| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2008
29 September 2008
CARBON TRADING "WILL COST AIRLINES €3BN ANNUALLY"
ENDS Europe DAILY 2620 - 23 September 2008
Complying with carbon caps under the EU's emission trading scheme will cost the aviation industry around €3bn annually from 2015, according to a new analysis by investment bank Merrill Lynch. EU policymakers reached a deal to include the sector in emission trading earlier in the summer.
The move could increase ticket prices by up to three per cent and "could encourage airlines to revamp their fleets sooner rather than later to achieve greater fuel efficiency," the bank's European aerospace analyst, Celine Fornaro, said.
OUR COMMENT: This forecast casts further doubts on the government's predictions of the likely increase in demand for air travel. The question is: Why airport expansion? For whom? The government is pressing the EU to allow payments to approved overseas carbon saving schemes to count as carbon savings for UK firms. Could this be their solution to aid their favoured aviation industry and give it a head start in the carbon reduction stakes, without having to forego expansion?
29 September 2008
MEPS BACK WIDER ACCESS TO FOREIGN CARBON CREDITS
ENDS Europe DAILY 2621 - 24 September 2008
Member states should be able to buy more credits abroad to meet future EU carbon emission limits on non-industrial economic sectors such as transport, the European parliament's industry committee said this week.
In a vote on "effort-sharing" plans tabled by the European commission in January the committee said a proposed ceiling on buying foreign emission-reduction credits should be raised from 3 per cent to 4 per cent of 2005 emissions.
The parliament's environment committee will now consider the proposal, but its rapporteur opposes access to foreign credits.
29 September 2008
MEPS LET EUROPE BUY ITS WAY OUT OF CO2 CUTS
EuroObserver - Brussels - 25 September 2008
European lawmakers in an influential parliamentary committee want Europe to buy its way out of making serious CO2 emissions cuts by paying other countries, mostly in the developing world, to make the cuts on its behalf.
In a narrow 21 to 20 vote, MEPs in the parliament's industry committee elected to back an increase by a third on the European Commission's original proposals for the amount of "carbon offsets" European member states may use towards their carbon reduction targets.
The use of offsets would apply to those sectors that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the EU's emissions trading scheme such as buildings and transport.
From supermarkets that claim to be "carbon-neutral" to the eco-conscious lead-singer of pop-band Coldplay saying he makes up for all the carbon emissions he is responsible for when he flies off in his private jet by paying people in Indonesia to plant mango trees for him, carbon offsets allow people to keep on polluting so long as they pay others to make up the difference.
Both environmentalists and increasingly a number of economists have become highly critical of the offset industry, with the former regularly comparing offsets to "indulgences" sold by the Catholic Church to sinners in the Middle Ages to avoid time in purgatory after they died.
Economists for their part are critical of one of the key elements of any offset project - the principle of "additionality" - whether the offsets pay for tree planting or manufacturers in China to clean up they way they make fridges. Additionality means showing that a green project would not have taken place without the offset tool, something that is notoriously difficult to prove.
If projects that would have happened anyway are included as offsets, the net result is an increase of carbon emissions.
Green groups are also concerned that monoculture - one species only - tree plantations in the third world reduce biodiversity, undermine local sovereignty, encourage conflict over land and are highly flammable, meaning they can also lead to an increase in emissions.
A number of environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the WWF, attacked the European Parliament vote, calculating that it would mean allowing up to 80 per cent of Europe's emission reductions to be met by the purchase of external offset credits. By 2020, member states' emissions from non-industrial sectors would only be reduced by a "feeble" two percent, compared to 2005 levels, they said.
The European Commission proposed legislation in January that would require Europe as a whole to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent on 1990 levels by 2020, a target agreed to by European leaders the previous March, which would rise to a mandatory 30 percent if an international agreement is reached in which competing markets also agreed to such a target.
"Should these types of amendments become law, the EU would cease to be seen as a credible climate partner internationally," the groups said in a statement.
The industry committee did not bow to pressure from a number of eastern European member states to ease the burden of emissions cuts they would be responsible for once the legislation passes. Countries have been assigned varying targets, developed using 2005 data on the quantity of emissions and economic standing.
Seven eastern European states had wanted the 2005 baseline year moved back to 1990, as they argued that the economic decline of their countries following the end of Communism produced a sharp drop in CO2 emissions that needed to be taken into account. The industry committee rejected this line of reasoning.
The parliament as a whole must decide on the commission's climate and energy package - a large bundle of proposals that target climate change - in the next few weeks.
29 September 2008
THE PARTY CONFERENCES: THE PROMISES
No! to airport expansion - say the Lib-Dems
Extract from the speech by Nick Clegg at the Lib-Dem Annual National Conference - 17 September 2008
Every family in Britain is tightening their belts for the hard times ahead.
It is time for government to tighten its belt too.
Labour has doubled government spending from £300bn a year to £600bn a year.
That's 18,000 pounds a second.
They've taken, give or take a few, 16 million pounds of your money since I started speaking.
It'll be 38 million by the time I've finished.
Does anyone in this room believe every single pound is spent well? I don't.
And I think it's liberal to be sceptical.
Sceptical that central, controlling government gets things right.
It's the Labour party that believes every pound spent by government is better than a pound spent by you or me. We don't.
We believe ministers should spend money as carefully as if they'd borrowed it from a friend.
We believe that tax is a means to an end and government should not take a penny more than it needs.
We believe returning money to people who need it is fair, liberal, and right.
The other parties say tax cuts aren't possible.
But that's because they're too flaky to take the tough choices to make tax cuts possible.
Too weak to trim back on wasteful spending.
Too in hock to wealthy non-doms to threaten higher taxes for the rich.
Liberal Democrats are not afraid of tough choices.
My shadow cabinet is identifying £20bn of government spending that isn't working effectively.
We need to ask ourselves:
When government has proved itself incapable of keeping people's data secure.
Why is it spending nearly thirteen billion pounds on a botched NHS IT system?
When our soldiers need inexpensive, off-the-shelf armoured vehicles today.
Why is government spending fourteen billion on over complex tanks that won't be ready for years?
When we want local government to respond to the needs of local people...
Why are they spending more than a billion pounds filling in forms for Whitehall inspectors?
Making these savings will mean we can afford to spend money on things that really matter.
Homes, care for the elderly, children.
Things that really make a difference.
And then cut taxes for the people who need it most.
I know with this approach - streamlined spending and targeted tax cuts, we can get our economy going again.
But I don't want to reignite the old one.
I want us to be the first country in the world to move to a new economy. A green economy.
As well as risking the very future of our planet.
Our need for dirty energy is crippling us economically.
There are growing links between climate change, biofuels, and rising food prices.
And inflation is fuelled. by fuel.
One way or another, together we are going to have to use less energy.
And much less dirty energy.
It's the only way to stop the growing threat of disastrous climate change.
There must be no third runway at Heathrow, no expansion of Stansted,
And for power stations - no Kingsnorth, no more dirty coal, no nuclear.
I want to see public transport expanded, with investment funded through charges on road haulage.
I want to see homes and businesses become energy efficient - saving money in the process.
And I want a huge expansion of renewable energy - meeting and exceeding the commitments Labour has given up on.
If we make the change now, Britain will lead the world on green technology.
Driving growth through green collar jobs.
Achieving energy independence within the EU.
Independence because our position on the international stage is weakened by the West's desperate hunger for fuel.
We cower in the shadow of countries we want to stand up to.
Because we're afraid they might turn off our lights.
Just look at where we stand with Russia. And in the Middle East.
Dependence on fossil fuels undermines the fight for human rights.
It halts the onward march of democracy. It's got to end.
Instead of basing foreign policy on the principle of "who's got the fuel".
We need to base it on the principles of justice.
On our British values:
Freedom, democracy, and human rights.
Fair, and green.
This is the new economy we will build.
But we need a new kind of government to go with it.
To put Britain on the right track for the future, we need to make government people-sized. People-shaped.
29 September 2008
THE LABOUR PARTY STILL FAVOURS MORE FLIGHTS, MORE CO2
Standing ovation for Ruth Kelly after farewell conference speech
24 hour dash.com - 25 September 2008
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was given an ovation at Labour's conference today after confirming she was to stand down from the Cabinet to spend more time with her family.
Ms Kelly told delegates it was not a decision she had taken lightly and begged their understanding, as she explained that she owed it to her children to "take a step back" and put them first. "If I do not, then I know that this is something I will come to regret deeply," she added.
Turning to transport issues, Ms Kelly announced an extra £25 million to "kickstart new bus services in both urban and rural areas".
She also attacked the Tories over their "divisions" on the expansion of Heathrow, branding London Mayor Boris Johnson's plans for a Thames estuary airport a "fantasy island".
She said: "If London is to thrive as a major international hub, supporting the UK economy by providing good international connections, then it needs a hub airport that has sufficient capacity to serve all the regions and countries of the United Kingdom - as well as the emerging economies of China and India.
"Boris may find his fantasy island airport a useful device to distract from Tory divisions on Heathrow. I call it politically opportunistic, economically irresponsible and environmentally disastrous."
Ruth Kelly - Quoted from the same speech. Simon Hoggart?s column, The Guardian, 25th September 2008
"We all cherish the opportunity to visit friends and family abroad, catch up with loved ones, or take a well earned holiday." (What about people who take an ill earned holiday? Why are they always left out?)
"If we want to maintain these hard won opportunities, I truly believe we must be brave in challenging those who would ration flying and make it once more the preserve of the rich."
Class warfare takes to the skies! Climate Change all a plot to stop working folk having stag weekends in Prague! Demonstrations in World Traveller as the toilers and peasants march on the first class cabin!
29 September 2008
AUGUST TRAFFIC FIGURES FOR BAA'S AIRPORTS
BAA traffic summary, August 2008 - 10 September 2008
BAA's UK airports handled a total of 14.9 million passengers in August, a drop of 1.7% on the same month last year. Year today BAA's UK airports traffic shows a decline of 0.8%.
Against the backdrop of toughening economic conditions the reduction in passenger volumes so far experienced could be seen as modest.
The trend in figures year to date is driven by a decline in Domestic traffic (-5%) versus an increase in the most profitable long haul traffic (+1%) and virtual stagnation of European flights (-0.5%).
The pattern of August traffic between key markets also followed the recently established trend with a increase in North Atlantic long haul traffic (+1.3%) versus stagnation in European activity (-1.0%) and in Domestic traffic (-6.5%).
Traffic at Heathrow, BAA's largest airport, remains unchanged, with a drop of just 0.2% helped by a 15.6% increase in North Atlantic traffic as a result of Open Skies.
Gatwick fell by 1.2%, where a 13.7% gain in European scheduled traffic was not enough to offset the 29.3% drop in North Atlantic traffic due to the shift of long haul traffic to Heathrow in the wake of Open Skies.
Stansted recorded a drop of 4.7%. In Scotland, Edinburgh was just 1.0% lower, but Glasgow and Aberdeen dropped by 5.2% and 5.4% respectively.
Cargo tonnage was up overall by 1.0%, with Heathrow recording an increase of 9.8%. In total BAA Group airports handled 3.0% fewer air transport movements in August.
29 September 2008
RYANAIR THREATENS PILOTS WITH UNPAID WINTER LEAVE
John Ingham & Anil Dawar - Airline News - 18 September 2008
The budget airline has asked for volunteers to take unpaid leave.
RYANAIR was condemned last night for threatening to make its pilots take unpaid leave.
The budget airline appeared to be taking advantage of the collapse of rivals such as Zoom, XL and Futura to put pressure on its staff.
In a memo to its 1,700 pilots, who can earn about £100,000 a year, the airline said it had been "inundated" with applications from pilots who had recently lost their jobs. It then said that Ryanair was imposing a recruitment freeze and asked for volunteers to take "unpaid winter leave". It also claimed that a strike at Boeing had delayed plane deliveries, leaving it "overstaffed".
The memo warned: "If we do not receive sufficient applications on/before the end of September, then we will allocate unpaid leave to some Dublin and Stansted based pilots from November onwards."
Last night the British Airline Pilots Association slammed Ryanair's approach to its pilots, saying the company was wrong to use heavy job losses throughout the aviation industry to try to force pilots to take an effective pay cut. BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan said: "This is no way to treat pilots."
On pilots? website Pprune.org contributors? comments included: "Why does the memo mention job applications and bankrupt airlines in the first paragraph, when the whole thing is about taking leave? It looks to me like a thinly veiled threat."
Another said: "These poor guys that are going to be dumped when there will be little opportunity to find a viable alternative income will be totally screwed."
The memo, dated September 15, said: "We have recently been inundated with applications from pilots whose employers have gone bust. We are also receiving applications from pilots who fear that their airline may go bankrupt shortly. Since we already have more than treble the applications we require we have decided to impose a recruitment freeze. Delayed aircraft deliveries due to the Boeing strike means we are overstaffed in our pilot/flight operations department."
In July Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary announced an 85 per cent drop in net profits for the first quarter of this year. He slashed 150 flights from the company's Dublin HQ this winter, a cut of 12 per cent, and reduced winter flights from Stansted by 250 a week, or 14 per cent.
Nevertheless he has vowed to continue cutting fares through the credit crunch, while warning that more airlines will go bust. His strategy for surviving the crisis is to wage a price war and take over the profitable routes of weaker airlines that go under.
29 September 2008
CLIMATE PROTESTER DISRUPTS RYANAIR AGM
Irish Times - 18 September 2008
Ryanair's AGM was disrupted by a climate change activist in Dublin this morning. A topless protester, calling himself Rob Mac, approached the top of the meeting in Radisson Hotel, Dublin Airport, to where Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary was on the podium.
The protest was organised by a group calling itself Plane Mad who say they are campaigning for the responsible use of aviation. The group claims aviation will negate all other reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland if current growth continues.
A Ryanair spokeswoman played down the incident saying the protester left the meeting with incident.
In July Mr O'Leary criticised a decision by the European Parliament to include aviation in its CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). He said it could eventually cost consumers an additional ?50 on every flight.
Mr O'Leary said the ruling, which MEPs described as an "enormous stride" in safeguarding the environment against greenhouse gases, would not reduce emissions, but instead "further damage European airlines" at a time when oil costs some $140 a barrel.
"These clowns in the European Parliament seem determined to destroy the European airline industry with these discriminatory taxation penalties," Mr O?Leary said in July. "Aviation is not the cause of, nor the solution to, CO2 emissions or global warming. Increasing taxation on air travel will have no effect on either emissions or global warming, it will just raise the cost of air travel for ordinary European consumers."
Ryanair told today's meeting it would break even in the current year if oil remains at $100 a barrel, and would return to profitability next year if the price continues to fall.
29 September 2008
GREEN PROTEST AGAINST STANSTED AIRPORT PLAN
Cambridge News - 18 September 2008
EXPANSION plans for Stansted Airport have received a double blow.
The Woodland Trust took its protest against the plans for a second runway at Stansted to the capital yesterday.
And speaking at his party's conference Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg committed to total opposition to the expansion of Stansted Airport.
Trust members dressed as trees, and armed with placards and banners, started their protest outside the London offices of leading airport company BAA at 8.30am to highlight the damage the runway would cause to Essex's ancient woodland. The arboreal demonstrators then travelled around London.
Steve Marsh, a spokesman for the trust said public reaction had been positive: "The news about Gatwick being up for sale has helped to make this protest even more noteworthy. Loads of people have taken away our objection forms and in the past hour or so more than 40 people have already signed them."
The organisation believes that if Stansted's proposed expansion gets the go-ahead, ancient woods will be razed to the ground, destroying the habitats of a host of rare and threatened species such as the dormouse, bluebell, oxlip, early purple orchid and glow worm. Nearly 20 hectares of ancient woodlands would be affected, including Philipland Wood, Round Coppice, The Wilderness, Pigeon Wood and Priory Wood.
Ed Pomfret of the Woodland Trust, said: "Ancient woodland is highly sensitive and is susceptible to changes in the climate brought on by climate change. We believe this proposal is irresponsible and unnecessary."
The Trust is urging anyone who opposes the plan to send in their objections before the closing date on September 26.
In his first speech to a party conference as Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg outlined his outright rejection of the expansion of Stansted from 25 million passengers a year to 35 million and the addition of a possible new runway.
Mr Clegg told the conference: "I want us to be the first country in the world to move to a new economy. A green economy. As well as risking the very future of our planet, our need for dirty energy is crippling us economically. There are growing links between climate change, biofuels and rising food prices. And inflation is fuelled by fuel."
"One way or another we are going to have to use less energy. And much less dirty energy. It's the only way to stop the growing threat of disastrous climate change. There must be no third runway at Heathrow, no expansion of Stansted."
29 September 2008
Airport expansion policy needs to be reviewed, say Government advisers
Proposals for airport expansion need to be reviewed in the light of the economic downturn,
noise pollution and carbon emissions targets, a new report says.
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 15 September 2008
The Cabinet is currently considering a number of key decisions on airport expansion, including whether to build another runway at Heathrow. However the Sustainability Commission, the Government's independent adviser on sustainability issues, said no decisions should be made until the evidence has been looked at again.
In a review of all the arguments around aviation, including climate change impact, economic benefit and noise pollution, the SDC found the position has changed so much in some areas that the evidence needs to be looked at again.
Factors that should be taken into account include the development of high speed rail, stricter targets to cut carbon emissions and new evidence suggesting annoyance can be caused well below official noise levels.
Oil prices and the economic downturn have severely affected airlines calling into question the economic future of the industry. Since Christmas XL, Max Jet, Silverjet, Eos, Oasis and Zoom have failed leaving thousands of passengers stranded and Alitalia is danger of being next.
The SDC has called for a review of aviation policy before but this is the first time the group has reviewed all the evidence from non-governmental organisations, businesses, government and citizen groups to date. Hugh Raven, Commissioner at the SDC, said it was time to look again at the government's aviation policy in the light of the new evidence.
He said: "Air travel offers many benefits to society, but at a cost. Decisions about new facilities for flying - particularly new runways and terminals - must consider the full range of impacts. Our review of the data shows deep disagreement about even the fundamentals. We believe there is an overwhelming case for a full review of evidence before any long-term strategic decisions are made."
OUR COMMENT: It would appear that Ruth Kelly is not accepting this advice ? Governments appoint their professional advisers, they can choose to ignore them, but need good reasons to do so. The difficulty is when different advisers give differing advice, or when the advice is clearly biased. This is when a wise government should review the situation. The situation has changed radically since the ATWP was produced in 2003.
29 September 2008
WHO CAN JUSTIFY THIS LOSS OF HOUSES,
HERITAGE AND COUNTRYSIDE?
Airport protesters outline 'destruction'
Annie Davidson - EADT - 15 September 2008
A DEMONSTRATION has been held to highlight the destruction which campaigners claim would be caused if permission was given to build a second runway at Stansted Airport.
