Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport



Theconstructionindex Online - 13 March 2018

The planned second phase of Stansted Airport's transformation programme involves construction of a new Arrivals building to sit alongside the existing terminal building, in keeping with the Norman Foster design. The current terminal will be reconfigured to form a Departures only facility. Landside and airside civil engineering works are also required.

The airport plans to let the new Arrivals and reconfigured Departures buildings as separate lots. The Arrivals lot is estimated at 120m to 150m in value. For this lot, the anticipated call for competition, to be through the Achilles UVDB System, is expected in the second quarter of 2018.

The Departures lot is approximately 180m to 230m in value. The anticipated call for competition is an OJEU process with contract notice expected in Q4 2018.

The 34,000m2 Arrivals facility, designed by architect Pascall & Watson, secured planning permission in April 2017. The supplier engagement day on 13th April 2018 will provide an overview of the schemes and an opportunity to ask questions. If you would like to attend, email DD-STP_Procurement@stanstedairport.com by 26th March.


Yves Herman - Reuters - 7 March 2018

RyanAir is threatening to ground planes after Britain leaves the EU to persuade voters to "rethink" Brexit. Chief Executive Michael O'Leary wants Britons to realize "they are no longer going to have cheap holidays".

"I think it's in our interests - not for a long period of time - that the aircraft are grounded. It's only when you get to that stage when you're going to persuade the average British voter that you were lied to in the entire Brexit debate," O'Leary - a vocal Remainer - told an audience of airline leaders in Brussels.

"You were promised you could leave the EU and everything would stay the same. The reality is you can leave the EU. Yes, that's your choice. But everything will fundamentally change," he said, according to the Press Association.

The Dublin-based carrier's boss warned there would be a "real crisis" as flights between the UK and the EU are disrupted after Brexit. "When you begin to realize that you're no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy, you've got to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland as your only holiday options, maybe we'll begin to rethink the whole Brexit debate."

Carsten Spohr, the boss of German carrier Lufthansa, who was on stage alongside O'Leary, backed the threat. "In theory, if we could use this industry to prove to the British how wrong the decision was, that might be a good thing," he said.

The single market for aviation, created in the 1990s, means there are no commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU.

O'Leary has repeatedly warned that airlines will be forced to cancel post-Brexit services from March 2019 if no agreement is reached in the Brexit negotiations by September, because schedules are planned about six months in advance.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in January that he is confident flights will not be grounded because "it's in the interests of everyone" to maintain the open market for aviation.


Aef Online - 7 March 2018

In the final few weeks of the Transport Committee's scrutiny of the Government's proposals for Heathrow expansion, Transport Minister Chris Grayling has written to the committee admitting that the air quality cost of expansion that was presented alongside the draft National Policy Statement (NPS), failed to include any costs beyond a 2km radius of the airport. Their own analysis had elsewhere assessed the impact of additional vehicle emissions well beyond this boundary.

The ongoing air quality barrier to Heathrow expansion
The issue of air quality has long been a sticking point when it comes to Heathrow expansion. Modelling conducted when a third runway was last on the table over a decade ago claimed that by now London would be compliant with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide. But even without an additional runway, the hoped-for improvements turned out to be over-optimistic and London remains in breach of the limits.

A series of successful legal actions against the Government for failing to get to grips with the issue and a focus by the London Mayor on the need for new measures in the capital have recently pushed the issue up the political agenda just as the Heathrow vote begins to loom. Several local authorities close to the airport, together with Greenpeace, have committed to legally challenge the NPS, if adopted in its current form by a Parliamentary vote scheduled for the second quarter of this year. The challenge is likely to centre around air quality, as well as the 'legitimate expectation' of communities who believed previous government commitments that expansion was off the agenda.

Legal limits and air quality costs
The Government has assessed the air quality impact of a third runway in two ways. The first considers what impact the scheme would have on compliance with legal limit values. The latest official position on this, repeated in Grayling's letter, is that "expansion would be capable of being delivered without impacting the UK's compliance with air quality limit values". As we've previously argued there are seven air-quality-reasons not to expand Heathro. However, it's hard to feel confident in this scenario, given how many questionable assumptions the conclusion rests on, so it's no surprise that the NPS does not require air quality limit values to be met as a precondition for Heathrow expansion, and that no air quality enforcement plan has been proposed.

The second approach to assessment monetises the damage to human health of the additional air pollution associated with expansion for inclusion in the cost benefit analysis of the scheme. The Transport Committee has taken a particular interest in whether the right numbers have been entered into this analysis and has identified that the air quality cost calculation only covered emissions within a 2km radius of the airport in contrast to the Government's impact appraisal that had noted impacts well beyond this boundary in terms of additional vehicle traffic.

Emissions omission
Acknowledging this "unintended omission", Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's letter to the Transport Committee, provides new information on the likely cost of emissions beyond a 2km radius of Heathrow airport, with the total figure now thought to be 2 to 4 times higher than the one published in the official appraisal document. The cost associated with Gatwick expansion was also underestimated, the letter notes.

The Government is keen to argue that even the revised figure pales in comparison with the supposed benefit of the scheme, but closer inspection of this claim using other official metrics tells a very different story. The 'net present value' of the scheme, previously assessed as 2.2 to 3.3 billion over sixty years (so already potentially negative) could drop to as low as 2.6 to 2.9 billion under the new estimate.

Are we underestimating airports' air quality impact?
Meanwhile, some academics have questioned whether traditional approaches to estimating airport emissions underestimate the emissions from aircraft themselves. While most studies on airport air pollution have focussed on sites close to the airport, a 2014 paper considering the air pollution impact of Los Angeles Airport found a twofold increase in particulate pollution as a result of the airport's operation within a 60km2 radius.

It concluded that "the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated" - a finding as relevant to any other major UK airport as to Heathrow, and casting doubt on the relevance of the 2km radius used in the Government's NPS assessment.

Are MPs in a good position for a summer vote on Heathrow?
Commenting on the publication of Chris Grayling's letter, AEF's Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said: "Yet again, the Government's evidence on the impact of Heathrow expansion on the environment and public health has been found to be lacking. With no climate change policy for aviation, poor information on noise impacts, and unreliable information on air quality, we're urging MPs to vote against a bigger Heathrow."


Imogen Braddick - Dunmow Broadcast - 7 March 2018

Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers a year in what campaigners say is a 'sweetheart' deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny.

The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years, which could lead to 5,000 new on-site jobs and boost the offering of long haul destinations.

Ken O'Toole, chief executive of London Stansted Airport, said: "Over the past six months we have consulted widely on our future growth plans and based on the feedback from these discussions, we've made sure our growth can be achieved within current limits on flight numbers and with no increase in the size of the airport's noise footprint. This is good news for local residents."

However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts and said it was "profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by Secretary of State by amending passenger numbers".

Chairman of SSE, Peter Sanders, said: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44 percent increase in the number of flights and a 66 percent increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads."

SSE said that by increasing the number of passengers by eight million, and not 10, MAG could have the plan considered by the district council, and not by the Secretary of State which, it argued, would be more rigorous.

SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG would be prepared to make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan.

Mr Sanders added: "We need to have confidence that this planning application will be considered purely on its own merits and subject to fair and thorough scrutiny. That is why it should be determined nationally by the secretary of state, not locally by UDC."

The application will also seek permission for additional airfield infrastructure within the current airfield boundary, comprising two new links to the runway, six additional stands on the mid airfield and three additional stands at the north eastern end of the airport.


Salford Star Online - 6 March 2018


Salford City Council is to borrow money to 'invest' in the 1.5billion 'transformation' of Manchester Airport and Stansted Airport in which it has shares along with other Greater Manchester councils. In papers relating to the loan, which is set to be rubber stamped next week by the Cabinet, no figure is mentioned. But the cash-strapped Council, currently looking to close five nurseries, has already set aside 10million in its budget for 'Manchester Airport'.

Both airports are now owned by the Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which is looking for a 1.5billion investment from its shareholders to "secure future business plan growth and the longer term sustainability of the business".

Salford is one of ten Greater Manchester local councils that have a share in MAG. Manchester City Council owns 35.5% of the company and the other nine councils own 29%, with Salford Council's share being 3.22%. The remaining 35.5% is owned by the private Codan Trust Company (Cayman) Ltd (as trustee for IFM), registered offshore in the Cayman Islands.

The report going to Salford's Cabinet next week states that "there is an opportunity for the Greater Manchester districts to provide shareholder loans" and that "the most cost effective means of securing finance for the loan will be identified".

Nowhere in the report is the actual amount of the loan specified, although the Council does have a figure of 10million set aside for 'Manchester Airport' in its capital budget for the new financial year 2018-19.

Given that the source of the loan has not yet been 'identified' it's not known how much it will cost to service it from the Council's revenue account which supports front line services, like the five nurseries the Council is currently proposing to close.

The report states that, in future years, the Council will get a "direct return on the loan", and that it "should enable future anticipated dividends to be paid". It adds that "Without the capital investment there is a very real risk that the level of dividend payable, which supports the council's budget, will reduce considerably in future years. This would lead to increased revenue budget pressures which would increase future savings targets".

The investment by Greater Manchester councils would be part of a 1.5billion 'transformation' that represents 'the most significant programme of investment ever made in Manchester Airport'. This would include an expansion of Terminal 2, improvements to Terminal 3, links between the two terminals, better departure gate facilities and 'customer friendly enhancements'. Stansted Airport would get a new arrivals building. The investment, states the report, would "promote economic growth and employment opportunities".

The report concludes that "Any investment decision has to be underpinned by a thorough assessment of the risks involved and a robust due diligence process" and adds that "From the analysis and work carried out, on behalf of the GM authorities, this is deemed to be a reasonable investment".

It adds that "The risks of the potential stakeholder loan have been reviewed on behalf of the GM authorities" - but nowhere does it state what these risks actually are...

The decision will be made by the Cabinet next Tuesday - the same day that the City Mayor is due to be jetting off to the South of France to speak at the MIPIM property orgy event in Cannes.

OUR COMMENT: Fellow Councils but no effective consultation with Uttlesford! And, offshore money? Where from?

Pat Dale


Essex News Online - 22 February 2018

Stansted's looking for permission to handle eight million more passengers a year. It says raising its cap to 43 million would create around 5000 extra jobs at the airport. Its Chief Executive has said he's confident a planning application submitted today will be approved.

The airport says the introduction of the next generation of new quieter aircraft will ensure that future passenger growth can be achieved without increasing the number of flights or noise footprint already permitted.

Ken O'Toole, CEO of London Stansted Airport, said: "Today, London Stansted Airport is virtually unrecognisable from the one which MAG acquired almost five years ago to the day. During this time, we have spent 150m on upgrading the terminal, added nearly 10 million passengers, more than doubled the number of airlines and developed a short-haul route network which is the best in Europe."

"Looking to the future, demand at Stansted is predicted to remain strong and with constraints on runway capacity in the South-East increasing, we are expecting to reach our current limit on passenger numbers in the early 2020s. We are now at the point where it is right to consider the framework for the airport?s growth beyond the current limit."

