Work is progressing on the Southend airport terminal extension, with sections opening in June, October, November and December. In addition to the easyJet flights, to some 12 holiday destinations, there are now also flights by Thomson and First Choice. These are expected to grow rapidly by next year. By summer 2014 Thomson and First Choice will be flying twice a week to Palma, and adding Ibiza to their schedule – tripling their service from Southend Airport in 12 months. The airport is selling its services on its fast processing of passengers, and it wants to attract many from the local catchment area, on grounds of convenience. The travel companies PR talks of …enhancing “the holiday experience for our customers.” Stage 1 of the Southend Airport terminal became operational a year ago and is some 100 metres from the new railway station. The airport hopes passenger numbers will grow to 2 million/ year by 2020. There is the usual hype about some 300 jobs being created. The unfortunate reality is that by encouraging more Brits to holiday abroad, and spend their holiday money abroad, the net effect is that jobs are lost from the local economy, and the UK economy.
Thomson and First Choice to triple their services from Southend Airport
5 June 2013 (ADS Advance)
For summer 2014, Thomson and First Choice will be flying twice a week to Palma, Majorca, and adding Ibiza to their schedule – tripling their service from London Southend Airport in just 12 months.
Above: Southend Airport MD Alastair Welch (left) with Paul Cooper from Thomson and First Choice.
For summer 2014, Thomson and First Choice will be flying twice a week to Palma, Majorca, and adding Ibiza to their schedule – tripling their service from London Southend Airport in just 12 months.
Thomson and First Choice made the announcement during a tour of Phase 1 of the major extension to the airport terminal. The new Arrivals area is on schedule to be operational by 17 June.
The move to introduce these routes is part of the UK’s largest tour operator’s strategy to ensure customers across the UK can fly from their local airport and stay at the best hotels in some of the most exciting destinations. Local customers will now have access to some of Thomson and First Choice’s most popular hotels including the brand new Holiday Village Ibiza which opens its doors to customers in May 2014. Thomson Cruises will also be exclusively operating its cruise and cruise & stay programmes from the airport to Majorca where customers can sail on the Thomson Dream.
Paul Cooper – airport negotiations manager for Thomson and First Choice – explained why they have decided to expand their partnership with London Southend: “Adding these routes from London Southend Airport demonstrates our commitment to the East of England and following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there and we know customers are keen to fly from their local airport. Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.”
London Southend Airport MD Alastair Welch says “We are very pleased that Thomson and First Choice have taken the decision to expand the services they offer from London Southend so soon and we hope this will allow even more of their passengers to experience our new and expanding facilities over the next year.”
Stage 1 of the Southend Airport terminal became operational a year ago and is less than 100 paces from the new railway station. Passengers flying out from the airport wait for a maximum of four minutes for security, whilst those arriving with just hand luggage can expect to travel from plane to train within 15 minutes of leaving the aircraft. This Stage 2 extension is to ensure these high standards of service are not compromised as passenger numbers grow towards two million per year by 2020.
The terminal building is becoming 90 metres longer and will open in phases throughout 2013. Phase 1 – the Arrivals area – will have enhanced baggage reclaim facilities and much more space for immigration as well as a dedicated domestic arrivals route.
The amount of space for passengers in the security area will increase (Phase 2 – opening October), as will the number of check in desks / baggage drop off points (Phase 3 – opening November). The Departure Lounge will also grow in size to enhance the experience for passengers relaxing and awaiting boarding after security – this fourth and final phase of the project will complete in December 2013.
Above: Southend Airport terminal extension from the control tower with the new railway station visible on the left.
The extension is also enabling 300 new, local jobs – these will arise from the increase in Southend-based aircraft over time which will result in a variety of additional operational and service roles.
.[This conveniently ignores the inconvenient, and depressing, fact that all these thousands of travellers taking themselves off on foreign holidays are - in reality - taking their spending money abroad. That means there will be fewer jobs in the UK, either in UK leisure, or in other sectors where the Brits would otherwise have spent their money. One estimate from the US is that for every 35 or so passengers flying abroad for a holiday, one job in the country they have departed from is lost.]
Southend passenger numbers
CAA data link shows Southend had around 4,000 passengers in 2009 and in 2010. Then some 42,000 in 2011. And 617,000 in 2012.
Now it hopes for 1 million, and 2 million in 7 years.
That means a serious reduction in quality of life for those adversely affected by the airport, especially from aircraft noise.
Thomson and First Choice are to triple their Southend programme just 12 months after launching services from the airport.
For summer 2014, the TUI Travel brands will add a second weekly departure to Palma Majorca and launch services to Ibiza. The expanded Palma schedule will enable customers to stay for ten or 11 nights, not just the standard seven or 14.
Paul Cooper, airport negotiations manager for Thomson and First Choice, said: ‘Adding these routes from London Southend Airport demonstrates our commitment to the east of England and following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there and we know customers are keen to fly from their local airport.
‘Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.’
The airport’s managing director, Alastair Welch, added: ‘We are very pleased that Thomson and First Choice have taken the decision to expand the services they offer from London Southend so soon and we hope this will allow even more of their passengers to experience our new and expanding facilities over the next year.’
Owner Stobart Group has invested over £100m in Southend Airport since acquiring it in 2008. New facilities include a train station offering a 53-minute journey into London Liverpool Street, an air traffic control tower, terminal building, runway extension and radar.
The airport currently offers easyJet flights to Amsterdam, Alicante, Barcelona, Belfast, Edinburgh, Faro, Geneva, Ibiza, Jersey, Malaga, Mallorca and Venice, with Berlin, Krakow and Newquay starting this month, while Aer Lingus operates three daily return services to Dublin.
For full details of the Thomson/First Choice expansion click here.
ONE of the biggest package holiday companies in the world will start flights from Southend Airport next year, the Echo can reveal.
TUI Travel, which includes the famous Thomson and First Choice brands, has struck an agreement with airport bosses to offer all-inclusive deals.
The first destination, served twice a week throughout next summer, will be the sun-drenched Majorcan capital, Palma.
TUI chiefs are keen to move away from congestion-clogged major airports and say many more flights could be available from Southend if it proves a popular choice for customers.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “There is always the potential for more destinations. “At the moment we are focusing on our schedule for next year and we’re delighted to be able to enter into this partnership with Southend Airport.
“We want to allow our customers to fly from their local airport.”
Southend Airport has undergone a £100million transformation, sinceStobart Group snapped it up for £21million in December 2008.
Aer Arann, now operating under the Aer Lingus Regional banner, began flights to Waterford, in Ireland, in March 2011 and has since added thrice-daily services to Dublin.
In April 2012, easyJet started flights to nine overseas destinations and will add a further two – Geneva and Venice – within the next six months.
But the airport has yet to crack the lucrative package holiday market.
Because companies, such as TUI, either use their own airlines or charter other aircraft for flights, they can be more flexible in the number of destinations they offer and when those routes are available.
The Palma flights are scheduled to leave Southend at 7.30am on Tuesdays and Saturdays, returning at 1.30pm on the same days.
Crucially, the airline believed to be lined up to run the route, Germania, operates aircraft with more powerful engines than easyJet.
That means despite Southen-d’s limited runway, flights to the Mediterranean coastline and Canary Islands could be possible.
As well as Palma, Thomson and First Choice also offer holidays to more than 80 other destinations, including Portu-gal, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Alastair Welch , Southend Airport’s managing director, said: “We can confirm we are working closely with Thomson and First Choice as part of their strategy to allow customers to fly to holiday destinations from their local airport.”
Thomson and First Choice are pleased to confirm that their first route from London Southend Airport will go on sale from Friday 23 November 2012 in store, and online from Tuesday 27th.
Holiday makers will now be able to travel to Palma, Majorca - already a popular destination for Essex’s sun seekers - throughout the summer from their local airport.
Flights start in May 2013 and run through to October.
The move to introduce the route is part of the UK’s largest tour operator’s strategy to ensure customers across the UK can fly from their local airport and stay at the best hotels in Majorca.
Customers living near to London Southend Airport will now have access to some of Thomson and First Choice’s most highly scoring flagship hotels including; Thomson Couple’s Hotel Luabay Galatzo, a peaceful adults only hotel offering stylish accommodation; First Choice’s SplashWorld Majorca, a Travelife Gold awarded hotel with unlimited water park access and, opening in summer 2013 a brand new Holiday Village, also from First Choice, offering swim up rooms and six swimming pools.
Paul Cooper, Airport Negotiations Manager for Thomson and First Choice, said of the move “Increasing our capacity and introducing our first route from LondonSouthend Airport demonstrates our continued commitment to providing convenient flights locally for our customers, and we are confident the destination will prove popular.”
He added “Modernising our operations across the UK is a key part of our overall strategy and this move is definitely a step in the right direction towards creating an enhanced holiday experience for our customers.”
London Southend Airport Managing Director Alastair Welch says “Thomson and First Choice operate very successful connections from regional airports across the country and the announcement that their first flight from London Southend is now on sale showcases the growing popularity of the airport as a gateway for leisure travel.”
Southend Airport – which has had a huge and very rapid rise in the number of aircraft using the airport over the past year – has received more than 1,000 claims for compensation over aircraft noise. Homeowners nearby are concerned that the airport is reducing the value of their properties, due to the noise. The airport has said it will honour residents’ compensation claims if it is proven their homes have lost value because of its activities. Jon Fuller, of local group SAEN (Stop Airport Expansion and Noise) said that estate agents are giving strong indications local residents must expect many thousands of pounds less than they expect when they sell their homes. Though house prices in the area are generally fairly buoyant, if houses are close to the airport or on the flight path prices are suppressed. The airport’s CEO, Alistair Welch said people can make a compensation claim up to a year after the new terminal is finished. Surveyors, Michael Marriott, who are helping people submit claims say they can only claim for nuisances arising from the use of the runway extension. Nuisances arising from the use of the airport which do not depend upon the extension will be disregarded.
Southend Airport: Payment on proven compensation claims
5 May 2013 (BBC)
Southend Airport has built a new £10m terminal to deal with growing passenger numbers
An airport has pledged to honour resident’s compensation claims if it is proven their properties in Essex have lost value because of its activities.
More than 1,000 people have issued claims against Southend International Airport where flights have increased.
Passenger numbers are climbing and have reached 700,000 in the past year bringing many extra flights.
Managing director Alastair Welch said the airport would meet its obligations if claims for compensation are upheld.
Jon Fuller, of Stop Airport Expansion and Noise, said: “Estate agents are giving us very strong indications local residents must expect many thousands of pounds less than they expect when they sell their homes.
“House prices in this area are generally fairly buoyant but as soon as they are close to the airport or on the flight path prices are suppressed.”
Resident Freddy Hubbard is making a claim because he wants to sell up to emigrate to Australia where his daughter lives.
“We have to raise a certain amount of money so we’re selling the house,” he said.
“But because of the airport, prices are falling and now it depends on what we can get.
“If we cannot get what we need we’ll have to take holidays in Australia instead.”
Mr Welch said: “People who believe they are entitled to compensation can make a claim up to a year after the new terminal is finished.
“Each claim will be subjected to a detailed and thorough assessment.
