The Maidenhead DfT information display – pushing the Heathrow 3rd runway – was taken over for its last 20 minutes by an invasion of anti- runway protesters. The DfT events are intended to give information to members of the public who want to know more about the runway plan. Unfortunately the displays are very focused on the alleged benefits of the runway, with very little information on its negative impacts. Generally the DfT staff who man the events are unable to answer questions about negative effects of the runway, in any detail. Campaigners from SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) with representatives from around 8 other groups, held a brief session to show up some of the gaps in information that the DfT is giving the public at these (20) sessions. Neil Keveren (SHE) pointed out some of the omitted information (like how little change to night flights is actually proposed, the effect of those whose homes will be compulsorily purchased, the health impacts of air pollution and the cost to the taxpayer of improvements to surface infrastructure). There is no info on any of those in the DfT panels. Others then chipped in with other information that the DfT should be including. The session ended with rousing chants of “No New Runways” and “Theresa May, What would your father say, NO 3rd runway” – and Neil singing, accompanied by his guitar, the song “This is our home, and we will stay. No 3rd runway”. Lyrics below.
Third runway protesters chant and sing at Heathrow expansion consultation
By Grace Witherden
Third runway protesters took the chance to have their say on Heathrow’s expansion proposals with a staged demonstration on Tuesday night.
More than 20 protesters, made up of Royal Borough residents and anti-Heathrow expansion campaign groups gathered at the Heathrow consultation held at SportsAble.
Their demonstration included banners, masks and a Theresa May cardboard cut-out.
Taking the stand, Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion spoke passionately about why there should be no third runway at Heathrow Airport as residents took it in turns to speak about concerns including climate change, the economy and the impact on the community.
Mr Keveren chanted: “Theresa May, what would your father say? No ifs, no buts, no third runway.”
During the day, more than 200 residents attended the consultation in Braywick Park, held by the Department for Transport, and got the chance to speak to officials about expanding airport capacity, the Airports National Policy Statement and other issues.
Earlier, on Friday, residents gathered at a consultation held in the Windsor Youth and Community Centre in Alma Road.
Alexandra Road resident Roger Bowden, 70, a technology worker, thought he had not been given enough information about pollution and noise. He said: “I was absolutely enraged, in a way.”
A 72-year-old ex-paratrooper, Ken Collins, who lives in St Marks Road, Windsor, said: “We could have aircraft coming over, making one hell of a din.”
He worried about the financial implications if the noise forced him to make adjustments to his house that would block out sounds from the planes.
“I am a pensioner,” he said. “I don’t have the salary.”
The Chamber of Commerce president and campaign group Back Heathrow also attended the Maidenhead consultation to have their say on the proposals.
Olu Odeniyi, President of Maidenhead & District Chamber of Commerce, said: “A new runway at Heathrow will significantly lift economic prospects for Maidenhead, the region and the country.
“It is right the government is consulting on this major infrastructure project. The Chamber will do all it can to ensure local businesses of all sizes are aware of the opportunities.”
Back Heathrow campaign manager Paul Cowling, who joined the delegation, said: “It’s fantastic that the government backs a new Heathrow runway but now it’s time for local people to have their say.
“These events are a great way for residents to find out more, express their support, ask questions or raise any concerns they may have.” [The problem with this is that the DfT exhibitions do not give residents the information they need on negative impacts of the runway – only positive impacts. It is highly questionable whether a local resident could get enough information about possible future impacts on them, to make a rational decision to support or oppose the runway. AW comment]
Heathrow has regularly produced annual sustainability reports (they do not seem to be on its website any longer). The report from 2014 is here. Now, in an a serious attempt to be seen as a truly “environmentally friendly” airport they have produced a glossy report called “Heathrow 2.0” which endeavours to show that – with 50% more flights, producing nearly 50% more CO2 emissions, is a shining example of environmental leadership for us all. Some ex-environmental campaigners helped Heathrow put the report together. While it is hugely to be welcomed that Heathrow will try to have as low an environmental footprint as possible, within the airport itself – the problem is confusing that with the immense environmental impact the airport has outside its perimeter. The report has nothing much to say on that, other than offsetting schemes of one sort or another. The airport hopes to become “carbon neutral” but that is only by offsetting – effectively buying the emissions reductions of others. Heathrow wants to be seen to be “green” by helping to fund some peat-bog restoration, and buying renewable energy. It aims to do a bit more on preventing illegal trafficking of wildlife through its air freight etc etc et. All laudable stuff. But there is no reason why Heathrow needs to have another runway, in order to do all these good environmental things that it could perfectly well be doing (should be doing) as a 2 runway airport. Check the report for high level greenwash ….
[Time and energy prevent, so far, taking the report apart, item by item. It is a long report – but its actual content, of real actions to make an effective difference, is very thin. AW comment]
Heathrow promises to clear green aviation R&D incubator for take-off
28.2.2017 (Business Green)
By James Murray
Under fire from environmentalists over its controversial expansion plans, Heathrow has today unveiled a wide-ranging new sustainability strategy designed to make it one of the world’s greenest airports.
Dubbed Heathrow 2.0, the new strategy pulls together a host of initiatives, including plans to step up R&D investment in low carbon aviation technologies, reduce the environmental impact of its operations, and enhance air quality around the airport.
Specifically, the airport announced it has invested an initial £500,000 in a new R&D incubator tasked with identifying ways to minimise noise and carbon emissions from flights.
“Heathrow will consult leading experts to identify participants from the aviation industry, academia and business,” the company said. “By the end of the year, more funding sources will also be identified so that the incubator opens its doors in 2019.”
In a further bid to encourage airlines to switch to more efficient modern fleets, the strategy includes proposals for a ‘Fly Quiet and Clean’ league table, which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise and emissions.
Heathrow also pledged to become the latest high profile firm to switch to 100 per cent renewable power, vowing to only source electricity from renewable sources from the end of the this year as part of a wider emission reduction plan designed to ensure the planned new runway is “carbon neutral”.
In addition, the plan includes proposals to establish an “airside ultra-low emission zone” by 2025, designed to reduce air pollution in the area, and sets a new target to ensure half of passengers travel using public or sustainable transport.
Unveiling the new plan at the British Chamber of Commerce conference, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the strategy represented “a step-change for our business, and accelerates the shift in our industry towards a sustainable future for aviation”.
“By focusing on the long-term, and through working together, we can deliver a world-leading economy – innovative, competitive, successful and sustainable,” he said. “And we can create a future where our business, our people, our communities, our country and our world, can all thrive.”
The plan comes as airports and airlines face mounting pressure to develop lower carbon aviation technologies, following an international agreement last year that aims to cap emissions from the sector from 2020 and introduce a new offset scheme during the 2020s that should effectively impose a carbon price on aviation emissions.
However, many environmental groups have argued the new international deal is not ambitious enough and Heathrow is continuing to face significant opposition over its plans to build a third runway, with campaigners voicing scepticism the project is compatible with the UK’s carbon budgets.
Last week the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs accused the government of not doing enough to demonstrate how Heathrow expansion is in line with emissions obligations and accused ministers of preparing to “water down the limits on aviation emissions recommended by its own climate change advisers”.
However, the airport has consistently argued that improvements in technology will allow it to expand the airport while complying with the UK’s Climate Change Act and air quality rules.
