British Airways considers transferring its hub to Madrid, as CAA lets Heathrow raise charges at rate of inflation

British Airways has warned that it will consider a future outside Heathrow after the CAA revised its proposals to cut landing charges – despite agreeing that the airport was badly managed and staff overpaid. Airlines are annoyed as the CAA ruled that charges will rise at the rate of inflation over the next 5 years instead of the RPI minus 1.3% rate it had proposed in the spring – and well above the real terms cut demanded by airlines. Heathrow has argued for higher charges, so it can give increasing returns to shareholders to ensure foreign investment continues. The airport claims if it cannot raise its charges, it will not be able to invest to make the airport better for its passengers. British Airways accounts for just over half Heathrow’s traffic and now threatens making its hub at Madrid as that would be cheaper and more “realistic”.  The CAA said that its decision to freeze rather than cut landing charges at Heathrow reflected the increasing cost of raising capital for investment. It has allowed Gatwick to increase landing charges by RPI plus 0.5% annually for 7 years and deferred its ruling on Stansted.
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BA considers life outside Heathrow as CAA backtracks on charges

Regulator rules charges will rise at faster rate than first proposed – despite agreeing airport is badly managed and staff overpaid

British Airways has warned that it will consider a future outside Heathrow after the regulator revised its proposals to cut landing charges – despite agreeing that the airport was badly managed and staff overpaid.

Airlines cried foul as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that charges will rise at the rate of inflation over the next five years instead of the RPI minus 1.3% rate it had proposed in the spring – and well above the real terms cut demanded by airlines.

Heathrow, which has argued for increasing returns to shareholders to ensure foreign investment continued, said the settlement would be “the toughest [it] has ever faced” and claimed it could have “serious and far-reaching consequences for passengers”.

British Airways, which accounts for just over half of the traffic at the London hub, said it was a “bad day” for its customers. Willie Walsh, chief executive of the airline’s parent company IAG, said the CAA had let down its passengers by ignoring calls for cuts. He said: “As the only hub airport in the UK, Heathrow exerts monopoly power over its users. Like other airlines at Heathrow, we cannot move to a better-run UK hub that offers customers real value for money.”

But, Walsh added, the cost of Heathrow meant alternative hubs were “more attractive and realistic”. The IAG boss has previously mooted the idea of focusing on Madrid, the base of BA’s sister airline Iberia. Walsh recently said he no longer backs a third runway at Heathrow, at a time when the government’s Airports Commission is considering expanding capacity in the south-east.

Walsh said: “No such alternative exists today but these excessive charges combined with a complacent management team at Heathrow make an alternative hub look more attractive and more realistic. We will carefully consider our next steps.”

The CAA said that its decision to freeze rather than cut landing charges at Heathrow reflected the increasing cost of raising capital for investment. But while it had accepted some of Heathrow’s arguments, the regulator claimed that it had toughened up on operating costs – and concurred with BA’s view that the airport needed better management.

Iain Osborne, group director of regulatory policy at the CAA, said: “We think that with the right management focus they can do a lot to increase operating efficiency. Pay is too high; too much overtime being worked. Throughput rates for security are lower than other airports.”

However, Heathrow’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, who has argued that its shareholders needed rewarding to continue the investment that has transformed the airport over the last five years, said: “This proposal is the toughest Heathrow has ever faced. The CAA’s proposed cost of capital of 5.6% is below the level at which Heathrow’s shareholders have said they are willing to invest. The CAA’s settlement could have serious and far-reaching consequences for passengers and airlines at Heathrow.

“We want to continue to improve Heathrow for passengers. Instead, the CAA’s proposals risk not only Heathrow’s competitive position but the attractiveness of the UK as a centre for international investment.”

But Osborne said the owners – largely foreign sovereign wealth funds – were getting a fair return for a low-risk business. “There’s no reason that passengers should pay more to meet the ambitions of its shareholders.”

However, other airlines accused the CAA of caving in to Britain’s largest airport. Virgin Atlantic said it was “deeply disappointing to see the CAA has bowed to pressure from Heathrow Airport Limited and its shareholders” and said that higher charges were “another hammer blow for both UK consumers and overseas visitors”. It called on the CAA to “urgently review its recommendations”.

Osborne insisted: “We’re not balancing airlines against airports but the passenger interest in lower charges against the passenger interest in better services.”

The CAA meanwhile said Gatwick airport could increase landing charges by RPI plus 0.5% annually for seven years, under a more flexible arrangement. Gatwick gave a “cautious welcome” to the proposals.

However, easyJet, the airport’s largest customer, said it was disappointed with the increase in proposed average charges and warned that leeway given to Gatwick over a possible second runway was a “licence to print money”. It claimed it could lead to passengers paying £28 more per flight.

The CAA has deferred a ruling on Stansted regulation after the airport, under the new ownership of MAG, struck deals with its largest customer Ryanair in recent weeks.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/03/british-airways-heathrow-airport-caa-charges?CMP=twt_gu

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HACAN tweeted:  If BA is seriously looking at life outside Heathrow, it would be a game-changer: 3rd runway would be history


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A day earlier:

 

CAA proposes Heathrow charges rise in line with inflation

Britain’s aviation regulator has proposed that Heathrow cap its landing charges so that they rise in line with inflation, but the country’s busiest airport has hit back and said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences” for passengers.

3 Oct 2013

Britain’s aviation regulator has proposed that Heathrow cap its landing charges so that they rise in line with inflation, but the country’s busiest airport said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences” for passengers.

London’s Heathrow airport had submitted a plan to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) seeking to raise tariffs for airlines by 4.6pc above inflation, as measured by the retail prices index (RPI), for the five years from April 2014.

“Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow’s prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position,” CAA chairman Deirdre Hutton said in a statement as the agency published its final proposals for consultation.

The regulator had initially proposed that the annual increase at Heathrow should be RPI minus 1.3pc, but said a key reason for today’s proposal inline with inflation was “due to an increase in the cost of capital driven by higher debt costs, offset to some degree by more challenging targets for operating efficiency”.

Today’s announcement from the regulator was not welcomed by Colin Matthews, boss of Heathrow, who said the “proposal is the toughest Heathrow has ever faced” and warned that the group will “now carefully consider our investment plans”.

He said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences for passengers and airlines at Heathrow”. Plus the proposals “risk not only Heathrow’s competitive position but the attractiveness of the UK as a centre of international investment”.

If the proposals are accepted it will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow.

Airlines at the UK’s busiest airport had asked for a 9.8pc a year cut over the five years and a statement from the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) said the CAA’s decision for Heathrow was “bad news for the UK’s international competitiveness”.

“Airline CEO’s will be reaching for their oxygen masks in the knowledge that they will be forced to pass on excessive airport charges to their customers for the next five years,” said Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK.

“Following increases exceeding 300pc over the past 11 years, the latest settlement allowing further RPI [inflation] increases escalates costs to consumers and weakens the international competitiveness of the UK’s only hub airport.”

Sir Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic issued a statement to say it was “deeply disappointing to see the CAA has bowed to pressure from Heathrow Airport Limited and its shareholders”.

It added that the decision to increase charges was a “hammer blow for both UK consumers and overseas visitors wanting to travel to this country”.

At Gatwick, the CAA said it was satisfied with London’s second biggest airport’s plans to to raise average prices by 0.5pc above RPI for seven years.

Gatwick said it “cautiously welcomes” the CAA’s endorsement of its proposed increase in charges.

“We will now re-double our efforts to work with our airlines partners to make this work in the best interests of all parties, and in particular for passengers,” said Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick.

The price rises at Gatwick mean core airport charges will increase from £8.80 per passenger in April 2014 to £9.11 in 2020/21, Gatwick said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10351950/CAA-proposes-Heathrow-charges-rise-in-line-with-inflation.html#

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Earlier:

British Airways chief attacks Heathrow boss for ‘ripping off passengers’

Willie Walsh calls on ‘pathetic’ Heathrow chief to resign in row over planned rise in landing fees and cuts in airport spending

The boss of Britain’s biggest airline has accused Heathrow of ripping off passengers and employing too many overpaid staff, calling for the airport’s chief executive to be replaced.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways‘ parent company IAG, said the airport was planning to raise prices by £600m over five years while cutting spending on facilities.

In a strident denunciation of the London airport’s “abusive monopoly”, Walsh said that Heathrow’s boss, Colin Matthews, had been “pathetic” in trying to make a political argument linking higher airport charges to Britain’s need for more overseas investment.

With the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) scheduled to rule on the fees that Heathrow can charge airlines, Walsh warned the regulator not to be “hoodwinked” again, and to correct its mistakes of the recent past which Walsh said involved Heathrow being “grossly over-rewarded”.