“But we will certainly meet our responsibilities if those claims are proven.”
950 homeowners seeking compensation from Southend Airport
21st March 2013 (Southend Echo)
SAEN members Bill Robinson and Graham Whitehead, who are both making claims
ALMOST 1,000 homeowners have submitted compensation claims to Southend Airport for a loss of value to their homes – with hundreds more expected.
Surveyors submitted at least 950 claims from people who believe the extension of the airport’s runway has cut their house price in the first week since applications opened.
Chartered surveyor Michael Marriott, who submitted more than 650 claims on Monday and is preparing to hand in about 50 more, said: “It’s quite evident that there is a significant number of people who are feeling aggrieved enough to make a claim.
“There are clearly more than 700 people who have concerns about it.
“Our experience of this is that it will continue because neighbours speak to one another.”
The airport has to compensate householders who can prove an increase in noise, vibration, dust, smell, light pollution, discharge or fumes as a result of the airport’s expansion has devalued their homes, under a law called the Land Compensation Act.
Applications opened on March 9, the day after the anniversary of the runway extension opening.
CLAIM UNDER PART 1 OF THE LAND COMPENSATION ACT 1973 (AS AMENDED) LONDON SOUTHEND AIRPORT RUNWAY EXTENSION.
Michael Marriott – Chartered Surveyors
You have an entitlement to claim compensation for the diminution in the value of your property if you think your property is affected by nuisances arising from the newly extended London Southend Airport.
We do not know at this stage if any diminution in value will be caused. Once all the information is collated including noise statistics a clearer picture will emerge on the likelihood of any compensation payment.
You are only able to claim for those nuisances arising from the use of the airport due to the runway extension. Nuisances arising from the use of the airport which do not depend upon the extension will be disregarded.
The nuisances for which you can claim relate to the following physical factors:- noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, artificial lighting, and discharge of any substances on to your land. No other physical factors will be considered.
Homes under Southend Airport flightpath urged to make compensation claims
11th April 2012 (Southend Echo)
Payout mooted – James Preston with son Finlee, Caroline Parker and Cheryl Hedges
THOUSANDS of people may get compensation payouts for living beneath the flightpath of an expanded Southend Airport, it has been claimed.
Residents across Leigh have been sent letters from chartered surveyor Michael Marriott telling them their homes may have lost value as a result of the airport’s runway extension.
The extension, which was completed earlier this year, allows larger aircraft, such as those operated by budget airline easyJet, to use the airport as a base to fly to scores of European destinations.
The first easyJet flights to Belfast, Barcelona and Amsterdam took off using the extended runway last week, and it is expected the airport will have up to 70 flights a week.
The letter states: “The value of your property may be depreciated due to the extension of the runway at the London Southend Airport. You are entitled to claim compensation due to the use of the airport, so long as you are the owner of the property.”
It also points out residents are entitled to free representation.
Caroline Parker, a Leigh town councillor, believes residents should be entitled to compensation as she has been told her home could lose £25,000 in value due to the airport.
She said: “When I moved here three years ago, I didn’t know my house was under the flightpath.
“If I had known I probably would not have moved there.
“I was delighted when the letter came through the door, because it is something I am concerned about and I believe we should claim compensation.”
Roy Viney, 74, of Tankerville Drive, Leigh, who has lived beneath the flightpath of the airport for 46 years, said he hadn’t noticed an increase in noise or disruption since the new flights began. But he said he might be tempted to claim compensation. He said: “It never occurred to us to claim compensation but if we can get some we might go for it.”
Pat Seago, from the same street, said: “When I moved here six years ago, I had no idea it was under the flightpath.
“The planes can fly very low, and when they do it is so noisy in the house. I would consider finding out more about compensation, because you don’t invest in a house and then expect it to devalue.”
Chartered surveyor Michael Marriott said: “We do not know at this stage if any devaluation will be caused.
“Once all the information is collated, including noise statistics, which are expected to be taken later this year, a clearer picture will emerge on the likelihood of a compensation payment.
“You are only able to claim for nuisances arising from the use of the airport due to the runway extension, which relate to noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, artificial lighting and discharge of any substances on to your land.”
Under Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (‘the Act’), compensation can be claimed by people who own and also occupy property that has been reduced in value by more than £50 by physical factors caused by the use of a new or altered runway.
The physical factors are noise, smell, vibration, fumes, smoke and artificial lighting and the discharge on to the property of any solid or liquid substance.
The cause of the physical factors must be the new or altered runway in use. Other factors such as loss of view or privacy, or personal inconvenience are not included under Part 1 compensation.
When can someone submit a claim for Part 1 Compensation?
The first day for claiming compensation is a year and a day after the extended runway came into use (known as the ‘first claim day’). The extended runway at London Southend Airport first came into use on 8 March 2012, so the first claim day is 9 March 2013.
Exactly who can submit a claim for Part 1 Compensation?
To claim you must have been the owner of the property before the date the extended runway at London Southend Airport first came into use – sp 8March 2012.You must also still be the owner on the date you claim.In addition to being the owner, you must also occupy the property as your home at the date you claim. The exceptions to this are where you have let the property to someone else or there is another legal reason preventing you from occupying – for example, there is a court order in place which removes your right to occupy the property.
You must be the owner and the occupier before the extended runway first came into use and at the date you claim.You must occupy the whole of the unit and own the freehold or a lease with at least three years left to run on the whole or any part of the unit at the date of claiming.
Small business premises are an example of the type of property that falls into this category. If the property is a shop with living accommodation above, you can claim for the living accommodation. You may also claim for the business part of the property provided that the business part has an annual value of not more than £34,800.
Can I claim if I inherited my property after the runway was extended and first came into use?
Yes, provided that the person from whom you inherited the property was the owner before the date the extended runway first came into use. Also on the date you claim, you must also be the owner of the inherited property. Ownership does not pass by inheritance immediately on the death of the previous owner. Further, being named as beneficiary in a will does not mean that ownership has transferred. You are the owner only when the legal title of the property has passed to you. You must also occupy the inherited property at the date you claim, if you have a right to do so, even if you still have another property to live in.
Can the personal representatives (executors/administrators) of a deceased person make a claim?
No. They obtain legal title by operation of the law and not by inheritance. As they have not inherited, they cannot take the benefit of those provisions described above.
How does someone submit a claim?
You can make a claim yourself or ask someone to do this for you. Most people prefer to use a professional property valuer or an agent who specialises in Part 1 Claims to prepare and negotiate the claim on their behalf.
Using an agent to act on your behalf
It is quite possible that one or more agents offering to act on your behalf have already approached you.
London Southend Airport will need to be satisfied that an agent has been authorised to act for you. We do this by asking that you either sign the claim form or that your agent provides other signed evidence that you have authorised him or her to act on your behalf.
We can only accept one claim on your behalf.
We have no authority over the agent you employ or any responsibility for his actions or conduct. This includes the terms of any contract or agreement between you and your agent, the contents of your agent’s literature and the way in which your agent may ask for payment of fees from you. We cannot comment on the terms of an individual contract or agreement, which are private matters between you and your agent. For these reasons, it is important that you are clear about the contractual arrangements you enter into with your agent, which could be legally binding. You should also be clear about what an agent will actually do on your behalf and what payments and other costs you may be asked to meet. This includes any charges if your claim is not successful or if you choose no longer to employ the agent. It also includes any other payment in addition to any specific fee we repay.
We will refund what we consider to be reasonable valuation expenses incurred by you to employ an agent to prepare and negotiate your claim. We shall repay only one set of agent’s fees. You need to keep this in mind if you consider changing your agent during the processing of your claim. The repayment of your agent’s fees will only happen if your claim is successful and compensation is to be paid.
If we make a formal offer of compensation to you, we will also show separately the fee which will be due to your agent. This will be paid to you as part of the overall claim for compensation and it will be for you to settle with your agent.
How is a claim dealt with?
We will write to acknowledge receipt of a claim form to the person submitting it. It is important that you, or your appointed agent, contact us if an acknowledgement letter is not received within 6 weeks of your claim being sent to us.
Your claim will be checked to see that all necessary information has been provided. Other checks will be carried out to establish that your claim is valid.
Once our initial checks are successfully completed, one of our valuers will contact your agent (or you if you act for yourself) to discuss your claim.
Please note: whether you act for yourself or use an agent, it is important that you do not enter into any financial commitment in the hope that you will receive compensation. This is because:
Something may arise during the processing of your claim that could lead to it being rejected
The amount of compensation offered to you may be less than you claimed or no compensation will be offered to you if your property has been devalued by less than £50;
If your property is mortgaged, we are required by law to offer the compensation to the mortgage lender to reduce the amount you owe them. They may decide not to accept the compensation and it will be paid to you.
How is compensation worked out?
Our valuer will assess the impact of physical effects arising from the use of the extended runway against the value of your property based on property prices current on the first claim day.
The compensation will be assessed based on the amount of traffic using the extended runway at the first claim day and will also take into account any future increases in traffic that can reasonably be predicted at the first claim day.
We may have already undertaken to provide noise insulation for your property or to pay a grant towards its installation. If so, the benefits of the insulation will be taken into account and it will be assumed for valuation purposes that it has been installed.
If an amount of compensation has not been agreed or our valuer recommends that no compensation is payable, we shall then write to you to tell you that and inform you that no further action will be taken.
If you disagree with our decision, you may refer your claim to The Upper Tribunal (lands Chamber) for determination.
So what does the person claiming have to pay for?
If your claim is successful, we will pay:
The agreed compensation for the decrease in value of your property due to the “physical factors”
Interest on your compensation. This is based on statutory rates current at the time. This will be calculated from the date on which the claim was first received by us to the date your compensation is paid.
The reasonable fees of your agent
If our simple ownership check at Land Registry is unsuccessful, the reasonable costs of a solicitor to prove your ownership of the property, including the costs incurred to retrieve title deeds
Any other cost for proving title will have to be met by you. Your solicitor will be asked to invoice us for their costs, which will be paid after your compensation has been paid.
Even if your claim is successful, we will not pay;
Any charges your agent may seek from you that are additional to the reasonable fees agreed by LSACL for the preparation and negotiation of your claim;
The fees of more than one agent;
Solicitors costs that have been unnecessarily incurred for proving your ownership of the property;
Any charges made by your mortgage lender relating to our legal obligation to offer the compensation to the lender before you.
If your claim is not successful, we will not pay any:
What can someone do if there is a dispute about their claim?
We hope we will reach an agreement. But if we cannot, you may refer your case to The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).
The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) is the court of law appointed to deal with this type of dispute. The tribunal will make the final decision on your claim but you should be aware that it has power to award costs to either party, so it is wise to take professional advice before referring your claim.
It is important that you make your referral no later than six years from the firs claim day.
Is there a time limit on claiming?
Yes. The Limitation Act 1980 says a person whose property has been reduced in value by more than £50 by physical factors caused by the use of a new or altered runway must, within six years of the first claim day:
Either agree an offer of compensation (made by us) or,
If agreement cannot be reached, ask The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) to decide the amount of compensation.
After that six-year ‘limitation period’, we can no longer be ordered to pay compensation.
