Group of business people, led by London First, again lobby Transport Secretary for airport expansion

More lobbying by big business backers of aviation expansion continues, as the try to persuade the government that everything must be done to expand current capacity, even before the runway they want gets built. They claim this is important for the UK economy, and necessary for the UK to  “stay internationally competitive.”  Some 52 business people have signed a letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, published in the Telegraph (where else ?) putting their demands.  They want ministers to act on interim recommendations made by the Airports Commission, such as more Heathrow flights, and improving rail access to Stansted and Gatwick. They want action quickly and presume that adding more runway capacity for more people to take more leisure flights will somehow boost  “UK’s global competitiveness”.They also want an independent ombudsman to oversee changes to restrictions on the timing of flights at Heathrow, to try and get over opposition to more flights, and night flights, which is partly what prevents another Heathrow runway.  They want more flights, regardless of the impacts on those overflown or living near airports.


End navel gazing over airport capacity, business leaders urge

Group of 52 business leaders urge Ministers to make most of Britain’s current air capacity ahead of decision on extra runway

By Nick Collins, Transport Correspondent

14 Feb 2014 (Telegraph)

More flights through Heathrow and more trains to London airports are needed now in order for Britain to stay internationally competitive, 52 business leaders claim today.

In a letter to the Telegraph, the heads of leading financial, retail and transport firms urge ministers not to drag their feet over the capacity problem at the capital’s main air transport hubs.

They argue that Britain’s current airports must be made more efficient “to strengthen the UK’s ability to trade with the world” and urge the Government to show it is “straining every effort to secure and extend the UK’s global competitiveness”.

An Airports Commission appointed by the Government is examining which airports around London are suitable for expansion, but an extra runway could take a decade to deliver.

Sir Howard Davies, who chairs the Commission, told MPs last month that the Government had asked him to delay the publication of his findings until after the next general election.

In their letter, the business leaders warn that Britain risks slipping behind its international rivals unless ministers act on interim recommendations already made by the Commission, such as improving rail access to Stansted and Gatwick.

The government should also consider appointing an independent ombudsman to oversee changes to tight restrictions on the timing of flights at Heathrow which are aimed at limiting noise, they argue.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First and lead author of the letter, said: “The world is not waiting while we navel gaze about whether we are going to put an airport in the Thames Estuary or expand Heathrow.

“There are many factors that make London a very successful city … This is just one factor, [but] clearly it is not helpful from a business perspective to have your air facilities withering which is what we are looking at for the next ten years.”

In their letter addressed to Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, the group including Paul Kelly, chief executive of Selfridges, Adrian Montague, non-executive chairman of 3i group, and Nicola Shaw, CEO of HS1, recommends the provision of new track on the West Anglia main line to boost access to Stansted with Heathrow at 98 per cent capacity and Gatwick rapidly becoming full.

“At Heathrow we believe the airport should be granted greater operational flexibility to cut stacking and flight delays,” they add. “All options must be ruled in to cut delays and preserve resilience”.




London airports – act now


We need better airports in London to help British businesses remain globally competitive.

14 Feb 2014 (Telegraph)


SIR – We are more than a decade away from new runway capacity to serve London, and, with it, the air links that Britain needs to remain globally competitive. It is vital therefore that the Government facilitates more efficient and extensive use of the airport capacity we have.

We firmly support the recommendations of the Airports Commission’s Interim Report to make better use of London’s airport capacity in the short term. We urge Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, to act on the recommendations, with specific proposals.

Work should begin now to establish an Independent Aircraft Noise Authority, able to publish accurate and impartial advice to the Government on the noise footprints of our airports. This independent authority could engender trust at a local level that aircraft noise at our airports can be capped and cut.

At Heathrow, the airport should be granted greater operational flexibility in order to cut stacking and delays to flights. This international hub airport is set to run at capacity for the next 10 years. All options must be ruled in, to cut delays and preserve resilience.