The "runway ramble" organised by the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign was supported by hundreds of people who walked across the countryside and through villages in Uttlesford which would be lost if the development goes ahead.
Protesters were supported by county and district councillors including Peter Martin, deputy leader of Essex County Council, and Uttlesford District Council's leader Jim Ketteridge and chairman Mark Lemon.
There was a choice of three different routes during the seventh annual runway ramble which included areas of woodland which would be cut down and the villages of Molehill Green and Duton Hill, which would be partially lost.
A planning application has now been officially submitted to Uttlesford District Council by airport operator BAA and a public inquiry will be held in April next year.
Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders said the second runway would not just affect the local area but the whole of East Anglia. "While our focus today is on what would happen in the immediate vicinity of the airport in terms of the loss of homes and heritage, we must not forget that the impacts of a second runway would also extend across East Anglia," he said.
"People in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would all suffer from the increase in overflying that would result from the tripling of aircraft movements which BAA is seeking. They would also have to contend with greater pressure on the region's road and rail network because of the airport operators emphasis on encouraging passengers to travel to Stansted by road and its reluctance to invest in the rail service to accommodate the proposed expansion."
Mr Martin also addressed the protestors to reinforce Essex County Council's outright opposition to the second runway plans. The county council is a member of the CO2 Group - Councils Opposed to Second Runway - and will be playing an active role in the public inquiry which will be held to determine the application.
The event on Saturday came just two weeks before the deadline for the public to give their views on the second runway which is on September 26. Protesters are urged to send objections to Uttlesford District Council (planning), London Road, Saffron Walden CB11 4ER, or by email to email@example.com.
BAA said it was committed to the second runway project which it said would provide "huge social and economic benefits" for the region. Bosses stressed they were could all they could "to limit, avoid and mitigate against any environmental impacts."
29 September 2008
FEARS AIRPORT GROWTH WILL CHANGE COUNTY
Evening Star - 20 September 2008
HALF a million flights a year using an expanded Stansted would "radically change" the character of Suffolk, it was claimed today.
Campaigners putting together their evidence for a public inquiry say a second runway at the Essex airport would generate intolerable noise for those in the county living below flightpaths.
The information from Stop Stansted Expansion echoes the deep concerns of the Evening Star's Air Fair campaign and those of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group and Save Our Silence that the county's precious tranquillity is being ruined by jet planes and the worst is yet to come.
SSE campaign director Carol Barbone said the current proposals to change flightpaths and create new holding stacks between Hadleigh and Stowmarket and near Newmarket would be made much worse by further expansion of Stansted.
"Everyone concerned about noise and tranquillity issues should recognise the major threat that would be posed by a second runway at Stansted with some half a million flights a year using the airport," she said. "Such intensity of overflying would radically change the character of the region."
SSE says air traffic maps submitted with the second runway application are virtually identical to current plans, so stacks would be used far more, and flightpaths differ only marginally from those being put forward by NATS for coming years.
"Yet many people in the area remain unaware that there is a bigger battle that needs to be fought to protect rural peace longer term, now revealed by campaigners working through the second runway application with a fine toothcomb," said Mrs Barbone.
"As a result, a warning is being issued that those who would be affected by the NATS plans should also be aware of the need to make urgent representations on the second runway application by the September 26 deadline because of the impacts they could suffer if the plans are allowed to proceed."
NATS has said airspace will have to be reviewed afresh if a second runway is permitted and it is too early to say what will happen.
Views on the second runway should be sent to Uttlesford District Council, London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4ER.
Are you annoyed by aircraft noise? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.
9 September 2008
LIFESTYLE CHOICES WON'T WIN THE BATTLE
AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING
In a new book on climate change, Jonathan Neale argues that solutions are within reach but the political will is lacking - a mass movement is needed to make governments take the lead
The Independent - 7 September 2008
Should you feel guilty about flying? A lot of people would say you should. After all, the danger of runaway climate change is real. No one knows how far away that is. We probably have 10 to 30 years, but we may have longer, and we may already have passed the tipping point.
When we reach that point, the best estimate is that hundreds of millions are going to die from flood, drought, famine, epidemics and war. Many more will be scarred by what they must see and do to survive. And a substantial proportion of the world's species will perish.
Flying may account for only about 3 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change. But that CO2 has twice the effect of emissions from cars, because it is put high in the atmosphere where it does more harm.
So maybe you should feel guilty. But. It's your holiday. You have three weeks. You have a husband and three children in school. His job stresses him and you hate yours. It's the only time you're ever all together. You live for this time. A family of five can get to the south of Spain on cheap flights for £300 if you book ahead. By train it will cost more than £1,000. You don't have that.
So maybe you shouldn't feel guilty. But it's the wrong question. The question isn't should you feel guilty; it's how are we going to stop climate change? So let's start there.
It will take massive government action across the world to halt global warming. To allow for economic growth in poor countries and some population growth, we have to cut CO2 emissions in rich countries by at least 80 per cent.
We can do that. We already have the technology. Most CO2 comes from burning oil, coal and gas. So we have to build wind farms and solar panels around the world, and concentrated solar power in the deserts. We have to insulate every leaky building in the world. We need trains and buses for almost all city journeys. And we need to stop making petrol and cement. There are a thousand things more, but those are the biggest ones. Individuals can't do them. Governments can, and they can do most of them in five years.
Doing things differently
Most of the changes we need don't mean sacrifice. They mean doing things differently. It's the same with transport. The alternative to most flights isn't staying at home. It's rail travel, which emits a fraction of the carbon.
Governments could ban all flights inside Europe and build new fast rail lines. Tickets could be subsidised, and booked on the internet so the trains are full. Trains travelling at 125mph, like the ones in the UK now, could go from London to Istanbul in 24 hours and London to Delhi in 48. But mainstream politicians keep telling us that stopping global warming will cost too much. They say ordinary people will never stand for sacrifice.
Stop a minute and think what "cost too much" means. It means ordinary people would be paid pounds and euros and rupees for insulating houses and building wind farms. It means millions of jobs round the world.
I keep thinking about the Second World War. Back then, every major power in the world changed their whole economy to make as many weapons as possible to kill as many people as possible in order to win the war. We need the same thing now, across the world, to save lives.
The United States joined the Second World War on 7 December 1941. President Roosevelt immediately asked Congress for a military budget for 1942 equal to the GDP of the whole country for 1941. Roosevelt got it, and the whole economy changed in six months. The car factories made planes, tanks and weapons instead - 68,000 planes in the next three years. The government told industry what to make and where to send the raw materials. All the other great powers did the same. And that armament boom pulled the world out of the Great Depression.
The US and British governments are already throwing money at tax rebates and corporate bail-outs to try to stop the recession. Why not do some good with all that money, make jobs and save the planet?
Long haul and cheap flights
So we can eliminate flights to Europe and India and use trains instead. But what about long-haul flights to South Africa and New York?
One answer is abolish business class so we all sit cramped together. But more important, we need rationing. Back in the Second World War, the government rationed food. Working-class people went along with it, because they believed they were fighting for something and everyone had the same ration. The average British child ate better than ever before and grew taller.
That's what we need now - one flight per person per year, and you can't sell it. Business people can make one flight, and video conference the rest. Grandmothers can travel to hold their grandchildren. Rationing will work much better than making flights more expensive. Expensive flights mean the rich fly and the rest stay at home. It won't be fair, and it will make ordinary people hate greens.
But it's not just flying. There is always a better solution for the climate than charging more. If you tax wasteful short-life light bulbs, people will buy fewer. If you ban them, people will buy none. A congestion charge cuts inner-city car traffic by 20 per cent. A ban on cars there cuts them by 100 per cent.
The solution, then, is government investment and regulation. But that's the problem, too. It's not technology; it's politics.
Last year, the 10 largest corporations in the world by sales were Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Toyota, General Motors, ChryslerDaimler, Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Total Oil. That's six oil companies, three car companies and a chain of suburban parking lots. It's also a formidable amount of political and economic power.
There's an even bigger problem, though. Many mainstream politicians have woken up to the dangers of climate change - Cameron, Merkel, Sarkozy, Gore and the Terminator. So have many bankers and corporate leaders. They now understand the science. They have children and grandchildren. And they own the world - they don't want to destroy it.
However, ever since the 1980s, almost all governments and politicians have told us "private good, public bad". The market is the only solution, they say. So political leaders try to take action within the limits of the market. But it doesn't work - the problem is too big.
That's where guilt comes in. The governments should be solving the climate problem. They aren't. So an avalanche of propaganda is coming at us - saying it's all your fault.
Almost everything about climate is put in terms of individual lifestyle choices such as green tourism. But no one really thinks that will insulate the houses of the poor, build wind farms around the world, or cut emissions in China.
What we need is a mass movement to change government policies, or replace the current politicians with people who will take action.
That's not easy. But that movement has started. Last year there were demonstrations and protests at the time of the United Nations climate talks in 70 countries. Most actions were small, although 130,000 marched in Australia last year. This year there will be marches again on 6 December. Next year, the UN meets in Copenhagen in December to sign the global treaty that will set limits to CO2 emissions. There will be a march in Copenhagen and across the world in the middle of the talks.
Even that will only be a start. But we have to start. Does that mean you can just fly when you feel like it and wait for the world's governments to act? No. Cut down on your flying when you can. Take trains if possible. Be sensible. But don't beat yourself up. And don't wait. Join in whatever climate action you can find.
'Stop Global Warming - Change the World' by Jonathan Neale is out now (Bookmarks, £11.99)
OUR COMMENT: Government, take note!
9 September 2008
MADNESS IN THE SKIES
Ryanair Launches New Routes & New Low Fares
News Release from Ryanair - 3 September 2008
NEW ROUTES FROM LIVERPOOL, EAST MIDLANDS & STANSTED
6 MILLION OCT & NOV SEATS FROM JUST £10* EACH
Ryanair, Europe's largest low fares airline, today (Wed, 3rd September) announced the launch of a three routes from the UK which will connect Liverpool and East Midlands with Paris (Beauvais) and London Stansted with Agadir in Morocco.
Ryanair will operate daily services to Paris (Beauvais) from Liverpool from 3rd November and East Midlands from 28th October while Ryanair's London Stansted service will offer a twice weekly return service to Agadir.
To celebrate the launch of the new routes, Ryanair intensified its campaign against high airfares as it released 6 MILLION seats for travel in October and November from just £10 one way (incl taxes and charges). These tickets can be booked only on www.ryanair.com for 5 days from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th of September.
Seats on the new Liverpool and East Midlands service can now be snapped up for just £10 one way (incl taxes and charges) while fares from London Stansted to Agadir begin from just £26.99 one way (incl taxes and charges).
Speaking today, Ryanair's Stephen McNamara, said: "These new routes from Liverpool, East Midlands and Stansted will bring Ryanair's guaranteed lowest fares and the promise of no fuel surcharge ever, to those planning a break in the beautiful city of Paris and exciting Agadir. Ryanair continues to reduce fares this winter and we are now extending our Winter Sale to November. Passengers hoping to travel on new routes to Paris, and a host of other routes from the UK, can take advantage of these 6 million seats from just £10 for travel in October and November. Only Ryanair guarantees the lowest fares and no fuel surcharge."
"Ryanair has seen a huge response to our Winter Seat Sale and advises all passengers to book these £10 seats directly on Ryanair.com and avoid screenscraper, ticket-tout, websites who add on hidden mark-ups of between 200% to 300% on top of Ryanair's ticket prices.
"This 6 million seat sale in October and November proves that Ryanair will continue to replace the era of low fares air travel with a new period of lowest ever airfares. Ryanair guarantees that no one will beat our fares so we urge passengers to book these £10 seats for October and November on www.ryanair.com before midnight on Sunday."
* £10 one way fare includes taxes & charges
OUR COMMENT: Such pressurized selling of even cheaper fares makes nonsense of our present government's laissez faire attitude to aviation's threat to their declared policies (such as they are) of fighting climate change. It also makes nonsense of the much repeated claim that there is a massive demand for cheap air travel that must be satisfied. It is scandalous that no effective limit is placed on such promotions designed to persuade the public to further congest the skies and pollute the planet - all in the name of recreation. How many of these tourists already intended to take a break? Spending money on expanding airports to deal with these promotions is a serious waste of resources.
9 September 2008
MORE PROMOTIONS FROM EASYJET
EasyJet passenger numbers rise 24%
News Airlines - UK Press - 6 September 2008
No-frills airline easyJet said it carried nearly 900,000 more passengers in August than a year ago.
The firm's planes flew 4.59 million customers in August, an increase of 24% after the Luton-based firm benefited from its recent acquisition of GB Airways from British Airways, as well as promotions and sales.
EasyJet's planes were also fuller, with its load factor up four percentage points to 91.3%. This contrasts with British Airways, which reported a 2.7% decline in load factor for August on Wednesday.
EasyJet carried out heavy promotional activity in June and July with up to 20% off two million seats. This also gave a slight boost to August's figures but most of the sales are aimed at boosting traffic in the autumn.
The airline is being hit by high oil prices and the company has warned annual profits could be as much as 42% lower than last year as it is faced with an increase of £185 million in its annual fuel bill.
It hopes to offset more than 50% of the price hikes through revenue growth and cost savings and has vowed to be "relentless" in addressing costs and efficiency.
The company is planning to cut capacity by 12% at Stansted this winter to focus on Gatwick and the GB Airways business.
This week the carrier launched a new route to Istanbul, bringing the total number of routes from Gatwick to 51 this winter. It is the fifth new route to be added to the airline's Gatwick base and it expects over 100,000 passengers to travel on the new service in the first 12 months. The announcement also means that easyJet currently has 400 routes on sale across its network.
9 September 2008
THE OTHER SIDE OF CHEAP TRAVEL?
Airline maintenance cuts 'threaten safety'
Engineers say they face commercial pressures
that make accidents more likely
Charles Starmer-Smith - News Airline - 5 September 2008
The safety of British air passengers is being compromised by cutbacks in aircraft maintenance, engineers said this week.
The Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers (ALAE), which represents more than 2,000 maintenance experts, said commercial pressures from airlines to cut costs and avoid delays were making an air crash more likely.
"Britain may have led the way in aviation safety, but the industry is becoming dangerously complacent," said Robert Alway, chairman of ALAE.
Aircraft may leave the production line safer than ever, but this can only be maintained if sufficient resources are invested in plane safety and maintenance.
"What we are seeing is airlines cutting costs, reducing manpower and training, and putting increasing pressures on engineers to pass planes that may not be fit to fly."
Mr Alway added that, whereas every maintenance check used to be made by qualified, licensed engineers, some airlines now use staff with only basic qualifications on these vital jobs. "Not all faults are obvious. Many lie dormant until uncovered by such professionals during checks. Undermining this group of professionals is short-sighted and will increase risks."
A spokesman for Aircraft Engineers International (AEI), which represents 45,000 engineers, agreed. "Removing trained observers and replacing them with semi-skilled staff has removed the last-chance filter from the system and has, in our experience, led to preventable incidents," he said.
According to ALAE, the number of licensed engineers in Britain is almost half what it was 30 years ago - down from 25,000 fully-qualified licensed engineers to 14,000. During this time the number of flights in and out of Britain has doubled.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it rejected any claim that aviation safety is being compromised. "The aviation industry is sensitive to changes in the economic cycle and CAA oversight of the UK industry recognises that fact," he said. "We respond in a timely and proportionate manner to uphold the integrity of the industry's safety performance. This includes our oversight of maintenance organizations".
GŁnther Matschnigg, senior president of safety, operations and infrastructure at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said there is a severe shortage of licensed engineers which "could have a negative impact on safety".
Mr Alway said that the use of fewer staff has resulted in longer shifts for British engineers working on an increasing range of aircraft - a trend he expects to worsen during the economic downturn. "Engineers often now arrive for their shift and then have to fly abroad to sort out a maintenance problem. However they do not class the flight as work time, so engineers often end up working 20-hour days. Yet they are still expected to make pressurised decisions about whether a plane should fly."
A CAA spokesman said it had found no evidence of engineers working in a state of exhaustion or being pressurised to pass aircraft that are not fit to fly. "We have repeatedly invited the ALAE for evidence to support its claims and, to date, have received none," he added.
It is legal for an aircraft to fly with minor faults as long as they remain within the requirements of the minimum equipment list (which states which faults can go unserviced and for how long), but earlier this month Flyglobespan, the Scottish no-frills airline, was fined £5,000 for flying a plane across the Atlantic knowing it had technical problems. It was the first criminal prosecution against a British airline for 12 years.
Pilots are also coming under pressure to continue with flights even if faults have been reported. A survey of aircraft maintenance engineers by the AEI found that 85 per cent of faults were reported only after a pilot had made a homeward flight or at the end of the day's flying. This allows airlines to fix problems at more convenient times, avoiding extra expense.
But a spokesman for the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said that its own inquiry found that no major problems go unreported. "Pilots are under pressure," he said, "but not to the extent that they would compromise the safety of the plane or passengers. We have not reached that point yet, but who knows whether it will be a different story in a year's time."
9 September 2008
AND - RYANAIR FUEL RATION ANGERS PILOTS
Steven Swinford - Sunday Times - 31 August 2008
Ryanair pilots have denounced as "insane" attempts to pressurise them into flying with less fuel by imposing a cap on their safety reserves. The low-cost airline is saving money by curbing the discretionary rights of pilots to request extra fuel.
The disclosure, made in internal company documents seen by The Sunday Times, has led to claims that the safety of passengers is being compromised as the price of oil soars.
Details of Ryanair's policies emerged as the Civil Aviation Authority revealed that the number of emergencies declared in British airspace because of fuel shortages had doubled in five years. Last year, 27 planes were given the right to make priority landings, up from 11 in 2003.
There were also 18 "May-days" caused by fuel shortages in the same period, when British airports had to go on an emergency footing with fire engines on the runway.
Under European rules, every plane must carry a "contingency" load of about 5% of a trip's fuel, and enough to divert to an alternative airport. Across the airline industry, captains also have a duty to anticipate delays from headwinds, storms and rerouting, and to request extra fuel to cope with this.
Pilots at Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost airline, must now abide by a limit of 300kg of extra fuel, costing £180. This provides about five minutes of extra stacking time for a Boeing 737.
Evan Cullen, a pilot with 19 years? experience and president of the Irish Air Line Pilots? Association, said commercial pressure on pilots to pare down the fuel they carry was compromising safety.
The internal Ryanair memo, sent to pilots in May, reveals that the company insisted that any request by a captain for extra fuel should be the "exception". It referred to the 300kg maximum.
The memo shows that Ryanair is issuing warning letters to pilots who request extra fuel without explanation. Pilots claim such letters can be used in disciplinary proceedings. The pilots have responded by complaining in anonymous postings on the Ryanair European Pilots? Association website.
