Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders reflects on two decades of campaigning against airport expansion

After 17 years of campaigning, 82-year-old Peter Sanders CBE is stepping down as Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) chairman as the organisation begins a new era with a fresh name – Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). SSE was founded in 2002 in response to Government proposals which shocked the local community by setting out options for expanding Stansted with up to 3 additional runway – at the time the low cost airlines were getting going. Stansted could have become twice as big as Heathrow.  In its White Paper of 2003 the Government declared its support for an extra runway at Stansted, to be open by 2012 at the latest. After years of campaigning, in 2010, one of the first acts of the newly-formed coalition Government was to withdraw its support for a 2nd Stansted runway. It was, of course, too good to last for very long. The Airports Commission was set up, but in the end it did not even short-list Stansted for a second runway. It did say that if, in the 2040s, another runway was needed, Stansted could be one of the options. The Government accepted these recommendations. Meanwhile, the work for SAW continues, to contain the negative impacts of Stansted Airport.
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Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders reflects on two decades of campaigning against airport expansion

By Sinead Corr – sinead.corr@iliffemedia.co.uk (Bishops’ Stortford Independent)

30 April 2021

After two decades of campaigning, 82-year-old Peter Sanders is stepping down as Stop Stansted Expansion chairman as the organisation begins a new era with a fresh name – Stansted Airport Watch.

He took the helm in 2004, two years after helping to found SSE, and has been a resident of the area for 40 years: firstly in Stansted, then Widdington and now Saffron Walden.

Born in the East End of London in 1938, Peter earned a place at the University of Oxford, where he took a degree in classics followed by a doctorate in African history.

He began his career in 1961, joining the Diplomatic Service, where he served in Lesotho and Basutoland, overseeing pre-independence elections in the mid-1960s. On his return to the UK, he joined the Race Relations Board, subsequently the Commission for Racial Equality, and was its chief executive for many years and was awarded the CBE.

After retiring in 1993, Peter went on to write several books on African history, as well as two local history books: The Simple Annals: The History of an Essex and East End Family and On the Beaten Track: A History of Stansted Mountfitchet.

He became treasurer of the United Nations Association in the UK, a post he held until 2003. His wife died a number of years ago. His favourite pastime is his much-loved allotment in Stansted…

Peter Sanders has lived in the area for 40 years: firstly in Stansted, then Widdington and now Saffron Walden.  Peter helped to found SSE in 2002 and became its chairman two years later

 

He said: 

In May, I shall be standing down as chairman of SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) having held that post for 17 years. At the same time, if all goes according to plan, the baton will pass from SSE to Stansted Airport Watch (SAW).

SSE was founded in 2002 in response to Government proposals which shocked the local community by setting out options for expanding Stansted with up to three additional runways.

Up to that point the Government had adhered to the unequivocal declaration made in 1985 that there was no case for the provision of even one additional runway at Stansted.

Suddenly, in response to the growth of low-cost airlines, it had brushed aside that declaration and was prepared to consider allowing Stansted to become twice as big as Heathrow.

This was widely regarded as a gross breach of faith – many people had bought houses locally on the strength of the Government’s assurance. It was also regarded as a dire threat to a wide area of unspoilt countryside.

A previous planning inspector had described the prospect of a second Stansted runway as an invading monster. SSE submitted a comprehensive, well-argued response to the Government’s proposals, Stansted: The Case against Irresponsible Growth, and in a referendum organised by Uttlesford District Council, 89% had voted against a second runway. But it was all to no avail.

In its White Paper of 2003 the Government declared its support for an extra runway at Stansted, to be open by 2012 at the latest.

BAA, the then owner of Stansted Airport, set about preparing for construction of the second runway. This included the purchase of some 270 local homes, and in 2008 BAA submitted its planning application for the new runway.

Throughout these proceedings, any arguments about the growing impact of aviation on climate change were dismissed. They were the concern of central government, it was said, not a local planning inquiry. But outside the legislative framework, these same arguments were gaining more momentum.

SSE had been working with politicians from all parties behind the scenes for many years in Whitehall, Westminster and at party conferences, and had secured verbal assurances that a change of Government would result in a change of policy and the withdrawal of support for a second Stansted runway.

These assurances were honoured when, in 2010, one of the first acts of the newly-formed coalition Government was to withdraw its support for a second Stansted runway. BAA then had no choice but to abandon its planning application and SSE duly celebrated.

It was, of course, too good to last for very long.

Confronted by the powerful aviation industry lobby, the Government set up the Airports Commission to examine whether or not any more runways were needed in the South East and, if so, where they should be.

In a detailed submission to the Airports Commission, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which had purchased Stansted from BAA in 2013, revived plans to make Stansted a four-runway airport, twice as big as Heathrow and bigger than any other airport in Europe.

SSE spared no effort in preparing its evidence to counter MAG’s proposals and our efforts were spectacularly rewarded when the Airports Commission did not even short-list Stansted for a second runway.

The commission eventually concluded that one new runway was needed in the South East and that it should be at Heathrow. If, at a later date, in the 2040s, another runway was needed, Stansted could be one of the options. The Government accepted these recommendations.

So what have we achieved?

Although Stansted has expanded considerably over the years, it continues to be a single-runway airport. It is currently limited by planning conditions to 35 million passengers per annum and MAG wants this increased to 43 million. This was the issue at stake in the recent public inquiry and we now await the decision of the planning inspectors.

But regardless of the outcome, the impact of Covid-19 is such that it will take many years for Stansted to return even to its pre-pandemic (2019) throughput of 28 million passengers. In the past 12 months Stansted has handled just three million passengers.

When I became chairman of SSE in 2004, many, perhaps most, people considered that a second Stansted runway was inevitable. The Government had identified this as its first priority for increasing London’s airport capacity.

SSE cannot claim all the credit for the Government’s change of mind, obviously, but our campaigning has been well-informed, professional and intensive, from the opening mass meeting in the former Mountfitchet High School through fund-raising events, sales of calendars, donations and the planting of the SSE wood in Broxted, exactly where the second runway was due to be constructed.

In spite of the disparity in financial resources we have been more than a match for BAA and MAG.

I take this opportunity once again to thank our superb team of local experts, active campaigners and thousands of supporters.

Over the years we have been encouraged by the support of parish, town and district councillors, our local MPs and also our patron, Terry Waite.

In our early years there were those who told us that, confronted by the big guns of BAA and the Government, we did not stand a chance, that we were wasting our time and effort. Some even claimed that the second runway had already been constructed and was concealed under a thick covering of turf! We can claim to have proved them all wrong.

Looking to the future, there may not be any immediate threat of a second runway, but we must remain on our guard and there is much to do to contain the negative impacts of Stansted Airport.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to lead SSE over this period, and I shall continue to take a close interest when the baton passes from SSE to Stansted Airport Watch (SAW), assuming our members approve this change at the forthcoming AGM.

See original article, with lots of photos, at

https://www.bishopsstortfordindependent.co.uk/news/sse-chairman-we-have-been-more-than-a-match-for-baa-and-mag-9196801/

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See earlier:

Stop Stansted Expansion to be renamed Stansted Airport Watch

Stop Stansted Expansion has announced its intention to bring an end to almost 19 years of campaigning under the SSE banner, to be replaced by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). The proposed rebranding of SSE forms part of a number of changes to be recommended for approval at the AGM. SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, explained the rationale for the changes, as it being very unlikely Stansted will be expanding capacity for many years to come.  Due to Covid, the current planning cap of 35 million passengers per annum is not expected to be reached within the next decade and it is questionable whether permission to grow to 43mppa – i.e. the issue at stake at the Public Inquiry – will ever be needed.  And so it makes sense to change the name, as much of the group’s work has been on issues of noise, flight paths, aviation policy, taxation, carbon emissions, compensation – generally trying to reduce the harm done by the airpot – not only expansion. Peter Sanders will himself be standing down as Chairman of SSE at this year’s AGM, having been a founder member of SSE in 2002 and its Chairman since 2004. He will probably be replaced by Brian Ross, who has long been Deputy Chairman.

Click here to view full story…

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Stansted Airport Public Inquiry into expansion plans – started 12th January 2021

After over 3 years of fierce resistance by the local community, the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport will be decided by a Public Inquiry which opens on Tuesday 12th January.   The outcome will determine whether Uttlesford, East Herts, and other surrounding districts will continue to consist of largely rural communities or will, in time, become further blighted and urbanised in the same way as large areas around Gatwick and Heathrow airports.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) considers it entirely irrational, and potentially dangerous, for the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to insist that the Public Inquiry must start at the height of the Covid pandemic.  Stansted already has permission for 35 million passengers and its passenger throughput peaked at 28 million in 2018, with passenger numbers in decline since mid-2019, long before the pandemic. It is applying to expand to 43mppa.  In 2020, Stansted handled just 7 million passengers and has forecast that it will take years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Plainly, there is no urgency to increase the current planning cap.