Walsh said Heathrow’s management seemed “incapable of running their business efficiently within a routine cost-control environment”. He added: “What we see is an airport that has too many people; those people are paid too much.”

The CAA is due on October 3 to set fees that the airport can charge from 2014. It has proposed raising charges below inflation, at RPI -1.3%, over the next five years – a level some way below Heathrow’s demands. Airlines led by BA, the airport’s biggest customer, have demanded a real-terms cut of almost 10% after five years in which charges rose by RPI +7.5%.

Walsh insisted the CAA was “not being robust enough”. He added: “If the CAA does not take a stronger line on this it will continue to be inefficient and that will be at the expense of passengers.”

According to BA’s calculations, increased landing fees will mean every passenger journey costs £7 more than the airline believes is reasonable.

Matthews had provoked Walsh’s ire by saying that lower charges gave no incentive for shareholders to invest and that Britain would not be able to attract foreign capital.

Heathrow’s major shareholders are the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Singapore and China, as well as a Canadian pension fund and Spanish construction giant Ferrovial.

Walsh said: “Passengers are paying more than they should and the benefits of that are going to higher-than-average rewards for the shareholders.

“If Colin Matthews is incapable of running the airport and making the investment that’s necessary, and requires an excessive return to justify that investment, then he should be replaced.

“If he was the CEO at a listed entity and came out with the statements he’s come out with, I suspect shareholders would take a completely different view because of the impact on the share price.”

Walsh feared the regulator was succumbing to external pressure to adjust its proposal in Heathrow’s favour. “It makes London, certainly Heathrow, less competitive than the rest of Europe.”

He admitted BA could not leave Heathrow, but vowed to appeal if the CAA did not cut its charges.

Heathrow has said that the CAA’s current proposed charges would mean less maintenance of the airport, and the curbing of planned improvements to baggage facilities and other aspects affecting passengers.

A Heathrow official said: “We have put forward plans for more than £400m of cost savings over the next five years. We want to continue the investment that has been improving Heathrow for passengers.

“Airlines’ proposals for 40% price cuts can’t be achieved without risking under-investment and a return to the out-dated Heathrow of the past.”

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/24/british-airways-chief-attacks-heathrow-boss

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Read more »

CAA proposes Heathrow charges rise in line with inflation over next 5 years

The airport regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has proposed that Heathrow should cap its landing charges so that they rise in line with inflation for the 5 years 2014 – 2019. Heathrow is complaining about this, as it wants a much larger increase in its charges and says this price cap would have “serious and far-reaching consequences” for passengers. Heathrow had submitted its request to the CAA for charges to be allowed to rise by 4.6% above the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is a measure of UK inflation. The CAA had initially proposed that the annual increase at Heathrow should be RPI minus 1.3% but said a key reason for its proposal to allow rises in line with inflation was “due to an increase in the cost of capital driven by higher debt costs”. If the proposals are accepted it will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow. Airlines like BA at Heathrow had asked for a 9.8% a year cut in landing charges over the 5 years. The CAA propose allowing charges at Gatwick to rise by 0.5% above RPI for 5 years, and is yet to decide on charges at Stansted.  The CAA’s final proposals for all 3 airports would take effect if the CAA makes a final decision in January.

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CAA proposes Heathrow charges rise in line with inflation

Britain’s aviation regulator has proposed that Heathrow cap its landing charges so that they rise in line with inflation, but the country’s busiest airport has hit back and said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences” for passengers.

3 Oct 2013

Britain’s aviation regulator has proposed that Heathrow cap its landing charges so that they rise in line with inflation, but the country’s busiest airport said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences” for passengers.

London’s Heathrow airport had submitted a plan to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) seeking to raise tariffs for airlines by 4.6pc above inflation, as measured by the retail prices index (RPI), for the five years from April 2014.

“Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow’s prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position,” CAA chairman Deirdre Hutton said in a statement as the agency published its final proposals for consultation.

The regulator had initially proposed that the annual increase at Heathrow should be RPI minus 1.3pc, but said a key reason for today’s proposal inline with inflation was “due to an increase in the cost of capital driven by higher debt costs, offset to some degree by more challenging targets for operating efficiency”.

Today’s announcement from the regulator was not welcomed by Colin Matthews, boss of Heathrow, who said the “proposal is the toughest Heathrow has ever faced” and warned that the group will “now carefully consider our investment plans”.

He said the cap could have “serious and far-reaching consequences for passengers and airlines at Heathrow”. Plus the proposals “risk not only Heathrow’s competitive position but the attractiveness of the UK as a centre of international investment”.

If the proposals are accepted it will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow.

Airlines at the UK’s busiest airport had asked for a 9.8pc a year cut over the five years and a statement from the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) said the CAA’s decision for Heathrow was “bad news for the UK’s international competitiveness”.

“Airline CEO’s will be reaching for their oxygen masks in the knowledge that they will be forced to pass on excessive airport charges to their customers for the next five years,” said Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK.

“Following increases exceeding 300pc over the past 11 years, the latest settlement allowing further RPI [inflation] increases escalates costs to consumers and weakens the international competitiveness of the UK’s only hub airport.”

Sir Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic issued a statement to say it was “deeply disappointing to see the CAA has bowed to pressure from Heathrow Airport Limited and its shareholders”.

It added that the decision to increase charges was a “hammer blow for both UK consumers and overseas visitors wanting to travel to this country”.

At Gatwick, the CAA said it was satisfied with London’s second biggest airport’s plans to to raise average prices by 0.5pc above RPI for seven years.

Gatwick said it “cautiously welcomes” the CAA’s endorsement of its proposed increase in charges.

“We will now re-double our efforts to work with our airlines partners to make this work in the best interests of all parties, and in particular for passengers,” said Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick.

The price rises at Gatwick mean core airport charges will increase from £8.80 per passenger in April 2014 to £9.11 in 2020/21, Gatwick said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10351950/CAA-proposes-Heathrow-charges-rise-in-line-with-inflation.html#

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The CAA website says: 

Regulation in the passenger interest, supporting investment and driving competition

3.10.2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published for consultation its final proposals for the economic regulation of Heathrow and Gatwick airports to protect passengers after April 2014.

The proposals are tailored so each airport remains globally competitive and can deliver the customer experience that passengers expect of airports in the 21st century. They challenge airports to operate more efficiently, and to work more closely with airlines to develop competitive offerings for travellers.

Heathrow
Heathrow has called for a 4.6% annual real-terms increase in its charges over five years. Its airlines have asked for a 9.8% per year cut. We propose a price control that will not allow prices to rise by more than inflation (measured by RPI). That compares to our initial proposals for RPI minus 1.3%. A key reason for this is due to an increase in the cost of capital driven by higher debt costs, offset to some degree by more challenging targets for operating efficiency.

The proposals will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow. This has supported significant investment in Heathrow over the last decade and our current proposals will also create a supportive environment for further capital expenditure.

Gatwick
Gatwick has set out a series of price commitments to its users, with the average price to grow by RPI + 0.5% per year for seven years. The CAA has today published its detailed analysis that suggests that this is a fair price. In addition, we believe that the airport’s commitments are in passengers’ interests, so they are the basis of our final proposals. They will be backed by a licence to ensure that they are honoured. The licence will also ensure the CAA can continue to act where appropriate to protect users, for instance if there are reductions in service quality that are against the passenger interest.

Stansted
Since taking over ownership of Stansted in April, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), has reached long-term commercial agreements with its two principal customers, easyJet and Ryanair. We announced on 17 September that we would consult on how these may affect the market power assessment before making a final decision on whether Stansted should be regulated and if so, on the appropriate regulatory approach for the airport.

Our final proposals for all three airports would take effect if the CAA makes a final decision in January that they have substantial market power that requires regulation.

Commenting on the final proposals, Dame Deirdre Hutton, CAA Chair, said: “Our proposals demonstrate how we can regulate airports more flexibly where this seems best for passengers, but also setting a tough efficiency challenge. We expect the airports to work closely with airlines to provide high-quality services to passengers.

“Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow’s prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position. The challenge for Heathrow is to maintain high levels of customer service while reducing costs. We are confident this is possible and that our proposals create a positive climate for further capital investment, in the passenger interest.

“Gatwick has tabled a revised price offer to airlines that we consider fair, and its new commitments framework offers a chance for a more commercially driven and tailored approach. To protect the diverse interests of passengers, we propose a licence based on the commitments. We would monitor the success of such a new approach and adjust our regulation over time to ensure it remains proportionate.”

