Aviation policy, future growth and growth forecasts

The Great British Runway Myth   

Date: September 2015

Authors:   AEF  (Aviation Environment Federation)

Length:  4 pages – short and glossy

Summary:  A short, easy to read explanation about why no runway is needed in the south east of England.  Demand for air travel is not growing much. Business air travel is not growing. Aviation growth is inflated by tax subsidies. The north-south divide. Climate constraints.  Haven’t we been here before?

Link:  http://www.gacc.org.uk/resources/Runway%20Myth.pdf


Title:  Airports Commission and airport expansion

Date:  May 2015

Author:  Nic Ferriday, for AirportWatch

Length:   4 pages

Summary:    In September 2012 the Coalition government set up an  “Independent Commission” to look into the runway issue. Though the impression has been given that the Airports Commission’s work is thorough, painstaking, and has assiduously covered every issue, the reality is somewhat different. This short paper sets out the areas where the Commission’s analysis has not dealt with issues adequately, including key social, health and environmental costs. Some examples are that the extent of claimed economic benefits of a new runway are based on an “innovative” – ie. unproven – economic model, which leaves out the cost of noise and air pollution. There is obfuscation on climate change, where the bald fact is that any new runway would almost certainly be inconsistent with the UK’s climate target for 2050. Air quality work has not been done. The paper concludes: “… politicians and others should feel entirely free to make their own judgements about airport expansion – based if possible on genuinely independent and unbiased evidence.  They should not be influenced by recommendations from the Airports Commission. ”

Link:   Airports Commission and airport expansion 



2nd of 5 briefings from AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)

Is a new runway compatible with climate policy?”

Date:  October 2014

Author:  AEF

Length:  2 pages

Summary:  This is a concise, easy to read, document setting out the facts very clearly.  A key point is that a new runway would have very significant climate implications that fall outside the remit of the Airports Commission to address. AEF explains how both the Committee on Climate Change and Airports Commission have stated that demand for flights in the UK will have to be restricted to prevent CO2 emissions from the aviation sector overshooting the level consistent with the Climate Change Act.  However, neither has identified how this can be achieved if a new runway is built, leaving a policy gap. That gap would result in the UK’s climate targets being compromised. The options are to dramatically increase the cost of flying (by the UK acting alone), restrict capacity available at regional and other South East airports to below today’s levels – or better and more acceptable – make optimum use of existing airport capacity.

Link: AIRPORT EXPANSION AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Is a new runway compatible with climate policy?


Aviation Environment Federation response to the Airports Commission discussion paper on Utilising the UK’s existing airport capacity.

Date:  July 2014

Author: AEF

Length:   6 pages

Summary:  AEF comments that “We are disappointed both that the Commission has taken the step of recommending new airport capacity before addressing [the critical issue of aviation carbon emissions], and that your consideration of regional airports does not include any discussion about possible capacity restrictions associated with the requirements of the Climate Change Act. We hope that detailed consideration will be given to this issue in the context of considering individual airport scheme proposals. Critically, alongside any recommendations for new runway capacity, the Commission must, in our view, make explicit recommendations on what package of policy measures would be required in order to avoid exceeding the sustainable level of aviation CO2 emissions indicated by the CCC’s assumptions and with legislated carbon budgets, namely 37.5 Mt CO2.”

Link: AEF comments on AC discussion paper on regional airports July 2014



First of 5 briefings from AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)

Title: “Should the UK build a new runway?”

Date:  June 2014

Author:  AEF

Length:  2 pages

Summary: This introductory briefing is the first in a series setting out key issues for decision makers in relation to airports policy, and explaining why the expansion question remains ‘whether’ and not just ‘where’ to build a new runway.  The Government-appointed Airports Commission has recommended one new runway before 2030 at Heathrow or Gatwick (although it hasn’t ruled out a Thames Estuary airport) and will submit its final report following the 2015 election. However, critical concerns about the environmental sacrifices that would be necessary to allow for airport expansion are likely to be left for
politicians to determine. This briefing gives an overview of the context, the current issues, and where the challenges for politicians may lie once the Commission has submitted its final report.

