Aviation lobby form new pressure group, “Runways UK” with large conference in January

The aviation industry must be a bit alarmed about its prospects of getting another runway, or more than one, in the south east of England.  It has formed a new lobbying organisation, this one being called Runways UK, in order to fight its case and put pressure on government and political  parties to get building, after 2015. They plan to hold a large conference (“an entirely impartial event”) in London, on 16th January 2014, which they are calling the inaugural Runways UK. This will be shortly after the Airports Commission makes its interim report, in December, on whether new runway capacity is actually needed, and which schemes to short list for further detailed consideration. The conference will be very pricey, if the cost of sponsoring part of it is anything to go by. Tickets are not yet on sale. They intend to hold a similar conference annually. The lobby group says of its advisory board that it  “comprises a combination of luminaries, appropriate institutions and associations and commercial partners” including its Chair, Baroness Brenda Dean (trade unionist), Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, and Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning at TfL. Plus many aviation lobby executives.



Runways UK: Airport Infrastructure for a Future Britain

the information below is from their website at http://www.runwaysuk.com/about-runways-uk

Runways UK is centred around the aviation capacity issues currently facing the United Kingdom

On 2nd November 2012 the Government launched an Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies, an eminent British economist. The role of the Commission is to examine the need for additional UK airport capacity and to recommend to government how this can be met in the short, medium and long term. It is due to submit its final report to government mid-2015, however an interim report is due by the end of 2013, which will deal with the following:

  • making an assessment of the scale, nature and timing of the UK’s airport capacity needs
  • producing recommendations on making the best use of existing capacity within the next 5 years
  • identifying those proposals for the medium term and for providing new capacity in the long term which merit further exploration by the commission, in advance of its final 2015 report

The inaugural Runways UK will take place shortly after the release of this Interim Report. This one-day event is about reconciling government, infrastructure and the transport industries together under one roof, in a neutral environment, to debate its output and help catalyse the solutions. Specifically it will provide a platform for the short-listed concepts to present their schemes publically in a structured and comparable format which will enable delegates to assess each one against the Commission’s own sift criteria. Each scheme owner will be rigorously challenged against these criteria by both a panel of independent experts and the audience.

Going forward Runways UK will become an annual event which will evolve with the progress of the Commission initially and thereafter with the development and delivery of the solutions it identifies as viable options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs in the short, medium and long term.


Runways UK

This inaugural event is timed to be the first public forum for discussion and debate following the release of the Airport Commission’s interim report due to be published in December 2013. In excess of 50 potential long term solutions were submitted to the Commission by the July deadline. In the report that number will be whittled down substantially to a short list of those options which are considered to merit further development into 2014. The format of Runways UK is to line up, on a neutral stage, the owners of these short-listed schemes. Accordingly we have agreement from a number of these scheme-owners to be on standby to speak at the event.

The event will attract a uniquely large and inclusive gathering of key stakeholders and interested parties. It will be an opportunity for a serious and rigorous debate of the options on a level playing field and its overarching aim is to improve delegate understanding of key issues and thus help to move the debate forward towards a consensus.

Runways UK is being advised by a high level advisory board of individuals representing all interested parties.  This is being Chaired by The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Dean of Thornton-le Fylde.

Advisory Board

The Runways UK advisory board is designed to be a microcosm of the event itself.  It comprises a combination of luminaries. It comprises a combination of luminaries,[sic]  appropriate institutions and associations and commercial partners. Its role is to help shape the content and personality of the event as well as to ensure fair representation of the interests of all parties. The membership of the Runways UK Advisory Board is currently:

  • Chair, The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Dean of Thornton-le Fylde  (formerly Chair of Freedom to Fly!  – see article by her in 2002 below)
  • The Baroness Valentine, London First,
  • Michèle Dix, Managing Director Planning at TfL
  • LGA Representative
  • Jason Prior, Chief Executive of Planning, Design and Development at AECOM
  • Paul Harwood, Principal Strategic Planner for London and the South East at Network Rail
  • Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering
  • Paul Wait, CEO Guild of Travel Management Companies
  • Dr. Andy Jefferson, Programme Director Sustainable Aviation
  • Philippe Forest, Country Manager UK & Ireland, International Air Transport Association
  • Michael McGhee, Founding Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners
  • Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of The Airport Operators Association
  • Dale Keller, Chief Executive of Board of Airline Representatives UK
  • John Green, Chairman of The British Aviation Group
  • Barry Humphreys, Chairman of British Air Transport Association
  • Hugh Boulter, Aviation Consultant (ex-BA Commercial and Operational Planning),
  • Paul Le Blond, President International Air Rail Organisation





Freedom to Fly, which no longer exists, was set up to lobby for an expansion of airports in the aviation white paper, which set out a framework for the development of airports in the UK.

