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Latest news stories:

Heathrow owners urged to stop huge payouts to investors – and strengthen its own finances instead

The Sunday Times says in 2017 Heathrow’s debt totalled £13.7 billion, and it is under pressure to cut its huge dividends for its shareholders, if it was allowed to build a £14bn? (£17bn?) 3rd runway. Ministers and airlines are demanding that Heathrow keeps landing charges down, which would mean the regulator, the CAA, capping dividends. Instead the airport would have to use spare funds for the runway project, and to strengthen its finances. Heathrow paid over £3bn in dividends since its buyout in 2006. Combined with a huge building projects, including two terminals, this has increased its debt to £13.7bn. Last year Heathrow paid more than £560m in interest, plus £525m in dividends, and it approved another £114m payout to shareholders last month. The Sunday Times says that could leave its balance sheet vulnerable if the runway project hits difficulties or the aviation industry suffers a downturn. The runway would almost double the size of Heathrow’s £15.8bn asset base. The shareholders gain from take-off and landing charges, which add about £20 to each passenger’s ticket.  A cap by the CAA on Heathrow’s gearing (a measure of debt as a proportion of the value of assets) would ban dividends if borrowings went above a certain level. Heathrow’s gearing is now 87% (far higher than similar businesses) and it wants to increase this ratio up to 93%.

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Sunday Times commentary on Heathrow: the cash machine with an airport attached

The Sunday Times reports that under a complex (perverse) incentive system, Heathrow is encouraged to spend as much as it can on developing the site. Heathrow’s investors earn returns based on the size of its "regulatory asset base" (RAB), under a formula set by the CAA.  So the more the airport spends, the more its owners can earn. It gives an example of £74,000 to cut down 3 trees, which is at least 20 times the normal price. These costs of developing the airport are recouped through passenger charges, and also set off against UK tax. The Sunday Times questions the efficiency, governance and transparency of the management of Heathrow.  It says the airport is demanding an insurance policy against the risk that the project goes wrong, and wants the CAA to ensure it will be compensated by airlines and passengers if there are unanticipated difficulties (eg. construction delays, or lower than anticipated passenger numbers or revenue). Scrutiny of Heathrow’s spending has been inadequate, there is no audit of the RAB, to show how the figure of £15.8bn for the expansion project is calculated, and Heathrow has not provided a detailed cost breakdown for the runway plans. There are past examples of excessive costs eg. the T2 car park at £61,000 per place, or a smoking shelter at T2 that which was priced at £450,000, but finally cost £1m.

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New premium Heathrow rail link by Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will cost more than Tube but less than Heathrow Express

Transport chiefs have confirmed travellers on the new Crossrail line to Heathrow will pay a premium - but that the fare will be less than half the standard Heathrow Express rate.   A peak Crossrail fare from central London to the airport will be £12.10. That is £7 more than the Underground, but a big saving on the £27 standard fare on board Heathrow Express. Passengers travelling from London zone 2 on Crossrail will pay £9.60 single. Heathrow Express currently also offers online single fares of £22 off-peak and £25 peak.  Crossrail, which will be officially known as the Elizabeth Line, will take 10 minutes longer than the Heathrow Express’s 15-minute journey - but roughly half the travel time on the Tube from central London. Crossrail services will run to Paddington Station, which the Heathrow Express serves, and will replace the existing Heathrow Connect trains that currently offer a stopping service to the airport from Paddington, from May 2018. Crossrail will open fully in December, linking Reading in the west with Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in Kent. The No 3rd Runway Coalition commented that this is a money grabbing exercise by Heathrow, who own the tunnels which the Elizabeth line will use, to the benefit of its shareholders - and dis-benefit of local people

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True cost of Heathrow 3rd runway to the public purse must be revealed, say MPs

The true cost to the taxpayer of building a 3rd Heathrow runway at Heathrow has not been spelled out to the public, according to a cross-party group of MPs, who warn that domestic flight connections and other transport spending will be jeopardised. Justine Greening and Vince Cable are among those saying the plan would jeopardise spending elsewhere, who are calling on the government to clarify the costs to the public purse.  They also want clarity on what benefits the runway would actually bring. In a letter to the Guardian, MPs and councils around Heathrow warn that promised unprofitable domestic flight connections to an  expanded Heathrow would only work with state subsidies, that could not be guaranteed in perpetuity. Additionally, more than £10 billion in additional rail and road spending to support a bigger airport would have to be funded by taxpayers, not Heathrow. Having muted her opposition to Heathrow while in the cabinet, Greening, the MP for Putney and a former transport secretary, told the Guardian that Scottish support for the third runway was misplaced. “The SNP need to wake up to the threat that an expanded Heathrow poses to Scotland ... A more expensive Heathrow means fewer connections. People in Scotland won’t understand why the Scottish government think that’s a good idea to support.”

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Letter from MPs & council Leaders: 3rd Heathrow runway would be bad for the UK

A long list of MPs, Council leaders and senior political figures have an open letter, published in the Guardian, on how taxpayers right across the UK, including those living hundreds of miles away from the south-east, would pay for the expansion of Heathrow. They say  lots of promises have been made to lots of people in different parts of the country about the extra domestic routes they can expect if a third Heathrow runway is built. It’s all part of a divide-and-rule strategy which glosses over the health impacts of worsening noise and air pollution in south and west London  while cheerily talking up the prospects of improved internal connections from an expanded hub airport. They say the Transport Secretary has a duty to spell out the true costs for taxpayers – and to be realistic about the benefits. On more regional flights, the letter points out that it is airlines, not airports, which decide which routes to fly, and no minister can guarantee in perpetuity the taxpayer subsidies that would be needed to keep “unprofitable” routes open. If the airport is "full" within a few years, it is likely the unprofitable domestic routes would be the first to be cut, so airlines can focus on more profitable point-to-point operations. None of today’s “promises” or assurances can be relied on.

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Chris Grayling challenged by 4 Councils to spell out Heathrow 3rd runway noise impacts

Leaders of some of the Councils worse affected by Heathrow have now called on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to say how many years of extra noise he expects local communities to suffer, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. The Government has so far refused to release updated noise assessments for the 4 years following the new runway’s expected opening in 2026, to 2030. These were prepared for the revised draft National Planning Statement (NPS) but not included as part of the October 2017 consultation.  Chris Grayling told the Transport Select Committee in February that there would be a "short period of time" when the airport would have an expanded noise footprint. If less noisy planes come into service, to help Heathrow deal with its massive noise problem, that will not be until 2030.  The Government has previously stated that a 3 runway Heathrow would (implausibly) be "quieter than today." People who will be overflown have a right to know what these increased noise levels would be, how long they would last and how many people’s lives would be affected. The councils have highlighted the lack of detail on noise in a further submission to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into Heathrow expansion. The Committee's report to Parliament is expected shortly.

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T&E: EU-wide taxes on jet fuel + VAT on plane tickets could help plug EU budget gap & address aviation CO2 impact

Subjecting domestic, intra and extra-EU aviation tickets to even a low rate of VAT would generate huge revenues for governments. Bill Hemmings, from European transport NGO T&E, estimates that taxing aviation fuel for domestic and intra-EU flights at the EU minimum rate of 33 cents/litre set by the Energy Tax Directive could generate about €9.5 billion in additional revenues each year. Abolishing the exemptions and applying a 15% VAT to all passenger transport could generate a further €17 billion. Even the European Commission calls these exemptions subsidies. A common ticket tax on EU departures could generate around €11 billion – or more. The Commission has now proposed reforms to VAT rates across Europe which, if agreed, will become the basis for the long-awaited definitive VAT regime in 2022. But instead of abolishing VAT breaks for airline tickets, the EU plan will treat even frivolous trips like a flight for a weekend break the same, in terms of VAT, as “necessities” such as foodstuffs, or pharmaceutical products. Transport is Europe’s biggest CO2 emitter and journeys by plane form a significant part.  One reason in the past why there was no VAT on international air trips was the difficulty in collecting it. However, it is now clear VAT could be charged at the rate of the country the plane departed from, for the whole cost of the ticket.  

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Hounslow reiterates its belief that Heathrow needs to be better (noise, air pollution, traffic) – not bigger

Hounslow Council submitted its response to the two current Heathrow consultations (they are just by the airport, not official). Hounslow insists that it wants a better, not a bigger, Heathrow - and it is concerned about the noise, air quality and transport access issues.  Hounslow say that while they want the airport to be successful, as it is important to the borough, they are opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by additional flights, addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights. The Council would like to see a complete ban on night flights across an 8-hour period between 11pm and 7am. Heathrow is only willing to accept a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights (so unscheduled flights could continue).  Hounslow have called into question the credibility of the surface access strategy put forward by Heathrow and in particular to its ‘no more traffic pledge’, given that no additional public transport is proposed to achieve this. They say this raises important questions about whether air quality can be improved to meet legal limits if expansion happens. The council say they are also extremely disappointed that its proposal for a link to the South Western Railway network from Feltham station, including the addition of a new station at Bedfont is not alluded to in any way in the proposals.

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Company has plan for high speed rail, linking HS1 with HS2, via Gatwick and Heathrow

An engineering consultancy, called Expedition, has proposed a new high-speed railway passing both Gatwick and Heathrow, starting at the HS2 line near Denham north of Heathrow, and ending at Ashford in Kent.  Expedition says it is called HS4Air and the plan has been developed to enhance other major infrastructure projects for the south east. It would cost £10 billion and would connect the existing HS1 rail line with the planned HS2 along a route that passes via London's biggest airports. Alistair Lenczner, director at Expedition leading the development of the HS4Air proposal, said discussions are currently ongoing with a number of interested parties, spanning both national and regional bodies. The line would be 140km long, and about 20% of it would run in tunnels - to avoid too big an environmental impact. Around 40% of the route re-uses the existing Network Rail railway between Tonbridge and Ashford.  Expedition hopes that HS4Air would allow rail and aviation infrastructure projects in south east England that are currently unconnected to become joined-up, and mean rail passengers would be able to travel to both airports on "fast regular services" from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without needing to switch trains.

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Stop Stansted Expansion critical of airport expansion application, bypassing local authority scrutiny

Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers, in what campaigners say is a ‘sweetheart’ deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny. The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years. However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts. SSE said it was “profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by secretary of State by amending passenger numbers” as they are trying to keep the expansion to 8 million, rather than 10 million, passengers - avoiding the application being dealt with as a major infrastructure project. SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG might make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan. SSE said: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44% increase in the number of flights and a 66%  increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads.”