Click here to view full story…

 

Read more »

Stop Stansted Expansion to be renamed Stansted Airport Watch

Stop Stansted Expansion has announced its intention to bring an end to almost 19 years of campaigning under the SSE banner, to be replaced by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). The proposed rebranding of SSE forms part of a number of changes to be recommended for approval at the AGM. SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, explained the rationale for the changes, as it being very unlikely Stansted will be expanding capacity for many years to come.  Due to Covid, the current planning cap of 35 million passengers per annum is not expected to be reached within the next decade and it is questionable whether permission to grow to 43mppa – i.e. the issue at stake at the Public Inquiry – will ever be needed.  And so it makes sense to change the name, as much of the group’s work has been on issues of noise, flight paths, aviation policy, taxation, carbon emissions, compensation – generally trying to reduce the harm done by the airpot – not only expansion. Peter Sanders will himself be standing down as Chairman of SSE at this year’s AGM, having been a founder member of SSE in 2002 and its Chairman since 2004. He will probably be replaced by Brian Ross, who has long been Deputy Chairman.
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Stop Stansted Expansion to be succeeded by Stansted Airport Watch

16.4.2021

From Stop Stansted Expansion – now called Stansted Airport Watch

Stop Stansted Expansion has announced its intention to bring an end to almost 19 years of campaigning under the SSE banner, to be replaced by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). The proposed rebranding of SSE forms part of a number of changes to be recommended for approval at the annual general meeting (AGM) of SSE’s parent organisation next month. [Notes 1 and 2]

SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, explained the rationale for the changes as follows:

“Regardless of the outcome of the recent Public Inquiry, it is very unlikely that Stansted will apply for any further increase in its capacity for many years to come.  As a result of Covid-19, the current planning cap of 35 million passengers per annum is not expected to be reached within the next decade and it is questionable whether permission to grow to 43mppa – i.e. the issue at stake at the Public Inquiry – will ever be needed.”

In the 12 months to 31 March, Stansted handled just 3 million passengers compared to 28 million in 2019, before air travel was decimated by the pandemic.

In addition to the expected long-term impact of Covid-19 on air travel, there is growing recognition that the UK will not be able to meet its statutory target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 unless aviation emissions are brought under much tighter control. This almost certainly means that aviation growth, at Stansted and elsewhere, will need to be constrained.

Peter Sanders continued: “In the current circumstances it’s questionable whether ‘Stop Stansted Expansion’ continues to be an appropriate name for our campaign.  It’s also important to note that, over the years, SSE has done far more than just dealing with the threat of expansion, for example, campaigning on night flights, on changes to flight paths, on aviation policy and taxation, on climate change, on the phasing out of noisier aircraft, on homeowner mitigation and compensation, and far more besides.”

All of that work will continue to be necessary, and the view of the SSE committee is that this is the right time to re-focus the campaign on the task ahead.  Rather than having to oppose expansion proposals, the need will be to ensure that the airport’s authorised operations cause as little harm as possible and, wherever possible, are managed so as to reduce harm.

A further reason for the new organisation is to help bring about a changing of the guard within SSE.  Most of the current members of the SSE committee have been in place since the campaign group was established in 2002.  If there were to be another threat of airport expansion in, say, ten years’ time, the current team would not be the best people to handle that challenge. The current hiatus, caused by Covid-19, provides an opportunity to start passing the baton to the next generation, allowing new blood to learn and gain experience of dealing with the key issues.

Peter Sanders concluded: “SSE has notched up some considerable successes since it was established in 2002 but now is exactly the right time to refocus and rejuvenate the campaign for the longer term.  I have no doubt that Stansted Airport Watch – SAW – will be every bit as effective as SSE and, as its name implies, will be ever-vigilant in seeking to minimise the negative impacts of the airport upon the local community and the environment.”

Peter Sanders will himself be standing down as Chairman of SSE at this year’s AGM, having been a founder member of SSE in 2002 and its Chairman since 2004. [Note 3.]

ENDS    

NOTES

  1. SSE was formed in 2002 as a working group of the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association (NWEEHPA) and that continues to be the position today.  It is intended to change the name of NWEEHPA to Stansted Airport Watch.  SSE would not actually be disbanded but would instead become dormant unless and until needed again.
  2. The proposed changes are subject to approval at the NWEEHPA AGM on 26 May at the Silver Jubilee Hall, Takeley, starting at 8pm.  All SSE members are entitled to attend and vote.
  3. SSE’s Deputy Chairman, Brian Ross, has indicated his willingness to stand as Chairman of Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) for the coming year.  If he is elected, this would help to provide continuity during the transition.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT

  • Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman, T 01799 520411; petersanders77@talktalk.net
  • Brian Ross, Deputy Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143 brian.ross@lineone.net
  • SSE Campaign Office:  01279 870558; info@stopstanstedexpansion.com
  • https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/

 


See earlier:

15.3.2021

SSE press release

The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry comes to an end – now we must wait

The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry to consider plans for further airport expansion came to a close on Friday 12 March after eight weeks of evidence hearings and cross-examinations.  QCs for the three main parties – Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) – presented their closing submissions at the end of last week.  It will now be for the Panel of three Inspectors to decide whether to approve the airport expansion proposals.  A decision is expected in around three months.

On the very first day, UDC’s barrister, instructed by UDC’s officers, declared that MAG’s proposals were acceptable, subject only to certain conditions which, in SSE’s view, were so timid as to render them almost meaningless. It was an extraordinary start to UDC’s defence of the decision made by its Planning Committee in January 2020, by a margin of 10 votes to nil, to refuse permission for the Stansted Airport expansion proposals. There was no attempt whatsoever by UDC to mount a robust defence of the decision of its own Planning Committee.

MAG has made it clear that, if it wins its case, it will seek an award of costs against UDC but not against SSE. Costs at a Public Inquiry can only be awarded in the event of “unreasonable behaviour” and MAG claims that UDC behaved unreasonably in defending the appeal.

This Inquiry might not have been necessary if UDC had supported SSE’s call, three years ago, for the Secretary of State for Transport to deal with the Stansted Airport Planning Application nationally.  Instead, UDC insisted on dealing with the application itself, despite its limited resources and expertise in this area.

UDC submitted evidence to the Inquiry on just 4 topics and for each topic it concluded that MAG’s proposals were acceptable subject to conditions.  By contrast, SSE’s team of specialists, supported by external expert consultants and two of the country’s top planning barristers, presented comprehensive evidence to the Inquiry on 11 separate topics. The result was that MAG directed most of its firepower at trying to counter the SSE evidence, rather than UDC’s evidence, such as it was.

SSE chairman, Peter Sanders commented “I am immensely proud of SSE’s Inquiry team.  We all realise, of course, that this is a David and Goliath battle, but it is important to remember that it was David who won that battle, and he did so by giving it his best shot. That is exactly what SSE has done on this occasion.  We must now wait to see whether the powerful evidence that we have submitted will be enough to win the day.”

NOTES

  • MAG seeks permission for Stansted to be allowed to handle 43 million passengers per annum (mppa). Stansted currently has permission for 35mppa and in 2019 handled 28mppa. Over the past 12 months, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Stansted has handled only 3 million passengers.
  • A full record of the Public Inquiry, including (until April 12) a video record of all the hearings, can be found at https://programmeofficers.co.uk/ssairport/ and a selection of the most relevant Inquiry documents is also available at https://stopstanstedexpansion.com/library/information-centre/

FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT


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Read more »

In open letter to Ministers, campaigners say moratorium on UK airport expansion needed, due to policy vacuum on future aviation CO2 cap

In an open letter to ministers, Grant Shapps and Robert Jenrick, a large number of airport groups say the government’s aviation strategy is needed, now that the sector is included in the UK’s binding climate targets. Currently there are expansion plans at 7 airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston. Gatwick is also expected to submit plans soon, to make more use of its emergency runway.  The letter says the UK government must suspend all airport expansion plans until it sets out how they fit with its legally binding climate targets and the advice of its own experts, the Climate Change Committee.  The CCC said, in December 2020, that there should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity “unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions”.  Which it is unlikely to be, in the next 20 years.  The growth of the industry, that the expansions would permit, could not be accommodated with a stricter overall carbon cap. The campaigners say: “Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets.”
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Campaigners say UK airport expansion plans must be suspended amid new climate goals

In letter to ministers, groups say aviation strategy needed after sector included in binding climate targets

There are expansions planned at seven airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston. Gatwick is also expected to imminently submit plans.

By Matthew Taylor (The Guardian)
Mon 10 May 2021

The UK government must suspend all airport expansion plans until it sets out how they fit with its legally binding climate targets and the advice of its own experts, campaigners have warned.

In a letter to ministers, groups opposing planned expansions at eight airports around the country say the government’s recent decision to include aviation in its binding climate targets mean the expansion plans must be halted.

“Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets,” states the letter to Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, and Robert Jenrick, the communities and local government secretary.

There are expansions planned at seven airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston – all of which are at various stages in the process. Campaigners are also expecting Gatwick to imminently submit plans to increase capacity.

In December, the government’s own advisers on the climate change committee said there should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity “unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions”.

Ministers have the power to “call in” decisions made at a local level – a process that would allow the national and international climate ramifications of granting permission for the airport to be considered.

Campaigners say it is essential the proposals are halted until the government sets out a comprehensive aviation strategy – expected in the next couple of months.

“Existing policy does not take account of the government’s increased climate ambition for aviation,” the letter states. “Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets.”