But Stop Stansted Expansion has described the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals as an attempt to manipulate the planning process so as to avoid Government scrutiny and instead do a "sweetheart" deal with the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). SSE has also branded the airport planning application as misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would give rise to no significant adverse environmental impacts.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: "It doesn't need a rocket scientist to work out that a 44% increase in the number of flights and a 66% increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads. By suggesting otherwise, Stansted Airport and its owners Manchester Airport Group (MAG) are treating the local community as if we were all complete fools."


Raising the number of passengers would create 5,000 new jobs
and contribute 1 billion to the local economy

Narbeh Minassian & Anna Sava - Cambridge News Online - 22 February 2018

Stansted Airport chiefs have submitted plans to increase passenger numbers by eight million a year - and insist they will reduce the noise impact.

Currently the airport is not licensed to take more than 35 million passengers over 12 months, but if approved the proposal would increase the cap from 35 to 43 million - a huge rise of 22 per cent. Since 2013, passenger numbers have grown by 40 per cent. Stansted now serves the largest network of European destinations in the country. The plans come as the airport was given permission last year for a new 130 million arrivals building.

Speaking to the Hertfordshire Mercury's Narbeth Minassian, CEO Ken O'Toole said the plans for an increase in passenger numbers will not necessarily mean an increase in the number of flights, adding that the proposal has also been welcomed by businesses.

"We have undertaken six to nine months of extensive consultation with the local community and businesses in the area and we have found there is a broad groundswell of support to our approach. The consultation was clear that people want to grow the airport but within the limits that already exist and we have been conscious of that."

The plans, submitted to Uttlesford District Council, state the ongoing introduction of quieter aircraft means passenger growth can be achieved without increasing flights or noise. The new Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320 Neo aircraft, for example, are currently being brought into service by Ryanair and easyJet and are up to 50 per cent quieter than the aircraft they are replacing.

Mr O'Toole said the increase in passengers would create 5,000 jobs and contribute 1 billion to the local economy. Most jobs would be for local people. He said: "There will be new routes and new jobs. Already 75 per cent of the existing 12,000 jobs are taken by people living in the area so these are local jobs and they are jobs right across the spectrum. We have engaged extensively already with the businesses and we want to make East Anglia one of the best places to live. This will be an enabler."

The airport currently serves nearly 26 million passengers a year after increasing its cap to 35 million in 2008. Increasing that to up to 43 million a year could add further strain on the M11 - the main road to the airport - which already struggles with congestion.

However, Mr O'Toole assured the airport will contribute towards any impact. "Half of our passengers arrive by public transport and we have looked at capacity on the trains and there will be more buses," he said. "We have had a full environmental assessment and believe the impact on roads is reasonable. The traffic will be spread throughout 24 hours."

The Plans
The proposal would see two new taxiway links on the runway for quick access and exit, six additional remote aircraft stands and three aircraft stands. The cap on aircraft movements of 274,000 will remain. In 2028, with the development, there will be around 712 daily aircraft movements in the summer peaks - compared to 640 daily movements without the development. These extra 72 daily movements are made up of 36 departures and 36 arrivals.

The additional movements will operate across a range of departures routes. For the most intensively used flight path, it would mean a maximum of 25 extra departures between 7am and 11pm, working out to one or two per hour in the summer peak.

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion [SSE] accused the airport of taking the local community for "complete fools". SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "It doesn't need a rocket scientist to work out that a 44 per cent increase in the number of flights [when comparing the limit to last year's number] and a 66 per cent increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads. By suggesting otherwise, Stansted Airport and its owners Manchester Airport Group are treating the local community as if we were all complete fools."

Stansted Airport's rapid growth
Annual passenger numbers have increased by nearly 10 million to 26 million a year in the past five years. This growth is down to a 25 per cent increase in destinations served by the airport (190) and a doubling of the number of airlines using the airport (22). Stansted (it is claimed) is the best-connected UK airport for flights to Europe and will expand its long-haul route network with services being added to New York, Boston, Toronto, Washington DC and Dubai.

Owners Manchester Airport Group has also invested 150 million in the facilities at Stansted Airport. Recently, work began on the second phase of Stansted's transformation - a five-year, 600 million construction programme that will see a new arrivals building and conversion of the existing terminal into a dedicated departing passenger-only facility.

RudySmith - Get rid of Ryanair

Totalastronomy - I wish they would invest in a better passenger experience for older customers. We don't like: the awful train station with its long walks; the lack of seating while waiting for the Gate to be shown; having to walk half a mile from the serpentine shopping mall to the most distant Gate; having to stand in a queue for half an hour at the Gate; being forced to queue on stairs; having to go down 25 stairs to the apron; walking across the apron in wind and pouring rain; having to clamber up rickety steps in wind and rain while holding a carry on bag. I've solved the problem by using Heathrow and Gatwick. From Cambridge there will be direct trains to Gatwick every 30 minutes from May.

Jamjar10 - Sort the parking first.

Azicit - We don't use Stansted any more, following issues with their special assistance staff on more than one occasion, so that is two less they will have to bother about. The "service" is abysmal and they are not interested in doing anything about it. We flew from Luton last month and the service there was excellent.

OUR COMMENT: Details are on the Uttlesford Council's website including MAG's Environmental Assessment in which will be found the forecasts and calculations they use to justify their claims that there will be no adverse effects affecting the local community even though there will be more traffic and more planes!

Pat Dale


Brian Ross - Bishops Stortford Independent - 24 January 2018

Stop Stansted Expansion economics adviser BRIAN ROSS, a member of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee, wants a New Year's Resolution from the airport to give more consideration to the local community and the environment.

In his New Year blog in last week's Bishop's Stortford Independent, Stansted Airport commercial director Martin Jones waxed lyrical about the 'exciting' achievements of his airport in 2017, in terms of new destinations, new airlines, more car parking spaces and bigger bars and restaurants.

But in his entire article of more than 600 words, not once did he mention the words 'community' or 'environment' or 'local residents'. Not once did he mention Stansted's impact upon local residents. And not once did he even acknowledge that Stansted has some serious environmental impacts.

So let's have a look at some of the things which Martin Jones did not mention.

Noise impacts
In the five years that Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has owned Stansted, noise complaints from local residents have increased from 930 in 2013 to an astonishing total of 8,411 in 2017. Part of the reason is a large increase in night flights - often old noisy cargo aircraft - to a record 12,339 last year.

The main problem, however, has been changes to flight paths. When local residents were consulted about the changes, 82% said 'No' but the changes were made anyway. So much for listening to the views of the local community.

As the number of flights increases, so also do aircraft emissions, which have an impact both locally and globally. During MAG's five years at Stansted, there has been a 30% increase in the number of flights and a similar increase in emissions of pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which are harmful to human health as well as to local flora and fauna.

Stansted's carbon dioxide (C02) emissions, the main cause of global warming, have also increased substantially in the past five years.

Stansted was responsible for the equivalent of 3.7 million tonnes of C02 emissions in 2017. This is set to grow to 3.9 million tonnes in 2018 - about the same amount of C02 produced annually by 1.4 million average family cars.

Social Responslblllty
Airports have a legal duty to compensate anyone whose house has been significantly devalued as a direct result of the airport's expansion. For more than 15 years Stansted has shirked this responsibility. Only recently under threat of legal proceedings, are there signs that the airport might finally begin to honour its obligations.

Compensation has only ever been provided for the airport's expansion to 8 million passengers per annum (mppa). Last year Stansted handled 25.9mppa and it will very soon submit a planning application asking for permission to grow to 43mppa.

MAG needs to be told very clearly: You must settle your outstanding obligations to local residents before any consideration will be given to allowing you any further expansion.

Support for local good causes
All the UK's major airports make annual financial contributions to local good causes, generally through a trust fund. In 2016, Stansted was by far the least generous of all the major UK airports, contributing just 100,000 (0.4 pence per passenger). By comparison, Heathrow provided 952,000 (1.3p per passenger), Gatwick 503,000 (1.2p per passenger) and lowly Luton 126,000 (0.9p per passenger).

And guess what happened in 2017? Shamefully MAG actually reduced Stansted's annual contribution to local good causes from 100,000 to 50,000, equivalent to just one-fifth of a penny per passenger; This speaks volumes about MAG's sense of social responsibility. By contrast, last year MAG increased the dividend it paid to its shareholders from 116m to 14lm. At least we know where MAG's priorities lie.


Four London councils say ministers have 'already made their minds up'

Chiswickw4.com - 29 December 2017

The London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have questioned the lawfulness of the Government's consultation on the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In their submission to the Department of Transport (submitted on 19th December 2017), they write that: "A consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind", before citing several instances where ministers at the Department for Transport have indicated that their "mind is prematurely but firmly made up".

These include a statement by then Aviation Minister, Lord Callanan, on 13 July 2017, in which it was stated that the work to analyse the responses was progressing and that the Government is "fully committed to realising the benefits that a new Northwest runway at Heathrow would bring."

And an appearance on Newsnight, on 17 July 2017, by Chris Grayling, in which the Secretary of State for Transport claimed that, provided Parliament agreed, Heathrow would "definitely be going ahead".

In their response to what the DfT have called the Consultation on the Revised National Policy Statement, the four boroughs also question whether the Government has yet taken into account the responses to the earlier consultation, to which they had responded in May 2017. The four Boroughs believe that, had the approach been genuinely open minded, and the evidence considered, then expansion at Heathrow would already have been rejected not only on the grounds of air pollution and excessive noise which are obvious and overwhelming reasons against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, but also because new evidence, presented in the revised consultation, that suggests Heathrow:

* Fails to deliver any economic advantage over Gatwick
* Would need Government subsidy of essential transport access and/or subsidised flights
* Will not (contrary to Government assurances) operate with less noise than Heathrow does today

"Indeed, not only does the Government's own Revised National Policy Statement suggest that Gatwick is likely to provide greater economic benefit to the UK over a sixty-year period; but it has downgraded the "Net Present Value" of the Heathrow scheme (a measurement of benefits that also takes costs into consideration) at no more than 3.3 Billion over sixty years with it and, quite possibly, leading to an overall loss of 2.2 Billion to the UK economy.

"Our last consultation response pointed out that there was no evidence that an expanded Heathrow would do anything other than exceed lawful and dangerous limits for air pollution and now we have the new Air Quality Plan, it is clear that the draft Airports NPS is inconsistent with Government obligations on achieving and maintaining air quality in London and the surrounding area, including the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead."

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, of which the four boroughs are part, said: "There's a growing sense that the case for Heathrow's third runway is falling apart. The evidence, including the government's own, simply no longer stacks up to support it. The only thing they seem to have on their side is the DfT, whose prejudgement in advance of its own consultation, is now raising serious legal questions in the year ahead."


As Ryanair deals with the fallout from its rostering crisis and a U-turn on union recognition, Brexit looms large for airlines, writes John Mulligan

Irish Independent - 28 December 2017

Europe's aviation market witnessed enormous upheaval in 2017. Ryanair was arguably centre-stage, first with its September admission that it had mismanaged its pilot rosters. That resulted in the carrier cancelling thousands of flights and grounding aircraft into 2018 as it sought to fix the problem.

