GMB call on Heathrow to reverse “kick in the teeth” reneging on paying London Living wage from April 2020

Historically the GMB union, which has the most members at Heathrow, have lobbied strongly all along the way for Heathrow expansion. They hope for more jobs. Even better paid ones. But Heathrow has often not done much to help its workers. With a struggle, in 2018, the GMB managed to get Heathrow to agree that contracted workers would be guaranteed London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by April 2020. Now the GMB says workers are devastated to learn that “Heathrow Ltd have informed contract companies within its direct supply chain that is reneging on its agreement to fund implementation of the London Living Wage to its employees that was promised to workers from April 2020 onwards.” GMB says this is unfair.  Heathrow is currently only working (from 6th April) with one runway due to the dramatic decline in air travel due to Covid-19.  The GMB says Heathrow much honour its agreement, to ensure workers (security, cleaning) etc still working at the airport –  employed by outsourced contractors – get the Living Wage from April 2020.  Workers were expecting this rise in their wage packets this April.
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GMB call on Heathrow to reverse “kick in the teeth” reneging on paying London Living wage from April 2020

By London-Post

April 2, 2020

Workers are totally devastated and crushed by being hit with a sledgehammer with this unfair news says GMB London

GMB, the union for aviation workers, is demanding that Heathrow Ltd honour its agreement to fund London Living Wage of £10.75 per hour to its low paid workers at the airport employed by outsourced contractors from April 2020.

This call comes in response to Heathrow Ltd who stated that ” it is a proud London Living Wage employer and champions the Living Wage Foundation’s work in line with their values and commitments.

This is a very important commitment to us, but we understand the financial strain that faces many of our suppliers, Therefore, we have taken the very difficult decision to pause London Living Wage implementation across the supply chain”.

​Perry Phillips, GMB Regional Organiser for Aviation at Heathrow, said:
“GMB has learnt that Heathrow Ltd have informed contract companies within its direct supply chain that is reneging on its agreement to fund implementation of the London Living Wage to its employees that was promised to workers from April 2020 onward.

“This is a huge kick in the teeth for GMB members who continue to work for contracted companies such as ISS terminal cleaning and Mitie security. These are workers who during this time of the coronavirus pandemic have put their lives on the line to provide a safe service to passengers from all over the world. They are now being told that the agreement to be paid the London Living Wage is to be temporary suspended.

“This is both unfair and down right outrageous. Year on year Heathrow has continued to announce record profits and revenue where millions have been paid out to shareholders. Paying workers who live on very low wages should be a priority.

“Workers are totally devastated and crushed by being hit with a sledgehammer with this unfair news.

“GMB members and staff who work for Mitie security and ISS terminal cleaning have continued to work and are still working to ensure that the Airport is clean and safe and have also put their own lives on the line and should be rewarded now with what was promised to them. This still affordable to Heathrow and those companies that are still working and providing a service to the Airport during this coronavirus pandemic.

“I am calling on Heathrow to reconsider its decision to stop the implementation of the London Living Wage rise and to do the right thing by honouring its agreement and pay it to those workers who are expecting it in their wage packets from April 2020.”

https://london-post.co.uk/gmb-call-on-heathrow-to-reverse-kick-in-the-teeth-reneging-on-paying-london-living-wage-from-april-2020/

and

https://www.gmblondon.org.uk/news/gmb-calls-on-heathrow-to-make-airlines-and-indirect-contractors-pay-london-living-wage.html   on 4th March 2020

and

https://www.gmblondon.org.uk/news/gmb-welcome-news-heathrow-to-pay-all-contracted-staff-london-living-wage

and

https://www.caasint.com/15091-2/

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See earlier:

Mass Heathrow demo to call for living wage

25 Apr 2019

Article By GMB Union    @GMB_union
press.office@gmb.org.uk

Hundreds are set to join a mass protest at Heathrow to call for airport bosses to pay all 90,000 workers a wage they can live on.

The ‘flying pickets’ demonstration, featuring live music and dancing, takes place as follows:

April 27, 2019, from 10.30am to 14.30pm  Capital Place, 120 Bath Road, Heathrow UB3

Following GMB’s long-running campaign, last year, Heathrow announced all contracted staff working at the airport would be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020.

Now GMB is urging the airport to make sure all staff – including contractors – are paid at least the London Living Wage (Currently £10:55 per hour)

2018 was the busiest year in Heathrow’s history, bringing in £3 billion revenue and 80.1m passengers.

Perry Phillips, GMB Regional Organiser, said:

“GMB is demanding the London Living Wage for all Heathrow workers.

“We call on Heathrow to honour its commitments and ensure that not only directly employed staff, but also the thousands of workers in the airport’s supply chain are paid a wage they can live on.  Contractors at the airport are not signing up to Heathrow’s commitment, meaning workers and their families are still suffering as a result of being paid a poverty wage.

“Heathrow is thriving, but that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational.

“They need to share in Heathrow’s success.”

https://www.gmb.org.uk/news/mass-heathrow-demo-call-living-wage

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See earlier:

 

Heathrow’s shareholders get £500m as profits rise (including income of £126m from car parking)

IAG, the owner of British Airways, is angry that Heathrow has paid out  £500 million in dividends to its foreign investors while charging its airline customers more. IAG says the dividend payments – now totalling £3.5 billion since 2012 – make Heathrow more costly for airline passengers (so slightly deterring them from flying perhaps). Heathrow said “It is right that our shareholders receive returns in record years and it will ensure we expand whilst keeping airport charges close to 2016 levels.” Heathrow’s top shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore’s GIC and the China Investment Corporation. Its largest single investor is Spain’s Ferrovial. The only UK shareholder is the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with a 10% stake.  Heathrow’s figures out last week show revenue growth of 3% to £2.97 billion in 2018 with 80.1 million passengers (up 2.7% from 78 million).  Car parking income was £126 million (up 5% from £120 million in 2017). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017). Total retail income was £716 million (up 8.6% from £659 million in 2017). Heathrow paid £70 million (2017: £53 million) in corporation tax. Out of £2,970 million total revenue. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/03/38904/

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and

How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government March 9, 2019

9th March 2019

UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow’s foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore – with only 10% by the USS being British – .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” …”The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments… The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.”  Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to  corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/03/how-heathrow-has-been-getting-away-with-paying-so-little-tax-to-the-uk-government/

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Karl Turner asks: Where next for the UK’s airport policy?

On 27th February 2020 the Court of Appeal declared the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to be illegal as the Government had not taken into consideration their commitments on climate under the Paris Agreement. So unless Heathrow succeeds in appealing to the Supreme Court, or Shapps amends the ANPS, Heathrow expansion is unlikely to happen. Expansion at Heathrow would have had a negative impact on the regions of the UK.  The forthcoming Aviation White Paper [Aviation Strategy] provides the opportunity for Government to have a rethink about its entire aviation policy, particularly with regard to any future airport expansion. At the very most, UK aviation could expand by 25% on its 2018 level. But the current government projections are for 73% expansion by 2050, with various entirely speculative technologies that do not exist, or would be prohibitively expensive, removing the carbon.  Alternative fuels are not going to happen on any scale. The government must avoid financial measures that boost aviation demand or support failing airline businesses, which cannot be justified in light of the climate crisis. 

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On 27 February 2020 the Court of Appeal declared the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to be illegal as the Government had not taken into consideration their commitments on climate under the Paris Agreement.

The Court ruling means that the Government must either withdraw the ANPS or seek to amend it. This has never been done before so the Government will be breaking new ground and I know I’m not the only one concerned at the amount of discretion that is given to the Secretary of State [Grant Shapps] in this process – though at least Mr Grayling is no longer in office.

Expansion at Heathrow would have had a negative impact on the regions of the UK. According to a recent report by the New Economics Foundation which analysed DfT data, by 2050 as many as 27,000 jobs and £43bn in GDP growth would be displaced from the regions to London and the South East.

This ruling and the forthcoming Aviation White Paper [Aviation Strategy] provide the opportunity for the Government to have a rethink about its entire aviation policy, particularly with regard to any future airport expansion.

The Committee on Climate Change have recommended that the Government can only permit 25% growth in aviation by 2050 if we are to meet our climate targets. However, this will still require a faster reduction in carbon emissions in other sectors of the economy. [At least 90% CO2 cuts on 1990 levels, while aviation is allowed to more than double theirs]. 

The DfT published last week its Transport Decarbonistion strategy which revealed that UK aviation emissions in 2018 were at an all-time high, a total of 38.5MtCO2. The strategy seeks to enable passenger growth of 73% with emissions remaining roughly the same in 2050 as today. This will be done through technological solutions that either do not yet exist or will not be commercially viable within the timeframe required.

The aviation industry’s own plans show very little progress in the next five years which will forcing larger carbon reductions on other sectors of the economy which will have a particularly negative impact on those regions with large manufacturing sectors.   In 2010 the aviation industry pledged to source 10% of fuels from sustainable sources in 2020. Yet by 2018, the industry had managed to source a grand total of 0.002%.