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No 3rd Runway Coalition evidence to Transport Committee on hugely underestimated noise impacts in NPS

The No 3rd Runway Coalition gave oral and written evidence to the Commons Transport Committee. The written submission, with all the details, is published on the Committee’s website. The Coalition has explained to the MPs that, contrary to the Government’s claim in the National Policy Statement (NPS), but taking the Government’s own figures, if the NPS was approved and there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, some 2.2 million people - and possibly up to 3 million people - would experience more plane noise.  Over half a million people would receive double the number of overflights. The NPS says no more than an extra 92,700  people will be significantly affected by noise (i.e. falling within the 54 dBLAeq contour) in 2030 if the Heathrow NWR scheme is developed. However, the NPS does not represent the CAA’s economic analysis, which uses the DfT’s webTAG appraisal model (which was made available on 31.1.2018 following a FoI request). This shows that more than 420,000 people, who are already impacted over the 54 dB LAeq ‘significance threshold’, will receive 3 dB of extra noise – equivalent to doubling of the number of flights experienced daily. In addition, there is no detail on flight paths or the strategies under which they will be decided, so there is no clarity or certainty on how much people will be affected.  Parliament should not vote for a development where such key details are unknown.  The Coalition says: "Against this background the NPS should be withdrawn pending comprehensive independent review  or alternatively rejected entirely."

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Grayling emissions omission admission: Heathrow air quality costs 2-4 times higher than previously thought

The Commons Transport Committee is currently assessing the Heathrow proposals for a 3rd runway. One of the issues in which they have taken a particular interest is whether the right numbers have been used for the cost to human health of air pollution, and if the costs of pollution beyond a 2km band around the airport have been properly considered. Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, has now written to the Committee to clarify the government position, and has confirmed that the DfT omitted (in error) to consider the emissions beyond 2km. By contrast the DfT's own impact appraisal had noted impacts well beyond this 2km boundary, in terms of additional vehicle traffic.  The total figure for the extra cost to health, from Grayling's admission, is now thought to be 2 to 4 times higher than the one published in the official appraisal document.  That means the "net present value" of the scheme, previously assessed as minus £-2.2 to plus £3.3 billion over 60 years (so already potentially negative) could drop to as low as minus £-2.6 to plus £2.9 billion under the new estimate.  The cost of the damage to human health from additional air pollution, associated with a new runway, is one of the two ways the DfT assesses the cost-benefit analysis of the proposal. 

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Study from Los Angeles shows huge extent of spread of particle air pollution downwind of airport

A study in California looking at air pollution from Los Angeles International Airport has shown far more widespread impacts that had previously been expected. The scientists measured the spatial pattern of particle number (PN) concentrations downwind from the airport with an instrumented vehicle that enabled a larger area to be covered than allowed by traditional stationary measurements. The study found at least a 2-fold increase in PN concentrations over un-impacted baseline PN concentrations during most hours of the day in an area of about 60 km2 that extended to 16 km (10 miles) downwind and a 4- to 5-fold increase to 8–10 km (5–6 miles) downwind. Locations of maximum PN concentrations were aligned to eastern, downwind jet trajectories during prevailing westerly winds. They found the levels of PM miles from the airport were higher than those from motorways. They say "The freeway length that would cause an impact equivalent to that measured in this study (i.e., PN concentration increases weighted by the area impacted) was estimated to be 280–790 km) "The total freeway length in Los Angeles is 1500 km. These results suggest that airport emissions are a major source of PN in Los Angeles that are of the same general magnitude as the entire urban freeway network. They also indicate that the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated."

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FT reports talks between UK and US on Open Skies after Brexit face difficulties

British and American negotiators secretly met in January for the first formal talks on a new air services deal, for after Brexit. When the UK leaves the EU it will no longer be part of the EU-US open skies treaty. The FT reports that the talks were cut short after US negotiators offered a far worse "Open Skies" deal, which is only a standard bilateral agreement. These typically require airlines to be majority owned and controlled by parties from their country of origin, and would hit the transatlantic operating rights of BA and Virgin badly. The limits would be difficult for these airlines, as they have large foreign shareholdings - not merely British. The FT reports that a British official said it showed “the squeeze” London will face as it tries to reconstruct its international agreements after Brexit, even with close allies such as Washington. The busy UK-US routes are profitable, and numerous, and negotiators hope a solution will be found, but it could take time and may not be done fast enough for airlines planning flights a year ahead. The Americans are increasingly against trade liberalisation, so it is not a great time to be negotiating. The FT estimates the UK must renegotiate and replace about 65 international transport agreements after Brexit. Each taking time.

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Heathrow Villages residents shocked by details of number of local sites to be destroyed for 3rd runway plans

Two public meetings (one in Harmondsworth, the other in Yiewsley) held in the Heathrow villages raised concerns about the number and location of sites that could be destroyed for the 3rd runway development. Until now, many residents in surrounding areas have not realised just how damaging another runway would be to their lives. Despite awful weather, snow and intense cold, the meetings were packed and constituency MP, John McDonnell, and Hillingdon leader, Ray Puddifoot, managed to attend. Last month Ray announced that Hillingdon Council has budgeted £200,000 for the fund to launch a legal challenge against the runway. Justine Bayley of SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) gave a presentation with local maps from Heathrow's consultation documents. These show the huge number of development sites that Heathrow have their eye on. She explained the individual parcels of land under threat, and their possible intended purpose. Many at the meetings had not know about these threats. There is real concern that most residents who will not be forced to leave their homes (as they are not due for demolition) have no idea that they will have to suffer severe negative impacts from a third runway, due to their proximity to it - and associated building. John McDonnell MP said it was vital to ensure that the information is spread as widely as possible.

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John McDonnell: Heathrow expansion will never happen – it cannot meet 4 vital tests

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes a 3rd runway at Heathrow will never get built because of the serious environmental issues the expansion would cause. McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding campaigner against the runway, due to the devastating impact it would have on his constituency. He does not believe Heathrow can get round the problem of air pollution from the runway and associated road traffic.  At a local meeting about Heathrow's expansion plans, John said: “As soon as any decision is made, Hillingdon and the other boroughs will be straight back in court again". ...“I just don’t think Heathrow is the runner that it might have been with the governments in the past." There is due to be a vote in Parliament in the summer on the runway; as things stand, the government would win backing for the runway. However, though many Labour MPs are keen supporters, there is a real possibility that Labour may be able to block it - especially if it won a general election. Labour set out 4 tests the runway would have to meet, and currently it cannot pass them. The tests require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.  

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UK Chief Medical Officer says people’s health is being damaged by exposure to too much air, noise and light pollution

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said people in the UK are being exposed to a daily cocktail of pollution - from noise pollution, air pollution and light pollution) that may be having a significant impact on their health, and on the NHS.Dame Sally said major industries should take more responsibility for the pollution they cause, and that there was enough evidence to suggest action had to be taken. Her report "Health Impacts of All Pollution - what do we know?" says: "Major infrastructure projects are making construction noise a semi-permanent feature of the urban sound environment" ... "Noise acts as a psychosocial stressor, and the psychological reaction to it is influenced strongly by a number of personal, situational and environmental factors." The section by Professor Stephen Stansfield says:  "In 2012, 83% of a survey sample in the UK reported they heard road traffic noise, 72% aircraft noise and 48% noise from building, construction and road works at home in the last 12 months.  48% reported that their home life was “spoiled to some extent” by environmental noise." ..."Short term effects of noise on sleep include impaired mood, increased daytime sleepiness, and impaired cognitive performance."

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Research shows in real operation A380 as much as 24% less fuel efficient per passenger than 2-engine planes

The ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) has assessed the fuel efficiency of different sizes and types of aircraft on flights between Asia, or Australia to the USA, across the Pacific. They have confirmed that the large, 4-engine, planes like the Boeing 747 and the A380 are not at all fuel efficient per passenger. That was well known for the 747, but the A380 has been hyped as being "green" and fuel efficient, as it can carry so many passengers. The problem is that most A380s are set out to have a lot of spare space, and plenty of luxury facilities. That means instead of perhaps over 700 passengers (up to 850 in theory) packed in, more have only about 350 passengers.  The ICCT research showed - in 2016 - that the 2 engine planes were as much as 24% more fuel efficient per passenger than the 4 engine planes. A380, which was touted as an engineering marvel when first flown, was hailed as an aircraft perfectly designed for carrying passengers between large, congested hub airports like Heathrow.  But it is increasingly clear that the A380 is a dud from both a business and environmental perspective. It is unlikely to pass the ICAO aircraft CO2 standard, unless its fuel efficiency is improved. Heathrow wants to make out it is a vital hub airport for planes like this. But now it emerges just how much CO2 they produce in reality.

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Heathrow retail is 23% of total revenue, up 7.7% in 2017 (cf. 2016) – car parking is 18% of retail income

Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 7.7% to £659 million in the year ended 31 November 2017 compared to a year earlier. (Aeronautical revenue rose by just 1%. Total revenue in the period rose 2.7% to £2.9 billion. Retail is almost 23% of that. It was 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger grew 4.5% to £8.45 in 2017 compared to £8.09 in 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 78 million (+3.1%) combined with more spending airside (up 2% compared to 2016.) Retail concessions grew 10.5%, with growth in business by duty and tax free and airside speciality shops. This reflects the depreciation of Sterling since June 2016, making products cheaper for foreigners. The redevelopment of Terminal Four’s luxury retail offering completed in late 2016, also contributed to this growth. There is also a new Gucci store.Retail concessions made up 46% of retail income, at £304 million in 2017. The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £120 million in 2017 (up 5.3% and making up 18% of total retail income), £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow says: "Car parking rose 5.3% driven by increased passenger numbers and a more 12 dynamic pricing strategy.  Higher car rental revenue from a change in arriving passenger mix and increased volumes in VIP services drove other services income up 9.4%." 

