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

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - April to June 2011


CBS News - 30 June 2011

Airplanes flying through supercooled clouds around airports can cause condensation that results in more snow and rain nearby, according to a new study.

The correct conditions for this inadvertent weather modification occur about 5 percent of the time - but 10-to-15 percent in winter - according to Andrew J. Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., lead author of the study appearing in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Aircraft take off into the wind, he noted, so if they are generating extra ice particles upwind of an airport, the result can be snow right on the airport. That might mean planes will require more de-icing, he said, though other researchers weren't so sure. The team was investigating holes or canals that are sometimes seen drilled in clouds after an airplane has passed through.

Studying six commercial airports, they found that increased snow and rainfall occurs in areas where the unusual cloud holes appear, usually within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the airport. Places farther away from an airport are more likely to be at higher altitudes, above the clouds.

The added rain or snowfall occurred when conditions in the clouds were super-cooled. That means the clouds were made up of water droplets that were colder than freezing, but which had not yet frozen. Water in the atmosphere can remain liquid at temperatures below freezing if it doesn't have any type of nucleus to freeze onto, such as bits of dust or salt. It will freeze without a nucleus when it gets very cold, however - about minus 40 degrees(minus 15 Celsius).

It turns out, when an airplane passes through one of these clouds the movement of air around the tips of the propeller, or over the wings of a jet, causes a sudden cooling of the air, sometimes down to the critical point where the droplets freeze. They then can fall to earth as snow or rain, depending on whether or not the air is warm enough to melt them on the way down.

But that still did not explain why the holes and canals can be so wide, much larger than the narrow airplane passing through the clouds. So they used a computer model to study what was happening, and found that heat released when the water freezes warms the air around it, causing the air to move upward at the center of the hole and spreading out to move downward at the edges.

Chris Westbrook of the University of Reading in England, said what is new in this study is that use of a computer model to study the reaction of the cloud to this process, in particular the effect on the air motion around the hole. Westbrook, who has done similar research but was not part of this team, said that finding differs from what has been seen in England, "so this is certainly still an area of uncertainty and active study. It may perhaps be that the air circulation reverses in the later stages of the hole's evolution."

Understanding these processes, Westbrook added, can "give us some insight into the basic science of how clouds work, how the microscopic processes of tiny ice crystals and droplets interact with the large-scale air motion which drives the clouds, and how the seeds of precipitation are sown."

Kenneth Sassen, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said the report adds detail to a phenomenon that has been noted before. "This is an interesting effect of aircraft penetrating super-cooled water clouds, and illustrates the basic result when ice and super-cooled water get mixed together, but I doubt that in more than a handful of cases could airports, or the surrounding areas, experience any problems," said Sassen, who was not part of the research team.

Airports studied by Heymsfield's team were London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Seattle-Tacoma, Chicago O'Hare and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada; plus Byrd Station in Antarctica.


Philip Pank - Transport Correspondent - The Times - 28 June 2011

Tens of thousands of passengers are kept circling over London every day waiting to land at the world's busiest international airport, according to data seen by The Times.

Sixty per cent of arrivals at Heathrow are delayed in holding patterns above the capital, to the frustration of passengers and great cost to the economy. Jets circle for a cumulative 55 hours every day, burning 190 tonnes of fuel and discharging 600 tonnes of CO2 into the skies above London, figures compiled by NATS, the air traffic control service, show. The £119,000 ($190,000) value of fuel wasted every day pales alongside the cost of delayed business meetings, missed connections and wasted leisure time.

Disclosure of the figures comes as the biggest UK airlines seek future alternatives to Heathrow because of the inability to expand at an airport running at 98 per cent capacity. They, with companies reliant on trade, are highly critical of the Government's decision to overturn plans for a third runway at the airport and to ban new runways at Gatwick and Stansted.

More than 100 chairmen and chief executives at The Times CEO Summit last week called on George Osborne to explore building a new airport in the Thames Estuary as a possible solution to a feared capacity crunch. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, believes that building a £40 billion, four-runway island airport east of London would improve the quality of life in the capital and secure vital trade links with emerging market economies.

The congested skies, where aircraft circle around four holding stacks, are unique to London. Average delays for the 55,800 passengers held on a typical day range from four to ten minutes, rising to twenty minutes during the late morning peak, when between 32 and 40 jets typically circle over the city.

"It is not a great environmental story and it is not something that we will be shouting from the rooftops," Jon Proudlove, managing director of NATS at Heathrow, said. "But it is important that people know that when you are operating at 98 per cent capacity and you have the two most utilised pieces of infrastructure in the world [Heathrow and Gatwick], then one of the results is that you have airborne holding."

Its 476,000 flights this year made Heathrow, with its two runways, the busiest international hub, while Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport. Airlines argue that unless the Government takes urgent action to increase capacity business will migrate to Europe.

Competing airports are able to stack aircraft, but aviation experts said that London is unique in its requirement to place the majority of commercial aircraft into holding patterns around the capital as a matter of course. "We are not a Paris, Frankfurt or Schiphol where we can open another runway when the going gets a bit tough. We are on a knife edge," Mr Proudlove said.

NATS estimates that Heathrow operates well for 300 days of the year. Fifty days are "really difficult" and 15 a "complete disaster". With no slack in the system, poor weather or problems on the ground have an immediate impact on schedules and increase holding. "That is why we need a third runway," Steve Ridgway, the Virgin Atlantic chief executive, said.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group, parent company of British Airways, has admitted that the third runway at Heathrow is "dead" and that he will look to expand through Madrid. But he said that stacking over London had improved in recent years thanks to sophisticated air traffic management. "I do not think that is the issue. The issue is growth. There is absolutely no opportunity for growth at Heathrow - none," Mr Walsh added.

The Government is also opposed to Heathrow operating in "mixed mode", which would allow aircraft to take off and land from the same runway. Its operator, BAA, says that this would allow more flights to land in the morning and evening peak times.

Safety experts say that the congestion poses no risk to passengers, but is damaging the environment. Vicky Wyatt, of Greenpeace, said: "Heathrow is clogged up with over 100,000 short-haul flights to destinations that are easily reachable by train, like Manchester and Paris. If we shifted these on to trains it would free up capacity and there would be no need for stacking."


Millions of travellers find airports so stressful
that they have given up flying, a report reveals today

Daily Mail Reporter - 27 June 2011

While most refuse to give up their holidays, the study shows four in ten Britons who have flown find the airport experience stressful. More than a third believe it is worse than work, and nearly a quarter think it as stressful as moving house.

Of the 2,000 holidaymakers questioned, 9 per cent - or almost four million in the wider travelling population - now avoid flying because of airport stress including flight delays, mislaid belongings and getting to the gate on time. Almost half of travellers believe a holiday doesn't start until they have left the airport.

The research, conducted for the credit-card insurer CPP, found passengers thought Heathrow was Britain's most stressful airport, followed by Gatwick and Manchester. Psychologist David Moxon said: "Humans are wired to experience stress in situations where many feel out of control. Airports - where you have to follow instructions that are likely to change at the last minute, and procedures that are unpredictable - lead many to react with a stress response."


Well I have stopped. I just "lost it" when I had to take my shoes and tie off at a security check, I was nearly locked up. When a man of 68 years old has to suffer this indignity just to get on a plane, I think the terrorists have won! It's altogether a shocking state of affairs that we have arrived at. Getting back into my own country was even harder than leaving it! I now take the long distance ferry instead - much more sedate.
Mr Angry, SW UK, 28/6/2011

I'm delighted the whiners and moaners have given up flying. It means shorter queues for the rest of us!
Roger, Sussex, 28/6/2011

Sounds like you are describing Luton airport, they did that with the drop-off parking ages ago. Luton airport has put me off flying. You have to go up, to come back down now to get on to the tarmac and then walk in the rain to the aircraft.
Gerry, Leeds 28/6/2011


Heathrow: full up and leaching business to its mainland European competitors
Our correspondents disagree on the best way forward for aviation in the UK, although most concur that it plays a key part in the economy

Paul Vicente - The Times - Readers' Letters - 30 June 2011

Sir, Heathrow is so overloaded that airlines are talking about leaving Britain ("Airlines plan flight from Britain", June 28 No wonder, when the same airlines insist that almost all flights from other UK airports route via Heathrow or another London airport. If the airlines offered more direct flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool there would be fewer passengers transiting London and more space for those who need to.
I. Young, Edinburgh

Sir, You quote Theresa Villiers, the Aviation Minister, saying that "it is untrue to suggest that Government does not have a strategy to help UK aviation grow and prosper". The UK's Air Passenger Duty is the highest in the world, and is to rise in 2012. The Government's new Aviation Framework won't be consulted upon and implemented until April 2013, meaning the UK will have gone 35 months without a policy - costing jobs, business growth and international connectivity in the meantime.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association

Sir, John Stewart of HACAN Clear Skies ("Veto will not harm the economy", June 28) is wrong to say that a block on expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted will not hurt the economy. Heathrow serves as the UK's only hub airport and it is full. As a result, it has been losing routes to rivals for the past 20 years - it serves just 171 destinations compared to Amsterdam with 222, Paris with 223 and Frankfurt with 262, all of which have room to grow at our expense. Even more worryingly, our potential to trade with such important economies as Brazil, Russia, India and China is threatened by the UK's inability to expand its hub airport. China will build 97 airports by 2020. By contrast, no full-length runway has been built in the South East of England since the war. At a time when the UK economy needs all the help it can get, it seems perverse to signal that London is closed to new business.
Simon J. L. Buck, Chief Executive, British Air Transport Association

Sir, John Stewart is misleading when he argues that our economy is not dependent on airport expansion in the South East. Aviation is a substantial net contributor to the Exchequer - even more than the much-vaunted bank levies. It supports the employment of 1.5 million people. It pays for all its own vehicles, airports, policing, security and terminals - even its regulator, the CAA, makes a 6 per cent return to the economy. Yet with the decision to abandon plans for a third runway, London Heathrow risks becoming a branch line rather than a major hub. To make matters worse, the Government's punitive approach to managing aviation's emissions means that Air Passenger Duty now acts as a £2.7 billion burden on the industry. That is enough to offset all UK emissions four-fold yet there is no Cruise Liner Passenger Tax. The aviation industry is committed to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent per year to 2020, capping net emissions from 2020 through carbon-neutral growth, and cutting net emissions in half by 2050, compared to 2005 levels, but it is still pilloried. The aviation industry can only take so many knocks before the damage is permanent. At that stage, the people who will benefit most will not be the green community but rather our international competitors.
Andrew Brookes, Director, The Air League

Sir, A new hub airport would take decades to be fully operational. Extra capacity is needed now even though it may require unpopular decisions. We are operating in a competitive market, where talented individuals and institutions are highly mobile. London and the UK cannot afford to stand still while our rivals across the globe are building for the future.
Stuart Fraser, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation

Sir, You appear to be trying to relaunch the failed campaign to expand Heathrow Airport. People in Hounslow want the aviation industry to be successful - many work at Heathrow or depend on it economically - but we do not want the airport to consume us. Aircraft noise already makes Hounslow the noisiest London borough. We will not allow it to be increased even further. Your reports set out a questionable economic case for more aviation, then systematically eliminated all the potential sources of additional capacity, leaving the impression that only expansion at Heathrow would solve the problem of congestion and avoidable carbon emissions. The case for low-carbon alternatives such as high-speed rail was hardly explored. We are ready for a rational dialogue with the aviation industry but we will fight vigorously against any renewed attempt to pressurise the Government into abandoning its moratorium on Heathrow expansion.
Councillor Ruth Cadbury

"The UK's Air Passenger Duty is the highest in the world and is to rise in 2012." (letter from Darren Caplan, above). Better to have ended that sentence "and is to rise, yet again, in 2012." When introduced by Kenneth Clarke this nasty tax was set at £5 for eurotrips and £10 for flights outside the eurozone. Resented but grudgingly accepted. Successive governments have doubled and redoubled this impost and now intend to raise it again. At what point will the goose that lays the golden eggs be killed?
Fidel Torras

People can get to London for a variety of ways in addition to the airline. For example, in Barcelona many tourists arrive in large cruise ships (sometimes on the same day I saw nine in the port), another solution is the high speed train and of course the highways. With the example I want to say that I put myself landed at Manchester airport and I went by train to London. There are many alternatives that can benefit the whole UK.
Patrick Hogan

The trouble with the British since the First World War is that everyone has talked and argued and talked again but done almost nothing (sensible). It was like this in the years before WW2 and we very nearly lost the war in 1940 because of it. For goodness sake will someone/anyone in Government please get off their bottom, take some useful action and be a bit dynamic with it? You should know that my question is rhetorical as experience tells me that yet again nothing will happen until foreign businesses have already lapped up what could have benefited this country.
Jan D

What a shame that the 'recommend' for letters, above, isn't selective. Councillor Cadbury, for her views, would get no approval from me and definitely not for stating, as if threatening with a gun to our heads, that 'We will not allow it [Heathrow's noise] to be increased even further'. Such imperious comment is an equally unacceptable 'noise' to this Heathrow passenger.
Nigel Brodrick-Barker


Lib Dem energy secretary threatens coalition rift over plans
to consider abolishing climate and conservation regulations

The Guardian - 19 June 2011

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne has attacked his Conservative colleagues in government as "rightwing ideologues" and "deregulation zealots" for placing environmental regulations on a list of red tape to be considered for scrapping.

In comments made at the weekend to a conference of social democrats in his party, Huhne made it clear he is opposed to environmental protection laws such as the Climate Change Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the National Parks Act being included in the government's review of regulations in force in the UK.

His views are thought to reflect a range of opinion within Liberal Democrats in government. A source close to Huhne said he was supported by the business secretary, Vince Cable, and Lib Dem ministers were braced to do battle over hundreds of regulations they believe their Tory colleagues will be inclined to discard. The move is part of a Lib Dem strategy to fight their corner more aggressively that has been evident in the party leadership's successful opposition to the NHS changes.

Huhne said: "Between the obsession with micro-management and target-setting displayed by the Labour party, and the fixation with deregulation and scrapping rules just because they are rules on offer from some rightwing ideologues, we Liberal Democrats have a real chance to define an evidence-based, intelligent and distinctive approach."

A source said: "We are taking issue with this ideology that less regulation is inherently better. Regulation can be incredibly important. When the process comes to a head in the autumn, we are certainly not going to be letting regulations go. We will be fighting and we have quite a lot of ministers on our side."

Members of the public are being encouraged to pass comment on all regulations listed on a government website called the "red tape challenge". If enough people call for an item to be discarded, the onus is on ministers to explain why it should be protected. The list includes 278 environmental regulations at a time when a movement to scrap legislation such as the Climate Change Act has been growing more muscular. The former head of the civil service Lord Turnbull recently became the highest-profile individual to call for its repeal.

In his speech Huhne said: "Whatever the good intent, we have mistakenly given the impression that an exercise designed to scrap unnecessary minor bureaucratic hurdles is now placing the cornerstone of climate protection under threat. Of course this is nonsense. Let me assure you: there is a very good case for our key regulations protecting the environment to stay."

But he went on to list a series of problems with the government's approach to deregulation. He said he believed the current guiding principle - "one in, one out", whereby a new regulation can be brought forward only if another one is discarded - does not work with environmental regulations. "This is a sensible approach, but there are some new areas, like climate protection, where we need to be realistic if there are no old regulations of equal impact to scrap."

He also said a belief that regulation always had a cost was "fatuous", and deregulation often had unintended consequences. "How would a deregulation zealot have dealt with the Montreal protocol, for example, the most effective international environmental treaty to date? Under the protocol, in 1987, countries agreed to phase out the production and consumption of CFCs and other chemicals that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations didn't replace anything, as no one knew until the 1980s that CFCs were harmful."

"We need to remember that deregulation can have unintended consequences. Take the example of digging up roads and pavements. Thirty years ago only about a dozen companies had the right to dig up public roads. Then in the 1990s, with the privatisation of utilities and the advent of cable TV, this ballooned to over 150. Streets were dug up repeatedly with no co-ordination or control. Congestion wastes time, and time costs money. The belief that regulation always implies costs is equally fatuous ? something that's obvious to Liberal Democrats, who have never taken the view that the market is always right."

He pointed to the mobile phone market, saying the US had adopted a laissez-faire approach, with the result that American mobiles did not work outside state, or even city, lines. "At one point the USA had no less than 16 separate and incompatible networks. In contrast, the EU adopted a single standard, GSM, which established global roaming. This was so effective that today, of the world's largest 20 mobile networks, six are European and only two are American - and they're in 19th and 20th places."

He also cited work done by the US energy secretary, Steven Chu, who has looked at the impact of energy standards on US refrigerators over the last 50 years. "For the first 30 years, fridges, and their energy use, got steadily larger. Then in 1978 the first energy standards were introduced. Fridges still got bigger, but energy use plummeted. But the most significant thing? The real price of the fridge to consumers fell steadily over the full 50-year period."

Huhne added: "Regulation can help make businesses globally competitive, drive down costs for consumers and realise benefits for the environment, society and the economy as a whole. Win, win, win. The argument shouldn't be about regulation versus deregulation, more laws versus less. It's about the kind of regulation we need."

Huhne said he had led a move to simplify regulation when he was an MEP, acknowledged "bad regulation" needed to be dealt with and pointed to examples of deregulatory policies he had brought in in the energy department, but he said these were examples of "smarter regulation".


Ministers must heed this airports warning

Evening Standard - 22 June 2011

Yesterday's comments by British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh highlight the decisions looming over London's airport capacity.

Mr Walsh said that BA has given up any hope of a third runway ever being built at Heathrow, following the Conservatives' election pledge last year to scrap the plans. Instead, it will now build new hub space in Spain. The Mayor, Boris Johnson, has responded by warning that "we're on the verge of making an historic mistake over provision of airport capacity".

For the Government's scrapping of Heathrow expansion plans merely puts off a decision about the future of our airports. The Heathrow decision was a huge relief to west London residents whose lives are blighted by aircraft noise. But while much of Heathrow's domestic traffic could in theory be shifted to high-speed rail, in practice that is not likely to start happening before 2025 at the earliest - if it ever happens at all.

Already, Heathrow is running at 98 per cent capacity and Gatwick at 80 per cent: when the economy recovers, the shortfall will start to show quickly.

The Mayor's solution is a new airport in the Thames estuary, a bold plan which would nevertheless have a major environmental impact and cost at least £50billion. Ministers could also revisit plans to expand Stansted or, eventually, Gatwick. There may be potential elsewhere, too: last week easyJet signed a deal with Southend airport. We need to consider all the options. What we cannot do is simply ignore the issue. As an international trading centre, London is reliant on its air links - and through them, large parts of the rest of the UK economy too. Ministers should recognise that and start to set out plans for fixing the South-East's airport capacity problem.


Willie Walsh said London had lost many international travellers
because of overcrowding

Chris Harris/Pool/Reuters - 22 June 2011

British Airways has given up hope of a third runway being built at Heathrow and is looking instead for space to expand in foreign cities, with Madrid at the top of its list of targets.

Speaking at The Times CEO Summit yesterday, Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA's parent company, International Airlines Group, conceded for the first time that the Government's decision to cancel expansion at Heathrow had killed the prospect of a new runway for good. "I agree the third runway will never be built at Heathrow," Mr Walsh said, responding to a speech by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. Mr Walsh later told The Times: "It's dead."

The admission ends more than a decade of aggressive lobbying for growth at Heathrow, which is one of the world's busiest hubs, handling 65 million passengers a year. The national flag-carrier had been the loudest and most powerful advocate for an extra runway which was approved by Labour ministers in 2009 before being halted soon after last year's general election.

Mr Walsh said that because of overcrowding, London had lost many international travellers. "We've already lost because the growth in Dubai could have come to London." He added that after BA's merger with Spain's Iberia in January, the airline was increasingly looking overseas, saying: "We will access growth outside of the UK."

The BA chief's remarks came as Mr Johnson detailed his vision for a new airport that could be sited in the Thames Estuary, directing noise and pollution away from residential areas. The mayor said that with air passengers predicted to increase from 140 million to 400 million across Britain in the next 30 years, Heathrow was "perpetually struggling to fit a quart into a pint pot".

Mr Johnson added that he was concerned by BA shifting future investment and job creation overseas, saying: "If BA is telling us that in order to expand it has to go to Madrid, that's pretty serious."

The battle over expansion at Heathrow has been long and bitter. Alternative hubs in the South East are viewed by airlines as unsuitable - Gatwick is subject to an agreement with residents barring new runways until 2019 and Stansted is largely used by low-cost carriers. Mr Johnson's estuary airport has attracted little political or industry support because of its likely cost of at least £40 billion. In a quixotic move, Southend airport in Essex last week staked its claim as a London terminal by announcing that easyJet was to begin passenger services

A key residents' group fighting Heathrow expansion reacted to BA's stance with "relief and delight". John Stewart, chairman of Hacan ClearSkies said: "This is huge. BA were the most prominent supporter of a third runway."

But London First, which represents the capital's biggest employers, criticised the Government for lacking a joined-up strategy on aviation. Baroness Valentine, its chief executive, said: "This is tangible evidence that the Government's aviation strategy is damaging our economy and enhancing that of our EU rivals."

More than 76,000 people work at Heathrow, which handled 1,231 flights a day on its two runways during 2010 and operates at capacity during peak periods. In contrast, Madrid's Barajas airport has four runways and has about 20 per cent spare capacity.


Laura Pitel - London Evening Standard - 21 June 2011

The government must push for a new London airport to avoid making a "historic mistake" that will cause serious damage to the UK economy, the Mayor of London said today.

With Heathrow already over capacity, Britain is missing out on investment and sacrificing jobs to its European rivals, Boris Johnson said, and the only solution is to create a new aviation hub to serve the capital.

Speaking to a group of some of Britain's influential business leaders at The Times CEO Summit, Mr Johnson said: "Heathrow is now running at 99 per cent capacity and, in spite of Terminal Five, the airport is perpetually struggling. 40 per cent of flights are delayed. You are circling over Croydon when people are landing over Frankfurt and Paris. If we continue with our current zero-growth approach in aviation capacity we will do serious damage to the economy."

The creation of a new airport would be "the single biggest and boldest step" that Britain could take to ensure that London remained one of the world's greatest cities, he said.

Laying down the gauntlet to David Cameron and George Osborne, the Mayor said that the challenge was a political one, not a financial one, and urged the government to "get on with" creating a new airport as a matter of great importance. Acknowledging public opposition to aviation expansion in Britain, he said that funding such a project would be "the least of our problems".

"Our problem is mainly political," he said. "I am sure there are funders around the world who will look at this as a massive potential long-term investment. The question is whether, as a country, we have to the guts to do something this big and bold. And deal with the issues of those who live in Kent and Essex [where a new airport would be likely to be built]."

