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GOVERNMENT PRESSES AHEAD WITH THIRD RUNWAY PLAN
Air pollution around Heathrow is getting worse as the Government
presses ahead with plans for a third runway, it has been revealed.
Nicholas Cecil - Standard News Online - 6 April 2017
Nitrogen dioxide levels rose at nine out of 12 monitors in west London within two kilometres (1.24 miles) of the airport between 2015 and 2016, according to provisional data. At two sites in Hillingdon and Hayes it remained in breach of EU limits. At another, Oxford Avenue in Hillingdon, the average NO2 level spiralled from 32 micrograms per cubic metre of air to almost hitting the legal limit of 40.
Campaigners against a third runway seized on the revelations to cast further doubt on whether the airport can expand within EU air quality rules.
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: "The key fact that Heathrow cannot hide is that air quality around the airport is going in the wrong direction. It is going to be harder than ever for Heathrow to build a third runway and stay within legal air pollution limits."
A report, published on the Heathrow Airwatch website, admitted that NO2 concentrations increased at many of the monitoring sites between 2015 and 2016 but stressed that this had happened across the South-East so "indicated" the specific rises were not the result of changes in local activities.
It emphasised that the annual average NO2 concentration remained below the EU limit at nine of the 11 monitoring sites outside the airport boundary within 2km of Heathrow.
It added that at the Hillingdon and Hayes monitoring stations, north of the M4, which were above the legal level, airport emissions from all sources contributed 16 per cent and six per cent of total nitrogen oxides respectively.
Another monitor near the northern runway recorded a reading of 47 micrograms per cubic metre, up three on 2015, but the report stressed that the EU limits did not apply as the public do not have access to this area. The report stressed that the number of aircraft movements made by the newest, cleanest aircraft had increased to more than 20 per cent in 2016 and continued to rise. Particulate PM10 pollution at the monitoring sites were within the EU limits.
The Government has backed another runway at Heathrow, rather than expanding Gatwick. Heathrow stressed that it took its "environmental obligations seriously" and that new public transport would transform access to Heathrow to cut road traffic emissions.
However, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon council, said: "Local residents are well aware of the air quality issue and that Heathrow are doing insufficient work to mitigate it." Heathrow Airwatch is funded by a joint working partnership of Heathrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne councils and British Airways.
A DfT spokesman said: "Delivering new runway capacity in the south east is vital to the future of the UK, both in terms of boosting our economy and our position on the world stage. The consultation currently underway clearly sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion, and we want to hear everyone's views as part of this process. This is accompanied by a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support local communities. We take our environmental obligations extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met."
OUR COMMENT: A warning to all airports. More flights, more transport, then air pollution is inevitable.
LETTER OF THE DAY: ACTION NOT WORDS
ON NIGHT-FLIGHT BAN
"Have your say" Standard News Online - 6 April 2017
Night flights are a source of pure misery for communities under the flight path and the Chancellor is kidding himself if he thinks the partial ban recommended by the Airports Commission will satisfy them ["Ministers 'only backed third Heathrow runway if night flight ban remained'", April 3].
As Philip Hammond knows, the Government has already cut back the modest reduction in night flying and the airlines are fighting tooth and nail to trim it further. The only way to prove a night flight ban can be delivered is to introduce it now.
While we residents are allowed six-and-a-half hours free from plane noise during the night, the price we pay is a reduction in the respite from aircraft noise during the day.
Personally, I find the non-stop noise during the day just as distressing as being woken up at 4.30am.
PASSENGERS COULD LOSE OUT IN BREXIT AVIATION TUSSLE
Pádraig Hoare - Irish Examiner Online - 23 March 2017
A leading aviation analyst has warned passengers could be the biggest casualty after the EU ordered UK-based airlines to relocate to EU countries or sell shares to EU nationals to avoid losing major routes.
Mark Simpson of Goodbody said continuing uncertainty could lead to consumers being most affected in the long run as disruption was prolonged.
According to reports, EU officials have told airlines they will need to move bases and have the majority of European shareholders if they wanted to fly routes within continental Europe, after Brexit.
Mr Simpson said: ?This could rumble on for years. What we simply don't know is how old bilateral agreements will end up and how negotiations will be progressed. A compromise may well only be decided at the 11th hour. There are two easy sectors for the EU to talk tough on - aviation and financial services. The concern is that political posturing will win out."
Despite Ryanair being Irish registered with headquarters in Dublin, the company conceded that uncertainty was harming business. A spokesperson said: "This uncertainty will continue to represent a challenge for our business for the remainder of financial years 2017 and 2018."
"While there may be opportunities to expand at certain UK airports, such as the recent extension of our growth deal at Stansted, we expect to grow at a slower pace than previously planned in the UK and will continue to switch capacity into other key markets around Europe."
Ryanair reiterated its call that the UK remain part of Europe's Open Skies system. Aer Lingus and British Airways owner IAG said it would "continue to comply with the relevant ownership and control regulations".
EUROPEAN AIRPORTS CALL ON EU,
BRITAIN TO AGREE BACK-UP PLAN FOR AVIATION
Julia Fioretti and Victoria Bryan - Reuters Online - 21 March 2017
European airports on Tuesday called on Britain and the EU to agree a back-up plan for post-Brexit flying should they fail to agree a new relationship before Britain quits the bloc, saying a return to decades-old traffic rights deals should be avoided.
European Union-based airlines have the right to fly to and from any country in the bloc or even within other member states thanks to the single aviation market created in the 1990s. Britain's vote to leave the EU means it has to renegotiate that access, but the ruling out of sectoral deals by EU officials has rattled the aviation industry, which has to plan.
ACI Europe - the trade association representing Europe's airports - said it was concerned about the lack of back-up or transitional plan should Britain and the EU fail to agree a new relationship within the two-year time frame provided for in EU treaties.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that no deal is better than a bad deal with the EU, but for aviation, in the worst case scenario the uncertainty could ground planes.
"As responsible businesses, at this stage we simply cannot rule out a cliff-edge scenario for Brexit and aviation," ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec said in a statement. "This means that adequate contingencies need to be established promptly in case the UK would exit the EU without any agreement on its future relationship with the bloc."
Airlines last week called on Britain to provide clarity on post-Brexit flying arrangements given that flight schedule planning for summer 2019, when Britain is due to be out of the EU, will begin in a year's time.
The absence of a deal governing flying rights between the EU and Britain after the 2-year negotiating period ends could mean airlines having to rely on older, more restrictive bilateral provisions between the United Kingdom and the other 27 EU member states, ACI Europe said. "We would prefer not to fall back on those bilaterals, but to get some sort of transition agreement that what we have today can be safeguarded. But what we are hearing is that if there is no agreement, there is also no transitional agreement," Jankovec told journalists in London.
Britain said on Monday it would send Brussels its official exit notification on March 29, triggering two years of negotiations.
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)
A SUSTAINABLE AIRPORT?
ALTERNATIVE FACTS ON PLANES AND POLLUTION
David Howarth, University of Essex & Steven Griggs, De Montfort University - 17 March 2017
Aviation or ice shelves? The choice is ours.
The facts are simple: a new London runway means more planes, more noise, more pollution and more global warming, write David Howarth & Steven Griggs. The 'Heathrow 2.0' initiative's conflation of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable growth' and its avoidance of climate change reek of Trumpian 'alternative facts'.
"Most concerning is that this absence of leadership betrays the emergence of a new 'post-sustainable' aviation, designed to accommodate the challenges of Brexit. The justifications and mechanisms for an expansionist agenda are carefully being assembled."
Britain and Europe's largest airport is not the most obvious target for an eco-friendly rebranding. Yet Heathrow Airport recently unveiled a new sustainability strategy, Heathrow 2.0, to counter growing opposition to its expansion plans. Both the government and an independent Airports Commission have backed proposals to construct a new third runway at London's largest airport hub. But the plans remain highly contested, with ongoing concerns about noise pollution, air quality and rising carbon emissions. Heathrow expansion has become an emblematic issue in the fight against climate change.
At first glance, it is tempting to dismiss the launch of Heathrow 2.0 as yet another attempt at greenwashing. Indeed, those in favour of the new runway have made sustained efforts to depoliticise the issue ever since the 2010-2015 coalition government declared its ambition to put the environment and local well-being ahead of Heathrow's growth.
An airport that exists above politics gives the illusion that no one has to choose between more planes and more pollution, or fewer planes and cleaner air. In fact, the current plans to render its new runway carbon neutral echo the failed policy of 'sustainable aviation' under the New Labour government. This strategy was quickly discredited by scientists and environmentalists, because of its 'have your cake and eat it' narrative, in which we could fly more and still cope with rising carbon emissions.
'Decoupling aviation growth from climate change' - really? Nonetheless, such arguments pepper Heathrow's new vision for corporate social responsibility.
Much is made of the expected benefits of new technologies and innovations, the role of increased connectivity in creating jobs, the enjoyment we gain from the social benefits of flying, and the commitment to carbon offsetting schemes to address rising emissions. Heathrow 2.0 even aspires to "'decouple' aviation growth from climate change" - a key pillar of the ideology of sustainable aviation.
Yet Heathrow's strategy at least engages with the idea of sustainable development, through what it calls "responsibility". It promises to improve its practices as an employer, committing to a London Living Wage, and it pledges to put an end to human and wildlife trafficking. It wants to produce a "zero-carbon airport" with reduced emissions and 'polluter pays' policies. Heathrow 2.0 might even satisfy local demands for better noise protection.
But it's the detail that really matters. In important respects, the plans lack clarity and ambition. Strategic priorities like a 'noise envelope' to cap the overall disturbance emanating from the airport are often stated, but not accompanied with clear targets. Similarly, it is questionable whether locals will be too enthusiastic about targets to reduce late running aircraft after 11.30pm from 330 in 2016 to 270 in 2017. Or whether they will welcome no arrivals before 4.30am without clarity over the agreement to ban night flights from 11pm to 6am.
Where is the government?
As Heathrow itself accepts, importantly, the airport cannot deliver on most of the claims it makes. Of course, a carbon neutral airport is a worthy ideal. But it is the flights themselves that cause most carbon emissions and account for much of the noise pollution, while traffic to and from the airport also creates air pollution. Heathrow cannot control or make guarantees about fixing any of this.
Indeed, at the heart of these limits to Heathrow 2.0 is the failure of the May government. The airport is simply trying to fill the void left by Theresa May and transport secretary Chris Grayling, who have abandoned their responsibility to offer policy leadership in this field.
A recent Heathrow report by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee criticised the government for its lax interpretation of air quality directives, its failure to address local health impacts, its overly ambitious targets for ultra-low emission vehicles, and its absence of detailed plans for road improvements and new rail access to the airport.
The committee also criticised the government for watering down proposals for an independent aviation noise authority and for not being clear about how to bridge the gap between theoretical models to reduce emissions and actual policy.
Most concerning is that this absence of leadership betrays the emergence of a new 'post-sustainable' aviation, designed to accommodate the challenges of Brexit. Gone are the attempts by the previous government to put climate change before new airports. In their place, the vital justifications and mechanisms for an expansionist agenda are carefully being assembled. The risk is that green concerns will be pushed further to the margins, as people are increasingly urged to believe that human progress and innovation are enough to meet environmental challenges.
In this emerging discourse, the demands of economic growth trump those of the environment and social well-being.
BREXIT, AIRLINES' WORST FEAR,
HAS BECOME THEIR PREOCCUPTATION
Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 9 March 2017
Operators flying in and out of UK are pursuing a legal framework to replace EU-wide agreements currently in place.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet: "A deregulated aviation market is in the interest of every passenger in Europe."
