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 - January to March 2013


Hacan Press Release - 24 March 2013

Campaign group HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths, has described the Government's new aviation strategy, released on Friday 22nd March, as 'disappointing'.

The strategy sets out overall Government policy on aviation. It replaces the 2013 Air Transport White Paper published by the previous Labour Government. The new policy will provide the framework for the Airports Commission which the Government set up last year under Sir Howard Davies. It has been asked to make recommendations about how much extra airport capacity may be needed in the coming decades so that the UK can remain well connected to the rest of the world.

One of the main objectives of the new strategy will be "to ensure that the UK's air links continue to make it one of the best connected countries in the world" so that "the UK can compete successfully for economic growth opportunities." The Government also stresses that it wants to "ensure that the aviation sector makes a significant and cost-effective contribution towards reducing global emissions" and that the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise is limited and where possible reduced. It does not, though, set noise or climate change targets.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, "The aviation strategy is very disappointing. It will permit growth without any clear targets to limit its noise and climate change impacts. Without such targets there is no guarantee that people or the planet will be protected."


Ian Taylor - Travel Weekly Online - 25 March 2013

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) welcomed publication of the government's aviation policy strategy at the end of last week.

The government's Aviation Policy Framework, published on Friday, replaces the 2003 Air Transport White Paper which set out the previous government's aviation strategy. The new paper avoids the issue of airport capacity in the south east, leaving this to the Davies Commission which is not due to report fully until 2015.

However, AOA chief executive Darren Caplan said: "We are pleased to see a clear recognition that aviation needs to grow. We welcome the government's confirmation that one of its main objectives is to ensure that the UK's air links continue to make it one of the best-connected countries in the world." Caplan added: "We need a policy framework which recognises the importance of aviation."

The Framework document suggests a number of ways to improve existing airport capacity ahead of the Davies Commission making recommendations. These include the aim to "make better use of existing runway capacity through liberalising the UK aviation market to encourage foreign airlines to develop routes from less-congested airports". The document also suggests encouraging the operators of the UK's busiest airports "to consider how scarce capacity might be utilised more effectively".

The Framework commits the government and industry "to limit and reduce where possible the number of people significantly affected by airport noise". However, proposals put forward by the previous transport secretary Justine Greening to impose stricter thresholds on aircraft noise no longer appear. Instead, the Framework proposes implementing "noise envelopes" around airports which would allow an increase in the number of aircraft movements in proportion to the use of quieter, more up-to-date aircraft.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin launched the Framework strategy saying: "The UK is one of the best-connected countries in the world. But if we want to maintain our premier league status we need an aviation sector that is equipped to face the challenges of the 21st Century."


Heathrow says Department for Transport incorrectly assumes
overspill of passengers can pass through other British airports

Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 22 March 2013

Heathrow has warned the Davies commission that government forecasts for aviation demand are flawed and that the case for a four-runway hub may never materialise. In a submission to the commission considering the case for expanding airport capacity, Heathrow said the Department for Transport incorrectly assumes that passengers who cannot be accommodated at the London hub will pass through other British airports.

Instead, Heathrow claims, much business will be lost to overseas hubs such as Dubai and Istanbul, which operate on a similar model for long-haul routes and transfer traffic.

The airport states that the passenger demand case for a third runway is clear and present now - marking a slight change of tack for Heathrow. Chief executive Colin Matthews has been reticent in spelling out its objective so baldly during recent lobbying. The airport reiterated that the "hub capacity constraint" brought by its cancelled third runway is having a "damaging impact on connectivity" and "lost trade opportunities" that the UK may never get back.

The government has published its delayed aviation policy framework paper, eagerly anticipated by the sector before the question of airport expansion was hived off to the Davies commission. The transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said it "strikes the right balance between allowing the aviation industry to thrive while minimising impacts on the environment and local communities". However, proposals published in the draft paper last year by his predecessor, Justine Greening, to impose stricter thresholds on aircraft noise aligned with the rest of Europe, no longer appear.


Oliver Clark - Routes News Online - 27 March 2013

There is "broad support" among business and local government for extending fifth freedom rights to all of London airports and easing bilateral restrictions, but the general public is more sceptical, responses to the Government's aviation policy consultation have revealed.

Of 126 businesses including airlines and association and local government, respondents to the Government's Draft Aviation Policy Framework consultation report, 43% supported the idea of allowing foreign airlines to fly from Stansted, Gatwick and Luton to countries other than their home states, with 28% opposed. Among the reasons given in support included the better use of existing infrastructure, a belief it would increase competition and "encourage new routes".