In a damming indictment of the current state of aviation in the UK, Willie Walsh, chief executive of the parent company of British Airways and a delegate at the summit, told Mr Johnson that BA had been forced to look abroad in its search for growth. "I support the mayor's ambition and I don't disagree with the further work on a new airport," Mr Walsh said. "From a business point of view, however, British Airways is looking elsewhere and, unfortunately, elsewhere means outside the UK."

Mr Johnson said that the revelation was "disastrous". "That's why this is so urgent," he said. "If BA is telling us that in order to expand they have to go to Madrid, it says to me that the situation is critical," he said. "We are losing tens of thousands of jobs in the aviation sector to our more ambitious European rivals. People say we can't afford big projects of this kind but the real question is whether we can afford not to."

But Mr Walsh was sceptical as to whether a new airport could be built quickly enough to meet the UK's needs. "Realistically, a new airport is 25 years away, by which time we will be so far down the [international airport] ranking," he said. "The lost opportunity is staggering." Reflecting a concern raised several times throughout the course of the two-day event, he said that the planning process would slow down the process, delivering an airport too late to avert the capacity crisis.

Improving Britain's infrastructure was a key theme at the Summit, with delegates calling for faster internet, improved phone networks and better road and rail networks.

Mr Johnson said that plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which were scrapped by the coalition government last year, would not have been the wrong solution to the problem of capacity. "You can't expect Londoners to put up with the noise," he said. "We can't expect to solve our problems by constantly expanding a West London airport with a prevailing wind that means that planes constantly have to come over the city." Instead, he said, what was needed was a second air hub in London, connected to Heathrow by high-speed rail link.

Mr Johnson has previously called for a new airport to be built on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary that proved controversy due to its potential impact on wildlife and noise levels. He said yesterday that he was open to suggestions as to the best location for the site of such a hub, but added that the Estuary site would be "fantastically economically powerful" and could offer "huge potential" for regeneration in East London.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that there were environmental concerns about the growth of aviation. "That's why I wholly support the government in their exploration of high speed rail as an alternative to short-haul flights," he said. "But you can't take a high-speed train to Beijing or Sao Paulo."

He said that was scope for a large increase in flights without exceeding the UK's limits on greenhouse gas emissions. "We could have another 85m passengers a year and still be within the limits."


Britain needs more airport capacity. Now a third runway is unlikely,
the Thames Estuary must get serious consideration.

Times Leader - 23 June 2011

Beyond the argument about deficit reduction, Britain has a serious problem with generating growth. It will be an achievement to return the public finances to surplus; but that alone will not help Britain to alter its long-term trend rate of growth. The best thing a government can do to help is to see through necessary improvements to the nation's infrastructure. The most pressing question in this regard is the future of aviation.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, told The Times CEO Summit on Tuesday that the 140 million passengers who pass through Britain today will increase to 400 million over the next 30 years. This newspaper strongly supported the construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport and, if there were any possibility that the issue could return to the political agenda, it still would.

However, it seems that the government has, unwisely, abandoned the idea. When the industry's principal player, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of the International Airlines Group, the company that owns BA, can tell the same summit that he is now looking towards Madrid for expansion, it is safe to assume the proposal is dead.

When Gatwick is unable to move because of an agreement with residents not to construct any new runways until 2019 and Stansted has become the domain of low-cost carriers, there appears to be no solution in sight.

Which is why the Mayor of London's idea for a new airport constructed in the Thames Estuary should be given serious scrutiny. Mr Johnson is proposing that an airport be built on Shivering Sands, northeast of Whitstable. This is not the first time an airport has been mooted in or around the Thames Estuary. A plan to build an airport on Maplin Sands was approved in 1973 but abandoned a year later when the oil crisis broke.

There are, inevitably, problems with the proposal. The local infrastructure is poor and the investment needed - in roads, railways, schools and hospitals - would be vast. That would have to be added to the estimated £15 billion cost of building the airport itself. The need for an artificial offshore island means that construction would delay the day that the first flight could be expected to leave the ground.

Yet if all options were ruled out on the grounds that there will be difficulties and objections, nothing would ever get done. It is not unprecedented for a leading city to change its main airport. Paris did so in 1974, Munich in 1992, Hong Kong in 1998, Athens in 2001 and Bangkok did so in 2006. It is time now that the case for an airport in the Thames Estuary is heard and taken seriously.

Flights would arrive and depart over far less densely populated areas than those which are near to Heathrow. The relatively low population of the surrounding area would allow flights to come and go for longer in each day. There would, for the same reason, be much less resistance to the noise and air pollution inevitably generated by an airport. Land around the site is at much less of a premium than it is in the vicinity of Heathrow, which would permit further expansion should it be needed in due course. The high-speed rail link that would be needed to link a new airport with central London would be a good deal cheaper to construct than a similar link from Heathrow because land values are so much less. And, of course, a deprived part of the country would have the major regeneration project that it badly needs.

There is no ideal site for more airport capacity. Every proposal will generate spirited resistance. But Britain's capacity to say no to every bold, potentially transformational investment in infrastructure threatens to leave the country - and the capital - without sufficient capacity for air travel. London's place in the world will suffer - and with it its citizens. It is time for David Cameron to take a fresh look at the Thames Estuary.


Lucy Tobin - This is London - 17 June 2011

EasyJet today added its voice to aviation industry pleas for the Government to cancel the planned rise in air passenger duty, on the last day of consultation into the review.

The budget airline's chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said families were being "clobbered" by tax. The Government's proposals involve cutting four APD bands down to as few as two. That could see short-haul, domestic and European passengers paying 33% more APD, leaving a family of four paying £64 for each break in Europe, or £128 if they fly to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The review also proposes hitting private jets with APD; they currently do not have to pay the tax.

McCall added: "Britain is one of the only European countries to tax air passengers. Raising this tax contradicts the Government's pledges to fairness and to the environment. It will hurt our economy and harm British jobs."

APD is expected to raise £2.5 billion in the current financial year, and £3.3 billion in 2014-15 if passenger numbers rise and the tax increases alongside inflation. But a report by Frontier Economics commissioned by easyJet said the Government's APD hike would cut tourist spending in the UK by £475 million a year, leading to as many as 77,000 job losses.


London Evening Standard - 16 June 2011

TODAY'S call from a group of 12 provincial airports for a "congestion charge" on passengers using London's airports is unrealistic. It also lays bare some hard facts about the UK's economy. The regional airports want the Chancellor to increase air passenger duty for those flying in or out of the South-East's main airports, in order to encourage people to fly from elsewhere - thereby, in theory, relieving congestion at Heathrow and Gatwick and increasing business for regional competitors. But in truth, it is sheer fantasy to think that travellers would want to fly to or from Birmingham or Manchester instead.

People fly to London in part because that is where British Airways and other airlines have their main hubs, but also because London is the centre of the UK's economy and government. They don't, on the whole, want to fly to Manchester - otherwise they would. And trying to re-route them by putting up taxes will simply add to the costs of doing business in London.

Certainly congestion is a problem at Heathrow, which is running at 98 per cent capacity, and sometimes at Gatwick too. The Government may well yet have to revisit its election pledge not to expand Heathrow: London needs more capacity. But there are alternatives. Today, for example, we report that easyJet has signed a long-term agreement to use Southend airport: the airline predicts that the airport could become as busy as London City.

London is now, more than ever, the engine of the nation's economy. It makes no sense - for the capital or the provinces - to hobble its prospects for growth, as any move weakening its vital international air links would do.


The cost of a family holiday in Europe is set to rise
under Government plans to overhaul Air Passenger Duty

David Millward - Transport Editor - 16 June 2011

However, the plans, contained in a consultation which closes on Friday would bring down the price of long-distance travel. The options outlined by the Government include cutting down the number of APD bands from the current four to two or three.

But in doing so this could push up APD on European flights from £12 to £16 - increasing the tax for a family of four by £16 assuming they flew economy class. The biggest winners under the reforms, would be business class passengers flying to the furthest flung destinations such as Singapore and Australia. Assuming that APD rises in November in line with inflation, the existing arrangements would see this group of passengers facing a tax bill of £186.

The proposed reforms could bring that bill down to as little as £150, if the Government goes for the "two band" option which would see the same higher rate levied on all flights over 2,000 miles.

This has already triggered a rift between airlines. "The Government's proposals on APD would see hard working families subsidising long haul business class travellers." said an easyJet spokesman. "Bailing out the banks is one thing, but subsidising bankers' long haul business class travel is quite another." "If the Government presses ahead it will be a poll tax with wings."

But Julie Southern, Virgin Atlantic?s Chief Commercial Officer, rounded on the budget carriers. "It is a bit rich for the supposed low-cost airlines to complain about tax increases of £4 at most for their passengers, when some charge three times that amount to book flights using a Debit Card." "Historically the rises in this tax, both in percentage and absolute terms, have been much higher for long haul flights than for short haul. If the Government spares the traveling public and decides to take the same level of revenue from this tax, we strongly believe the burden should be shared more fairly."

Other proposals contained in the review include extending APD to business jets, which are currently exempt from the tax. However it has ruled out applying the levy to transit passengers, because this would mean somebody flying from a provincial airport and changing planes at Heathrow would be taxed twice.

The Government is also understood to have ruled out switching to a per plane tax, which would encourage airlines to avoid flying empty aircraft, after being advised that this would be illegal. In addition ministers, while accepting that APD is a revenue raising measure, are looking to ease the burden on passengers by broadening the tax base.

Air Passenger Duty is expected to raise £2.5 billion in the current financial year, rising to £3.3 billion in 2014-15. The figures are based on an assumption that passenger demand will rise and the tax rising in line with inflation.

British holidaymakers already face the highest aviation taxes in Europe and they will have to dig even deeper into their pockets next year when the European Union introduces an Emissions Trading Scheme. The scheme will force airlines to pay for "carbon credits" if they exceed their emissions threshold and could add as much as £10 to the price of a transatlantic flight when it is introduced next year.


Linsey McNeill - Travel Mole - 14 June 2011

Manchester Airport has launched a new campaign to persuade the government to introduce lower air taxes for flights from regional airports than from London. It is urging passengers to write to the Chancellor George Osborne asking for a regionalised taxation system.

The Chancellor announced a consultation on air passenger duty in his March Budget and Manchester Airport is asking passengers to respond before the deadline this Friday. It will be giving customers pre-written postcards asking the Chancellor to consider a lower level of APD for airports like Manchester, which can be posted in special mail boxes installed in Terminals 1 and 2.

The airport's external affairs director Jonathan Bailey said: "This is the last chance for passengers to have their say on the proposed changes that could seriously affect their future holidays and business trips. Many UK travellers are unaware that they pay the highest levels of flight tax in Europe but they have an opportunity to have their say and make their voice heard to Government."

"We are asking our passengers to show their support and help convince the Government that a regionalised tax system could work in the long term and provide a stronger aviation industry for the UK."

Bailey said passengers flying from regional airports tended to be more price sensitive than those travelling from London, which can make regional airports less attractive to airlines. "The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has had a concern that additional price rises might discourage airlines from developing new routes from regional airports that businesses in the north require," he added.

Earlier this year, Manchester Airport lent its support to ABTA's 'A Fair Tax on Flying' campaign and joined an alliance of more than 25 airlines, airports, tour operators, destinations and trade associations who were uniting to call on the Government to make the system of aviation tax in the UK fairer.

That helped to raise awareness of the current system amongst UK travellers and saw the issue of a regionalised system of tax being mentioned in the Treasury's subsequent consultation on the current system.

OUR COMMENT: Chris Huhne's timely reminder that climate change is still the number one problem to be solved comes at a time when calls for aviation expansion are renewed.

Pat Dale


Plane makers ring up orders at bullish airshow

Matthias Blamont and Kyle Peterson - LE BOURGET, France - 20 June 2011

(Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus bagged $14.4 billion of orders, outselling U.S. rival Boeing's $9.3 billion on the first day of a Paris Air Show where bullish sentiment reigned.

Airbus (EAD.PA) dominated orders for single-aisle planes, the largest aircraft segment, luring airlines with a more fuel-efficient version of its top-selling A320 family as Boeing waits to decide whether to launch a completely new version of its competing 737 or to upgrade the existing model.

But Boeing (BA.N) outsold Airbus in the market for the more expensive long-haul planes, including for a new version of its most recognizable jetliner, the 747. "The volume of orders today was large, underscoring the recovery in commercial aerospace," Alex Hamilton, aerospace analyst and managing director of EarlyBirdCapital, told Reuters at the Air Show.

Airbus believes it has the upper hand with the A320neo, whose more efficient engines save airlines 15 percent in fuel costs, according to the company. Engine maker Pratt & Whitney Chief Executive David Hess said he expected an "astounding" amount of demand for the A320neo, while the minister responsible for the German civil aerospace industry, Peter Hintze, described it as a "trump card."

Analysts expect narrow-body planes, the backbone of the fast-growing budget airline market, to be a key battleground for orders between Airbus and Boeing at the biennial air show. Airbus won orders for 60 narrow-body A320neo planes from the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of General Electric (GE.N) and for 30 from Scandinavian airline SAS (SAS.ST), totaling $7.7 billion at list prices.

Air Lease Corp (AL.N) signed a memorandum of understanding for 36 A320neo-family planes, and Qatar Airways also said it hoped to conclude a deal this week to buy A320neo planes.

Boeing conceded it might lose some customers while it ponders the future of its 737. The firm said on Sunday it would decide by year-end whether to upgrade the 737 with new engines from about 2016, as Airbus has done, or build an all-new jet in 2019.

Boeing upstaged Airbus with successes in other plane sizes, notching up $9.3 billion of orders, including for 17 of the latest version of its legendary 747 from unidentified customers, as well as five 777s and four 787-9 Dreamliners from Air Lease Corp. Boeing also identified Gulf carrier Qatar Airways as the customer behind a previously revealed order for six 777-300ER wide-body jets worth $1.7 billion at list prices.

The news came a day after Airbus unveiled plans to boost the range of its future competing A350, for which Qatar is the biggest customer. Airbus had been left red-faced following a series of mishaps on the eve of the show, including a taxiway collision involving an A380 superjumbo. But it managed to scramble a Korean Air A380 to replace the damaged aircraft in aerial displays at the show.

The initial aircraft was hidden out of sight on Monday as President Nicolas Sarkozy inaugurated the show, and was a source of embarrassment for Airbus only hours after the arrival of its new competitor - Boeing's elongated 747-8 superjumbo, which is showing its distinctive silhouette abroad for the first time.

The jumbo touched down in orange and red "sunrise" livery symbolizing the economic importance of Asia, with the additional orders unveiled on Monday rubbing salt into Airbus' wounds. A second Airbus aircraft, the delayed European A400 airlifter, was also initially withdrawn from air display after a gearbox problem.


Despite its setbacks, Airbus is confident of racking up orders for the A320neo, and the air show could bring two record deals in succession if its plans come to fruition. A $16 billion provisional deal from IndiGo to buy 180 A320neo passenger jets, first announced in January, could be finalized, although talks may also drag beyond the air show. If sealed, that would set a record for the number of planes in one transaction.

Sources close to the matter said that deal could be rapidly eclipsed by a 200-plane order being fine-tuned between Airbus and Malaysia's AirAsia (AIRA.KL). Demand for aircraft is on a sharp rebound driven by rapidly growing demand from Asia and the Middle East. "Those two markets will enjoy at least one-third if not more of the demand increase for global air traffic in the next decade," said Philip Toy, a managing director at Alix Partners.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy said on Monday he expected to sell more planes this year than in 2010, though he declined to give an estimated figure. "We are working a lot and it looks like it's coming together to be a very big show," Leahy told reporters.

Russia and China will flex their muscles as potential rivals to Airbus and Boeing, especially during a Tuesday visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and some analysts expect surprise sales. But Western planemakers say it will be some time before newcomers mount a serious challenge in civil aerospace. Brazilian group Embraer (EMBR3.SA) also made its presence felt, saying it had won orders for its 190 regional jets.

OUR COMMENT: What about noise levels? Fuel consumption? Any improvements?

Pat Dale


Boeing to fly 747-8 Freighter to Paris using biofuel

blog.seattlepi.com - 17 June 2011

Boeing will fly a 747-8 and will make the world's first transatlantic crossing using biologically derived jet fuel when it flies to Paris for its international air show debut, Boeing announced Thursday.

The 747-8 will use a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85 percent traditional kerosene fuel in each of its four GE GEnx-2B engines for the flight, scheduled to arrive at about 5 p.m., Paris time, on Monday at Le Bourget Airport.

"This historic flight is a boost to aviation's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency in all phases of our industry," 747-8 Vice President and General Manager Elizabeth Lund said in a news release. "And the 747-8 Freighter fits in well with these efforts by bringing huge improvements in fuel efficiency, lower carbon emissions and less noise."

Following the release, fuel supplier Honeywell said it would actually send a biofueled jet across the Atlantic first: using a 50-percent mix of biofuel in a Gulfstream G450 scheduled to take off for Paris on Friday from Morristown, N.J.

Boeing said it does not need to make any changes to the 747-8, its engines or operating procedures prior to departure to accommodate biofuel use, and that normal flight parameters would be followed and were approved in advance by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The freighter is scheduled to be on static display at the Paris Air Show June 21 and 22 before leaving the evening of June 22 for a two-day visit to the Luxembourg headquarters of launch customer Cargolux, which is scheduled to get the first of the aircraft this summer.

OUR COMMENT: Biofuel will not be the answer to the greening of aircraft. CO2 is still produced and the growing of crops for biofuel to service aviation expansion could seriously impair the need to grow more crops for food.

Pat Dale


Travel Desk - The Telegraph - 16 June 2011

London airports who run above 75% capacity should have a tax imposed on them similar to a congestion charge, according to a collective of regional airports lobbying the Chancellor George Osborne to impose a higher rate of air passenger duty tax on all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.

The Government is currently undertaking a consultation on reforming the air passenger duty tax which raised £2.2 billion in the year to March. In an open letter the Chancellor the regional airports have said "we believe this is an ideal opportunity to abandon the one size fits all approach to aviation taxes and replace it with a charge on the busiest airports".

"If passengers and airlines want to fly out of airports which are congested they should pay a premium for doing so, just as motorists pay a premium to drive in Central London".

The regional airports that back the call for a congestion charge include Humberside, East Midlands, Glasgow, Prestwick, Durham and Liverpool. The UK government was attacked by IATA last week and branded a "tax bandit" for taxing what it claimed was the "highest aviation taxes in the world".

The move to a congestion charge is hoped by the regional airports collective, would act as an incentive to passengers to fly out of regional airports, inspiring a renaissance in regional aviation and an economic boom.


Kingston Guardian - 17 June 2011

Heathrow Airport has launched its Noise Action plan promising that the area affected by plane noise will shrink over the next five years.

The strategy contains 66 actions that Heathrow is taking to manage noise, and was developed following feedback from local people. The Noise Action Plan sets out how Heathrow is working with airlines to ensure that only the quietest planes use the airport.

Negotiations will seek to phase out the older, noisier aircraft by 2015 and landing charges will be reviewed to ensure that airlines are rewarded financially for using quieter planes. Tougher new noise targets will be set for night flights.

Heathrow is also finding new ways to improve operational performance. The airport will also review the amount that airlines are fined if they break noise limits, with all money raised donated to local community initiatives.

The Noise Action Plan was drawn up following a four month consultation in summer 2009, and major changes were made as a result of local feedback. Progress on meeting Noise Action Plan commitments will be independently audited and verified, and open for everyone to see.

Heathrow's chief operating officer, Terry Morgan said: "We know noise from Heathrow is annoying for people who live close to the airport. While the airport supports jobs and investment, we care about reducing its negative impacts too. This plan sets out practical steps we are taking to manage noise. Our progress in meeting these commitments will be independently verified and published so anyone can hold us to account. I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation and helped make this a better plan."

Copies of the Noise Action Plan are being sent to local authorities and MPs and the document is available online at www.heathrow.com/noise.

The Noise Action Plan is a separate document from the review into noise mitigation schemes at Heathrow that is currently ongoing - see www.heathrow.com/consultations for more information.

OUR COMMENT: No Noise Plan from other airports, notably Stansted! No signs of recognition of the need to improve methods of assessing noise exposure that takes more account of the number of aircraft as well as an average noise level throughout the day and night.

Pat Dale


Herts and Essex Observer - 14 June 2011

BISHOP'S Stortford's main bus link to Stansted Airport will soon be running 24 hours a day after its operator unveiled an expanded timetable.

TGM Group's 308 service, which starts at Bishop's Park and serves Thorley Park, the town centre and the Parsonage estate, will run around the clock as part of the firm's overhaul of its Herts and Essex routes. At the moment, the 308 runs from 4.45am until 10.30pm during the week and 5.55am to 10.30pm on Saturdays. The new arrangement will run seven days a week.

The changes have been made possible by investment from Stansted Airport, which puts about 31p from every car park transaction towards improving public transport links.

Stansted Airport's public transport manager, Steve Mills, said: "Nearly half of our air passengers travel to and from the airport by public transport - that's the highest figure for any major airport in the UK and one of the highest in Europe. Much of this growth is the result of a highly successful strategy to improve bus and coach services at the airport and supporting companies such as TGM to grow their network."

When the change comes into effect on July 3, airport passengers will also benefit from hourly journeys to Braintree and Colchester on TGM's new 133 bus.

OUR COMMENT: A valuable contribution to help those working on shifts at the airport. However, residents not working at the airport might also wish for fewer aircraft at night!

Pat Dale


Record levels of greenhouse gases were emitted into the
earth's atmosphere last year, according to new international figures

Andrew Hough - Daily Telegraph - 30 May 2011

The bleak statistics, compiled by the International Energy Agency (IEA), will prompt fears the world's drive to limit emissions and halt temperatures increases are likely to fail. Despite a high level push by governments to limit global warming, unprecedented levels of carbon were released into the air over the past 12 months, the unpublished figures have disclosed.

The IEA found a record 30.6 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide gushed into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel - a rise of 1.6Gt from the previous year. The agency has calculated that annual emission should not exceed 32Gt by 2020 if the world is to escape the most damaging effects of global warming. Experts said the figures, considered one of the most reliable measures of carbon emissions, showed that attempts to curb global warming were unlikely to succeed.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA chief economist, said this also meant the goal of preventing temperatures rising more than 2C - considered the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" - was likely to be just "a nice Utopia".

The disclosures come ahead of a key United Nations talks, involving officials from more than 180 governments, who will attempt to thrash out a new deal on climate change. The surprise figures also appear to contradict widespread opinion that the worst global recession since the Great Depression would help reduce emissions. Despite emissions from energy falling slightly between 2008 and 2009, due to the financial crisis, the figures have since "strongly rebounded".