This cannot be left to the market to solve. The idea that we can carry on as normal contradicts all the evidence showing that we must act now to protect our climate. The Government should take this opportunity to put people and planet before profit by including international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets as soon as possible.  [Currently they are not in the 5 yearly carbon budgets, but just “taken account of”].

Government is considering a flat carbon tax, yet this is regressive and would hurt the poorest in society the hardest as well as having a disproportionate impact on the regions outside of London and the South East.  In my view it is vital that this if any growth in aviation is to be permitted then it has to be distributed evenly around the regions and nations of the UK.

Covid-19

The Government are rightly focused on responding to the coronavirus crisis. However, any financial support for the aviation industry must be targeted at workers and not shareholders.

There is not a strong case for aviation to get preferential treatment. The only special consideration that is credible should be on providing the goods and services that the population use and need every day.  If this means that the Government has to take a financial stake in an airline or airport to ensure that our aviation infrastructure remains intact to deliver the goods that our NHS requires then that is a price worth paying many times over.

Any Government support for the aviation industry should also be conditional on a strong commitment to future operations taking place in line with our environmental commitments. Financial measures that appear designed to boost aviation demand or support failing businesses simply cannot be justified in light of the climate crisis. 

https://www.karlturnermp.org.uk/2020/04/02/where-next-for-airport-policy/

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Gatwick Airport will consolidate operations into the South Terminal from 1 April and limit runway opening hours

Gatwick will close its North Terminal and consolidate operations into the South Terminal from 1 April, for a month, due to the lack of demand for air travel because of COVID-19. The runway to be in use between 1400 and 2200 for scheduled flights, but will be available for emergency landings and diversions only, outside these hours. The situation will be reviewed after a month, by 1st May.  A decision on reopening the North Terminal will be taken when airline traffic eventually increases and Government public health advice – including on social distancing – is relaxed. Gatwick is hoping to make out that it is being “responsible” in closing, to protect the health of its staff and passengers, while it has been quite happy to have as many flights as it can, to and from other countries suffering high levels of Covid-19 infection, up until now.  It is only closing because of the economics, and to “protect its business.”  In addition London City Airport has announced that it was suspending all commercial and private flights until the end of April. It is also possible that Birmingham Airport could serve as a mortuary during the Coronavirus crisis.
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Gatwick Airport will consolidate operations into the South Terminal from 1 April and limit runway opening hours

27.3.2020 (Gatwick Press release)

Gatwick Airport will consolidate operations into the South Terminal from 1 April and limit to protect staff, passengers and the business from the impact of COVID-19 

Runway to be in use between 1400 and 2200 for scheduled flights, and remains available for emergency landings and diversions only outside these hours.

Measures to be in place from 1st April for one month, with the situation kept under regular review

The severe and unparalleled impact of COVID-19 on the global aviation sector has led Gatwick to make the difficult decision to consolidate passenger processing and facilities into the airport’s South Terminal and to limit scheduled flights on its runway to between 1400 and 2200, with effect from 1 April 2020.

As a responsible business, the airport has made this decision to protect the health and safety of passengers and staff, and to shield the business following a dramatic fall in airline traffic.

The airport’s operations will be consolidated into the South Terminal and the runway will remain open for emergency landings and diversions only outside these hours.

The temporary closure of the North Terminal will last a minimum of one month and the situation will be kept under regular review. A decision taken on reopening the North Terminal when airline traffic increases and Government public health advice – including on social distancing – is relaxed.

The decision to scale back the airport’s operations has been discussed with the airport’s airline partners and any passengers booked on flights due to depart or arrive at Gatwick during this period are advised to contact their airline.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport, said: “Gatwick is a resilient but also responsible business and during these extraordinary times we need to take unprecedented measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and passengers, while also shielding the business from the impact of Coronavirus.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my staff for their continuing hard work through this difficult time and to reassure them that we are taking these difficult decisions now, so that we are in a position to recover quickly and get back to generating jobs and economic benefits for the region and wider economy well into the future.

“During these extraordinary times, we have also seen remarkable acts of kindness and community spirit in support of people who may need some additional help. To add to this, we will also be providing some opportunities so that any of our staff, who have time during this period of reduced operations, that choose to, can help support people in our local communities.”

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Gatwick Airport to scale back operations from April as demand collapses due to coronavirus

By REBECCA SPEARE-COLE  (The Evening Standard)

Gatwick Airport has announced it will reduce its operations from next month as travel demand collapses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The West Sussex hub said it will close its North Terminal – one of its two terminals – from April 1.

From then, its runway will also only open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm.

The measures will be in place for a minimum of one month.

Many flights are now set to be cancelled as operations are scaled back, the airport added.

It comes as the global aviation industry suffers devastating losses while countries enforce travel bans and restrictions amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The UK Foreign Office has issued a travel warning advising Brits to avoid all but essential travel to any country for 30 days.

The Government has also imposed strict lockdown rules for at least three weeks, like ordering Brits to self-isolate at home, and have rolled out harsh penalties for those who break them.

Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick is a resilient but also responsible business and during these extraordinary times we need to take unprecedented measures to protect the health and well-being of our staff and passengers, while also shielding the business from the impact of coronavirus.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my staff for their continuing hard work through this difficult time and to reassure them that we are taking these difficult decisions now, so that we are in a position to recover quickly and get back to generating jobs and economic benefits for the region and wider economy well into the future.”

Gatwick is the UK’s second busiest airport, recording 47 million passengers last year.

Its runway will remain available for emergency landings and diversions outside the new opening hours.

Airlines have suspended the majority of their flights due to demand plummeting and countries around the world introducing travel restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

London City Airport announced on Wednesday that it was suspending all commercial and private flights from that night.

Flights to and from the east London hub will be suspended from this evening until the end of April.

From next week, Southend Airport will only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4.30pm and 9.30pm.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/gatwick-airport-coronavirus-scale-back-operations-april-a4400036.html

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Fresh indication that the government is not intending to support Heathrow expansion

The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe the Government has given its clearest hint yet that it will not support Heathrow expansion. In reply to a question put by Slough MP Tan Dhesi, the aviation minister, Kelly Tolhurst said that “The Court of Appeal has ruled that the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement has no legal effect unless and until this Government carries out a review”. The fresh use of the word “unless” implies consideration has been given to drop the project altogether.  The DfT also state that they are focussed on responding to Covid-19 at the moment, which presents further evidence that Heathrow expansion has slipped down the agenda. The Government also say that they “are carefully considering the Court of Appeal’s judgment and will set out our next steps in due course”. However, it is unclear how long is meant by “due course”. Heathrow is struggling, with few passengers, probably having to close one or more terminals, due to restrictions on air travel for an unknown period of time, due to Covid-19. A recent review of senior staff at Heathrow shows no longer a role for overseeing expansion. Heathrow now also appear not to be pushing for the “early release” of 25,000 extra flights, as this would depend on the NPS, which has now been deemed to be invalid, by the courts.
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FRESH SIGN GOVERNMENT WON’T EXPAND HEATHROW

26.3.2020   (No 3rd Runway Coalition)

The Government has given its clearest hint yet that it will not support Heathrow expansion.

In reply to a question put by Slough MP Tan Dhesi, the Government state that “The Court of Appeal has ruled that the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement has no legal effect unless and until this Government carries out a review” (1).

The fresh use of the word “unless” implies consideration has been given to drop the project altogether.

The Department for Transport also state that they are focussed on responding to Covid-19 at the moment, which presents further evidence that Heathrow expansion has slipped down the agenda since the judgment on 27 February.

The Government say that they “are carefully considering the Court of Appeal’s judgment and will set out our next steps in due course”. However, it is unclear how long is meant by “due course” (2).

This news comes as the project has been dealt a huge blow, with the airport itself placing it under “deep freeze” and undertaking a review of the most senior roles at the airport, with no role for overseeing expansion (3).

Measures that Heathrow have taken since the Court of Appeal judgment include scrapping the proposal to bring in 25,000 more flights per year before any new runway opened (4). They described this as the “early release” of capacity of the 3rd runway (5). As the Airports National Policy Statement is now unlawful, Heathrow cannot seek permission for the release of the extra flights.

If Heathrow were to bring a fresh application forward for these additional 25,000 flights, it would be decided by the local authority – Hillingdon Council – who was one of the claimants in the legal challenge and are against any expansion of Heathrow.

Other measure include:

Entire expansion project put on hold, into a “deep freeze”
No fresh consultation on airport’s Masterplan
Shareholders want costs controlled given new political risk of the project

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:

“In light of all circumstances, it seems right that the Government is unenthusiastic about resuscitating the Airports National Policy Statement. For as well as being ruled unlawful by the courts, it has become increasingly clear that the full facts about the deleterious air quality, noise, carbon and regional consequences of Heathrow expansion had not been presented to MPs, when it was subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. And even Heathrow’s investors are now expressing cold feet about the project.

Moreover, it’s most welcome that Heathrow has now announced that it won’t proceed with its other plan, for an 25,000 extra flights in advance of a third runway – the prospect of which had been causing such alarm in the airport’s hinterlands. Because our communities are not only saying “No” no a third runway at Heathrow, but “No” to any expansion of flight volumes from what is, statistically, already the world’s most disruptive airport”.