The proposals are made using powers set out in the Civil Aviation Act 2012, which allows more flexibility than in the past, so the CAA’s current regulatory proposals reflect the unique circumstances of each airport. The CAA is required to assess the level of market dominance at airports it proposes to regulate, explaining clearly why regulation will achieve better outcomes for consumers than the market and then set out its proposals. To qualify for regulation, an airport must have, or be likely to get, substantial market power, and economic regulation must be likely to improve outcomes for passengers. CAA will publish its decision on market power for both Gatwick and Heathrow and, where appropriate, its final decision on the necessary form of regulation in January.

An overview of the CAA’s consultations for the airports can be seen here, with links through to the separate documents: Preparing for a future with passengers at its heart.

The consultation documents for each airport along with several associated documents can be found here: Economic Regulation of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

A briefing about airport economic regulation, setting out why regulation is necessary and the CAA’s approach is available here: CAA Briefing Note.

Notes to Editors
1. The CAA’s consultation on its final proposals for regulation and draft licences for each airport will run until 04 November 2013.
2. Final decisions on market power, economic regulation and final licences for those airports found to have market power will be published in early 2014.
3. The CAA is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.

http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=14&pagetype=65&appid=7&mode=detail&nid=2291

 

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Comments from AirportWatch members:
Seems to me that ONLY by charging nearer to a market rate that reflects the restricted supply of landing slots at Heathrow can we hope that:
1) flights that do not need to be at LHR would move elsewhere, hence reducing the supply problem
2) that flights overall might reduce
3) that the owners would be able to profit without having to push the UK into another runway or two i.e. they could stop making the false arguments about needing an extra runway for the good of the country when in fact it would only be for the good of BAA (= Heathrow airport).

It strikes me as quite reasonable that market forces should be allowed to come to bear in this case – i.e. there is a restricted supply, charges that reflect this would cause redistribution and possibly curtailing of demand. If there is so much demand for Heathrow, the airlines and passengers will bear the cost.  That is how markets are meant to work.

In addition the premium at LHR might reasonably reflect the premium that users receive there in terms of choice of airline and route, travel time to reach the airport, and other costs that they save versus using Gatwick etc and having to change at another hub etc

What is the argument against this?

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The main argument against this would, of course, come from the Heathrow airlines, especially British Airways (‘BA’) because if Heathrow Airport Limited (‘HAL’) were to be deregulated and able to charge whatever the market would bear (i.e. a market clearing price), its airport charges would soar.  This would cost the airlines a great deal of money because they already try to charge whatever the market can bear.  It would in fact be a ‘double whammy for the airlines because it would also decimate the value of their Heathrow slots because the secondary market in slots would collapse.  Indeed this would be the evidence that a market clearing price had been reached.
It is questionable whether passengers would end up paying higher fares because airlines operating out of Heathrow already charge whatever the market will bear.  This is what gives them the so-called ‘Heathrow premium’, and it is the Heathrow premium which explains why Heathow slots change hands for such high prices. It arises because local market demand outstrips capacity, and the existence of the Heathrow premium helps explain why Willie Walsh is not desperately lobbying for extra capacity at Heathrow.
So, increasing Heathrow’s airport charges would simply transfer profits from the airlines – especially BA – to the airport operator, HAL.  Using an example of a £10 (i.e. about 50%) increase in airport charges, this would generate an extra £700m a year profit for HAL at the expense of the airlines using Heathrow.  This would be a huge profit transfer and obviously the airlines would fight like terriers to oppose it.  
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Heathrow Airport attacks regulator’s price-control plan

3 October 2013  (BBC)

 

Plans to cap Heathrow landing fees are a “good deal” for passengers, says Richard Moriarty from the Civil Aviation Authority

Heathrow Airport has criticised proposed new price controls on the annual fees it can charge airlines.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday said that Heathrow’s yearly rise between 2014-18 should not be more than the retail price index (RPI).

But the airport’s chief executive Colin Matthews said this could restrict investment and have major consequences for passengers and airlines.

The CAA also proposed capping rises at Gatwick airport to RPI plus 0.5%.

Heathrow airport has been more expensive than others, says travel expert Simon Calder, due to “arcane” charges

Airports charge airlines for use of their facilities, including landing fees, security and use of terminals.

Heathrow had submitted a plan, rejected by the CAA, seeking to raise annual tariffs for airlines by 4.6% above RPI inflation.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, chairwoman of the CAA, said in a statement: “The proposals will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow.

“Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow’s prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position. The challenge for Heathrow is to maintain high levels of customer service while reducing costs. We are confident this is possible and that our proposals create a positive climate for further capital investment, in the passenger interest.”

But Mr Matthews said: “This proposal is the toughest Heathrow has ever faced. The CAA’s settlement could have serious and far-reaching consequences for passengers and airlines at Heathrow.

“We want to continue to improve Heathrow for passengers. Instead, the CAA’s proposals risk not only Heathrow’s competitive position but the attractiveness of the UK as a centre for international investment. We will now carefully consider our investment plans before responding fully to the CAA.”

Despite the criticism, the CAA’s price control is an improvement on a draft proposal earlier this year that Heathrow’s five-year cap should be RPI minus 1.3%.

‘Disappointing’Airlines said that the CAA’s final proposals on Thursday were too lenient and that it had bowed to pressure from Heathrow and its shareholders.

Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent group IAG, said: “With this settlement, Heathrow will continue to levy charges well above other major hub airports.

“We want a Heathrow that is efficiently run, fairly rewarded and priced comparably with other airports. We will carefully consider our next steps,” he said.

Virgin Atlantic said in a statement that the CAA’s proposal was “deeply disappointing”.

For Gatwick, the CAA’s price control will cover seven years from April 2014. The owners of the West Sussex airport gave the proposal a “a cautious welcome”.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “The CAA’s proposal to take forward our commitments framework would deliver an improved future outcome for passengers in terms of service quality, facilities and price.

“We will now redouble our efforts to work with our airlines partners to make this work in the best interests of all parties, and in particular for passengers.”

A CAA proposal on a charging regime at Stansted for 2014-19 is expected next week, with a final ruling on all three airports due in January.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24377802

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Read more »

GMB union slammed for ‘scaremongering and lies’ emails to members, scaring them into signing up to “Back Heathrow”

The GMB Union has been criticised for ‘scaremongering’ its members by making alarmist and false claims on the likelihood of closure of Heathrow.  The GMB has emailed members insisting they sign up to the flailing “Back Heathrow Campaign”, which is funded by the airport, to try and drum up local support for a third runway. The GMB tell their members, in their email, that:  ”Without a third runway, Heathrow will close. No more jobs, prosperity and opportunity.” [Full text below]. The letter says:  “A number of very scary proposals are being tabled that could see the end of Heathrow as we know it.”  and ” House prices would plummet as people moved away. Worryingly, such a nightmare scenario could soon be on the cards.” In reality, Heathrow would not close, whatever the Airports Commission decides, and its closure is not a serious proposition. Aviation campaigner Alan Haughton said: “What the GMB Union have told members is reckless, unhelpful and could be seen as strong-arm bullying tactics to force them to sign up to the Back Heathrow Campaign.”

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OCT 2, 2013  (Stop City Airport blog)

GMB union slammed for Heathrow airport ‘scaremongering and lies’

The GMB Union was today slammed for ‘scaremongering’ members by making alarmist and false claims on the closure of Heathrow Airport.

The Union has emailed members insisting they sign up to the flailing Back Heathrow Campaign telling them that without a Third Runway, Heathrow Airport will close.  ”Without a third runway, Heathrow will close. No more jobs, prosperity and opportunity.” [Full text below]

Bar the Mayor of London Boris Johnson claiming that a Thames Estuary Airport could lead to the closure of Heathrow, there has never been a suggestion that the airport would close if the Davies Airports Commission choose one of the many other options currently being considered. GMB workers at Heathrow Airport are now being lead to believe that if the Commission chooses any other option besides the Third Runway, they will be out of a job.

There is no suggestion from any quarter, including Heathrow Airport itself, that the business would close if a Third Runway did not go ahead.

Aviation Campaigner Alan Haughton said

“What the GMB Union have told members is reckless, unhelpful and could be seen as strong-arm bullying tactics to force them to sign up to the Back Heathrow Campaign. Hard working GMB members are already anxious about pay freezes, the cost of living and providing for their families. They do not need false and misleading claims that will lose their jobs if Heathrow does not expand.I would ask the GMB to withdraw these falsehoods to put workers minds at rest”

http://stopcityairportmasterplan.tumblr.com/post/62895697121/press-release-gmb-union-slammed-for-heathrow-airport

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GMB Ask Members To Back Heathrow

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

GMB Calls On Members In West London And Thames Valley To Support Heathrow Airport For Jobs And Prosperity

Boris Johnson’s plans for Thames Estuary airport may seem like pie in the sky but the threat is very real and if he gets his way Heathrow will close and without a third runway Heathrow will close says GMB

GMB, the union for airport workers, is writing to all GMB members in boroughs surrounding Heathrow Airport calling on them to support the Back Heathrow campaign, which brings together businesses, trade unions and local people to defend the jobs that rely on the airport and to fight for its secure future. See notes to editors for copy of the letter.