The huge growth in flights from Heathrow’s planned new runway could be carbon neutral, according to an ambition revealed by the airport.
The 260,000 extra flights a year anticipated from the third runway would make the airport the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions. But Heathrow’s new sustainability plan suggests other ways to offset the leap in emissions, including by restoring British peat bogs.
The new plan, called Heathrow 2.0, sets a wide range of targets to tackle carbon emissions, illegal levels of local air pollution, and noise. The airport will use 100% renewable electricity from April and aim to get 35,000 more people a day using public transport rather than arriving in cars by 2030 and double that by 2040.
The third runway, now backed by the government, is highly controversial, with critics arguing it could dash hopes of meeting the UK’s climate change targets and solving local air pollution problems. About 95% of Heathrow’s carbon emissions come from aircraft, but aviation is one of the toughest sectors in which to cut carbon, as the electric batteries than can power cars are too heavy for planes.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, said: “We are not doing this to convince somebody that we are anything we aren’t. We are setting out what we are going to do and people can judge us by our actions. We are going to play our part in the challenge of climate change.”
The plan sets out firm short-term targets, including removing the last 5% of flights made by the most polluting aircraft by 2020 and cutting the number of late-running flights arriving in the middle of the night – currently about one a day – by half this year.
The aspiration to make growth from the new runway carbon-neutral relies significantly on the global aviation deal agreed in October to offset most new emissions after 2020. The most novel aspect of Heathrow’s new plan to explore the restoration of peatlands in the UK to offset carbon, which would be “a very British solution”, said Holland-Kaye.
Peatlands cover 12% of the UK but 80% are in poor condition. “The opportunity is absolutely massive,” said the environmentalist Tony Juniper, who was a paid consultant on Heathrow’s new plan. “The vast majority of peatlands are degraded and it is releasing billions of tonnes of carbon over decades.” He said restoration would also benefit flood prevention and wildlife.
Holland-Kaye said it was vital to also set out longer term plans even if it was unclear as yet how to achieve them: “There are some really challenging aspirations around carbon, and even if we don’t get all the way there, every tonne of carbon we are able to prevent going into the atmosphere is a tonne less that our children have to deal with.”
Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said: “We have to say, that if you look at this coldly, it makes Heathrow one of the most progressive airports in the world. But there is a jumbo-jet sized elephant in the room – a new runway that would see 260,000 extra flights a year, and that comes at a significant environmental price.”
“It is deeply irresponsible of the government to sign off on this expansion on the assumption that something will come along” to solve the challenges, he said. A cross-party committee of MPs recently accused the government of “magical thinking” over the future solutions to Heathrow’s environmental challenges.
Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation said: “The plan aspires to a cleaner and quieter future but its detail is largely concerned with short-term, incremental improvements that are not up to the challenges that would come with runway expansion. There is nothing in this report to suggest that we are any closer to finding effective solutions.”
“If you have a plan and you really focus on it, you can make a significant change in people’s behaviour,” he said. “The great thing about the VW scandal is that the government is now taking [air pollution] seriously, because they are the ones who can have the most influence. Once the will of government gets behind these things, big things can happen relatively quickly.”
The new runway would open by 2025 at the earliest, and Holland-Kaye said the new HS2 train line and possible new rail links to the west and south could be a “gamechanger”.
Heathrow is planning to increase the number of short-haul flights within the UK, and will discount their landing fees this year. Critics say such flights should be replaced by rail travel but Holland-Kaye said they were important in helping all regions of the UK to grow. “Unless we have an economy which pays for a shift to being low-carbon, we are not going to make that shift,” he said.
The Heathrow plan is “bold and brave”, according to Juniper: “The difference here is the extent to which they have really embraced the challenge rather than trying to avoid taking responsibility.” Asked if fast-growing aviation can ever be sustainable, he said: “It is going to have to be” because stopping more people flying “is not going to happen”.
The Prince of Wales’s green adviser has been accused of hypocrisy over being paid to help Heathrow to justify building a third runway after spending years opposing it.
Tony Juniper, 56, who co-authored the recent Ladybird book on climate change with the prince, advised Heathrow on a “sustainability strategy”, which seeks to justify the airport’s expansion.
Mr Juniper campaigned against the expansion of Heathrow when he was director of Friends of the Earth, which he left in 2008 shortly before becoming special adviser to the prince on environment projects.
He supported activists who blockaded airports in protest over the impact of flights on climate change. He also accused Gordon Brown of hypocrisy when he was prime minister for supporting action on climate change while backing a third runway at Heathrow.
Mr Juniper began advising Heathrow 18 months ago via Robertsbridge, the sustainability consultancy that he co-founded with Charles Secrett, also a former director of Friends of the Earth, and Peter Ainsworth, a former Conservative MP.
Mr Juniper’s key idea to help to justify the third runway’s 260,000 extra flights a year is “carbon offsetting”, which allows emissions to rise if an equivalent amount is prevented elsewhere.
Heathrow is holding talks with conservation groups about paying to protect a British peat bog which, it is claimed, might otherwise dry out and release vast amounts of carbon.
Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of the GreenSkies Alliance, which opposes airport expansion, said: “Tony Juniper has given his name to world-class greenwash. It’s massively inconsistent and he must have known he was going to get labelled a hypocrite.
“He has turned himself from a figure of admiration to the Neville Chamberlain of corporate social responsibility.”
John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, which campaigns against the third runway, said: “This appears very inconsistent with the previous very public stance Tony Juniper took in opposing a third runway.”
Mr Juniper said that he believed the third runway could be built sustainably but denied that this contradicted his previous stance.
He said he had adopted a “parallel and equally credible position . . . that if society is going to say we are going to accommodate growth rather than to try and block it then the best possible thing you can do is to try to ensure it is as sustainable as possible”.
He added: “I’m agnostic on a third runway at Heathrow but I would say we have a growing demand for aviation and we need to be able to deal with that through a number of different approaches.”
Heathrow’s strategy pledges to make the new runway “carbon neutral”. Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s director of sustainability, said that carbon neutral expansion was an “aspiration” rather than a commitment. He declined to say how much Heathrow would be investing in the peat bog project but said it would be a “meaningful contribution”. He declined to say how much Mr Juniper and Robertsbridge had been paid.
Tony Juniper made his name in the environmental movement by travelling to Brazil in 1990 and discovering the last surviving wild Spix’s macaws.
That same year he joined Friends of the Earth (FoE) and worked his way up to be director.
He successfully campaigned for the Climate Change Act 2008, which committed the UK to the world’s toughest emission reduction targets.
After leaving FoE in 2008, he became special adviser to the Prince of Wales, first on his Rainforests Project and then his International Sustainability Unit.
He was the Green Party candidate in Cambridge at the 2010 general election.