If someone is making a claim and they have a query, who should they contact?
The “Stop Airport Extension Now” (SAEN) campaign is today celebrating success
in forcing Rochford District Council to reveal the results of a consultation into
plans to expand Southend Airport.
Initially, Rochford Council refused to release the figures, claiming that it
was not in the public interest to do so. However, following a Freedom of Information
appeal by SAEN, the Information Commissioner ruled that the Council must publish
The results have now appeared on the Rochford Council website. They show that out
of 2229 respondents, 1718 (= 77%) had objections to the Joint Area Action Plan
with 437 of 572 (76 %)specifically opposing the runway extension. The figures
are slightly confused by many respondents having submitted more than one comment.
Denis Walker, press officer for SAEN, said “It’s a pity Rochford Council wanted
to hide these figures from the public. It’s only through the determined work of
the SAEN committee that the Information Commissioner ruled that they had to be
“What the figures show is that there is an overwhelming majority against the
airport expansion – well over three to one against. No wonder the Council wanted
to keep them quiet. It demonstrates that Southend and Rochford Councils are more
interested in supporting big business than protecting local residents’ quality
People need to remember that even though they may already have registered their
opposition, they have to do it again by submitting an objection to the airport’s
planning application by 20th November. Details on how to do this are available
SAEN was formed to campaign against the runway extension at Southend Airport.
The group is not opposed to the Airport itself, which has co-existed with the
residents of Southend for many years. SAEN is against the runway extension, which
would lead to a massive increase in flights and destroy the lives of the people
living, working or going to school anywhere near the flightpath.
It’s been a long battle, but we now have the official results of Phase 2 of consultation
on the Joint Area Action Plan. SAEN submitted a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office in June after Rochford Council failed to provide information we requested under the Freedom of Information Act. It is as a result of this complaint that
Rochford Council has today been forced to publish the number of objections they
As noted in the preamble of that document, the numerical breakdown we now have
isn’t the whole picture. It is the content of people’s objections that counts,
but Rochford Council are still withholding this information in the case of submissions
made on paper. Another document is due to be published by the Council at a later
date providing a proper analysis of the results, but given the overwhelming opposition
to the airport’s expansion, it’s obvious that they are very reluctant to publish.
BBC London News ran the story on 5th at 6:30pm, BBC1 London. Two SAEN members were interviewed and Alistair Welch, the managing director of Southend airport went
on air to do his usual “Jobs, jobs, jobs” routine.
The Sunday Times reports that Luton airport operating concession, which is controlled by the Spanish infrastructure company, Abertis, is to be sold. The buyer is another Spanish company, Aena which owns other airports across the world. The airport is owned by Luton Borough Council. The airport’s operating company is London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, which is in turn a wholly-owned subsidiary of an alliance between two Spanish-based companies: Abertis, being the majority shareholder, and AENA (Spain’s equivalent of NATS) the minority. Aena has now exercised its right – as it has first refusal – to become the new owner of Luton under an agreement with Abertis. By passenger numbers, Luton is the UK’s 5th largest airport, with some 9.6 million passengers in 2012 (around 9.5 million in 2011) and around 72,000 air transport movements, by low cost airlines. Abertis owned Cardiff and still owns Belfast International airport. This explains why there has been no news on the airport’s planning application for some time.
…. we await an official announcement from either the airport’s owners or its operators……….
Luton airport operations “up for sale”
Spanish infrastructure company Abertis is studying the possible sale of its airports division as part of its diversification strategy, Chief Executive Francisco Reynes said on Tuesday according to Reuters. London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL), the company which operates Luton Airport, is 90% owned by Abertis Infrastructuras S.A.
Abertis has asked Citigroup and AZ Capital to study options for its airports business, and is reportedly ”open to any option”, which could mean that part or all of the portfolio is sold. Abertis owns Cardiff [now sold] and Belfast International airports, though its interest in Luton is only in the operating concession, since the airport itself is owned by Luton Borough Council.
Andrew Lambourne of HALE said “In terms of Luton Airport expansion the timing of this news couldn’t be worse, since it clearly threatens the investment on which their hugely expensive plans are based. LLAOL has not yet secured its planning permission – and given the significant grounds for objection which range from apparent contravention of the local planning permissions and noise restrictions to huge concerns over public health and safety, plus the unmodelled impacts on local road and rail infrastructure, this is not going to be an easy ride. And of course there is still uncertainty over whether the application is going to be called in, as it should be, for proper consideration as a national infrastructure project.”
“In a climate where many business are consolidating rather than taking risks, particularly in an airport business so dependent on the future price of oil and on decisions by airlines who will be shopping around for the cheapest landing fees, a postponement of the planning application may well be in the best interests of Luton. The last thing Luton Borough Council would want is for the airport operators to overstretch and then go bust.” he continued.
Last year the Council initially announced that it would be terminating the operating concession and looking for a new operator prepared to invest in growth. The signs are that the hesitancy of LLAOL/Abertis to invest was based on the uncertainty over whether Abertis would continue to see value in its airport portfolio.
Luton Borough Council has wanted Abertis and Aena to back plans to increase capacity at Luton to 30m passengers a year. So the owner wanted more expansion than the operator. There was a strange situation with different proposals from the owner and the operator. The parties agreed a compromise expansion to 18m a year by 2030 – and there is a current planning application for that.
Aena already has stakes in 69 airports and Aena already claims to be the world’s largest airport operator by passengers.
Aena bids for control of UK’s Luton airport
By Henry Mance (Financial Times)
…… Aena, which owns 10% of the airport concession holder, is seeking to exercise a right of first refusal over the remaining 90% stake held by its Spanish partner Abertis.
It has yet to meet Abertis’s €400m asking price – which would imply a price/earnings ratio of about 10.5 – said Spanish business newspaper Hispanidad.
….. The Spanish government intends to sell a 49% stake in the company by the end of 2013.
Update from Luton …. no sign of progress on planning application
After the flurry of competing expansion plans from Luton’s owner (Luton Borough Council) and Luton’s operator (London Luton Airport Operations Ltd *), which resulted in the rival plans being combined “to incorporate the best features of both” – “best”, of course, from an aviation industry standpoint, with the higher of the two allegedly maximum passenger throughputs and aircraft movement numbers (the preference of the airport owner), things have gone surprisingly quiet.
For what must have been political reasons the operator became the fall-guy to be the applicant and lodged a planning application (12/0140/FUL) with Luton Borough Council on
3rd December 2012. As at end-May 2013 its status remains “pending consideration”. Local people have been told that there are questions to be resolved between Luton Borough
Council and the applicant, but though they have been asked, the Council will not disclose the nature of those questions.
They may be to do with planning issues, or the role of the Council as airport owner, or both. No date has yet been set for the Council’s Planning Committee to consider the application – at which time they may well agree with all those respondents who have declared the plans for the larger airport to a thinly disguised Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and refer it to the Planning Inspectorate…….
In addition, the operator Abertis* is “re-evaluating its airports strategy worldwide” – they’ve
already disposed of their interest in Cardiff Airport – so it’s possible that on reflection they’re a bit less enthused about having been forced into adopting the owner’s plan and the cash-flow profile it entails – big spending early with revenues trickling along somewhat later. With the end-date for the operator’s concession fixed in time, each month’s delay is in effect costing money, albeit in the form of possible future incomes not received, so the lack of progress is surprising. (From Luton campaigners)
* The legal owner of Luton is London Luton Airport Limited, which is 99.99% owned by Luton Borough Council; only 6 shares are not Council-owned and it had to be set up that way when the law was changed to enable local authorities to own airports. The operating company is London Luton Airport Operations Limited, which is in turn a wholly-owned subsidiary of an alliance between two Spanish-based companies: Abertis, a global infrastructure company being the majority shareholder, and AENA (Spain’s equivalent of NATS) the minority. Mildly confusing….
Also on Luton: Campaigners estimate that it is the 4th-busiest bizjet airport in Europe, after
Paris/Le Bourget, Geneva-Cointrin and Nice. They have been asking for actual passenger figures for bizjet flights – so they can see how few passengers are conveyed at the cost of airspace, runway slots and noise disturbance.
Calls to delay Luton’s expansion plans after news of airport sale by Abertis
February 27, 2013 Calls to delay planning permission for Luton airport’s expansion have come following news that the airport may be sold off by its Spanish owner, the infrastructure group, Abertis. Protesters against the expansion of Luton argue any plans should be put on hold in the wake of a potential sale. Andrew Lambourne of HALE – Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion – said: “In terms of Luton airport expansion the timing of this news couldn’t be worse, since it clearly threatens the investment on which their hugely expensive expansion plans are based. “The airport has not yet secured its planning permission – and given the significant grounds for objection, this is not going to be an easy ride. ” HALE said that a postponement of the planning application may well be in the best interests of Luton. “The last thing Luton Borough Council would want is for them to overstretch and then go bust.” Click here to view full story…
Abertis considers sale of UK airports – Luton, Cardiff and Belfast International
February 25, 2013 Abertis, the Spanish owner of Luton, Cardiff and Belfast International airports, may sell them. According to The Sunday Times, Abertis has decided to sell the 3 airports as part of a review of its €1 billion transport division, and Citi and AZ Capital have been appointed to review the division. Luton airport has been surrounded by controversy over its development plans with the local council opposing Abertis’ plans for its development. The Welsh government is reported to be on the verge of buying Cardiff airport, which has had a large drop in traffic during the past few years. Albertis’ airport assets in Bolivia were nationalised by President Evo Morales last week, and it has lost money in Spain in recent years. Campaigners at Luton said the timing of the sale was unfortunate, with the airport’s current planning application – for which planning permission has not been secured. The sale threatens the investment on which the airport’s hugely expensive expansion plans are based. Click here to view full story…
Luton airport planning application would increase night flights (11pm to 7am) by 50%
January 29, 2013 Local campaign group HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion) says that Luton Airport’s expansion plans are based on projections to increase flights at night by 50%. This is based on information in the airport’s planning application which shows that the number of take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am is projected to rise to 52 by 2028, compared to 34 in 2011. HALE points out that this is just the average figure – during the summer peak there could be as many as 80 flights each night. There is a public consultation on the application until 18th February. HALE is urging people to respond to this planning application by demanding that Luton Borough Council forces its Airport to reduce, not increase, night flights; to monitor and fine night arrivals as well as night departures; and to install a noise monitor on the approach to runway 08 for the purpose. Click here to view full story…
Luton airport planning application submitted – to demands that it should be called in
January 9, 2013 Luton airport has submitted its planning application for expansion up to 18 million passengers, to its local authority, Luton Borough Council. However, Luton Borough Council is also the owner of the airport, and so local people are asking that the application should be called in. The application does not include a runway extension, but does include changes to taxiways, access roads, parking aprons, car parks and changes and extensions to terminal buildings. The work proposed is focused primarily on removing the bottlenecks which affect throughput of passengers and planes at peak times. By dualling the access roads and increasing the security check lanes, passengers can arrive and be processed more quickly. By extending the taxiways and adding more piers, planes can be filled up can get into position for takeoff more quickly. And by adding more customs and baggage reclaim facilities, arriving passengers can be moved more rapidly through the terminal. There are 250 documents in the application, making it difficult for local people to assess. The consultation period ends on 18th February. There is local concern about the amount of extra aircraft noise there will be, if Luton is allowed such significant expansion. There are also serious concerns about road congestion – currently about 80% of the airport’s passengers travel to it by road. Click here to view full story…
Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, has written to Heathrow authorities to ask why the BA aircraft with its engine ablaze was routed to fly back into Heathrow last week rather than being diverted elsewhere. Richard’s questions followed worried enquiries from Wandsworth councillors Rosemary Torrington and James Maddan who represent the riverside Thamesfield ward on the flightpath. He received a prompt response Heathrow’s Government Relations Manager: “The normal procedure in these circumstances if for the Captain to decide what is the safest course of action, and this is what happened in this case. This is an approved procedure.” Richard Tracey commented that the damaged aircraft flew over Slough, Watford, parts of Essex, Battersea, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith and Hounslow. “This is complete madness. Three or four million people on the ground were put at risk and thousands of travellers from Heathrow had their flights cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Stansted, Luton, Cardiff, even Manston”. “We are now seriously considering taking this further , including talks with Heathrow and British Airways.”
