(!?) Liverpool John Lennon Airport pioneers technology that converts passenger breath into biofuel

31.1.2009   (Liverpool Echo)

 By Barry Turnbull

LIVERPOOL John Lennon Airport is the world’s first airport to trial a revolutionary
machine that will convert the breath of passengers into biofuel.

A pioneering piece of kit called the Eco-box will be able to capture CO ² exhaled
by travellers for recycling into fuel to be used in the airport’s diesel vehicles
and heating system.

Origo Industries, based at Daresbury Laboratory science and innovation campus
near Warrington, has devised a technique to feed captured emissions to algae,
to produce a biomass cake that can be converted into green fuel.

Origo’s founder and chief executive, Ian Houston, first hit on the idea of the
Eco-box as a way of reducing carbon emissions from his own gas-guzzling Mitsubishi

The former Army ballistics expert says the applications are limitless.

“The project at the airport is an early trial of a system which we believe could
have a significant impact on the way companies today can obtain fuel and manage
carbon emissions.

“If it works there, then why not anywhere?     Forward-thinking companies like
John Lennon Airport realise that mitigating an environmental impact and saving
money can go hand in hand.”

Installation will begin in the next few weeks and Origo hopes the system will
provide up to 250 litres of biofuel a day.

If the trial proves successful, a larger system could be installed that could
potentially generate as much as 3,000 litres of biofuel every day. The costs of
the trial have not been disclosed, but Origo claims the initial investment could
be repaid within a year.

Mr Houston has taken technolo- gies that are already available and pieced them
together to create an on-site recycling process – something no-one else has done.

“Liverpool John Lennon is committed to being at the forefront of technology and
to reducing the environmental impact of air travel wherever practical,” said Andrew
Dutton, the airport’s head of environment.

“We are extremely interested in both current and potential future technical options
and initiatives that could help to mitigate our environmental impact.

“Origo’s carbon capture and recycling technology is potentially a huge step in
the right direction for the airport and the environment.”

The airport has previously planted trees to try and offset CO2 emissions.

Mr Houston has had support from The Mersey Partnership and the city council.

Cllr Berni Turner, executive member for the environment, said of the Eco-box
plan: “This is an exciting first for Liverpool in the city’s year of the environment.

“We know airports are part of the big debate about emissions so I’m delighted
to see Liverpool John Lennon Airport taking a lead on this issue.”

HMP Liverpool at Walton is also believed to be considering installing an Eco-box.



Read more »

Runway opponents reveal rail plan

30.1.2009   (BBC)

Opponents of a third runway for Heathrow Airport have revealed plans to make
it the centre of a rail network.

The 2M Group said its £1.5bn proposal could reduce demand for flights.

The coalition of 22 councils said the west London airport should be a hub of
a local rail network linking it to 150 stations within a 25-mile radius.

The launch comes a day after Labour rebels cut the government’s majority to 19
on an opposition motion demanding a rethink of Heathrow’s expansion.

Our scheme takes all the existing and proposed lines around Heathrow and knits
them together

Edward Lister, Wandsworth Council leader

The 2M Group believes its scheme would allow Heathrow to link up more effectively
with the existing rail network as well as take about one million cars off the
road every year.

It also believes the building of a new ‘compass point’ network could be a third
of the cost of the Heathrow Hub scheme, favoured by ministers, as well as provide
greater benefits for local people.

The scheme would comprise mainly local services with links to existing main lines
as well as a new London to Scotland high speed rail line from Euston.

In addition, the network would integrate with existing Heathrow Express services
towards central London, and with proposed Crossrail services.

‘Greater benefits’

Railway consultant Colin Elliff, who helped draw up the scheme, told a Commons press conference on Thursday
that the Government’s planned £4.5 railway hub was a “bad plan” costing a huge
amount of money but of benefit to very few passengers.

“We can achieve much greater benefits for far less expenditure and would also
help Britain cope with climate change,” he said.

He said the £1.5m rail scheme would only involve building 15km (9.3 miles) of
new railway lines as well as some extra terminal facilities at Heathrow.

Wandsworth Council leader, Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of 2M, said: “Our
scheme takes all the existing and proposed lines around Heathrow and knits them

“It’s a common sense approach that we hope everyone concerned about the environmental
impact of the airport would support.”