Luton Airport has started the bid race for up to £150m worth of construction work for a planned new light railway system. This will be paid for by Luton council. It has appointed Arup to design and press through the mass passenger transport scheme. It would be a 2.1km long guided mass rapid transit system, to run between two purpose-built stations, heading out from Stirling Place, close to Luton Airport Parkway station, to the airport terminal. It will be broken down into two main packages. Work worth up to £115m will include viaducts, embankments, cut and cover works and station platforms. Some of the works will be within the airside sections of the airport. The track, rolling stock and associated systems package will be subject to a separate contract worth up to £35m, to be awarded concurrently. The light rail scheme forms part of a £1.5 billion inward investment programme by Luton council, with a 20-year plan for major transformation of the town. Planning permission is being sought from Luton Borough Council (which conveniently owns the airport) and Central Bedfordshire Council. They hope work could start later in 2017, and it would open in 2021 with the intention of the journey time from Luton to St Pancras being cut to 30 minutes.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union’s nonprofit long-term lending institution, that is publicly owned, and whose shareholders are the member states of the EU. It says it uses its financing operations to bring about European integration and social cohesion. The member states set the bank’s broad policy goals. It aims to support sound investments which further EU policy goals, and it says one of its objectives is environmental sustainability. Another is developing trans-European Networks of transport and energy, and as such it has funded many airport projects and airport expansions. It approved lending nearly €4 billion for the first phase of the new Terminal 3 at Frankfurt Airport. It is now lending some €175 million to Schiphol Airport, which is the first instalment of a total financing of €350 million for expansion. Schiphol plans to build a new terminal and a new pier, to cope with 15 million more passengers per year. In addition, the airport will relocate and renew other parts of the related infrastructure, such as internal roads and car parks. The EIB says as Schiphol is the “showpiece” of the Netherlands, this is essential. Earlier the EIB lent money to Schiphol to build the 5th runway. The new pier is planned to be completed by the end of 2019. The terminal is planned to open for operations in 2023.
EIB supports extension of Schiphol Airport
2 March 2017
By Tom Smit (European Investment Bank press release)
The European Investment Bank and N.V. Schiphol Airport have signed a loan agreement of €175 million, the first instalment of a total financing of €350 million. Schiphol will use the funding to finance part of the planned expansion of Amsterdam’s airport.
Between 2017 and 2024 the airport will build a new terminal and a new pier, which will allow for a growth in capacity of up to 15 million passengers per year. In addition, the airport will relocate and renew other parts of the related infrastructure, such as internal roads and car parks.
“Schiphol is a showpiece for the Netherlands and in a time of continuous modernisation further development of the airport is essential.” said EIB vice-president Pim van Ballekom.
“The EIB has supported Schiphol in the past, for example in the construction of the fifth runway and the new baggage handling system, and we hope to continue to do so in the future.”
“Schiphol is very pleased that the EIB is willing to stimulate the expansion of Schiphol with this financing facility. It is a confirmation of the very good relationship that we have built up over the years.” added Schiphol’s CFO Els de Groot. “Thanks to the planned expansion we will continue to offer the best possible service to our passengers, safeguarding our position as our country’s mainport and connecting the Netherlands to the rest of the world.”
The new pier is planned to be completed by the end of 2019. The terminal is planned to open for operations in 2023.
Date: 28 July 2008 (European Investment Bank website)
The European Investment Bank is a key player in financing the European transport sector, including Airports and Air Traffic Management projects. Effective transportation systems are essential to Europe’s prosperity, having significant impact on economic growth, social development and the environment. Transport is an important industry in its own right and makes a major contribution to the functioning of the European economy as a whole. Mobility of goods and persons is an essential component of the competitiveness of European industry and services. Accordingly, the long-term perspective and the truly European dimension of major transport projects have made the Bank a natural financier of investments in the sector.
A number of EU policies provide the basis for the Bank’s transport lending: the development of the trans-European transport networks (TENs), cohesion policy, sustainable transport development as well as support to Research Development and Innovation (RDI). In all cases the Bank’s lending policy for this sector is multi-dimensional and integrates environmental concerns in all stages of the Bank’s due diligence.
EIB transport lending policy
EIB Airport and Air Traffic Management projects must be in conformity with the Bank’s new transport lending policy. The policy was renewed on 27 September 2007 and sets the guiding principles and selection criteria that reinforce the Bank’s contribution to this sector, in particular taking into account climate change concerns.
The EIB supports airport projects when they demonstrate high economic value and contribute to improved safety and reduced congestion as well as time savings for travellers. Appraisal of these projects therefore takes into account potential future adjustments to demand including those occurring when the emission burden is carried over to consumer prices (e.g. through inclusion of airlines in the EU Emission Trading System). Furthermore, the economic life of airport investments is measured in decades, encouraging a long-term view of technological developments.
Air Traffic Control (ATC) investments may also provide opportunities to improve traffic management with positive side-effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, an area which the Bank follows closely due to the important developments based on the EU SES (Single European Sky) legislation and the recently agreed European ATM (Air Traffic Management) master plan.
Indeed, the recent report of the High Level Group for the Future European Aviation Regulatory Framework has noted the need to improve performance and the environmental benefits this could bring. According to the Commission proposal for an amended SES II regulation issued in June 2008 improvements in air traffic management and airport operations could reduce emissions by some 7 to 12% for the average flight, or 16 m tonnes of CO2 per year.
In line with these criteria, the EIB supports projects that, among other things:
are located in Convergence regions and contribute to regional development
are supporting a local economy, highly dependent on air transport services
demonstrate high economic value
contribute to improved safety
contribute to reduced congestion or result in time savings for travellers
contribute to airport operating efficiency and innovation
Moreover, as all other EIB projects, those developed in the aviation sector also have to comply with the EIB’s financial, environmental, social and further relevant criteria in order to be considered eligible for financing.
The consequence of the EIB transport lending policy is that projects which may be only marginally worthwhile are discarded. Such situations might arise through poor demand projections, because there are alternative airports nearby, or because costs are excessively high. Likewise, projects that do not have a sound Environmental Impact Assessment at planning stage will also be rejected. Outside the EU, where planning and approval procedures may be less demanding, the Bank will apply to projects the same evaluation standards as projects within the Union.
The Bank has financed more than 220 airport related projects since the 70s. Since the adoption of the transport lending policy in September 2007, and on the basis of the above mentioned criteria, three projects have been approved to date by the Bank in this sector, aiming at:
developing new pier and associated works at Dublin Airport
expanding and upgrading Berlin Schönefeld airport, which is to become Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BBI), in combination with a shutdown of two existing airports
The EIB also approved new lending totalling nearly EUR 4 billion for large scale investment projects including the first phase of the new Terminal 3 at Frankfurt Airport, expansion of the Espoo metro in Finland, new trains on the Liverpool rail network, water investment in Wales and the Netherlands, and higher-education, social housing, healthcare and housing facilities which could help address the refugee emergency in Germany. The EIB Board approved support for urban investment in Bologna, Gdansk and Szczecin in Poland and the German state of Hessen, alongside financing the largest near-zero energy building in Helsinki and urban development in the suburb of Pasila.
Transport is key to growth and competitiveness, as it provides the physical networks that enable the movement of people and goods. Better mobility achieves social cohesion, economic growth and employment. It provides access to jobs and social infrastructure such as hospitals and education that contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.
Transport is by far the largest sector in which the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been active since its foundation.
We support airport development projects to improve existing facilities and/or build new facilities to increase capacity and operational efficiency, improve aviation safety and service standards; upgrading and extension of air traffic management systems to improve capacity and align with Single European Sky requirements; aircraft manufacturing research, development and innovation projects; and the acquisition of aircraft, when there is strong financial and economic value added, when the aircraft are being used to safeguard the territorial integrity of the EU and where there is improved environmental performance over and above the aircraft being replaced.