A government spokesperson said planning decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible, adding: “The power to call in is used very selectively and when requests to call in an application are made ministers will consider the case individually, in line with our published policy.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/10/campaigners-say-uk-airport-expansion-plans-must-be-suspended-amid-new-climate-goals


The letter:

From

Aviation Environment Federation (AEF),
40 Bermondsey Street London,
SE1 3UD
http://aef.org.uk info
@aef.org.uk
0203 859 9371

 

To

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road London,
SW1P 4DR

and

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street London,
SW1P 4DF

 

7 May 2021

 

Dear Secretaries of State,

REQUEST FOR A MORATORIUM ON AIRPORT EXPANSION (OPEN LETTER)

In December 2019 AEF and some of the community group signatories to this letter wrote to ask you to intervene to suspend the determination of all applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until noise and climate policies were in place, against which such applications could be judged. You responded by indicating that the Government’s policies supported additional airport expansion in the South East, and airports making best use of existing capacity.

Since then, however, there has been a strengthening of the Government’s ambition to address aviation’s climate change impacts, including the significant decision to include international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets and net zero legislation.

We are still awaiting publication of the Government’s net zero aviation policy. However, the Climate Change Committee has made clear that adequate airport capacity already exists to meet the future levels of demand it deems to be compatible with a balanced pathway to achieving net zero by 2050, and advises therefore that there should be no net increase in airport capacity unless the industry over-delivers emissions reductions. The inescapable logic is that any approved expansion at one airport will necessarily impact upon the existing capacity that can be permitted to be used at others around the country.

The pandemic has damaged the business capability of some airports and airlines, reducing their ability to invest, particularly in the innovation required to deliver net zero. However, it appears not to have affected airports’ appetite to pursue permission to expand. All of these expansion plans have the potential to increase greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore run contrary to the recommendations of the CCC.

We believe that there are compelling reasons for you to reconsider the introduction of a moratorium on airport expansion.

Existing policy does not take account of the Government’s increased climate ambition for aviation. Until the Government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the Government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets. Assessment needs to be made of the cumulative impacts of these expansions which we estimate, based on an extrapolation of DfT’s own forecasts, could add almost 9MtCO2 by 2050 if allowed to proceed.

While the planning process requires applicants to take such cumulative impacts into account, it is difficult for local authorities accurately to account for proposals that are at different stages of the planning approval process, and to assess the implications in any meaningful way.

Allowing some decisions to be determined locally at this time prejudges the outcome of the Government’s consultation on net zero aviation. We welcome the notice issued to Leeds City Council to postpone sending out a final decision letter while consideration is given to a call-in, and we hope that similar action will be taken in respect of Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to approve the runway extension at Southampton Airport.

We welcome the Government’s readiness to challenge the aviation industry to accelerate its efforts to decarbonise through initiatives like the Jet Zero Council and inclusion in the Climate Change Act. But an uncoordinated and unplanned approach to airport expansion before appropriate policy is in place puts achievement of net zero in jeopardy. We suggest that until the Government has framed a net zero plan for the sector, including a national strategy for airport capacity which acknowledges and plans for the new carbon constraints, it would only be responsible to impose a blanket moratorium on all airport expansion planning.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Charles Lloyd, Aviation Communities Forum
Stephen Clarke, Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN)
John Adams, Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAEx) campaign
Hilary Burn, Chair, Parish Councils Airport Association (Bristol)
Sally Pavey, Chair, Communities Against Gatwick’s Noise and Emissions (CAGNE)
Peter Barclay, Chairman, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
Paul Beckford, Coordinator, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN)
Paul McGuinness, Chair, No Third Runway Coalition
Chris Foren, Chair, Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport
Andrew Lambourne, Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
Rachael Webb, People Against Airport Intrusive Noise (Luton)
Anne Marie Nixey, No Night Flights (Manston)
Jenny Dawes, campaigner against reopening Manston
Mark Bayliss, AXO Southampton
Brian Ross, Deputy Chair, Stop Stansted Expansion

 

Cc: Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport


See also:

Two campaign groups join call to suspend expansion of Gatwick Airport

Two campaign groups have joined the call for a suspension on the expansion of Gatwick Airport as well as other airports across the country.

https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/environment/two-campaign-groups-join-call-to-suspend-expansion-of-gatwick-airport-3231379

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Read more »

Airlines put up cost of flights as soon as destinations are on the UK’s list of no-quarantine countries

Holiday bookings have risen suddenly, now government has said there will be some countries in which people can have quarantine-free holidays. The cost of some airline tickets has already surged, with travel to Portugal’s resorts on May 17, from when the restrictions ease, more than doubling in price in the last two days. Last night, Ryanair was charging £152 for a flight from Stansted to Lisbon, compared with £15 the day before restrictions lift.  The airlines say there is pent-up demand for holidays, which justifies the higher cost. Newspapers report that in the minutes after the announcement, the cost of flights from Heathrow to Lisbon rose by 25% – from £264 up to £332.  A flight from Stansted to Lisbon increased in price for May 19th from £128 to £262.  This is worth remembering next time the airlines complain of the iniquity of government charging £13 Air Passenger Duty (APD), for a return flight to Europe. Airlines often talk of how this puts tourists off, and is unfair etc etc.  Note how quick they are to charge even “hard working families” a great deal more, (far more than the tiny APD) even for one annual holiday, as soon as they get the chance. 

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Flight prices soar before travel green list is revealed

Holiday bookings surged today as Londoners took a punt on destinations they believe will be on the long-awaited “green list” of countries.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to publish the list of nations, from which travellers returning to England will not have to quarantine, in a Downing Street briefing at 5pm.

These are likely to include Portugal, Iceland and Malta, and possibly also Israel and Gibraltar — with the easing of rules beginning in 10 days.

But travel agents reported a rush of people booking breaks to these holiday hotspots in anticipation of the announcement. The cost of some airline tickets has already surged, with travel to Portugal’s resorts on May 17, from when the restrictions ease, more than doubling in price in the last two days. Last night, Ryanair was charging £152 for a flight from Stansted to Lisbon, compared with £15 the day before restrictions lift.

The “traffic light” system for England will place extra restrictions on trips to “amber” and “red” countries. At present, overseas leisure travel is banned.

Spain, France, Italy and Greece are expected to be on the amber list but could switch to green at a “checkpoint” review on June 28. Assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

People arriving from a green location will not need to quarantine on their return and will have to take one PCR test within two days of arriving. Those returning from an amber country must self-isolate for at least five days and take two tests. The red list requires an 11-night stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750.

There will also be a “green watch list”, to give travellers advance notice of countries about to move to amber or red.

Luis Gallego, chief executive of IAG, urged the Government to “be a bit ambitious in getting global travel back on track”. He wants people who have been vaccinated or tested to be allowed to fly “without restrictions” between the UK and the US. The airline said it will launch a new advertising campaign featuring staff who are “preparing to return to work after a very difficult year”.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not set dates for the restart of foreign holidays.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/flight-prices-soar-before-travel-green-list-revealed-b933785.html

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See  also  the Guardian 


The Independent:

After two flights from London Heathrow to Faro in Portugal sold out at economy fares reaching £530, British Airways has added another departure on the first day that international leisure travel is allowed in England.

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/british-airways-easyjet-flights-b1843846.html?r=20654

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The Daily Mail says:

 in the minutes after the announcement, flights to Lisbon soared by 25 per cent.

Holidaymakers could have paid £264 at 12pm yesterday for a return ticket from London Heathrow to Lisbon, travelling on May 17 and May 24. But following Mr Shapps’ announcement prices skyrocketed by £68 – with holidaymakers forced to fork out £332 for the same flights.

Those planning getaways to Faro on the Algarve from May 17 will pay inflated prices, as airlines tend to increase  the cost of tickets in line with demand.

A British Airways flight from Heathrow to the popular holiday hotspot costs £448 on May 17 compared with £237 two days earlier.

Another flight from Stansted to Lisbon costs £262 on May 19, more than double the price of £128 on May 14.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9554861/Price-flights-Portugal-soars-20-holiday-green-list-revealed.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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See earlier:

Airlines etc lobbying again – ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn statement on 23rd November.