Questions asked by London Assembly about the BA plane with a burning engine
29.5.2013 (Putney SW15 .com)
Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, has written to Heathrow authorities to ask why the BA aircraft with its engine ablaze was routed to fly back into Heathrow last week rather than being diverted elsewhere.
Richard’s questions followed worried enquiries from Wandsworth councillors Rosemary Torrington and James Maddan who represent the riversideThamesfield ward on the flightpath.
He wrote, “I represent Wandsworth and Merton GLA constituency comprising around 500,000 people.
“Can I ask why Heathrow/BA decided to bring in a plane in flames right over central London rather than landing it in a country airfield like Farnborough or some such safer location.
“Could you please provide me with an answer promptly.”
He received a prompt response as requested from Abigail Morris, Heathrow’s Government Relations Manager: “The normal procedure in these circumstances if for the Captain to decide what is the safest course of action, and this is what happened in this case. This is an approved procedure.
I appreciate you wanted a quick answer, and I hope this covers that request, but happy to meet and discuss the procedures in more detail alongside our BA colleagues if this would be helpful.”
Richard Tracey has reported back to his Conservative colleagues on Wandsworth Council, but still they feel that, as the blazing aircraft flew over Hertfordshire and Essex before returning to Heathrow over east London and then the densely populated west London boroughs, a decison should have been taken to divert it to one of the less populated areas with an airport
Richard comments, ” My colleagues say the aircraft, with an engine on fire flew over Slough, Watford, and parts of Essex, before returning over the Thames Estuary and crossing south London, Battersea, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith and Hounslow. This is complete madness. Three or four million people on the ground were put at risk and thousands of travellers from Heathrow had their flights cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Stansted, Luton, Cardiff, even Manston, and departing flights cancelled. Some flights were still being cancelled 24 hours later.
“We are now seriously considering taking this further , including talks with Heathrow and British Airways”
Local residents made their concerns clear on the Putney Forum. Regular contributor Jonathan Callaway wrote: “The more I think about it the more astounding it is that this plane was allowed to fly back over the centre of London while clearly struggling with one engine fire and damage to the second engine. I know it landed safely but surely it should have been diverted to Stansted or another airport away from built-up areas.”
Heathrow emergency landing of BA plane with engine on fire: Engine cowls had been left unlatched
Date added: May 31, 2013
Air accident investigators say the doors on both engines of the BA flight that made an emergency landing at Heathrow last week had been left unlatched. This was due to human error. Air accident experts said the coverings – the fan cowl doors – broke off and punctured the right engine’s fuel pipe, damaging the aircraft’s systems. The engine was extensively damaged. The jet flew back to Heathrow, on one engine, with smoke trailing from the other, right across heavily populated London. It landed safely. The findings were made in an interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is examining the cause of the emergency It will make its final report in a couple of months. The fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure. BA confirmed that 2 different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off. David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”. Airbus said there had, in the past, been 32 reported incidents of fan cowl doors not being shut.
Remarkable absence of concern about safety of Londoners in media reports of BA plane engine fire
Date added: May 24, 2013
While a BA plane limped back right across London, flying over miles of the city and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Londoners, with one burning engine and the outside of the other damaged – the media seem not even to consider the safety aspects of the story. It seems the cause of the problem could be a technical fault with the plane, rather than a bird strike. The Telegraph writes about the large number of passengers getting away for the bank holiday weekend, and how their flights are delayed. Simon Calder writing in the Independent takes the opportunity of heading his article “Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity” though he does have the decency to add one comment from a member of the public in his piece to say that “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”
Damaged BA plane on one engine and trailing smoke from the other, flies right across London for emergency landing at Heathrow
Date added: May 24, 2013
A British Airways flight (BA 762) from Heathrow to Oslo was forced to turn back immediately after take off, due to what is likely to have been bird strike. The Airbus A319 was powered by two IAE V2500 engines. The left engine appears to have hit an object at take-off, which stripped off the engine cowling. The right engine then may have hit something, and there are observer accounts of a bang. The plane did a large loop around London, in order to land again, using only the left engine. Many observers saw, and recorded, the plane – trailing smoke from the right engine, as it flew right across London. The plane made a safe landing, though passengers were evacuated down emergency chutes, and there were only 3 minor injuries. Heathrow airport was disrupted for hours due to the emergency landing. While those in favour of expanding the airport are likely to use this dangerous incident to call for more airport capacity (so Heathrow can cope with incidents without delays) it would be more relevant and more responsible to question how safe it is to have disabled planes flying miles over densely populated London. Luckily this time, there was no crash. With Heathrow airport hoping to get another runway (or two) the safety issue of flying more and more planes over hundreds of thousands of people has to be confronted.
Air accident investigators say the doors on both engines of the BA flight that made an emergency landing at Heathrow last week had been left unlatched. This was due to human error. Air accident experts said the coverings – the fan cowl doors – broke off and punctured the right engine’s fuel pipe, damaging the aircraft’s systems. The engine was extensively damaged. The jet flew back to Heathrow, on one engine, with smoke trailing from the other, right across heavily populated London. It landed safely. The findings were made in an interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is examining the cause of the emergency It will make its final report in a couple of months. The fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure. BA confirmed that 2 different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off. David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”. Airbus said there had, in the past, been 32 reported incidents of fan cowl doors not being shut – details of some below.
The fire in the right engine broke out as the flight prepared to land, but the left engine was unaffected, the AAIB report said.
“Subsequent investigation revealed that the fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure,” the report added.
Keith Williams, BA chief executive, said: “We continue to co-operate fully with the investigation team and can confirm that appropriate initial action has already been taken in accordance with the AAIB’s safety recommendation to Airbus.”
Mr Williams added that he could not discuss any details while the inquiry continued.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the report contained “serious findings”, adding that the aviation industry “must act immediately to take the appropriate safety action and ensure that all lessons are learnt from what has happened”.
BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said British Airways had confirmed that two different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off.
“One checks, the other double-checks – that’s clearly not happened in this case,” he said.
Mr Westcott added that BA’s mechanics were all staff of the airline, which would not say if anyone had been suspended.
The aircraft underwent normal overnight maintenance which included opening the cowl doors and checking the oil levels, the report said.
Nothing unusual was noted during the checks before the flight took off, but the cowl doors would have been “difficult to see unless crouched down so that the bottom of the engine is clearly visible”.
As the plane took off the 50-year-old pilot reported feeling a “slight bump” and thought the aircraft had run over a light on the runway.
David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”
Air traffic controllers alerted the pilot about the flight leaving some debris on the runway, which later turned out to be the detached cowl doors.
When the crew realised the doors had broken off, causing a “significant fuel leak” and affecting the hydraulic system, the pilot decided to return to the airport.
The cowl doors also damaged the tyres, landing gears and the hydraulic brake pipe.
The right engine was “extensively damaged” in the fire, the report said.
Last July Airbus said there had been 32 reported fan cowl door detachment events, but none of the cases resulted in a fire.
“The source of ignition that led to the in-flight fire is still under investigation,” the report said.
The AAIB has asked Airbus to inform operators about the 24 May emergency and recommended it “reiterates the importance of verifying that the fan cowl doors are latched prior to flight by visually checking the position of the latches”.
At least one of the cowls struck the plane, causing damage to the fuselage, wing, landing gear and a fuel pipe. Both of the engines were exposed, and the right-hand one caught fire and was shut down by pilots.
Investigators called on Airbus to again tell operators to ensure essential checks are made on the cowl closures, a known safety risk. Airbus had noted 32 similar incidents on its A320 family of planes, including the A319, in which the engine cowls detached in flight, causing damage to the plane. The manufacturer issued a safety briefing last year urging crews to be aware of the risks.
The AAIB said that cowls had not to date caused an engine fire, and the exact cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
The London-to-Oslo flight BA762 turned back to Heathrow soon after takeoff on 24 May. Passengers and witnesses saw smoke and flames emanating from the plane. The 75 passengers and crew were evacuated via emergency slides on landing.
Both runways at Heathrow were closed briefly, and British Airways cancelled all short-haul flights until 4pm the same day.
The British Airways chief executive, Keith Williams, said: “We welcome the publication of the AAIB interim report. We continue to co-operate fully with the investigation team and can confirm that appropriate initial action has already been taken in accordance with the AAIB’s safety recommendation to Airbus.
“We regret we are precluded from releasing or discussing any additional details while the AAIB investigation is ongoing.
“We commend the professionalism of the flight crew for the safe landing of the plane and the cabin crew and pilots for its safe evacuation. We continue to offer our full support to those customers who were onboard the flight.”
An Airbus spokesman said: “We’re supporting the AAIB-led investigation and will be following its recommendations.”
Passengers expressed incredulity that the emergency was caused by a known risk. Alexandra Townsley, 27, a solicitor from west London, who was sitting in seat 5F beside the right-hand engine, said: “I think people who were on board are going to be very angry. It’s one thing to think that things go wrong, but this seems to be something standard that wasn’t checked – what procedures are in place? If it’s something that can be missed that easily and is missed repeatedly, I don’t see why Airbus can’t find a way to fix it so it can’t happen again.”
She added: “It sounds like this was a lucky miss.”
She said of the flight: “It was absolutely terrifying. We knew something was wrong right on takeoff as we saw the cowl door ripped off, just as the wheels came off the ground. I find it strange that the report says that crew weren’t initially aware that anything was wrong. We were all shouting.”
Jean Ralphs, a passenger who was sitting in seat 3F on the flight, said: “I will not fly on the first flight of a day on any Airbus plane until this is sorted out. I don’t think the answer is adequate.”
David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flight Global, said: “It would have been difficult to fly with the damage to the wings and exterior – but well within the capability of a highly trained crew.”
The AAIB’s full report will follow, probably in several months.
No.1 engine cowling debris left on runway after take off. Aircraft diverted to Stansted and
landed safely on full emergency.