In line with EU policy, we prioritise investment in public transport and railways, inland waterways and short sea shipping projects because they do most to reduce greenhouse gas emission per transport unit.We are also actively seeking ways of supporting the deployment of alternative fuels.
Heathrow third runway will mean more lorries and pollution, says Richmond MP Sarah Olney
By NICHOLAS CECIL (Evening Standard)
More lorries could blight neighbourhoods close to Heathrow if a third runway is built, an MP warned today.
Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney raised concerns that more toxic air could be pumped out by an increased number of heavy goods vehicles on Heathrow freight journeys.
The airport has pledged that if it is allowed to expand there will be no rise in road trips by passengers in cars and workers to the airport.
But for freight journeys, it will only go as far as saying that there will be a “similar” number as at present.
In her first Commons debate, Liberal Democrat MP Ms Olney was set to say: “The economic case for expanding Heathrow airport rests on being able to increase the amount of freight that will pass through the airport.
“It is difficult to imagine that this increased freight will be transported to the airport on the backs of bicycles or carried on the Tube.”
She urged the Government to confirm that the plans for no net increase in road journeys would therefore include a sufficient reduction in passenger journeys to compensate for any increased number of freight movements. She also demanded that low-emission freight vehicles are used, where possible.
….. and it goes on, with more statements by Heathrow ….
Sarah Olney (MP for Richmond Park) (LibDem) asked:
“Heathrow airport has pledged that its landside road traffic will be no greater than it is today if planning permission is granted for a third runway. It is not entirely clear which day “today” is supposed to refer to, but logic demands that 2 February should be treated as “today” for the purpose of benchmarking, being the date that the national policy statement was published. If the pledge has any prospect of being honoured, the public have a right to know what benchmarks are being used to measure landside road traffic.
“Assuming that “today” is in fact 2 February, will the Minister confirm that detailed measurement and analysis of the landside road traffic was conducted on that day, for the purposes of comparison? Will he further confirm the extent of the area that was included within the measurement boundaries; whether that included my constituency; and that that analysis will be published without delay, so that the information is available to the public during the consultation period?”
“If, by some chance, the analysis of current landside road traffic was not carried out on 2 February or on any other day prior to today, will the Minister give details of exactly how Heathrow airport will be held to its pledge that there will be no increase in landside road traffic? I am sure he will agree that the possible increase in road traffic across a wide area of west London is a source of considerable anxiety for local residents, and that evidence of the Government’s commitment to hold Heathrow airport to its pledge that there will be no increase in traffic would set a great many minds at ease.”
“Of particular interest to those who live not only in my constituency and the surrounding areas but much further afield is the cost of surface access upgrade and how that is to be funded. In the absence thus far of any detailed figures from the Department for Transport, our best guess of the cost of surface access upgrades is that provided by Transport for London, which estimates the cost at between £15 billion and £20 billion. Heathrow has committed to meeting just £1 billion of that cost, leaving a black hole of between £14 billion and £19 billion. I have twice challenged the Secretary of State to tell me how that shortfall will be funded, but both times he has responded only to say that he does not accept TfL’s figures. That is all very well, and I eagerly await the publication of his Department’s own estimates, as requested earlier, but he has failed to answer the key part of the question about who will pay for that cost.”
….. and much more ….
Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con) said:
“I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this important debate and agree with the important points she is making. Does she agree that on 2 February, pollutant levels should have been documented for the NPS? In London, we have already breached our annual air pollution limits.”
Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab) said:
“May I also congratulate the hon. Lady, my neighbouring MP, on securing this debate, so soon after being elected. Does she agree that many minds would be put at ease by knowing not only that Heathrow will not need to increase road access but that the crazy proposal to expand the M4 from four lanes to eight between junctions 3 and 2 will be pushed into the long grass as a result?”
“The hon. Lady is absolutely right about the need for the Government to be clear. Yesterday I went to Hounslow civic centre to see the Department for Transport’s exhibition on the proposals there and talk to very senior and expert officials of the DFT about the surface access plans. I was surprised that they could not answer questions about the expectation of traffic increases, given the different types of traffic that will be going to Heathrow should expansion go ahead, with a 47% increase in air traffic. Does she agree that that makes the consultation somewhat of a sham?”
They got no proper answers from the Minister, John Hayes, from the DfT:
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr John Hayes)
Here is are two examples of his comments:
“That said, it is important that we recognise some of the arguments that have been made in this debate, so let us be clear: it is fundamentally important in relation to expansion that Heathrow provides a detailed application, built on a detailed transport assessment, including a surface access strategy. That should be part of the process as we go forward, and it will be. That detailed analysis should be based on the latest available evidence on how the requirements in the airports national policy statement will be met. It is important to appreciate that, as we move to the point at which Heathrow Airport Ltd lodges its planning application, it will be expected to provide that kind of detailed analysis as part of the planning process.
“Moreover, the Government have been clear that it would be for Heathrow to meet the full costs of any surface access that was required only for airport expansion. That is set out in the draft airports national policy statement. As has been said, we are carrying out a full consultation, because we want to hear everyone’s views about the detail of that, but I repeat that we are committed to the principle that Heathrow must meet the costs of any surface access changes necessitated by its plans for expansion.
“Let me go further and say that the hon. Member for Richmond Park and others are right to point out, in relation to the way people get to the airport, that although no final plans or designs have been approved for the runway and there is a series of options, those changes will require us to think about the public transport needs of those who want to get to the airport. It is certainly our view that a greater proportion of people could be encouraged to use public transport to get to the airport.”
“I know that many others have views and estimates of what they believe the surface access costs might be. We do not accept some of the estimates. Some people have said—others might say surprisingly, but I will go so far as to say amazingly—that they might cost £18 billion. We do not accept some of the more extravagant estimates, because no final plans or designs have been approved for the runway. While there is a range of potential options for surface access improvements, it is for the developers to produce the detailed plan, as I said earlier, as part of the development consent order, which will be properly considered through the normal statutory planning processes. In a sense, we cannot prejudge exactly what the needs will be, nor what will be necessary to meet them, but we are clear that, in principle, surface access has to be part of the process that will now take place.”
“The hon. Lady asked about freight, and it is important to be clear that freight traffic will play a key part in the development of Heathrow—I have no doubt of that. It is absolutely right that a plan anticipating changes in freight movements is made and is subject to scrutiny and debate. We will inspect that plan, and the Government will expect the developers at Heathrow to deliver a cogent, well argued, proper assessment of the impact of any changes in the volume or character of freight traffic and how they might affect congestion, road safety, air quality and all those other matters that are dear to my heart and of concern to this Chamber and the whole House.
I see that I have only a moment or two before we conclude. In summary, I will write to hon. Members about any other matters raised that I have not dealt with. Let me be crystal clear: we will proceed with the expansion of Heathrow only on the basis that it is conducted in a diligent, thorough and sustainable way; for that is the responsible position taken by this Government on all such matters.”
