Cardiff Airport drop in passenger numbers prompts Tories’ private ownership call



Cardiff Airport drop in passenger numbers prompts Tories’ private ownership call



Welsh Government says figures were ‘expected’

The Welsh Conservatives have called for Cardiff Airport to be returned to private ownership after September saw a year-on-year drop in passenger numbers of 7%.

The fall in provisional figures, compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority, was described as “expected” by the Welsh Government, which said the month had been a successful one at the airport for budget airline Vueling.

But an air industry insider said: “This is more bad news for Cardiff Airport – and the figures don’t include the imminent closure of the CityJet route to Glasgow.

“The downward trend is noticeable – in August the passenger numbers were down 8.2% at 135,900. While there was an increase in aircraft movements in September, that can be accounted for by the Nato Summit, which saw additional one-off traffic for smaller aircraft.”

Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “These reports of a near double digit decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport in the past two months compared to 2013 are deeply concerning. Welsh Conservatives disagreed with Labour’s decision to spend £52m buying Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, Labour ministers must work hard to help it achieve its potential.

“This reported decline in passenger numbers, together with the recent withdrawal of CityJet flights to Glasgow, fails to create the perception of a prospering international airport.

“The sooner Cardiff Airport is returned to private ownership to encourage private sector investment to help ensure its future, the better.”

A spokeswoman for Cardiff Airport said: “September’s passenger numbers are down from September 2013 – this was expected and is a result of some seasonal adjustments by our airline partners.

“Despite the dip in passenger numbers, September was a successful month for Spanish low cost carrier Vueling with overall load factors up and passengers taking advantage of their routes to Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona and Majorca.

“Both KLM and Aer Lingus have also experienced increased load factors, with passengers using the hubs of Amsterdam and Dublin to connect Wales to North America, the Middle East, Asia and beyond.”

Airport managing director Debra Barber said: “We were expecting this slight dip in passengers – it has been caused by airline fleet changes which are not unusual in the industry.

“We have new and additional airlines and service in the form of CityJet and more recently Ryanair, which is returning to Cardiff with a weekly service to Tenerife next week.

“Flybe has announced flights to Geneva for the ski season, there will be more capacity from Thomson to Malaga and P&O is adding further Caribbean cruise flights this winter.”



CAA data showing the number of Air Transport Movements (= commercial flights) at Cardiff:

2007 about 23,000

2008 about 23,000

2009 about 20,000

2010 about 17,000

2011 about 16,000

2012  about 14,000

2013 about 14,000



CAA data showing the number of passengers at Cardiff:

2007 =  2 094 000

2008 = 1 979 000

2009  = 1 625 000

2010  = 1 398 000

2011  = 1 208 000

2012  = 1 013 000

2013  = 1 057 000


Earlier news about Cardiff airport:

Former boss of Cardiff airport says its expansion plans are massively unrealistic, without public subsidy

Keith Brooks, the former chief executive of airports group TBI, said Cardiff Airport’s passenger forecast is “massively unrealistic” and that it needs to be more realistic in its expectations. Last week, in an unexpected move, it was announced that the airport’s chief executive Jon Horne will stand down next week after only 18 months in the role. The airport’s director of operations will be interim managing director. While Cardiff airport has not published any specific short to long-term passenger growth targets, since being taken over by the Welsh Government for £52m last year it has arrested year-on-year decline. Annual passenger numbers now stand marginally up at just over one million. Keith Brooks said: “They have had massively unrealistic expectations of what they can do in this period [since acquisition]…..Aviation is a very slow moving industry and negotiations with airlines take a long time.” Getting a significant low-cost carrier, like Ryanair, to expand routes from very low levels would require “significant subsidy” inducements. That means government subsidy, and tax payers’ money. The Welsh government “will not just be able to turn things around in a short period of time.”

Click here to view full story..

Ryanair to have one flight per week to Tenerife in winter from Cardiff airport

Ryanair has been seen as the holy grail for passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport. But Cardiff will now have just one Ryanair route, once a week to Tenerife during the winter. “However, there is a wave of optimism that this one route will develop into a network that will improve the airline offering at Cardiff.” There is a history to the relationship between Ryanair and Cardiff Airport. Ryanair had a very successful route between Cardiff and Dublin from 2001 to 2006. The departure of Ryanair followed a reported disagreement with the airport over airport charges.improve the experience for all passengers. Ryanair is an opportunity if the passenger numbers on the new route convince Ryanair to develop even more new routes. However Ryanair would need to deliver substantial passenger numbers to compensate for the lower charges that Cardiff airport will be paid. It would also be necessary to maintain the existing carriers as competition so that Cardiff doesn’t become an airport totally reliant on a single carrier that is using market power to continuously drive down airport income.

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Welsh Economy Minister says Cardiff Airport likely to return to profit only in ‘long-term’

March 21, 2014 The Welsh Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, has said that Cardiff Airport – now in public ownership – is likely to return to profit eventually, but not in the short term. She said its downward spiral is no longer continuing. The airport finally becoming profitable is a “long-term” strategy. She was giving evidence to the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee on the airport, which was bought by the Welsh Government for £52m at the end of 2012. Ms Hart suggested there wouldn’t be a quick sale of the airport back into the private sector, which the Scottish Government is seeking for the newly-nationalised Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire. Pressed by the Plaid Cymru economy spokesman on when the government expected the taxpayer to recoup its investment. She said the Budget announcement for support for regional airports to set up new routes would apply to Wales and that they would “wait for the detail of it”, but confirmed the Welsh Government is likely to bid in for funding. Chancellor George Osborne announced a £20m annual fund will be used to encourage new routes from regional hubs like Cardiff.

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Cardiff Airport is bought by the Welsh government for £52m (over-priced?)

March 27, 2013    The current owner of Cardiff Airport, Abertis, which bought the airport from local councils in 2005, has now managed to sell it to the Welsh Government for £52 million. That price is well above market value when compared to recent transactions involving UK airports. The airport was valued at about £34 million in 2010. It has been making large losses and losing passengers for many years. The Government is desperate that it gets more passengers and gets back to making a profit. Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said it would not be operated by the government and would be managed “at arm’s length” and “on a commercial basis”. Cardiff’s passengers have declined from around 2 million in 2007 to just over 1 million in 2012, as many have chosen Bristol airport instead. Bristol airport is now concerned that Cardiff would now unfairly benefit from state support. Cardiff was hit by the loss of bmibaby in 2011. The airport’s board will try and get in a commercial operator and hopes to attract long haul and transatlantic flights. Only recently there was news that Swiss airline Helvetic will pull out of Cardiff, 2 years after the Welsh government spent £500,000 marketing Wales in Switzerland.

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Welsh government buying Cardiff airport from Abertis in £50m cash deal by the end of March

February 21, 2013      The Welsh Government is expected to complete its acquisition of Cardiff Airport by the end of March in a straight cash deal understood to be around £50m with current owner Abertis. A due diligence process is being undertaken on behalf of the Welsh Government. The deal will not see the Welsh Government taking on any debt at the airport – which posted pre-tax losses of just over £300,000 in 2011. In the short to medium term the Welsh Government would need to inject about £6m a year in capital expenditure and airline route development support – including agreeing to underwrite any losses in the first few years accrued by airlines establishing new routes out of Cardiff. ie public subsidy. It is understood that representatives of the Welsh Government have already sounded out a number of low cost airlines over setting up operations, including Ryanair – which was asking too much. Discussions are continuing. It is unlikely that the airport, post deal, would be directly owned by the Welsh Government but by some special purpose vehicle instead.

  Click here to view full story…






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Road and rail chaos, with congestion and over-crowding, predicted if new Gatwick runway built

A new research paper prepared by author and environmental expert Jeremy Early, on Surface access to Gatwick Airport predicts that a new runway at Gatwick would bring road and rail chaos. He points out that the existing road structure is nearly full, with serious delays occurring on many routes, especially on the M23 and A23 into London. Planned improvements will only be sufficient to deal with the forecast growth in traffic  – without a new runway. A new runway, operating at full capacity of 95 million passengers a year, would mean an a massive increase in road traffic movements each day.  It would probably reduce the M25 and M23 to a standstill – all day not just occasionally. On rail,  the report shows that  already between 2010 and 2014 rail journeys in the South-East increased more than 20%. The extra trains that Gatwick airport boasts of are in reality already just to cope with the expected increase in demand – with no new runway. With a new runway Gatwick predict a three-fold increase in the number of air passengers using Gatwick station. It could be standing room only, with no spare capacity on parts of the network. 



Road and rail chaos predicted if new Gatwick runway built

20.10.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

A new research paper prepared by author and environmental expert Jeremy Early Surface_access_to_Gatwick_Airport_October_2014) predicts that a new runway at Gatwick would bring road and rail chaos.