SAFETY RECOMMENDATION – 2000-026
It is recommended that the DGAC mandate aircraft modification aimed at appreciably
reducing the likelihood of A320 fan cowl doors inadvertently remaining unlatched after
maintenance. It is considered that, while measures to exhot maintenance personnel to
ensure that doors are latched and to improve the conspicuity of unfastened latches may
assist, they are unlikely to be fully effective and modification aimed at providing obvious
indication of unlatched doors is required.
Incident: TAM A320 at Natal on May 19th 2012, dropped fan cowl doors
By Simon Hradecky, created Sunday, May 20th 2012
A TAM Linhas Aereas Airbus A320-200, registration PR-MYP performing flight JJ-3317 from Natal,RN to Sao Paulo Guarulhos,SP (Brazil) with 166 people on board, was departing Natal when both inboard and outboard fan cowl doors of the left engine (CFM56) opened in flight and were ripped off the engine. The crew levelled off, burned off fuel for about one hour and returned to Natal for a safe landing.
Passengers described the event as an engine explosion.
There is a passenger video – taken out of the window at take-off, showing the cowl door suddenly flipping up and breaking off. There is then a period of some consternation among the passengers, and after a while, the filming of the damaged engine cowl resumes as the plane burns up fuel before landing.
Also a similar incident at Newark in May 2010.
An Airbus A320 airplane experienced a left engine fan cowl separation during takeoff. The flight crew was unaware of the fan cowl separation until passengers
pointed out the loss of both halves of the left engine fan cowl assembly. The flight crew returned for an uneventful landing. After parking and deplaning the
passengers, the flight crew noted additional damage to the left engine pylon, leading edge flaps, left main landing gear, and horizontal stabilator. Examination of
the engine fan cowls revealed that the cowl latch assembly and keeper housing assembly were intact, showed no evidence of malfunction, and exhibited no
distortion or damage and that the cowling structure revealed no evidence of failure. Some delamination was found, but determined to not be contributory to the
separation. Maintenance records revealed that a scheduled maintenance inspection of the left engine had been performed prior to the flight which required the
opening and closing of the engine fan cowls. According to the operator’s maintenance records, the left engine maintenance sign-off sheet revealed that a
mechanic had latched and locked the fan cowls and this task had been verify by another mechanic. Both the `action’ and `inspection’ signature blocks on the left
engine maintenance sign-off sheet for the fan cowl latch procedure had been signed off as part of the Required Inspection Item (RII) procedure.
The latch assembly is normally weighted and the inside and the sides of the latch handle are painted a different color (typically red or orange) than the cowling
skin to visually highlight whether the latch is fully locked or not. If the latch is properly locked, the latch handle is flush with the cowling skin and painted portion of
the latch handle is not visible. Examination of an exemplar Airbus A320 engine fan cowl revealed the possibility of a false latch condition that would mask an
otherwise unlatched position. It was reported that mechanics working on the engine routinely push the latch assembly up against the latch keeper housing
assembly in order to stow the latch to avoid inadvertent head injuries while working underneath engine. In this position, the latch is neither latched nor locked but
the latch assembly may be flush with the cowling so that the paint on the latch handle is not visible, giving a false indication that the latch is properly locked.
The maps showing the probable new flight paths if there were to be a new runway at Gatwick have caused widespread consternation. These were produced by GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) in mid May. GACC has received many enquiries from councillors surprised that their areas are likely to be affected. These include anxious queries from people who live in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which surround Gatwick on three sides. GACC has now also published new maps showing the impact of the probable new flight paths on the AONBs. ‘These areas are recognised nationally as places of beauty and peace,’ said Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman. ‘They are visited by over a million people each year in search of quiet relaxation. All the AONBs are on high ground and therefore the impact of aircraft noise is greater.’ When Gatwick Airport claim that ‘only’ 29,000 people would be affected by noise from a new runway, and that this is fewer than at Heathrow, they ignore the impact on the million or so people who enjoy the peace of the AONBs.
31.5.2013 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
The maps, recently published by GACCon 17th May, showing the probable new flight paths if there were to be a new runway at Gatwick have caused widespread consternation.
GACC has received many enquiries from councillors surprised that their areas are likely to be affected. These include anxious queries from people who live in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which surround Gatwick on three sides.
Today GACC is publishing new maps (below) showing the impact of the probable new flight paths on the AONBs.
‘These areas are recognised nationally as places of beauty and peace,’ said Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman. ‘They are visited by over a million people each year in search of quiet relaxation. All the AONBs are on high ground and therefore the impact of aircraft noise is greater.’
When Gatwick Airport claim that ‘only’ 29,000 people would be affected by noise from a new runway, and that this is fewer than at Heathrow, they ignore the impact on the million or so people who enjoy the peace of the AONBs. [In their Master Plan July 2012].
Among those who have contacted GACC, Stuart McLachlan writes from Coldharbour: “People visit the Surrey Hills AONB because of the stunning, unspoilt countryside within easy reach of London. There are many notable attractions such as Leith Hill Tower with its famous view of 13 counties, the Rhododendron Woods of Leith Hill Place, the recently restored Holmbury ancient monument and hundreds of miles of footpaths and bridleways winding their way through this beautiful land. These visits are enhanced by the peace and tranquillity of the AONB which would be shattered if the Gatwick take-off route from the new runway was routed directly overhead’
Caroline Tayler from Nutley says: ‘The right to the quiet enjoyment of the Sussex countryside by visitors and local people is now at risk. The Ashdown Forest, for example, already suffers from intrusive noise from Gatwick arrivals and it would be a tragedy if this was to double. AONB’s are protected for future generations so that all can benefit from quiet enjoyment of the countryside. Ashdown Forest is an area that would suffer greatly from the doubling of aircraft noise.
The maps below are only illustrative, and should not be taken as showing the exact position of the future flight paths.
It is up to Gatwick Airport Ltd in conjunction with National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to publish more accurate maps so that the public can be aware of the probable consequences of a new runway.
Map showing illustrative flight path arrivals for Gatwick with a second runway (flights from the existing runway are in blue; flights from a second runway in red)
Map showing illustrative flight path departures for Gatwick with a second runway (flights from the existing runway are in blue; flights from a second runway in red)
GACC reveals indicative flight paths for a 2nd Gatwick runway, showing new areas overflown
Date added: May 17, 2013
Maps illustrating probable flight paths from a new Gatwick runway have been produced by the local community group, GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign). The maps have been designed with a knowledge of the principles of air space design and aeronautical principles, and have been checked out with an air traffic control expert. The maps show the new departure routes as likely to cause disturbance in Horsham, East Grinstead, Dorking, Reigate and many villages which are at present not overflown. The arrival routes are shown as covering most of Sussex. Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC said of the new maps that “If Gatwick Airport Ltd don’t like them it is up to them to produce their own maps.” The problem with a 2nd runway and hence huge increase in the number of flights, is that If flight paths are to be designed to minimise the risk of accidents flight paths will need to go over areas at present peaceful. The maps are based on a so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway 1,035 m to the south of the existing one. With planes landing and taking off on each runway, there need to be 2 parallel tracks some 1,035 m apart and flight paths would need to be designed to avoid mid-air collisions.
The maps below are only illustrative, and should not be taken as showing the exact position of the future flight paths.
It is up to Gatwick Airport Ltd in conjunction with National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to publish more accurate maps so that the public can be aware of the probable consequences of a new runway.
Airports which build new runways, however, usually decline to publish flight paths until after the new runway opens, thus helping to defuse opposition. The excuse is that the air traffic control authorities have not yet decided on the routes. This can cause huge resentment. For example, at Frankfurt after a new runway was opened in 2011 there were massive demonstrations with up to 8,000 people protesting that they had been misled. [ link ]
Gatwick Airport Ltd have stated that they are looking for a location for a new runway between the airport and Crawley.
In 2003 when a similar proposal was last discussed, BAA, the then owners of Gatwick, stated that any new runway south of the existing runway would need to be operated in mixed mode, that is, being used both for landing and for taking-off as is the case with the existing runway. The existing runway would also need to continue in mixed mode.
At Heathrow, which has two runways, one is used for landings and one for take-offs, which is called segregated mode. That is practicable because four out of the five terminals lie between the runways.
At Gatwick, however, the two existing terminals lie to the north of the existing runway. It would not be possible to operate a two-runway Gatwick in segregated mode because aircraft using the new southern runway would need to cross the existing runway to reach the existing terminals. The only practicable way to operate a two-runway Gatwick would be in mixed mode, so that aircraft using the existing runway would use the existing terminals, and aircraft using the southern runway would use a new terminal between, or to the south of, the runways.
Gatwick Airport Ltd have stated that they are considering a close parallel runway or a wide spaced runway. In the case of a close parallel runway, arrivals and departures would need to be synchronised in order to avoid dangerous wake turbulence. That would severely limit the capacity of the airport, and is unlikely to appeal to the Airports Commission.
The maps are therefore based on a so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway as shown in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper, and in the 2012 Gatwick Master Plan, 1,035 m to the south of the existing runway – the closest together that is permitted under international regulations for independent operation.
Existing departures – New runway departures
With independent mixed mode operation it would frequently occur that two aircraft were taking-off simultaneously, in the same direction one from each runway. Initially they would be on two parallel tracks 1,035 m apart. Flight paths would need to be designed to avoid mid-air collisions.
When taking-off towards the west, the safest route would be for aircraft from the new southern runway to peel off left, close to Horsham. Alternatively they might be directed to take a wide swing round to the north and then to the east, taking them over the Surrey Hills AONB, and the southern side of Dorking, Reigate and Redhill.
Aircraft taking-off towards the east would need new flight paths, with the existing flight path to the south-east (Seaford Easterly) having to be moved further east, possibly over East Grinstead (shown on the map as a dashed blue line).
Existing arrivals – New runway arivals
Most aircraft approach Gatwick from the east, keeping to a straight ‘glide-path’ for the final 10-15 miles.
With two runways operating independently, for the final 10-15 miles there would need to be two parallel approach paths, one kilometre apart. So the approach path for the new southern runway from the east would pass directly over Dormansland.
At present aircraft fly on a wide variety of routes over Sussex (all passing over the Ashdown Forest AONB) before joining the final approach path. If that dispersed system continues, the effect of a new runway would be merely to double the number of aircraft in the sky.
In a few years time however, as a result of improved navigational equipment, the flight paths are likely to be concentrated onto a few routes in the same area. With two runways and twice the number of aircraft, the number of such concentrated routes would be likely to double. It is not known where these routes might be – the maps are purely illustrative.
A similar situation would apply for aircraft approaching from the west. There would be two parallel approach paths 1 km apart for the final 10-15 miles. And double the number of concentrated flight paths approaching from the south.
Writing in a blog for HACAN, John Stewart welcomes the proposals by Heathrow Airport to reduce noise – through respite periods, steeper approaches, improved sound insulation and n fines for the noisier aircraft. Of course Heathrow understands that, unless it is shown to be dealing with noise, there is no possibility it will get approval for a new runway. HACAN has worked with Heathrow on a number of its proposals and it is in the interests of HACAN’s members get improvements to the current noise situation. However, any improvements in the amount of aircraft noise are unlikely to survive the building of a third runway. The sheer number of planes would wipe out virtually all the benefits. With a third runway, the number of planes which could use Heathrow would rise from 480,000 to over 700,000. A four runway airport, such as the Policy Exchange is promoting (but which Heathrow believes is not necessary), would allow 960,000 aircraft to use the airport. History suggests that it is the increase in flight numbers which causes the real noise problems for residents.