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Ryanair to axe Glasgow Airport base, cutting number of routes from 23 to 3

Ryanair is to close its base at Glasgow Airport, warning that 300 jobs could go as a result. The airline, which also operates out of Prestwick, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, will cut the number of routes out of Glasgow from 23 to 3. Ryanair's Chief commercial officer David O'Brien tried to blamed the change on the cost of APD and said Glasgow "simply could not bear the burden". APD is very unlikely to actually be the reason for the move; it is actually just £13 for any adult (kids go free) on any return European flight, and most of Glasgow flights are European, or domestic (domestic return flights pay £13 APD for each half).  Glasgow Airport said it was "bitterly disappointed" by Ryanair's decision. Ryanair made the announcement as it unveiled its schedule for winter 2018, confirming that only its services to Dublin, Wroclaw and Krakow would continue from Glasgow. Instead 11 new routes would be added to its Edinburgh schedule. Ryanair is ruthless in its treatment of airports, cutting them if they are not sufficiently profitable. For many - Prestwick included - it's the only passenger airline, and it's not afraid to use that leverage. Glasgow airport routes had lower prices and tighter margins - just not profitable enough - easier to make money at Edinburgh.

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Stansted applies to UDC to raise the current passenger number cap from 35 mppa to 43 mppa

Stansted airport has submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to raise the current cap on the number of passengers it is permitted to handle from 35 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 43mppa, while committing to remain within current approved limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers. This is to make best use of the airport’s existing single runway over the next decade (with the usual claims of economic benefits, jobs etc etc).  Stansted say their expansion, from 35 mppa, would ease pressure on the London airport system when Heathrow and Gatwick are capacity constrained. However, local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says the airport handled about 25 mppa in 2017, and has permission to grow to 35 mppa, granted after a 5-month public inquiry in 2007. Despite this, in summer 2017 the airport's owners, MAG, said they "urgently" needed permission to expand to a massive 44.5 million passenger airport over the next 12 years. They claim there will be no more noise, but in practice the gap between planes on average would reduce from about 135 seconds now, to about 85 seconds. SSE says the changes in the current application are "almost entirely presentational."

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Heathrow push for expansion to beat European rivals, and Stansted wants 8 million more pax annually

Heathrow is trying to push the government into getting the vote on a 3rd runway, as soon as possible. There has to be a vote by MPs in favour of the runway, and this is expected some time in the summer. But increasingly the flaws, deficiencies, uncertainties and environmental damage of the plans are becoming more clear. Now Stansted is also asking for permission to handle 8 million more passengers a year, as it seeks to expand at a time when Heathrow and Gatwick are capacity-constrained. Stansted says it could reach its current cap of 35 million passengers annually by the early 2020s, and while it historically focused on short-haul flights to European holiday destinations, it wants to compete with Heathrow for US and Middle Eastern routes. Heathrow aims to make MPs nervous that, without a 3 runway Heathrow, the UK will fall behind its European rivals, (Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam) especially after Brexit - and they like to blur the distinction between what is good for the UK, and what is good for Heathrow. That distinction is important, especially when the finances of the runway project are in doubt, and the taxpayer could be left with a massive bill.  Heathrow has not come out very well at Transport Committee hearings recently.

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UK Government loses 3rd air pollution case brought by ClientEarth, as judge rules air pollution plans ‘unlawful’

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have won a 3rd case against the UK government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. In a ruling handed down at the High Court in London, Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area is unlawful.  He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018. He said: "The Environment Secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely."  This will be of great embarrassment to ministers, as it is the third time that they have lost an air pollution court battle. ClientEarth commented:  “The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over 8 years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough ... government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”  The area around Heathrow has high NO2 pollution levels, often over the legal limit,  and it is unlikely that there could be a 3rd runway without a serious risk of air quality deteriorating.

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Airlines tell Transport Committee of their alarm over ‘blank cheque’ for Heathrow 3rd runway

At the final oral evidence session by the Commons Transport Committee, looking at the Airports NPS (ie. plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway) airline representatives and the CAA were questioned.  Key people from British Airways, Virgin and easyJet urged MPs to secure details from Heathrow on costs before voting to approve a runway.  Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, told MPs that the true cost of Heathrow expansion is likely to be “grossly” higher than the £14.3bn the airport has cited, and there is no clarity or transparency on the plans. Airlines do not want higher landing charges, and it is unclear how Heathrow could pay for its expansion without higher charges. The airlines want guarantees on costs. MPs commented that it was hard for MPs to vote for (or against) the runway, when vital details on costs and financing are not available - and even the main airlines don't know if they back the scheme. Willie Walsh said parliament should not trust Heathrow; he had “zero confidence” that a third runway would be delivered on time and within budget - there were not even any clear plans for what is to be built yet, nor for the M25.  Walsh added: “When we’ve asked for disclosure ... what they are saying is ‘trust us. Give us your approval and support’. I don’t trust them and you shouldn’t, either." And higher charges risked making an expanded Heathrow too expensive and a “white elephant”.

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Heathrow study on “respite” shows there is no clear definition, and no clarity on what it means, or whether it helps

Heathrow, and the supporters of its plans for a 3rd runway (increasing the number of planes using the airport by up to 50%) have been enthusiastic about the concept of "respite" from plane noise. This is the idea that people will be less unhappy about the amount of plane noise, if they get some predictable times when they are spared the noise.  During those times, the noise is over other people (and vice versa). Heathrow has a Respite Working Group (RWG), set up in October 2014,  and it commissioned research to show if respite would be effective. The long awaited report has been published (though it was finished in May 2017 ...) and it merely confirms the vagueness of the concept, and therefore how little confidence anyone has in it reducing the upset, distress and annoyance caused by unwanted plane noise.  The study might have been expected to a). define what respite actually is (in terms of amount of noise, duration, time of day).  b). what amount of respite is actually valued by overflown communities. Instead we have no certainty of when someone is getting "respite." Does it mean no plane noise at all?  Or a bit less plane noise than usual, if the plane is a mile or two away rather than overhead? Does it mean half an hour without planes, or 8 hours without planes? And so on.  The RWG just wants more research ....

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Hillingdon Council Leader, Ray Puddifoot, and John McDonnell MP to attend meetings for local people about Heathrow runway plans

The current consultation on Heathrow expansion has prompted local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion to organise two public meetings so that those people closest to the proposed runway can discuss Heathrow’s latest runway proposals and the true nature of the impact to local people.  The first meeting will be on Weds 28th February,  (St Mary's Church Hall, Harmondsworth) where Hillingdon Council Leader Ray Puddifoot MBE will be the guest speaker.  The second meeting will be on Friday 2nd March at Yiewsley & West Drayton Community Centre, whereJohn McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, will be the guest speaker. The meetings have been arranged by the Harmondsworth and Sipson Resident's Association (HASRA) with SHE and is aimed at residents from the villages – including Longford, which would be totally destroyed if the 3rd runway development went ahead. West Drayton would feel some of the harshest impacts of a third runway, with much busier local roads, higher air pollution and serious disruption during construction. The meetings will be a chance to discuss these impacts.

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If we’re going to offset airplanes’ CO2 emissions, we should at least do it right

The global aviation industry hopes to be able to be able to continue growing, fast, and emitting ever more carbon - while claiming this is all "offset" by carbon credits from elsewhere. In an excellent article, Andrew Murphy from T&E explains some of the problems, and why what is currently on offer is not even near to being effective.  The UN scheme for aviation CO2 is called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is already very weak, as it only aims to offset CO2 above 2020 levels . That is far short of what the Paris agreement requires. And because participation in CORSIA is voluntary, the scheme will fall short of this 2020 target. Offsets are so cheap and the target is so weak that the resulting cost will also do nothing to incentivise greater efficiencies from within the aviation sector.  But offsetting itself has huge problems: 1. There is no proper way ICAO can enforce CORSIA and ensure airlines and states abide by the rules.  2. There is little guarantee with many sorts of offsets, the cheapest in particular, that they deliver any real CO2 reductions. And 3. There are serious questions about the use of alternative fuels, as if airlines are allowed to count the use them against any offsetting obligation. So the sustainability rules for alternative fuels need to be as tight as they are for offsets.  ICAO is consulting on its standards till the 5th March.

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Loganair scraps Aberdeen services at Durham Tees Valley Airport – it only started in October

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has ordered Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) officials to ‘put up or shut up’ following the loss of Scottish services, and reiterated an election pledge to overthrow operator Peel and buy the site.  It has been revealed that Loganair is shelving Aberdeen services next month. The flights, aimed predominantly at offshore oil workers, were only introduced to DTVA in October 2017, but Loganair says it is “unable to make the commercial case to lease the required aircraft” to continue the route.  DVTA has already lost its flights to Norwich.  The airport wants the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to provide £500,000 of taxpayers' money to "support route & passenger growth" and attract businesses. The TVCA had previously agreed to provide Peel with financial help after it pledged the airport would remain open until at least 2021 while a 5-year masterplan was developed. But the Mayor will not agree to this spending, that he believes does not give taxpayers’ value for money.  He expects Peel to make a success of the airport, or sell it to someone who will. 

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People in Stanwell very concerned about impact on their area of car parks, offices etc from Heathrow expansion

People in Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, just to the south west of the airport, are very concerned about the expansion plans for a 3rd runway.  The plans have been described as a "travesty" for the area. Former Green Party parliamentary candidate in Spelthorne, Paul Jacobs, said the proposal for multi-storey car parking, offices, hotels or the relocated Immigration Removal Centre could break the "noise barrier" between Stanwell and the airport.  Speaking at the Heathrow consultation event in Stanwell on February 13th he said: "There's a large swathe of land to the north which is amenity land; people walk their dogs there. It would be a travesty if it were taken over by hotels, warehousing and servicing units. This land creates a barrier between us and the airport and it protects us from aircraft noise, particularly from aircraft noise on the ground."  People held a small protest outside the consultation event.  Opponents of the current Heathrow consultation have been highly critical of it, saying it is premature, and aims to give the impression that the runway is already agreed. It is far from that.

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Transport for London may join legal challenge against Heathrow runway, due to lack of clarity on surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) are the expert body on transport issues for London. They have long been very concerned about the surface access problems a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause. They now say the government could face a legal challenge, if there is no better clarity on the matter.  TfL would join the legal challenge of the 4 councils. TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said he had not seen evidence from the DfT or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of its passengers of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic could be kept at current levels. By contrast, the analysis by TfL on the matter is completely transparent. Alex said: “If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.” About 40% of Heathrow passenger trips are now on public transport, and TfL estimates this number would need to rise to 69% by 2030, for Heathrow to meet its pledge of no extra traffic on roads near the airport. TfL says the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” if there is a 3rd runway.

