| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - January to March 2010
LORDS ROUND UP
ADONIS: THIRD RUNWAY PROPOSALS WILL GO AHEAD
E politix - 30 March 2010
Lord Adonis has said the government will continue to push ahead with its proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, despite the High Court judgement calling for the government policy to be reviewed.
The transport secretary was responding to a question from Conservative peer Lord Geddes on what assessment the government had made on how many new runways will be required at UK airports before 2050, and how many of those will be needed to serve London.
Last week a coalition of councils, residents and green groups won a High Court battle over the plans for a third runway at the West London airport, saying the government's plans had been at odds with climate change targets.
Lord Justice Carnwath had said the government public consultation process used had been invalid as it was based on out-of-date figures.
During Lords question time, Tory peer Baroness Hanham asked Lord Adonis how the decision will affect government policy and whether it would reopen consultation if re-elected.
Adonis responded that the government is required to consult on the National Policy Statement, but added that Lord Justice Carnwath had said the 2008 Planning Act provided a "complete legal framework for consideration of all the issues on which the claimants rely" in relation to the further expansion of Heathrow.
Former chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby said the government should suspend its Climate Change Act to allow it to go ahead with a third runway.
Lord Lawson said the idea of a third runway has been "kiboshed" by the courts as "a direct and predictable result of the government's absurd Climate Change Act".
He added: "It was passed with enthusiasm and complete thoughtlessness and acclaimed by all parties in this House and the Commons." He asked the Transport secretary: : "Is not the only possible solution, if you think that a third runway is important and I agree with you, to put the Act in suspense not least because even the government has admitted that it makes no sense without international agreement, which Copenhagen shows is not obtainable?"
Lord Adonis responded that he felt it was a "rhetorical question". He assured peers that "there is no incompatibility whatsoever" in meeting the climate change and carbon reduction targets required by the act and allowing the expansion of Heathrow to take place "which is manifestly in the public and wider public interest".
HEATHROW THIRD RUNWAY HALTED AS JUDGE
ORDERS NEW REVIEW INTO CLIMATE IMPACT
Daily Mail - 26 March 2010
Objectors claimed victory today in a High Court battle over plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
A coalition of local councils, green groups and residents argued that the expansion decision was at odds with the UK's overall climate change targets. The coalition includes six local authorities, Greenpeace and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The coalition said in a joint statement that the Government's Heathrow policy 'is in tatters this morning' after Lord Justice Carnwath ruled the decision to give the third runway the green light was 'untenable'.
The statement said: 'If the Government wants to pursue its plans for Heathrow expansion it must now go back to square one and reconsider the entire case for the runway.'
Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell, who has led the campaign against the expansion of Heathrow for the last 30 years, said: 'In essence this judgment means that the game is up for a third runway at Heathrow and I am calling upon the Government to accept the inevitable and lift this threat to my community.'
He went on: 'What we need now is a sensible approach to developing a sustainable transport policy based upon high-speed rail. This judgment is a victory. It means that whichever party is in Government they will not now be able to force through Heathrow expansion.'
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: 'I welcome this court ruling. Heathrow is Britain's principal hub airport. It is vital not only to the national economy but also enables millions of citizens to keep in touch with their friends and family and to take a well-deserved holiday.'
'The airport is currently operating at full capacity. A new runway at Heathrow will help secure jobs and underpin economic growth as we come out of recession. It is also entirely compatible with our carbon reduction target, as demonstrated in the recent report by the Committee on Climate Change.'
He went on: 'The Government confirmed support for expansion at Heathrow only after detailed assessment showing that the strict environmental limits set for expansion could be met. In parallel, we announced measures which will give the UK one of the toughest environmental regimes of any country in the world.'
LEADING ARTICLE: HEATHROW'S CLIPPED WINGS
Leader - The Independent - 27 March 2010
It's enough to restore your faith in the battered democratic process. The High Court yesterday ordered the Government to think again about its plan to build a third runway at Heathrow on the grounds that the scheme looks incompatible with Britain's legally binding commitment to cut our carbon emissions 60 per cent by 2050.
The Government's line is that a third runway is vital to the national economy, allowing Britain to compete as Europe's main international hub with Amsterdam's Schiphol, which has five runways, and Charles de Gaulle in Paris, which has four. It insists it has thought through the environmental implications, and made concessions such as limiting the number of flights. But that is not enough. The court was right to back the contention of a coalition of local councils, green groups and residents that government figures just don't add up - and to insist that ministers hold a proper consultation on the impact of the scheme on climate change policy.
Emissions from air traffic are growing faster than any other sector. And yet aviation is a rogue sector which for decades has enjoyed hidden subsidies from untaxed fuel to special bankruptcy protection. Its environmental impact is running out of control. UK air passenger numbers are predicted to rise from 180 million to 475 million by 2030. If the growth in traffic continues unchecked, says the authoritative Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, all other sectors of the economy - industry, business, homes and motorists - will be forced to cut CO2 emissions to zero to meet the legal targets.
The rapid growth trajectory for air travel is created by a complex dynamic in which airline manufacturers, airport operators, airlines, air traffic management, consumers and politicians are all entangled. But one thing is clear: it will be difficult to curb passenger volume growth by voluntary means. Some action needs to be taken to shatter the current presumption of an ever-expanding demand for flights. Government is the obvious candidate to break the cycle. Finding an alternative to a third runway at Heathrow is the obvious place to start.
LABOUR SHOULD ACCEPT THE INEVITABLE: THE PLAN IS DEAD
The case against the third runway
John Sauven - The Independent - 27 March 2010
There are now so many hurdles in front of the construction of a third runway that the chances of it being built are about the same as the odds on a donkey finishing the Grand National.
When Geoff Hoon gave the green light for the runway last year, an unnamed cabinet minister told the press: "The problem with the third runway is that our policy is going in one direction while the politics are going in the opposite direction." Well, the politics of pushing for Heathrow expansion just got a lot more messy for any government wanting to Tarmac over the village of Sipson.
Let's get out the crystal ball. In the event that Labour wins an overall majority in May (the bookies don't fancy their chances) and the Government still wants to push ahead with the runway, ministers will now have to go back to the drawing board and conduct a broad consultation on key issues where their case is extremely weak - on climate change, the economics and the issue of road and rail access to a bigger airport.
It's unlikely that any fair consultation considering these issues would conclude that construction is justified, and any attempt by the Government to fix the facts (they have form) would see them back in the High Court. Even if they did surmount the barriers in front of them, there would then have to be another vote in Parliament (if you accept that a precedent was set last year when the now obsolete Heathrow policy was put before MPs). A new parliament will be an even less favourable environment for third runway advocates than the last one, and last year's close vote in favour would surely suffer a reverse.
Rubbing our crystal ball again, what if David Cameron is strolling into No 10 with arms aloft on 7 May? The Tory leader has gone on the record so many times saying he'd scrap the runway that a U-turn was always unlikely. But after the ruling that looks a near impossibility.
The third runway is dead and Labour would do well to accept the inevitable. That's the least they could do for the people of Sipson, whose community has lived under the threat of obliteration for years, and for the sake of defending our fragile climate.
The writer is executive director of Greenpeace UK
CHEAP FLIGHTS FROM HEATHROW ARE NOT A GOD-GIVEN RIGHT
Málaga is hardly a front-rank destination that is vital to UK plc
Christian Wolmar - Times Online - 27 March 2010
It's time to give up on expanding Heathrow, the world's least-loved airport. The High Court ruling yesterday that there had been insufficient consultation on the third runway was the second kick in the teeth for the airport in the past couple of weeks.
The first was when Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, announced that the preferred route for the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham would not connect directly with the airport as it made no sense to divert the line for a relatively small market.
Now the beleaguered residents of Sipson, the village unluckily sited in the path of the new runway, have got what they wanted: a delay that could well signal the end of any hopes of building the third runway. They are not the only opponents. David Cameron, in his brief green phase, committed the Tories to abandoning the project if they won the election, while the Liberal Democrats have always opposed it.
Let's face it. The days of the State being able to bulldoze whole villages out of existence in the supposed "national interest" are long gone. London became a no-go for new major roads a generation ago when the motorway ring roads were scrapped, and there is now no prospect of any new motorways being built on our small island. The high-speed line itself faces enormous opposition from the Chiltern thousands.
The case for the third runway at Heathrow has always been weak. When I interviewed Lord Adonis a couple of weeks ago, it was noticeable that he was most ill at ease when trying to make the case for it.
His argument was rather tortuous. He admits now that the Aviation White Paper published in 2003, which envisaged a doubling of passengers by 2030 and new runways at both Heathrow and Stansted, was wrong in placing no constraints on the "predict and provide" model of aviation growth. However, he says that it would be wrong to have no new capacity in the South East: "Should there be more constraints on aviation growth than envisaged before? The answer is yes. But should we rule out any expansion in the South East? That would result in a benefit foregone."
But would it?
Labour ministers have tended to parrot the line espoused by the Freedom to Fly lobby that restricting expansion would lead to poorer people not being able to afford flights. But this is a remarkably specious argument. The market governs the demand and supply of almost every other product, why should aviation be exempt?
When I asked Brian Wilson, the former minister and now chairman of Freedom to Fly, why people should have unlimited access to free flights but not, say Rolex watches, he blustered that people had got used to holidaying annually in Spain and Greece and therefore had a right to expect to continue to be able to do so.
That is an extraordinary argument. Even the most fervent aviation supporters recognise that it is an environmentally damaging activity and the notion that cheap flights are a God-given right is nonsense.
The solution is to subject aviation to the discipline of the market from which it has been shielded since Louis Blériot took to the air. I flew into Heathrow last week from Málaga, hardly a front-rank destination that business travellers are clamouring to use. Heathrow is full of similar flights to marginal destinations that are not important to UK plc. If there were really great excess demand at Heathrow, how come the airport still provides so many cheap flights to such destinations?
To test the market, Heathrow flying slots ought to become freely tradeable - instead, which airlines hold which slots is the result of carve-ups from years back, even from the days of Imperial Airways. If the slots were opened up, then the true extent of demand for flights from the airport would become apparent. Short-haul flights would move to cheaper airports freeing up capacity for the long-haul flights that Lord Adonis says are essential to Britain?s economic future. And the villagers of Sipson could breathe a sigh of relief.
Christian Wolmar's latest book, Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World, is published by Atlantic Books
ENERGY MINISTER WILL HOLD SUMMIT
TO CALM RISING FEARS OVER PEAK OIL
Lord Hunt calls UK industrialists together to discuss government
response to any early onset of decline in global oil production
The Guardian - 21 March 2010
A report last month warned of complacency over the huge dislocation from a terminal decline in global oil production.
Lord Hunt, the energy minister, is to meet industrialists in London tomorrow in a bid to calm mounting fears about the disruption that could follow a sudden shortage of oil supplies. In a significant policy shift, the government has agreed to undertake more work on whether the UK needs to take action to avoid the massive dislocation that could be caused by the early onset of "peak oil" - the point that marks the start of terminal decline in global oil production.
Jeremy Leggett, the executive chairman of the renewable power company Solar Century and a leading figure in the UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security, said the meeting, to be held at the Energy Institute, showed a welcome new sense of urgency.
"Government has gone from the BP position - '40 years of supply left, the price mechanism works, no need to worry' - to 'crikey'," he said. "BP and others are telling us that, but you lot, Virgin, Scottish and Southern, and others are telling us something completely different. We do not know who to believe. Let's do a proper risk assessment with industry," he said.
The meeting is expected to include executives from the taskforce members including Virgin, Arap, Stagecoach, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Solar Century as well as other industrialists. The decision to hold the talks came after the UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security last month issued a provocative report, The Oil Crunch: a Wake-up Call for the UK Economy, in which it warned of the dangers of complacency.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, whose rail, airline and travel companies are sensitive to energy prices, warned then that the coming crisis could surpass the credit crunch. "The next five years will see us face another crunch: the oil crunch. This time, we do have the chance to prepare. The challenge is to use that time well," he said.
The government had previously played down the risks arising from peak oil after the Wicks review in the summer in effect dismissed the idea that global demand for oil could soon outstrip supply.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed last night that Hunt and a range of energy-policy civil servants would be holding "private and behind-doors" talks at the Energy Institute. But she played down the significance of the session, saying the government had always taken supply issues seriously and met different parts of industry on a regular basis. "We do this all the time; it is just a normal stakeholder meeting," she insisted, adding that there was no "marked" change in ministerial policy.
The issue of peak oil arose last November when whistleblowers inside the International Energy Agency alleged the problem had been deliberately downplayed over a long period. BP and other oil companies insist that there is little danger of the world running out of oil because new areas such as Brazil, and more recently Uganda, are always opening up to development. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, believes demand will fall as prices move up, pushing back any major peak-oil dislocation.
But booming demand in China, India and the Middle East has pushed up the price of crude to more than $80 a barrel and UK petrol prices are close to record levels. Amrita Sen, an oil analyst at Barclays Capital, believes the price of crude could pass $100 this year and reach nearly $140 by 2015. Francisco Blanch, of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has speculated it could hit $150 within four years.
Leggett says all these scenarios could be much too optimistic. He is convinced that Britain must prepare as quickly as possible for a situation when oil becomes so expensive that international trade is hampered and globalisation breaks down.
Peak oil used to be the preoccupation of a small minority, but a parliamentary group has been set up to follow the issue and an increasing number of industrialists have begun to worry about it.
Ian Marchant, Scottish and Southern Energy's chief executive, is one who now believes global demand for oil is on the brink of outstripping the ability to produce it. At the launch of the Oil Crunch report, he said: "The west has been far too profligate in its use of oil and the price is going to say: stop it now and start using your oil as a scarce commodity."
UK AIR POLLUTION CAUSES 50,000 EARLY DEATHS A YEAR,
Minute particles from burning fuel can shorten lives by up to nine years, according to the environment audit committee
John Vidal, Environment Editor - The Guardian - 22 March 2010
Fifty-thousand people a year may be dying prematurely because of air pollution, a influential committee of MPs has reported after a six-month investigation.
According to the environment audit committee, minute sooty particles, emitted largely from the burning of diesel and other fuels and inhaled deeply into the lungs, shortens lives by seven to eight months. In pollution hotspots like areas of central London and other cities, the particles could be cutting vulnerable people's lives short by as much as nine years.
The committee, which took evidence from government ministers as well as medical experts, said it was shocked so little was being done to address the problem, despite the health evidence and threats from Europe to take Britain to court and fine it millions of pounds a year until improvements are made.
In a series of Commons meetings, the committee heard the government had been breaking EU air quality laws for more than a decade and also extracted new figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. These showed that the scale and seriousness of the long-term problem had been known for many years but had been repressed.
Long-term air pollution, from the sooty particles known as PM10s, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), it was told, makes asthma worse and exacerbates heart disease and respiratory illness.
"Despite these considerable impacts on public health, very little effort is being put into reducing air pollution levels, compared with efforts to tackle smoking, alcohol misuse and obesity. Much more needs to be done to save lives and reduce the enormous burden air pollution is placing on the NHS," said the committee chair, Tim Yeo. "The large EU fines we face, if we don't get to grips with this problem, should now focus ministers' minds", he said.
"Air pollution from road vehicles causes the most damage to health. A dramatic shift in transport policy is required if air quality is to be improved," concluded the report. "This means removing the most polluting vehicles from the road, cleaning up the vehicles that remain and encouraging smarter choices about transport. Many of the policies needed to reduce transport emissions have the added benefits of tackling climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions."
The air pollution problem is particularly acute in London where there has been a political standoff between the mayor, Boris Johnson, and central government, with each blaming the other for inaction.
Simon Birkett, director of Clean Air for London (Cal), a small group which has led efforts to expose the full extent of air pollution and the official reluctance to address the problem, said the inquiry confirmed Cal's estimates of premature deaths.
"This report shames Britain. The government should respond immediately by giving Mayor Johnson full responsibility for complying with limit values for dangerous airborne particles (PM10s) in London; publishing its plans for complying with legal standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx); and communicating clearly estimates for the number of premature deaths due to poor air quality," said Birkett.
"Why did it take an inquiry by one of parliament's most powerful select committees to get a government minister to refer, for the very first time, to the possibility of 35,000 premature deaths in the UK in a year due to air pollution?" he asked. "Why has the government never published an estimate for the number of premature deaths due to long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles? Before the inquiry, the highest government number we had heard before was "up to 24,000 deaths per year"."
Environment groups said the report showed the folly of trying to expand Heathrow airport with a third runway. Geraldine Nicholson, from the No third runway action group, said: "The air quality limits have, in recent years, been consistently exceeded in the area around Heathrow airport and will not be met in 2010 or the foreseeable future."
"There are still no measures in place to help improve our air quality as it is today. The addition of a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow are proof that the UK government is, once again, swimming against the tide and is putting economic and industrial interests over the health and wellbeing of local residents."
Local authority chiefs also called for action. "The risk to people's health and the threat of fines from the EU leave no excuse for inaction and we need a co-ordinated national approach to policy and improving public awareness," said the LACORS chairman, councillor Paul Bettison.
"The full impacts on Londoners' health need to be spelled out clearly by the mayor and the government in their official documents. It appears that official statements made in previous years have completely underestimated the serious nature of the impacts on human health and the mayor needs to come clean," said Darren Johnson, Green party London assembly member.
CO2 RULING MAY HALT NEW AIRPORT RUNWAYS
Steven Swinford and Chris Gourlay - Times Online - 28 March 2010
CAMPAIGNERS will seek to block airport expansion across Britain following a High Court judgment which criticised the government's decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.
Environmental groups linked to Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and a string of other airports hope to use the ruling to launch fresh challenges against plans for mass growth in flights and passenger numbers.
The judgment on Friday found that ministers had failed to take account of new, legally binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they approved the expansion of Heathrow. It comes after a two-year campaign by The Sunday Times revealed how BAA, the owner of Heathrow, colluded with the government to build the case for passenger growth.
Justine Greening, a Tory frontbencher who has led opposition to the third runway, said: "This ruling has profound consequences for airport expansion, not just at Heathrow but across the country. The law is there to protect people from overpowerful and vested interests and Friday's ruling was a victory for the people."
The government's case for expanding Heathrow hinged on a seven-year-old aviation white paper. A coalition of local councils, residents and green groups argued that it failed to take into account statutory limits on CO2 emissions that were introduced in 2008.
Lord Justice Carnwath agreed, saying the government's position was "untenable" and should be reviewed. The judge said: "Common sense demanded that a policy established in 2003, before important developments in climate change policy, should be subject to review in light of these developments."
Carnwath declined to rule that Heathrow's third runway should be abandoned, but the verdict could still have repercussions across the country.
At Stansted, BAA has announced plans for a second runway which would see passenger numbers rise from 24m to 68m by 2030. Carol Barbone, the director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Without the security blanket of government policy to rely on, BAA knows its chances of securing a favourable result from a public inquiry are extremely doubtful."
Activists believe that plans for a second runway at Birmingham international airport, outlined in the 2003 aviation white paper, are now dead in the water. Proposals to increase the number of passengers at Bristol international airport from 6.2m to 10m by 2020, currently being considered by the local council, could now be challenged. Carnwath's ruling could also scupper the introduction of more flights at Manchester airport, Southend airport in Essex and Biggin Hill in Kent.
It means that proposals by this newspaper and backed by Boris Johnson, the London mayor, for a four-runway island airport in the Thames estuary are now highly unlikely to proceed. However, Manchester city council has already approved plans for its airport to expand to handle up to 50m passengers a year by 2030.
Robbie Gillett, spokesman for the Stop Expansion At Manchester Airport coalition, said: "The expansion plans are based on outdated thinking. This ruling gives us strong grounds to challenge further growth."
Under the climate change act, Britain is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by an average of 80% from 1990 levels. Ministers denied that Carnwath's decision represented a setback but said that aviation policy will be re-examined in 2011 when the new climate targets will be taken into account.
Gordon Brown insisted that a new runway at Heathrow was vital to "help secure jobs and underpin economic growth". The prime minister said the government backed it "after a detailed assessment showing that strict environmental limits for expansion could be met".
Campaigners claimed that the government will now have to conduct a new public consultation. Kate Harrison, a lawyer for the coalition against a third runway, said: "Any expansion approved under the policy framework of the 2003 [white] paper will now be open to legal challenge. What the judge said last week was 'Forget that framework, it's out of date'. The ambitions for expanding aviation will have to be dramatically scaled back."
Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, said: "High-speed rail could provide an attractive alternative to domestic and European flights.
