Spate of suspiciously pro-Heathrow articles that have appeared in the Evening Standard. Why?

Something odd is going on at the Standard. There is a new editor, Sarah Sands. And the paper has done three days on the trot of large articles giving the maximum publicity it dares to promoting the BAA line that Heathrow has to be expanded. Without any new facts or particularly strong arguments to back up the hype. With the aviation policy due to start some time in the next few months, the Standard appears to be putting all its effort into changing the climate of opinion in London, by this rather unsubtle publicity drive. Who is paying for it? Who is behind it?  Why is no other point of view being put?  All rather suspicious. Not a sign of a well edited newspaper. And some of the economic claims are pretty laughable. But the Standard got Boris re-elected, so they hope they can work their magic again on the runway issue …



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Perish the thought !

New editor of Evening Standard Sarah Sands’ husband, Kim Fletcher, is a director of the Brunswick Group, the PR firm BAA appointed in 2006 and which BA appear to still use.  Surely this has nothing to do with the pages of sympathetic coverage the aviation industry has been getting since Sands became editor

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Below are some of the Standard’s offerings recently:

Some of the more outlandish statements, and unsupported figures, are highlighted in red below


“Heathrow crisis: Reconsider third runway, say over half of Londoners”

Evening Standard

… pro-aviation lobby spin warning !  …

 (no Standard writer put their name to this one…)
Runway plan: Londoners want the Government to review its opposition to third Heathrow runway

22 May 2012

More than half of Londoners think the Government should review its opposition to a third runway at Heathrow after the next election, an exclusive poll reveals today.

A quarter think Britain’s biggest airport should be allowed to expand after 2015, while a third say the Government should keep its options open, according the YouGov survey for the Evening Standard.

Some 44 per cent of Londoners are against a third runway, beating the 32  per cent in favour. But the number who would like to rule it out permanently is only 27 per cent.

The findings suggests that a significant number of third runway opponents might change their minds. Some 33 per cent of those against expansion say the Government should be open-minded after an election.

In other findings, which come amid warnings that Britain could lose £100 billion over the next 20 years if it fails to sort out our skies (!!), it was revealed:

One in 10 London passengers has frequently failed to find a flight to the destination they want from the airport they prefer.

Four in 10 say they have often had to queue for a long time to get through security at British airports. A quarter complain of long delays and a fifth said the beginning or end of their holidays were often spoiled by airport hassle.

Men backed the idea that the South-East needs more air capacity by 51 to 35 per cent; women were against by 49 per cent to 28.

Londoners are split over whether extra airport capacity in the region is needed. Some 39 per cent say the capital needs more runways to grow but 42 per cent think it can be an economic success without them.

All three big parties have ruled out a third runway during the current Parliament, ending in 2015. But in recent months David Cameron and George Osborne have signalled they are listening to business leaders’ warnings about the impact of congestion on growth.

None of the rival schemes for expanding air capacity in the region stood out as a favourite. A third runway was seen as the best option by 21 per cent, with Boris Johnson’s call for a Thames Estuary airport backed by 20 per cent. Second runways at Gatwick and Stansted were backed by 17 and 11 per cent.

Among those who want to see airport capacity increased, 40 per cent supported a third runway and 30 per cent were in favour of expanding Stansted.

YouGov surveyed 1,368 London adults online from May 16 to 18. Data is weighted.


Your say: “It’s just so big”

Jill Kennedy, 24, of Kew Gardens, a fundraising manager: “I live under the flight path. It is a bit annoying so I am probably not in favour of it. They start at 4am, every two minutes, until night.”

Noel Corrigan, 55, from Beckenham, a managing consultant: “I would probably not be in favour but that is more on the grounds that I try to avoid Heathrow because it is so busy and so big. It’s too big already.”

Nathan Gainford, 36, advertising agency managing partner from Balham: “If it is good for the economy and London then it feels like it would be a good thing. Construction would create jobs.”

Alex Bassan, 21, from Sutton, a cricket development officer: “People hate sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off. If it could speed up people getting off the ground then I would be all for it.”



and another one:


Some of the more outlandish statements, and unsupported figures, are highlighted in red below

“Britain’s airport crisis will cost £100bn in the next 20 years, ministers are warned”

Evening Standard

… pro-aviation lobby spin warning !  …
Airports in crisis: A new report has revealed the staggering financial impact of failure to build more runways

21 May 2012

 (no Standard writer put their name to this one…)

Britain will miss out on more than £100 billion over the next two decades if the Government ignores London’s “shocking” airport crisis, ministers were warned today.

Failure to build more runways to link the capital with the world’s rising economic powers will wreak huge damage on the country’s already stretched finances, according to new analysis.

The report, originally commissioned by Heathrow owner BAA, is the most in-depth on the subject so far. It comes amid growing alarm that London could become “cut off” from countries such as China and Brazil.