But it also unleashed a push for what eventually be a dramatic change at the 32-year-old airline, with its landmark decision this month to recognise unions. It was a major U-turn from the entrenched position that Ryanair and CEO Michael O'Leary had clung onto for decades: that union recognition would never happen at the airline.

In September, the threats to its 4,200 pilots began as it became evident they were agitating for change. "I don't even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair," Mr O'Leary said that month following the airline's annual general meeting at its Dublin headquarters. "There isn't a union in Ryanair. There has been no demand for new contracts."

He added that any pilots who engage in industrial action such could "kiss goodbye" to pay increases. He insisted it wasn't a threat.

"We'd never threaten our pilots," he said. "We have some goodies to discuss with pilots, but if pilots misbehave, that will be the end of discussion on goodies. I don't think that would be construed as a threat."

But as its pilots became increasingly organised, it was apparent there was a real desire among large numbers of them for change. The rostering failure wasn't the result of just some administrative challenge - it unmasked a significant problem Ryanair had with retaining pilots. As Ryanair intensified efforts to keep a lid on the fallout, it also canned efforts to acquire part of the failed Italian flag carrier Alitalia.

Meanwhile, the pilots methodically plotted their strategy, creating Ryanair company councils under the auspices of unions around Europe, ensuring that any industrial action they might take was legally watertight. The acrimony from the Ryanair side intensified, as a newly-formed pilot group sought to engage with the airline.

Former Ryanair executive, Peter Bellew, who had been working as CEO of Malaysia Airlines, returned to the Dublin-based carrier as chief operations officer. He was tasked with sorting out the pilot rostering mess and getting things generally back on track. In December, the Irish Independent revealed Mr Bellew's own damning take on how the Ryanair culture had broken.

Speaking to Ryanair pilots at London Stansted, its biggest base, the day before the airline announced it would recognise unions, he said the tone at the carrier had become "miserable", even at head office. He described a litany of administrative failures at the company, which he said had contributed to the rock-bottom morale and the September rostering crisis that prompted a demand from pilots for collective bargaining rights and better working conditions.

"It seems that there was a culture that people who knew there was a problem... that they were not listened to, or they were actively discouraged from even raising the issue any further," he said. "Basic, basic, basic things that had been operated here for many years just were thrown in the basement."

The culture was one where pilots could not even get answers in many cases to simple requests, he admitted. "Everywhere I turned, I could see that people were asking for small things to be done and they just weren't getting done," added Mr Bellew. "Or, not only were they not getting done, they were getting told: 'P**s off, leave me alone; I don't want to know about this'."

He acknowledged that retaining pilots was his key priority for now. In an interview with Reuters just two days after the Irish Independent revealed those comments, Mr O'Leary insisted the idea to recognise unions had been his.

Staff Ryanair pilots in Dublin who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association had announced they would strike for 24 hours on December 20. Pilots in Portugal and Germany were set to follow suit. In Italy, a strike was also planned. Then on December 15, Ryanair announced that it would recognise unions. The first talks have been held between Ryanair management and unions in what is going to be a turbulent flight path.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus, now part of the IAG group that owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, continued its transatlantic expansion. It added new long-haul A330s, and opened or announced routes to Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle.

And with Brexit now just over a year away, just how the UK will fit into the EU's open skies is a huge question that remains unresolved. Without a deal being sealed, it's possible in a worst-case scenario that there could be no flights operating between the EU and the UK for a period of weeks after Brexit happens. It would have a calamitous impact on passengers and airlines.


Air traffic controllers have one of the most high pressure jobs in the world, but for those at Stansted Airport at least they also have one hell of a view

will.lodge@archant.co.uk - 27 December 2017

The tallest office building in Essex (and before Heathrow's new air traffic control tower was built, the tallest such tower in the UK) offers a spectacular 360-degree look at the surrounding countryside - as well as of Canary Wharf, the Shard and the Wembley arch.

On a clear day, with binoculars and if you know where to look, you can even see the Luton Airport control tower. Unlike many office windows, the controllers at the top of the 63-metre high building are paid to look out of them, as well as monitoring a bank of screens in front of them. "You never get bored of the view," admits Martin Ruddy, tower manager.

While the idea of all-digital control towers comes ever-closer to reality, the windows are a big factor at Stansted. The controllers do look out of them, and every desk is also equipped with a pair of binoculars. Though the controllers can - and do, for example when it is foggy - rely solely on the computer screens in front of them, visual watch is still the preferred method.

There is no ambient noise in the tower, a strange sensation for a building so close to a runway, but it allows controllers to concentrate. And while planes approach the runway at around 150mph, it appears almost slow from the lofty view of the tower.

The windows are so integral that they are due to be replaced in Spring 2018, a feat for some hardy souls with a head for heights. While the work takes place the controllers will temporarily relocate to a small observation tower situated at the airport's fire station, which is already fully equipped and acts as an emergency stand-by in the event of fire or other evacuation from the main tower.

As you would expect with such a critical function, where safety is of the utmost priority, the tower has multiple back-ups - uninterrupted power supplies, generators and batteries guarantee power, while each desk and controller in the room can do the work of any other in case one should fail. If everything goes down, pen and paper is still an option - "the problem is most of us have forgotten how to write," jokes Dan Pryce, watch manager.

So just what do the air traffic controllers do at their desk? "We can handle every type of aircraft which each has a different performance. It's a ballet in the sky," says Martin. "Some people say we are the heart of the airport, but that's the passenger terminal. We are more like the brain - every decision starts here. It is all about sequencing."

But if the airspace is akin to a ballet, then the air traffic controllers are master choreographers. While technology is integral, there are so many variables only a human can bring it all together quickly and intuitively.

The team at Stansted are responsible for everything coming in and going out of the airport, for about three miles out. They also have to keep a tight rein on the ground vehicle movements as well, both planes taxiing and the numerous support vans and cars, and things such as the runway lights.

In any given shift there will be as standard two main controllers - one on air, one on ground - plus a supervisor, and a third assistant who monitors weather and other aspects, jumping into action if needed. A second team of air traffic controllers based at Swanwick, Hampshire, manages the congested airspace over the South East - the A-roads, junctions and slip-roads of the sky - while a third level of controllers look after the motorways.

It is a 24/7 operation. Even on Christmas Day, the Stansted team has around 30 flights to look after, plus any emergency diversions that may come its way. At peak times (early morning and evenings at Stansted) it deals with 50 movements an hour - virtually one plane taking off or landing every minute, with up to 30 pilots speaking to you at once. On a busy summer day there will be 635 movements.

Training is intensive. Would-be recruits must pass psychometric testing and spend around four years in training, first at college before progressing onto a centre where they use localised simulators before going live at a desk. Even then they spend 300 hours with a supervisor plugged in next to them before going solo.

Many do not make it through the initial training. While 3,300 apply for a slot at college, only 15 (0.5%) make it through. But while the training is crucial, the job is also intuitive. "There is pressure, but it goes with the territory," says Dan, from Sproughton. "It's not a job you can take home with you either. The academic requirements are not too onerous, you don't need a degree, but you do need that aptitude to judge speed, time and distance. You can be as educated as you like, but if you can shoot the gap at a roundabout you may be suited to this job. Every day is different, the weather, the aircraft, change. But if you stick to the rules it works," adds Martin.

Surprisingly you don't need a head for heights. "I have known one controller who suffered from vertigo," said Dan. "He had to hold the bannister going up and didn't go near the edge."

Stansted, as well as being a busy passenger airport with nearing 26 million people passing through each year, also has a growing cargo terminal and a private jet area. With such facilities, it has often played host to the President of the United States, and is the go-to airport for planes which have been hijacked or have other security concerns.

While POTUS adds to the excitement in the tower - having a Secret Service agent oversee your work has to be a thrill - other emergencies are few and far between and more mundane, mostly handled by the police. The controllers will have a more active role if, say, a passenger on board a flight becomes unwell. In this case, they organise an ambulance to meet the plane on the ground and may even bump the flight up the queue.

"It's all calm and collected - if you get too excited easily you probably would not make a good air traffic controller," said Dan. "The training just kicks in."


The campaigners sang adapted carols
outside the Transport Secretary's house

Calum Rutter - Epsom Guardian Online - 27 December 2017

Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners made a light-hearted festive protest outside Chris Grayling's house before Christmas. The group visited the Transport Secretary on the last night of the government consultation, singing re-worded carols.

One such adaption went (to the tune of Ding-Dong Merrily on High): "Sir Howard Davies [Airports Commission] was a lie/And no way independent/Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development/No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/Ifs and buts/There will be no third runway."

Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance, so to most of them it was a surprise to sing outside Mr Grayling's house.

Neil Keveren, resident near Heathrow who attended the carol singing, said: "This was a fun event but with a very serious point. Mr. Grayling has the security of knowing he has a home for his family for this Christmas and as long as he wishes to stay there. Meanwhile, thousands of others, thanks to his Government, have had their homes threatened with destruction or feared an increase to the cap of 480,000 flights a year."

OUR COMMENT: Songs for Stansted too?

Pat Dale


Dermot Davitt - The Moodie Davitt Report - 7 December 2017

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) posted revenue of 104.6 million from its retail concessions in the six months to 30 September, a healthy increase of +13.4% year-on-year. The company owns and manages Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airport.

The retail performance was driven by increased passenger volumes, and a strong contribution following a big investment in the food & beverage offering at London Stansted Airport.

Car parking revenue hit 103.1 million, +13.3% higher than the prior-year period, driven by additional capacity to serve increased passenger volumes, and more effective management of the customer trend of moving to pre-book channels, said MAG. Total commercial income (including retail, car parking and property) reached 270.1 million in the half, up by +10.6% on H1 2016.

Passenger volumes grew by a robust +9.1% across the company's airports to 34.9 million. Group revenue climbed by +12.9% to 544.6 million while adjusted EBITDA grew +9.6% to 236.6 million.

In its interim results statement, MAG said: "The largest increases in passengers are at our two main airports, Manchester (growth of +9.2% on prior period) and London Stansted (growth of +9.8% on prior period), where airlines have increased capacity and introduced new destinations, largely driven through low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet. The introduction of Jet2.com has contributed significantly to growth at London Stansted."

"New long-haul routes with new and existing airlines have also been added, to increase the breadth of destinations across our airports, including the launch of new direct routes to Muscat (Oman Air), Houston (Singapore Airlines), Boston (Virgin Atlantic) and San Francisco (Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic)."

On 4 December, the group announced the disposal of its share in Bournemouth Airport to Regional and City Airports, a division of Rigby Group in the UK. The funds generated will be invested in its other UK airports.

OUR COMMENT: With such good retail figures why not just capitalise on developing this market? "Visit Stansted 'airport in the country' for the best retail opportunities! - including our aircraft museum. Enjoy the peaceful Essex countryside."