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Extra costs to local authorities, and huge doubt about chance of relocating Lakeside incinerator, if 3rd runway went ahead

If the 3rd Heathrow runway was to go ahead, the Lakeside incinerator would have to be demolished. The Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW), a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, processes non-recyclable waste from more than 12 local authorities including Kingston, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Richmond. It produces 37MW of low carbon energy, which is enough to provide power for around 56,000 homes, a town roughly the size of Slough. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith said the cost of moving the incinerator "would be many hundreds of millions of pounds. No one will want it in their backyard so the planning process will be complex and lengthy, and in the absence of a replacement, local authorities will be forking out around £50m a year in extra landfill taxes. This is yet another huge and unplanned cost associated with Heathrow expansion, a project that is already deeply uneconomic and anticompetitive.”  On February 5, before the Commons Transport Committee, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said it needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later”but gave no further information. It has no plans, and no alternative site has been found. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said the estimated cost of relocation is £500million or more than £700million should the plant be forced to close.

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Tees Valley Mayor promises to veto plans to give £500,000 to Durham Tees Valley Airport owners

The Conservative Mayor the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), Ben Houchen, says he fully intends to fulfil his manifesto pledge of bringing Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership.  He will veto any plan to grant £500,000 of taxpayers money to the owners of Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) “ for nothing in return”.  But Mr Houchen finds himself at odds with the TVCA’s 5 local authority leaders - all Labour - who have proposed amending the mayor’s budget plans in favour of granting DTVA owners, Peel, £500,000 to secure flights to the airport. The Labour council leaders said they blocked the mayor’s budget “when it became clear that the money requested had been earmarked for solicitors and consultants instead of support for the new routes”. The Mayor said: “I was elected with a clear mandate to buy our airport, and that’s what I plan to do. Labour council leaders sold off our airport for half a million quid, and since my election they’ve bent over backwards to pressurise me into giving taxpayer cash to Peel for nothing in return. It isn’t going to happen. I will veto any proposal that does not offer value for money." There are currently no flights from DVTA to London, but 3 per day to Amsterdam with KLM to link up with Schiphol's routes. 

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Briefing from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on the Heathrow consultations

eathrow has a current consultation, on its runway plans, which closes on 28th March. People are advised, if they send in a response, to make sure their submission is not taken as tacit agreement with the 3rd runway. The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a 2 page briefing, advising people about the many areas in which the consultation is inadequate, and suggesting a list of issues that remain unaddressed by Heathrow. Just some of the issues where the consultation fails are: - No clarity on plans for road and rail access and no commitment to pay for them. - No assessment of cost of moving the M25 nor a traffic impact assessment whilst construction takes place. - No assessment of the impact of construction of local air quality. - No assessment of impact on assets of national importance (parks and open spaces) from potentially being overflown for 12-hour periods with no respite from noise.  On questions people should ask, just some are:  - Why does the current Heathrow consultation on expansion include proposals for a shorter runway that have not been considered by the Airports Commission nor included in the Airports NPS?  - What assessment has been made of the financial cost of the proposals to move the M25 or put it into a tunnel? - What assessment has been made of the impact on local roads of a potential 50% increase in the level of freight handled by Heathrow?  And there are many more. See the full briefing here

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Campaigner who was approached by police to spy on anti-airport campaign wants proper inquiry into police infiltration

Environmental campaigner Tilly Gifford wants a public inquiry to investigate claims that she was "targeted" by undercover police officers who wanted her to spy on fellow activists.  In 2009, Tilly was working with Plane Stupid, which was protesting about the environmental damage done by airport expansion.  She told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that she was arrested during a protest at Aberdeen Airport and police wanted her to feed them intelligence on the group. They wanted information about the groups she worked with, the individuals, and what they were planning - in exchange for cash. She has tapes of the conversations. Now 9 years later she is at the forefront of attempts to win a judicial review to force either the UK government to extend its inquiry - or have the Scottish government set up its own.  She says all her actions were totally peaceful and non-violent, even if some laws were violated, and: "The question here is not about undercover policing, it is about undercover political policing."  "We know now that up to thousands of campaigns across the whole of the UK, in Scotland as well, have been targeted by undercover political policing and it is time for a full public inquiry."  It is likely that campaigns against Heathrow's expansion have been targeted too.

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German air passenger tax (now €7 – 40) under threat as negotiations continue to form new German government

Negotiators for a new grand coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats may drop a proposal to progressively abolish Germany’s air transport tax (the Luftverkehrssteuer).  The tax is levied on air ticket prices and costs between €7 and 40 euros depending on the distance flown, and generates about €1 billion per year. The airlines, of course, want the tax abolished, and claim it harms "competitiveness." Aviation in Germany already pays no VAT (except on domestic flights) and no fuel duty.  The CDU (Merkel) and SPD negotiating teams were discussing abolishing the ticket tax, but so far the tax seems to have survived the talks. It would be crazy to allow aviation to pay even tax than it does now, bearing in mind its massive CO2 emissions. Aviation is on its way to eating up all of what remains of our chances to limit global warming to below 2°C as agreed in Paris. Aviation emissions are growing fast (up 8% in the EU in 2016), billions of people are waiting to catch their first flight (just 3% of India’s population have ever boarded a plane). Efficiency improvements in the sector are slow and shrinking. What’s more, by ignoring non-CO2 effects we’re underestimating aviation’s contribution to global warming by a factor of at least two. 

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Non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation mean it is 2 – 3 times more damaging than the industry claims

While IATA considers global aviation accounts for about 2% of man-made CO2 emissions, this is a serious underestimate of the sector's impact on climate change. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, a researcher on atmospheric physics at Delft in Holland, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect. The main contributors of aviation-induced radiative forcing are: CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and contrail/cirrus cloud formation. As are the contrails and resultant cloud formation which trap radiation escaping from the Earth, and the effect is very significant.  However, the effect is smaller in some parts of the globe than others, so small reductions in the non-CO2 impact could be achieved from a bit of re-routing. Optimising the speed and cruise altitude also help a bit. However, the EU emissions trading system for aviation ignores non-CO2 impacts. Brussels NGO T&E says the non-CO2 impacts should be included. "When aviation was included in the ETS in 2008 the directive in fact called on the European Commission to assess the non-CO2 impacts and propose action. Nothing transpired but this call was renewed in the revisions to the directive agreed last year requesting the Commission to assess and propose by 2020. The time to act is well overdue."

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Economic advisors, Prof Peter Mackie & Brian Pearce respond to Heathrow questions by Transport Select Cttee

As part of their inquiry into the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, in the Airports NPS, the Transport Select Committee wrote on 16th January - with a list of questions - to two economic experts, Professor Peter Mackie, (Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds University) and Brian Pearce (Chief Economist, IATA UK) who advised the Airports Commission (and who were critical of the way the Commission worked out alleged future economic benefits of a Heathrow runway). Mackie & Price have replied in some detail, and some of their comments can be seen below. Asked about the economic impact of the airport not being full in 2 -3 years, but (as John Holland-Kaye has said) over 10 - 15 years, they say: "...that ought to be reflected in the capacity model and profile of shadow costs over time."  Asked about carbon costs, they say: "... we cannot comment either on the probability of a fully effective international carbon trading scheme being in place in the timeframe, nor on the striking price of carbon and its trend over time."  And on Heathrow landing charges they say the DfT's main case assumes "the benefit of the reduced shadow cost will be fully passed through to travellers while increases in landing charges to fund the infrastructure will be absorbed by airlines. This particular combination seems a bit unlikely."

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EasyJet making plans to ensure it is still seen as a UK airline, after Brexit

EasyJet is ensuring it is safe after Brexit, by working to meet EU ownership rules. There is uncertainty about that happens to UK and European-owned airlines after Brexit. These include agreeing a new legal basis for British airlines to operate flights between EU countries, and also ownership rules requiring airlines operating in the EU to be majority controlled by EU countries.  Shareholders at easyJet’s AGM approved changes to its Articles of Association that will ensure it is EU-owned and controlled after Brexit.  The move is an “important element in ensuring that easyJet plc has the ability to maintain EU ownership and control at all times should we need to do so”.  EasyJet expects the CAA to grant it a UK air operator’s certificate in the coming weeks, to cover its UK-based aircraft. Government had confirmed that the airline — easyJet UK — will be treated as a British carrier when Britain had left the EU, and its parent company is EU-owned. EasyJet is one of the first to make moves to protect its flying rights after Brexit. Ryanair has applied for a British air operator’s certificate, so it can continue flying in the UK after Brexit.

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Eurostar launching direct London to Amsterdam service (2 per day) from April – to rival cheap flights

Eurostar is launching direct services between London St Pancras and Amsterdam, starting on 4th April 2018. There will be 2 trains per day (08.31 and 17.31), taking 3 hours and 41 minutes, direct. But for an initial temporary period, the Eurostar service will only run direct one-way, from London to Amsterday, and passengers travelling the other way - Holland to London  -will have to change at Brussels to clear passport controls. It is hoped the passport checks will be done in the Netherlands, saving the Brussels change, from the end of 2019. Five years ago, the German operator Deutsche Bahn announced and then cancelled a link between the UK and Amsterdam and The Hague, but there were set-backs. It is likely that demand will come largely from the UK at first, as we are used to Eurostar. However, the 2 trains per day is a lot less than 70 direct flights daily from London to Amsterdam. Fares will be comparable, starting at £35 for a one-way ticket. Trains will have power sockets and free wifi, making the trip attractive to business and leisure passengers. Over 4 million passengers travel between London and Amsterdam by air each year and therefore the market is the same size as it was when the London-Paris services launched in 1994.

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Grayling makes key admissions on serious problems with a 3rd Heathrow runway, at Transport Committee hearing

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, made several assertions when he appeared before the inquiry on the Airports National Policy Statement, held by the Transport Select Committee on 7th February.  When questioned about Heathrow's regional connectivity, he confirmed that many of the domestic routes, promised by Heathrow, would not be commercially viable and would require taxpayer funded Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy orders, if they were to ever materialise.  Grayling also confirmed that, although up to 121,000 residents around the airport would be expected to suffer the impact of the further air pollution concentrations, likely to flow from the extra flights required to meet the DfT's own recently updated passenger demand forecasts, the government was yet to undertake any work to assess those impacts. Mr Grayling also confirmed that there would be a 'real risk' of non-compliance on air quality, were Heathrow to expand, and that the Government's own analysis expects that risk to be heightened in the years 2026 – 2030.  He also confirmed that the 3rd runway would mean a reduction in respite from noise, for adversely impacted residents. Details with extracts from transcripts at the link below.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway coalition commented on the NPS that "To proceed on the basis of evidence that unravels, on scrutiny, would simply be unacceptable".