He said whether Heathrow gets a third runway or not, it desperately needs better
rail access if the roads around the airport are to cope.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has already given the go-ahead for a third runway
at Heathrow.

The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental
impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities.




Also, from the 2M group website:


 High Speed North – Rail plan for joining up Britain

The 2M Group has published a new study which looks at how a new high speed rail
network could link major cities throughout the UK and provide direct routes to

Map of high speed Euro-links

The proposals would join Heathrow to this new rail network – removing the need
for most domestic flights.

It would link UK cities to Europe with, in many cases, a travelling time of less
than four hours.

The proposals have been published by 2M as part of its contribution to the growing
debate on alternatives to aviation growth.

You can download the full plan here

pdf icon  
High Speed North – Joining up Britain  (515 kb)

You can also  download some of the more detailed workings of the report’s author.

pdf icon  
Principles of high speed rail  (126 kb)

You can view the 2M evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry onto high speed
rail at:

 ‘Getting to Heathrow’- the airport as a local rail hub

Without radical improvements in public transport connections to the existing
airport, air quality problems can only get worse. Find out more about the 2M Group’s
proposals for improved local connections to Heathrow.

pdf icon  
A train for every plane  (800 kb)



Read more »

Acid oceans ‘need urgent action’

30.1.2009   (BBC)

The world’s marine ecosystems risk being severely damaged by ocean acidification
unless there are dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions, warn scientists.

More than 150 top marine researchers have voiced their concerns through the “Monaco
Declaration”, which warns that changes in acidity are accelerating.

The declaration, supported by Prince Albert II of Monaco, builds on findings
from an earlier international summit.

It says pH levels are changing 100 times faster than natural variability.

Based on the research priorities identified at The Ocean in a High CO2 World
symposium, held in October 2008, the declaration states:

“We scientists who met in Monaco to review what is known about ocean acidification
declare that we are deeply concerned by recent, rapid changes in ocean chemistry
and their potential, within decades, to severely affect marine organisms, food
webs, biodiversity and fisheries.”

‘The other CO2 problem’

It calls on policymakers to stabilise CO2 emissions “at a safe level to avoid
not only dangerous climate change but also dangerous ocean acidification”.


The researchers warn that ocean acidification, which they refer to as “the other
CO2 problem”, could make most regions of the ocean inhospitable to coral reefs
by 2050, if atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase.

The also say that it could lead to substantial changes in commercial fish stocks,
threatening food security for millions of people.

“The chemistry is so fundamental and changes so rapid and severe that impacts
on organisms appear unavoidable,” said Dr James Orr, chairman of the symposium.

“The questions are now how bad will it be and how soon will it happen.”

Another signatory, Patricio Bernal, executive secretary of the UN Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission, outlined how the marine research community intended
to respond to the challenge.

“We need to bring together the best scientists to share their latest research
results and to set priorities for research to improve our knowledge of the processes
and of the impacts of acidification on marine ecosystems.”

Prince Albert II used the declaration to voice his concerns, adding that he hoped
the world’s leaders would take the “necessary action” at a key UN climate summit
later this year.

“I strongly support this declaration.     I hope that it will be heard by all the
political leaders meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.”


see also

Natural lab shows sea’s acid path

BBC     30.1.2009  
The oceans are thought to have absorbed about half of the extra CO2 put into
the atmosphere in the industrial age
This has lowered its pH by 0.1
pH is the measure of acidity and alkalinity
The vast majority of liquids lie between pH 0 (very acidic) and pH 14 (very alkaline);
7 is neutral
Seawater is mildly alkaline with a “natural” pH of about 8.2
The IPCC forecasts that ocean pH will fall by “between 0.14 and 0.35 units over
the 21st Century, adding to the present decrease of 0.1 units since pre-industrial

Read more »

Southend Airport station: Just months away

29.1.2009   (Southend Echo)

By Geoff Percival

WORK is set to begin within the next few months on the new railway station to
serve Southend Airport.

Engineers from Stobart Rail have been on the site in the last week investigating
the best ways to go ahead with the scheme.