Gary Pearce and Stephanie Attwood, GMB organizers who look after GMB members at Heathrow, say in the letter “Heathrow brings jobs, prosperity and opportunity to thousands of people just like you and has a massive economic knock-on effect into local communities. For so many of us, it’s the economic heartbeat of life in this part of the world. Over 76,000 people are employed directly at Heathrow, and another 38,000 local jobs rely on it.

London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to see a new hugely expensive airport hub in the Thames Estuary, something that would kill off Heathrow. He has said that shutting Heathrow completely would provide a “fantastic opportunity for London” to develop a garden city or new royal borough. Well, we at GMB don’t know what’s fantastic about 114,000 jobs being lost if Heathrow shuts down.

It’s almost impossible to think what life would be like in huge areas around the west of London if Heathrow was to shut. The impact would be horrendous and the number of jobs lost would dwarf anything else seen before in the UK. House prices would plummet as people moved away. Worryingly, such a nightmare scenario could soon be on the cards.

Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity. Without a third runway, Heathrow would fall into decline and, in a short space of time, face closure. This is worrying stuff.

We will not stand idly by and watch Heathrow shut down. Boris Johnson’s plans may seem like pie in the sky stuff but the threat is very real. If he gets his way, Heathrow will close. Without a third runway, Heathrow will close. No more jobs, prosperity and opportunity.

End

http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/gmb-ask-members-to-back-heathrow

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Copy of letter to GMB members:

“Dear Member, Back Heathrow – Now!

I want to let you know about a very real threat to all of the jobs, prosperity and opportunities at Heathrow. This threat is why the GMB is supporting the Back Heathrow campaign, which is bringing together businesses, trade unions and local people to defend the jobs that rely on the airport and to fight for its secure future.

The GMB knows just how important Heathrow Airport is to you and your family. It brings jobs, prosperity and opportunity to thousands of people just like you and has a massive economic knock-on effect into local communities. For so many of us, it’s the economic heartbeat of life in this part of the world. Over 76,000 people are employed directly at Heathrow, and another 38,000 local jobs rely on it.

The Government has set up an Airports Commission – also called the Davies Commission – which will be tackling the issue of hub airports, airport capacity and possible expansion. A number of very scary proposals are being tabled that could see the end of Heathrow as we know it.

For instance, London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to see a new hugely expensive airport hub in the Thames Estuary, something that would kill off Heathrow. He has said that shutting Heathrow completely would provide a “fantastic opportunity for London” to develop a garden city or new royal borough. Well, we at GMB don’t know what’s fantastic about 114,000 jobs being lost if Heathrow shuts down.

The Leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, has said that “the threat of closure would in the longer term be of a benefit to Hillingdon residents”.  Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, has said about Heathrow: “It is not an adequate or a safe site for a massive airport. The Government should stop fudging till 2015, rule out this not-fit-for-purpose site and get on with delivering an expansion in a better site.”

It’s almost impossible to think what life would be like in huge areas around the west of London if Heathrow was to shut. The impact would be horrendous and the number of jobs lost would dwarf anything else seen before in the UK. House prices would plummet as people moved away. Worryingly, such a nightmare scenario could soon be on the cards.

Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity. It’s effectively full. Without expansion, Heathrow would cease to be the hub of international travel, as airlines that serve the thriving economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would be forced to move away, perhaps to the hubs at Amsterdam or Paris. Without the ability to seamlessly connect, transatlantic carriers would soon abandon Heathrow. Without a third runway, Heathrow would fall into decline and, in a short space of time, face closure. This is worrying stuff.

To keep our jobs safe, and to make sure there can be prosperity and opportunities for today’s and future generations, there is only one option – to build a third runway at Heathrow. Unless this takes place the future for the airport will be very bleak indeed.

GMB is up for this fight and we need you to help by showing your support for Heathrow. It’s really simple, all you have to do is to go to the Back Heathrow website -www.backheathrow.org – and complete their survey. It’ll only take a few minutes. You can pledge your support for Heathrow there too.

And then once you have done this, please email your friends, family and colleagues and ask them to complete the survey and to pledge their support for Back Heathrow too.

We will not stand idly by and watch Heathrow shut down. Boris Johnson’s plans may seem like pie in the sky stuff but the threat is very real. If he gets his way, Heathrow will close. Without a third runway, Heathrow will close. No more jobs, prosperity and opportunity.

Let’s make sure this nightmare doesn’t become reality and Back Heathrow – Now!

Yours sincerely,

Gary Pearce                                                   Stephanie Attwood

GMB Organiser                                              GMB Organiser

PS  Once you have completed the survey at www.backheathrow.org please ask your friends, family and colleagues to fill it in as well.”

Copy of letter to GMB members

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The campaign calls itself “the grassroots campaign” !

http://www.backheathrow.org/

It has a survey on the website, which is intended to demonstrate a lot of local support for expansion. But like so many surveys, set up to try to prove a particular point of view, it is worded in a very biased manner.  It is not possible to fill in the survey from a point of view of not wanting Heathrow expansion. Therefore, when its results are published and used as “proof” of a high level of support, this should be viewed with considerable scepticism. The way in which the survey is constructed cannot accurately give that proof – as it is poorly constructed.

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Earlier:

 

Blog: Heathrow lost the 3rd runway battle last time – will its new approach succeed?

Date added: September 13, 2013

In a blog, Chair of Hacan, John Stewart, writes about the announcement that Heathrow is prepared to fund residents groups which support a third Heathrow runway, in a campaign called “Back Heathrow”. MPs and councillors from the wider Heathrow area have had letters and half a million newsletters will be sent to homes in West London, by Back Heathrow. In his blog, John looks at how successful this campaign could be, bearing in mind just how fierce the opposition is due to aircraft noise. Heathrow knows it has an uphill struggle to persuade politicians that a third runway in west London would not be political suicide. Presumably this is why it has launched “Back Heathrow” so early – at least two years before any decision is taken. It needs time to try to change the political climate. Nobody seriously believes that with 50% more planes over London, it is going to get quieter. This time round, it is Heathrow, not the campaign groups, that has the mountain to climb in terms of persuading the people and the politicians. It is now Heathrow that is trying to achieve victory against all the odds.    Click here to view full story…

 

“Back Heathrow” campaign formed, by the airport, to demonstrate – and boost – local support for a 3rd runway

Date added: September 12, 2013

“Back Heathrow” is a lobby group that has recently been formed, by supporters of a third Heathrow runway. Its aim is to get people who favour Heathrow expansion to declare their support, and “give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of residents who support Heathrow.” It has been set up with funding from the airport, and 400,000 local tabloid-style propaganda newspapers have been delivered to local communities surrounding the airport. The text of the paper is shown below. It pushes the scaremongering idea that there is a risk of Heathrow shutting down, causing the loss of “114,000 jobs” and that “200 of the UK’s biggest companies may move from Heathrow.” In reality, there is little prospect of Heathrow closing – and this is just a tactic to get publicity and worry people. Back Heathrow have written to local councillors, giving them the misleading impressing that it is a “new community campaign”. It isn’t. It is organised by the industry, not by the community. Hacan said the formation of “Back Heathrow” was “the actions of a desperate organisation, not confident of the arguments it is making.”   Click here to view full story…

 

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Centre for private jets at Southend wants to grow from 4 to 20 business jets per day

Southend Airport is hoping to increase the numbers of private jets it handles, and increase the number from some 3 – 4 per day at present, to more like 20 per day. Biggin Hill is its main local rival for business jets.  In 2012, Biggin Hill dealt with 5,335 during the year, while Southend had 1,163. Stobart Air’s executive handling facility at London Southend Airport celebrated its first anniversary this July. In comparison, in 2012 London City airport had 264 business flights (the rest are commercial), Luton had 15,055 and Farnborough had 21,986 – so way ahead of the others. Southend claims that although it is further outside London than Biggin Hill, passengers arriving at Southend can travel into the City in little more than hour, are that they are more reasonably priced than some of their competitors. The airport says one  major advantage of their executive handling facility is that it is open 24 hours a day with onsite Customs and Immigration services also available permanently. ie. night flight noise for Southend and Rochford residents nearby.

