Some of the many articles backing more expansion of London airports

There are so many of these stories, with pressure of one airport expansion lobbyist
or another getting media time to argue for a new runway, or a new airport, or
a cut in tax etc.  These are a few recent ones.  There is Lord Glendonbrook wanting
new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. He is one of the Conservatives’
largest donors ….  And there are articles in the Telegraph every few days. And
yet more complaints about paying APD …


A Heathrow campaigner commented:  “Weeks of frantic activity by the aviation
lobby have resulted in Justine Greening at Transport and the Labour Party abandoning
the third runway.  Are they losing their touch?”

30.10.2011 (BBC)

Airport restrictions ‘damaging economy’, Tory peer says

Aerial image of Heathrow Airport
The peer says there is a strong economic and environmental case for expanding

The government’s refusal to allow expansion at London’s main airports will damage
the UK economy, according to the former owner of the airline BMI.

Tory peer Lord Glendonbrook, the ex-airline chief Sir Michael Bishop, says new runways are needed at Heathrow,
Gatwick and Stansted airports.

However, the coalition agreement ruled out allowing their construction.

Ministers are to publish their vision for what they call “sustainable growth”
in the UK aviation industry next year.

They say they want airports to be “better”, rather than simply bigger.

‘Strong and sound’

During recent consultation airport operator BAA said the UK could lose out on
trade with emerging markets worth £1.4bn a year if Heathrow is not allowed to
expand. ​

Lord Glendonbrook told the BBC’s Politics Show: “There is a strong and sound – both environmental and economic – case to continue
building at Heathrow.

“The idea of having no development of existing airports in the south east…
is going to be hugely damaging to the country and to the economy.”

The peer, a former Channel 4 chairman who once owned the carrier BMI, is one
of the Conservatives’ biggest donors.

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers told the same programme that the government’s
priority was “making airports better within their current capacity”.

But she said next year’s review was a “major exercise” looking at the long-term
prospects for growth.


AirportWatch says:

There is sufficient airport capacity in the south east to last for another two
decades, without building new runways.

By that time, the pirice of oil is likely to be much higher, and so demand will
be lower.

There is more than enough capacity and connectivity for business from the London
airports, with current infrastructure. 

Stansted’s one runway is nowhere near capacity now.  There is absolutely no need
for another runway there.

Most flights effectively take tourists or travellers out of the UK to spend their
money abroad.  Therefore most holiday flights contribute to the tourism deficit,
which is of the order of £15 billion per year.  Except for London City airport,
Heathrow has the highest proportion of busines passengers, and that is only around
40%. Other airports have smaller proportions, and so act as a drain on the UK. 
Not a benefit. 

The more tourists take their holiday money abroad, the fewer jobs there are in
the tourism industry in the UK.  Far more Brits holiday abroad than foreigners
holiday here.  Air travel is not helping provide many UK tourism jobs.

Transit pasengers contribute little to the UK economy.  But they do contribute
to the profits of the airlines, and of the airport operators  (BAA, in the case
of Heathrow).

British business needs the UK’s airports to work more efficiently, not be larger.
This is current government policy.

Business chooses many factors in deciding where to locate.  Only one is the location
of an airport – many others are greatly more significant.

UK aviation, though paying more in tax than airlines in some other countries,
is still significantly under-taxed when compared to other forms of transport. 
Air Passenger Duty is £12 for each passenger on a short haul flight to destinations
less than 2,000 miles –  i.e. in Europe. Which are the majority.  The tax on petrol
is hugely greater than the small amount of APD charged on air tickets. Compared
to road travel, air travel is crazily cheap.

As aircraft fly at altitude, the climate changing effect  of their emissions
is approximately double the effect of the carbon itself.  Hence flying has a uniqely
damaging effect, compared to surface transport, for the same amount of fuel.
The UK Committee on Climate Change has advised that UK aviation should not emit
any more carbon in 2050 than it did in 2005.  Though there will be small improvements
in per plane efficiency,  and of air traffic control, of perhaps 3% per year on
average, this does not permit more than perhaps an increase of 60% of passengers
by UK aviation between now and 2050.  Not massive expansion everywhere.
If aviation indeed plans huge growth, they seem to have pie-in-the-sky hopes
that this can be achieved by biofuels.  This is highly unlikely. Biofuels do not
achieve great carbon savings, have massive social and environmental effects due
to indirect land use effects, and are merely a diversion. They will not solve
the industry’s problems over coming decades, and allow magical carbon-free growth.

The aviation industry is running a campaign at present, while the consultation
process for new UK aviation policy is going through, to try and influence public
opinion – as well as lobby government.  This will go on throughout 2012. The new
policy is due to be published in spring 2013. The industry will produce a great
many more of these stories and campaigns.