We remain opposed to a third runway on economic and environmental grounds - if we are the next government, it won't happen."
The judgment also vindicates criticism from campaigners that ministers underplayed the environmental impact of a third runway when weighed up against its economic benefits.
The ruling marked the culmination of a campaign using freedom of information laws to reveal how BAA and the Department for Transport "fixed" data to force through expansion plans. In March 2008, internal documents showed BAA executives prevented the use of data in a consultation document that showed Heathrow's expansion would cause unlawful levels of pollution and extra noise.
BAA used the low emissions figures of a non-existent plane to help clinch its case. The 450-seat "virtual" jumbo was invented for environmental modelling after BAA realised it would otherwise exceed noise and pollution limits.
STANSTED AIRPORT: SSE CALLS FOR FRESH SUPPORT
AGAINST EXPANSION PLANS
Saffron Walden Reporter - 25 March 2010
A PROTEST group is renewing its efforts to fight off development plans at Stansted Airport. The Stop Stansted Expansion Group has written to all of its members urging them to help with fundraising and volunteering as the campaign to halt construction of a new runaway and terminal continues.
Chairman Peter Sanders wrote: "It could be 2015 before the outcome of any inquiry is known. We regard this as wholly unacceptable and are repeating our call for BAA to withdraw its second runway planning application without any further delay. Both the major opposition parties in the general election are committed to overturning the new runway plans for Stansted so BAA's position may become clearer when the election result is known."
"With so much to be settled, SSE clearly still has much work to do. The influence we can bring to bear on the development of the new national policy statement on aviation, due out for consultation next year, is going to be key to our success."
"We therefore need your continued support as our largely volunteer team moves forward. I hope that with this in mind you will continue to give SSE your full support wherever possible. We are always pleased to hear from those with specialist knowledge or skills, or whose community contact would be useful in our ongoing campaign."
SSE is seeking help with the production of next year's community calendar and Christmas card for which it is looking for high quality photographs, preferably in digital format.
Mr Sanders added: "We are also keen to hear from those who could sell calendars at fixed points in shops, parish council offices or other outlets, as well as to join our door-to-door sales team. If you can help, please contact our campaign office."
IGNORE ALL THE SPIN, BAA REALLY IS IN DEBT
Readers' Letters - Saffron Walden Reporter - 25 March 2010
YOUR article, 'BAA:We're not broke' (March
11) quoted an anonymous BAA spokesman
saying: "The group that owns Stansted
generated more than £800m of cash last year."
BAA was clearly trying to create the
impression that the business was rich in cash
and had ample funds available to pay for a
second Stansted runway.
However, BAA omitted to point out that the
£800m figure is before meeting the costs of
servicing its debt mountain.
The truth is that the group that owns
Stansted had a £21m cash deficit last year and
incurred a pre-tax loss of £822m.
These numbers can easily be checked.
Brian Ross, Economics Adviser, Stop Stansted Expansion
LEADER IN GLOBAL FREIGHT SELECTS STANSTED AIRPORT
Dunmow Broadcast - 23 March 2010
GLOBAL freight operations company Panalpina has selected London Stansted Airport as the base from which they will operate all their UK air freight operations.
Speaking about the launch of operations from Stansted, the airport's commercial and development director, Nick Barton, said: "We're delighted that one of the world's largest freight operators has selected the modern, world class cargo facilities at Stansted from which to base their air freight operations in and out of the UK."
"The professionalism and reputation of the cargo partners based here were also major influencing factors in their decision and we're delighted to welcome Panalpina into Stansted."
EU CHARGES DHL, UPS, PANALPINA OVER FREIGHT CARTEL
Reuters - 10 February 2010
* Panalpina says may suffer penalties; shares down 4.3 pct
* UPS, Kuehne & Nagel, DSV confirm receiving EU charges
* EU Commission can levy fines up to 10 pct of global sales
UDSV.CO have been charged by the European Commission with illegally fixing prices for air freight forwarding. The case concerns suspected collusion on surcharges, the European Union's competition watchdog said on Wednesday without identifying the companies.
Freight forwarding firms organise the transport of goods, customs clearance, warehousing and ground services for companies, exporters, importers and individuals.
A spokesman for United Parcel Services Inc, the world's largest package delivery service, said it had received a charge sheet from EU regulators and would examine the findings.
Deutsche Post DHL, Europe's biggest mail and express delivery company, said its global forwarding unit had also received a so-called "statement of objections", a charge sheet in which the Commission lists suspected violations. The German company said in a statement that it had been granted immunity from prosecution and fines by the Commission, conditional upon its continued cooperation with the regulator.
The EU executive can fine companies up to 10 percent of annual turnover if it concludes that they broke EU rules. The Commission operates a leniency policy whereby companies that provide information about a cartel in which they participated might receive full or partial immunity from fines.
The watchdog also offers immunity to the first company to inform it of cartel activity. The proceedings may "result in material penalties being imposed on Panalpina entities", Panalpina said in a statement.
Danish transport company said the Commission document concerned subsidiary ABX Logistics Air & Sea (France) SAS and related to activities from March 19, 2003 to Aug. 19, 2004.
A Commission statement said the infringements related to services from Britain to outside the 30-country European Economic Area (EEA), from the EEA to the United States, from China to the EEA and from southern China/Hong Kong to the EEA.
INDUSTRIES HOARDING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS PERMITS
Saved permits can be used to meet future targets
to cut emissions without reducing pollution
Juliette Jowit and Tim Webb - The Guardian - 11 March 2010
Companies across Europe are hoarding permits to produce greenhouse gas emissions worth hundreds of millions of pounds, the Guardian can reveal.
The surplus credits have been amassed from over-allocation of permits to pollute from the European emissions trading and by buying cheap credits from carbon-cutting projects in developing countries and holding on to their more expensive official EU allowances.
The saved permits can be used to meet future targets to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming and climate change without actually reducing pollution or sold for a profit in the future.
Campaigners for tougher emissions reductions said the saved-up allowances discredited the argument of some industries that much deeper cuts in future would be "fatal" because they could no longer afford to compete against rivals outside the EU. However, companies involved said the banked credits would help them pay to develop new emission-cutting technology, and to meet emissions targets until that became widely available.
Industry also warned it faced "death by a thousand cuts" as a result of the next phase of the scheme, from 2013 and 2020, and other costly environmental legislation planned by government.
Business leaders accused the government of being prepared to sacrifice industry to enable other sectors such as aviation to keep polluting and meet the UK's carbon budgets. One steelmaker told the Guardian: "Officials see us as acceptable collateral in the fight against climate change. If we don't make anything in this country any more, it means people could still fly to Tenerife once a year and the UK will keep within the carbon budget."
He said meeting targets would require vast amounts of steel to build windfarms, nuclear reactors and electric cars. This would have to be imported from more-polluting steelmakers outside Europe if the industry disappeared in the UK.
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the centrepiece of the EU's pledge to cut greenhouse gases, has already been criticised for giving many companies allowances to emit more emissions than they need, leaving little incentive to reduce pollution, and for lax regulation.
The latest concern about "banking" credits involves companies also buying cheap allowances from "offset" schemes which reduce emissions in other countries, often China and India, and using these to cover their emissions while keeping their official allowances - which are worth more because projects in other countries could in future be banned.
Analysis for the Guardian by campaign group Sandbag of the figures for 2008, the most recent available, looked at the extra allowances accrued by four big sectors: iron and steel, coke ovens, metal ore processing, and cement, which together have 800 installations covered by the trading scheme, and include big names like ArcelorMittal, Thyssenkrupp, Corus, Holcim and Cemex.
Sandbag calculated the four sectors received permits to emit 66m tonnes more carbon dioxide than they needed in 2008, partly because predicted growth did not happen and partly because of the recession towards the end of the year. In addition they bought cheap offsets for a further 18m tonnes plus, which would then free up more EU allowances. In total the surplus allowances would have been worth nearly ?1.2bn (£1.1bn) in 2008, or just over ?1.1bn at today's closing price of ?12.99. Based on the forecast average price of ?30 a tonne for the third phase of the ETS from 2013-2016 by analysts Point Carbon they would be worth more than double that in future.
If the companies stockpiled over-allocated surpluses for the whole of this phase of the ETS, from 2008-2012 they could be worth as much as ?3.2bn at today's prices, said Sandbag. Any more credits released by buying offsets would be on top of that. "If they [companies] want cashflow, which in the current climate they may, then they'll cash in the allowances," said Bryony Worthington, Sandbag's founder and director. "But if they are thinking long-term then they'll be thinking 'I should probably hold on to them and insulate myself for the future'."
ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel producer, has pledged to use profits to invest in future energy savings to reduce pollution, but there were no guarantees they or any other company would have to do this, said Worthington. "How do we police it, they could be using it for dividends or anything," she added. Ian Rodgers, director of UK Steel, said: "The climate change agenda won't affect the amount of steel consumed, but it will determine where it's produced."
According to industry estimates, the third phase could cost heavy industry - including steelmakers such as Corus, the chemicals industry and the ceramics industry - ?1bn a year. Sandbag will tomorrow publish in-depth analysis for 2008, including the biggest buyers of offsets from developing countries, and a map linking every offset scheme with their European customers.
WIND BENEATH THE WINGS OF
THE EAST OF ENGLAND ECONOMY
Business Weekly - 18 March 2010
Sixty-five per cent of the world market for wind energy will be dominated by the UK within 10 years - and the East of England is well placed to be at the very heart of this new international industry, says the in-coming chairman of EEDA, Will Pope.
The Suffolk and Norfolk coasts are prime points on the wind energy map, with the proposed Greater Gabbard Wind Farm, off the Suffolk coast, providing a classic example, Pope believes. Its development means that by 2020 an offshore wind farm, the biggest in the world, and the size of Norfolk will be able to power twice the number of homes in the region.
Added to a global lead in many other areas of renewable energy technology and 'green-tech' arenas, the East of England region has been handed the key to a golden, low carbon future. Pope, who becomes chair of the East of England Development Agency on April 1, is unequivocal: "We must make the most of this opportunity," he said. "And we have all the ingredients to ensure that we do."
The renewables revolution will lean on the East of England's traditional engineering skills base, which is world class and has scale.
As Pope points out, manufacturing in the region directly employs some 300,000 people and a total of around 600,000 people rely on manufacturing industry for employment.
"The renewable energy and green technology market that is evolving in the region will allow thousands of people with traditional skills to diversify. They will lead us through the low carbon agenda; it's very exciting."
Norfolk Bank, to be operated as East Anglia Offshore Wind and owned equally by Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft, is one of nine sites, producing more than 25GW, which the Government hopes will ultimately create 45,000 UK-based jobs.
The partners won the licence for the £15 billion East Anglia Array wind farm, which will see about 1,000 turbines built on the site off the Norfolk and north Suffolk coast. Investment in UK offshore wind overall could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020 - and this region is well placed to devour the lion's share.
But cashing in on the green dividend doesn't mean that sensible infrastructure investment - such as a new runway at Stansted or expansion at local sea ports - has to be abandoned, Will Pope insists.
"It's a question of balance. If we exploit to the full the opportunities that are presenting themselves in the renewable energy arena and take significant strides in de-carbonising the region, we can offset a small portion of these considerable gains to allow development such as a second runway at Stansted. A second runway at Stansted will create 13,500 jobs and billions more for the local economy; the new London Gateway project will create 16,500 jobs for the region."
"A balanced low carbon agenda will allow us to go ahead with these projects, create wealth and jobs; wealth will create health and so on. A sensible balance in our strategy means it doesn't have to be 'either/or.'
"Other countries will exploit these opportunities if we fail to. It is equally important that within EEDA and throughout the region's diverse business community we are united in fighting for responsible, sustainable economic progress."
"We are increasingly engaging with local business leaders through a number of initiatives and singing from the same hymn sheet. One of the great levers we can pull is to influence government on behalf of our region's corporate community. It is important that businesses tell us that to deliver XYZ they need ABC so that we can fight their corner."
What colour the next government turns out to be depends on the upcoming election and there remains a question mark over whether the many and diverse services EEDA delivers across the region will remain the remit of RDAs beyond, say, 2011-12, rather than local authority-driven partnerships.
But Will Pope says he has always relished a challenge and that, Labour or Tory, the next administration will face equal challenges if the UK economy is to thrive.
He said: "When things are different you have to adjust. Will it be an opportunity or a crisis? If it's a crisis, well - there's always an opportunity in a crisis. What we will require after the election is clarity so that we can provide the right framework for economic progress in the region. And it is vital that we do progress. There is enormous satisfaction for the region to be the third largest contributor to the Treasury from among all the UK regions; to attract 25 per cent of all UK Research & Development funding; to have the fastest growing exports performance."
"But that won't do us much good if we stand still; we have to keep building on our strengths and ensure that we maintain these market leads - and that is the challenge we are focusing on right now."
OUR COMMENT: Another potential example of industry "subsidizing" recreational air travel?
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITION 'AVIATION-GROWTH'
Statement from 10 Downing Street, 19th February 2010
sent to signatories of a recent petition to the Prime Minister
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to explain how the UK will
meet it's 2050 80% reduction in CO2 emissions whilst expanding aviation in
line with the 2003 Air Transport white paper."
Details of Petition:
"In 2006, the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment at Manchester
Metropolitan University published a report commissioned by DEFRA which
calculated that aviation emissions would contribute between 86% and 128% of
the country's total CO2 budget by 2050, if allowed to expand in line with
the 2003 Air Transport white paper. Manchester airport has seen its air
freight halve since 2007, but despite this Manchester City Council has
recently given approval to double the Airport's air freight capacity,
demolishing two 200 year old family cottages and a large section of
greenbelt land in the process. We respectfully ask the Prime Minister to
explain how the UK will meet it's carbon reduction target by 2050 if
airports like Manchester continue to expand."
Read the Government's response:
The UK committed to binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets under the
Climate Change Act 2008. Under the Act, GHGs must be 80% below 1990 levels
by 2050. We are the first country in the world to have such a framework and
under the Act the Government sets binding five year budgets. In 2009, we set
out the carbon budgets for the first three five year periods from 2008-22.
Domestic aviation emissions are included in budgets. International aviation
emissions are outside of the UK's carbon budgeting framework under the
Climate Change Act. This is mainly due to the global nature of the sector,
which makes it difficult to allocate emissions on a national basis.
Government must either include international aviation and shipping emissions
in UK carbon budgets by the end of 2012, or report to Parliament on why they
are being kept outside. However, we believe that a global, sectoral
approach is more appropriate for aviation. This would, in effect, make
aircraft operators responsible for their emissions, rather than countries.
Even though international aviation is not included in the Climate Change
Act, the UK still has one of the toughest aviation climate change regimes in
the world. In 2009 we set a long-term target for UK aviation CO2 emissions
that they should be lower in 2050 than in 2005 (equivalent to 37.5 million
tonnes of CO2). The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) provided advice to us
on this target in December 2009.
The CCC report makes clear that, even in the least optimistic case (the
'likely' case), the target can still be achieved while allowing significant
growth in air travel (CCC describe this as a 60% growth in passenger numbers
or a 54% growth in air traffic movements). The report also states that
'there are no implications for specific airports e.g. Heathrow' and advises
instead that any future growth should consider the environmental
implications, and ensure consistency with climate change goals.
The Government remains committed to its policy framework for aviation set
out in the 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport. We have also
committed to producing a National Policy Statement on Airports in 2011 which
will take account of all relevant developments since 2003, including of
course this recently published advice from the CCC.
OUR COMMENT: In this case it seems that when aircraft produce CO2, 3+2 = 3
PASSENGER NUMBERS FALL ACROSS UK AIRPORTS
The number of passengers passing through UK airports
has fallen by 7.4 per cent
Daily Telegraph - 15 March 2010
The dip in numbers from 2009 compared to 2008, due to the decline in holidaymakers, marks the largest annual decline since records began 65 years ago. It is also the first time that passenger numbers have fallen for two successive years, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.
The 216.8 million passenger total for 2009 meant annual figures fell to their lowest level since 2004. Charter airline numbers fell 17 per cent in 2009 compared with 2008, while UK domestic flight traffic was down 8 per cent and scheduled airline traffic fell 6 per cent.
Much of the overall passenger decrease came in the first part of last year, with numbers down 12.5 per cent in the January-March 2009 period. The decline in the last three months of last year was only 3.8 per cent compared with October-December 2008.
The decline at the five London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City - was 4.9 per cent overall, with the largest declines in percentage terms at London City (14.2 per cent down), Stansted (10.7 per cent down) and Luton (10.4 per cent down). Heathrow had the smallest decline among London airports, handling 66 million passengers in 2009 - only 1.5 per cent fewer than in 2008. Gatwick handled 32 million passengers - a 5.3 per cent fall on 2008.
At the regional airports - those other than the London airports - traffic last year fell 10 per cent to 88 million passengers. Manchester, the largest regional airport, saw passenger numbers plunge by 11.5 per cent to 2.4 million, while at Birmingham airport they dropped by 5 per cent to 483,000.
During 2009, air transport movements (landings and take-offs of commercial aircraft) at UK airports fell by 8.8 per cent to 2.1 million, which is also the largest annual drop since the 1940s.
CAA economic regulation director Harry Bush said: "Today's figures show the biggest fall in passenger numbers since the Second World War, highlighting the enormous impact the recession has had on the aviation industry. Passenger numbers are now back to the level they were six years ago and, although they will certainly rebound, the pace of recovery is uncertain and it could be a number of years before they reach their peak level again."
SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY THERESA VILLIERS MAPS OUT HER VISION FOR BRITAIN'S ROADS, TRAINS AND PLANES
All politicians are suckers for statistics. Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, is no exception. But she has got a neat one here. "Do you know," she interjects with a grin. "That under Labour there have been more
transport ministers than miles of new motorway."
Alistair Osborne - Daily Telegraph - 14 March 2010
For Villiers, 42, it's a "good illustration of Labour's approach to transport over the past 13 years. They made a lot of noise about an integrated transport policy. But there's no evidence whatsoever that we've actually had one."
Since 1997, Labour has presided over the construction of just 25.7 miles of new motorway. Meantime, 26 ministers have whizzed through the Department for Transport's revolving door - plus seven secretaries of state. Little wonder, in Villiers' view, that there have been so many handbrake turns on policy - and some financial car crashes.
"We've had two rail franchises collapse on the East Coast main line, GNER and National Express, the failure of Metronet [the London Underground maintenance company], and then you've got things like Thameslink 2000 running 10 years late," she says. "Not to mention setting up Network Rail, which is not answerable to anyone. It's been a catalogue of disappointment."
In fairness to Labour, Network Rail was only invented because of the failure of Railtrack, the network operator established by the Conservatives' rail privatisation. You can hardly blame the Tories, though, for the way a former transport secretary (Stephen Byers) slammed the company into the buffers, taking his own career with it.
Villiers, who graduated from shadow chief secretary to the Treasury to take charge of the opposition's transport portfolio in July 2007, is itching to get her hands on the Department for Transport. But she knows that this particular portfolio - a political minefield of long-term infrastructure projects requiring truck loads of public and private financing - is a tough nut to crack.
"I'd be foolish to say a Conservative government would be able to resist any transport dramas but we do need to ensure we get better value for money and have more clarity over decision making," she says.
For a Tory, Villiers has already demonstrated that she is not afraid to upset the party's traditional fan base among big business. A policy centrepiece is Tory opposition to a third runway at Heathrow and the replacement of many short-haul flights with a high-speed rail network.
When the Tories first espoused their opposition to the third runway, there was predictable frothing at the mouth from the business lobby in the form of the CBI and Institute of Directors - not to mention British Airways and BAA.
Villiers is undeterred. "The Heathrow commitment will be in the [election] manifesto," she says. "We have an alternative vision for Heathrow which is a top class new rail link at the airport connected to high-speed rail to provide not only an alternative to thousands of short-haul flights to make the airport less over-crowded but to make it much easier and more pleasant to get to."
Neither is she remotely persuaded that the Tories' stance is a vote loser among big business. She cites last year's opposition to the third runway from 13 big-wigs, including James Murdoch, head of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, Charles Dunstone, the Carphone Warehouse founder and Ian Cheshire, the chief executive of B&Q-owner Kingfisher.
"I think the case against runway three is gathering pace by the day," she says. "It's a myth that the entire business community is in favour of it. There is a recognition that the triple whammy in environmental impact of runway three is not acceptable and far outweighs a business case."
