Airport News

Below are news items relating to specific airports

 

Gatwick may have, on a technicality, reduced the size of its “noise footprint”, but thousands outside this area are badly affected

Gatwick airport reported - according to a new report by the CAA  - that its noise footprint had shrunk "following an initiative to modify noisy aircraft." However, people affected by Gatwick noise are not impressed. Local group CAGNE commented that “Those that sit outside of Gatwick’s shrinking noise footprint are those significantly impacted by Gatwick noise as well as those newly affected by the concentrated flight paths.” ...“The problem with the CAA report is that they worked on an average of noise (16 hour daytime and 8 hour night over 2017 summer).  Residents awoken at night or unable to use the garden during the day due to aircraft noise, do not hear noise in an average way, they hear noise as significant events whilst endeavouring to enjoy their desired tranquility.   Areas of Sussex, Kent and Surrey, outside of the footprint, report they are significantly affected by aircraft noise but are not included in the footprint as they reside outside of the LOAEL (Government noise metric of Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level) and noise contours.... It is true that planes are quieter, but the frequency by which they are flown has dramatically increased ..."

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London City airport – Noise Action Plan Consultation (ends 5th Sept) for next 5 years, 2018 – 2023

London City airport is now updating its 2013 - 2018 Noise Action Plan (NAP). The new plan will cover the next 5 years, 2018 - 2023. The airport has a consultation that runs from 25th July to 5th September. People can comment on the current plan, and say what they think should be changed.  The draft plan is at Noise Action Plan 2018-2023.  "The main purpose of the NAP is to establish the noise impact of the airport in order to consider whether the current noise management measures are sufficient to protect the local community adequately, particularly those worst affected. In order to demonstrate this LCY’s noise impact has been assessed by qualified independent consultants and is documented in Appendix A." ...  The airport has a limit of 120,000 permitted aircraft movements per annum, based upon noise factored aircraft movements.  For 2013, London City Airport had a total of 77,377 noise factored movements (based on 73,642 aircraft movements).

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Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision

The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport's north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, ‎which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government's decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O'Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS)  be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport's northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to "effectively [give Heathrow] a veto" over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme).  Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager.

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Bill for even partly effective noise insulation for all households affected by 3rd runway would be huge – far above £700 m?

Many thousands of homes could get up to £3,000 of sound insulation (windows, loft insulation etc) from Heathrow, due to more noise from a 3rd runway. A source has told the Times that the number of households eligible could be 400,000, in line for compensation. That figure is a serious under-estimate. If there are 2.3 people on average per household, that comes to about 920,000 people being affected by noise bad enough that Heathrow can see it is a problem. Many are already blighted by the noise, and the real number of households affected is not yet known, as there are no details of where flight paths will be. In reality the number of households is more like 970,000 homes (meaning 2.2 million residents) being expected to put up with extra aircraft noise. That number is a CAA figure, released recently in response to an FoI request.  By law, Heathrow has to write to any property owner who could be entitled to make a compensation claim after being adversely affected by the plan. Any application for the insulation and funding would be subject to an independent assessment. The cost of £3,000 just for 400,000 homes (let alone 970,000) would be £120 million. Heathrow has said it will spend around £700 million. For 970,000 homes that comes to just £722 per home ... (nowhere near "up to £3,000").

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Couple in Ringmer (NE of Brighton) hit out at ‘nightmare’ caused by noisy planes using Gatwick

A couple have claimed their lives are being made a misery by noisy aircraft flying directly over their home. The couple, in their seventies, in Ringmer say they are living in a “complete nightmare” and blame a change in flight patterns and holding stacks for planes approaching Gatwick. The problem seemed to begin on June 9, when they were woken at 6am by an aircraft flying overhead. They now start at 6am every day, and continue throughout the day until 11pm, often at intervals of one, two and three minutes. They find it hard to relax when they are waiting for the sound of the next aircraft. Their home is close to one of Gatwick’s aircraft holding stacks, and Gatwick has had a growing number of flights since 2014.  Before the current onslaught, the couple said they had little plane noise for 19 years. They could watch the planes flying over the South Downs, but not over them. The wife commented: “It feels like a dreadful injustice ... now they are flying over us, at the side of us and a short distance in front of us ...It is like living in a complete nightmare. ...It’s beginning to affect the health of my husband and myself. I was close to a nervous breakdown.” Neither the CAA nor Gatwick can, or would, do anything to help them.