Pat Dale


A new taxiway at Heathrow could interfere with departures

John Collingridge - Sunday Times - 3 December 2017

Heathrow will not be able to expand to its promised 740,000 flights a year because of safety flaws involving its third runway, a new report claims. The airport will be restricted to fewer than 700,000 flights annually, undermining a core pillar of its 17.6bn expansion plan, according to the report by the engineering consultancy Ebeni. The main concern is a new taxiway at the end of the northern runway, which it is claimed could interfere with departures.

Ebeni's aviation experts think the tail fins of large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing 747 would infringe on the clearance space needed by other planes taking off. This would mean the taxiway could be used only between departures, forcing the number of flights to be cut by 15 an hour. The taxiway is needed to link the new third runway with terminals.

The report was commissioned by Heathrow Hub, a rival proposal for a cut-price expansion, achieved by extending the northern runway and splitting it into two separate strips.

Ebeni also claims the scheme drawn up by the airport's owners, which include the Spanish infrastructure investor Ferrovial and the Qatar Investment Authority, would have a much bigger impact on homes than Heathrow has suggested.

Jock Lowe, the former British Airways pilot who leads the rival proposal, said the flaws highlighted by the report made it "impossible for Heathrow to deliver on its capacity, noise and respite targets". He is due to be quizzed by the Commons transport committee tomorrow.

The report is the latest salvo in the long-running battle to build another runway in southeast England. Heathrow is currently restricted to 480,000 flights a year. Its complex plan involves building a third runway to the northwest, across the M25, giving it three parallel landing strips in a densely developed part of London.

While the proposal has been backed by the government, it awaits the final seal of approval. Heathrow needs the support of MPs, with a vote on the airports national policy statement (NPS) due in the first half of next year. Reports suggest Labour could vote against the third runway.

Derek Provan, Heathrow's chief operating officer, said: "We have unrivalled experience of operating a major airport and we are completely confident that we can safely operate 740,000 annual flights with a third runway. This was confirmed independently by the Airports Commission after the most extensive, in-depth review of aviation in a generation."

Heathrow has yet to confirm how it would build the runway over the M25. The hotels tycoon Surinder Arora has also put forward proposals, and called for the expansion to be prised from the airport operator's grasp. He said allowing his team to deliver and run the third runway would save 6.7bn.


aef.org.uk Online - 1 December 2017

AEF has today launched a new guide for anyone who might be experiencing aircraft noise whether from commercial airlines or light aircraft, including helicopters.

The guidance, which can be found here, considers the issues that readers might be experiencing, and where they stand in terms of the law, their human rights, and rights to compensation. It also sets out how people can take action, including using complaints procedures, joining a local action group, and finding out about the airport's planning restrictions.

The guidelines have been launched in response to the many queries received about aviation-related noise issues. Our 2016 survey revealed noise as the biggest single concern for our members, with 83% of respondents reporting noise problems during the day, and 73% reporting noise problems at night.


Travelmole Online - 29 November 2017

The UK could see a slowdown in air traffic growth over the next year as airlines shift capacity to other European countries, according to influential ratings agency Moody's.

In its latest report, it said traffic growth in Europe would remain strong - around 5% to 7% - next year, but it forecast a slowdown in the UK. Moody's said the UK would be hit by the decision by some airlines to move some capacity to more profitable markets, including Germany. As a result, growth in the UK would be only around 3% to 6%.

Over the first nine months of this year, the 10 largest European airports reported average passenger growth of 4.9 per cent, with Heathrow, the busiest, reporting a 3% rise.

"An improved economic environment, particularly in continental Europe, combined with continued low fuel costs, relatively contained air fare inflation, and growing airline capacity, will continue to stimulate demand for air travel and support the European airport sector's positive outlook," said Xavier Lopez del Rincon, Moody's vice president - senior credit officer.

The ratings agency is warning that Britain's departure from the EU presents a further risk for the UK. If the UK also fails to negotiate a new air traffic agreement with other European countries by the time it exits the EU, flying rights affecting around 80% of air passenger volumes will be lost.


KcwToday Online - 17 November 2017

A consultation for Hammersmith and Fulham residents to have their say on the plans for a third runway at Heathrow has reopened in light of new evidence.

The Department for Transport, who are running the consultation, released new evidence regarding noise, CO2 emissions and air pollution. This information was not public knowledge during the first round of consultations, which closed in May.

The announcement of the reopening of the consultation, which will run until 19th December, coincides with the year anniversary of the government's decision to expand Heathrow over Gatwick. This would mean an extra 700 flights to and from the airport a day.

The government's sustainability appraisal claims that building a second runway at Gatwick would have less of a negative impact on the surrounding area. The news of the consultation follows a recent local demonstration where members of the protest group No Third Runway set up a number of red cardboard planes in Ravenscourt Park.

Victoria Timberlake, the group's co-Chair, said: "There is deep and heartfelt opposition to any further expansion of Heathrow. Seven hundred extra flights each day can only bring more misery to the hundreds of thousands of Londoners living under current flightpaths, as well as new misery to communities overflown for the first time."

If the plans are given the go-ahead, construction of the runway would begin early 2021, to be completed by 2025. For more information on the consultation phone 0300 123 4797 or visit www.gov.uk/dft/heathrow-airport-expansion.


Stansted Airport wants to significantly raise
the cap on annual passenger numbers

Harriet Clugston - Hertfordshire Mercury - 7 November 2017

Campaigners have hit back at plans for a huge expansion at London Stansted after the airport claimed that a cap on passenger numbers was restricting its potential for growth. The Essex airport, which is owned by Manchester Airports Group (MAGs), is subject to a planning cap that prevents it from handling more than 35 million passengers per annum (mppa).

Following a period of "extensive consultation with local communities over the summer" Stansted now says it wants to see this increased to 43 mppa - a slight reduction on the 44.5 mppa it was originally aiming for, but a huge increase on the 26 million passengers it currently caters for.

Airport bosses claim the change is necessary to enable it to meet a growth in passengers over the next decade, after it saw an increase of nearly 10 million passengers over the past five years. Over 700 people attended the airport's consultations over the summer.

However, campaigners argue these claims are undermined by official Government statistics which, they say, show predictions that "Stansted will be bursting at the seams by 2023" were "a gross misrepresentation of the reality".

According to the UK Aviation Forecast published at the end of October, the Government expects Stansted to handle just 31 mppa by 2030 and 35 mppa by 2033, based on the assumption that current planning caps remain in place. Should a new runway be built at Heathrow as planned, the forecast for passenger numbers at Stansted then drops to 22 mppa in 2030, consequently only reaching the present cap of 32 mppa in 2043.

Commenting on the findings, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman Peter Sanders said: "MAG's overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy. It is designed to take advantage of a lull during Government consultations on the future of aviation and to try to rush through permissions that might otherwise be restricted once the new aviation policy emerges towards the end of 2018."

"MAG has presented its case as if failure to concede a further tranche of expansion would somehow compromise the rights of the travelling public as well as the UK economy, when the Government's own figures show this to be far from the truth."

However, Stansted Airport has pointed out that the Government recognises that its forecasts are "not intended to provide detailed projections for each individual airport", and that airport specific data may be used to inform local planning decisions.

A spokesman for the airport said: "Growth at Stansted over the last five years has significantly exceeded the previous projections from both Government and the Airports Commission. Stansted is now effectively ten years ahead of where the Government and the commission thought it would be today. Unfortunately, the Government's recently published forecasts suffer from the same fundamental flaws as their previous forecasts, in particular their failure to take account of commercial drivers that have delivered the exceptionally strong growth for Stansted Airport and its low cost carriers, such as highly competitive airfares and long term commercial agreements with airlines."

"Looking to the future, our independently prepared traffic forecasts show continued strong growth at Stansted, with the airport serving 35 million passengers in 2023. These forecasts provide the airport with the business case for the substantial investment in new passenger facilities that we will be making over the coming years."

The airport will be hosting three community feedback sessions in the coming weeks to update local residents about their revised plans and hear their views. They plan to submit a final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.


Ben Ireland - TravelWeekly Online - 26 October 2017

Ryanair has hit back at Balpa after the union approached the budget airline's pilots to test the water over potential strike action.

Balpa (British Airline Pilots Association), which represents more than 10,000 pilots in the UK, is assessing the level of support among the Irish carrier's pilots to establish their legal status as contract workers or direct employees of Ryanair in a consultation that lasts until November 6. The union says Ryanair pilots are "in revolt" and is asking them if they'd back industrial action.

But Ryanair has hit back at the union and urged pilots concerned about working conditions to deal with them directly. The Irish airline said Balpa's claims have "no validity" and published figures which it says show it pays more than rival carriers.

A spokesman for Ryanair said: "These claims from the BA pilots union (which has no involvement or recognition in Ryanair) and which currently presides over hundreds of pilot job losses in Monarch, have no validity. If Ryanair pilots wish to discuss or improve their pay or conditions, they can do so at any time using the established collective bargaining process, which has already delivered them industry leading pay 5 on/4 off rosters and unmatched job security."

Ryanair claims that when basic pay, 'productivity', 'sector pay', expenses and pensions are taken into account, it pays its captains 22% more than Jet2.com and 20% more than Norwegian.

The airline also dubbed the union's claims that it has "complex employment structures" as "false", adding: "A majority of Ryanair pilots in 2017 are direct employees, a minority are contractors, just like the contractor pilots which predominate among Norwegian, Wizz, Easyjet and other low cost airlines in Europe, and the many contractors employed by hospitals, hotels, airports and media."

The row follows Ryanair's pilot rota crisis which forced it to cancel thousands of flights over the winter and prompted the airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary to launch an extraordinary public attack on its pilots. He later apologised and Ryanair was reported to be offering improve terms and conditions to the many pilots who have the airline to join rivals such as Norwegian.


Greg Pitcher - NewCivilEngineer Online - 25 October 2017

Heathrow's third runway could harm efforts to stay under European Union air pollution limits, a report published by the government has warned.

An assessment by engineering consultancy WSP of the government's 2017 Air Quality Plan, which was published in July following several legal battles with an environmental law group, said the proposed north-west runway at the west London airport could impact on compliance with the EU's Ambient Air Quality Directive.

"With proposed opening of the scheme between 2026 and 2030 it is unlikely that concentrations in central London will have fallen sufficiently to remove the risk of the airport expansion impacting on EU limit value compliance," said the study.

The document was published amid a raft of information as ministers launched a fresh consultation on revised airports policy ahead of a vote on the controversial project next year. It comes almost exactly a year after transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that a third runway at Heathrow was the government's preferred way of boosting capacity in the South East.

An initial consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement concluded in May this year but the government has revised the policy in light of responses and fresh evidence, paricularly about how the third runway could impact air quality. This week it launched a new consultation on the revised statement.

Amid the flurry of publications, a framework for balanced decisions on design and use of airspace signalled a U-turn on previous proposals to transfer noise control responsibility to certain airports. And a forecasts document showed predictions that Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and City airports would be at full capacity by 2030, with Stansted reaching full capacity by 2040 along with Bristol and Southampton.