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Manchester airport infuriated by Holland-Kaye claim that Manchester area “needs” Heathrow for business

Giving evidence to MPs at the Transport Select Committee, on the proposed  3rd runway, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye claimed those living in areas like Greater Manchester ‘needed Heathrow’ to sustain business links with the world. But Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, has accused him of making ‘misleading claims’ about its importance to Manchester passengers - and the UK economy. Holland-Kaye also claimed that the services Manchester had won - like Cathay Pacific’s direct route to Hong Kong - were thanks to Heathrow trail-blazing the route first. He tried to make out that Heathrow has a ‘unique’ position in providing long haul routes to countries like China, despite Manchester’s existing Beijing route along with Guangzhou and Shanghai services in the pipeline. Heathrow clams these are vital for business, despite admitting most passengers are not on business - they just facilitate more flights to destinations where business might be done. Heathrow always says, as its mantra, that "only" Heathrow can provide "connectivity" to world destinations. Andrew Cowan said Heathrow continues to make misleading claims about its benefit to the UK economy, and Heathrow "is far from being unique in connecting UK businesses to global markets." Manchester is important for the Northern Powerhouse, jobs in the north and rebalancing UK economic growth.

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John Holland-Kaye appears before Commons Transport Committee for grilling on 3rd runway problems

Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, appeared before the Commons Transport Select Committee to give evidence for their inquiry into the proposed 3rd runway (the Airports NPS inquiry). He tried to defend claims that the runway, and 50% more flights, would result in a cut in road traffic connected with the airport. He tried to insist the airport's pledges on air quality levels would be met if a 3rd runway went ahead.  The comments came after Tory MP and committee member Huw Merriman said that a number of airport commitments had “somewhat unravelled”.  Heathrow are trying to persuade MPs etc that they have a "triple lock" on the problem of air pollution, and it had a “strong plan” to deal with traffic levels. He blames road vehicles, nothing to do with Heathrow, for local air pollution - and gave confusing evidence about whether Heathrow could, or could not, count the number of vehicle journeys associated with the airport.  (If they cannot count them, then cannot confirm they have not increased ...).  Asked if he could make a “firm commitment” that landing charges would not increase, Mr Holland-Kaye told MPs: “At this stage I couldn’t...." And he blathered when asked by Lilian Greenwood about the financial benefits of Heathrow, if it only reached a 50% increase in flights over 10 - 15 years, not just a few.

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Belfast City Airport late-night flight ‘failures’ criticised by Ombudsman – changes needed

The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman has found 3,073 late-night flights (between 21.31 and 23.59 GMT) occurred at Belfast City Airport between 2008 and early 2016, and there was maladministration by a Stormont department over these late-night flights.  The Ombudsman said there had been "a series of failures" by the former Department of the Environment (DoE) which for several years did not gather data on late-night flight movements "on a regular and systematic basis". The investigation was carried out after a complaint was made by Belfast City Airport Watch, which represents residents. The Ombudsman said the DoE should have had an "agreed understanding" of what the night time restrictions meant in practice, so people living close to the airport knew "what was intended by this obligation". It has recommended an operational definition should now be reached between the Department for Infrastructure, which has replaced the DoE, and the airport. A spokesperson for Belfast City Airport Watch said "We have spent years trying to convince the authorities they needed to take action on this issue. What is important now is that the department acts on the report's recommendations as quickly as possible."

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British Airways owner IAG wants break up of Heathrow monopoly, with separate companies managing terminals

British Airways’ owner IAG (Willie Walsh) has called on government to break up Heathrow’s “monopoly” of infrastructure, suggesting to the CAA that other companies could run the different terminals to create competition and cheaper flights for consumers.  IAG, which is Heathrow's largest customer, said the airport’s planned expansion could allow independent firms to create and run new terminals more effectively than Heathrow’s current owners, with lower costs to airlines - and better cost control. IAG is desperate for charges by Heathrow not to rise, to pay for its runway etc.  Walsh said: “Heathrow’s had it too good for too long and the government must confirm the CAA’s powers to introduce this type of competition. ... This would cut costs, diversify funding and ensure developments are completed on time, leading to a win-win for customers.”  BA runs a terminal at JFK airport in New York and there are European examples at Frankfurt and Munich airports. Heathrow has a real problem, becoming ever more clear, with funding for its expansion plans. Chris Grayling has said Heathrow landing charges (already some of the world's highest) “should be kept as close as possible to current levels.”  A vote is due to be held this summer in the Commons on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS). 

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European Environment Agency: Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation ‘requires systemic change’ to cut demand

The EEA (European Environment Agency) says reducing CO2 emissions from Europe’s aviation and shipping industries requires systemic change, rather than simply improving efficiency. In a new report they say a massive shift in innovation, consumer behaviour and the take up of more ambitious green technologies to power aircraft and cargo ships are crucial. Both aviation and shipping have grown fast in recent years, and by 2050, the two are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global CO2 emissions unless further mitigation is taken. Incremental small improvements in fuel efficiency will not be enough. For air travel, changes in lifestyle and culture are needed eg. more shift to rail and less demand for material imported material goods. Governments have a key role to play. The role of continuing subsidies to the aviation industry is important in maintaining high demand for air travel. There needs to be a change to the "attitude-action gap" whereby expressed "environmental  awareness by individuals does not translate into reductions in flight demand." ... " there will be a need for wider conversations around the types of lifestyle that will help enable sustainable mobility". They are not convinced aviation biofuels will be anything more than minimal.

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Wandsworth leader Ravi Govindia describes Heathrow runway proposals as ‘fatally flawed’

The leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, has criticised Heathrow's current consultation and hit out at its 'fatally flawed' scheme. Heathrow has a current consultation that is largely a PR exercise. No flight plans have been included in the first stage of the two-part consultation, which relates to physical changes on the ground. It is widely agreed (except by Heathrow and the DfT) that no sensible, informed decision cannot be made on a 3rd runway until the details of future flight paths are made clear - there is currently no information. The second consultation will deal with airspace. Four councils, Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have been campaigning against the expansion since it was proposed. Ravi Govindia said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling. We know that this scheme is fatally flawed and if it went ahead would have a serious impact on our local environment and the health of our residents. I urge everyone who opposes this expansion to make their voices heard and get involved in this consultation process."  But it is important that those opposing the runway state that clearly. Otherwise their responses can be used by Heathrow as evidence that people support some variants of the scheme, over others - implying acceptance and agreement.

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Advice on how to respond to Heathrow consultation – be absolutely sure to state you oppose any 3rd runway plan

Heathrow has a consultation out at present, which closes on 29th March. It is not a proper consultation about the runway, as the government has not yet even given the airport permission to build a 3rd runway. The consultation is intended to give the impression that the runway is definitely happening, and that people can have a bit of a say in how the development is done. Writing in the local paper, the Slough & South Bucks Express, long standing councillor Malcolm Beer gives advice on how to deal with the consultation. He says, it is absolutely essential that respondents state in the first box of the Consultation Response Form whether they support or oppose the expansion with their main reasons.  The preferences which you might give should be expressly stated as being relevant only in the unfortunate event of the 3rd runway proposal being approved, to avoid being added to the number of supporters.  This is very important as some believe they were included in the number of supporters, with the very biased, airport-funded "Back Heathrow" Campaign which completely wrongly and misleadingly stated that the airport would have to close if it could not expand.

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PCS union reiterates its view that Heathrow job claims cannot be trusted, and 3rd runway would be too damaging

Tahir Latif, of the PCS (Commercial and Public Services Union) had a letter in the Evening Standard, reiterating his union's view on Heathrow. Responding to a letter from Sam Gurney, of the TUC, backing the runway because of potential job gains, Tahir said: "Sam Gurney’s support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow glosses over many issues. There are serious doubts over the jobs claims in terms of the number, quality, duration and conditions, and similar concerns about where and to whom the economic benefits would accrue. Unions that oppose the runway are as keen to protect their members’ jobs as the TUC but recognise the massive environmental impact that will result from 250,000-plus additional flights per year. Instead of inflicting large-scale environmental damage, we need to demand job creation that retrieves the UK and London from its wretched environmental performance — not worsens it."  In the past the PCS has said they oppose the 3rd runway as there is little real evidence supporting the extravagant promises made about jobs. Although the PCS wants to "protect Heathrow jobs whether or not the airport expands, the environmental impact of a 3rd runway would be too serious. PCS advocates sustainable transport and the creation of new jobs in that growing sector.”

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Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) has problems and may go over-budget, not helped by Heathrow only paying £70m (not £230m)

The management of Crossrail have issued a major alert that the £14.8 billion line (the Elizabeth Line) might not open on time and is at risk of blowing its budget. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said problems with software on new trains and an electrical explosion in east London, when engineers tried to switch on the high-voltage power, have caused “real, serious challenges.”  Stations such as Bond Street, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Woolwich and Whitechapel — where there have been major construction problems — are behind schedule. Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan admitted the line was “very close” to exceeding its budget. Costs are increasing rapidly in the rush to try and open on time. The line will link Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood once fully opened by the end of 2019.  The central section of the line, between Paddington and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London, is due to open in December 2018. Heathrow was initially asked to contribute £230 million. But it managed to argue that it would only derive small additional benefit as it was "full". In reality, Heathrow has a lot of extra terminal capacity and its number of passengers rises annually, even with no 3rd runway. Heathrow had 75.7m passengers in 2017 compared to 72.3m in 2013.). So the taxpayer is having to shoulder the financial costs, which Heathrow should have paid.

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Qantas publicity flight using small % of biofuel from carinata – with hopes of using ever more of it

A Qantas 787 Dreamliner plane flew from Los Angeles to Melbourne recently, using a tiny bit of biofuel.  The fuel used was oil from the brassica carinata, an industrial type of mustard seed that functions as a fallow crop – grown by farmers in between regular crop cycles. The fuel was supplied by US company SG Preston. The plane used (probably in one engine?) 10% biofuel for the flight. The airline claims this meant a 7% reduction in CO2 emissions, but that is probably only if the biofuel is regarded (wrongly) as emitting almost no carbon.  It is claimed that "Compared pound for pound with jet fuel, carinata biofuel reduces emissions by 80% over the fuel’s life cycle." The big problem with the biodiesel industry in Australia is mainly the continuity of supply, as there is not enough land to grow it. One hectare of the crop can be used to produce 400 litres of aviation fuel. That means this flight, using about 24,000kg of carinata biofuel needed an area larger than the Vatican City to grow it. For 10% of one engine on one flight? Usually airlines promoting biofuel can only get hold of used cooking oil, which is about the only fuel that can claim to be really "sustainable" though it is only available in tiny amounts (and has other possible uses other than jetfuel). Qantas and other airlines are desperate to be able to locate any form of biofuel that might give the impression of cutting their carbon emissions.