Briefing from AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) on why  APD needs to be kept, and the rationale for it.

http://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/The-case-for-APD.pdf

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Articles about airlines lobbying for cuts in APD:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/passenger-tax-airlines-brexit-no-deal-tourism-sajid-javid-a9087731.html

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https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/10/graham-brady-air-passenger-duty-remains-a-tax-on-trade-so-let-it-be-cut-in-the-budget.html 

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https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/2898699/airline-bosses-urge-chancellor-philip-hammond-to-deliver-a-post-brexit-boost-by-cutting-air-passenger-duty-in-his-first-budget/

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https://www.irishnews.com/business/2018/05/08/news/apd-tax-on-tourists-sees-a-million-passengers-abandon-northern-ireland-airports-1323743/

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https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/ryanair-glasgow-airport-base-closing-air-tax-passengers-apd-edinburgh-a8230636.html

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Amsterdam banning advertising for fossil fuel products (eg. flights) from the subway stations

Adverts for ‘fossil fuel products’, such as air travel and cars that run on fossil fuels, will no longer be seen in the subway stations in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is the first city in the world that wants to keep fossil fuel advertising out of the streets. Never before has a city taken the decision to ban advertising solely on the basis of climate change. The agreement about advertisements in the metro stations is the municipality’s first step towards making advertising in Amsterdam fossil-free. The Dutch campaign, Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising), which strives for a nationwide ban in the Netherlands on advertising by the fossil fuel industry and advertising for polluting transport, congratulated Amsterdam and calls it an important step. Some other Dutch cities, The Hague, Utrecht and Nijmegen have said they were “open to a ban on fossil fuel advertising.”  Motions have also been filed in Canada, England (we have the Badvertising campaign), Sweden and Finland.  Fossil Free Advertising strives for a nationwide ‘tobacco-style law’ for the fossil fuel industry, to change public attitudes – as happened with smoking.
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First step: Amsterdam is banning advertising for fossil fuel products from the subway stations

3 MEI 2021

(Verbied Fossiele Reclame – Dutch website) 

First step to keep all fossil fuel advertising out of Amsterdam’s streets

As of today, advertisements for ‘fossil fuel products’, such as air travel and cars that run on fossil fuels, will no longer be seen in the subway stations in Amsterdam. Alderman Marieke van Doorninck (Sustainability) and Radjen van Wilsem, CEO of CS Digital Media, will sign an agreement at 12.45 hours at Amsterdam Central Station. Amsterdam is the first city in the world that wants to keep fossil fuel advertising out of the streets.

Never before has a city taken the decision to ban advertising solely on the basis of climate change. The agreement about advertisements in the metro stations is the municipality’s first step towards making advertising in Amsterdam fossil-free. The capital is still investigating how to ban advertising and marketing (festivals) of fossil fuel companies such as Shell and Exxon.

“The need to combat climate change should also be reflected in the street,” said Alderman Marieke van Doorninck in the 7:45 am news this morning on NPO Radio 1. “Also in advertising. That is why we want to ban fossil advertising in Amsterdam. The subway stations are now taking the 1st step. We also enter into discussions with other operators. But to arrange this properly, a national ban is needed. ”

Important step

Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising), which strives for a nationwide ban in the Netherlands on advertising by the fossil fuel industry and advertising for polluting transport, congratulates Amsterdam and calls it an important step. Coordinator Femke Sleegers: “The decision to ban fossil fuel advertising from the subway stations comes at a crucial moment in the fight against climate change. We don’t have any time to lose towards the Paris climate goals. Advertisements that portray fossil fuels as normal and aggravate climate disruption have no place in a city or country that has complied to Paris.”

International movement

Amsterdam’s motion to ban fossil advertising had national and international spin off. In answers to written questions the city boards of The Hague, Utrecht and Nijmegen stated that they were open to a ban on fossil fuel advertising, although the latter two cities believe that such a ban must be regulated with a national ban. Motions have also been filed abroad in Canada, England, Sweden and Finland. The New York City government takes a different approach and tries to enforce a court ban on misleading advertising from Shell, BP, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute.

Letter by 51 organisations

The wish to ban fossil fuel advertising was put forward in a motion that passed in the Amsterdam city council last December. The motion followed after Reclame Fossielvrij and 51 organizations from Amsterdam sent a letter that called on the city to ban advertising that doesn’t fit in with its sustainability policy. Previously public transport company GVB had decided to sharpen its advertising policy in order to keep greenwashing advertisements out of its buses, trams, metros and ferries, after a call for this by Extinction Rebellion Amsterdam.

Tobacco-style law for fossil fuel industry

Fossil Free Advertising strives for a nationwide ‘tobacco-style law’ for the fossil fuel industry. The advertising ban for the tobacco industry was an indispensable step in the fight against smoking. It changed social norms and removed temptation. The same approach is needed for the fossil fuel industry, argues the campaign group.

https://verbiedfossielereclame.nl/first-step-amsterdam-is-banning-advertising-for-fossil-fuel-products-from-the-subway-stations/

First step: Amsterdam is banning advertising for fossil fuel products from the subway stations

See earlier:

Green Party calls for end of adverts for “high carbon” goods & services – eg. SUVs and long-haul flights

At their party conference, members of the Green Party of England & Wales backed an ambitious climate motion to ban advertising for high carbon goods and services,  eg. SUVs and long haul flights. This brings it into official Party policy.  They want advertising rules to be brought into the 21st century.  “This will spark a long overdue conversation about the role of advertising in our lives” says Green Party peer Natalie Bennett.  There are already many restrictions on advertising on products which are socially and physically harmful, such as tobacco which was banned from being advertised and promoted in the UK since 2003. There is good evidence that this tobacco advert ban was effective, awareness about smoking rose, and levels of smoking fell. In August 2020, the ‘Badvertising’ campaign called for adverts for SUVs to be banned, noting that such vehicles make up more than 40% of new cars now sold in the UK, while fully electric vehicles count for less than 2%. We need to stop adverts for products that trash the planet, needlessly encouraging the sale of more of them. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/10/green-party-calls-for-end-of-advertising-for-high-carbon-goods-and-services/

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The Badvertising campaign:

Badvertising

Fossil fuel companies, car companies and airlines spend billions each year advertising their high carbon products – despite growing public concerns over air pollution and climate breakdown.

https://www.badverts.org/

Petition at  https://e-activist.com/page/66459/petition/1

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Airlines must reduce CO2 emissions – instead of using ineffective, unreliable offsets

Airlines are hoping they can look “green” and let customers believe the carbon created by their flights can be cancelled out, by the magic of carbon offsetting. But increasingly it is understood that carbon offsets, that just pay to try to avoid carbon being emitted elsewhere, do not work.  The carbon emitted by the flight is still in the atmosphere.  The aviation sector has been trying to use carbon offsets from the forestry sector, to claim their emissions are cancelled out, but new evidence shows just how unreliable these forest offsets are. The way they are calculated is very unclear and unreliable.  Instead of hoping to negate CO2 by offsets, the first priority for any organisation has to be that they address their own carbon footprint directly. So for airlines, that means reducing emissions from their operations and fossil fuel use, and for passengers to think carefully about their flying habits …. Avoided emissions credits are not going to get us to net zero in the long run.” Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the AEF said we shouldn’t kid ourselves that avoided emission credits from forestry somehow delivers carbon neutral flying. They don’t. It just risks creating the impression that airlines are taking real action on this issue, when they are not. It just stops people confronting difficult truths about the climate crisis.
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Airlines must reduce emissions instead of offsetting, say experts

Campaigners warn offset system is flawed and can produce credits with no climate benefit

By Patrick Greenfield  @pgreenfielduk  (The Guardian)
Wed 5 May 2021

Airlines should focus on reducing emissions from flights instead of using carbon offsets for climate commitments, experts and environmental campaigners have warned.

British Airways and easyJet are among several leading carriers that use carbon offsets to back up claims of “carbon-neutral flying” and net zero pledges by buying credits on behalf of passengers or offering customers that opportunity to buy them when booking tickets.

On Tuesday,an investigation by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s  investigative arm into the forest protection carbon offsetting market used by airlines found it had a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is flawed and can produce credits with no climate benefit.

Environmental campaigners said the airline industry must focus on reducing emissions from aviation and the use of offsets distracts from rising emissions from flights. In response to the investigation, several leading airlines said the use of offsets was an intermediary measure while new technologies were developed.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Oxford Net Zero Initiative, said there had been progress on developing standards of what counts as a high quality climate target, including Race to Zero and Science Based Targets (SBTi), but cautioned the area was still a “wild west”.

“I think there can be a role for offsetting,” Smith said. “But I think the first priority for any organisation has to be that they address their own carbon footprint directly. So for airlines, that means reducing emissions from their operations and fossil fuel use, and for passengers to think carefully about their flying habits.

“Avoided emissions credits are not going to get us to net zero in the long run.”

Under schemes like the SBTi, companies follow a step-by-step process to make a climate commitment that is in line with the goals of the Paris agreement, ensuring their operations help limit global warning well below 2 degrees.

Companies that follow the initiative must track and disclose their progress every year and are not allowed to use offsets to contribute to their goals. Carbon credits are only considered an option for organisations that want to make additional reductions.

In response to the findings of the investigation, airlines said they trusted the quality of Redd+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) credits they used for climate commitments, which were often sourced through a third party.

British Airways said it was committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and offsetting remained a key part of its near-term plan while alternatives to fossil fuels were developed. It added: “In the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture technology.”

EasyJet, which offsets fuel emissions on behalf of all customers for “carbon-neutral flying”, said it was an interim measure while zero-emission technology was developed and the airline was confident the projects it supported were in effect preventing forest loss. They are also applying a number of techniques in order to reduce current carbon emissions, such as single-engine taxi, using advanced weather information to optimise routing, and reducing the use of aircraft flaps on approach to landing. “Alongside this we’re already supporting the development of radical new technologies to achieve zero-emission flying in the future which we are committed to transitioning to as soon as they are available and viable.”

Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the UK NGO Aviation Environment Federation, said offsetting using avoided emission credits, such as those from forestry protection, cannot be the solution because emissions in the atmosphere still increase.

“Even if you did correctly manage to invest in a project and therefore avoid some carbon, that doesn’t solve the problem of the emissions from your flight,” Hewitt explained. “I think a lot of these projects probably do really good things. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this somehow delivers carbon neutral flying. That’s that’s just not the case.