There is no shortage of metaphors for what airlines expect from Brexit: analysts talk of crosswinds, executives fear turbulence. For some, it is simply flying into thick fog with no idea where they are going to land.
No airline wanted Britain to vote leave in last year's referendum; easyJet and Ryanair campaigned against it. A single European market in aviation brought cheap flights spanning the continent, ever more passengers, trade and jobs. Why would they jeopardise that?
Now, Brexit is a huge preoccupation for airlines operating in and out of the UK - and airports, whose health is largely contingent on the success of short-haul European travel. Most obviously affected are the British low-cost airline easyJet and Dublin-based Ryanair, whose main market is the UK. Their share prices were hammered by the referendum: easyJet?s dropped by a third, wiping £2bn off its value in four days. They face, at the least, uncertainty, bureaucratic headaches and a runway of costly red tape.
The worst-case scenario of planes unable to fly between Britain and Europe is one that few foresee. But the legal framework underpinning international flights, wrapped up in EU membership, is set to disappear.
Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, says: "We don't know what's going to happen. We are spending a lot of time working with the commission and the government to say we believe a liberal and deregulated aviation market is in the interest of every single aviation passenger in Europe."
Airlines have argued that aviation is a special case. According to Brussels, that is deeply wishful thinking. The EU's highest-ranking mandarin for transport, Henrik Hololei, told the Guardian: "There will be no separate deal."
First comes a general Brexit deal, said Hololei, EU director-general for transport and mobility - one that could well limit the freedom of airlines to operate in and out of the UK. Brexit would "without doubt, have consequences" for airlines, he added. "They need to get a contingency plan."
Concerns include landing rights, operating licences and ownership rules. Prior to the EU and deregulation of the skies, landing rights were negotiated between individual states - treaties allocating airlines to specific airports. About 85% of Britain's international air traffic is currently governed by EU-wide agreements, including flights to Europe and North America, allowing open access for airlines. Those rights include the freedom for airlines to fly between, and within, other countries in Europe: for easyJet to operate between Nice and Nantes in France, for example, or for Ryanair to fly from Stansted to Glasgow.
EU membership may not be essential: members of the European Common Aviation Area include Norway and Baltic states, and Norwegian has become the third largest budget carrier on the continent. But obtaining similar conditions after Brexit is far from assured.
EasyJet is pursuing air operating licences from other countries to keep its intra-EU network running, a £10m insurance policy. Yet it will be powerless to assure future flights between Britain and the EU can operate as usual without governmental agreement.
A further headache once Britain leaves the EU could be ownership rules that limit foreign shareholders to a minority stake: under the Chicago convention underpinning international airline treaties, operators must be majority-owned by the government or nationals of their home territory - currently the whole EU. But once Britain leaves the EU, Ryanair will find 20% more of its shareholders classed as foreign, and may require some to sell.
EasyJet may be thankful that its main shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has dual British?Cypriot citizenship, allowing the airline to easily reach the 50% shareholding threshold it will need to be classed as either British or EU-owned. "If there is no deal by the time it leaves the EU, the UK's ability to trade will be made significantly more difficult" - Airport Operators Association.
Some suggest that International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, could run into red tape; but IAG's chief executive, Willie Walsh, insists that the group's structures, dating from the merger of BA and the Spanish airline Iberia in 2011, are Brexit-proof.
If cross-border issues are costly irritations to individual airlines, the bigger picture for Britain is more concerning. The Airport Operators Association warns: "If there is no agreement by the time the UK leaves the EU, the UK's connectivity will be undermined and its ability to trade will be made significantly more difficult."
Daily flight schedules that now start and end in Britain with business-friendly departure times may become less likely should, for example, easyJet have to shift increasing parts of its operations to bases within the EU. Ryanair has already said it will now grow its business in other EU countries rather than Britain.
Then there is the impact of the Brexit vote on passenger numbers. The slumping pound makes it harder for Britons to afford a foreign holiday, but easyJet puzzles over why it has not, conversely, lured in Europeans for a cheap break. "What we're really worried about is what it's doing to demand," says Sophie Dekkers, UK director of easyJet. "We've not seen any significant increase in inbound passengers. It's only a hypothesis, but it could be a feeling after the referendum they've been rejected - that Britain is not making them feel welcome."
Falling demand will make routes unviable, she says. That decline would be swiftly exacerbated should Brexit talks end with passengers needing visas. Paperwork swiftly deters leisure travellers, as easyJet found when tighter immigration rules killed off flights from the UK to Moscow that it had battled to secure.
The British government says it will continue to work closely with the industry, adding that it is in the interests of all European countries to maintain open air links - with British passengers vital, for example, for Dutch long-haul flights and Spanish tourism. A spokesman said: "The UK aviation industry is the largest in Europe, handling over 250 million passengers and 2.3m tonnes of cargo last year, benefiting both consumers and business in the EU and the UK. It will clearly be in the interests of both sides in the negotiation to maintain closely integrated aviation markets."
BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS, DOLLAR STRENGTH
LIKELY TO LOOM LARGE OVER THE EU AIRLINE
INDUSTRY AS IT GRAPPLES WITH OVER CAPACITY
Gaurav Sharma - Moody's Online - 3 March 2017
Brexit negotiations and dollar strength likely to loom large over the EU airlines already grappling with overcapacity, according to Moody's.
The operating profitability of European airlines is likely to decline in 2017 as a widening supply/demand gap would push yields lower, according to Moody's. In a new report for its clients, the global ratings agency noted that the combined fleet of Ryanair, easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle, the three largest low-cost operators in Europe, will grow 12%, far outstripping anticipated demand growth in the continent of 4%.
Sven Reinke, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's, said the development was likely have a negative impact on the industry. "With recent terrorist attacks in Europe and a stronger dollar, growth in passenger demand for air travel is slowing at the same time low-cost airlines are significantly ramping up capacity."
Moody's noted that incumbent airlines, such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France and SAS are likely to lose some market share to low-cost airlines as they begin to offer lower fares on the same routes. On short-haul routes, yields (measured in revenues per available seat kilometre) will likely drop further if Ryanair and easyJet lower their fares materially as they have indicated (15% for Ryanair, high single digits for EasyJet).
Overall, Moody's sees lower short-haul ticket prices across European airlines as inevitable if the two largest European short-haul airlines drop their prices. Furthermore, the agency opined that European carriers will increasingly feel the impact of the stronger dollar over the next couple of years "as a much larger portion of their cost base is denominated in dollars (i.e. with oil traded in dollars) compared to their revenues."
A double-whammy could follow if rising costs of dollar or dollar-linked holidays end up dampening demand from European tourists over the next 12 months. "At the same time, US tourists - who could offset lower European outbound bookings - might remain concerned about the threat of terrorism in Europe," Moody's added.
Brexit negotiations are also likely to loom large over the industry. Moody's said UK airlines such as BA and easyJet would not be the only ones affected if the UK exited the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) without a new bilateral agreement with the EU. "Euro area airlines with UK operations could also take a hit, particularly Ryanair, which generated 28% of its revenues in the UK in 2016," the agency concluded.
But that view is not necessarily shared abroad. One well-placed industry source notes: "Other governments will have airlines in their ear - upcoming low-cost airlines as well as legacy carriers - whispering that they see a lot of commercial, competitive advantages in keeping the UK out."
One executive does not discount the European commission's warning. Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair - who campaigned in vain against what he calls "the stupidest decision the Brits have ever made" - says: "There isn't going to be another arrangement. There's a real prospect that the UK will be dumped out."
MORE ON STANSTED AIRPORT AIR POLLUTION
- LIFE UNDER A FLIGHT PATH!
Letters - Dunmow Broadcast - 2 March 2017
I would like to respond to David Mason's letter (February 23) about Margaret Beer's letter (February 16).
Mrs Beer is not a nimby, as he calls her, and she does not live near the airport. I live in the same village as Mrs Beer and we are 17 miles approximately as the crow flies from the airport - and when we all bought our properties none of us was under a flight path. We have all been put in this intolerable position along with all the other villages between Stansted and Clacton by bureaucrats at the Civil Aviation Authority, NATS and Stansted Airport when they decided to change the flight path from the Dover route to the Clacton route.
This has been done to justify the third runway at Heathrow. To achieve this they held a consultation about the changes and everybody including independent aviation experts all said that this was not the best route, not one person said it was a good idea, so they ignored the results of the consultation that did not go in their favour.
They went ahead with the changes anyway. I suggest Mr Mason gets his facts right before calling somebody a nimby. The government and bureaucrats wanted this for their own purposes and didn't give any consideration to the misery they have caused to others.
If you think these planes do not make a noise, you should try sleeping when they fly overhead or try sitting in our gardens when they literally fly over every two minutes in the summer making it impossible to use your garden and sit outside.
Your letter is typical of somebody who has not had these issues forced on them, I don't think for one minute that you would have written such a letter if they had forced a change of flight path over your home.
OUR COMMENT: The original letter that is being objected to is from a retired NATS air traffic controller but doesn't shed any light or new information on the airspace change. The need for civil aviation is appreciated, that safety is paramount, that if you live near an airport you may suffer noise nuisance and that aircraft are less noisy than they were. And we know that Stansted's aircraft movements have risen considerably since it started life as a USAF base in 1942. Equally we know that the routes were changed for the benefit of NATS.
Somewhat worryingly, as a former NATS air traffic controller, he asserts that "Departures from Stansted runway 22 typically pass over High Easter well above 5,000ft and climbing higher. These are altitudes at which such aircraft are really not making any significant noise".
In fact, the results from the STAL flight monitoring in High Easter between June and September last year show a different picture. Firstly it shows that departures from Runway 22 were mainly spread over heights between 3,500ft and 7,500ft. Secondly it shows that more than half the arrivals to runway 04 near High Easter were lower than 5,000ft - something the former NATS air traffic controller omitted to say and the consequence of NATS' failure to implement Continuous Descent Approach. And he appears unaware that the Government considers aircraft noise to be an environmental harm up to 7,000ft.
SSE's Noise Adviser
COLOSSUS OF THE SKIES COMES TO BRITAIN:
WORLD'S BIGGEST PLANE TO BECOME REGULAR
VISITOR AFTER OPERATOR OPENS NEW BASE IN THE UK
Rory Tingle - Mail Online - 25 February 2017
Antonov An-225 Mriya - which can transport ten tanks - is expected to make appearances at airports in Britain.
Its Ukrainian operators have set up a base at Stansted as part of a drive to expand their presence in the UK.
The giant plane has made 11 trips to UK using airports including RAF Brize Norton, Manchester and Prestwick.
OUR COMMENT: More Noise!
RYANAIR: UK MUST CLARIFY BREXIT
AVIATION PLAN WITHIN A YEAR
The UK government has a year to release its post-Brexit
aviation strategy to avoid leaving airlines in limbo
TTG Media Online - 24 February 2017
Speaking at the launch of new routes for London, Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said if prime minister Theresa May sticks to her current timetable for leaving the EU, she will trigger the two-year process towards the end of March. However, with airlines being forced to plan route development a year ahead of launch, he argued the industry will need to be well briefed in what will happen in 12 months' time.
Most importantly of all will be whether or not the government is able to negotiate the UK's remaining in the EU's open skies arrangement or whether or not a series of bilateral agreements will need to be arranged.
Jacobs said: "There isn't a plan but we need to see the arrangements. We want to see open skies continue. We are now a year away from needing to know what will happen with open skies. If we don't know by this time next year what are airlines going to do?"
In the meantime, Jacobs predicted the forthcoming summer will see prices remain low thanks to predicted overcapacity in Europe as the number of seats grows by 6% compared to a 3% predicted increase in demand. This will be further compounded by airlines continuing to take advantage of last year's low oil prices - Jacobs said Ryanair is currently hedged at 85% at $49 a barrel.