Link:  AEF brief should the UK build a new runway



Title:  “The Economics of Airport Expansion”

Date:  April 2013

Author: CE Delft

Length:  55 pages

Summary:   An important new report, by CE Delft, has been published commissioned by WWF, RSPB and HACAN. Its purpose is to assess whether it is true – as the aviation industry continually proclaims – that better “connectivity” will create greater economic growth for the UK. The report found that claims about the economic benefits of connectivity are not founded on solid evidence.  The CE Delft report found there is a correlation between aviation activity and economic growth, However, there does not appear to be any evidence for a causal relationship between connectivity and economic growth. Causation and correlation are not the same thing. They also found that increasing connectivity is more beneficial for developing countries or regions than for developed economies, such as that of the UK. They also found that extra connectivity in cities that are already well-connected, like London, does not necessarily deliver measurable or substantial economic benefits. CE Delft also looked at some of the economic arguments being used by proponents of airport expansion and found them to be miscalculated and exaggerated, distorting the aviation debate.  (Press release)

Link:   The Economics of Airport Expansion 




Title: “Airport capacity crisis? What crisis?”

Date: October 2012

Author:  AEF  (Aviation Environment Federation)

Length: 2 pages

Summary:  There is no evidence of a crisis in capacity and no urgent need for new runways.  New forecasts of passenger demand were published by the Government in August 2011.  These forecasts show a massive reduction in expected future levels of demand compared with the heady forecasts produced in 2003. AEF explains why there is plenty of airport capacity, contrary to the aviation industry spin to the contrary.

Link: Airport capacity crisis? What crisis?” 



Title: “The Great Connectivity Myth”

Date:  October 2012

Author: AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)

Length:  2 pages

Summary:  Since the Government announced its policy of opposition to new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, the aviation industry has been working hard to put out the message that there is a crisis in airport capacity in the South East.  AEF says the debate on airports often confuses and conflates connectivity and hub airport issues. And that there are no great benefits of larger or expanded hub airports or hub capacity for UK passengers.  The need for passengers and for the UK economy is adequate terminating capacity.

Link:  The Great Connectivity Myth”



Title:  Briefing on the key facts about airport expansion

Date:  September 2012

Author: AirportWatch

Length: 2 pages

Summary:  Aims to provide a timely reminder of the key facts about airport expansion.  Intense lobbying from the aviation industry resulted in the removal of Justine Greening as Transport Secretary and the inclusion of Heathrow as an option for expansion in the future.  The Government has set up the Davies Commission to look at theUK’s capacity.  It is not clear what additional capacity, if any, will be required because of the uncertainty about future levels of demand.  The recent lobbying from the aviation industry produced little hard evidence.  Greening dismissed it as a ‘pub-style’ debate.  This briefing aims to separate substance from spin.

Link:   AirportWatch Aviation Issues Briefing September 2012

Title:   UK Air Passenger Demand Forecasts Briefing
Date:  June 2012
Author:  AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)
Length:  25 pages
Summary:  The aviation industry has been working hard to put out the message that there is a crisis in airport capacity in the South East. In fact the Government’s forecasts of air traffic demand indicate that even if no constraints on airport growth were imposed for environmental reasons, passenger demand could be entirely met with existing infrastructure until nearly 2030.  Even if no new runways were built anywhere in the UK before 2030, only about 3% of air traffic would be squeezed out. The report finds that passenger demand is being overestimated. Now every time the Government has revised its forecasts, the numbers have been downgraded. In the latest set of figures, which reflect to some extent the impact of recession, demand is down from 500 million passengers per year (mppa) at 2030 in the 2007 forecasts to 343 mppa in the 2011 forecast.
Link:    UK Air Passenger Demand Forecasts Briefing

And summary at   AEF Passenger Forecasts SUMMARY

And the UK Aviation Forecasts from the Department for Transport (August 2011)


Title:   “Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector”

Date: July 2011

Author:  WWF and AEF

Length: 20 pages

Summary:  This report shows that there is already sufficient available runway and terminal capacity in the Southeast and other regions to meet demand to 2050, and in line with CCC limits to aviation growth, without the need for further expansion.

