General News

Below are links to stories of general interest in relation to aviation and airports.

 

Challenge to Manston airport DCO – barristers from 39 Essex Chambers, and Harrison Grant solicitors

Paul Stinchcombe QC, Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas are instructed by Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant LLP in a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to approve the re-opening of Manston Airport, as a dedicated freight airport. In so deciding, the Secretary of State overturned the recommendation of the Examining Authority [the Planning Inspectorate] to refuse development consent. They act on behalf of Jenny Dawes, a local resident who participated in the examination. Manston Airport has been disused since it was formally closed in 2014. The claim, issued on 19th August, contends that the Secretary of State’s analysis of the need for the development was flawed, and that moreover, the Secretary of State failed to discharge his duty to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline (“Net Zero”), under section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

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Air pollution is likely to increase the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes

Research in 2015 showed that there is a link between air pollution and the development of Type 2 diabetes. [That is the diabetes people generally acquire later in life, that is treated with medication, rather than insulin injection].  The study looked at 102 published studies from various countries. The results stated:  "Air pollution is a leading cause of insulin resistance and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. The association between air pollution and diabetes is stronger for traffic associated pollutants, gaseous, nitrogen dioxide, tobacco smoke and particulate matter." And the conclusions: "Exposure to air pollutants is significantly associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is suggested that, environmental protection officials must take high priority steps to minimize the air pollution, hence to decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus." There is probably more research needed, to establish details, but it appears that there is definite positive link between the two.  So areas with high levels of particulate and NOX air pollution, such as around Heathrow, are likely to see more ill health, including more diabetes.

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Manchester set to close Terminal 2 again from 2nd September – not enough air travel demand

Manchester Airport will close its Terminal 2 from 2nd September, as there is so little air traffic. It had previously reopened in July, along with Terminal 3, after closing in March due to a 'significant fall' in passenger numbers caused by the the coronavirus pandemic. All flights will now operate from Terminal 1 and 3 'until further notice', officials said. More countries are now included in the list, from which returning travellers have to self-isolate for 14 days - which is cutting demand for air travel. 

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Wizz Air wants to expand UK operations with plan for creating a Gatwick base

Low-cost Wizz Air (Hungarian) is to open a new base at Gatwick. It wants the CAA to allow it to obtain more slots from its rival airlines that are not able to use them, due to the Covid pandemic. Wizz plans to launch four new routes from Gatwick by late October as it hopes to get people flying again.  It is using the crisis in air travel as an opportunity to grab market share from less agile competitors with higher costs, that are looking to conserve cash until passenger demand recovers. Air travel within Europe remains very unclear, with the numbers of Covid cases changing rapidly in some countries, and fast changing regulations and restrictions.  Wizz previously operated a limited schedule of flights using Gatwick, but the creation of a base will allow it to operate aircraft and crew from south London permanently for the first time as it shifts resources there. It hopes to get more Gatwick slots, as they become available. Airlines like easyJet and BA are likely to be unable to use many of their slots. Wizz announced in April its plans to cut close to 20% of its workforce and cut the wages of top management, pilots and crew.

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Heathrow “to slash staff pay by up to a third” becoming a “low cost employer”after collapse in air travel 

Heathrow staff are being asked to accept pay cuts of up to 37% and will lose their final salary pension scheme. It will also end paid breaks and allowances, worsen redundancy terms, and refuse to honour a pay rise. The airport wants to slash pay and conditions for its 7,000 workers in a bid to become a low-cost employer, according to union chiefs – an allegation denied by management. Air travel demand is currently low, (88% lower in July 2020 than in July 2019) and not expected to rise much in the short term. The aviation sector cannot afford to pay so many staff, when it has little income. Heathrow said it has been forced to take action now to protect jobs. But the union Unite (which has always been an enthusiastic backer of Heathrow and its expansion plans) has told its members that the airport is acting out of “greed, not need” and said it was using the pandemic as a smokescreen to cut pay and conditions. It added that Heathrow paid £100m in dividends in April. Unite says John Holland-Kaye told unions that he wanted to make the business a “low-cost employer” during a meeting on July 30th. Many staff working around Heathrow are not directly employed by the airport, but associated businesses. There could be over 20,000 job losses in these companies.