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Heathrow and other airports want more driverless airport vehicles (ie. fewer jobs)

Aberdeen Standard Investment’s AIPUT fund (Airport Industrial and Property Unit Trust) has published a report detailing progress on autonomous transport and logistics technology. The technology of driverless vehicles is used throughout the UK’s airports, including Heathrow; AIPUT has 2 million sq ft of buildings at Heathrow, for freight and logistics. The report discusses how cargo-handling and logistics operations, as well as passenger transportation both to and within airports is made more "efficient" with the use of automated transport.The first trials of automated air-side vehicles have been completed at Heathrow in collaboration with IAG Cargo and Oxbotica. These vehicles do not need people to drive them. So this is another area in which there will be job cuts. Sadly, Heathrow and the trade union, Unite, were able to persuade a lot of MPs to vote in favour of the 3rd runway, through the Airports NPS, in late June. A letter co-signed by the Back Heathrow campaigner Parmjit Dhanda and Unite's Len McCluskey said the runway would create hundreds of thousands of new unionised jobs at Heathrow, regional airports and on transport networks.

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Heathrow plans for 25,000-space car park near Stanwell ‘wholly disproportionate’, says Spelthorne council leader

Spelthorne Borough Council has expressed concerns at proposals (not yet firm plans) that could see "the world's largest car park," with 25,000 spaces, built on the doorstep of one of its villages. The Council has, however, always backed the 3rd runway plans - but now perhaps they are waking up to its local impacts. The car park could be build just north west of Stanwell village, and would generate alarming levels of traffic impact (rat-running, noise and air pollution) across the borough and specifically for Stanwell's local population. Heathrow currently has no car parking spaces in Spelthorne borough, but if there is ever a 3rd runway, the demand for car parking would require more places. [Strange that, as Heathrow says there will be NO more road journeys with a 3 runway airport than now with two. So why are 25,000 more car parking spaces needed?]...  In a NIMBY manner, Spelthorne wants the carpark to be built at "sustainable transport interchanges" situated near motorways and as far away from built up neighbourhoods as possible. ie. just not near their residents (and remember, the council backs the 3rd runway ....). Plans for the carpark would be part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) that Heathrow has to have passed, rather than a conventional planning application that would be the case for a small development.

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Heathrow 2.5% rise in pax in 1st half of 2018, 5% rise in retail, 7% more on car parking cf. 2017

Though Heathrow always says it is almost full, in reality it has terminal capacity for many more. Its latest half year results, to the end of June, show the number of passengers increased by 2.5% to 38.1 million (half year). There are more larger planes, and the load factors are higher, now up 1% to 76.9% on average. Revenues for the 6 months were up 2.3% to £1.4 billion. Retail profits were up 5% to £206 million, far outstripping many high streets. Income from bars, restaurants and cafés was up by 11.5%. While trying to persuade politicians etc that it is not going to worsen already very bad air pollution with a new runway, Heathrow made 7% more from car parking in this first half, at £62 million. Car parking is very lucrative to the airport, while passengers arriving by public transport are not. Income from the Heathrow Express (owned by Heathrow) rail link (very expensive) from Paddington, fell by £2 million to £61 million. Spending more on security and the “passenger experience” cut pre-tax profits from £102 million to £95 million now. The payroll bill rose by nearly 2% to £183 million; operational & maintenance costs rose by nearly 9% to £223 million.

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Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit

Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.”  The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow's first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more  operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.

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Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court. This puts the Secretary of State for Transport on formal notice of a Judicial Review application if he fails to designate the airport's planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within 14 days. Such a designation would mean the application would be considered nationally (a longer, more detailed, more effective process) rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels. From the outset, SSE fiercely opposed the attempt to rush through the application and has argued that the scale of the application - the threshold is 10 million more annual passengers - meant that it had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. Stansted is trying to put the increase at 8million (35m to 43m) to avoid the NSIP process.

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