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Jet centre at London Southend Airport wants to take on Biggin Hill in second year

Posted by: Alex Andrews

September 30, 2013 (Corporate Jet Investor)

After celebrating its first birthday, the executive handling facility at London Southend Airport is ready to handle in excess of 20 business aircraft movements per day.

The London South Airport executive handling area features conference rooms and a pilot's rest zone.

The London South Airport executive handling area features conference rooms and a pilot’s rest zone.

Stobart Air’s executive handling facility at London Southend Airport celebrated its first anniversary this July and is viewing London Biggin Hill Airport as its “main short-term competitor” as it moves into its second year.

Hannah Lo Bao, executive handling manager, joined the airport’s business aviation terminal in May 2013, after leaving NetJets in Lisbon.

While showing Corporate Jet Investor around the Southend facility in July, she said the airport was handling three or four business jets per day, but wanted to bring the total up to 20 movements in the near future. This would see the airport surpass the likes of London City Airport and Northolt, but fall just short of Biggin Hill.

Although further outside of London than Biggin Hill, passengers arriving at Southend can travel into the City in little more than hour, with Lo Bao claiming: “We are in fact a lot closer than other London airports and are [more] reasonably priced than some of our competitors.”

Stobart Group has invested over £100 million in the airport since acquiring it in 2008. Recent developments have included a new 100 metre air traffic control tower, an onsite four-star hotel, which is regularly used by business jet flight crews, and a £500,000 executive FBO, which although spacious, is deliberately not as luxurious as rival FBOs. [An FBOis a fixed-base operator - a commercial business granted the right by an airport to operate on the airport and provide services]. 

In contrast to Rizon Jet’s facility at Biggin Hill, which features a self-watering ‘living wall,’ or London City Airport, which unveiled a refurbished private jet centre this summer that has reduced waiting time to 90 seconds, Alastair Welch, managing director of London Southend Airport, said the airport was careful not to fall into the trap of funding a million pound development that contradicts the fast and fuss-free nature of business aviation.

One major advantage of the Southend’s executive handling facility is that it is open 24 hours a day with onsite Customs and Immigration services also available permanently.

As another incentive, Stobart Exective Handling is currently offering free landing fees for business aircraft landing between 7am-9pm until 31 October 2013.

http://www.corporatejetinvestor.com/articles/london-southend-airport-jet-centre-biggin-hill-second-year-628/

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2012 CAA figures for Aircraft movements are at

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2012Annual/Table_03_1_Aircraft_Movements_2012.pdf


 

These do not include Farnborough, for which the figures can be found at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?page_id=5463


 

There were 21,986 business jet movements at Farnborough in 2012.

http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=9185&p=0

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Southend had:

2009     1,244 business flights

2010     1,022 business flights

2011     953 business flights

2012     1,163 business flights

Annual CAA  statistics, annual figures - Table 3.1

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At Biggin Hill airport 

Business Aviation:   Number of business flights (= private jets):

CAA  statistics, annual figures - Table 3.1

2007           6,080     (out of a total of 69,244 aircraft movements)
2008           5,459
2009           4,134    (out of a total of 58,279 movements)
2010           4,176   (out of a total of 49,830 movements)
2011           5,083   (out of a total of 47,354 movements)
2012           5,335   (out of a total of 44,264 aircraft movements)
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Earlier:

Private jet business travel. Who uses it and why?

12.5.2012

n a long article on who is using private business travel, and why, ABTN gives a lot of information on how the industry works. Private flying has fallen significantly since 2008 and the financial crisis. The banking sector used to use more business jets when they launched new IPOs (initial public offerings) when executives wanted to make many presentations in different places, the same day.  They also say companies want the private space on the plane to continue their discussions, as well as the very fast transfer from car to plane, and plane to car, with the minimum of hassle.   Rock bands etc, now make a higher proportion of their money from tours, so they like using private jets for painless travel.  And  the remote locations where some natural resources and minerals are found are more quickly accessed by private flights to small airports, rather than large planes to main airports.  And more ….

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1848

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Private jets carry 2.7 passengers on average – Farnborough

16th  March 2009

Private jet passengers at Farnborough Airport cause more damage to the environment
than users of any form of transport except space travel, according to green campaigners. The claim comes after the airport’s bosses revealed that each aircraft using the airport has, on average, just two or three passengers on board. Brandon O’Reilly, the chief executive of TAG Farnborough Airport, the company that owns and operates the airfield, said that on a fairly typical day last week there were just 2.7 passengers per flight, adding that the actual average figure could be even lower.

TAG’s revelation has caused outrage among environmental groups.  Hugh Sheppard,
of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) said the figures had
revealed the “gross inefficiency” of private jets.

more ………… http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=2972

 

 

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Third runway at Heathrow would mean local surface transport chaos

One of the most pressing, but least considered problems when proposals are made to expand Heathrow is that of surface transport to and from the airport. The Campaign for Better Transport, in a recent report, says Heathrow sits in the most congested quadrant of London. The roads around Heathrow are already full and journey times are getting longer. So much so that the Department for Transport has said that it’s likely to need to take action to relieve congestion due to traffic growth regardless of what happens at the airport. The Piccadilly Line, which provides most of the public transport capacity to Heathrow, is already one of the most crowded on the underground.  Even if you include Crossrail, it is clear that public transport will not have the capacity to accommodate the extra demand that Heathrow  envisages from a 3rd runway – 40% more passengers by 2030 and nearly double that by 2040 – and additional pressure will therefore be placed on the roads. An additional Heathrow runway would cause widespread transport chaos. 
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Third runway equals transport chaos

 

photo:         Richard Hebditch

Campaigns Director’s blog entry

This is an entry from our Campaigns Director’s blog, written by Richard Hebditch with occasional guest bloggers.

30 September 2013:

One of the most pressing, but least considered problems when proposals are made to expand Heathrow is that of surface transport to and from the airport.

Heathrow sits in the most congested quadrant of London. The roads around Heathrow are already full and journey times are getting longer. So much so that the Department for Transport has said that it’s likely to need to take action to relieve congestion due to traffic growth regardless of what happens at the airport. The Piccadilly Line, which provides most of the public transport capacity to Heathrow, is already one of the most crowded on the underground. Even with the 25 per cent capacity increase planned for the line it will be swamped within seven years by a 50 per cent growth in demand for underground services due to population growth. And that’s without carrying a single extra passenger to the airport.

Even if you include Crossrail, it is clear that public transport will not have the capacity to accommodate the extra demand that Heathrow Airport envisages from a third runway – 40 per cent more passengers by 2030 and nearly double that by 2040 – and additional pressure will therefore be placed on the roads.

This week we released a report called Heathrow and Surface Transport Stress. It showed that current airport expansion proposals have consistently failed to give enough importance to road and public transport access. It also uncovered a lack of research comparing the anticipated economic benefits of expanding Heathrow against the range of negative transport impacts it would create.

The Airports Commission in examining the case for expansion at Heathrow must acknowledge surface access as a major barrier and insist that the surface transport implications of airport expansion are properly considered before any decision on the airport’s future is made.

It’s clear that without measures to tackle surface access, an additional runway at Heathrow Airport would cause widespread transport chaos. Increasing surface transport capacity would be extremely difficult, highly controversial and hugely expensive, but it should be central to whether a third runway is desirable, affordable or feasible.

The report is at: 
Heathrow and Surface Transport Stress, September 2013   1.77 MB

http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/blogs/aviation/third-runway-transport-chaos

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Inquiry finds flaws in Heathrow’s expansion plan

29.9.2013    . The FT reports that Heathrow’s case for expansion is flawed because it has failed to account for how London’s roads and public transport will cope with millions more passengers. It says submissions by the Major of London and Hillingdon and Houslow counicls say that the capital’s roads and trains will struggle to keep pace with demand from population growth alone,let alone a third Heathrow runway.  The corresponding increase in travel to the west London site cannot be supported by the transport network. TfL says even with planned upgrades, the Piccadilly line would be full.  Heathrow has not produced no figures on how many additional road and public transport journeys the extra passengers would generate.   Click here to view full story ……

 


Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, which conducted the research for Hounslow and Hillingdon councils, said: “The Davies Commission must draw on the evidence from Transport for London and other experts to assess the dangers to London’s economy from an expanded Heathrow.”.

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Consultation on Southend Airport Controlled Airspace application – till mid December

Now Southend has many more flights than a couple of years ago, the airport wants to have control of its immediate airspace(which it had years ago, when it was busier). There is a 12 week consultation at Southend on its plans to introduce controlled airspace around the airport. The consultation started on 20th September and ends on 19th December. Airspace users and local community groups including borough, local and parish councils, are being consulted,  though individuals are discouraged from responding, unless they channel their responses through some of the consultee organisations. Currently aircraft are permitted to come within 2.5 miles and 2000 feet of the airport without having to talk to air traffic controllers, which can lead to unplanned alterations to an aircraft’s track and possible delays to scheduled aircraft.  Controlled Airspace is a defined area of the airspace around an airport where any aircraft must communicate with Air Traffic Control.  The final decision over whether to reinstate the Controlled Airspace rests with the CAA. 

