission is due to make its runway recommendation by the end of June, and since its recent consultation on air quality, speculation on the runway issue has become ever more feverish. The issue of air quality, in reality, prevents either runway being built – at Heathrow air quality is already too poor; at Gatwick, it would be illegal to worsen tolerable air quality for thousands of people. Speculation grows that perhaps, on some measures, the extent of the environmental damage at Gatwick might be lower than at Heathrow. It is still too high to enable a runway to be built. Now a large number of senior Tories and those in the Cabinet are personally opposed to a Heathrow runway, due to the location of their constituencies. Their constituents would not tolerate a new Heathrow runway, due to noise and pollution.  So there are fears the Conservative government might try to go for Gatwick, in order to avoid internal splits within the Cabinet. Surely not a sufficient justification for devastating damage to a huge area of Sussex and Surrey, air pollution, intolerable pressure on surface transport, intolerable pressure on social infrastructure, intolerable noise burden over a wide area, huge cost to the taxpayer (not to mention raised CO2 emissions – from a government claiming to be “green”) – just to suit Cabinet members and avoid a party rift?




Zac Goldsmith says Heathrow expansion would split the Cabinet with opposition from the very top

Zac Goldsmith was re-elected to his Richmond Park seat with a majority of about 23,000 – up from a 4,000 majority in 2010. He has always been very firmly against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Zac believes that if Heathrow is “chosen” for approval by the Airports Commission, it would cause a split at the very top of government, and a real problem for David Cameron: “If you look at the cabinet today, there are at least 3 heavyweight people there, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening and Boris Johnson and others, in fact, who are implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion … He’d face a split at the highest level and I don’t think a fragile government with a small majority wants to do that.” Zac also says giving the go-ahead to Heathrow would be “an off-the-scale betrayal” from David Cameron, who came to west London before the 2010 election and promised locals, “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway” – and that there wouldn’t be a new runway under the Conservatives. Zac has repeated his threat of resigning if the government backs a Heathrow runway. His resignation would trigger a by-election in which he could stand as an independent on that one issue. It would offer him the opportunity to get a lot of publicity for the anti- runway case

Click here to view full story…







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Patrick McLoughlin having final talks with Heathrow and Gatwick on their runway plans

Sky News is reporting that Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is to hold a final round of talks with Gatwick and Heathrow in the next week or so, with the Airports Commission announcement expected around the end of the month. Mr McLoughlin is to visit both London airports to discuss the prospective financing of their multi-billion pound schemes as well as crucial issues such as the environmental impact of new runway capacity. The DfT has already drafted in bankers from Rothschild to help assess the deliverability of the 3 runway schemes. All the runway schemes would mean huge expenses, which are not yet clearly known, for the taxpayer – due to extra infrastructure required. Spokesmen for Gatwick, Heathrow and Heathrow Hub all declined to comment on the meetings with Mr McLoughlin. The date of the Commission’s announcement is not yet known, and there is speculation it could be late June, or possibly on the 8th July, when George Osborne delivers is Emergency (or Summer) Budget. Osborne said in a speech to the CBI last month that the Government would act swiftly to get a new runway built.

McLoughlin Set For Talks With Runway Bidders

4.6.2015 (Sky)
By Mark Kleinman, City Editor

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is to hold a final round of talks with Gatwick and Heathrow airports just days before a recommendation about a new runway that could spark a protracted legal battle.

Sky News has learnt that Mr McLoughlin is to visit both London airports in the coming weeks to discuss the prospective financing of their multibillion pound schemes as well as crucial issues such as the environmental impact of new runway capacity.

The Transport Secretary will also meet the backers of Heathrow Hub, the third shortlisted contender, which is proposing to extend one of the airport’s runways and divide it into two.

Mr McLoughlin’s discussions will take place shortly before the Airports Commission, which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies, publishes its final recommendations about the preferred location for a new runway.

Speculation has gathered pace in recent weeks that Gatwick is emerging as a slight favourite, although people close to the process insist that a decision has yet to be taken.

In a statement issued to Sky News, a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “The Transport Secretary regularly meets a range of stakeholders from across the aviation industry, including those shortlisted by the Airports Commission.”

Spokesmen for Gatwick, Heathrow and Heathrow Hub all declined to comment on their forthcoming meetings with Mr McLoughlin.

The Government has not set a firm date for the publication of Sir Howard’s report, although some insiders believe that it could take place in the same week as George Osborne’s emergency Budget, which will be delivered on July 8.

The Chancellor said in a speech to the CBI last month that the Government would act swiftly to get a new runway built, pleasing a business audience which has long argued that delays to airport expansion are stifling UK trade growth.