However, views among the general public, who were counted by the separately in the report, were more cautious, with 42 against the idea and only 33 in favour.

Currently only Heathrow enjoys fifth freedom within the South East. There was also support for liberalising the UK's bilateral regime, to allow foreign carriers to operate to regional airports without reciprocal access for UK-based carriers, with 49.3% of businesses and government in support and 18.5% against. However support from the public was more lukewarm, with only 39 in favour, 24 against and 38 holding neither view.

The framework will form the basis of the Government's future aviation strategy in all areas expect airport capacity in the South East, which is being investigated by the Davis Commission. Its goals include opening up access to the airports outside the South East to bilateral partners without reciprocal agreements on a case by case basis, and investigating the practicalities of installing US pre-clearance facilities at UK airports.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 21 March 2013

GOOD news about Stansted has been lost in translation for years, but the airport's new managing director Andrew Harrison is determined to communicate a positive message.

Passenger numbers have been in decline from 2007's high of almost 24m and, since the start of the decade, the Uttlesford low-cost base has been mired in uncertainty over its ownership. Reversing its fortunes and the public's perception is a mighty task, but one the new boss is undaunted by. After studying French, German and Italian he decided to take a degree in Japanese at Sheffield University. The Bradford-born 40-year-old said: "The thing that runs through me is I like a challenge - which is why I did Japanese."

At the start of this month Stansted was snapped up by Manchester Airports Group for 1.5bn. Mr Harrison, then chief operating officer of the whole group with overall responsibility for the northern flagship, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, became the guardian of the southern acquisition. "This is the most important thing we have ever done - it effectively doubles the size of our group in one fell swoop. I feel responsibility from the MAG point of view, but I also feel responsibility to the people who work here - and the community that we live with - to do a good job for them. This is a real opportunity to step up and create a new future for Stansted."

He is already impressed by the layout of the airport - describing it as the best facility in the UK in a great location - and has identified the "characterful staff" as a real asset. For those who feared job losses after the takeover he said: "We have an opportunity to grow the airport and we want this to be a growth story. We want to create an airport that people are proud to work in and that local people are proud to say 'that's our airport'. That will mean raising our game in lots of areas and trying to compete and be not the biggest, but the best airport in London."

His aim now is to halt the decline in traffic and deliver a much-needed boost. "When you put everything together, you have the makings of a brilliant airport - but what it does lack is a bit of sparkle."

Describing the airport as "utilitarian", his plans centre on improving the passenger experience with better retail and car parking - his two specialist subjects - and he has 230m in his war chest over the next five years for maintenance and upgrades. He will be drawing on his retail expertise, honed by nine years with Marks and Spencer and recognised with a gold award from the British Council of Shopping Centres for his work at Manchester Airport in a bid to woo new business.

And he said reviewing the unpopular terminal set-down and pick-up arrangements was already in his "in tray" and would be looked at as part of his task of making the airport more attractive to passengers across the South East, where he feels Stansted has punched below its weight. "Other airports in London have got a bad reputation. Stansted is actually neither good nor bad. It is therefore a blank canvas. We want it to be a bit more exciting and we have all the raw materials to do that."

While he was keen to stress that controversial Irish budget airline Ryanair, which currently accounts for 70 per cent of Stansted's traffic, will continue to be an important part of his vision, Manchester is served by many more carriers and he would look to capitalise on those relationships with the aim of restoring long-haul flights from the Essex base "as part of our longer-term plans". He said: "While we are talking to them about Manchester we can be talking to them about Stansted."

He looked forward to a future without the competition and conflicts which held the business back in the past as part of a group with Heathrow and Gatwick. "When you look at our group, Manchester and Stansted do not overlap - so we can complement. What we want is for Stansted to stand on its own two feet."

He was undaunted by the current economic turmoil in Europe, which has often been blamed for Stansted's faltering fortunes and will be looking closer to home for the solution. "When we look at the catchment area, we are probably under-represented in terms of the growth we have seen. It's pretty unusual that an airport with this catchment would have 50 per cent of its capacity untapped. We just need to reflect what people want." While restoring Stansted's traffic to 2007 levels is his five-year aim, he was clear MAG had not looked further - to the fraught issue of a second runway, despite recent political rumblings. The renewed debate on South East expansion has run along side Stansted's sale. Mr Harrison said: "It started during the process but we did not allow ourselves to be sidetracked."