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REDD forest CO2 offsets used by Virgin shown to be ineffective – much of the forest has been cut down

Virgin Atlantic tries to make out that it is a "green" and responsible airline. It has given its passengers the chance to buy "carbon offsets" to pay for the carbon emitted because they flew. But it has emerged that the forest project, in Cambodia, that Virgin got its passengers to obtain carbon credits from is wholly inadequate. While the hope is that buying an "offset" means carbon is taken out of the atmosphere somewhere, the reality is that forest offsets do not work reliably. The scheme used by Virgin, they said in good faith, only seems to monitor forest project to ensure they meet the necessary criteria, every 5 years. The scheme Virgin used was checked in 2013, and seemingly the right boxes were ticked. Subsequently much of the forest was cleared by the Cambodian military. It no longer exists. So any carbon "offsets" bought by passengers are worthless. Carbon has NOT been taken out of the air - there is cleared land instead. This demonstrates that forest offsets should not be used. They would only work if forest is kept complete and healthy for decades. That cannot be guaranteed. Virgin has now admitted the scheme has not worked and has pulled out of it. Worryingly, this sort of cheap forest "offset" is exactly what ICAO hopes to use, in its CORSIA scheme, to give the impression that growing aviation CO2 is being mopped up elsewhere.

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Jet fuel price creeping back upwards, to level of late 2014 – will it mean higher cost of fares?

The price of jet fuel rose enormously in 2008, and stayed high till falling by the end of 2014.  Prices were very low in 2015, 2016 and 2017 - allowing the industry to expand and make substantial profits. But the price has been creeping back up again, especially since about September 2017.   In spring 2011 the price was up to about $140 per barrel.  The price of jet fuel was $76.5 per barrel on 17th November 2017, which is 35% higher than a year earlier.  The price was $81.3 on 29th December 2017, which is 21.1% higher than a year earlier. The price was $85.5 per barrel (= $203.5 per US gallon) on 26th January 2018, which is 30% higher than a year earlier.  Platts say: "The $2/gal mark is always a psychological barrier. It's still far from the record high of $4.2085/gal on July 3, 2008, and below most values between then and 2014. But it shows the recovery going on in the crude market is cascading into the jet stream as well."  IATA Jet fuel price monitor anticipates the average price for 2018 as $83.1/bbl  and that would have an impact on the global industry's fuel bill in 2018 fuel bill $38.1 billion.  Maybe the days of very cheap fuel are over? Will airlines then pass on the costs of higher fuel bills to passengers, in higher fares?

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TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has "pledged" that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present.  TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 - 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.

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The cruel realities of Heathrow blight – residents whose homes may be demolished for Heathrow runway

Villagers living in a small road close to Heathrow were this week coming to terms with the threat of having all their homes compulsorily purchased to make way for the proposed Heathrow expansion. Residents of Elbow Meadow off Bath Road, Colnbrook received letters late last week from Heathrow, after the launch of their (premature and presumptuous) consultation. They were warned that their 13 homes may have to go to allow the M25 to be realigned 150 metres to the west of the airport.  Possible rebuilding of the A3044 road would affect that part of the village too. The area is already seriously affected by planes low overhead, being close to the western end of the northern runway. Some residents are resigned to having to move. Others are not. One resident said:  “There used to be 36 shops in the village. We were a village where people knew each other. They vanished one by one and now there is just one. It is the Heathrow blight - many see Colnbrook as a dormitory village.” Another has already tried to move, but said: “We did try to move earlier. The house has been on the market but the three offers were all well below the house’s value made by people who knew about the Heathrow threat.” The cruel realities of living near Heathrow, with its blight

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Heathrow criticised by key London councils for jumping the gun on Government expansion decision

The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils.  The Leaders of 3 councils have slammed Heathrow for holding a consultation when the Government are yet to make a decision on whether or not the airport should be expanded at all.  Parliamentary scrutiny on the Governments proposals is still underway, with a vote by MPs due later this year. As part of this process, tens of thousands of people have already had their say, making it clear that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable. The Leaders argue that any expansion of the airport would have a devastating impact on West London  - causing immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and potentially cost taxpayers £15bn.  The latest Heathrow consultation fails to recognise any of this well documented feedback. Confusingly, this latest consultation is also seeking residents’ initial views on how airspace and flight paths should be designed in the future (concentrated or less concentrated...)  The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimise the number of people impacted by noise. Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling."

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“Do we really need to fly as much as we do, or is the amount we fly induced by the industry?”

According to ICAO there were 3.7 billion global air passengers in 2016, with numbers growing fast every year since 2009. The estimate is 7.2 billion by 2035. A few years ago, environmental group Germanwatch estimated that a single person taking one round trip flight from Germany to the Caribbean produces the same amount of CO2 etc as 80 average residents of Tanzania do in a year: around 4 metric tons of CO2. "Even a serious environmentalist who eats vegan, heats using solar power and rides a bike to work, but who still take the occasional flight, wouldn't look very green at all." Professor Stefan Gössling, (at Sweden's Lund and Linnaeus universities) says to cut air travel demand "I think that essentially we need price hikes." Gössling says: "Do we really need to fly as much as we do, or is the amount we fly induced by the industry?" he asks. In addition to artificially low airplane ticket prices, the industry also promotes a lifestyle, he argues. Airline campaigns project an image where you can become part of a group of people who are young, urban frequent flyers, visiting another city every few weeks for very low costs. ... We need a prosperity that is based on community and based on real wealth of collective vision, rather than one that is based on relentless consumption. Aviation is a symbol of the kind of consumption that we need to leave behind."

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Alistair Osborne writing in the Times: “Heathrow on flight path to nowhere”

Commenting on the frankly ridiculous "consultation" put out by Heathrow, Alistair Osborne - writing in the Times - puts some of the criticisms beautifully. For example, he says: "After half a century on the job ... Heathrow still doesn’t even know where to put its new runway. The best it can offer is three options, with “length varying from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres”. ...Heathrow has "emerging proposals" but "In fact, so many crucial details are still up in the air that it’s hard to spot what the ten-week consultation is consulting on." ... "Apart from the multiple choice runway location, there are three possible sites for a new terminal, a smorgasbord of potential taxiways and some gobbledegook about “realigning” the M25. Having noticed that the “M25 is one of the busiest roads in the UK”, Heathrow says it “will ensure that our proposals do not result in disruption”." ..."Two other crucial issues — illegal air quality and noise — get no more than platitudes." ... "If it is not yet possible to map the detailed impact on local communities, what is the point of consulting right now?” As details of flight paths, noise and air pollution will only emerge AFTER MPs vote this summer on the NPS: "As consultation processes go, it’s all a bit of a sham."

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Important points demonstrating how the Heathrow 3rd runway is far from certain, at Westminster Hall debate

On Wednesday 24th January, Vince Cable MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall, on the issue of the 3rd Heathrow runway plans and Heathrow's current consultation on their expansion hopes. Some of the MPs who spoke were Ruth Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith, Andy Slaughter, Karl Turner and Stephen Pound. They expressed serious reservations on issues of cost to the taxpayer, cost of surface access transport improvements, increased noise, uncertain air pollution, uncertain CO2 emissions, uncertain economic benefits and uncertain links to regional airports. Quotes from the MP contributions are shown below. Just a couple include: Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con) - "one problem with the consultation is that we know that hundreds of thousands of new people will be affected by noise, but we do not know which hundreds of thousands, because the Government and Heathrow have yet to tell us where the new flight paths will be, which renders the entire consultation process entirely disingenuous, if not dishonest? It is a bit like saying, “We’re going to put a new incinerator in your constituency, and we’d like to ask people their opinion, but we’re not going to say where it’ll be put.” Surely the entire basis of the consultation’s legitimacy has a question mark hanging over it."  And Andy Slaughter - "Getting these glossy pamphlets through the door, as one does on a regular basis from Heathrow, sends the subliminal message, “This is a done deal. Get used to it. Get what you can out of it by way of mitigation.” It simply is not good enough."

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Heathrow premature “consultation” demonstrates NOT how inevitable the 3rd runway is, but just how absent any details are

The Heathrow consultation (17th January to 28th March) is vague in the extreme. It purports to be a consultation about how the airport should expand with a 3rd runway. But no government permissions for this has even been given yet, with a vote in Parliament and several legal challenges to be undergone before there is any certainty there will be any 3rd Heathrow runway. The consultation's main purpose appears to be to give the impression to politicians, business people, the public, the affected communities etc that the runway is a "done deal" and is definitely going ahead; Heathrow is just sorting out some details. That is NOT the case. As the consultation makes manifestly clear, rather than sticking to details of the recommendations of the Airports Commission (on noise increases, night flight curfew periods, location of runway, means of getting over the M25 and so much else) Heathrow is not sticking to this, but trying out other options - which were never part of the Commission's scrutiny.  Far from making the runway look inevitable, the numerous areas in which there is no certainty of Heathrow's plans demonstrate immense weaknesses. The consultation is aimed at trying to make the runway planning appear sensitive to public opinion. It is in fact far more underhand than that, and highly unlikely that consultation responses - other than endorsing what Heathrow wants - would even be given more than passing consideration.

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Heathrow “consultation” largely an exercise in spin – but scary for those whose homes might be demolished

Heathrow put out a consultation on its runway hopes, on 17th January. It is very premature, as it is still months before the government even has a vote on whether to approve a 3rd runway. However, Heathrow is running this "consultation" exercise, partly as a way to give the impression that the runway is a "done deal" and all that remains is to sort out details. In reality, there is little of substance in the consultation, that is in part just a PR exercise. However, it has got people worried and anxious. One reason is the scale of the number of properties to be demolished for the grandiose plans, for the A4, M25, terminal buildings, as well as the runway itself. One of the proposals (remember, nothing is agreed, and this is just the airport trying to persuade people the runway is inevitable - it is NOT) is that 13 homes in Elbow Meadow, Colnbrook, may have to be removed as part of the realignment of the M25 150 metres to the west of the airport.  In addition, two of three options to expand terminal infrastructure would see further land grabs needed around Colnbrook with Poyle and Richings Park. And so on.  Changes to the plans mean the airport scheme is not the one the Airports Commission gave its blessing to. A key factor is the location of flight paths, but there is absolutely NO information about those. The consultation is therefore largely a sham, without vital details that would be necessary in a meaningful consultation.