The Stobart Group acquired the airport lease in November and bosses have said
they plan to carry out major rail infrastructure work as soon as possible.

The new station would be on the Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street
line, between Rochford and Prittlewell stations.

Airport managing director Alastair Welch said: "We are in the final stages of
working out the full details on the railway station proposals. I’m hopeful we
will be able to make an official announcement on the subject within the next couple
of weeks.

"Obviously, there needs to be a great deal of discussion in a development like
this, including discussions with Network Rail and the train operator National
Express East Anglia.

"When everything is worked out and we are clear when work will start and know
the projected opening time, we will be making a formal announcement."

The new railway station and terminal building are part of the long-term projected
expansion of the airport, which it is estimated will cost in the region of £35million.

It is envisaged that there will be more passenger flights from the airport, both
internal and abroad, together with a possible extension to the runway.

The results of a joint consultation by Southend and Rochford District Councils
about the area surrounding the airport is expected to be published shortly.


Read more »

European Commission Begins Legal Action Against the UK Over Air Pollution Failures

29.1.2009   (Environmental Protection press release)

The European Commission today began legal proceedings2 against the UK for failing to meet standards for airborne particles (PM10) that are highly damaging to human health.

“The UK Government has shown no urgency in meeting their air pollution obligations,
and the health of the nation has suffered as a result”, said Ed Dearnley, Policy
Officer at Environmental Protection UK,     “The failure to make hard decisions
and take meaningful action on existing air pollution obligations does not bode
well for meeting our new targets for emissions under the Climate Change Act3, which present a far greater challenge than the air pollution targets that we
have failed to meet”

The action comes after the UK failed to meet legally binding EU limits that came
into force during 2005, and missed an October 2008 deadline to submit an application
for a time extension for meeting the limits, as allowed under EU rules. This week
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs began a consultation4 on the UK’s time extension application, in the hope that the Commission’s legal
action can be nipped in the bud.

PM10 is strongly associated with premature death and cardiovascular disease. Its
main source is road vehicles, and measures that can be taken to tackle it include
Low Emission Zones (as seen in London) and large scale programmes to fit exhaust
filters to buses and heavy goods vehicles. Pro-active action on measures such
as these has largely been left to local authorities and as voluntary measures
in the UK, with central Government ruling out national schemes on cost grounds.

More: Ed Dearnley 01273 878781 / 07872 376500

Notes for Editors

  1. Environmental Protection UK is the environmental protection charity supported
    by pollution control professionals. We have been working for a cleaner, quieter,
    healthier world since 1898.
  2. The European Commission has started infringement proceedings against 10 Member
    States, including the UK, for failing to comply with the EU’s air quality standard
    for PM10. The Commission’s action follows the entry into force last June of the new EU
    air quality directive, which allows Member States to request, under certain conditions
    and for specific parts of the country, limited extra time to meet the PM10 standard
    in force since 2005. See the
    EU Commission’s press release 
  3. The Climate Change Act commits the UK to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 over 1990 levels. Achieving this target will take radical
    action on transport, electricity generation and heat production far beyond the
    measures taken to combat air pollution over past decades.
  4. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs began a consultation on
    the UK’s draft time extension notification to the European Commission on the 27th
    January. Their intention is to secure, for eight areas across the UK, an exemption
    from the obligation to apply the limit values for particulate matter until 2011,
    as provided for under the new Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). The
    consultation closes on the 10th March 2009, and the notification to the European
    Commission is expected shortly afterwards. The European Commission’s deadline
    for submitting a notification was the 31st October 2008. See
    Details of the consultation 







Much of the PM10 pollution from planes comes from tyres and brakes.



Brakes and tyres

119. One of the main sources of primary PM10 emissions from aircraft is considered to be the wheel brake pads and tyres.
PM10 emissions from tyres and brakes are dependent on many factors including aircraft
weight, number of wheels, brake material (carbon or steel) weather conditions,
engine type, pilot actions and airline procedures. However, combinations of these
dependencies are largely unknown and a more straightforward approach needs to
be adopted in order to predict these emissions from the Heathrow aircraft fleet.