The government said it was on track to publish final proposals for expansion at Heathrow in the first half of 2018 before a vote in Parliament.

Grayling said: "The case for expanding Heathrow is as strong as ever and we want to hear your views on it. This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the UK."

Heathrow described the latest consultation as a "key milestone". "The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK's only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised," said a spokesperson for the airport.

"A third runway will ensure Britain's place in the world as an outward looking trading nation. That's why the government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018. Today's consultation will be welcomed by business groups, trade unions and the majority of MPs who all recognise that expanding Heathrow is the only option to connect all of Britain to global growth."


Molly Dyson - BuyingBusinessTravel Online - 24 October 2017

The government has issued a revised draft version of its Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), updating its stance on the much-debated expansion of London's aviation capacity. While a third runway at Heathrow is still being supported, the report calls on the airport to take steps to ensure disruption in the area is handled properly.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling set out the next stage of delivering a third runway at Heathrow, with a final proposal to be published in time for a parliamentary vote in the first half of 2018, according to a government statement.

The draft sets out a planning policy framework, which an applicant would have to comply with in order to be granted consent to begin works on a new runway, including:
Delivering at least six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030
Providing a package of support for communities affected, including noise insulation for homes and schools
Setting legally-binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six-and-a-half hours on scheduled night flights
Paying home owners 25 per cent above market value rate plus costs for the purchase of houses if needed to make room for the new runway.

Grayling says the government is building on Heathrow's pledge to put forward a package worth up to 2.6 billion. Planning consent will only be given if the airport can put forward a strategy to stay within air quality and climate change regulations. The transport secretary also says he will have the power to review any flight path changes if he feels they are of 'national significance'.

The new draft NPS comes after Grayling delayed a decision on Heathrow's third runway following the general election, saying the need to form a new select committee pushed everything back. However, he comments that airport expansion is needed to boost the UK economy.

"Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world," Grayling said. "We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more global Britain."

The public now has until December 19 to respond to the draft NPS, after which point a final version will be drafted for review by Parliament.

A Heathrow spokesperson said the forecasts given in the consultation show expanding the airport "is even more important than previously realised" and claimed it has "already pledged to meet or exceed the conditions recommended by the Airports Commission to address impacts on local communities and the environment".

Meanwhile, a Gatwick spokesperson commented that the airport welcomes the revised draft and will "look carefully" at the consultation material. Gatwick also claims to be offering a "credible" privately-financed runway addition.


Rebecca Smith - CityAM Online - 23 October 2017

MPs will hold a one-off session next week to consider Brexit's impact on aviation, after the industry has called for certainty on flying rights when Britain leaves the European Union.

The Transport Select Committee has invited airline and airport representatives to the evidence session, including Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye, and British Airways owner IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh.

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said transport secretary Chris Grayling "presented a confident view of the situation post-Brexit for UK aviation" when he appeared before the committee last week. Greenwood said next week's session "will test whether this optimism is justified, when we hear from the UK's leading airlines and airports with a view to getting their take on the current progress of negotiations and the potential implications from delays in securing a transitional deal for aviation".

Grayling was grilled by the committee over the fate for UK aviation post-Brexit along with other matters such as the collapse of Monarch Airlines this month.

The UK will no longer be guaranteed automatic flying rights when it leaves the EU, unless a transitional deal is negotiated ahead of the deadline.

The topic of aviation was back in the spotlight after chancellor Philip Hammond said earlier this month that it was "theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union" when Britain leaves the EU. "But I don't think anybody seriously believes that is where we will get to," he added.

Grayling echoed that opinion when speaking to the committee last week, telling them: "I am very confident that we will end up with an agreement with the European Union, but aviation does not have to have an open skies agreement in order to function. If you had senior airline bosses like Willie Walsh and Carolyn McCall in front of you, they would say to you that they are not concerned that they will not be able to carry on flying post-2019."


Daniel Boffey - TheGuardianBusiness Online - 21 October 2017

Jean-Marc Janaillac says he is happy to see British airlines fly on the continent - as long as they accept European Court of Justice control.

As the head of Europe's largest intercontinental airline, Jean-Marc Janaillac can speak with authority on the complexities of cross-border travel. He carries some political insight, too, because he is chief executive of a business, Air France-KLM, that is 17%-owned by the French government.

At the intersection of pan-European travel and politics lies Brexit, of which Janaillac is a dispassionate observer. After all, it is not his business that will be most affected by a split between London and Brussels. Janaillac says Britain leaving the EU is neither "an opportunity nor a catastrophe" for a business created by the merger of the French and Dutch national airlines in 2004.

"For Air France-KLM, and other airlines, the British market is important but it is not a huge part of our activity. I think it is more a problem for British airlines than continental operators," he said.

The 64-year-old gives a tour d'horizon of the issues facing British rivals come the leaving date of March 2019. They range from the threat of not being able to fly beyond British borders to having to having to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice - the latter being a red line in the Brexit negotiations for Theresa May.

But first, the basics: will the likes of British Airways and easyJet be able to fly to Europe once the UK has exited the EU? Janaillac, who took over Air France-KLM last July, says that the British government should be planning for the worst-case scenario, in which a new agreement between the UK and the EU does not materialise. This would mean flights between Britain and the continent could be grounded because the UK will no longer be a member of the European Common Aviation Area.

Under the ECAA regime, any airline owned and controlled by EU citizens is free to operate anywhere within the EU without restrictions on capacity, frequency or pricing. A new agreement will have to be struck if British airlines are to continue to enjoy the freedoms of today.

"Some say if there is not an agreement all the flights are going to stop and British people with homes in Spain will not be able to fly home for the weekend," he said. "Others say that former agreements are going to work. I think the government should prepare. I mean, plan in order to assure that things are going to be smooth in March 2019, if there is no agreement. I hope it is possible to have an intermediary period."

Then comes the Brexiters' pet hate - the European Court of Justice. Janaillac says that bowing to the ECJ will be unavoidable for a UK-based carrier if it wants to operate services within the EU - between Berlin and Rome, for instance. Indeed, easyJet has already announced plans to set up a new European headquarters in Austria for its intra-EU flights and that unit will therefore operate under the auspices of the ECJ.

For other British airlines, Janaillac says that it would be unacceptable if UK airlines were able to operate with a lower level of rights, or forced its passengers to seek justice in British courts. "We would approve the British airlines flying within Europe as European operators on one condition: if they have the same rights, they should have the same obligations as European carriers,? Janaillac said in an interview in Brussels, where he was attending a gathering of European airline executives. Citing the example of Norway's low-cost carrier, he added: "A bit like Norwegian [airlines]. I think it is very clear: 100% of the rights means 100% of the obligations. If not, we will not have a level playing field."

Janaillac comments reveal how problematic Theresa May's insistence that Britain will no longer accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ will become later in the Brexit negotiations. The prime minister has claimed that whether or not the UK has left, the remit of European judges should be regarded as a test of whether Brexit has been delivered.

The French state, which is already pushing the importance of the role of the ECJ in the protection of citizens' rights in the Brexit negotiations, is likely to be pushing the airline's interests, where it can. The French president Emmanuel Macron has made it no secret that he hopes that French businesses will exploit the opportunities caused by the UK's decision to leave the bloc.

Although Ryanair is a bigger player by passenger numbers, Air France-KLM is a powerful presence in the European airline business. It has a fleet of 346 planes which carried 93 million passengers to 328 destinations worldwide in 2016, allowing it to claim to be Europe's biggest carrier for intercontinental flights.

Speaking of easyJet's Austria move, Janaillac says: "I guess the authorities will check. I think the rule is either you control the airline or you don't. Is it a subsidiary that the company doesn't control? For me, it is a bit strange."

There is a competitive edge to his easyJet comments. Air France-KLM launched a new subsidiary, Joon, last month, as part of the French flag carrier's attempts to cut costs and compete with low-cost models and the recent expansion of Gulf-based airlines.

Janaillac said his new airline would only ever account for 10% of Air France-KLM's fleet but that it felt it had been "compulsory" for the company to diversify. Cabin staff will work under separate and less generous contracts to those enjoyed on Air France-KLM, and the airline will offer one-way tickets to passengers. "The idea was to have a new airline with a less expensive cost structure," he said. "We are going to fly between Barcelona, Lisbon and Berlin and we are going to compete with many airlines, but especially with easyJet. We do say that if you change the naming, the positioning, you [attract] people who would not have looked at our site."


rte.ie/news - 20 October 2017

Pilots at Ryanair's Stansted base have rejected an offer of significant pay rises by management.

They are the second group of employees to reject the pay offer, which was conditional on continuing to negotiate with the company through its 87 individual base Employee Representative Committees, rather than through unions, or through a new joint internal body known as the European Employee Representative Committee.

It is understood that contractor pilots who are not directly employed by Ryanair were not permitted to take part in the ballot. However, there was a 91.2% turnout among direct employees, of whom 61% voted no. Ryanair had warned that if the offer were rejected, pilots ran the risk of receiving no further pay rises for up to five years.

Stansted is one of Ryanair's biggest bases and the vote would seem to set pilots on a collision course with management over pay and conditions. Pilots' key demands include collective negotiating rights and more permanent contracts, but Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary has consistently stated that he will only negotiate through local ERCs - a system that was validated by the Irish Supreme Court in a landmark case in 2008. Pilots at Madrid have already rejected the offer made to their base.

Commenting on the ballot outcome, Ryanair said it was surprised that pilots had rejected large pay rises of up to 22,000 for captains and 11,000 for first officers. It said the outcome vindicated how effective and democratic its internal collective bargaining processes are. Ryanair said ten other bases have already agreed large pay rises. It said it will continue to engage with pilots.

Meanwhile, the first Ryanair pilot to openly criticise management in the current crisis - Captain Imelda Comer - has urged pilots to stand together and demand better working conditions. In a letter to colleagues, Capt Comer noted that up to half of the Stansted pilots were excluded from the ballot because they were contractors rather than being directly employed by the airline.

She queried who had made that decision, which "...clearly did not serve the best interests of the whole pilot body". She noted that a 2015 survey had revealed that only 35% of pilots were direct employees. She said that even if that percentage might have changed over the last two years, contractors still accounted for around half the pilot population - yet were completely excluded from any form of negotiations on decisions that fundamentally affected them.

Capt Comer told her colleagues that the Stansted pilots had rejected a management imposed solution to a problem that management had failed to understand - and that management had lost credibility in the eyes of the pilot body. She alleged that management failures and misplaced actions could put the stability of their operations, and the sustainability of the company under further threat.

She described the current situation as "the ultimate farce in industrial relations, Ryanair style" adding that if the aim was to retain pilots, or attract new ones, it would fail. Capt Comer concluded by saying: "It is time for the Ryanair board and its investors to question if the management team that got us into this mess are capable of getting us out of it."


BreakingTravelNews Online - 19 October 2017

The government's new aviation strategy should set out an ambitious plan for improving international connectivity from UK airports as part of its vision for a new global Britain, according to MAG.