Dr Birol admitted he was shocked by the disclosures, adding that the "room for manoeuvre is shrinking". "I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," he said. "The prospect is getting bleaker. This should be a wake-up call."

He suggested that emissions will likely rise even further due to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant following the Japanese earthquake and devastating tsunami. "People may not like nuclear, but it is one of the major technologies for generating electricity without carbon dioxide," he added.


From January airlines flying through the EU will have to acquire credits
to account for carbon emissions generated by their flights

Dan Milmo in Singapore - guardian.co.uk - 5 June 2011

According to Standard & Poor's rating agency airline fares could rise by up to ?40 by 2020 to offset cost of carbon emissions trading. European airlines have warned of a damaging trade war with the US, Russia and China if Brussels pushes ahead with plans to include carriers in the emissions trading scheme next year in a move that will put fares up by ?40 and cost the industry ?1.1bn (£980m).

The warning comes as US airlines prepare to launch a legal challenge against the ETS in Luxembourg next month, adding to unease from the Russian and Chinese governments. From January carriers flying in and out of the European Union must join power companies in the EU in the cap-and-trade system, where they will have to acquire carbon credits to account for the emissions generated by their flights.

Standard & Poor's rating agency said return fares could rise by between ?4.60 and ?39.60 by 2020 to offset carbon costs of about ?30 a tonne. However, the Association of European Airlines (AEA) warned that the proposals have yet to secure the backing of non-EU carriers and could spark tit-for-tat trade measures.

"If this is not sorted out in the next six months we run the risk of a trade conflict between the EU and third countries," said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, secretary general of the AEA, whose members include British Airways, bmi and Virgin Atlantic. Speaking at the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Singapore, Schulte-Strathaus said some airlines could be forced to cede routes to non-EU carriers because they would not be able to pass extra costs on to passengers. Non-EU carriers, by contrast, will be able to offset the higher costs as the rest of their network will not fly via the EU.

Iata, the trade body whose members include British Airways, Air France and American Airlines, said the ETS would would increase annual industry costs by more than ?1bn to Europe's airline industry expected to make a profit of $500m (£304m) this year. The worldwide profit, generated by Asian and US carriers, is expected to be $8.6bn.

"It makes Europe completely uncompetitive," said an Iata spokesman, who said airlines already faced an expected rise in fuel bills of $27bn this year. "Whether the airlines can recover it from passengers depends on market conditions."

US airlines will take their legal fight against ETS to the European court of justice next month where they will argue that the system breaches international law. The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) believes that imposing a European scheme on non-EU airlines contravenes various agreements including the Chicago Convention, which regulates the global airline industry. ATA argues that it breaches article 1 of the convention, which states that countries have sovereignty over airlines in their airspace. By that rationale, the EU has no right to tax a carrier flying out of, say, Dubai or New York. The US government has backed ATA, claiming that the scheme takes money away from airlines that could otherwise be invested in greener aircraft and engines.

Nicholas Calio, ATA chief and an experienced Washington lobbyist who worked as an aide for President Bush, said a global trading scheme was the best solution. "The legal case is important as a means of addressing what is wrong with the European scheme, but also as an opportunity for us to continue to pursue an approach that is appropriate for this global industry," he said. Meanwhile, Calio added, US airlines were preparing to join the ETS "under protest".

OUR COMMENT: Still with their heads in the sand?

Pat Dale


Letter to Financial Times - 8 June 2011

Sir, In the latest round of industry scaremongering over the inclusion of aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), Airbus and the Association of European Airlines accuse the EU of creating a "unilateral tax imposed on third-country carriers" that "will create a trade conflict with the world's most powerful economic and political players" (Airbus warns of emissions trade war June 6).

That description of a unilateral tax imposed on third-country carriers perfectly fits the US international transportation tax (currently $16.30 a passenger) which applies to all international flights arriving in or departing from the US. In place for at least a decade, it does not seem to have caused the "trade conflict" that Airbus predicts in its alarmist letter to the European Commission.

The EU-ETS, on the other hand, cannot even be described as a tax because airlines can reduce their exposure by cutting emissions. They will also get 85 per cent of their permits for free. The only way of avoiding America's tax, by the way, is not to land at an American airport.

Airbus is in the business of selling new aircraft that cut fuel costs and emissions; this in turn helps airlines to avoid buying permits for the EU-ETS. That it now joins the throng calling for an end to this modest initiative is an ironic and depressing reflection of an industry that refuses to look its future in the face.

Jos Dings
Director, Transport & Environment (T&E), Brussels, Belgium


EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard (on her website) - 31 May 2011

Aviation's contribution to climate change is forecast to grow substantially in the future unless we act. As most other sectors are already subject to measures, it is only reasonable that this sector should also contribute to fight climate change.

Almost 20 years after countries across the world in the UN Rio declaration agreed on the need to "promote the internalization of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution" it seems high time that this polluter-pays-principle is finally also applied to aviation's greenhouse gas emissions. How can we ever hope to make ordinary citizens of the world play their part in tackling climate change if the financier from Hong Kong or London or the business man from Guandong or Frankfurt is not asked for any contribution whatsoever in respect of the significant emissions that he incurs on an intercontinental flight?

The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in fact already in 2004 unanimously endorsed the idea of emissions trading, and expressly recognised that one of the most promising avenues to pursue this was to "incorporate emissions from international aviation into States' emissions trading schemes". This is precisely what the EU decided to do when it subsequently took the initiative to include aviation in the EU's emissions trading system (EU ETS).

Emissions from airplanes affect the climate regardless of their nationality. Aviation is a competitive business, where on any given route, all carriers must be treated equally regardless of their nationality to ensure legality, avoid distortions of competition and maximize the environmental impact. Consequently, the EU legislation applies to all outgoing and incoming flights.

This legislation is fully consistent with international law. Indeed, ICAO experts long ago, and after carefully studying the matter, concluded that "there are no provisions in the Chicago Convention that address or would appear to prohibit the development and implementation of such programmes". It is also consistent with the policy of ICAO, which endorsed emissions trading precisely because it was the most effective economic instrument for tackling aviation emissions, when compared to alternatives such as taxes or charges.

A lot of misinformation and misunderstandings about the EU rules and the costs for carriers circulate - the fact is that the vast majority of emissions rights (85%) are given for free to airlines, while the remaining 15% of the cap is auctioned. Auction revenues will be used to tackle climate change in the EU and third countries, inter alia, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the EU and third countries, especially developing countries, to fund research and development for mitigation and adaptation, including in particular in the fields of aeronautics and air transport, to reduce emissions through low-emission transport and to measures to avoid deforestation.

The EU fully recognizes that ultimately global action is required, but this will take time to develop. In order not to duplicate efforts, the EU's legislation clearly envisages that if a country outside the EU were to take equivalent measures then all flights from that country could be exempt from the EU scheme. But honestly, in Europe we cannot see why a student flying back home should pay for his pollution while the Chinese businessman should not. We are ready to engage constructively with other partners about such an approach and encourage other governments to join in and take responsibility for controlling aviation's emissions. We have always been and continue to be open to discuss how best to combine our efforts in addressing the impact of aviation on the global climate.

Connie Hedegaard
EU Commissioner for Climate Action


Financial Times - 6 June 2011

As Denmark's environment minister, Connie Hedegaard hosted the ill-fated 2009 Copenhagen climate summit. As the European Union's climate commissioner, she is determined that if the EU cannot bring the rest of the world on board, it should go it alone. Next year she is extending the EU Emissions Trading System to all aviation servicing the EU - including airlines based elsewhere. Industry protests are a sign she is on the right track.

The great uncertainty surrounding climate change models, coupled with the overwhelming plausibility of mainstream scientific views, means that paying an insurance premium to reduce the risk of catastrophic results is wise policy. However, incentives for smarter energy use can also bring society profit: much low-hanging fruit is unpicked because of short-termism and co-ordination problems.

Carbon taxes or tradeable emissions schemes such as the ETS can solve this. The ETS is hardly perfect: it gives out too many permits for free; penalises new companies by grandfathering in past emissions; and distorts economies by covering only some significant carbon-emitting sectors. Still, it constitutes global best practice for emissions control. The inclusion of aviation will make it more effective and less distortionary.

Airlines have put in abeyance their former argument: that the policy violates the Chicago convention on international aviation. The European Court of Justice is on the case. If it rules this sensible policy to be against the law, the law should be changed. Until then, the EU is right to press ahead.

Airlines - and Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer - now use another argument: China or other powers will retaliate against them if Brussels does not change course and leave airlines out of ETS. It is a mystery why China or others would see it in their interest to retaliate against a policy that treats EU and non-EU carriers exactly the same - unless they are captured by an industry's fighting the costs that ETS involves (which are modest: 85 per cent of the permits are given away for free).

A bigger issue in Beijing is probably resistance to being forced to follow international rules - by border taxes, for example. It wants its aviation emissions policy to count as "equivalent" to Europe's, which would exempt Chinese carriers.

Ms Hedegaard is right to warn against cowering to threats of discriminatory retaliation for a non-discriminatory policy. Europe has chosen, maybe to its disadvantage, to lead on climate policy. Others should not undo its choice for it.


Amid greenwashing claims, US environmental groups
tell their major airlines to drop opposition to EU ETS

Green Air Online - 16 May 2011

Major American environmental groups have sharply criticised leading US airlines over lobbying and legal efforts to prevent their inclusion in Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from next year while "simultaneously bragging" about their environmental performance. Leaders of the six groups - the Environmental Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club - have written to the CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines (which has recently merged with Continental Airlines) to denounce the airlines for bringing the suit at the European Court of Justice. A ruling on the court's decision is not expected until early next year at the earliest but US criticism over the Aviation EU ETS continues elsewhere.

The environmental groups refer to both American Airlines and United promoting their green initiatives around Earth Day last month, with the former publishing an article, 'AA reduces environmental footprint', in its in-flight magazine American Way, and United describing itself as an "environmentally friendly company" in its new 'eco-skies' campaign.

The letter notes that if the two airlines are committed to reducing their environmental impact and protecting the earth then "it makes no sense to spend [their] customers' money on lawyers and lobbyists in an effort to thwart a crucial anti-pollution programme". The groups urged the airlines to drop the lawsuit, saying: "Innovation, not obstruction, is what's needed now... Join the future of low-carbon aviation by making your actions consistent with your words."

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has also submitted advertisements to American Airlines' American Way and United/Continental's Hemispheres in-flight magazines, calling on the airlines to "start flying cleaner" and to stop "dragging their wings". EDF has requested the airlines to respond by this week whether they will accept the advertisements for publication.

EDF, Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice have intervened in the litigation, in which EDF expects oral argument to be heard later this year. The case was first brought by the three airlines, and backed by the Air Transport Association of America, against the UK government in December 2009, with both parties agreeing for it to be heard by the European Court of Justice. The airlines contend their inclusion in the EU ETS contravenes articles in the Chicago Convention, the treaty that binds international civil aviation, and are being supported in the case by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Other environmental groups are supporting the European view that the Aviation EU ETS is in compliance with the treaty.

At the recent Air Transport World Eco-Aviation conference, Julie Oettinger, Assistant Administrator - Policy, International Affairs and Environment at the Federal Aviation Administration said the EU's "unilateral" inclusion of the US airlines was "counter-productive", arguing that a globally harmonised approach to CO2 emissions was demanded.

The Obama Administration has yet to declare its hand, at least publicly, on where it stands on the issue. However, in a reservation statement issued after the passing of the aviation and climate change resolution at last October's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly, the US ambassador to ICAO said "States must engage in constructive negotiations in order for market-based measures to be applied."

In its reservation statement, Europe maintained that "The Chicago Convention contains no provision which might be construed as imposing upon the Contracting Parties the obligation to obtain the consent of other Contracting Parties before applying the market-based measures referred to in Resolution A37-17/2 to operators of other States in respect of air services to, from or within their territory. On the contrary, the Chicago Convention recognises expressly the right of each Contracting Party to apply on a non-discriminatory basis its own laws and regulations to aircraft of all States."

Update 16 May 2011 - According to a spokesperson for EDF, both United and American have since rejected the advertisement, with American saying it was policy not to run ads that can be perceived as targeting or highlighting social and/or political issues.

Update 19 May 2011 - The Air Transport Association has responded on behalf of the criticised airlines in an open letter from Nancy Young, ATA's VP Environment, to the heads of the six environmental groups. She told GreenAir: "While we typically address these types of issues more one-on-one with the organisations raising concerns, the environmental groups' very public approach has required us to be more public in our response to set the record straight."

In the letter, she outlined actions the industry was taking to reduce its environmental impact. "ATA and its members are part of a broad group of the aviation industry that is seeking to address aircraft greenhouse gas emissions at a global level, through legal measures rather than through a patchwork of differing measures of dubious legality," she wrote. ATA called on the groups to correct their "misstatements" and invited further dialogue on the issue.


Sean Farrell - The Independent - 8 June 2011

The era of cheap holiday air fares is coming to an end as European airlines ramp up prices to cope with rising taxes and fuel costs, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) signalled yesterday.

Leisure air travel fell 3.5 per cent worldwide between November and March as cash-strapped passengers rejected fares that have soared as a result of the increasing cost of oil. Europe suffered the biggest decline in traffic as tax increases in the UK and Germany added to the industry's price pressures.

Iata said that airlines had been forced to increase fares because the price of jet fuel had jumped by more than half in the past year. The association raised the prospect of a repeat of 2008 when fuel costs sent ticket prices soaring.

Brian Pearce, Iata's chief economist, said carriers were left with no choice but to ramp up fares. "If they have got a nice fat margin they can lower fares to stimulate demand, but when fuel prices are up by 50 per cent that's not possible," Mr Pearce said. He added that falling economy class sales were "a worrying trend".

Iata said UK airlines will have to make up for another 8 per cent of cost increases this year. The rising price of fuel accounts for 5 per cent and passenger duty hikes another 3 per cent.

Last month, Ryanair, the star financial performer of the budget airlines, said its fares would increase 12 per cent this year to cover an expected rise in its fuel bill, which rose 37 per cent to ?1.2bn (£1.1bn) in the last financial year as average oil prices increased from $62 a barrel to $73. The oil price has since stayed steadily above $100 a barrel.

This week, Iata cut its forecast for global airline profit by more than half to $4bn (£2.4bn) because of the sharp hike in oil prices and economic problems which have suppressed activity. The industry's profit margins will be squeezed to 0.7 per cent this year from 3.2 per cent last year, which was the strongest since the September 2001 attacks on the US.

Overall, growth in European traffic is expected to be the lowest worldwide at 3.9 per cent this year compared with 14.6 per cent in the Middle East and sturdy expansion in Africa and Asia Pacific. "They are certainly not being held back by any of the debt problems that we currently see many European economies being held back by," Mr Pearce said at Iata's annual meeting in Singapore.

European growth will be in business travel, which is holding up well as the growing global economy encourages companies to maintain spending on trips. Business traffic is growing at an annual rate of 6 per cent.

The shift of economic power to emerging markets from the developed economies sparked a rare row at Iata's three-day meeting. Gulf airlines, led by Qatar Airways, attacked European carriers and Canada for blocking access to their markets, while European airlines accused their Middle East rivals of taking hidden subsidies. With profits under threat, taxes are also a burning issue for the airline industry.

The conference opened with a showdown between airlines and the European Union over an EU emissions trading plan that foreign governments say is a stealth tax, leading to warnings that China and others could retaliate.


The chief economist at airline industry body IATA, Brian Pearce, tells Transport Editor David Millward that soaring oil prices and tax rises mean passengers can expect to pay up to eight per cent more for plane tickets
by the end of the year

David Millward, Transport Editor in Singapore - Daily Telegraph - 7 June 2011

Passengers face fare rises of up to eight per cent because of soaring oil prices and further tax rises, a leading aviation economist has warned.

Brian Pearce of the International Air Transport Association said that, despite a fall in demand for leisure travel, the chances of carriers discounting fares is remote. The price of jet fuel has risen 51 per cent over the past year, leaving the major airlines with a bill of £107.1 billion, compared with £84.6 billion, over the next 12 months. Jet fuel, much of which is paid for months in advance, accounts for 30 per cent of airline's operating costs.

Overall airlines have seen their operating costs rise by five per cent over the past year and this will have to be passed on to passengers. In Britain passengers will face even steeper rises with Air Passenger Duty expected to rise in line with inflation in November, adding another two to three per cent to the price of a plane ticket.

An eight per cent rise would, for example, increase the price of the cheapest current British Airways return ticket to Madrid from £138 to £149.05. It would push up the cheapest return to Orlando, a popular summer holiday destination, from £472 to £509.76.

"I think airlines will have to try to to recover the rise in costs and the rise fares will be an equivalent amount," Mr Pearce, IATA's chief economist, said.

Leisure traffic has been driven down by a number of factors including the Japanese tsunami and political instability in the Middle East. The 3.5 per cent fall in over the six months would normally have seen fares fall with airlines flooding the market with cheap seats and promotional offers.

"When markets are weak airlines do often try to stimulate demand by discounts and reducing fares," Mr Pearce added. "But it's a really difficult environment in which to do so. In this sort of environment they need to put fares up, rather than down. If you have nice fat profit margins, then you can lower fares and stimulate demand," Mr Pearce added, "but with a 50 per cent rise in fuel costs, that is just not possible."

The one piece of good news for airlines is the recovery in business class traffic, which has risen by nearly six per cent.


Revenue From Add-On Fees Soars Amid Fuel and Fare Pressures

Daniel Michaels - News Airlines - 31 May 2011

Airline revenue from add-ons to ticket sales jumped to almost $22 billion last year and continues to soar as more carriers chase extra sources of income, according to a study to be released Tuesday.

Faced with rising fuel prices and intense competitive pressure to hold down airfares, a growing number of carriers world-wide are charging passengers for services once included in ticket prices, such as baggage and food. Carriers are also finding new revenue sources, such as in-flight Internet connections and access to airport lounges that were previously restricted to loyal customers.

"Ancillary revenue is a growth market and it's here to stay," Ian Wheeler, head of distribution and marketing at airline-technology provider Amadeus IT Group SA, said in an interview. Amadeus, based in Madrid, prepared the study with IdeaWorks Co., an airline consulting firm based in Shorewood, Wis.

According to the study, 47 of the world's biggest airlines, which together account for almost half of all airline revenue, last year reported ancillary sales of ?15.11 billion, up 38% from 2009. Other carriers surveyed didn't specify how much passenger revenue they get from sources other than fares. In dollar terms, the increase last year was about 60% amid the dollar's devaluation from 2009, when the figure was $13.47 billion.

Budget carriers began charging for extras more than a decade ago, when the rise of Internet ticket sales allowed them to split out elements more easily and charge passengers directly. They attract fliers with bargain ticket prices and earn more than 20% of their total revenue from ancillary sources. No-frills carriers such as Spirit Airlines Inc. of the U.S. and Ryanair Holdings PLC of Ireland are still top earners.

The world leader is leisure carrier Allegiant Air, based in Las Vegas. The Allegiant Travel Co. unit takes in about 40 cents in ancillary revenue for every dollar of ticket revenue, according to the study. But more traditional carriers are expanding quickly, especially because fuel prices have risen significantly over recent years and airlines haven't been able to raise fares.

United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines are among the world's largest airline companies and are the top three carriers in terms of total ancillary revenue, according to the survey. Their fee revenue ranks lower as a percentage of total revenue, but the giants are rising among their peers. United Continental Holdings is the parent of United and Continental airlines.

Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, expects carriers world-wide to continue expanding activities to generate nonticket revenue. "If there's a barometer for this, it's the price of fuel," Mr. Sorensen said during an interview. He said that few airlines want to be seen as squeezing money from their customers, so most shifted gradually. "This is born of desperate economic times," Mr. Sorensen said.

In 2007, only 23 airlines reported ancillary revenues and the total was less than $2.5 billion, according to the study. Among the trends highlighted in the survey is an increase in fees for intercontinental passengers. Ryanair and other budget carriers pioneered fees for short-hop flights, but until recently, long-haul flights were considered more up-market.

That began changing during the industry crisis after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when U.S. airlines began charging for things such as alcohol on overseas flights, as many already did on domestic flights. Today, airlines commonly charge economy-class passengers for baggage on international flights.

Another notable trend is the rise of carriers from the Asian-Pacific region in the top rank of fee-chargers. Qantas Airways Ltd. of Australia, Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. of Singapore and sister carriers AirAsia Bhd. and AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia are all expanding activities significantly. AirAsia X, a long-haul no-frills carrier, generates the most ancillary revenue per passenger of any airline, at ?29.45 a flier, according to the survey.

As carriers work to expand fee revenue, Amadeus and other firms are generating business by helping them tap new markets. Mr. Wheeler at Amadeus said that roughly half of all airline tickets are still sold through travel agents, which haven't been as aggressive at pushing fee revenue for airlines, or which have been unable to because of old computer systems. Amadeus is now installing systems that allow travel agents to sell carriers' for-fee services.


Better co-ordination of takeoff and landing slots is key
to tackling congestion at major airports, according to EU report

The Guardian - 30 May 2011

Europe's busiest airports could carry 28 million more passengers every year without further expansion or extra runways, according to a report. The study, ordered by the European commission, said more efficient use of takeoff and landing slots could absorb some congestion.

Demand already exceeded capacity most or all of the day at six European airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Paris Orly, Milan Linate, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Some major European airports were planning to expand and may be able to cope with increases but others, including Heathrow, were not and faced worsening "capacity constraints" the report said. There are currently 26,000 flights using Europe's airspace every day, with estimated growth of 5% a year. Better planning and use of slots alone could generate more than ?5bn (£4.3 billion) in economic benefits by 2025, the report estimates.

EU transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: "We have been concerned that the current system of allocating takeoff and landing slots at airports is inefficient, giving rise to delays and congestion. This has now been confirmed by today's report, showing that up to 28 million more passengers could travel each year through Europe's airports." The commissioner said he intended to propose legislation this year to tackle the issue.

The study, drawn up by an independent transport planning consultancy, said problems with the current slot allocation arrangements at Europe's airports not only causes congestion but hinders competition between airlines. The system of slot co-ordination cannot generate more airport capacity, the report said, but the way slot allocation is organised should ensure that limited capacity is used as effectively as possible.

"At some airports this does not occur because of factors which include a significant proportion of small aircraft, limiting the number of passengers that can be transported within the constrained capacity," the report said.

Despite significant new competition in the European air transport market, including the growth of low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair, the system of "historical preference" makes it very difficult for new entrants to challenge the dominant position of traditional airlines at the most congested airports. The turnover of slots remains very low, with established carriers having little incentive to give them up "even when other carriers could use them more effectively than they could".