In recent months, Gatwick and Heathrow have intensified their battle to win public support for their respective expansion proposals, spending millions of pounds on advertising and public relations campaigns.

The Airports Commission has costed Heathrow Airports Holdings’ standalone third runway plan at £18.6bn, without factoring in public money for improved road and rail links; Heathrow Hub’s plan would cost £13.5bn; and Gatwick’s expansion is projected to require an outlay of £9.3bn.

Sky News revealed in April that the DfT had drafted in bankers from Rothschild to help assess the deliverability of the three competing proposals.

Heathrow’s expansion is regarded as offering the biggest economic benefits in terms of job creation, while Gatwick argues that the noise impact would be far greater at its rival airport.

A new public consultation relating to the impact of expansion on air quality was launched by the Commission last month and [ended on 29th May].




AW note:

The organisation, Runways UK, is holding a conference on 6th and 7th July – and seriously hoping the announcement would have been made by then. Bit inconvenient for them if it happens the day afterwards …

Sir Howard Davies joins the Board of RBS at the end of June.  Link

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Heathrow Villages ready to submit proposal for Neighbourhood Plan to counter threat from Heathrow

Residents of three Heathrow villages – Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington – have made great strides in the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan in a community-led effort to shape the future – if a Heathrow runway is rejected later this month. They feel the future of the Heathrow Villages should be defined by the communities of people living there and what they feel is important. The residents started work on the plan in November 2014, with a 21-member Forum, when they obtained £7,000 in Government funding from the Community Development Foundation.  After piloting its questionnaire at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday in March and conducting extensive consultation with the community the Forum originally agreed that it should be governed by 6 priorities – ‘housing’, ‘transport’, ‘enterprise’, ‘community spaces’, ‘green spaces’ and ‘heritage’.  ‘Health and wellbeing’ has now been added. Each will underpin the principles to be embodied in the Plan. The area suffers from the proximity of Heathrow, and years of blight – through uncertainty about a runway. The Forum has enlisted the help of postgraduate students on the planning course at University College London. At present, the villages of Cranford and Longford are not included, in order to keep the focus on a small enough area.


Heathrow Villages ready to submit proposal for Neighbourhood Plan to counter threat from Heathrow

2 JUNE, 2015

The Heathrow villages of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington have made great strides in the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan in a community-led effort to shape the future – should expansion of the airport be rejected later this month.

The proposed area to be covered by the Heathrow Villages Neighbourhood Plan, now set to go to Hillingdon Council for approval.

Residents of three Heathrow villages have issued their latest update on ambitious plans to advance a Neighbourhood Plan, despite only getting started last November.

Since successfully bidding for £7,000 of Government funding from the Community Development Foundation the residents have been working hard to lay foundations.  They set up the Heathrow Villages Forum a 21-member cross-section of the community at the end of last year.

After piloting its questionnaire at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday in March and conducting extensive consultation with the community the Forum originally agreed that it should be governed by six priorities – ‘housing’, ‘transport’, ‘enterprise’, ‘community spaces’, ‘green spaces’ and ‘heritage’.  But has recently decided to add ‘health and wellbeing’ as well.  Each will underpin the principles to be embodied in the Plan.”

The Forum is reaching out for residents to help with ‘enterprise’ and the new ‘health & wellbeing’ portfolio, along with help with websites and social media.  But it has enlisted the help of three groups of postgraduate students on the planning course at University College London!

The future of the Heathrow Villages should be defined by the communities of people living there and what they feel is important. The Neighbourhood Plan will provide a framework in which leadership, partnership, governance and resources can emerge that will give shape to these communities’ values and aspirations.


Last week the Forum announced that the boundary of the neighbourhood area has now been finalised. Cranford and Longford, originally to be included have been dropped for now to ensure the focus is kept small enough area, although the group has left the door open to including them later on.

“The idea was to focus on the three villages of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington, with the knowledge that it is more realistic to start small as a local neighbourhood plan is a big endeavourer, requiring lots of volunteered time and energy.”

The residents behind the project believe that a Neighbourhood Plan will give them more of a say in development decisions that have been difficult to influence in the past.

It’s particularly important for this area, which has suffered the blight caused by airport-related development for decades.

“The uncertainty surrounding the possible expansion of Heathrow Airport has led to lots of land speculation in the area. Even if the airport expansion is finally ruled out, the alternative development plan model, supported by the borough, still assumes that our area is essentially for growth ancillary to the airport and not in the interests of the residents, or enhancing the unique character of the villages and their surrounding countryside.

Here in Colnbrook there has been little progress since the issue was first discussed in 2011.  As a parished area only the Parish Council can pursue the initiative locally.  It briefly toyed with former councillor Michael Nye’s proposal in February 2012 to link with the Windsor villages, threw the idea out on cost grounds in 2013, and resurrected the idea in July 2014.  But there has been little progress since.