He stressed new infrastructure was part of a national debate and he is focused on building good relationships with both the neighbouring community and local businesses to kick start Stansted first and foremost. After getting to know his team, meeting with local authorities and MPs are high on his agenda for the next few weeks. He said: "I want to listen to what is important to them."

Then he will be looking at how the community work MAG does in its northern stronghold - such as employment and education initiatives - can be remodelled in the South where needs may be different. He said: "Even if the format does not necessarily translate, that principle of trying to find a way to engage with the community does. We really want to understand how we can engage in realistic programmes which add value to the community."

The married father of three said: "We want to be an airport of community and be seen as part of the community, rather than something that sits in the community but does not engage."

OUR COMMENT: The community will need to explain to Mr Harrison that there are very real problems for those who live round airports, noise being the most worrying. He also needs to remember that Stansted is surrounded by much still un-spoilt countryside and ancient forest. He has a duty to ensure that this environment is not imperiled by the airport's activities or by future expansion.

Pat Dale


Andrew Parker - Finacial Times - 22 March 2013

Ministers are planning measures that could increase the number of aircraft flying in and out of airports by encouraging airlines to buy quieter jets.

The government's aviation policy framework, published on Friday, said it would develop proposals for "noise envelopes" - arrangements under which airlines could increase the number of aircraft flying into an airport, as long as they are modern jets and quieter than their predecessors. Ministers' acceptance in the report of the need for aviation growth was welcomed by the industry, but environmental campaigners criticised the government for deferring a decision on whether to include airlines in targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, ministers set up a commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the CBI employers' body and the Financial Services Authority, to consider the case for building new runways in southeast England because London's Heathrow airport is operating at near to its full capacity. Heathrow is Europe's noisiest airport, with regulators deeming that 725,000 living under its flightpaths are affected by noise from aircraft - and this has held back expansion. However, the Davies commission is planning to consider the case for additional runways at Heathrow as well as proposals for a hub airport in the Thames estuary that have been championed by Boris Johnson, London's mayor.

The Department for Transport is to ask the Civil Aviation Authority to develop the concept of noise envelopes this year, so that these arrangements could be put in place alongside any new runways in the southeast. "The aim is to allow growth in [aircraft] movements [at an airport] in return for a reduction in overall noise emitted over time as aircraft get quieter," said the transport department.

The CAA in 2011 floated the idea of allowing airlines to increase the number of aircraft flying into an airport if the noise generated by next generation jets did not exceed the din from a smaller number of older models. For example, Airbus' A380 superjumbo, launched in 2007, is markedly quieter than Boeing's 747, which first entered commercial service in 1970.

The aviation policy framework meanwhile hinted that proposals for a new hub in the Thames estuary - which has protected marshland habitat - could struggle to secure ministerial support. The report said the government would only advocate a hub that involved a loss of protected habitats or species "if there were no feasible alternatives and the benefits of proposals clearly outweighed those impacts".

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: "We are pleased to see a clear recognition by [Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary] that aviation needs to grow." WWF, an environmental group, said the aviation policy framework was a "charter for growth" that overstated the need for new airport capacity.


BBC News - 29 March 2013

A new study suggests students at schools under the Heathrow airport flight path take two months longer to develop their reading skills than other children.

Researchers from the University of London looked at the effect of noise on concentration levels of pupils at 40 schools in west London. A Heathrow airport spokesman said: "We know aircraft noise can disturb people living under the flight path which is why we offer a variety of schemes to reduce the impact of noise. We encourage airlines to fly only their quietest aircraft into Heathrow by charging airlines more for noisier aircraft and spend an average of 100,000 on noise insulation for schools which are eligible."

BBC London's Marc Webber spoke to Katherine Harper, head teacher at Heathrow Heath Infants School and councillor Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council.

Climate Change - more controls needed?


Huge jump in coal use in power stations prompts rise
Scotland renewables production hits record levels

Damian Carrington and Severin Carrell - The Guardian - 28 March 2013

The UK's emissions of climate-warming gases surged in 2012 as cheap coal replaced gas in power stations, official data revealed on Thursday.

However, 2012 was a record year for renewable energy in Scotland, which produced enough electricity to power all of its homes. Fergus Ewing, the Scottish energy minister, said his government was now on track to meet its target of generating the equivalent of 50% of Scotland's own electricity needs by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

The UK's carbon dioxide emissions rose by 4.5% from 2011-12, with coal use in power stations jumping by 31%. Coal prices have dropped significantly as the US has exported the coal it no longer needs at home due to the shale gas boom. Another factor is that many of the UK's coal-fired power stations must close soon, due to European pollution regulations, meaning they have been using up their allotted hours. The gas used in power stations dropped by 31%.