OUR COMMENT: What about concerns as to the NUMBER of flights? And, we need to know the seating occupancy rates of existing flights and who is the demand from? Airlines or passengers? AND, are some routes oversubscribed by duplicate services? Would there be equivalent services available from other airports in the same region?

Pat Dale


Stansted Airport: Season ticket for rail commuters

Dunmow Broadcast - 8 June 2011

A LIMITED edition car park season ticket for rail commuters is being re-launched at Stansted Airport this week. The updated scheme, which became available from Tuesday, allows people regularly commuting to park their car a short walk from the airport's rail station for a discounted annual price.

Stansted Airport's managing director Nick Barton said: "We have responded to requests from the community, including Sir Alan Haselhurst, and are delighted to reopen the scheme which offers an enhanced product for local people commuting to London by rail from Stansted Airport."

Uttlesford's MP Sir Alan Haselhurst welcomed the new season ticket proposals. "The proposals are designed primarily to assist rail commuters to have convenient parking. I am sure that they meet a real need," he said.

The annual ticket allows access to the airport's short-stay car park and costs £1,999, saving around 75 per cent on a normal roll-up price. The price also includes four free weekend stays in the short stay car park or 12 days in the mid-stay.

All car parks at Stansted Airport are accredited to 'Park Mark®' standard for safety and security, and approved by Essex Police. Park Mark® Safer Parking was awarded by the British Parking Association following assessment by Essex Police. Security measures include comprehensive CCTV coverage, security fencing and regular patrols.

Residents wishing to enquire about the season ticket offer should e-mail customerservice@empark.es or call 01279 666064.


Struggling to decide what you want to do or be?
Stansted Airport is offering a training opportunity that could help

Cambridge Daily News - 8 June 2011

It can be tough being in that post-school, pre-career void, especially if you're not quite sure which direction you want your life to take. Would further education be best or should you pitch straight into full-time work?

Stansted Airport is offering a chance that bridges the gap: to carry on learning but in a working environment. Their employment and skills academy is offering 16 - 18-year-olds a place on a vocational training programme that could boost your career prospects and give you a better idea of what you'd like to do - and what you'd be good at. The courses are free and run for four weeks during which applicants will study for an award in retail knowledge.

You might not be jet setting and serving celebs in first class but it's a great chance to work on your customer service and sales skills; skills that are transferable across many industry sectors and will keep your options open if you decide airport retail isn't quite you. Plus, as part of the course, modules in ways to prepare for employment, working in a team, tips on writing a good CV and coming across well in an interview are all covered.

Anita Garrard, manager of the Stansted employment and skills academy, said: "This is one of the only courses of its kind in the area, so the course is a brilliant opportunity for young people wishing to gain a qualification and then maybe embark on a career within the airport retail industry or find work in their local area. Stansted Airport is the biggest single site employer in the East of England, with around 11,000 people working here. It's a wonderful place to work and has many opportunities for young people looking for a rewarding career."

Places are limited and the courses run Monday to Thursday throughout the summer. To book or find out more, call (01279) 661007, or email stanstedacademy@urbanfutures.org.uk.

OUR COMMENT: Hopefully the "post school period" will be long enough for unemployed young people other than immediate school leavers to qualify

Pat Dale


Emissions to be cut by 50% by 2025

Statement by Department for Energy & Climate Change - 17 May 2011

A limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted by the UK between 2023 to 2027 has been proposed to cut Britain's emissions by 50% from 1990 levels and highlighting the Government's commitment to being the greenest government ever.

Today's proposal, set out by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, is in line with advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change. It sets a fourth carbon budget of 1950 MtCO2e for the period that will span from 2023 to 2027, putting the UK on course to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050. The carbon budget will place the British economy at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation, and ensure low carbon energy security and decarbonisation is achieved at least cost to the consumer.

The package announced today also includes measures to minimise costs of the low-carbon transition to industries exposed to international competition.

In line with the Coalition Agreement, Government will continue to argue for an EU move to a 30% target for 2020, and ambitious action in the 2020s. We will review progress in EU climate negotiations in early 2014. If at that point our domestic commitments place us on a different emissions trajectory than the EU Emissions Trading System trajectory agreed by the EU, we will, as appropriate, revise up our budget to align it with the actual EU trajectory. Before the end of the year we will announce a package of measures to reduce the impact of government policy on the cost of electricity for energy intensive industries and to help them adjust to the low-carbon industrial transformation.


Press Release - Hacan - 24 May 2011

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers has just announced that the Government will issue a detailed consultation on the current night flight regime at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick "next spring". Speaking in as an adjournment debate in Parliament, initiated by Brentford and Isleworth MP Mary Macleod, Villiers said that the night flight decision would be "one of the most importance issues I will face as a Minister".

The current night flight regime comes to an end in October 2012. The Minister said that the Government might need to ask for a temporary extension of that regime but it hadn't made a final decision on that. She explained that the reason why the formal consultation on night flights was being delayed until next Spring was to allow the Government to take account of the views expressed in its Aviation Scoping Document, currently out for consultation until September 2011. The Scoping Document is the first stage in the Government's plans to produce a new aviation policy, expected to be published early in 2013.

In the debate Mary Macleod stressed the adverse impact night flights have on the health and quality of life of residents under the Heathrow flight paths.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, "We can see the logic in the consultation being delayed. We welcome the fact that Theresa Villiers is taking the issue seriously. This is in contrast to many of her predecessors who seem to give little thought to night flights."

Westminster Hall debates, 24th May 2011

Mary Macleod (Brentford and Isleworth, Conservative): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate on night flights at Heathrow. The debate is timely because it takes place during noise action week, which is organised by the charity Environmental Protection UK. Noise action week highlights the impact of excessive noise on our communities, and it encourages communities and organisations, including business and government, to work together to find solutions. I hope that today's debate is a constructive contribution to that goal.

The Government are assessing the noise action plan for Heathrow and will shortly consider the new agreement on the number of night flights allowed at the airport from 2012 to 2017. The Department for Transport also has an open consultation on the Government's future aviation strategy, "Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation".

My position on Heathrow is clear. With a constituency next door to Heathrow, where some residents work, and as a former frequent business traveller, I appreciate the value that Heathrow brings to our area and the importance of the aviation industry to the economy and for creating jobs for the future. I am proud of our engineering capability and our world-class airlines. I want tourists to come to this country, and businesses to come and invest in the UK economy. For that, we need great airports, supported by the best customer service from the airlines.

My aim is to ensure that Heathrow continues to thrive but, at the same time, that we take into account the quality of life of people living and working around the airport - local residents, businesses, schools and community groups. That is why I was delighted that one of the first decisions by this Government was to stop the third runway at Heathrow and to maintain the runway alternation that allows local residents some respite from aircraft noise. I thank MPs in west London, including my hon. Friend Adam Afriyie, who is present, HACAN - Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise - which is an action group representing people living under the flight path, Hounslow council, the 2M Group, the Mayor of London and the then Opposition team responsible for transport, for working with me during the campaign against the third runway.

I cannot commend the Government highly enough on their decision. We did what the previous Government did not have the courage to do. The decision was an example of a listening Government. I was told, when I started on the campaign against the third runway, that the task was impossible - politicians told me, residents told me - but I do not believe that anything is impossible. Being told that only makes me more determined. I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for all she did to achieve that decision.

Today, I wish to address three basic themes. First, is noise, particularly from night flights, an issue at Heathrow? Secondly, are night flights necessary? Thirdly, I have some considerations for the Government on the issue of night flights at Heathrow. My constituency of Brentford and Isleworth stretches from Chiswick to Hounslow Central and Hounslow Heath, and it lies under the Heathrow flight path, so I am well aware of the problems caused by noise, particularly for residents who are frequently woken during the night. I receive lots of correspondence on the matter, and a constituent from Isleworth summed up the sentiment of many people in a recent email to my office:

"As someone who doesn't sleep easily, I am writing to you to complain about planes landing early in the morning - six flew over this morning at around 4.30am. This seems like a totally unreasonable time to be woken in the morning."

As part of my campaign against the third runway at Heathrow, I took the then shadow - now my right hon. Friend the Minister to Grove Road primary school in Hounslow Heath, where the pupils clearly explained the impact that the aircraft noise, both at night and in the day, has on the quality of their learning.

When we talk about night noise from aircraft at Heathrow, we need to be clear about our terminology. A "night flight" takes off or lands at Heathrow between 11pm and 7am. The Government set strict quotas for how many night flights are allowed at Heathrow, but those quotas apply only between 11.30pm and 6am. A number of factors influence the number of flights: noisier planes take a higher quota; figures are different during summer and winter; and the noisiest planes are restricted altogether from scheduled take-offs and landing during the night flight period. On average, over a year, 16 flights are allowed per night. No restrictions apply after 6 in the morning - indeed, that is one of the busiest hours of the day. People such as my constituent from Isleworth could, if they are light sleepers, be woken up on many occasions during the night and in the early morning.

Does that really matter? Yes, according to several respected studies. New research from Warwick medical school, published in the European Heart Journal in February this year, studied the experiences of hundreds of thousands of people across eight countries. The study found that chronic lack of sleep produces in the body hormones and chemicals with a severe impact on health. It concluded:

"If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke."

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): My hon. Friend is making a powerful case for a review of the number of night flights. As a resident of Old Windsor, I must declare an interest - I am right underneath the flight path. On behalf of my constituents, I want to reinforce the point that only one noisy night flight is needed to ruin a night's sleep - it is not about average volumes or levels. One noisy flight can damage a night's sleep and induce those stress hormones.

Mary (Brentford and Isleworth, Conservative): Absolutely, I could not agree more. We want to legislate against that lack of sleep and disturbed sleep. The World Health Organisation and the HYENA - Hypertension and Exposure to Noise near Airports - report from Imperial College London also found that, even if people do not wake up, there is evidence that noise from night flights causes immediate increases in blood pressure.

The latest World Health Organisation guidelines suggest that night-time noise should be kept at no more than 55 dB to ensure no adverse affect on health, which is roughly equivalent to being in a noisy office - certainly my office, although that is because they work so hard. However, more than 20 miles from Heathrow, the noise of night flights can exceed 70 dB, which is roughly the equivalent of driving down a busy street with the window down. The effect is more pronounced given that the background noise level during the night is low. Ironically, this week, owing to the volcanic ash cloud, we might get some respite and peace because of flight cancellations.

Secondly, are night flights necessary? There are no scheduled take-offs between 11.30pm and 6am, and the first flight to Heathrow is scheduled to arrive at 4.30am. Which planes, therefore, are flying to Heathrow during the night quota period, and where are the passengers travelling to and from? Are they really benefiting our local and our national economy?

Around a third of the passengers arriving on the very early flights to Heathrow transfer directly to other flights across the country and beyond, so the economic benefit to our economy of such flights might be limited to BAA and the airlines with which those passengers are flying. This year, a CE Delft report commissioned by HACAN concluded that a ban on night flights at Heathrow is likely to be beneficial to the economy, as the economic costs of the ban would be outweighed by the savings on the health costs of sleep disturbance and stress from night-flight noise.

A European Commission report in 2005 stated that airlines, when restricted on flying at night, "seem to be able to adapt their schedules and get over slot availability, congestion and connections and fly by day."

Can we conclude that night flights are operationally convenient for the aviation industry, but not essential?

In the consultation by the Department for Transport on future aviation strategy, it is recognised in the document that "night noise is the least acceptable impact of aircraft operations" and that "it continues to be a major concern for local residents".

Night flights are not only an issue for UK airports such as Heathrow. No major airport in Europe has a night ban on flights, and many airports, such as Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid, have more night flights than Heathrow. However, rather more than an estimated half a million people are overflown by Heathrow night flights - more than any other place in Europe. Given the dense residential population around Heathrow, surely we should set the standards for other airports to follow, with our residents, businesses schools and community buildings benefiting from best practice in noise control and mitigation.

A report commissioned by Hounslow council from Bureau Veritas demonstrated that, far from leading the way, Heathrow's neighbouring residents, schools and community buildings receive a worse deal in funding for insulation against the noise of aircraft than people near many other airports in the UK, including Gatwick, Birmingham, Liverpool, East Midlands and London City. The most generous scheme internationally is at Nice airport, which provides support for insulation for those impacted at the 55 dB and above. A similar scheme at Heathrow would stretch from Windsor in the west to Barnes in the east.

Thirdly, I have some issues for the Government to consider. Heathrow airport makes a significant contribution to the local and national economy, which is desperately needed now more than ever. However, the issue is the quality of life for people who live under Heathrow's flight paths. Their sleep is affected night after night, and their health and ultimately their life expectancy are impacted by noise. Illness caused by sleep deprivation hits business, and is also a major burden on the NHS, as taxpayers' money is used to care for them. Quality of life and health must be considered, and I urge the Minister to do so when preparing the night flights agreement for Heathrow airport.

Aircraft are becoming quieter, which is welcome and should be encouraged, but should be used to benefit our residents, not as a way of arguing for maintaining or increasing the number of night flights. We are used to conflict in the aviation industry, and I hope that the Government's future aviation strategy will be a first step in a more productive and professional relationship between Government, industry and other relevant groups.

How far can we go? First, in the short term, like my hon. Friend Angie Bray, who has campaigned hard on the matter, I would like stronger enforcement of current quotas, especially for flights that come in early, before 6am, from the Pacific rim - Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg, Lagos and Kuala Lumpur. Secondly, if quotas are not adhered to, there should be more transparency and publication of which airlines continue to breach quotas, and higher fines for persistent offenders. Thirdly, in an ideal world, and like my hon. Friend Zac Goldsmith I would like a ban on night flights. However, I recognise the significant challenge of reducing flights between 6am and 7am, and I understand the resistance from business to changes during that period. I certainly do not want the debate on mixed-mode operations to be reopened. There will no doubt be consideration of operational efficiency at Heathrow, whether it is possible to reschedule those flights later in the day, and what impact that would have on Heathrow's competitiveness against other airports throughout Europe. Landing between 6am and 7am allows people time to go home, get ready for work, and be in the City at 9am for a productive working day.

I would like a commitment from the Government significantly to reduce or eliminate scheduled night flights at Heathrow. I recognise that that may have to be achieved in stages, but we could put a mechanism in place now to assess feasibility, and set reduction targets more regularly. The final step is to fight for the very best noise mitigation for those who are worst affected.

Finally, night flights have a serious implication for the health and well-being of those who live under flight paths, which has an ongoing effect on spending on the national health service.

We have an opportunity fundamentally to improve the quality of life of many thousands of people, and we must take that responsibility seriously. In the light of the recent evidence that I mentioned, I urge on the Government stronger enforcement of the current quotas, more transparency on breaches, and stronger fines for repeat offenders. They should consider carefully the issue of night flights as they prepare the 2012-17 night flight agreement for Heathrow; consider whether we can significantly reduce or eliminate scheduled night flights between 11.30pm and 6am; and encourage effective noise mitigation and insulation support from the BAA and the airlines. I believe that such action will allow us to create a really strong partnership between local residents, who will have enhanced quality of life and better health outcomes, and a world-leading aviation industry that we can all be proud of.

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): I want to say a few words to urge the Government to take action in a certain direction. As a long-time campaigner against the third runway and for a reduced number of night flights, I very much welcome the work by my right hon. Friend Mrs Villiers both as Minister of State and in opposition shadow Minister to ensure that the third runway did not proceed. The policy approach and the way in which it was adopted were bold, courageous and elegant, and they reflect her status.

On night flights, I understand that a lot of work is being done to review, research and consider the evidence, and my hon. Friend Mary Macleod drew out two key issues. First, there is an impact on the economy around the airport and on the economy at large if thousands of people are struggling with health concerns because they are woken during the night.

Secondly, we should consider carefully whether night flights are necessary. There may be a commercial way of shifting flights in the early hours of the morning, between 4am and 6am, to a little later in the day. On behalf of Windsor, I urge the Government to consider the evidence carefully, and as a former shadow Minister for Science and Innovation, I am keen that that is done. If the Government have more bold and courageous policies in them, they should try to reduce those flights, not necessarily immediately, but over a period, because I suspect that any economic disbenefits would be overcome by the economic benefits for people who live and work around the airport.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate my hon. Friend Mary Macleod on securing this debate on this important issue, on which she has campaigned so hard for so many years. I also congratulate her on a powerful and well-informed speech, and I welcome the contribution from my hon. Friend Adam Afriyie who is another steadfast campaigner on behalf of his constituents on noise issues generally and night noise in particular.

My last visit to Brentford and Isleworth ironically coincided with the day on which air space was shut because of last year's volcanic ash crisis, but I recollect my earlier visit to Grove Road primary school with Councillor Barbara Reid, who is another leading campaigner on these issues, which gave me a real and personal insight into the impact of aircraft noise in the constituency.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth said, this is a timely debate, but I must acknowledge at the outset that we have a long and detailed process ahead of us before final decisions are made on the new system of controls on night flights at Heathrow. She will appreciate that there are some questions that I simply cannot answer now because that could prejudge the outcome of the consultation. However, the debate has provided valuable input into that decision-making process, and all the points that she and my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor made today will be carefully considered as part of the consultation process and in the run-up to the decisions.

I agree that night noise is widely viewed as one of the least acceptable impacts of aviation. My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth set out with clarity the quality-of-life concerns that many of her constituents have about night flights. I am aware that it remains a key concern for people under the flight path in areas such as the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor. I assure my hon. Friends that the local impact of aviation on communities around airports and under flight paths is important for the coalition, and that is why one of our first decisions in Government was to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow, and to make it clear that we oppose new runways at Gatwick and Stansted. I thank them for their kind words about my role in that decision.

In September last year, I confirmed that there would be no revival of Labour's proposals on mixed mode. I also confirmed that the airport will start to use alternation when operating with easterly winds, which will ensure a fairer distribution of aircraft noise around the airport. As has been said today, we recently published a scoping document kicking off the debate on how to deliver a sustainable future for aviation, which harnesses the economic benefits that my hon. Friends mentioned in relation to Heathrow and aviation generally, but does so in a way that also addresses the environmental impact of aviation, including its noise.

There have been controls on night flights at Heathrow for many years, with limits on movement and noise quotas to restrict the level of noise emitted. Restrictions prevent the noisiest aircraft from landing at night, and Heathrow operates a policy of runway alternation overnight to give residents a degree of predictability on flight paths and some respite periods. Even with those restrictions, however, I appreciate that night noise continues to be a key concern for local communities, as my hon. Friends have made clear this morning.

As has been pointed out, current protections are time limited, and in the coming months the Government will need to make a decision on the regime that will replace the existing controls when they expire in October 2012. That provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at the issue and explore the scope for a more effective night noise regime. The scoping document already mentioned began an extensive process of public engagement that will ultimately culminate in a decision about a new set of rules and controls for night flights over Heathrow. During that process, we will seek evidence on how best to balance the economic benefits of night flights against the social and environmental costs that they undoubtedly impose on communities that lie under the flight path. We want to hear from the widest possible range of stakeholders about how the current arrangements are working and what elements people would like to see changed, and I welcome the comments made this morning by my hon. Friends on that issue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth referred to the recent HACAN report, which suggested that a ban on night flights at Heathrow would produce a net benefit to the economy. I recently met John Stewart from HACAN to discuss that report, and my officials will give it proper consideration alongside other representations that we receive on night noise. Such representations will help inform the debate on policy development, and we must analyse evidence on the social impact of night flights, and the health issues mentioned by my hon. Friend.

One important issue for consideration is whether it is possible to deliver a more extended period of respite from night noise. I recognise that flights that arrive between 4.30 am and 6 am tend to be the most controversial, and we need to analyse carefully any evidence on the potential benefits that are derived from such early morning arrivals, and properly explore the operational scope for change.

My hon. Friend mentioned her concerns about enforcement, and when we look at the shape of the new regime we will certainly consider arrangements for its administration, transparency and enforcement. Transparency can be a real help in such situations, and give communities that are affected by all types of noise from Heathrow the confidence that rules are being complied with. Aircraft that breach departure noise limits are fined by the airport, and the revenue is used to finance local community projects. It is important that appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the current regime is properly enforced.

Mary Macleod (Brentford and Isleworth, Conservative): Does the Minister think that it might be worth looking into the levels of the fines imposed? They need to be a real deterrent or else airlines will keep breaching the existing noise limits.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative): My hon. Friend makes a good point. That issue should be included when considering the new regime, and the airport is already looking at that matter in relation to current arrangements. There may well be a case for change.

My hon. Friend made an important point about the importance of mitigation and insulation as a fall-back method for dealing with the problems of noise. BAA has recently launched a local consultation on noise mitigation schemes, which could potentially broaden the scope of the existing schemes. It is important that my hon. Friend takes part in that consultation, and I will ensure that BAA is given a copy of this debate in Hansard so that it is made aware of the concerns felt by my hon. Friend's constituents, and their desire to see a stronger and more effective regime in terms of insulation and mitigation.

Another issue for consideration is how we create the right conditions and incentives for airlines to deliver technological improvements that will support the policy goals we wish to achieve. As I have said, the current regime already bans the noisiest planes, and UK technology and know-how plays a major role in making commercial airliners quieter and more fuel efficient. Developments such as the A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner also help to mitigate the effects of noise. As well as encouraging the aviation industry to reduce noise by improving aircraft technology, the Government are working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation to seek improvements in air navigation and airspace management in order to deliver quieter approaches and climbs.

Having obtained and considered responses on the broad themes regarding night noise that are included in the scoping document, we will then develop more detailed proposals for a new night noise regime. We plan to issue a consultation document on that next spring. Carrying out that process in the most effective way possible may require a limited roll-over of the existing regime. We have not made a final decision on that, but if we decide to run the current regime beyond its expected termination date of October 2012, we will need to consider whether to use temporary movement and quota limits to maintain the trend in progressive noise reduction required under the existing regime.

My hon. Friend referred to noise action plans, which are a requirement set out in the EU environmental noise directive. Seventeen major airports have been asked to produce such plans and noise maps, and we are in the final stages of considering whether draft plans submitted by Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham and East Midlands airports meet the requirements of the directive. The directive does not require a complete reassessment of airport noise policy, but the plans have been a useful exercise and have prompted airports to reassess their approach and strengthen existing measures. Such plans will, I hope, be an important tool in maintaining the pressure on airports to take action on the issues of noise, insulation and enforcement mentioned by my hon. Friend.

The plans that emerge from that process should be seen as a starting point rather than an end conclusion. They should be treated as living documents and serve as a driver of good practice and help improve performance on local noise management and mitigation. As such, they should be subject to regular review and be adaptable to changing circumstances, including the new night noise regime.

I conclude by restating the Government's commitment to addressing the local environmental impacts of aviation, and state that we acknowledge the concerns that local communities have about night flights. We now wish to move forward to develop a better night flights regime, and explore the scope for change. It is important that we engage fully with all interests and understand all the differing views, and today's debate has provided a valuable opportunity to bring this important subject before the House and highlight some of the key issues.