The Heathrow Villages Forum is now set to submit its proposal to Hillingdon Council for approval.  In the mean time the Airports Commission’s recommendation on a new runway in the South-East is anticipated at the end of June.






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Freight Transport Assn writes to David Cameron to push importance of hub for air cargo

The Freight Transport Association’s CEO has written to the Prime Minister, to say “the decline of Heathrow [presumably if a Gatwick runway was built] as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK.” He said the importance of air freight should not be overlooked when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south east England, and outlined the importance of a UK global hub airport. Air freight makes up 40% of UK air cargo by value, but far less by weight. The FTA is “concerned that the importance of air freight is being overlooked.” 80% of freight at Heathrow is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft. In 2014 Heathrow moved almost 1.5 million tonnes of freight. The FTA wants expansion at Heathrow, and says “Gatwick does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required.” The FTA says the Government’s decision on a runway should not be based solely on passenger considerations and “passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes.”



FTA (Freight Transport Association) reinforces importance of UK global hub airport to Prime Minister

2.6.2015 (Freight Transport Association)

“On behalf of FTA’s members I have written to the Prime Minister telling him that the decline of Heathrow as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK.”

David Wells, FTA’s Chief Executive

The Freight Transport Association has told David Cameron that the importance of air freight should not be overlooked when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south east England, and outlined the importance of a UK global hub airport.

In a letter to the Prime Minister – sent today (2 June), FTA’s Chief Executive – David Wells, outlined the essential work of air freight which represents over 40% of UK imports and exports by value, and plays a crucial role in the supply chains of many UK businesses.

Mr Wells said:

“FTA is concerned that the importance of air freight is being overlooked. It is a common misconception that air cargo is a minor traffic used only for very high value or urgent items. In actual fact, 80 per cent of freight is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft using Heathrow airport.”

FTA’s ‘Sky-High Value’ report illustrates that Heathrow is a critical hub for air cargo; it offers 191 destinations, moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets. Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to be able to expand to meet the needs of industry.

David Wells added:

“On behalf of FTA’s members I have written to the Prime Minister telling him that the decline of Heathrow as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK. Gatwick does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required.”

A final recommendation on where expansion should take place is scheduled to be issued later this year by the Airports Commission – led by Sir Howard Davies. The options include a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick.

Mr Wells also stated that the Government decision should not be based solely on passenger considerations.

Wells concluded:

“We accept the factors driving demand for new airport capacity and the forecast growth in passengers wishing to travel. However, passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes. Whereas passengers could be persuaded to use a different airport, the diminution of Heathrow as an international air cargo hub favours neither the country nor the economy.”




AW note:

Air pollution around airports is a serious concern. Much of the NO2 and the particulates come from diesel engines, and the levels are increased by lorries. All freight to be shipped by air would travel to and from the airport in diesel vehicles.

Earlier articles by the FTA:

Air cargo is crucial to airport capacity debate – FTA reiterates message to Airports Commission

11-Nov-2014 (FTA)

“FTA would like to emphasise to the Airports Commission that air cargo is vitally important to British businesses as importers and exporters, and is a key enabler for growth and the future success of the UK economy.”

Chris Welsh, FTA’s Director – Global and European Policy

As the Airports Commission has said “no decision has been made regarding the best option of a new airport runway in south England” the Freight Transport Association has once again reiterated its message that “air cargo is crucial to the UK economy.”

The Airports Commission today (11 November) published an assessment of the three airport expansion options on its shortlist:

• A new 3,500-metre runway at Heathrow Airport in west London
• An extension of the existing northern runway at Heathrow in a plan put forward by Heathrow Hub, a consortium that includes former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe
• A new runway at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex

Chairman of the Commission, Sir Howard Davies said:

“Since our interim report last year we have undertaken a huge amount of work. We have carried out a thorough assessment, across a comprehensive range of subjects, looking at the benefits and impacts of each proposal. It is important first that we provide an opportunity for this evidence to be examined, challenged and improved. This consultation gives everyone with an interest in the issue of airport expansion that opportunity.”

FTA has previously outlined the importance of air cargo to the freight and logistics industry by writing to Sir Howard Davies, following the interim report in March 2014, and has once again voiced its thoughts today.

FTA’s Director – Global and European Policy, Chris Welsh said:

“FTA would like to emphasise to the Airports Commission that air cargo is vitally important to British businesses as importers and exporters, and is a key enabler for growth and the future success of the UK economy. We believe that London, as the UK hub for freight, is exceptionally important and that this should be recognised alongside passenger traffic. The wider range of services that can be attracted by a major hub with transfer flights makes London the major freight hub for industry. It is critical for UK industry that new services are developed to emerging markets as this is where Heathrow is already falling behind competitors due to lack of capacity.”