One says: "It is insane to push pilots to fly with the minimum fuel and take the risk of ending with a low fuel situation and maybe no place to go because the only diversion airport within reach will be mobbed by other aeroplanes."
Pilots say Ryanair ranks them according to how much extra fuel they use. A spokesman for the airline rejected the pilots' claims as "anonymous, unverified and inaccurate". He said: "No pilot is allowed to fly with minimum fuel as these clowns claim."
He admitted, however, that pilots were allowed extra fuel only in "exceptional cases". He said Ryanair had suffered one Mayday in the past three years caused by fuel shortages.
A spokesman for the CAA said it would not comment because Ryanair's fuel policy was monitored by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
9 September 2008
AIRPORTS IN TROUBLE TOO
Rising security costs and T5 fiasco halve BAA's profits
Alistair Osborne, Business Editor - The Telegraph - 2 September 2008
Profits at BAA's seven airports more than halved in the first half of this year as higher security costs and the fiasco of the Terminal 5 opening at Heathrow took their toll, according to latest figures from the group's Spanish parent.
Ferrovial, the infrastructure group that controls BAA, said operating profits at Airport Development and Investment (ADI) - the company through which BAA is held - fell 56.6pc to ?179m (£145m) on revenues down 16.4pc to ?1.57bn.
Profits were also hit by lower disposal gains, the weaker pound against the euro and an 11.2pc rise in the depreciation charge to ?390m.
Total traffic declined marginally by 0.4pc, despite a 1.5pc rise in long-haul, with passengers through the airports totalling 70.4m. BAA's net debt fell from ?17.8bn at December 2007 to ?16.2bn.
The performance of the airports arm, coupled with a 5.5pc fall to ?122bn in construction profits, hit Ferrovial's results, with operating profits down from ?917m to ?691m on revenues down 5pc to ?6.74bn.
Net profits dived from ?756m to just ?59m - a swing partly explained by a reduction in disposal gains over the half from ?705m to ?213m.
The best performing part of the group was Ferrovial's majority stake in road toll operator Cintra, where earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 8pc to ?346m.
Ferrovial, which faces the prospect of being forced by the Competition Commission to sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports, has cut its stake in ADI from 61pc to 55.9pc as part of a £13.3bn refinancing of BAA.
Singaporean investor GIC has raised its stake from 10pc to 17.7pc. The rest is held by a Canadian pension fund.
9 September 2008
The Financial Times - 2 September 2008
Ferrovial is one of those thrusting Spanish firms that gripped modernisation by the bit. It rode the construction boom at home and diversified abroad ? especially into UK, with airport operator BAA, and into the Americas, with toll roads. Like many infrastructure firms it embraced new-fangled debt techniques ? and is now leveraged to the gills. For several years since its 1999 listing, this formula delivered massive outperformance. Now it has left Ferrovial caught in the credit-crunch vise.
This is apparent in its first half results. Revenues fell 16 per cent from airports as air traffic slowed, security costs rose and sterling plunged. Falling car traffic, due to high oil prices, is also beginning to bite. Its construction division took a hammering at home, and was only partly offset by growth abroad. Services were one bright spot, which is just as well as this is Ferrovial's only business line that provides significant free cash flow to service debt at the holding company level.
Take the long view, and none of this matters much. It has high quality assets, people still drive cars and airport traffic will bounce back eventually; that is the lesson from the 1970s oil crisis and the two Iraq wars. Furthermore, all but ?2bn of Ferrovial's ?29bn in net debt is non-recourse, which in theory shields the parent company from problems or even default at a subsidiary level.
But the short term outlook is grim. Ferrovial's revenue streams are proving not so stable. Debt markets are also seizing up, the £13bn BAA refinancing was an expensive struggle, and a large chunk of toll-road operator Cintra's debt has to be re-financed by 2011, according to CSFB.
Ferrovial's share price has fallen by 54 per cent since the start of 2007, almost three times as much as the Madrid market. Yet the stock still does not appear cheap. At around 12 times 2009 ebitda, it trades at 25 per cent premium to the sector. This stock is only for the brave.
9 September 2008
FERROVIAL AGREES TO SELL BELFAST CITY AIRPORT
Mark Mulligan - Financial Times - 7 September 2008
Ferrovial of Spain on Saturday agreed to sell Belfast City Airport to an ABN Amro fund, in the latest of a series of divestments aimed at cutting net debt and focusing on UK airports operator BAA.
The Spanish group said ABN Amro's Global Infrastructure Fund would pay £132.5m for the airport, which mainly serves passengers between the Northern Ireland capital and the UK and France.
Ferrovial paid £43m for the facility in 2003, buying it from Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace group. It handles about 2m passengers a year. The Madrid-based company calculated its total book gain from Saturday's transaction at £85.6m. The sale is the latest in a series of divestments that started in June 2006, when Ferrovial led a consortium that paid £16bn, including debt, for UK airports operator BAA.
Plans to issue infrastructure bonds to refinance the acquisition and raise investment capital were spoiled by last year's credit squeeze, putting additional pressure on Ferrovial to shed non-essential assets.
Since the beginning of last year the company has sold Budapest airport, its stake in Sydney's international airport, its duty free retail business and part of Airport Property Partnership, the property portfolio of BAA. In Spain, it also sold its property development division, only months before the collapse of the country's residential market.
The company and its BAA consortium partners are also under regulatory pressure to sell some assets of the UK airports operator. In a provisional report, the UK Competition Commission ruled last month that BAA should sell two of its three London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - and either Glasgow or Edinburgh in Scotland. If the ruling is confirmed next year, Ferrovial and its partners may lodge an appeal.
Ferrovial said on Saturday that the Belfast airport sale should be finalised by the end of this month. The buying group includes Faros Infrastructure Partners of the UK.
9 September 2008
SCHIPHOL EYES SCOTTISH AIRPORT
Business Scotsman - 31 August 2008
SCHIPHOL Group, which owns Amsterdam's international airport, was yesterday reported to have declared a "definite interest" in bidding for any of the Scottish airports that operator BAA may be forced to offload.
Schiphol Group is owned by the Dutch government and the city of Amsterdam, but is known to have the financial muscle to undertake acquisitions and has been eyeing a possible listing on the Dutch stock exchange. Either Glasgow or Edinburgh would be a jewel for the group.
9 September 2008
PROTESTERS TAKE RUNWAY FIGHT TO THE COUNTRYSIDE
Laura Morris - Cambridge News - 4 September 2008
CAMPAIGNERS against a new runway at Stansted Airport have organised a walk to highlight the countryside that would be lost if the scheme is agreed.
Members of the Stop Stansted Expansion group have organised a "runway ramble" which will take participants across land that would be developed as part of the second runway proposals by the British Aviation Authority (BAA) and hope hundreds of people will attend.
Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council and member of the group CO2 (Councils Opposed to Second Runway) will be the guest of honour at the Saturday morning ramble next week.
Molehill Green which is one of the green spaces threatened with the development will be the starting point for the five-mile walk. The route will pass 35 historic buildings and the ancient Philipland Wood which campaigners say is also under threat.
Carol Barbone, campaign director for Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Lord Hanning¨field's involvement as a member of the CO2 group highlights the threat a second runway would pose to the way of life of many thousands of people across the region."
She said people would suffer adversely from overflying by almost three times the number of planes currently handled by Stansted and more than at Heathrow at present.
In addition to the main circular route a shorter walk of just two miles, suitable for those with very small children and those with reduced mobility, is on offer. All the walks will start at 10am and end at Molehill Green with a barbecue from noon.
The ramble comes just two weeks before the deadline of September 26 for people to send their views on the second runway application to Uttlesford District Council.
9 September 2008
THE BEST ADVICE
Have a say over second runway
Readers' Letters - Harlow Herald - 4 September 2008
SIR - We know that BAA is running scared when its head of public affairs at Stansted Airport has to write to local papers asking for support for their application to build a second runway.
But on one point he is right - if you wish to comment on their planning application then you should write to Uttlesford District Council, Saffron Walden CB11 4ER or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by September 26.
You may want to bring up some of the issues not mentioned by Ashley Riley such as the massive physical destruction of communities, buildings, lanes, woods and top quality agricultural land - the massive expansion of urbanisation from more houses, offices, hotels, warehouses, car parks etc - the destruction of the tranquility of Hatfield Forest - and the resulting massive increase in global warming gases that would go against all Government policies to reduce damaging climate change.
You might even want to mention more noise from overflying, more traffic congestion, more overcrowded trains, more pressure on the region's already inadequate water supplies, more air pollution, more pressure on night flights, more damage to the region's tourist industry, increased deficit in the country's balance of payments and a significant lowering of the quality of life in this region.
28 August 2008
PLAN FOR TRUSTEE TO OVERSEE SALE OF BAA AIRPORTS
Dominic O'Connell - The Sunday Times - 24 August 2008
The Competition Commission is considering appointing a special trustee to auction three BAA airports, a move that would take control of the sell-off out of the airport group's hands.
BAA might also lose management control of the airports. The commission is weighing up whether the trustee should take over the day-to-day running of the airports, or whether it or BAA should appoint what it calls "hold-separate" management. The commission will also vet potential bidders.
Last week the commission said that it intended to force BAA, which is majority-owned by the Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, to sell two of its three London airports - probably Gatwick and Stansted - and either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Its final verdict is expected early next year. After that a decision on the timing of the sale, the appointment of the trustee and separate management will be made. It would be the first time such measures, made possible by powers given to the commission in the 2002 Enterprise Act, have been used.
A senior official at the commission said the appointment might be necessary if the watchdog judged BAA to be insufficiently independent to run the sale. "You can see the possibility that a potential buyer would not regard BAA as disinterested, as it will be competing with the new owners of the airports," the official said.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said the company would make a detailed response to the report, saying he thought that to date the commission had not taken due account of its arguments. He admitted, however, that disposals were likely. "We have to be realistic," he said. "It's not just the Competition Commission - there is a weight of public opinion behind this." Matthews said that BAA could still appeal against the findings. Legal experts said a judicial review could take a year or more - long enough, perhaps, for credit markets to recover and increase BAA's chances of securing a top price.
The commission will vet the bidders. Christopher Clarke, its deputy chairman, said they would have to be independent of BAA or any related party, and should have the expertise and financial strength to be an effective competitor to BAA. "A buyer with no experience of owning and operating airports is not going to qualify," he said.
BAA and airlines last week expressed alarm at the commission's ruling that it was "minded" to ask for a review of government policy on airport expansion. Some think this might slow plans for new runways at Stansted and Heathrow.
"This is a red herring," said Matthews. "There are well-advanced plans for Heathrow and Stansted. I don't think it is possible to execute either of them faster, but it is possible to slow them down."
Airline executives say they hope that the government will give the green light to the building of a third runway at Heathrow by the end of the year. The project faces opposition from local councils and environmental campaigners.
28 August 2008
REPORT BLOW TO GOVERNMENT'S AVIATION POLICY
Kevin Done and Michael Peel - Financial Times - 20 August 2008
The Competition Commission's damning report into BAA throws the government's aviation policy into confusion at a critical time.
For a while at the end of 2003 it seemed government policy for the development of UK airports had finally found a degree of clarity. Ministers steeled themselves for the environmental backlash and accepted that London airports were essentially bursting at the seams.
The government sanctioned - subject to meeting some strict local environmental conditions - the building of two new full length runways, one at Stansted and one at Heathrow. They were to be the first constructed in the overcrowded south-east of England since the second world war. But now - nearly five years after the appearance of the landmark air transport white paper - it is unclear what has been achieved.
Following long years of effort Heathrow airport does finally have its shiny new £4.5bn Terminal 5 in operation - 20 years after it was first conceived. Despite its disastrous opening in March, it is starting to deliver on some of the early extravagant promises.
But Heathrow will never be able to operate successfully, and to the standards of service and performance that are universally demanded from BAA, until it can add a third runway. Its smaller rival hubs in Europe such as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are already operating from four or five runways or have more under development.
The Competition Commission places the blame for the failure to provide more capacity during the past 20 years squarely on BAA and points to the absence of competition between the three London airports as a key factor. BAA controls 90 per cent of airport passengers in south-east England and 84 per cent in Scotland.
Asked if the commission's report was an indictment of 20 years of mismanagement of a key strategic asset, Christopher Clarke, the inquiry chairman, said: "You may choose to put it that way", adding it was important "to take a historical perspective".
One of the main points of privatisation, he said, had been to ensure there was adequate airport and runway capacity in the south-east to meet the expected growth in demand. "Here we are today with a shortage of capacity," he said. Stansted would not have extra runway capacity before 2015 and Heathrow before 2020.
Whatever the shortcomings of BAA over the past two decades, it has come strongly on side in the battle to push the case for building new runways since its takeover by Spain's Ferrovial in 2006. It has already applied for planning permission to build a second runway and second terminal at Stansted. A new owner might be much more cautious.
At Heathrow it has come off the fence in the past two years and has thrown its weight behind the effort to win approval to build a third runway and a sixth terminal. For the moment approval is being delayed not by BAA, but by the machinery of government. The results of a public consultation on the expansion of Heathrow have been delayed to the end of the year.
Not surprisingly, Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive since April, said the Commission report risked "creating uncertainty, delay and confusion at exactly the wrong time," just as the government was about to make the key decisions on Heathrow.
By calling not just for a fundamental restructuring of BAA but also for a review of the 2003 air transport white paper, the Commission risks delaying the delivery of new runways, thereby "making better customer service less, not more, likely", Mr Matthews said.
While the immediate attention on Wednesday focused inevitably on the eye-catching demand for the break-up of BAA, some of its sternest critics among the airlines are just as concerned about the need to modernise the airport economic regulation regime run by the Civil Aviation Authority. Airlines are concerned airport charges at an independent Gatwick or Stansted could rise sharply without tougher regulation.
Andy Harrison, chief executive of EasyJet, said that while a break-up of BAA was "the bronze medal, the gold medal is better regulation." The BAA London airports were all individual monopolies.
"Let's not kid ourselves into thinking the break-up of BAA will automatically result in a better deal for the travelling public," he said. "Without better regulation, there will be no more protection for the consumer from the greedy new owners than there was from BAA."
28 August 2008
BUDGET CARRIERS ARE DRAWN TO THE
BASIC APPEAL OF STANSTED
Gatwick's future market remains uncertain
David Robertson and Helen Nugent - Times Online - 21 August 2008
The impending break-up of BAA could lead to the biggest change in the UK's airport infrastructure since the British Airports Authority was privatised 21 years ago. Indeed, potential buyers have expressed interest already in the assets that BAA could be forced to sell after the Competition Commission's inquiry into its market power.
The commission said yesterday that BAA should sell three of its seven airports to end the company's monopoly in the South East and in Scotland. Gatwick, Stansted and Glasgow are likely to be those selected for sale and aviation analysts believe that the new owners could tailor them to better reflect the airlines that use them.
For example, Ryanair and easyJet, the budget carriers, represent 85 per cent of traffic at Stansted and both have repeatedly demanded lower charges. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, has said that proposals to build a multibillion-pound second terminal at Stansted were a waste of money, calling such a building a needless "Taj Mahal", and has suggested that Ryanair could buy the airport, although this idea has been dismissed by most analysts.
Ryanair and easyJet are willing to co-invest in new infrastructure at Stansted, but only if it meets their needs. That could mean that facilities built at Stansted in the future would be cheaper and more basic.
Gatwick is regarded by many in the aviation industry as the real prize in this enforced divestment process. Four parties - Manchester Airports Group, which owns four airports in the UK; Fraport, which operates Frankfurt; the Singapore-owned Changi Airports International; and Dubai Aerospace - have expressed an interest in buying one of BAA's airports and are likely to be watching the Gatwick process closely. Infrastructure investment funds will also be involved, although Macquarie, which owns Bristol airport, has ruled itself out of future acquisitions.
If Gatwick were to be bought by Changi or Dubai, it could radically alter the use of the airport. Dubai, for example, could persuade Emirates, Etihad and other airlines based in the Gulf to move their flights there, creating a hub for travel to the Middle East.
Heathrow almost certainly will remain owned by BAA, but it is focusing on international, long-haul passengers. The number of short-haul flights operating from the airport is likely to be reduced and those that remain will act as feeders for the international carriers.
James Fremantle, industry affairs manager at the Air Transport Users Council, said: "I don't think passengers should expect immediate changes - this is going to take a long while. We look forward to better services and maybe cheaper fares, but services are the main issue. Passengers want better value for money."
Scotland could benefit from the sale of Glasgow or Edinburgh, since the new owner would be able to take advantage of the greater space at these airports to increase capacity. Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend, an aviation consultancy, said: "This might have more of an influence on Edinburgh and Glasgow, where the opportunity to expand and do things differently will be greater than in London. In the South East, it will be more about rearranging the furniture rather than expanding the size of the room."
However, these changes will take years to come, particularly if BAA appeals against the Competition Commission's final report, which is due next March. The process could also be complicated by industrial action - airport worker unions have criticised a BAA break-up. Steve Turner, national secretary of Unite, said: "Any attempt to break up BAA will be resisted. Our members will not sit back while the market plays games with their jobs and their terms and conditions of employment."
28 August 2008
COMPETITION COMMISSION REPORT MAKES
"NO DIFFERENCE" TO 2ND STANSTED RUNWAY
Press Release by the CO2 (Councils opposing 2nd Runway) Group - 20 August 2008
The CO2 (Councils opposing 2nd Runway) group say a potential change of ownership for Stansted Airport will make 'no difference' to residents who will still have to live with the possible destruction of their countryside and way of life.
The Competition Commission has found "competition problems" at each of BAA's seven UK airports ? including Stansted. If the findings of the provisional report are upheld, the Competition Commission will order BAA to sell two of its three London airports.
Lord Hanningfield, member of the CO2 Group and Leader of Essex County Council, said: "This Competition Commission report today makes interesting reading but fundamentally makes no difference to us."
"Various experts are already leaping to different conclusions about how a change of ownership might impact on various expansion scenarios but we continue to work on the assumption that any owner of Stansted would push for a second runway and we mustn't let that happen in the interests of more than 3 million of our residents."
"We won't be distracted by the issue of ownership and we will continue to make the case that building another runway in this rural location would be an environmental calamity."
28 August 2008
MP BACKS STANSTED AIRPORT SELL-OFF
Suffolk Free Press - 21 August 2008
The probability of BAA being forced to sell Stansted Airport has been welcomed by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo.
A Competition Commission report released yesterday said the Spanish-owned airports operator should sell two of Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow. BAA has said that it will never sell its flagship Heathrow.
Mr Yeo said: "I greatly welcome Provisional Findings from the Competition Commission which conclude that BAA should sell two of its three London airports. I have argued for the break-up of BAA since I was Shadow Transport Minister four years ago, so I am delighted that the Competition Commission has now confirmed my view."