The leading airport group has laid out its view in response to government proposals for the new strategy. MAG, which operates the UK's two largest airports with spare runway capacity, Manchester and London Stansted, is calling for improvements in road and rail access to its airports to enable them to offer passengers better global connections.

At London Stansted, MAG is calling on government to accelerate the delivery of improvements to the Stansted Express. With faster rail access to London, MAG believes that London Stansted would attract more long haul routes, giving passengers more choice and providing high-tech and life sciences businesses in the corridor around Stansted with better access to global markets.

At Manchester Airport, MAG is focused on ensuring that the airport is connected directly to HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, so that passengers and businesses across the north and the rest of the UK can benefit from the airport's global route network.

The group believes that air freight's vital role in supporting trade and advanced manufacturing should be an important focus for the new strategy. The government should support East Midlands Airport, the UK's most important hub for dedicated air-freight operations, by channelling more investment in road and rail infrastructure around the airport.

MAG believes that a successful aviation industry is required to deliver the government's vision of a "truly global Britain" after the country leaves the European Union, and that encouraging key strategic airports across the UK to develop to their full potential would be hugely beneficial for the country's economic success, and will give investors the certainty they need to invest in airport terminals and facilities to improve passenger experience in the coming decade.

Tim Hawkins, corporate affairs director at MAG, said: "The ability for passengers and businesses to reach markets around the world quickly and easily is critical to meeting the government's vision for a global Britain. Aviation generates 1 billion a week towards UK GDP, something that is made possible by the nearly one million people that work in and around the industry."

"The government can now provide a strong boost to the UK economy by making the best possible use of existing capacity at airports like Manchester and Stansted over the next ten to 15 years. That is why we are encouraging the government to commit, through the new aviation strategy, to a number of practical steps that will enable airports to improve the UK's international connectivity."


Kirstie Pickering - PassengerTerminalToday Online - 18 October 2017

London Stansted Airport has unveiled revised proposals that show how its growth over the next decade can be achieved without increasing either the number of flights that are currently permitted to operate each year, or the size of the airport's approved noise footprint.

The revised proposals come after extensive consultation with local communities seeking residents' views on plans to raise the cap on the number of passengers that can be served each year. An increase in the passenger cap is needed to enable the airport to make best use of its existing capacity.

Currently, around 26 million passengers use Stansted each year, up nearly 10 million passengers compared with five years ago. Stansted's growth potential is currently limited by a planning cap that would prevent the airport handling more than 35 million passengers per annum (mppa).

Following consultation, Stansted will now apply to raise the cap to 43mppa, to enable it to meet forecast growth over the next decade. The revised proposal represents a smaller increase in passenger numbers than originally proposed - 44.5mppa - and will enable growth to be met without increasing the number of aircraft movements that are currently permitted to operate each year.

Ken O'Toole, chief executive of London Stansted Airport, said, "The feedback we received from our neighbours during our extensive consultation was clear - that they support the ongoing growth and investment in the airport and welcome a further increase in destinations and choice. Local residents also told us that they were concerned about the proposal to increase the number of flights that the airport is permitted to operate each year. We've listened to those concerns and decided to adapt our proposals so growth can be met within the current cap on the number of aircraft movements."

"That means the airport's growth over the next 10 years to serve 43 million passengers can be achieved without increasing the existing limits on aircraft movements and noise. We think that this is good news for local residents. This is an example of community consultation in action - we talked about our plans, we listened and we have amended our proposals accordingly. These plans provide a good balance between ensuring our future growth, support for the region's economy and addressing concerns around local environmental impacts. With clarity over the airport's ability to grow, airlines and business partners will have the confidence to continue to invest and grow at Stansted."

OUR COMMENT: Growth with no more flights? Or reach the allowed limits sooner and hope for more support in the future?

Pat Dale


Rebecca Smith and Francesca Washtell - City AM Online - 28 September 2017

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last night said it would accelerate "enforcement action" for "persistently misleading customers" with inaccurate information after a spate of mass flight cancellations.

The budget airline announced yesterday that 34 routes will be suspended from November through to March 2018 as it seeks to bring an end to recent flight cancellation troubles. The decision means routes including London Gatwick to Belfast, and London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow have been suspended, with up to 18,000 flights and 400,000 more people affected.

The London-listed Irish airline said it will slow growth to curb the risk of having to announce more cancellations by flying 25 fewer aircraft and reducing its flying schedule.

But yesterday's cancellations prompted the regulator to expedite enforcement against the airline, saying the airline had "failed to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around re-routing and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses".

The regulator has warned it could seek legal action against Ryanair for breaching consumer protection laws, though it is not yet clear what form the enforcement action will take. The action comes after Ryanair said it was cancelling 2,000 flights after the airline miscalculated pilot leave.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: "In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair's customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight."

Alex Neill, of Which?, said: "Ryanair is still flouting the law and failing to properly inform people of their rights, so it is good to see the regulator stepping in. They must ensure their intervention forces Ryanair to immediately change its behaviour and comply with the law."

Ryanair shares closed up 4.01 per cent yesterday, despite the cancellations. The enforcement action was announced after the market had closed.

OUR COMMENT: This must mean that MAG's intended planning applcation for increasing the number of passengers and flights allowed from Stansted airport must be reconsidered, Ryanair has made a big contribution to the number of flights to and from Stansted over the years and no estimates of future Stansted airport passenger numbers can be regarded as reliable until the present situation is clarified.

Pat Dale


BBC News - 27 September 2017

Ryanair will cancel another 18,000 flights between November and March, affecting the travel plans of another 400,000 passengers.

It will fly 25 fewer planes to cut the risk of further flight cancellations. A total of 34 routes will be suspended this winter, including Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast and Newcastle to Faro.

Earlier this month the Irish airline cancelled up to 50 flights a day through to the end of October. It blamed the summer cancellations on "messing up" pilot holiday rosters.

Ryanair said suspending more flights meant it could "roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary" in October, November and December.


BBC News - 27 September 2017

Passengers affected by the move will be offered alternative flights or full refunds and had been emailed about advising them of flight changes occurring until the end of October. They will also be offered vouchers of 40 euros (35) one way or 80 euros return towards on alternative flights on top of any refund.

The airline again denied it had a pilot shortage as some have claimed: "In the current year less than 100 of over 2,000 captains left Ryanair (mainly retirements or to long haul airlines) and less than 160 F.O's [first officers] who have mainly left to join long haul airlines."

Ryanair added that it had more than 2,500 pilots on a waiting list and had offered jobs to more than 650 new pilots who would be join by May next year. In addition, ten days after saying it was preparing to buy the Italian carrier Alitalia, Ryanair said it would drop the bid to "eliminate all management distractions".

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "From today, there will be no more rostering-related flight cancellations this winter or in summer 2018. Slower growth this winter will create lots of spare aircraft and crews, which will allow us to manage the exceptional volumes of annual leave we committed to delivering in the nine months to December 2017."

The airline also said the total cost of the flight cancellations to date was less 25m euros (22m) and expected the cost of the free flight vouchers would be less than 22m.

It said that it has had to scale back its original forecast for passenger numbers in the year to March 2018 from 131m to 129m but it said that it would not affect profitability. Ryanair's share price rose 3% in London, bringing the rise this year to 17%.


Nick Ferrari - LBC Online - 22 September 2017

This RyanAir pilot was so angry by boss Michael O'Leary's comments about his employees that he called LBC to reveal all about the company's working practices.

After having to cancel numerous flights due to a lack of pilots, Mr O'Leary said: "I would challenge any pilot to explain how this is a difficult job or how it is they are overworked, or how anybody who by law can't fly more than 18 hours a week could possibly be suffering from fatigue."

John in Stansted was livid at that remark and called Nick Ferrari to set the record straight. He revealed that pilots have to pay just for an interview with RyanAir and then have to pay 26,000 for training, during which they don't receive a penny from the airline for the six month period. He even stated that pilots have to take their own water on flights as they are not even given a staff discount.

His call was a fascinating insight into the way that the company work - and why they are struggling with the number of pilots. LBC has asked RyanAir for a response.


Phil Davies - Business Weekly Online - 19 September 2017

A major recruitment drive is being started by Manchester Airports Group in response to expected growth over the next 15 years.

The MAG Connect initiative will visit areas close to the group's four airports to seek new staff. The first is being staged at a jobs fair in Tottenham in north London, 35 minutes away from Stansted by train. The airport and train operator are providing support for people in the area who want to work at Stansted by providing an 80% discount on rail fares.

The MAG Connect concept will continue to be developed in key target areas around its airports at Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth. Other more long-term elements of the scheme will include a new Technical Skills College at Stansted in partnership with Harlow College.

The airports group expects to play a key role in meeting growing demand for air travel before a new runway is built in the south-east of England. MAG runs the two biggest airports in the UK with significant current runway capacity. Manchester airport will see a new terminal and other facilities added over the coming decade in an 1 billion investment while 130 million is being spent on a new arrivals building at Stansted.

MAG's four UK airports are estimated to have generated economic activity worth 7.1 billion in the last year, a 15% annual increase. A claimed 5,000 jobs were created on airport and in the supply chain as a result of this growth, in industries like construction, tourism and transport, and in businesses that rely on connections to global import and export markets.

MAG chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: "Our airports are critical contributors to the ongoing economic health of the country, providing a gateway for welcome foreign investment and ensuring that the UK is able to meet the growing demand from international leisure and business travellers. Increasingly, our airports are also providing hubs for a vibrant global air cargo industry, spurred on by the huge growth in e-commerce."

"We also know that delivering growth in the right way is key to securing the support of our stakeholders, and as our airports continue to grow over the coming years, we recognise the importance to local communities of being able to deliver this growth while managing the environmental impacts associated with our operations."

Employment minister Damian Hinds added: "With record levels of employment, businesses should be looking for new ways to fill vacancies. Today's announcement will not only help more local people find work, it's also an excellent example of a company working innovatively with Jobcentre Plus to benefit the local Tottenham area."


Phil Davies - Business Weekly Online - 15 September 2017

Spare airport capacity available today must be used to generate the biggest positive impact for consumers and the economy, the government is being urged by the new boss of Stansted.

Chief executive, Ken O'Toole, called for a national aviation strategy, being considered as part of plans for a third runway at Heathrow, that supports other airports to grow. He also reiterated industry calls for the reform of Air Passenger Duty.

The UK has the highest rates of aviation taxation of any developed nation by some margin, which inhibits demand and affects the ability to compete against EU and global competitors for airline capacity, he told the London Infrastructure Summit.

O'Toole claimed that a lot more can be done to improve the UK's connectivity with the rest of the world to ensure it succeeds as an outward-facing trading nation as the country prepares to leave the EU and at a time when airport capacity is at a premium.

He said: "The UK is going to need the aviation industry to be at the top of its game over the next 10-15 years to build a prosperous and global Britain. First and foremost, we need to ensure that we make the most productive and efficient use of the capacity we have already. We will shortly be applying to raise our planning cap so that we can make full use of our runway. Securing that approval would enable Stansted to meet 50% of London's expected passenger growth over the next decade, double our economic output to 2 billion and create thousands of new jobs."