The Airports Commission stated that responses to this consultation will be a valuable addition to its evidence base and will directly inform its recommendation to the Government when it publishes its final report in the summer of 2015.

FTA stated that it welcomed the thorough nature of the investigation to ensure that the solutions proposed are implemented for the long-term benefit of the UK, and added that the recognition of the need for additional airport capacity in the south east was also welcome. The Association also stated that it was essential that any future capacity strengthens the existing hub base of the south east of England. This additional capacity would bring not only benefits to the south east of England but to Britain as a whole through enhanced connectivity to the UK’s key overseas markets.

The FTA-commissioned report ‘Sky High Value – The importance of air freight to the UK economy’ was launched in March 2014; the report reflected FTA’s contribution to the Commission’s work and, importantly, raised the importance of air freight in the debate, which had previously focused on passenger and business travel.





Heathrow yes – but we need a decision on future capacity now, says FTA

17-July-2013 (FTA)

“FTA is always open to the possibility of an airport elsewhere in the future, but Heathrow is our main hub airport now, and as it is full, the need for a third runway is obvious.”

Chris Welsh, FTA’s General Manager of Global and European Policy

Responding to Heathrow Airport’s report ‘Heathrow – a new approach’ which details its plans for expansion, published today (Wednesday 17 July), the Freight Transport Association has said that a third runway is badly needed but an ‘accelerated decision’ on enhanced airport capacity to meet existing and future air freight requirements that serve our international trade needs to be made sooner rather than later, and stalling on that decision is detrimental to the UK economy.

Heathrow has submitted new runway proposals to the Airports Commission stating that it will deliver the long-term capacity and connections that the UK economy urgently needs. Recognised in the document is the importance of air freight, pointing out its wider economic benefits to the economy, particularly from international trade and inward investment to the UK, productivity and agglomeration, estimating the effects of a third runway ranging between £32-£137 billion.

Previously (January 2013) FTA had submitted evidence to the Transport Committee regarding the expansion capacity at Heathrow, stating that it was essential to maintain London’s international hub status, keeping UK goods and passengers connected to scores of global destinations and thereby supporting UK trade.

FTA believes that aviation policy can only be effective if freight issues are given full consideration, particularly given that freight carried on board passenger aircraft in many cases makes international airline routes more viable, and that logistics is a vital component of the UK’s route network and overall economy both as an employer and in terms of the economic activity reliant on it.

Chris Welsh, FTA’s General Manager of Global and European Policy, said:

“FTA is always open to the possibility of an airport elsewhere in the future, but Heathrow is our main hub airport now, and as it is full, the need for a third runway is obvious, and we are therefore pleased to welcome the proposal for enhanced investment in capacity by Heathrow. We recognise that in a market led economy it is investors who take the investment risks based on a range of criteria, including customer preferences and obtaining a return on capital investment. For air freight across the UK, maintaining and enhancing our main air freight is vital to the UK economy.

“So much economic activity relies upon air freight across the UK, it is critical to economic recovery that the nation can demonstrate it is open for business with a smooth and reliable journey from our international gateways.

“FTA is concerned about stalling on the decision as to where and when the extra capacity for air freight is going to be accommodated, and feels strongly that an accelerated process is needed in order to make the decision sooner rather than later.”






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Manchester Airport £1 billion plans to improve airport to compete better with Heathrow on long haul routes

The owners of Manchester Airport, MAG, plan to invest £1 billion over 10 years to upgrade Britain’s 3rd largest airport and help it compete harder with Heathrow for passengers. While both Heathrow and Gatwick are hoping to be allowed to add another runway, Manchester has two runways already – the second barely used.  It  has been expanding its long-haul routes, giving passengers an alternative to travelling south to Heathrow, and it plans to add more such routes.  Its CEO, Charlie Cornish said: “Over the next 10 years, the airport will continue to develop as a global gateway for the UK.”  Even if a new runway in the south east is approved (a big IF) it would take at least 10 years to build and in that time other UK airports, such as Birmingham and Manchester will have the chance to add new flights to new destinations – some assisting business travel.  The number of air passengers at Manchester rose last year by 6% and may rise by 5% in 2015-16 period.  Manchester airport expansion fits in with George Osborne’s hopes of improving road and rail links between northern English cities to create a conurbation with the scale and resources to compete with London. A new south east runway would, by contrast, just worsen the north-south divide.