120. Based on work carried out by netcen, originally for Stansted Airport, data
has been gathered for a limited number of aircraft brake and tyre wear rates,
and assumptions were made on the percentage of the eroded material which becomes
suspended as PM10. For brakes, this data gives wear rates in terms of kg wear per landing for
F100/BAe146 and B737 aircraft. For tyres, BA have provided data for A319, A320,
A321, B747, B757, B767 and B777 aircraft. Assuming greater wear is proportional
to landing weight, 15 a relationship has been developed of the form:

and it continues …………     http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/environmentalissues/heathrowsustain/chapter3emissionsources?page=8    

 ……… on the DfT website



also on the DfT website, on Heathrow, it states:


Particulate matter

The Panel’s principal conclusions in relation to particulate matter were:

  • The general picture is of a regional background PM10 concentration of 21-23 µg/m3,
    which is enhanced by the airport to give a local background of around 25 µg/m3,
    further enhanced close to the motorways to levels of 25-30 µg/m3 and to 27-31
    µg/m3 on the airfield perimeter. The airport and local road thus make only a marginal
    contribution to local concentrations compared with their contributions to NOX.
  • Analysis of the data suggests that sources on the airport are only contributing
    around 1 µg/m3 to annual mean PM10 at the airfield perimeter.


Read more »

‘Unprecedented’ fall in air cargo

29.1.2009   (BBC)

The global economic downturn has deeply reduced the amount of freight carried
around the world by aircraft, says an industry body.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) saw air cargo go into “freefall”
in December, with a year-on-year fall of 22.6% in traffic.

The “unprecedented” figure is worse than the 14% drop after the 9/11 terror attacks
on New York.

Now Iata is warning of a tough year for passenger airlines and freight firms.

Iata says that during 2009 there will be declines of 3% in air passenger traffic
and 5% in freight cargo carried.

“2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest ever years,” said Iata director
general Giovanni Bisignani.

In a further sign of the economic crisis hitting the aviation industry, Russia’s
S7 became the first airline to cancel an order for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Falling exports

About 35% of international goods trade is by air, says Iata.   In 2008, cargo
traffic fell 4% compared with a 4.3% increase in 2007, the body said, its first
annual fall since 2001.

“Even in September 2001, when much of the global fleet was grounded, the decline
was only 13.9%,” said Mr Bisignani.

Iata said the figures reflected a fall in export and import volumes being reported
across Asia, North America and Europe.

What our industry needs is first and foremost a functioning financial system

Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive

Overall, the industry body expects the economic crisis to cut $35bn from air
industry revenues in 2009.

Last year passenger traffic grew by just 1.6%, down from the 7.4% rise a year

“Airlines are struggling to match capacity with fast-falling demand,” said Mr

“Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot save
the industry from drowning in red ink.”

No bailout

However the chief executive of Airbus says that he sees no need for a government
bail-out of the airline industry.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, he said the sector is relying on governments
to sort out the banks.

“What our industry needs is first and foremost a functioning financial system,”
Tom Enders told the BBC.

It was reported earlier in the week that the French government was considering
measures to help airlines to buy new aircraft.

The international airline industry lost $5bn ( £3.3bn) last year, Iata said, confirming
an earlier estimate.



see also


Airlines report ‘shocking’ plunge in traffic

By Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent

The airline industry reported on Thursday an "unprecedented and shocking" plunge
in global air cargo traffic.

Air freight accounts for 35 per cent of the value of goods traded internationally
and the International Air Transport Association said traffic volumes had fallen
by 22.6 per cent year-on-year in December.

Giovanni Bisignani, Iata director general, said, "there is no clearer description
of the slowdown in world trade. Even in September 2001 (after the 9/11 terrorist
attacks in the US), when much of the global fleet was grounded, the decline was
only 13.9 per cent."

International passenger traffic fell in December by 4.6 per cent. Iata said the
drop was less dramatic than in cargo, as volumes had been supported by year-end
leisure travel that had been booked in advance.

Airlines are still struggling to reduce capacity to match falling demand, however,
and are flying with more empty seats. Capacity was reduced by 1.5 per cent year-on-year
in December, resulting in airlines filling only 73.8 per cent of available seats,
down from 76.2 per cent a year ago.

"Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot save
the industry from drowning in red ink," said Mr Bisignani.