"This almost certainly means that BAA will have to sell Stansted and will no longer be able to use its revenue from Heathrow to subsidise uneconomic expansion of Stansted. I very much hope that the future owners of Stansted will recognise the airport has already reached its maximum sustainable capacity and will immediately shelve BAA's plans for either a second runway or increased passenger numbers."
The report says many of the problems met by passengers and airlines in recent years were due to the "common ownership" of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, which account for nearly 90% of departures and arrivals into London.
28 August 2008
WRITE THAT OBJECTION LETTER NOW!
Environmental campaign fury as demands on flight pollution watered down
The Scotsman - 21 August 2008
THE head of a leading environmental campaign group has accused the Scottish Government of ignoring 21,000 people who responded to the consultation into its climate change bill.
Almost all the 21,046 people who offered their views in the consultation into the Scottish Climate Change Bill called for emissions from international aviation to be included in the legislation. It was one measure that environment groups argue must be taken to make sure the new laws, which will set out the Scottish Government's targets for action to tackle climate change, are rigorous.
The director of WWF Scotland is furious because, he claims, all responses sent to the government as part of campaigns by environment groups have been lumped together in the analysis of the consultation. This means almost 21,000 responses generated by eight campaign groups are being counted as just eight responses. As a result, the government is claiming just a third of respondents called for aviation emissions to be included.
Instead, Dr Richard Dixon, the director of WWF Scotland, insists that figure should be closer to 99 per cent. He said it was a "real insult to democracy".
"They are basically ignoring 21,000 people who made the effort to put in a response," he said, adding: "This is a very worrying sign that the government is backing away from the world-beating climate bill that they have promised. A climate bill that ignores international aviation is like a diet that still lets you eat chocolate ? it won't work."
He argues that, just because many of the responses were solicited by campaign groups and sent on campaign cards, they should still be included as individual representations. He compared it with the consultation the Scottish Government carried out into the smoking ban legislation, when they advertised for people to send in text message responses.
"When the government themselves solicited tens of thousands of responses on the smoking ban, they were delighted to count them all. However, with more than 20,000 people telling the government to do the right thing by including flying in the climate bill, it is hugely disappointing that they have gone out of their way to sideline these responses."
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Unlike previous consultations, the vast majority of campaign responses were based on a core script which individuals were encouraged to adapt. The analysis of these responses took account of both the core script statement, plus amendments and additions by individuals. Every single response was read and counted."
He said international aviation emissions are not included in the Scottish government's target, because of complications from allocating emissions from passengers who take more than one flight to reach their final destination. Instead, he said the Scottish Government supports an international solution, and said if Scotland takes action alone it could simply shift emissions elsewhere, rather than delivering reductions.
28 August 2008
AN ASBO IN THE SKIES?
Bankies asked to film BAA being a 'bad neighbour'
Julie Gilbert - Clydesbank Post - 27 August 2008
Campaign group prepares 'evidence' for ASBO
Bankies are being asked to submit video evidence of BAA being a "bad neighbour" in a bid to get the airport regulator served with an ASBO.
The move is part of an action plan which campaign group Airport Watch Scotland (AWS) has created to try and make the Glasgow Airport owner listen to residents' grievances about noise levels from planes thundering over the town. The plan, which was compiled at a public meeting on Wednesday, states that residents will aim to gather evidence to serve the ASBO.
Dan Glass, from AWS, told the Post: "We are going to speak to a solicitor to find out exactly who within BAA we would be aiming an ASBO against. We'd like to put a call out to the community for people to submit evidence of Glasgow Airport being a bad neighbour to Airport Watch Scotland. For example, video footage of a plane flying over when it shouldn't be."
"When we have got the evidence we are going to make it into a short film. As well as using it for the ASBO we will take it to Holyrood to highlight that the National Planning Framework cannot be passed in its current form with provision for airport expansion in it."
The National Planning Framework will be going before the Scottish Parliament in November. It outlines Scottish infrastructure plans for the next 30 years and allows for future expansion of Glasgow Airport.
Bankies at the meeting also agreed to oppose airport expansion and are planning to organise a "legal" kite and balloon demonstration to show how low the planes allegedly fly over the town.
A spokesman for BAA said: "We appreciate that the issue of aircraft noise provokes strong views among some in the Clydebank area. Others in the wider community, including politicians, and business and tourism leaders, have called on BAA to provide more direct international routes from Glasgow Airport. Clearly, we need to strike a balance between these competing viewpoints."
"Any attempt to impose restrictions on airlines using Glasgow Airport would spell disaster for the region's economy, and the many thousands of jobs supported by the airport. Any attempt, or threat, to hinder aircraft using Glasgow Airport is a criminal offence and will be referred to Strathclyde police for investigation."
"The mere suggestion of such a campaign is extremely irresponsible and we would implore residents not to take any action which could endanger aircraft and thereby threaten the safety of both air passengers and local residents."
If you would like to submit video evidence, email Scotland@airportwatch.org.uk or call 07957 385650.
28 August 2008
AIR TRAVEL CARBON OFFSETTING TOO CRUDE - CRITICS
Gerard Wynn - Reuters - 21 August 2008
LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Air travellers may be fooling themselves with a feel-good green glow from offsetting their carbon emissions, according to critics of the system. A lack of rigour in the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions frm air travel is undermining carbon offsetting as an approach to fight climate change, one expert said.
Supporters say carbon offsetting allows travellers to fight climate change without altering their behaviour, by paying others to cut emissions of greenhouse gases on their behalf.
Travel company Expedia Inc on Thursday added its voice to those urging offsetting as a tool to fight climate change, allowing its customers to continue flying to exotic holiday destinations with an easier conscience. But airlines calculate the carbon emissions from their flights differently, underlining uncertainty about the credibility of offset calculators.
The United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in June launched a carbon calculator which aimed to standardise airlines' efforts, but can still yield misleading results, according to a supplier of fuel data.
"Producing a single number is crude," said Dimitri Simos, director at Lissys Limited, supplier of an aircraft performance model previously used by the UK government and the basis for the ICAO estimate of airline emissions.
"If you go from Heathrow to Athens, ICAO gives 217 kilogrammes (kg) of CO2. That hides huge variations - fly in a full (Boeing) B767 and it's nearer to 160 kg per person, or fly in a half-empty (Airbus) A340 and it's more like 360 kg. It's the variations that are missing and that are important."
For the same trip to Athens, a carbon calculator on the British Airways website calculates CO2 emissions at 314 kg per person from London Heathrow, while Lufthansa calculates 260 kg of CO2 from London Stansted.
Carbon offsetting has also had to contend with critics who say that it only creates an illusion of fighting climate change, focusing on marginal efforts such as planting trees or building wind turbines rather than tackling the underlying problem, for example by flying less or burning less coal.
Expedia published on Thursday a survey showing that ignorance among the general public was adding to offset woes. One in ten in the survey of 2,000 Britons thought offsetting meant walking to work instead of driving. One percent of men thought that it meant putting out a barbecue properly. Only one third understood the term.
21 August 2008
REPORT CALLS ON BAA TO SELL TWO LONDON AIRPORTS
Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 20 August 2008
BAA will be forced to sell two of its three London airports and one of its Scottish airports if the proposals of a damning report published on Wednesday by the Competition Commission are implemented.
In moves that herald the biggest shake-up of the airport industry since BAA was privatised in 1987, the Commission said it was proposing that BAA should sell off two of its London airports, most probably Gatwick and Stansted, as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
It said it had provisionally found that there were competition problems at each of BAA's seven UK airports, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Southampton in England, and Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland with adverse consequences for passengers and airlines. "A principal cause is their common ownership by BAA," it said.
The final decisions on the competition remedies will be published in the first quarter of next year following several months of public consultation.
Potential buyers of some of the BAA airports are already circling including Manchester Airport Group, the largest UK-owned airport operator, and Global Infrastructure Partners, a joint venture of Credit Suisse and GE, which already owns a 50 per cent stake in London City airport. Strong interest is also expected from other leading foreign airport operators, infrastructure funds and sovereign wealth funds.
The Competition Commission report is a heavy blow to the consortium led by Spain's Ferrovial, which controversially acquired BAA, the world biggest airports group, in 2006 for more than £10bn in a highly leveraged takeover.
Christopher Clarke, chairman of the Commission's BAA airports inquiry group, said the "significant competition problems" at the BAA airports were "evident from a large number of factors including its lack of responsiveness to the needs of its airline customers and a lack of initiative in planning capacity."
This had resulted in investment that was "not tailored to the requirements of airport users and lower levels and quality of service for both airlines and passengers."
He said the Commission's provisional findings had also shown there were competition problems arising from the planning system, aspects of government policy and the system of airport regulation.
Mr Clarke said the Commission did not expect to require the sale of either Aberdeen or Southampton airports. It would seek views on what would provide the most effective solution in London and whether there were likely to be any obstacles in finding suitable purchasers.
The Commission's guidelines meant it was unlikely to require the divestiture of Heathrow, unless the sale of Gatwick or Stansted was "likely to be impractical or ineffective."
The Commission accepted that constraints on runway capacity in the south-east of England would limit the scope for the benefits of competition in the short-term. But Mr Clarke said "we believe that separate owners would be more active than BAA in exploiting existing opportunities. Over time, we would expect these to increase significantly."
"In Scotland, where there were no similar capacity constraints, separate owners of Edinburgh and Glasgow would similarly improve their offerings," he said.
The Commission summarily dismissed BAA's argument that there was no scope for competition to develop as long as there were capacity constraints.
"We take the opposite view; unless the market is opened up to competition, there is a serious risk that the current capacity constraints will persist, certainly for longer than in a better functioning market," said Mr Clarke.
More than 20 years since BAA had been privatised there was still a serious shortage of capacity, particularly of runway capacity, in the south-east.
The earliest new runway capacity could become available was 2015 at Stansted with no additional runway capacity possible at Heathrow before 2020.
"While we accept that Government policy and the planning regime have contributed to the lack of capacity, we have found that BAA as the owner and operator of these London airports has played a major role in not pressing for more capacity sooner," said Mr Clarke.
The significant problems in the BAA airports market would "not be solved overnight" and changes in ownership would "only be a first step in freeing up the market and providing greater scope for more flexible development," he said.
Whatever happens to the ownership of the BAA London airports, the current basis of the charges levied by BAA at Heathrow and Gatwick will stay in force for at least five years from April 2008 and for five years from April 2009 at Stansted according to a decision made by ministers earlier this year.
EasyJet, the UK low cost airline, is currrently seeking a judicial review of the price increases approved at Gatwick by the Civil Aviation Authority, the airports economic regulator, earlier this year.
21 August 2008
BAA ATTACKS COMMISSION'S "FLAWED" ANALYSIS
Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 20 August 2008
The Competition Commission's report on BAA was welcomed by airlines and competing airports, but it was strongly attacked by BAA itself.
Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said the Commission risked "creating uncertainty, delay and confusion at exactly the wrong time," just as the government was about to make the decisions that could lead to the first full-length runways being built in the south-east of England since the second world war. He said the group was seeking urgent clarification of government policy for aviation and attacked the "flawed" analysis of the Commission's report.
Manchester Airports Group, the biggest UK owned airport operator, said the report was "good news for passengers and airlines" and said it was interested in acquiring "one or more of the BAA airports".
Jim Callaghan, director of legal and regulatory affairs at Ryanair the biggest low cost airline in Europe and a vocal opponent of BAA, said the report showed the market power of the BAA monopoly. "Competition works ? monopolies don't," he said. BAA's monopoly control over the London airports has been highly detrimental to competition and consumers.
"BAA has long ignored the needs of its airline users and the travelling public and provided inefficient, gold plated facilities, encouraged by an ineffectual regulator, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority)."
Mr Matthews said the group would be seeking "urgent clarification" from the government of how it believed the findings of the Commission's report could be reconciled with the air transport policy it had established in the 2003 aviation white paper. He said the Commission's findings had to be "assessed in the light of the urgent need for new airport capacity and a modern regulatory framework, as well as the need ? which we recognise ? for improved service from the airport operator."
The Commission had found it was the lack of runway capacity that was a main reason for what it called "the current poor standards of service and the lack of resilience at times of disruption," which resulted in regular delays, he said.
By calling not just for a fundamental restructuring of BAA but also for a review of the 2003 air transport white paper, the Commission risked delaying the delivery of new runways "making better customer service less, not more, likely."
This was not the end of the Competition Commission process, and BAA would continue to point out "the many areas where we believe its analysis is flawed and its remedies would be disproportionate and counter-productive," said Mr Matthews.
In Scotland the Commission had "apparently ignored" the evidence presented by BAA and numerous respected third party organisations, that clearly demonstrated that Edinburgh and Glasgow airports served separate markets and "therefore do not and would not compete, regardless of ownership," he said.
Ryanair's David O'Brien, chairman of the airlines consultative committee at Stansted, said the report had confirmed the BAA monopoly was "bad for consumers and bad for Britain," and that it was "an over-charging, poor service monopoly."
He said, "The liberation of Stansted airport from the dead hand of the BAA monopoly will be a great first step in the recovery of UK aviation, which for far too long has suffered gross inefficiencies, long queues and high costs. It is essential that competition within and between London airports is promoted, along with effective regulation, to the benefit of passengers, tourism and the economy."
Investors in Ferrovial, the Spanish owners of the UK airport operator, also welcomed the report. Shares in Spain's second-largest construction and infrastructure company by market value were up 1.2 per cent, or ?0.41, at ?33.75, one of the top performers of the country's key IBEX-35 index.
21 August 2008
BAA BREAKUP LOOKS IMMINENT
Saffron Walden Reporter - 20 August 2008
TWO of BAA's three London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - will have to be sold if the Competition Commission's (CC's) initial recommendations go ahead. The independent competition watchdog today released its provisional findings on its ongoing investigation into BAA's dominance of the British airport market.
Christopher Clarke has been chairing the CC investigation since it began in March 2007. He said: "We have provisionally found that there are significant competition problems arising from BAA's common ownership of seven UK airports. This is evident from a large number of factors including its lack of responsiveness to the needs of its airline customers and a lack of initiative in planning capacity."
The CC believes that the best remedy for the competition problems is to force BAA to sell two of its three London airports, and has now begun consulting on which two should go.
In its provisional findings the CC was critical of BAA's approach to increasing capacity: "BAA has argued to us that there is no scope for competition to develop so long as there are capacity constraints," said Mr Clarke. "We take the opposite view; unless the market is opened up to competition, there is a serious risk that the current capacity constraints will persist, certainly for longer than in a better functioning market."
Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, countered the CC's report by saying "its analysis is flawed and its remedies would be disproportionate and counter-productive". He said: "Just as the Government is about to make the decisions that could lead to the first full-length runways being built in the South East since the Second World War, the commission risks creating uncertainty, delay and confusion at exactly the wrong time."
Stop Stansted Expansion was very happy with the CC's recommendations. A spokesman said: "We consider it inconceivable that BAA would willingly sell Heathrow which means that Stansted and Gatwick must both be sold. This will not in itself remove the threat of a second runway at Stansted but we believe it moves us a step closer to the day when this idea will be abandoned. We look forward to working with the new owners of Stansted towards achieving this objective."
Relevant and interested parties now have until September17 to respond to the CC's consultation on its preferred option. This can be done by emailing email@example.com or by writing to The Inquiry Manager (Airports market inquiry), Competition Commission, Victoria House, Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4AD.
The CC's final and definitive report will be published no later than March 28 next year.
21 August 2008
ARE WE CONVINCED?
No 3rd runway if air quality is poor
Hounslow Chronicle - 7 August 2008
With reference to the letter by John Murphy 'an argument built on a fiction' (Chronicle, July 31), I would like to take the opportunity to clarify a number of facts concerning the future growth of Heathrow.
A third runway will not go ahead, unless air quality is better than today, there is no more noise than in 2002 and there are improvements to public transport to prevent congestion. This is not growth at any cost; this is growth within strict environmental limits.
Aircraft are getting cleaner and quieter and there is no doubt that this trend will continue - especially with the current record prices for oil.
In fact, all the major aerospace manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing, have committed to a target of a 50 per cent reduction in noise levels from year 2000 levels by 2020.
Any suggestions that the figures were 'fabricated' or 'fiddled' are wholly inaccurate. Modelling and forecasting are necessarily uncertain, but can still provide a useful indication of likely future impacts.
In forecasting a fleet mix for 2030, BAA is making a best estimate of what kind of technology will be available at that time. Most airliners have approximately a 20-year life in front-line service - it follows that the oldest aircraft types in service in 2030 will not have been delivered yet and the newest neither designed nor built.
The aviation industry is always changing and the proportion of four-engined aircraft versus two-engined aircraft is reducing as new aircraft like the Boeing 787s are introduced into the Heathrow fleet.
BAA's fleet mix assumptions reflect our most recent understanding of the industry at the time. When deciding on the final figure of six per cent, BAA spoke to its largest long-haul airline partners to test this assumption and the airlines confirmed this number. Subsequently, the purchasing patterns of our major airlines have reaffirmed this assessment.
Most importantly, the environmental limits set out by the Government are absolute and non-negotiable. If slower fleet replacement or slower advancement of new technology means that noise and air quality emissions do not reduce as quickly as predicted, then airport capacity will grow more slowly than predicted.
We would expect planning authorities to make the Air Transport White Paper noise and air quality limits a legally binding condition of any possible future planning consent.
Head of Media, BAA
21 August 2008
CLAIM PLANES OVER COUNTRY COULD QUADRUPLE
Richard Cornwell - Evening Star - 19 August 2008
CHANGES to air routes and a second runway at Stansted will mean the number of jet planes over Suffolk will be "three to four times" more than what is being experienced now. Campaign group South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group (SSATAG) said the changes being proposed will mean the end of peace and tranquillity for all Suffolk.
"The people of Suffolk need to wake up to the reality of what has now been set in train by the application by BAA Stansted for a second runway," said the group. Their target is to achieve 80 million passengers a year. This is 15million more than Heathrow today. At the same time the owners of Luton Airport intend to grow to 25 million, the same size as Stansted is now."
"The air traffic over Suffolk will be three to four times what we are experiencing now. It will be 700 plus aircraft over an 18 hour day or one every one and a half minutes. We think this is a minimum it could easily be more. BAA Stansted have constantly campaigned to increase night flying between midnight and 6am. To recover the vast investment we believe that this will become an imperative to them."
The group warned that the recent consultation on proposed changes to flightpaths and lowering heights for aircraft in some areas only covers the situation now. "As this massive expansion takes place airspace will have to be revised again and again," said the group.
SSATAG consists of people in the Box and Stour valleys who have suddenly found themselves living under new flightpaths which have been imposed without consultation concerning noise, pollution and dangers associated with the new routes. They say more than 120 low-flying aircraft per day have been be re-routed over the previously peaceful area without any consultation with residents and with no opportunity to appeal against the decision.