She relates how 220,000 extra flights would make it much harder to meet climate change targets, while there would also be a "significant deterioration in air quality and a significant increase in aircraft noise". "We are already in breach of the EU zone air quality directive and there's no sign of a derogation arriving any time soon," says Villiers. "It's a combination of air traffic and surface traffic. The fact that the airport is so close to the M25 and M4 means it is literally toxic."
What though of the cost of her alternative - a high-speed rail plan that she stresses differs radically from the one proposed this week by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis. "Labour is making a further mistake by failing to integrate Heathrow into a high-speed rail network," she says.
Some companies claim Villiers has failed to recognise that a third runway - costing anywhere between £7bn and £13bn on the Government's figures - would be privately financed, whereas her rail network would soak up public cash. Villiers is having none of that. "Runway three does not come cost free," she says. "Apart from all the environmental costs, the people who end up paying are air passengers. It just gets whacked on to the BAA RAB [regulated asset base] which is funded by airlines who pass the cost on to their passengers. It's not a free option."
Villiers costs her rail plan at £20bn - £15.7bn from the taxpayer and £4.3bn from the private sector - but stresses it won't break the rail budget as it will be spread over 12 years. "At its heart is the problem that the transport corridor between London, Birmingham and Manchester is going to be full within seven to 10 years. So the issue will face any future government," she says.
"If you look at the rest of Europe, everywhere high-speed rail has gone it's provided some fantastic regeneration benefits. It will pay for itself over time. You only need to look at places like Lille which was an economic backwater for years. It fought really hard to be on the TGV route between Paris and Brussels and was totally transformed by it. For years it had higher unemployment levels than the average in France. Now they're below average."
She adds that the "project will take four to five years in the planning. So the actual point at which shovels go in the ground will be 2015. We don't know what the state of the public finances will be by then but at least the significant spend isn't going to start in the immediate five years of the austerity that the nation faces."
Link this to Heathrow, she reckons, and you would cut the need for 63,200 flights a year. "It's not just Manchester flights, it's Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam. Passengers could easily get off a flight from New York JFK and on a train to Paris. These are the sort of flights that are eminently substitutable."
The MP for Chipping Barnet, a barrister by training, has a passion for transport that was not always evident when she was - as an MEP in Brussels - saving the Jammy Dodger. The biscuit had fallen foul of the Fruits, Jams, Jellies and Chestnut Purée directive. "The problem was the blob of red didn't contain enough fruit to qualify, so we got an amendment passed to exempt biscuits," Villiers recalls. "I did play a part in saving the Jammy Dodger."
More jams await in her new brief, on the roads and in just about every aspect of a transport system clogged by inefficiency. Apart from Heathrow and the railways, Villiers has set her sights on overhauling the "unwieldly membership structure" of Network Rail, introducing longer rail franchises - without the DfT's current penchant for "micromanaging" - and trying to "improve the efficiency of air traffic control".
Ask around and one criticism of Villiers is her reluctance to go for the jugular over Labour's failings. But she does finish with a pop at Adonis over his handling of National Express' East Coast derailment. "I was quite surprised at the attitude Andrew Adonis took," she says, criticising "all that grandstanding on cross-default", with the transport secretary blustering that he would strip National Express of its other two rail franchises as punishment.
"Then the secretary of state seemed to be left with egg on his face when it became apparent that the cross default didn't apply," she says pointedly. "It was a difficult situation but there were options which could have yielded significantly better value for money than the current arrangements." Villiers admits: "Sometimes I lose track of all these Labour transport secretaries ? I'm onto my third already." She's determined there won't be a fourth.
OUR COMMENT: What about Stansted airport?
YOU DON'T NEED TO FLY - JUST SHOP AND ENJOY STANSTED!
NXEA's Stansted Airport Station Scores 100 Per Cent
In Mystery Shopper Survey"
Dunmow Broadcast - 11 March 2010
NATIONAL Express East Anglia's Stansted Airport station has been rated 100 per cent for customer service, cleanliness and information provision following a recent mystery shopper survey. All stations are assessed for customer service and quality standards on a regular basis by mystery shoppers who visit stations and experience the service as any member of the public would.
The mystery shoppers rate the provision of customer service and cleanliness in all parts of the station, as well as assessing the quality of public address announcements and information provided.
Last year National Express East Anglia appointed a new team of locally-based station managers at key stations throughout their network, including Stansted Airport, to help provide a better focus on customer service. Since these changes were instigated improvements have been made at Stansted Airport station with regard to customer service, station presentation and information provision, including improvements to the public address system.
Customers at Stansted Airport should expect to see further improvements in 2011 when 120 new carriages are introduced on Stansted Airport and Cambridge to Liverpool Street services.
Keel Pagdin National Express East Anglia's manager at Stansted Airport said: "Our team at Stansted Airport are delighted by the perfect score they have achieved in the latest Mystery Shopper Survey. Over the last year we've redoubled our efforts to improve the service we offer our customers and we hope to improve standards still further in the future. I'm pleased that our customers at Stansted Airport will be amongst the first to benefit when we introduce 120 new carriages on our network in 2011."
AIR FRANCE LETS FLY WITH LEGAL SALVO AT RYANAIR
John Lichfield in Paris - The Independent - 12 March 2010
An aerial dogfight is about to break out in the skies of Europe. The French national flag carrier, Air France, has launched the biggest and most elaborate legal challenge so far to the local subsidies - or "contributions" - received by the Irish-based cut-price airline Ryanair for flying to regional airports in France and elsewhere.
In a complaint filed with the European Commission in December, and made public yesterday, Air France claims that Ryanair now receives ?660m (£599m) in public funds from local authorities in Europe each year, including ?35m (£32m) in France. Far from making a profit in 2008 and a small loss last year, Air France insists that Ryanair made a whacking de facto loss in both years, disguised by allegedly illegal public subsidies.
"The Irish airline purports to be the Robin Hood [airline] which offers unbeatably low prices, compared to the inflated prices of national carriers," a senior Air France official said yesterday. "In fact, Ryanair is only flying thanks to taxpayers' money."
Ryanair dismissed the suit, which was brought under EU rules guaranteeing free and fair competition. "We pay no attention to false claims from high-fares, fuel-surcharging airlines like Air France," said the Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara. "Ryanair is investing millions in regional French airports, whereas Air France ignores them."
Ryanair has survived previous EU challenges to the "contributions" that it demands from local or regional councils for flying to regional airports. Air France claims it has pieced together the true extent of these "subsidies" by trawling through the accounts presented to local financial watchdogs in France and other EU countries.
The money is paid to Ryanair for, among other things, helping to create new regional air links, or for "marketing" local attractions. In recent months, a couple of French local authorities have protested that Ryanair has demanded increased payments and threatened to move its flights elsewhere.
Michel Boutant, the president of the Charente council in western France, complained in December that Ryanair had asked for an additional ?175,000 in "marketing" payments to continue its flights from London to Angoulême this year. He accused the Irish airline of "blackmail".
Under a framework agreement drawn up by the European Commission in 2004, Ryanair (and other airlines) can receive local taxpayers' money under certain conditions. The aid must be notified to Brussels, limited in duration and restricted to small airports that would not otherwise attract international flights.
Air France complains that, in Ryanair's case, these conditions are often broken. It points out, for instance, that Ryanair receives payments from Marseille and Nice airports, both of which are already international and neither of which is small.
The Air France complaint will be studied by the European Commission competition directorate, which must decide whether there are grounds to take action. Previous legal moves against Ryanair by Brussels have been overturned by the European Court of Justice or settled by negotiation.
COURT THREAT TO EU STATES OVER GREEN LAW BREACHES
ENDS Europe - 18 March 2010
The European Commission is taking legal action against several member states for allegedly failing to comply with EU laws on air quality, industrial pollution and nature protection. A raft of infringement proceedings were announced on Thursday.
Following up on first warnings sent to ten member states in early 2009, Slovenia and Sweden are being referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for non-compliance with particulate matter (PM10) limits under the 2005 air quality directive. Both countries received a final warning in November 2009 and have not complied with the limits since, nor requested time extensions.
Requests by most other EU states for an extension to the PM10 deadline were rejected by the commission in December. Cyprus, Portugal and Spain will receive final warnings and others may follow, the commission has said. Bulgaria will receive a final warning over its failure to comply with sulphur dioxide limits.
Austria and Sweden are being sent final warnings over industrial installations operating without permits that should have been issued by 30 October 2007 under the IPPC directive.
Greece is being warned a second time over failures to protect wild birds. The ECJ ruled against Greece in 2007 and 2008 over, respectively, insufficient special protection areas and inadequate monitoring under Natura 2000 rules. Greece has not fully complied with the rulings, the commission argues, and is being sent warnings that may lead to a new court appearance. A new court condemnation would trigger financial penalties.
A final warning about industrial waste was issued to Spain. The case concerns 40-year-old stockpiles that endanger the environment in the Huelva estuary. The commission argues that Spain was wrong in 2008 to grant permission to dump phosphogypsum in the area.
Romania will receive a final warning for failing to take action over a formaldehyde production plant that was built in 2007 without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). Ireland is being sent two final warnings over its failure to comply with 2008 ECJ rulings on breaches of impact assessment rules.
Ireland is risking a second ECJ appearance over an access to justice infringement under the EIA directive. Ireland is also receiving a final warning for failing to put in place adequate protection plans for marine mammals, as ordered by the ECJ in 2007. The commission, however, is closing two long-standing cases against Ireland concerning drinking water and shellfish growing.
OUR COMMENT: It seems that the UK's request to be allowed a delay in achieving PM10 targets was not allowed.
FEBRUARY TRAFFIC FIGURES: BAA'S AIRPORTS
BAA traffic commentary: February 2010
BAA.com - 10 March 2010
BAA's UK traffic grew 2.4% last month compared to February 2009, which was affected by severe weather. BAA's UK airports handled a total of 7.13 million passengers in February, an increase of 2.4% on the same month last year. February 2009 saw passenger traffic affected by heavy snow across the UK.
Heathrow traffic grew 5.3%, as it was largely free of snow in February 2010 and remains more resilient than other UK airports. The underlying figure - adjusted to take account of the weather problems last year - is 2.7%.
Stansted's traffic declined by 4.5% compared to last February, demonstrating that the market remains challenging.
Southampton grew 5.9% with most of the gain attributable to the recovery from bad weather this time last year. Glasgow (down 5.0%) and Aberdeen (down 4.6%) were relatively unaffected by the snow of last year but Edinburgh (up 3.5%) gained not only because of weather but also from additional rugby related traffic. Traffic at Naples grew by 5.4%.
Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive officer, said: "Heathrow remains resilient and other airports are beginning to see encouraging signs. However traffic remains depressed, reflecting tough conditions in the economy generally and in aviation specifically."
For the first time in two years, domestic traffic across BAA was up, by 1.1%. European scheduled services recorded a 2.6% increase and North Atlantic traffic was up by 2.7% despite several periods of heavy snow in the Mid-West and North Eastern parts of the US.
Other long haul traffic rose by 4.0% overall with strong contributions from services to China (up 6.8%), the Middle East (up 11.1%) and South America (up 17.6%).
In total the Group recorded a drop of 0.2% in the number of air transport movements (Heathrow up 2.1%) and an increase of 23.2% in the tonnage of cargo handled. This latter result represents the third consecutive month of double-digit increases in cargo and closely matches experience of the global air-freight industry.
BAA traffic summary: February 2010
Terminal passengers (000s)||Month||% change||Jan to|
|% change||Mar 09|
to Feb 10
London area total||5,838.5||3.0||11,884.5||0.6||85,936.2||-2.6
BAA traffic summary: February 2010
|Month||% change||Jan to|
|% change||Mar 09|
to Feb 10
London area total||45,595||1.3||93,016||-1.9||614,421||-4.3
BAA traffic summary: February 2010
|Month||% change||Jan to|
|% change||Mar 09|
to Feb 10
London area total||128,458||24.1||249,923||19.4||1,502,435||-3.7
OUR COMMENT: While a fall in passenger and flight numbers is to be expected during a credit crunch, and expansion should be discouraged in the interests of climate change, it needs a detailed analysis to determine why Stansted is performing less well than other UK airports in terms of passengers and flights. The exception is in cargo tonnage. It is interesting to reflect that during the inquiry into the successful application to increase passenger capacity to 35mppa, BAA presented a somewhat dismal forecast of an airport restricted to 25mppa having to attract more cargo flights in order to remain profitable. At the time many of us believed that this was a better and surer future for the airport, consolidating its present services, and offering more to local business interests rather than servicing cheap recreational flights subsidized at that time by other profit making activities and relatively cheap aviation fuel.
BAA KEEPS ROOF ON WITH MORTGAGES
To let: Chocolate box four bed in Essex - Well situated for local airport - Particularly suit hard of hearing
Alistair Osborne - Daily Telegraph - 9 March 2010
Cash-strapped airports operator BAA has been forced to mortgage 39 houses near Stansted airport, many of which it is planning to demolish to make way for a planned second runway.
The latest return for Stansted Airport, filed last week at Companies House, shows that BAA has taken out mortgages with Royal Bank of Scotland on properties including Rose Cottage in Bambers Green and 2 Chestnut Way, Takeley.
The houses are offered as security against the £10.5bn borrowings of BAA (SP) Ltd - the parent company for Stansted and Heathrow airports. Some houses have been re-let via agents Strutt & Parker. Local residents said the mortgages proved BAA could not afford the runway at Stansted, where operating profits dived from £81m to £27m last year as passengers fell.
Brian Ross, economics adviser to the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group, said: "It smacks of desperation when BAA even has to mortgage the very houses it has bought in connection with its second runway plans. How on earth can BAA continue to say, with a straight face, that it remains fully committed to a £3bn second runway when it is already mortgaged right up to the hilt. It's a case of Walter Mitty pretending to be Paul Getty."
Residents claim that as many as 11,000 houses could be blighted by the scheme, the public inquiry for which has been repeatedly delayed.
A BAA spokesman denied the mortgages indicated any financial strain. "This is just part of the securitisation on all our assets," he said. "It's simply the way we are financed."
Mr Ross said: "When you have got liabilities of £12bn and assets of £12.8bn, it's not surprising that the bank wants security over everything."
STANSTED: RUNWAY INQUIRY DELAYED FURTHER
Essex County Standard - 8 March 2010
A PUBLIC inquiry into a new runway at Stansted Airport could now be delayed by up to two years.
It was originally due to start last April, but the government's communities minister, John Denham, said last month that it could not reasonably begin until after the General Election, due to outstanding issues over the terminal's ownership.
He asked airport operator BAA to make clear their future intentions for the runway proposals. In response, Mark Forster - the company's infrastructure and sustainability director - said it they will pursue the planning application but it will need reviewing due to the amount of time that has lapsed since it was submitted in March 2008.
"Once the present uncertainty about ownership has been removed, BAA estimates that a period of some 12 to 18 months could be needed to review and update the material currently available," he said.
AIRPORT EXPANSION FACES MORE DELAY
Annie Davidson - Evening Star - 9 March 2010
FURIOUS campaigners opposing the expansion of Stansted Airport have called on operators BAA to withdraw controversial plans for a second runway.
The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group spoke out after it was revealed there could be a two-year wait before a public inquiry into the plans can go ahead. Calling on BAA to do the "honourable" thing and ditch the expansion proposal, it claimed residents living close to the airport had been blighted by the plans for eight years.
But BAA said last night it remained fully committed to the expansion plans, which would see the airport double in size, aiming to serve 68million passengers annually by 2030.
An 18-month public inquiry had been scheduled for April last year but six weeks before it was due to start it was postponed due to uncertainty about the future ownership of Stansted Airport. BAA had been ordered to sell Stansted and Gatwick and either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports by the Competition Commission, and although an appeal was successfully launched against the decision, this could still be overturned.
In a letter to Communities Minister John Denham, BAA said it would need to update its original planning application, which dates back to March 2008.
The letter said it would need between 12 to 18 months to refresh details in the application, which would start once uncertainty of the future ownership of the airport had been settled.
SSE said this in itself could take up to a year which meant a possibility of two or three years before the inquiry even began.
The campaign group said in a statement: "If the public inquiry does not start until 2013, it would be 2015 before a final decision could be announced, meaning that local residents and businesses who received compulsory purchase notifications from BAA in March 2008 would have endured seven years of blight and uncertainty before the final outcome was known. In reality, the blight on local communities in North Essex and East Hertfordshire began in July 2002 when the Government first published its proposals for making Stansted bigger than Heathrow."
Campaign chairman Peter Sanders added: "BAA's response to the secretary of state shows an appalling disregard for the local community. We have lived under the threat of a second runway for almost eight years now. The only honourable course open to BAA is to withdraw its applications and to give a clear and unequivocal statement that it will not be making new applications for a project which creates blight without any real prospect of success.
With the support of our community, we will continue our campaign to prevent the catastrophic damage that would be caused by expansion at Stansted for as long as it takes - whoever the owner."
But a spokesman for BAA said last night that the plans for the runway would still go ahead. He added: "We have made our position very clear on a number of occasions."
TORY VICTORY 'WOULD CUT SCOTS FLIGHTS'
Damien Henderson, Transport Correspondent - Scottish Herald - 3 March 2010
Lord Adonis predicted a steady erosion in the more than 100 weekday flights between London and Scotland
Flights between London and Scotland are likely to be cut unless a controversial third runway at Heathrow is given the go-ahead, the UK Transport Secretary has warned.
Lord Adonis claimed Tory plans to block expansion of Britain?s biggest airport posed a "serious threat" to Scotland's transport links and would see airlines forced to choose between lucrative long-haul routes and lower-profit domestic services.
Speaking exclusively to The Herald, he predicted a steady erosion in the more than 100 weekday flights that currently exist between London and Scotland over the next decade in the event of a Conservative election victory.
"If the Tories were to win and Heathrow did not expand, then this would seriously disadvantage Scotland," he said. "It would create more pressure on landing slots at Heathrow and there is a real danger that airlines would divert those slots to larger, long-distance planes that give them greater revenue."
His comments mark the latest spat between the UK's two biggest parties over Heathrow ahead of the forthcoming General Election, but also reflect the concerns of business leaders in Scotland who have been lobbying for aviation links to London to be improved. Heathrow currently accounts for 42 of the 105 weekday flights between London and Scotland's six main airports.
Though Lord Adonis is known for supporting construction of a new high-speed rail line as a means of cutting down on domestic aviation, he said this was unlikely to be completed until the "mid-2020s" and added: "Our aim is to give passengers an effective choice, not artificially cut off air routes by refusing to expand Heathrow."
But he faced a storm of protest from opposition parties and environmental groups which claimed his support for domestic aviation made a "sham" of his commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging rail travel.
Theresa Villiers, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said that expansion of Heathrow would only come at the expense of regional airports, including those in Scotland. "Experience demonstrates that capacity expansion doesn't necessarily deliver extra regional slots. Last time there was an increase in capacity at Heathrow, it was accompanied by a reduction in the number of destinations served and a reduction in flights to UK destinations," she said. "Andrew Adonis is spinning a lie if he's saying he would guarantee enhanced connectivity with the UK's regional airports."
Alistair Carmichael, the LibDem's Shadow Scotland Secretary, added: "These comments show Andrew Adonis' commitment to high-speed rail is a sham. A high-speed line would remove the need for internal flights between Scotland and England's major cities. His scaremongering about the third runway only shows how out of touch Labour is with Scotland."
The Government approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow, whose two runways are running at 96% capacity, in January 2009, but has faced stiff opposition from environmental groups and local residents.
A spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund pointed to Government figures which showed that aviation-related carbon dioxide emissions would increase from 17 million megatonnes per year to 24 million by 2030 if a third runway was built.
Airport group BAA, which owns Heathrow along with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports, has pushed for a third runway in order to compete with Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. A spokeswoman for the Spanish-owned company said: "Over the last 15 years, the number of domestic destinations served from Heathrow has dropped from 21 to six. With a third runway, airlines have indicated that they would expect to restore links to regions that have lost their Heathrow service."
Willie Walsh, chairman of British Airways, has previously indicated that it would restore the service between Inverness and Heathrow that was cut in 2008 if a third runway was built.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Any decision on additional capacity at Heathrow is a matter for the UK Government but Scottish routes should not be jeopardised in any eventuality."
OUR COMMENT: Why then is the Minister promoting high speed rail to Birmingham and improvements to the existing rail services to Scotland? We had thought he had begun to realize that such short haul flights were especially damaging to climate change action plans.