ENDS.

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Notes:

  1. Parliamentary Questions, number 32187, Written Answers, 24 March 2020 https://members.parliament.uk/member/4638/writtenquestions#expand-1186505

2. Parliamentary Questions, number 32188, Written Answers, 24 March 2020 https://members.parliament.uk/member/4638/writtenquestions#expand-1186505

3. John Holland-Kaye, blog to Heathrow staff, 17 March 2020. For full blog, please get in touch.

4. Email sent to members of Board of Airlines Representatives in the UK, 3 March 2020. For more info, please get in touch.

5. BACKGROUND INFO: Currently, Heathrow can’t land two planes on parallel runways at the same time. In order to allow a plane to land on the ‘wrong’ runway, the gap between planes landing on the other runway has to be extended. The introduction of Independent Parallel Approaches (IPA) is an attempt to get around this. The granting of an additional 25,000 flights would have required planning permission from the Planning Inspectorate in order to lift the 480,000 Air Traffic Movement Cap imposed in the Terminal 5 Inquiry. The introduction of IPA would also have required approval for the airspace changes from the CAA. It is not possible to add the 25,000 extra flights without introducing IPA as there is not the flexibility within current landing procedures to land that many extra planes safely on a 2-runway airport.

For more information, contact:

Rob Barnstone on 07806947050 or rob@no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk

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Chancellor tells airlines that the government will not bail them out, due to Covid-19 crisis

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has written to the airlines and airports, warning that there would be no sector-wide rescue to prevent companies going out of business because of coronavirus. He insisted that further taxpayer support for the sector would only be possible once they had “exhausted other options” including raising money from shareholders, investors and banks. Companies have been told to access funding already announced last week, including monthly payments of up to £2,500 for every employee temporarily laid off because of the crisis. In his letter he said that airlines and airports could only seek “bespoke” support from the Treasury as a “last resort”, with no guarantee of further help. The comments follow criticism levelled at Easyjet after it paid shareholders £174 million in dividends last week, despite appealing for taxpayer support. Sir Richard Branson, has also been attacked after the airline told staff to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave. He has since promised to invest £215 million to support his Virgin Group business. Many airlines may go bankrupt due to the virus crisis. Some of the smaller airports may close, and larger airports partly close temporarily.
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Don’t expect us to bail you out, Rishi Sunak tells airlines

By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent 

Ben Clatworthy, Assistant Travel Editor | Charlotte Wace

Tuesday March 24 2020 (The Times)

Airports may have to close temporarily after the government ruled out a comprehensive state bailout for the aviation industry, ministers were told today.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, wrote to the airlines and airports this afternoon, warning that there would be no sector-wide rescue to prevent companies going out of business because of coronavirus.

In a letter seen by The Times, Mr Sunak insisted that the aviation industry was “vital” to the nation’s economic recovery and to rescue Britons stuck overseas.

However, he said that further taxpayer support for the sector would only be possible once they had “exhausted other options” including raising money from shareholders, investors and banks. Companies have been told to access funding already announced last week, including monthly payments of up to £2,500 for every employee temporarily laid off because of the crisis.

In his letter he said that airlines and airports could only seek “bespoke” support from the Treasury as a “last resort”, with no guarantee of further help.

The comments follow criticism levelled at Easyjet after it paid shareholders £174 million in dividends last week, despite appealing for taxpayer support.

Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire owner of Virgin Atlantic, has also been attacked after the airline told staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave. He has since promised to invest £215 million to support his Virgin Group business.

It is believed that the lack of a deal may also be linked to significant disparities between individual airlines and the fact that many are foreign owned. International Airlines Group – parent company of British Airways – is registered in Spain and its biggest shareholder is Qatar Airways.

Hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers face being trapped overseas as airlines have begun grounding their fleets.

Ryanair confirmed that it expected that most of its flights would now be cancelled until the end of May as growing number of countries imposed lockdowns and restricted the movement of people. It would maintain a “very small number of flights to maintain essential connectivity, mostly between the UK and Ireland”.
However, the chancellor’s comments dismayed industry leaders, who accused the government of performing a U-turn on funding for the sector a week after the chancellor floated the suggestion of targeted financial cash to help keep planes in the skies.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) warned that airlines in Europe would be worst hit by the global decline in travel prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. It said that European airlines were expecting an average 46 per cent drop in income this year compared with 2019.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said that passenger numbers at some UK airports were “approaching close to zero” and a number were already considering “shutting down for a period of time” after a collapse in income.

Airports are maintaining operations as hubs for air freight, bases for search-and-rescue operations and to provide links to the offshore oil and gas industry.

However, Karen Dee, the AOA chief executive, said that “all of that is now put at risk by the government’s decision”.

She added: “While countries across Europe have recognised the vital role airports play and are stepping into the breach, the UK government’s decision to take a case-by-case approach with dozens of UK airports is simply not feasible to provide the support necessary in the coming days.

“Not only does the decision today leave airports struggling to provide critical services, it will hamper the UK recovery . . . We urge the government to reconsider and at the very least provide a comprehensive package of support for airports and ground-based services, to ensure the UK’s critical aviation infrastructure is ready to take off once the Covid-19 pandemic recedes.”

The chancellor’s letter to airports and airlines said that the “priority for all companies should now be to reassess their cashflow positions in light of last Friday’s announcement” of support for all sectors of the economy.

Mr Sunak wrote: “Given the significant importance of the aviation sector to our economy and economic recovery, the government is prepared to enter negotiations with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted other options. However, further taxpayer support would only be possible if all commercial avenues have been fully explored, including raising further capital from existing investors and discussing arrangements with financial stakeholders.

“Terms would be structured to protect taxpayer interest, and the government would expect to have regard to factors including but not limited to whether the business makes a material contribution to the economic activity of the UK.”

Any shutdown of airports is likely to jeopardise the mission to repatriate Britons from destinations around the world.

On Monday Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, ordered British citizens overseas to return immediately amid fears most commercial air travel would cease. It remains unclear exactly how many Britons are overseas, although the government has said the number could be anywhere from 300,000 to a million.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/dont-expect-us-to-bail-you-out-rishi-sunak-tells-airlines-ckpb07kmm#main-container

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Coronavirus: No extra help for airlines, chancellor says

24.3.2020  (BBC)

The UK chancellor has told airlines to find other forms of funding and not turn first to the government for help getting through the coronavirus crisis.

Demand for tickets has collapsed forcing companies to ground aircraft.

Aviation bosses have been lobbying the government for a targeted aid package to stop firms going under as a result of the slump in demand.

But in a letter on Tuesday Rishi Sunak said the government would only step in as “a last resort”.

Mr Sunak instead urged airlines to try and raise money from shareholders.

‘Apocalypse’

He said the government would only enter into negotiations with individual airlines once they had “exhausted other options”.

But industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned of an “apocalypse” in the aviation sector as it called on governments around the world for help.
The group said annual worldwide revenues from ticket sales would fall by $252bn (£215bn) if travel bans remain in place for three months, a drop of 44% compared to last year.

“Travel restrictions and evaporating demand mean that, aside from cargo, there is almost no passenger business,” IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac, said.

“There is a small and shrinking window for governments to provide a lifeline of financial support to prevent a liquidity crisis from shuttering the industry.”

Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair and EasyJet have all grounded most of their fleets, while BA-owner IAG has cut capacity by 75% and Norwegian Air has cancelled thousands of flights.

This has also affected airports, which have cut hundreds of jobs across the UK since coronavirus arrived in the country.

Karen Dee, who runs the Airport Operators Association (AOA), said the aviation industry was “surprised” by Mr Sunak’s decision and will have to “fight on its own to protect its workforce and its future”.

“While countries across Europe have recognised the vital role airports play and are stepping into the breach, the UK government’s decision to take a case-by-case approach with dozens of UK airports is simply not feasible to provide the support necessary in the coming days,” she said.

“Not only does the decision today leave airports struggling to provide critical services, it will hamper the UK recovery.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52027342#

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Rishi Sunak is right: airlines should ask their own shareholders for a bailout before they tap up the Treasury for public money.

The chancellor’s stance can be considered a U-turn since he seemed only last week to be ready to regard aviation as a special case. But a lot can happen in a few days and, in the interim, Sunak unveiled his flagship “furlough” scheme to keep workers in jobs by paying 80% of wages, up to £2,500 a month. That’s a huge help for all service industries, airlines included. It ought to be enough for now.

It will also have dawned on the Treasury that major UK operators can withstand a fair amount of temporary financial pain. EasyJet and IAG, owner of British Airways, have boasted about the size of their cash balances and the depth of their credit facilities. Fine, let them use those resources.

Indeed, easyJet gave a perfectly-timed illustration of its riches when it distributed a £171m dividend to its shareholders, including £60m for founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou in Monaco, last week. Those same investors are free to recapitalise their airline should the need arise.

IAG and easyJet, thankfully, seemed to have absorbed the message and are not asking for bespoke deals or bail-outs. Instead, the difficulty for Sunak will come when he’s presented with pleas from weaker airlines and regional airports.