British Airways warned earlier this week that it expected to fall into an operating loss of about
£150m in the current financial year to the end of March, an announcement made
shortly after Air France-KLM, the largest European carrier, disclosed a loss of about €200m in its latest
quarter from October to December.

Mr Bisignani said fare levels were also under attack. Premium passenger traffic,
the segment in which most network carriers generate the bulk of their profits,
had dropped sharply.

The number of premium tickets issued globally fell by 11.5 per cent in November,
particularly in response to the turmoil in financial services.

For the full year of 2008, Iata said international air cargo traffic had fallen
by four per cent, and passenger volumes rose by 1.6 per cent, a significant slowdown
from the growth of 7.4 per cent achieved in 2007.

The sharpest fall in passenger traffic in December occurred in the Asia-Pacific
region, where it fell 9.7 per cent year-on-year. European carriers reported a
2.7 per cent fall in demand for international travel and North American carriers
a fall of 4.3 per cent.

Mr Bisignani said "2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever for
international aviation. The 22.6 per cent drop in international cargo traffic
in December puts us in uncharted territory and the bottom is nowhere in sight."

Airlines globally incurred a net loss of $5bn last year, and Iata has estimated
a further loss of $2.5bn this year based on a forecast crude oil price of $60
a barrel, a 3 per cent fall in passenger volumes and a 5 per cent cent drop in
cargo traffic. Aviation industry revenues are forecast to fall this year by $35bn
to $501bn.

Airlines are urging governments to relax international regulations to allow global
consolidation in what remains a highly fragmented industry. Most countries still
allow foreign interests to hold only minority stakes in airlines.

"We don’t want bail-outs, but we need to change the ownership rules," said Mr
Bisignani. "Almost every other business has the freedom to access global capital
and the ability to merge across borders, where it makes sense. To manage in this
crisis, airlines need the same management tools."


Read more »

Airport growth at risk at West country airports

29.1.2009 (Western Morning News)

AMBITIOUS plans to carry millions of extra passengers from Westcountry airports
would be halted if a new runway at Heathrow was built, a report has claimed.

The increase in carbon dioxide emissions from an expanded Heathrow would jeopardise
the Government’s climate change target, the Campaign for Better Transport says.

The pressure group, having analysed Department for Transport (DfT) figures, argues
Heathrow and its controversial third runway would use two-thirds of British aviation’s
carbon ration by 2050 – the threshold at which Government has insisted emissions
from planes would have fallen to below 2005 levels.

It argues that such a scenario would mean plans to increase flights out of Exeter,
Plymouth and Newquay airports would be hit as no other airports in the UK would
be able to expand.

Exeter airport has forecast at least a three-fold leap in annual passenger footfall
from its current level of 1 million to 3.4 million by 2030.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of Campaign for Better Transport, said Transport Secretary
Geoff Hoon had either “not done his sums properly” or was “so determined to expand
Heathrow that he is willing to cap capacity at every other airport to do it”.

Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for West Devon, said strong “corner shop” regional
airports were vital to the region, not just in terms of saving “slogging up to
Gatwick and Heathrow”, but supporting tourism and industry.    He said: “I strongly
agree with this study, and I’m against Heathrow’s third runway for that reason.”

Mr Streeter added: “There’s no doubt this is a zero sum game – if Heathrow grows there will be no scope for Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and
Newquay to expand.     And my passion is to see regional airports expand.”

Exeter-based Flybe is the biggest carrier in the region, with daily flights from
Exeter and Newquay.    Its chief commercial officer, Mike Rutter, said taxing older
polluting aircraft would be a better way of addressing environmental concerns
than “unnecessarily discouraging or inhibiting airport expansion in the UK regions”.    
He added: “Flybe believes that regional aviation cannot be constrained to allow
expansion in London.”

Two weeks ago, Mr Hoon announced the Government would press ahead with Heathrow’s
expansion. Ministers are facing a major Labour revolt over the plans, with the
Government’s majority slashed to just 19 last night as two Labour MPs resigned
in protest and Labour backbenchers joined the Opposition in blasting plans.

The debate came after Labour MP Andrew Slaughter (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s
Bush) stepped down as an aide to Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown to
campaign against the plan. Shortly after the vote, Virendra Sharma, Labour MP
for Ealing Southall, quit as Private Parliamentary Secretary to Home Office Minister
Phil Woolas.