He added: "It is going to be another year of soft fares which is great now for our customers."
Many of the soft fares will be available for the forthcoming winter season which will see the airline run its largest programme out of London.
Stansted will see the introduction of three new routes to Aalborg, Oradea and Pardubice while summer services to Cagliari, Copenhagen, Naples, Nice and Oslo Torp and Ponta Delgada will be extended into the winter. A further 13 Stansted routes will also see extra frequencies which, once combined with Ryanair's Gatwick and Luton programmes, will give the airline its biggest winter season yet.
INDIA AND UK SIGN DEAL TO EASE RESTRICTIONS ON FLIGHTS
STAT Trade Times - 10 February 2017
India and the UK have signed a MoU to ease restrictions on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries, following successful talks in India this week. Passengers will now have a choice of greater range of flights as limits on flights from key Indian cities including Chennai and Kolkata have been scrapped. This in turn will give boost to trade and tourism for both the countries.
Building new links with important trading partners is a key part of the government's plans for a Global Britain, opening up new export markets and creating jobs and economic growth.
The agreement also opened all destinations in the UK for Indian carriers for code share flights, and reciprocally the UK carriers can also operate code share flights to any International Airport in India, through domestic code share arrangements.
The agreement was formally signed by Minister of Civil Aviation, Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju, on behalf of India and Lord Ahmad of UK during a visit to India where he led a delegation of British companies for the 2017 CAPA India Aviation Summit.
Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Indian Civil Aviation Minister, said, "The increase in number of flights between the UK and India is encouraging news for our businesses and tourists. We already enjoy strong ties with the UK and we welcome such continued association which in the long run will not only encourage business activity, but also people-to-people contact. I am sure that this agreement will bring direct and indirect benefits to many sectors of the economies of our two countries."
Tourism from India makes an important contribution to the UK economy. In 2015, there were 422,000 visits from India to the UK, bringing more than £433 million to the economy.
Lord Ahmad, Aviation Minister of UK, said, "India is one of our closest allies and key trading partners and this new agreement will only serve to strengthen this crucial relationship. We are unlocking new trade and tourism opportunities which will boost our economies, create new jobs and open up new business links. This is great news for both the UK and India and is yet another sign that we are open for business and ready to build and strengthen our trade links."
India is a rapidly expanding and important market for aviation and the agreement signed will allow airlines to develop new services and air routes.
OUR COMMENT: More flights! More noise!
MAG CALLS FOR MANCHESTER AND STANSTED
TO FORM PART OF AVIATION STRATEGY
Spare runway capacity at Manchester and Stansted airports
should be considered in the government's aviation strategy planning
Phil Davies - Travel Weekly - 9 February 2017
The call came from the head of parent company Manchester Airports Group as both airports reported strong passenger growth in January. MAG believes that the government's northern industrial strategy and forthcoming aviation strategy should take full advantage of the north-west hub's runway capacity.
This would promote international connections through the airport, as the UK needs to make best use of the limited runway capacity it has over the next decade.
Manchester continues to have "ample capacity" to grow further on its two full length runways as it becomes an alternative entry point to the UK over London. MAG-owner Stansted is also seen as a viable option for growth ahead of a third runway opening at Heathrow.
Chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: "MAG operates the country's two biggest airports with spare runway capacity. Airlines are seeing the value of the capacity we offer and our double-digit growth is testament to our airports' strong appeal."
"We now need the government to prioritise through its industrial and aviation strategies the question of how we are going to make best use of the runway capacity we have in this country, by improving access to airports with capacity which are now growing significantly. Airports like London Stansted and Manchester can take the strain over the next decade and help deliver the vision of a Global Britain."
Manchester airport broke into the top 20 European airport rankings following growth of 17.7% in January. The airport handled 250,000 more passengers in the month than in January 2016, bringing the total up to 1.6 million. The January growth means that the airport has handled 25.9 million passengers in the last 12 months, enough to break into the European top 20, displacing Stockholm. The airport is now just behind Oslo and Palma in the European rankings. The move means that the UK joins Spain as one of two European countries with three airports in the European top 20.
Stansted saw passenger numbers rise by 5% year-on-year to give an annual rolling total of 24.4 million.
Manchester airport was last week identified by both Transport for the North and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership as a strategic infrastructure asset that will play a key role in rebalancing the UK economy. "For Manchester to enter the top 20 airports of Europe is a significant milestone and puts us amongst the leading gateways on the continent, in terms of total passenger numbers, the mix of destinations available and the aircraft operating on those routes," Cornish said.
MAG's other two UK airports - East Midlands and Bournemouth - also both saw double-digit passenger growth in January. East Midlands airport grew 14.6% to almost 220,000 as more passengers flew to the Canary Islands for winter sun. Bournemouth Airport?s 11.6% growth to 33,000 passengers was driven by the popularity of Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, as demand to the Canaries grew 29%.
COMMISSION ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR REVISIONS TO AVIATION'S
PARTICIPATION IN THE EU EMISSIONS TRADING SYSTEM
AEF Online - 9 February 2017
The European Commission has announced plans to continue to limit the future coverage of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to intra-EU flights.
Under the terms of the existing legislation this temporary "Stop the Clock" arrangement designed to improve the chances of a successful UN deal on a global market-based measure (GMBM), was due to revert to full coverage of all emissions from flights to and from airports in the EU from the 1st January 2017.
But ICAO's agreement of CORSIA in October 2016 has prompted a change which has been disappointing to AEF and other environmental groups who were seeking wider coverage.
One of the primary justifications for the EU looking to show more ambition was the Commission's own impact assessment which concluded that "While the GMBM is meant to address international emissions on a global scale, it will not by itself contribute to the EU's 2030 objective of reducing emissions by at least 40% through domestic efforts, as set out in the EU's commitment to the Paris Agreement based on its currently agreed basic features and nature." This is an important conclusion with relevance for both EU and UK aviation climate policy.
Other changes are more welcome. These include the proposal to steadily reduce the number of free allowances granted to aircraft operators after 2021, increasing the number of carbon permits that must be bought. The Commission has also stated that it reserves the right to revisit the decision on coverage if CORSIA does not deliver an effective scheme. While the proposal has been agreed in outline, important decisions on issues of environmental integrity - such as which offsets will be eligible - will not be taken until 2018.
Don't Forget -
CAMPAIGN GROUP CALLS FOR RESIDENTS TO MAKE
VIEWS HEARD OVER STANSTED NIGHT FLIGHTS
Campaigners are urging councils and residents to make their voices
heard to reduce plane noise after Government plans to regulate
night flights at Stansted Airport were published
Michael Steward - Dunmow Broadcast - 2 February 2017
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is calling on the Government to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030 expect in the case of genuine emergencies.
The Government opened a public consultation on January 12 regarding new measures to cut the noise allowed from night time flights at Stansted, as well as at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Flight restrictions currently in place at the airports expire in October, and the new regulations will last for the next five years up to 2022.
SSE says Stansted currently has permission for 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. The campaign group argues that night flights have a far greater impact on residents around Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels at night are generally very low.
An SSE spokesman said: "The main criticism of the Government's latest night flights proposals is that they do not go nearly far enough to tackle the very serious impact of sleep disturbance for residents around Stansted and under flight paths. The 12,000 annual limit applies only to the six and a half hours from 11.30pm to 6.00am whereas the normal definition of ?night? is the eight hours from 11pm to 7am."
"Moreover, a large number of Stansted's night flights are large, noisy cargo aircraft and unsurprisingly, these give rise to a disproportionately high level of noise complaints."
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad said: "This government is committed to tackling the issue of aircraft noise, especially flights at night. Night flights are, however, important to the economy, creating extra choice for passengers and moving freight, and we need to carefully balance the needs of local communities with the benefits these flights can bring."
A Stansted spokesman said: "Stansted has significantly reduced its noise footprint over the years with the introduction of the latest generation of greener, quieter, more efficient aircraft."
The consultation will run until February 28, after which responses will be reviewed and a final decision published.
OUR COMMENT: It's YOUR sleep, so give YOUR views!
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Britain's hectic flight routes will be redrawn and streamlined in a major bid
to reduce delays and noise, Transport Secretary reveals. The complex
overhaul of the paths that commercial planes can fly along will be the
biggest shake up in half a century.
Harry Cole, Westminster Correspondent - The Sun - 25 January 2017
BRITAIN's hectic airline flight routes will be redrawn and streamlined in a major bid to reduce delays and noise. The fiendishly complex overhaul of the paths that commercial planes can fly along announced by Transport Secretary today will be the biggest shake up in half a century.
Chris Grayling told an audience of airline bosses that an overhaul of the way planes are directed is overdue because the sky has become increasingly congested. He believes new technologies can make the routes used by planes taking off or landing more efficient, leading to a boost in capacity and a reduction in delays, noise for communities and emissions. An official consultation will be launched next week to probe support airspace modernisation.
Speaking at an event organised by trade body Airlines UK, Mr Grayling said: "While modern aircraft are fitted with the latest satellite navigation technology, most of our airspace arrangements are half a century old. I know how frustrated you and your passengers are by the delays this causes and I recognise the damage it does to your businesses. Without action, flight delays will increase enormously in the next few years."
He added: "This wouldn't just be damaging for passengers, but also for the economy and the environment. That is why I am determined to address this challenge."
The UK handled over 250 million passengers in 2015 and has the third largest aviation network in the world.
STANSTED BIDS TO BECOME BRITAIN'S NEXT
LONG-HAUL HUB AS HEATHROW AND GATWICK ARE 'FULL'
Passengers promised proper connection facilities,
including baggage transfer
Simon Calder - Independent Travel News Online - 14 January 2017
Stansted airport is making a play to become a hub for one or more long-haul airlines, with Ryanair feeding flights to America and Asia.
"Heathrow is full, Gatwick is pretty much full, if anyone wants to grow in London we've got the capacity to make that happen," said Andrew Cowan, chief executive of the Essex airport. He was speaking as Ryanair launched nine new or reinstated routes from Stansted to destinations in Europe this summer.
Cities include Naples, Nice and Strasbourg. Services to some existing destinations in France, including Bordeaux, Nice and Dinard, will increase to daily departures.
The airline, Europe's largest, is also switching some Copenhagen flights from Luton to Stansted. A vicious fares war with easyJet at Luton to the Danish capital has seen Ryanair cut fares to £9.99; with Air Passenger Duty (APD) at £13, that means the airline is flying each passenger at a loss.
Ryanair now serves 140 routes from the Essex airport. The airline's chief commercial officer, David O'Brien, said: "It wouldn't at all surprise me that several long-haul airlines would be interested in tapping into our European network [at Stansted]. It's pretty blindingly obvious if you ask me."
He confirmed that Ryanair is working with Norwegian to provide connections with the transatlantic network at Gatwick.
Stansted has long been a strictly point-to-point airport, with no baggage-transfer operation. But Mr O'Brien and Mr Cowan said that facilities would be provided for seamless transit, without the need for the passenger to collect their bag and check it in again.
Ryanair confirmed growth to and from the UK will slow this year because of the uncertainty brought about by the vote to leave the EU. Mr O'Brien said expansion in Britain would fall from 15 per cent in 2016 to 7 per cent this year. He also said that if APD is cut in Scotland, then Edinburgh and Glasgow could benefit from new services at the expense of cities in the north of England.
Stansted has just reported record passenger numbers with 24.3 million passing through the airport in 2016. Its previous best was in 2007, with 23.8 million. The present rate corresponds to an average of one passenger every 1.3 seconds, right through the year.
OUR COMMENT: More noise at night?