For several years there have been attempts to cut the amount of aircraft engine noise and CO2 emissions from taxiing. Worldwide perhaps 2.6% or so of total aviation carbon emissions might be from taxiing, and it increases noise close to the airport. Some of the electrical solutions to the problem have come to nothing, and been quietly dropped. eg. a Honeywell/Safran EGTS joint venture that was abandoned last year, and a joint venture involving L-3 and Crane Aerospace, called GreenTaxi, also disappeared. There are two remaining possible systems: WheelTug nose wheel electric drive system and IAI’s TaxiBot semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle. IATA is enthusiastic about how these will cut fuel consumption from taxiing in future, and there is a conference on the subject in Singapore in May. The aviation lobby group “Sustainable Aviation” has said Heathrow could eventually, if there was the technology, cut “100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year”. That is about 0.5% of its total emissions of some 19MtCO2. WheelTug requires a plant to be modified, and the APU to power two motors on the front wheel. Neither Boeing nor Airbus is supporting the development. The TaxiBot system is further down the certification route since it does not require modification to an aircraft. It lifts and holds the aircraft nose wheel, and then transports the aircraft without using the aircraft’s own engines.
Early promise of green aircraft taxiing solutions has yet to materialise although progress on regulatory approvals
Fri 24 Feb 2017
It is estimated around 18 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted annually during aircraft taxiing operations and efforts other than reduced engine taxiing have been ongoing for over a decade to find alternative, innovative solutions to save fuel, time and emissions.
However, those efforts have had mixed results. A Honeywell/Safran EGTS joint venture was abandoned last year.
A similar joint venture involving L-3 and Crane Aerospace, called GreenTaxi, also disappeared off the radar.
This has left just two mainstream solutions: the WheelTugnose wheel electric drive system that propels a narrowbody aircraft from the stand to the runway, and IAI’s TaxiBot semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle. [It seems to work with the Boeing 737 but not with the A320. More details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WheelTug There is no mention of it being used for wide-bodied planes. AW comment]
However, this has not dented the enthusiasm of IATA in seeing the potential fuel and emissions saving benefits of autonomous taxiing and has announced it will hold its second E-Taxiing conference in Singapore in May.
A reportby UK cross-industry group Sustainable Aviation found that 30% of total CO2 emissions at Heathrow Airport came from aircraft taxiing and the use of auxiliary power units (APUs). [This may be 30% of emissions just in the airport and up to 3,000 feet. It is not 30% of the CO2 from flights using Heathrow, which is a massive higher figure. AW comment.]
Savings of 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year have been calculated at Heathrow from reduced engine taxiing and APU substitution. On a global level, IATA has estimated a CO2 savings potential in the order of 6 million tonnes annually. [CO2 emissions by Heathrow are around 18 million Tonnes of CO2 per year, so this is about 0.5% of that. Welcome, but not large, in the grand scheme of things. AW comment]
A 2010 MIT studyfound domestic US flights emit about 6 million tonnes of CO2, 45,000 tonnes of CO, 8,000 tonnes of NOx and 4,000 tonnes of HC taxiing out for take-off.
These pollutants contribute to low-altitude emissions, directly impact local non-attainment of air pollution standards and represent a concern for human health and welfare, said the study.
Another study by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands estimated fuel used during taxiing operations in 2012 cost around $7 billion and emitted in the region of 18 million tonnes of CO2. [Globally the aviation sector emits around 675 million tonnes per year, so 18 tonnes is 2.7% of that. AW comment]
Driven by increasing fuel costs, environmental concerns and a requirement by airlines to cut turnaround times at airports, a number of initiatives were launched that went further than reduced-engine operations when an aircraft taxis in or out.
Working with Lufthansa Technik, L-3 Communications and Crane Aerospace started development of an electric taxiing system that was to be mounted on the main landing gear of Airbus and Boeing narrowbody aircraft, and a ground trial took place at Frankfurt Airport in 2011 on an A320. However, by 2013 the project had been quietly dropped.
That same year, at the Paris Air Show, Honeywell and Safran demonstrated their main landing gear-mounted Electric Green Taxiing System (EGTS) on an Airbus A320. At the Farnborough Air Show in July 2016, Honeywell announced it was halting the project “due to dramatically lower oil prices and the current aviation industry’s economic environment,” despite claiming widespread customer interest.
This has left the field to privately-owned, Gibraltar-based WheelTug to pursue its concept of placing two electric motors powered by the onboard APU in the nose wheel of a narrowbody aircraft to allow backward as well as forward movement. [It adds weight to the plane, but saves time on the ground, compared to TaxiBot. AW comment]
The company started operation back in 2005, ground testing the concept on an Air Canada Boeing 767 in Arizona. Since then, development has been slow and a number of timelines missed, including an expectation of a FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) – a necessity before the system can be used in commercial flight operations – on the Boeing 737NG by the end of 2009. In 2014, the company said it was hoping for FAA certification by early 2016.
Neither Boeing nor Airbus is supporting the development but WheelTug says it has received letters of intent from 22 airlines for the installation of the system on almost 1,000 aircraft. Instead of purchasing the system, airlines would lease it from WheelTug and share cost savings, which the company estimates could amount up to $1 million annually per aircraft. It says the system uses one-sixth of the fuel currently burned on average while taxiing. [Implies it needs modification of the aircraft, before it could be used. AW comment]
The Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) TaxiBot solution is further down the certification route since it does not require modification to an aircraft. In September 2016 an STC was issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) for the Boeing 737NG, so completing certification for the whole 737 family. IAI reports the TaxiBot has successfully completed certification testing of the Airbus A320 family and it expects to receive formal certification by the middle of March. [It seems there is a version for narrow-body planes, that is relatively far advanced. The version for wide-bodied planes seems much further behind. [ Details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TaxiBot and http://www.taxibot-international.com/products ]
The TaxiBot vehicle lifts and holds the aircraft nose wheel, and then transports the aircraft from the terminal gate to the runway and back, without using the aircraft’s own engines. It has been dispatch-towing Lufthansa 737 Classic commercial flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport since November 2014. Since 2008, IAI and its risk-sharing manufacturing partner TLD have been cooperating with Lufthansa LEOS in TaxiBot’s development, with the support of Airbus and Boeing, says IAI.
The company claims considerable interest has been shown from leading airlines, ground handling companies, airports and leasing companies around the world, with several working groups actively studying and preparing to introduce TaxiBot at leading airport hubs in North America, Europe and Asia. However, no customers have yet been announced.
A California-based company, Aircraft Propulsion Technologies (APT), has been working on an alternative on-board propulsion system for a number of years, for which it is still seeking support. APT has a patent (enter 8109464 here) issued in 2012 for its concept of replacing the APU in narrowbody aircraft with a small, certified turbojet engine that is sized for taxiing operations in addition to normal APU functions.
“The system would reduce fuel burn, emissions, jet blast and noise during taxiing because the small modern and efficient Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) certified engine would consume less fuel and be quieter than conventional taxiing on main engine power,” explained APT’s Brij Bhargava. “It is the only onboard system that enhances aircraft safety on the ground and in flight, and the system does not require any changes to well-established airport ground operations.”
He noted that as far back as 2005, Boeing had plans to design, develop and certify a nose wheel taxi system, and had a patent (enter 7445178 here) assigned in 2008. But, he said, Boeing abandoned the programme and has never endorsed any other powered landing gear system.
“Over the past decade or more, several attempts have been made to reduce emissions from airplane taxiing operations by replacing main engine power with an electric alternative but none of these efforts has yet proven to be a practical solution,” he said.
However, WheelTug continues to press on with its nose wheel system development and last month it announced Canadian leisure carrier Air Transat would be supplying a Boeing 737 for testing in Montreal in exchange for a free system. This follows an announcement earlier in January that the FAA had approved the company’s certification plan for the system.
