Heathrow article implies health of Scottish langoustine market depends on 3rd runway ….
An article by Bloomberg, put out as part of Heathrow’s attempts to lobby for a new runway, says (I kid you not) that we need a new runway because people have to be able to export Scottish langoustines more easily to Spain and the rest of the world. The claim the Scottish fishermen, who can make plenty of money out of the crustaceans, can’t get the flight connections from Heathrow for their exports. They claim this high value product is vital for the UK economy, however unsustainable it is to air freight shell fish half way around the globe. However, the Scottish langoustine exporters have managed quite adequately to use connections via Schiphol – from Inverness – rather than Heathrow. Heathrow cut many of its flights to regional airports, as more profit can be made from long haul flights elsewhere. The Bloomberg article is largely written for them by Heathrow, so trots out a lot of half truths and spin. Not impressive for the local people who have recently had their peace destroyed by a concentrated flight path trial – one symptom of which was the meeting attended by 1,000 + people in Ascot, leaving Heathrow in no doubt at all about their opposition to a new runway.
London’s Runway Crisis Puts Pinch on Langoustine Export
For the fishermen who sell the langoustines live for almost $30 a pound, there’s one problem: London’s overstretched airports don’t offer the flight connections needed to get the crustaceans fresh to the markets where demand is surging.
“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Ben Murray, managing director at Keltic Seafare, Scotland’s biggest shellfish supplier. “If there was a secure network to the Asias and Dubais of this world from the Highlands it would open up all sorts of options.”
His travails encapsulate the economic stakes for Britain as Prime Minister David Cameron pushes for increased exports and less reliance on the financial industry. Few assets are more important in meeting those goals than a state-of-the-art airport, and London’s Heathrow hub falls short, adding urgency to officials’ expansion plans.
“Low-weight and high-value products like lobster or computer chips have become the modern incarnation of the 17th-century tulip,” said Adie Tomer, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C. “There is a lot at stake in attracting that freight and making sure it doesn’t rot on the tarmac.”
The problem for exporters is that Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is already at its limits. Increasing capacity by adding a third runway is controversial because it’s enveloped by urban sprawl. Growing Gatwick, London’s No. 2 airport, could dilute benefits of a single hub that make more routes viable, the Confederation of British Industry says.
Now Keltic Seafare delivers 35,000 kilos (77,162 pounds) of fresh langoustines a year to Spain, Europe’s biggest seafood market, via Amsterdam. There are no flights from the local Inverness airport to Heathrow.
Murray said Asian exports would become possible with the restoration of Heathrow services, which ended in 2008 when the former British Midland pulled out of the Scottish route.
Heathrow has flights to just seven other U.K. airports, down from 12 a decade ago as carriers led by British Airways (IAG) assign scarce operating slots to more profitable inter-continental services. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, by contrast, serves 27 U.K. cities including Exeter in southwestEngland and Durham in the north, as well as Inverness, where KLM passenger planes collect Murray’s cargo.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. founder Richard Branson last week complained that a lack of capacity at Heathrow forced the carrier to cut some flights to Asia and Africa when it wanted to add more services to the U.S.
“It’s impossible for us to get slots at Heathrow,” Branson said in an interview in Dallas. “In order to start a new route we have to close a current route.”
The hub’s cargo volumes are also trailing rivals. Frankfurt and Paris were the only European airports to make the global top 10 by air freight in 2013. Both handled more than 2 million metric tons of goods and mail, versus 1.6 million tons at Schiphol and barely 1.5 million at Heathrow.
“With our current hub capacity full, we are slipping behind,” said Mark Dittmer-Odell, the CBI’s head of infrastructure said in an interview. “If we’ve got a hub airport in the U.K., that’s a national resource that people should be able to draw into.”
Heathrow’s chief rival in the contest for expansion is London Gatwick, the world’s busiest single-runway airport; the two were shortlisted by a government-appointed commission as leading contenders for a new landing strip.
Gatwick, owned by U.S.-based Global Infrastructure Partners and located south of the city’s sprawl, says it could add a new runway for as little as 5 billion pounds ($8 billion), compared with a bill of at least 14 billion pounds for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow.
A new 2.2-mile runway west of existing terminals would boost Heathrow’s long-haul connections by almost 50 percent to 122, with capacity for 740,000 flights annually, 90,000 more than at Schiphol. Domestic destinations that could be added include Liverpool in northwest England, Newquay in the southwest and Cardiff, Wales, said John Holland-Kaye, who took over as the airport’s chief executive officer in July.
“The choice between a flight to Inverness and a flight to China is a false economy,” he said. “We should have both. The airlines are having to choose and that’s one of the things we want to correct.”
The CEO has traveled the globe to press the case for Heathrow, which accounts for 65 percent of the U.K. international air freight by volume and a quarter of all exports by value, led by high-worth items such as pharmaceuticals.
He’s also courting U.K. media, seeking to win public support with the promise of 123,000 jobs that would result directly and indirectly from the expansion. And he’s lobbying London Mayor Boris Johnson to abandon his plans for a new hub in the River Thames estuary that were dismissed by a government committee last month as too costly and complex.
Johnson plans to seek a parliament seat next year, positioning himself as a possible successor to Cameron. He says he’s completely opposed to any growth at Heathrow because of the resulting aircraft noise over built-up areas.
The mayor aside, the political landscape is changing to Heathrow’s benefit, according to Holland-Kaye. An Ipsos MORI survey released Sept. 7 found that 58 percent of U.K. lawmakers favor a third runway there, based on a survey of 38 MPs from Cameron’s Conservatives and 46 from theLabour Party.
The prime minister himself also opposed the hub’s expansion while in opposition five years ago, before softening his position in ordering a neutral assessment by the aviation commission underHoward Davies, a former head of the Financial Services Authority and London School of Economics.
“The two larger parties are sitting behind the Davies Commission,” Holland-Kaye said. “They understand this is a complex issue. If it was easy it would have been done a long time ago.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at email@example.com