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Consultation for London Southend Airport Controlled Airspace gets underway 

25.9.2013  (Rochford Life)

Airspace users and local community groups are being consulted over the next 12 weeks about plans to reintroduce controlled airspace at London Southend Airport.The process - which includes borough, local and parish councils - started on 20 September 2013 and will last for 12 weeks, completing on 19 December 2013.London Southend Airport is making this application in order to further safeguard aircraft on approach to and departure from the airport and minimise distance flown to reduce environmental impacts.

The Airport had Controlled Airspace until 1993, when it was removed following a reduction in scheduled services using the airport. Temporary Controlled Airspace was also in operation at the airport in summer 2012 during the London Olympic Games.

Controlled Airspace is a defined area of the airspace around an airport where any aircraft must communicate with Air Traffic Control. The application to introduce controlled airspace was one of the commitments the airport made to local councils and community groups as part of the airport’s redevelopment.

Currently aircraft are permitted to come within 2.5 miles and 2000 feet of London Southend Airport without having to talk to air traffic controllers, which can lead to unplanned alterations to an aircraft’s track and possible delays in the arrival and departure of scheduled aircraft.

It is envisaged the entire application process – which started in August 2012 - will take around two years to complete.

London Southend Airport Operations Director David Lister said “Safety and security are our number one priority.  Controlled Airspace safeguards aircraft when they are approaching and departing the airport. Improving our efficiency by getting aircraft in and out of the airport without  alterations and delays will also minimise the impact of the airport on the local community and is better for the environment. Temporary Controlled Airspace around London Southend Airport was operated very successfully during the London 2012 Games. With passenger operations having been re-established to the level of our previous peak, when controlled airspace was previously in operation we believe the re-establishment of controlled airspace around London Southend Airport is now appropriate.”

The final decision over whether to reinstate the Controlled Airspace over London Southend Airport will be taken by the Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (SARG) within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The consultation document  and more background to the airspace consultation, can be viewed at www.southendairport.com/news/controlled-airspace

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London Southend Airport – Proposal to Re-Establish Controlled
Airspace in the Vicinity of London Southend Airport
SPONSOR CONSULTATION

(Maps on pages 105 and 106)

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This says, in relation to comments by members of the public:

“Although predominantly an aviation-related consultation, the views of members of the public are valued and they are invited to contribute to the consultation process. The preferred way for the public to participate is through their representative organisations (eg Parish Councils etc) although nothing should deter anyone from partaking individually should they wish to.
1.3.4. A full list of consultees is given at Appendix D and has been developed in discussion with the CAA.”


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Southend Airport bid to control airspace

27th September 2013,    Southend Echo

Southend Airport bid to control airspace

SOUTHEND Airport’s move to take control of airspace within 2.5 miles, in an effort to cut delays and improve safety, has taken a step forward.

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A temporary zone was brought in during the Olympics last year, which was said to have been successful. It is expected the control could be in place by summer 2014.

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The consultation is open to interested parties including councils and airlines, but not the general public [the general public can comment, but are somewhat discouraged from doing so].

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Some general background information on controlled airspace.

Farnborough airport also consulted on airspace changes at the end of 2012.

.  At present, Farnborough and Southend and other similar airports have a small area of airspace that they administer, shown as a small circle on the UK airspace map. The larger airports which have their own Controlled Airspace have a rectangular space, with rounded ends, the size of which is determined by the number of passengers using the airport.  The size of the area has to be 5 miles each side of the runway, and  at least 10 miles from each end of the runway, ie. 20 miles long.  The controlled airspace goes up to 3,500 feet above sea level. Norwich airport recently applied for controlled airspace, details and got it.  Applications have to be made to the DAP – the Director of Airspace Policy, which is part of the CAA, and the SRG – the Safety Regulation Group. CAA gets its mandate on this from the DfT.  The CAP 724 Airspace Charter  is the CAA document that defines all UK airspace.  Details

Once above 3,000 feet, aircraft are controlled from the Swanick Control Centre. At present, as a hang over from times when there were older planes without modern technology, many aircraft still climb to 3,000 feet, then throttle back and change radio frequency from control by the airport to control from Swanick.  This is inefficient, both in terms of fuel use – and in making more noise than necessary. Climbing steadily up to 18,000 feet or so is better both for carbon emissions and noise.

It is expensive for an airport to get its airspace changed, due to the disruption to other airspace users, and re-routing that has to be done. Airports much prefer to have their own controlled airspace, as it makes life easier for the pilots. They then know there will be no other planes in their path, and do not have to be aware of gliders etc, and take evasive action.  Gliders, made of wood, do not show up well on radar, and they do not have to carry transponders.

A lot of temporary changes to airspace were made, for the Olympics. Farnborough, Southampton and Southend  all got a free trial period for their airspace, due to the Olympics. There were a great many temporary changes to airpace across the south east, for the Olympics, and a website for London 2012 Airspace at http://olympics.airspacesafety.com/.

There are environmental implications of changing airspace, including noise, visual amenity, air pollution and carbon emissions, but NATS and the CAA have decided that there will be no environmental consultation. This comes partly as a result of the huge protests against NATS when they planned to introduce changes to airspace and flight paths in the Terminal Control North area in summer 2008.  All concerns about safety have to be addressed. Those about environment probably do not.

Eurocontrol want to harmonise airspace control, and NATS will be pleased about this, in helping them avoid consultation on environmental impacts.

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Heathrow hits out at Gatwick in airport tussle claiming only Heathrow can attract long haul flights

As well as the airlines doing battle with the airports (eg. BA and Heathrow), the airports are at loggerheads with each other, in deadly rivalry. How Heathrow has publicised its dissing of Gatwick, in the hope of persuading the Airports Commission of the merits of its case. Today was the final day for any submissions to the Commission, before they publish their airport shortlist some time in December. Heathrow makes out that a single massive hub airport is vital (well, they would, wouldn’t they?) and Gatwick makes out that it can do very nicely with long haul point-to-point flights (well, they would, wouldn’t they?). Heathrow says some 20 long haul routes from Gatwick have failed over recent years, and Gatwick disputes the figure and gives reasons why some closed down. Gatwick says Heathrow can never expand as its flight path noise already affects too many people (the most of any airport in Europe). Heathrow says Gatwick could not attract airlines as they only want to come to Heathrow.  And on it goes. Good luck, on ploughing through all the competing claims, Sir Howard !.
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Heathrow hits out at Gatwick in airport tussle

Colin Matthews argues that Heathrow is the only option
by Marion Dakers  (City AM)
September 27, 2013,
HEATHROW has lashed out at its smaller London rival Gatwick on the final day of submissions to the government’s airports commission.

Europe’s biggest airport by passenger traffic has today told the Davies Commission that 20 airlines have stopped long-haul flights to Gatwick in the last five years.  [The FT says the figures were corrected by Gatwick – it said 22 airlines had stopped long-haul flying to the airport since 2008, but that 8 of these had shut down, and 5 had ceased services to anywhere in Europe].

Heathrow claims these cancellations show that Gatwick cannot attract the airlines needed to become Britain’s hub airport, which it argues is necessary to maintain the country’s global air links.

“There is no need for a crystal ball to test Gatwick’s claims that it can provide long-haul flights when we have the hard evidence of ten years of failure,” said chief executive Colin Matthews, referring to the ten years that Heathrow’s runways have been all but full.

Heathrow wants to build a third runway and has also picked out where it would put a fourth, if passenger numbers continue to rise as predicted.

[The FT says Colin Matthews said: “Gatwick’s proposal to prevent Heathrow expanding, while adding a new runway at its own airport, endangers Britain’s competitiveness. Only a hub airport with the scale to compete internationally can provide the long-haul flights the UK needs.”

Gatwick said it was “absolutely focused on securing new short and long-haul destinations to the UK” ]

But Gatwick, which is lobbying to build its second runway, said Heathrow’s criticism shows it is “clearly worried about having to compete for the first time in London”, pointing out that many of the airline losses happened under the watch of former owner BAA. [Gatwick also says Heathrow will not be allowed to expand as its noise already affects the largest number of people of any airport in Europe].

[Gatwick also says s transfer passengers are not needed for many of the long-haul flights because of strong demand to fly from and to London.

Gatwick carried almost 35m passengers in the year to August, compared to 32.4m in late 2009, when BAA announced it was selling it to Global Infrastructure Partners to comply with a competition ruling.