“Almost all other sectors are now getting on to the path of cutting emissions and aviation has a real problem. One of the dangers with offsetting is that it risks creating the impression that airlines are taking real action on this issue.”

Leo Murray, an environmental campaigner that co-founded Plane Stupid and now runs the NGO Possible, said carbon offsetting was an alternative to reducing emissions from air travel and was stopping people from confronting difficult truths about the climate crisis.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/05/reducing-emissions-should-be-airlines-first-priority-not-buying-carbon-offsets


 

See earlier:

Study shows carbon offsets, by forest protection, used by major airlines are based on flawed system

An investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s Unearthed has found that the forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is not fit for purpose.  Air passengers can buy offsets that, allegedly, help prevent the emission of a quantity of carbon, so they can claim their flight was “carbon neutral”.  The theory is that money is needed for projects to keep intact areas of forest healthy, and prevent deforestation. That depends on knowing how much forest there was, how much would have been destroyed unless the offset money had been paid, and how much has been saved in good condition. In practice, that is not easy to calculate. The study found there is often considerable over-counting, with schemes saying there would have been far higher rates of deforestation than were likely. And some of the areas that remained forested did so for other reasons – like government policy – not the offset money. If forestry offsets are to be used, it is vital that the methodologies they use to calculate the reduction in emissions – and additionality – are rigorous and accurate.

Click here to view full story…

 

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There may be even fewer airport jobs in future – if robots take on much of the work

We are often given estimates of large numbers of new, good quality, jobs that will be produced if an airport expands. Those very rarely materialise, as the sector works hard to mechanise and automate as much as possible, to reduce numbers of staff. There are growing numbers of robots at airports, carrying out a range of jobs. A survey by Air Transport IT Insights recently found that almost half of global airlines and 32% of airports are currently looking for partners to further develop their robotic involvement in the next 3 years. The latest developments see robots staffing airport check-in desks, carrying out security protocols, cleaning and delivering food (ordered through a contactless system) to passengers while they wait in lounges for their flights.  There has been more cleaning needed, due to Covid – and people are increasingly happy to avoid physical contact or interaction with staff. However, the robot technologies are not yet properly developed and there will be a lot of issues on safety, reliability etc before they become very widespread.
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The robots taking over the world’s airports

By Frankie Youd (Airport Technology)
04 May 2021

PHL Food & Shops, the concessions programme at Philadelphia International Airport, is piloting a contactless ordering system featuring robotic food delivery. It will join other robots that are already carrying out various roles at airports. From safety and security to cleaning and deliveries, we round up the interesting ways that airports are using robots worldwide.

A survey carried out by Air Transport IT Insights recently found that almost half of global airlines and 32% of airports are currently looking for partners to further develop their robotic involvement in the next three years. The latest developments see robots staffing airport check-in desks, carrying out security protocols, cleaning and even delivering food to passengers.

The airport security segment currently has the highest number of robots according to the Airport robots market – growth, trends, Covid-19 impact, and forecasts 2021-2026 report by Mordor Intelligence. The next most common use of airport robotics is for cleaning, which has seen a rise in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PHL Food and Shops have introduced a new member to their team Philadelphia International Airport, Gita. Standing 26 inches tall and able to carry up to 18kg for four hours – which is the equivalent of 20 miles of walking – on one single charge, Gita navigates busy, pedestrian-filled locations with human-like etiquette. Gita has been tasked with delivering food orders to airport passengers while they wait in lounges for their flights.

PHL already had a contactless ordering system in place that allowed customers to order food. Now the company has partnered with app developer AtYourGate and Gita’s developer Piaggio Fast Forward to have Gita complete the process with automated delivery.

Customers at the airport can confirm food delivery from any of the 19 restaurants and retailers currently part of the scheme via an app or the PHL website. Once prepared, onsite delivery specialist Claire Maddocks collects the order and escorts Gita the robot who carries the to the customer.

MarketPlace PHL marketing and customer service manager Megan O’Connell explains that the robot not only helps carry large orders but also provides a contactless experience for customers. This offers the added advantage of reducing the possibility of Covid-19 transmission.

O’Connell explained. “There are some questions about what the point of the robot is because it does have to have a person with it. I explain to people that the point is not only does this robot help Maddocks carry the food, but the biggest part of it is also that it gives the customer a choice of whether they want to have contact or not with her.” O’Connell said. “If they don’t want to have contact with her, she can walk up with the robot, open the lid and [then] she can retreat back, the person can take their food out of the robot without ever having to interact with her.”

PHL hopes the option of using Gita will increase customer confidence post-pandemic and will increase the consensus surrounding public safety and confidence in coming back to the airport.

O’Connell expanded. “I hope that everything we’re doing across the board and the aviation industry is starting to make people feel safe and have confidence in coming back to the airport. With initiatives like this, we truly are doing everything we can to make them feel comfortable. We can’t wait to have everybody come back when they feel like it’s the right time.”

The robots carrying out health and security checks

Robots are also being used to ensure passenger safety by carrying out health checks, cleaning protocols and security measures.

A security robot in the form of a scooter has taken residence at Hamad International Airport in Qatar. With built-in cameras that can measure pulse rate, carry out face recognition, and sensors to detect fake credit cards and currencies, this security scooter robot is heavily equipped to ensure security measures are always upheld.

The robot can even sense a passenger’s mood with an algorithm that enables it to detect a high body temperature, heart rate and stress levels to detect if a passenger is nervous or agitated.

Cleaning robots are also having their day. Heathrow Airport has been using cleaning robots around the airport terminals and lounges that disinfect areas using UV light. UV light has been shown to efficiently kill harmful viruses and bacteria to provide a safe, secure environment for passengers.

Heathrow Airport process improvement director Mark Burgess heads up the ‘Fly Safe Programme’ at the airport. He explained: “The UV robots disinfect surfaces using UV-C light. Depending on the exposure time, a UV robot can kill up to 99.9% of pathogens by disinfecting all surfaces which could harbour bacteria and viruses. The UV-C light used by the robots is highly efficient and can disinfect 18,000 sqm within a two and a half-hour time period.”

Heathrow wants the cleaning robots to offer a high level of assurance and confidence in hygiene for customers and staff.

“The UV robots have proven to be an incredibly useful tool within our enhanced cleaning programme, helping to ensure we disinfect the terminals on a regular basis.”
“The UV robots have proven to be an incredibly useful tool within our enhanced cleaning programme, helping to ensure we disinfect the terminals on a regular basis,” Burgess said. “We believe the UV robots currently complement our existing cleaning method and they are an additional measure within our process which help to keep Heathrow Covid-secure. Their speed and ability to sanitise ultimately enables our cleaning technicians to carry out our intensive cleaning programme with greater efficiency and ease than previously.”

Looking into the robotic future

With technology developing at a rapid rate, an increasingly robotic future seems assured for airports.

However, their use raises some important questions and security hurdles. Could the robot accidentally hurt passengers? Will it malfunction? Will it correctly carry out the duties autonomously? Is passenger data secure, not least when it comes to judgement calls on health and mood?

The use of robotic technology in airports is likely to increase but gradually, with certain models having to be accompanied by a staff member before turning completely autonomous.

“I do think that there are going to be a lot of considerations in the future for implementing robotic strategies where necessary.”
O’Connell explained: “The challenge with the airport is it’s a condensed space. I do think that there are going to be a lot of considerations in the future for implementing robotic strategies where necessary and where it makes sense. It’s going to take a lot of work because there are just so many moving pieces to making sure it’s safe. I think there’s a place for it and I think more people will start to adopt it but it’s going to be slow.”

As technology continues to progress and develop, paired with a growing interest in the robotics market by the aviation sector, we can expect to see more robotic assistance at our airports in the years to come. With robots offering many benefits such as faster check-ins, increased security and a personalised experience for customers, robotic-led terminals could be the future of aviation.

https://www.airport-technology.com/features/the-robots-taking-over-the-worlds-airports/

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See earlier:

 

BA introducing biometric boarding gates at Heathrow, further reducing numbers of airport jobs

Airports always promise huge numbers of jobs if they expand. The reality is that airports and airlines are cutting jobs as fast as they can, and having everything mechanised. It is cheaper not to have many employees. Now British Airways (BA) is introducing automated biometric technology to create self-service boarding gates at Heathrow. Passengers passing through the security channel will have a digital scan of their face recorded. When they arrive at the gate and scan their own boarding pass, their face is matched with the previously recorded data. If the two digital images match, the passenger is allowed to board.  The system was trialled in June 2016, and is now being rolled out, with 3 of these gates (for domestic flights only) at Terminal 5. BA plans to open 3 more of these self-boarding gates every week until mid-June.  It will finally be extended to international flights.  BA has also opened self-service bag drops at both Heathrow and Gatwick – doing away with more jobs.  Back in 1999 when Heathrow got consent for its 5th Terminal, the airport said there would be 16,000 more jobs by 2016.  When probed, Heathrow is unable to even give a number for the jobs at T5, let along prove there has been much of a rise in employment. All they will say is that in July 2013, 76,600 were directly employed on the Heathrow site. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/04/ba-introducing-biometric-boarding-gates-at-heathrow-further-reducing-numbers-of-airport-jobs/