Aviation is, understandably, working hard to influence policy to increase its
turnover and profit.  It is trying to make out that this is a huge benefit to
the UK economy.  The benefit is, in practice, to the aviation industry.  This
is very much a self interested campaign.  Who can blame them for fighting for
their own welfare?   But we need to see these as the self-serving campaigns they


UK aviation policy – a messy, illogical mess   [sic]

By Kamal Ahmed, Sunday Telegraph Business Editor

29 Oct 2011

It was not the easiest of introductions. Willie Walsh, the president of the London
Chamber of Commerce and chief executive of International Airlines Group, had the
honour of welcoming a very special guest to a gala evening earlier this month. 


The guest’s name? Justine Greening, the new transport secretary who has set her
face firmly against any expansion of airport capacity in the south-east of England.

The weekend before the event, leaked comments in this newspaper revealed that
Mr Walsh believes that Ms Greening has a “conflict of interest” issue to address.
As the MP for Putney in south-west London, under the Heathrow flight-path, she
owes many of her votes (and hence her livelihood) to being a strong opponent of
a third runway at the UK’s only hub airport.

Mr Walsh is singularly unhappy about the Government’s position on aviation. He
has described the lack of an airports policy worth the name as “a scandal”. Of
course, given that IAG owns British Airways as well as Iberia, his position is
not exactly surprising. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t right.

After a few possibly awkward glances, Ms Greening went to the podium at the LCC
event and started her speech. She spoke about how “high-performing transport systems
matter”, that transport will be “right at the top of the Government’s agenda”
and “if we want London to be globally competitive, it’s absolutely vital that
London has a world class transport infrastructure”. For London, read the UK.

Then came the sting in the tail. Although there is a major review of aviation
policy at present grinding its way through the Department for Transport the ban
on the third runway is a done deal. “The political reality is that the runway
decision has been made, it’s done,” Ms Greening told the audience of business

That is the case, Ms Greening said, largely because of the “environmental impacts”
of flying. The Government’s position appears to be that it can mitigate such “impacts”
by refusing to build extra capacity where it is needed.

There is one obvious flaw in this argument – halting expansion in the UK does
not mean that the extra flights disappear, it simply means they move. Frankfurt
has just opened its fourth runway and Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol are all increasing
the frequency of their connections to the vital growth economies of Asia and Latin
America. CO2 emissions do not stop at national borders.

Let us suppose, though, that you agree that expansion should be shackled for
the sake of the environment. The least you could then expect is for some form
of logical consistency from the Government. Sadly not.

“For centuries, shipping has been instrumental in bringing prosperity to London
and the south east,” Ms Greening said in another section of her speech.

“By the end of 2013 there will be a new deep sea container port and business
park at London Gateway, with DP World’s very welcome recent announcement of a
£1.5bn investment in the port. Driven by private finance, this project will mean
the world’s biggest container ships can call at the heart of Britain’s capital.

“It will also help create 32,000 jobs and add £3.2bn to the national economy
each year.”

Now ships, as Ms Greening knows, create pollution. But she could no more say
that was a reason for blocking the highly desirably DP World development and all
the economic advantages that it brings than she would say close down the M4 because
cars drive along it. The saving grace for ships, it appears, is that they don’t
fly over Putney (or any other Conservative or Liberal Democrat constituencies).

Mr Walsh, who is appearing at the Airport Operators Association annual conference
on Tuesday, is likely to make a similar point. “While a strong shipping industry
is good for the UK, so too is aviation in providing vital global connectivity,”
he is expected to say. Furthermore, aviation has made commitments to reduce long
term CO2 emissions, the only sector to do so according to sources in the industry.

As each plank of the Government’s aviation policy is pulled apart, the position
looks increasingly untenable. The idea of a “Heathwick” super-hub airport (joining
Heathrow and Gatwick with a high speed rail link) has almost no backers and plans
for any new development of an airport in the Thames estuary could well be scuppered
by fears over conflicts with flight routes into the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

The Government is in a cul-de-sac of its own making. Ms Greening would prove
herself to be a truly great member of the Cabinet if she worked out a way to get
out of it.





Chancellor George Osborne is considering a double-inflation increase to APD from
next year

Sunday October 30,2011   (Express)

By Geoff Ho 

AIRLINES are cancelling services to and from UK airports and instead flying from
cheaper European rivals because of Britain’s high aviation taxes, according to
a survey of airport operators.

The survey by the Fair Tax on Flying alliance found that half of airport operators
blame Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) for airlines transferring services to
airports on the Continent.

It also found that airport operators are forecasting that nine million fewer
passengers will travel through British airports next year due to the Treasury’s
planned double-inflation hike in APD.

Britain’s APD is the highest in the world; because of it a family of four flying
economy to the US pays £240 more than passengers flying there from most other
European countries.


Britain’s APD is the highest in the world.


In a letter to Chancellor George Osborne, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews
and representatives from 11 other airports said that the combination of the planned
APD increase and the introduction of the European Union’s carbon emission trading
scheme next year would harm regional economies.

It said: “The business case for further rises in APD simply does not stack up.
The impact will be to deter people from flying or to displace flights to Europe
rather than to generate more tax revenue.”