Government has announced a public inquiry will be held into the possibility of a second Stansted runway. Air management company NATS has agreed to review its proposals for airspace changes, which included two suggested new holding stacks for Stansted which will affect dozens of Suffolk villages.
21 August 2008
STARK WARNING ON BRITAIN'S SHRINKING COAST
Abandon homes to the rising sea, warns Britain's new environment chief
Nigel Morris - The Independent - 18 August 2008
Stretches of Britain's coastline are doomed and plans will soon have to be drawn up to evacuate people from the most threatened areas, the new head of the Environment Agency warns today.
In his first interview since taking office, Lord Smith of Finsbury says Britain faces hard choices over which areas of our coast to defend and which to allow the sea to reclaim. He said detailed work was already far advanced on identifying areas of the east and south coasts which were most vulnerable to erosion, and called on ministers to give emergency help to families whose homes will be lost.
In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Smith, a former cabinet minister, also warns that the Government is not taking the environment seriously in a series of key projects. He says:
*Building a third runaway at Heathrow Airport would be a "mistake" because of pollution and aircraft noise;
*Plans for a new generation of coal-fired electric power stations should be abandoned until the Government is certain they will not pump out harmful gases;
*The proposed Severn barrage will destroy fish stocks and wreck bird habitats.
Lord Smith disclosed that the agency was drawing up projections of where sea erosion will do most damage over the next five, 25, 50 and 100 years. It is also factoring in the additional problem of the threat to low-lying areas from rising sea levels. "This is the most difficult issue we are going to face as an agency," he said. "We know the sea is eating away at the coast in quite a number of places, primarily ? but not totally exclusively ? on the east and south coasts. It's a particularly huge issue in East Anglia, but in quite a number of other areas as well."
Lord Smith, a former culture secretary, promised to do his "level best to try to defend communities where there are significant numbers of properties under threat and where it's possible to find engineering solutions".
But he said the agency, working with ministers, would have to identify "priority areas" and warned: "We are almost certainly not going to be able to defend absolutely every bit of coast ? it would simply be an impossible task both in financial terms and engineering terms." Suggesting that parts of north-east Norfolk and Suffolk faced the most immediate danger, Lord Smith promised to work closely with the communities involved to achieve as much "consensus" as possible over which coastal stretches to protect.
He said: "We will publish next year details of the work that's been done, where we think the particular threats are, where we think there is current defence in place. We will begin to talk with communities where we think defence is not a viable option."
He also said ministers could no longer rely on insurance companies to cover families who lost their homes, suggesting they would have to be rehoused at taxpayers' expense. He said: "We need to start having a serious discussion with government about what options can be put in place."
Lord Smith put himself on a collision course with his former colleagues over a number of important infrastructure projects championed in Whitehall. He dismissed the Department of Transport's insistence that building a new runway at Heathrow could be environmentally sustainable.
"The increases in volume of air traffic and the consequent increases in congestion on the ground are, from the analysis that we've done, pretty unavoidable," he said. "I think the Government is making a mistake and I will carry on telling them that I think they are making a mistake."
He opposed building a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in north Kent ? with others to follow ? because he is not satisfied the promised technology to "capture and store" carbon would have been developed in time for its planned opening in the next decade. "My view would be that we should not go ahead with the development of a new coal-fired generation unless those [clean coal] technologies are in place and we can clean up the emissions."
Although he supported using the river Severn's huge tidal power to generate electricity, he said he was alarmed at the Government's support for a fixed barrier. "Effectively you would be destroying the fish populations of everything up the river system from the barrier. That is a major environmental downside."
21 August 2008
EU ADVISORY BODY RECOMMENDS AIRPORT CO2 GOALS
ENDS Europe DAILY 2600 - 18 August 2008
Long-term environmental targets are an "urgent priority" for
airports, the European economic and social committee says in a new
report published in the EU's official journal earlier this month.
The committee says airports should be encouraged to set CO2 reduction
targets covering all their operations. New airports should be
designed to reduce aircraft fuel burn before take-off.
identifies several other ways in which airports could cut CO2
emissions, including requiring smoother descents and introducing
differentiated aircraft landing and take-off fees and passenger
OUR COMMENT: Long overdue, but should include aircraft CO2 as well.
15 August 2008
AVIATION SLUMP CONTINUES AS FUEL PRICES
AND CREDIT CRUNCH HIT FLIGHT NUMBERS
The number of planes arriving and leaving Britain has fallen
for the first time since the post September 11 aviation slump
David Millward, Transport Editor - The Telegraph - 12 August 2008
Fresh evidence of the crisis engulfing the aviation industry emerged in the latest figures produced by Britain's air traffic control service, NATS.
Soaring oil prices, record fuel surcharges and the credit crisis on both sides of the Atlantic has hit demand for flights.
The number of transatlantic flights had been expected to rise this summer as a result of the Open Skies agreement between the EU and Washington, which ends limits on which airlines can fly between Europe and the US. This should have triggered a price war, forcing down the cost of air travel as airlines poured extra seats onto the market.
But, according to the NATS figures transatlantic departures and arrivals were 3.3 per cent lower than 12 months ago, with the number of flights falling to 13,410 - 457 fewer than the previous year.
The past year has seen the demise of three niche airlines ? MaxJet, Eos and Silverjet. The carriers, all of whom offered business class only services between London and New York, were unable to survive the dramatic rise in the cost of aviation fuel. In addition American Airlines dropped its Stansted to New York service.
Other provincial transatlantic flights have also disappeared including a service between John Lennon Airport in Liverpool and Newark. Continental has been reducing its frequencies.
Delta is dropping its Gatwick to New York service in the autumn and other cuts are expected in the autumn, with British Airways reducing the frequency of its services to Newark and JFK. Virgin is also planning to drop one of its daily New York services.
"Open Skies has not delivered the competitive market which was promised," said Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic's chief executive. "It hasn't led to reduced prices nor has it brought the flurry of extra services that passengers had hoped for. Even if airlines wanted to start new services from Heathrow, they can't because the airport is full."
On non-transatlantic routes, flights fell by 0.9 per cent, from 143,974 to 142,738 again reflecting the falling demand at a time when the cost of travel has gone up. "The aviation industry has always been a barometer of the wider economy," said Ian Hall, NATS director of operations.
There has been mounting gloom throughout the industry, which was reflected when aviation chiefs gathered for their annual summit in Istanbul in June. Then they said that airlines were facing their biggest crisis since the slump in demand for air travel after the September 11 attacks on New York.
Flight numbers have not dropped since August 2002, the start of the industry's recovery following the terrorist outrages. In recent months airlines in all sections of the market have announced plans to ground flights.
Earlier this week the Official Airline Guide said airlines across the world were planning to cut 60 million seats ? equivalent to one in 14 ? from their services.
"At the moment the industry is low demand and high costs," said one industry analyst. "In the current environment, especially with the price of fuel, there is a strong economic argument for leaving planes on the ground."
OUR COMMENT: Airport expansion? A high risk gamble?
15 August 2008
MORE TROUBLE AHEAD?
BAA airport monopoly at risk
Michael Peel, Kevin Done and Anousha Sakoui in London - Financial Times - 11 August 2008
BAA's airport monopoly in south-east England and Scotland is harming passenger interests, the UK Competition Commission has concluded, increasing the likelihood that the Spanish-owned company will be forced to sell some operations.
The watchdog is to unveil plans for possible reforms to ownership and regulation next week, focusing on the lack of rivals to BAA , which is owned by Ferrovial, people involved in the matter said.
The commission's findings are likely to spark debate about the future of national economic assets that are in crisis because of flight delays, underinvestment and a lack of long-term planning.
Legal observers see the findings as an important step towards an order for BAA to sell at least one of its four English airports and one of its three Scottish ones because other solutions - such as toughening regulation or changing planning laws - are out of the watchdog's control.
One observer of the probe not connected to BAA or the airlines said: "[Other remedies] in terms of the regulatory regime should be something different, or planning should be something different? - [are] not within the commission's power to deliver. The commission historically has been very pragmatic."
The competition watchdog's provisional findings after more than 16 months of investigation will stick closely to its suggestion this year that BAA's ownership of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and four other British airports "adversely affected" competition and might not be "serving well the interests of either airlines or passengers", people involved in the probe said.
The commission now has a little more than seven months to decide how to deal with the complex problems that have been mounting amid the lack of significant reform to a framework of airport ownership and regulation put in place when BAA was privatised more than 20 years ago.
The watchdog has asked for information from other companies, including rival airport operators, so that it can model what an industry under wider ownership might look like.
BAA has told the commission a break-up of the group would do little to expedite the building of runways in the south-east, which it claims is the main obstacle to a better deal for travellers.
The commission's probe is likely to add to the pressure on Ferrovial, which is pushing through a £10bn plan to refinance debt it took on in buying BAA in 2006.
BAA's financial returns at Heathrow and Gatwick are being squeezed by a five-year price cap regime imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority. The company also faces severe operating difficulties at Heathrow, Europe's busiest and most congested airport, because of a lack of runway capacity.
15 August 2008
A CRY FROM A STANSTED RESIDENT
Dubious Benefits of Second Runway
Readers' Letters - Dunmow Broadcast - 1 August 2008
Regarding the article in the Broadcast dated July 24, 'Inquiry to see runway plans', and Roger Pellman, BAA's G2 project director' comment of: "There are huge social and economic benefits to be enjoyed from the development of a second runway."
The social and economic benefits are very debatable, as was demonstrated at the G1 public enquiry. Also since that enquiry, three trans-Atlantic routes have been axed, Ryanair has announced a reduction in aircraft movement and so has easyJet.
Perhaps Mr Pellman might wish to comment on what enjoyment will be had by people living in close proximity to the airport. They have to endure noise, pollution and the devastating effect a second runway will have on the surrounding countryside.
15 August 2008
GOOD AVICE TO ALL
Coach boss takes on airline industry
Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - Guardian.co.uk - 31 July 2008
The chief executive of National Express has urged the rail industry to target domestic airlines after warning that train operators need to "make our case better".
Richard Bowker, whose company owns the London-to-Edinburgh east coast franchise, said his peers should advertise that many train journeys are cheaper and more pleasant than their airline equivalent.
"I really do struggle to see why we make it so easy for people to fly domestically. When you have got such a low-carbon alternative in rail, it's something that should be positively promoted."
He added: "We should make our case better. It's up to us. There is no doubt that if you fly from Edinburgh to London the experience is not as nice. You have to make four or five journeys in total and the reliability is not as good. It's up to us to explain that to people."
Bowker spoke as National Express revealed a dip in passenger numbers on its Stansted Express service, which transports customers to Britain's third largest airport. A reduction in flights operated by easyJet and Ryanair, which have been angered by increased landing fees at Stansted, is the main cause of the drop, Bowker added. Both airlines are cutting back further at Stansted this winter, drawing suggestions from some analysts that the low-budget sector may have expanded too quickly.
"We want to have our cake and eat it," said Bowker. "We want to get more inbound and outbound flight rotations at Stansted, but we would like to get to the position where all trips between London and Edinburgh are done by train." Bowker added that National Express has teamed up with hotel chain Travelodge to launch a "Save our seaside" campaign to encourage families to holiday in the UK rather than fly abroad. "I subscribe to the view that you will see people taking more UK holidays."
An easyJet spokesman said Bowker's comments were "bizarre and misguided". EasyJet and Virgin Trains fought over a Virgin advertising campaign last year that attacked the environmental performance of airlines, in a dispute that ended with the Advertising Standards Authority throwing out the no-frills carrier's complaint.
"There are an awful lot of smoky old diesel trains out there. The lowest carbon alternative is Eurostar and you have to recognise that it is mostly powered by nuclear generated electricity," said the easyJet spokesman, who added that the demand for air travel between London and Scotland remained strong. "If travelling by air is not as pleasant or cheap as the train, why is the London to Scotland air corridor one of the busiest in the world?"
National Express reported a 4% increase in first half revenues to £1.37bn today, with profit before tax excluding impairment charges and other one-off items rising 14% to £90m. The coach, rail and bus operator, which also has significant coach interests in Spain and the US, also published a YouGov survey showing that 61% of car drivers are considering turning to public transport following the recent increase in petrol prices.
1 August 2008
END OF CHEAP FLIGHTS BOOM AS AIRLINES
RAISE FARES IN LINE WITH OIL PRICES
Ryanair has led an aviation revolution of cheap flights.
Now the rising cost of oil is expected to push up ticket prices by 10 per cent.
David Robertson and Helen Nugent - The Times - 28 July 2008
More than five million British passengers could be priced out of the budget holiday market as airlines raise their fares, bringing the era of cheap travel to an end.
Holidaymakers preparing for the traditional summer getaway this week may find that when they come to book their next break the fares have become unaffordable. Ticket prices are expected to rise by 10 per cent this year and next as the cost of oil pushes up airline fuel bills.
The dramatic increase in the price of oil, which has doubled in the past year, will almost certainly lead to radical changes in the airline industry once this summer season ends. Carriers will raise fares, cut the number of flights they offer and some well-known names will go out of business.
The fare increases will be a particular shock to holidaymakers who are accustomed to cheap flights on low-cost carriers or budget airlines, such as Ryanair and easyJet. The budget carrier concept, which was imported from the United States about 15 years ago, has altered the way people travel in Europe. Flights, costing from just £1, made weekend breaks to cities such as Barcelona or Dublin almost impulse purchases.
Traditional national, or legacy, carriers, have withered under the fierce competition from budget airlines, who have used their relentless cost-cutting to produce low prices. Passengers have been happy to forgo small luxuries such as meals, free drinks and assigned seats in return for cheap fares.
Budget flights combined with increased use of the internet to book hotels has encouraged many families to plan their own holidays rather than buy a package from tour operators. The popularity of the budget carriers has allowed them to grow rapidly, in only a few years Ryanair has become the largest airline in Europe, carrying nearly twice as many passengers as British Airways. The rapidly rising price of oil, however, means that many airlines are losing money.
Douglas McNeill, a transport analyst at Blue Oar, a City stockbroking firm, said: "Fares are clearly going up and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
According to analysts a 10 per cent increase in fares typically leads to a 6.5 per cent fall in passenger numbers. Budget airlines carry an estimated 45million British passengers a year. If fares rise by 20 per cent over two years, passenger demand looks set to fall by more than five million.
Martin Ferguson, business travel correspondent at Travel Trade Gazette, a specialist publication, said: "There's been talk for a while in business circles about the end of the £1 flight. It's undoubtedly true. Everything depends on the price of oil."
Budget carriers will achieve fare increases by charging extra for checking baggage and priority boarding.
Doug McVitie, aviation analyst at Arran Aerospace, a consultancy, said: "Passengers will have to get used to paying more for less. Budget airlines will introduce more charges to cover their costs and it is probably only a matter of time before some joker suggests charging for using the toilet. The whole experience of flying budget will become even more unpleasant."
British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France are increasing their fares through fuel surcharges, paid on top of the standard fare. BA's surcharge has risen three times this year and is now £218 return for its longest flights.
Another strategy open to the airline industry will be to reduce the number of flights they operate and cancelling unprofitable routes. Ryanair announced two weeks ago that it would ground eight planes at Stansted and a further four in Dublin this winter. EasyJet said last week that it would cut its capacity by 10 per cent overall and 12 per cent out of Stansted.
Reduced capacity could be bad news for second-home owners in France and Spain who bought their properties assuming that they would be able to commute using budget airline flights. The larger legacy carriers will also cut capacity, particularly on short-haul European routes. The middle tier of airlines, the small, national carriers such as Alitalia, will be squeezed hardest by rising oil prices. Analysts expect them to be pushed into bankruptcy or be bought by larger rivals.
Mr McVitie said: "The largest legacy carriers will survive because of their long-haul routes and the big budgets will survive because they will still be more affordable than other short-haul operators. Everyone in the middle is in real trouble. This industry will look very different in a couple of years."
Your ticket to better value
- Be flexible with your flight dates and times. Try flying midweek rather than at weekends
- Consider booking early. You will generally get a cheaper fare
- Be flexible with your airport. Check travel costs to and from it. Flying to or from a nearby airport can save you money
- Consider alternative, but similar destinations. If you are looking for a warm coastal destination to relax by a pool check out non-euro countries such as Tunisia
- Check the one-way fares. In some cases, you can find a cheaper flight by booking two one-way destination tickets. This is usually the case for shorter breaks
Our ticket to better value for ALL and for the future of ALL.
Travel by rail or coach, (coach fares can rival the cheap air fares, and with more comfort) - if you had planned on a long haul flight for a holiday, consider a cruise instead!
1 August 2008
RYANAIR DIVES INTO THE RED AS FUEL BILL SOARS
The Telegraph - 28 July 2008
No-frills airline Ryanair dived ?90.5m (£71m) into the red in the first quarter, hit by a doubling of fuel costs and "the loss of Easter".
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary expects oil prices to fall
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said oil prices rose from $61 a barrel to $117, increasing the fuel bill 93pc to ?375m. Fuel now represent almost 50pc of total operating costs, he said, compared with 36pc last year.
"Yields fell by 8pc, as we opened new routes and base and suffered the absence of Easter in the quarter which distorts the prior year comparables." he said.
Is the oil price a bubble that will burst? Who would be an airline boss?
Adjusted net profits, which excluded exceptional costs of ?17.9m on 15 aircraft to disposed in 2009/10 and a ?93.6m writedown of the airline's Aer Lingus stake, tumbled 85pc to ?21m.
The airline warned it could make a full-year loss of up to ?60m if oil prices stayed high and fares fell. Mr O'Leary said: "The emerging economic recession in the UK and Ireland caused by the global credit crisis and high oil prices means that consumer confidence is plummeting, and we believe this will have an adverse impact on fares for the rest of the year."
Ryanair said it had made use of a recent fall in oil prices and hedged 90pc of its fuel needs for September at $129 a barrel, 80pc for the third quarter at $124 a barrel, but remained unhedged for the fourth quarter.
Ryanair said yields, or average ticket prices, could fall as much as 5pc in the full year as it lowers fares to attract more passengers. The carrier had previously said it will break even this fiscal-year if oil is at $130 a barrel and yields rise 5pc.
1 August 2008
EASIER FOR JET OPERATOR TO DROP WINTER FLIGHTS
Dunmow Broadcaster - 24 July 2008
STANSTED operator EasyJet will follow Ryanair's lead and reduce flights this winter, as problems in the aviation industry continue to grow. Spiralling fuel costs are at the centre of the decision to reduce its flight capacity by 12 per cent this winter.
Ryanair recently took the decision to cut 250 flights from the same stretch of tarmac at the beginning of July.
A spokesman for Stansted owners BAA said: "We anticipated some cuts in services by EasyJet given the difficult global economic conditions and high oil price. The winter season is always a tough time for the aviation industry but we will continue to work closely with our airline partners as they take important business decisions to re-shape their networks to best deal with the challenging circumstances that currently face us all."