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Dodgy economics behind plans to expand our airports – they won’t tackle unemployment, or bring more money to the UK

A useful article from the New Economics Foundation looks at the reality of claims about the economic benefits of expanding airports. Traditionally airports have said they are vital for business travel; the reality is that a small proportion of air passengers are on any sort of business trip, and that is especially the case at regional airports. Most air passengers are British people flying on leisure trips abroad (to spend their money there).  Regional airports claim that they merely take passengers who would otherwise have flown from the larger airports, such as Heathrow and Gatwick. The reality is more people take cheap leisure flights from a convenient local airport.  There is always a lot of hype about the number of jobs that airport expansion will create, but in fact the sector has been automating as much as it can, and the number of jobs  – the “job intensity” – is lower than it was in 2007, while the number of passengers has risen significantly.   Airports have also reduced squeezed the working conditions of some airport workers, to gain “efficiencies.” NEF says: “Despite what airport executives say, expanding our airports won’t tackle unemployment or bring more money to the UK.” 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/09/dodgy-economics-behind-plans-to-expand-our-airports-they-wont-tackle-unemployment-or-bring-more-money-to-the-uk/

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See much earlier: 2009

 

Study by AEF shows airport expansion will destroy UK jobs

11.3.2009   (AEF press release)

          Link to Booklet (23 pages)
          “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax”A new study of the employment provided by airports and airlines from the economist
Brendon Sewill concludes that the Government should stop giving people false hopes
about the number of jobs which would be created by the expansion of airports (1). The study, “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax“, published today by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), shows Government claims that airport expansion will help create thousands
of new jobs to help the country through the recession to be based on unreliable
statistics. In fact, it finds that if the expansion results in more UK tourists
going abroad then the forecast growth in air travel is likely to lead to a net
loss of jobs in this country.

Sewill shows that the old rule of thumb that 1 million extra passengers using
an airport is likely to create 1,000 extra jobs is no longer valid.   The efficiency
of low-cost airlines means that far fewer jobs are created by airport expansion
than in the past. The move towards low-cost airports, where modern technology
replaces manual jobs, will accelerate that trend.

The study reveals that, between 1998 and 2004, when the number of passengers
using UK airports rose by 30%, the number of people employed directly at airports
went up by only 3%. Research by York Aviation, a consultancy close to the aviation
industry, found that despite a predicted increase of 110% in passenger numbers
at the country’s airports between 2004 and 2030 jobs would increase by only 21%.

Sewill argues that the York Aviation research takes no account of the number
of jobs that will be lost to the UK if the number of Britons holidaying abroad
continues to rise. Last year the UK’s aviation tourism deficit – the difference
between what British air passengers spend abroad and visitors by air spend in
the UK – was about £17 billion. That deficit is at present costing the country
around 900,000 jobs.

The Sewill study concludes that, because most of the predicted expansion is to
cater for UK citizens going abroad, the Government’s plans to double the amount
of air travel is likely to lead to a further net loss of 860,000 jobs by 2030.

Brendon Sewill said: “The Government, aided by the aviation industry, is perpetrating
a hoax that airport expansion is vital to the economy and will help us though
the recession. Councillors and planning officers are being misled by exaggerated
claims that the expansion of their local airports will create lots of extra jobs.
For example, ten years ago Manchester Airport claimed that its second runway would
create 50,000 extra jobs whereas in practice employment at the airport has increased
by only 4,000. The Government should admit that – when spending abroad is taken
into account – its airport expansion plans could actually produce a serious net
loss of jobs”.

http://www.aef.org.uk)

 

(1). The report and executive summary are at:

          “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax”   

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2009/03/new-study-by-aef-shows-airport-expansion-will-destroy-uk-jobs/
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In 2019 the CO2 emissions of British Airways were almost as high (18.4 MtCO2) as ALL the vans on UK roads

British Airways flights emitted almost as much CO2 in 2019 as all the vans on UK roads, according to data obtained by non-profit group Transport & Environment (T&E). It emits just under a third of all of the cars in the UK.  It was the 2nd highest-emitting airline in Europe before Covid, with 18.4 million tonnes (Mt) CO2 released in 2019, just short of the 19.4 Mt CO2 equivalent emitted by the UK’s vans in 2018.  It ranks, by CO2 emissions, just behind Lufthansa, which emitted 19.1 MtCO2 in 2019, with Air France in third place at 14.4 MtCO2.  The overall climate impact of aviation CO2 is 2 to 3 times that of burning the same fuel at ground level – that is not included in the 18.4 MtCO2 figure. T&E and partners obtained the data using FoI requests to governments, which now haveto gather CO2 statistics from airlines as part of the UN’s international offsetting scheme for aviation, Corsia. The data has not been made public before. In the UK, about 15% of people take 70% of flights. Accordingly, a large part of the emissions by BA will be by people – those richer than average – who fly often. 
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British Airways Nearly as Polluting as All Vans on UK Roads Combined, Data Shows

By Jocelyn Timperley  (DeSmog)

March 31, 2021

British Airways flights emitted almost as much carbon dioxide in 2019 as all the vans on UK roads, according to newly released data obtained by non-profit group Transport & Environment (T&E).

The UK’s flag carrier was the second highest-emitting airline in Europe before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry, the figures show, with 18.4 million tonnes (Mt) CO2 released in 2019, just short of the 19.4 Mt CO2 equivalent emitted by the UK’s vans in 2018.

Europe’s top aviation polluter is German national airline Lufthansa, which emitted 19.1 MtCO2 in 2019, with Air France in third place at 14.4 MtCO2.

Matt Finch, UK policy manager at T&E, said the scale of BA’s emissions surprised him. “We knew it was going to be big, but we didn’t realise it was actually this big. It’s the equivalent of all of the vans in the UK, or just under a third of all of the cars in the UK. This is one company.”

This is the first time individual European airline CO2 emissions have been disclosed to the public. The figures only cover the CO2 emissions of aviation, however, and not other climate impacts such as those caused by contrails, which a recent study found could triple the climate impacts of aviation compared to CO2 alone.

T&E and partners obtained the data using Freedom of Information requests to governments, which are now required to gather CO2 statistics from airlines as part of the UN’s international offsetting scheme for aviation, Corsia.

“Every government replied, apart from Italy,” says Finch. “It’s the first time anyone has ever been able to get this data and make it public.”

Campaigners have long criticised Corsia as an inadequate policy to tackle aviation emissions, and an unpublished EU report obtained by T&E earlier this month concluded that Corsia is “unlikely to materially alter” the climate impact of air travel. But this new analysis shows Corsia’s data requirements are proving handy for increasing the transparency of airline emissions. Airlines will be required to report the data every year from now on.

Finch said the figures add weight to the push for the UK to include international aviation and shipping emissions in its domestic carbon budgets. A decision on whether the government will do this is expected “any day now”.

Other aviation policies are also needed, he added, such as robust sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates, fuel taxes for aviation and investment into zero emissions planes. “All of these possible measures should receive more of a priority now,” he said.

Responding to the T&E analysis, a spokesperson from British Airways said the company is taking action to reduce its carbon impact, including by investing in more efficient aircraft and the development of sustainable aviation fuel.

“Our parent company IAG was the first airline group in the world to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and while there is no single solution to this challenge we’ve built a clear roadmap to get us there,” they said.

Frequent flyers taking ‘unfair share’ of flights
A separate analysis released today by climate charity Possible highlights how a small number of frequent flyers, generally in higher income brackets, are taking the majority of flights in many of the world’s highest-emitting countries.

The report brings together a range of different studies and assessments of who takes flights in 26 of the 30 countries with the largest aviation emissions.

In the US, just 12 percent of people take two thirds of flights, it finds, while in France 2 percent of people take half of all flights.

In China, 5 percent of households take 40 percent of flights, while in India a tiny 1 percent of households take 45 percent of flights.

The charity has previously highlighted how 15 percent of people in the UK take 70 percent of flights.

“This report shows the same pattern of inequality around the world – a small minority of frequent flyers take an unfair share of the flights,” said Alethea Warrington, a campaigner at Possible. “While the poorest communities are already suffering the impacts of a warming climate, the benefits of high-carbon lifestyles are enjoyed only by the few.”

In nearly all the countries examined, less than half of the population fly in a given year, Possible found, and in many countries this figure is much lower.

A study released last year found just 1 percent of the world’s population caused half of the carbon emissions from aviation globally in 2018. Just 2-4 percent of the global population flew at all in 2018, it estimated.

Souparna Lahiri, a climate campaigner at Global Forest Coalition in India, said there is a rising inequity in public and mass transport, led by air transport. “Amenities are improved for those who can afford to pay a lot, but not for the common mass who cannot afford air-conditioned travel or high speed transportation,” he said.