STANSTED TO STUDY IMPACT OF PROPOSED
CHANGES TO NOISE RESTRICTIONS
Stansted Airport has said it will study the impact of proposed changes
to night time noise restrictions that will restrict the number of quieter
aircraft - such as turboprop freighters - that can fly to the airport
Aircargonews Online - 13 January 2017
The UK government yesterday announced the launch of a consultation on changes to night time noise restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted that propose the removal of an exemption for the quietest aircraft from current rules. The new rules will start in October 2017 and run until October 2022.
The removal of exemptions will affect Stansted more than the other two airports because it has experienced a boom in the number of flights of quieter aircraft, such as turboprops, in recent years because of growth in cargo/express carriers and private planes.
The consultation document said that if the exemptions were to have been removed during the last summer season, Stansted would have failed to meet noise restriction limits. To offset the effect of the removal of exemptions of the quietest aircraft on Stansted, the proposals do allow for an increase in the north London airport's noise quota.
Last year 1,700 flights that were exempt from noise restrictions took place at Stansted, but the proposals allow for an increase in Stansted's noise quota of the same amount. However, there are several other factors that could come into play if the exemptions are removed, such as future growth in express and cargo flights using turboprop aircraft and the increased use of more modern quieter aircraft.
Stansted said it would review the consultation document. "Night flights at Stansted play a critical role in supporting economic growth and jobs both in the east of England and the UK as a whole," a Stansted spokesperson said. "They are vital for the movement of time sensitive cargo including pharmaceuticals and perishable goods and airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet rely on early morning flights in order to keep airfares as low as possible for passengers."
"Stansted has significantly reduced its noise footprint over the years with the introduction of the latest generation of greener, quieter, more efficient aircraft. Future environmental advancements in aviation technology will ensure that we continue to minimise aircraft noise. We will now closely review the Government's consultation, gather evidence and respond accordingly."
The consultation document states: "Stansted is a hub for several large freight and express companies, which require the flexibility to fly throughout the night in order to ensure timely next day deliveries to key markets. Freight services make up approximately 35% of Stansted's night movements.
Unlike Heathrow and Gatwick, Stansted also has a large number of exempt aircraft operating throughout the night that are not currently counted towards the night flight restrictions. The number of these movements has grown rapidly in recent years and with the introduction of new larger commercial passenger aircraft which fall into this category, there could be further significant increases under the current framework."
Cargo carriers and express operators that flown from Stansted include UPS, FedEx, Royal Mail, CargoLogicAir, Antonov, Etihad Cargo, Qatar Cargo and Panalpina.
The consultation document can be found here, with the period for feedback running until the end of February.
OUR COMMENT: Residents and local councils must study the proposals and, with SSE, consider their responses.
ROW ERUPTS OVER NIGHT FLIGHT PLANS
FOR LONDON AIRPORTS
'Little difference': Campaigners have dismissed proposals
to reduce night flight noise over London
Patrick Grafton-Green - Standard.co.uk News Online - 13 January 2017
Plans to cut noise from night flights over London will make "little difference" to the lives of residents, campaigners have warned.
A public consultation has been launched setting out the government's proposed new measures, which will see the cuts achieved through the use of quieter aircraft with no change to the number of flights. Current restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are due to expire in October and the new rules, put forward by the Department for Transport, would last for the next five years up until 2022.
The DfT says it hopes to balance the economic benefits offered by night flights with the cost they have on communities. However John Stewart of campaign group Hacan, which opposes a new runway at Heathrow, said while he wasn't hopeful of any significant changes until a decision on the runway is settled, local residents would be "very disappointed" with the plans, adding they would make "little difference".
He said: "My initial thoughts are that residents under the Heathrow flight path will be very disappointed. Their early morning wake-up call remains the first flight at 4.30am. The same number of planes will be getting a little bit quieter. The next few years will be exactly the same as the last few years."
Mr Stewart added that the group would be campaigning for no flights before 6am during consultation on Heathrow expansion.
The night flight plans will see a strict cap placed on existing levels for the number from Heathrow and Gatwick, and include reducing the total noise quota at Heathrow Airport by at least 43 per cent in the winter and 50 per cent in the summer. Gatwick will see noise levels reduced by 17 per cent in winter and 21 per cent in summer.
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad said: "This government is committed to tackling the issue of aircraft noise, especially flights at night. Night flights are, however, important to the economy, creating extra choice for passengers and moving freight, and we need to carefully balance the needs of local communities with the benefits these flights can bring."
The consultation will run until February 28, after which responses will be reviewed and a final decision on night flights published. It will not cover the period in which a proposed new runway at Heathrow would be operational. Any ban on night flights at an expanded Heathrow would be consulted on separately.
GOVERNMENT MISSES OPPORTUNITY TO REDUCE NIGHT
FLIGHTS AT HEATHROW, GATWICK OR STANSTED
aef Online - Aviation Environmental Federation - 13 January 2017
The Government has published its proposals for changes to the night flights regime for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, the only three airports in the UK at which the Government imposes noise controls. The Government sets caps on the number of aircraft movements and on the total permitted 'quota count' (QC) both of which can act to limit night noise.
Under the quota count system, each aircraft is given a score based on its noise performance, and the total amount of noise in a given period is capped, so more flights may be possible if airlines use less noisy aircraft. Currently all three airports use well below their permitted 'quota counts', with the exception of Stansted which has crept closer and closer to the limit in recent years.
While the latest proposals would reduce the quota count limits for Heathrow and Stansted compared to current limits, the new limits would largely take up the existing slack in the system rather than driving down future noise. For Stansted, the Government proposes no change to the existing noise quotas.
For movement limits, the proposals are to retain, rather than reduce, the permitted number of flights at Heathrow and Gatwick, and to increase them at Stansted. The justification given is that the parallel proposal of a reduction in the noise threshold at which aircraft are covered by the regime, which will reduce the number of exempt aircraft, means that an increased number of movements needs to be permitted for Stansted in order to achieve an effective flatline. More significantly, the Government says it does not wish to prejudge the outcome of Stansted's anticipated application for planning permission to increase passenger numbers by imposing noise controls that would prevent this.
We are deeply disappointed by the Government's lack of ambition to get to grips with the night noise problem at London airports. Our members often tell us that the number of overflying aircraft they experience at night is a real problem, regardless of the marginal improvements in the noise performance of individual aircraft that have taken place over time.
A growing body of evidence indicates that night noise has harmful effects not only in terms of annoyance but also increased risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks. Noise at airports around the UK remains persistently above the maximum levels recommended for health by the World Health Organisation. The Government has also retained its definition of the operational night noise period as 6.5 hours, 90 minutes less than the standard definition used by the WHO.
We are also disappointed that the long-overdue study that the Government has been undertaking in relation to possible changes in the public experience of noise annoyance, and which we had hoped to be able to consider alongside this proposal, has still not been published. Research over the past decade from a number of countries indicates a significant decrease in the noise threshold at which people report disturbance, with Defra having found in recent years that as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK are disturbed or annoyed by aircraft noise.
The proposals published today appear designed largely to reset noise limits to match current levels: a policy that falls a long way short of the action required to tackle this problem.
Industry demands take precedence over public health
We are particularly concerned that the Government appears unwilling to prioritise action to protect public health over the incessant demand for growth from the aviation industry. The limits set for Stansted have been explicitly designed not to 'pre-empt' any possible application by the airport for permission to grow its passenger numbers.
In relation to Heathrow, as the proposed regime ends in 2022, it can offer no comfort that an expanded Heathrow will not bring further noise misery. Heathrow Airport itself last year offered the sweetener that if given planning permission to expand, it could provide a 6.5 hour night flight ban even before the runway became operational, suggesting that a ban could be deliverable now without crippling the airport, if only the Government had the will to impose it
NOISE FROM NIGHT FLIGHTS TO BE CUT, MINISTERS SAY
Tighter rules on night flights will help reduce noise
at three London airports, the government says
BBC News Online - 12 January 2017
Ministers plan to reduce the overnight noise limits at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, saying this will encourage the use of quieter planes. But there will be no changes to the total number of overnight flights that are permitted.
The new guidelines, which will run up until 2022, have no impact on the planned expansion of Heathrow. They have been put out to consultation with the current rules due to expire in October.
Airports are given quotas based on the total noise levels from aircraft taking off and landing there overnight over the course of a year. Under the planned changes, Heathrow's quota will be reduced by 43% in the winter and 50% in the summer, while Gatwick's will be cut by 17% in the winter and 21% in the summer.
For Stansted, the government said the overall noise would reduce if currently exempt aircraft counted towards the limit.
Night flight restrictions apply between 23:30 and 06:00, and at Heathrow no flights are scheduled between 23:30 and 04:30.
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad said: "This government is committed to tackling the issue of aircraft noise, especially flights at night, which can be a blight for people living near airports. Night flights are, however, important to the economy, creating extra choice for passengers and moving freight, and we need to carefully balance the needs of local communities with the benefits these flights can bring."
John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said: "Local residents will be disappointed that their early morning wake-up call remains the first flight at 04:30. We do, though, see the sense in postponing any changes until the question of a third runway is settled."
Heathrow has said it will reduce night flights if it builds a third runway. In October, the government announced a new runway at Heathrow was its preferred option for airport expansion in the south-east of England. But MPs have yet to vote on the final proposal, and it is unlikely that any new runway capacity would be operational before 2025.
The public consultation on night flights up until 2022 ends on 28 February.
STANSTED AIRPORT UNVEILS PLANS FOR
£130MILLION DEDICATED ARRIVALS BUILDING
Robbie Bryson, Trainee Reporter - Braintree and Witham Times - 16 December 2016
STANSTED Airport has today unveiled plans for a new hi-tech £130million arrivals building. The building will be the latest phase in the multi-million pound transformation programme which in total is estimated to create an extra 10,000 jobs on-site in various capacities.
The proposed 34,000sq metre building will span three levels and would be delivered inside the existing footprint of the airport and will be located next to the current terminal. Both the immigration and baggage reclaim areas will be increased in size, new retail facilities will be provided and a massive new public forecourt will aim to create a relaxing environment for passengers.
The current terminal building will be reconfigured and dedicated entirely to departing passengers, creating more space at check-in, security and the departures lounge.
Andrew Cowan, Stansted Airport's CEO, said: "The planning application and concept design for the new £130 million arrivals building marks the latest phase in Stansted's transformation and enables us to support further growth over the next decade and give our passengers the facilities that they want."
"Since MAG acquired the airport in early 2013, we have turned Stansted into one of the UK's fastest growing airports. It has always been our vision to invest in its infrastructure to create the best experience for our growing number of passengers and airline customers and have already invested over £150 million to update our terminal and satellite facilities, created 1,000 more jobs, added over 40 new destinations and increased passenger numbers by nearly seven million."
"Stansted is thriving as a national asset, forming a key component of the UK's aviation infrastructure at a time when airport capacity in the country is at a premium. Our investment will boost competition and enable the airport to play a bigger role in supporting economic growth, jobs and international connectivity across the East of England and London."
"Subject to planning consent, the next stage will be to develop our concept designs in conjunction with our stakeholders and business partners ahead of awarding any contracts for the construction works."
Stansted is currently the busiest single terminal airport in the UK with up to 5,000 departing passengers passing through per hour during peak times and it is hoped that the new arrivals building will help the airport to continue to grow in line with forecasts. The building, which will utilise the latest sustainable technologies, will take three years to build and Stansted expects all improvements to be completed by 2022.
ROW OVER HEIGHT OF NOISY STANSTED AIRPORT PLANES
Martin Ford - Herts & Essex Observer - 8 December 2016
A teacher says low-flying planes are making her life a misery and the sound of aircraft rumbling over her house is "scary". Lisa Glithero, 36, lives in Hertford and said around a year ago she began noticing more noise from planes coming in to land at Stansted Airport, which lies around 17 miles from her home.
