Below are news items relating to specific airports
Prestwick Airport’s government debt rises to £38.4m
The debt owed by Prestwick Airport to the Scottish government has risen in the past year from £30m to £38.4m. That was while revenue rose through a doubling of income from refuelling aircraft. Accounts show the holding company made a loss of £7.6m in the year to March, down from £8.6m the previous year. Revenue was up on the year from £13.6m to £18.2m - which includes £3m extra contribution from refuelling, and a rise of £300,000 in cargo earnings, reaching £2.8m. The debt reflects recent years of losses that have built up since Prestwick was saved from closure by a Scottish government takeover. It has tried to add new routes, by business development activity and incentives through lowered landing fees - but this has resulted in only one additional route to Poland. The strategic report, filed with the accounts on 31 December, says that Brexit uncertainty has contributed to the difficulty of expanding the route network beyond Ryanair's few flights.
Gatwick airport: majority stake 50.01% sold to French group Vinci; GIP and partners retain 49.99%
New owner says Brexit threat helped Vinci get 50.01% stake in UK’s second-busiest airport for ‘reasonable’ £2.9bn. A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together. Gatwick will be the largest in Vinci’s portfolio of 46 airports spread across 12 countries. The French group’s network includes Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, Nantes Atlantique and Grenoble Alpes Isère in France; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, and Osaka Itami and Kansai International in Japan. The GIP-led consortium bought Gatwick from the airport operator BAA for £1.5bn in 2009 and spent £1.9bn modernising the airport in subsequent years. The shareholders are selling down their stakes, leaving GIP with 21%, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 7.9%, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund with 8.6% and two public pension funds in California and South Korea with 6.4% and 6% respectively.
Liberal Democrats welcome unanimous vote against Heathrow expansion at Ealing full council meeting
Ealing Council has voted unanimously for the first time against the expansion of Heathrow airport. They argued that it was necessary for all Ealing Councillors to join forces against the expansion to strengthen the chances of overturning the government’s proposals - which they say will lead to more air and noise pollution including night flights. Meanwhile the MP for Ealing and Southall, Virendra Sharma, is a keen backer of the Heathrow runway, and even apparently (due to lack of proper understanding of the issues, and too ready an acceptance to believe the airport's assurances) believes it has not problem with air pollution.
No 3rd Runway Coalition comment on DfT’s Aviation Strategy: IT UNDERMINES GOVERNMENT CREDIBILITY ON ENVIRONMENT
The Aviation Strategy Green Paper published today is seeking to deliver sustainable growth of the aviation sector to 2050. It fails to set out how continued aviation growth is compatible with existing environmental commitments, with the Government appearing content to let action on CO2 to be delivered at an international level This attitude is in stark contrast to the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, which the DfT has ignored, warning recently as June 2018 that that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about how one additional runway would be compatible with efforts to reduce emissions, let alone two. They also warned that expansion of Heathrow will require significant operational restrictions on all other UK airports. The paper will also consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050. The DfT claims that the need for exploring another runway is due to higher growth than was predicted in the 2015 forecasts. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “The Green Paper simply contains no strategy, either for delivering on existing environmental commitments or for addressing the significant negative impacts of airport operations on local communities.”
DfT consultation starts, on its aviation strategy green paper, for huge growth of UK airports
The Department for Transport will today publish a long-awaited aviation strategy that pledges to deliver “greater capacity at UK airports”. It intends airports other than Heathrow all growing and having more flights - "if tough environmental and noise restrictions are met" (ignoring CO2, of course). The strategy also outlines plans for the biggest overhaul of Britain’s airspace in more than 50 years to create new flight paths into the biggest airports. There would be a considerable increase to the 600 or so dedicated flight paths in operation now, and will subject households directly beneath the flight paths to unbearable noise levels. The DfT hopes to offer a sop, in terms of being able to alternate flight paths, so people get periods of less noise, in compensation for periods of intense noise. New flight paths are expected to be designed by the summer of 2020 and introduced in 2024 and 2025 subject to CAA approval (CAA gets its funding from airlines - so not dispassionate). The strategy, which will go out for public consultation. The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has been created to police the system. NATS says the number of UK flights is expected to grow 700,000 to about 2.9 million by 2030.
Crawley Council object to Gatwick Master Plan – due to detrimental effect on the local environment
Recently a YouGov poll commissioned by Gatwick airport - unclear what the exact wording was, or who was polled - claimed about three quarters of residents backed the airport's expansion. However, at a Crawley full council meeting, the majority vote was against the proposal. This is what they will put in the council response to the Gatwick Master Plan consultation that is currently going on. The opposition is unsurprising as Crawley council have made their feelings clear in previous years, objecting to the 2nd runway. A year ago Crawley approved the building of a new Boeing hangar, for aircraft maintenance, as they hoped this would bring local jobs. In the council there is a real concern that the growth proposed would have too detrimental an effect on the environment. Gatwick claim it is making less noise now (a claim that many severely overflown residents would not believe, especially with noise at night) and "30% of its fleet will comprise quieter aircraft by 2022." Local group CAGNE has asked hat the airport disclose details the safety incidents that have already occurred whilst using the emergency runway when the main runway is closed for maintenance.
“Heathrow unveils its plan for carbon neutral growth”: except there is no credible plan … not for a 50% increase in flights
Heathrow has set out a "plan" to (magically) help it to increase the number of flights by up to 50% but do this in a "carbon neutral" way. Needless to say, there is no detail of how it can actually do this. There is plenty about how it will be investing in "sustainable" fuels. Plenty of blather, without any actual details, about how can achieve an entirely impossible goal. Heathrow says it is looking at action on 4 key areas including: cleaner aircraft technology, [by that it means more fuel efficient, not more clean]; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels [none probably exist, without huge unintended side effects]; and carbon offsetting methods [ie. keeping on emitting, and paying to cancel out the carbon savings made by others elsewhere, postponing the evil moment when they actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions.] There is hype like how they will: "Make Heathrow a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels by providing the necessary airport infrastructure, and support for pilot projects" and how they are calling on "ICAO to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels." And lots of hope about those peat bogs, which they are hoping will save their bacon ....
Birmingham Airport expansion plans criticised over rising emission concerns
Green councillors amid concerns over rises in greenhouse gas emissions. They say the airport’s draft masterplan is ‘irresponsible’. The increase in passenger numbers after the expansion could see the level of emissions rise to double that produced by the entire city of Wolverhampton every year. The masterplan – covering the next 15 years – includes proposals to increase use of the airport’s existing runway, expand the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas. The investment aims to prepare the airport to attract 18 million passengers by 2033. This would make Birmingham Airport the region’s largest single source of greenhouse gases. Even before the airport expansion, it is projected to emit 1.7million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by 2030, Department for Transport figures show. By contrast, Wolverhampton’s carbon footprint is about one million tonnes per annum, according to latest government statistics. Just at a time when humanity should be making every possible effort to cut CO2 emissions.
No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched - 700 or more? - with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating "No 3rd Runway", and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
UTTLESFORD COUNCIL PLANNING CHAIRMAN DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS VOTING FOR!
Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE's lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now 'call in' the application for national determination.