Possible is calling for a “progressive tax” on aviation such as a frequent flyer levy that would increase taxes on flights the more someone flies in a given year.

https://www.desmog.co.uk/2021/03/30/british-airways-nearly-polluting-all-vans-uk-roads-data-shows

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See earlier:

New airline CO2 data: Lufthansa, BA, Air France were Europe’s most polluting airlines pre-Covid

Official data, obtained by Transport & Environment, and Carbon Market Watch, shows 3 of the biggest recipients of airline bailouts – Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France – were the 3 biggest European airline carbon emitters before Covid grounded flights. Those 3 airlines got a third or airline bailout money.  It is the first time ever that the total emissions of European airlines have been disclosed, including flights entering and leaving the EU – not only within it. This has exposed airlines which previously emitted most of their CO2 by long-haul flights.  Currently only the carbon emitted on intra-EU flights is included in the ETS (Emissions Trading System for the EU). The non-EU flights made up 77% of the emissions by Lufthansa; 86% for British Airways; and 83% for Air France.  In 2019 Lufthansa emitted 19.11 MtCO2 (bailout about €6,840 million); BA emitted 18.38 MtCO2 (€2,553 million); Air France emitted 14.39 MtCO2 (€7000 + ? €300 bailout); Ryanair 12.28 MtCO2 (€670 million bailout); EasyJet 4.84 MtCO2 (€2,240 bailout).  And many more airlines … Ryanair remains the No 1 emitter on flights within Europe.  There is no data for Alitalia, as the government would not send data. The UN’s ineffective and deeply flawed CORSIA scheme is meant to be a disincentive to airlines increasing their carbon emissions, but it will not have any significant impact. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2021/03/new-airline-co2-data-lufthansa-ba-air-france-were-europes-most-polluting-airlines-pre-covid/

 

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Climate Change Committee professor says demand for flights will need to be cut, eg. by taxing frequent fliers more

Professor Piers Forster, a climate scientist and a member of the Climate Change Committee, who has taken a keen interest in the problem of aviation carbon emissions has said that the government is likely to have to bring in a tax on frequent fliers and a ban on airport expansion if it is to meet its new climate targets – a 78% cut of carbon emissions on the 1990 levels – for 2035. This new, stricter, target will “squeeze” the amount of emissions the rest of the economy can emit over the coming decades. Prof Forster said: “By including [international shipping and aviation] within the target it actually reduces the allowable emissions that are there for the rest of the economy. So all the rest of the economy gets squeezed quite significantly.”  It will be decades ahead, if ever, that flying could be low carbon. In the interim, Professor Forster said the government will need to bring in measures to reduce the amount of flights taken in and out of the UK. Frequent flyers should be deterred, while in the short term, there may be enough carbon budget for the occasional leisure flight.
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Frequent flier tax will be needed to hit climate targets, warns leading scientist

Boris Johnson promised to cut UK emissions by 78% by 2035, the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world

By Madeleine Cuff, Environment Reporter (the i)
April 26, 2021

The government is likely to have to bring in a tax on frequent fliers and a ban on airport expansion if it is to meet its tough new climate targets for 2035, according to a leading climate scientist.

Last week the Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to cut UK emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world.

For the first time, the UK’s share of international shipping and aviation emissions will be included in the domestic goal, the government also confirmed.

This change will “squeeze” the amount of emissions the rest of the economy can emit over the coming decades, Professor Piers Forster, a climate scientist at Leeds University and member of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, told i.

“By including [shipping and aviation] within the target it actually reduces the allowable emissions that are there for the rest of the economy,” he explained. “So all the rest of the economy gets squeezed quite significantly.”

The government is pushing the aviation industry to develop green flying technologies, such as electric or hydrogen powered aircraft. But zero carbon commercial flight – particularly on long haul routes – is likely still decades away.

In the interim, Professor Forster said the government will need to bring in measures to reduce the amount of flights taken in and out of the UK.

This is likely to include measures such as a frequent flier tax, which would charge people for additional flights taken each year, he said. Studies have consistently shown that 70% of flights are made by the wealthiest 15% of the population. “If you are getting on aeroplanes ten times each year, perhaps that’s not the best use of precious carbon budget,” he said.

A ban on airport expansion is also likely to be necessary, he said, potentially scuppering plans to expand airports in London Heathrow, Leeds Bradford and Bristol airport.

But he stressed people taking one foreign holiday a year should not worry. “It certainly isn’t my intention, or the Committee on Climate Change’s, to completely destroy the industry,” he said. “We want to live in a world where people can go on aeroplanes.”

“I have tickets to go to Greece myself at the end of June.”

https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/uk-climate-change-frequent-flier-tax-cop26-targets-972634

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Government inclusion of aviation into carbon budgets heralds the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation

The UK is to become the first major economy to extend its legal ‘net zero’ emissions commitment to departing international flights, including international aviation and shipping in the Sixth Carbon Budget.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said: “This should mark the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation. After many years of slipping the net when it comes to climate change, and expecting special privileges, airlines will now need to start planning for a very different future.  Including international aviation in UK climate law gives a strong message from ministers that all sectors of the UK economy need to be on the same path towards net zero emissions. Now the Government will need to make sure that’s delivered.”  The Government is expected to consult next month on what measures it plans to introduce to put aviation onto a path of cutting CO2. Options it will need to consider include the setting of annual emissions targets for airlines; a review of policy on airport expansions; and new financial measures to limit flying demand such as an air miles tax. So far, the aviation industry has primarily focused on carbon offsetting as a way to attempt to negate carbon emissions – and aspirations for low carbon flight … many years into the future.

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UK to include international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets, and aim for overall UK 78% CO2 cut by 2050

In December 2020 the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its guidance for the UK government on its Sixth Carbon Budget, for the period 2033 – 37, and how to reach net-zero by 2050.  That included the recommendation on aviation that there should be no net airport expansion, and that international aviation and shipping (IAS) should be fully included in the carbon budgets.  Now the government has accepted many of their recommendations, including that the UK should cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. This is 15 years earlier than had been the original goal.  The CCC recommended  that IAS should be properly within carbon budgets; also that the target for aviation, instead of being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 per year by 2050, should be reduced to 23MtCO2 by 2050, following the BNZ (balanced net zero) pathway. There is no commitment yet by government to insist on that reduction.  It would mean a large amount of UK engineered greenhouse gas removals by 2050 having to be assigned to making the aviation sector net-zero.  People would have to pay for the carbon they emit being removed, rather than just “fly-tipped into the atmosphere”, which would make flying more expensive. Ways (taxation?) will be needed to make that fair.

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CAA rules that Heathrow can only raise £300m out of £2.6bn through higher charges, plus another £500 m

Heathrow’s bid to increase airport charges to recover £2.6 billion lost during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by the aviation regulator, the CAA – which said its expenditure had been “disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers”. The CAA is allowing Heathrow to initially raise only an additional £300 million through higher charges, out of the £2.6 billion it asked for. “The CAA has agreed to a limited, early adjustment to HAL’s RAB of £300m and will consider this issue further as part of the next price control (H7)” which starts on 1st January 2022. The CAA has agreed to allow Heathrow to raise charges to recover the £500 million “it incurred efficiently” on its plans for a 3rd runway, between 2017 and 1st March 2020. Heathrow said it faces loses of around £3 billion due to the Covid pandemic.  IAG, which owns British Airways, the largest airline at Heathrow, said it is “extremely disappointed” with the CAA decision, which means more expensive tickets for its consumers from 2022. Heathrow wants concessions by the CAA, though its shareholders have earned nearly £4 billion in dividends in recent years. 
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UK Civil Aviation Authority publishes update on economic regulation of Heathrow Airport Limited

27.4.2021  (The CAA)

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published a package of measures relating to our economic regulation of Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL).

The documents cover:

  • Confirmation of our policy to allow Heathrow to recover the costs it incurred efficiently as part of its expansion programme;
  • The CAA’s latest update on the efficiency of HAL’s capital expenditure during the current price control period (Q6)
  • The CAA’s decision relating to HAL’s request for an increase to its regulatory asset base (RAB) of £2.6bn to account for the losses incurred because of the pandemic. The CAA has agreed to a limited, early adjustment to HAL’s RAB of £300m and will consider this issue further as part of the next price control (H7); and
  • The CAA’s view on some of the key issues it will be considering as part of H7, which will come into effect from January 2022.

Commenting on the CAA’s decision to allow a limited, early adjustment to HAL’s RAB, Paul Smith, Director at the CAA, said:

“Following Heathrow’s request for a RAB adjustment we have taken the decision that an early intervention on the scale of its request is disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers. The other issues raised by Heathrow as part of its request will be dealt with during the next price control review.

We do, however, recognise that these are exceptional circumstances for the airport and there are potential risks to consumers if we take no action in the short term. The decision we have announced today will incentivise and allow Heathrow to maintain investment, service quality and be proactive in supporting any potential surge in consumer demand later this year.”

 


Further details on Heathrow Economic Regulation

The CAA has today set out a package of measures relating to our economic regulation of Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL).

In this, our overriding priority will always be furthering the interests of consumers of the airport. We also recognise that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the aviation sector, including HAL and its airline customers. And there remains a high degree of uncertainty as to how quickly international travel will recover.

RAB adjustment

Due to the effect of the pandemic, HAL requested an adjustment to its Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) of £800m now, and a total of £2.6bn at the end of 2021. This would be recovered through airport charges from 2022.