Jeremy Early points out that the existing road structure is nearly full, with serious delays
occurring on many routes, especially on the M23 and A23 into London. Planned
improvements, such as hard shoulder running on the M25 will only be sufficient to deal
with the forecast growth in traffic – without a new runway.

A new runway, operating at full capacity of 95 million passengers a year, would mean an
average 56,000 more road traffic movements a day (more in summer). On top of that,
journeys by Gatwick staff, and journeys by workers at new firms attracted to the area, are
forecast to mean an extra 64,000 cars and buses on the road – bringing the total to over
120,000 extra vehicles every day.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, says: ‘This colossal increase would be bound to reduce the M25 and M23 to a standstill – all day not just sometimes!  And for a large area around Gatwick it would cause chaos on both on A roads and minor roads with traffic jams at many road junctions so that travel to work would take longer and become much more
Problems on the trains

Similar problems are forecast for rail travel. Already between 2010 and 2014 rail journeys
in the South-East have increased more than 20%. (1)

Gatwick Airport Ltd are boasting that there will be six extra trains an hour – but in fact these are already scheduled to come into service in 2017 to cope with the expected increase in demand – with no new runway.

With a new runway Gatwick predict a three-fold increase in the number of air passengers
using Gatwick station.On top of that it is claimed that one in five employees at the airport and in new local firms will use rail services. That would bring the total up to over 110,000 extra passengers a day using the trains.

The airport has claimed that extra trains will run to London, and that the length of trains
will be increased. But as Early points out, the new Thameslink trains on order are
designed to carry more passengers standing than sitting. ‘So it will be standing room only
– pity the poor commuters!’

Moreover no solution has been put forward to the bottleneck at East Croydon. Steve
Knight, Network Rail area director for Sussex, said this week: ‘We are fast approaching the
point where there simply isn’t any more space for more trains on the busiest parts of the
network’. (2)

Brendon Sewill added: ‘Last time a plan was put forward for a new runway at Gatwick (in 2003) the Department for Transport reckoned that a long tunnel might be needed under East  Croydon. (3)

We will see soon whether the Airports Commission come to a similar  conclusion.’


The report:

“Surface access to London Gatwick Airport: present problems and future nightmares” by  Jeremy Early, October 2014.


For a biography of Jeremy Early see

(1).   2014-15 Quarter 1 Statistical Release. Passenger Rail Usage. Office of Rail Regulation. October 2014

(2).   Quoted in The Argus. 18 October 2014

(3).   The Future Development of Air Transport: South East.  Second edition. Department for Transport. 2003


 By contrast, see the  exaggerated claims made by Gatwick airport:


Gatwick claims that with better public transport it will be “road & rail ready” for 2nd runway by 2021

Gatwick has produced a glossy document setting out how it will have fantastic road and rail links in place by 2021, that there will be no road or rail congestion, and everyone will have smoother and easier journeys. And at no cost to anyone. There are some stunning omissions.  Most things that are inconvenient are just left out. They say “Gatwick will increase the cost efficiency in the rail industry by filling off-peak trains as well as providing passengers for trains operating in the opposite direction to peak commuter services. While it is estimated that, on the busiest trains, only 5% of travellers will be air passengers, the overall benefit they will bring will be around £3 billion in additional fare income.”  Gatwick says: “Junction 9 of the M23 … will need to be upgraded to cater for expansion. Gatwick has committed to funding a doubling of this motorway junction capacity.” The only thing Gatwick has said it will pay for.  Also: “we have re-designed the local road network to be no busier than it is today, even after a general increase in demand, which will lessen local noise and air quality effects of background traffic, benefit economic activity and the quality of life of those using and living along the affected roads.”  Really?  Who writes this stuff?




True and full costs on surface transport

. A slide from Michele Dix’s (from TfL) presentation   Link 


Potential trip growth on public transport and road


And another slide from Michele Dix, indicating the extra pressure on surface transport, at peak times, from another runway being allowed at Heathrow or Gatwick   Link 


See also

Heathrow and Gatwick set out their rival claims at RunwaysUK conference on airport surface access

The organisation, RunwaysUK, which describes itself as a neutral platform for debate on the rival runway schemes, held an interesting and productive half day conference on surface access to airports. There were accounts by Heathrow, Gatwick, Heathrow Hub and the Thames estuary scheme proposers of their plans for road and rail access, as well as contributions by TfL, Network Rail and others with an interest. It is recognised that adding a runway in the south east would come with immense transport strains on existing transport infrastructure. In order to meet requirements on the amount of passengers (and staff) using the airport to be by public transport, the airports know they cannot depend on road access alone. The pressure of extra passengers on networks that are already stretched, especially at peak times, is recognised – though Gatwick and Heathrow do their best to say their passengers will add little, and merely make rail services more profitable out of peak hours. Vexed issues remain of how much the taxpayer pays for transport services the airports benefit from, and what the cost of added congestion to road and rail services – from millions of extra air passengers being added – would cost the economy.

Click here to view full story…


See also:

Gatwick hopes its claim will be believed that area’s road network will ‘better than or the same’ with 2nd runway

Gatwick airport’s publicity machine is saying the area’s road network would be left ‘better than or the same’ if a second runway was built at Gatwick. It is claiming its planned infrastructure improvements will make it ‘road and rail ready’ by 2021 for a new runway. And “with no additional cost to the taxpayer.” They want to “create a regional transport hub to help drive economic growth across the entire area.” Works on a new junction on the A24 are due to start now and could last 18 months, while roadworks have been ongoing on the A23 near Handcross since 2011. Gatwick’s spokesman, Hugh Sumner, said of the local road network’s ability to cope with any additional strain: “Our commitment is we are going to leave the road systems working better than or the same in 2050.” But the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), which opposes a 2nd runway, questioned the contents of the transport document. Brendon Sewill, chair of GACC, said: “The document published by [Gatwick Airport Limited] contains 10% inaccuracies, 20% inconsistencies, and 50% wishful thinking.” TfL appreciate the huge strain a new Gatwick runway will place on surface transport networks, which Gatwick is attempting to gloss over.


Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of runway options – says TfL


By contrast to the Gatwick spin, above, figures from Transport for London (TfL) paint a different picture. The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria.

Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.”

TfL predictions are that the extra demand, due to Gatwick, at peak times (per hour) would be 6,800 extra using public transport, and 5,500 extra by road if Gatwick filled a second runway The extra demand, due to Heathrow,  at peak times would be 9,200 extra using public transport and 7,500 extra by road if Heathrow filled a 3rd runway.

TfL estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn (and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn).  10.6.2014









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Failed Blackpool airport, now shut, owes some £21 million, of which £2 million to unsecured creditors

Blackpool airport has been closed down, but it has now emerged that Blackpool Airport Ltd (the operator), which is part of its owner, Balfour Beatty, owed divisions of its parent company Balfour Beatty £19.2m.  It also owes unsecured creditors, firms and individuals supplying goods and services to the airport, £2m.  Now the assets and equipment on the airport’s site will have to be sold off to the highest bidder to pay off creditors. Liquidators have visited the airport to price up anything which can be auctioned off to raise money. The airport had been losing around £1.5m a year and had been put up for sale in September. A Blackpool councillor commented: “Clearly the management of the airport was not working and has not been for a long time. The debt seems an awful lot and it seems to be much more than the losses they had been reported as making over recent years. It’s clear … Balfour Beatty was out of its depth when it comes to running an airport. I think it has a lot of explaining to do.”


Blackpool Airport’s failure cost £21m

20 October 2014  (Blackpool Gazette)

The price of the failure of Blackpool Airport has been put at an astonishing £21m.

And now the assets and equipment on the airport’s site will have to be sold off to the highest bidder to pay off creditors.

Liquidators have visited the airport to price up anything which can be auctioned off to raise money.

Blackpool Airport Ltd owed divisions of its parent company Balfour Beatty £19.2m while unsecured creditors, firms and individuals supplying goods and services to the airport, were owed £2m.

The figure has left the owners of businesses which used the facility stunned.

The airport had been losing around £1.5m a year and had been put up for sale in September by Balfour Beatty in the hope of attracting a buyer to run the business at Squires Gate.

But when no deal could be struck the construction and engineering giant shut down the operation on October 15.

Passenger numbers hit 550,000 in 2007, but with the global economic crash and the loss of a number of key customers – leaving Jet2 as the only major airline with aircraft based at Squires Gate – passenger figures dropped sharply and were at 262,000 last year, nowhere near enough to break even.

Liquidators Zolfo Cooper have taken charge of the company and were at the airport taking stock of the businesses assets as part of the process of trying to raise cash to pay the companies owed money.

Insolvency expert Mark Patterson from Zolfo Cooper said: “We had a meeting of shareholders followed immediately by a meeting of the creditors at which we were appointed as liquidators.

“Then there was a meeting of the employees where they were made redundant. Our job now is to realise the assets of the company and then return money to the creditors.