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London City Airport to put terminal expansion plan on ice, due to Covid recession

London City Airport has put its plan to quadruple the size of its terminal on ice, as the Covid  pandemic has decimated demand for air travel.  City Airport is shelving £170 million of expansion work, which will mean loss of jobs. But it plans to continue with around £330 million of improvements this year, including eight new aircraft stands and a new parallel taxiway that will allow more arrivals and departures. The airport had been intending to finish the work on the terminal by 2023, and it could then cater for 6.5 million annual passengers. By contrast, in 2019 it had 5.1 million passengers. The airport said the recovery in air travel demand had been slower than expected, and its recovery (if it ever returns to 2019 levels) will take more years than thought earlier. The airport is owned by a consortium of investors including AIMCo, OMERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Wren House Infrastructure Management. 

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Concerns about proposed flight paths in and out of Manston when (if) it reopens for air freight

Development consent was finally granted in July, by the government, for a freight air cargo hub at Manston. The Thanet site is owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) which now has to complete the various stages of the Civil Aviation Authority CAP 1616 process for airspace change. RiverOak is currently on 'stage 2', known as the develop and access gateway.  But CARMA, the Campaign Against the Reopening of Manston Airport, has questioned the lack of transparency of the process so far.  They have drawn particular focus on the planned flight paths, claiming 30 towns and villages will be impacted. There are illustrations of some proposed flight paths, arrivals and departures, in the RSP documents. These show many areas of east Kent being overflown, for the first time.  CARMA is very concerned that these routes have been drawn up, without information for, or consultation with, the public.  Relevant community representatives have not been being properly informed. At the best of times, the CAA flight path alteration process is difficult for laypeople to understand, with "CAP1616 process" and "design options" and "airspace design principles" and "technical and operational interdependencies" among other bits of jargon, which are not written in "plain English."

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T&E: Why Europe should focus on its own airline carbon market and forget the UN scheme

Transport & Environment argues why Europe should not depend on the inadequate, ineffective CORSIA scheme, for its aviation CO2 emissions. CORSIA does not include an actual emissions reduction target. It is at odds with the Paris agreement’s goals. The quality of the offsets is not good enough; there are so many of them that the price is far too low to make airlines reduce emissions.  An EU system could do better.  T&E says: "The aviation geeks of this world will know the argument [that international aviation can only be controlled by ICAO] by heart now: “aviation is an international mode of transport, so it requires international solutions”. But does it, really? A majority of the aviation industry is eager to privilege international solutions when they want to escape their environmental responsibilities, but are very happy to promote national solutions when it comes to getting [Covid] bailout money. This needs to stop. Aviation can’t have it both ways: it’s unfair for the sector to get support in bad times and refuse to contribute to European and national environmental efforts in good times. Especially when the industry isn’t effectively dealing with aviation’s climate problem by itself". 

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Liverpool Airport receives £34m loan from combined authority due to Covid-19 impact

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) is to get a loan of £34m from the city region combined authority to help give it stability during the Covid crisis. The funding was approved at a meeting of the combined authority on Friday, with the airport described as a "vital strategic infrastructure asset for the city region". The Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “International connectivity is essential for the local economy and the roles of international gateways such as ports, airports and cruise terminals as economic hubs and drivers for local economies and tourism need to be maximised."  ie. good to have people flying abroad for their holidays... The airport it indirectly supports around 6,000 local jobs, providing £250m per annum in economic impact, (not counting the contribution to the UK's tourism deficit...)  The 10 Greater Manchester local authorities are also lending £250 million to the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to help then with the Covid pandemic.  This is from money borrowed at a low interest rate from government.

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Covid: Dutch airline KLM to shed up to 5,000 jobs – AND other airline job loss numbers

KLM is cutting up to 5,000 jobs, despite a €3.4 billion bailout from the Dutch government, due to the Covid pandemic. KLM is part of the Air France KLM group. The job cuts over coming months would involve around 1,500 compulsory layoffs from KLM’s current workforce of 33,000. The jobs lost would be up to 300 flight crew, 300 cabin crew, 500 ground staff and around 400 jobs at KLM subsidiaries and in the Air France-KLM group positions. Then there would also be 2,000 voluntary redundancies announced earlier this year, and further cuts would be made through non-renewal of 1,500 temporary contracts. Some 4,500 to 5,000 positions in the KLM Group will cease to exist.  Many other airlines are laying off staff. The numbers are approximately:  Swissport (4,556 jobs).  British Airways (up to 12,000 jobs). Job losses could also occur at IAG’s other airlines, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus.  EasyJet (around 4,500 jobs).  Virgin Atlantic (3,000 jobs).  Ryanair (about 3,000 jobs).  Air France (maybe up to 7,500 jobs). Tui (8,000 jobs).  Lufthansa (22,000 jobs).  Scandinavia Airlines (5,000 jobs).  Boeing (? 16,000 jobs).  Airbus (15,000 jobs). 

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