Although I cannot give my hon. Friend all the answers she needs, I view this as one of the most important issues that I will face as a Minister. I have listened with care to all the points she raised, and I will continue to listen as the debate unfolds over the months to come. I urge her, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor and their respective constituents, to take part in the consultation process on which we have recently embarked. I am confident that broad engagement from my hon. Friends and their constituents will strengthen and improve the eventual outcome of this important matter.


Edward Stephens - Birmingham Mail - 14 May 2011

BIRMINGHAM Airport is "going for growth" with the opening of its new "One Terminal", the latest phase of a £100 million redevelopment of the airport.

More than 300 guests from international business and the travel industry gathered to watch the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, perform the opening ceremony yesterday. The new giant terminal is a result of a £13 million project to merge the airport's two terminals into one.

The investment has also led to the development of a larger centralised passenger security search area, an enlarged arrivals and onward travel facility, and increasing the number of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Airport chief executive, Paul Kehoe, said: "This investment places Birmingham Airport in a unique position to meet the anticipated growth in future air travel and offers an alternative for those tired of taking long and stressful road journeys to reach other UK airports. It showcases the airport as the region's global gateway; not only to the Midlands but also the wider catchment and shows that it's a viable alternative to London and Manchester."

"Birmingham is increasingly being acknowledged as a strategic national asset, which should form part of an integrated transport system. Our runway extension scheme, to be operational by 2014, will allow for direct flights to China, South East Asia, the west coast of America and South Africa and will also go a long way in clawing back the market which currently ventures outside of the region for air travel. There are around eight million people living within an hour's drive of the airport but less than 40 per cent of this demand uses Birmingham; we are determined to increase this figure over the next few years."

Mr Hammond added: "The future for Birmingham is bright. As you know the Government is proposing to build a new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham which will mean people can get to Birmingham from central London in just 35 minutes. Because of the pressures we have on our runway capacity in the south east it is obvious that we need to make better use of our regional airports especially when they have first class facilities as this airport now does."

As well as internal changes, the outside of the terminal has been given a facelift to incorporate the airport's new identity, which was launched in October and loses the name 'International'.

OUR COMMENT: A rival to Stansted? Does open competition between airports produce an efficient and sustainable air transport policy? Have your say in the current Government consultation!

Pat Dale


Government wants to increase airport departure tax
from £12 to £16 per person for flights up to 2,000 miles

Daily Mail Reporter - 18 May 2011

Increasing the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax would have a 'destructive' effect on the economy, the environment and jobs, a report commissioned by budget airline EasyJet said today.

The changes would reduce UK passenger numbers by three million a year, increase CO2 emissions by 360,000 tonnes a year and reduce tourist spending in the UK by £475 million a year, the report said. The report by consultants Frontier Economics also said the changes would reduce UK gross domestic product by £2.6 billion a year, lead to the loss of up to 77,000 jobs and affect regional airports more than London airports.

Proposals: The Government wants to increase APD from £12 to up to £16 per person for flights up to 2,000 miles and reduce the rates and number of tax bands on long-haul flights

Published in March, the Government proposals would increase APD from £12 to up to £16 per person for flights up to 2,000 miles and reduce the rates and number of tax bands on long-haul flights. The report found that, although the changes would reduce the total number of flights, they would increase CO2 emissions by encouraging more long-haul flights.

Rather than APD, easyJet favours a per-plane tax - an alternative that was, at one point, considered by the coalition Government.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "This independent report shows that the Government's proposals on APD would be bad for the environment and the economy. APD has already risen by 140 per cent since 2007 on short-haul flights. This report provides convincing evidence that the Government should not impose further increases in APD on short-haul flights and should rethink its policy on aviation taxation."

"Four out of five British passengers would be better off under a per-plane tax and, more importantly, it would encourage the industry to fly more efficiently."


Travel News - 23 May 2011

Ryanair expects to benefit as steep oil prices put pressure on rival carriers to raise fares and surcharges or even go bust. But the no frills giant's chief executive Michael O'Leary warned: "Since we have limited visibility on bookings, we remain concerned at the impact of the recession, austerity measures, and falling consumer confidence on fares."

Ryanair also plans to ground 80 aircraft in the winter - double the number last year - to offset high airports costs. The Irish airline revealed a 26% rise in profit to ?401 million for the year to March and predicted a similar level for the current financial year. The result came on the back of an 8% rise in passenger from 66.5 million to 72.1 million. A strong performance in in-flight sales saw ancillaries revenue grow by 21% to ?802 million, amounting to 22% of total revenues.

The increase in profit came despite 14,000 flights being cancelled due to the Icelandic volcanic ash disruption, airport snow closures and repeated air traffic control strikes. Looking forward, O'Leary said: "Higher oil prices will force competitors to continue to increase fares and fuel surcharges which makes Ryanair's lower fares even more attractive. In many cases competitor's fuel surcharges are higher than Ryanair's lead-in fares. Higher oil prices will lead to further consolidations, increased competitor losses, and more airlines going broke."

"This creates further growth opportunities for Ryanair because we operate the most fuel efficient aircraft, have the lowest operating costs, and the strongest balance sheet. We expect to increase market share and expand into new markets as high oil prices force competitors to further cut capacity or go bust this winter."

Ryanair has its fuel 90% hedged for the current year at around $82 per barrel, a 12% price increase on last year, but "significantly below" current prices.

"Higher oil prices next winter, and the refusal of some airports to offer lower charges, makes it more profitable to tactically ground up to 80 aircraft (40 last winter) rather than suffer losses operating them to high cost airports at low winter yields," said O'Leary.

"Although we expect to grow traffic in 2012 by 4% to over 75 million passengers, this will be characterised by strong growth of up to 10% in the first half, but these steeper winter capacity cuts will cause monthly traffic in the second half to fall by approximately 4%. Despite these winter capacity cuts we still expect our full year fuel bill to increase by approximately ?350 million."

He added: "Despite these concerns we cautiously expect that our average fares will rise by up to 12% this year due to a better mix of new routes and bases, slower traffic growth, and higher competitor fuel surcharges. However, these higher fares will only help us to finance higher fuel and rising sector length related costs, and accordingly, we expect profit after tax for 2012 to be similar to the 2011 result of ?400 million."


Travel News - 23 May 2011

Ryanair expects to benefit as steep oil prices put pressure on rival carriers to raise fares and surcharges or even go bust. But the no frills giant's chief executive Michael O'Leary warned: "Since we have limited visibility on bookings, we remain concerned at the impact of the recession, austerity measures, and falling consumer confidence on fares."

Ryanair also plans to ground 80 aircraft in the winter - double the number last year - to offset high airports costs. The Irish airline revealed a 26% rise in profit to €401 million for the year to March and predicted a similar level for the current financial year. The result came on the back of an 8% rise in passenger from 66.5 million to 72.1 million. A strong performance in in-flight sales saw ancillaries revenue grow by 21% to €802 million, amounting to 22% of total revenues.

The increase in profit came despite 14,000 flights being cancelled due to the Icelandic volcanic ash disruption, airport snow closures and repeated air traffic control strikes. Looking forward, O'Leary said: "Higher oil prices will force competitors to continue to increase fares and fuel surcharges which makes Ryanair's lower fares even more attractive. In many cases competitor's fuel surcharges are higher than Ryanair's lead-in fares. Higher oil prices will lead to further consolidations, increased competitor losses, and more airlines going broke."

"This creates further growth opportunities for Ryanair because we operate the most fuel efficient aircraft, have the lowest operating costs, and the strongest balance sheet. We expect to increase market share and expand into new markets as high oil prices force competitors to further cut capacity or go bust this winter."

Ryanair has its fuel 90% hedged for the current year at around $82 per barrel, a 12% price increase on last year, but "significantly below" current prices.

"Higher oil prices next winter, and the refusal of some airports to offer lower charges, makes it more profitable to tactically ground up to 80 aircraft (40 last winter) rather than suffer losses operating them to high cost airports at low winter yields," said O'Leary.

"Although we expect to grow traffic in 2012 by 4% to over 75 million passengers, this will be characterised by strong growth of up to 10% in the first half, but these steeper winter capacity cuts will cause monthly traffic in the second half to fall by approximately 4%. Despite these winter capacity cuts we still expect our full year fuel bill to increase by approximately €350 million."

He added: "Despite these concerns we cautiously expect that our average fares will rise by up to 12% this year due to a better mix of new routes and bases, slower traffic growth, and higher competitor fuel surcharges. However, these higher fares will only help us to finance higher fuel and rising sector length related costs, and accordingly, we expect profit after tax for 2012 to be similar to the 2011 result of €400 million."


Ryanair shrugged off higher oil prices and last year's
volcanic ash cloud to record a jump in pre-tax profits

Andrew Trotman - Daily Telegraph - 23 May 2011

The low-cost airline welcomed 72m passengers in the year to March 31, an 8pc rise on the previous 12 months, while average air fares climbed 12pc. Inflight sales were up 21pc to €802m (£697m), making up 22pc of total revenue. These factors helped to push pre-tax profits to €450.6m from €420.9m a year earlier, on revenues €503.4m higher at €2.8bn.

However, the Irish company - headed by chief executive Michael O'Leary - warned about falling passenger numbers at Dublin airport and said profits for 2012 would be flat. Average fares are expected to rise by up to 12pc, but this would only cover higher fuel costs. The group "remains concerned at the impact of the recession, austerity measures, and falling consumer confidence on fares".

Ryanair added 40 aircraft during the period to create a fleet of 272, while eight new bases and 328 new routes added to a positive set of full-year results. However, more planes will mean higher fuel costs, and the company warned that the rise in the price of Brent crude, which hit more than $125 a barrel last month, will mean "further consolidations, increased competitor losses, and more airlines going broke". On a positive note, Ryanair is 90pc hedged for 2012 at $820 per tonne - approximately $82 per barrel - a 12pc price increase on last year, but significantly below current prices.

On a day when a fresh volcanic eruption in Iceland threatened to spread across Europe, Ryanair recorded a €29.7m charge as a result of last year's natural disaster - when 20 countries closed their airspace, affecting hundreds of thousands of travellers. This included paying passengers compensation totalling €12.4m.

Such payouts, as a result of Ryanair cancelling 9,400 flights, led the group to hit out at the current rules on reimbursing customers. "Last year 14,000 Ryanair flights were cancelled due to volcanic ash disruptions, airport snow closures, and repeated strikes," the company said.

"The unfair and discriminatory EU 261 regulations require airlines to pay 'right to care' and/or compensation during these events even though they are beyond the control of any airline. It is discriminatory that train, ferry, and coach operators [as well as insurance companies] escape this liability during force majeure events, yet EU 261 compels airlines to suffer these costs. These discriminatory regulations must be reformed to provide a fair and level playing field for all EU transport operators."

It also reserved anger for the Irish government, which controls Dublin airport. "In 2010, following a 27pc hike in fees, Dublin airport traffic fell by 3m passengers to just over 18m, a fall of 30pc from its 2007 peak of 24.5m," Ryanair said. "Dublin's traffic continued to decline in Q1 2011." To combat this "disastrous collapse... the DAA airport monopoly should be broken up and replaced with competing terminals and airports, which will deliver competitive airport charges."

Ryanair shares fell 2 cents to €3.351 in early trading. Meanwhile, easyJet has announced that deputy chairman Sir David Michels is stepping down at the end of this year.


Kathryn Vercillo - News Airlines - 21 May 2011

Ryanair is a budget airline that is best known for being no-frills. That can be a good thing if you're looking for a straightforward flight. The problem is that Ryanair flights come with so many problems, headaches and hidden costs that by the end of their flights you feel like you should have splurged on a first class seat on a luxury airline because you just never want to go through a Ryanair experience again.

Not convinced? Think that trying to save money with Ryanair's tempting discount promotions is a good idea? Look at these twenty reasons why it's really not:

The website is difficult to navigate. Booking a ticket online should be easy but it's not with Ryanair. They ask you numerous questions that are confusing and, when answered incorrectly, can end up costing you money.

Ryanair tries to sell you their special suitcase! One of the questions you have to answer when trying to book a Ryanair flight is whether or not you would like to buy a special Ryanair-approved cabin-sized suitcase. It's a £69 Samsonite Aspire carry-on that reportedly weighs "3.5kg which amounts to a third of your 10kg Ryanair carry-on allowance even before you've packed anything." It's easy to get lured into all these tricky things Ryanair tries to get you to accept that are actually just a waste of your money.

They treat you like a criminal. Ryanair is taking that 10kg weight limitation seriously, going to the trouble of weighing every single passenger bag at some airports. They're so busy treating you like someone who is trying to sneak on extra weight that they may forget to treat you like a human being!

Ryanair charges the highest fees for excess baggage. If you do get caught going over your weight allowance then you will pay more per kilo of added weight with Ryanair than with other airlines. You will be charged €20 per kilo or else you could pay to buy a new bag on site and then pay up to €70 to check the extra bag.

They charge extra for specific equipment. Be careful what types of things you want to bring on a Ryanair flight. Even if the items fit in your allotted weight requirement you may be charged extra if you are bringing a musical instrument or any sports equipment (including a bike). Fees range from £10 to £50 depending on what you bring.

You'll pay if there are name misspellings. The difficulty of booking a flight using the online tool means that a lot of people end up with small misspellings on their names. If you catch this in advance then you will be charged a small fee. If you don't catch it until you're at the airport then you can be charged as much as €150 per person or you may actually be denied your flight but still have to pay for it. This is such a common problem that Ryanair lists the name change fee in their table of fees!

You won't get the deal that you saw advertised. Ryanair has been caught more than once advertising super cheap flights that turned out to not be real. For example, they recently "offered flights to Dublin for £27.99, although it was apparently impossible to book a flight for this price" according to ihateryanair.org. Incidentally a tribunal has just ordered that this anti-Ryanair site be handed over to the control of Ryanair itself.

You have to pay to get a reserved seat. One annoying feature of some budget airlines is that they don't just assign you seats so it's a first-come-first-served kind of seating mess. That's a Ryanair problem that a lot of people have complained about over the years. In 2011 Ryanair has decided to test out doing it the normal way, by offering assigned reserved seats. However, if you want to take advantage of this "service" then you have to pay an extra ten euros.

Pay extra to get on the plane first? but you might not get on the plane first. There is a priority boarding fee for people who want the option of getting on the plane before everyone else (presumably to get better seats without paying the higher rate for a reserved seat!) However, Ryanair is notorious for charging this and then not actually letting people get on the plane first at some airports. For example in one case they allowed priority boarding to get on a bus to the plane first but this actually meant they were last off the bus and therefore not first on the plane. And they paid for this "privilege".

You have to pay to use a credit card. Unless you get a prepaid MasterCard then you will pay £6 per person per flight just to pay for your flight with a credit card. That's higher than many other airlines (which charge a single fee, not a per-person, per-flight fee). Hopefully the OFT will rule later this year that budget airlines can't charge these excessive credit card fees anymore!

They try to trick you with currency conversion. About.com reports: When booking a flight from a country that has a different currency to your own, "Ryanair offers a 'guaranteed exchange rate', which is often 6% or 7% higher than your bank may offer you. Even if you decline it, it urges you to accept, saying "you will not receive a guaranteed rate from your bank"." This confusing statement can end up costing you if you fall for it.

You have to pay to get your ticket at the airport. Ryanair requires that all passengers check in online rather than at the airport. If you don't do this then you can still get your ticket at the airport but you will be charged as much as €40 per person for this "boarding pass reprint". This fee is constantly in flux due to ongoing complaints about it but it's just another sign of what Ryanair tries to get away with.

It's an ordeal to get back money that is owed to you. For example, the Irish government is abolishing a travel tax. Rosemary O'Grady reports: "Ryanair passengers who have already paid the €3 tourist tax on advance bookings will not automatically get the money back and will have to apply for the refund when the Government confirms the effective date for the abolition of the levy."

Taking a baby with you? You'll pay for that, too. When you travel with an infant that will be riding on your lap you don't expect to have to pay. After all, you're not using an extra seat. However Ryanair has a per-infant-per-flight charge of £20. You will also be charged additional money if you want to bring a car booster or travel cot on the flight for the baby.

Ryanair may change your flight time and then charge you when you miss your flight. That's what happened to one customer reporting on AirlineQuality.com who says that as soon as the time change was announced he called to let Ryanair know that the time wouldn't work but that Ryanair mistakenly noted this as confirming the time change so he was charged £150 for a ticket that couldn't be used and spent another £20+ on phone charges trying to get the issue sorted out (although it never was).

The airline is charging customers for flight delays! There is a new £2 fee being charged to each customer that is supposed to offset the cost of paying out compensation to people who have flight delays and cancellations. This means that if a flight is cancelled and the airline actually offers vouchers to make up for the fact the money comes out of your pocket instead of theirs. In fact, The Telegraph has reported that this fee could earn Ryanair up to £150 million in a year.

You may be denied the right to board with your family. An Oracle worker from Germany recently described a terrible ordeal trying to fly Ryanair with several family members. One member was missing a stamp. Note: "It's not an official stamp, it's a stamp the Ryanair visa counter puts onto the ticket just to show that you have showed them your passport that you have the valid visa. She had all the needed documents. Nothing was missing; nothing was unclear." But since they failed to stamp it, she wasn't let through boarding even though her family was already through and they had to fly without her!

The boarding problems aren't just for non-UK citizens. Ryanair requires UK citizens to get a passport even if they are only flying within the UK. This isn't a legal requirement, just something that Ryanair does to add a bit of extra hassle to flying with them.

The crew might not notice that the plane isn't safe to fly. A Ryanair jet's engine was damaged during a landing in Dublin and yet the plane went on two more flights before the crew and maintenance people realized that it had problems. Scary!

Ryanair travel insurance is a waste of money. With all of the problems that you might experience on a Ryanair flight, you may think it's worth it to get the travel insurance. However, this budget airline charges more than many other airlines for insurance that is not as comprehensive as the others. In other words, it's a waste of your money.

Being cheap shouldn't mean that you treat your customers badly! Do you have a Ryanair experience to share? Good or bad, we?d love to hear about it in the comments!


Greenair - 16 May 2011

Major American environmental groups have sharply criticised leading US airlines over lobbying and legal efforts to prevent their inclusion in Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from next year while "simultaneously bragging" about their environmental performance. Leaders of the six groups - the Environmental Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club - have written to the CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines (which has recently merged with Continental Airlines) to denounce the airlines for bringing the suit at the European Court of Justice. A ruling on the court's decision is not expected until early next year at the earliest but US criticism over the Aviation EU ETS continues elsewhere.

The environmental groups refer to both American Airlines and United promoting their green initiatives around Earth Day last month, with the former publishing an article, 'AA reduces environmental footprint', in its in-flight magazine American Way, and United describing itself as an 'environmentally friendly company' in its new 'eco-skies' campaign.

The letter notes that if the two airlines are committed to reducing their environmental impact and protecting the earth then "it makes no sense to spend [their] customers' money on lawyers and lobbyists in an effort to thwart a crucial anti-pollution programme". The groups urged the airlines to drop the lawsuit, saying: "Innovation, not obstruction, is what's needed now... Join the future of low-carbon aviation by making your actions consistent with your words."

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has also submitted advertisements to American Airlines' American Way and United/Continental's Hemispheres in-flight magazines, calling on the airlines to "start flying cleaner" and to stop "dragging their wings". EDF has requested the airlines to respond by this week whether they will accept the advertisements for publication.

EDF, Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice have intervened in the litigation, in which EDF expects oral argument to be heard later this year.

The case was first brought by the three airlines, and backed by the Air Transport Association of America, against the UK government in December 2009, with both parties agreeing for it to be heard by the European Court of Justice. The airlines contend their inclusion in the EU ETS contravenes articles in the Chicago Convention, the treaty that binds international civil aviation, and are being supported in the case by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Other environmental groups are supporting the European view that the Aviation EU ETS is in compliance with the treaty.

At the recent Air Transport World Eco-Aviation conference, Julie Oettinger, Assistant Administrator - Policy, International Affairs and Environment at the Federal Aviation Administration said the EU's "unilateral" inclusion of the US airlines was "counter-productive", arguing that a globally harmonised approach to CO2 emissions was demanded.

The Obama Administration has yet to declare its hand, at least publicly, on where it stands on the issue. However, in a reservation statement issued after the passing of the aviation and climate change resolution at last October's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly, the US ambassador to ICAO said "States must engage in constructive negotiations in order for market-based measures to be applied."

In its reservation statement, Europe maintained that "The Chicago Convention contains no provision which might be construed as imposing upon the Contracting Parties the obligation to obtain the consent of other Contracting Parties before applying the market-based measures referred to in Resolution A37-17/2 to operators of other States in respect of air services to, from or within their territory. On the contrary, the Chicago Convention recognises expressly the right of each Contracting Party to apply on a non-discriminatory basis its own laws and regulations to aircraft of all States."

Update 16 May 2011 - According to a spokesperson for EDF, both United and American have since rejected the advertisement, with American saying it was policy not to run ads that can be perceived as targeting or highlighting social and/or political issues.

Update 19 May 2011 - The Air Transport Association has responded on behalf of the criticised airlines in an open letter from Nancy Young, ATA's VP Environment, to the heads of the six environmental groups. She told GreenAir: "While we typically address these types of issues more one-on-one with the organisations raising concerns, the environmental groups' very public approach has required us to be more public in our response to set the record straight."

In the letter, she outlined actions the industry was taking to reduce its environmental impact. "ATA and its members are part of a broad group of the aviation industry that is seeking to address aircraft greenhouse gas emissions at a global level, through legal measures rather than through a patchwork of differing measures of dubious legality," she wrote. ATA called on the groups to correct their "misstatements" and invited further dialogue on the issue.


News Environment - 12 May 2011

The transport minister Phillip Hammond is opposing the climate measures recommended by the government's expert advisers, according to the Guardian.

The Committee on Climate Change was set up under the 2008 Climate Act to act as an independent body advising Government on how to meet the legally binding target to cut the UK's emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. But the Cabinet is currently divided over whether to approve the latest set of interim targets recommended by the Committee, reports the newspaper.

Those supporting the CCC's advice include energy minister Chris Huhne and foreign secretary William Hague, who wrote in a leaked letter: "In order to retain public support for our climate policy at home we need to be able to point to similar effort abroad. If our domestic resolve is seen to be weakening, we will lose traction elsewhere." Business Secretary Vince Cable, however, has argued that meeting the target could harm British businesses in the short term. George Osborne, the chancellor, is also said be be opposed to the target.

This would be the first time that the Government had rejected a recommendation from the Committee and both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, when in opposition, argued in favour of more stringent climate targets being set out in the Climate Act.