He can only promise pragmatism. It would be hard, for example, to mount an argument for saving a weak airline that couldn’t make profits in the pre-coronavirus age. There would, though, be a decent case for saving regional airports to boost economic recovery, as long as terms were good for taxpayers. But that’s getting ahead of events. In the meantime, the simple message is correct: shareholders and owners need to look out for their own interests.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2020/mar/24/the-uk-airline-industry-doesnt-need-treasury-bailouts

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Heathrow expansion frozen, with Coronavirus crisis adding further costs, uncertainties and delay

Heathrow contractors have been told to down tools, with work put ‘on hold’ until there is further clarity on any plan for a 3rd runway.  It is unlikely to make any progress during the Covid-19 recession, when the number of people flying has been cut to just tiny numbers, and the situation likely to last for at least several months.  This comes after the Court of Appeal ruling (27th February) that the Airports NPS is illegal; Heathrow is trying to appeal against this, to the Supreme Court, with a decision on whether to allow the appeal by mid April.  Now the delays to the runway plans, if it ever happens, have increased by perhaps another year – due to the Coronavirus. The date when it might be ready has slipped from 2026, to 2029 (due to the CAA decision) to about 2030 (due to the Appeal Court) to about 2031 (due to Coronavirus)…. so it is looking less and less likely. The airport will lose huge amounts of money, due to the virus, unless government bails it out – and that is widely NOT seen as a sensible use of government funds, when millions of people also need financial help, due to Covid-19. 
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Heathrow expansion ‘frozen’ with hundreds of jobs at risk

Contractors have been told to down tools, with work put ‘on hold’ until there is further clarity

By Oliver Gill
14 March 2020 (Telegraph)

There are fears that the building of the third runway at Heathrow will slip off the public agenda during a coronavirus recession

Heathrow’s controversial expansion is in “deep freeze” with hundreds of jobs at risk amid industry fears that the building of the third runway will slip off the public agenda during a coronavirus recession.

Airlines have been warned that Heathrow is facing a series of hurdles that, at best, require an additional delay of “at least” one or two years and will require costs to be “slashed” in the meantime, according to an internal correspondence from a major trade body.

An email from the Board of Airline Representatives to its members read: “Heathrow expansion is now in the deep freeze until the Government comes forward with when, how, or if it intends to revise the [policy documents] required for Heathrow.

“Given the date for a third runway had already been pushed back to late 2028 or early 2029, then we are now looking at 2030 and beyond should the Government proceed.”

Heathrow has played down a High Court ruling blocking its expansion last month despite. A spokesman for the airport insisted that the judges’ verdict, which ruled the Government’s decision to give the scheme the go-ahead, was unlawful and “an eminently fixable issue”.

The Government has decided not to appeal the ruling, leaving the airport to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Hundreds of workers have been hired to lay the foundations to Heathrow’s extension, which has already cost the airport hundreds of millions of pounds.  [Surely rather foolish of Heathrow, to be so presumptuous. They were well aware of the Court of Appeal process, so were unwise to assume they could start work, well even before the start of the Development Control (DCO) order process.  AW comment]

In the email contractors have been told to down tools, with work put “on hold” until there is further clarity on the project’s future.

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, made no reference to Heathrow during a speech at the Airport Operators Association annual dinner last week, causing speculation that it is was no longer a key priority for ministers.

The Prime Minster once pledged to “lie down in front of the bulldozers” to prevent the building of Heathrow’s third runway.

A Heathrow spokesman for Heathrow said: “The High Court ruling has meant there will be a delay in realising the benefits of Heathrow expansion until the Government remedies an eminently fixable issue.

“Failure to fix it rules out airport growth anywhere in the country and casts doubt on other infrastructure projects, including roads and housing pledges made by the Government.

“Heathrow has already taken a lead in getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to Net Zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement and we are ready to work with the Government to help deliver their agenda to level up the country and deliver a Global Britain.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/03/14/heathrow-expansion-frozenwith-hundreds-jobs-risk/

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Heathrow CEO forgoes pay amid coronavirus crisis

John Holland-Kaye and his executive team will forfeit part of their salaries as the crisis deepens, Sky News learns.

By Mark Kleinman – City editor
@MarkKleinmanSky

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Heathrow Airport’s boss is to forgo his salary for the next three months as Britain’s busiest passenger hub tries to navigate the crisis which threatens to bring the global aviation industry to its knees.

Sky News has learnt that John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, is to work without pay until June – the latest in a string of aviation bosses who have agreed to cut or waive salaries as the coronavirus hammers air travel.

The move means that Mr Holland-Kaye will not receive more than £185,000 of his £751,000 annual basic pay.

A source close to Heathrow confirmed the move on Monday, adding that Mr Holland-Kaye’s senior executive team had agreed to forfeit a month’s salary.

Mr Holland-Kaye’s gesture has emerged days after Heathrow reported a near-5% fall in passenger traffic in February.

Steeper year-on-year falls are anticipated this month, as an increasing number of governments ban inbound international flights and airlines ground vast proportions of their fleets in response.

Heathrow, which has also implemented a recruitment freeze during the crisis, has agreed to waive parking fees to allow airlines to hold grounded aircraft at the airport for the duration of the crisis.

On Monday, Britain’s biggest carriers all announced steep capacity and job cuts as they face their gravest crisis for years – or, according to many analysts, the most serious in the industry’s history.

British Airways is expected to make public details of flight cuts and a first wave of redundancies as soon as Monday afternoon, according to insiders.

Its parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), told the London Stock Exchange that it would reduce capacity in April and May by 75%, and reduce other operating expenses.

The company added, however, that its balance sheet boasted total liquidity of more than €9bn, placing it among the world’s financially strongest airline groups.

Rival Virgin Atlantic announced that it would ground 80% of its flights before the end of the month, and that staff would be asked to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave.

BA and Virgin depend to a significant extent on their transatlantic traffic, meaning that many of their routes will be inoperable until after the US lifts the travel embargo from the UK that comes into effect on Tuesday.

Sky News revealed at the weekend that Peter Norris, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ majority shareholder, Virgin Group, was writing to the prime minister to warn that the airline industry needs immediate financial aid to survive.

Insiders said Mr Norris’s letter – which is also understood to be being signed by Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive – would ask the government to provide airlines with a credit facility to help them finance themselves through a potentially protracted period of negligible revenue.

That support, which the Virgin chairman estimates would be worth between £5bn and £7.5bn across the industry, would include cash advances and guarantees, as well as other measures to ensure that credit card companies do not continue to hoard revenue from airline bookings.

Under Mr Norris’s blueprint, this emergency financing would be repaid once trading returns to more normal levels.

One source close to the airline, which was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984, said that Mr Norris would also ask the PM to extend the timetable for allowing airlines to keep planes grounded without losing their prized take-off and landing slots for the entire summer season.

The latter request is significant because it reflects the growing belief among aviation bosses that the sector may not begin to stage a recovery until the autumn.

If those fears are realised, it will have a substantial impact on Heathrow’s revenues, with the airport also facing a reduction in turnover from the shops and restaurants which trade there.

EasyJet and Ryanair also announced big capacity cuts on Monday, with the latter indicating that its entire fleet is on the verge of being grounded.

https://news.sky.com/story/heathrow-ceo-foregos-pay-amid-coronavirus-crisis-11958253

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Airlines write to ask for government help as passengers no longer travel by air, due to Covid-19

As with so many other sectors and businesses in the UK and elsewhere, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing great difficulties to airports and airlines. Having speeded the spread of the disease round the world, airlines are now seeing a massive reduction in the numbers of people who want to fly. Governments are telling people not to travel. Planes are empty. Airports are empty. Many airlines do not have more than 2 or 3 months of reserves and are asking for government money to bail them out. Airports want help too, as do most other sectors. Whether giving money to airports (eg. Heathrow and Gatwick, owned by rich foreign companies) is a sensible use of scarce public funds, is another matter. Now Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have warned that they may have to close down operations unless there is government intervention to help them weather the virus crisis (that might last for many months more).  The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said other airports are in the same position. IATA has said only about 30 of more than 700 airlines operating commercial flights around the world were likely to survive the next few months without help.
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UK airports warn they may close unless government intervenes

Joint letter to PM says hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk because of Covid-19

By Transport correspondent   @GwynTopham

Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have warned that they may have to close down operations unless there is government intervention to help them weather the coronavirus crisis.

The call came as the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said about only 30 of more than 700 airlines operating commercial flights around the world were likely to survive the next few months without help.

The three UK airports signed a joint letter to the prime minister warning that they may “have to close passenger facilities and halt operations” and that hundreds of thousands of jobs were “instantly at real risk”. Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, employs 70,000 people directly.

The UK-based Airport Operators Association (AOA) also said on Tuesday that other airports could go out of business within weeks, and called for the immediate suspension of taxes and business rates as well as the provision emergency financing, as passenger traffic through airports has plummeted. The call came before the UK government advised against all non-essential foreign travel.

European members of the Airports Council International (ACI) wrote to ministers to request a continent-wide response to the crisis, noting that EU, UK and EEA airports have had 100 million fewer passengers than expected in 2020.