Summer sun is still enticing British holiday makers to use the airport. An estimated 160,000 passengers will go through metal detectors this weekend, on their way to all the classic European holiday destinations.
1 August 2008
JEREMY WARNER'S OUTLOOK: EVEN O'LEARY IS HITTING THE HEADWINDS AS FUEL COSTS TAKE THEIR TOLL ON RYANAIR
The Independent - 29 July 2008
It is part of the entrepreneur's DNA to be eternally ? some would say annoyingly ? optimistic, and few come more so than old motor-mouth Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair. Thus Mr O'Leary sees nothing but opportunity in the present downturn, from which, he confidently predicts, Ryanair will emerge bigger and stronger.
However, in the meantime he's having a much more torrid time of it than he would like. Most of this turbulence is caused by high fuel prices, but at least some of it, as Ryanair heads for its first annual loss since anyone can remember, is self-inflicted. Did he really need to keep on growing capacity in the face of self-evident signs of economic trouble to come?
The upshot is that although passenger numbers are still growing strongly ? albeit not as strongly as previously hoped ? yields (or the price paid per head) fell 8 per cent in the first quarter to the end of June. For the year as a whole, Mr O'Leary now expects a fall in average fares of 5 per cent, against expected growth of the same magnitude the last time he opened his mouth on such matters.
Ryanair presents this fall as a deliberate act of land grab. While other airlines are trying to raise their prices, with fuel surcharges and the like, Ryanair will be reducing its own so as to add market share. What Mr O'Leary studiously ignores is that he is himself part of the problem of over-capacity he complains of. Good for customers, no doubt, but not so good for him.
Nor has Ryanair been as brilliant at managing its fuel costs as you would expect. Up until last June, the company was completely unhedged on fuel costs, this in expectation that prices would fall. Now, with oil prices starting to fall, it emerges that Ryanair has reversed its policy and hedged itself for the second and third quarters, possibly unnecessarily.
Ryanair has also been a victim of its bag-charging policy, with some at least of the reduction in yields down to reduced checked-in baggage charges as passengers switch to online check-in and carry on baggage facilities. Next thing is that Mr O'Leary will charge you for going to the loo in an effort to compensate.
Still, on one thing Mr O'Leary is undoubtedly right. Ryanair will emerge one of the winners from the present shakeout. With already wafer-thin operating costs compared with rivals, he managed a further 6 per cent reduction in the first quarter ignoring fuel. Mr O'Leary also famously sits on a ?2bn-plus cash mountain of mostly forward booking revenues. Despite mistakes, he retains a winning business model.
1 August 2008
HEATHROW NEIGHBOURS TO BE GIVEN PROTEST TRAINING
Elizabeth Hopkirk - Evening Standard - 29 July 2008
Hundreds of residents furious at plans to expand Heathrow are set to attend militant training camps aimed at bringing severe disruption to the airport.
Hardcore activists have enlisted the residents from some of west London's wealthiest boroughs for direct action against proposals to increase flights. They said today that they were prepared to be arrested in a new wave of non-violent "attacks" on the airport which could culminate in an invasion of Heathrow's runways.
The Government wants to expand capacity by adding a third runway and allowing planes to take off and land on the same runway, increasing the number of flights from 480,000 to 702,000 a year. The training camps and a new series of protests were agreed at a meeting organised by anti-Heathrow lobby group Hacan ClearSkies, which was also attended by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Plane Stupid.
Residents claim their views on the expansion have been ignored by the Government and airport operator BAA. Protesters will be taught to chain themselves to BAA's headquarters, climb security fences and organise flashmobs, and will be told what to do if arrested.
There has been a series of high-profile anti-Heathrow demonstrations including last year's "climate camp" where hundreds of protesters descended on Heathrow - although the new campaign is separate from that event. In March, scores of flashmobbers attempted to disrupt Terminal 5's opening by swamping the new concourse wearing red T-shirts with the slogan Stop Airport Expansion. Their efforts were overshadowed by the chaos which engulfed the airport on the day as the new terminal went into meltdown.
The training camps will be held in September but direct action protests will be carried out only if Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly backs the expansion plans. Her announcement is due before the end of the year.
Ms Kelly's staff are analysing the 70,000 responses to a three-month public consultation which ended in February. The consultation was widely criticised as a "sham" for missing out thousands of residents affected by extra planes.
Hacan's chairman John Stewart warned of further action by activists and residents, which could culminate in an invasion of the runway. He said: "There was a palpable sense of anger. They have done the conventional things like marches, demonstrations and public inquiries and still the decision is against them. Maybe the Government will only listen if there is a threat of direct action. People feel they have nothing to lose even if it does mean being arrested, even residents of west London, many of them grey-haired, middle-aged ladies."
A BAA spokesman said: "Whilst BAA respects people's right to protest lawfully, direct action on the airport is extremely irresponsible, dangerous and illegal."
1 August 2008
HEATHROW: A THIRD RUNWAY IS 'OBVIOUS' SOLUTION
Building a third runway at Heathrow airport is the "obvious" solution to airport congestion, despite the environmental impact, a report has concluded.
Laura Clout - The Telegraph - 28 July 2008
Proposals for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been met with fierce opposition from environmental groups. The detailed study, commissioned by the City of London Authority, rejects an expansion of Stansted and says building an airport in the Thames Estuary is not a credible option.
Despite "local environmental impacts" and strong opposition from business leaders, Heathrow is the "obvious preferred candidate" for extra capacity, it says.
The Aviation Services And The City report says building the third runway comes with "significant" environmental costs but the alternative, expanding Stansted, would be a less effective solution. Failure to increase the number of flights and reduce problems at Heathrow could threaten the city's role as a leading world business centre, the report says.
The authors York Aviation concede that creating a third runway at Heathrow is currently "deeply unpopular" with business leaders because of delays, traffic around the airport and security issues. They say improvements to current services are necessary to tackle such concerns.
Building an airport in the Thames Estuary is not thought credible by business leaders, they say. The authors write: "The survey and analysis undertaken in this study reinforce the requirement for good access to air services as an essential attribute supporting London's role as the world's leading business and financial centre."
"The obvious preferred candidate for expansion to meet the City's needs is Heathrow, through delivery of the third runway. However, this option appears to have the most significant cost in terms of local environmental impacts. Expansion elsewhere, most obviously Stansted, appears to have fewer environmental implications but would be a sub-optimal option in terms of the City's economic needs."
The report was welcomed by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Policy director Dr Helen Hill said the report "proves beyond doubt" that the third runway was "essential" for business.
"London competes day-in day-out to attract business from around the world but we are starting to lose ground to other major cities because Heathrow is stretched to breaking point. We urge the Government to take this report to heart and accept that the economic case for expansion is unequivocal."
OUR COMMENT: An obvious solution? ? For Whom? ? "The economic needs of the city". Is there no alternative form of transport and communication? With the increased price of oil, likely to be permanently high, economic predictions, plans, and policies need to be reviewed ASAP.
1 August 2008
OPPOSITION TO STANSTED EXPANSION SPREADS
Council says 'no' to Stansted expansion
Dave Gooderham - EAD Online - 28 July 2008
THOUSANDS of people would be at "significant" risk of having their idyllic lifestyles shattered if plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport are given the go-ahead.
Babergh District Council has warned that the Suffolk environment and the quality of life for its residents could be put at risk by the controversial expansion plans. A report, discussed by councillors this week, sets out the fears and recommends lodging a formal objection to the proposals which would almost treble passenger movements every year.
The plans come just months after residents were told they could be living with the prospect of an aircraft every two minutes over their homes if flight paths are moved. Campaigners last night welcomed Babergh's stance and said there would be an enormous impact on the entire county if the second runway was approved.
Frances Bee, who has led the campaign against the flight path changes by NATS, said: "I think the second runway is an even greater threat as it would mean doubling the size of Stansted. The impact on flying over Suffolk would be enormous and it would be felt all over the county. I am delighted to hear that Babergh are objecting formally to it."
The proposals, which are contained in four planning applications referred to as the G2 Airport Project, would enable the airport to increase its annual aircraft movements from 274,000 to almost 500,000. Passenger levels would be increased from 24 million every year to 68 million by 2030.
While admitting there could be some employment benefits within the Babergh district, the council report claims this is overshadowed by the negative impact on residents. It reads: "In terms of increased volume of air traffic, it is inevitable that those within the flight paths will experience increased noise pollution. Wider effects may also be detrimental, particularly in respect of CO2 emissions and global warming. A further concern is the likely impact of traffic generation on roads within Babergh (including Sudbury)."
Plans for the second runway have already been met with opposition by Suffolk County Council, Braintree District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council.
However a spokesman for Stansted Airport has previously said it is their belief that they can develop a second runway in a sustainable way. BAA has also said expansion would create more than 13,000 jobs by 2030 and bring an extra £9bn into the UK economy.
Babergh's strategy committee will discuss the plans on Thursday.
1 August 2008
BIG MAJORITY AGAINST AIRCRAFT STACKING PLANS
Suffolk Free Press - 22 July 2008
More than 80% of those who responded were against changes to flightpaths over Suffolk and the south-east, it was revelaed today. Initial findings from a four-month consultation on proposals to redraw the aircraft route map across a large area of south-east England are published today.
The report ? published on-line at nats.co.uk/TCNconsultation - provides an early snapshot of issues identified during the consultation process and how the company that manages airspace, NATS, intends to address them.
The plans included two new stacks, one south of Newmarket and one between Stowmarket and Hadleigh which would lead to aircraft stacking over villages including Lavenham while waiting to land.
A spokesman for NATS said: "The design, as proposed in the consultation, is currently undergoing review in light of the feedback received. Once this work has progressed a further feedback report will be published."
Jonathan Astill, NATS' Head of Airspace Management, said: "There have been a great many constructive suggestions made during the consultation process and we will take as long as is necessary to give them proper consideration. We will publish updates to this initial report when analysis is complete. These updates will indicate and explain any further options that we may be considering and explain the next stages of the process. It may be that there are changes we can make to the design, and that could lead to further consultation with local communities."
In total 578 responses were returned by MPs, local authorities, parish councils, environmental groups and other representative bodies. A further 14,647 responses were received from members of the public. The consultation website was visited 154,127 times and more than a million pages downloaded.
The majority of members of the public who responded (86%) opposed the proposal in its current form (in whole or in part); 13% of respondents supported the proposal in its current form. The principal concerns of those objecting to the proposals were about noise in rural areas compared to noise in towns and about spreading noise fairly across the population. Concerns were also expressed about the consultation process itself.
1 August 2008
SCANDAL OF SUFFOLK'S SKIES REVEALED
Richard Cornwall - Evening Star - 28 July 2008
TODAY The Evening Star reveals the full extent of the scandal of Suffolk's skies. We show how our beautiful and peaceful county has been forced, unwittingly, to take the burgeoning burden of Britain's explosion of flights.
And that the situation is about to get a whole lot worse. Through our dogged Air Fair investigations we have already revealed:
- The issue has sparked many protests, including one backed by MP Tim Yeo
- Suffolk has become the "Clapham Junction" of the skies after it was targeted for thousands more planes - and the public didn't have a chance to comment on it before it commenced.
- Planes from every major airport in the south and Midlands now travel inbound - and outbound - over our county.
- Thousands of new flights are set to be sent in and out of Britain, via Suffolk and new "stacking" areas to ease airport congestion are to be plonked over places as diverse as Ipswich and Newmarket.
- Our elected officials, from councillors to MPs, have been powerless in the face of decisions from central government, the Whitehall-controlled Civil Aviation Authority and the flight-controlling private company Nats.
- At long last, MPs are homing in on the issue - and government ministers are being forced to take notice.
The Star, which understands the need for sensible and properly-planned growth in air transport, has met huge obstacles as it seeks to bring the facts of the Suffolk situation to the public.
So today, in a special report inside this edition, we are re-issuing a series of questions to the skymasters at Nats, the company which prides itself on being a world-class company and which boasts of five years of profit. And we bring a new revelation to the debate.
- People living below flightpaths in Suffolk are being hammered by a new system which concentrates planes on certain routes, it is revealed today.
- Day after day, night after night, residents are seeing planes flying laser beam-like on the same routes - at peak times more than one every two minutes on the same track, with more going above and below in other directions.
- The system - called Precision Area Navigation (P-RNAV) - is to be even more widely used when changes to airspace are made next year, sending even more jets over certain areas.
Suffolk is already losing its sound of silence thanks to the increase in jet noise - but, unfairly, some people are set to take the full load of the increase.
And while the new navigation system will mean some people suffering greater noise than others, undoubtedly more and more people will be affected in years ahead as Stansted and Heathrow expand and the number of planes in our skies doubles.
Meanwhile, many campaign groups, including The Evening Star would like to see planes dispersed to "spread the load" when it comes to noise, allowing communities to have quiet days and noisy days, air management company NATS says the new policy is to concentrate the planes on direct routes.
"Where possible when designing or changing routes, the Civil Aviation Authority, encourages NATS to implement a modern navigation system called PRNAV which will tend to lead to aircraft being more concentrated around the route centreline for certain parts of the route,? said NATS.
- Is aircraft noise starting to get on your nerves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk
24 July 2008
IT'S ALL UP IN THE AIR
Expansion decision delayed
Second runway bid called in
Ryanair slashes flights 14%
Sinead Holland, Chief Reporter - Herts & Essex Observer - 24 July 2008
A week of contradictions means campaigners against Stansted airport expansion have been left on a knife edge once again.
They were cut to the quick when finally the government called in the proposal they feared most ? to build a second runway and bring up to 70mppa into the heart of rural Uttlesford with an airport the size of Heathrow by 2030.
However, those same politicians perversely delayed an announcement on BAA's earlier application to take the total annual number of travellers to 35m by 2015. A decision, which had been expected imminently, will not be taken until September.
SSE has accused Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears and her transport counterpart Ruth Kelly of "dithering" over the smaller G1 single runway scheme, unable to make a decision.
Yet Labour's planning supreme still insists she ? not the local councillors who tried to halt expansion beyond 25mppa ? is best placed to get to grips with G2 and slice through the policy problems a second runway would present.
By contrast, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary went straight for the jugular when he blamed BAA, not the current cooling economic climate, for his decision to slash winter flights by 14%.
24 July 2008
GOVT MOVE ON STANSTED APPLICATION "BEGGARS BELIEF"
Saffron Walden Reporter - 22 July 2008
THE Government has taken control of BAA's planning application for a second runway at Stansted Airport, despite a crucial factor in its decision not yet having been determined.
On Monday the Government Office for the East of England wrote to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to call-in BAA's G2 application for a second runway, taking away the decision from the local authority. The move comes despite the fact that no decision has yet been made on the airport operator's G1 application to increase passenger numbers on the existing runway.
Cllr Jim Ketteridge, council leader, said: "It really is unacceptable that the Government has decided to call-in BAA's second runway planning applications before publishing the outcome of the appeal against Uttlesford's refusal of the application to lift the limits on passenger numbers and aircraft movements on the existing runway."
The G1 application was the subject of a lengthy public inquiry that ended in October last year. If, when the Planning Inspectorate reveals its decision, it has been turned down, the G2 scheme will be rendered invalid.
Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion, was shocked by the Government's decision. "It beggars belief that the Government has decided to move the process forward on BAA's second planning application before it has even decided BAA's first application," she said. "All the more so because BAA's application for a second runway assumes permission for its earlier application has been approved. The Government is now proceeding on the same basis."
The district council, which is strongly opposed to a second runway at Stansted, urged people to continue to respond to the applications.
Cllr Elizabeth Godwin, leader of the Independent group, said: "We want everyone to continue to write and to make their views known to the Government. This runway on Essex farmland must never happen. The fight is on to ensure that this threat to our area and our homes is removed forever."
You can find links to the applications by visiting www.stanstedexplained.info, or view hard copies by visiting the UDC offices on London Road in Saffron Walden. Comments on the application should be directed to Jeremy Pine, Uttlesford District Council, London Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4ER.
The inquiry into the G2 application is anticipated to open in January next year. A spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate said a decision on the G1 inquiry would probably be announced in September.
24 July 2008
DESPITE OIL COSTS, BAA SEES A ROSY FUTURE
Stansted hails second runway decision
Business Weekly - 21 July 2008
Further momentum has been injected into the Stansted Generation 2 project (G2) with the timely 'call in' of the second runway application by the Secretary of State.
BAA Stansted's spanish owner, Ferrovial, is close to getting bondholders to agree to a multi-billion pound funding package that will underpin the building of what will be the first new runway in the South East for more than 50 years.
A new airport terminal will also be built. BAA wants to start construction in 2011 and open the new runway and terminal by 2015.
It has estimated that the scheme would bring £9 billion of economic benefits and create 13,000 new jobs by 2030. The number of passengers using the airport is expected to increase to about 68 million by that date.
The call on the new runway inquiry has pipped an impending Government deicision allowing Stansted to wing up to 35 million passengers a year as a matter of urgency.
Roger Pellman, G2 project director said: "We welcome the news that our Generation 2 (G2) planning application for the development of a second runway at Stansted has been 'called in' and will now proceed to a public inquiry next year. We are pleased the Secretary of State has acted swiftly and demonstrated a willingness to get on with the project."
"Earlier this year, BAA submitted nearly 40 separate planning applications in support of the G2 runway project following four years of detailed and comprehensive planning work to deliver a key milestone of the Government's Air Transport White Paper. We now confidently look forward to presenting our case in front of an independent inspector at the forthcoming planning inquiry."
"There are huge social and economic benefits to be enjoyed from the development of a second runway at Stansted for the East of England, London and for UK plc. We are fully committed to maximising these opportunities for millions of air travellers while at the same time doing all we can to limit, avoid and mitigate against any environmental impacts."
OUR COMMENT: They are attempting to achieve the unachievable - to have an airport cake and eat it. It also seems that the capital costs are still not forthcoming.
24 July 2008
RYANAIR FEELS OIL PRICE PAIN AS PLANES PULLED
Laura Noonan - The Independent - 16 July 2008
RYANAIR will tomorrow detail plans to pull about 15 planes from Stansted this winter as the airline revises its 2008 passenger target down 1 million to 58 million. The move comes after Ryanair detailed plans to ground four planes at Dublin between October and February, cutting the airport's capacity by 12pc.
The cutbacks are designed to combat crippling oil prices, with Ryanair targeting its most expensive airports as it braces itself for breakeven next year if the black stuff stays at current highs.
Some of the planes taken out of Dublin and Stansted will be redeployed to other routes, including a new UK base also to be announced tomorrow, chief executive Michael O'Leary said yesterday. The rejig is also likely to include some reduction in services to Cork and some increase to Shannon's schedule.