Many scientists believe that even tougher measures are required to avoid dangerous climate change. In 2006 economist Sir Nicholas Stern conducted a seminal paper arguing that the cost of failing to tackle climate change would, in the long term, far outweigh the cost of tackling it in the short to medium term. Lord Turner, chairman of both the Committee on Climate Change and of the Financial Services Authority, has now met with cabinet members to try to heal the rift over his committee's advice.

In December 2009 the CCC reported to Government that it would not be possible to meet the climate target for aviation while expanding airports at the rate forecast by the most recent aviation white paper.

AEF believes that an aviation-specific target is crucial to ensure that reductions achieved in other sectors are not wiped out by increases in emissions from airlines. The Government is due to respond to the CCC's aviation report in the coming months.


Report in The Observer - 15 May 2011

OUR COMMENT: This front page article reports that "Cameron intervenes to end cabinet split on costs" and that the agreed package "demands massive cuts in carbon emissions".

It states that Cameron is expected to make a statement on Tuesday, in Parliament, about the agreement, reached after a cabinet meeting yesterday when warring ministers finally accepted a climate change plan. We await the statement!

Pat Dale


Abta Online - 3 May 2011

Natural disasters in Japan and civil upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa prompted the growth in global passenger demand to slacken in March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed. Year-on-year growth in the global number of passengers flying slowed from the 5.8% recorded in February to 3.8% last month.

Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's CEO, said: "The profile of the recovery in air transport sharply decelerated in March." He said the global industry lost two percentage points of demand as a direct result of the events.

Japan's domestic market saw a 22% fall in demand, while Egypt and Tunisia experienced traffic levels that were between 10 and 25% lower than normal for March. Asia Pacific carriers as a whole performed the most poorly of the regions. Demand for March was flat year-on-year, and compared to February it contracted by 2.2%. In the Middle East, year-on-year demand growth for airlines fell from 8.3% in February to 5.6% in March. When compared to February, demand in March was up by 0.1%

Of the regions, Latin American carriers performed the strongest in March, with a 4.7% increase in demand compared to February, and a 22.2% increase compared to March 2010. European airlines also saw demand levels in March rise, by 5.3% year-on-year, down from a 7.4% year-on-year growth seen for the month of February.

Airlines in North America, meanwhile, saw a 3.7% year-on-year improvement in demand for March, a 3 percentage point drop from the 6.7% growth recorded in February. Compared to the previous month, demand in March dropped 0.9%.

Overall, an increase in capacity failed to match the fall in demand, resulting in a fall in load factors - on average the load factor fell by 3.5 percentage points to 74.6%.

Looking forward, Bisignani predicted the events in Japan, the Middle East and North Africa to cause a continued depression in air travel, but that strong underlying economic growth would support recovery in the second half of 2011.

The big uncertainty, however, is the price of oil, he warned: "The fragility of the situation is demonstrated by the considerably weaker 3.3% year-on-year growth in economy class travel in February. And, despite efficiency gains, the industry?s 1.4% profit margin leaves it vulnerable in the face of volatile markets."


ENDS Europe DAILY - 29 April 2011

The European Commission has updated the list of airlines expected to fall under the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) from 2012. The list now includes operators flying to and from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein but its length is largely unchanged.

The first official version of the 4,000-strong list was published in August 2009 and it is updated annually. The newest version also sees some airlines reassigned to different administering countries.

Any reassignment will affect where the revenue from allowances sales goes. But airlines reassigned to Norway or Iceland can ask to remain under the administration of their former state until 2020.

Airlines affected by the scheme had to submit information on their activity in 2010 to the commission by the end of March. This will be used to allocate their share of the free allowances being given to the sector. The commission could not say how many airlines met the deadline.


Airport Watch (EU Aviation) - 9 May 2011

China's airlines are stepping up their campaign to be excluded from the EU emissions trading scheme, and threatening to ask their government to impose huge costs on European carriers.

The China Aviation Transportation Association (Cata) on Sunday released a statement saying the forced inclusion of Chinese airlines in the EU ETS from 1 January 2012 is a violation of international law and hampers the development of the aviation industry in poor countries.

The EU must postpone the inclusion of Chinese carriers in the scheme, adjust the rules, or exclude Chinese companies altogether, said the statement, which was published in several newspapers and environmental websites. If not, Cata will propose that the Chinese government implements countermeasures to ensure European airlines suffer even bigger costs in China than the ETS will impose on Cata members. The association did not give details about the countermeasures it wants to be imposed.

The EU ETS, which currently covers some 12,000 energy and industry facilities in Europe, will be expanded from next year to also include the aviation industry. All airlines, including those from developing countries, will face a total cap on their CO2 emissions based on historical emission figures.

The EU on 7 March set a cap of 212.9 million CO2 permits for airlines when they join the scheme in 2012, and total demand for permits could cost the sector between $1-3 billion a year, according to analysts. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has estimated that the 33 Chinese airlines affected will face a bill of 800 million RMB ($123m) in 2012.

In March, Cata said it would join a US lawsuit against the European scheme, but continues to lobby the 27-member EU bloc for a bilateral agreement. Forced inclusion in the ETS is a violation of the Chicago convention, the pact which guides international aviation, and it is also beyond the EU's jurisdiction, Cata said.

China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is currently implementing a number of policies to clean up its economy and slow growth in carbon emissions. The CAAC last month announced domestic airlines must reduce their carbon and energy intensity to 22 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 in a bid to limit the sector?s emissions.

The central government has not commented on Cata's demands to be excluded from the EU scheme, but Beijing is a staunch opponent of mandatory emission targets being imposed on China under international law. Cata officials were not immediately available for a comment on Sunday's statement.


Simon Jones - The Sun - 11 May 2011

THE new boss of Manchester Airport wants to spread his wings by snapping up London's Stansted or a Scottish air hub within a YEAR.

Chief exec Charlie Cornish yesterday said Manchester is already drawing up plans for the eventual break-up of airport giant BAA. He expects Stansted - one of six UK airports still owned by BAA - to go up for sale in the next "six to 12 months".

Mr Cornish told Sun City: "That will be followed by Glasgow or Edinburgh and we will look at the opportunities as they come up. We'd like to take one of them. We need to grow and want to grow."

Manchester Airport's controlling consortium failed dismally in the race for Gatwick in 2009. But Mr Cornish - in the job for seven months - said the lessons had been learnt. And his confidence is buoyed by a return to growth in the North West.

Manchester enjoyed its busiest Easter for five years after the return of RYANAIR to the city. The airport expects to top 20million passengers this year - helped by a huge boost in traffic from Abu Dhabi, the home of Manchester City FC's rich owners. And Mr Cornish is also hoping to open his doors to local firms.

Manchester Airport is set to become one of the "Enterprise Zones" unveiled by the Chancellor in the Budget. The chief exec hopes at least 7,000 jobs can be created over the next decade as manufacturers or logistics firms set up on the surrounding land.

He also wants the Government to sort better transport links, so Manchester can take some of the strain from Heathrow. And Mr Cornish called on ministers to slash Air Passenger Duty, or risk seeing airlines avoid Britain.

AIR ASIA recently chose Paris as the destination for a new service instead of Manchester because of the UK tax regime. He said: "Carriers now look at their planes as assets they can put anywhere. The tax is higher here than any other place in Europe."


Rupa Haria, London - Aviation Week - 13 May 2011

For airport operators, getting in bed with one of Europe's most fractious airlines at a facility the government does not want to see expand may not seem like an attractive proposition, but the anticipated forced sale of Stansted Airport may yet defy skeptics.

The details of what will happen to London Stansted are still not fully determined, but the writing is on the wall. The U.K.'s Competition Commission has been arguing for some time and recently concluded that airport operator BAA has to divest the facility as part of a larger restructuring in which it has sold Gatwick Airport and will soon shed either Edinburgh Airport or Glasgow Airport. Although the final legal word has not been given, even BAA owner Ferrovial concedes Stansted will have to go.

For debt-laden BAA, the prospect of securing a good price may appear dim. Economic recovery in the U.K. has not yet set in, and in selling Gatwick in 2009 to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) it had to settle for a below-par price. The situation could ease somewhat if the regulator gives BAA some flexibility in orchestrating the sale. "I'd have thought the commission will allow them a bit of leeway as they won't deprive [BAA] of the reasonable value of their asset," says an official familiar with the proceedings. If not, he adds, "it would be a disaster" for the present owner.

What is more, for better or worse, Ryanair is the dominant airline at that facility. While the Irish carrier has a strong balance sheet and growth ambitions, its chief executive, Michael O'Leary, is notorious for haranguing airports over costs and service. Given this, will a new airport owner feel it can still do business with the airline?

O'Leary and BAA have been on particularly bad terms. But an airport industry official notes that if the new owner adopts a different pricing model and offers Ryanair pricing certainty over a longer period, it will incentivize the carrier to bring more traffic to the airport.

Another obstacle lies with the U.K.'s decision not to permit new runways at any of the London airports. BAA has already sunk £200 million ($330 million) into the planning process and purchase of land and property for a second runway at Stansted (total cost would be around £4 billion), but London has said "no".

While this could stifle growth, some industry observers believe there may be a hidden upside. With no new runway in sight for decades, traffic demand will eventually exceed supply. Anyone holding as scarce an asset as a London airport will eventually benefit

Once this litany of issues is overcome, the question for the new owner will be whether it can restructure Stansted operations to turn a profit. In that effort, the operator may be able to steal a page from Gatwick, where GIP is trying to effect a turnaround.

GIP inherited a five-year, £1 billion investment program from BAA at a time when the passenger experience at Gatwick was rated very poorly. The new owner's first priority was to review the program and ultimately reprioritize spending. Among the ?200 million projects now completed are construction of six new large aircraft parking stands, a new shuttle between the North and South Terminals and an expanded departure lounge in the South Terminal.

"Everything that BAA were planning to do, we've done quicker and cheaper," says Michael McGhee, a GIP partner who serves on Gatwick's board of directors. "We've saved £150 million out of this £1 billion," says McGhee. "Out of the savings, we have committed to new projects."

It isn't just about cost, either. "BAA had a risky 17-stage project for the baggage system which involved progressively replacing the existing system which is located in a cramped environment. We reduced it to a two-stage project by locating it on spare space outside, bang-next door to the existing system, and will wrap a new pier around it to replace the aged Pier One. This has de-risked the project and saved millions of pounds as well as solving the Pier One replacement," says McGhee.

Eventually, GIP is expected to exit Gatwick. But for now, McGhee suggests the company will remain involved in executing the £1 billion capital expenditure program. "It's still early days and we're only 17 months in. We're a little bit ahead, but the real bulk of physical transformation takes time," he says.

McGhee argues that its efforts at Gatwick shows there is an opportunity to develop Stansted, too. GIP has an interest in seeing Stansted succeed because driving up the value of London area airports would boost its own returns once it comes to selling Gatwick.


Mark Odell - Financial Times - 14 May 2011

Birmingham airport is being promoted as the solution to capacity constraints in London and the south-east as the government seeks to rebuff criticism that it lacks a coherent aviation policy.

Philip Hammond, transport secretary, said Birmingham had a growing role to play in the country's airport infrastructure. "Because of the pressure on airports in the south-east, it makes sense to use our regional airports better," he said on Friday.

Many aviation and business groups in London are still smarting from a decision to ban new runway building at London?s three main airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. They rejected Mr Hammond's latest proposal as unworkable.

"We don't think that is a sustainable argument at all. Heathrow is used as a hubbing airport and that aspect is wilfully ignored. We are all for regional development but there is an overwhelming need for additional airport capacity in the south-east right now," said Mike Carravick, chief executive of BAR UK, the industry grouping representing all scheduled carriers.

The government has launched a consultation with the aim of publishing a draft policy document early in 2012.

Birmingham airport, which handled 8.5m passengers last year, is just over an hour's train journey from central London. Mr Hammond said once the proposed high-speed line to Birmingham opened in 2026, the time would shrink to 35 minutes, making the journey quicker than from central London to Gatwick and Stansted.

Mr Hammond, who was speaking at the opening of Birmingham's refurbished international terminal, believes a high-speed rail network is key to relieving bottlenecks at airports as it removes the need for domestic flights. "I have always said that high-speed rail will change the economic geography of Britain," Mr Hammond said.

Other European countries, including France and Germany, have integrated some of their biggest airports into high-speed rail networks, allowing airlines to offer combined ticketing with rail operators.

Birmingham airport has capacity for 18m passengers a year and is investing £65m to extend its one runway, which will allow aircraft to carry enough fuel to reach the US west coast and Asia. Work is due to be completed by 2014. The airport offers just two scheduled long-haul destinations - New York and Dubai - but has started using the prospect of constraints at the London airports as a selling point in its bid to attract more airlines.

The government has told companies tendering for the new West Coast mainline franchise to include marketing of Birmingham airport as part of the bid process.


Tom Mcghie - Daily Mail - 1 May 2011

Heathrow has no long-term future as a major hub airport, senior executives at its owner, BAA, have warned.

At the very best they believe they can defend Heathrow's status as the world's busiest airport only for the next 15 years. After that, they say, the Government's refusal to approve a third runway means that traffic will migrate to rival airports in Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid.

It is understood that BAA, which last week announced 2010 pre-tax losses of £317million, is resigned to losing the battle for the building of a third runway at Heathrow. And executives are convinced that the £40billion bill to build a major four-runway airport on the Thames estuary would be too high, even if all objections were overcome.

They also believe the Government is wrong to say additional capacity at other London airports would make up for curbs on expansion at Heathrow. "By definition, a hub airport must have the capacity to allow flights in and out - it is no good splitting it," said one executive.

BAA chairman Sir Nigel Rudd warned last year that Heathrow was now a 'second tier' world airport as a result of the Government's decision not to approve a third runway. The consequence was that Britain would become less competitive, he said. And he forecast that the country would lose out on billions of pounds as rivals started to take advantage of the failure of the UK's major airport to expand.

Rudd said: "If there is going to be no third runway at Heathrow and no more in the South-East, how does the nation cope with the fact that we're going to receive an ever-decreasing share of international passengers as all the other major airports are expanding?"

British Airways, which has merged with Spanish airline Iberia, has abandoned ambitions to expand at Heathrow. Chief executive Willie Walsh warned last year that the airline would instead start to focus its growth on Madrid's Barajas airport. "Our merger with Iberia will give us scope to grow at Madrid Barajas, which has four runways and unused capacity of 20 per cent," said a BA spokesman.

The decision to block expansion at Heathrow has also been criticised by other major airport users such as Virgin Atlantic. The carrier complained last year that the airport was full and that the absence of a third runway made it impossible to compete with companies such as BA.

The Government has rejected plans for a third runway partly because of fears for the environment and complaints about noise. The Department for Transport believes that supporters of expansion ignore the fact that London has a number of other busy airports such as Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, which can take the strain.


The coalition government has said it does not support
a new runway at Heathrow Airport

BBC News - 6 May 2011

BAA stepped in to buy "unsellable" houses when plans for a third runway near the west London hub were backed by the previous government. Labour's John McDonnell said despite the plans being scrapped many of these homes were standing empty leading to the "death of village life". BAA said the homes were managed to "sustain and support community life".

When the Labour government gave its support for expansion BAA agreed to buy houses residents could not sell, if they wanted to move. So far it has bought 266 homes with another eight sales going through.

'Continuing fear'
Plans for a third runway were scrapped by the coalition government when it came to power last year. Mr McDonnell, who represents Hayes and Harlington, said many homeowners were still unable to sell up because of ongoing fears over a third runway.

He said people living in the villages of Sipson, Harmondsworth, Harlington, Cranford and Longford, among others, "live under continuing fear of a third runway (plan) coming back".

"BAA is now the largest homeowner in Sipson village and a significant homeowner in other Heathrow villages," Mr McDonnell said in a Westminster Hall debate. "Many homes have just been left empty. We are told they are being refurbished with a view to being let, but the process is extremely slow."

Expansion opposed
He urged BAA to start selling or letting the properties to families.

A statement from the operator said: "Just as it is in the interests of people living and working in Sipson and surrounding villages that they are part of a vibrant community, so too is this in our interests as a major local landlord. We're prioritising lets to families and airport workers and we have a dedicated team committed to managing our properties in a way which sustains and supports local community life."

Mr McDonnell said he feared the properties were being retained because BAA was convinced it could change government policy. He called on BAA to make a public statement that it "gives up its expansion ambitions" and for the main political parties to issue a joint declaration opposing a third runway.

In response, deputy Commons leader David Heath reiterated the government's opposition to expansion. He said: "We don't want to see the third runway, that is clear, we want to see Heathrow develop in a way that is better rather than bigger."

OUR COMMENT: A story familiar to those living round Stansted airport.

Pat Dale


BBC News - 4 May 2011

Ryanair's boss has called for new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, branding any plans for a new South East airport "absolutely nuts".

Michael O'Leary said a new hub in the Thames estuary would not make economic sense and agreements limiting expansion at existing sites should be scrapped. London Mayor Boris Johnson has looked at plans to build an airport between the Essex and Kent coasts. The government recently ruled out new runways at London's three key airports.

Mr O'Leary, who is chief executive of the budget airline, said: "I think it's absolutely nuts, there's no requirement for any new hub airport. London has five airports - you've got Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City - what you do need and we need urgently in the South East is more runways at those airports."

"We have long since campaigned for a second runway at Stansted, a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow because you have the infrastructure there." He added: "I would tear up the agreement at Gatwick and at Heathrow and I would build a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow - this is the only way forward."

"Britain is losing out to Madrid, to Paris and to Frankfurt who are pushing forward more runways at their existing hub airports. Please, please don't waste billions and billions of pounds building another white elephant in the Romney Marshes or wherever it is."

'Sustainable aviation'
In January Mr Johnson backed a report, overseen by Transport for London, which called for a new hub airport. It said passenger demand for London's airports was forecast to increase from 140 million passengers a year in 2010 to 400 million passengers a year by 2050. The report concluded that London's only hub airport was losing out to other European airports which, if sustained, could have long-term damaging effects on both the London and UK economies.

In May plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow were scrapped when the coalition government took office. The Department for Transport said it did not support the construction of additional runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted and was working to develop more sustainable aviation.


London Evening Standard - 6 May 2011

Statement by Virgin Atlantic:

AT VIRGIN Atlantic we are very concerned that ministers are considering lowering air passenger duty (APD) for passengers using airports outside the South-East. As the Treasury will not be cutting the overall tax take from APD, such a reduction would inevitably mean higher taxes to fly from all South-East airports.

APD already costs £240 for a family of four to travel to Florida - the highest flight tax in Europe. The people of London and the South-East should not be discriminated against on the basis of their postcodes.

We have this week written to every MP in the region asking them to make clear to the Government that they will not tolerate any such discriminatory proposals against their constituents.

Julie Southern, chief commercial officer, Virgin Atlantic.


BBC News - 10 May 2011

Low cost airline Easyjet has said its half year losses have almost doubled because of higher fuel costs and the tough economic environment.

The carrier reported pre-tax losses for the six months to the end of March of £153m ($250m), up from a loss of £79m on a year ago. Higher fuel costs accounted for £43m of the increase in losses from last year.

Passenger numbers grew 12% to just under 24 million, nearly two-thirds of whom now come from outside the UK. The six-month period is historically a quieter trading period for airlines.

The company said the price of jet fuel had increased by more than 40% during the period because of the political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. It also said it expected high fuel prices to "persist" during the second half of the year.

"The past six months has been tough with sharply rising fuel costs combined with cautious behaviour by consumers and an adverse impact from taxes on passengers," said Carolyn McCall, Easyjet's chief executive. "Despite this difficult environment we have made strong progress over the past six months."


Complaints from watchdogs and customers
have triggered review of air passenger rights

Emma Wall - Daily Telegraph - 13 May 2011

Airline charges could soon be a thing of the past. The European Commission is reviewing air passenger rights after receiving complaints from customers and watchdogs about the excessive surcharges airlines issue. The proposed 'one flight, one price' ruling is being considered but European Commission vice-president and transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

Among those calling for more transparency in the industry is Labour euro MP and chairman of the powerful EU transport committee Brian Simpson and consumer champion Which?

Which? filed a super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), due to be reviewed at the end of June, against the surcharges imposed when using a credit card saying that low-cost airlines were among the worst offenders, charging a fee per passenger, per leg of the journey, even though they only have to process one transaction.

It's research found a flights for a family of four from London to Glasgow and back with Ryanair is advertised as costing £48. But if you don't have a special prepaid MasterCard, Ryanair will charge you £40 to process your card payment, nearly doubling the price. That is before charges for check-in baggage and checking-in in person are added too.

Adam Scorer, Director of External Affairs at Consumer Focus said: "A 'one flight, one price' rule could only be welcomed by consumers. People want the price advertised to be the price they pay. Customers don't want to be confused by finding a cheap headline price only to discover hidden costs when they delve beneath the surface. Paying more to check-in bags, book a seat or pay by credit card is simply frustrating and can ultimately mislead people into paying more than they expected to."

Last week, Ryanair and easyJet both put up card fees. Ryanair added a £2 levy it says will go towards compensation it has paid for flight delays and cancellations - set to earn the airline an estimated extra £150m a year.

Which? Money editor James Daley, said: "This is an incredibly cynical move by easyJet and Ryanair given that they're fully aware of our super-complaint and the OFT investigation into card surcharges. The budget airlines clearly know that the game is up for card surcharges and are trying to squeeze their customers for every last penny before the regulators step in."

It's not only budget airlines employing these tactics either, British Airways is now also charging for add-ons. Mr Scorer said: "Firms should live or die by the cardinal rule of business - treat your customers fairly. That responsibility should be etched in stone at the heart of every consumer market. If companies won't live up to this voluntarily it is only right that they are forced to play fair."


Environmental Transport News - 6 May 2011

Much is heard about air freight, but the vast bulk of goods are not flown around the world but shipped, and despite the fact that emissions from transport have increased steadily since 1990, the European Commission continues to exclude shipping from the Emissions Trade System (ETS) and no change to this policy is expected before 2050.

The environmental impact of shipping includes significant emissions of CO2 and sulphur, sound pollution that is detrimental to marine life and contamination of the seas through the dumping of bilge and ballast water.

Pollution from shipping. This is estimated as about 2.7% of CO2 global emissions.

Energy efficient ships
Government may be reluctant to legislate for greener shipping, but the industry has taken steps of its own by producing an energy efficiency design index, as a way of marking ships for their impact on the environment. This index rates a ship's performance based on the amount of CO2 (or equivalent) produced per ton/kilometre of goods moved. The range of the index is wide so there is much room for improvement. The opportunity occurs when new ships are ordered.

Maersk, the Danish shipping giant, has just ordered ten ships each of 18,000teu (TEU is twenty-foot equivalent unit or half the usual size of container lorry). These ships are half as polluting as the industry average. It will make a big difference. But although the ships are an amazing improvement, the sheer growth of trade over the next few years means that shipping will still have a large effect on climate change.