At Gatwick and Stansted, improved rail links are needed to strengthen their ability to compete for new passengers and airlines, to stimulate new services and thus extend the use of their runways.

In particular, we agree with the Airports Commission that new railway track capacity is required, both to improve the Stansted Express and to support the Mayor of London’s growth strategy for jobs and homes in the Upper Lea Valley. We believe improvements to the network must be instigated this year.

A new analysis of the merits of a substantial infrastructure upgrade should be undertaken by the Government, so that it can be considered for inclusion in a refreshed National Infrastructure Plan this autumn.

Baroness Valentine
Chief executive, London First
Adrian Montague
Non-executive chairman, 3i Group
Martin Gilbert
Chief executive, Aberdeen Asset Management
David Partridge
Managing partner, Argent (Property Development) Services
Surinder Arora
Founder and CEO, Arora International
Mike Turner
Chairman, Babcock International Group
Harold Paisner
Senior partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner
Bob Rothenberg
Senior partner, Blick Rothenberg
Chris Grigg
Chief executive, British Land
Stephen Hubbard
Chairman, UK & EMEA, CBRE
James Rowntree
MD Transportation – Europe, CH2M HILL
Mark Boleat
Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, City of London
Paul Curran
Vice chancellor, City University
Des Gunewardena
Chairman & CEO, D&D London
John Burns
Chief executive, Derwent London
John Allan
Chairman, Dixons Retail
Inderneel Singh
Group corporate development manager, Edwardian Group London
Richard Banks
CEO, European Land and Property
Anthony Arter
London senior partner, Eversheds
Kevin Murphy
Chairman, ExCeL
Sue Brown
Senior managing director, FTI Consulting
Hugh Bullock
Senior partner, Gerald Eve
Toby Courtauld
Chief executive, Great Portland Estates
Mark Preston
Group chief executive, Grosvenor
Peter Vernon
Chief executive – Britain & Ireland, Grosvenor
Nicola Shaw
Chief executive officer, HS1
Andrew Murphy
Retail DirectorJohn Lewis Partnership
George Kessler
Joint MD, Kesslers International
Robert Noel
Group chief executive, Land Securities
David Joy
Chief executive, London & Continental Railways
Robert Gordon Clark
Executive chairman, London Communications Agency
Malcolm Gillies
Vice chancellor and CEO, London Metropolitan University
Greg Clark
Chair, London Stansted Cambridge Consortium
Mark Reynolds
Chief executive, Mace
John Morgan
Chief executive officer, Morgan Sindall Group
Francis Salway
Chair, London First Open for Business Champions
Ray Auvray
Executive chairman, Prospects
John Rhodes
Director, Quod
John Spencer
Chief Executive Officer, Regus UK
David Sleath
Chief executive officer, Segro
Paul Kelly
Chief executive, Selfridges
Sue Rimmer
Principal, South Thames College
Noel Harwerth
Chairman, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe
John Synnuck
Chief executive, Swan Housing Association
Tim Hancock
Managing director, Terence O’Rourke
Hugh Seaborn
Chief executive, The Cadogan Estate
Bill Moore
Chief executive officer, The Portman Estate
Richard Simpson
Managing director, property, The Unite Property Group
Daniel Levy
Chairman, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Ric Lewis
Chief executive, Tristan Capital Partners
Andrew Ridley-Barker
Managing director of VINCI Construction, VINCI Construction UK
Martin Sorrell
Chief executive officer, WPP Group





“Let Britain Fly” taken to task for exaggerating and wrongly claiming London’s economy is being damaged by any lack of runway capacity

November 20, 2013

In a blog, John Stewart pours some cold water on the infant “Let Britain Fly” campaign launched today. Its proud parent, London First, surrounded by a glittering array of big names from the business world, overdid the hyperbole. Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said that it was not acceptable for politicians “to dither” over new runways “and let our economy wither.” She even went on to ask somewhat over-dramatically, “Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?” Baroness Valentine must know this is exaggeration, even scaremongering. Whatever the pros and cons of expansion in the longer term, the facts are clear: there is no rush for a decision to be taken. The DfT has said that there is enough spare runway capacity in London and the South East until nearly 2030. And survey after survey shows that London remains the top city for business in Europe because of its unparalleled air connections to the rest of the world. Let Britain Fly – and London First – will lose credibility if they continue to exaggerate the urgency of the need for expansion. Giving the impression that London’s economy is in crisis because of a lack of runways is simply not true.    Click here to view full story…