A spokesman for the airport insisted the flight paths had not changed and this was confirmed by NATS, which runs air traffic control.
"I was working outdoors a lot at the time and it was just increasingly loud," she said. "You notice it more when you're outdoors. You would be talking and you would actually have to raise your voice as a plane came over."
Miss Glithero then began conducting her own research and, using a flight tracker app, found evidence of planes flying at 2,000ft over Hertford, and 1,600ft over towns like Sawbridgeworth. This is significantly lower than Stansted Airport's regulations - which state planes should not be flying lower than 2,500ft over Sawbridgeworth and 4,000ft over Much Hadham.
A spokesman for the airport pointed out that the app used could be inaccurate by about 450 to 500ft.
But Miss Glithero said the impact the noise was having on her life is significant. "I will be sat watching TV and every few minutes I have to turn it up as a plane comes over," she said. "It sounds like a lorry driving over you. If you notice the noise it's really stressful because it's just there all around you."
She added: "I fly quite a lot so I'm not against flying, but I wouldn't want my flying to affect other people like it has affected me."
The primary school teacher also said she was concerned that the rise in popularity of remote-controlled drones could lead to near misses with the low-flying planes.
A spokesman for the airport said representatives had met with Miss Glithero several times and attempted to reassure her with data relating to the height of aircraft. He added: "They looked back at several years data for October and November and even went back to 2005 and picked some random days and confirmed the heights for aircraft remain consistent for those that were checked.
"The airport has been increasing passenger numbers over the last three years and is now serving 24 million passengers a year, back to the pre-recession peak of 2007, but achieving this total with fewer flights - 165,800 for the year ending October 2016 as against 193,700 in the year to October 2007.
"If residents wish to check the details of aircraft operating in and out of Stansted, they can do so by using WebTrak, available on the community section of stanstedairport.com"
EU CLAIM ACCUSES UK AIRLINES OF 'DIRTY TACTICS'
Phil Davies - Travel Weekly Online - 13 December 2016
Leading UK airlines have been accused of using "dirty tactics" to put passengers off making claims following flight delays or cancellations.
The accusation comes from flight compensation firm EUclaim, listing Thomson Airways, British Airways, easyJet, Monarch, Jet2.com, Virgin Atlantic and Dublin-based Ryanair as culprits. Confusing language and complex legal jargon is one tactic used by airlines to confuse passengers.
EUclaim manager Tjitze Noorderhaven said: "The effort most of these airlines have put into confusing passengers about their rights and restricting them from having full access to claiming compensation, shows the type of companies we are up against. Having to wait eight weeks for a response; illegal charges and restrictions as part of the terms and conditions; buried website pages and legal gibberish - even by most consumer standards, these dirty tactics make a mockery of the legislation and highlight the real contempt with which airlines hold the rights of passengers."
Finding the relevant claim form on Thomson's website took three people an average of 13.21 minutes, according to EUclaim. So complex are the various 'notification of rights' and clauses that BA makes claimants read through, that "passengers better have a degree in law to understand the legal gibberish," claimed Noorderhaven.
Virgin Atlantic was almost as frustrating. It took three university graduates a total of 15:21 minutes to find the correct online form. Jet2.com caused "maximum frustration" with the EUcliam team giving up trying to search for the correct information after almost 25 minutes. A further 7.04 minute call to the customer service centre was needed before being informed that the only way to actually claim directly with the airline was to either email a complaint to the generic customer services email address or to write in.
Noorderhaven said: "From our experience, we know they will do all they can, to not have to pay out the compensation that is legally due if your flight is delayed three hours or more or cancelled."
A Thomson spokesman said: "We would like to reassure customers that we operate a fair and thorough process to deal with compensation claims in line with the EU delay claims regulation. We continue to do everything possible to minimise delays and remain committed to maintaining an excellent on-time performance across our flying programme."
"We also believe that any money due to customers should go in its entirety to them, therefore we will not process any claims submitted via unregulated third party delay claim management companies, who routinely take a large percentage of the payment as commission. In this situation we invite customers to submit their claim directly to us to be processed."
PM'S LOCAL COUNCIL COULD STOP
HEATHROW EXPANSION PLANS
BBC News Online - 8 December 2016
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has joined a "coalition" serving legal papers to the government for "unlawfully supporting the Heathrow expansion".
The Prime Minister's local council has formally requested a judicial review of the government's decision. If the request is successful, it hopes the case will be heard in the High Court early next year. The decision to proceed with the runway could be overturned if they win. Previously the council pledged £50,000 to challenge Heathrow expansion plans.
The coalition submitting the papers is made up of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon.
Leader of The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, Simon Dudley, said: "The Royal Borough has been very consistent in saying it will hold the government to account for its decision, and seek to protect our residents from the public health risks of an expanded Heathrow Airport."
MANCHESTER AIRPORT CLAIMS CARBON NEUTRAL STATUS
Manchester airport has become the first carbon offsets
Phil Davies - Travel Weekly Online - 8 December 2016
More than £7.5 million has been spent on energy efficiency projects, working with local and national businesses to develop innovative lighting solutions. This includes the installation of more than 25,000 low energy LED lights throughout the airport, including the first on any UK runway.
Levels 3 and 3-Plus, in addition to reducing airport emissions, also require that emissions from third party operations - including aircraft on the ground - are monitored. Airports must work with business partners to also reduce their emissions as well.
Airport chief executive Ken O'Toole said: "After a decade of hard work to reduce the amount of energy we use, I am pleased to be the first UK airport to be recognised by Airport Carbon Accreditation as carbon neutral. As an organisation we recognise that climate change is an important global challenge, with aviation contributing around 2% of international carbon emissions each year."
"This achievement demonstrates the lengths we go to ensuring we balance our role as economic generator, alongside caring for the environment, whilst working with our third parties to reduce the wider impact of our industry."
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: "Becoming carbon neutral is no small feat and today actually serves as a timely reminder of how much work Manchester airport has put into achieving this goal."
OUR COMMENT: Congratulations are due, and hopefully MAG will extend the policy to Stansted airport. However, airports service aircraft that fly from country to country emitting more climate change emissions. So, will carbon neutral policies be extended into contracts with air transport companies and, even more important, will MAG join SSE in promoting our "No increase in the number of UK flights" policy - an essentiel part of a sensible climate change programme?
FEEDBACK FROM STANSTED AIRPORT DROP-IN SESSION
Felsted Parish Council Online - 16 November 2016
On Tuesday 15 November Stansted Airport, in partnership with the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), held a drop-in session in Felsted. The event was organised to give residents the opportunity to tell the airport, NATS and the CAA just how disruptive flightpath changes have been to their lives.
You can read the full story of the changes, and how your Parish Council has been fighting them, here.
The session was extremely well attended, so much so that the 100 comment cards provided by the airport ran out before the session was half way through.
The arguments we have presented are:
* The change was implemented despite 86% of respondees saying no, including Uttlesford District Council.
* This has doubled the number of planes using the Clacton route over Felsted Parish.
* We are not NIMBYS, we accept our share of flights, but not everyone else's share too.
* The change has resulted in an unacceptable increase in noise over rural communities, including Felsted.
* At the February 2017 review, the change should be reversed and actions taken to share the noise burden rather than focus it on the few.
At the meeting we learnt the following:
* Our complaints are being heard. They will form a very important input to the change review, due to take place in February 2017. This review will decide if the change should be reversed, modified or approved. It is vital that everyone continues to have their voice heard. If you are disturbed by a noisy plane, or want to complain about the overall noise increase from the change in flightpath usage, then please do so here.
* Current government guidance is to concentrate planes on fewer people, rather than share the noise disturbance. Meanwhile in America they follow principles of dispersal. New UK guidance is due to be released for public consultation in January/February. It is anticipated that this will follow the American model, proposing changes which would reduce acceptable noise levels and provide for dispersal of the noise burden. This consultation will likely be valuable to our cause, providing a mechanism to introduce the dispersal of flights and so share the noise burden.
* We will share news about this consultation through the website, so please register for news alerts using the email box below.
For more information please contact Cllr Andy Bennett.
WESTMINSTER WATCH: THE LONG VIEW ON AIRPORT CAPACITY
The ongoing runway debate brings to light what has so far been
a lesser-discussed area of airport expansion: Stansted.
Political lobbyist Gareth Morgan looks at this forgotten issue
Gareth Morgan - BuyingBusinessTravel Online - 10 November 2016
What happens after 2030? That is the date that Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission's analysis showed one net additional runway was needed by. The UK government has finally set its 'direction of travel' with a third runway at Heathrow and we are now working through the politics and legality of that with a view to having a final policy in the winter of 2017-8.
Surely that means, bar the final swings of the various campaigns over the next year, the airports issue will be put to bed fairly soon? Not quite. The commission said that "... even with a third runway at Heathrow, there would be likely to be sufficient demand to justify a second additional runway by 2050 or, in some scenarios, earlier".
Now that the decision in favour of Heathrow expansion has been made, surely the government should now be beginning to think about this period? That is certainly the case Birmingham airport and Manchester Airport Group (the owners of Stansted) will be making. In fact, if there is anyone most frustrated by the latest delay it might well be them - they want to start talking about post-2030 seriously.
Take Stansted. It's in effect been squeezed out of the capacity debate after Davies made clear fairly early on that its case wasn't as strong as LHR/LGW for immediate expansion. Until the LHR/LGW decision is made, it will always find it hard to be heard on the prospects of its own expansion. #
There are absolutely MPs who are interested in the issue - for example, Sir Alan Haselhurst, the MP for Saffron Walden (which encompasses Stansted) is focused on preventing it, and there are Labour MPs on the Stansted Express route who see the economic good the airport could provide their communities - but it isn't yet a big issue. It will be their lobbyists' job to make sure it is eventually. So what does that lobbying look like?
Pros and cons
First, there will be the positive side. Expect reports in papers about the economic prospects of the areas around Stansted - such as Harlow in the south, and Cambridge and Peterborough in the north - and how they will be the export engines of the future. About how the hi-tech sectors in the region are driving higher growth than the UK as a whole, and how that region needs an easier way to connect to the world.
We'll see MPs forming groups to support the concept, major business groups picking up the idea and party conference events on the theme.
There will also be the negative side. The politics of airport expansion will mean that the relatively quiet Stop Stansted Expansion grouping will gather its strength again. But most interesting will be the extent that Stansted's owners try to stymie Gatwick. They know that if Gatwick is prohibited from expanding, then the prospects of Stansted expansion are stronger. Expect to see Stansted supporters backing anti-Gatwick groups and MPs. They'll want the fighting over the decision around LHR and LGW to be over... because then it's their turn.
'STANSTED AIRPORT DID NOT WARN US
ABOUT EVICTION', SAY TENANTS
The airport said the tenants had known of the plans
Sam Meadows - Herts & Essex Observer - 10 November 2016
Stansted Airport did not warn its tenants about the forthcoming property sales, some tenants have claimed. Eleven renters were served with two-month eviction notices by the airport, with others expecting there's at some point in the next few years.
Dawn Jones, 48, said she began renting her property two and a half years ago - a month after Manchester Airport Group completed its takeover - and was not warned. Fellow tenant Mandy Griffiths, who is yet to be served with an eviction notice, said she found out about the plan online. "You dread the postman coming because you think are we going to get a letter from the solicitor. You're just waiting every day for that letter to come through," said Mrs Griffiths, 54. "Most people have animals so you have to find a landlord who will accept at least one dog."
Miss Jones, who is a dog groomer, was served notice in September and is supposed to leave her home at the end of the month. She said: "When the house next door became vacant and they sold it, it set alarm bells ringing. I looked online and found a story about MAG selling off its property stock. That was back in June and I was thinking why didn't they write to us and tell us?"