In Italy, where measures to combat the outbreak were initiated within Europe, passenger traffic is down by 90%, ACI said. Across the continent, numbers were 54% lower last week (9-15 March), after a 24% drop the previous week, with the situation rapidly escalating.

The AOA chief executive, Karen Dee, said: “Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt. As some airlines call on the UK government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

Dee said airports were taking immediate and drastic action to cut costs but the government would need to provide additional support through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief.

London Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, announced on Tuesday it would cut 200 temporary jobs, end night flights and cut executive pay, as part of a package of measures to protect the business. Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, warned that “other serious measures are likely”.

Wingate said: “Gatwick is a resilient business, but the world has changed dramatically in recent weeks and we have been forced to take rapid, decisive action to ensure that the airport is in a strong position to recover from a significant fall in passenger numbers.”

After the US banned visitors from the UK and travel restrictions were put in place in Europe and beyond, Gatwick had just 238 flights scheduled to depart on Tuesday, about a third of its peak capacity.

On Monday, MAG, the owner of Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said it would be taking measures including reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary layoffs. Its chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said the government needed to help the industry to “make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over”.

ACI Europe said Europe’s airports had lost €2bn (£1.8bn) in revenue for the first quarter, even before factoring in the Schengen entry ban, and losses would deepen in the coming months.

It said some had closed terminals and would shut down all operations, “bracing for a near total collapse of their traffic, connectivity and revenues”.

With many big airlines preparing to ground most of their fleets, Iata warned that most carriers were in danger of bankruptcy.

Its chief economist, Brian Pearce, said: “The top 30 airlines have reduced their debts – but the vast majority still have high levels of debt, which means there are fixed obligations even in the absence of revenues.

“Some 75% of airlines we looked at had less than three months of cash to pay fixed costs … the median had two months of cash at start of year.”

Those reserves were largely spent, Pearce indicated, and travel restrictions were expected to last at least until the end of May.

A separate report from the Centre for Aviation says most airlines could go bankrupt by May. Iata’s director general, Alexandre de Juniac, said that “it was logical” to infer that conclusion.

De Juniac said a large amount of cargo capacity in the belly of passenger planes would also be lost – space typically used for high-value goods as well as fruit and vegetables. Grounding flights would also mean “less critical availability for medical equipment, medical staff or technical people to fight the virus”.

He urged “strong and swift” action from governments, adding: “We realise airlines are not the only sector impacted … But if we want this crisis to come to an end fast and quickly from an economic standpoint, the need for a strong airline sector to provide the resources to transport business people, goods and tourists is absolutely critical.”

Less than two weeks ago Iata said in its worst-case scenario, airlines would lose $113bn (£93bn) in revenues in 2020. Pearce said: “We’re already there and beyond … they are clearly worse than this.”

At the start of the year, Iata had forecast an aggregate $29.3bn global profit for airlines this year. Asked to update, Pearce said: “At the moment we’re concerned that large parts of the industry might not be there.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/coronavirus-uk-airports-warn-may-have-to-close-unless-government-intervenes

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See also

UK’s biggest airports ask for help as possible closure looms

Reuters
March 17, 2020  (Business Financial Post)

‘The magnitude is breathtaking’: China’s coronavirus slowdown much worse than feared, boding ill for Canada and global economy

LONDON — Britain’s biggest airports including Heathrow and Gatwick have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask that any government support for the aviation industry should include help for airports, which they said could have to shut completely.

The government is expected to unveil a rescue package later on Tuesday for businesses like airlines and pubs which are threatened with collapse by the coronavirus outbreak.

A group of airport chiefs said in a letter to Johnson that their businesses were being severely impacted by the lack of flights and that jobs could be lost. They asked to be included in any aviation sector support and for a meeting with the transport minister.

“We may have to close passenger facilities and halt operations,” the group said.

“We would therefore ask you to make the needs of Britain’s airports a top government priority at this time and make clear your commitment to supporting the aviation industry.”

The letter was signed by the CEO and chairman of Heathrow, Britain and Europe’s busiest airport, as well as the CEO and chairmen of Gatwick, Britain’s no.2 airport, and Manchester, its no.3 airport, as well as industry body the AOA.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison)

https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/uks-biggest-airports-ask-for-help-as-possible-closure-looms

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Coronavirus updates: Stansted Airport staff to be temporarily laid-off and have pay cut after fall in passenger numbers

16.3.2020

By 

Harry Gold  Trainee Multimedia Reporter (Cambridgeshire Live)

 

The CEO of MAG called the outbreak ‘the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced’

Stansted Airport is set to introduce a series of emergency measures including ‘temporary lay-offs’ as the coronavirus crisis hits air travel.

In a statement released today (Monday March 16), Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive Officer of MAG, owners of London Stansted Airport, said the coronavirus outbreak had led to a ‘rapid and unprecedented reduction in travel.’

As a result, he said, airports across the UK are currently seeing much lower passenger numbers.

While peak demand is expected to return after the outbreak passes, the immediate downturn in demand has required the airport to take emergency action.

Mr Cornish said: “Over the next few days we will be consulting with our colleagues and unions and introducing measures to reduce our costs and preserve the Group’s resources at this critical time.

“These will include enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs. Our Executive team is taking a pay cut with immediate effect and we have frozen recruitment and paused capital expenditure.

“These are difficult decisions for MAG and they have not been taken lightly. We recognise the impact they will have on our people and we will be consulting with our colleagues.

“Our aim will always be to protect jobs wherever possible, and we need to take these steps now to ensure the company’s future.

“It is too early to predict with any accuracy the long-term effects of this crisis. We are seeing many of our airlines and supply chain partners make similar announcements and we are doing what we need to do in the face of an unpredictable and fast-moving situation.

He also called the outbreak ‘the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced,’ calling on the government to take decisive action to ‘make clear its support’ for the industry.

He said: “The UK depends on air travel to supports its economy. The Government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and make further announcements on MAG’s operations as the COVID-19 situation develops.”

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/local-news/stansted-airport-emergency-lay-off-17935168

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Coronavirus: Airport staff face temporary lay-offs and pay cuts

16 March 2020
(BBC)

New measures will be introduced to reduce costs, Manchester Airports Group says

Staff at three airports in England face temporary lay-offs and pay cuts amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) will consult with workers and unions over new measures to reduce costs.

“Our aim will always be to protect jobs wherever possible, and we need to take these steps now to ensure the company’s future,” said Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer at MAG.

The group operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports.

Staff may have to take enforced annual leave and work reduced hours under the new plans.

The executive team will take a pay cut with immediate effect and the company has frozen recruitment and paused capital expenditure.

Mr Cornish said the the Covid-19 outbreak “has led to a rapid and unprecedented reduction in demand for air travel”.

“This temporary and dramatic downturn requires us to act now to protect our position at this critical time.”

Mr Cornish called on the government “to take decisive action now to make clear its total and unwavering support for airports, airlines and other travel companies”.

“The UK depends on air travel to supports its economy,” he said.

“The government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.”

Boris Johnson has said people in the UK should avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others to curb coronavirus, as the country’s death toll hit 55.

The prime minister said people should work from home where possible as part of a range of stringent new measures.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-51918833

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Manston DCO decision postponed to May – but would be the first since the Appeal Court ruling on climate impact

Though it has not had much publicity outside east Kent, the application to turn Manston  (which has been closed as an airport since May 2014) into a freight airport could be an important case. It was the first airport to have to take its plans through the DCO (Development Consent Order) process, dependant on the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). Manston is a crazy place to have a freight airport, being at the north eastern tip of Kent, miles from anywhere. It always failed as an airport in the past, largely due to its location. The Heathrow runway has been blocked by the Court of Appeal, which ruled (27th March)  the ANPS is illegal, as it did not take carbon emissions into account properly. That has implications for Manston’s plans. Already before the Court judgment, the Manston DCO had been delayed from 18th January, to 18th May.  The initial DCO application had nothing on carbon emissions. Something was finally added, because of pressure from local campaigners. Now lawyers say the decision about Manston’s DCO could have implications for other airport DCOs in future including Gatwick and Luton, as well as Heathrow.
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HIDING IN PLANE SIGHT – MANSTON: THE AIRPORT EXPANSION STORY NO-ONE IS TALKING ABOUT … AND WHY, PERHAPS, THEY SHOULD

By Emma Montlake (Environmental Law Foundation, ELF)

11.3.2020

While Heathrow Airport Ltd ponders its next move in light of the historic judgment of 27 February 2020, the first big test of the Government’s resolve as regards airport expansion in light of the Paris Agreement – and NetZero – is already deep into its final stages. A decision is due on the UK’s first ever airport Development Consent Order (DCO) on 18 May 2020.

This follows an announcement earlier this year – with very little fanfare – from the Department for Transport of a delay in the Development Consent Order (DCO) decision on Manston Airport, with plans to turn the current lorry park and former airfield into a new dedicated air cargo hub.

As this is the UK’s first ever airport DCO – the process which the Planning Act 2008 sets out for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) – decisions made for the Manston DCO could have implications for other airport NSIPs to follow, including Gatwick, Luton and – yes – Heathrow.

