CBI submits its response to the night flights consultation – wanting number of night flights to be retained

The CBI, somewhat predictably, has sent in a response to the government consultation on night flights, making out that they are indispensable to the UK economy. They claim that overnight flights played a “unique role” ensuring both timely movements of freight and allowing business travellers to arrive at destinations ready for a full day’s work. And there is more about claims that night flights are boosting exports through enhanced connectivity, increasing productivity, creating resilient supply chains and enhancing international competitiveness. And they claim that night flights contributed £1.2 billion to the economy in 2011, supporting 18,700 jobs and delivering £197 million in tax revenue – from discredited data by Oxford Economics. The CBI is, as usual, gung-ho about growth, and uses disingenuous claims about how “quiet” planes are going to get. They perhaps do not understand that an alleged “50% reduction in noise” means, in reality, about a 3 decibel reduction in the sound heard, which is on the borderline of what an ordinary person can distinguish.  Not a massive cut in perceived noise. 

CBI call over London night flights

Night flights into London’s airports must be protected to safeguard a vital part of the UK economy, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has claimed.

22.4.2013 (Express and Star)

The CBI response to the consultation is at 

Responding to a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation, the business lobby group said overnight flights played a “unique role” ensuring both timely movements of freight and allowing business travellers to arrive at destinations ready for a full day’s work.

A DfT consultation has sought to review opinion on current night flying operations at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports.

The CBI response document said: “More than simply flights that could not be undertaken during the day, night flights form an integral part of the business models of many of the UK’s key sectors – boosting exports through enhanced connectivity, increasing productivity, creating resilient supply chains and enhancing international competitiveness.

“The current night flights regime in London is working well, incentivising aerospace manufacturers and service providers to invest in quieter aircraft, which are helping to diminish the impact of necessary night flights on local communities around airports.”

The CBI acknowledged that more needed to be done to address concerns about noise, but said manufacturers were responding to the issue with more advanced aircraft.

It concluded: “The Government should maintain the existing regime, while leaving sufficient headroom in forecasting to avoid hindering economic recovery as the UK returns to growth in the coming years.”

The CBI calculated that night flights contributed £1.2 billion to the economy in 2011, supporting 18,700 jobs and delivering £197 million in tax revenue.

An additional eight night flight routes to major trading partners could boost trade by a further £1 billion, the organisation said.

Improving links to China and other developing nations is vital, the CBI said, with 54% of firms who see China flights as crucial to their business being dissatisfied with the current service.






The report makes claims such as:
“Modern aircraft such as the A380 show a decrease of 75% on approach noise from the planes they are designed to replace, while aircraft entering today’s fleets are on average 20 decibels quieter than comparable aircraft 40 years ago.”
In reality, there is some evidence that the A380 is, in practice, almost no quieter than the 747, and may sometimes be more noisy.
“A further 50% reduction of noise levels during take-off and landing is expected by 2020 alone and the aerospace sector has committed to achieving the objectives of the EU Flightpath 2050 programme, seeking to achieve a 65% reduction in perceived noise, of 15dB by 2050.”

In reality, A ‘50% reduction in perceived noise levels is misleading.   A halving of sound pressure levels equates to a 3 decibel decrease but a reduction of 3 decibels is the minimum perceptible change under normal conditions.It takes a reduction of about 10 decibels to achieve a 50% reduction in loudness and this level of improvement in aircraft noise performance by 2020 is not remotely possible, even for new aircraft.   (For more detail on aircraft noise see https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=12070 ).


“There are two principal ways in which night flights enable British businesses to flourish internationally and make the UK an attractive place to invest: firstly, by meeting international passenger demands for flexible connectivity, especially to emerging markets, and secondly, by supporting the express delivery industry’s ability to provide next-day delivery services.”