She added: "I have a daughter at uni in Southampton. I hadn't told her anything about it but I got a text from her asking if we are being evicted."
A spokesman for the airport claimed all tenants were aware of the long-term plan to sell the properties.
STOP STANSTED EXPANSION ACCUSES AIRPORT OF
'SHAMEFUL BEHAVIOUR' OVER EVICTION NOTICES
Campaigners have hit back at the "shameful behaviour" of Stansted Airport
Sam Meadows - Herts & Essex Observer - 8 November 2016
News broke yesterday (November 7) that the airport had served 11 tenants living in properties it owns with two-month eviction notices. A spokesman for the airport claimed groups including Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and local councillors had been calling for the sale of its property portfolio.
But Brian Ross, the deputy chairman of SSE, disputed this claim. "No-one will seriously believe Stansted Airport's claim that SSE and local councillors are to blame for the eviction notices that the airport is currently sending out to its tenants," he said. "It's a desperate attempt by Stansted Airport to avoid taking responsibility for its own shameful behaviour."
Brian Ross continued: "Last year the airport did not sell a single house out of the 268 houses that it owns. These houses were mainly bought by the airport in connection with its plans for a second runway. For years, any tenant who wanted to buy was met with a refusal. However, there has now been a complete change of policy. Stansted's owners, the Manchester Airport Group, have taken control of the airport-owned houses and suddenly now want to sell everything within the next two years."
The airport's spokesman told the Observer there was no timetable on the sale of the property portfolio. But in an interview with MAG Property earlier this year, the company's chief executive Lynda Shillaw said the houses were "non-core to the business" and could be sold over the next couple of years.
In a statement issued yesterday, the airport's spokesman said: "From the outset, MAG made clear it had no desire to be a long term residential landlord and would be looking to sell the properties back in to private or new ownership as soon as practically possible to do so. Since 2010 the airport has been regularly and constantly asked to sell the properties as quickly as possible, primarily by Stop Stansted Expansion and local councillors."
FAMILIES SERVED TWO-MONTH EVICTION NOTICE
BY STANSTED AIRPORT
Stansted Airport plans to sell off all its housing stock
Sam Meadows - Herts & Essex Observer - 7 November 2016
Tenants in properties owned by Stansted Airport have been given just two months' notice they will have to leave. The notices have been sent to 11 households in the area who will now have to leave their homes, but the airport is looking to jettison its entire property portfolio which comprises 268 homes.
Sandra Reed, who runs the Three Horseshoes pub, which lies on Stansted's doorstep in Molehill Green, said several of her regulars had received the letters. A spokesman for Stansted said since the facility was taken over by the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) in 2013 plans had been in place to sell the properties, and tenants had been aware.
Mrs Reed said: "People are now looking to move out of the area before they get kicked out. You have families with kids who don't know any different and they will have to find new schools away from friends. Families who own businesses in the area will have to find new homes. We have an 88-year-old man living nearby with dementia. He hasn't had the notice yet but he will soon, it's just immoral. Some of these people have lived in their houses for 30 years and they have just been given two months' notice."
Stansted has offered the tenants the opportunity to purchase their homes, but Mrs Reed claimed they had been given two weeks to make a decision - not enough time to secure a mortgage. The airport spokesman said following an independent review of the portfolio, it began releasing properties to the market in March. From the outset, MAG made clear it had no desire to be a long term residential landlord and would be looking to sell the properties back in to private or new ownership as soon as practically possible to do so," he added.
"Since 2010 the airport has been regularly and constantly asked to sell the properties as quickly as possible, primarily by Stop Stansted Expansion and local councillors. Stansted's intention has always been to sell the properties in a sensitive manner over an extended period whilst maintaining the stability of the local housing market and recognising our responsibility to the local community."
He continued: "In line with this approach, notice has been served on a small number of tenants to vacate properties in accordance with agreed contractual terms. We have also engaged with many tenants to explore their interest in purchasing the property they rent. STAL fully understand and appreciate this process may cause some tenants a certain amount of concern and anxiety, and that is of course regrettable, however it is unavoidable in the circumstances if we are to achieve the wider aim of releasing all properties from airport ownership."
Mrs Reed said she also feared for the future of the pub, which is owned by the airport, although the lease has two and a half years left to run. Her and husband Mick are exploring ways to purchase the pub.
A public forum on the issue will take place at Broxted Village Hall at 7pm on Tuesday, November 15.
INCREASE IN STANSTED PLANES OVER
ESSEX TOWNS AND VILLAGES IS 'A DISASTER'
Michael Steward - Dunmow Broadcast - 31 October 2016
Residents in parts of Uttlesford have been left angered by changes to Stansted Airport's flight path which has resulted in a vast increase of planes passing over their heads during the day.
Noise from the rerouting of flights taking off from Stansted, introduced in February, has affected many towns and villages, including Dunmow, Felsted, Stebbing, Hatfield Heath and the Easters. Residents have reported up to 240 flights a day flying overhead every two or three minutes between 6.10am to 11pm and say the increased air traffic is "turning a peaceful part of Essex into a disaster".
NATS implemented the transfer of outgoing daytime flights from the Dover route to the Clacton route earlier this year after a 12-week consultation in 2014, and campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claimed its objections to the changes were ignored. SSE is now calling on residents who have been adversely affected by the changes to make their views known in advance of a post-implementation review, which is legally required and will take place next year.
Simon Denham, 55, who lives in Church End, said: "As soon as one plane disappears, another one appears about half a minute later. I don't see how they've been allowed to do this. I've lived here for six years and never was the flightpath brought up in solicitor's checks as an issue when I was buying the house."
"I understand there was a consultation but many residents had no idea that the Clacton route affected them. I think it's very disingenuous of the airport to promote these changes in such a way. My neighbours are very angry about the whole thing, it is turning a peacful part of Essex into a disaster."
Peter Sanders, from SSE, said: "The transfer of Stansted daytime flights from the Dover to Clacton route has resulted in the doubling of planes flying over residents in affected areas and they are understandably very upset about it."
In a feedback report, following the consultation in 2014, NATS said the changes would cut delays for Stansted and neighbouring airports as well as reducing the number of people who are regularly overflown during the day.
A NATS spokesman said: "This airspace change proposal, approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and implemented in February 2016, is part of the first stage of a wider airspace modernisation programme across the whole of the UK. In this particular case the change of use of the routes means fewer people being overflown, in line with government policy. The CAA will undertake a post-implementation review in 2017 to consider whether the change is performing as expected."
A roadshow explaining the changes, as part of Stansted Airport's community engagement programme, was held in Hatfield Heath last week (Oct 20) and two more are going ahead next month.
Heathrow welcomes the Government's decision though Parliament will have to approve and planning permission is needed
GOVERNMENT'S CHOICE FOR HEATHROW EXPANSION
WILL HELP DELIVER THE PRIME MINISTER'S VISION
OF A STRONGER, FAIRER UK
Media Centre Heathrow - 25 October 2016
Heathrow today welcomed Government's decision to support its expansion and confirmed it will begin work to deliver the new runway that will connect all of Britain to the world, bringing new jobs and economic growth to every nation and region of the UK.
The decision declares Britain "open for business". Expanding Heathrow will keep Britain growing at the heart of the global economy, do more than any other infrastructure project to share economic growth all around the UK and deliver more competition and choice for passengers.
Independent polling in June 2016 showed that almost 70% of MPs polled support expansion. Since then the Scottish Government has endorsed a third runway at Heathrow as having the biggest jobs and growth benefits for Scotland.
Expansion of Heathrow is also supported by business, trade unions and airlines as the best solution to Britain's aviation capacity crunch. Supporters include the CBI, BCC, chambers of commerce across the country, Unite, the GMB, 37 British airports and airlines such as easyJet and Flybe, which plan to operate from an expanded Heathrow. In constituencies close to the airport polling has shown there is more backing than opposition.
The Government's decision follows the unanimous and unambiguous recommendation of the Airports Commission last summer after a two and a half year, £20m study. The Commission confirmed that expanding Heathrow would have the biggest economic benefits for the UK and can be done while reducing noise for local communities and in accordance with EU air quality law.
When it opens in 2025, new airport hub capacity will allow up to 40 more long haul destinations, such as Wuhan, Osaka and Quito, making Britain the best connected country in the world. It will increase the number of domestic routes served, ensuring every region and nation of the UK can get to global markets and increase cargo capacity, supporting Britain's exporters.
Heathrow is one of the most experienced infrastructure delivery companies in the UK having spent £11bn over a decade to transform into the best hub airport in Europe. This included a new Terminal 2 and Terminal 5, the latter of which has been voted by passengers as the best in the world four years in a row.
John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport said: "Today, the team at Heathrow start the important work to deliver the vital new runway that the UK needs to compete in the world. A new runway will open trade routes and create jobs up and down the UK. Heathrow will play a key role in making our country stronger and fairer for everyone. We look forward to working with Government, businesses, airlines, the CAA and our local communities to deliver an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK."
A full CGI video of Heathrow's plans can be downloaded here alongside more information on Heathrow's plans here.
'WE FEEL BETRAYED': HARMONDSWORTH RESIDENTS
FURIOUS AT HEATHROW DECISION
Six years after Cameron vowed no third runway, people in village set for
part-demolition angry that government now backs airport's expansion
Esther Addly - The Guardian - 26 October 2016
In Harmondsworth, one of the villages scheduled to be partly or wholly demolished to make way for Heathrow's third runway, there was little shock but considerable distress and anger when the government's decision was confirmed. Neil Keveren, whose house will face the boundary fence of the new runway, said residents felt "betrayed" six years after David Cameron's "no ifs, no buts" commitment that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.
Kveren said: "We received a promise. We all made life choices based on that, which we believed. Some people decided to lay their loved ones to rest here because of it. I invested in my home. I thought we were safe and and we had a reasonable expectation that we were. I feel we have been have been betrayed by Theresa May."
Under the plans, half of the ancient village is to be flattened, including a number of listed buildings and a small housing estate. While the Norman church and a Grade I listed medieval barn owned by English Heritage will be spared, residents say they expect the bits of the village that remain to become uninhabitable once the thunderous noise of the runway starts.
"I'm very disappointed, and I feel betrayed, and also worried," said Lesley O'Brien, whose house in Cambridge Close - where she has lived for 46 years and raised her three children - is scheduled to be bulldozed. "Where can I go? They keep on about the money, but it's not about the money. They can keep their money. I want to stay here."
Like many in the village, Dave Durston said he had local roots; having grown up and gone to school a few miles away, he moved to Harmondsworth in 1983. What angered him, he said, was "the fact that people who live nowhere near the place, without coming to see what's going to be destroyed, can decide that it's got to go".
Several dozen crammed into a timber-beamed room to watch Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, confirm the decision in the Commons. Some wept, others were defiant. There were shouts of "liar" and "what about the residents?", and when he mentioned the compensation packages that would be offered to those to lose their homes, one local shouted: "Not enough".
Armelle Thomas has lived in Harmondsworth since the late 1960s, when she and her late husband, Tommy, met working at Heathrow and "fell in love" with the village. Her house is also marked for demolition, but Thomas said she would never agree to move. "My house is not for sale at any price," she said. "I was with my husband here for 46 years and I have my memories."
Fighting back tears, she said the stress of the fight against the runway - and particularly a letter sent by Heathrow authorities last year after a commission recommended it should expand - had contributed to her husband's death. His six medals for wartime service in the RAF were in her hand, along with a large photograph of him. "Nobody is talking about 10,500 people being made homeless by a government that is supposed to be compassionate," she said. "I'm a Conservative and I have always been, but they will never get my vote again."