Response from the media and even airport expansion and environmental campaigners has been muted.  In a list of 21 airport expansion schemes around the UK highlighted by Extinction Rebellion’s call-to-action on Twitter, posted 48 hours after the DfT announcement, the plans to develop Manston were completely ignored and not included in the list. Nor was it featured in Carbon Brief’s recent study of UK airports currently seeking to expand.

This is as surprising as it is concerning – and not just for the locals who have fought an extraordinary campaign against the developer’s proposals. Buried at number 22 of the 30 issues where the Secretary of State is seeking further clarification before deciding on the Manston DCO, there’s the small matter of climate change. Specifically, whether the carbon emissions contribution from the airport development – proposed somewhat fancifully as “Nationally Significant” – might impact on the UK’s commitment to meet Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Crucially, when the High Court initially found in favour of the Government against campaigners who launched a judicial review of the Airports National Policy Statement and Heathrow’s third runway on climate change grounds, paragraph 648 of the May 2019 judgment ruled that “at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up-to-date scientific position”. The February 2020 Court of Appeal judgment does not change this – in fact, it asserts at para 275 that “it is incumbent on the Government to approach the decision-making in accordance with the law at each stage”, (our emphasis), “not only in the current review of the ANPS or at a future development consent stage”.

Whilst there is much to celebrate in the Court of Appeal judgment of 27 February, the conclusion of the Lords Justice was very clear at para 285 that “we have not decided, and could not decide, that there could be no third runway at Heathrow”.

In essence, the recent judgment has removed – pending review – policy support for Heathrow, but DCO applications will still continue. In this respect, the DCO examination process remains our last line of defence, (judicial reviews on the Secretary of State’s DCO decisions notwithstanding).

As the UK’s first ever proposed airport development to go through the DCO examination process, Manston is the first time the government’s resolve will have been tested post-Heathrow judgment and on the “up-to-date scientific position” of the NetZero report, published a little over mid-way through the six month examination. Which makes the lack of attention from environmental groups and media alike all the more surprising, especially given the latest ruling and impact this may have on airport expansion schemes across the UK – including any prospective Heathrow DCO application.

Bizarrely, when the UK Planning Inspectorate set out the list of Principal Issues to be examined in the Manston DCO during the Preliminary Hearing in January last year, climate change did not even make the list, with the Examining Authority claiming it would instead “conduct all aspects of the Examination with these objectives in mind”. Only the intervention of local campaigners during that hearing ensured climate change was added as a Principal Issue in its own right, with the necessary weight and focus that this entails.

The Manston DCO applicant, Riveroak Strategic Partners, (RSP), was represented in the latter stages of the DCO hearings by the same QC who represented Heathrow Airports Ltd during its two most recent judicial review hearings. And that set alarm bells ringing in our heads that, perhaps, there may be a bigger game at stake here, especially with the approach the Applicant took on the climate change issue during those DCO hearings.

Seeking, perhaps, to avoid any further discussion or investigation of the issue, the argument was put forward that “Government explained during those [Heathrow] judicial reviews its decision and those grounds of challenge to the Airports National Policy Statement failed,” adding that “it’s not the function of this examination … to re-examine Government policy”.

Essentially, the Applicant appeared to be arguing that the climate change issue as it relates to aviation emissions had already been set down by Government, decided in the original Heathrow judgment of May 2019 and needed no further examination during the DCO hearings. Needless to say, the exact opposite approach was taken during the recent Heathrow Court of Appeal case, with the February 2020 judgment reporting at para 275 the Heathrow argument that:

“… it is unnecessary and inappropriate to grant a remedy in these proceedings because policy in the ANPS requires the applicant for development consent to provide evidence of the carbon impact of the project “such that it can be assessed against the Government’s carbon obligations” .

So how was the carbon impact and assessed against the Government’s carbon obligations during the first airport DCO? In the entire examination, only four written questions were asked by the Examining Authority specifically on the Principal Issue of climate change. Every single one of them was related to the proposed development’s approach to climate change adaptation. In other words, how the developers proposed mitigating against the impact of climate change on the airport rather than the other way around. A further written question was asked under the General and Cross Topic heading, specifically relating to energy consumption and dependency on road surface access. At no point were any questions asked relating to aviation emissions during the Examination – until the Secretary of State’s most recent question in January this year.

The lack of attention on Manston is perhaps hardly surprising from Government. On the one hand, there’s the fact that the DfT has spent millions converting the Manston site into a lorry park for Operation Brock/Stack and may not want to draw attention to the idea of now turning it back into an airport. On the other, the DfT’s often preferred airport consultants, York Aviation, submitted reams of evidence during the DCO process questioning the credibility of the applicant, the strength of their need case and the viability of their proposals. In response to the Secretary of State for Transport’s recent call for Comments and Further Information in its follow-up Consultation, York Aviation again confirmed its reports from 2013 and 2015 “do not, as was made clear in our subsequent reports, support the case for a new dedicated freight airport in Kent”.

Coming so soon after FlyBe, this has all the hallmarks of, at best, another regional airport bail-out waiting to happen and, at worst, Grant Shapps’ very own Seabourne Freight fiasco in the sky, (Skyborne Freight?).

But as the DfT comes under criticism in yet another legal challenge for a culture that has been “highly resistant to openness and transparency”, it must be said that this is not the issue here. The DCO process, for all its flaws, is predicated on these principles, with every single one of the record-breaking 1,997 documents submitted and 648 pages of questions asked made publicly available on the UK Planning Inspectorate website, along with high quality recordings of every single hearing.

Yet openness and transparency are meaningless where there is an almost total lack of external scrutiny. So far, this has been the case here from anyone other than the 2,000+ local individuals and organisations who fed into the DCO process. That’s ten times higher than the national average for any DCO – and the second highest ever – but the weighty voices of the larger national campaign groups and NGOs are not amongst them, save for the local branch of the CPRE.

Tempting though it may be to write this off as yet more evidence that the Applicant’s vision for Manston isn’t nearly as “nationally significant” as they claim it to be, there is a real danger lurking.

If the Manston DCO is refused – as it most surely must be – it will be because the Applicant has failed to present a credible case. Amongst the many issues – besides the climate change/NetZero question – the Applicant provided no credible evidence of financial backing or previous airport development or operational experience, the airport site has poor surface access and previous attempts to operate commercial services – including freight – from previous incarnations of Manston Airport ended in repeated failure and closure of the site in 2014. Since then, numerous industry experts have repeatedly made clear that there is no need for a new dedicated freight airport in this corner of Kent.

This being the case, if a DCO application this wanting is granted, it will be because we just weren’t paying enough attention and let this one slip through.

This could set a dangerous precedent for all the other airport DCOs to follow – including Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton – and the environmental groups who seek to set limits on exponential airport expansion.

Having made contact with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), the significant issues around the proposed development and reopening of Manston Airport – and their potential impact on other airport DCOs to follow – are now being brought further into light through the very much-welcome and vital support of the organisation. With the DCO decision deadline extended until 18 May, following the Secretary of State for Transport’s recent call for Comments and Further Information on a range of matters – including climate change – the ELF sought and submitted a legal opinion on this issue on behalf of local campaigners, which has now been included within their own submissions. (See ELF submission here, from page 4-20).

The importance of this is made clear at paragraph 42 of the ELF submission, which notes:

“…this is the first DCO process for an airport expansion, and will be likely to be followed by others. As such, this approach to the assessment of climate change will provide an invokable precedent” (emphasis added).

While the cost of the Manston DCO will be all too visible, breathable, smellable and audible in the historic town of Ramsgate – with 40,000 residents sitting directly under the flight path just over a mile from the runway and with overflying planes at a maximum altitude of 700 feet – the wider threat of rampant airport expansion, new airports and the environmental impact on us all is hiding in plane sight.

https://elflaw.org/news/hiding-in-plane-sight-manston-the-airport-expansion-story-no-one-is-talking-about-and-why-perhaps-they-should/

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Delay till May for Shapps to decide whether to allow Manston Development Consent Order (“DCO”)

The decision by the DfT on whether to re-open Manston as an airport again for air cargo has been delayed for four months. It had been expected on 18th January.  The airport has been closed since 2014. RiverOak Strategic Partners, the consortium behind the scheme, had applied for the airport to be considered as a nationally significant infrastructure project. Having had 3 months to digest the Planning Inspectorates’ report, the DfT now want more information from RiverOak by 31 January. The Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps has set a new deadline of 18 May 2020 for the decision to be made. The Aviation Strategy is expected before summer recess, with the DfT consultation on climate imminent, so the DfT are giving themselves until May to avoid shooting themselves in the foot on carbon, as they did with Flybe.  RiverOak are trying to argue that Manston could be successful on cargo, as “the air freight market is ripe for an alternative to the overcrowded London airports system”. Some people in the area are hoping Manston could provide jobs; others are deeply concerned about the noise from old freighter aircraft during the night, flying over residential areas (the approach path is right over Ramsgate).