“So our role going forward is to look at the assets, that is, things such as the equipment on the Blackpool Airport Ltd site .

“There are also debtors to contact for the money they owe, insurance claims to settle and potential rates refunds.

“There was an amount owed to four Balfour Beatty related entities in the order of £19.2m. Then there was an amount owed to unsecured creditors of £2m.”

Mr Patterson said less than a handful of staff are being kept on to help out on site with the winding down of the company, together with the security staff.

Coun Tony Williams (pictured) leader of the opposition on Blackpool Council said: “If that is indeed the level of debt then it’s astonishing.

“Clearly the management of the airport was not working and has not been for a long time. The debt seems an awful lot and it seems to be much more than the losses they had been reported as making over recent years.

“It’s clear, as things unravel, Balfour Beatty was out of its depth when it comes to running an airport. I think it has a lot of explaining to do.

“It’s a very sad day for our airport.

“The council should have stepped in to give Balfour Beatty more time to find a buyer. It should not have spent the money set aside from the airport’s sale and should have kept it back to pay for an emergency like this.”

Simon Menzies from Pool Aviation said: “I am surprised the amount owed is as much as that. I cannot understand how a small airport like Blackpool run up so much debt.

“Most of us smaller operators at the airport have been good customers and paid up on time at a fair market rate over the years, even paying a premium for fuel but we accepted that because Blackpool is where it is and it is not one of the larger airports. It’s very sad.”

He said his own company was battling on against adversity, with three of its aircraft now based at other airports, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, a situation which has brought extra costs.

He added: “We had to move them with just a week’s notice and we are now coming to terms with that situation and the cost implications.”

Paul Wane from the Helicopter Academy, who is now temporarily based in Pilling, said: “I flew over the airport the other day at about 1,000 ft.

“I tuned in to the Blackpool control frequency and it was dead, just static, so I got my guidance from Warton and looking down it was like a ghost airfield. No-one around no cars, no activity.




Some earlier news stories:


Unite union calls for more time to help save Blackpool airport jobs after closure on 15th

Unite Union bosses have called on Balfour Beatty to think again about the rapid closure of Blackpool Airport to give parties more time to come up with a rescue package to save jobs. As no buyer has been found for the airport, it will close on 15th October. Although air traffic control and fire cover will also end at that point, the smaller general aviation companies will continue to operate. However, more than 100 jobs are set to go – including fire fighters, security, air traffic controllers and administrative staff – and the long term future of the airport now lies under a cloud as Balfour Beatty, MPs, local councils and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership continue to look for ways to retain aviation use of the site while making the best use of the 400 acres to support jobs and the local economy. Unite said “Because it is going to be made insolvent then our members will have to claim back their redundancy and any back holiday pay from the state.” Unite wants the owners to rethink. The Blackpool area already has high unemployment, and a shortage of skilled or well-paid work.

Click here to view full story…

Blackpool Airport closure shock

29 September 2014 (Blackpool Gazette)

Blackpool Airport will close down next month unless a buyer can be found. Since the end of last month, owners Balfour Beatty have been trying to find a buyer to take over the operating interests in the terminal, which was bought for £14m in 2008. But in a statement, the company today said that unless an agreement can be reached before October 7, it is “likely the airport will close” with the last commercial flights taking place on October 15th.   The airport has been making a loss for a number of years. Three airlines fly out of the terminal.

They are,  Stobart Air, and Citywing


Blackpool airport (losing about £1.5 million per year) put up for sale by Balfour Beatty

Blackpool Airport has been put up for sale by Balfour Beatty, which bought it in 2008. The airport is saying the sale will not affect flights, and it hopes to get new routes. Balfour Beatty paid £14m for the airport, and has now has decided to sell its operating interests in the site as part of a wider decision to sell all its interests in regional airports. But it will continue to own the land on which the terminal stands. Alan Cavill, assistant chief executive at Blackpool Council, which sold the airport in 2004 for £13 million, welcomed the news. A London-based restructuring specialist is handling handle the sale and inviting expressions of interest from would-be buyers before September 10th, but no price has been put on the airport. Balfour Beatty has invested almost £30m in the site since 2008. But passenger numbers have dropped over the years from a peak of around 500,000 in 2007. It gets passengers from the North West of England, Southern Scotland, Cumbria and Cheshire. The airport makes an annual loss of about £1.5m per year. Three airlines are based at Blackpool including Jet2 with 13 destinations.

Click here to view full story…








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Thousands fear compulsory purchase of their land, and eviction, for massive Taiwan aerotropolis + 3rd runway

 A huge airport city, or Aerotropolis, is planned around Taiwan Taoyan airport. However, its construction needs a great deal of land (about 3,000 hectares), and that many thousands of people (about 12,000 households) are moved.  Residents who may face forced eviction, for inadequate compensation, have been battling against the threat since last year. Some of the land is earmarked for a new runway – the airport already has two runways, and only about 30 million passengers per year.  One person, in tears, facing expropriation said: “My family has been on the plot of land on which our two-story house now stands since my great-grandparents’ time. We got married in this house, we raised our children in this house ….We want to grow old in the house, and we want our children to get married and have their children in the house, too.” People question why good quality farmland would be destroyed, and whether corruption in high places has been a reason for the airport plans.


An aerotropolis is an urban plan in which the layout, infrastructure, and economy is centred on an airport, existing as an airport city. It is similar in form and function to a traditional metropolis, which contains a central city core and its commuter-linked suburbs. The Taoyuan Aerotropolis s a large urban planning development at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The development is supported by the Taoyuan County government. It is to be zoned.  The development requires a total of 3,200 hectares land acquisition and over 40,000 people have to be relocated. Once the Aerotropolis has been completed, the Taoyuan International Airport will be expanded to 1,800 hectares from the current 1,200 hectares, and the third runway will also be built.



Residents protest Aerotropolis

REALLY NECESSARY?   Resident Lu Li-chin questioned whether it is necessary to take over private land, as there is a lot of idle government land close to the airport

By Loa Iok-sin  (Taipei Times)

Residents who may face forced eviction due to the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project demonstrated outside the Construction and Planning Agency in Taipei yesterday as a committee met to review the project, urging it to exclude them from the project.

With the aim of creating an industrial, commercial, residential and a free economic pilot zone around Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, as well as an expansion of the airport, the Aerotropolis project would require the expropriation of more than 3,000 hectares of private land, affecting more than 12,000 households.

“My family has been on the plot of land on which our two-story house now stands since my great-grandparents’ time. We got married in this house, we raised our children in this house,” Chien Li-chiu (簡麗秋), in tears, told the crowd. “We want to grow old in the house, and we want our children to get married and have their children in the house, too.”

Chien said that, although her family owns the land, she and her husband had to borrow money to build the house 20 years ago and have just finished paying the mortgage.

“An apartment in this area costs up to dozens of millions of NT dollars nowadays — how would we be able to get another place to live with compensation of a few million NT dollars after the government takes away our house?” Chien asked.

Another resident, Huang A-kuei (黃阿桂), also said that she had worked hard for 20 years to earn enough money to buy the house in which she lives.

“I put my lifetime savings into buying the house; I would defend it with my life if anyone tried to take it away from me,” she said.

Lu Li-chin (呂理欽), on the other hand, questioned whether it is necessary to take over private land, as there is a lot of idle government land in the area.

He said most of the land to be taken away is good quality farmland and it would be a pity if it was turned into industrial or commercial zones.

“Food and energy are the most important resources now, and there may be a World War III for food and energy,” Lu said. “In addition, farmland could provide another source of income for our children, so that they would not have to use social welfare resources when they are out of a job or retired.”

The villagers were permitted to speak at the beginning of the meeting, which continues today.



Wikipedia says of Taiwan Taoyuan airport:

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is an international airport serving the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, and the northern parts of the country. Located about 40 km west of Taipei the airport is Taiwan’s largest airport.

The runways and taxiways are set to be expanded by early 2015 to accommodate large planes (including the Airbus A380).

As part of the “Taoyuan Aerotropolis” plan (scheduled for completion in 2019/2020), existing terminals will be expanded, a new terminal will be constructed, an aerospace industrial park will be established, and special zones for cargo, passenger and logistic services will be developed.





Police, aerotropolis protesters clash outside meeting

By Loa Iok-sin (Taipei  Times)

Residents and activists against the Taoyuan Aerotropolis (桃園航空城) project clashed with the police outside the headquarters of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) in Taipei yesterday as they were refused admittance to a meeting that was to decide whether their land would be seized by the government.

Holding banners protesting against the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project while chanting slogans asking for the Urban Planning Review Committee to allow them to attend the meeting, local residents who are affected by the project and rights activists supporting them demonstrated outside the agency, as police officers formed a line to block them from entering the complex.

“This project will have a huge impact on our lives and properties. Why can’t we attend the meeting?” a resident asked police officers, but received no response.