While some of Harmondsworth will be spared, nearby Longford is due to disappear altogether. It will become a car park at the end of the new runway. One Longford resident, who asked not to be named because he works at Heathrow, said his 80-year-old neighbour had been in tears when he spoke to him on Tuesday morning. The man said his neighbour needed kidney dialysis at a local hospital every other day, adding: "Where is he going to move to? He's not going to find another house, another village. He has lived there since before Heathrow, he was born there. He will never have people supporting him like they do in the village when he is sick. This is totally unfair on people like him."
The man said the compensation was unlikely to cover what he paid eight years ago for his home in Longford. He added: "I'm not moving, and a lot of us feel the same. There's no point in me moving. Where can I afford to go?"
Sandeep Chopra, who has run the Harmondsworth village shop for six years, said the third runway would destroy his life: "I will lose everything - my business, my house. It's not easy going somewhere and starting again." He said he had a large family that included his wife and three children, his parents, brother and sister, who received no benefits from the government. "We all depend on this shop," he added.
Harmondsworth was a "proper village", Chopra said, with little trouble and friendly neighbours. "It's a residents' shop," he said of his business. "People love the community, and they support us."
Keveren - who was born in nearby Sipson and whose grandparents had worked the land before Heathrow was built - said giving up was not an option for the villagers. "I have faith in the legal challenges that a number of councils are going to make. And if the legal challenge fails, then in the end all we have left is direct action," he said.
THE GUARDIAN'S VIEW ON HEATHROW'S THIRD RUNWAY.
CLIMATE LOSES OUT TO GROWTH.
Leader - The Guardian - 26 October 2016
It is a sign of the British political world's current priorities that Theresa May has finally made the decision to opt for a third runway at Heathrow. She promised it was a decision for "jobs and growth", both of which may be scarcer in the post-Brexit era in which the new runway will come into service. Pumping hope into the economy is now considered worth alienating every Conservative council and MP whose voters live under the flightpath of planes using the new runway, including Mrs May's own Maidenhead constituents.
It is worth at least one backbench resignation (and maybe a lost byelection) and a novel reinterpretation of the convention about cabinet responsibility in order to accommodate public dissent from at least two ministers. It is worth what will probably be millions of pounds fighting legal challenges over air and noise pollution. Most of all, the decision puts old-fashioned economics firmly ahead of tackling climate change, which turned out not to be worth a single mention in transport secretary Chris Grayling's opening statement to MPs.
The decision, which has now to be incorporated into a national policy statement on aviation that MPs will vote on some time in the next 18 months, comes heavily gilded with incentives to local residents to take the money and keep quiet. About 750 homes will be subject to compulsory purchase: £1.5bn has been set aside to pay compensation at the market rate for the unblighted value of each home and for the resettlement costs of the residents.
At least another £1bn will be paid out for noise insulation in schools and improvements in public facilities. There will be a new community resource fund. Mr Grayling promised MPs that there would be a 50% increase in travellers arriving at Heathrow by public transport, and the cost of improving road access would fall not to the taxpayer but to the developers. The £17bn bill for development is to be picked up by the developers and not passed on to air passengers. A senior retired judge has been appointed to oversee the consultation period. "This is not expansion at any cost, but the right scheme at the right price," Mr Grayling declared.
There are many flaws in the government case which a determined opposition will unpick between now and the next general election in 2020. Campaigners, including the foreign secretary Boris Johnson, already plan to make it a central issue. This is the decision of a government that is not prepared to think boldly about the implications of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% over the next 35 years. Instead, a huge investment will be made in promoting leisure travel (which already accounts for almost two-thirds of journeys in and out of Heathrow) in the name of facilitating business connections.
Thousands of jobs will be created - but they will mainly be for baggage handlers and baristas. Mr Grayling made a commitment to at least six new domestic destinations to enhance UK-wide connectivity, a questionable decision if the government review of HS2, the high speed train that will one day link Glasgow and Edinburgh to London, gives the project the go-ahead. If, on the other hand, HS2 is vetoed, the pressure for more highly polluting short-haul flights will only grow. Expanding air travel will make it harder than ever to cut carbon emissions to meet the targets set out in the newly ratified Paris agreement. Air pollution has an even more immediate effect on the health of the local population. The area around Heathrow already regularly breaches safe levels of nitrogen dioxide and, with expansion, will continue to do so up until 2030. Local councils are threatening a legal challenge on those grounds alone. The lobbying organisation ClientEarth has just taken the government back to court for failing to obey an earlier injunction to produce a national plan for tackling pollution.
The scale of an opposition that has been years in preparation may be enough to stall plans altogether. Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park who has resigned over the go-ahead, warned Mr Grayling that his plan was doomed. He ought to be right. This is a short-sighted investment that may provide a boost to the economy - a mere £60bn over 60 years - at the cost of long-term harm to globally critical climate change objectives. This is no way to run an economy that works for everyone: more flights and greater connectivity will benefit only those who can afford to travel. Those who can't will gain nothing, not so much as a single airline meal.
STANSTED AIRPORT RESPONDS TO
GOVERNMENT RUNWAY ANNOUNCEMENT
Stansted will be able to handle twice as much as it does today
Jenny Chapman - Cambridge News - 25 October 2016
"Today's announcement highlights the important role that aviation plays in connecting Britain to the world," said Stansted Airport's CEO Andrew Cowan.
"Airports such as London Stansted are critical in supporting economic growth and increasing the UK's global competitiveness and we have been clear that making the most of existing capacity at Stansted over the next 10-15 years is our priority and a vital precursor to the building of new capacity in the south-east."
"With the decision on Heathrow now made, Government must commit to developing a new aviation policy and we urge them to work closely with us to make the most of the opportunities that already exist at Stansted by investing in the rail access to the airport. In addition, by relaxing current planning constraints, Stansted will be able to serve up to an extra 20 million passengers from its single runway, almost twice as many as it does today."
"Making use of Stansted's spare capacity will benefit not only the dynamic and fast growing East of England region we serve but also the UK as a whole and has the potential to generate an extra 10,000 on-site jobs and £4.6 billion in additional economic activity."
"Competition between London's airports over the last few years has shown just how much consumers stand to benefit from a market-driven approach. We must learn the lessons from the Airports Commission process and develop a new aviation policy that will provide a clear framework for airports to compete with each other on a level playing field and meet future passenger demand in the most sustainable, economic and efficient way possible."
OUR COMMENT: Relaxing current planning constraints? Local residents had better be consulted!
IF GATWICK AND HEATHROW BOTH BUILD NEW RUNWAYS,
IT COULD MEAN THE UK BECOMES FUTURE-PROOFED
It would upset many people living under flight paths
but for the rest of us it would be a relief
The Independent - 9 October 2016
Pity the passenger inbound to Heathrow or Gatwick, and the residents living some thousands of feet below the circling aircraft. The world's busiest two-runway and single-runway airports are, in a sense, the most efficient aviation assets in the world. They set out to handle implausible amounts of traffic, and most of the time just about get away with it - with travellers and householders growing accustomed to the time-devouring, noise-intensifying delays to landing and take off. Who'd choose to use such overstretched resources? Well, millions of passengers every week.
London has become the world capital of aviation, on target to handle 150 million arriving and departing travellers this year, despite itself. Stansted, Luton and plucky Southend are soaking up some of the excess demand that Heathrow and Gatwick can't accommodate, with London City carving out a niche for time-sensitive business travellers. Yet a decade from now, London and the rest of the nation may have something approaching sensible infrastructure. We wait 70 years for another full-length runway in south-east England to get the go-ahead, and then two come along at once - or at least they might if the Government gives the green light to Heathrow.
The prevarication that has characterised airport planning for decades may finally end this week or next. As The Independent revealed on Sunday, Gatwick bosses believe the airport's growth trajectory demands another runway regardless of the Transport Secretary's announcement, which is expected as early as Tuesday.
For the past 15 months, Heathrow has been hoping that the Davies Commission recommendation for a third runway will be rubber-stamped. Assuming the vote goes against Gatwick, the Sussex airport has now indicated it will flout the referee's decision and hire the bulldozers anyway. Gatwick's rebellious attitude may prove to be yet another distraction to a process that has dragged on as long as Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. Or it could mean that the UK, for the first time in aviation history, becomes future-proofed - with Stansted waiting in the wings in Essex for the next round of expansion.
Patrons of the Five Bells in Harmondsworth and the Gatwick Manor Inn may feel aggrieved that their historic drinking dens are under threat from expansion at either airport. But many of the rest of us will feel relieved: householders whose property has been blighted for decades, young people whose employment prospects are uncertain, and passengers who feel they've been going around in circles forever, just like the great airport debate.
FORGET HEATHROW, IT'S TIME TO CLEAR
BIRMINGHAM FOR TAKE-OFF
Regional airports, not a bigger Gatwick or Heathrow,
should provide direct routes to global markets
Sunday Telegraph - 24 September 2016
Having approved a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, the next big infrastructure decision in Theresa May's stacked in-tray is that vexed question - dodged by politicians for decades - of where to build Britain's much-needed new airport capacity.
In July 2015, the five-person Airports Commission, appointed by David Cameron to shelve the issue until after the May general election, gave "unanimous backing" to a third runway at Heathrow. It looked almost certain Europe's largest airport would get the all-important government nod.
Since then, as Cameron again avoided the controversial decision and then resigned anyway, Gatwick has fought back, vigorously campaigning for a second runway south of the capital. And now, with a new government, and a Prime Minister determined to break the deadlock, it seems either option could prevail.
While fully recognising the economic case for more airport capacity, I despair at the idea of expanding Heathrow. It's in the wrong place, for starters, with flight paths over some of London's most densely-populated areas. Does it really make sense to further develop an already enormous airport smack in the middle of a suburban landscape that's home to millions and set to become even more populated in the years to come? I think not.
Then there's the environmental impact. Britain's Supreme Court has already ruled that air pollution around Heathrow breaches legal limits, given that aircraft emissions combine with car pollution from the jam-packed M4 and M25 motorways. To add another 250,000 flights a year to the present 470,000, with all the related extra road traffic, would make a nonsense of our anti-pollution legislation.
The case for Heathrow apparently hinges on the airport securing its "hub" status, helping consolidate London as a centre for global business. For over four-fifths of those flying into the capital, though, London is their final destination. And almost 70pc of Heathrow's existing passengers are tourists. So while Heathrow may want to offer more flights to far-flung business hot spots in China, India and elsewhere, it could do that by giving up other non-business slots, allowing more of the Mediterranean holiday routes to go to Gatwick and Stansted.
A third Heathrow runway is estimated to cost an astonishing £17.7bn. Part of the reason is the extensive home demolition required, with all the legal wrangling and compensation payments that entails. Countless more billions would be spent diverting existing roads, including tunnelling under the runway to re-route the M25, pushing the total bill way above £30bn. The sheer complexity explains why a new Heathrow runway wouldn't be ready until 2029 at the earliest.
Gatwick has lobbied for a second runway
Expanding Gatwick, in contrast, involves far less demolition and local upheaval and would cost £7.8bn, with an arrival time five years earlier.
A bigger Gatwick would also mean London ended up with two world-class airports - like New York, Paris and Tokyo - rather than one. And Crossrail means that we'll soon have much faster links between Heathrow and London's other airports, weakening the argument for a single, over-bearing "hub".
The main reason I don't back Heathrow's third runway, though, is that I believe in competition. Five years ago, the Competition Commission forced BAA, which runs Heathrow, to sell Gatwick, Stansted and some other UK airports. The idea was to challenge BAA's near-monopoly for the benefit of passengers and the broader UK economy. Since then, the private investors who bought Gatwick have financed a major improvement programme and reversed years of losses. That's on revenues in the hundreds of millions, though, compared to Heathrow's multi-billion pound operation.