In reality, it is unlikely that most businesses would suffer it they got used to dealing with deliveries a few hours later. Or if businessmen organised their schedules to change the times of meetings by a few hours.



it regurgitates the discredited figures that have been put out many times by organisations like Oxford Economics (which is nothing to do with Oxford University) such as:

“The aviation sector is a major contributor to the UK economy. On its own, the sector generates about £10bn GVA each year, while employing as many as 120,000 people – a sum that increases significantly when taking into account the indirect jobs linked to the industry.1 Night flights – allowing for the timely departure and arrival of a limited amount of passengers and freight in the period between 23.00 and 7.00 – are an important part of this economic activity. Research indicates that £1.2bn of GVA was generated by these flights in 2011, sustaining 18,700 jobs and delivering £197m in taxation.”.

In reality, the CE Delft report on air connectivity and the economy, published on 23rd April 2013, was scathing about the data produced by Oxford Economics. They said:

CE Delft has critically assessed the framework used by Oxford Economics on two occasions (CE, 2008 and 2012).  Our main points of criticism are:

Oxford Economics presents gross impacts of aviation on employment, taxes and GVA. An estimate of the net impacts on the UK economy would take account of the displacement of jobs, changes in the wage and air freight rate.
Connectivity moves in both directions: an increase in tourism would lead to more spending of foreign visitors in the UK, but would also lead to higher spending of UK residents abroad.   Oxford Economics only addresses the first issue.

Some impacts (e.g. the economic value of business trips, GVA of non-airliner entities at
Heathrow airport) are counted twice.



See also

Stop Stansted Expansion says majority of night flights are unnecessary and should be phased out

Date added: April 23, 2013

SSE has called for night flights to be progressively phased out at Stansted in order to reduce sleep disturbance for local communities. This is part of SSE’s submission to the Government’s current consultation on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Because of its quiet, rural location, aircraft noise – especially at night – is more intrusive than in noisier, urban areas with higher background noise levels. The adverse economic impacts of night noise have been consistently underestimated. An independent study by consultants CE Delft last year showed that the cost to business of a ban on night flights at Heathrow would be outweighed by savings made through the reduced costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise. SSE believes this would also be the case at Stansted where the vast majority of night flights are not business related and do not need to operate during the night. Stansted is currently allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am – on average, 33 per night. This is more than twice as many as allowed at Heathrow even though Heathrow. The actual number of night flights at Stansted last year was just over 8,000. SSE wants the new cap to be well below this figure.

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London Assembly says Heathrow night flights ‘disturb sleep and should stop’

Date added: April 12, 2013

London Assembly Health & Environment Committee has submitted its response to the government consultation on night flights. The Committee, chaired by Murad Qureshi, says they would wish to see night flights stopped altogether, or reduced to an absolute minimum. At the margins “quieter” aircraft cut the disturbance for residents at the edges of the noise footprint so their introduction is of benefit. But modern ‘quieter’ aircraft are still loud enough to wake people & do so regularly after 4.30am, so their number should be reduced. The Committee says Heathrow should adopt a 59 dB Lden threshold for determining areas eligible for insulation, not the current 69 dB Leq or proposed 63 dB Lden. If night flights do continue, an easterly preference at night would help achieve more of a 50/50 split between directions, as at present more come into land from the east over London. Some night flights are because planes are delayed etc so the Committee suggests a reduction in Heathrow daytime number of ATMs would help, so flights do not have to be accommodated at night. They want Heathrow to work towards WHO guidelines; the objective should be to reduce the area within Heathrow’s 40dB night noise contour.

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Concern in boroughs near Heathrow about aircraft noise threat from new runways

Date added: April 5, 2013

The flight paths, and areas to be affected by aircraft noise if Heathrow was allowed to build a 3rd and even a 4th runway were revealed earlier this week by the 2M group. People in Richmond are very concerned about the even greater noise intrusion into their lives that would be caused. A Richmond Cabinet member said Heathrow expansion would make cause blight to spread to parts of the borough that are currently less affected whilst increasing the disruption for those who already suffer the burden of continual aircraft noise. Residents in Surbiton are also very concerned that their area may suffer from a large degree of noise. One resident said it would probably force her to move out of the area, and “It is greed, it is capitalism. I care greatly about the environment and we are already wrecking what we have got.” Another said the plane noise puts him off living in the area. Richmond are holding a referendum in May, as are Hillingdon and Hounslow councils, to show the Airports Commission and the industry that Heathrow is not an acceptable location for expansion.

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