“We’ve done the majority of things we can do to improve fuel efficiency so we’re at the point now of looking for more out-of-the-box kind of ideas,” said Keith Lawless, Air Transat’s Senior Director of Business Sustainability and Improvement.
WheelTug and IAI TaxiBot are respectively Diamond and Gold sponsors of IATA’s E-Taxi Conference that will take place in Singapore on May 23-24. The event follows the Aircraft Taxiing Systems Conference held by IATA in Miami in February 2015.
“The well-received Miami conference looked at research and evaluation, and the 100+ participants demanded a follow-up conference to discuss subsequent developments,” said Klemen Ferjan, Airline Performance Metrics Manager at IATA. “Therefore, this next event will focus mainly on the technological readiness and regulatory approval of alternate taxiing solutions. Note that we have changed the name to capture several benefits of these solutions – ‘E’ in E-Taxi stands not only for Electric but also for Efficient and Environmental.”
“During 2015 we undertook a detailed study into the use of “Taxibot” – a semi-robotic, pilot-controlled towing tractor that tows the aircraft close to the take off point without running engines so significantly reducing emissions on the airfield. While space constraints at Heathrow currently mean Taxibot isn’t able to be immediately implemented, we are considering its use in the future. We are also working with airlines investigating the use of electric taxiing systems built into the aircraft nose wheel.”
“Aircraft NOX emissions are broken down further into a number of ‘activities’ in Fig. 2. Take-off roll is the biggest emissions source (46%); though taxiing and use of auxiliary power units (APUs) are almost as large when considered together. These areas all impact on local air quality and we have developed actions to reduce their local impacts.”
IAI’s TaxiBot in Final Stages of Certification for the Airbus 320
December 13, 2016 (Airports International)
The TaxiBot narrowbody tow-tractor design, seen here handling a Boeing 737, is about to receive type certification for the Airbus A320. (LH LEOS)
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has announced certification tests on its TaxiBot tow-tractor’s ability to manoeuvre Airbus 320neo airliners were completed successfully on December 8th, 2016.
The TaxiBot is a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle for dispatch towing airliners from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the aircraft’s own engines. TaxiBot started dispatch-towing commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 (Classic) flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport in November 2014.
The A320 certification tests took place at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, France, where the tractor reached its maximum speed of 23 knots, performed multiple turns at different speeds and tight turns at low speed. An engine start of one and both engines of the A320neo during TaxiBotting was performed satisfactorily, as were other tests conducted by Airbus test pilots.
According to Robert Lafontan, Airbus Senior Vice President Engineering, the formal EASA approval for TaxiBot /A320 operations is expected at the beginning of 2017.
Since 2008, IAI, together with its industrial risk-sharing partner TLD, has been cooperating with Lufthansa LEOS in the development of the TaxiBot, with support of both OEMs Airbus and Boeing. Lufthansa LEOS has integrated the TaxiBot project into its E-PORT-AN initiative, aimed at taking passenger aircraft towing and surface-traffic performance beyond the existing limits of environmental sustainability at Frankfurt Airport.
Ran Braier, Director of Civil Robotics at IAI commented: “The successful certification of the A320 is an important milestone for the TaxiBot programme. Adding the certification of the A320 family to the already certified B737 family covers 70% of all the worldwide commercial airlines flights, which could be provided with TaxiBot service. Certification will enable operation of this innovative system with major airline fleets in leading airports, revolutionising the commercial aviation industry, while saving millions of dollars in fuel costs, improving operations and contributing to the global environment.”
When the Government announced Heathrow as its preferred option in October 2016 it downgraded the economic benefits of a 3rd runway substantially. The Airports Commission Final Report assessed the economic benefit to the whole of the UK, over 60 years, might be up to £147 billion (their assessment of need scenario). Heathrow often uses a much higher figure of “up to £211 billion” and omit to say it is for all the UK, over 60 years. In October, the DfT, calculating the possible economic benefits in a different way, thought a more likely figure was £61 billion. This is benefits only. But if the costs are taken off, the benefit falls to something more like £6 billion (£2 – 11 billion or so range). Heathrow, and the DfT, say there will be huge benefits to the regions, and large numbers of future jobs. The figures Heathrow has on its website are based on the £147 billion estimate. These have not been corrected, in the light of the reduced DfT estimate. So what is the actual value of a third runway to the English regions, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland? All that we do know is that it will be considerably less than the promises made by Heathrow to so many MPs and local councillors. The onus is on Heathrow and the DfT to come up with revised estimates of the employment benefits to the regions. So far, it has failed to do so.
The Economic Benefits of a Third Runway Officially Downgraded
When the Government announced Heathrow as its preferred option in October 2016 it downgraded the economic benefits of a 3rd runway substantially.
The Airports Commission (Final Report July 2015) used a range of scenarios for Heathrow in the future, and each came up with different amounts of economic benefit.
The scenario with the highest growth in future was their “Global Growth” scenario, and in this – by some rather unusual and unconventional economics – they assessed the economic benefit to the whole of the UK, over 60 years, might be up to £211 billion.
The scenario with much lower economic benefit, but more realistic was the Commission’s “Assessment of Need” scenario. That came up with economic benefit to all of the UK, over 60 years, might be up to £147 billion. [“…the overall effect of Heathrow expansion could be to increase GDP by 0.65-0.75% by 2050, amounting to £131-147 billion in Present Value terms with carbon emissions traded over the 60 years following the opening of any new runway capacity. “]
This was the figure the Commission most often quoted.
Heathrow sometimes used the £211 billion figure, and sometimes used the £147 billion figure. [And they say it is by 2050, though the Airports Commission said it was over 60 years after the runway opens – ie. to around 2085].
They had a report done, by a small consultancy called Quod, of possible economic benefits and extra jobs for the regions. It is undated, but probably in the last quarter of 2015.
It set out the alleged economic benefit to the regions of the 3rd Heathrow runway, based on the £147 billion estimate.
However, on 25th October 2016 the DfT came up with a new assessment of alleged economic benefit of the runway. This used a rather different measure (so not comparing “apples with pears”) but came up with a figure of the benefits to the UK and to passengers of just £61 billion, for all the UK, over 60 years.
Those numbers add up all the benefits – but do not take off (as should be done) the costs.
Other attempts to estimate the possible economic impacts of the runway come up with much smaller figures. Indeed the Airports Commission’s estimate of “Net Present Value” (NPV) of the runway was between £11.8 and £1.4 billion, (carbon traded, or carbon capped) and the DfT’s October 2016 estimate of NPV was £0.2 – £6.1 billion. These are for all of the UK over 60 years.
The Heathrow website is still showing the figures below, based on the £147 billion estimate, for benefits to the UK regions:
Leaving that aside, the number of jobs that the regions have been promised are an issue.
Jobs across the UK
Heathrow held a large number of promotional events around the country last year, talking to Chambers of Commerce and other local gatherings. These were told of the huge economic opportunities from more passengers, and more freight. They were given suggested figures (from Quod) of the numbers of jobs that would result, from the existence of the 3rd runway.
The table below is from the Quod report, for Heathrow (undated but somewhere before November 2015)
However, all these estimates were based on a presumption of about £147 billion of economic benefit (which does not deduct costs to the UK of the runway).