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Manston airport decision before long, after Planning Inspectorate sends recommendation to Grant Shapps

Government planners, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) , have made their decision on whether a bid to reopen Manston Airport as a cargo hub should be backed. The recommendations have been sent to Transport Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps, who  has 3 months to decide whether to grant planning permission to site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO). The decision is made the SoS because the airport re-opening is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which is not decided by a local authority. It the SoS approves the plans, the owners RSP will probably use the airport primarily for air cargo.  In July Stone Hill, the site’s previous owners, agreed to sell the land to RSP for £16.5m, instead of their plan to build up to 3,700 homes on it.  The tonnage of air freight has risen by only 11% in the UK in the past 10 years, with most going through Heathrow. But RSP says “there has been continuing growth in the air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and … e-fulfillment…”  Manston re-opening will be strenuously opposed by local people, largely to noise over Ramsgate, from old, noisy freighters, often at night.

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Manston airport has another possible chance to take cargo planes in future

Manston, once named as Kent International, was shut down four years ago. Plans to turn it into a cargo airport will be subjected to a public inquiry.  An application to upgrade the airfield and reopen it primarily as a cargo airport was accepted by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.  Its ambitions to be a cargo airport come from the days when it was touted as a viable alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted when, for a time, it traded under the name Kent International Airport. It was used by old, noisy and often clapped-out planes, that caused serious noise nuisance to residents of Ramsgate, where houses are situated on the approach path, almost up to the airport – and planes flew at night. The plans put forward by Riveroak Strategic Partners, Manston’s proposed operator, must first be subjected to a public inquiry in which local people can express their views. Cargo could perhaps be transferred onto the road system, from the airport. But its location, so far out to the north east of Kent, is far from ideal for any sort of airport.  In 2012, Flybe and KLM launched services from Manston in the mistaken belief that it could be a passenger airport.

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London City Airport backs down on key expansion proposals – like removing the 24 hour weekend flight ban period

London City Airport has dropped its controversial plans to get rid of the 24 hour weekend break from the planes (Sat 12.30pm to Sun 12.30pm), and also to operate more early morning and late evening flights. It told its Consultative Committee on 6th March that it would not be proceeding with these two key proposals it had outlined in its draft Master Plan which it consulted in earlier this year. Campaigners have worked very hard for this, and are delighted. The airport may still want ultimately to seek to lift the current annual cap on flight numbers, the other main proposal outlined in the draft Master Plan, but did not expect to do so any time soon.  London City intends to publish its final Master Plan before the end of the month but has no immediate plans to put in a planning application for more flights. London City’s expansion plans had generated record levels of opposition from local authorities and communities impacted by the airport.  The Mayor of London also came out in opposition. London City also told the Consultative Committee that it is continuing the process of reviewing its controversial flight paths as part of the wider airspace changes across London and the SE over the coming years.

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London City Airport told its Consultative Committee this week that it will drop the proposals that were in its draft Master Plan to end the 24 hour weekend break (no planes between 12.30pm Saturday – 12.30pm Sunday) and those to bring in more early morning and late evening flights.  It looks as if it will postpone submitting a planning application to lift the cap on the number of flights allowed to use the airport each year.

Full details will emerge when it publishes its final Master Plan later this month.

Many local campaigners put so much time, effort and indeed money into campaigning against the expansion proposals.  The Hacan East campaign will, of course, continue until all the expansion proposals are off the agenda.

Review of Concentrated Flight Paths

London City also told the Consultative Committee that it is continuing the process of reviewing its controversial flight paths as part of the wider airspace changes that will be coming in at all airports in London and the SE over the coming years.

As part of the review London City will be looking at the option of multiple flights paths so that all the flights do not go over the same communities all the time.  We should know more about its thinking later this year, with full public consultation to follow next year.

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The London City Airport MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION.

 

HACAN East’s postcard campaign got people to sign up to agree: 

 

I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban.

I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights.

I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights.

I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion.

Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.



See earlier:

 

Sadiq Khan attacks London City Airport expansion plans – “unfettered growth is not an option”

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously.  The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel – not business – and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035.  It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year.  The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of “net zero emissions by 2050 “does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.

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Tower Hamlets Mayor’s letter to London City Airport consultation, opposing changes that will negatively impact residents

The Mayor Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has sent a letter to the London City Airport consultation, to express his concerns about the airport’s expansion plans. This is in addition to the more detailed response sent by the council itself. Mr Biggs says: …”the negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from aircraft needs to be tightly regulated and we believe lower thresholds for disturbance need to put in place. …  To protect residents from noise disruption LCA must retain the current 24 hour closure of the airport at weekends between 12.30pm Saturday – 12.30pm Sunday to provide respite for our residents from the noise. To limit the level of disturbance caused to our residents the restrictions on early morning, late night and weekend flights should also be retained,  …In Tower Hamlets we have declared a climate emergency and 40% of our residents live in areas with unacceptable levels of air quality. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions from airport operations.”  See the full letter.

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Extinction Rebellion protests at London City Airport, to highlight the threat of its higher CO2

As part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, as well as in around 60 cities around the world, London City Airport was a target for action.  The intention to disrupt the airport, the plans were announced well beforehand. Many XR people got into the airport, causing disruption in a non-violent manner.  A smartly dressed man, who had bought a flight ticket for an Aer Lingus flight, got onto his plane and then refused to sit down. He “walked down the aisle, delivering a lecture on climate change”; this caused about two hours delay to the flight. Another, a Paralympic cycling medallist James Brown, who is visually impaired, also had a ticket for an Amsterdam flights, but when approaching the plane door, instead climbed onto the roof of the BA plane  About 50 arrests were made at the airport, including those who had blocking the airport entrance or glued themselves to the terminal floor. There were delays to some flights.  The airport was chosen for the action because of the glaring incompatibility of the government’s legally-binding commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050, with expanding the aviation sector. Many of the flights from London City are leisure, (skiing, city breaks, beach holidays, etc) not for business.

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Redbridge councillors agree to oppose ‘detrimental’ London City Airport expansion plans

Redbridge Councillors have agreed to oppose  (43 : 10) London City Airport’s expansion plans and express serious concern about the “detrimental effect” of noise and air pollution on the health and wellbeing of Redbridge residents.  Proposing the motion, Councillor Sheila Bain and Councillor John Howard spoke about the “profound noise and environmental impact” the proposals will have on residents, particularly those living directly under the flight paths. The motion also asked councillors to note a lack of evidence to support the claims that noise pollution, air quality and emissions will not be affected and the lack of adequate consultation by London City Airport with residents affected by the proposals, most of whom are unaware of the consultation taking place.  Councillor Paul Donovan said: “City Airport needs to think again, listen to what people are saying and realise that whilst they may need to make more money, that the environment, health and welfare of those of us living below these flight paths is more important.”

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Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”

Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport’s consultation on expansion with more daily flights – until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport’s Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation “fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information” in a letter to the airport’s chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the “omitted technical details”. “The significance of the mayor’s move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport,” said Hacan East chairman John Stewart.  Newham Council which declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport’s plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth – pollution from aircraft – would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.

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HACAN East new major campaign against London City’s expansion plans, asking people to fill in postcard responses to the consultation.

HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City’s expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City.  HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say: I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban. I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights. I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion. Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.

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Southampton, Exeter, Newquay and Belfast City are the main regional airports likely to have their demand cut by loss of Flybe

The collapse of Flybe, which lost money year after year even when given repeated cash injections, puts the jobs of around 2,000 staff at risk. Almost 1,000 staff are based at Flybe’s Exeter headquarters.  Other jobs in the supply chain, in several regions, will also be at risk.  It will have considerable impacts on many regional airports, for which Flybe was one of the main airlines. About 95% of the flights using Southampton airport were Flybe. (Southampton is planning to get its runway, currently 1,723 metres in length, extended by 170 metres, to get in more larger planes and more traffic).  The airline industry – and still the UK government  – are keen to insist we need “regional connectivity” by air.  In reality, in a carbon-constrained world, many journeys that do not involve crossing sea, can be done by rail, coach or even by road, with much lower carbon emissions. Other airports that will be seriously affected by the loss of Flybe are Exeter and Newquay, where Flybe operated the majority of flights.  Belfast  City Airport had about 80% of its flights by Flybe.  Blue Islands, the Flybe franchise partner operates flights linking the Channel Islands with Bristol, London City and Southampton, said it was continuing its flights.
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Flybe: Southampton Airport reacts after regional airline goes into administration amid ‘additional’ coronavirus pressure

SOUTHAMPTON Airport said it faces a ‘tough day’ after Flybe announced it had gone into administration overnight.

By Byron Melton  (The News. Portsmouth)
Thursday, 5th March 2020,

The regional airline is the largest in the UK and is responsible for 95 per cent of flights at the Hampshire airport.

Southampton Airport’s live departures board shows just eight flights will leave the site between now and midday, with 13 cancelled.

Responding to Flybe going into administration, Southampton Airport’s managing director, Neil Garwood, said: ‘Today is a tough day for Southampton Airport and for all regions across the UK.

‘At this time our focus is on our people and our passengers, and especially the Flybe staff who have been part of the airport family for many years.

‘We will be taking stock of where we are in the coming days, and working hard to find alternatives for passengers and connectivity for the people across our region.

‘Demand for flying remains and regional connectivity is more important than ever.