Space & Earth/Earth Sciences - 12 May 2011

A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, have shown that the emissions produced by aircraft idling at the gate, or lining up for takeoff, contain tiny oil droplets, that when exposed to ordinary sunlight, undergo a chemical reaction that causes them to solidify into tiny particles that can infiltrate the lungs and eventually the brain.

In a paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the team led by Allen Robinson, describe how they collected samples of exhaust from an idling KC-135 military cargo plane, into large Teflon coated bags, and how they then exposed that exhaust to sunlight and/or UV light to initiate photo-oxidation (when a polymer surface degrades in oxygen or ozone). The result, they say, was that the original droplets of oil were converted into multiple minute solid particles, small enough to penetrate the lungs and brain of people working or living near airports.

In contrast, exhaust emissions from airplanes running at speed, such as when in-flight, tend to be mostly comprised of solid particles, which would not be effected by sunlight in the same way, and thus would pose no additional health hazards over what is already known about such types of pollution.

The paper highlights the fact that airplane pollution, and specifically the kind produced at airports, is in stark contrast to other types of pollution emitters such as cars and manufacturing plants, in that little to nothing has been done to reduce the amounts spewed into the environment. It also shows that the type of pollution produced at airports is far more hazardous than was previously thought; but, because these findings are so new, it's likely no research has yet been conducted to ascertain what exactly happens to the human body when these tiny particles are breathed in on a regular basis.

The authors also mention in their paper the folly of studying emissions from aircraft (or presumably any other pollution emitters for that matter) without following up to find out what becomes of such pollutants as they enter the environment and are affected by such forces as UV radiation, temperature, or other substances.

More information: Secondary aerosol formation from photochemical aging of aircraft exhaust in a smog chamber, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 4135-4147, 2011 doi:10.5194/acp-11-4135-2011

Field experiments were performed to investigate the effects of photo-oxidation on fine particle emissions from an in-use CFM56-2B gas turbine engine mounted on a KC-135 Stratotanker airframe. Emissions were sampled into a portable smog chamber from a rake inlet installed one-meter downstream of the engine exit plane of a parked and chocked aircraft. The chamber was then exposed to sunlight and/or UV lights to initiate photo-oxidation. Separate tests were performed at different engine loads (4, 7, 30, 85 %). Photo-oxidation created substantial secondary particulate matter (PM), greatly exceeding the direct PM emissions at each engine load after an hour or less of aging at typical summertime conditions. After several hours of photo-oxidation, the ratio of secondary-to-primary PM mass was on average 35 ± 4.1, 17 ± 2.5, 60 ± 2.2, and 2.7 ± 1.1 for the 4, 7, 30, and 85 % load experiments, respectively. The composition of secondary PM formed strongly depended on load. At 4 % load, secondary PM was dominated by secondary organic aerosol (SOA). At higher loads, the secondary PM was mainly secondary sulfate. A traditional SOA model that accounts for SOA formation from single-ring aromatics and other volatile organic compounds underpredicts the measured SOA formation by ~60 % at 4 % load and ~40 % at 85 % load. Large amounts of lower-volatiliy organic vapors were measured in the exhaust; they represent a significant pool of SOA precursors that are not included in traditional SOA models.

These results underscore the importance of accounting for atmospheric processing when assessing the influence of aircraft emissions on ambient PM levels. Models that do not account for this processing will likely underpredict the contribution of aircraft emissions to local and regional air pollution.


All of Britain's 278 environment laws under review,
including National Park, Clean Air and Climate Change Acts

The Guardian - 17 April 2011

Green laws such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which protects vulnerable species including the brown hare, are up for review. Environmental campaigners have condemned the coalition's inclusion of all of Britain's 278 environmental laws in a list of "red tape" regulations considered by the public for the axe. The Wildlife and Countryside Act, National Park Act, Clean Air Act and the Climate Change Act are among the packages of environmental safeguards included in the "red tape challenge" - a crowd sourcing exercise launched by the government to establish which regulations restrict business in the UK.

All of the UK's more than 21,000 pieces of regulation are included on the government's website for an evaluation. Users are told only the issues of tax and national security are exempted. Participants are assured the "onus" will be on ministers to make the case for keeping a regulation recommended for cutting.

The inclusion of environmental legislation has alarmed green groups. John Sauven, director of Greenpeace said: "We don't yet know if this is cock-up or conspiracy. If it's a cock-up, David Cameron needs to come out and say the Climate Change Act, central to the push for a clean technology revolution, is safe from the axe. But if ministers are serious about scrapping it and other vital environmental regulations then we'll be looking at something akin to the worst excesses of the Bush-Cheney White House. When did clean air and green jobs become a burden?"

Environmental campaigners also expressed alarm that the authors of the website suggested the government no longer thought issues of climate change to be of national security. In 2009, William Hague, then shadow foreign secretary, said climate change was "not simply an environmental and developmental concern but an urgent foreign and national security concern".

A source from the business department said the exercise was not simply an audit of which regulations should be cut. Rather, it was an attempt to find out the public sentiment and ideas on all red tape, for better or worse. Their responsibility was to business as much as to those concerned about the environment, the source added.

David Babbs of the campaigning group 38 Degrees, which played a central role in forcing the government's U-turn on the sale of Britain's forests, said his members would take exception to climate change amelioration or wildlife protection measures being called "red tape".

He urged the government to demonstrate how the legislation would be guarded. "38 Degrees members supported David Cameron's promise to make this the greenest government ever, and we want him to keep that promise," Babbs said. "Laws like the Countryside and Wildlife Act and the Climate Change Act aren't red tape, they help keep Britain green and pleasant and protect our planet for future generations."

The repeal of the Wildlife and Countryside Act - which governs the protection of wild birds, animals and plants - would see national parks, marine reserves and sites of special scientific interest unprotected. It protects birds, their nests and eggs by law and so makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or capture a wild bird.

The Climate Change Act - feted as the first of its kind worldwide - makes it the duty of the secretary of state to ensure net UK carbon emissions for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases are at least 80% lower in 2050 than the 1990 baseline.

Campaigners are concerned the move by the government to put environmental safeguards up for grabs will render them vulnerable to a growing body of climate change sceptics. On 19 March, a meeting in Cambridge of scientists and climate change sceptics launched the "repeal the climate change act" group - a movement that is talking of launching a climate change truth commission.

Once the red tape initiative winds up, ministers will have three months to work out which regulations they want to keep and why.

A business department spokesman said: "It wouldn't look right for [environmental regulations] not to be on there. We are committed to meeting our climate change obligations, but at the same time we did not want to keep certain things off the website because we knew people would want to comment on them. We've got to look at things from both sides. Yes, there's the environmental side, but businesses have to deal with these regulations on a daily basis and it takes a lot to grow a business."

OUR COMMENT: Measures needed to protect our health and our environment - in other words, our future - have taken years of research, action and suffering to establish as legislation that all must follow for the benefit of all, including those who own as well as work in businesses, both large and small. To suggest these achievements are in any way "Red Tape" is ignorant and/or prejudiced. If the government wants to simplify/reduce legislation and avoid over zealous interpretation of regulations then it has the remedy in its own hands and should put forward reasoned proposals for serious consultation.

Pat Dale


Transport plan aims to reduce carbon emissions
from sector by 60% over next 40 years

Dan Milmo - Guardian.co.uk - 18 April 2011

The high-speed train between Madrid and Barcelona has taken 50% of short-haul flight business, says EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

Short-haul flights across Europe could be replaced by high-speed rail under ambitious European Union proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport by 60% over the next 40 years.

According to the EU, Heathrow's congestion problems could be eased by cutting domestic and European flights, while demand for new runways could be suppressed by building new rail networks. The EU transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, has announced a series of green transport goals including phasing out the use of petrol cars in city centres by 2050.

"At Heathrow there are no new runways, but we desperately need to increase capacity and you can do this if you reduce short-haul flight connections," said Kallas. The commissioner added in an interview with the Guardian that the UK should look at the example of Spain, where high-speed rail has hit demand on a previously popular flight corridor.

"This has happened in Madrid and Barcelona, where 50% of the market has moved to high-speed rail. It is comfortable for everybody. Airlines can put emphasis on long-haul flights, which is better for their business."

Noting the debate over expanding London's squeezed airports, he added: "If we are successful in creating new railways they can take over short-haul airline connections. It makes it easier for the runway issue."

Kallas hit the headlines this month when he declared a target of phasing out petrol and diesel cars from city centres by 2050. The commissioner said he was unfazed by criticism of the benchmark. "If you don't like the idea of reducing the use of conventional cars in city centres, what are your proposals?"

Kallas said EU countries needed to reduce the "mass need" for short journeys in petrol and diesel cars. "It is a desirable goal to phase out conventional cars," he said. However, Kallas added that mass adoption of electronic cars also posed problems because major city roads would continue to be clogged by traffic.

Speaking after a meeting with officials at Transport for London, Kallas said: "The congestion charge is a step that many cities [in Europe] will follow." Kallas's 2050 targets include connecting all hub airports to high-speed rail lines and connecting majors ports to rail networks in order to reduce dependency on road freight.


Transport & Environment - 19 April 2011

A new study from Germany adds weight to growing evidence that, as far as aircraft are concerned, contrails have contributed more to global warming than greenhouse gas emissions.

The white vapour trails, which some people find quite pretty, have always been known to trap heat, and thus contribute to global warming, but until recently it has been thought to be a relatively small amount. In 2005, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated the effect of contrails to be about a third of all the carbon dioxide released by aircraft since the start of aviation.

But research in the last few years suggests the effect of contrails may be much greater. The line of thought is that the IPCC has only studied a small part of the problem, as its estimate leaves out the effect of contrails that have spread out and join normal cirrus clouds.

Now two scientists from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, have confirmed other estimates of the contribution of aircraft contrails to global warming by process modelling. The two, Ulrike Burkhardt and Bernd Kärcher, put the impact of contrails at around 10% more than the impact of CO2.

"The significance of this study," said T&E programme officer Bill Hemmings, "is that it lends a robustness to the estimates that have been made up to now. What is clear is that cutting contrails would have an instant effect on reducing aviation's contribution to global warming. One solution is for aircraft to fly at lower altitudes when atmospheric conditions favour contrail formation."


NATS Acting Responsibly programme aimed at reducing
the environmental impact of aviation and saving fuel is reaping results

Statement by NATS - 4 April 2011

Back in 2008 we set ourselves targets aimed at making our business more sustainable as part of our Vision 2011 programme. That year, NATS became the first ANSP in the world to set a target on air traffic management related CO2 emissions.

We pledged to reduce air traffic management (ATM) related CO2 emissions by 10 per cent per flight (against a 2006 baseline) by March 2020. At the same time we committed to drive down the environmental impact of our ATC centres and offices. To put our ATM CO2 target in context, simply delivering 1 per cent of our 10 per cent target today would net the airlines savings of 45 million a year.

Head of Environmental and Community Affairs Ian Jopson said: "We have already started to deliver against our ATM target in 2009, we enabled 25,000 tonnes of CO2 savings and, in 2010, we did even better, generating around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 savings."

During the last year NATS has also delivered more than 50 emissions improvements and made great progress towards our Vision 2011 commitments. Among the developments, NATS teamed up with British Airways and BAA to test out this concept of a Perfect Flight. This was a UK first a trial flight that followed an optimised flight profile and proved potential savings of more than 10 per cent on the usual CO2 emissions (a reduction of 0.35 tonnes of fuel from gate to gate) for its route from Edinburgh to Heathrow.

The challenge now is to make this perfect flight more of a day to occurrence in our network, said Ian. This will take time, but in the meantime were looking to deliver short term benefits in fuel burn and emissions to our airline customers.

NATS is also working with the airlines to make a real difference to the environment following the formation of regular Environmental Improvement Workshops in Swanwick and Prestwick. The workshops see representatives from carriers, including British Airways, Flybe, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, easyJet and Loganair, meet with NATS controllers to agree areas across the network where near-term environmental improvements could be made.

Through this engagement between airlines and teams across NATS we have identified over 260 near term fuel and emissions saving opportunities. And, while most potential CO2 savings lie in the management of air traffic, NATS is also making good progress in our commitment to deliver a lower carbon estate.

By January 2011 we had reduced our carbon footprint by 25 per cent against a 2006 baseline reducing energy consumption by 25 per cent, waste to landfill by 65 per cent and water consumption by 35 per cent. Business and commuting mileage reduced by 50 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

Ian explains: "By continuing to optimise the efficiency of our buildings and making everyday changes to reduce our carbon footprint, we are on track to deliver transformational energy and CO2 performance right across the company."


Spanish industrial group Ferrovial (FER.MC) is gearing up to make fresh infrastructure investments after it sells a stake in British airport operator
BAA and completes the enforced sale of two of its UK airports.

Rhys Jones and Tracy Rucinski - Reuters - 18 April 2011

Ferrovial could use the funds, estimated by analysts to be as much as 2 billion pounds, to bid for Spanish operator AENA's Madrid Barajas or Barcelona's El Prat airports.

Nuria Alvarez, analyst at Spanish brokerage Renta4, said the purchase of Barajas or El Prat would make "strategic sense" and provide Ferrovial with access to "stable revenue flows", despite the uncertainty surrounding Spain's economy.

Ferrovial, touting interest from infrastructure, pension and sovereign wealth funds, has said the sale of a 10 percent stake in BAA - the owner of Europe's busiest airport, London's Heathrow - is on track for this year, though it is likely to be choosy about whom it sells to.

"There is interest in the market from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and infrastructure funds but the issue is price," said a banker with knowledge of the situation. Ferrovial seems to want at least 300 million pounds. They know such airport assets are hard to find."

Chinese airport operator HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines is one of a handful of parties considering a bid, sources with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

While Ferrovial will want a friendly partner to ensure management and strategy continuity, the buyer of a minority stake may want to change BAA's corporate by-laws, a painstaking procedure requiring lawyers and other shareholders' approval.

The sale means Ferrovial will cut its 55.9 percent stake below 50 percent, an attractive move because the company will be able to take BAA's 10 billion pounds debt off its balance sheet, but worrying because it will lose majority control. Canadian pension fund CDPQ owns 26.5 percent of BAA, while GIC - the investment arm of the Singapore government - holds the remaining 17.6 percent.

"We think the 10 percent stake could sell for around 250 million pounds," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Olivia Peters. "Heathrow is a rare infrastructure asset where the traffic and retail outlook are positive and where slot demand exceeds supply, thus reducing external demand risk."

Investors will, however, be concerned that BAA has not paid a dividend to Ferrovial since it led a consortium to buy the group in a heavily leveraged 10.3 billion pound deal in 2006. Bankers say BAA could pay a dividend in the next two years after it last year paid down a financing facility to below 1.3 billion pounds, unblocking dividend payments by its operating company and subsidiaries.

After the stake sale, the next move for Ferrovial - whose shares trade at 45 times forecast 2011 earnings compared to the sector's 15 times - will likely be to sell two BAA airports.

BAA is being forced by Britain's competition watchdog to sell London's Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports in Scotland to reduce its dominance in the UK market. Last week BAA boss Colin Matthews told Reuters that Stansted should fetch at least 1.2 billion pounds - roughly the same as its regulated asset base. Analysts, though, point to Stansted's weak pricing power - due to its large exposure to low cost airlines - and limited revenue visibility, as reasons it could fetch less.

"Stansted could sell at a discount to RAB, perhaps 20 percent, implying an enterprise value of 1.064 billion pounds," said RBC's Peters. "We value the airports on 12 times 2011 forecast EV/EBITDA (enterprise value to core earnings) which implies an EV of 1.2 billion pounds - 474 million pounds for Glasgow and 617 million pounds for Edinburgh."

Consortia made up of pension funds and sovereign wealth funds and major infrastructure investors are the most likely bidders for the BAA airports. "A consortium including Vancouver Airport Services (YVRAS) and Citi Infrastructure Investors are interested, as is Manchester Airport Group," a source close to the situation said. "Macquarie, Hochtief (HOTG.DE) and the Turkish airports authority TAV are also watching the situation closely."

Buyers are attracted by the expansion potential at Stansted, which is considered the least desirable of London's five airports because of its location in Essex, 35 miles north east of the capital.

"Airport assets don't often come up for sale so investors may be willing to take a risk and pay a decent price," said Peter Morris, chief economist at aviation consultancy Ascend. "The buyer could expand capacity at Stansted... that flexibility and what extra can be extracted from car parking, retail and airline fees is its long-term life line."

Ferrovial is expected to use the proceeds to bid for Madrid Barajas or Barcelona's El Prat airports. A source close to Ferrovial said the company was "studying the sale of AENA's assets very seriously". Spain announced plans to partially privatise AENA and its airports last year as it seeks to reduce the national debt.

However, economists caution that growth in Spain - the euro zone's fourth largest economy - could be limited if it is forced to follow in the footsteps of Ireland and Greece in requesting an EU and IMF-backed bailout.

(Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis, Editing by Mark Potter)


Are we there yet? Just when you thought airlines couldn't make it any more difficult to travel with kids, they went and found a way

The Independent - 24 April 2011

Would you pay a shed load of money just to sit next to your own child on a plane? It may sound like a silly question, but one airline is assuming that you'll be prepared to do just that.

When I heard the news that Qantas had started charging for parents to sit with their offspring on long-haul flights, I assumed it was a belated April Fool. But, sadly, to the chagrin of overwhelmed, overcharged parents everywhere, it's true.

From now, economy passengers on long-haul flights will be asked to pay $20 (£13) per person per flight for its Advanced Seat Selection service. In case you can't do the maths, this means that a family of four will need to shell out a minimum of $160 on a holiday just to ensure that they can travel together.

Why is the airline doing this? Because, as any no-frills airline will tell you, when you haven't stumped up for priority boarding, are last to get on the plane, and can't find enough seats to enable you to sit next to your kid, there's no guarantee anyway that you'll have seats together - there's no legal requirement for parents to be seated next to their children.

Qantas is by no means alone in introducing a seat-selection charge. In fact, you'll be hard pushed to find an airline that allows you to choose a seat in advance without clobbering you for cash in the process. But should it really be considered an "optional extra" to sit with your own child? Should we really have to pay to be sure that our kids won't have to spend the entire journey wedged between two strangers at the other end of the plane? Who else would want to sit next to them anyway?

Only a couple of months ago, a poll revealed that children were considered the most dreaded passengers of all. And various surveys have found that a rather depressing number of people support the idea that kids should be banned from flights altogether.

Just when you thought airlines couldn't make it any more difficult to travel with kids, they went and found a way. Flying with children is never cheap or easy, and it's certainly never fun. Add in the fact that you're treated like some kind of social pariah every time you go anywhere near a plane - and that you're charged extra in the process - and it's a wonder any of us do it at all.

Still, I suppose there's a bright side. Perhaps I'll just refuse to cough up the extra charge and take the airlines up on their kind offer for someone else to look after my little treasures. The thought of being relieved of the need to entertain, feed and pacify my own fractious kids while 35,000ft in the air has its attractions.


Saffron Walden Reporter - 14 April 2011

After years of BAA fighting the Competition Commission over attempts to force it to sell Stansted, the company's Spanish owner has admitted that it plans to sell the Essex airport.

Speaking to financial media after the company's AGM last week, Ferrovial's Chief Executive Inigo Meiras, said that while the company is still studying whether to appeal against the watchdog's ruling that it must press ahead with the break-up of its UK airport network, it planned to sell Stansted and a Scottish airport regardless.

The timing of such a sale remains unclear with Mr Meiras adding that "right now there's no decision on starting the sale because we'd like to wait until the market looks a bit more positive".

That was endorsed by BAA's chief executive. Colin Matthews said that about £1.2 billion could be raised from the forced disposal of Stansted although time should be allowed for market conditions to improve.

"We would like some flexibility not to have to sell at the worst possible time in the market and naturally that's a concern for our shareholders who are concerned that they get a decent return", he told Reuters. "Anyone who is interested in airports will be interested in Stansted."

Anti-expansion campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion welcomed BAA's statement of intent to sell the airport but criticised what they claimed as delaying tactics. Economics adviser Brian Ross said: "For more than 2 years BAA management at Stansted has been denying there is any intention of selling the airport but the cat is now finally out of the bag. It's saddening that a once proud company can be so duplicitous with its employees and the local community. BAA should now go, and go quickly."


BAA Report - 11 April 2011

BAA Airports report continued growth.
* Heathrow traffic up 2.3%, though external events make year-on-year comparisons difficult
* Significant growth on BRIC routes (Brazil up 29%)
* All three Scottish airports report growth
* BAA?s six airports recorded 8.3 million passengers in March (up 0.9%)
* BAA?s six airports handled 8.3 million passengers in March, an increase of 0.9% compared to the same month last year. Heathrow?s traffic grew by 2.3%

Each of the group's Scottish airports continued recent improvements. Glasgow's traffic was up by 2.4% in total but by 10.5% on European services. Edinburgh was up 7.2% overall but by 20.8% on European routes. Aberdeen recorded a 8.6% gain. Traffic at Stansted and Southampton declined 7.4% and 8.7% respectively, affecting overall group performance.

Heathrow and the Scottish airports showed a marked improvement on March 2010 when traffic volumes were affected by industrial action at British Airways. Conversely, the timing of Easter last year (2-5 April) has affected comparisons as pre-Easter traffic should shift to April this year. Given the industrial action at British Airways between March and May 2010, the potential impact on travel patterns of the Royal Wedding in late April 2011, the volcanic ash disruption in April 2010 and the likely impact of the later Easter on traffic in March and April of this year, it may only be at the end of May that an accurate picture of underlying performance emerges for the year to date.

Across BAA, European scheduled traffic grew most strongly in March (up 2.8%) and domestic traffic also increased (up 1.5%), as did North Atlantic traffic (up 0.2%). Other long haul routes fell slightly overall (down 1.3%) although services to India and mainland China from Heathrow - the only UK airport with direct flights to the main business cities in both countries - grew by 8.4% and 9.0% respectively. Travel to Brazil, another important BRIC economy, was up 29% year on year whilst Russia saw a 10% increase.

For the group as a whole air transport movements were 4.4% ahead of last year's level, with Heathrow up by 7.5%, largely as a result of comparison with the strike-affected March 2010. Cargo tonnage at BAA airports was down by 1.4% in March, with Heathrow 1.9% lower.

Business commentary and outlook

Heathrow's performance reflects the wide range and high frequency of services from the country's only hub airport. The valuable trading connections to India and mainland China continue to see strong growth, which suggests improving economic circumstances and the increasing importance of these economies.