IATA ENTERS LEGAL CASE BROUGHT BY ATA AND THREE
US AIRLINES AGAINST THE UK OVER AVIATION EU ETS
GreenAir Online - 1 March 2010
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has
filed an amicus brief in London ahead of the hearing expected this month
into the case brought by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) and
three major US airlines - American, Continental and United - over the
aviation EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). An amicus brief is a document
which is filed by someone, such as an advocacy group, who is not directly
related to the case under consideration but is intended to be useful for
evaluation by the judge.
IATA says it wishes to express to the court its own
deep concerns of the scheme. Meanwhile, the UK Government's consultation
over transposing the second and final phase of the EU directive into law
ends this coming Friday, March 5.
The four US applicants filed an application in the UK Administrative Court
in December for judicial review of the Department of Energy and Climate
Change (DECC) concerning the Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading
Scheme Regulations 2009. Under the EU ETS, the UK is the administering state
for the three airlines. They claim that unilaterally applying the EU ETS to
non-EU airlines is in breach of the Convention on International Civil
Aviation 1944 - the Chicago Convention.
The applicants have asked for the case to be referred to the European Court
of Justice (ECJ), which DECC does not oppose. However, the decision rests
with the High Court in London, which would need to issue an Order for
Reference. The proceeding also will confirm the specific questions to be put
to the ECJ. As a 'friend of the court', IATA will hope to present its
opinions during the hearing.
The ECJ, based in Luxembourg, is the highest court in the European Union on
matters of EU law. Assuming the case is passed to the ECJ, it is not
expected to be heard before next year.
A spokesman for IATA told GreenAir Online: "The EU ETS is an issue of
concern for the global industry. We are not against the concept of economic
measures - they are a part of our four-pillar strategy. But we are deeply
concerned by Europe's regional approach which will distort competition and
lead to carbon leakage."
"Additionally, there is the fact that it does contravene the Chicago
Convention. The brief will be an opportunity to make these concerns known to
the court from the global perspective of IATA."
IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani has previously declared the EU ETS
illegal and warned in December that states outside the EU would take legal
action over their airlines' inclusion in the scheme.
A report in the Wall Street Journal last week said that talks between the EU
and the US on their Open Skies agreement had hit difficulties over
competition and environmental concerns, including the EU ETS.
However, US Open Skies negotiator John Byerly told GreenAir Online:
"Although we did not resolve at the Madrid round all of the issues involved
in the negotiation of a second-stage air transport agreement, we made good
progress on a number of fronts, including in reaching tentative accord on
language for a revised article on the environment. I do not expect
emissions-related issues to be a hurdle to reaching a final agreement."
Meanwhile, DECC and the Department for Transport (DfT) held an Aviation EU
ETS seminar in London on February 19 ahead of the closing date on its
consultation in respect of the second-stage transposition of the EU
directive into UK law. This principally deals with administration charges to
be paid by aircraft operators allocated to the UK under the EU ETS and fines
and penalties for non-compliance with the regulations.
One major non-EU airline attending the seminar called it "a waste of time". DECC and the Department of Transport have little interest in consulting in a democratic way with stakeholders," he said. "Despite many strong
objections to the way in which the UK plans to interpret the EU directive,
they are not that interested in making any changes. The consultation, in my
view, is therefore a waste of time."
"A particular point is the plan to charge airlines for the administration of
the scheme. Rather than use the money generated from [the auctioning of]
allowances - which is planned to be funnelled directly into general
government revenues - the UK is asking each airline emitting over 500,000
tonnes of CO2 to pay an annual £4,000 ($6,000) administration charge. It's
The administration charge is also a bone of contention with small operators,
which feel seriously disadvantaged, commented David Carlisle, Managing
Director of consultancy ETS Aviation. "The costs keep rising," he said. "There is a danger that, for all their
climate change intentions, the latest rules could further hinder recovery in
a business sector traumatised by the recent financial crisis. Maybe large
airlines can adapt existing departments to limit the investment required -
small airlines and micro operators have far less capacity."
On the other hand, the UK's administering Competent Authority, the
Environment Agency, has received praise from some quarters over the speedy
processing of submitted monitoring plans and its responsiveness to queries
Following the London seminar, DECC/DfT has just posted a YouTube message
that picks out the key topics from the current consultation and provides an
update of progress to date. Presentations from the seminar will shortly be
posted on the DECC website.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has published a revised list of operators
and their respective administering State. A number of operators who are now
considered to have fallen outside the scope of the EU ETS - for example,
their flights fell below the de minimis threshold or were state flights -
have been removed, with some operators having been moved to another State.
"This is really unexpected," commented Julien Dufour, Managing Director of
Paris-based VerifAvia. "Some operators that submitted monitoring plans must
do it again to another competent authority. They are adding burden to the
An EC official said the list would never be fully precise and non-presence
on the list does not prevent Member States from regulating operators.
ALGIRDAS EMETA TO REVIVE EU CARBON TAX ON ENERGY USE
ENDS Europe DAILY - 5 March 2010
Tax commissioner Algirdas Emeta will table a proposal for an EU
carbon tax on energy use in coming months, it emerged this week. The
proposal was first announced by his predecessor Laszlo Kovacs but it
was delayed because of internal wrangling.
Mr Emeta believes there is currently the "right momentum" to push for
such a tax, he told Brussels newspaper European Voice. The idea is to
introduce a CO2 element into the 2003 directive on energy taxation to
bring it in line with EU climate goals.
The new tax commissioner is finalising an impact assessment to assess
draft proposals prepared last year by his predecessor. These aimed to provide a carbon price signal to sectors outside the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) such as transport.
The objective was also to improve links between the 2003 directive
and the ETS scheme. There have been concerns of double regulation
The tax would be a minimum levy on the CO2 content of fuel for cars, heating or electricity production.
Finance ministers have given cautious backing to the plan. Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing for a similar tax in France but it is proving very difficult to implement. Ireland is also toying with the idea. Sweden, Denmark and Finland have had carbon taxes for years.
Despite the growing appetite for carbon taxation in Europe to
complement emission reductions achieved through the ETS, Mr Emeta's
proposal faces a very serious hurdle: EU tax proposals require
unanimity in the Council of Ministers.
And the fact is that not all member states are keen on the idea.
Opposition from countries such as the UK, which objects on
sovereignty grounds, has not changed. Britain has already opted for
emissions trading to reduce CO2 in non-ETS sectors.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso's office was not available
for comment when ENDS went to press but climate spokeswoman Maria
Kokkonen said her commissioner was interested in "all methods" of
reducing carbon emissions.
NO CHANGE IN AVIATION POLICY?
Aviation growth - epetition response
19 February 2010
No 10 received a petition asking:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to explain how the UK will meet it?s 2050 80% reduction in CO2 emissions whilst expanding aviation in line with the 2003 Air Transport white paper."
Details of Petition:
"In 2006, the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University published a report commissioned by DEFRA which calculated that aviation emissions would contribute between 86% and 128% of the country's total CO2 budget by 2050, if allowed to expand in line with the 2003 Air Transport white paper. Manchester airport has seen its air freight halve since 2007, but despite this Manchester City Council has recently given approval to double the Airport's air freight capacity, demolishing two 200 year old family cottages and a large section of greenbelt land in the process. We respectfully ask the Prime Minister to explain how the UK will meet it's carbon reduction target by 2050 if airports like Manchester continue to expand."
The Government's response:
The UK committed to binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets under the Climate Change Act 2008. Under the Act, GHGs must be 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. We are the first country in the world to have such a framework and under the Act the Government sets binding five year budgets. In 2009, we set out the carbon budgets for the first three five year periods from 2008-22.
Domestic aviation emissions are included in budgets. International aviation emissions are outside of the UK's carbon budgeting framework under the Climate Change Act. This is mainly due to the global nature of the sector, which makes it difficult to allocate emissions on a national basis.
Government must either include international aviation and shipping emissions in UK carbon budgets by the end of 2012, or report to Parliament on why they are being kept outside. However, we believe that a global, sectoral approach is more appropriate for aviation. This would, in effect, make aircraft operators responsible for their emissions, rather than countries.
Even though international aviation is not included in the Climate Change Act, the UK still has one of the toughest aviation climate change regimes in the world. In 2009 we set a long-term target for UK aviation CO2 emissions that they should be lower in 2050 than in 2005 (equivalent to 37.5 million tonnes of CO2). The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) provided advice to us on this target in December 2009.
The CCC report makes clear that, even in the least optimistic case (the 'likely' case), the target can still be achieved while allowing significant growth in air travel (CCC describe this as a 60% growth in passenger numbers or a 54% growth in air traffic movements). The report also states that 'there are no implications for specific airports e.g. Heathrow' and advises instead that any future growth should consider the environmental implications, and ensure consistency with climate change goals.
The Government remains committed to its policy framework for aviation set out in the 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport. We have also committed to producing a National Policy Statement on Airports in 2011 which will take account of all relevant developments since 2003, including of course this recently published advice from the CCC.
OUR COMMENT: The sky's the only limit! What hope for the future?
MEXICO: DRAFT PAPER CONFIRMS LOW EU EXPECTATIONS
ENDS Europe DAILY - 26 February 2010
The EU believes a legally binding international climate treaty is
unlikely to be agreed at the next major UN climate conference in
Cancun, Mexico, later this year, according to a draft European
Commission policy paper to be released on 9 March.
The policy paper has been prepared by the commission's new climate
department and has yet to go through
inter-service consultation, ENDS has learned.
The recognition that a new climate treaty is not on the cards for
Mexico confirms what new climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard
reportedly told EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday
and outgoing UN climate chief Yvo de Boer's statement to AP earlier
Ms Hedegaard believes the EU should look to the UN climate conference
in South Africa at the end of 2011 for a treaty. In Mexico, world
governments should agree on concrete steps towards a deal that would
limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. Mexico could focus on
several specific issues rather than everything.
The commission is set to insist on a final agreement of high
environmental integrity. Potentially dangerous loopholes in the Kyoto
protocol how to account for emissions from land use, land-use change
and forestry and what to do with some 10 billion unused carbon credits must be addressed, it believes.
As part of its 2020 strategy for growth and jobs, Europe must strive
to be the world's most climate-friendly region, according to Ms
Hedegaard. In June the commission will issue a second policy paper
outlining a low-carbon growth strategy for the EU to 2050.
This will include a five-year roadmap and recommendations for
intermediate milestones, including a cost-benefit analysis of a 30%
emissions cut by 2020. In the latest version of draft conclusions
for an EU environmental ministerial conference in March, member states have introduced a call for such an impact
The commission believes it can coordinate efforts to turn promises of
fast-track climate aid to developing countries into reality. Meanwhile, an EU Council of Ministers working group on sharing out the burden of long-term climate finance amongst
member states has suspended its work pending further guidance from EU
The commission recognises it must do more to build alliances and
commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has asked Ms Hedegaard to
consult with other major CO2 emitters.
*A briefing note posted by the Finnish Institute of International
Affairs on Thursday urges the EU to consider giving up its call for a
single legally binding outcome to the climate talks and moving to a
30% emission reduction goal for 2020 for its own sake, to speed up
the transition to a low-carbon economy.
CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT SETS OUT
AN APOCALYPTIC VISION OF BRITAIN
Ben Webster, Environment Editor - Times Online - 26 February 2010
Mass migration northwards to new towns in Scotland, Wales and northeast England may be needed to cope with climate change and water shortages in the South East, according to an apocalyptic vision set out by the Government Office for Science.
Heathrow would be converted into a giant reservoir by 2035, there could be severe restrictions on flying and driving and farmers would be forced to sell their land to giant agricultural businesses. Greenhouse gas emissions would be controlled by carbon rationing for individuals, which would lead to "significant shifts in lifestyle as everyone tries to stay within budget".
The Government would ease pressure on the South East by planning to "disperse citizens to three new towns in Dumfries and Galloway, Northumberland and Powys".
The vision is published today in a report entitled Land Use Futures: Making the Most of Land in the 21st Century. John Beddington, the Government's chief scientific adviser, who directed the research, said that climate change and the growing population would present Britain with difficult choices about how it used its land.
"Business as usual is not an option over the longer term. The effects of climate change and new pressures on land could escalate, seriously eroding quality of life," he said.
The report says that the projected population increase of nine million by 2031 and an increase in the number of single-person households would result in unprecedented demand for land for development and put pressure on natural resources such as water. By 2050, hotter, drier summers could reduce river flows by 80 per cent.
The report, compiled by 300 scientists, economists and planners, includes three scenarios to "stimulate thought" and "highlight difficult policy dilemmas that government and other actors may need to consider in the future".
All the scenarios involve dramatic changes in lifestyles and landscapes in response to climate change. In the most extreme scenario, world leaders hold an emergency summit in 2014 when it becomes clear that the impacts of climate change are going to be far worse and happen much sooner than previously envisaged.
The Government responds by taking control of vast tracts of land and using it to grow wood and crops for biomass power stations. An agricultural productivity Bill requires farmers to increase yields per hectare but most have to sell up because they lack the resources to comply. "The average farm size in the UK increases from 57 hectares to 500 hectares; farms in the East and South East of England increase to 5,000 hectares."
The report says that satellite images in 2060 would reveal dramatic changes in the countryside. "The landscape is mottled with wind turbines; the patches in the patchwork are bigger; there are more forests and fewer animals; there are fewer vehicles moving along the roads."
In another scenario, the Government redefines land as a national resource and the rights of landowners are balanced with "society?s rights to public benefits from the services produced by it". Home ownership falls as people begin to embrace the idea of "stewardship" of shared natural resources.
"People are more interested in leasing or sharing goods and less interested in consumption that threatens sustainability of supply. The UK makes a significant cultural shift away from meeting present desires and towards protecting the needs of future generations."
The report concludes that failure to manage land in a co-ordinated way could result in severe shortages of resources and "public goods" such as water, wildlife and urban green space.
Professor Beddington said: "Over the next 50 years we cannot manage land in the way we've done. We've got too many competing issues, so much change going on, and we need to get much smarter about how we manage land as we go on."
GOVERNMENT 'IGNORED OWN CLIMATE POLICY'
OVER THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW
Heathrow expansion plans were different to those put out to public consultation the High Court was told today
Philip Pank, Transport Correspondent - Times Online - 23 February 2010
Approval of a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow Airport was "conspicuously unfair" and was based on an outdated business model that failed to take account of the Government's own climate change policies, the High Court was told today.
A coalition of London councils, environmental groups and local protestors launched a legal challenge against the Government's decision to approve construction of a third runway at Europe's busiest airport by 2020.
They claim that plans for expansion set out in Parliament last January by the former Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon were fundamentally different to those that had been put out to public consultation.
In addition, they argued that the Government's case for expansion was inconsistent with a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation below 2005 levels by 2050. They also said that the business case for expansion was flawed because it failed properly to address the impact of congestion on roads and the Piccadilly Tube Line.
It was further undermined by a Government pledge that the third runway could only operate at half-capacity, pending ministerial review in 2020 on the basis of new air and noise pollution tests.
Nigel Pleming, QC, told the High Court in London: "There was a consultation process here, but the decision that was made was fundamentally different from the subject matter of the consultation. That decision was such that it was conspicuously unfair to make the decision without giving the claimants the opportunity to make further representations."
He said that if congestion and the environmental impact of expansion had been properly accounted for, the economic benefit of expansion would fall from £5.5 billion, as set out by Government, to just £0.9 billion.
"The business case for the expansion disappeared and there was no case at all for Terminal 6," the claimants said in a three-page summary of their case. "No rational secretary of state could fail to take into account the impacts on the Piccadilly Line set out by Transport for London in its consultation response and/or a proper assessment on the road congestion implications," it added.
Mr Pleming suggested that it might be worth postponing the hearing until after the General Election, because the Conservative Party has vowed to overturn the Government's decision if it wins. "A better listing would be June 6, 2010. There is this uncertainty as to the future politically and to the planning process," he said.
His remarks were brushed aside by the judge, Lord Justice Carnwath.
Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, has promised to publish an aviation policy statement next year.
His decision followed publication of a key report by the Government's main climate change advisers last December. It said that the current predictions of demand growth for air travel which underpin current policy were incompatible with national emissions targets.
OUR COMMENT: There seem to be more answers than questions! Which is correct?
CONSERVATIVE PARTY WILL KEEP PROMISE
TO DITCH STANSTED AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS,
SAYS SAFFRON WALDEN MP
Saffron Walden Reporter - 23 February 2010
UTTLESFORD MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has vowed that the Conservative party will keep their promises to ditch any plans to expand Stansted Airport.
In a statement made today (Monday February 22) he said that the conservative party "will not approve the construction of a second runway."
However, airport owner BAA is still committed to building the new runway, and an extra terminal, to keep up with forecasted growth demands in air travel.
A public inquiry into the plans had been due to start last year, but was delayed to resolve ownership issues after BAA were told to sell three of its airports including Stansted amid fears of a monopoly.
Sir Alan said: "Business at the airport remains depressed but that does not alter the fact that the current owners have permission to use the existing runway to its full capacity - this could mean a doubling of passenger throughput.
"On the one hand this can be seen as a cross to bear by those communities most adjacent to flight paths. On the other, those who rely on the airport for jobs can be reassured."
He added: "It cannot be said loudly and clearly enough that a Conservative Government will not approve the construction of a second runway. With all respect to any other parties that might share this policy the outcome of a General Election will be either Labour or the Conservatives in the majority. Will David Cameron keep his promise? Yes, because his passion to protect the environment leads him to believe that the growth of aviation has to be constrained."
UK REGULATOR HEADS TO COURT OF APPEAL
TO FORCE BAA SALES
Kaveri Niththyananthan - wsj.com - 25 February 2010
LONDON - The Competition Commission Thursday said it will go straight to the Court of Appeal to force U.K. airport operator BAA Ltd. to sell two more airports after the Competition Appeal Tribunal refused to give permission to appeal its decision.
"Not a great surprise," a spokesman for the Competition Commission said in an email. "We now plan to apply directly to the Court of Appeal. We have 14 days to do so."
The CAT now has referred the matter back to the Competition Commission to reconsider and make a new decision, which could see BAA being allowed to keep two of its remaining six airports. BAA already has sold London's Gatwick Airport. "However, such a remittal will be on hold until the appeal process is concluded," the Competition Commission added.
The Competition Commission in March last year ruled after two years of investigation that BAA would need to sell three of its airports - Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow - because its ownership was deemed to stifle competition. It gave BAA two years to complete the sales.
BAA declined to comment immediately. Ryanair PLC , which runs operations from Stansted Airport, condemned the decision.
BAA, which is owned by Spanish construction and infrastructure company Grupo Ferrovial SA, lodged an appeal against the effective break-up of the company on the grounds that the Competition Commission's report may have been prejudiced by panel member Peter Moizer and that the two years BAA was given to complete the sales was unfair, given the downturn in the aviation industry and the subsequent fall in asset prices.
BAA said Mr. Moizer could have been biased because he also was a strategic adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which was linked to a failed bid for Gatwick Airport by Manchester Airports Group and Borelis Infrastructure. Mr. Moizer stepped down March 3, before the report was published. He couldn't be reached for comment immediately.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled in December that the Competition Commission report had the potential for bias, although BAA had no grounds to appeal the timing of the sale process. It said at the time there was no actual bias relating to Mr. Moizer's or anyone else's role in the report, but said "justice must be done and be seen to be done."
BAA INSISTS IT IS ON COURSE DESPITE INCREASED LOSSES
BAA has brushed off a big increase in full-year losses at its core London airports to claim that Heathrow's performance is improving and that it has various options for refinancing £1.56bn of subordinated debt
Alistair Osborne - Daily Telegraph - 24 February 2010
Figures for BAA (SP) Ltd, the owner of Heathrow and Stansted airports, show that pre-tax losses leapt from £324m to £822m last year, hit by an £800m interest bill and £665m of non-cash charges, including a £277m book loss on the £1.5bn sale of Gatwick.
Excluding exceptional items, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 17.1pc to £885m at its two remaining London airports despite a 3.8pc drop in passengers numbers to 85.9m. Revenues for the continuing businesses increased by 8.3pc to £1.98bn - boosted by higher aeronautical charges and a buoyant performance from the airport shops, where spend per passenger rose 6.1pc to £4.72.
Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said: "We have got a long way to go but Heathrow is improving, while we are looking at a much more stable funding structure than this time last year."
At Heathrow, the proportion of aircraft departing within 15 minutes of schedule increased from 69pc to 77pc, while its 1.5pc drop in passengers to 65.9m beat the average 5.6pc decline at the next four biggest European airports.
"We're not seeing any sharp recovery but we certainly hope the worst has passed," said Mr Matthews. He expects ongoing improvement in passenger volumes at Heathrow - though traffic is still well below the 72.5m passengers that the regulator forecast two years ago for the 2009/2010 financial year.