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Gatwick cannot use its emergency runway (too close to main runway) for extra flights, without new planning permission

A report in CityAM says Gatwick is hopeful of using its emergency runway, to boost the number of flights it can handle. The emergency runway is parallel to the main runway at the airport, and during normal operations is used as a taxiway. The runway is too close to the main runway to be used at the same time, and is only used in emergencies, if the main runway is out of action.  Not only does the 1979 legal agreement between Gatwick (BAA as it then was) and West Sussex County Council rule this out, before August 2019, but also the planning permission for the Emergency Runway restricts it to just that - emergency use when the principal runway is unavailable (obstructions, maintenance etc). This means that a specific planning application will need to be made even after August 2019 to change use from emergency only.  In minutes from a November meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee, the airport's chief executive Stewart Wingate said Gatwick will be looking at "the capability of Gatwick's main runway and the northern (maintenance /emergency) runway before looking at a new runway over the coming months".

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Glasgow airport consultation on flight path changes, modernising for satellite navigation

Glasgow airport has a consultation currently (ends on Friday 13th April) on changes in future to its flight paths.  The airport says: "... it is our intention to request permission from the CAA to implement these new procedures which will minimise the amount of time aircraft queue, both in the air and on the ground," and make some minimal fuel (CO2) savings. It is claimed changes are needed to cope with increased passenger numbers and airspace congestion, and are part of the UK Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) driven by the CAA, due to the change to satellite based navigation.  Ground navigation aids currently used by Glasgow Airport will be decommissioned in 2019. There will be a number of drop-in sessions for the public. Feedback will be presented to the CAA before the necessary approval can be granted. The Scottish Green Party commented that the proposals would see an increase in flights over areas including parts of Kilbarchan, resulting in more noise pollution for local residents. They are urging people to respond. “The projections show that parts of Renfrewshire will see the biggest increase in noise. Edinburgh Airport’s recent attempt to ignore the views of communities backfired spectacularly, so Glasgow Airport would be wise to listen to the concerns of those living in Renfrewshire carefully.” New flight paths were strenuously opposed at Edinburgh airport.

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Heathrow consultation: their suggestions of how to deal with M25, tunnel, bridge, altered junctions etc

As part of its consultation on its proposed 3rd runway, Heathrow has a section on what it hopes is done with the M25, so the runway can go over it.  This is a very expensive and complicate operation, and Heathrow is keen to cut the cost. The proposed runway will cross the M25 between Junctions 14 and 15 (J14 and J15) and will affect the operation of J14 and J14a, but not J15.  Other than moving the motorway a long way west, the options are tunnelling or bridging. Heathrow says: "Our current thinking is to re-position the M25 carriageway approximately 150 metres to the west, lower it by approximately 7 metres into a tunnel and raise the runway height by 3 to 5 metres so that it passes over the M25 between J14a and J15. The motorway will then re-join its current route. ...We believe this approach is the most deliverable as it would allow construction to proceed while the existing M25 motorway remains in operation. This minimises impacts to road users and has the least overall impacts on communities during construction and long-term operation."  And they say the 3rd runway will mean more traffic will want to pass through junctions 14 and 14A, so they will need to be expanded. Illustrations show some different options.

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“Plane Justice” legal claim forces CAA to concede Route 4 decision was wrong on all grounds

The small local group at Gatwick, Plane Justice, has legal battle on the location of Route, Route 4. The CAA has conceded Plane Justice’s judicial review claim on all grounds. Its April 2017 decision to make the current Gatwick departure Route 4 permanent will be quashed by the High Court, following the signing of a consent order by the parties.  The CAA was due to be in Court on 20th February for a full 2 day hearing, but having not come up with any detailed grounds of defence to the Plane Justice claim, they have admitted their decision was wrong and conceded on all the grounds of claim. The CAA agreed they had been wrong in ignoring existing patterns of traffic and the value of leaving the Route in its 2012 location, and they had been wrong in not requiring Gatwick to consult on the design of the Route that was introduced in May 2016.  They also concede they were also wrong in saying that magnetic drift was a sufficient reason to move the Route.  The location of Route 4 has been highly contentious for over 3 years, as it now gets concentrated rather than filling the width of the NPR swathe, as it did before the advent of PrNav for aircraft. This has meant either one community, or another, in an area of several miles width, suffer much worse plane noise. Another group, Plane Wrong, earlier argued for the route to be moved away from them.

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Rival “Heathrow Hub” expansion scheme considers legal action against Government, on altered Heathrow airport plans

The backers of the "Heathrow Hub" rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans. Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow to now consult on new ideas for its 3rd runway because this could change the eventual scheme from what was originally submitted and considered by the Airports Commission. Heathrow's consultation (started 17th Jan, ends 28th March) is considering 3 different runway options, two of them for a 3,200 metres and one at 3,500 metres, slightly differently sited. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”. Heathrow has to try to keep costs down, as its airlines are bitterly opposed to the cost of its proposals. The consultation also outlined potential plans for how to deal with the runway crossing the M25 motorway. Heathrow Hub said if it did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded. Heathrow airport said it thought that "providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives".

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Justine Greening hits out, with question in Parliament, at Heathrow expansion plans

Justine Greening is Conservative MP for Putney, and has been a vocal critic of a Heathrow 3rd runway for a long time. She quit the Cabinet last week, where she had been Education Secretary, so she is now free to express her opinions without the constraints of Cabinet collective responsibility.  She has already asked a question, at transport questions, in the House of Commons, criticising the government over its plans to expand Heathrow.  Her question was:  "On what evidence are the Government now pushing ahead with what I believe to be a flawed plan for expanding Heathrow? The updated national policy statement shows that it is more expensive, lower value, more congesting, noisier, and provides fewer connections. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss this?"  The reply from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, was:  "I know how strongly my right hon. Friend feels about this. She and I have had many conversations about it and I know that we will carry on doing so. She and I, of course, do not share the same view—I believe that this project is strategically important for the United Kingdom—but I am happy to carry on discussing it with her".  On Wednesday, Ms Greening told the Commons that a future generation of MPs will seek to "improve or undo" Brexit if it does not work for young people.

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Letter in FT from Paul McGuinness, Chair of No 3rd Runway Coalition: MPs should assess risks of 3rd Heathrow runway

Letter to the Editor of the Financial Times, from Paul McGuinness (Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition).  In it Paul says that while the government says no decision on the 3rd Heathrow runway will be taken until after a parliamentary vote (this summer), Heathrow is behaving as if the matter is already agreed and the runway approved. It has now launched a “consultation” on how it might build it. The airport’s “consultation” floats the possibility that the proposal before parliament could be mutated into a less expensive project — by tunnelling the M25 and shortening any new runway (although such a mutation could effectively make for a “new” proposal, requiring a new round of scrutiny).  Coalition members regard this latest “consultation” to be little more than a charade. A key issue of concern to large numbers of people under Heathrow planes is noise. However, there is no information about which areas and communities would be overflown more intensively than now, or newly overflown.  According to the government, it is for Heathrow to designate these, but there’s nothing in this consultation. Nor is there any plan to publish them — until after parliament has voted, perhaps approving the runway. Those preparing a legal challenge, on behalf of 4 councils (members of the Coalition) are ever more certain that the proposal will not survive the courts. It would be regrettable if MPs were to vote for the runway, just to find was then challenged and defeated at some stage, because the huge risks and impacts had not been properly assessed.

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Councils badly affected by Heathrow noise say 3rd runway could mean even more night flights than now

Government assurances that night flights could be banned with a third runway have been undermined by a new report from a major airline group - IAG - making the case for additional flights in the early morning period.  In its submission to the Transport Select Committee, IAG, (parent company of BA, the main airline at Heathrow), said that the Government’s Airports NPS should focus on providing "extended periods of predictable respite from scheduled night flights rather than a prescriptive ban for an arbitrary number of hours". BA operates 11 of the 16 flights which arrive at Heathrow in the night time period between 11.30pm and 6am. The Airports Commission recommended that all scheduled flights should be banned, between 11.30pm and 6.00am (six and a half hours) as a condition of the 3rd runway going ahead. But Heathrow said it would move that six hours back, so it is 11.00pm to 5.30am. There is already a ban (scheduled - not mentioning non-scheduled) after 11pm.  The  Government’s draft NPS published in February 2017 watered down this recommendation and proposed a ban of six and a half hours with the exact times to be determined following consultation together with a "predictable, though reduced, period of respite for local communities".  So the NPS as currently drafted provides no guarantee that a meaningful night ban will be introduced .IAG says a curfew would make it harder to add new flights from certain time zones.

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Heathrow begins public consultation on airport expansion

Heathrow has launched its public consultation on some aspects of its hoped-for 3rd runway. https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/  It runs till the 28th March, and the airport will be putting on a number of public information events. Details of those are at https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/events/  The consultation is very vague and general, and is looking initially at a range of topics, on which is has produced "information papers". These topics are airspace principles  https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/airspace-principles-consultation-document/ the Development Consent Order  process https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/development-consent-order-process-information-paper/ the Environmental Impact Assessment  https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/environmental-impact-assessment-information-paper/  Property Policies https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/property-policies-information-paper/ and generally their Emerging Plans  https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/our-emerging-plans/    There is little to reassure those horrified by the implications of a 3rd runway, whether in terms of its social, economic or environmental impact. There is nothing, for example, to give any certainty on air pollution.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt commented: “The key environmental barriers to expansion will need to be addressed by Government. On air quality, the scale of the problem means that any measures that Heathrow may be proposing will be pretty much irrelevant."

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Heathrow plans consultation reveals – despite greenwash – it wants to build mega car park on greenbelt land

Heathrow Airport Limited have - in their latest consultation on its runway hopes - outlined proposals that would see vast swathes of green belt land around the airport used for buildings to support a 3rd runway. One building in particular would be a “new car park for the airport” on Little Harlington Playing Fields, for 20,000 vehicles (see map below), close to an air pollution monitor which has frequently broken legal air quality limits. The plan to build a car park on green belt land is, according to campaigners, somewhat ironic given the airport have been pushing so-called environmental credentials of a third runway, including a specific pledge to have “no more airport-related traffic on the roads compared to today”. The pledge has been widely publicised, including to MPs, who will decide on whether Heathrow should expand later this year, in a parliamentary vote. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “It is deeply disappointing and worrying for our local environment that Heathrow have expressed intent to build on so many green belt land sites. ... There is a great irony in pledging to have no additional cars using an expanded airport compared with now, then wanting to build a huge new car park on green belt land site. The pledge is now simply laughable."