But there was a jump in the gas used to heat homes due to a cold last quarter of 2012, which the department for energy and climate change said had been 2.3C colder than Q4 2011. The cold weather in the UK in recent weeks led to gas reserve levels falling to just two days worth, with the price spiking as a result.

Emissions rose in the business sector, despite the UK's flatlining economy. But pollution from transport - a quarter of all emissions - fell by 1.2%. Overall, the UK's emissions remain about 20% lower than in 1990, largely due to gas replacing coal and some industry moving manufacturing abroad. The statistics also showed that UK imports of energy were higher in 2012 than for several decades.

"Emissions are now 26% lower than 1990, meaning we're on track to meet our legally binding targets," said energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey. "But the line on the graph is unlikely to be totally straight, as factors such as the weather and fluctuations in the precise energy mix vary the picture from one year to the next. The UK's continued shift to low carbon will be accelerated by the green deal to help householders overhaul their properties, and by our energy bill's reforms to the electricity market to bring on investment in renewables, new nuclear and CCS."

Nick Molho, head of energy policy at WWF-UK, said: "The government's role on energy is threefold: ensuring energy security, keeping bills down and decarbonising our energy system. These statistics are worrying, because they show that the UK is going the wrong way in all these areas. Increased reliance on fossil fuel imports is the main problem we face and the sad thing is that it's government policies, notably driven by the Treasury, that are causing this."

Kathy Cumming at Greenpeace said: "These figures show the 'greenest government ever' is failing in its bid to shift the UK to a low-carbon economy. The two best things it could do in order to redeem itself are support Tim Yeo's energy bill amendment, which would remove carbon from the electricity sector by 2030, and put an end to coal burning."

The statistics came out on the day that energy minister John Hayes - an outspoken opponent of onshore wind farms - was moved out of the department. His replacement, Michael Fallon, will also retain his post at the department of business, which some stakeholders hope will mean the coalition doing more to boost investor confidence in the energy sector, which needs 110bn by 2020.

In Scotland, renewable energy output has continued to grow markedly, hitting a new record of 14,600Gwh in 2012, up by 7% on the previous year. Windfarm output was four times greater than in 2006. Scottish wind and hydro schemes generated 35% of the UK's total renewables output in 2012, and that - averaged out across the year - provided enough green electricity for every home in Scotland.

"It was another record year for renewables in Scotland," Ewing said. "Scotland also contributed more than a third of the entire UK's renewables output, demonstrating just how important a role our renewable resource is playing in terms of helping the UK meet its binding EU renewable energy targets."

The industry body Scottish Renewables said 1.5bn had been invested in renewables in Scotland last year - more than double the spending in 2011 - but there are doubts within the industry and among investors about whether the 100% target can be achieved. Hitting that target will rely heavily on expensive and technically challenging large offshore windpower schemes; there is much less capacity for larger onshore schemes.

The Scottish government is under intensifying pressure from environment and climate campaigners to improve its CO2 emissions reduction and climate strategies, after admitting it had failed to meet its 2010 reduction target. The UK's official committee on climate change said the very cold winter in 2010 was largely to blame for the missed target, but Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said the government would miss its targets for several years to come because its climate strategies were too weak.

The Scottish government's targets are highly dependent on the EU increasing its CO2 reduction targets from 20% to 30%, but that is not expected before 2016. While anxious to champion energy investment, Scottish ministers are very reluctant to target motorists or cut road building, and are accused of under-investing in home insulation and low-carbon motoring.


Rose Jacobs - Financial Times - 28 February 2013

Charlie Cornish is determined to return passenger numbers at Stansted to pre-recession levels over the next five years - or at least get close. Whether he eventually wants those travellers taking off from one runway or two is another question.

The chief executive of Manchester Airports Group on Thursday completed his 1.5bn purchase of London's third biggest airport by passenger numbers - a ranking the facility still keeps despite an annual traffic fall of more than a quarter since 2007, to slightly more than 17m passengers a year.

Mr Cornish blames that fall as much on increased landing charges as the wider economy, and plans to "enter into commercial discussions with airlines" promptly. "Our strategy will be geared around incentivising growth," he says, laying out a 2018 passenger target of 22.5m.

In the near term, the growth strategy will be based firmly on Stansted's historic customer base: the point-to-point leisure traveller with a budget airline ticket to a European destination. But MAG - which also owns Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports - hopes eventually to attract a wider variety of carriers and their customers, including those flying long-distance routes and offering first and business-class cabins.