O'Toole also stressed the importance of rail and road connectivity. "If we are serious about getting the most from our airports, joined up thinking on road, rail and aviation policies should be a priority for government," he said.

"In the case of Stansted, a key priority is creating the best possible rail links from the airport to London and Cambridge. Faster journey times will not only expand our reach but also, and most importantly, strengthen our ability to attract the increasing number of long-haul airlines that wish to serve London. Stansted offers the 'primary growth opportunity' in the south over the next 15 years and businesses and passengers will reap the benefits with increased global connectivity, trade opportunities and more choice."


Ian Sheppard - Air Online Weekly News - 11 September 2017

The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has released a position paper in which it calls for the parties in Brexit negotiations to "safeguard the air traffic network in the European region" for the good of the economy and consumers.

Released on September 7, the paper explains ERA's views on Brexit, the popular term used for the UK vote on June 23, 2016, to leave the European Union. In a statement the association said, "ERA believes it is essential that a wide-reaching aviation agreement is reached between the EU and the UK at least 12 months before the deadline for negotiation ends in March 2019."

The UK-based association said the position paper is designed to "assist policymakers and those involved in the negotiations regarding the future aviation arrangements between the EU and the UK. Europe has one of the most liberal and effective air transport markets in the world," the statement continued, "facilitated by the deregulation of the industry." The paper makes three core recommendations that ERA believes are the minimum required to "maintain a healthy, well-connected European aviation industry."

First, the association calls for an EU-UK bilateral agreement "comprehensively guided by the spirit of EU Regulation 1008/2008." This, it said, will minimize service disruption. Second, it suggests that particular attention should be paid in the bilateral agreement to protecting four key principles enshrined in 1008/2008, namely the conditions for granting an operating license; the requirements to obtain an air operator's certificate (AOC); the provision on leasing; and the provision of intra-community air services.

Third, ERA would like to see "the continued application of EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) regulatory standards to UK operators and undertakings to support common safety compliance and a competitive, harmonized supply chain (for aircraft parts and materials) across the wider European region."

Caroline O'Sullivan, ERA's manager for policy and technical matters, commented: "ERA's position is focused on ensuring open and free traffic rights for all EU and UK carriers between the EU and the UK. ERA is also focusing on ensuring that EASA regulations continue to apply to the UK carriers and that the EU and UK carriers can continue to freely lease aircraft to each other without prior approval."

The ERA paper warns that having no agreement in place would have a "negative impact... All traffic rights between the EU and the UK would lapse, leaving uncertainty for businesses, consumers and aviation on the future of air services between the EU and the UK." It continues, "If there is no legal foundation established to underpin traffic rights?by March 2018, European flight operations will face paralysis."

The association is in the process of appointing a new director general and will hold its annual General Assembly in Athens, Greece, from October 17 to 19.


Alister Osborne, Business Commentary - The Times - 8 September 2017

Few things in life are as exciting as government consultations. So, little wonder the one on the draft Airports National Policy Statement has proved such a hit. It's produced more than 70,000 responses. So, here's some cracking news. They can all write in again - because the forecasts are wrong.

No, Chris Grayling didn't put it quite like that. But the transport secretary's latest "update" on the planned 17.6 billion third runway at Heathrow certainly invites the question. Thanks to his boss calling her daft election, he was unable to include key info in the 16-week public consultation that ended in May. So, he's now proposing a "short period of further consultation".

And, what is this info, you ask? Oh, the "revised aviation demand forecasts and the government's final air quality plan". Or, to put it another way, the two main issues, alongside noise pollution, that determine whether Heathrow really is a better option than a 7.1 billion second runway at Gatwick.

Take the traffic forecasts. The government's decision - and the consultation - was based on the ones in the Airports Commission report. But even Mr Grayling would admit they are hopelessly wrong. Sir Howard Davies's commission had 2013 figures to go on, but for bizarre reasons used a "model base year" of 2008 to extrapolate trends.

The upshot? Laughable estimates for Gatwick, not least because the commission's oil price forecast was far too high. So, it missed the effect of cheap oil on demand for low-fare airlines, such as Easyjet - Gatwick's biggest customer. The result? It reckoned the airport wouldn't handle 46 million passengers a year until 2040. In fact, it's almost there already: 45.2 million in the 12 months to August. Not only that: it claimed that, even with two runways, Gatwick wouldn't have 50 long-haul flights a year until 2050. It already has 60.

From air traffic forecasts follow all sorts of other issues, not least the projects' economic benefits. Even on the old figures, the difference is tiny once you adjust for transfer traffic, which brings no real benefits to the UK. On updated forecasts, Gatwick may well be in front.

And on air quality, there's only one winner. Heathrow's in breach of EU nitrogen dioxide limits, mainly because of the cars on the M4, M25 and M40. Moreover, it's hard to spot anything in the new air quality plan that will solve that before the runway's planned 2025 opening.

In short, the new information, when it's published, could radically change the case for and against Heathrow. Mr Grayling insists that the new period of consultation, due to "begin later this year", won't change the timetable for the final national policy statement - and an MPs' vote in the first half of 2018.

But people need time to respond: a point that must be made by Sir Jeremy Sullivan, the former lord justice of appeal, whose job it is to ensure the consultation is "fair and thorough". Mr Grayling's latest "update" may have bigger ramifications than he thinks.


Independent adviser also calls for consultation to be
reopened because of impact of snap general election

Jim Dunton - CivilServiceWorld Online - 7 September 2017

An independent adviser tasked with overseeing the impartiality of this year's consultation on the expansion of Heathrow Airport has criticised a Department for Transport leaflet created to publicise the process.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling appointed former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Jeremy Sullivan to oversee the consultation on plans for a third runway at the airport in October last year. The consultation began in February in tandem with the publication of the government's Draft Airports National Policy Statement.

Sullivan's report on the consultation, which ran until May 25, generally praises the impartiality of the exercise, but highlighted particular failings with a pamphlet distributed to 1.5m homes that listed 20 one-off events for local residents most affected by the proposals to attend, but failed to list venues or times.

Sullivan said the pamphlet - titled "Heathrow Expansion - Have Your Say" - had been "the one instance" when the government's tight timescale for putting together the consultation had produced "unfortunate consequences".

"The department was the victim of its own ambition: to print and distribute 1.5m leaflets for a consultation commencing on 2 February 2017, with the first of twenty local events taking place on 13 February," he said. "I was told by the department that the explanation for criticism was that the addresses of all the venues were not known by the date when the printing of the leaflets had to begin in order to ensure that a sufficient quantity of leaflets was available to be delivered well in advance of the first week's local events. That excuse is not adequate because the department should have anticipated (and no doubt will in future consultations) that difficulty when deciding upon the start date for the consultation."

The pamphlet listed a borough or town and a date for each event, but not the precise location and time. Sullivan said that while criticisms that the pamphlet had been "propaganda" and "uninformative" had been made, residents who wished to attend the events it flagged up would have been able to find out venue information and times online or elsewhere.

His report, which is dated July 2017 but which was only published today, also urged the government to reopen the consultation because prime minister Theresa May's calling of June's snap general election had meant the exercise's final days had been covered by the pre-election purdah period.

"If best practice is to be adhered to, it will be necessary to re-open the consultation in order to deal fairly with the unfinished business," he said. "And it will be necessary to re-open the consultation for a period which is sufficiently long both to make up for some loss of time (particularly for local authorities) during the purdah period, and to enable consultees to have a fair opportunity to consider the implications of the final modified Air Quality plan and the final passenger demand forecasts. My provisional view is that this period would need to be not less than eight weeks, excluding main school holiday periods."

In a written ministerial statement to parliament today, Chris Grayling confirmed that the consultation would be reopened for "a short period" to allow updated evidence to be taken into account. "This further consultation will focus mainly on the specific elements of the NPS affected, and is expected to begin later this year," he said.

The DfT told Civil Service World it accepted there were shortcomings in relation to the level of detail on consultation events contained in the pamphlet but said it had learned from the experience.


Businesses in Essex are being invited to have their say on
Stansted Airport's plans to increase its annual passenger cap to 44.5m

Duncan Brodie - EADT Online - 6 September 2017

Numbers at Stansted have just passed the 25m mark for the first time, with the airport currently subject to a maximum of 35m passengers a year. In June, however, the airport gave formal notice of its intention to apply for the cap to be raised to 44.5m passengers year, representing the maximum possible use of its existing single runway.

And, next week, Essex Chambers of Commerce is staging an event in conjunction with Stansted Airport and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) at which businesses will be able to learn more about the proposal and offer their thoughts.

Speakers will include Paul Willis, Stansted's transformation project director, who will outline its aspiration to grow the number of airlines using the airport and to develop new routes, and Christian Brodie, chairman of SELEP, who will set out the region's Strategic Economic Plan and the importance of the airport development.

The event is being held on Wednesday, September 13, at the Park Inn by Radisson Harlow hotel in Southern Way, Harlow, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

News of Stansted's plans to seek an increase in its passenger cap were broadly welcomed by the business community but are being opposed by the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, which has warned of the impact of an increase in flights on the environment.


Victoria Ibitoire - Daily Mail Online - 1 September 2017

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary believes UK airlines face hardship post Brexit. Mr O'Leary said UK carriers may no longer fly between EU destinations. He said European airlines want to undermine British airlines like BA and easyJet. Such measures could see British consumers paying extra for flights abroad. Europe's biggest airlines are conspiring to punish UK rivals after Britain leaves the EU.

In a move that would result in rocketing fares and fewer flights for British passengers, some of the Continent's biggest carriers are advocating a tough post-Brexit aviation deal. Leaked briefing documents seen by the Daily Mail show they want British airlines to be treated as 'third country citizens' in a move that would severely reduce the number of routes they can operate within the EU.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, suggested German and French airlines were lining up to 'shaft' British Airways and easyJet as a result of the Brexit process. European airlines such as Lufthansa want to stop their British rivals from flying between EU destinations following Brexit which would restrict their access to the market.

Germany's Lufthansa, French-owned KLM and TAP Portugal are among the foreign carriers that have backed the briefing - which pushes for the UK to lose its coveted 'cabotage' rights that enable airlines to fly freely in and around the EU. easyJet, Jet2 and Monarch would not be able fly within or between EU countries.

The European airlines are also pushing for the UK to be granted an aviation agreement similar to those of Israel and Morocco, conferring only 'third party' status. In these cases, EU states decide who can fly, how many flights can be operated and where passengers can fly to.

James Daley, of Fairer Finance, said: "This is just another trap that the British Government are going to have to navigate as they proceed with their Brexit negotiations. It's up to the Government to ensure that they negotiate a fair deal which protects the interest of British citizens."

Emma Coulthurst, of holiday price comparison site Travel Supermarket, said: "If the number of flights which a UK airline can take to an airport is restricted, prices are likely to rise."