Heathrow’s noise proposals are welcome, but beware a 3rd runway……
May 30, 2013
Blog by John Stewart
Heathrow Airport’s proposals to reduce noise, published today, are welcome. There is little doubt that, if they were implemented, they would cut noise for residents. Measures such as respite periods, steeper approaches, improved sound insulation and the plan to fine the noisier aircraft will improve the noise climate.
Some of the proposals, of course, are dependent on the cooperation of other bodies before they could be implemented. Steeper approaches, for example, would require permission from Government and the agreement of Air Traffic Control. But the intent is there: Heathrow Airport is proposing concrete measures which will improve matters for residents.
Of course Heathrow understands that, unless it is shown to be dealing with noise, there is no possibility it will get approval for a new runway. And that is part of the motivation of it producing them now and releasing them at this time – within a month it will be submitting its eagerly awaited plans for a third runway to the Airports Commission.
HACAN has worked with Heathrow on a number of its proposals – in particular the plans for introducing respite periods. Whatever our differences on expansion (and on night flights), it is in the interests of our members for us to get improvements to the current noise climate at the airport. We want to be able to point to practical improvements on the ground.
However, our belief remains that these improvements are unlikely to survive the building of a third runway. The sheer number of planes would wipe out virtually all the benefits. With a third runway, the number of planes which could use Heathrow would rise from 480,000 to over 700,000. A four runway airport, such as the Policy Exchange is promoting (but which Heathrow believes is not necessary), would allow 960,000 aircraft to use the airport.
History suggests that it is the increase in flight numbers which causes the real noise problems for residents. The big deterioration in the noise climate – and the big rise in HACAN’s membership – coincided with the last significant rise in flight numbers between about 1991 and 2001. It was a time when individual planes became quieter but that was off-set by the sheer volume of aircraft flying overhead. The chances are that the same thing would happen if a third runway was built.
Incidentally, the impact of a dramatic increase in flight numbers is not reflected in the annual noise contours published by the Government. That is because the metric used to measure noise annoyance assumes annoyance levels will remain the same if the number of aircraft operations are doubled so long as the individual aircraft noise levels are reduced. Not reflected in the reality on the ground.
John Stewart chairs HACAN and is the author of “Why Noise Matters”, published by Earthscan, 2011
Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures, such as ranking airlines on noise
Date added: May 30, 2013
Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals that aim at “reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity”. These come in a report entitled “A quieter Heathrow” with the aim of defusing opposition to another runway (or two) by attempting to make Heathrow, as it is, a little less noisy for those who are now overflown. Heathrow’s efforts to cut noise come under the headings of quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities. Heathrow says it will rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are; it will increase fines for airlines that break noise limits; it will try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches. Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow. In reality, though new planes produced today are slightly quieter than older ones, the difference are not large. What those overflown notice is the sheer number of noise events. HACAN welcomed the programme of noise reductions -but the huge increase in flight numbers from a new runway “would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”
Exeter airport was sold by Devon County Council to the airports group of British infrastructure company, Balfour Beatty, in early 2007. Now Balfour Beatty has started looking for buyers for its 60% stake, according to Sky news. The price is not known. Balfour Beatty has not been doing well in recent years, and they issued their second profits warning in six months, blaming “extremely tough” market conditions etc. The airport has not been doing well. The number of travellers using Exeter Airport topped one million in 2007 but has been falling since then, though the rate of decline has slowed since 2009. In 2012 passenger numbers were down to 697,074, following a drop of nearly 4% in 2011. About 250 people are directly employed by the airport, with a further 50 working at car parks, catering and retail concessions on the site. The remaining shareholding in Exeter airport is owned by Galaxy, a specialist fund which is backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.
Balfour Beatty is looking for a buyer for its 60% stake in Exeter International Airport, according to Sky News.
The construction company led a buy-out of the airport from Devon County Council for £60 million in 2007, but according to news reports it has begun early talks with parties who might be interested in buying its share.
In August last year, Balfour wrote down the value of its holding in Exeter Airport from £12m to zero, saying that “whilst underlying trading has not deteriorated we believe that the timing for recovery of passenger numbers has gone further out, particularly in the light of the imposition of increased Air Passenger Duty rates”.
The remaining stake is held by Galaxy, a specialist fund backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.
TRANSPORT links to Plymouth have once again come under the spotlight as speculation mounts over the future of Exeter International Airport.
Majority shareholder Balfour Beatty is reportedly sounding out potential bidders for its 60 per cent stake in the airport.
And the group battling to reinstate Plymouth’s closed down airfield says it shows the city should have been at the hub of aviation to the region.
The news comes just days after Flybe, the West Country’s last remaining airline announced it had sold its arrival and departure slots at Gatwick Airport to Easyjet.
Plymouth City Airport closed in 2011 and campaign group Viable is now attempting to take it over from leaseholders Sutton Harbour Holdings.
Viable spokesman Raoul Witherall said: “Viable has been making the case for a long time that the aviation fundamentals in the South West are strongest in Plymouth, and Exeter and Newquay have question marks over them.”
Newquay Airport confirmed earlier this month that its passenger numbers had fallen by a fifth for five years running.
The Cornish airport has seen a drop of 25,000 passengers in the last two years, with city-based campaigners blaming the demise of Plymouth’s airport on its struggle.
Now it has emerged that Balfour Beatty is understood to be keen to offload its stake in Devon’s only airport, at Exeter, amid pessimism about the prospects for a recovery in passenger numbers.
About 250 people are directly employed by the airport, with a further 50 working at car parks, catering and retail concessions on the site.
The remaining shareholding in Exeter airport is owned by Galaxy, a specialist fund which is backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.
Devon County Council sold the airport in 2007 to a consortium led by Balfour Beatty for £60million.
The likely value of any deal to sell the FTSE250-listed group’s stake is unclear, as is the identity of any interested parties.
In August, Balfour wrote down the value of its stake in the airport from £12million to zero, stating that “while underlying trading has not deteriorated we believe that the timing for recovery of passenger numbers has gone further out, particularly in the light of the imposition of increased Air Passenger Duty rates”.
The number of travellers using Exeter Airport topped one million in 2007 but has been falling since then, though the rate of decline has slowed since 2009.
Last year passenger numbers were down nearly two per cent, to 697,074, following a drop of nearly four per cent in 2011.
In the longer term, the airport’s master plan projects traffic levels reaching 3.25 million passengers a year.
Balfour Beatty declined to comment on Sky News reports that it is seeking bidders for its stake in the airport.
A spokesman for Exeter Airport said: “We cannot comment on any such speculation, which is an issue for the parent company.
“As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual for our staff and passengers.”
The sale process is reported to be at an early stage and follows two profit warnings from Balfour Beatty in the space of six months.
The loss of Plymouth’s airport coincided with heavy flooding in other parts of Devon which saw rail links to the city cut off during severe weather last year.
Now rail bosses have devised plans to end the repeated passenger misery at flooding blackspot Cowley Bridge, near Exeter.
Network Rail, the state quango which runs the track, has drawn up a programme of ten projects to avoid interminable delays on the western route if heavy rain returns.
Action to reduce the frequency of flooding at Cowley Bridge is the most significant of the schemes, which will cost £31million in total.
The proposal is now with the Department for Transport, which will decide whether to sign off on extra funding for the 10 schemes after ordering Network Rail to carry out the post-flooding review.
The resilience of the rail network is now seen as even more important following the loss of Plymouth’s air link, and the region having just one fully dualled road into the far South West despite long-standing calls for improvements.
DEVON County Council has sold Exeter International Airport for £60 million to Regional and City Airports (Exeter) Ltd (RCA) in a deal described as good news for the airport’s future and the county economy.
RCA brings both the investment expertise and infrastructure development skills of Balfour Beatty, the UK’s leading engineering, construction and services group, and the airport operational skills of London City Airport to the task of building on the airport’s impressive growth record of recent years.
RCA say they want Exeter to become “the natural airport of choice for the region.” RCA was the unanimous choice of the County Council’s all-party steering group, chaired by Cllr Greenslade, which has overseen the sale process.
As part of the sale London City Airport will provide additional management expertise through a technical services agreement to support the further growth and development of Exeter International Airport.
The County Council will retain a “golden share” and a non executive seat on the board of Exeter International Airport. The golden share will protect the Council’s interests by requiring the new owners to provide and maintain airport facilities to a set of objective criteria based on Civil Aviation Authority regulations and Department for Transport security regulations.
Councillor Greenslade said “RCA were the unanimous choice of the all party steering group which has overseen the sale process. I am grateful to the steering group and County Council officers and advisors for the work that has been done. The bid submitted by RCA was outstanding and we are confident that the future success of Exeter International Airport for the people of the county and the Devon economy will be assured. It is also very good news for the mployees of EIA and the airlines that use the airport. Regional and City Airports have an excellent track record at London City Airport not least in terms of the care they take to be good neighbours to the community who live around the airport. We are assured that they will take the same care with operating Exeter International Airport.
I would also like to pay tribute to the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, the management and staff of Exeter International Airport who under the ownership of Devon County Council have taken the Airport from a loss making position, which was subsidised by the County Council, to an operating profit position which has made it such an attractive asset for sale. In saying this I would pay tribute to our local airline Flybe who have shown confidence in Exeter International Airport and helped to grow the operations at Exeter to a level we could have only dreamed of a few years ago.”
Cllr Richard Westlake, Chairman of the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, said: “Exeter International Airport has gone from strength to strength under Devon County Council’s stewardship. I would like to thank the airport management and staff for the great contribution they have made to the airport’s development. I look forward to Exeter International Airport achieving even greater success under the ownership of Regional and City Airports.”
Balfour Beatty Statement
Commenting on the deal, RCA Director of Airport Management, John Spooner, said: “This is a great start to the new year for the airport, for RCA and for Flybe. Together, we have a vision for Exeter International Airport, in which it becomes the natural airport of choice for the region. We aim to deliver an efficient, high-quality service and offer excellent value for money.
Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction and services group, announced that Regional and City Airports (RCA), its specialist airport investment and development group, has completed the acquisition of Exeter and Devon International Airport Ltd, which owns Exeter International Airport, for a consideration of £60 million.
The acquisition is being financed through £31 million of equity, with Balfour Beatty as the lead investor. The remainder of the consideration will be satisfied by limited recourse borrowings, with HSBC as financial adviser and lead arranger. London City Airport, through a technical services agreement, will be Balfour Beatty’s operational partner at the airport.
Commenting on the sale, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler, said: “Exeter International Airport is one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the UK and it is anticipated it will handle over a million passengers in 2006/2007. We anticipate further strong growth in passenger numbers and have a clear operational and development plan for the airport over the long term, which takes our growth forecasts fully into account. Our vision for Exeter International Airport is that it should become the airport of choice for the region.”