Mr Cornish believes Stansted's catchment area, within a two-hour drive of the airport, will support that richer mix. But he is reluctant to push for a bigger catchment, via either investment in the train link to central London - to shorten journey times - or a pitch for Stansted becoming a hub airport rather than, or in addition to, Heathrow, whose parent company sold Stansted.

Those ideas, he says, would need instead to be backed by the Davies commission, the independent team asked by prime minister David Cameron to look into airport capacity in the south-east of England. And while MAG will be submitting material to the commission, its current position is the one formulated before it won Stansted: that regional airports can be part of the solution.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair and thereby Stansted's biggest customer, has stronger opinions. He argued last year that London needed three new runways, and predicted the first would be built at Stansted, the second at Heathrow and the third at Gatwick. Of a second Stansted runway, Mr Cornish says: "At this stage, it would be difficult to rule it in or out."

His plans for the airport's retail space and parking are more concrete. At the moment the security barrier for departing passengers bisects the terminal lengthwise. MAG plans to move it closer to the entry doors - because check-in desks need less space in the era of print-at-home tickets - creating more space for shopping and dining after security.

That change will be part of 40m the company has devoted to improving retail over the next two years. Plans are also afoot to introduce first or business-class car parks, and to benefit from being part of a group of airports by co-ordinating the facilities' supply chains.

His lack of ambition for big-ticket projects will be a relief to airlines, which fund airport improvements through take-off and landing fees. "Stansted is a well-invested airport," he says. "It's a fairly simple airport. It doesn't need a lot of capital expenditure in the next 10 to 20 years."

To fund the Stansted acquisition, MAG struck a deal with Industry Funds Management of Australia in which the Australian group will buy into MAG, taking a 35.5 per cent equity stake and 50 per cent of voting rights.

That dilutes the holdings and voting rights of Manchester City Council and nine other local councils, from 55 per cent to 35 per cent in the case of Manchester City Council's equity stake, and from 45 to 30 per cent for the other councils. Manchester will keep a 50 per cent voting share, while the other councils will give up their voting rights.

Mr Cornish says he expects IFM, which holds stakes in nine Australian airports, to be a supportive partner with a similar investment philosophy. It will have two representatives on the board, which will "in many respects... have a governance structure similar to a [publicly listed company], with a rich mix of executives".

Board support might be particularly useful when dealing with customers such as Ryanair. The airline said on Thursday that it planned to shrink its traffic into and out of Stansted by 9 per cent this year, in retaliation for a fare rise that had been proposed by the airport's former owner.


Simona Sikimic - Londonlobesbusiness Online - 1 March 2013

Stansted's new owners today pledged to launch a war on Heathrow and Gatwick, in a bid to lure passengers from London's two main airports.

Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which purchased the Essex airport for 1.5bn earlier this year wants to see the airport transformed from the bastion of budget airlines into a desired destination for trans-continental carriers.

They would like to see passenger numbers double to 35 million by introducing 40 new long haul destinations and sinking 40m on a terminal refurbishment scheme aimed at attracting new restaurants and retailers.

MAG estimates that 50 million people live within two hours' drive of the airport and that it could easily mop up the expected growth in travel demand. The group, however, has dispelled suggestions that it will build a new runway, saying this was "not a priority". This flies in the face of London Mayor Boris Johnson's suggestions that the Essex airport could be turned into a travel super hub, to alleviate London's growing air travel problems.

MAG purchased Stansted after Heathrow owner BAA was forced by the regulator to sell up to create more competition in the market. Since then low budget carrier Ryanair has cut the number of flights and passengers from Stansted by around 9% daily, with one million less people using the airport each year.


Insidermedia Online - 14 March 2013

The head of assets at Manchester Airport Group (MAG) said the 1.5bn deal to buy Stansted was "just the start" of its expansion plans.

Speaking at international property conference MIPIM in Cannes, Andrew Cliffe, managing director for assets at MAG, added that Manchester Airport was looking to pass through the 20 million passenger barrier during 2013.

MAG, which also owns Bournemouth and East Midlands airports, completed the deal with Stansted in February following an agreement to sell 35.5 per cent of its shares to Australian investor Industry Funds Management. The group is majority owned by the ten local authorities of Greater Manchester.