The actual regional benefits, and the actual number of extra jobs that might – or might not – materialise in the regions has not been amended, even though the DfT reduced the assessment of benefit from £147 to £61 billion.
The Government has not provided a break-down for the English regions, Scotland,
Wales or Northern Ireland.
The government estimates that, overall, the aviation sector currently contributes around £18bn – £21bn per annum to the UK. Even if the 3rd runway contributed £61 billion (over 60 years) rather than just the NPV of £6 billion, that comes to all of £1 billion per year.
That is an increase of 5%.
The question mark remains:
What is the actual value of a third runway to the English regions, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?
All that we do know is that it will be considerably less than the promises made by Heathrow to so many MPs and local councillors.
The onus is on Heathrow and the DfT to come up with revised estimates of the employment benefits to the regions. So far, it has failed to do so.
A new anti-airport expansion group has been set up by residents of Hounslow and Brentford. The group, Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASHR3), has been launched in the wake of the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) consultation on proposals for a northwest runway at Heathrow. There are serious concerns in the borough about the increased noise, traffic and air pollution – amplified by the recent report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, that is highly critical of the government’s implausible assurances on these issues. Brentford resident Dave Waller has helped set up the new campaign group as many more lives will be blighted by another flightpath. BASHR3 is urging people to attend the DfT consultation events, and submit their responses. Dave Waller commented on the air pollution issue: “If the third runway goes ahead, it is sure to get worse and we will be forced to move out of the area. Our lives will also be blighted by an increase in noise caused by the new flightpath, which will cut across Brentford.” People concerned about Heathrow health impacts are encouraged to join BASHR3. Website and on Twitter at @bashrunway3 The first consultation event for Hounslow residents is February 27th at Hounslow Civic Centre from 11am to 8pm.
New anti-airport expansion group formed in Hounslow in the wake of government’s preferred third runway scheme
The news of the government’s preferred scheme has rattled many cages in the borough with major concerns over noise, traffic and air pollution.
Government has not proved it can tackle environmental targets, EAC report reveals.
Brentford resident Dave Waller has helped set up the new campaign group as many more lives will be blighted by another flightpath, urging people to attend the consultations.
He said: “My partner is suffering severe asthma because of the level of air pollution in the area. If the third runway goes ahead, it is sure to get worse and we will be forced to move out of the area.
“Our lives will also be blighted by an increase in noise caused by the new flightpath, which will cut across Brentford.
“I urge everyone who is concerned about the health impact of these plans to join the Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign and fight these environmentally destructive proposals.”
Poll claims more Hounslow residents are in support of a third runway at Heathrow Airport
The group has the full support of MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury who claims a third runway will “affect everyone in the borough” with almost 50% more flights.
Ms Cadbury added: “I’m pleased a new resident’s campaign group Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion has been set up and I urge local people to join them.
“The third runway approach will go over the parts of Brentford Chiswick and Isleworth not currently overflown and will mean less respite for those under the existing flight paths.
Heathrow third runway: Outrage as no consultation event in villages set to be wiped out
“It will mean more traffic as our roads will have to cope with 50% more freight and flight servicing traffic, even if more passengers and staff arrive by rail or bike as the government are suggesting”.
The MP has urged her constituents to attend the consultation and to ask questions and submit comments.
Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said: “The government’s recommended expansion at Heathrow will have a huge impact on the residents and businesses of Hounslow, with noise, pollution and additional congestion our main concerns.
“The Department of Transport’s consultation on a new northwest runway is an important step towards a final decision and I strongly urge all Hounslow residents and businesses to attend a consultation event.”
The first consultation event for Hounslow residents will be held on Monday (February 27) at Hounslow Civic Centre from 11am to 8pm.
NEW ANTI-HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION GROUP CREATED – BASHR3
24.2.2017Runway 3 will mean almost 50% more flights and will affect everyone in the borough. I am now urging residents to attend the Government consultation event at Hounslow Civic Centre on Monday (27th Feb 11am – 8pm).
The 3rd Runway approach will go over the parts of Brentford Chiswick and Isleworth not currently overflown and will mean less respite for those under the existing flight paths. Furthermore it will mean more traffic as our roads will have to cope with 50% more freight and flight servicing traffic, even if more passengers and staff arrive by rail or bike as the Government are suggesting.
I hope that borough residents will take the opportunity to attend the consultation, ask questions and submit their comments. I’m also pleased to announce that a new resident’s campaign group Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion has been set up and I urge local people to join them.
The Sun has used an undercover reporter to work as one of Heathrow’s Passenger Ambassadors, whose job is to boost retail sales in the terminals. There is a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on this, also showing how airport passengers are getting a raw deal from changing money. In 2016 the airport made a record £612 million in retail income, which is rent from retailers and from car parking charges. This was up 7.7% compared to 2015, while aeronautical income remained unchanged at £1,699 million. Heathrow’s retail division now makes up 22% of its revenues – £612 million out of £2,807 million. The 150 Passenger Ambassadors help travellers once they are through security, and are set strict targets about persuading them to visit shops and spend money. These are between £2,500 to £4,000 per day, and the most successful senior ambassadors claim to hit £10,000 per day. They are told: “The majority of the role will involve interacting with passengers, persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the Terminal….The average spend per passenger must go up as a result of your presence on the terminal floor.” The job description says: “A minute should not pass without a conversation with one or more passengers.”
DUTY SPREE Investigation reveals Heathrow airport staff are set targets to encourage passengers to spend money in shops
An undercover reporter lifted the lid on the sales targets that are Heathrow Passenger Ambassador staff are set
BY HARRY WALLOP (The Sun)
26th February 2017
HOLIDAYMAKERS are being secretly enticed into spending money at Britain’s biggest airport, an investigation has found.
Heathrow has hired staff to stealthily persuade reluctant shoppers to part with their cash, according to a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which also lifts the lid on how passengers are also getting a raw deal from changing money.
The revelation comes just two days after the airport published figures which shows it is making a record amount of money from renting out space in the airport to retailers such as Harrods, Burberry, World Duty Free and WH Smith.
It made a record £612 million in rent from retailers and from car parking charges last year. This was a jump of 8%. Its retail division now makes up nearly a quarter of its revenues.
One of its methods of boosting sales is the use of Heathrow Passenger Ambassadors.The airport employs more than 150 of these to help travellers once they are through security. “Whether you’re looking for flight information, directions or any kind of help with your journey, our team will get you quickly on your way,” the airport says on its public website, explaining the role of the ambassadors.
But what the company does not make clear is that the employees, who wear a distinctive purple uniform – as well as helping passengers find their way about – are set strict targets about persuading them to visit shops and spend money.
Passenger Ambassadors are set daily targets to persuade travellers to spend between £2,500 to £4,000, by guiding travellers towards the shops. The most successful senior ambassadors claim to hit £10,000 a day.
Dispatches sent a reporter undercover to work as a Heathrow Passenger Ambassador. On being hired, they received the following job description: “The majority of the role will involve interacting with passengers, persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the Terminal….The average spend per passenger must go up as a result of your presence on the terminal floor.”
Ambassadors, who wander the public areas “airside” (where passengers kill time once they are through security), are told they need to approach as many passengers as possible, asking if they need any help, and then guiding the conversation towards the shopping opportunities and the deals in the shops.