Airlines UK, whose members include easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Thomas Cook and Monarch, said it was aware of the briefing document, which has been circulating since May 11. Tim Alderslade, its chief executive, said: "We would encourage ministers to seek as liberal and open arrangements as possible, including cabotage rights. This is a technical issue that needs to be resolved but we fully expect flights to be protected because the benefits to both consumers and companies across the UK and the rest of Europe are so significant."

But Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said: "The French and Germans aren't sitting on the sidelines. They're going to actively shaft BA and easyJet. This is a historic opportunity for them and it's in their briefing document - no internal flights between Europe for any UK airline even if there is a bilateral agreement. easyJet are s******* themselves."

It came after Mr O'Leary, who earns 3million a year, claimed he is underpaid and feels 'unloved and under-appreciated'. Discussing Theresa May's proposals to crack down on CEO's salaries, he added: "I think company bosses are remarkably badly paid. If you can have Wayne Rooney getting 300,000 a week and Alexis Sanchez on 400,000, I am seriously underpaid. I don?t score as many goals but I employ a lot more people and I make a much bigger contribution to the UK economy."

Mr O'Leary branded the PM's plans to force firms to publish the pay gap between the boss and the average worker and make list of companies where at least 20 per cent of investors vote against boardroom wages as 'inane bureaucratic nonsense'.

Leading economists have agreed with the Ryanair boss on Mrs May's proposals. Julian Jessop of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: "The aim should be to raise the incomes of the poorest, rather than to penalise success at the top".

OUR COMMENT: All part of the Brexit arguments?

Pat Dale


Leader - TTG Media Online - 31 August 2017

The latest Brexit news to emerge last week made for worrying reading. UK air traffic faces a "catastrophic slump" read an exclusive story by Sky News, after it obtained a confidential report submitted to government by Gatwick, Heathrow, London City, Manchester and Stansted airports.

The story wasn't new. It repeated a warning that Ryanair has been shouting about for months - that unless an agreement on Open Skies is secured, then the UK could witness a 41% fall in passenger demand between March 2018 and March 2019. That means the loss of 8.1 million bookings between the UK and EU.

Coming in the same week that latest figures showed net migration had fallen to its lowest level for three years following a surge in the number of EU nationals leaving the UK since the Brexit vote last year, it made for rather worrying reading. When you add in the restrictions on employing UK staff in Europe that may emerge, at the risk of sounding like a Remoaner, combined together these points are undeniably concerning.

Employing EU staff is key for companies across travel, including the thousands of Brits employed by the UK travel industry working abroad in Europe. A report released earlier this month by the European Tourism Association (Etoa) quizzed 100 of its UK members as to how they would cope if they had to recruit all non-UK EU staff using a formal immigration procedure. Almost half (49%) said they would see productivity "greatly reduced". Even more concerning, around 20% of Etoa's members said they were thinking of relocating their head office to an EU country.

Such reports will likely be dismissed by Brexiteers as alarmist and scaremongering. The problem is, when they keep being repeated by senior figures from across the business world, they become harder to ignore.

MPs will be returning from their holidays ahead of the reconvening of parliament on September 5. The shockingly poor exchange rate will have reminded them of the need to start getting on with the Brexit negotiations. The worrisome reports greeting them will be a sharp indication of what could happen if they don't.


Abbie Weaving - Eadt Online - 10 July 2017

A campaign group fighting plans to expand Stansted Airport says residents should not be 'tricked' into thinking the proposals are sustainable. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) made the claims following a series of public exhibitions held by the airport in an effort to explain its latest plans.

The airport is hoping to submit a planning application to Uttlesford District Council, in which it proposes to lift the passenger cap of 35 million a year to 44.5 million by 2030.

Since the exhibitions started though, SSE says surveys are designed to trick people into thinking plans will be sustainable, when the environmental impacts of the expansion are yet to be assessed.

Brian Ross, the group?s deputy chairman, said: "The portrayal of the potential impacts that would arise from further expansion at Stansted is deliberately misleading and the public should be very, very sceptical about the claims being made to try to push through its proposals. The airport's so-called roadshow has all the hallmarks of a sales pitch for time-share apartments. It's all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives."

As well as more passengers, the airport also hopes to increase its aircraft movements from 274,000 a year to 285,000, meaning it would offer an extra 11,000 flights every 12 months.

SSE is urging people to question the plans and says that if they go ahead, residents will see an aircraft flying overhead every 85 seconds compared to the current rate of a couple of minutes. The resulting impact on the environment, the group says, will be "significantly worsened", with more noise and air pollution.

Speaking earlier this year, Stansted Airport CEO, Andrew Cowan said: "We know that growth is a sensitive and important issue for people living close to airports and we are committed to engaging, listening and sharing as much information as possible as we develop our plans."

The exhibitions will run until July 17 with the next session on July 12 at Braintree Town Hall, from 3pm to 8pm. Those unable to attend can share their views at ourstansted.com or by emailing consultation@stanstedairport.com. Alternatively, SSE is urging people to write to Uttlesford District Council's planning department.


Rebecca Smith - City AM Online - 10 July 2017

Heathrow's third runway will not be enough to support growing demand as all of the capital's airports will be stretched near capacity by 2025, business leaders warned today.

A new report by London First calls on the government to push forward with an aviation strategy that helps support growth and competition, by looking at flight movement limits and removing artificial caps on growth, such as those at Stansted. This would enable the airport to provide capacity for around an additional seven to nine million passengers a year.

It notes "clear demand" for further runway capacity in the south east beyond the third runway, and says proposals for future expansion at the capital's airports should also be enabled to come forward in "a far more timely and market-based way".

Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: "Government's backing for expansion at Heathrow was hugely welcome and a significant boost to British business, but it took 50 years to get to this stage. Government has to step up and help get the UK into the best possible shape ahead of Brexit, by supporting investment and recognising that the UK's global standing requires action beyond building a vital new runway at Heathrow."

The business group flagged the importance of improvements on links to the airport, notably rail, saying business case development should take place on a new Crossrail station at London City Airport. Other rail links considered crucial were investment in the Brighton main line as a "vital link" for City commuters and Gatwick passengers, and the confirmation of Western rail access to Heathrow.

While passenger experience has "improved considerably" in recent years thanks to significant investment by the airports, the report said more could be done to ensure "a high quality at our borders". Long queues and inefficient processes need to be clamped down on, as they send "a terrible signal to people wanting to come to the UK to visit or do business".

The five largest airports in London and the south east account for around 150m passengers annually, and the capital attracts more international overnight visitors than any other city in the world. The report says it is the UK's "international gateway for talent, tourists and investment".

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "Delivering new runway capacity in the south east is vital to the future of the UK, boosting our economy and our position on the world stage. We are working with Heathrow and TfL to give passengers the best possible access and just last week plans were announced to increase Elizabeth Line services to the airport, including new trains to Terminal 5. We want to improve transport links to help our airports grow and we are committed to the 15bn Crossrail programme, which will serve Heathrow and the 6bn Thameslink upgrades which will benefit Gatwick."

OUR COMMENT: Has the Paris Climate agreement (recently reaffirmed) been forgotten? This has already led to a ceiling on the extra number of flights that can be allowed.

Pat Dale


Charlotte Page - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 9 July 2017

A campaign group has claimed that the consultations being held by Stansted Airport to discuss its expansion plans are 'deliberately misleading'.

On Thursday (July 6) meetings began for residents to share their thoughts and concerns on the proposal which will see Stansted become the second biggest airport in the UK. This would happen by making maximum use of its existing runway.

The group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) however, has issued a warning across the region. Brian Ross, the deputy chairman for SSE, said: "The portrayal of the potential impacts that would arise from further expansion at Stansted is deliberately misleading and the public should be very, very sceptical about the claims being made to try to push through its proposals."

"The airport's so-called roadshow has all the hallmarks of a sales pitch for time-share apartments. It's all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives."

Residents attending the roadshow are asked to fill in a survey which the group say is designed to "trick people into thinking that further expansion at the airport will be painless and sustainable, before the environmental impacts have even been assessed." They add that the results will be biased as they believe the questions favour the airport's plans.

SSE has also raised concerns about the extra passenger numbers meaning approximately two extra flights per hour, but the group say that in reality, the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week.

A spokesman on behalf of SSE, continued: "This translates into an aircraft overflying during daytime hours from the current average of a plane every two and a quarter minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds. Noise, air quality and especially road and rail transport impacts would all be significantly worsened in contrast to the airport's claim that there will be 'no significant adverse environmental effects'."


Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 9 July 2017

A spokesman on behalf of Stansted Airport said: "Stansted Airport already has permission to serve 35 million passengers a year, subject to a range of environmental limits including a robust cap on noise impacts. We are seeking local people's views at the consultation events on how we can make full use of our single runway by serving beyond 35 million passengers in the future whilst continuing to operate within the same environmental limits and current airport boundary."

Stansted Airport is holding seven more consultations in the area for residents to attend.

SSE has suggested that people share their thoughts to Uttlesford District Council's planning department via e-mail or through their online portal.


Martin Ford - Hertfordshire Mercury - 8 June 2017

Stansted Airport's CEO has promised it will be "cleaner, quieter and smarter" as it bids to increase the number of passengers passing through annually by nine million.

The airport's owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has taken the first steps in increasing capacity to 44 million passengers a year by 2030. A planning application is being prepared to make use of spare capacity by raising its current cap of 35 million.

Stansted's CEO, Andrew Cowan, said: "Stansted will be critical in supporting the UK's economic growth and increasing our global competitiveness. Making the most of existing capacity at Stansted over the next ten to 15 years is a strategic priority. We have always been committed to meeting future demand in the most sustainable and efficient way possible."

Mr Cowan also pledged to listen to residents living nearby, and the airport will be running a consultation. The proposals have divided opinion in neighbouring Bishop's Stortford, where the prospect of more jobs has been welcomed, but concerns remain over a possible increase in air pollution and added pressure on transport and housing.

Mr Cowan added: "In the coming months we will be continuing to talk to those with an interest in Stansted's growth, including local residents, businesses and airline partners to ensure we maximise the social and economic benefits and address any impacts. We know that growth is a sensitive and important issue for people living close to airports and we are committed to engaging, listening and sharing as much information as possible as we develop our plans and thinking. We take our responsibilities to the communities around the airport seriously, and as part of our growth plan we will focus on operating in cleaner, quieter and smarter ways."

The boost to employment was emphasised by Mr Cowan, who highlighted the technical college being created with Harlow College. "We will remain focused on providing employment opportunities for local people, building on the fantastic education, jobs and training schemes we have in place," he said. We constantly monitor the air quality around the airport and have always met our clean air targets. At the same time, our airlines have invested heavily in quieter fleets of aircraft helping to reduce our noise footprint. We are also proud that over 50 per cent of passengers use public transport and will continue to push for better rail links to the airport."

The airport will announce the details of its consultation programme "in the coming weeks".

We will try and keep you up to date with events relating to the plans for the expansion of Stansted Airport. We invite any interested organisations or individuals to send us their own news. Please send contributions as a Word attachment to Pat Dale.

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