Cliffe said: "The Stansted deal's great for us but this is just the start. It's been a successful 12 months but you will see an awful lot more over the next two years. Airport City's a huge part of it. We'll be looking to leverage our assets to be an economic force for the city region. We will push through the 20 million passenger barrier this year and continue to develop key routes - Asia-Pacific remains the key market. We'll be looking to develop Stansted's long-haul routes too, and improve its short-haul connectivity."

Across the group, circa 42 million passengers pass through three hubs, with 19.7 million at Manchester, 17.5 million in Stansted, 4.1 million through East Midlands and 700,000 in Bournemouth.

Also at MIPIM yesterday (13 March 2013), a delegation from Manchester focussed on connectivity at two seminars. Karen Campbell, director of the property and logistics project Airport City at Manchester Airport, provided an update on plans for the project included the news that work was due to start in April. Dan Lejerskar, co-founder and chairman of the Californian tech firm EON Reality, discussed the company's ambitions at Manchester's Sharp Project digital hub.

The business recently announced it was setting up its European headquarters at the office complex.


Boris Johnson has suggested that vast swathes of the English
countryside should be used for airports, railways and nuclear power plants

Peter Dominiczak, Political Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 15 March 2013

Mr Johnson, the London Mayor, used a speech in Paris to call on the Government to be more "ruthless" in the way it builds on the countryside in the future. Ahead of George Osborne's Budget next week, Mr Johnson said he "wished we could be French in our approach to infrastructure".

It comes after Mr Johnson called for unity in the Tory Party and warned senior ministers positioning themselves for the party leadership to "put a sock in it and back the Prime Minister".

Mr Johnson, who has called for a new four-runway airport to be build in the South East, said he felt "envy" at the French approach to building projects. "I flew in to Charles de Gaulle and I looked down with envy at the four runways, the terminals elegantly disposed across a vast tract of countryside, and like so many other British politicians of the last 60 years, I wished we could be French in our approach to infrastructure," Mr Johnson told the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce.

"And I wished we could imitate the ease and ruthlessness with which the French send high speed trains streaking across the landscape. And as the light bulbs of Britain flicker, I am lost in admiration for the historic French decision to build enough nuclear reactors to supply 75 per cent of your power needs, and in the next 30 years we in Britain will now try to catch up while French companies raise the capital for even more ambitious investments."

Mr Johnson also used his speech to defend the City of London from European Union interference. He said the whole of Europe would suffer if "ill thought-out" measures such as the bankers' bonus cap were imposed on the UK. Britain was earlier this month defeated after being outnumbered 26 to one over the controversial EU proposals to impose caps on bonuses paid to bankers.

Under the new rules annual bonuses will not be allowed to exceed a banker's salary, starting next year. Bonuses of twice annual salary will be allowed if shareholders approve them. Experts have warned that the decision will damage the City. Mr Johnson said the Government should "paralyse" the negotiations and not "give in" to Brussels over the issue.

"If the French government was faced with something like the bonus cap they would not tolerate it," he said. "They would paralyse negotiations and refuse to have further discussion until they got an agreement. That's what I think we should do, not give in."

Mr Johnson added: "I hope you will agree London is an asset for France, and an asset for Europe and that it makes no sense for us to attack the Continent's number one financial centre with bonus caps or any other ill thought-out measure. Those bankers will not vanish to France or to Frankfurt. They will go to Singapore or Hong Kong or New York and we will be senselessly degrading one of the EU's greatest commercial assets."

"In picking on London I am afraid such measures risk inflaming sentiment in the UK where the arguments for and against membership are more finely balanced? Whatever these measures are meant to achieve they will do nothing to solve the problems of the eurozone."

OUR COMMENT: Boris is fearful of losing his London voters!

Pat Dale


Ryanair announced it will cut capacity at Stansted by 9pc
on the day the airport came under new ownership

Nathalie Thomas - Daily Telegraph - 28 February 2013

The low cost airline said the move was in response to a "further unjustified" increase of 6pc in landing charges from April. The carrier blamed Heathrow Airport Holdings, previously known as BAA, for the rise in the "already high charges" at the airport.

A steep 6pc jump in fees was a "parting slap" from Heathrow to Stansted's airlines and passengers, the self-styled ultra low cost carrier claimed. BAA on Thursday completed a 1.5bn deal to sell Stansted to Manchester Airport Group.

Ryanair claimed it had planned to grow its traffic at Stansted by 5pc from April but will now cut frequencies on 43 of its routes and reduce its weekly operations by more than 170 flights. The airline said the swingeing cuts could potentially lead to a loss of 1.1m passengers and more than 1,100 jobs at Stansted airport.