The Standard has learned Chinese passenger jet manufacturer COMAC decided to locate its European base in Paris, not London, because of superior links at Charles de Gaulle airport.

David Cameron and George Osborne are under pressure to sort out the issue. On Thursday, a group of Conservative MPs will publish a book, The Growth Factory, on the need for an industrial strategy, devoting a chapter to the danger of leaving aviation as it is. And a senior economist warned: “if you don’t have the capacity, you’re stuffed.”

The detail of the report, by consultancy Oxford Economics,  [It is always Oxford Economics that does these reports, with very dubious economics]   has emerged as the Government prepares a consultation on aviation policy. The study concludes British economic growth will lag far behind its full potential if no new runways are built, and there will be “a substantial economic impact in both the long and medium terms.” This “GDP gap” would reach £8.5 billion a year by 2021, it is claimed.

And even if the gap gets no worse in the 2020s, the cumulative loss of national income by 2028 would top £100 billion, the study predicts. That is twice the estimated £50 billion cost of building a new airport in the Thames estuary, and more than 10 times the bill for a new runway at Heathrow.

It would also mean the Government losing out on about £38 billion of tax revenues, enough for some 150 general hospitals or a dozen aircraft carriers.

Report author Andy Logan, senior economist at Oxford Economics, said: “I anticipate the gap will widen as other centres are able to build capacity and we are not able to — or choose not to — and we continue to lose competitiveness.” Other experts said the study may even underestimate the problem.

Oliver Hogan, managing economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said: “It is a shocking state of affairs and nobody seems to be taking it seriously. It will be extremely costly to the London economy because we don’t have the capacity to open links to the emerging destinations, and without those links business will decide to locate elsewhere in Europe.

“It’s very, very important this is sorted out. The fact is that if you don’t have the capacity you’re stuffed. If you don’t build the capacity you are just cutting off your nose to spite your face. It is very hard to do anything meaningful at Heathrow — half a runway at best — so the long-term solution has to be a new airport.” The Coalition cancelled the third runway in one of its first acts after the general election, and said it “would refuse permission for additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.”

But in his Budget, Chancellor George Osborne said Britain “must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South-East”, in what was seen as a significant shift in government thinking.

Heathrow is currently 99 per cent full, with no prospect of opening new long-haul routes to the exploding “super-cities” of China and the dynamic Latin American “jaguar economies”.

The Oxford Economics report says the £8.5 billion annual loss of GDP from not expanding airport capacity would comprise £4.5 billion from lost investment, £3.6 billion from lost tourism, and £410 million from lost trade.  [This, of course, as will all the analyses that come out of Oxford Economics, conveniently ignores the loss to the economy of any VAT or fuel tax from aviation, and the excess of Brits holidaying abroad, taking their money out of the UK, over the number of inbound tourists.  The OE figures also wildly exaggerate the amount of economic benefit through indirect and catalysed jobs etc – the same sorts of figures could be produced for any other industry, not only aviation]. 


Why is there an aviation crisis in London?

Business leaders say the UK economy, and London in particular, is crying out for better links to the fast-growing regions of the world — particularly China, Russia, India and South America. Without them the British economy will be stuck in the slow lane.

Why can’t we put that right?

Heathrow’s five terminals and two runways handle 70 million passengers a year and it has been full to bursting for at least a decade, according to its chief executive Colin Matthews. It is next to impossible for airlines from developing countries to start new routes, so instead they go to Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Madrid.

But what about Gatwick, Stansted and Luton?

They all have spare capacity but are not popular with business travellers. They also find it hard to support new long-haul routes as they are not hubs where people make connections.

Is Heathrow still “fit for purpose?”

London’s hub is showing its age. Its owner BAA is spending £1 billion and it has raised its game, but compared with rivals such as the new Hong Kong International Airport it feels tired and difficult to navigate.

Are the two-hour queues at Heathrow’s immigration halls part of the problem?

Not directly. The long delays are caused by a shortage of passport control staff and new security rules.





and another one:


“Heathrow lags behind its European rivals in routes to key emerging nations”

‘Lagging behind’: Heathrow Airport
… pro-aviation lobby spin warning !  …

22 May 2012  (Evening Standard)

Heathrow is falling far behind rival European airports with France putting on twice as many flights to key growth economies such as China, it emerged today.

Exclusive research for the Standard reveals that while Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are increasing routes to countries including China, Russia and Brazil, London is flatlining.

Experts today warned that Heathrow is “stagnating” because of its air capacity crisis and said the UK risks being forced to rely on a rival foreign airport as its main hub.   [Anyone would have thought from this that Heathrow was a small, rather provincial airport, far smaller than Schiphol, Paris CdD etc.  – that is very far from the truth]

About 1,700 flights now go from Heathrow to three destinations in mainland China every year, an increase of just three flights per week since 2007.