Following a review of evidence from all stakeholders and consistent with our previous statements, we have decided that an early adjustment of the size of HAL’s request would be disproportionate and not in the interest of consumers. It would also be better to deal with many of the issues raised by HAL during the next H7 price control review

We do, however, recognise that these are exceptional circumstances and there are potential risks to consumers in the short-term

We are therefore allowing a much smaller RAB adjustment of £300m to incentivise HAL to plan effectively, reopen its terminals in a timely way for a summer recovery, and generally invest to benefit its consumers.

In coming to this decision, we have focused on quality of service and investment and also considered the financial position of the notionally efficient company (which is consistent with the approach we use in setting price controls), with a lower assumed level of gearing than the actual company. We are clear that any risks to HAL’s actual financing are a matter for its shareholders, not for consumers to resolve.

We will also consider whether any further RAB adjustment should be made as part of the next price control. But only if it brings long-term benefits to consumers.

H7 way forward

We anticipate the next price control (H7) will run for five years from January 2022.

A key development will be a new traffic or revenue risk sharing mechanism. This would help manage the ongoing uncertainty about future passenger volumes by sharing the risk more equitably between the airport and airlines.

In addition, we propose developing a sharper set of tools to incentivise more efficient capital spending by HAL.

And we have set out our initial views on HAL’s revised business plan (submitted December 2020) for the next control period.  This included proposals to significantly increase airport charges for consumers.  We have said that to allow us and other stakeholders to gain an accurate appraisal of its plan, HAL needs to provide further information in a number of areas, particularly its capital plan.

Early costs and Q6 spending

In our latest update on the efficiency of HAL’s Q6 capital expenditure we have confirmed our decision to allow HAL to recover the costs (c£500m) it spent on its expansion programme, between 2017 and 1 March 2020. Heathrow can start recovering these costs from the beginning of H7 by adding them to its RAB, which will be subject to an efficiency review.

Not doing so would undermine the confidence of investors in the regulatory framework for HAL, and their willingness to invest in providing better services for consumers.

We have also reviewed the efficiency of HAL’s wider capital programme and while we have not found evidence of inefficiency in relation to the bulk of its programme, we have identified problems with a small number of projects. This includes some of the expenditure for Heathrow’s cargo tunnel project, which means it will not be able to recover a proportion of the costs for this project.

https://www.caa.co.uk/News/Economic-regulation-of-Heathrow-Airport-Limited/

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Regulator rejects Heathrow’s bid to raise £2.6bn through higher charges

The Civil Aviation Authority described the request as ‘disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers’.

By Neil Lancefield (The Standard)

27.4.2021

Heathrow’s bid to increase airport charges to recover £2.6 billion lost during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by the aviation regulator.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director Paul Smith described the plan as “disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers”.

It has allowed the west London airport to initially raise only an additional £300 million through higher charges.

Heathrow’s passenger numbers have fallen to the lowest level since the 1960s, with just 461,000 people travelling through the airport in February.   That represents a 92% decline compared with February 2020.

In relation to the additional money Heathrow wants to recover, the CAA said it will “consider this issue further” as part of the airport’s next regulatory period, named H7, which begins on January 1 next year.

Mr Smith insisted the CAA recognises that “these are exceptional circumstances for the airport and there are potential risks to consumers if we take no action in the short term”.

He went on: “The decision we have announced today will incentivise and allow Heathrow to maintain investment, service quality and be proactive in supporting any potential surge in consumer demand later this year.”

Heathrow said it faces loses of around £3 billion due to the virus crisis.

An airport spokeswoman claimed the CAA has “failed to deliver” in its duties “to consumers and to Heathrow’s financeability”.

She said the CAA’s ruling “falls far short” of what is required through “regulatory principles” which enable investors to recover their capital.

She added: “This undermines investor confidence in UK regulated businesses, and puts at risk the Government’s infrastructure agenda.

“The CAA will need to address all the issues related to adjustment fully in the upcoming H7 regulatory settlement to attract the investment needed to maintain service, keep prices lower than they would otherwise be and protect resilience through the recovery.”

The CAA did confirm it will allow the airport to raise charges to recover the £500 million “it incurred efficiently” on its third runway project between 2017 and March 1 2020.

IAG, parent company of British Airways the airline that operates the most flights at the airport, said in a statement that it is “extremely disappointed” with the decision, which will “unfairly penalise consumers”.

It went on: “Heathrow is the most expensive hub airport in the world.

The airport has deliberately rewarded its investors at the expense of consumers and now the regulator is asking passengers to bail it out

“For over seven years, passengers paid Heathrow higher airport charges to cover the risk in the case of lower traffic.

“Meanwhile Heathrow’s shareholders have earned nearly £4 billion in dividends.

“The airport has deliberately rewarded its investors at the expense of consumers and now the regulator is asking passengers to bail it out. The CAA’s role is to protect consumers’ interest, not Heathrow’s shareholders’ profits.  Post-Brexit this makes the UK even less competitive and will drive traffic to other airports.  We’re assessing our options.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/heathrow-civil-aviation-authority-paul-smith-british-airways-london-b931868.html

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See earlier:

Heathrow may be able to persuade the CAA to let it get back some money, in higher charges, due to huge Covid losses

The Civil Aviation Authority has been considering whether to allow Heathrow to increase its airport charges, in order to recoup the £2.8 billion that it says it had lost due to Covid (a few months ago). The CAA had rejected Heathrow’s revised request to hike charges by £2.8bn, labelling it “disproportionate”. But it now concedes that there has been “a further material deterioration in the outlook for the aviation industry” – due to further Covid travel restrictions – since it launched a consultation on the rises in October 2020. CAA director Paul Smith said: “In these exceptional circumstances we are persuaded that there are real issues we need to address to protect Heathrow’s consumers. However, in our view Heathrow’s proposals are not in the best interests of consumers.”  Heathrow has been threatening legal action against the CAA.  The airport already has over £15bn of debts.  The CAA has added two new options, for the H7 period, which starts on 1 January 2022, and will consult on them until 5th March. They are: Package 1 No intervention before H7, but consider interventions at H7  and Package 2 Targeted intervention now and consider further intervention at H7. The largest airline at Heathrow, IAG, has always opposed the CAA allowing higher charges.

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CAA may very soon announce its decision on whether Heathrow can charge £1.7 bn more

The Telegraph believes the CAA may announce this week that it will reject Heathrow’s demand to be allowed to raise £1.7bn in increased future passenger and airline levies. The airport wants to be get back some of its losses caused by the pandemic. But the CAA is expected to confirm the rejection that it consulted on in October – the consultation ended on 5th November.  The CAA said in October that Heathrow had not “demonstrated its request is a proportionate measure” and was seeking further evidence. Heathrow finance chief Javier Echave threatened legal action unless the CAA backed down and accused the regulator of sending a “terrible” message to foreign investors (who have made immense profits out of Heathrow in recent years).  Industry insiders cautioned that the CAA is “playing its cards very close to its chest” over its decision and “could offer concessions to break the deadlock.” Heathrow claims it will have to raise consumer prices, after the immense losses caused by having very few passengers over the past year.

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Heathrow with £17bn debts wants to raise £1.7bn from higher airport charges

Heathrow’s attempt to increase airport charges by £1.7bn sparked anger recently, and were rejected by its regulator, the CAA.  British Airways’ owner IAG said it was “staggered” by the demand, as Heathrow has very rich wealth fund owners, who could help the airport with funding.  Heathrow is claiming they are within their rights to ask for the price rise.  They say their regulatory framework allows it to pass on “exceptional costs” to airlines, and ultimately customers.  Many in the airline industry, which does not want higher costs for its passengers, were surprised and impressed by the CAA decision, against Heathrow.  One said: “In the past, the CAA has rolled over. For once they have shown their teeth.”  Heathrow is immensely in debt, owing banks and bondholder £17 billion. In September, its passenger number was under 20% of its 2019 level.  The cost of its 3rd runway plans (now postponed indefinitely?) could be over £30 billion.  It is estimated that Heathrow needs 43 million annual passengers, just to cover its interest bill of around £500m.  Heathrow at risk of breaching its banking covenants, which when tested in December, will require it to keep debt below 95% of the regulated value of its assets.

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CAA tells Heathrow’s owners to invest more in the company, or risk state takeover

The CAA has warned the foreign funds behind Heathrow that the airport is threatened with nationalisation if they do not inject new money to help it cope with the pandemic.  They said that without emergency funding from shareholders including several sovereign wealth funds, Heathrow faces a similar fate to Railtrack, the former FTSE 100 company that collapsed in 2001 with debts of £3.5billion; then taxpayers took back control of the rail network. The CAA has rejected Heathrow’s demand for permission to increase its airline and passenger charges, and the airport has paid out £4 billion in dividends since 2012.  It has paid £2.1bn in dividends over just the past 4 years.  Heathrow has threatened court action if the CAA does not allow it to set higher charges, which it claims it is entitled to. Heathrow has massive debts, owing over £17 billion to banks and bondholders, but it claims it has enough cash to see it through till 2023. However, it has been handling at best 30% as many passengers in recent months, compared to the same time in 2019.  Shareholders  “need to be fully aware of the projected liabilities of the companies in which they invest and the performance risks they face”. The CAA is now consulting the industry on its proposed rejection of Heathrow’s call for higher charges.

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