According to research, 1,000 jobs are sustained at airports for every 1m increase in passengers. Robin Kiely, spokesman for Ryanair, said it is "impossible to understand" why Stansted's prices will rise again from April when the airport has changed ownership.

"Ryanair and other Stansted airlines now must ask was this surprise price increase part of a "sweetener" package to persuade MAG to pay 1.5bn for Stansted?" he added.

Heathrow Airport Holdings declined to comment, pointing out the airport is now owned by MAG. However, it is understood the 6pc rise is a part of a settlement made with the industry's regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority five years ago. Stansted is one of several UK airports, including Gatwick and Heathrow, that negotiates price increases every five years.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow recently submitted plans to the CAA for landing charges over the next five-year period, between 2014 and 2019. An MAG spokesman said: "As part of our plans to grow passenger volume at Stansted over the short, medium and long term, we will continuously engage with all of the airlines that operate there, many of which are already valued customers of ours."


Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sees no grounds for Ryanair's rants
over hiked charges as the budget carrier slims its Stansted services by 9%

Piers Evans - Routes News - 1 March 2013

Despite Ryanair's fury over "unjustified and inflation-busting" hikes in Stansted fees as it announced it would cut traffic at the hub, the CAA sees no evidence that the airport is abusing price controls, a spokesperson told Routes News.

In a strongly worded press release, the 'ultra low cost carrier' denounced Ferrovial/BAA for raising fees by 6% from April. "There is something very smelly about the timing and scale of this price increase," fumed Ryanair's Robin Kiely. He suggested the price rise was "a sweetener" in the airport's recent sale to the Manchester Airport Group (MAG).

"The CAA must now investigate the reasons for this price increase and take action to protect Stansted users from this latest example of price gouging from Ferrovial/BAA," he said.

But the CAA sees no grounds for Ryanair to challenge the fee increase, the spokesperson told Routes News. "The CAA's price cap at Stansted for 2013/14 is 7.68 per passenger. Stansted has set its charges to deliver an average charge of 7.65 per passenger, which is within the cap."

While the price cap for 2013/14 is up only 4.9% on the previous year, the 6.1% increase in prices reflects revenue dilution through a shift in the mix in traffic, added the spokesperson. "The obligation on Stansted is to fix its charges for the following year at the levels best calculated to remain within the price cap. We have seen no evidence that Stansted has not done so," said the spokeperson. Ryanair's calls for a CAA investigation look doomed, the spokesperson added.

"It is for Ryanair to decide if it wants to challenge Stansted's prices. However, because Stansted is implementing the changes in charges across the board it is hard to see how a case for discrimination under Section 41 could be levelled. In addition, as the rises are within the levels set by the price control, which was not challenged in 2009 when the CAA set the price caps for 2009-2014, there does not seem to be an obvious route for Ryanair to make a formal complaint."


European commission unveils improved passenger rights on
flight delays, rerouting, compensation and baggage handling

Lisa Bachelor - The Guardian - 13 March 2013

Airlines will be banned from a range of practices that include charging passengers a fee to correct a mis-spelling of their name and leaving them sitting on the tarmac for hours without access to a toilet or drinking water. The measures are part of a raft of changes unveiled by the European commission aimed at removing "grey areas" in airline passenger rights while flying within the EU.

Passengers who face delays of more than 12 hours will have to be rerouted via a rival carrier if their airline cannot put them on another of its own flights. Currently, airlines often insist passengers are rerouted on one of their own flights, even if that takes days, or on flights operated by one of its partners.

The rules will also clarify what are known as "extraordinary circumstances" for compensation. At present, airlines often argue mechanical faults are extraordinary circumstances that exonerate them from blame. The updated rules say that only natural disasters and air traffic control strikes can be defined as extraordinary, but technical problems identified during routine aircraft maintenance cannot.

The proposals are set to become law in 2015 if approved by member states and the European parliament, and have been described as the biggest shake up of air passenger rights since EU aviation rules were introduced eight years ago.

"It is very important that passenger rights do not just exist on paper," said vice president of the European commission Siim Kallas, announcing the measures. "We know the real priority for stranded passengers is just to get home. So our focus is on information, care and effective rerouting. The aim is to get passengers where they want to be as quickly as possible while giving the airlines the time they need to sort problems out."

Of particular significance, according to Steven Truxal, an expert in aviation law at City University, London, is that under the new rules a passenger may not be denied boarding on the return flight of their ticket on the grounds that he or she did not take the outbound part of the return ticket.