In an effort to pacify the environmental lobby and even sceptics in his own Cabinet,
Mr Hoon announced there would be a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide the aviation
industry could blast out.     Emissions from British aviation would have to be pegged to below 2005 levels
– 37.5 million tonnes – by 2050
, he said.

However, the latest DfT forecasts for the growth of aviation carbon dioxide state
that emissions would rise to 59.9 million tonnes in 2050
, even taking into consideration steady improvement in aircraft fuel efficiency.  
The forecast assumes that annual passenger numbers more than double from 228 million
in 2005 to 525 million by 2050.

The DfT also predicts that Heathrow expansion will increase carbon emissions from 17.1 million tonnes in 2005 to 23.6 million tonnes in 2030.

The Campaign for Better Transport analysis found that even if Heathrow stopped
growing in 2030 – and its emissions stabilised – all other airports in Britain
would have to cut their combined emissions by a third by 2050 to comply with the
Government’s target.

Newquay airport, now operated by the county council, has aspirations to grow
passenger numbers from 350,000 to around 1.43 million in 2030. Meanwhile, an independent
analysis of Plymouth City Airport shows it could still push passenger numbers
up from about 80,000 to 520,000 a year by 2020 without a runway extension. A spokesman
said year-round regional air services were “a lifeline for areas like the far
South West, where road and rail links are relatively poor”.

He added: “Heathrow’s third runway, if it happens, is probably still 10 years
away, and it will be up to the Government of the day to decide how to achieve
the right balance between international services and regional air links when setting
emissions policy.”

But a spokesman for Exeter Airport, which is planning to create 2,000 jobs and
add a further £160 million to the regional economy over the next two decades,
pointed to improvements in aircraft efficiency as pioneered by Flybe’s Bombardier
Q400 turboprops

link to article

Read more »

Michael Meacher : Parliament is wrong on Heathrow (Guardian Comment)

29.1.2009   (Guardian Comment)

by Michael Meacher MP

The government lost the argument for a third runway, but finagled last night’s
Commons vote. This is not over by a long, long way.

Last night’s vote in the Commons on the third runway was a showcase of parliamentary impotence. The Tories craftily
put down for their motion the verbatim text of an early day motion calling for
a rethink on the
third runway, which had been tabled by a Labour member, John Grogan, and signed by 167 MPs,
including 57 Labour MPs. If all the Tories and Liberal Democrats and smaller parties
had held firm and all the Labour signatories had voted in accordance with the
early day motion they had signed, the government would have been defeated. But
none of these things happened, and the government won by 19 votes.

A number of Tories disagreed with their frontbench policy on Heathrow and abstained
or even supported the government. Some members of the smaller parties were either
absent or, coming from the more distant parts of the UK, wanted to see Heathrow
facilities expanded. Several Labour members would not vote for a Tory motion that
they saw as opportunistic. In the end,
28 Labour members rebelled, half of the original 57.

The handling of this whole issue is now regarded as a debacle, but not one that parliament has been able to correct. The Department of Transport’s
original Heathrow consultation document was widely seen as flawed, with greatly
exaggerated claims about the business advantages of the third runway and the number
of jobs likely to be created, and with figures on the environmental impacts re-engineered
to fit the EU pollution limits. The government effectively took the decision to
go ahead years ago, and the consultation just gave useful procedural cover. Parliament
was denied a vote by the government on the grounds that planning decisions were
not a matter for parliament, even though Heathrow expansion is a matter of unique
national strategic importance. When finally a vote was secured via an opposition-led
debate, all the usual inter-party shenanigans kicked in, with heavy whipping on
the government side to warn off waverers from supporting a “Tory” motion. The
government overwhelmingly lost the argument in the debate, but through its activities
outside the chamber won the vote.