Campaign – ‘Let Britain Fly’ – launched by London First, calls for urgent action to increase airport capacity

November 20, 2013

On 10th October, business lobby group London First announced it would be launching a new campaign called “Let Britain Fly”. It has now had its blast of publicity, with a splurge of media coverage. The campaign will cost £250,000 and London First is seeking £25,000 each from businesses, trade unions and London boroughs to fund it. They have got a number of Britain’s large companies, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Next, Associated British Foods, WPP and many others to sign up. They want a new runway built somewhere, complaing the UK has not built a new one in the south east for 70 years. They want politicians of all parties to agree on the principle that airport capacity must be expanded in the South East “to ensure Britain remains competitive”. They want there to be no delays in getting a new runway built. The campaign stems from the questionable belief that airport capacity constraints threaten “to hamper the UK’s success as a global business centre and at the same time the ability to forge a lasting economic recovery”.

Click here to view full story…


London First suggests an independent ombudsman is needed to deal with aircraft noise in London

November 7, 2013       .London First is the business organisation that aims to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business” and which supports expanding London airport capacity, especially at Heathrow. It has produced a new short report called “More Flights, Less Noise” which recommends that, in order to get more flights over London, there should be a noise pollution tsar, to protect people living under flight paths. They say an independent noise ombudsman, with a range of powers including the ability to fine an airline that persistently broke noise pollution limits, would address a “basic lack of trust and transparency” between those pressing the economic case for airport expansion and local communities. London First say a similar scheme running in Paris since 2000 has been successful. Their hope of there being less noise stems from slight improvements by modern planes on aircraft noise. However, in reality the improvements are very small and these are more than outweighed if there are more flights. Communities being well informed about the noise is no substitute for reducing it.   Click here to view full story…



“London First” calls for more intensive use of Heathrow runways with mixed mode in submission to Airports Commission

May 9, 2013     ”London First” is an aggressively pro-growth, pro London business lobby organisation, whose stated mission is to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business.” It has sent in a submission to the Airports Commission, calling for expansion of Heathrow and the ending of runway alternation. This would mean both runways being used for much of the day, in “mixed mode”. London First believes that fitting some 10% more fights into Heathrow will solve the UK’s economic ills, and takes a dashingly cavalier attitude to the impact of the extra noise on the quality of life of Londoners overflown. They appear to either not understand how aircraft noise impinges on the lives of those under flight paths, or deliberately seek to underplay the problems, and exaggerate the small reductions in noise that aircraft manufacturers have achieved. They use noise figures from the time of Concorde to give the impression there has been a huge noise reduction. London First also recommend that Gatwick and Stansted be allowed to compete more effectively, and have better rail services, to take some business from Heathrow.    Click here to view full story…



Whisper it! Heathrow 3rd runway is losing the support of business – John Stewart blog

February 3, 2013     John Stewart, writing in a blog for HACAN (the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), says the enthusiasm even of the two big business organisations, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and London First for a 3rd runway at Heathrow is reduced.  Business people tend to be realists.  Many now believe that, in the real world, a third runway will not happen.  All political parties are opposed to a 3rd runway. Many politicians realise, and have for some time, that a third runway is politically untenable. British Airway’s boss Willie Walsh is planning his business on the assumption it will not happen.  ?A Heathrow 3rd runway cannot be the quick, relatively cheap solution business and government are looking for.  Even if a new government gave it permission after the 2015 General Election it would be over a decade after that before a runway would be up and running. – and that is assuming the opposition wouldn’t kill it off a second time.   Click here to view full story…