Net debt is down from £9.66bn to £8.73bn, helped by the Gatwick sale and a £500m injection of fresh equity from BAA's owners, led by Spain's Ferrovial, with a 56pc stake. BAA, which is investing £1bn a year in the airports, must refinance a £1.56bn subordinated loan by April 2011. Its current servicing costs are four percentage points over the inter-bank rate.
Mr Matthews said BAA had "a limited number of options" to refinance this debt. They include another bond issue on top of the two recent ones that raised £950m. "That would be one route," he said.
Having successfully challenged the Competition Commission's ruling that BAA must also sell Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, Mr Matthews said their future ownership was up in the air, pending an appeal by the competition regulator.
"I would prefer not to have to sell airports at all," he said, denying that BAA would have to offload assets to pay down its debt. "Has this company got an unmanageably high level of debt? No it doesn't," he added.
UNION FIGHTS STANSTED AIRPORT JOB CUTS
Herts and Essex Observer - 24 February 2010
A UNION and a major Stansted employer are at loggerheads over the loss of 345 skilled engineering jobs at the airport.
Last month aircraft specialist SR Technics announced it was moving its components services to Zurich in Switzerland, effectively ending its operation at the Essex hub. The company, which maintains Easyjet's fleet, pledged to work closely with the unions and employee representatives to support all those affected by the plans.
However, Unite is accusing management of not doing enough to avoid the massive job cuts. Regional officer Chris Jones said: "The current economic conditions mean that these skilled workers will find it extremely difficult to find alternative employment."
"They're angry and frustrated that their jobs are being exported abroad by an expanding company which refuses even to consider alternatives to job cuts. The workers' patience is running out. They expect the company to work with the union to avoid cuts as much as possible."
Mr Jones claimed that SR Technics had refused to look at alternatives to cuts, for example changing terms and conditions or changing working practices in order to keep workers at Stansted.
THE GOOD NEWS
Flavours of Asia arrive at Stansted Airport
Saffron Walden Reporter - 26 February 2010
STANSTED passengers can enjoy a taste of Asia as YamYamToGo, a new and exciting concept in Chinese and Thai cuisine, opened its doors in the airport's international departure lounge today.
"We know that our passengers want good quality, tasty food at an affordable price and so YamYamToGo compliments perfectly our existing mix of catering outlets. I'd like to wish them every success with their new and exciting venture here at Stansted," said Nick Barton, commercial and development director at Stansted Airport.
YamYamToGo is operated by SSP UK, market leaders in food and beverage brands in travel locations worldwide. Commenting on the opening of YamYamToGo at Stansted Airport, SSP UK Chief Executive Tony Keating said: "YamYamToGo prides itself on freshness, quality and efficiency, all of which sit perfectly with the standard of service that today's traveller looks for in a time pressured environment such as Stansted Airport."
"This is the first YamYamToGo to open in Essex and we're certain that the Oriental flavours on offer will be extremely popular with Stansted passengers."
ETS AIRLINE EMISSIONS CAP DELAYED UNTIL SUMMER
ENDS Europe DAILY - 16 February 2010
The European Commission is unlikely to propose an emissions cap for
airlines operating flights into and out of the EU from 2012 before
the summer, an industry source told ENDS. The cap was initially due
to be announced last August.
The commission is reviewing a first calculation of the cap that
worried airlines because "parts of the calculation were missing
data", a representative from trade association ERA told ENDS. The EU
executive was not available for comment.
Last summer, another trade association (AEA) predicted the commission
would cap emissions at 210 million tonnes in 2012. Carbon market analyst Point
Carbon forecast a 218-million-tonne cap. Emissions will be capped at 97% of average 2004-06 levels.
On Tuesday ERA said it did not have a new estimate, but it hopes the
final emissions cap will be higher once greenhouse gas emissions
from, for example, taxiing and ground-based power used by airlines
are better taken into account in calculations.
Airlines must apply for free allowances by 31 March 2011. By then
they must also report verified emission reductions and
tonne-kilometres flown for all flights in 2010. The data will be used
to calculate benchmarks for distributing free allowances. Airlines
will have to pay for 15% of their allowances.
The majority of airlines have started monitoring their emissions,
according to ERA. Most plans for monitoring and reporting emissions were submitted late last year because
of the delayed publication of a list dividing responsibility for
administrating the emissions trading scheme (ETS) among member states.
A new version of this list was published in the EU's official journal
at the end of January. It updates the August 2009 list. Specialist
consultancy ETS Aviation, which helps airlines comply with the ETS,
said the list now included hundreds of small private operators.
While big operators have submitted monitoring, reporting and
verification plans, many smaller airlines are still in the dark,
according to ETS Aviation chief David Carlisle. These companies could
face severe financial penalties for non-compliance in future, he
CLIMATE CHANGE DEPARTMENT SENDS STAFF
ON HUNDREDS OF DOMESTIC FLIGHTS
The Government department set up to tackle climate change has paid
for more than 1,000 internal flights around Britain despite telling the
public to cut down on air travel
Francesca Angelini and Louise Gray - Daily Telegraph - 18 February 2010
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is in charge of a multimillion advertising campaign telling the country to cut down on carbon intensive activities, such as taking domestic flights.
But last year officials from DECC took just under 1,200 domestic flights, including 26 return flights to Manchester that can be reached in two-and-a-half hours by train.
Staff from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), that also urges the public to fly less, took 1,938 domestic flights in 2008/09. The Government spent £35,000 on offsetting the flights, for example by paying for trees to be planted, and insisted all internal flights are kept to a minimum.
But environmental groups and opposition politicians said the officials should be leading by example before preaching on climate change. Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace climate campaigner, called the Government "hypocritical".
"This is another case of ministers saying one thing and doing another," she said. "If ministers are serious about tacking climate change, as they frequently assure us they are, then they could start by not flying to places that are a short hop away like Manchester and Aberdeen, and which are served by a fast and efficient rail service."
Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat climate change spokesman, said civil servants should be required to take the most environmentally form of transport as part of the Civil Service Code. "I have been calling for a long time for the government to behave more responsibly in its travel decisions," he said.
Mike Childs, Head of Climate at Friends of the Earth, said everyone needs to take the train wherever possible if the UK is to meet climate change targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. "There's no excuse for flying when there are low-carbon alternatives - the Government should be showing leadership by swapping planes for trains for all short-haul journeys."
DECC, that was set up in October 2008, is in charge of the Act on CO2 campaign that urges the public to cut emissions from transport in television adverts and through other forms of communication. But a spokesman said it was sometimes necessary for Government staff to take flights, for example to the Shetland Islands.
"DECC has to balance the use of teleconferences and lowest carbon travel methods with the occasional business need to be somewhere quickly and on the rare occasions where air travel is unfortunately the only option, all of the carbon emissions are offset."
Defra said it was policy is to use "the most efficient and economic means of travel wherever possible" and that staff travelling "are encouraged to explore rail over air travel where possible." The department has cut the number of flights by staff from more than 2,000 in 2007/08.
"Where rail travel is not practical we offset any flights," a spokesperson said. "Due to the nature of Defra's work it is sometimes necessary for flights to be taken to enable international discussions."
FOREIGN OFFICE'S 10:10 PLAN TAKES OFF WITH
ECONOMY FLIGHTS FOR AMBASSADORS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff will fly 'cattle class' as
part of department efforts to cut emissions by 10% in 2010
Juliette Jowit - The Guardian - 18 February 2010
What with the late-night cocktail parties; hobnobbing with heads of state; free opulent mansion and premium air miles account, few jobs have the glamour of ambassador. But even the lifestyles of Her Majesty's representatives abroad are to be curtailed by the government's drive to reduce its contribution to carbon emissions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff have been asked to downgrade flights to economy class - even for the top men and women and their families. The shift from wider seats and more legroom to what is unaffectionately known as "cattle class", is part of the FCO's plan of action after joining the 10:10 climate change campaign. Like more than 61,000 other members, the government department has pledged to reduce carbon emissions from its 291 posts around the world by 10% in 2010.
In common with other individuals and organisations, including three other government departments, it will turn down heating and air conditioning, switch to eco-friendly vehicles, and try to use video-conferencing to replace one in ten flights. Staff overseas are also being encouraged to take their own initiative: in Portugal, our man in Lisbon, ambassador Alex Ellis now cycles to work.
The most uncomfortable change, however, might well be new rules that suggest staff should book economy seats on flights up to five hours - as far as Tel Aviv or Moscow - up from three previously. Staff and their families are also asked to take the smaller seats when flying on leave for journeys up to 10 hours - further than Washington or Delhi.
"Economy seats take up less room on a plane, and aviation emissions are calculated by the amount of room a person takes up on a plane," explained a government spokesman. "Therefore business or first class have higher emissions than economy." Foreign Office staff are not entitled to fly first class.
Union representatives said staff had been told the proposed new flying rules were to cut costs, and there will be concerns that the FCO said it did not have data on total flights last year, nor a breakdown of economy and business tickets.
However, Eugenie Harvey, 10:10's director said the department and the foreign secretary, David Miliband, were very committed to the campaign, and the fact that changes could also save money should be celebrated. "This whole challenge is about looking for the gaps and cracks, the little things that go unnoticed, and see how we can start with some of those to chip at this much bigger ambition [to cut global emissions]," added Harvey.
The carbon management company, Carbon Planet, tells travellers there is little difference between business and economy for short-haul flights, over 1,000 km business seats are allocated about 50% more carbon than economy, and for long-haul destinations such as to Asia the difference can be three times.
Miliband said: "By signing up to and delivering on the 10:10 commitments, the FCO will signal its determination to play its own part in turning Copenhagen's intent into the reality of a low-carbon future."
The Foreign Office is the fourth government department to join 10:10. The other three departments are Energy and Climate Change, headed by the foreign secretary's brother, Ed Miliband; International Development; and Customs.
Last week it was revealed total government emissions rose by more than 6% in 2008, despite a 2% drop nationally, blamed on the economic recession. Last October, a move to force the government to join the 10:10 climate campaign and cut its own emissions by 10% in 2010 was defeated in the Commons. Ministers argued signing up the government estate to the 10:10 campaign would "make no sense".
OUR COMMENT: No Comment!
BA AGREES DEAL FOR UK BIOFUEL PLANT
Richard Scott, Transport Correspondent - BBC News - 15 February 2010
British Airways has struck a deal to build the first plant in Europe to produce jet fuel from waste matter.
BA says the plant will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. Some 500,000 tonnes of waste will be used by the UK facility each year to produce 16 million gallons of fuel.
Construction of the plant in east London will start within two years. It is set to produce fuel from 2014, creating up to 1,200 jobs.
BA said the plant would produce twice the amount of fuel needed to power all its flights from London City Airport. It would only account for about 2% of flights from Heathrow, however.
BA argues the plant will cut the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, reducing the amount of methane that is produced. Methane is thought to be a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
The plant will be built by a US company Solena Group, with BA committing to buy all of its output. It will be another four years before it starts producing fuel, and it is unlikely to work at full capacity straight away. The ideal source material for the plant is waste matter that has a high carbon content.
The waste is fed into a high temperature "gasifier" to produce BioSynGas. A chemical process called Fischer Tropsch is then used to convert the gas into biofuel.
Waste products from the process can be used to power the plant as well as supply 20MW of electricity to the national grid. A solid waste product can be used as an aggregate in construction. The fuel produced by the plant is certified for use in other countries, but not currently in the UK.
BA says it is confident of getting the certification by the time the plant starts producing fuel, either for use in a blend with traditional kerosene or on its own.
OUR COMMENT: It seems counter productive to create fuel by using an incineration process and burning mixed waste "of a high carbon content" which will have a high CO2 emission level, in order to make biofuel which is expected to produce less CO2 than fossil fuel when used in aircraft! Have they done their carbon sums? They should also be aware that present waste disposal policy is to divert organic waste from landfill sites in order to avoid the production of methane.
MICHAEL (USAIN BOLT) O'LEARY CHALLENGES STELIOS TO "CHARIOTS OF FIRE" RACE AROUND TRAFALGAR SQUARE
Ryanair News - 12 February 2010
Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary, today (11th Feb) challenged easyJet boss Stelios to a "Chariots of Fire" race around Trafalgar Square to settle a dispute which has blown up over the last week with easyJet and Stelios' expensive lawyers (Herbert Smith and Rachel Atkins) threatening Ryanair with legal action over Ryanair's recent adverts which confirm that:
easyJet is in fact a "high fares" airline, since their average fares (?66) are more than double those of Ryanair (?32) and,
easyJet is hiding its poor on-time statistics (which have not been published on its website for the last 40 weeks in a row) because (Ryanair believes) easyJet's punctuality is so awful compared to that of Ryanair.
Michael O'Leary has promised to stop calling easyJet a "high fares" airline or an "always late" airline if Stelios wins the race, but if Stelios loses, then easyJet will admit that it is just another high fares airline (by comparison with Ryanair) and will agree to resume publishing its weekly punctuality statistics so that the travelling public can see just how poor easyJet's punctuality is.
Laying down this challenge today, Ryanair's Michael (Usain Bolt) O'Leary said: "I am currently in rigorous training and believe that my daily regime of 40 cigarettes, 24 beers and extended sessions on the couch watching TV, leaves me in perfect shape to beat Stelios in a 21st Century version of the 'Chariots of Fire' race around Trafalgar Square."
"We believe this race will be a much better use of Stelios' time rather than paying expensive lawyers to issue vacuous threats, when both Stelios and easyJet know they can't compete with Ryanair's prices and they can't match our punctuality either.
"If Stelios is too 'tired' to run, then I will offer him the alternative of a wheelbarrow race around Trafalgar Square, with the winner taking all. Win or lose, at least Stelios and easyJet will save a fortune on expensive lawyers fees. No expensive lawyers can alter the facts, compared to Ryanair, easyJet is a high fares airline, and an always late airline."
"See you in Trafalgar Square Stelios!"
COMPETITION COMMISSION TO APPEAL BAA BIAS RULING
Sarah Arnott - The Independent - 11 February 2010
The back-and-forth over the ownership of key UK airports took yet another turn yesterday as the Competition Commission (CC) launched an appeal against a ruling that there was "apparent bias" in its decision to break up owner BAA.
The appeal is the latest twist in the saga of claim and counter-claim which began last March with the CC's ruling that BAA's seven UK airports constituted a monopoly, and that it should sell both Gatwick and Stansted, and also either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
BAA was already in the process of selling Gatwick. But it immediately issued a challenge via the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), accusing the CC decision of "apparent bias" because one of its inquiry panel - Peter Moizer - was an adviser to the Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which was then bidding for Gatwick. BAA also claimed that the deadline for the sales to take place within two years did not take into account the recession.
Just before Christmas, the Court of Appeal concluded - "with the greatest reluctance" - that BAA's claim was justified, thereby overturning the CC ruling. The CAT had been due to meet again this Friday, when it was expected to issue the formal notice quashing the ruling.
However, the CC is now requesting permission to appeal itself, with the CAT expected to either grant or deny that permission in the next week or two. If granted, the case will then go back to the Court of Appeal.
"We have decided to appeal on the grounds that the CAT was wrong to conclude that there was a connection between Professor Moizer and MAG giving rise to apparent bias," the CC said yesterday. "We will seek to have any appeal heard as soon as possible in view of the importance of this case."
After months of uncertainty over the price, Gatwick was finally sold to the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners for £1.5bn in October. According to figures published yesterday, grim winter weather helped push Gatwick's passenger numbers down 5.4 per cent to 1.87 million in January.
BAA TOLD TO DECIDE ON SECOND STANSTED RUNWAY
Ed Owen - New Civil Engineer - 11 February 2010
The government has asked airports operator BAA to decide whether it wants to press ahead with planning applications for a second runway at Stansted, and to resubmit new proposals if so.
BAA's plans for Stansted expansion were approved by the High Court in March last year.
Passenger numbers could increase by one-third to 36M by 2015/16 under existing expansion plans. A second runway could further increase capacity at the airport to 68M in 2030.
In the same month, the Competition Commission ruled that the airports operator would have to sell both Gatwick, which has subsequently been sold for £1.51bn. BAA then wrote to Denham's predecessor Hazel Blears in May 2009, requesting a postponement of the ongoing expansion inquiry.
In an open letter to stakeholders involved in Stansted's proposed expansion, communities secretary John Denham said: "It is clear to me that the ownership issues around [Stansted] airport will not be fully resolved for some time. Taken together with my previous commitment to a minimum of 8 weeks notice between a formal announcement and the start of the inquiry, I have concluded that the inquiry cannot reasonably start until after the next General Election (the latest date for which is Thursday 3 June)."
"Additionally, given that the planning applications, orders and associated documentation were originally submitted nearly 2 years ago, I consider there will clearly be a need for the applicant to re-visit some of this material. This being the case, I would like to invite BAA to advise me formally what their future intentions are, firstly regarding the planning applications and orders, and secondly, if they are to pursue the proposal for a second runway, around the timescales they might envisage for the inquiry to open, to ensure that any delay is minimised," he said.
Stop Stansted Expansion Chairman Peter Sanders said: "We're very pleased that the Secretary of State has now put the ball firmly in BAA's court by asking it to state its future intentions regarding its second runway application. BAA has spectacularly failed in its original intention to secure planning approval for a second runway before the next General Election, despite having had the present Government's blessing for the development since 2003."
"A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and if BAA does decide to go ahead it must make a start on updating that ten foot pile of planning documents. The blight and uncertainty has gone on for far too long," he said.
'SECOND RUNWAY CASE STILL STRONG'
SAYS STANSTED AIRPORT BOSS
Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 12 February 2010
STANSTED'S boss has confirmed BAA's commitment to a second runway at the airport.
Managing director David Johnston was responding to the latest moves by John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, about the start of a public inquiry into the building project.
The cabinet minister stepped in after the Competition Commission launched an appeal against the overturning of its order that BAA must sell Stansted, Gatwick and a Scottish Airport. The operator had persuaded the Competition Appeal Tribunal the decision was flawed, but the reprieve is now in doubt.
Mr Denham said in a letter yesterday (Wednesday, February 10): "It is clear to me that the ownership issues around the airport will not be fully resolved for some time. Taken together with my previous commitment to a minimum of eight weeks notice between a formal announcement and the start of the inquiry, I have concluded that the inquiry cannot reasonably start until after the next General Election (the latest date for which is Thursday, June 3)."
"Additionally, given that the planning applications, orders and associated documentation were originally submitted nearly two years ago, I consider there will clearly be a need for the applicant to re-visit some of this material."
"This being the case, I would like to invite BAA to advise me formally what their future intentions are, firstly regarding the planning applications and orders, and secondly, if they are to pursue the proposal for a second runway, around the timescales they might envisage for the inquiry to open, to ensure that any delay is minimised."
However Mr Johnston told the Observer: "We believe the case for a second runway at Stansted remains strong and are committed to taking that case to the inquiry when the Government decides it is appropriate to do so."
NEW GATWICK OWNER RULES OUT SECOND RUNWAY
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Press Release - 8 February 2010
GACC welcomes the statement by Sir David Rowlands, Chairman of the Board of Gatwick Airport Ltd, that a second runway will not be considered any time in the foreseeable future.
Speaking on 28 January, he said: "The simple fact is that we at Gatwick have not a shred of interest in a second runway. It's not government policy and it's not in our policy. Even if the Government started to look more favourably at the prospect, we would have to think very hard about spending £100 to £200 million on a planning application with an uncertain decision. We would have to look even more carefully at the economic value of a multi-billion pound project - would there be a commercial return?"
Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, says: "This firm statement will kill off some silly speculation, and will remove a lot of uncertainty and anxiety."
Sir David, who was previously Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, knows that it is not Government policy to build a new runway at Gatwick, and that a new runway has also been ruled out by the Tories and the Lib Dems. His remarks indicate that, during the process of bidding for Gatwick, the new owners, Global Infrastructure Partners, made a careful analysis of what a second runway would cost and its potential returns. He must also know that any planning application for a new runway - which would double the size of the airport, double the number of aircraft, and double the noise and pollution - would meet huge local and national opposition.
"GACC thanks all those who over the years have supported our campaigns against a new runway," said Sewill. "The united stand by local people, by the local MPs and by all the local councils across Surrey, Sussex and Kent has helped to produce this result."
Nevertheless GACC will remain on guard. The Government and BAA have previously ruled out new runways at Stansted and at Heathrow, only to announce them a few years later. We will stand ready, if need be, to launch a massive campaign to defeat any new runway plan, as we have defeated such plans in the past.