After a brief standoff, some demonstrators decided to climb over the wall of the complex, but their attempt failed when police officers held on to their feet, preventing them from moving.

A few minutes later, the committee finally allowed representatives of the protesters to attend the meeting, but they were only given a few minutes to talk and were then told to leave, triggering another wave of protests.

“Thousands of hectares of private land is to be seized to build a third runway for Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, but we really doubt the necessity of it with the declining numbers of passengers and flights using the airport,” Chan Hsien-chang (詹憲章), spokesman for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Self-Help Association, told the meeting.

“Even if it’s absolutely necessary, do we really need to pick an option that would affect the largest number of residents?” Chan asked.

Chan went on to allege that the entire project is to benefit big corporations with connections in the government, as the second phase of the project involves the construction of commercial and industrial centers, while some local politicians are also proposing building a casino resort.

“The details of the project are yet to be drawn up and it is not due to start for another 20 years, so why the hurry to take our land?” Chan asked.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), who presided over the meeting, did not offer a response.

Soon after Chan and the other representatives had spoken, they were asked to leave.
Another protester, Pan Chung-cheng (潘忠政), refused to leave the building and was forcibly removed by police officers.

The committee approved the project at about noon, but the residents only learned about it hours later when they were asked to comment by reporters.

They vowed to continue their resistance to the project.





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Biggin Hill and Oxford airports sue RAF Northolt over its expansion into commercial private jet flights

Two small UK airports that depend on business jets, Oxford and Biggin Hill, are suing the military airport, RAF Northolt because it has expanded into civilian flights. It has done this to make money for the MoD, after their budget cuts. They claim that, because Northolt is operated by the MoD and therefore taxpayer funded, it has an unfair competition advantage. The expansion at Northolt also affects the number of business jet flights that Luton and Farnborough can get, and their flight numbers have fallen in recent years.  In May 2013 Northolt said it would begin to more than double the number of civilian flights from a self-imposed cap of 7,000 to 17,500 by 2016. Of that total, military movements will remain at about 5,500 a year. Northolt is the closest private jet airport to central London. The MD of Biggin Hill said: “We, like Oxford, like Farnborough, have all been through a very tough time and they’ve pulled the rug from underneath us. It’s not a level playing field.” They claim Northolt has about 15% of the London market, and are cheaper as they don’t have to meet the same safety standards as commercial airports.


Airports sue RAF Northolt over expansion into commercial flights


Small airports have had a difficult time in the past few years after passenger numbers dropped sharply following the financial crisis.

Biggin Hill estimates it has lost business worth about £4m each year, a 5 per cent reduction in market share. It handled 11,411 commercial civilian flights in 2013. Oxford airport handled 8,025 flights in the same period.


As well as being granted a judicial review that will be heard next month, Biggin Hill and Oxford airports have also taken their case to the European competition authority.


To save money, the defence department has outsourced contracts worth billions of pounds, has been selling prime properties such as its Deepcut barracks estate in Surrey, and has cut the army from about 100,000 to 80,000.

It denied that it was operating unfairly in expanding Northolt. “We do not deliberately undercut private enterprise and RAF Northolt adheres to Treasury rules,” the MoD said.


Full FT article at





Reubens take on RAF in dogfight over Northolt

John Collingridge (Sunday Times)

1 June 2014

BILLIONAIRE property moguls David and Simon Reuben have launched a legal challenge to halt the soaring number of civilian flights at RAF Northolt, the airport used by the Queen and prime minister.


The cap on civil aircraft flights at the airport in northwest London was lifted by 5,000 to 12,000 by the Ministry of Defence under plans to raise more money, and the airfield has become a favourite with business people who want to land close to the centre of London. Warren Buffett’s NetJets aviation business is a big operator at Northolt, where at least 70% of flights are now civilian.

………. and it continues …..

Full article in the Sunday Times at







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Aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes: building permit suspended temporarily awaiting environmental appeals

At Nantes, a new airport to replace the existing one, is planned at Notre Dame des Landes. It has now been announced by the Prefecture Loire-Atlantique that the building permits filed in April 2013 have now been suspended pending appeals on environmental decrees. Two appeals were filed against the project by environmental groups and community opposing the project: one against the prefectural decree regarding the directive on water; the other against the decree on the transfer of protected species.  The instruction “will resume on the basis of a record that will reflect the changing conditions of implementation of the project (date of commissioning, development of traffic).” It was recently revealed by Canard Enchaîné, the weekly satirical French newspaper, that the new airport buildings and facilities will actually be considerably smaller than those of the current airport. They might even be below the necessary standards, and the distance passengers would need to walk would be longer. The authorities admit it will be “more compact”  but  say it is scalable from 4 million passengers per year up to even 9 million eventually.


Aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes: L’instruction du permis de construire est suspendue

17.10.2014 (20 minutes, france)

“The instruction of building permits filed in April 2013, was suspended pending appeals on environmental decrees.” That’s what the Prefecture Loire-Atlantique has just announced in a statement. The instruction “will resume on the basis of a record that will reflect the changing conditions of implementation of the project (date of commissioning, development of traffic),” she says.

Smaller than expected surfaces?

The building permit for the proposed airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes has been the subject of  considerable controversy since the revelation last week by the Canard Enchaîné , of the areas planned for the future platform . Most of the rooms, spaces and facilities at the terminal equipment would in effect be smaller or fewer than those found in the existing Nantes Atlantique airport, which will  be announced to soon be at capacity.  They would also be below the recommendation levels of civil aviation.

A more “compact” airport because it’s  optimized

The  elected group that doubts the appropriateness of the proposed airport (CEDPA), confirm the figures put forward by le Canard enchaîné, claims to have also discovered that the “fire station would lose 20% of its area”, that “the building used for the maintenance of aircraft would lose almost half of its area “, that” the distance passengers  need to travel to catch their plane would be two to three times longer.”  “The future airport, because it is an innovative design optimizes airport functions and will, therefore, be more compact,” the Prefecture assures, from his point of view. It is also designed to be scalable, from 4 million passengers up  to 5, 7 and 9 million passengers.”

Determination of appeals in 2015

The decision of the administrative tribunal of Nantes on appeals against the prefectural ordinances authorizing the kick-off of the work of the new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes is expected in mid-2015. Traffic from the existing airport Nantes Atlantique is expected to exceed 4 million passengers in 2014


The original French:

«L’instruction du permis de construire déposé en avril 2013 a été suspendue dans l’attente des recours sur les arrêtés environnementaux». C’est ce que vient d’annoncer la préfecture de Loire-Atlantique dans un communiqué. L’instruction «reprendra sur la base d’un dossier qui tiendra compte de l’évolution des conditions de mise en œuvre du projet (date de mise en service, développement du trafic)», précise-t-elle.

Des surfaces plus petites que prévues?

Le permis de construire du projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes fait l’objet d’une vive polémique depuis la révélation, la semaine passée, par le Canard enchaîné, des superficies prévues pour la future plateforme. La plupart des salles, espaces et équipements programmés pour l’aérogare seraient en effet plus petits ou moins nombreux que ceux se trouvant dans l’actuel aéroport Nantes-Atlantique, que l’on annonce pourtant bientôt saturé. Ils seraient également en dessous des préconisations de l’aviation civile.

Un aéroport «plus compact» car optimisé

Le collectif des élus doutant de la pertinence du projet d’aéroport (CéDpa), qui confirme les chiffres avancés par le Canard enchaîné, affirme avoir également découvert que la «caserne des pompiers perdrait 20% de sa superficie», que «le bâtiment servant à la maintenance des avions perdrait presque la moitié de sa superficie», que «la distance parcourue par les passagers pour aller prendre leur avion serait deux trois à fois plus longue». «Le futur aéroport, parce qu’il est d’une conception innovante, optimise les fonctions aéroportuaires et sera, de ce fait, plus compact» assure de son côté la préfecture. Il est également prévu pour être évolutif, de 4 millions de passagers jusqu’à 5, 7 et 9 millions de passagers.»

Décisions sur les recours en 2015

La décision du tribunal administratif de Nantes concernant les recours déposés contre les arrêtés préfectoraux autorisant le coup d’envoi des travaux du nouvel aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes est attendue pour mi-2015. Le trafic de l’actuel aéroport Nantes-Atlantique devrait dépasser les 4 millions de passagers en 2014.




The decision of the administrative tribunal of Nantes on appeals against the prefectural ordinances authorizing the kick-off of the work of the new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes is expected in 2015, according to the president of the Regional Council of Pays de la Loire , Jacques Auxiette, and ACIPA, leading association opposed to the project. The deadline of October was previously regularly mentioned in rendering decisions.

By March 2015

“The available evidence suggests that the decision would now rather be  for the end of the year or early next year,” Jacques Auxiette reported this Monday.

“The court has informed us that the current decision would fall in the first half of 2015″, says Julien Durand, one of the spokesmen of the ACIPA.