Exeter International Airport is positioned within a strong local economy with a high propensity to fly and has significant opportunities to increase both its share of the regional market and the use of the airport by the population in the surrounding area. The airport will be substantially redeveloped with new terminal facilities, new aircraft stands and, in the longer term, further terminal capacity, stand and taxiway development.
It is anticipated that a new departures building will be constructed by 2010.
The initial development phase will also include improvements to the airport’s surface access, stand and apron enhancements and an increase in car parking capacity. In the longer term, further terminal and ancillary facilities expansion is envisaged to be carried out over three phases.
Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals that aim at “reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity”. These come in a report entitled “A quieter Heathrow” with the aim of defusing opposition to another runway (or two) by attempting to make Heathrow, as it is, a little less noisy for those who are now overflown. Heathrow’s efforts to cut noise come under the headings of quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities. Heathrow says it will rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are; it will increase fines for airlines that break noise limits; it will try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches. Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow. In reality, though new planes produced today are slightly quieter than older ones, the difference are not large. What those overflown notice is the sheer number of noise events. HACAN welcomed the programme of noise reductions but – the huge increase in flight numbers from a new runway “would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”
Residents complained about noise levels at a protest last month
30 May 2013 (BBC)
Bosses at London’s Heathrow Airport are to rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are as part of a plan to try to make the area quieter.
Heathrow chiefs also want to increase fines for airlines that break noise limits and try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches.
Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow.
A Fly Quiet programme is to begin later this year.
Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) welcomed the programme but said residents were still opposed to the prospect of expanding the airport.
‘Matter of contention’
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and, as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.”
He said the airport would continue to work with airlines, traffic control company Nats, policy makers and residents to reduce noise further while “safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides”.
Areportpublished by the Independent Transport Commission on Wednesday on the future of Britain’s aviation infrastructure highlighted the fact that the area around Heathrow is more densely populated than Stansted or Gatwick.
It said, at the moment, the noisiest aircraft may not be scheduled to land or take off during the “night period” (23:00 to 07:00) and during the “night quota period” (23:30 to 06:00) aircraft movements are limited both by number and by a noise quota.
It added: “The noise from these early-morning, long-haul arrivals has long been a matter of contention for households around Heathrow.”
Last month, at a protest against the possibility of expanding Heathrow, west London residents spoke of the noise from early-morning flights.
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “These measures are welcome and will improve the noise climate for residents.
“But all the good work could be undone if a third runway was built and the huge increase in flight numbers would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”
Councillor Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: “It looks as though Heathrow is beginning to listen to the council and residents who have said loudly and clearly in our consultation that they want a better not bigger Heathrow.”
Airlines found guilty of breaking noise limits will also face bigger fines in excess of £1,000, under plans published on Thursday.
The airport, which is the focus of a fierce debate over whether it should be allowed to build extra runways, has unveiled a series of proposals to reduce the impact of noise on local communities.
It plans to rank the 80 airlines that use Heathrow according to how much noise their aircraft produce during take-off and publish a league table every three months via its website.
Heathrow is also in discussions with airlines over a more draconian regime of fines if aircraft break the maximum number of decibels allowed during certain times of the day.
The two-runway airport said its new noise reduction measures are part of ongoing efforts to work with local communities.
However, the proposals are likely to be seen as a charm offensive ahead of a renewed expansion campaign. Heathrow recently told the Government-backed Airports Commission that a third runway would be sufficient to solve Britain’s aviation capacity problems for the “foreseeable future”.
Noise produced by aircraft using Heathrow affects more people than any other airport in Europe. The impact on local communities has been a major sticking point in the airport’s campaign for expansion.
Colin Matthews, the chief executive of Heathrow, insisted the measures are “not about adding new runways at Heathrow”.
But he added: “Heathrow recognises if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.”
Heathrow argues that it is “significantly quieter” than it was four decades ago and improvements in technology will lead to aircraft becoming quieter still. The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.
Heathrow is also testing other potential ways of minimising noise, such as aircraft landing at a steeper angle so they don’t fly so close above residential areas.
A new scheme to better insulate schools is also under consideration and the airport is working with the national air traffic control service NATS to test different departure routes.
Fines for aircraft that break maximum noise levels currently range between £500 and £1,000. Maximum levels are set according to the time of day, with fewer decibels allowed during the night.
It is not just schools that suffer the noise nuisance! Anyone living near the flight path let alone under the flight path have their days and nights routinely disturbed by excessive aircraft noise. No platitudes or meaningless consultations will alter the fact that it is just unacceptable. It is completely impractical to insulate homes and schools and business premises to a level that excludes aircraft noise. Indeed, why should people living under or near the flight path have to keep their windows shut all day and all night and be denied the enjoyment of their gardens or nearby parks because of excessive noise from aircraft?
and another says:
Two new less noisy planes will not replace the thousands of older noisier models… also steeper landings will be unpopular with passengers and also dictated by wind and weather conditions which will largely outlaw them!
This is just a pre-sell to gain support… but it will fail!
and another says:
” The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and
the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.”
This has primarily been based on the ICAO noise certification system which relies on standardised tests with microphones at fixed positions. In the case of landing approaches the monitor is 2 km from touchdown and efforts to reduce noise there may be irrelevant to the experience suffered by those further away. Residents in vocal neighbourhoods 9 to 12 km from the airport (Barnes) may find that a new Rolls-Royce powered A380 is as noisy or noisier than the old Boeing 747 jets it is meant to replace.
Heathrow does not yet have a network of monitors to measure the disturbances caused to many of the communities badly affected by its planes. Sydney and Chicago do much more to gain an accurate measure of their impact on their neighbours.
Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures
30 May 2013 (Heathrow Airport press release)
Airlines to be ranked on noise performance
New noise insulation scheme being piloted
Airport to propose significant increase in noise fines
Heathrow today publishes ‘A quieter Heathrow’, a report setting out Heathrow’s commitments to reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity.
In the report, Heathrow makes a range of new commitments on noise which include publicly ranking airlines on ‘noise performance’, trialling new departure routes with NATS, proposing to trial steeper approaches into Heathrow, establishing a new noise insulation scheme to replace the existing schemes, exploring innovative solutions to noise insulation for schools such as ‘adobe’1 buildings and proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits.
As well as connecting the UK to long-haul markets around the world and supporting more than 100,000 local jobs, Heathrow recognises that an airport of its size has downsides for people living nearby, in particular aircraft noise. ‘A quieter Heathrow’ brings together a range of measures to meet the Government’s aspiration ‘to strike a fair balance between the negative impacts of noise and the positive economic impacts of flights’2.
The report focuses on five areas:
quieter operating procedures,
noise mitigation and land-use planning,
operating restrictions and
working with local communities.
These measures mean that aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are on average 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines which land at other world airports.
Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow, says: ‘Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise. We will continue to work with airlines, NATS, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise whilst safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides.’
‘A quieter Heathrow’ is not about adding new runways at Heathrow. It sets out important steps that can, and are, being taken now to reduce aircraft noise. However, Heathrow recognises that if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.
Heathrow’s actions to reduce the impact of noise include:
Quieter planes: Heathrow encourages the quietest aircraft through higher charges for the noisiest aircraft and reduced charges for the quietest aircraft. The airport will be proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits and, later this year, launching a ‘Fly Quiet’ programme which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise performance at Heathrow.
Quieter operating procedures: Heathrow operates runway alternation, uses Continuous Descent Approach and ‘Noise Preferential Routes’. New trials will include a departure route trial, investigating the impact of ending the practice of ‘westerly preference’ and proposing to trial steeper approaches as part of the next night noise regime. Heathrow will also propose a significant increase in noise fines for aircraft that exceed departure noise limits at night.
Noise mitigation and land-use planning: The airport offers noise insulation for community buildings and homes, financial assistance with relocating to ‘quieter’ areas and campaign for local planning authorities to restrict new developments in the noisiest areas. From 2014, we plan to launch a new ‘Quieter Homes’ programme incorporating lessons from a pilot we are currently running.
Operating restrictions: The number of ‘night flights’ permitted at Heathrow is restricted by an annual ‘cap’ and there are noise restrictions on aircraft departing late at night and early in the morning. Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place for arrivals scheduled to land between 4.30am and 6am not to touch down before 4.30am. In addition, departures are not scheduled between 11pm and 6am.
Working with local communities: The airport works with local authorities and resident groups such as HACAN to trial new operational procedures that could provide noise respite, keep residents up to date through a dedicated noise website and use proceeds from noise fines to fund local community projects. A new social media service will be launched to update residents on unscheduled changes to operations which may impact on noise and aim to continually improve Heathrow’s global ranking for community engagement on aircraft noise, benchmarked by independent analysis.
These actions mean that Heathrow today is significantly quieter than it was four decades ago. Since the early 1970s, when the jet age began, both the area and the number of people within Heathrow’s noise footprint have fallen around tenfold3. This is despite the fact that during the same period the number of aircraft using Heathrow each year has nearly doubled and the number of dwellings within the footprint has also increased significantly. The fall in population within each contour has continued in recent years, as the newest generation of aircraft like the A380 ‘superjumbo’ has started to enter service with airlines.
Recent research by industry-body Sustainable Aviation suggests that this trend will continue. Its Noise Road-Map suggests that by 2050 advances in aircraft technology will allow the number of flights in the UK to double without an increase in aircraft noise4.
1Adobes are igloo-like shelters constructed from bags of earth and plaster. They can accommodate approximately 30 people and their construction and shape can help reduce aircraft noise. Heathrow has recently worked with Hounslow Heath Primary School to part-fund the installation of Adobe buildings in its playground, to allow pupils to study outside, without being disturbed by aircraft noise. Heathrow is looking at how it could adopt this approach with other schools around Heathrow. [Details and photo at link ]
2 Department for Transport, Aviation policy framework, 22 March 2013, p.55
NAMING and shaming noisy airlines and plans to fine them up to £1,000 for breaches of acceptable levels have been dismissed as a “cosmetic exercise”.
Stanwell and Stanwell Moor’s new Labour county councillor, Robert Evans, has slammed the proposals, issued by Heathrow Airport on May 29 against increasing noise for people living near the runways.
The report, A Quieter Heathrow, sets out plans to trial new departure routes, steeper landings and a ‘significant’ increase in fines for airlines that cause excess noise in an attempt to show that expansion and noise reduction could potentially go hand in hand.
Heathrow’s chief executive officer, Colin Matthews, said the airport was “at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise” and that despite flight levels almost doubling since the 1970s, fewer people were affected by noise.
Cllr Evans, whose own party pushed through plans to expand the airport to the north and build a third runway before being voted out at the last general election, compared the plans to “window dressing”.
“Heathrow’s plans for addressing noise pollution are merely a cosmetic exercise to soften the area up for expansion,” he said.
“A voluntary code for airlines and a £1,000 fine for the noisiest aeroplanes is simply not good enough.”
Instead, Cllr Evans, a former MEP, favours a complete and properly enforced ban on flights between 11pm and 6am.
He said: “Heathrow is alone among Europe’s airports in having evolved in such a built-up area. As such, it is beholden to recognise the plight of people living in the worst-affected areas, like Stanwell Moor.