It would be perverse, given the manner in which Gatwick's new owners have demonstrated their determination to give Heathrow a run for its money, for the Government to then take a decision that further cemented Heathrow's top spot. May has stacked her cabinet with vocal Heathrow opponents, including the increasingly influential Education Secretary Justine Greening.
Anyone who doubts the on-going dominance of the West London behemoth should consider that individual passenger charges are more than double those at Gatwick. Consider, also, that Heathrow accounts for 84pc of all long-haul flights, leaving London, according to the Airports Commission. The fine-print of last year's report actually admitted a third runway would divert traffic back to Heathrow and away from London's other airports - effectively undermining the Competition Commission's 2011 ruling. But this deeply-politicised document, entirely lacking in objectivity, opted for Heathrow anyway.
Money talks, after all, and Heathrow has long exerted serious lobbying muscle to maintain its grip on the market. With the Government limbering up to decide, Heathrow is now portraying itself as key to the UK's post-Brexit success, highlighting that last year almost a third of our exports to non-European Union nations took off from its runways. Gatwick, in response, says taxpayers will suffer to the tune of £305 a head if Heathrow gets the green light, given the huge cost of local road reconfiguration.
Both May and her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, represent constituencies close to Heathrow. Both have previously opposed a third runway. Now they're at the pinnacle of government, they could be keen to counter accusations of nimbyism by anyway backing Heathrow.
On the one hand, May has stacked her cabinet with vocal Heathrow opponents, including the increasingly influential Education Secretary Justine Greening and, of course, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who recently said Heathrow expansion, given the complexities, is "a fantasy" that should be "consigned to the dustbin of history". On the other, the Prime Minister has now promised the cabinet a free Commons vote on the airport issue - so no one elected on the promise of opposing Heathrow, if May's final judgment goes against them, should feel the need to resign.
Theresa May represents a constituency close to Heathrow
While May won't make her move in the next few days, lest bad feeling spill over into next week's gathering of the Tory party faithful in Birmingham, this impending decision will loom large over her first conference as leader. Maybe that's why Number 10 is now whispering that the Prime Minister could give the go-ahead to both Heathrow and Gatwick, while imposing restrictions on each to dilute local opposition. But I think May should be much bolder - not only giving Gatwick the nod over Heathrow, but further indicating the Government's desire to see the rapid expansion of key regional airports in Manchester and Birmingham.
Post-Brexit Britain needs global growth centres beyond the South East. That's why the Northern Powerhouse must now get off the drawing board, with HS3 being prioritised above all other high-speed rail projects, linking up Liverpool and Manchester in the North West, before extending to the long-neglected but still extremely promising North East.
An airport in Birmingham could offer regular and direct links to global markets
Imagine the possibilities if the West Midlands, already the UK's second-biggest exporting region, had in Birmingham an airport offering regular, direct links to global markets. That's why 29 business and political leaders from the West Midlands last week wrote to May urging her to prevent Heathrow's expansion, calling instead for a "truly competitive network of regional airports, which can act as drivers for local growth".
A third Heathrow runway "would re-forge its monopoly," the letter continued, "undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of BAA, and restricting the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities." Amen to that.
The UK economy, for all the swing of London and the Home Counties' well-heeled swagger, is ludicrously imbalanced. Theresa May says she wants to change that, spreading wealth across other regions - and I believe her. That's why the Prime Minister should block Heathrow's third runway, an expansion that would suck oxygen away from a host of other regional growth centres. "One Nation Conservatism" needs to get beyond vapid phrase-making and down to brass tacks. And Birmingham is where that should start.
NEVER MIND A NEW AIRPORT RUNWAY,
THERE'S NO ROOM LEFT IN THE SKY
Letter to The Telegraph - 8 October 2016
SIR - As a former deputy chairman of the Australian air traffic system, now back in England, I have been increasingly concerned by the arguments over the expansion of airports in south-east England. All the reports, including the Davies report, take insufficient notice of the effect of extra runways on an already overcrowded airspace.
Andrew Haines, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, summed it up when he said that expanding Heathrow or Gatwick without modernising airspace would be "like building a car park and forgetting the access road".
The talk lately has been about the effect of pollution. This must take into account the effect of extra low-level flight in a holding pattern that will occur as a result of a completely overcrowded airspace.
OUR COMMENT: Good advice, and, no more pollution as well!
Still more Runways? The argument continues.
STANSTED SEEKS END TO CAP ON PASSENGERS
Ben Martin, The Telegraph - 18 September 2016
The company behind Stansted, London's third-busiest airport, is to call on the Government to lift restrictions on passenger numbers as it ramps up its campaign to expand and eventually build a second runway.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive at Stansted's owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said the company was planning to apply officially in the coming months to have its so-called planning cap, which limits it to handling 35m passengers a year, raised.
If approved, it would allow the Essex airport to grow by making full use of its single runway, and lead to between £400m and £500m of investment in Stansted to expand its terminal facilities so that it can handle more travellers. The move could also pave the way for a second landing strip.
"As we move towards the end of this calendar year we'll be putting in an application to get that planning cap raised," Mr Cornish said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. He said MAG was already starting to compile supporting materials for the application, including noise and environmental studies, and is beginning to look at how it would extend its terminal. "We have to invest anyway to get to 35 million [passengers] and then to get to 42m we have to invest some more," Mr Cornish said.
MAG is Britain's second-biggest airport operator and owns Manchester, the country's third-busiest airport, East Midlands and Bournemouth.
Stansted's cap was lifted to 35m from 25m in 2008. However, the airport is growing quickly, with passenger numbers jumping by 10.8pc to 23.2m in the 12 months to the end of March.
THE ONLY RUNWAY IN ESSEX, SAYS STANSTED BOSS
Ben Martin, The Telegraph - 18 September 2016
In the fierce debate over airport expansion in the south east of England, the loudest calls for a new runway come from the chief executives of Heathrow and Gatwick. But if the quietly-spoken boss of Stansted has anything to do with it, London's third-busiest airport will one-day have another runway too.
In as little as a decade, the Essex airport hopes to be handling more than 40m passengers a year, close to the limit for a single runway. If fast-growing Stansted is going to expand beyond that, a second landing-strip will be needed.
Charlie Cornish, the chief executive of the company behind Stansted, is already laying the groundwork for the ambitious project. "If we need a second runway in say 10 to 15 years we need to start thinking about it in 2 to 3 years' time," he says. "And when I say 'think about it', I don't really mean that because we are already thinking about. I mean actually start doing more detailed design development work and starting to think about how we'd put an application together."
Airport expansion will soon fly to the top of the Government agenda. The Government is expected to decide in a matter of weeks whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, with the former considered the favourite to get the go-ahead.
If Theresa May, the prime minister, does give Heathrow the green-light, she will resolve a controversial issue that has dogged British governments for years. With Heathrow and Gatwick both almost full, a new landing strip is needed to avert a looming aviation capacity crunch around London.
But Cornish, the 55-year-old Scot who runs Stansted-owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG), believes expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick will not solve a much broader problem facing the country's air travel industry.
"We think it's much more important that the Government takes a decision on aviation policy in the wider sense," he says in his lilting Scottish burr, adding that MAG is "indifferent" as to whether it is Heathrow or Gatwick that gets the runway.
STANSTED WANTS TO HAVE ITS PLANNING CAP LIFTED,
ALLOWING IT TO FLY MORE THAN 35M TRAVELLERS
The Telegraph - 19 September 2016
Even if the Government does decide between Heathrow and Gatwick it could be 2030 before the new runway is in operation and capacity will remain constrained until it opens. The Government must "take account of short term measures, how you improve surface access to other airports in the UK, how you get best use of existing capacity," says Cornish. That means helping Stansted to grow.
As well as the Essex airport, MAG owns Manchester airport, which is the country's third largest, Bournemouth and East Midlands. That makes it the second-biggest airport operator in the country behind Heathrow, meaning Cornish's views carry considerable weight.
MAG handled 51.9m passengers across its four airports in the 12 months to the end of March, up 7pc on 2014-15, while revenues rose 5.5pc to £778.8m and operating profits were up 21.7pc to £186.9m. It is owned by a consortium made up of Australian asset manager IFM Investors and Manchester City Council, which each own 35.5pc stakes, and a group of nine other Greater Manchester local authorities that hold the balance.
Stansted is growing the quickest of MAG's airports with passengers surging 10.8pc in 2015-16 to 23.2m. However, a long-standing planning cap means Stansted currently isn?t allowed to handle more than 35m. Cornish hopes the restriction will soon be lifted.
"As we move towards the end of this calendar year we'll be putting in an application to get that planning cap raised," he says. Gatwick, the world's busiest single runway airport, carried 42m passengers in the last 12 months and there is "no rationale and probably no legal legitimacy" for Stansted to be limited to less than its rival, Cornish argues.
While Stansted's runway can also theoretically handle as many as Gatwick's, the rest of the airport presently cannot. Lifting the cap would trigger between £400m and £500m of investment by MAG into Stansted, to extend the terminal building and add more aircraft stands.
To grow any further after that, however, Stansted would need a second runway, which Cornish believes should form part of the broader aviation policy he is lobbying for. He is also pushing for improvements to the Stansted Express rail link with London and is a backer of former chancellor George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse project.
Even if Heathrow is allowed a third runway, the case for Stansted expansion remains strong because it attracts low-cost and charter airlines that find it too expensive to operate from the west London hub, Cornish adds. It would be the next major project for the MAG boss, behind a 10-year, £1bn scheme to revamp Manchester airport's terminals to boost its capacity to 30m passengers, from 23.5m currently. Building work on the Manchester project is expected to start next year.
Another Stansted runway, an idea that was proposed by the airport's former owners BAA but then dropped in 2010, would likely mark the culmination of Cornish's varied career. He grew up in Hamilton, just outside Glasgow, studied economics at Strathclyde University before taking a graduate trainee job at Plessey Communications. A series of management roles at aerospace giant BAE and Primark-owner Associated British Foods came next, followed by a spell in the NHS.
A switch to the utilities sector saw Cornish join West of Scotland Water, then Thames Water and finally FTSE 100 giant United Utilities, where he sat on the board and played a key role selling off its businesses around the world. He took the top job at MAG in 2010 after seeing it advertised in a newspaper and has since set about overhauling the group, overseeing its £1.5bn acquisition of Stansted from BAA in 2013 and selling a controlling stake in Humberside airport.
Cornish is not averse to doing more deals. MAG recently took an "outside in look" at London City airport, he reveals, but decided the sums involved were too "exorbitant". Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) eventually sold the business in February, a huge 33 times earnings. Cornish also cast his eye over Nice airport, which was recently sold, and would "have a look" at Edinburgh if GIP decides to offload it. Dublin, if it comes on the market, is another target.
Potential deals aside, Brexit also poses a challenge to the MAG boss. "We do think, like most economists, that there will be a downturn in the economy for the next potentially two years and then growth will start to come back in," he says. Irish budget carrier Ryanair, which is Stansted's biggest customer, has already signalled it will reduce capacity at the airport following the referendum.
But while Cornish is braced for MAG's passenger growth to slow to around 2pc, he believes it will then pick up again, meaning Brexit has not hurt Stansted's long-term case for expansion. "We'll know better in January, that's when airlines tend to load their capacity for the summer," he says of the potential impact of the EU referendum. By that time, however, MAG should already have started the process to lift Stansted's planning cap, and Cornish will be hoping his plans for the airport's expansion will be readying for take-off.
OUR COMMENT: We and MAG should remember that Stansted's passenger figures have yet to reach the maximum achieved well before MAG purchased the airport. It took over 6 years to recover lost business, so why the sudden need for permission to exceed 35mppa?
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