The Davies Commission is expected to set out a handful of preferred options for more air capacity before the end of the year, but will not make a final recommendation until 2015.

http://www.cityam.com/article/1380248194/heathrow-hits-out-gatwick-airport-tussle

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Boris objects to proposed cap by EU on state aid to airports – his estuary schemes would need minimum £20-30 billion from government

London Mayor Boris Johnson said EU proposals barring the use of state aid for the construction of airports serving more than 5 million people a year would undermine plans to grow the UK’s aviation capacity.  Government subsidies for large airport projects, currently assessed on a case-by-case basis, would be outlawed starting in early 2014, whether for new infrastructure or upgrades of existing facilities, according to the draft EU guidance. In his letter to the Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, Boris wrote that there are “unintended and potentially catastrophic consequences” in “tying the hands” of member states, and he said the measures would limit London’s ability to expand vital links to emerging markets in Asia and South America [which, of course, is nonsense]. Boris said the new EU rules would limit London to expanding terminal capacity at existing airports with less ambitious, and more easily financed,  plans than his over-ambitious Thames estuary schemes. TfL said in its submission that a new hub as envisaged by Boris requires an estimated £20 – 30 billion pounds of state investment. The EU consultation on state aid to airports and airlines has just ended, and the EU will now start to analyze feedback received.  

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London Mayor Slams EU Aid-Cap Threat to New London Airport

By Gaspard Sebag & Kari Lundgren

Sept 26, 2013  (Bloomberg)

Details of the European Commission consultation on state aid to airports and airlines

London Mayor Boris Johnson said European Union proposals barring the use of state aid for the construction of airports serving more than 5 million people a year would undermine plans to grow the U.K.’s aviation capacity.

Government subsidies for large airport projects, currently assessed on a case-by-case basis, would be outlawed starting in early 2014, whether for new infrastructure or upgrades of existing facilities, according to the draft EU blueprint.“There are unintended and potentially catastrophic consequences,” Johnson said in a Sept. 20 letter to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. In “tying the hands” of member states, the measures would limit London’s ability to expand vital links to emerging markets in Asia and South America, he said in the document obtained by Bloomberg News.Johnson is at the forefront of a U.K. debate over airport capacity in southeast England that pits the existing Heathrow hub against his own proposals which include building an entirely new base far to the east. The EU rules would limit London to expanding terminal capacity at existing bases with less ambitious plans that could be more easily financed, he said.ConsultationAlmunia’s spokesman Antoine Colombani said the European Commission has taken no decision on the matter and that the EU’s regulatory arm will now start to analyze feedback received during a consultation period that ended yesterday.

“We will of course carefully assess all the arguments raised, including in Mr. Johnson’s letter,” he said.

The Commission said on publishing draft guidelines in July that airports with annual passenger numbers above 5 million are “usually profitable and are able to cover all of their costs.”

Transport for London, the body that implement’s the mayor’s transport strategy, said in a submission accompanying his letter that while incremental investment can usually be privately financed, the delivery of larger one-off developments in the order of tens of billions of pounds would still require aid.

Such projects would include the expansion or replacement of a major international airport, according to the document.

Johnson has said Heathrow, Europe’s busiest hub, should be replaced by one of two undeveloped sites in the Thames estuary or by an expanded Stansted airport, 35 miles north of London.

The proposals, along with those of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other airports and stakeholders, were submitted to the state-appointed Davies Commission on U.K. airport capacity earlier this year, with a final recommendation due in 2015.
‘Damage’

“If the changes that the EC are proposing were adopted, they would seriously damage the ability of the commission to consider all options on a level playing field,” Johnson said.

TfL said in its submission that a new hub as envisaged by Johnson requires an estimated 20 billion pounds ($32 billion) of investment.  link  Heathrow has also described as “challenging” the likelihood of raising private funds for a more modest proposal for new runways costing from 14 billion pounds, it added.

A four-runway hub could quadruple the number of cities in China and South America served from London and add 50 percent more in the U.S., while restoring routes to U.K. locations now served only from Amsterdam Schiphol, Johnson said in July.A lack of airport infrastructure across Europe could cap the number of flights to 14 million annually by 2035, 2 million fewer than demand forecasts suggest will be needed, Tfl said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-26/london-mayor-slams-eu-aid-cap-threat-to-new-london-airport-1-.html

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 See earlier:

Consultation on rules for European Commission state aid to airports and airlines

Date added: September 18, 2013

Under the European Commission, state aid is granted to various sectors of the economy. However, a key issue is the impact it has on distorting the market, and giving an unfair advantage to those companies or organisations receiving it. Airports and airlines are one sector that receives large amounts of state aid through the EC. The Commission’s DG Competition is tasked with overseeing state aid. There have been earlier sets of guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, but there is a current consultation – due to end on 25th September (which may be extended). The exact amount of state aid given to the aviation sector is somewhat shady, but is at least €3 billion, for those subsidies that are fully notified.There have been widely publicised cases, such as that of Ryanair at Charleroi airport. Transport & Environment have produced an easy-to-read briefing on the state aid situation, and people are urged to respond to the consultation. The state aid gives the aviation industry unmerited subsidy, and helps to encourage very high carbon travel.

Click here to view full story.

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Patrick McLoughlin says taxpayer will not pay £30 billion for a new hub airport

February 12, 2013    Speaking at the Commons Transport Select Committee on 11th February, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin said that the estimates for a new hub airport for the UK were up to £80 million. A report by Oxera reported recently that a new 4-runway hub airport could need up to £30bn of public subsidy, mainly to cover road and rail links. Mr McLoughlin called these “very substantial figures” and said “We do not generally subsidise airports . . . I am not looking for ways of spending extra money on something provided by the private sector”. Airports in the past have had public subsidies, through road building paid for by the public purse, that benefits the airport. He highlighted how much of the UK’s aviation infrastructure was privately funded. Boris gave evidence, at the same session, promoting his view that there was a need for a new hub, other than Heathrow, and this should be at one of two sites in the Thames Estuary, or at Stansted.    Click here to view full story…

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Boris targets Arab states in bid to raise £80bn for a new airport

February 11, 2013     Boris Johnson plans to take a week-long tour of the Gulf states in mid-April, to drum up financial backing for his plans for a new international airport. He intends to visit Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait to raise up to £80 billion. He still wants a Thames estuary mega-hub airport, but his senior aides consider expansion of Stansted a more realistic option. Boris says a new hub airport, wherever it is, could be delivered with private finance and operated as a viable commercial business. His £80 million estimate covers the cost of terminals, runways, ancillary facilities and rail and road access. He was inspired by Hyderabad’s “aerotropolis”,30% funded by money from Gulf states. Mr Johnson also announced a team of experts including British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, designer of the Olympic aquatics centre,to draw up plans for a hub east of London. Other advisers include Pascall+Watson, which designed Heathrow Terminal 5 and the redevelopment of St Pancras station, and Atkins, which worked on the Olympics.    Click here to view full story…

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New research suggests a hub airport (eg. Thames estuary) for London cannot be built without public subsidy

January 25, 2013     A report by the economic consultants, Oxera, commissioned by the Commons Transport Committee has shown that a massive hub airport in the Thames estuary would only be viable if it had a subsidy, from UK taxpayers, of some £10 – 30 billion (in today’s money). Oxera looked at various scenarios, and found that otherwise such an airport would not be viable or provide the sorts of returns that a private investor would require. Depending on the airport’s design, it could cost £20 – £50 billion. The potential impact on Heathrow and other airports – and necessary compensation – were had to be taken into account, and would have an impact on a new hub airport’s commercial viability. Transport committee inquiry chairman Louise Ellman said: “The results suggest a new airport would require public investment and have considerable impact on Heathrow and other London airports. The research findings also shed significant light on the scale of investment required to deliver essential related surface transport links for any new airport. “We hope this work delivers something new to a crucial debate.”    Click here to view full story…

 

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Scrap state support for flying, says Keith Taylor, MEP

Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP for the South East of England, has called for an end to the ‘unfair and unhealthy’ subsidies given to the aviation industry.  In a response to the European Commission’s “Consultation on the draft Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines” Mr Taylor has said that he would like to see a move away from public money being spent on subsidising flying. It is estimated that the aviation industry in Europe would continue to receive around €3 billion a year in direct subsidies under new European Commission proposals. States would continue to disproportionately subsidise smaller airports, which are almost exclusively used by low-fares airlines.  The direct subsidies are complemented by even larger tax exemptions, recently estimated by CE Delft at €30-42 billion every year. Mr Taylor believes EU state aid  for the aviation industry should only be in the case of very isolated regions, where support can be provided under a Public Service Obligation.