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CCC report on UK government CO2 targets shows there has been NO progress on aviation carbon

The Committee on Climate Change's review of the Government’s Clean Growth plan says that, though it is ambitious in tone, it is riddled with policy gaps. And yet again, aviation is on the list of sectors needing urgent attention. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) comments that the CCC’s longstanding advice is that emissions from international aviation, must be allowed for by setting aside 37.5 Mt from the total carbon budget allowed in 2050 (around 25% of the allowable CO2 by that date). Yet as today’s report notes, the government has made ‘no progress’ in setting out a policy to achieve this.  Meanwhile, with its fingers apparently stuffed into its ears, the Government is ploughing on with plans for a third Heathrow runway.  While the CCC advice has always been that, at most, about 60% increase in air passenger growth could be accommodated, in the 37.5MtCO2 cap, the DfT's own data shows that (as all UK airports hope to grow) even without any new runway there will be around 78% UK air passenger growth expected by 2050 (compared to 2005), and that with a new runway at Heathrow the figure will be more like 89% (or about  88%. with a Gatwick runway). It surely stretches credulity to think that a new runway could be shoehorned into this equation without putting the CO2 target effectively out of reach, which is presumably why the Government is refusing to talk about it.

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After 50 year battle, French government abandons plans for new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Victory!

It has finally been announced, by Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister of France) that the proposed new airport for Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), has been abandoned.  President Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe have buried the project, which has been seriously criticised for its cost and its environmental consequences. The leaders see the airport as impossible to build because of the fierce opposition by around half the population, so it just a constant source of division. Instead the executive backs re-development of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport, south of the city of Nantes, which will be modernised and have its runway lengthened. That would help a bit to lessen the noise from the flight path that goes over part of the city. The Prime Minister has also announced an expansion of the airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques and a development of high-speed rail lines between the West and Paris airports. Opponents of the NDDL scheme are jubilant - the battle has lasted almost 50 years, and they almost lost on several occasions. But Edouard Philippe said the "zone to defend" (ZAD) will be cleared, so it is no longer a lawless area with blocked roads etc.  Those occupying it will have to leave, and the land be returned to agricultural use

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Committee on Climate Change – reiterates its need for aviation demand increase to be 60% at most (cf. 2005 level)

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its assessment of the UK's Clean Growth Strategy.  Its key findings are that thought the Government has made a strong commitment to achieving the UK’s climate change targets, policies and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy will need to be firmed up, and gaps to meeting the 4th and 5th carbon budgets must be closed. The CCC says, on aviation: "The government should plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050), supported by strong international policies. Emissions at this level could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050." And while their recommendation was "A plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set: around 2005 levels by 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand, supported by strong international policies" there has been NO progress made.  They also say: The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy by the end of 2018. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies."

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With Heathrow consultations starting soon, critics warn of insurmountable flaws in its runway plans

Heathrow will publish its public consultations, on its hopes for a 3rd runway, on Wednesday 17th January.  It says this is to gather public feedback on its proposals, to help refine its plans further (ie. see what tweaks it needs to make, to try and get round the most serious criticisms). The consultations will include options for how to get the runway to cross Britain’s busiest motorway, the M25, and provide detail on the cost-cutting it has envisaged to trim £2.5bn off expansion costs. Meanwhile London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, has said that she and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are in "no doubt that the government is pushing ahead with the wrong option." She said there are currently “no significant plans for investment in public transport access to the airport.” This would come at an immense cost to Londoners, and Val said it was “a disastrous failing and it’s vital that the government acknowledges these insurmountable flaws and changes course now”. Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald said: ‘Heathrow’s planning consultation must provide firm commitments on noise, air pollution, climate change and wider UK airport growth to ensure support from Labour MPs, the public and the aviation industry.”

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BA owner IAG tells Heathrow it should sell the Heathrow Express link and focus on running airport

The owner of British Airways, IAG, has demanded that Heathrow be forced to sell the Heathrow Express rail line, which is Britain’s most expensive train service. They say Heathrow should focus on running the airport instead.  IAG does not want to have to pay for Heathrow's expansion with a 3rd runway, or have to put up its prices for its air passengers.  This week, Heathrow is to launch consultations on its building plans, hoping to get ways to cut about £5 billion off the previously estimated cost of about £17.5 billion. The Heathrow Express, which operates the 15-mile route between the airport and Paddington station, charges passengers as much as £27 for a single journey. But there will be a threat from new Crossrail trains, which are due to start running competing services in May. Heathrow also owns part of the track, but last May lost a high court battle over attempts to raise charges for rival operators to run on its rails. IAG said Crossrail’s introduction would mean infrastructure costs were disproportionately heaped on to Heathrow Express at a time when its revenues were diluted — and would end up in higher landing charges for airlines.

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Government ignoring its own policy on Heathrow noise assessment

Having seen email correspondence between the DfT and the CAA, the No 3rd Runway Coalition says the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) ignores its own policy on measuring noise, and CAA advice on how to assess the number of people impacted. The Coalition has called for a pause in the process of considering the Government's Airports NPS, to ensure that the full noise impacts of the proposed expansion of Heathrow are properly evaluated. Although it is not possible to assess the negative consequences of a third runway without clear information as to the design of the accompanying flight paths, no such information has been presented in the DfT's documents.  (i.e. no indication as to which areas will be increasingly overflown, and which new communities will be adversely impacted by aircraft noise for the very first time). The DfT has confirmed that a full range of flight path scenarios must be considered at some stage; yet has opted not to reveal these before MPs are asked to vote on the NPS. The likely 51dBA LAeq contour and noise events at over the N>65dBLAmax contour have not been applied in respect of Heathrow's noise footprint in the NPS, though the number of people likely to be affected is probably immense. The DfT is not applying its own policy, which is obfuscating the full impact of Heathrow expansion. 

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Evidence of falling numbers of Heathrow passengers on domestic flights casts further doubt on 3rd runway promises

The case for expanding Heathrow was dealt yet another blow this week as figures reveal the number of domestic passengers using the airport falling by 9% - almost half a million. Data from the CAA shows 471,000 fewer domestic passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport in 2016 compared to 2015. This compares to growth in domestic passenger at every other London airport, including 272,000 (8%) at Gatwick in the same period. The Government's backing for plans to expand Heathrow was given on the basis of "support new connections to the UK's regions, as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes".  The 8 existing domestic routes offered by Heathrow now are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. Heathrow proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added - but only if it gets a 3rd runway.  It is likely that the survival of so many new domestic routes, despite a marginal decrease in passenger charge which the airport announced recently, would be put into serious doubt without a form of Government subsidy. No proposals to provide financial assistance to these routes currently exist. 

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Dublin Airport blames runway switch – due to work on main runway – for rise in noise issues

Complaints about noise at Dublin Airport increased by 19% in 2017 as the 2nd runway (not a main runway, but subsidiary) was used more. Figures published by the airport show the public made 1,194 reports of excessive noise from planes landing and taking off - up from 1,003 in 2016. An airport spokesman said the lesser-used runway had been used more at night while the airport’s main runway was being upgraded. Flight paths and approaches took jets over more populated areas when landing on the 2nd runway, explaining why around two-thirds of the complaints to planes using the second runway, known as the “crosswind runway” or runway 16/34. Most were linked to cases where a southern approach was used. Work on the main runway is expected to continue until the end of April. An airport spokesman said he could not predict whether there might be fewer complaints in 2018, even with the runway work finished. DAA figures show that the 1,194 complaints last year came from 423 individuals. DAA plans to build a €320 million 2nd main runway by 2020. Houses in the 69 decibel noise contour near the airport are eligible for a voluntary purchase scheme, including 30% above market price + all legal and moving costs

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Portland will continue as Heathrow’s comms & public affairs agency after being reappointed, after 5 years already

Portland will continue as Heathrow's comms and public affairs agency after being reappointed, after the airport got companies to pitch for the work in September 2017. The brief includes internal communications, external and public affairs, media relations and crisis and issues management, and is designed to "build further trust and pride in the airport", a spokesman for Heathrow said. Portland have had the job for over 5 years. PRWeek understands that the monthly retainer on the new account is over £20,000, making it worth more than £250,000 per year, before any additional project fees are added. A major focus for Heathrow in 2018 is trying to persuade government to let it build a 3rd runway. Heathrow has spent a vast amount of comms and PR over recent years, on its lobbying and campaigning on the 3rd runway.  A vote on the draft Airports NPS  (ie. on the runway) is expected in Parliament towards the summer. Heathrow's review of their PR company followed the appointment of Nigel Milton as director of comms in January 2017, and Josephine Roberts as head of media, who oversees the Heathrow press office, in June 2017.  Milton said Portland "will support in-house teams across our corporate communications programme, including internal and external activations".

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BEIS minister admits UK aviation CO2 emissions will not be kept below necessary 37.5MtCO2 level

Replying to a parliamentary question from Zac Goldsmith, BEIS minister Claire Perry revealed that there is no government intention to stick to the limit of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, as recommended by the government's advisors, the Committee on Climate Change. Zac Goldsmith's question:  "To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 85 of the Government's Clean Growth Strategy, what estimate he has made of the actual and projected emissions for the aviation sector for (a) 2030, (b) 2040 and (c) 2050; and what estimate he has made of the required level of aviation emissions if emissions from transport need to be as low as 3 Mt by 2050."  Claire Perry's reply: "Latest BEIS data shows that carbon dioxide emissions from UK departing flights in 2015 were 34.5 Mt.  DfT’s October 2017 aviation forecasts give CO2 emissions from UK departing flights of between 36.6 and 45.7Mt in 2030; between 36.3 and 45.1Mt in 2040; and between 35.0 and 44.3Mt in 2050, depending on demand scenario and airport capacity options. The Government will set out its strategic approach to the aviation sector in a series of consultations leading to the publication of a new Aviation Strategy for the UK. The Strategy will consider what the best approach and combination of policy measures are to ensure we effectively address carbon emissions from aviation."

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