Two appeals

Two appeals were filed against the project by environmental groups and community opposing the project: one against the prefectural decree regarding the Water Law, the other against the decree on the transfer of protected species.

A political agreement between the state, the PS and opponents provides suspension of work until exhaustion of the appeals. “If we had the misfortune to lose, it would still be possible to appeal and enter the State Council,” warns Julien Durand of ACIPA.


The original French:

La décision du tribunal administratif de Nantes concernant les récours déposés contre les arrêtés préfectoraux autorisant le coup d’envoi des travaux du nouvel aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes serait attendue pour 2015, selon le président du conseil régional des Pays de la Loire, Jacques Auxiette, et l’Acipa, principale association opposée au projet. L’échéance du mois d’octobre était jusque-là régulièrement évoquée pour le rendu de ces décisions.

D’ici mars 2015

«Les éléments dont on dispose laissent à penser que la décision serait désormais plutôt pour la fin d’année ou le début d’année prochaine», a rapporté ce lundi midi Jacques Auxiette.

«Le tribunal nous a informés que la décision tomberait courant premier semestre 2015», indique de son côté Julien Durand, l’un des porte-parole de l’Acipa.

Deux recours déposés

Deux recours ont été déposés par les collectifs opposés au projet et des associations environnementales: l’un contre l’arrêté préfectoral relatif à la loi sur l’eau, l’autre contre l’arrêté relatif au transfert des espèces protégées.

Un accord politique entre l’Etat, le PS et les opposants prévoit la suspension des travaux jusqu’à l’épuisement des recours. «Si on avait la malchance de perdre, il y aurait encore la possibilité de faire appel, puis de saisir le Conseil d’Etat», prévient Julien Durand de l’Acipa.



A project still valid, but for 2019 … 2020

The suspension of the project until the exhaustion of appeals is still relevant. Particularly the further appeal against the expropriation order of March 2012, subject to an appeal to the State Council to quash the order of assignment/transferability. These two actions should find their epilogue in 2015.
At the Administrative Court their remains an appeal against the viaire program, which should be considered in the first quarter 2015 Covering respect for Water Law and respect of protected species. Then all claims related to the promise of Francois Hollande during his election campaign have been taken to completion. Which does not mean that work can start immediately. In any case, due to the presence of protected species, trees and ponds transfer of such things can only take place in autumn or early winter. In the fall of 2015 at the earliest, more likely 2016 years during which will also be placed regional and cantonal elections could be pushed back from March 2015 to December 2015, and that could still come interfere in the decision to launch site movement of species … This will be followed by three years of construction …


The original French:

Un projet toujours d’actualité, mais pour 2019… 2020

La suspension du projet à l’épuisement des recours reste toujours d’actualité. Notamment le pourvoit en cassation contre l’ordonnance d’expropriation de mars 2012, subordonné à un recours en Conseil d’État pour annulation de l’arrêté de cessibilité. Ces deux recours devraient trouver leur épilogue en 2015.
Reste également au Tribunal administratif un recours contre le programme viaire, qui devrait être jugé au premier trimestre 2015. Portant sur le respect de la Loi sur l’eau et le respect des espèces protégées. Ensuite tous les recours liés à la promesse de François Hollande durant sa campagne électorale auront été conduits à leur terme.

Ce qui ne veut pas dire que les travaux pourront commencer aussitôt. Dans tous les cas, du fait de la présence des espèces protégées, coupes d’arbres et transfert des mares par exemple ne pourront avoir lieu qu’en automne ou début d’hiver. Dans l’absolu à l’automne 2015 au plus tôt, et plus probablement en 2016. Années durant lesquelles se situeront également les élections régionales et cantonales qui pourraient reculer de mars 2015 à décembre 2015, et qui pourraient encore venir interférer sur la décision de lancer le chantier de déplacement des espèces…  Suivront alors 3 années de chantier…




More and older news about the proposed Nantes airport at









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New action group, Plane Wrong, fights Gatwick flight path changes north of the airport

A new local action group, “Plane Wrong”, opposing changes of Gatwick flight paths, and the sudden increase in plane noise for some areas, has been formed. The flight path is now making a wider turn. Changes to a flight path, heading west and north of Gatwick are affecting – and causing annoyance and distress to – thousands of people across parts of Surrey. Plane Wrong has been established by people in Beare Green, Betchworth, Blackbrook, Brockham, Capel, Coldharbour, the Holmwoods, Leigh, Leith Hill, Redhill and Reigate.  The group argues that there have been insufficient trials and consultations about the changes.  The increased noise is damaging the environment, especially the AONB surrounding Leith Hill. Plane Wrong has organised two public meetings, on 22nd and 23rd October, to which the CAA was invited to explain its flight path changes. Plane Wrong has a petition to the CAA, asking it to stop the new route. Plane Wrong say that “If this flight path is not reversed, it sets a precedent for airspace changes to be made without proper consideration for the impact it has on the local surrounding areas and population.



New action group fights Gatwick Airport flight path changes

Oct 13, 2014  (Get Surrey)
By Andre Langlois

New group Plane Wrong is holding two upcoming public meetings to discuss its plans
An action group has been formed to campaign against changes at Gatwick Airport that have affected thousands of people across the county.

Flight paths were recently changed, affecting people to the south and east of Dorking, who were previously unaffected by aircraft noise.

Plane Wrong, which has been established by people in Beare Green, Betchworth, Blackbrook, Brockham, Capel, Coldharbour, the Holmwoods, Leigh, Leith Hill, Redhill and Reigate, argues that there have been insufficient trials and consultations about the changes.

Its chairman, Mike Ward, said: “This unnecessary change is causing great distress to thousands of people over a wide area and damage to the environment, especially the area of outstanding natural beauty surrounding Leith Hill. The change must be reversed.

“We urge everyone to write to the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport during the next few days.

“If this flight path is not reversed, it sets a precedent for airspace changes to be made without proper consideration for the impact it has on the local surrounding areas and population.

“We invite you to join us.”

The Plane Wrong group is working with other community groups that are campaigning on similar issues including the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.

Two public meetings have been organised by the group to discuss its plans.

The district’s MP, Sir Paul Beresford, will be the speaker during a meeting at Beare Green Village Hall on Wednesday October 22 at 7.30pm.

A second meeting will take place at Meadvale Parish Hall, in Redhill, on Thursday October 23 at 7.30pm and will be attended by MP Crispin Blunt MP.


Stop the change to flight paths north of Gatwick Airport


Beare Green, Village Hall, Merebank, RH5 4RD
7.30pm Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Sir Paul Beresford MP
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Civil Aviation Authority


Reigate & Redhill, Meadvale Parish Hall, Somerset Road RH1 6LT
7.30pm Thursday 23rd October 2014

Crispin Blunt MP
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Civil Aviation Authority

From Mike Ward,  Chair Plane Wrong



Plane Wrong petition

PlaneWrong says their petition “Stop the change to flight paths north of Gatwick Airport”, is doing really well. It is now not short of 2,000 signatories.   Please help spread the word by forwarding the link to the petition, below, to your friends?




Stop the change to flight paths north of Gatwick Airport

We, the undersigned, call on the Civil Aviation Authority to reverse the decision of the Director of Airspace Policy which enables Gatwick Airport Limited to fly departures outside of the existing Noise Preferential Route (NPR) for RWY26 DVR/BIG/CLN/LAM
Why Important

There has been an increase in disturbance in areas to the North of Gatwick Airport, mostly caused by a change to departure routes when the airport is operating with take-offs to the west (70-80% of the time). Aircraft now make wider turns than before and therefore go further west and north before heading off to their destination to the north or east of Gatwick (planes going south or west generally take a different route).

Part of the revised route lies outside the quite wide permitted corridor (known as Noise Preferential Route –NPR) that has existed for many years. Gatwick wants the NPR boundary changed so that this can continue. The impact is that many people are now affected who were not before. The CAA is reviewing these changes now. We must stop them becoming permanent. (NB Gatwick is deferring certain flight path changes. This does not apply to this route.)

Gatwick has introduced new flight paths that concentrate the flights into a much narrower corridor. So if you are near that narrow corridor you will be getting significantly more flights overhead. Previously, the wider corridor allowed a spread of flights.

The concentrated flight paths are also causing problems for those who live under the easterly departure route. This now also operates in a narrow band. Many people now suffer from both routes.

What’s the advantage for Gatwick?

It seems that the wider turn allows the aircraft to fly faster. This may mean that Gatwick can squeeze in a few more take-offs. So the motive may be extra profit.

What’s the disadvantage for us?

But the wider turn is what pushes flights out over the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and closer to Leith Hill. It is also the cause of annoyance to people who were not troubled before. It affects Capel, Beare Green, Coldharbour, Holmwood, Brockham, Betchworth, Leigh, Reigate and Redhill.




Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford joins the battle over Gatwick aircraft noise

Sir Paul Beresford, the MP for Mole Valley, has joined the battle against aircraft noise due to Gatwick airport, over the south of the district.  Documents for the recent airspace consultation by Gatwick (closed on 15th August) show that one of Gatwick’s departure routes was changed in November 2013. This flight path had too tight a turn for modern aircraft (though they can climb faster than older planes) and planes were increasingly straying further north. As a result, the official route, the NPR (noise preferential route) was changed at the end of last year to allow for a wider turn, meaning 7,200 people who were previously unaffected are now under the flight path – including communities in Leigh, the Holmwoods, Brockham, Capel, Betchworth and Beare Green. Sir Paul said: “It’s quite a disaster. People who bought houses under the previous flight path knew what they were buying. People who have bought under the new flight path did not know. ….. the whole thing is totally unacceptable.” He is deeply opposed to a 2nd runway, partly due to the thousands of houses that would have to be built, on green field land, to accommodate workers. “They are actually bussing people in from the South Coast to do jobs” already.

Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford joins the battle over aircraft noise

By J Hardwick

August 17, 2014 (Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser)

Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford joins the battle over aircraft noise

Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford joins the battle over aircraft noise

​MOLE VALLEY’S MP has joined the battle against aircraft noise over the south of the district.Sir Paul Beresford is working with Reigate’s MP Crispin Blunt to fight against changes made to the routes planes use to fly from Gatwick.As reported in the Advertiser last week, documents released as part of the airport’s ongoing airspace consultation reveal one of the departure routes was changed in November last year.According to the document, the route  had too tight a turn for modern aircraft and planes were increasingly straying further north.[When Gatwick refers to RWY26 – meaning runway 26 – they mean the single runway used for take-offs towards the west.  ie. 280 degrees from north. When they refer to RWY08 they mean the runway used for take offs to the east. ie. 80 degrees from north.  AW note].

As a result, the official route was changed at the end of last year to allow for a wider turn, meaning 7,200 people who were previously unaffected are now under the flight path – including communities in Leigh, the Holmwoods, Brockham, Capel, Betchworth and Beare Green.

Sir Paul told the Advertiser: “It’s quite a disaster.

“People who bought houses under the previous flight path knew what they were buying. People who have bought under the new flight path did not know.

“The value of their properties will go down and the whole thing is totally unacceptable.

“I have looked with an expert at the proposed changes.

“It is incredibly difficult to understand and the nature of the consultation is such that most people will not respond because they don’t understand.”

He added: “There is a horrible suspicion in my mind which is that it could be related to the prospect of Gatwick having a second runway, which I am absolutely opposed to.

“They say they’re going to create thousands more jobs but the other weekend they couldn’t get people to move baggage.

“They are actually bussing people in from the South Coast to do jobs, so what this would really mean is more houses between Gatwick and Dorking.

“The end result will be a half-hub at Gatwick and a half-hub at Heathrow with a parking lot in between called the M25.”

Brockham resident Caroline Horn said: “We moved to Brockham two years ago and enjoyed a very peaceful existence until earlier this year.

“We used to live very close to Heathrow Airport, so not hearing planes all the time in our new home was a blessing and one of the reasons we moved.

“Now, however, I hear planes overhead at 3am, 4am, 5am and onwards.

“It’s particularly busy during the mornings and evenings, but even during the day they fly over every five to ten minutes.”

A consultation on changing flight paths for planes in and out of the airport, ended yesterday (Saturday, August 16).



Map from Gatwick airspace consultation at

Gatwick map showing Reigate area flight paths 2014











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Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold to Ferrovial and Macquaire, by HAH, in £1bn deal

Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports have been sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) in a £1 billion deal. All three will now be owned by a consortium formed by Spanish firm Ferrovial and Australia-based Macquarie, and managed locally.   The sale is expected to be completed in January 2015.  Ferrovial already part-owns Heathrow, and holds a 25% stake in HAH, which was previously known as BAA.  So from January 2015, HAH will only operate Heathrow, while some years back it owned and ran seven airports.  Heathrow itself is 25% owned by Ferrovial with other stakes controlled by investment vehicles from Qatar, Quebec, Singapore, the US, and China. (Nothing English).  By passenger number in the UK, Glasgow ranks 8th, Aberdeen 14th and Southampton 18th. The airports are not anticipating any particular changes due to the sale. The uncertainty over ownership has not been helpful for the airports, but the investors will be wanting a return on their billion pounds.


Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal

16.10.2014 (BBC)

Glasgow Airport

Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports have been sold by owners Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) in a £1bn deal.

The three airports will now be owned by a consortium formed by two companies – Spanish firm Ferrovial and Australia-based Macquarie.

The sale is expected to be completed in January of next year.

The three airports will be managed locally but supported by Ferrovial’s and Macquarie’s shared ownership.

Ferrovial already part-owns Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, and holds a 25% stake in HAH, which was previously known as BAA.

The deal means HAH will now operate only its flagship London hub.

The company had previously operated seven airports but an inquiry by the Competition Commission ordered it to be broken up.

By the time of the ruling it had already sold Gatwick, before later disposing of Edinburgh and announcing the sale of Stansted last year.

Heathrow itself is 25% owned by Ferrovial with other stakes controlled by investment vehicles from Qatar, Quebec, Singapore, the US, and China.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “This sale enables us to focus on improving Heathrow for passengers and winning support for Heathrow expansion.

“Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport, connecting the whole of the UK to the world and bringing economic benefits locally and nationally.”

Edward Beckley, Macquarie’s European head, said the firm had a “long and successful track record of investing in and developing airports around the world”.

He added: “We look forward to working with these airports over the long term to support route growth and enhance the passenger experience for the communities they serve.”

Ferrovial chief executive Inigo Meiras said: “We are committed to improve these facilities and their services looking to a better passenger experience and in order to grant access to further domestic and international destinations.”

  • Glasgow is the eighth busiest of the UK’s airports, with 7.4m passengers and 104,000 aircraft movements in 2013.
  • Aberdeen is 14th busiest, with 3.4m passengers and 73,000 aircraft movements.
  • Southampton is 18th busiest with 1.7m passengers and 36,000 movements.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Clearly this is a landmark day for Glasgow Airport and whilst we will be sorry to leave the Heathrow group, we do so knowing we’re in an extremely strong position.

“We have benefited from considerable investment in recent years and have achieved a great deal of success in securing new routes and growing passenger numbers. Together with my team, I am looking forward to working with Ferrovial and Macquarie to further develop our airport and ensure it continues to deliver for Glasgow and Scotland.”

Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen Airport work on the deal had been taking place behind the scenes for several months.

She added: “Locally things remain very much business as usual. Our passenger numbers continue to grow, and we will continue to operate as we have been with a focus on the safety and security of our customers, as well as on delivering an excellent standard of customer service.

“No changes to the way we operate are planned and we will keep striving to deliver on all our commitments in the run up to a formal handover by the end of the year.”

The deal was welcomed by local authorities, with Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson saying: “Glasgow Airport is of huge strategic importance for the city and the west of Scotland with over 5,000 jobs dependant on its continued success.

“Its success is vital to ensure that Glasgow and our city region continues to be an attractive location for investment and for local businesses to expand overseas.

“I’m encouraged to see that this deal is backed with a wealth of experience in both the air industry and public infrastructure – and my council will continue to work in close partnership with our airport to ensure it meets the needs of local business and leisure travellers.”

Mark Macmillan, the leader of neighbouring Renfrewshire Council, said the deal would give Glasgow Airport “security of ownership and more certainty for the future”.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said: “The existing management team has done an excellent job in promoting the airport’s assets and attracting in new flights over what have been rough times. There is still huge potential for growth and route development, and that has obviously influenced the attractiveness of Glasgow as an investment.”


Douglas Fraser

BBC Scotland business and economy editor

The sale of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports has been some time coming. Since the competition regulator took aim at the formerly nationalised British Airports Authority, later BAA plc, the break-up of that empire has looked likely.

Gatwick was sold five years ago for £1.5bn, and is now fighting hard to get the planning nod for a new runway, instead of letting Heathrow expand.

Either Edinburgh or Glasgow had to be sold, BAA was told, so the capital’s airport went to the same infrastructure investors who own Gatwick for a whopping £807m.

Renaming itself Heathrow Airport Holdings plc, the parent company then had to shed Stansted, going for £1.5bn to council-controlled Manchester Airport. And that left the three smaller parts of the company awaiting their fate.

The uncertainty over ownership has not been helpful for them. New owners may be willing to invest in upgrading Aberdeen’s facilities, while helping Glasgow compete more effectively with both Edinburgh, its new rival, as well as the beleaguered Prestwick. But then, those investors will also want a return on their billion pounds.