Link:  http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/airport_capacity_report_july_2011.pdf




Title:  “International Air Connectivity for Business”

Author:   WWF and AirportWatch

Date:  August 2011

Length:   16 pages

Summary:  According to international connectivity research funded by WWF, Heathrow is in a class of its own as far as its connectivity to key business centres is concerned, offering more flights to these destinations than any other airport in Europe. London as a whole also offers a greater number of total flights to the world’s main business destinations than other Continental cities. UK connectivity to business destinations, key to economic growth, is still unrivalled.

Link:  http://www.aef.org.uk/downloads/Business_Connectivity_Report_August2011.pdf



Title:  DfT Aviation Forecasts August  2011

Author:  Department for Transport

Date:  August 2011

Length:   168 pages

Summary:   This report updates UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts 2009, published under the previous administration. The forecasts are presented as ranges to reflect the inherent uncertainty involved in forecasting to 2050. Low and high forecasts have been defined to represent either end of a range of reasonably likely outcomes, and a central forecast has been defined to lie broadly in the middle of the range. The results of a series of sensitivity tests, in which the key inputs to the forecasts are varied, are also reported.   A couple of key pages:   P 150 passenger forecasts for 2030 and 2050 by airport.  P 163. Airport carbon emissions, central forecast for 2030 and 2050.

Link:   DfT Passenger and Carbon forecasts August 2011




Title:  DfT Aviation Forecasts 2009

Author:  Department for Transport

Date:  January 2009

Length:   188 pages

Summary:   This report updates UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts 2007.

Since 2007 several developments have been taken into account and these
are explained.  P 130 Passenger demand forecasts at UK airports for 2015 and 2030.         P 142 carbon emissions for 2030 and 2050.

Link:   DfT Air Passenger and CO2 forecasts 2009




Title:  DfT Aviation Forecasts 2007

Author:  Department for Transport

Date:  November  2007

Length:   140 pages

Summary.    It says: “The 2006 Progress Report reported updated passenger demand forecasts, and committed the Government to publish in 2007:

• a technical note on our passenger demand forecast methods and
results; and,
• revised UK aviation emissions forecasts.
This report meets these commitments. It sets out our latest demand,
CO2 forecasting, and appraisal methods; gives updated passenger
demand and CO2 forecasts; and updates our economic appraisal

Link:  DfT Air Passenger and CO2 forecasts 2007



Title:   Further Fallible Forecasts  

 Date:       March 2009

Author:   AirportWatch Aviation Economics Group

Length:     4 pages

Summary:   An update has now been written by AirportWatch’s Aviation Economics Group,
in response to the DfT’s publication of the “UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts
2009” in January 2009.     The  update  takes account of numerous changes that have taken place over the past year,
which affect forecasts.

Link:       “Further Fallible Forecasts



Title:     “Fallible Forecasts”   – a critique of the 2007 air passenger forecasts.

 Date:   March 2008

Author:    AirportWatch’s Aviation Economics Group.

Length:   16 pages

Summary:       The new forecasts produced by the Department for Transport are shown to be unreliable.  They depend on a series of questionable assumptions.     “Fallible Forecasts” goes through forecasts for air traffic, for climate change damage and for the
forecast net economic benefits of new runways at Heathrow and Stansted, and finds
serious deficiencies in the Government’s  arguments.