By Brenda Dean, in 2002:

We all benefit from more air travel

The chairman of the Freedom to Fly Coalition says that the government must push ahead with expansion plans if Britain is not to lose the economic and social benefits of more air travel

Airport debate: Observer special

The number of people using UK airports has tripled in the past 20 years. Though the rate of growth is slowing, the Government forecasts that demand will double within the next 20 years. But our major airports are quickly getting full. Experts suggest we will need three new runways in the south east and more capacity elsewhere in the country to cope with rising demand and keep the economy on course. That is why the Government has launched a major consultation on where new capacity could be located.

The freedom to fly is something which we have grown to value. Air travel has opened up new horizons, both for business and holidaymakers. In 1977 we took 7 million holidays abroad. Now we take 38 million holidays abroad each year. Today ordinary people can contemplate taking the family to the Med, have a romantic weekend in Venice or even visiting grandchildren in Sydney. Flying is no longer the preserve of the wealthy.

Air travel also makes Britain accessible to tourists from overseas. Foot and Mouth Disease and September 11 brought home how valuable tourism is to Britain, to our major cities, to rural areas and a range of activities from hotels to theatres. 15% of young people flying to the UK are coming here to study, benefiting our universities and widening the exchange of views.

But air transport is also vital for the UK economy. Time is money. Modern businesses rely on fast, reliable transport both of people and high value, time sensitive goods. The UK’s highest growth industries especially, such as pharmaceuticals, communication services, finance, insurance and consultancy, depend heavily on good international transport links.

Business leaders have ranked external transport links in the top three factors in deciding company location. The wide range of destinations and frequency of flights from the UK have helped the UK become the number one European destination for inward investment.

These benefits cannot be taken for granted however. Today, many of the UK’s airports are straining to cope with this rising demand and lots of us have felt the consequences: it is harder to avoid delays, overcrowding and inconvenience. Congestion causes longer flying times, adds to pollution and prevents growth. Meanwhile Charles de Gaulle in Paris now serves more destinations than Heathrow. In fact while we were labouring through the cumbersome inquiry about a fifth terminal for passengers at two-runway Heathrow airport, the French, Germans and Dutch were busy building the fourth or fifth runways at Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Schipol.

The challenge for the Government is to maximise the economic and social benefits of air travel while mitigating harmful effects and environmental costs.

Of course growth must be responsible and sustainable. All human activity affects the environment. There is general agreement that aviation like all industries should meet the environmental costs it imposes, on a fair and equitable basis. Unfortunately there is a wide and sometimes wild range of estimates of what these costs amount to. The costs can be dealt with through cutting out problems at source, mitigation (e.g. noise insulation) and compensation. That is why we must encourage the aviation industry to be greener by design. And many believe that a system of tradable permits would be the best way to reduce global emissions for aircraft while permitting people to enjoy the benefits of air travel.

Britain’s air quality has vastly improved since the days of ‘pea-souper’ smog. But new tougher limits are being set by Europe. There is no argument these have to be met and everyone must be signed up to meeting them.

The system of compensation in Britain has fallen behind other countries leading to blight, worry and delay. Whatever option for new runways are chosen, there will need to be detailed discussions with the local community to minimise problems and recompense people fairly and promptly.

What will happen if capacity is not increased? The price of tickets would rise. Indeed anti-air travel campaigners want to impose £6 billion of extra taxes on air passengers – that’s about £60 on a return ticket, £340 on for family of four flying to Majorca. That would price many lower income people out of flying.

Choice would be restricted. Delays would increase. And the economy would suffer. Inward investment would be deterred. And jobs would be at risk.

The Government should be congratulated for thinking about the long term future and grasping this nettle, when so many of its predecessors dithered and delayed. It will be tough to decide where to put new capacity. As consumers, business people and workers we benefit from the freedom to fly and a strong economy. But we must also look after the environment.

Whatever the Government decides it will not be able to please everyone. But at least people will be able to plan ahead, knowing what the future holds. And let’s hope the Government strikes the right balance between the economic, social and environmental issues, the national interest and the local concerns which will be best for Britain in future decades

· Brenda Dean chairs the Freedom to Fly Coalition which is [was]  a broad-based campaign bringing together air users, business, tourism, trade unions, airports and airlines. Its goal is to support sustainable growth in air travel.

See www.freedomtofly.co.uk for more information.


….. so she hasn’t changed much over the intervening 11 years …………..