Related BBC Stories




Ferrovial buys – and sells – three UK airports for $1.7bn

17 October 2014 | By Joe Quirke

A joint venture between Ferrovial Aeropuertos of Spain and Australian investment bank Macquarie  is to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports at a cost of $1.7bn.

The consortium will purchase the airports from Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH), a company in which Ferrovial has a 25% stake.

Ferrovial bought HAH in 2006, at which time it was known as BAA and operated seven airports across Britain. Four of its facilities were sold off after a Competition Commission inquiry found that passengers were suffering as a result of BAA’s dominant position.

After the completion of this transaction, HAH will own only Heathrow airport, but the Spanish contractor will have increased its share of the UK airport sector.

Iñigo Meirás, the chief executive of Ferrovial, said: “We’re aware of the importance of these airports for the population in their surrounding areas. The transaction proves how valuable these assets are for Ferrovial.

“We’re committed to improving these facilities and their services looking to a better passenger experience and in order to grant access to further domestic and international destinations.”

He said the three airports would continue to be managed locally, but would have the additional support of Ferrovial and Macquarie.

Sir Peter Mason Chairman of Thames Water, will be appointed as chairman of the group on completion of the deal.

Macquarie’s half of the 50:50 joint venture is made up of its European Infrastructure Fund 4. Edward Beckley, the manager of the fund, said: “We look forward to working with these airports over the long term to support route growth and enhance the passenger experience for the communities they serve.”

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton were repectively the eighth, 14th and 18th busiest airports in the UK in 2013.

The transaction is expected to completed no later than January next year.
CIOB Website of the Chartered Institute of Building




Glasgow, Aberdeen & Southamptom Airports put up for sale by owners Heathrow Airport Holdings by end of 2014

July 31, 2014

Heathrow Airport Holdings want to complete the sale of the three airports by the end of the year. Key staff at Glasgow Airport were given the news at a briefing this afternoon. Spanish-owned BAA later issued a statement through Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd. “Over recent months Heathrow Airport Holdings group shareholders and management have been considering their strategic position in relation to our three airports, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton. As a result the group is now formally entering a sale process. Whilst there is currently no certainty that a sale will be concluded, the group intends to work towards completing a transaction by the end of the year.” BAA’s sold Edinburgh airport for £807 million in May 2012 to Global Infrastructure Partners. A Glasgow Airport source said: “The feeling here is that BAA need to raise cash to invest in Heathrow, but they are carrying too much debt.”







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Heathrow article implies health of Scottish langoustine market depends on 3rd runway ….

An article by Bloomberg, put out as part of Heathrow’s attempts to lobby for a new runway, says (I kid you not) that we need a new runway because people have to be able to export Scottish langoustines more easily to Spain and the rest of the world. The claim the Scottish fishermen, who can make plenty of money out of the crustaceans, can’t get the flight connections from Heathrow for their exports.  They claim this high value product is vital for the UK economy, however unsustainable it is to air freight shell fish half way around the globe.  However, the Scottish langoustine exporters have managed quite adequately to use connections via Schiphol – from Inverness – rather than Heathrow. Heathrow cut many of its flights to regional airports, as more profit can be made from long haul flights elsewhere. The   Bloomberg article is largely written for them by  Heathrow, so trots out a lot of half truths and spin.  Not impressive for the local people who  have recently had their peace destroyed by a concentrated flight path trial – one symptom of which was the meeting attended by 1,000 + people in Ascot, leaving Heathrow in no doubt at all about their opposition to a new runway.


London’s Runway Crisis Puts Pinch on Langoustine Export

Restaurants from Spain to Hong Kong clamor for mini-lobsters caught off northern Scotland.

For the fishermen who sell the langoustines live for almost $30 a pound, there’s one problem: London’s overstretched airports don’t offer the flight connections needed to get the crustaceans fresh to the markets where demand is surging.

“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Ben Murray, managing director at Keltic Seafare, Scotland’s biggest shellfish supplier. “If there was a secure network to the Asias and Dubais of this world from the Highlands it would open up all sorts of options.”

His travails encapsulate the economic stakes for Britain as Prime Minister David Cameron pushes for increased exports and less reliance on the financial industry. Few assets are more important in meeting those goals than a state-of-the-art airport, and London’s Heathrow hub falls short, adding urgency to officials’ expansion plans.

“Low-weight and high-value products like lobster or computer chips have become the modern incarnation of the 17th-century tulip,” said Adie Tomer, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C. “There is a lot at stake in attracting that freight and making sure it doesn’t rot on the tarmac.”

Missing Link

The problem for exporters is that Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is already at its limits. Increasing capacity by adding a third runway is controversial because it’s enveloped by urban sprawl. Growing Gatwick, London’s No. 2 airport, could dilute benefits of a single hub that make more routes viable, the Confederation of British Industry says.

Now Keltic Seafare delivers 35,000 kilos (77,162 pounds) of fresh langoustines a year to Spain, Europe’s biggest seafood market, via Amsterdam. There are no flights from the local Inverness airport to Heathrow.

Murray said Asian exports would become possible with the restoration of Heathrow services, which ended in 2008 when the former British Midland pulled out of the Scottish route.

Heathrow has flights to just seven other U.K. airports, down from 12 a decade ago as carriers led by British Airways (IAG) assign scarce operating slots to more profitable inter-continental services. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, by contrast, serves 27 U.K. cities including Exeter in southwestEngland and Durham in the north, as well as Inverness, where KLM passenger planes collect Murray’s cargo.

Freight Gap

Heathrow is struggling to keep up outside the U.K. too. A sample of 15 fast-growing emerging markets by the CBI shows Frankfurt’s airport serves 45 cities and Amsterdam 31; Heathrow has links to 22.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. founder Richard Branson last week complained that a lack of capacity at Heathrow forced the carrier to cut some flights to Asia and Africa when it wanted to add more services to the U.S.

“It’s impossible for us to get slots at Heathrow,” Branson said in an interview in Dallas. “In order to start a new route we have to close a current route.”

The hub’s cargo volumes are also trailing rivals. Frankfurt and Paris were the only European airports to make the global top 10 by air freight in 2013. Both handled more than 2 million metric tons of goods and mail, versus 1.6 million tons at Schiphol and barely 1.5 million at Heathrow.

Gatwick Pitch

“With our current hub capacity full, we are slipping behind,” said Mark Dittmer-Odell, the CBI’s head of infrastructure said in an interview. “If we’ve got a hub airport in the U.K., that’s a national resource that people should be able to draw into.”

Heathrow’s chief rival in the contest for expansion is London Gatwick, the world’s busiest single-runway airport; the two were shortlisted by a government-appointed commission as leading contenders for a new landing strip.

Gatwick, owned by U.S.-based Global Infrastructure Partners and located south of the city’s sprawl, says it could add a new runway for as little as 5 billion pounds ($8 billion), compared with a bill of at least 14 billion pounds for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow.

A new 2.2-mile runway west of existing terminals would boost Heathrow’s long-haul connections by almost 50 percent to 122, with capacity for 740,000 flights annually, 90,000 more than at Schiphol. Domestic destinations that could be added include Liverpool in northwest England, Newquay in the southwest and Cardiff, Wales, said John Holland-Kaye, who took over as the airport’s chief executive officer in July.

Mayor Opposed

“The choice between a flight to Inverness and a flight to China is a false economy,” he said. “We should have both. The airlines are having to choose and that’s one of the things we want to correct.”

The CEO has traveled the globe to press the case for Heathrow, which accounts for 65 percent of the U.K. international air freight by volume and a quarter of all exports by value, led by high-worth items such as pharmaceuticals.

He’s also courting U.K. media, seeking to win public support with the promise of 123,000 jobs that would result directly and indirectly from the expansion. And he’s lobbying London Mayor Boris Johnson to abandon his plans for a new hub in the River Thames estuary that were dismissed by a government committee last month as too costly and complex.

Johnson plans to seek a parliament seat next year, positioning himself as a possible successor to Cameron. He says he’s completely opposed to any growth at Heathrow because of the resulting aircraft noise over built-up areas.

Airport Poll

The mayor aside, the political landscape is changing to Heathrow’s benefit, according to Holland-Kaye. An Ipsos MORI survey released Sept. 7 found that 58 percent of U.K. lawmakers favor a third runway there, based on a survey of 38 MPs from Cameron’s Conservatives and 46 from theLabour Party.

The prime minister himself also opposed the hub’s expansion while in opposition five years ago, before softening his position in ordering a neutral assessment by the aviation commission underHoward Davies, a former head of the Financial Services Authority and London School of Economics.