‘The budget next week is a chance for the government to show leadership by abolishing air passenger duty tax and showing visible support for regional aviation in this country.’

Talks of scrapping the tax, which would cost Flybe £106m for three years, took place in January when fears of Flybe’s downfall spiked.

Passengers pay around £26 in the duty for return domestic flights.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps and then businesses secretary Andrea Leadsom said two months ago time they were ‘delighted’ to have arrived at a plan to keep Flybe operating.

But the company’s roster of more than 2,000 staff were sent an email by CEO Mark Anderson today saying it went into administration.

He also said coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, had played a role by putting ‘additional’ pressure on the airline in its darkest hour.

https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/flybe-southampton-airport-reacts-after-regional-airline-goes-administration-amid-additional-coronavirus-pressure-2072555

The departure board at Belfast Airport: Flybe's collapse will affect many regional airports.
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Tragic Flybe collapse threatens ‘domino effect’ on regional jobs, union says

Thousands of people are employed by the airline

4.3.2020   (Devon Live)

Up to 2,000 direct jobs hang in the balance after the collapse of Flybe.

The airline’s tragic collapse threatens a further 1,400 jobs in the supply chain, GMB analysis has revealed.

The Exeter-based airline announced in the early hours of Thursday it had ceased trading with immediate effect and that administrators had been appointed.

Crisis talks were held throughout Wednesday to try to secure a rescue package, but no deal was agreed.

In a statement, chief executive Mark Anderson said the company had made “every possible attempt” to avoid collapse but had been “unable to overcome significant funding challenges”.

The administration not only affects direct Flybe staff, but GMB members working for Swissport provide ground services for Flybe at Liverpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh and Jersey airports.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: “These unfolding developments are a tragedy not only for Flybe’s loyal workforce, but a domino effect now puts 1,400 jobs in the wider supply chain at immediate risk and threatens the future of vital regional airports.”

“The last thing regions crying out for investment need is to see infrastructure that maintains good jobs ripped away.”

“We need the Government to urgently step in and save jobs wherever possible. The damage to already fragile local economies must be minimised.”

Tragic Flybe collapse threatens ‘domino effect’ on regional jobs, union says
Thousands of people are employed by the airline

Up to 2,000 direct jobs hang in the balance after the collapse of Flybe.

The airline’s tragic collapse threatens a further 1,400 jobs in the supply chain, GMB analysis has revealed.

The Exeter-based airline announced in the early hours of Thursday it had ceased trading with immediate effect and that administrators had been appointed.

Crisis talks were held throughout Wednesday to try to secure a rescue package, but no deal was agreed.

In a statement, chief executive Mark Anderson said the company had made “every possible attempt” to avoid collapse but had been “unable to overcome significant funding challenges”.

The administration not only affects direct Flybe staff, but GMB members working for Swissport provide ground services for Flybe at Liverpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh and Jersey airports.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: “These unfolding developments are a tragedy not only for Flybe’s loyal workforce, but a domino effect now puts 1,400 jobs in the wider supply chain at immediate risk and threatens the future of vital regional airports.”

“The last thing regions crying out for investment need is to see infrastructure that maintains good jobs ripped away.”

“We need the Government to urgently step in and save jobs wherever possible. The damage to already fragile local economies must be minimised.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/jobs/tragic-flybe-collapse-threatens-domino-3916613

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Flybe collapses with thousands of Exeter jobs at risk

It comes after months of financial trouble for the Exeter-based airline

4.3.2020  (Devon Live)

Exeter-based airline has entered administration with thousands of jobs at risk.

The struggling airline was saved from collapse earlier this year but has been unable to obtain the £100m loan it needed from the Government.

Flybe operates the majority of flights from Exeter and Newquay airport – along with most of the internal flights across the UK.

An email sent out by CEO Mark Anderson to staff early on Thursday morning, seen by DevonLive, said Flybe will be going into administration imminently.

It read: “It’s with enormous sadness and a deep feeling of sorrow that I share the upsetting news that Flybe is shortly being put into Administration. Despite every effort, we now have no alternative – having failed to find a feasible solution to allow us to keep trading.”

Adding: “I do appreciate how distressing this news is and the shock and numbness that you will be feeling.

“Despite your hard work, commitment and some amazing results which we have delivered, and have been achieving up to the last day of operation – particularly for our customers who depend on us across the country, we have come to the end of the road. While our shareholders and the Leadership Team have worked with the Government and key suppliers to try to get the funding and support needed, this has not materialised.

“The coronavirus has impacted both our shareholders and ourselves and has put additional pressure on an already difficult situation. I am very sorry that we have not been able to secure the funding needed to continue to deliver our turnaround plan. Although I have only had the honour of being your CEO for 8 months, it’s been an incredible privilege to lead such an amazing team of people and the Flybe family.

“I could not have asked for more – your unwavering commitment, support and resilience to deliver for our customers has been truly inspiring. I am just so sorry that we have not been able to see this through. I feel so proud of you and want to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you the very best for the future.”

The regional carrier has been hit by a slump in bookings since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The collapse of the Exeter-based airline will threaten thousands of jobs and the future of a number of regional airports, including Exeter. Almost 1,000 are based at Flybe’s Exeter headquarters.

A series of issues have also affected the airline’s finances, including rising fuel costs, falling demand, competition from road, rail and other airlines, plus a weakening of the pound.

Flybe ceasing to operate is likely to have a significant impact on the region’s economy.

It is is a long-term sponsor with Exeter City, and started supporting the club back in 2003 and this year it extended its shirt sponsorship deal until 2020 making it one of the longest running in the Football League at 17 consecutive seasons.

It was bought by a consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital in February 2019, but has continued to make losses.

The airline’s website went down at 10.30pm on Wednesday and staff were seen packing up tools at Exeter airport.

Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw described the news as a huge blow to those who work for Flybe locally and across the county.

“My thoughts are first with the workers and their families,” he said.

“It is also with those who rely on the flights for work or who have booked holidays with Flybe.

“Serious questions have to be asked of this Government.”

The Labour MP questioned the Government’s handling of the situation and why reforms of Air Passenger Duty hadn’t been made sooner.

“The whole thing makes a mockery of Boris Johnson’s mantra to level up regional connectivity,” he added.

“If there is no one to step in, this doesn’t only hurt Exeter but could go on to threat regional airports across the country.”

Simon Jupp, the new Tory MP for East Devon, where Flybe’s base is said on Twitter: “My thoughts are with the hard-working Flybe staff at Exeter Airport at this difficult time. I will do everything possible to support them. The govt offered to help secure the future of the airline and I’m deeply disappointed by the decision taken by Flybe’s shareholders.”

He added: “It is essential other operators now come forward to take over routes from Exeter Airport to secure jobs and lifeline transport links for our region.”

Blue Islands, The Flybe franchise partner operates flights linking the Channel Islands with Bristol, London City and Southampton, has issued the following statement on tonight’s news:

“Blue Islands services will continue to operate, following the closure of Flybe. Passengers with bookings for travel on Blue Islands operated services are advised to check-in on time at the airport.”

The collapse will be the fourth notable failure of a UK airline in less than four years.

On Wednesday evening Devon Live reported how a plane bound for Exeter Airport was left on the tarmac at Manchester Airport.

One of those on board the plane left sat on the runway at Manchester Airport was Phil Hoult.

Phil, who lives in Exeter, said at the time: “I’m stuck on a plane at Manchester Airport. The captain has told us we won’t be flying anywhere and I think we’re going to be kicked out with nowhere to go.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/flybe-collapses-thousands-exeter-jobs-3916009

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The reality is that many domestic flight are just for the leisure convenience of people who like to travel a lot.

West Dorset MP Chris Loder said he was “very sorry about the inevitable job losses” and said South West would be greatly impacted by the airline’s collaspe.

“Exeter Airport is crucially important to the South West, a region that in so many ways has been left to trail behind the rest of the UK when it comes to transport links.

“It is vital to those working and living in West Dorset and neighbouring East Devon, enabling them to travel onwards to domestic and European destinations, whether on business or pleasure.”

https://www.itv.com/news/2020-03-05/government-attacked-amid-flybe-fallout/


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Almost 2,000 people sign petition against Southampton Airport expansion plans

About 1,900 people have signed a petition opposing the expansion of Southampton Airport. The local opposition campaign, Airport eXpansion Opposition (AXO), will be asking Southampton Councillors not to back plans to extend the airport’s runway by 164 metres.  AXO members will present the petition to councillors at a full council meeting. The plans to extend the runway and increase the number of flights will increase carbon emissions, and are contrary to the council’s plans to cut CO2 locally.  The airport will submit its expansion planning application to Eastleigh Borough Council. AXO said that if Southampton is serious about declaring a climate emergency, the airport expansion should not be permitted. Airports and their backers try to use the argument that it is better for people to fly (as they assume people will continue to do, in growing numbers….) from a local airport, citing the carbon emissions of their trip to/from another larger airport. Those emissions are generally small compared to those of the flight itself. And the aim of having a local airport is to get people to fly more, as it is more convenient.  Net effect – more flights, more carbon. And more noise and local impacts around the airport.

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