“Approach all passengers with a smile and a benefit statement regarding the promotions on offer. The more passengers you approach and help, the more conversions achieved. A minute should not pass without a conversation with one or more passengers,” the job description states.
The aim is to persuade passengers to visit the shops, which ambassadors escort them to. If a holidaymaker spends money, the Ambassador can then find out from the shop assistant the value of the transaction, which the Ambassador then logs on a handheld terminal. If they hit enough of their targets they are paid a bonus.
Agnes Nairn, a consumer and marketing expert who is dean at the Hult International Business School, says: “I think that’s deceptive. There are rules about how any advertising has to be clearly labelled as advertising. I’m not sure this is much different.”
Helen Dewdney, a consumer champion who runs the Complaining Cow website, says: ‘Heathrow is not breaking any laws, but I do think it is underhand.
‘It’s one thing for a Turkish taxi driver to take you via his brother’s carpet shop, but you kind of expect that. You certainly are not prepared for these sort of tactics at Heathrow.’
At the end of last year, it was disclosed that bureaux de change at airports were offering terrible rates to customers, with the average rate 13% worse than the market exchange rate, according to one report.
But the Dispatches programme also reveals that at Stansted, Moneycorp, which operates all the bureaux de change at the airport, fails to inform customers that they can avoid paying a 5% commission on changing money if they use the foreign exchange ATM – also operated by Moneycorp – right next door to the desk.
The member of staff is recorded as telling an undercover reporter: “I can’t tell you that; you have to ask me. If you ask me is it cheaper I can tell you. Because if we…say to every customer who walks past we’d never get anyone to serve because everyone would just go to the cash machine. So we are not allowed to tell you it.”
Mark Horgan, the chief executive of Moneycorp, said: “Our aim is to provide the best possible service to our customers, and we do not ask staff to conceal information about where to find the best rates.”
Heathrow denied they were misleading any travellers and that it had been voted by passengers as ‘best airport shopping experience’. A spokesman added: “Passenger Ambassadors are an important part of our business and we expect the team to put the needs of our passengers first.”
Increased passenger numbers helped Heathrow hike profits by almost 20% last year.
The west London hub achieved a pre-tax profit of £267 million, a rise of 19.7% over 2015.
This came a revenue rose by 1.5% to £2.8 billion with passenger numbers up 1% to a record 75.7 million as passenger charges fell by 1%.
Retail revenue increased by 7.7% to £612 million, including £138 million from duty free sales and £114 million from car parking.
The airport received the green light in October to build a third runway, subject to final government approval, and will consult on plans to bring in 25,000 extra flights a year from 2021 including up to 40 new long-haul routes.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “2016 was a milestone year for Heathrow. I am very proud of what our 76,000 colleagues have achieved.
“We gave better service at lower cost to a record number of passengers and helped British businesses across the country trade more with the rest of the world.”
He added: “We have started the planning process for expansion and are preparing the skills and the supply chain we will need to build it sustainably and affordably. Heathrow is delivering for Britain.”
Passengers 75.7 million in 2016 compared to 75.0 million in 2015 (up 1.0%)
Retail revenue per passenger £ 8.09 in 2016 and £7.58 in 2015 (up 6.7%)
. 3.2.2 Revenue
In the year ended 31 December 2016, revenue increased 1.5% to £2,807 million (2015: £2,765 million). Aeronautical £1,699 million in 2016 and the same £1,699 in 2015
Retail £612 million in 2016 and £ 568 million in 2015 (up 7.7%) Other £496 million in 2016 and £ 498 million in 2015 (up 0.4%)
Total revenue £2,807 million in 2016 and £ 2,765 million in 2015 (up 1.5%)
. 184.108.40.206 Retail
In the year ended 31 December 2016, retail revenue increased 7.7% to £612 million (2015: £568 million).
Retail revenue per passenger rose 6.7% to £8.09 (2015: £7.58).
Duty and tax-free £138 million in 2016, and £128 million in 2015 (up 7.8%)
Airside specialist shops £115 million, and £100 million in 2015 (up 15.0%)
Bureaux de change £50 in 2016, and £53 million in 2015 (up 5.7%)
Catering £49 million in 2016 and £ 45 million (up 8.9%)
Other retail income £86 million in 2016, and £75 million in 2015 (up 14.7%)
Car parking £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015 (up 6.5%)
Other services £60 million in both 2016 and 2015 Total retail revenue £612 million in 2016 and £568 million in 2015 (up 7.7%)
“Retail performed strongly in 2016 following the major redevelopment of luxury stores in Terminal 5 including new brands which have strengthened Heathrow’s unrivalled airport shopping experience.
Performance in duty and tax-free stores has continued to improve following extensive store refurbishment in Terminals 4 and 5. Catering has grown in the year as a result of new and refurbished outlets and increases in passenger participation.
Car parking also performed well, with continued take-up of Heathrow’s expanded car parking product range and successful yield management. Growth in retail income accelerated in the second half of the year, particularly in areas such as duty and tax-free and airside specialist shops, driven by the depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum in late June
2016. Redevelopment of luxury stores in Terminal 4 was largely completed in late 2016 and started contributing to overall retail performance.”
“The benefits of investment in Terminal 5 retail outlets and new car parking capacity continue to flow through strongly with over £200 million secured out of the £300 million incremental commercial revenue target set for the regulatory period.”
The Times reports that Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, (Heathrow’s biggest customer), said that Heathrow’s target for its runway plans were over optimistic. He did not think the timetable of getting the support of MPs in the Commons within 12 months and then getting the planning process completed – through all the legal and planning hurdles – in a further 2 years was realistic. Those timings are highly optimistic, but Heathrow is preparing to start work on a 3rd runway in three years from now – in 2020. An airline insider told The Times that DfT officials had privately told industry bosses that planning permission would not be won until 2021. There will be legal challenges, and those could mean the timetable could slip even further. Heathrow wants to get its runway built by 2025, so it could increase the number of flights by 50% by 2030, compared to the number now. Heathrow has said it wants to apply to raise the number of flights from its legal cap now, of 480,000 per year, to 505,000 from 2021 – if it has been granted planning approval for the runway. That might involve one or two fewer flights in the night period, but a loss of some runway alternation during the day – perhaps softening people up for the worse noise, and shorter respite periods, there would be with a 3rd runway.
Heathrow runway timetable ‘pie in the sky’
By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
February 25th 2017
Heathrow is preparing to start work on a third runway in three years’ time, despite claims from senior airline bosses that the timetable is unachievable.
However, Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, Heathrow’s biggest customer, said that the target was unlikely to be reached, branding it as an “optimistic outlook”.
An airline insider told The Times that Department for Transport officials had privately told industry bosses that planning permission would not be won until 2021.
Era of falling air fares may be over, BA’s owner warns
By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
February 25th 2017,
The owner of British Airways warned yesterday that the era of declining air fares may be over amid a sharp rise in the cost of oil and a slump in the value of the pound.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), said that fares were set to be flat this year after two years of falling prices. His comments were made as the group, which owns BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus, reported a rise in profits, despite taking a post-Brexit hit. IAG reported that pre-tax profits were up by a third to €2.4 billion in 2016.
A slump in the value of the pound since Britain’s vote to leave the EU cost the company €460 million while passenger and cargo revenues slid by 1.3 per cent to almost €22.6 billion.
IAG said that it would increase cash returns to shareholders through a stock buyback worth €500 million.