Manchester Airport: £1bn plan to ‘transform’ site launched

2 June 2015 (BBC)
A £1bn programme to “transform” Manchester Airport has been announced.  Manchester Airports Group said it would provide “state-of-the-art facilities”  [The owners of Manchester airport are MAG, the Manchester Airports Group].

The 10-year plan will include the expansion of Terminal 2, self-service check-in facilities and a larger security hall.

Facilities are planned to allow passengers to go through the United States’ immigration process before they board transatlantic flights.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said the investment will mean it “continues to thrive as a national asset”.

The work will also include improvements to Terminal 3 as well as create new food and retail outlets.

Airport design

The programme is expected to be completed by 2025

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “We’re setting out how the airport will contribute to the development of a ‘northern powerhouse’ and demonstrating the dynamic, ‘can-do’ spirit that sums up the region.

“The transformation programme will ensure the airport plays its full part in driving economic growth and develops as a key part of the UK transport infrastructure.”





Some other recent news stories:


Manchester Airport hopes to have over 30 million passengers per year by 2025

Manchester Airports Group boss Charlie Cornish says he hopes 30 million people will be using Manchester airport within 10 years. He also hopes it will have 55 million passengers in due course. The airport has finally this year reached its pre-recession level of 22 million passengers and is aiming to have 23.5 million next year. He said: “In three years, Manchester Airport will be vastly different to what it is today and in three years, it will be hugely different.” He hailed the success of Cathay Pacific’s direct route to Hong Kong, launched in December, which may increase to a daily service. He said rail links were very important: “If you have got northern cities linking to Manchester Airport, that allows Manchester Airport to operate more as a true northern gateway and will give people very quick and very efficient access to us….That will lead to the opportunity for more long haul flights and, in turn, the creation of economic wealth….HS2 is an interesting one. Northern cities have to take account of the fact it is a huge opportunity and it is a huge risk, as it will take people both north and south …”

Click here to view full story…

Manchester wants to persuade more in its catchment area not to fly via London airports

Manchester airport, the only UK airport apart from Heathrow to have two runways, had around 22 million passengers per year in 2005 and 2006, but then slumped down to a low point of 17.7 million by 2010. Passenger numbers have now grown, to return to the high point of 2006, and Manchester airport is feeling confident. It chief commercial officer says that their customers – leisure travellers and businesses – say they often prefer flying from Manchester, rather than having to travel to a London airport. However, around 4 million passengers from the airport’s catchment area still make the unnecessary journey to London airports every year. Manchester hopes to encourage more routes and better frequency services, to win these passengers and deter them from using London. He hopes this would help ease congestion at the London airport. Manchester is hoping to win increasing numbers of passengers, and it has its “Airport City” project close to the airport and hopes to “bolster our city’s growing presence as an international business and leisure destination.” The Greater Manchester built up area is the 2nd largest in the UK, after London, with a population of about 2.6 million, compared to about 9.8 million in London. There is logic in using Manchester’s capacity rather than building another south east runway.

Click here to view full story…

Manchester airport hope its first direct flight to Hong Kong will bring business and tourism boost

There is now a new direct Cathay Pacific flight from Manchester to China (Hong Kong), avoiding the need to hub via Heathrow, or any other European airport. This makes Manchester the first airport outside London to offer a non-stop direct route to China – which may be a boost to the region’s economy. There will be 4 flights per week. The airport hopes rich Chinese visitors – as well as business people – will come direct to Manchester, rather than all going to London. Manchester’s “Airport City” has had key investment from the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group. It has taken Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, 3 years to secure the link. Mr Cornish has been appealed to the Airports Commission to ensure the country’s future aviation needs are met by a ‘network of regional airports’ – rather than money ploughed solely into Gatwick and Heathrow. The route will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which can carry 300 passengers. From Hong Kong, passengers can connect to 22 cities in mainland China. As they have done successfully from flights from Heathrow for decades – without more direct city links from Heathrow. The UK has always had good links to Hong Kong, for historical reasons.

Click here to view full story…

Qatar Airways to increase Manchester flights

26 Nov 2014

Qatar Airways is to increase capacity on its Doha-Manchester route to make it double-daily service. The airline is currently operating 10 weekly flights on the route but this will increase to twice per day (ie. 14) from February 16, 2015 using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.   Qatar Airways is also planning to increase its Dreamliner service to Edinburgh from five-times weekly to daily (ie. 7)  from May 2015.   As part of its expansion of flights to Europe, the airline will increase Doha to Copenhagen frequencies from 7 to 11 per week, while Doha-Stockholm services will go from 7 to 10 per week. Both changes will take affect from February 2015.