Nor is the future any clearer. Boris Johnson may take legal action to secure a judicial review. Tory policy is to block the runway and build a
high-speed rail line to the north instead, but there are divisions within their
ranks that make a Tory government’s stance uncertain. An alternative site for
a new airport in the
Thames Estuary has been put on ice for the moment, but could still be resuscitated. The EU
could still intervene to halt the runway if
pollution levels, particularly of nitrogen oxide, cannot be brought down to mandatory EU levels.
And under the recently passed new Planning Act the final decision to go ahead
awaits the formation of a new infrastructure planning commission, which has not
yet been appointed and will be guided by a new national policy statement on aviation
which has not yet been written.

There is all still to play for!


Read more »

Heathrow third runway vote passed

29.1.2009   (Independent)

Second MP resigns from Government as rebels cut Labour majority to 19.

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent

Gordon Brown suffered a second resignation from his Government and an embarrassing
rebellion among Labour MPs last night over his decision to approve a third runway
and sixth terminal at Heathrow Airport. The Government narrowly won a vote on
the third runway forced by the Conservative Party, although its majority was cut
by two-thirds to just 19 after 28 Labour MPs rebelled.

Virendra Sharma, an aide to Home Office minister Phil Woolas, immediately resigned to fight
the decision to approve the expansion.  Mr Sharma, the MP for Ealing Southall
in west London, said his constituents fiercely opposed the proposals.

Speaking outside Parliament last night, he added: “I profoundly regret the need
to resign, but I had no option. The Government’s decision to expand Heathrow will
seriously affect many of my constituents, and my first priority is to represent

He is the second Labour MP to quit over the issue. Andrew Slaughter, a former
Government aide who resigned on Tuesday, said expanding Heathrow would have a
devastating impact on the quality of life in west London. The size of the rebellion
confirmed fears of Mr Brown’s aides, who said the result would be “closer than
previously reported” in the run-up to the vote. A defeat would have had no effect
on the decision to build the runway, but the small margin of victory will be embarrassing
for the Government and the Prime Minister, who supports the expansion.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said the size of the rebellion
showed that supporting the third runway was “political suicide” for Labour MPs
in constituencies near Heathrow. “This is the largest Labour rebellion on an opposition
motion since the party took power in 1997, and will have alarm bells ringing in
No.10. Gordon Brown has got a problem on his hands here,” he said.

More than 50 Labour MPs signed a parliamentary motion opposing the runway. But
Government concessions on air quality, noise and carbon targets together with
its abandonment of an immediate increase in flights on the two existing runways
meant enough Labour MPs changed their minds to help the Government win the vote.

A number of pro-expansion Tory MPs, including Ian Taylor and David Wilshire who
have led calls for their party to change its position, ensured they were not in
the chamber for last night’s vote. The Government faced fierce criticisms from
within its own party over the expansion during the four-and-a-half hour debate.

Martin Salter, the MP for Reading West who has led opposition on the Labour benches,
said the project would cause “more gridlock, more pollution, more nitrogen dioxide,
and more asthma for young people”.

Labour’s former transport minister, Chris Mullin, said the Government’s relationship
with the aviation industry had become “far too cosy”.

Norman Baker, the transport spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, accused the
Government of being “muddle-headed and wrong”. He predicted problems and opposition
to the new runway meant it was already “dead in the water”.

The Conservative Party was accused of performing a U-turn after admitting it
would not rule out expanding airports in the south-east, despite opposing the
Heathrow expansion.



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Air Cargo Plummets 22.6% in December

29.1.2009   (IATA)

Geneva –  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international
scheduled traffic results for both December 2008 and the full-year.

In the month of December global international cargo traffic plummeted by 22.6%
compared to December 2007. The same comparison for international passenger traffic
showed a 4.6% drop. The international load factor stood at 73.8%.

For the full-year 2008, international cargo traffic was down 4.0%, passenger
traffic showed a modest increase of 1.6%, and the international load factor stood
at 75.9%.

"The 22.6% free fall in global cargo is unprecedented and shocking. There is
no clearer description of the slowdown in world trade. Even in September 2001,
when much of the global fleet was grounded, the decline was only 13.9%," said
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO."   Air cargo carries 35% of
the value of goods traded internationally.

Bolstered by year-end advance-booked leisure travel, the 4.6% decline in December
passenger demand was less dramatic than the fall in cargo. A 1.5% cutback in supply
could not keep pace with falling demand, resulting in a 2.4% decline in the December
load factor to 73.8%. "Airlines are struggling to match capacity with fast-falling
demand. Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot
save the industry from drowning in red ink," said Bisignani.