GACC looks forward to working constructively with the new Gatwick owners to reduce the noise, pollution and CO2 emissions caused by the airport. As Sir David admitted: "Airports do not always make good neighbours, we intend to improve on that... We want to build a better airport, we want to be a good neighbour and build a good relationship with the local community... we know we cannot grow at the expense of the community."
GACC Vice Chairman Peter Barclay commented: "I was particularly glad to hear Sir David say that: "We will operate on an open book. I don't see why stakeholders can't see what Gatwick is saying to DfT [and other government departments]."
"The first step," Peter Barclay added, "will be for the airport to publish the revised draft noise action plan, at present under discussion with the Department for Transport. We need to see whether the many constructive proposals which GACC put forward have been included."
OUR COMMENT: David Johnston, please note!
APPROVAL OF THIRD HEATHROW RUNWAY VINDICATED: ADONIS
UKPA - 9 February 2010
The Government's decision to give the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow has "stood the test of time", Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has said. He added he was "confident" an agreement would be reached with the European Commission over pollution levels at the airport, which already exceed EU limits.
But Tory transport spokeswoman Baroness Hanham suggested a third runway would "make it impossible to improve the air quality sufficiently to avoid this country being penalised".
Her comments follow a conclusion last month by the London Assembly's environment committee that there were "clear inadequacies" in the safeguards against air, noise and climate pollution imposed on the proposed expansion.
Building a third runway at the west London airport is set to increase passenger numbers from 67 million to 82 million a year, and potentially up to 135 million.
Lord Adonis told peers at question time: "In respect of the decision to allow a planning application to come forward for a third runway, subject to conditions being met, that decision has stood the test of time. Despite two years of recession, Heathrow is still running at nearly 100% capacity despite the downturn in business at other airports."
"It is our main international hub airport, the lifeblood of our economy depends upon it and this Government will not betray the national interest by refusing to take a decision that is manifestly in the best interests of the country."
Tory Lord Trefgarne had asked whether it was still justified, "in the light of things that have happened" since the Government made their announcement last January.
In response to Lady Hanham, Lord Adonis said: "We're in discussions with the European Commission on this very point. I'm confident that we will reach a satisfactory position, but in respect of nitrogen dioxide - which is the particular issue of concern - combined aircraft and road vehicle nitrogen dioxide emissions around Heathrow are expected to halve by 2030 compared to 2002 even with a fully utilised third runway."
OUR COMMENT: Lord Adonis ahould also note Sir David Rowland's comments on Gatwick.
NEWS FROM AIRPORTS' OWNER
Ferrovial to "continue to tap the markets", shares dip
Centre for Aviation Online - 28 January 2010
Ferrovial SA Chairman, Rafael del Pino, announced yesterday the company plans to "continue to tap the markets" to finance operations, if they are as "liquid as they are now" before a decision to sell more airports.
The BAA parent is still awaiting on the UK Civil Aviation Authority?s judgment on whether BAA will be forced to sell London Stansted and Glasgow or Edinburgh airports. Mr del Pino acknowledges the company will "eventually have to sell some BAA assets", but "hopefully in better market conditions" than when BAA sold London Gatwick.
Meanwhile, Mr del Pino stated BAA performed "slightly better" year-on-year in Jan-2010, and expects passenger traffic at its airports to improve this year. Shares in Ferrovial dipped 2.1% yesterday.
Aeroports de Paris plans to approve four-year investment plan, shares rise
Also in Europe, Aeroports de Paris (ADP) announced plans to approve a four-year investment plan for 2010-2014, including the upgrade of Orly and Roissy airports, valued at EUR2.7 billion for ADP SA and EUR3.2 billion for ADP Groupe. ADP shares were up 0.2% yesterday.
PLANS TO TACKLE AIRPORT NOISE A SHAM, SAY CAMPAIGNERS
Press Release - Aviation Environment Federation - 8 February 2010
Airport 'noise action plans' will fail to tackle impacts on local communities, a study by environmental campaigners has found. European laws designed to help protect communities from noise impacts now demand large airports - as well as roads, railways and built-up areas - to draw up 'action plans' for tackling their noise pollution. But campaigners say that the plans written by airports mainly just restate what they already have to do to comply with, local planning requirements, or, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, because of rules put in place by the Government.
The Aviation Environment Federation, a campaign group representing people living near the UK's airports and airfields, has reviewed all the airport draft noise action plans and concluded that not one meets all the requirements of the EC law. The Government now has to decide whether to accept the plans or to send them back.
AEF Deputy Director Cait Weston said: "We weren't expecting great things from the noise action plans. The demands made by the regulation are pretty flimsy. There's no standard set for what noise is unacceptable, for example - unless there are restrictions imposed by the planning authority or by the Government, airports can decide that for themselves. And airports will also be in charge of monitoring the effectiveness of their actions. So they can pretty much say what they like in these plans."
"So what surprised us was the extent to which airports have failed even to comply with the weak demands of the EU's legislation. Airports had to make 'noise maps', for example, and base their action plans on the maps. But most have just repeated whatever actions they were taking before producing the maps. At Heathrow, the noise maps produced under the EC law show 725,500 people in the affected area, but the actions the airport has proposed to deal with noise relate to the 57 Decibel contour, which covers only 258,500 people. It's a massive difference."
In 2007 the Government published the results of a seven-year study into aircraft noise and annoyance which found that even though individual aircraft have become quieter, people are more annoyed by aircraft noise now than they were in the 1980s, when the previous study was conducted.
Meanwhile there is a growing body of evidence to show that living near an airport is bad for your health. Academics have found that long term exposure to night noise from aircraft significantly increases risk of high blood pressure, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. A study commissioned by the German Environment Agency found that women living under flight paths face a 93% higher rate of hospitalization with cardiovascular problems compared with their counterparts in quiet residential areas and that those exposed to jet noise of about 60 decibels during the day are 172% more likely to suffer a stroke.
NOISE PLANS NOT WORKING
ESSEX: Large rise in cargo goods going through London Stansted Airport
Dunmow Broadcast - 12 February 2010
NEW figures released by BAA show that Stansted Airport's cargo operation enjoyed its fourth month on month increase in a row.
More than 15,000 tonnes of goods were transported through Stansted last month, a 14.2 per cent increase compared to January last year, almost five times the rate reported in October 2009.
"This upturn in cargo through Stansted is encouraging news, reflecting an increase in trade and economic activity," said Nick Barton Stansted's commercial and development director.
"Passenger numbers are also beginning to stabilise with rates of decline significantly down on 2009, and we remain hopeful that this area of our business will also see a return to growth towards the end of 2010.
"Stansted has a world-wide reputation as a cargo hub and we're proud to be the second largest London airport for cargo operations into and out of the UK. Around 180,000 tonnes of cargo are shipped through our world-class facilities at Stansted each year. Fed-Ex has their largest UK hub here and the airport is also home to BA's World Cargo operation."
"With AirAsia X carrying goods on direct flights to Kuala Lumpur and beyond and other passenger airlines transporting items daily across their route networks, its not just freight operators linking Stansted onto the vast cargo networks around the globe."
OUR COMMENT: The down side, much more noise from noisier aircraft often at night.
THE REALLY GOOD NEWS
Coffee to go? Easyjet teams up with Starbucks for in-flight drinks
Dunmow Broadcast - 8 February 2010
STANSTED airport carrier easyJet, has announced that passengers will be able to purchase Starbucks drinks on all flights across its European network.
From today (Monday February 8), all customers will be able to purchase a cup of Starbucks coffee whilst on-the-go, following a successful trial.
EasyJet's head of in-flight, Rob Pickering, said: "We are delighted by the feedback we have received from our passengers over the past few months, and are pleased to roll out this product to all flights across our network."
"This is a significant step forward for the easyJet in-flight product and we are proud to be the first European airline to serve such a premium coffee brand as Starbucks, which will ensure that our passengers will never need to be without great coffee or hot drinks."
Starbucks UK and Ireland managing director, Darcy Willson-Rymer, added: "Offering Starbucks drinks to easyJet passengers means that we can give new and existing Starbucks customers the chance to experience great quality coffee whilst travelling."
AIR PASSENGER NUMBERS FELL 3.5% LAST YEAR
Alistair Dawber - The Independent - 27 January 2010
Airlines last year suffered their worst drop in passenger numbers since the end of the Second World War, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said yesterday.
The body, which represents the interests of the 230 carriers, said that passenger demand fell by 3.5 per cent in 2009, compared to a year earlier. Average load - or the extent to which planes are full - was recorded down at 75.6 per cent. Freight transport, hit by the global economic downturn, fared even worse with demand falling by 10.1 per cent.
"In terms of demand, 2009 goes into the history books as the worst year the industry has ever seen," said IATA's director general and chief executive Giovanni Bisignani. "We have permanently lost 2.5 years of growth in passenger markets and 3.5 per cent of growth in the freight business."
A number of international carriers, such as JAL in Japan, Alitalia and Ireland's Aer Lingus have struggled in the last 12 months. British Airways has seen profits fall and is now at loggerheads with unions over cost saving plans. Earlier this week, BA's cabin crew began voting on industrial action over changes in working practices.
IATA warned that this year would be scarcely better. "Revenue improvement will be at a much slower pace than the demand growth that we are starting to see," said Mr Bisignani. "Profitability will be even slower to recover and airlines will lose an expected $5.6bn in 2010."
Airlines in Europe saw passenger demand drop by 5.6 per cent last year, the same level seen in North America. African airlines suffered the worst falls, with demand dropping by 6.8 per cent during 2009. IATA said that an exceptionally poor first half was largely responsible. Middle Eastern airlines enjoyed a strong 2009 with demand growing by 11.2 per cent.
Mr Bisignani also said that airlines were in no position to pay for additional security measures at airports: "Globally, airlines spend $5.9bn a year on what are essentially measures concerned with national security. That is the responsibility of governments, and they should be picking up the bill."
BRANSON WARNS THAT OIL CRUNCH
IS COMING WITHIN FIVE YEARS
Virgin chief and fellow business leaders call for action
Energy crisis threatens to be more serious than credit crunch
Terry Macalister - guardian.co.uk - 7 February 2010
Sir Richard Branson and fellow leading businessmen will warn ministers this week that the world is running out of oil and faces an oil crunch within five years.
The founder of the Virgin group, whose rail, airline and travel companies are sensitive to energy prices, will say that the -coming crisis could be even more serious than the credit crunch.
"The next five years will see us face another crunch - the oil crunch. This time, we do have the chance to prepare. The challenge is to use that time well," Branson will say. "Our message to government and businesses is clear: act," he says in a foreword to a new report on the crisis. "Don't let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did."
Other British executives who will support the warning include Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy group, and Brian Souter, chief executive of transport operator Stagecoach.
Their call for urgent government action comes amid a wider debate on the issue and follows allegations by insiders at the International Energy Agency that the organisation had deliberately underplayed the threat of so-called "peak oil" to avoid panic on the stock markets.
Ministers have until now refused to take predictions of oil droughts seriously, preferring to side with oil companies such as BP and ExxonMobil and crude producers such as the Saudis, who insist there is nothing to worry about.
But there are signs this is about to change, according to Jeremy Leggett, founder of the Solarcentury renewable power company and a member of a peak oil taskforce within the business community. "[We are] in regular contact with government; we have reason to believe their risk thinking on peak oil may be evolving away from BP et al's and we await the results of further consultations with keen interest."
The issue came up at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos where Thierry Desmarest, chief executive of the Total oil company in France, also broke ranks. The world could struggle to produce more than 95m barrels of oil a day in future, he said - 10% above present levels. "The problem of peak oil remains."
Chris Skrebowski, an independent oil consultant who prepared parts of the peak oil report for Branson and others, said that only recession is holding back a crisis: "The next major supply constraint, along with spiking oil prices, will not occur until recession-hit demand grows to the point that it removes the current excess oil stocks and the large spare capacity held by Opec. However, once these are removed, possibly as early as 2012-13 and no later than 2014-15, oil prices are likely to spike, imperilling economic growth and causing economic dislocation."
Skrebowski believes that Britain is particularly vulnerable because it has gone from being a net exporter of oil, gas and coal to being an importer, and is becoming increasingly exposed to competition for supplies. "This is likely to put pressure on the UK balance of payments and in a world of floating exchange rates is also likely to put downward pressure on the valuation of sterling. In other words, the positive benefits to the valuation of the pound as a petrocurrency are now eroding," he said.
The question of peak oil came to centre stage last November when a whistleblower told the Guardian the figures provided by the IEA - and used by the UK and US governments for much of their planning scenarios - were inaccurate.
"The IEA in 2005 was predicting that oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030, although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this."
But Saudi Arabia launched a counter-strike at Davos, insisting the issue was overblown. "The concern about peak oil is behind us," said Khalid al-Falih, chief executive of Saudi Aramco.
Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, downplayed fears about dwindling supplies in an interview with the Guardian last week.
AIRPORT LOOKING FOR 50 FEMALE SECURITY OFFICERS
James Hore - EADT Online - 7 February 2010
STANSTED Airport has announced it will be creating 50 new jobs for female security officers in time for the peak holiday season.
The welcome news for the job market will see a campaign launched to find the new staff who will be given six-month contracts at the Essex airport.
The roles are required to meet the summer peak in passenger numbers and are targeted specifically at women because, under Department for Transport regulations, female security officers are required to search female passengers.
Cathy Brennan, Stansted's recruitment and training manager, said although the airport has similar numbers of male and female security officers, more of the women are in part time positions. She said: "The nature of the business in the summer means there will be more families flying on their holidays so naturally there will be more females."
"The job will be dealing with people going through security so they will be searching people, bags and working on the X-ray machines. It's actually a great place to work - there is never a dull moment."
?Women do tend to see this as a men's role, that's the traditional view, but that is changing and I really would encourage any women interested to get in contact. It's ideal for someone who is perhaps returning to the work place after time out having children as they can fit it around their lifestyle."
Key criteria for applicants include a five-year checkable work history and full colour vision. The posts involve shift work, normally four to six hours and including early and late shifts, with a basic 240 hours over the six-month period.
Anyone interested in applying can get more information by logging on to www.baa.com/careers and enter vacancy number STN381.
2009 WAS A TERRIBLE YEAR FOR AVIATION
(EXCEPT FOR THE MIDDLE EAST)
Centre for Aviation Online - 28 January 2010
IATA is describing 2009 as "the worst year the industry has ever seen". Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, noted the industry "permanently" lost 2.5 years of growth in passenger markets and 3.5 years of growth in the freight business. The "permanent" loss of traffic is a big statement, reflecting structural shifts that are occurring in and around the industry. Some markets may never be the same again.
International demand falls 3.5% in 2009
For an industry operating on thin margins, it is highly sensitive to demand shocks such as that witnessed amid the global financial crisis. Certainly, carriers in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific suffered from incredibly tough conditions, but the Middle East powered on in 2009.
Full-year 2009 demand statistics for international scheduled air traffic showed the industry ended 2009 with the largest ever post-war decline. Passenger demand for the full year was down 3.5% with an average load factor of 75.6%. Freight showed a full-year decline of 10.1% (in terms of FTKs), with an average load factor of just 49.1%, according to IATA.
But there were some encouraging signs as the year came to a close. Dec-2009 passenger demand recorded a 4.5% improvement compared to December 2008, with a load factor of 77.6%. While this is an 8.4% demand improvement from the February 2009 low point, it is still 3.4% below the early 2008 peak, according to IATA.
What crisis? Middle East traffic soars
Middle Eastern carriers reported an 11.2% increase in RPKs in 2009 (on a 13.6% capacity increase) and generated the fastest growth in passenger traffic at the end of the year with a stirring 19.1% increase in Dec-2009.
IATA commented, "these gains result from Middle Eastern carriers taking a larger share of long-haul connecting traffic over their hubs". The new powerhouse Middle East sixth freedom hubs continue to grow strongly as the major Middle Eastern airlines push capacity increases at double-digit rates.
What about LCCs?
The Middle East was the only structural shift referred to by IATA in its latest commentary. It did not mention the considerable impact LCCs (which are not members of IATA) are having in short-haul markets around the world, though previous IATA releases have discussed their impact on premium demand in Europe.
IATA members' international traffic fell 3.5% last year, but ICAO (whose data includes scheduled passenger traffic on airlines of Member States, including LCCs) last month reported a preliminary worldwide international decline of 3.9% in 2009. Total (international and domestic volumes) fell 3.5%, according to ICAO, as the domestic decline (-1.8%) was less severe. Indeed, there was a double-digit domestic passenger traffic increase in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America.
ICAO noted that this domestic performance, and the "relative strong performance of LCCs in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, helped curtail the severity of the decline in total traffic".
Heart-burn in other markets
IATA members in the Asia Pacific region, Europe and North America recorded year-on-year declines in passenger demand of 5.6%, 5.0% and 5.6%, respectively, in 2009.
Asia Pacific carriers however are benefiting most from the year-end upturn, according to IATA, with an 8.0% year-on-year improvement in December. This reflects their 35% contribution to the year-end rise boosted by the significant economic upturn in the region.
By contrast, European carriers saw a 1.2% decline and North American carriers declined by 0.4%. While both North American and European carriers saw demand improvements in the first half of the year, the second half was basically flat. North American carriers reported consistently higher load factors last year, averaging 82.2% for the full year.
Latin American carriers recorded 7.1% growth in December. Full-year traffic growth was constrained to 0.3% due to the impact of Influenza A(H1N1) fears during the second and third quarters.
Africa's carriers experienced a sharp decline of 6.8% in 2009 primarily on an "exceptionally weak first half". Their year ended with December demand at 3.1% above previous year levels.
International freight demand improving
Dec-2009 freight demand showed a 24.4% year-on-year increase, with a load factor of 54.1%, although the improvement is "exaggerated by the exceptionally weak performance in Dec-2008, which was the low point on the cycle", according to the industry body.
Freight demand is still 9% lower than the peak in early 2008. Optimism is returning to the industry as purchasing managers survey indicators reached a 44-month high in December pointing towards increased freight volumes in the coming months.
Outlook: Yields still down and profitability still distant
ICAO is quite upbeat in its traffic outlook. It noted, "in line with the improving economic situation in many parts of the world, a moderate recovery is expected for 2010 with a 3.3% traffic growth forecast" worldwide. ICAO added, "the momentum is expected to continue in 2011, on the way to full recovery and traditional growth trends of 5.5% per year".
Profitability however is a different story. Yields have started to improve with tighter supply-demand conditions in recent months, according to IATA, but they remained 5-10% down on 2008 levels.
Mr Bisignani concluded, "revenue improvements will be at a much slower pace than the demand growth that we are starting to see. Profitability will be even slower to recover and airlines will lose an expected USD5.6 billion in 2010?The worst is behind us, but it is not time to celebrate".
FLIGHT MANAGEMENT AIDS AVIATION EMISSION CUTS
Traffic control could help cut emission from planes
BBC News - 1 February 2010
The quickest way to cut emissions from aircraft could be better flight management rather than new technology, an Oxford University study has found.
Better air traffic control determining how, when and where planes fly could help quickly achieve significant emission cuts. These include more direct flight paths to airports and less waiting to land.
These are the "low-hanging fruit" compared to technology improvements and existing biofuels, said Dr Chris Carey. "And they are measures that governments could make a condition of using their airspace," said Dr Carey, aviation expert at Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
Chris Goater of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso) agrees. "Air Traffic Management plays an important role in reducing emissions," he says, pointing out that emissions could be cut by between 5% and 8% as a result of improved logistics. Other initiatives should help the aviation industry ensure "emissions are reduced to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050", he said.
Cheap and easy
"Landing and take-offs could be quicker, stacking would be reduced and planes could fly closer together by taking advantage of prevailing winds" - Dr Chris Carey, aviation expert at Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
Better traffic control systems should also help aircraft reduce the time spent with their engines running while still on the tarmac, Dr Carey said.
At the same time, better flight control systems should help them spend less time flying.
"The inaccuracy of current control systems means planes must be given a wide berth to avoid collisions," he said. "If that was improved, landing and take-offs could be quicker, stacking would be reduced and planes could fly closer together by taking advantage of prevailing winds, just as Concorde did."
Such improvements would be cheap to introduce quickly, Dr Carey insisted. "They should be implemented as soon as possible if we are serious about cutting aviation emissions," he said.
Slow and risky
In contrast, technological advances, such as better engines or reduced weight, tend to take a long time before they have an impact, because aircraft have lifetimes of 30 years or more.