Manchester City chief slams Heathrow’s ‘desperate’ attempt to woo Manchester business leaders

Heathrow has been working hard to try to get support for its 3rd runway from Chambers of Commerce across the country. It has been offering the Chambers in the north west around £3,000 to fund events to pitch their runway case. They want the regions to believe they risk losing their link to Heathrow if there is no new runway. Manchester Chamber of Commerce declined the offer, and Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese described Heathrow’s approach as ‘desperate’. He said: “I don’t think we should be supporting the Heathrow expansion plan. I think increasingly, evidence says that we don’t need the hub airport and what we ought to do is make better use of the network airports – including Manchester Airport…. What you see is both Heathrow and Gatwick increasingly losing the argument and getting increasingly desperate – as shown in this case. …. Why do our members want to traipse down to London when they can use the airport round the corner?” 25 Chambers have backed Heathrow, but Sir Richard Leese says of them they are getting an unbalanced view from Heathrow. “Perhaps I ought to write to London Chamber of Commerce to set up a meeting for Manchester Airport.”

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Manchester Airports boss deeply critical of likelihood of large public subsidy aiding Heathrow or Gatwick runway

The CEO of Manchester Airports group, Charlie Cornish, has protested about the likelihood of public funds being used to assist a new south east runway. He says:  “Given the private interests at stake, adopting a special set of rules that favours the delivery of new capacity over the use of existing capacity, will have profound adverse consequences for competition and consumers in the long-run.”  More public funds for London airports does not help regional airports. The Commission, in its consultation documents on Heathrow and Gatwick runway plans, does not give specific figures on anticipated public subsidy.  But it comments there “may be a case” for some funding by the public sector. Equally, if the airport benefits from surface transport paid for by the taxpayer “may mean that a contribution from the scheme promoter to these costs is justified.” State aid rules may also require an airport operator to make an appropriate payment, if it benefits from a surface access scheme. “The Government would need to reach its own view on the level of public investment that can be justified.”






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Correspondence with Carolyn McCall (easyJet) illustrates the desperation caused by Gatwick’s new flight paths

One component of the problem of aircraft noise now being inflicted on people of West Kent and Sussex by newly concentrated Gatwick flight paths, is the “Airbus whine”. This is an unpleasant additional noise, at a particularly annoying frequency, due to air passing over the Fuel Over Pressure Protector (FOPP) cavities. This is relatively cheap and easy to put right. However, easyJet has not taken steps to make the changes, as it would slightly cut profits. Now infuriated residents have asked Ms Carolyn McCall, the CEO of easyJet, to take action on this. She has replied to say: “easyJet will do whatever it can as we take noise and environmental issues very seriously. I am looking into already how we can accelerate our programme to address this issue.”  She has actually been aware of the problem for a long time ….  Below are some emails to her, giving a flavour of the desperation, anger and exasperation of people whose lives have been changed, seriously for the worse, because of altered and concentrated Gatwick flight paths – about which they were not consulted or informed.  Their determination to reverse the deterioration in their quality of life, from the noise intrusion, is palpable.


Carolyn McCall response:

Carolyn McCall, the CEO of EasyJet, has sent a brief response to someone living in the West Kent area who asked when her airline plans to re-fit its planes with the simple device to prevent the “Airbus whine”.  The initial request, copied to many MPs, staff at Gatwick and Heathrow etc, had expressed the desperation its writer felt.

Dated 1.6.2015


….easyJet will do whatever it can as we take noise and environmental issues very seriously. I am looking into already how we can accelerate our programme to address this issue.

Yours sincerely,



Responses to Ms McCall

Several people, among the many thousand who are now adversely affected by newly concentrated flight paths for arrivals to Gatwick airport, have replied to Ms McCall’s email. Below are 3 of the emails, to give an impression of the degree of feeling that the flight path changes have caused:


Dear Ms McCall,

I don’t know Mr XXXXX but suspect that was a response from a perfectly normal person completely at his wits end. Your company is partly responsible for that I’m afraid – and if you do not know why, which I would be surprised to hear, you should.

You cannot imagine how horrific life in West Kent has become for two years since multiple arrival paths were concentrated into one, sending low flying whining and howling planes over Chiddingstone, Hever and Penshurst, and many other previously unaffected Areas of Outstanding Natural beauty.

This happened with zero permission, consultation or even offer of any material compensation whatsoever.

We are being emotionally and financially terrorised and have seen at least 30%, perhaps 50% of the value of our properties vanish. Someone has literally built a motorway above our properties, properties where one cannot chop a branch off a tree without permission.

And you wonder why people are angry, furious and disgusted? Words cannot express it. We live [12 – 15] miles from the airport and paid a whopping premium to live in a no-through road which, when low flying aircraft are not clipping the trees, is silent – literally.

It is sad that often one only hears from people in responsible positions when such extreme correspondence [referring to the initial email to Ms McCall]  is seen and read.