Heathrow’s three main rivals — Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam Schiphol — are all rapidly increasingly their presence in the Far East.  [Heathrow still has more to most destinations]

Research by Innovata, a company which analyses flight schedules, shows that approximately 3,500 flights go to China from Paris every year. Amsterdam Schiphol offers about 2,300 flights annually and the German hub can accommodate more than 2,800. [This conveniently leaves out the flights to Hong Kong, on which Heathrow dominates].

Ministers were this week warned that Britain will miss out on more than £100 billion over the next two decades if the Government ignores London’s airport crisis.

The Standard yesterday revealed that China’s biggest aerospace company chose to base its European headquarters in Paris rather than London because of the French capital’s better air links, Heathrow is 99 per cent full and struggling to create space for new flights.

Boris Johnson favours a new airport and has supported plans for a mega-hub in the Thames Estuary designed by architect Lord Foster.

Airlines and transport experts have called on the Government to revisit the possibility of building a third runway at Heathrow, despite the Coalition cancelling the scheme in one of its first acts in power after the 2010 election.

Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s key adviser on air capacity, believes a new airport to the east of London is the best solution.

He said: “We are going to have a four or five-runway major international hub airport. The question is whether it is going to be in Britain, Amsterdam or Paris.”

The research also shows that Heathrow’s status as a key hub is continuing to diminish.

Just seven UK airports now fly to Heathrow. Eighteen UK airports serve Schiphol, nine link to Paris and five serve Frankfurt.

London is also lagging behind its rivals in the number of flights offered to Russia. Heathrow has roughly 4,000 flights to Russia every year, trailing behind Frankfurt’s 6,600 and Paris on 4,700.

Routes into South America, another emerging market, are dominated by Madrid Airport with nearly 5,000 flights every year to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile. Heathrow supplies about 1,500 flights.

London remains competitive on flights to India and Hong Kong.

Alistair Rivers, Innovata’s director industry affairs, said: “While Heathrow’s rival airports are expanding and increasing the number of flights going to new destinations across the Far East and South America, London’s main airport is stagnating.

“Heathrow is also cutting short-haul flights and becoming less of a hub airport than it was in the past. Rival European airports are now taking advantage of that and are offering more flights to and from the UK than ever before.”

A spokesman for BAA, Heathrow’s owner, said: “The lack of aviation capacity at the UK’s hub airport is costing the country £1.2 billion a year in lost trade. [Where is the evidence for that?]  None of the options for extra capacity is easy but the pros and cons of all solutions should be carefully considered.”






and another one:


“Stop being so squeamish over Heathrow, business tells MPs”

… pro-aviation lobby spin warning !  …

Advice: Hague’s view angered top bosses

23 May 2012

Business chiefs today told Londoners to stop being “squeamish” about a third Heathrow runway.

They said it would bring huge benefits to the economy and added that there is no chance of hitting George Osborne’s target of doubling exports to £1 trillion without extra airport capacity.

CBI director general John Cridland said: “We have to get out there like we did in the 19th century and sell, sell, sell wherever we can.

“But it’s very difficult to encourage business people to do that when there are huge delays at the airport.”

He spoke after Foreign Secretary William Hague angered the business community by telling them to “stop complaining, get on a plane and go and sell things”. The CBI wants the Government to pledge an extra runway at Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick in the next decade. It also wants a longer-term commitment to a new four-runway hub airport over the next 20 to 30 years.

Michael Spencer, chief executive of City broking giant Icap and former Tory Party treasurer, said the only solution was a new runway at Heathrow and urged the Government to show courage in making the case for it.

He said: “The politicians have to stop being squeamish about Heathrow. They should forget about building a completely unnecessary railway line and concentrate on creating a proper airport. This could be one of the single biggest benefits to the UK economy.

“It would also be a wonderful capital expenditure project which would benefit the entire nation.

“Modern aircraft are so much quieter and fuel-efficient than those of 20 or 30 years ago that there’s really no environmental objection which stands up.”  [Wow !! That is quite a statement, and  utterly … well … bonkers].

Senior financiers at investment banks JP Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley all privately expressed their frustration at having to use Heathrow.

One said: “It’s so frustrating. You fly right over my office at Canary Wharf, then land 20 miles to the west and then spend at least an hour getting out of the airport and another hour getting back across town. We need an airport on the east side of London.”

A British banker with a US investment bank said: “We all know it’s not exactly quick getting into JFK and Newark if you’re not American. But at Heathrow it can take hours even for Britons. We have to get something done.”

Leading business figures including venture capitalist Jon Moulton and Mothercare chairman Alan Parker this week wrote to David Cameron and the Chancellor about the absence of an aviation policy and have demanded a meeting to discuss the crisis, which they say is damaging trade.