In the long run, innovations that help reduce drag will help reduce emissions, as might a shift away from fossil fuels towards biofuels made from algae.
"But none of those measures can be introduced quickly and most new technology is not retrofitable," said Dr Carey. "These are all long-term innovations that we won't see for at least 30 years."
Moreover, investing in new technology is both expensive and risky, Dr Carey said. "But major technological innovations are a massive financial risk because you could be making a plane that no-one's going to buy," he said.
OUR COMMENT: Not Rocket Science and known for some time but now such policies have acquired academic status! We hope the airports and airlines take note!
Financial Times - 1 February 2010
There are perhaps only three things extravagant about Ryanair: its appetite for cost cuts; its valuation; and its ability to generate cash. The first saw Europe's largest budget airline turn in a better-than-forecast set of results. Chief executive Michael O'Leary continued to chop out expenses during the third quarter - mostly from staff and airport charges. As a result passenger yields fell less than expected, so too profits, and Mr O'Leary boosted earnings guidance for the year to ?275m versus earlier forecasts closer to ?200m. The shares leapt by as much as 6 per cent.
Then there is the Dublin-based carrier's valuation. At 19 times earnings, or around twice book value, Ryanair does not enjoy a hefty premium to the broader European market, which trades at around 17 times 2009 earnings. The stock even suffers a discount to its historic price-to-book average of around 2.7 times, according to Credit Suisse. Nonetheless, this represents a whopping premium to most European airlines. If there is any value to be had, it is only relative.
Finally there is Ryanair's ability to spew out cash. Until recently, this was veiled by its rapid growth. Indeed, with around 10 per cent of the European market, there is still room for Ryanair to grow further. After all, Southwest Airlines, the US budget carrier on which Ryanair's model is based, has 18 per cent of its home market. But Ryanair recently had a recent change of heart after a rumpus with Boeing and money once destined to be spent on 200 new planes will supposedly be returned to shareholders instead - as much as ?1bn by 2014. With a fair wind, Ryanair could conceivably have another ?1bn to distribute by 2016. That would make ?2bn handed back to investors over six years, a 40 per cent yield. That is pretty extravagant too.
FIRM HAND FOR ERA OF AIRPORT COMPETITION
Pilita Clark - Financial Times - 1 February 2010
The last time Stewart Wingate agreed to run an airport for a brand new owner was in 2005, when BAA sent him to Budapest after buying the city's airport in Hungary's biggest privatisation deal. Mr Wingate, then 34, did not receive a warm reception. "On day one, the unions wanted to take the entire workforce out on strike as a result of the change of ownership," he says.
His arrival at Gatwick in early December, weeks after BAA, Heathrow's owner, had sold it to the GIP infrastructure fund, was "excellent" in comparison, he says wryly. Though not without its moments. He arrived to greet a senior management team who were unaware that Andy Flower, their managing director, was about to announce his departure, let alone who would replace him.
Mr Wingate, who had been running Stansted, BAA's third-biggest airport, since 2007, spent the day telling as many of Gatwick's 2,500 staff as possible that GIP was only interested in improving the way the business was run.
That remains the message of the new boss of the second-biggest airport in the UK and busiest single-runway airport in the world. Or as he likes to put it: "We're going to become obsessed with delivering a better service to our passengers and fostering constructive and better relationships with our airlines and by doing that, we are convinced we will grow the business."
Gatwick expects to see 34m passengers this year, far more than Stansted, which handled 20m passengers last year. Budapest has 8m, about the same number as Glasgow airport, where Mr Wingate was customer services director before he went to Hungary.
But Mr Wingate, the son of a Durham design engineer, has a CV containing evidence of his ascent to ever larger endeavours. He left school at 16 with nine O-levels to follow his father and work at Black & Decker, which helped sponsor his university studies, eventually emerging with a Masters in Business Administration with distinction and a first-class honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering.
By his late twenties, he was operations director of a Black & Decker facility with 2,500 staff. Then he was sent to the Czech Republic, where he created a manufacturing site from scratch. "It went from employing one person - me - to 1,500," he says.
A skier, cyclist and golfer, he lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two daughters, giving him a daily train commute of just over an hour to Gatwick, enough time to consider the fact that he has come to run a UK airport at a time of intense change.
The UK's three biggest airports - Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick - have shared a single owner for most of the time since the 1960s, most recently BAA, a subsidiary of the Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.
Complaints that this was anti-competitive led the Competition Commission to rule BAA had to sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Having sold Gatwick, BAA won an appeal against the Commission's ruling in December, which has left the sale of the other two airports in limbo. [The Commission and BAA are in discussions on how to proceed.]
So, Gatwick remains the test case for a new era of airport competition. The evidence from abroad suggests competition can bring important changes.
In Moscow, for example, competition among the city's three airports - Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo - has had a "very positive impact on aviation" according to the International Air Transport Association, the main airline trade body. Benefits included better infrastructure, improved efficiency and competitive pricing for services. Several airlines have switched airports in the past four years, lured by better prices and services.
Whether Mr Wingate will end up achieving the same at Gatwick remains to be seen. It already has cheaper airline fees: regulators allow Heathrow to extract up to £14.24 a passenger compared with £7.37 at Gatwick and £6.53 at Stansted.
Gatwick is also overwhelmingly used by holdidaymakers, rather than business trips; its largest airline customer is EasyJet, after British Airways' decision to concentrate its services at Heathrow. Mr Wingate may struggle to lure business passengers from Heathrow, but attracting leisure fliers from the bigger airport and Stansted could be easier.
In any case, the fact that he is competing at all represents a big change in the airport sector in the UK.
GATWICK CHIEF TO WOO AIRLINES
Pilita Clark, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 1 February 2010
Gatwick is gearing up to poach airline customers from rivals Heathrow and Stansted, its new boss has warned, in a taste of the head-to-head competition to come between the country's three biggest airports. "We're competing and we're pleased to be competing," said Stewart Wingate, who ran Stansted until he was poached himself by Gatwick's new owners last year.
"I'm pretty sure there will be a number of airlines both at Heathrow and at Stansted who will be looking very closely at what we're doing and, believe you me, we'll be out talking to all of them about what our plans are, because that is the nature of competition," he said in his first interview since starting at Gatwick almost two months ago.
His comments are an early sign of how the landscape has changed since BAA, which owns Heathrow and Stansted, sold Gatwick to the operators of London City Airport just over three months ago to meet a Competition Commission ruling. The £1.5bn sale was supposed to forge competition between the three bigger airports, which have in effect been part of one group, public or privately controlled, for most of the past four decades.
Mr Wingate said he wanted to break from the practices of the "previous regime" to improve the airport, which is about half the size of Heathrow in annual passenger numbers. He wants to transform "dark and dingy" check-in areas and improve security and baggage handling.
He plans to consult on building projects with airlines, which have long argued that the UK regulatory system encouraged BAA to "gold-plate" its airports, or build elaborate and expensive projects so that it could raise landing fees.
"We'll be communicating to [the airlines] the fact that we're not actually hell-bent on continuing to invest," Mr Wingate said. "We're only interested in making fit for purpose investments that commercially make sense for our business partners and for the passenger."
He also plans to buy more snow ploughs for the airport. Some airlines were infuriated when it had to close during last month?s heavy snowfalls.
Virgin Atlantic, which has more than three times more daily flights from Heathrow than Gatwick, said some airlines could look at moving to Gatwick if it upgraded. "There's definitely scope," the airline said, adding that Gatwick would struggle to get business passengers to move from a hub such as Heathrow, which has better global connections than Gatwick.
"The loss of Gatwick has unleashed a potentially more aggressive competitor for BAA," said Roger Appleyard, head of credit research at RBC Capital Markets. But it was hard to see how extensive that competition would be, since the prices airports are allowed to charge are heavily regulated and Gatwick?s regulated airline fees are about half those of Heathrow. "Heathrow hasn't competed against Gatwick before either, so that will mean Gatwick will face new competition as well," he said.
OUR COMMENT: Improved management may be necessary but is this the best way to develop a sustainable national airport network?
CHAOS FOR MOUNTFITCHET COMMUTERS
ON STANSTED EXPRESS
James Burton - Herts & Essex Observer - 29 January 2010
COMMUTERS faced an "almighty crush" to board a London-bound Stansted Express train this week - and many were left behind.
Local rail users' spokesman Simon Clifford, who has been speaking up for Observer area passengers since 1995, says at least 200 people were unable to board the 7.54am fast service to Liverpool Street on Tuesday (January 26) because there were only four coaches instead of the usual eight. As a result, it was packed with Stansted Airport travellers and their luggage before it arrived at Stansted Mountfitchet, which is only the second stop on the route.
In scenes that would have been repeated in Bishop's Stortford, a struggle ensued for a place on the carriages and hundreds had to wait for the next train. This departs four minutes later but does not arrive in London until 8.49am because it makes more stops.
Although there is usually room for airport passengers and commuters on the National Express East Anglia (NXEA)-run service, Mr Clifford said that such incidents happened "every couple of weeks".
According to the City worker, who lives in Chapel Hill in Stansted, at least 300 people were waiting at the village station when the train arrived - but fewer than 100 could fit on board. The rest had to wait for the slower 7.52am from Cambridge, where they were joined by those who had been stranded at Stortford.
Mr Clifford said: "I don't know how many people were waiting at Bishop's Stortford. The carriage was packed to its limit and you couldn't really see outside, but there was an almighty crush when the doors opened. Many people didn't bother trying to get on."
In March 2007, Mr Clifford warned the Observer that overcrowding on trains to Liverpool Street was likely to "increase beyond already dangerous levels". Fellow Stansted campaigner Sarah Davies expressed similar concerns in a BBC report that month.
An NXEA spokeswoman said the number of carriages had been cut because of a fault with an earlier train. She added the firm was adding 120 new carriages to its Liverpool Street services by next spring.
Bishop's Stortford's Labour and Co-operative Party spokes-man Paul Schroder, who fought in June's county council elections on a platform of rail reform, said: "I hadn't heard about Tuesday, but I think that whole line is over capacity - most rush-hour trains seem to carry double the number of passengers they should, with the vast majority of them standing."
"It's a difficult issue because that line's used by both air travellers and commuters, so it's under a lot of pressure. But I don't think the operators have got the balance right at all."
Ryanair lounge opens at Stansted
Sara Turner - ABTN News Online - 29 January 2010
A new lounge opens today (January 29) for passengers flying with Ryanair out of Stansted airport. The No.1 Traveller lounge, which costs £17.50 per visit, has a bistro, fully-tended bar and business facilities - printing, fax and scanning facilities are available.
The lounge, which can seat up to 50 people, also offers free UK landline calls, free wi-fi internet access, newspapers, magazines, board games and televisions to watch. It is located opposite Gate 59 on Satellite 3, where most Ryanair international flights depart from, and is the second No.1 Traveller lounge to open at the airport.
No.1 Traveller is owned by theatre producer Phil Cameron. Commenting on the launch of the new lounge, he said: "Stansted is a major airport, with discerning passengers, creating their own travel itineraries. Low-cost travel often puts pressure on the passenger to arrive in good time and we recognize that many would welcome an opportunity to get the formalities out the way, and head out towards their gates to eat, drink and enjoy our unique service."
No.1 Traveller launched its first lounge at New York's JFK International airport in 2007, entering the UK market with a lounge in Gatwick airport, which opened in April last year.
On Monday (February 1), No.1 Traveller will be launching a new travel service for companies or individual travellers, combining chauffeured airport transfers, airport concierge services and access to the lounges.
Cameron said: "As a frequent traveller, I know how stressful and unpredictable getting to the airport can be. We've created No.1 Traveller to take the hassle and stress away, and to let the traveller actually enjoy catching a flight again. "
He plans to extend the service to major airports across the UK, with coverage of over sixty percent of the UK travel market in the next eighteen months.
EU MUST RETAIN FAITH IN EMISSIONS TRADING - BP
ENDS Europe DAILY - 25 January 2010
The EU must press on with measures to strengthen its emissions
trading scheme (ETS) such as auctioning rules and benchmarks for
allocating free carbon allowances to industrial sectors at risk of
carbon leakage, a senior BP executive said on Friday.
"It is not a time to change horses and jump to another track", BP
refining and marketing chief executive Iain Conn told a seminar in
Brussels. The EU's climate strategy was criticised following the
Copenhagen debacle, prompting calls for a profound rethink.
Outside Europe, efforts to set up emissions trading schemes suffered
serious setbacks particularly in the US after last week's Senate
election in Massachusetts DAILY. "We remain confident that over time other international jurisdictions will move towards a compatible approach," said Mr Conn.
Another key issue is to finalise offset credit rules for the ETS's
third phase staring in 2013, said the BP executive. On Monday, bank
Fortis confirmed to ENDS it had delayed its planned carbon fund
because of uncertainty over offset credits after Copenhagen. Other
banks are pulling out of this market.
Mr Conn also said combating carbon leakage through border tax
adjustments would be a "considerable" mistake, in part because of
possible trade wars between the EU and other countries and the
complexity of assessing products' CO2 content. Incoming trade commissioner
Katel de Gucht rejects the idea.
The European Commission's new architecture is a "tremendous"
opportunity to coordinate energy and climate policies, said Mr Conn.
The new high representative for foreign affairs will also have a key
role to play in developing Europe's relationship with major energy
At a strategic level, Europe should not hesitate to act alone on
climate if necessary because "it is sufficiently large for unilateral
action to be credible", Mr Conn believes. But "ideally" it should
seek to strengthen EU-US energy cooperation, and make sure signals to
the market remain "broadly coherent".
OUR COMMENT: We await up to date news about the inclusion of aviation!
YOUR MONITORING PROFILE: PARLIAMENT
House of Lords - Lords Oral Answers - 14 January 2010
Aviation: Climate Change
Baroness Wilcox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his response to the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change in its report "Meeting the UK aviation target-options for reducing emissions to 2050" about a total increase of aviation demand of 60 per cent by 2050.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): My Lords, I welcome the committee's advice. The report will be extremely useful for Government and the aviation industry in planning for the future. We are now engaging in further work to cost and assess policy options to meet the 2050 target. It is important that the aviation industry also focuses on operational and technological changes, which will contain the growth of aviation's carbon emissions in the short term, and then reduce them thereafter.
Baroness Wilcox: Thank you very much indeed. I thank the Minister. In the light of that target, if the Government go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow, what measures is the noble Lord planning to use to constrain the growth of aviation elsewhere?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, the Committee on Climate Change stated that on its central case scenario, a 54 per cent increase in flights by 2050 was compatible with the carbon reduction targets. The full utilisation of the third runway at Heathrow would represent a 10 per cent increase in flights, so it is perfectly compatible to increase the number of flights and passengers at Heathrow while also meeting our carbon reduction targets. I emphasise that Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK; it is also running at full capacity at the moment. Therefore, the argument for expansion of capacity at Heathrow is stronger than for any other airport.
Lord Soley: I am on cloud nine now, as someone has just said to me, "So young, so eager". I apologise to the noble Baroness. We need our transport policy for railroad and air to be integrated, as it is in Europe, if we are to benefit from the single European market. Will my noble friend respond to the letter that I sent to him asking that the regulators take account of the inter-operability of railroad and air as they do in Europe, where all forms of transport are required to drive down their emissions and not simply compete with each other in a very simplistic manner?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend in all the points that he has made.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, given the complete and predictable failure of the Copenhagen conference and the fact that it is clear that the world as a whole will have no curbs on the growth of aviation passenger transport, can the Minister assure the House that he will look at the matter again and not do anything to curb the use of air travel for British citizens, particularly in view of his answer to the earlier question, when he expressed his desire to see greater mobility?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, we need to strike a balance. It is important that we meet our carbon reduction targets, but we are mindful of the social and economic importance of aviation, which is why we welcome the key recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change that an increase of 60 per cent in the number of passengers and 54 per cent in the number of flights is compatible with our climate change obligations.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that there is strong evidence at the moment that aircraft manufacturers are taking this very seriously, particularly where the next generation of aircraft is concerned? I speak as the president of BALPA.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, my noble friend makes a good point, and the Committee on Climate Change emphasises that the development of technology such as novel airframe configurations, advanced lightweight materials, innovative laminar airflow control techniques and more electric airframe aircraft systems all significantly improve aircrafts' environmental performance and fuel efficiency.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, what progress are the Government making in reducing groundborne emissions around airports? Clearly, the two are directly related.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, the airport operators have targets for improving the efficiency of air traffic movements on the ground, all of which of course also contribute to the reduction in carbon emissions.
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, I declare an interest as a supporter of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign. Encouraged by his earlier answer, and in view of declining passenger numbers and the emissions issue, will my noble friend commit the Government to withdrawing explicitly their support for BAA's plans to expand runway capacity at Stansted and thereby end 10 years of blight on that area?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, the decision on an application to expand the airport is a matter for the airport operator. However, I would not overdo the decline in air passenger numbers; if one looks at this in any historic context, they are continuing to rise sharply. In 1982, the number of air passengers was 60 million; in 1997 it was 146 million and in 2007 it was 240 million. Even in the midst of all the economic problems that we have had over the past two years, the reduction on that figure has only been very slight. There is still enormous economic and social demand for air travel, and there will be a need for additional airport capacity in the future.
Lord Elton: Is the Minister aware of how difficult it is for those who are amateurs in this field to swallow the statement that increasing traffic by 54 per cent will enable us to reduce emissions? That means that they will have to be reduced by at least 55 per cent in relation to each aircraft.
Lord Adonis: I do not wish to blind the noble Lord with facts, and I am an amateur myself in this business. Perhaps I might, however, simply give him the facts; today's aircraft are 70 per cent more fuel-efficient than the first commercial jets were, and each successive generation of aircraft is significantly more fuel-efficient than its predecessors. That will give him some idea of how it is possible to significantly expand air traffic without increasing carbon emissions.
OUR COMMENT: A number of our noble Lords including the Minister and the Report itself appear to be bewitched by the reassurances that by 2050 the emergence of new technology will solve the emissions problems of an increased number of flights.
AS EUROPE FREEZES, ARTIC AIRLINE
TOPS PUNCTUALITY RATINGS
The Independent - 11 January 2010
Despite significant seasonal disruption to air travel around the world over the past few weeks, one airline has proved that cold weather needn't cause chaos.
Norwegian carrier Widerĝe has been the most "on-time" carrier in Europe for two months now - despite the fact that some 20 of its published destinations are inside the Arctic Circle. In December 83.99 percent of Widerĝe's flights arrived within 15 minutes of schedule, securing the airline first place ahead of Spain's Vueling Airlines and Austria's Tyrolean Airways.
"The added kick here is that an airline that flies across and around the Arctic Circle has actually beaten a major airline in Spain," said Widerĝe press officer, Siw Sanvik.
Widerĝe admits that the winter weather in Norway has been favorable this year, although Tromsĝ, the city boasting northern Norway's largest airport, has an average annual temperature of 3°C (37.4°F) and is known as a particularly snow-prone area. In the US, west coast carriers recorded the best performance in December, Hawaiian Airlines topping the list with 86.55 percent of flights on schedule.
Britain's London Stansted airport was the worst-performing airport for on-time flights, according to Flightstats.com, with under 48.45 percent of flights operating on schedule because of the weather.
Tokyo Haneda airport was the most punctual at 90.72 percent, followed by Korea's Seoul airport at 85.95 percent and Tokyo Narita at 85.71 percent.
THIRD RYANAIR BID FOR AER LINGUS 'UNLIKELY'
Pilita Clark in London and Vincent Boland in Milan - Financial Times - 7 January 2010
Ryanair says it is "highly unlikely" to make another bid for Ireland's struggling flag carrier, Aer Lingus, as Europe's largest no-frills airline confirmed on Thursday it was on track to substantially boost its ?2.5bn ($3.6bn) cash pile over the next three years.
"There is no truth or basis to recent... speculation that Ryanair is preparing a third bid for Aer Lingus," the airline said in a statement after briefing investors on its strategy. "In the absence of any decision by the Irish [government] to sell its 25 per cent stake, a third bid by Ryanair remains highly unlikely."
Ryanair, the biggest investor in Aer Lingus with a stake of 29.8 per cent, has made two failed bids for Aer Lingus since late 2006. The first was blocked by European regulators on competition grounds and the second, in December 2008, failed after the Irish government said it undervalued the airline. Speculation has grown about a third bid because Ireland's takeover rules permit such a move from the end of January, and Ryanair looks set to bolster its balance sheet.