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Scrap state support for flying, says MEP

24.9.2013 (Keith Taylor’s website)

Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP for the South East of England, has called for an end to the ‘unfair and unhealthy’ subsidies given to the aviation industry.

In a response to the European Commission’s “Consultation on the draft Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines” Mr Taylor has said that he would like to see a move away from public money being spent on subsidising flying.

According to the campaign group Transport & Environment Europe’s aviation industry would continue to receive around €3 billion a year in direct subsidies under new European Commission proposals. States would continue to disproportionately subsidise smaller airports, which are almost exclusively used by low-fares airlines.

The direct subsidies are complemented by even larger tax exemptions, recently estimated by CE Delft [Marisa Korteland and Jasper Faber, Estimated revenues of VAT and fuel tax on aviation, CE Delft, July 2013] at €30-42 billion every year.

Mr Taylor said:

“I believe that the EU should move as quickly as possible towards ending all state support for the aviation industry, except in the case of very isolated regions, where support can be provided under a Public Service Obligation.”

Mr Taylor, whose constituency includes Gatwick Airport and areas in close proximity to Heathrow, went on to criticize state-aid for aviation for its role in promoting a polluting and harmful industry.

He said:

“Propping up the aviation industry through state subsidies is completely unjustified and makes a mockery of the efforts of the EU, Member States and EU citizens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Just this week, Lord Stern, the former World Bank chief economist and author of the landmark 2006 report on the costs of climate change, said that the European Union should set a goal to halve emissions from 1990 to 2030, rather than to reduce them by 40% as has been proposed.

 Not only is aviation the most climate-damaging form of transport, the noise, air pollution and traffic associated with flying have negative health and social impacts on millions of people across Europe.”

Ends

You can read Mr Taylor’s full consultation response here:

http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Consultation-response_EU-guidelines-on-state-aid-for-airports-and-airlines_25_09_2013.pdf

http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2013/09/25/scrap-state-support-for-flying-says-mep/

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Background to State air for airports and airlines:

On 3 July 2013 the European Commission published revised draft guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines. The guidelines need to be urgently reconsidered as they risk further distorting competition, wasting scare public resources and expanding billions of euros in climate harmful subsidies.
Transport & Environment (T&E) have produced a short (and easy to read) briefing on state aid for airports and airlines.  It is at State Aid for Airports and Airlines
T&E have written to Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, (who is currently responsible for competition under the second mandate of President Barroso) outlining T&E’s concerns in relation to the draft guidelines. It is at Letter to Commissioner Almunia.
T&E hosted an event, in Brussels, called ‘Citizens, Aviation and Competition: State Aid for Airports and Airlines’ on Monday 16 September.
The current consultation on state aid to airports and airlines closes on 25th September, but T&E and others are asking for it to be extended.  The email address for submissions is: stateaidgreffe@ec.europa.eu, with the reference ”HT.2635″.
State aid to various sectors comes under DG Competition in the European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/overview/index_en.html

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Earlier

Consultation on rules for European Commission state aid to airports and airlines

Date added: September 18, 2013

Under the European Commission, state aid is granted to various sectors of the economy. However, a key issue is the impact it has on distorting the market, and giving an unfair advantage to those companies or organisations receiving it. Airports and airlines are one sector that receives large amounts of state aid through the EC. The Commission’s DG Competition is tasked with overseeing state aid. There have been earlier sets of guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, but there is a current consultation – due to end on 25th September (which may be extended). The exact amount of state aid given to the aviation sector is somewhat shady, but is at least €3 billion, for those subsidies that are fully notified.There have been widely publicised cases, such as that of Ryanair at Charleroi airport. Transport & Environment have produced an easy-to-read briefing on the state aid situation, and people are urged to respond to the consultation. The state aid gives the aviation industry unmerited subsidy, and helps to encourage very high carbon travel.

Click here to view full story.

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Some details of how much European governments bail out failing national airlines

9.9.2013There is currently a consultation under way, on EU guidance on state aid to airports and airlines. This consultation ends on 25th September, unless it is extended. A paper by Rose Bridger, in July, sets out details of the extent of state aid to failing airlines across Europe. There are truly remarkable sums involved.  The EU regards bail outs for failing airlines as restructuring aid, rather than merely aid for infrastructure or new route development. Some of the cases that Rose has located information on are for national flag carrier airlines. For example, the Hungarian national airline, Malev, received well over €300 million; Scandinavian airline SAS received a €400 million credit facility from three governments; Latvian airline Air Baltic got at least €100 million in share capital; Air Malta got well over €180 million over several years; Polish LOT airlines has had at least €100 million, and likewise for Estonia Air and Czech airlines. Support for airlines brings a disproportionate benefit to wealthier citizens, who fly more. Continued bailouts to airlines exacerbates the financial instability caused by excessive debt.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17437

 

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New short HACAN report giving a flavour of the stress caused to thousands of Londoners from Heathrow aircraft noise

HACAN (the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) has just released a short report on reactions to noise by Londoners who are over-flown. It is called “A Summer of Noise – a snap-shot of the impact of aircraft noise on Londoners… in their own words”  and is a collection of some of the despairing emails that Hacan has received, over the summer. There are always more complaints about aircraft noise in summer than in winter, as people spend more time outside. There is also more stress caused by night flight noise, as on warm nights, people want to sleep with the windows open. The sad, despairing and angry emails show noise is a real issue for very many people, and night noise from aircraft remains a big concern. It also emerges that in very hot weather it is slightly more difficult for planes to take off (the air is a bit less dense, so the engine has to work harder) and this means that some areas get more noise. It is also clear that the cluster of complaints from particular areas may reflect the fact that some flight paths seem to be becoming more concentrated. 

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HACAN (the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) has just released a short report on reactions to noise by Londoners who are over-flown.

“A Summer of Noise – a snap-shot of the impact of aircraft noise on Londoners… in their own words”   (5 Pages)

It is a collection of some of the despairing emails that Hacan has received, over the summer. There are always more complaints about aircraft noise in summer than in winter, as people spend more time outside.  There is also more stress caused by night flight noise, as on warm nights, people want to sleep with the windows open.

There are some sad and troubling examples in the report, a few of which are copied below.

HACAN concludes that there is some pattern in the complaints it receives on aircraft noise.

Night noise from aircraft remains a big concern for a lot of people.

In addition to the difference between summer and winter, it seems that in very hot weather it is slightly more difficult for planes to take off (the air is a bit less dense, so the engine has to work harder) and this means that in areas like Hanwell, relatively close to the airport and under a take-off route, can experience a lot more noise.

It is also clear that the cluster of complaints from particular areas may reflect the fact that flight paths seem to be becoming more concentrated.  HACAN is discussing the apparent concentration of flights with Heathrow Airport and National Air Traffic Control. 

The report is at http://www.hacan.org.uk/resources/reports/living.under.the.heathrow.flight.path.today.pdf

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Below are just four of the emails from the report:

 

There’s definitely been a change which has caused more planes to route over
Brockley. I bought a house in September 2012 and it wasn’t like this then. We have
planes coming in from the east and also now a constant stream of planes coming up
from the south, all of which seem to regard Brockley as a sort of aerial T-junction
where they turn to join the planes heading west over Brockley to Heathrow. It’s like
they are all aiming for Brockley station. Together, this has resulted in an almost
constant stream of planes.

 


I’m a 9 year old girl who can’t get to sleep at night because you send
planes every minute or two of the day over our house. I only fall asleep
after 23:30 because they fly really low and they are very loud. I have
problems focusing on my work at school and have a violin concert
coming up next Wednesday. My mum has been in touch with you many
times asking you not to be so cruel to us but you don’t help us or care
about our health. If you had children of your own you would understand.
Why are you doing this to us? We have never been bad to you.

 


 

I have lived in Lee since March 2009 and enjoyed living a peaceful life for about 4
years. In recent months it started to turn from bliss to devastation. Aircraft noise and
frequency of flights (some every minute) over my house has increased 100 fold. I am
not sure what it is related to, Southend, City, Heathrow or other airports but would
like to know in order to object , find out about developments and perhaps
consider moving…Please advise.

 


 

I wondered if you can help? I live in Battersea and we’ve been having terrible
problems with aircraft noise – daily it starts before 4.30am, continues non-stop
through the day, past 11.30pm. There is no alteration in the route or schedule. I’ve contacted the BAA 3 times, my MP and wondered if there is anything else I can do? We’re just hardworking Londoners, but exhausted all the time and have now had enough.

 


 

… and there are many more ….

“A Summer of Noise – a snap-shot of the impact of aircraft noise on Londoners… in their own words”  (5 Pages)  

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