"We're looking at taking about 10pc out in total, but it's not a straight forward case of taking out 20," Mr O'Leary said. "There could be 25 or 28 out on a Tuesday, and 16 out on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We will be significantly quieter during the week, mostly from Stansted and Dublin."
Despite plans to ground planes during the winter there are no plans to delay winter aircraft deliveries.
"Most of the winter aircraft are actually for summer schedules - what we will do is slow down the timing of new route and new base growth," Mr O'Leary said.
"Last winter we launched four bases from November to February; next spring we'll probably still add 3 or 4, but it'll be mostly in March/April. We're not going to be adding capacity during winter months."
Delaying bases and grounding planes will put Ryanair on course for 58 million passengers this year, not the 59 million originally projected. Despite this, Mr O'Leary said there was "no change" to Ryanair's market guidance.
Ryanair's other measures to combat rising oil costs include laying off 40 Dublin call-centre staff, implementing a wide-ranging pay freeze and negotiating new supply contracts. Mr O'Leary said yesterday staff numbers would continue to be reduced during the summer, with a move to check-in kiosks in Dublin and Stansted.
The airline's shares closed up almost 4pc at ?2.75.
24 July 2008
SOUTH EAST GREEN MEP IN TALKS WITH EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER OVER HEATHROW AND AIR QUALITY
NEWS RELEASE From the office of South-East England's Green MEP Caroline Lucas - 14 July 2008
Green MEP for the South East Caroline Lucas has met with the European
Commissioner for the Environment to discuss the controversial expansion of
Heathrow airport, and the UK government's failure to meet EU air quality
According to DEFRA, the UK will need to apply for a derogation - a temporary
exemption - on the targets set under the EC Air Quality Directive to reduce
pollution because it is unlikely to meet them. Even without the proposed
expansion of Heathrow, air pollution in the residential areas around
Heathrow currently exceeds the average annual limit for nitrogen dioxide
prescribed in the Directive, and is therefore highly unlikely to be able to
meet the new limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre by 2010 if
additional aircraft movements are permitted.
In conversation with Dr Lucas and the 2M Group, a body of local councillors
representing 4.5 million people in the affected areas surrounding Heathrow,
Commissioner Stavros Dimas acknowledged that improving air quality is a
crucial aim of the European Union's environmental policy.
Commissioner Dimas expressed concern at suggestions that the UK government
is planning to further increase capacity at the airport, in anticipation of
receiving a derogation. He agreed to inform the MEP if and when the UK
government submits its application for derogation, to allow for a
transparent process, and to give Euro-MPs a chance to voice their concerns.
Dr Lucas commented: "The Air Quality Directive targets already allow for a
certain degree of flexibility, but there is no way that the UK should be
entering into a development - in this case, a 12.5% increase in the capacity
of the existing runways - that will further increase NO2 and PM10 levels
when it is already struggling to bring these in line with EU standards."
"It is encouraging that Commissioner Dimas agrees that a UK request for
derogation on the Directive would go against the spirit of the targets set
by the EU to achieve cleaner air. We need clearer skies and a government
which takes its environmental responsibilities seriously by adhering to EU
24 July 2008
BETTER PROTECTION FOR HATFIELD FOREST?
(Airport pollution threatens this SSSI)
Britain launches audit of natural resources
ENDS Europe DAILY 2591 - 23 July 2008
The UK government has launched a survey of Britain's wildlife,
habitats and ecosystems to guide government policy on environmental
protection, including tackling biodiversity loss.
project will give "the most comprehensive picture ever" of the
country's natural environment and its benefits to society, the
In a speech on Monday, environment minister Hilary
Benn said it will provide a "springboard for further action to
protect and enhance our natural heritage". See government press
24 July 2008
BAA "GREEN" CLAIMS EXPOSED - AND THE DFT HELPED
BAA invented 'green' jumbo to help win Heathrow case
Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Marie Woolf - Sunday Times - 20 July 2008
BAA, the operator of Heathrow, used the low emissions figures of a non-existent green jumbo to help clinch the environmental case for a third runway. The twin-engine 450-seat "virtual" jet was invented for the environmental modelling required in the government consultation after BAA realised it would otherwise exceed the limit for noise and pollution.
According to BAA submissions, the green jumbo will account for more flights out of Heathrow by 2030 than four-engined giants such as the double-decker A380, or the new generation of Boeing 747s. It promises to be the world's quietest and cleanest jumbo.
There is just one snag: Airbus and Boeing, the world's biggest aircraft makers, have no intention of building it. "Nothing like this is on the drawing board," said one senior industry source. "I don?t think it's feasible because the size of engines that would be required for this plane to safely take off don't exist and aren't under development."
New evidence of the flawed consultation, to be shown on BBC?s Panorama tomorrow, will increase pressure on the government to review its plans for Heathrow's expansion. Ministers have already delayed the decision after a backlash against proposals to permit an extra 220,000 flights a year.
The government has been accused of acting "like a subsidiary of BAA" over its plans for Heathrow. John Hutton, the business secretary, signalled last week that Heathrow growth was likely to be approved when he pledged the government was ready to take "difficult decisions on airport expansion".
The Sunday Times revealed in March how BAA collaborated with the Department for Transport (DfT) on the official consultation and repeatedly altered the data to get the required result. It has now emerged that one of the big concerns was that four-engine jets would cause a disproportionate amount of noise and pollution if a third runway was built.
BAA initially predicted that 20% of planes taking off from Heathrow by 2030 would be four-engine jets. It subsequently cut that to 11% and then to 6%. BAA's "virtual" plane was quietly inserted into the evidence to reduce the number of long-haul four-engine aircraft. The research was used by Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary, to demonstrate how Heathrow could be expanded without causing more noise or pollution.
Documents obtained by The Sunday Times under freedom of information laws show DfT officials were sceptical. Last September, days before the results were to be signed off by ministers, e-mails show officials were alarmed that BAA's predictions for a cleaner, quieter fleet might be too optimistic and would be challenged.
BAA responded that it could use "rules of thumb" for a quick fresh forecast, but there was not enough time to produce robust research for publication. It appears officials were left with no option but to use the airport operator's data and the green superjumbo.
BAA said last week its new jet was a realistic prediction. It said if such a plane was not built the number of flights using Heathrow could be reduced to ensure environmental limits were not breached.
Opponents of expansion say it is another example of how the consultation was fixed. "This is an invented plane that experts say won't be built," said Justine Greening, the Conservative MP who has campaigned against the airport's expansion. "There is a point at which a biased process became a bogus process."
The DfT said the green jumbo was intended only as an "illustrative example".
14 July 2008
AIRPORT EXPANSION - END OF THE RUNWAY
Leader - The Guardian - 10 July 2008
London's airports are an environmental and economic mess, made worse by government indecision. Ministers are not brave enough to rule out the massive expansion of Heathrow and Stansted, as they should, nor do they seem prepared to tackle their inadequate private operator, BAA. The company's officials were before MPs yesterday explaining why the opening of terminal 5 was so problematic, even as they plan to build a terminal 6 and to transform Stansted into a second Heathrow, with 68 mppa rather than 23mppa. Meanwhile, the transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, has postponed an announcement about Heathrow's third runway, due in August. Her intention, supposedly, is to extend local consultation, but in reality she needs to ensure that the decision to go ahead is legally watertight.
Everyone knows the government wants a third runway at Heathrow. This is the moment for it to think again. Policy has been shaped by the airline industry that expects to go on expanding. But the rapid rise in air travel, fuelled by cheap oil, shows signs of levelling off. Traffic at Stansted fell 1.6% over the last year, and the airport, supposed to become a long-haul hub, has instead lost its last transatlantic flights. Later this week the government is set to send plans for a second runway at the airport to a public inquiry ? but it still thinks the runway is necessary. As with Heathrow, prevarication is the order of the day.
At some point a decision has to be taken. Does the government want to surround London with mega-airports, whatever the environmental costs? Or does it feel that the relentless increase in air travel is unsustainable? The standard of official thinking on the subject is feeble. Its cowardice was caught recently in comments from the environment minister, opposing the idea of including aviation and shipping in any overall cap on emissions because it would be "unfair" to hit the economy of Liverpool. "Why should Merseyside pay?" he asked.
Mr Woolas may only be a junior minister, but he presumably echoes the views of his bosses. The airline industry has been indulged to a great extent, without regard to wider government targets for the environment. It is impossible to reconcile the government's commitment to reducing climate-change emissions with its support for ever larger airports. Ministers say that any increase in emissions will be offset elsewhere. But since such pollution is exempt from the climate change Bill, there is no pressure for it to happen. If airport expansion is stopped, there will be an economic cost. But the environmental cost of expansion would be greater. The government faces a choice. Hesitation is no sort of answer.
OUR COMMENT: Unfortunately neither local residents nor future sufferers from the effects of climate change have the same rights of choice!
14 July 2008
UK 'UNDERMINING' CLIMATE CHANGE DIPLOMACY
Politics Online - 8 July 2008
The government's leverage in international climate change talks is being undermined by its domestic actions, an influential group of MPs has said.
Airport expansion plans and an over-reliance on buying in emission credits to meet domestic carbon targets are negatively affecting efforts to convince other countries to take a tough stand on climate change, the environmental audit committee has found.
"It is vitally important the UK government does not undermine its position by supporting domestic policies that run counter to climate change objectives," said chairman Tim Yeo.
"There remain real and substantial uncertainties about the pace and eventual outcome of [international] negotiations. During these complicated negotiations it is critically important that our negotiators do not lose sight of the science of climate change," he continued.
The committee also drew a firm line on international efforts to halt climate change which sidestep the UN. Should the government adopt a similarly hard line, it could find itself in direct confrontation with the US, which has previously suggested establishing a US-led initiative on global warming outside of UN efforts.
But the report places its full faith in the UN process, saying "anything done in parallel such as by the major economies meeting or the G8 will only be helpful if they support the UN process".
14 July 2008
TRANSPORT: EMISSIONS DEAL MAY ADD
TO COST OF LONG-HAUL FLIGHTS
Passengers could pay more than £30 extra
Struggling airlines bemoan new ruling
Dan Milmo and David Gow in Brussels - The Guardian - 9 July 2008
Passengers could face a further increase in air fares after the European parliament yesterday approved a carbon emissions trading scheme that will include airlines from 2012. Green campaigners said the plans were not harsh enough.
The airline industry is expected to pass on the extra costs, which will be at least ?39.60 (£31.50) for a long-haul return flight and ?9 for a short haul return trip, according to a European commission report. Airlines say the cost of the scheme could be even higher because the commission's estimates pre-dated changes that have made the emissions trading programme even more expensive.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said acquiring carbon credits will add $3.5bn (£1.77bn) to industry costs in 2012 - about two-thirds of the entire sector's profits last year.
"There is no assurance that any of the money will go to environmental programmes. It's time for Europe's politicians to be honest. This is a punitive tax put in place by politicians who want to paint themselves green," said Giovanni Bisignani, Iata chief executive.
He added that the scheme would hamper attempts to make the aviation industry more environmentally responsible by antagonising non-EU airlines, who are also supposed to pay for the carbon dioxide generated on flights to and from the EU. The US has objected to the proposals.
Airlines are already suffering from a record oil price, which has caused a series of bankruptcies in the US and sank Silverjet, the UK-based all-business class carrier. According to Iata, only a handful of airlines will make a profit if oil stays at those levels, with the entire industry expected to lose at least $6bn this year.
All airlines flying to and from the EU will be forced to cut their carbon dioxide emissions from 2012 under a compromise deal on the scheme approved by MEPs yesterday. The initial cut will be only 3% of average 2004/06 emission levels, rising to 5% in 2013, and airlines will be handed out 85% of their pollution permits free. MEPs also dropped earlier plans for intra-EU flights to be affected from 2011.
Friends of the Earth's Europe aviation campaigner Richard Dyer said the deal was "so weak it will have little impact on the rocketing growth in CO2 pollution from flying" and the EU should press for international aviation and shipping to be included in the next (post-2012) phase of the UN climate change treaty.
MEPs voted overwhelmingly to endorse a heavily watered-down version of proposals first launched by the EC and due to be rubber-stamped within the next few weeks. Hailing the vote, Stavros Dimas, EU environment commissioner, said greenhouse gas emissions from international air transport were increasing faster than from any other sector in the EU.
They account for only 3% of overall emissions but have grown by 87% since 1990 and could more than double on current trends by 2020.
Dimas said someone flying from London to New York and back generates as much CO2 as the average EU citizen does by heating their home for a year. He held out the threat to deepen the planned emission cuts for aviation and reduce the number of free permits from as early as 2013 under a review of the trading scheme he is now undertaking. But smaller airlines will be exempt and fast-growing start-ups will be given free permits.
Peter Liese, a German Christian Democrat MEP who helped broker the final compromise, said revenues generated from auctioned allowances should not disappear into the general state budget but be earmarked for funding green public transport through lower taxes and research into clean aircraft.
14 July 2008
BROWN FACES CLIMATE CHANGE REVOLT
Gordon Brown: "We have agreed interim targets"
BBC News Online - 9 July 2008
Gordon Brown is facing the prospect of another significant backbench rebellion - this time over climate change.
More than 80 Labour MPs have signed an amendment to the Climate Change Bill, which would force ministers to promise greater cuts in carbon emissions. The bill commits Britain to make at least a 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050. The MPs want that to rise to 80%.
Meanwhile Mr Brown hailed "major progress" at the G8 summit, as leaders agreed to halve CO2 emissions by 2050. Last year's G8 would only "seriously consider" a 50% cut in C02 but on Tuesday it said it would "consider and adopt" the goal in an international agreement.
Mr Brown said the deal was "beyond what people thought possible". The G8 has agreed a list of 25 areas where wealthier countries can help by cutting energy use, including abandoning traditional light bulbs and reducing power needed by appliances on standby.
The prime minister said he hoped part of that change could see households across the UK switching to electric or less-polluting cars.
This is one of the biggest issues facing domestic politics and clearly goes beyond party politics.
14 July 2008
SUFFOLK GEARS UP THE PROTESTS
Minister finally gets the message
Evening Star - 4 July 2008
AT long last minister Jim Fitzpatrick has admitted the buck stops with him over noisy passenger planes flying over Suffolk and threatening to make residents' lives a misery.
Five months ago when Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer asked a series of questions on behalf of The Evening Star, the transport minister dodged them - saying aircraft and airspace were the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Now he has announced he has to approve the final plans and could intervene to change them - so today we are asking Mr Fitzpatrick a fresh series of questions and for a face to face meeting.
Air management company NATS is proposing a massive shake-up of flightpaths over the region to reduce bottle-necks in the sky and airport delays, deal with the huge increase in flights in recent years, and improve the environment.
There will be winners and losers, but the company has failed to come up with details of the biggest indicators of this - just how many planes fly on which flightpaths and how many more, or less, there will be after the changes are made.
Mr Fitzpatrick told the House of Commons an investigation into the practicality of stacking planes over the sea could be ordered in the autumn and the CAA could submit the final plans to the government for approval or order NATS to look at alternatives.
Today we ask Mr Fitzpatrick:
Where is the accountability to the public over air traffic - is the government ultimately responsible for flightpaths, airspace, numbers of planes in our skies, or has this been handed over to the unelected CAA lock, stock and barrel?
What account is taken of the effect on communities living under flightpaths when taking decisions on the number of planes flying on those routes?
Did the government's research for its own White Paper on air transport recognise the disturbance planes can cause to those living below flightpaths - what is its policy on this issue.
Planes are destroying the tranquillity of peaceful areas of Britain - Suffolk is a prime example. What is the government's view on this?
Should NATS have done some "on the ground" research over jet noise to back up its plans?
What action can you take to alter the proposals put forward by NATS that threaten to cause such misery in Suffolk?
How many commercial aeroplanes flew over Suffolk in the last 12 months?
What is the estimated maximum number of planes that may fly safely over Suffolk each day?
Is the government taking action to cut the number of flights from UK airports as part of plans to combat CO2 emissions?
Has the government ordered in depth research into pollution caused by aircraft, both the impact on the atmosphere and those living on the ground?
NATS submits its final proposals to CAA by the autumn and hopes to make the changes next year.
ONE of the biggest debates over the current proposed changes to airspace is where planes wanting to land at Stansted at busy times should wait.
Air management company NATS is suggesting two holding stacks - one over the countryside between Stowmarket and Hadleigh, and the other near Newmarket.
Residents of the dozens of villages affected say it will create a motorway in the sky above them, with a plane every two minutes, and the obvious solution would be to stack the planes over the sea.
However, NATS says it has already investigated this option - and rejected it because it would cause major disruption to flightpaths.
For residents close to the North Sea, it is still unclear whether they would suffer an impact if the stack was moved over the water and if jets would then fly in over different communities.
NATS said the stacks for planes waiting to land at peak times needed to be close enough to Stansted in order to create a steady stream with safe spacing between the jets at busy times.
"If the spacing between aircraft is more than it needs to be, fewer aircraft are able to land within a given time period and the airborne queue can get longer," said the letter from NATS' consultation team.
"This creates more emissions and exposes communities to more noise because aircraft fly above them longer. Holding over the sea would be too far away from the airports to enable air traffic control to efficiently sequence aircraft for landing at either Luton or Stansted."
"Variations in flying speeds present increasing problems with aircraft catching up with, or pulling away from, one another as the distance they need to fly to reach the airport increases."
There would also be concerns over the height and size of the holding circuit over the sea and the buffer needed around it. "An efficient hold over the sea for Luton/Stansted arrivals would operate from 20,000ft upwards," said the letter.
"This would occupy two to three times the area of a low level hold and over the southern North Sea this would interfere with many established air routes."
"Amending these routes to go around such a hold would mean significant additional route miles/emissions for all other aircraft which use this airspace."
Suffolk Preservation Society have taken a more radical view and suggested the holding areas should be on the ground at airports with take-offs made more efficient so that planes only fly when they know they will be able to land at their destination.
Should tens of thousands more planes be allowed to over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk
CAMPAIGN FILE: Air Fair
Government is encouraging a dramatic increase in air travel - and that will have huge consequences for Suffolk's skies and the communities which live below them.
Our Air Fair campaign agrees with and supports Stansted Airport at its current flight and passenger limits. But the campaign is against expansion of the airport which will have an intolerable impact on the quality of life of people in Suffolk.
It is against proposals to increase the number of passengers by ten million a year on around 23,000 extra flights, and against the building of a second runway which would more than double the current flights - another 300,000 a year.
The campaign wants a full review of pollution being caused by the jets - both the impact on ozone layer and on the environment at ground level - and of the increasing noise being caused by the aircraft 24/7.
We want assurances that planes will not be allowed to fly lower than the present lowest levels across Suffolk. Action must be taken to cut the noise afflicting the county and to look at the possibility of moving flight corridors on a regular basis so the same communities do not suffer noise nuisance incessantly.