"Yields are also under attack with a sharp drop in November premium traffic,"
said Bisignani. For November, IATA reported an 11.5% drop in the number of premium
tickets issued globally.

Passenger Traffic

  • Full-year traffic results show a 1.6% increase in demand which is dramatically down from the 7.4% recorded
    in 2007. Capacity grew by 3.5% resulting in a full-year average load factor of
    75.9% (down from the 77.3% recorded for 2007)
  • Following is a regional summary for December traffic:
    • Asia Pacific carriers saw the sharpest decline in December international traffic at 9.7%.
      They also registered the sharpest reduction in capacity, but at 5.6%, this is
      lagging behind the drop in demand. Load factors sank to 72.6%. The economic turmoil
      in the region is widespread. December export volumes fell 20% for Singapore and
      35% for Japan. Korean GDP showed a 5.5% contraction. While China’s economy continues
      to grow, recently released GDP figures show that it is at a much lower pace. As
      a result, traffic in the region continues to be the hardest hit.
    • European carriers saw demand for international travel fall by 2.7% while capacity declined
      by 1.5%. Load factors stood at the global average of 73.8%. With business confidence
      indicators pointing to a 10% decline in industrial production and a 20% fall in
      trade, there is little reason for optimism.
    • North American airlines saw December demand drop by 4.3%, far outstripping the 0.7% cut in
      international capacity. While North American carriers had made early cuts in domestic
      capacity of about 10%, this is the first month registering a cut in international
      operations. Nonetheless, the region recorded the highest load factor at 78.1%.
    • African carriers continued to see their traffic fall, despite more robust economies
      and travel to the continent than other regions. International passenger traffic
      declined 4.6% in December. The 2.1% reduction in capacity left load factors at
      68.5%, the lowest among the regions.
    • Latin American airlines recorded a 1.1% increase in December demand and a 3.2% increase in
      capacity. With North American commodities demand and trade falling so sharply,
      the months ahead are likely to be more difficult for airlines in this region.
    • Carriers in the Middle East showed a 3.9% increase in demand in December, far below the 10% capacity increase.
      The region’s carriers ended five years of double-digit growth with full-year demand
      growing by 7.0% (compared to 18.1% recorded for 2007). Growth will continue to
      slow in 2009 as oil revenues and long-haul hub connection traffic are now both
      in decline.

Freight Traffic

  • Full year international air freight traffic contracted 4.0% for the year compared to 4.3% growth in 2007.  
  • December saw an unprecedented 22.6% decline in air freight volumes, compared with the
    previous year. All regions showed major declines.
  • The collapse in the airline industry’s freight business is a reflection of 20-30%
    declines in export and import volumes being reported across Asia, North America
    and Europe as the global recession plumbs new depths in December.
  • Asia-Pacific carriers, accounting for 45% of international cargo, led the December decline
    with a 26.0% contraction compared to the previous year. Latin American carriers saw cargo drop 23.7%; North American carriers 22.2% and European carriers 21.2%. Single-digit declines were recorded by Middle Eastern carriers (-9.2%) and African carriers (-8.0%)

"2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever for international aviation.
The 22.6% drop in international cargo traffic in December puts us in un-charted
territory and the bottom is nowhere in sight. Keep your seatbelts fastened and
prepare for a bumpy ride and a hard landing," said Bisignani.

Airlines registered a US$5 billion loss in 2008. For 2009 IATA is forecasting
a further loss of US$2.5 billion based on a fuel price of US$60 per barrel, a
decline of 3.0% in passenger volumes, a drop of 5.0% in cargo traffic and yield
deterioration of 3.0%. Industry revenues are expected to contract by US$35 billion
(from US$536 billion in 2008 to US$501 billion in 2009).

In the face of this economic crisis, IATA is calling for major structural changes
to the industry. "We don’t want bail-outs. But we need to change the ownership
rules. Almost every other business has the freedom to access to global capital
and the ability to merge across borders where it makes sense. To manage in this
crisis, airlines need the same management tools," said Bisignani.

View November premium traffic  (pdf)

View full 2008 traffic results



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