Ryanair executives confirmed to investors that after last year's failed talks with Boeing on buying up to 200 new jets, the airline would slash its annual capital expenditure from its current ?1.2bn to ?100m by the financial year ending March 2013.
As a result, Michael O'Leary, chief executive, said: "We expect our current cash reserves of ?2.5bn to grow substantially by March 2013 and we plan to distribute surplus cash to shareholders from that date." Shares in both companies dipped more than 1.5 per cent in late afternoon trading on Thursday.
Separately, Ryanair lifted a threat to cancel its Italian domestic operations from later this month after resolving a dispute with Italy's civil aviation authority over passenger security arrangements.
The airline had threatened to cancel all its flights in the domestic Italian market from January 23 after the regulator, Enac, said it would allow passengers on domestic flights to use documents other than passports or official ID cards when checking in and boarding.
Ryanair, which accepts only passports or European Union ID cards, said the new policy could undermine safety. The two sides met in Rome on Thursday, after which Ryanair said the dispute had been resolved and there was no longer any threat to its domestic Italian services.
Meanwhile, Ryanair said it carried 4.9m passengers in December, up 12 per cent on the same month in 2008, meaning annual traffic grew 13 per cent to 65.3m in the 2009 calendar year.
O'LEARY HITS BACK AT OFT'S 'INAPPROPRIATE' ATTACKS
Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Independent - 18 January 2010
After being described as "puerile" and "almost childish" by the Office of Fair Trading, it was only a matter of time before Europe's most combative airline boss retaliated. Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary duly obliges today, but with an uncharacteristically formal response - accusing the regulator of bias and of failing to end allegedly dubious practices at other carriers.
In a two-page letter to the OFT's chief executive John Fingleton, copied to The Independent, he said his airline wished to register its "deep concern and protest" about "inappropriate and inaccurate comments" given by Mr Fingleton in an interview with this newspaper. "The false claims attributed to you in this article are indicative of a continuing and inappropriate bias by the OFT against Ryanair, which is the UK's largest international passenger airline," Mr O'Leary wrote.
In a frank interview, Mr Fingleton accused Ryanair of "almost taunting" customers by levying a £5 fee on credit card payments. Airlines are legally obliged to advertise compulsory fees up front to allow customers to shop around, but Ryanair only adds its booking fee at the end of the booking process, on the basis that passengers can avoid it by using prepaid Mastercard.
Mr Fingleton complained: "Ryanair has this funny game where they have found some low-frequency payment mechanism and say: 'Well, because you can pay with that [the charge is optional].' It's almost like taunting consumers and pointing out: 'Oh well, we know this is completely outside the spirit of the law, but we think it's within the narrow letter of the law'." He added: "On some level, it's quite puerile, it's almost childish."
In his letter dated 11 January, Mr O'Leary protested: "The role of the OFT is not to subjectively comment on the pricing policies of airlines, but to identify and confirm whether those policies comply with legislation. Ryanair's pricing policies are fully compliant with current legislation." He explained Ryanair chose prepaid Mastercard because it was more widely available abroad and denied another complaint, that it forced customers to opt out if they did not want insurance.
On the other hand, Mr O'Leary complained, the OFT had failed to take action against "three important consumer protection areas" - British Airways' "unfair and unjustified fuel levies"; websites selling Ryanair tickets "at hidden and inflated prices"; and easyJet "who continue to offer travel insurance on an opt-out basis".
RUNWAY FEARS AT STANSTED
The Evening Star - 18 January 2010
SUFFOLK: The spectre of a second runway at Stansted which would send thousands more planes a year over Suffolk may still loom large at the end of this year - even if the Labour government is ousted.
If the Tories - who are firmly against the runway project - win the General Election the current plans will still be on the table waiting for a public inquiry and a decision.
Campaigners have pledged to fight on until the second runway at the airport is axed, but say it could be sometime yet.
Carol Barbone, campaign director for Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Both opposition parties oppose as policy a second runway but if they were elected they could not force the withdrawal of the planning application, although they could put pressure on BAA."
"BAA has the right to have that application decided. Like many big companies, it is probably looking quite a way ahead - not the next government, but the one after that. If they have to sell Stansted, which I think is inevitable, then they would probably be in a position to get a better price for it if it has planning permission for a second runway."
Communities across parts of Suffolk are plagued by planes with the noise of jets ruining the county's tranquillity. A second runway could allow Stansted to handle 68 million passengers a year.
Talks are taking place between BAA and the Competition Commission over the future ownership of the company's airports, and the public inquiry into the proposed runway is on hold until this is settled. BAA said the need for a second runway will be decided at the inquiry "based on the facts and strengths of evidence".
SR TECHNICS ANNOUNCES PLANS TO CONSOLIDATE
ITS COMPONENT SERVICES ACTIVITIES
Zurich - 13 January 2010
SR Technics today announced plans to consolidate its component services organization, and all supporting functions currently performed in London-Stansted, in Zurich. This step will allow SR Technics to further improve operational efficiency and productivity to lower operational costs, resulting in a more streamlined and leaner operation.
Under this proposal, SR Technics will continue to operate its line maintenance business in the UK through its current line station network and will maintain and develop its logistics operations in the UK. It is planned to consolidate all logistics operations at the current London-Heathrow logistics center, which will drive greater productivity and assist in establishing SR Technics as a global leader in logistics management.
SR Technics is entering formal discussions regarding these proposals with the trade unions and respective employee representative bodies in the UK.
Bernd Kessler, CEO of SR Technics, said: "At the heart of the ongoing reorganization is our aim to raise our efficiency, lower our Group's overall operational costs and to further develop our operational capabilities, service offerings and global footprint. By achieving these objectives, we will tangibly improve our competitiveness and the service we provide to our customers."
"Management will work closely with the unions and employee representatives to support all employees affected by these plans at London-Stansted."
OUR COMMENT: This decision is a great shock for those working for the company in Stansted and it has not been taken because of the falling number of flights at Stansted airport. In any district there are dangers in placing too much reliance on one major stimulator of employment. Companies do not make production decisions based on the possible effects on local people.
THE END OF CONSUMERISM: OUR WAY OF LIFE IS 'NOT VIABLE'
New report says we must embrace a basic future to survive
Jonathan Owen - The Independent - 10 January 2010
Ditch the dog; throw away (sorry, recycle) those takeaway menus; bin bottled water; get rid of that gas-guzzling car and forget flying to far-flung places. These are just some of the sacrifices we in the West will need to make if we are to survive climate change.
The stark warning comes from the renowned Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based organisation regarded as the world's pre-eminent environmental think tank.
Its State of the World 2010 report published this week outlines a blueprint for changing our entire way of life. "Preventing the collapse of human civilisation requires nothing less than a wholesale transformation of dominant cultural patterns. This transformation would reject consumerism... and establish in its place a new cultural framework centred on sustainability," states the report.
"Habits that are firmly set - from where people live to what they eat - will all need to be altered and in many cases simplified or minimised... From Earth's perspective, the American or even the European way of life is simply not viable."
Nobel prize winner and microfinance expert Muhammad Yunus, writing in the foreword, describes the report as calling for "one of the greatest cultural shifts imaginable: from cultures of consumerism to cultures of sustainability".
Almost seven billion people are demanding ever greater quantities of material resources, decimating the world's richest ecosystems, and dumping billions of tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
And any actions taken by governments, or scientific advances to deal with climate change, are doomed to failure unless individuals get back to a basic way of life, concludes the report - which recommends things like borrowing books and toys from libraries instead of buying them, choosing public transport over the car, and growing food in community gardens. In addition, all products should be designed to last a lifetime and be completely recyclable.
A seismic shift in thinking is needed, according to senior researcher Erik Assadourian, project director of the report: "Making policy and technology changes while keeping cultures centred on consumerism and growth can only go so far. To thrive long into the future, human societies must shift their cultures so sustainability becomes the norm."
But the report's findings were attacked last night by Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. "Let's face it, by 2050, the combined population of China and India alone will have grown to three billion. By then, most Chinese and Indians will have adopted an urban lifestyle. This... makes demands for radical curbs in consumerism and CO2 emissions utterly unrealistic."
People need to be persuaded of the benefits of tackling climate change, rather than be presented with a "defeatist and doomsday scenario", according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). "Questions around consumption are not so much about the rate of it, but the fact that the full environmental impacts are not yet fully reflected in what is consumed... until environmental impacts are fully factored in, we need behaviours and/or production methods to change," said a DECC spokes-man.
CLIMATE CHANGE SCEPTICISM WILL INCREASE
HARDSHIP FOR WORLD'S POOR
IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri predicts lobbying will intensify
to impede progress to agreement on binding treaty in Mexico City
Adam Vaughan - The Guardian - 4 January 2010
Climate change scepticism is likely to surge in 2010 and could exacerbate "hardship" for the planet's poorest people, one of the world's leading authorities on climate change has told the Guardian.
Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, also dismisses suggestions that he is personally profiting from policies to tackle global warming.
Climate sceptics gained media attention in the run up to the Copenhagen climate summit after alleging that hacked emails between senior climate scientists showed that an important temperature record was flawed - a charge rejected by governments and scientific bodies. In Australia, sceptics within the party led to the ousting of the leader of the opposition over new climate laws
Pachauri predicted this year would see further scepticism. "Powerful vested interests are perhaps likely to get overactive in the coming months, and would perhaps do everything in their power to impede progress towards a binding agreement that is hoped for by the end of 2010 in Mexico City," he said. "Those opposed to action on climate change are working overtime to see that they can stall action for as long as possible."
After a weak deal in Copenhagen, Pachauri warned that allowing scepticism to delay international action on global warming would endanger the lives of the world's poorest people. "In the end, knowledge and science will undoubtedly triumph, but delay in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases would only lead to worse impacts of climate change and growing hardship for the most vulnerable regions in the world, which are also unfortunately some of the poorest communities on Earth."
Pachauri, a vegetarian, has previously described western lifestyles as unsustainable and advocated a diet including one meat-free day a week.
He singled out lobbyists in the US for attempting to delay America's climate legislation, which is crucial for a global deal but is currently stalled in the Senate. Last year the Centre for Public Integrity found that 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence US policies on climate change, while America's oil, gas and coal industry increased its lobbying budget by 50%.
Pachauri said action from President Obama would be needed on top of Senate legislation. "The passage of legislation in that country [the US] will have to be supplemented with several initiatives to be put in place by the executive branch of the government," Pachauri said.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said Pachauri was right on the level of sceptical activity. "We are already witnessing extraordinary efforts by powerful lobbies, in the US and Australia in particular, which are opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. There is a strong alliance of ideologically driven right-wingers, who reject environmental legislation on principle, and lobbyists for some hydrocarbon companies, who place the short-term commercial interests of their clients ahead of the wider public interest. Both have the common goal of delaying restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, and both use the tactics pioneered by the tobacco industry, hiding their true motivations behind inaccurate and misleading claims about uncertainties in the science."
But Tony Kreindler of the Environmental Defence Fund, which has been following US climate legislation, said the number of climate sceptic lobbyists was now being matched by companies supporting legislation to cap carbon emissions. However, he added: "Opponents of action and the old sceptics will of course ramp up their lobbying this year as well, as they do anytime the Congress is on the verge of making law. We already have a bill through the House of Representatives and a bipartisan effort underway in the Senate. The President made his commitment clear in Copenhagen to legislation because it's in our national interest. This year is not a dress rehearsal, and everyone on both sides gets that."
On the stolen emails, Pachauri said the contents did not impact on climate science, adding that "the allegations made on the basis of the stolen emails have proved incorrect."
The University of East Anglia is currently undertaking an independent review of the led by senior civil servant Sir Muir Russell. The review is expected to be published in the spring, but a university spokesman said today that Sir Russell will "determine his final timescale after completing his initial scoping exercise". He added that the university had also responded to a letter from the science and technology committee of MPs leaked- asking for an explanation of the incident. The IPCC is conducting its own review into the stolen emails.
Pachauri also rebutted claims in The Sunday Telegraph that, through advisory roles for Deutsche Bank, Toyota, Yale University, the Asian Development Bank and others, he was reaping personal financial gain from climate change policies that could be influenced by the reports of the IPCC he chairs. The article claimed Pachauri had been silent on the "highly lucrative commercial jobs", the rewards from which "must run into millions".
In response, he said: "The same group of climate deniers who have been active across the Atlantic have now joined hands to attack me personally. As for pecuniary benefits from advice that I may be rendering to profit-making organisations, these payments are all made directly to my institute, without a single penny being received by me."
The Nobel Peace-prize winning Pachauri called for greater activism and more campaigning to press governments into taking strong action on carbon emissions this year. "Society and grassroots action would have to come into their own, not only to ensure that human society takes responsibility for action at the most basic level, but also to create upward pressure on governments to act decisively. If such grassroots efforts do not spread and intensify, nation states may not be able to resolve the differences that exist between them."
OUR COMMENT: With a freezing Britain and more snowstorms looming we can reasonably expect some scepticism about rising temperatures from global warming! However, we need to remember that other European countries expect to experience snow most of the winter - we normally miss a great freeze up because of the nearby Gulf Stream bringing up warm water from southern parts. We might ask, what has happened to our protector?
'PUERILE' RYANAIR UNDER ATTACK BY OFT CHIEF
'Funny game' of optional items charges
is singled out for criticism by watchdog
Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Independent - 4 January 2010
Britain's top business regulator has accused Europe's biggest airline, Ryanair, of "almost taunting" passengers in a strongly worded attack on its charges. John Fingleton, the chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading, described Ryanair's levying of fees for paying by card online as "puerile" and "almost childish", adding the carrier was only operating within "the narrow letter of the law".
Ryanair advertises taxes and other fees upfront but only mentions charges for paying by plastic at the end of booking on the grounds that customers could escape the fee by using an obscure prepaid card.
The no-frills carrier - along with other airlines and ticketing agencies - is being investigated by the OFT over online pricing and advertising. Of particular concern is "drip-pricing" where shoppers only discover the full cost of a service late in the booking process, which makes it difficult to shop around.
In a rare and exclusive interview, his first for 18 months, Mr Fingleton, whose organisation has previously clashed with Ryanair, criticised the airline's "funny game".
"Ryanair has this funny game where they have found some low frequency payment mechanism and say: 'Well, because you can pay with that [the charge is optional]'," he said. "It's almost like taunting consumers and pointing out: 'Oh well, we know this is completely outside the spirit of the law, but we think it's within the narrow letter of the law'."
Mr Fingleton - whose criticism elicited an angry response from Ryanair - hopes that ironing out problems on airline websites will set standards for online shopping, which is forecast to account for half of retail sales by 2020.
Under consumer law, businesses must advertise all compulsory charges. At the payment stage online, Ryanair levies a £5 debit or credit card charge per passenger, per journey, although the cost to the company is only about 30p per payment, according to the card industry. The charges can add £40 to the cost of a return trip for a family of four - several times the airline's cheapest advertised fares.
From last month, payments by Electron card that had previously been free began to attract the fee and Ryanair switched its free option to MasterCard pre-pay. Mr Fingleton suggested that Ryanair had found "some low frequency payment mechanism" to get round the rules. He said: "It's almost like taunting consumers and pointing out: 'Oh well, we know this is completely outside the spirit of the law, but we think it's within the narrow letter of the law'.
"On some level, it's quite puerile, it's almost childish. And you sort of smile, and newspapers like yours or BBC Radio 4's Moneybox do a good job in pointing this out to consumers. This is just playing silly games at the margins of it all and we might or might not go running after something like that."
The automatic addition of insurance to flights by airlines, including Ryanair, unless customers opted out, was, he said, another legal "grey area". But public anger about such charges might prove to be more effective than regulatory action, he said. "It would be silly to go after something like that every time because they would quickly change it to something else, and it's trying to establish a general principle that what's not optional is not in there. Consumer anger and frustration, and an element of transparency, often changes these things much quicker than legal action."
In July, Ryanair agreed to give more prominence to fees and charges on its website after the OFT's intervention. The OFT had been asked to act by the Advertising Standards Authority, whose rulings have been repeatedly dismissed by the no-frills airline, which carried 58 million passengers last year.
Ryanair responded to Mr Fingleton by referring to the OFT's ongoing inquiry into the long-running price-fixing of fuel surcharges, which eventually led to British Airways being fined £121m three years ago. Stephen McNamara, Ryanair's head of communications, said: "As a general rule, anything that comes from an office that has chosen to ignore fuel surcharging airlines like British Airways and remained mute while London air passengers were being ripped off by the BAA monopoly should be taken with a pinch of salt."
"Ryanair is not for the overpaid John Fingletons of this world but for the everyday Joe Bloggs who opt for Ryanair's guaranteed lowest fares because we give them the opportunity to fly across 26 European countries for free, £5 and £10."
The OFT needed to realise, Ryanair said, that its passengers could avoid costs such as baggage charges "still included in the high fares of high-cost, fuel-surcharging, strike-threatened airlines such as BA." The airline had become Europe's biggest because it was so cheap, he added.
BROWN GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR
FULL-BODY SCANNERS AT BRITAIN'S AIRPORTS
Allegra Stratton, Political Correspondent - The Guardian - 4 January 2010
Full-body scanners are to be introduced at Britain's airports after Gordon Brown gave the go-ahead for the technology in a move which pre-empted his own urgent review of airline security.
Despite questions over the effectiveness of the devices, the prime minister said yesterday that passengers would see their "gradual" introduction, along with hand luggage checks for traces of explosives. Even those travelling through UK airports in transit would have to go through the heightened security screening.
BAA, which runs six UK airports, said it would install the £100,000 machines "as soon as is practical" at Heathrow. Experts have cast doubt on whether the scanners are able to detect the type of explosive that 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of using in an attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
But Brown told BBC1's Andrew Marr show that the government would do everything in its power to tighten security. His backing of scanner technology came before Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, reports to parliament this week on the findings of an urgent review of airport security prompted by the failed attack. It also pre-empts a European commission meeting, to be held soon, on whether to endorse EU-wide use of the machines.
Four scanners have lain unused at Heathrow airport after EU advice that there were privacy and human rights implications, awaiting approval for use from the European commission, but a government source told the Guardian that these would now be deployed "with or without" the international co-operation that ministers said was needed after the recent bomb bid. The source pointed to the decision by Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to install the 17 scanners it bought two years ago but was unable to activate after receiving EU advice that there were privacy and human rights implications. This advice was used by the Department for Transport to explain why the UK's own scanners lay unused at Heathrow.
Ben Wallace, a Conservative MP who before entering parliament was involved in a British defence firm's project to test the scanner's effect, said at the weekend that the kind of low-density materials used in the Christmas Day plot would not have been detected. The machines could detect shrapnel, heavy wax and metal, but not plastics, chemicals or liquids, he claimed.
Alongside the purchase of more scanners, a government source has told the Guardian that passenger profiling is "in the mix" of the security review's recommendations. Last night US authorities announced new security screening procedures for passengers from countries listed as "state sponsors of terrorism".
The US currently lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. Along with passengers flying from or through those countries, travellers from Nigeria, Yemen and Pakistan will be patted down and have their carry-on luggage searched under new procedures, according to the US transport department.
Yesterday, a BAA spokesman backed profiling. "It is our view that a combination of technology, intelligence and passenger profiling will help build a more robust defence against the unpredictable and changing nature of the terrorist threat to aviation," the spokesman said.
But Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty, warned the government against profiling. "Has no one noticed the terrorists' ability to capitalise on discrimination, or the recruits from a range of different backgrounds? Whether on the street or at the terminal, suspicious behaviour is a sensible basis for search by policing professionals; race or religion is not," she said.
It was reported last night that a Virgin Atlantic flight from Kingston, Jamaica, to London was delayed after a DVD with "Islamic content" was found on board. John McFarlane, security chief at the Norman Manley international airport in Kingston, said all passengers on last Thursday's flight were taken off the plane and re-screened after the DVD was discovered by crew. McFarlane did not say what the disc's contents were, only that it made the flight crew "uncomfortable."
Brown's swift response to the possibility that terrorists are using different types of explosive came as he admitted that Downing Street may have oversold its response to tackling the threat posed by Yemen, where the alleged bomber is thought to have been trained by an al-Qaida offshoot.
Brown said on Friday that a conference planned for 28 January to address the issue of Afghanistan would now also address the "failing state" of Yemen.
At the weekend Downing Street went on to say that the prime minister and Barack Obama had agreed in a personal telephone conversation that Britain and the US would jointly fund a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen. Yesterday afternoon the White House said it was a discussion held only at official level. Brown then admitted there had been no direct contact between the two leaders on the issue, and that the US and UK counter-terrorism initiatives had been going on "for some time".
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