At least you had the decency to reply which is more than can be said for NATS, the CAA and even [less endearing] Gatwick. The obfuscation created by Gatwick, NATS and the CAA is indeed reflecting very badly on your company and brand.  Indeed you will not be surprised to learn that anyone or any company associated with the one-per-minute horror, 19 hours a day, of Gatwick arrivals overhead, quickly ends up in the ‘reviled’ category.

Perhaps you can help us.

It is not fair, it is certainly not right, and it will not be tolerated that Gatwick and those associated with it can wilfully rape the South East, stealing our health and our wealth. That is effectively what has happened and it is absolutely disgraceful.

You run a successful business and I hope can understand how utterly furious tens of thousands of Kent and Sussex residents are.

I’d be grateful to hear from you on this topic.

The single arrival path is not fair, and it has increased, not decreased Go Arounds. It is destroying previously peaceful villages and causing people who have never complained about anything before to raise an army, to fight against the injustice being perpetrated against their families and communities.

Your planes are willing contributors to what, genuinely, sounds almost like a missile attack. One per minute, 19 hours a day. The economic and emotional damages claim would be in the £ tens of millions, at the very least.

Those responsible should revert to previously acceptable multiple paths with planes as high as possible or purchase affected properties under this ghastly path at prices commensurate with their value before the noise ghetto was created. What do you think about that?

Please take a moment to think about this.

We are being treated abominably by these interested parties. Don’t let EasyJet become, or remain, one of them or it may be your company that humiliates itself.

If you can help, we welcome your assistance.
Yours sincerely,

XXXXXXX (Name given)
Chiddingstone, Hever, Penshurst, West Kent area.



Another response to Ms McCall



Dear Ms McCall

As the current Councillor for YYYY district] I am disturbed by the platitudes as expressed in your email.

During the lead up to the elections, I was able to talk to a large number of residents in my Ward, and the overwhelming concern, that was expressed, was one of utter frustration over the way that the air management was being dealt with, in our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Our residents are extremely proud of our area and have every right to be so: but do not be deluded into thinking that the extreme views expressed by a few are foreign to the many – they are not.  It is just that some people believe that fair play will prevail and are leaving it to the more vociferous to air their concerns.

As time progresses this attitude is becoming less and less tenable.

We are continually being fobbed off by lies, damned lies and statistics. Our residents are reasonable, moderate people – not given to trivial complaining or causing trouble. But before too long the middle road will begin to erode; any trust will be completely undermined. And, yes believe it or not, the residents will hit your organisation hard where it hurts, that is in the market place.

Even icons are susceptible to the public’s fury.

The moderates are beginning to feel abused and nothing that the main players say or do, is doing anything to change their minds.

It is so simple, all you have to do is to listen to the strong concerns, expressed by the majority of the residents in the West Kent, High Weald and adjoining areas, and do something positive about it.

The time for platitudes has gone. and only a figurehead who has the courage to put the people before the pennies, will regain the trust and respect of the residents both now and for the future.  It is time to be proactive in understanding the frustrations of an extremely angry but genuinely fair cohort.



Chiddingstone, Hever, Penshurst, West Kent area.



Another response to Ms McCall


Dear Carolyn

You will no doubt have received a few emails by now, in the main expressing an exasperated tone of frustration mixed with anger and incomprehension.

There are thousands of residents affected by this illegal and non consultative change in the use of airspace. I have lived in [XXXX] for the last 18 – 22] years. The last few years I have found myself flicking through ‘RightMove’ whenever I get a few minutes in the hope that I can move out of [this area] to escape the continuous bombardment that my family and I are now accustomed to.

It is truly awful, almost soul destroying and definitely unhealthy.

Unfortunately, you have an email address with the ‘word’ easyjet attached, so please allow me to explain why you’ve probably received a bit more email traffic today. I’m now an expert on the airspace above my house because I like thousands of others have to live with this commercial vandalism day in and day out.

The ‘whine’ [Airbus whine, typical of theA320 family, a certain distance from touch down, on landing when it is most acute] starts about 40 seconds out from when the plane eventually passes overhead. The ‘whine’ is an issue that easyjet are aware of and will or won’t be addressed in the UK, depending on a board of assorted directors and a finance director analysing the cost and associated benefits of a retrofit.

We all know that, so I for one won’t hold my breath to any early change in easyjet spending a bit of money to appease a few people who’ve emailed you this evening. That may sound a tad cynical but please stay with me on this one for my last few paragraphs.

Since about 2013, there has been a change in the arrival pattern of aircraft into Gatwick. It’s now a concentrated continuous bombardment, day and night, of low flying aircraft – some below 3,000ft – that is making a large community angry and tired, and yet energised to fight back until this nonsensical operational ‘change in the use of airspace’ is reversed, changed, cancelled…….