14 July 2008
Public 'misled' over Heathrow pollution
Jon Ungoed-Thomas - Times Online - 6 July 2008
The government's adviser on air quality has warned that ministers are "pulling the wool" over the public's eyes to justify building a third runway at Heathrow.
Mike Pilling, who chairs the government's expert group on air quality, said the public were being misled over claims that Heathrow's expansion would not cause unlawful and dangerous levels of pollution.
His comments came as it emerged that Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary, has been forced by the scale of the public backlash to postpone her decision on expansion. It was due this summer, but sections of it are now likely to be rewritten.
This weekend the National Trust also came out in opposition to the expansion proposal and to plans by Nats, the air traffic service, to redraw flight routes across the country to ease congestion.
Pilling, who helped to devise the Department for Transport's rubric for measuring future pollution around Heathrow, said a key recommendation to consider a range of future scenarios was disregarded. He said Kelly's final conclusion that a third runway would not cause a significant increase in pollution was unreliable.
Kelly had previously pledged that the airport would be expanded only if it did not breach European Union pollution limits. "They mustn't pull the wool over our eyes," Pilling said last week. "People are much more sophisticated than that. They [the transport department] need to go back and do some more calculations."
The government has based its predictions about the impact of expanding Heathrow on a set of optimistic assumptions, including the arrival of cleaner engines. Pilling says that the more pessimistic scenarios were not tested.
"Those residents [who live near the airport] should say, 'I'm not convinced because you have not looked at all the possible changes that might happen in the future'," Pilling said.
"They [the department] claim it's clear that there won't be pollution [overruns] but they need to spend more time to show there is a very strong chance that this is the case."
His comments come after a Sunday Times investigation revealed how the transport department and BAA, the airports operator, collaborated to "fix" the environmental figures by selecting the data most likely to get a positive result.
The comments made by Pilling, who is professor of physical chemistry at Leeds University, reinforce concerns raised by the Environment Agency, which has warned that the department's case is not "sufficiently robust" to conclude that pollution levels will not breach the legal limits set by the EU.
The agency said that more consideration should have been given to variations in traffic emissions, background air quality and climate change.
Kelly is facing protests not just over plans for Heathrow's expansion but also about her entire aviation policy, with the National Trust warning this weekend that plans to redesign air routes to ease congestion threaten to spoil some of Englan'?s most tranquil areas, including the Chilterns.
Nats has tried to divert some flightpaths from urban to less populated areas, but Tony Burton, the National Trust's director of strategy and policy, said his organisation opposed the plans because of the impact on some of its properties and the damage to people's enjoyment of the countryside. One new route out of Luton airport will mean more planes flying over the Chilterns at lower levels.
Under the plans, four new holding stacks are being created to serve Stansted, Luton and London City airports. Some routes are also being changed from Heathrow, with local councils saying that 40,000 more residents will be affected by extra aircraft noise.
The government faces pressure to review both the proposals for a change in air traffic routes and for Heathrow expansion. Serge Lourie, leader of Richmond council and spokesman for the group of councils opposing expansion, said: "The Heathrow consultation has been botched from start to finish. It is an utter disgrace."
"If they are now going to start rewriting the impact assessment, then we deserve a new consultation and not the sham we've seen, in which the transport secretary announced in advance that she wanted Heathrow expansion."
OUR COMMENT: Future air pollution levels presented to the Stansted inquiry were miscalculated ? revised predictions showed the ancient Hatfield Forest SSSI and National Nature Reserve would be damaged by further expansion of the airport.
8 July 2008
CLIMATE MORE URGENT THAN ECONOMY, SAY VOTERS
Julian Glover - The Guardian - 2 July 2008
Voters think that taking action against climate change matters more than tackling the global economic downturn, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. The results, which will delight green campaigners, suggest that support for environmental action is not collapsing as feared in the face of possible recession.
When asked whether tackling the environment or the economy - given global economic problems - should be the government's priority, 52% said the environment and 44% said the economy. That contradicts the widespread assumption that environmental issues are seen by voters as a luxury to be put aside in tough economic times.
Almost two-thirds of those questioned also backed the idea of introducing green taxes to discourage actions that harm the environment: 63% support new taxes, against 35% who are firmly against them. The poll, commissioned as part of a Guardian series examining the impact of the economy on the environment, suggests that climate change is now a mainstream political issue, with the public appetite for action stronger than many politicians believe.
The high cost of many environmental schemes, such as the government's £100bn renewable energy plan announced last week, does not seem to have deterred voters. But the poll, reflecting findings in earlier surveys, also shows people want the government to sort out the problem rather than take on responsibility themselves.
While most people place the environment ahead of the economy as a national priority, only 19% say they would actually choose to pay more for a more expensive environmentally friendly product while shopping. Far more people, 58%, would buy a cheaper alternative, even if it was less good for the environment.
Overall enthusiasm for measures such as green taxes also fades when voters are asked to make an immediate choice in the face of economic troubles. While two-thirds back them in principle, only 30% think the government should be introducing them now, irrespective of the economy.
The number of people who oppose green taxes outright is small - only 31% say this, even after they have been asked to consider the state of the economy. But 36% say the government should delay bringing them in. That suggests ministers may have a battle on their hands if they press on with plans to increase environmentally-beneficial taxes such as increased fuel duty and higher road tax on older polluting cars.
Today's poll also throws into question whether the environment is an issue that only matters to richer, southern voters. Although women are more likely than men to place the environment ahead of the economy as an issue - 55% of women say it is a priority, against 49% of men - support for action is strong across all ages, regions and social groups.
Far from being the greenest part of the population, middle-class voters are actually more sceptical than most about the need for action, perhaps because they fear they have more to lose from increased bills and taxes. Voters in the richest AB group are the only ones to place the economy ahead of the environment as a government priority: 50% say the economy and 47% the environment. In the south-east of England 52% say the economy matters most, against 38% of Scots. Attitudes are more likely to be shaped by how much money people have and how much they might have to pay.
There is also no evidence that the environment is an issue that matters more to young people. Pensioners are almost as likely as people aged 18-24 to say climate change should be the government's priority.
ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged 18-plus by telephone between June 28 and 29 2008. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full results and comment from the Guardian's Green Squeeze series available at guardian.co.uk.
8 July 2008
FLIGHT STACK PLANS 'MUST BE THROWN OUT'
Laurence Cawley - eadt.co.uk - 2 July 2008
CAMPAIGNERS and MPs have upped the pressure on airspace bosses to rethink plans to move a flight stack over rural Suffolk.
NATS, formerly the National Air Traffic Service, wants to move a stacking area for planes heading in to Stansted Airport to an area affecting 32 Suffolk villages, centred on Lavenham.
Today, the debate reaches the House of Commons where MP Richard Spring will discuss the proposals while fellow MP David Ruffley met NATS bosses last night to implore them to move the flight stack to over the North Sea.
NATS says circling planes over rural areas will affect fewer people than the current arrangements - but campaigners claim their peace and quiet will be shattered and that no alternative options were drawn up.
Mr Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said he had asked NATS why the air stack could not be moved over the North Sea. "We were given various reasons why that is difficult. They said a lot of military do training exercises over the sea and it would be crowded if civil aircraft were kept in a holding stack," he said.
"They said if the stack was over the sea it meant it's a longer air descent for aircraft which means they would be burning more fuel and increasing CO2 emissions. I don't see any evidence of that. I want them to go away and look at the alternative of putting a stack over the sea."
Mr Spring, who will today call on the Government to look at the way the consultation process was handled, said: "There are many people who thought the consultation was flawed because they were invited to contribute their comments over the internet which some people do not have access to and there were no alternative options."
"I am beside myself with anxiety about this. It is a big deal. I am doing everything I can on this to highlight the issues." He said he hoped the ministerial team at the Department for Transport would get involved in the matter and echo his concerns over the proposals.
Philip Gibson, who represents Lavenham on Babergh District Council, said he accepted planes had to be stacked somewhere but he felt NATS had not explained why incoming aircraft could not be stacked over the North Sea.
David Williams, of Brent Eleigh, one of the affected villages, said he and fellow residents had vowed to keep up the campaign to get the proposals changed. Last month, campaigners from many of the affected villages held a rally at NATS' headquarters in London in protest at the plans.
The deadline for comments about the proposals has now passed and NATS is preparing to publish its feedback report later this month. The recommendations will then go to the Civil Aviation Authority to decide.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said neither his organisation nor its ministers would not be involved in deciding the proposals as that was the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority. However he did say the CAA had "to be satisfied" with the recommendations before agreeing to them. A spokeswoman for NATS declined to comment.
8 July 2008
CALL MADE FOR AIRPORT RAIL IMPROVEMENTS
Saffron Walden Reporter - 1 July 2008
SIGNIFICANT improvements to the rail service to and from Stansted Airport are being called for by an airport expansion protest group.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) believes that the railway serving the airport should undergo major improvements regardless of whether or not permission for a second runway is granted.
Highlighting figures that show a five per cent reduction in the number of air passengers getting to the airport by rail, SSE accused BAA of being reluctant to support investment in the local railway infrastructure, saying the airport operator was focusing disproportionately on road improvements.
John Rhodes, SSE's rail advisor, said: "Quite clearly, BAA's intention is to minimise its financial outlay while using up more and more of the available capacity on the West Anglian Main Line at the expense of local commuters. This 'cuckoo in the nest' approach is completely unacceptable."
In contrast to their call for a railway system revamp, SSE has stated its strong opposition to BAA's proposal to implement a massive new junction on the M11. The protest group also suggested that BAA's emphasis on road improvements over railway development was due to the profitability of air passengers getting to the airport by car.
Mr Rhodes said: "The Department for Transport should insist that BAA puts its hand in its pocket to help fund urgently needed track improvements. We need rail services which can comfortably meet the needs of both airport users and local commuters. We don't need massive new airport roads projects designed to keep car parking revenues flowing into BAA's coffers."
The Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, announced in March that the Department for Transport would investigate ways to improve both the M11 and the West Anglian Main Line that links Cambridge with London Liverpool Street. These improvements could include the widening of the M11 between junctions six and eight, and the introduction of extra rail tracks from Tottenham Hale to south of Cheshunt. Mrs Kelly will provide an update on her department's investigation later this year.
A BAA spokesperson said: "The time and place for debate over our surface access proposals for a second runway will be at the forthcoming public inquiry. However, it's worth noting that some 44 per cent of Stansted passengers currently use public transport for their journey, which is the leading figure for a major UK airport and one of the highest figures in Europe."
"This is a fact that we are extremely proud of and as part of the planned surface access strategy for the G2 project we aim to improve on this excellent achievement, which will firmly secure Stansted's position as the best performing major airport in the UK."
8 July 2008
PASSENGER MISERY AS STANSTED AIRPORT OPENS EXTENSION
Travelbite.co.uk - 1 July 2008
Crowded arrivals halls and long immigration queues at London's Stansted airport were compounded by delays caused by malfunctioning transit trains last night, on the eve of the new terminal extension opening. The airport operator BAA blamed passengers holding open doors on the unmanned transit trains that transport people to satellite gates.
The system was "tripped out" and required engineers to attend to fix the problem, delaying passengers at the satellite gates, according to BAA. The airport operator confirmed that the train system has now been repaired.
On Sunday evening 14 flights were delayed, causing misery for thousands of arriving passengers as a backlog of people built up who were unable to get onto the packed transit trains.
This morning BAA opened phase one of its new terminal extension and must be hoping their £50 million investment will improve passenger experience at the airport.
An extension providing nearly 6,000 square metres of additional space in the arrivals hall, including extra desks for immigration control and another baggage reclaim belt came into operation today.
The remaining phases of the project are expected to open in December and will include new shops, waiting areas and onward transport facilities. But real improvements for passengers are still dependent on the tight turnaround of low-cost airlines operating out of Stansted and levels of staffing by the UK Border Agency that seems unable to cope with the passenger load.
OUR COMMENT: This extension was approved by the Uttlesford Council for the expansion from 15 up to 25mppa. Yet it is only just complete ? at 24mppa.
8 July 2008
BAA LAUNCHES NEW ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
Travelweekly.co.uk - 30 June 2008
BAA is launching a new advertising campaign 'To fly for' to highlight the range of services at its airports. The multimedia campaign is being run across radio and press across the whole of the UK, and on TV in Scotland.
The TV commercial will feature in a six-week long campaign in Scotland across STV, Channel 4 and Five. 'To fly for' adverts will appear across a broad spectrum of programming, including Coronation Street, The Bill, CSI, Emmerdale and Big Brother.
BAA commercial director Duncan Garrood said: "We are working closely with our various partners to continually improve the airport experience for all our customers. 'To fly for' highlights these efforts as every passenger's journey benefits from some fantastic moments at the airport... moments 'To fly for'. Whether this means shopping for a treat at great airport prices, breakfasting with the family or enjoying a coffee in a quiet corner for all our passengers there will be a moment 'To fly for'."
OUR COMMENT: Is this BAA's solution to climate change fears? - "There is no need to actually fly - relax at our airport, eat drink and be merry, parking is easy, why go any further? - To Fly for - What? It's all here!" ... What a brilliant idea! Let's book now.
8 July 2008
EASYJET AD GUILTY OF MISLEADING GREEN CLAIMS
Colin Marrs - Brandrepublic.co.uk - 2 July 2008
LONDON - EasyJet has been reprimanded for greenwashing after one of its ads made misleading claims over its carbon emissions.
The national press ad for the airline claimed that an easyJet plane emitted 22 per cent less CO2 than another plane on the same route. But the Advertising Standards Agency today ruled that it did not make it clear that the figure related to emissions per passenger.
It said: "We concluded that, because the basis for the claim had not been fully explained, the ad misleadingly implied that easyJet planes were more environmentally efficient than the aircraft used by traditional airlines."
It said the figure was primarily based on the fact that easyJet planes could carry more passengers than traditional airlines. The ASA told easyJet to ensure that the basis for comparisons was explained in future ads. The airline was also cleared of misleading over a claim in the same ad that flying could be 50 per cent cleaner within ten years.
8 July 2008
OIL PRICE PUTS AIR FARES ON THE EDGE
Adam Coulter and Martin Ferguson - ttglive.co.uk - 3 July 2008
Airline chiefs have warned that soaring oil prices have pushed surcharges and other extra costs so high that passengers are being put off flying.
Bosses from UK carriers agreed that for the first time prices had reached a tipping point.
Virgin Atlantic's chief executive, Steve Ridgway, said his airline's forward bookings were down, for which he blamed fuel surcharges. Speaking at a ttgbusiness/Amadeus dinner, Ridgway said: "Surcharges are not sticking at all. Our London to LA route now costs £300 in surcharges and taxes before we charge a penny for the fare. And what's more, we ain't seen nothing yet. The winter will be interesting."
The guest speaker at the dinner was British Airways? chief executive, Willie Walsh. He said BA's fares would have to rise to cover the airline?s soaring fuel bill, which will top £3 billion next year. "BA cannot absorb the increase in oil prices. Fares are going to have to go up," he added.
Even easyJet, which prides itself on not levying a fuel surcharge, said it might be forced to increase its additional charges. Paul Simmons, head of brand marketing for easyJet, said: "Load factors are the same as last year. Our yields are up and our capacity is up. We've not seen the real impact of the credit crunch yet, but we will have to look at increasing additional costs. There is, however, a point of diminishing return."
Walsh predicted that sky-high oil prices would provoke more airline failures and consolidation over the next year. And he warned that the industry was facing its "most severe" challenge yet. "There is no question we will see more airline failures," he added.
"We've already seen it start in the US [Skybus, Aloha, Champion Air and ATA Airlines]; it happened to the all-business-class airlines [Eos, Maxjet and Silverjet]; and we've seen it in the Far East [Oasis Hong Kong]."
Walsh said the industry now faced the need to "fundamentally change" to survive. "After 9/11 we were able to slash fares and fill planes. Now we can't do that because the price of oil is too high. Instead we're having to ground flights."
BA reported a £900 million profit for the last financial year. But Walsh said that sort of figure would be "wiped out" next year because of the price of oil. "Fuel charges have gone way beyond what we ever thought was acceptable," he said. "Airlines have to look seriously at cost structures and efficiency. Consolidation is not a solution but it will benefit the industry and opportunities will present themselves."
The BA chief's warnings came as Stephen Bath, joint managing director of Bath Travel, said it was considering adding a surcharge to holidays using inhouse airline Palmair. This would mean forcing customers to pay more when they paid the balance of their holidays.
Bath claimed cost pressures were now so high a major operator might soon have to impose a surcharge. Abta said it gave permission this week to three more operator members to add a fuel surcharge, taking the total to 17.
OUR COMMENT: Why ask for more runways? They too will cost more!
8 July 2008
WANSTEAD: ANGER OVER AIRCRAFT NOISE 'MISTAKE'
Daniel Binns - The Guardian - 23 June 2008
AIRPORT bosses have reacted with anger after a report linking aircraft noise with heart attacks was dramatically retracted.
Last week The Guardian reported how a study by the Greater London Assembly (GLA) concluded that stress triggered by aircraft from London City Airport was responsible for 43 attacks last year, prompting fears that a proposed increase in flights over Wanstead could lead to more health problems for people living there.
But now the GLA's experts have admitted they got their sums wrong, and "over-estimated" the number of cases. A spokeswoman for the airport said: "The inaccuracy of this report has led to the damage of the airport's reputation for no good reason."
But campaigners against the proposed flightpath changes remain defiant. "I think regardless of whether if it's one person, five people or 43 people that have heart attacks, the most important thing from the report is that there is a significant connection with aircraft noise and cardiac problems" said Anne-Marie Griffin, of the Fight the Flights group. "We shall see what the revised report says, but I would be very surprised if they denied the link now" she added.
GLA has said it "sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused" and have removed the study from its website. A spokesman said: "It has now become evident that there is an error in one section of the Phase Two report specifically with regard to calculations concerning the risk of Myocardial Infarction (heart attacks) due to noise from Heathrow and London City airports. This means that the numbers have been over-estimated."
"We have asked the contractor who produced this report to review the calculations he used for the original version of the report. Meanwhile we have withdrawn these reports and recommend that their content is not replicated until the situation has been clarified and a corrected version issued."
According to air traffic management company NATS, new proposed changes to flightpaths to and from London City Airport could see an extra 83 planes flying over the skies of Wanstead at less than 3,000ft every day. Woodford Green, however, will see a decrease in flights if the plans are given the go-ahead.
OUR COMMENT: Bad statistics is a common fault. However, no one will deny that aircraft (and other) noise, if loud enough and frequent enough, can cause stress, and at night wakes people up which can also be stressful. Stress is one of the factors that may increase the risk of heart attacks ? so, constant or repetitive loud noise is not good for our health, why pretend otherwise?
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