Whilst the political unrest in Middle East and North Africa and the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan were in the news, Heathrow's growth was only affected by these events to a limited degree, as traffic between Heathrow and these areas is relatively low in the context of the airport's overall traffic volumes.

In Scotland, passengers continue to return after the economic downturn at BAA's three airports as new routes are added. Jet2.com opened its new base at Glasgow airport on March 31.

Low-cost carriers continue to move aircraft from the UK to other markets in continental Europe, and this continues to affect traffic at Stansted, although the airport is well placed to benefit from any uplift in the economy and the return of discretionary travel lost during the recession.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said: "Heathrow's performance is solid, and the growth in traffic at our Scottish airports is encouraging. In the UK, consumer confidence remains fragile, affecting airports up and down the country. Continued rises in the price of oil are a concern for airlines and passengers in all our markets. While Stansted and Southampton's traffic performance remains disappointing, both are well placed to benefit from an upturn in leisure travel as the economy improves."


AIR APPARENT: Stansted chief Nick Barton
has a clear vision for the airport's future

Martin Green - Essex Chronicle - 2 April 2011

NO TWO days are ever the same for Stansted Airport's new boss Nick Barton.

On Tuesday he welcomed bmibaby as the airport's third budget airline, and on Friday he will jet out to Copenhagen where Stansted is nominated for a best low-cost airport award. At the start of May, he will fly to Kuala Lumpur, where Virgin boss Richard Branson will serve him beverages while wearing a full stewardess outfit - complete with lipstick and stockings - after the billionaire lost a bet.

A typical day may see him welcome the US President, or deal with thousands of frustrated holidaymakers grounded by an ash cloud. His job sounds glamorous, but he works 18-hour days, only really sees his wife and three young children at weekends and constantly feels the heat of Ryanair breathing down his neck as the world's busiest airline demands impeccable airport efficiency.

The 44-year-old, who took over as managing director in December after six years as a director, said: "I love my job. It's challenging and exciting. People enjoy travelling and there is an infectious buzz around the airport. I never have a boring day. Every single day I am tested by something different."

Stansted is the third biggest airport in the UK, with up to 80,000 passengers passing through every day.

But although London is the most sought-after destination in the world - ahead of New York, Paris and Dubai - Stansted does not operate to capacity. Reaching capacity is Nick's key target, as well as cementing their status as the airport with the most destinations in Europe and targeting more long-haul flights, hopefully to the USA.

Nick said: "I am confident that we can get the airport operating to its full capacity. We have the terminal and the infrastructure. We were down on traffic in 2010, but Stansted is very much led by the UK economy. While Heathrow is driven by hub traffic, where people touch down and then fly somewhere else, we are driven by the UK's economic performance, which has suffered in the past few years. But I believe we are close to the end of the tunnel."

Last May hopes of 13,000 new jobs and a £9 billion injection to the local economy were grounded for good after a controversial plan for a second runway at Stansted was scrapped. Environmental campaigners rejoiced, but the airport was left to rue a missed opportunity.

"I believe aviation is a very powerful tool for growth and economic benefits," said Nick. "I think the economic case was very strong for a second runway, although nobody was in denial about the environmental impact. Some suggest we don't care about the environment, but we have a very good environmental track record. We are not just pursuing growth for the sake of it, and we strive to reduce our carbon footprint. We charge airlines more to use inefficient, noisy planes. But it's time to park the idea of the second runway, and focus on how we can move forward and increase performance."

Stansted Airport employs 1,350 people, while 11,500 in total work at the airport, and Nick pointed to the economic significance of the site. "Many small to medium enterprises in this region rely on us, and we are one of the biggest single-site employers in East Anglia," he said. "We have had no compulsory redundancies during the most difficult period for aviation since Orville Wright took off, and even though BAA was told this week to sell Stansted, I believe any new owner would want to keep the infrastructure. Flying is about supporting businesses and providing the social benefit of allowing people to travel and have fun."

Nick's top travel tip for people in the region is to take advantage of flights from Stansted to Kuala Lumpur. From there, you can take budget flights to Bali for £20, or end up in New Zealand or Australia on the cheap. From Kuala Lumpur, you have access to the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world, and it's very cheap," said Nick.


The man who pays his way

The Independent - 9 April 2011

As I walked across the car park from the hotel, there it was, shimmering in the pre-dawn sky like some intergalactic space station: Stansted airport. No, I was not sleep-deprived, nor hallucinating. The £68 I spent on the Radisson Blu hotel (booked well in advance through Holiday Extras) bought top-quality slumber - plus a 5am perspective that showed Norman Foster's bright, white creation at its very best.

From outside, Stansted's terminal marks an inspirational beginning to any journey, but once inside, your trip can degenerate quickly because things move so slowly. En route to Spain on Monday morning, every security channel was open, but progress was so slow that I had 25 minutes to observe the six degrees of desperation, Stansted-style.

The first degree of desperation is that slightly breathless search for the shortest line, with frowning passengers calculating which queue offers the best prospects (and perhaps deploying some amateur profiling along the lines of: "They look like business travellers, so they won't hold us up").

Degree number two: jumping the queue. Passengers booked on the earliest wave of flights soon began imploring travellers with less urgent deadlines to let them sneak through to the front of the queue, with resulting bad-tempered "My need is more pressing than yours" confrontations.

The third degree of desperation is displayed by the passenger who removes almost every loose item that he or she is wearing, from spectacles to shoes, aiming to ensure that the metal detector will not be triggered. Murphy's Law means that the alarm will probably sound anyway, because a certain number of "clean" passengers are randomly selected for a search. Deeper degrees of desperation begin when your bag is picked out to be hand-searched.

The fourth level of anguish arrives with the realisation that, at the current rate of progress, that bag will stay tantalisingly out of reach for another 15 minutes. "Can you please search my bag first?" asked one anxious woman. "If you miss your flight, you can rebook," was the security official's robotic response.

If you reach the fifth degree of desperation, at least you will travel light: it's when you abandon your possessions to the security staff. While I watched and waited, at least two people decided that catching their flight was worth more than their cabin baggage, and simply left it behind.

Having waited until the last moment to make this decision, they then provide, spectacularly, the sixth degree of desperation: the Stansted sprinters. These are the people who had arrived at the airport well ahead of the latest check-in time, yet who end up racing through the terminal in the hope that the "latest time at gate" on their boarding pass is not enforced.

Why, I pondered, was the pre-dawn peak at Stansted moving so painfully? The cause appeared to be... plastic bags. The airport used to deploy staff just ahead of the security queue to hand out the regulation resealable clear plastic pouches for liquids. Not any more. Passengers missed planes because security staff were devoting precious minutes to finding infractions to the rules on sealability and transparency, then suggesting the passenger return to the concourse, buy a regulation plastic bag and join the end of the queue. There were no takers.

You may not get wafted to paradise from Luton

Other airports are available instead, such as nearby Luton - which has recently introduced holograms to speed up security controls. A dummy (looking suspiciously like a prototype inflatable stewardess) reminds you to pack your liquids into that clear plastic bag.

But shortly after I made the plane to Spain by the skin of my dientes, I received this message from Holker O'Conner: "I missed a flight with my family yesterday as we spent an hour and a quarter in the security line at Luton. There were only two lanes open. Staff wouldn't let anyone through more quickly unless they went out to pay for fast-track priority. Even this was nigh-impossible due to the pressure of people waiting. When we reached the gate the plane was still there, but Ryanair would not let us board. At least 18 other people were denied boarding with us. Some advice, please?"

Sorry, Holker. All I can suggest is that you choose an alternative airport/airline combination next time. If enough people do the same thing, then life for future passengers may improve.


Europa.eu Online - 7 April 2011

The European Commission has launched a public consultation, to get stakeholders' views on the application of the 2005 EU Guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines from regional airports. The Commission also seeks views on the 1994 EU Aviation Guidelines that also contain rules for the assessment of social and restructuring aid for airlines. Submissions can be made until 6 June 2011. In light of the comments received, the Commission will decide, whether the guidelines need to be revised and will consult further before adopting any new rules.

"The air transport market has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Gathering information from the market, from consumers and from Member States is a vital first step for us to assess whether the guidelines published in 1994 and 2005 remain appropriate for the market conditions of today or need to be changed and how. I hope as many people as possible respond to this consultation," said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.

In 1994, in the context of the liberalisation of the market for air transport services, the Commission adopted the first EU Aviation Guidelines, which contain provisions for assessing social and restructuring aid to airlines in order to provide a level playing field for air carriers. They were completed, in 2005, by guidelines on the public financing of airports and on the start up of airline services from regional airports. Since the entry into force of the 2005 Guidelines, the Commission has adopted more than 60 decisions concerning the financing of airports, airlines and start-up aid for the financing of new routes.

The air transport market has evolved dramatically in recent years: low-cost carriers have developed new and comprehensive business models linked to regional airports and have gained substantial market shares. At the same time, the former national carriers have almost all completed their restructuring process, consolidating their presence in Europe. In a recent landmark ruling, the General Court has confirmed that the construction of airport infrastructure is part of the economic activity of operating an airport and that State financing towards it is State aid except for what concerns infrastructure used to perform public interest tasks such as security, air traffic control, police and customs (see General Court's judgement on 23 March in the DHL-Leipzig-Halle airport Commission decision of July 2008). However, the General Court in December 2008 also annulled the Commission's decision in the Ryanair-Charleroi case.

The Commission has a significant number of complaints in the sector from the former flag carriers against the low-cost airlines, on the one hand, and from the latter against the former, on the other hand. The purpose of the present consultation is, thus, to invite Member States and stakeholders to provide feedback on the application of the 1994 and 2005 Aviation Guidelines. The Commission is particularly interested to receive information about the changes in the business models of airlines and airports and recent developments concerning the financing of infrastructure and start-up aid to airlines. The Commission will analyse the submissions received before deciding to what extent changes to the current rules are necessary and, if appropriate, come forward with a proposal for revised Aviation Guidelines by 2012.Neither of the EU Guidelines has an expiry clause, but in view of the significant market changes that have taken place in the last decade, the Commission has initiated this review process.


Letters - Financial Times - 7 April 2011

Sir, Jeff Smisek, chief executive of the newly merged United and Continental Airlines, balks at the thought of paying his share of the estimated ?1.1bn cost of the aviation sector joining the European Union's emissions trading scheme from next year ("United warns EU on carbon rule", April 4).

Let's do a quick sum. If you divide ?1.1bn by the 90bn litres of kerosene that fall under the scheme, you get 1.2 cents a litre. That is 40 times less per litre than the 48 cents tax road transport pays, on average, for petrol and diesel in the EU. As aviation currently pays no fuel tax, no value added tax on tickets and nothing for its climate impact (which is 5 per cent of the global total according to the latest science, not the 1-2 per cent figure the FT quoted), the sector is getting the deal of the century. But amazingly, Mr Smisek wants an even better one and is willing (along with other US, and Chinese airlines) to go to court to get it.

In an age when governments everywhere are in need of new sources of revenue, Mr Smisek might reconsider whether drawing further attention to his industry's massive tax subsidy is such a smart plan.

Bill Hemmings
International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation
Brussels, Belgium


London Daily News - 7 April 2011

Former minister for London Nick Raynsford (LAB) and former Transport Secretary Bernard Jenkin (CON) have added their names to the growing list of supporters for a new airport to be built on the Thames Estuary, with a letter in The Times today.

A Thames airport could provide four runways to compete directly with Frankfurt, Charles de Gaulle and Schipol.

Refuting the claims that train travel times to the proposed airport on the Thames estuary would be longer than going to Heathrow, Jenkin and Raynsford said: "The Thames Estuary proposal which would be only 8 minutes further by rail from the City of London than Heathrow, and far better placed rail connections to North Europe."

The Conservative party ran a campaign pre-election of opposing a third runway at Heathrow, something they have consistently advocated with the refusal to grant permission to BAA the owners of Heathrow permission to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport is used by over 90 airlines which fly to 170 destinations worldwide with 67 million annual passengers, 11% travel to UK destinations, 43% are short-haul international travellers and 46% are long-haul. Heathrow has been ranked 99th out of 146 leading airports in the world in terms of passenger satisfaction behind airports in India and other countries in the third world.

OUR COMMENT: A very persistent "Pie in the Sky"! In spite of the evidence against the whole project the idea still persists - we wonder why!

Pat Dale


We must heed the lesson of their loss, says Robert Chesshyre

Katie Linsell - The Independent - 7 April 2011

When the Coalition Government scrapped Heathrow airport's proposed third runway (R3), there was, naturally, much rejoicing in the village of Sipson. For this was the community that had been doomed to be bulldozed to make way for the concrete and asphalt. A "victory" party was thrown in the King William IV pub. After years of anxiety, villagers - in a campaign that made national headlines - had won a famous victory. The village had been "saved". Or had it?

Visit Sipson now and talk to the people, especially those who run local businesses, and you would not be so sure. The euphoria has evaporated, leaving all too evidently the blight that 10 years ago - when Sipson was earmarked for destruction - first settled over the village's terraced cottages and small estates. Village enterprises, the heart of the community, are struggling, hanging on by the thinnest of threads. And thus far, they, unlike Sipson's home owners, have not been offered compensation by the British Airports Authority (BAA).

What happens when a news story "dies" is often as interesting as what happened when the story was plastered across every paper. This is true of Sipson, unlucky enough to lie one mile from Heathrow and used to hovering on the verge of extinction much as a community that perches beneath a volcano might.

Sipson is no chocolate-box village; no Midsomer Murders episodes would be set here. It straddles a busy road parallel to the motorway spur linking the M4 to Heathrow. But despite its nearness to London's major airport, the village is untroubled by aircraft noise as it lies to the north and planes take off east and west. And with its pub, school, shops and once-strong community, it was a happy home to a community with roots deep in Middlesex's agricultural past.

I got to know the village and its inhabitants during the "stop R3" campaign - among them Jack Clark, who died recently aged 97, who had ploughed the land by horse, taken farm produce to Covent Garden by steam engine, and poached rabbits where the jets now roar. He symbolised the village and its fight.

I left supposing that Sipson would then enjoy the well-earned fruits of its hard-fought campaign. That is, until I had an email from Jackie Clark, Jack's granddaughter, a child of the village, a hairdresser and once a doughty fighter against the encroaching airport. All is far from well, she said, it was a hollow victory: the population is leaving in droves and businesses are hurting badly.

Recession is savaging many communities: was Sipson afflicted by anything other than present hard times? Had the threat of obliteration left worse scars than are being suffered elsewhere? I returned to find out.

Sipson Village Garden Centre owner Ian Stevenson once employed more than 30 staff - today, he has six and fears that he may be forced to close (he can't sell for much more than his stock is worth); King William IV landlord Shaun Walters made a derisory £4,000 "profit" last year, paid himself nothing for eight months and survived on savings; Jackie's hairdressing customers faded away - her husband and partner, Danny, is job-hunting; butcher Gerald Storr, standing by an empty meat cabinet, says that, after 30 years, it is "touch and go" whether he continues.

In the post office-cum-general store, Jagjit Daurka tells me sadly that his custom is vanishing, down by a quarter and falling fast. After half a working life in Sipson, he is stuck. Who would want to buy a dying concern?

Even the parish church - St Mary the Virgin, an 11th-century foundation in the next village of Harmondsworth - has been sorely hit. It has lost a third of its 150-strong congregation - those who lived in Sipson - and with them their commitment and their revenue. Church income is down from £49,000 two years ago to a likely £34,000 this year. The parish can no longer afford to pay its previous £2,000-a-month commitment to the Church of England "Common Fund".

The irony is that the Sipson "crunch" stems from a property bond scheme devised by Heathrow's owners, BAA, to ensure that villagers received fair prices for their homes. It was activated before the decision to scrap R3 was taken, and - despite the decision not to proceed with the runway - many Sipsonites took advantage of the offer and smartly moved away.

Jackie Clark says that there are 548 postal addresses in the village, of which 300 were eligible for the bond scheme (the other residents were not owner-occupiers); BAA bought 260 of these. The people who departed were families, people with good jobs, and those with the deepest roots. They seized the opportunity to start again. It was they who had best patronised local business.

The houses bought by BAA have not been sold, but let on short leases. As a result, I am told, few incomers are the steady families ready to commit to the village that Sipson requires to heal its wounds. Shaun Walters says: "The new people are not the 'right' new people." By which he means that they do not have the village culture (including having a pint in the pub) of those who have departed.

Sipson residents have never been anti-Heathrow (many of them down the years have earned their living at the airport), but they have had to live with the threat of obliteration and to take promises of no further expansion with a pinch of salt. Older villagers recall attending protest meetings against a third runway in 1949, not long after Heathrow was opened. And the breaking of the pledge, given at the time of the Terminal 5 inquiry in 1996, that BAA would seek no further expansion is etched deep into the collective village memory.

Until the recent exodus, villagers would, Gerald Storr says, cluster outside his butcher's shop on Saturday mornings to exchange village news. Mr Daurka recalls "a lovely village when we came 22 years ago. Now it is going downhill all the time". Senior citizens who decades ago played together in the village school gossiped with their familiars as they went about their weekend shopping.

Jackie Clark embodies the kind of person David Cameron must have in mind when he extols the virtues of a "Big Society". She has a fierce loyalty to the village where she was born, describing it as "the centre of the universe". Certainly, with Heathrow, the M4 and the M25 on the doorstep, one can travel easily from Sipson to most places home and abroad. Trained in the hairdressing salon at an airport hotel, she showed her faith in Sipson's future by opening her business when it seemed highly likely that the community was finished.

However, when R3 was cancelled, Jackie was a notable absentee from the celebration party in the King William IV. She did not share the assumption - embraced by the media - that all would be well.

She and her ex-soldier husband, Danny, had invested their savings in an empty shop, and the village rallied round; the local MP, John McDonnell - a staunch ally in the battle by Jackie and other traders to get compensation - opened "Hair by Jackie" and returns to the village to have his own haircuts. A methodical woman, Jackie now measures her salon's decline by the growing list she keeps of customers who have taken the BAA offer and moved away.

BAA's decision to keep the houses persuades many that the company is simply waiting for another opportunity to build R3, a suggestion that BAA dismisses as "absolutely wrong". McDonnell accuses BAA of being "happy" to see Sipson businesses fail. "That helps the decline in village life, making the remaining homes easy pickings for any future purchases they may wish to make," he said.

Unlike the traders, McDonnell believes that R3 will never happen. "It is dead and gone, but the blight continues and BAA is responsible." In January, he joined a delegation to the company, and wrote to the airport authority spelling out the local dismay over the people likely to take up short lets and the plight of the traders. If BAA doesn't play ball, he will approach the Government.

On the morning when I visit five businesses, I meet just three customers. Gerald Storr no longer arrives early, and he often shuts up shop by 3pm due to lack of custom. He sees no future for his "old-fashioned butcher's shop". Ian Stevenson opened his garden centre in 1985, and grew it into one of the most thriving in greater west London. Other garden centres flourish, but he has lost - along with his departed staff - £1.2m in turnover. Under the R3 threat, villagers had no incentive to maintain gardens, returf lawns or build decking.

What further angers Stevenson is that even though BAA is now renovating properties, it does not use local firms. Others have helped his business: the district valuer has reduced the rates, and his landlord has granted a rent "holiday". However, Stevenson says: "I still can't see how we can survive."

When Shaun Walters opens the King William, we talk for 30 minutes, and he serves just one drinker. Walters tells of departed families who once spent up to £200 a week in the pub on food and drink. There is no one in Jackie's hair salon early this morning. BAA has argued that recession is responsible for the traders' plight, but Clark responds that in hard times, people have their hair done to keep up morale. Her losses - a quarter of her income - are explained by the departing clientele, not recession, she argues. She can just about pay the bills.

She blames no one who left Sipson - for many, the BAA offer was too good to refuse. She does blame BAA for failing to restore the village to its former health and, thus far, for not compensating her and her fellow traders.

The lessons of Sipson have a national significance; they are the lessons that those on the proposed route of the high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham are starting to learn. Big infrastructure projects create blight from the moment they are first mooted, and, even if a project is abandoned, the doleful legacy may linger long after the spotlight has moved away.

My last Sipson visit is to St Mary's. As the vicar, the Rev Amatu Christian-Iwuagwu, and his church wardens explain their difficulties, cracks in the centuries-old church fabric loom above. I am shown where water poured on to wedding guests from a leak caused by theft of roof lead. St Mary's survives, just about and for now, on the faith and energy of its diminished flock.

BAA said: "We take our responsibility as landlord very seriously... we are keen to ensure that thriving village life is maintained, and are doing our best to support Sipson as a vibrant and viable village. It is in our interests as a major local landlord." That is an optimistic take on Sipson's future, but it is rejected by many who so recently partied in celebration of their deliverance from R3.

Towns on the edge

* Residents living near Stansted airport, Essex, rallied to protect towns and hamlets such as Bamber's Green from demolition when a second runway was proposed in 2005. The Stop Stansted Expansion group opposed the demolition of 40 historic buildings and ancient trees in the area. Stansted withdrew its application for a second runway in May last year.

* The new high-speed train route proposed to run from London to Birmingham will threaten many Buckinghamshire towns, according to the Amersham Society conservation group. The route will cut across ancient forest and risk disruption to old, picturesque villages such as Chalfont St Giles, Old Amersham and Great Missenden.

* Imber on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, has been uninhabited since 1943, when it was converted into an exercise area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe in the Second World War. After the war, Imber remained under the control of the Ministry of Defence and residents were not permitted to return, despite continual attempts. Now, it makes an eerie tourist attraction, opened a few days a year for tours.

OUR COMMENT: A Sad Tale of Airport Blight, once it happens, can there ever be recovery?

Pat Dale


Saffron Walden Reporter - 7 April 2011

LONDON STANSTED Airport has added another award to its growing portfolio this week having been awarded an 'Air Cargo Award of Excellence'.

Voted for by airlines, each airport is rated on performance, value, facilities and regulatory operations. Stansted's overall score meant they came second in the category of European airports that handle between 100,000 and 299,999 tonnes of cargo a year, and the leading UK airport in the category.

Speaking about the latest award, the airport's Managing Director Nick Barton said: "We're extremely proud to receive this 'Air Cargo Award of Excellence', which is even more important because it's voted for by our airline partners."

"Stansted has a worldwide reputation as a cargo hub. Movement of freight is vital to supporting the growth of economies and with more than 200,000 tonnes of cargo transported through here each year, we're proud of our position as the second largest London Airport for cargo operations."

"We're not complacent and will continue to work alongside our airline partners to ensure we maintain the high standards set and provide the most modern facilities possible to support our cargo operators."

For details on cargo operations at London Stansted Airport visit www.stanstedairport.com/cargo.

OUR COMMENT: Check too the noise levels and times of arrival and departure and spare a thought for local residents woken at night by the larger cargo planes!

Pat Dale

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