It is simply and purely unnecessary. Planes don’t need to fly at this low altitude over areas such as Hever, Penshurst, Chiddingstone, High Weald and many adjoining areas, this far out from Gatwick.

I’m not that interested in the superficial rhetoric of companies’ noise and environmental policies, and following Gatwick Airport’s appalling behaviour, I have lost faith anyway. The world is littered with companies who preach this and then hide when asked awkward questions.

However, I felt your reply to Mr XXXXX sounded sincere and I hope very much that you’ll be able to add value to help find and action a solution.

Ironically, before the toxic companies and organisations dealing with Gatwick airspace flicked a switch that resulted in dropping the height of inbound aircraft into a concentrated motorway above our heads, I barely noticed the ‘whine’ from the ‘easyjets’.

Food for thought perhaps?



Chiddingstone, Hever, Penshurst, West Kent area.



Ms McCall has been very much aware of the problem of the “whine” for a long time. This is a letter she was sent about it in November 2013:

Letter to EasyJet

Ms Carolyn McCall
Chief Executive Officer
London Luton Airport
Bedfordshire  LU2 9PF

14 November 2013

Dear Ms McCall,

In the towns and villages across West Kent and East Sussex concern is being expressed over the debilitating high pitched whine emanating from the Airbus A318/319/320 etc., series of aircraft. For some time it was thought that this was a fault of the high bypass turbofan engines but this was denied by the manufacturers and in any event Boeings equipped with the same engines do not emit this awful and far reaching noise. It is noticeable on the long low flight path to touchdown apparent at least 20 miles from the airport and across a variable corridor 2 to 3 miles wide.

As your fleet has expanded over the past few years many people’s daily lives have become
intolerable because of this noise nuisance. You can imagine then how they are affected when your wailing sirens fly overhead at night. The World Health Organisation has for many years considered that sleep disturbance can lead to fatigue, hypertension, greater risk of heart and respiratory problems, poor performance at work or in school, greater difficulty in concentrating and thinking clearly, an increased likelihood of accidents, depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse. This is particularly the case if people become annoyed about the impact night flights are having on their health and quality of life. These symptoms can also be found in those people suffering excessive noise disturbance during the day.

Much of the nuisance created by your aircraft from Gatwick Airport is over the High Weald
registered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is on these hills and in the tranquil river valleys and upper reaches of the rivers Rother, Arun, Medway, Eden and Ouse that are used for holidays and weekend recreations of hiking, boating, bird watching, horse riding, golfing and other quiet and peaceful pursuits. All are now disturbed by this deep and penetrating noise, mostly from your airline. Many of those troubled, apart from local people in towns and villages, are day trippers from London and other built- up areas all seeking their own refuge from the intrusive noise of daily urban life. In the green parks of inner cities there is also no respite where you and other low cost carriers operate these aircraft.

This annoyance, we are now told, by the CAA has been recorded on the Airbus series since 2005 yet it was only announced on the 13 October 2013 that the ERCD had discovered that the fault was an airframe noise caused by Fuel Over Pressure Protector (FOPP) cavities in the wings. They also confirmed that the “Tone is emitted around 500-600Hz, close to peak sensitivity of the human ear, hence it is very perceptible and very noticeable.”

Purely from a humanity point of view ‘Do you care? If you do please tell me what you propose doing about rectifying this unfair and intolerable burden across much of our country and abroad. Your decision will make all the difference to so many people’s lives.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Knowles OBE
cc The Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP

– The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.



There is a lot more information about the “whine” and the relatively inexpensive retrofit to prevent it here:

Lufthansa retrofitting A320 planes with simple, inexpensive, noise-reducing device to stop the “Airbus whine”

The Airbus 320 series of aircraft, many of which are used by the low cost carriers – easyJet in particular – have been known for many years (by the CAA since 2005) to have a particularly irritating high pitched whine. This is caused by air rushing across the under-surface of the wing, where there are Fuel Over Pressure Protector (FOPP) cavities. This generates noise, in the same way as blowing air over the mouth of a bottle.Every A320 series aircraft emits a signature howling noise while approaching to land. It is heard most when the plane is travelling at around 160 knots, and the frequency is around 500-600Hz, which is close to peak sensitivity of the  human ear. There is a relatively simple and inexpensive retrofit, to attach a small aluminium “vortex generator” in front of the cavity. Then can be done at routine aircraft maintenance, though the fuel tanks need to be emptied. Lufthansa is in the process of retrofitting all its A320 series planes. Air France will also do so. EasyJet has been reluctant to do much, as it sees no commercial advantage in doing so.










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