Link:        “Fallible Forecasts”




“Contested Evidence: The case for an independent review of aviation policy”

The Sustainable Development Commission’s summary of conflicting arguments and
incomplete data underpinning aviation policy.   (September 2008)

SDC_Contested_Evidence_Briefing_Paper.pdf – 395 KB

SDC press release 16.9.2008




AirportWatch leaflet and flyer:

WANTED – a rethink of UK aviation policy”

The December 2006 review of the Government’s Aviation White Paper reaffirmed
its expansion plans.   AirportWatch is calling for a fundamental rethink of government
policy on aviation.   The leaflet (A4 – 4 pages) sets out the issues, and suggests
a way forward.

AirportWatch leaflet: “WANTED – a rethink of UK aviation policy”

A5 flyer version

The solutions AirportWatch suggest include:

Reining back expansion so it is consistent with climate change targets

Recognising the limits rising oil prices will put on demand for air trips

Removing the tax-breaks the aviation industry enjoys

Reassessing air freight

Reducing the noise suffered by local communities

Respecting the county’s heritage, biodiversity and ancient woodlands

Revisiting Rail

Revising the economic assessment of the aviation industry

Reviewing the big expansion plans for the UK airports





 “Pie in the Sky ”  

(Friends of the Earth)   Why the costs of airport expansion outweigh the benefits.

Pie in the Sky, published by Friends of the Earth in Sep 06, debunks the claims
of the industry about the economic benefits of air travel and concludes that the
costs of expansion actually outweigh the benefits.

Pie in the Sky – Friends of the Earth




 “Fly Now – Grieve Later”

 (June 2005)

The Aviation Environment Federation  has published   “Fly Now – Grieve Later.”  The author is Brendon Sewill, who also wrote the “The Hidden Cost Of Flying” in 2003.

“Fly Now – Grieve Later” deals with climate change and the use of ‘economic instruments’. Economic instruments
are financial measures such as charges, taxes and subsidies which can affect the
environmental impact of aviation.

“Fly Now – Grieve Later” takes off where “The Hidden Cost Of Flying” landed.  The scope has been broadened to make it more applicable to the EU and
beyond.   The booklet looks at technical, economic, social and political angles
and considers the impediments to action.

See link below for summary (Word document) and link to the full publication (Adobe
Acrobat; 1.2 Mbtyes).

‘Fly Now – Grieve Later’ : summary

‘Fly Now – Grieve Later’ : booklet (1.2 Mbytes)   pdf


AirportWatch study on the December 2006  OEF report

A new study, carried out for AirportWatch in February 2007, found that the claimed
economic benefits of air travel in the Government’s Progress Report on the Future
of Air Transport published in December were largely based on a consultant’s report
paid for by the aviation industry.   Despite growing concern about the impact of
aviation growth on climate change, the Progress Report confirmed the government’s
determination to press ahead with airport expansion, justifying this on the grounds
of economic benefit.

AirportWatch study on OEF report (Feb 2007)       “entitled Alexander’s Ragtime Band”.




“The Hidden Cost of Flying”    (2003)

This report was published in 2003, prior to the aviation White Paper. It deals
with the economic aspects of airport expansion. Things have moved on, but the
economic issues remain wholly relevant.

“Important decisions about the future of aviation are due to be announced around
the end of 2003 in a White Paper covering the next thirty years. The Department
for Transport (DfT) published consultation papers in July 2002 setting out proposals
for expansion at many airports, with options for new runways at Heathrow, Stansted,
Birmingham, East Midlands, and in Scotland; and possible new airports at Cliffe,
at Church Lawford between Coventry and Rugby, and perhaps at Bristol. Following
judicial review of the decision to exclude Gatwick, a further consultation is
being undertaken.

The airlines are lobbying hard for expansion while, not surprisingly, the plans
are creating substantial opposition. The environmental case against expansion
is well known: the growing impact of aviation on climate change, noise and pollution
around airports, destruction of landscape, wildlife and heritage. This booklet,
however, is designed to subject the economic case for aviation growth to critical

The Hidden Cost of Flying   pdf