“The two larger parties are sitting behind the Davies Commission,” Holland-Kaye said. “They understand this is a complex issue. If it was easy it would have been done a long time ago.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at; Benedikt Kammel at Christopher Jasper

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    Margaret Hodge: Gatwick runway appeal ‘is hypocritical when it avoids corporation tax’

    Gatwick has been accused of “hypocrisy” for avoiding corporation tax while campaigning to build a new runway, allegedly for the benefit of the UK economy. Margaret Hodge, head of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said the airport should pay its “fair share” if it wants its runway campaign to be credible. She also criticised Heathrow which has not paid corporation tax for several years. But she particularly criticised Gatwick. Its Guernsey-based parent company Ivy Mid Co LP has invested in a £437 million “Eurobond” which charges the airport 12% interest, thus avoiding tax. Gatwick says this sort of bond is often used by other infrastructure companies. Companies in the UK should pay 21% corporation tax on profits, but by spending  £1 billion on upgrading the airport, Gatwick has made no profit recently. Despite pre-tax loses in recent years, it has paid dividends to its overseas shareholders of £436 million. Heathrow has also avoided profits by investing in new buildings etc.  Mrs Hodge said the companies “made a fortune” from their UK activities, which relied on public services,  adding: “For them to pretend they are only in it for the benefit of the UK economy is a touch hypocritical.”


    Gatwick runway appeal ‘is hypocritical when it avoids corporation tax’

    Margaret Hodge, head of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said Gatwick should pay its “fair share” of corporation tax

    Gatwick bosses were today accused of “hypocrisy” for avoiding corporation tax while campaigning to build a new runway for the benefit of the UK economy.

    Margaret Hodge, head of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said the airport should pay its “fair share” if it wants its campaign to be credible.

    She also criticised Heathrow airport which has not paid corporation tax,  levied at 21 per cent on company profits, for several years.

    But it is the tax affairs of the Sussex airport that have caused the most controversy following an investigation by the Standard. Gatwick’s Guernsey-based parent company Ivy Mid Co LP has invested in a £437 million “Eurobond” which charges the airport 12 per cent interest  and which critics say is designed to avoid tax.

    Gatwick said tax authorities were “wholly aware” of their funding structure, and the Eurobond was commonly used by other infrastructure companies. The scheme had not helped the airport avoid tax as it was not in a profitable situation due to the cost of a £1 billion upgrade to the airport under its new owners, Gatwick said.

    Accounts for the past four years for Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) show pre-tax losses of £322 million and a tax credit of £192 million, but despite these losses it has paid dividends to its overseas shareholders of £436 million.

    The Standard has also learnt that Heathrow has not paid corporation tax for several years, offsetting the cost of a new terminal to build a tax credit of £234 million despite pre-tax profits of £429 million.

    But the airport, which says it is key to the UK’s economic growth, said it “looked forward to” paying corporation tax later this year and did not “route funds through tax havens”.

    Ms Hodge, a potential London mayoral candidate, said that ministers should put airports under pressure to pay corporation tax as the bidding process for airport expansion reaches its conclusion next spring.

    She said the companies “made a fortune” from their UK activities, which relied on public services,  adding: “For them to pretend they are only in it for the benefit of the UK economy is a touch hypocritical.”

    A Gatwick spokesman said: “Gatwick Airport is fully compliant with UK tax law and HMRC are wholly aware of our funding structure.”

    A Heathrow spokesman said it complies with all tax rules, does not operate tax avoidance measures, and is “entirely UK based for tax purposes”.


    See earlier:

    Gatwick airport announces first profits for years and returns for its investors … UK tax?

    Gatwick airport has announced its results for the year to 31st March 2014. It has made a profit, for the first time in 4 years. Gatwick says its passenger numbers reached 35.9 million in 2013/14 (4.8% up on 2012/13). Their turnover is up 10.2% to £593.7 million and EBITDA is up 14.2% to £259.4 million, with a resulting profit of £57.5 million. This compared to a loss in the financial year ending 31 March 2013 of £29.1 million. The airport has spent a great deal improving the airport, and so made losses – and paid no tax to the UK government for years. Gatwick says their investments and more marketing is being effective in attracting more passengers. It now has more aircraft movements at peak times (a cause of the noise nuisance being caused from new flight paths). Gatwick now claims 20% are travelling on business, largely on EasyJet. The figure was 17.5% in 2012. Gatwick says it will now be paying dividends to its investors, though it has not in recent  years. It expects to pay £125m to investors in the current financial year,  £65m return in the 2015/16 financial year and £60m in 2016/17. [Maybe also pay some UK tax?  



    Gatwick Airport paid no Corporation Tax in three years

    Gatwick Airport has a £1.2 billion capital investment programme to improve its infrastructure and facilities. But it paid no corporation tax for three consecutive years despite making £638m in profit before tax. Gatwick tried to defend this position, saying: “Whilst year on year we have lessened our financial losses we have yet to make a profit after tax. As a result the airport has not paid corporation tax …Our current £1.2bn capital investment programme and existing asset base, together with the associated debt structure, result in depreciation and interest costs which reduce our operating profits to a loss before tax.”  In the 2012/13 year, Gatwick Airport made £227.1m profit before tax, a 2.5% increase, as it benefited from flights to new destinations in China, Russia, Indonesia, and Turkey. Despite this, it reported a net financial loss of £29.1m, citing asset depreciation and £226.7m of capital investment in the year. Corporation tax is only levied on a company’s net profit. In the UK the corporation tax rate is 23%. Under UK tax law, corporations can claim tax allowances on certain purchases or investments made on business assets. Campaign group UK Uncut estimates that clever accounting rules and complex tax avoidance schemes cost Britain £12bn annually.      

    IAG is to pay its first ever dividend and British Airways is due to return to profit

    The parent group that owns British Airways, IAG, have said that they are now making profits and will give their first dividend, probably in November.  This is their first dividend since they were created in 2011 through the merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. IAG has also bought bmi and Spanish budget carrier Vueling since its formation. Analysts believe shareholders will receive their first payment at the end of IAG’s 2015 financial year at the latest, as the controversial turnaround at Iberia, which required the loss of some 4,500 jobs and sparked strikes and political outcry in Spain, has stemmed the losses. IAG posted a €96m pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30 this year, up from a €503m loss at the same time in 2013.  IAG says it is on track to improve operating profit this year by “at least” €500m, from €770m in 2013. British Airways’ CEO, Willie Walsh said in August that BA had now returned to profit for the first time since 2007, the start of the financial crisis. BA has barely paid any UK corporation tax for years – it may pay round £61 million for the 2013 financial year.


    See also

    Irish clampdown on tax avoidance will be followed by the UK


    By Kamal Ahmed (BBC)

    oday the Irish government announced something very significant. The closure of the notorious “Double Irish” tax loophole.

    The reason it’s important is not because it is changing Ireland’s tax regime, which it is.

    It is important because the double Irish is the method by which global companies reduce taxes on the businesses they run around the world.

    And the Treasury is following developments closely and is poised to launch its own crackdown on “diverted profits”, which is what the double Irish allows companies to do.

    Google and Facebook have both been fingered for using the scheme – as have a number of pharmaceutical firms.

    It enables businesses – via a complex system of royalty payments – to move revenues to locations which are described as “tax efficient” – such as low-tax Ireland and no-tax the Bahamas.

    Campaigners argue that tax efficient should be more suitably described as tax avoiding.

    The companies say that they are simply following the rules.

    It wasn’t Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, who decided that Ireland would allow a system to develop where corporations were effectively “stateless” for tax purposes, and could therefore move payments to tax havens like the Bahamas whilst still creating huge revenues in Europe via a company based in Dublin.

    ‘Lowest taxes’

    The use of the double Irish has had the effect of reducing the available taxes paid to countries where Google and Facebook operate, including the UK.

    George Osborne raised the issue in his Conservative Party conference speech last month.

    “While we offer some of the lowest business taxes in the world, we expect those taxes to be paid – not avoided,” he said.

    “Some technology companies go to extraordinary lengths to pay little or no tax here. If you abuse our tax system, you abuse the trust of the British people.

    “And my message to those companies is clear – we will put a stop to it.”

    I am told that Treasury officials are now busy constructing new rules that will stop the diverting of profits made in the UK via intellectual property payments to company subsidiaries.

    One source told me that profits made in Britain would be taxed in Britain.

    This could make a significant difference to companies like Google and Facebook, which generate large amounts of revenue in the UK but do not pay significant amounts of tax.

    The chancellor wants to make the move part of his “fairer markets” agenda.

    He will need to convince campaigners that this is not just window dressing.

    ‘Tax competition’

    And his message on not avoiding taxes can become confused given that Mr Osborne also trumpets policies like the patent box. This makes it tax efficient to complete research and development in technology and pharmaceuticals in Britain.

    Interestingly, whilst abolishing the “double Irish”, the finance minister, Michael Noonan, did announce the creation of Ireland’s equivalent of the patent box – the knowledge development box.

    Tax competition will always exist. Governments want to encourage investment in certain sectors in their own countries and jealously guard their right to do so.

    The most egregious might be limited. But don’t imagine that companies searching the globe for the best, most tax efficient, place to do business is going to end any time soon.







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