“In addition, there should be better grants for double and triple glazing to homes on the flight paths.
“Heathrow is a big employer in this area and its future is hugely important to the local community. For these reasons, noise pollution, the health and wellbeing of the community is a major issue locally.”
The report focuses on five areas: quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with communities.
These measures, operators say, mean aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are, on average, 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines that land at other world airports.
The report seems to be very honest and as such it probably will inspires hope in many who read it. However, at East Midlands we’ve experienced similar media spins and the honest answer is that it simply doesn’t work and nor it it ever likely to do so. The newer and relatively quieter aircraft still intrude, more especially so during the night and shoulder periods and if we ever have a summer with outdoor meals and entertainment the nuisance will continue to be 24/7.
EU limits on air pollution are already being breached in a couple of places round Heathrow; imagine the pollution levels with 3/4 runways. How do Colin Matthews & Co think they are going to get round this. I read a few years ago that the DfT were contemplating a tunnel over the M4 to reduce air pollution that a third runway would bring! With 4 runways they will no doubt have to put a tunnel over the M25 as well.
I would agree that it “seems” plausible – but fear it is cleverly spun to inspire hope.The “quieter planes” myth is very much based on the ICAO certification classification – and I am still unconvinced that the 2km from touchdown measurement for approach landings that defines the certification is very relevant to the actual experience of the majority of the population who are disturbed by flights dropping into Heathrow. Nor do those communities have much noise monitoring of what is actually happening in their areas (the official monitors are all in narrow arcs close to the airport – primarily to catch take-off noise).
Heathrow also peddles the importance of maintaining daily runway alternation to provide respite with one hand while advocating removing it to provide “operational freedoms” and early morning capacity with the other.
I regret that the suggestions of more extensive independent noise monitoring that were mooted in the draft aviation framework seem to have got lost in the published final version.
It might soon become very quiet if the planes actually doubled their
approach angle as shown in the misleading “steeper approach” diagram
on page 25 !!
For “quieter planes” etc. read “marginally less-noisy planes” etc. The rate of improvement in noise performance, especially for landings, is almost zero these days: though it can be measured with sensitive instruments the improvement is barely discernible with the Mk. 1 detector. As is the industry’s habitual practice they’ll simply dump a few more movements onto the runway(s), working on the thoroughly discreditable “noise budget” approach – the same unpleasant approach which permits them to carry forward unused quota units from one period into the next – “because we didn’t make so much noise as we bid for last time, we can make a bit more this time”.
The likely gains through steeper approaches may prove illusory for most airports, even if a 5.5 degree CDA can be flown right up to the point where the aircraft is flared for landing, where the nearest dwellings to the touchdown point can be as small as 2.5kms even where a displaced threshold can be contrived. Reverse thrust is likely to be needed to avoid running out of runway, with an aircraft full of passengers, shifting the noise burden further towards the distant end of the runway. The real beneficiaries are likely to be the manufacturers and repairers of aircraft landing-gear, brakes and tyres: lots more kinetic energy to be absorbed, methinks, and sometimes (as at City) an energetic landing causes the nose-gear to collapse – we haven’t heard many cheers of support for steeper approaches from the airframe builders.
Claims were made at a Heathrow Holdings meeting last week that they may be coming forward with new proposals; possibly with a third runway being sited either to the west or south of the airport.They might also want the “option” of a fourth runway.Of course they do! Their assumption is that noise is the main barrier to expansion and no consideration is given to the increase in air pollution that a third runway(and an additional twenty million vehicle journeys) would bring nor where the extra traffic would go on the ever more congested roads in West London.
More hype from Heathrow, exactly the same sort of bilge issuing from another airport press office, a la ‘fuel-sipping, whisper-quiet aircraft’ variety…
A charity land use and transport think tank, the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), have produced a report – to be submitted to the Airports Commission, on airport capacity. The ITC report says one major hub airport is needed, in order to compete with European rival airports. Heathrow cannot be left as it is. They say using two London airports to share the load will not do. They also say that if that hub is not Heathrow, then Heathrow would need to close, in order to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business. Closing Heathrow would have immense implications, with 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport. Its closure would have impacts on their families and the communities in which they live – but release a huge area of land (some 1,200 acres for profitable re-development….. though a town the size of Peterborough would be needed for the new hub airport. Their report follows a call for evidence last summer. The ITC’s key worry seems to be that “…we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.”
The report is based on the wide range of submissions received by the ITC in response to its Call for Evidence during Autumn 2012. The key findings are as follows:
First, the report identifies the crucial importance of good aviation connectivity for the
UK economy and jobs. The report concludes that investing in our aviation infrastructure is a
critical challenge that must be met if the UK is to maintain investment from growing
economies such as China and India. We face capacity constraints in both long-haul and
short-haul travel, particularly in South-East England.
Second, the report notes that short-haul connectivity can be improved by developing our regional airports, close to local and regional catchment areas.
But third, improving long-haul connectivity – and even maintaining the UK’s position in the
face of growing competition from rival European airports – means ensuring that the UK
continues to host a top-tier European hub airport. This means an airport with
significantly more capacity than Heathrow today.
The report rejects alternative suggestions such as 2 small hubs, or connecting different airports as a “virtual hub”: they would not compete effectively and would leave the UK increasingly dependent on connections via 3rd country hubs in order to reach global destinations.
The report suggests the most likely sites for an improved hub are Heathrow, Stansted or the Thames Estuary. It recognises that any decision will be contentious and that the Airports Commission and the Government will need to balance many factors.
But it highlights 4 major issues:
• Closing Heathrow: the ITC concludes that if a major new hub is developed at Stansted
or in the Thames Estuary, Heathrow will almost certainly have to close. This will have
major implications, and needs far more attention than it has yet received.
• Costs and charges: on the basis of preliminary, broad-brush, estimates, the ITC fears
that airlines and passengers might face charges at a new Estuary Airport more than
twice those for an expanded Heathrow, and two-thirds more than at an expanded
Stansted. It is essential that far more robust costings are produced for all options and
the implications for charges and international competitiveness clearly understood.
• A new town? Building a major new hub, whether at Stansted or elsewhere, could require
urban development including homes, schools, and local transport. The ITC estimates the
size of such development would be on the scale of a new Peterborough for a 4-runway
hub. This needs to be considered as much as the airport itself.
• Noise is the biggest local issue, particularly for Heathrow. But the report notes that
planes are getting quieter and proposes an assessment of whether a package of
measures – perhaps including moving the runways westward – would enable Heathrow to
provide the extra connectivity needed while also reducing the problem of noise for
The report is being submitted to the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.
The ITC will consider what further research should be commissioned to follow up particular issues of importance, with a view to assisting policy makers on this vital economic and infrastructure decision.
The report will be published on the ITC website at: www.theitc.org.uk.
Independent Transport Commission is Registered Charity: 1080134
Heathrow ‘would need to close’ under airport plans
Stephen Hickey said London Heathrow was losing its advantage to European competitors
If the government decides to expand Stansted or build a new estuary airport to form the UK’s major air hub Heathrow Airport will need to close, a transport think tank has said.
The Independent Transport Commission said a major capacity airport is needed to compete with European rivals.
It said Heathrow would have to close to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business.
Its report will be submitted to the government’s Airports Commission.
The commission’s report, which a number of bodies – including airport protest groups and airport authorities – contributed to, concluded that one major hub is needed.
It discounted the idea of a dual airport dubbed ‘Heathwick’, developing competing hubs across the UK or keeping the status quo at Heathrow.
Stephen Hickey, from the Independent Transport Commission, said: “Heathrow has now been overtaken by many of its competitors on mainland Europe and that will be a loss to the UK and London.
“At the moment we have the benefit of one of Europe’s top hub airports.
“The risk is we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.”
In September, the government launched a review of how the UK might expand its airport capacity in the South East.
Options included adding a third runway at Heathrow, adding a second runway at Gatwick and building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
The report, Flying into the Future, stated: “In the event of a decision to develop a major hub airport at either locations [Stansted or the Thames Estuary], we do not see how the current Heathrow could continue to operate.
“The majority of our respondents share this view.”
It said it does not believe enough consideration has been given to the possible loss of jobs or the potential cost of compensating airline businesses which have invested in Heathrow.
Closing Heathrow would have “major impacts on the 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport as well as their families and the communities in which they live”, it said.
But it added that releasing some 1,200 hectares of land – the size of Kensington and Chelsea – could offer “unparalleled opportunity for redevelopment for housing and other uses in a prime west London location”.
Respondents to the Independent Transport Commission included residents group HACAN, Richmond Heathrow Campaign, Transport for London, Gatwick Airport and Heathrow Airport.
The commission is funded by a range of donors, Mr Hickey said, including airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority.
The Airports Commission will make its final report to the government in the summer of 2015.
Closure of Heathrow would give investors confidence by forcing airlines to move airports. Picture: BAA Airports Limited
May 29, 2013 (London 24)
Heathrow Airport would have to close if a so-called “Boris Island” Estuary hub were to be built to improve the UK’s airport capacity, according to a new report.
Far more attention needs to be paid to the consequences for the west London gateway of expanding elsewhere, an Independent Transport Commission study suggests.
The report, which is to be submitted to the government’s Davies commission on airport capacity, says development at Stansted may have similar implications – in both cases closure would be necessary to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business.
Charges at a Thames Estuary airport would likely be twice those at an expanded Heathrow, and 65 per cent more than at a developed Stansted, the study argues.
Though authors admit these figures are just “prelimary, broad brush” estimates.
They add that the prospect of a new “Peterborough-sized” town being built up around a new four-runway hub airport should be taken more deeply into consideration.
The report is based on a range of submissions to the ITC, from respondents including Transport for London, Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and anti-Heathrow expansion campaign groups.
The government’s commission on airport capacity, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to report in mid-2015.
In Summer 2012 the ITC put out a call for evidence on:
Aviation Futures: What are the strategic choices for aviation capacity in the UK?
This Call for Evidence was launched in July 2012 on the subject ‘Aviation Futures: What are the strategic choices for aviation capacity in the UK?‘ [Please see this linked page for information.] [No linked page is given ... AW]. The consultation was designed to provide insights into the challenges facing UK Aviation Strategy, and to inform the ITC’s research on this subject. The submission was followed by a number of oral evidence hearings at Rothschild during November 2012.
The Questions on which submissions were sought included:
Is there a need for greater aviation connectivity and capacity in the UK, and of what type? i. Is there a need for greater ‘hub’ capacity or not? ii. Is the need limited to South-East England or more widespread?
Over what timescales do we need to solve our aviation needs, both in the short and the longer term?
What would be the implications of failing to provide additional capacity?
What are the key criteria for determining environmental acceptability of any development?
If more capacity is needed, what are the main options to solve this and what are the issues they raise?
Submissions: We received many excellent responses and are grateful to all who contributed. A list of submissions may be requested from the ITC Secretariat, but due to the submission of sensitive information we do not intend to publish responses online.
The Independent Transport Commission is committed to providing insight and analysis of long-term strategic issues facing the fields of transport and land use. Our mission is to explore the long-term consequences of current policy, consider new approaches and make recommendations on the way forward.