"That is a big, big change as it affects airline's abilities to manage their yields, as they sell discounted return tickets on the basis that people are returning on their flights," he said.

New rights with regard to mis-handled baggage and transparency requirements for cabin and checked luggage will also come into force, as will rights in relation to long delays and runway delays.

If a plane is boarded and sits on the runway for more than five hours, passengers now have the right to demand to be let off. If the delay is more than an hour the airline must provide air conditioning, use of toilets and water.

The changes will be welcomed by thousands of air passengers who have struggled to get compensation from their airline or been hit by hefty fees to change a booking. Ryanair, for example, demands up to 160 for a passenger to correct a flight booking at the airport, while easyJet charges 40.

According to the European Consumer Centre, the number of complaints about airlines increased across Europe by 96% between 2006 and 2010. The number was boosted significantly following the disruption to flights that followed the Icelandic volcanic eruption in April 2010. Many of these complaints were lodged either because the airlines did not respond themselves or denied the passenger's claim, in some instances stating that the legislation on air passenger rights did not apply.

"When flights are cancelled or lengthily delayed, passengers are often left in limbo and without the support they should be entitled to," said Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organisation. "Rights which exist on paper but left unrealised mean passengers are doubly stranded. So we hope this prompts a much-needed upsurge in airlines' respect for passenger rights."

Goyens added: "After all, enforcement of the law is perhaps the biggest issue here, and these new rules should provide greater clarity and more powers for national authorities to tackle some of the worst problems."

However, not all the changes favour the passenger. Airlines have successfully argued they should not be liable for unlimited hotel bills for delayed customers. Under the new measures, airlines will have to pay for a maximum of three nights' hotel accommodation. Exceptions will be made for passengers with reduced mobility, unaccompanied children, or pregnant women.


Sam Tonkin - Saffron Walden Reporter - 1 March 2013

STANSTED Airport has a new managing director following the completion of a 1.5billion takeover deal by Manchester Airports Group (MAG). As expected, it has been confirmed that Andrew Harrison, currently MAG's chief operating officer, will take on the role of managing director. He is to succeed Nick Barton, who is understood to have chosen to leave the post he has held since 2010.

MAG, which completed the acquisition of Stansted from Heathrow Airport Holdings - formerly BAA - on Thursday (February 29), has pledged to boost passenger numbers at the Uttlesford transport hub - but says there are no immediate plans for a second runway. The group, in which 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester have a combined majority stake, already owns Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.

Ken O'Toole, chief commercial officer at MAG, said: "We are very happy with the acquisition we have completed today. As a well-established UK operation, we now have a footprint in the South-East and, in Stansted, we have what we believe is an excellent facility which will flourish under MAG ownership."

Mr O'Toole said that a key priority was to return Stansted to sustained traffic growth, something which MAG had achieved at other airports in the past two years while numbers at Stansted had been falling. "BAA tended to focus on Heathrow," said Mr O'Toole. "Stansted, within an MAG context, will be very much more of an equal player with Manchester and will get the level of attention and focus that we think it deserves."

But although he welcomed the current inquiry into airport capacity in the South East, being headed by Sir Howard Davies, Mr O'Toole signalled MAG does not see BAA's former plans for a second runway at Stansted as an immediate priority. "We have bought Stansted 'as is' and that is what attracted us," he said. "At 44 per cent utilisation, we have a lot of work to do first before there is any need to increase capacity."

Around 1,300 staff are directly employed at Stansted Airport and Mr O'Toole said the "vast majority" would see no change as a result of the change in ownership. MAG said it had a detailed integration plan in place to ensure a "seamless transition of ownership and operations at Stansted which will maintain business as usual for passengers and customers".

But there was worrying news for the new owners last night when Ryanair said it would cut capacity in response to a "further unjustified" increase of 6pc in landing charges from April. Ryanair said it had planned to increase traffic at Stansted by 5% from April but will now cut frequencies on 43 of its routes and reduce its weekly operations by more than 170 flights.

Meanwhile, David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the acquisition. He said: "It is good news for Essex and we look forward to working with the Manchester Airports Group. The new owners have an extremely strong track record, which is reassuring for everyone who works and uses Stansted Airport, and we feel sure they will bring a lot of expertise to Stansted Airport which already runs a first-class service."

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Stansted already has planning permission to grow to 35 million passengers a year - double its present throughput - and this can be achieved without a second runway. Removing the threat of a second runway would lay the foundations for a vastly improved long term relationship with the local community and we very much hope that MAG will give this commitment."

As part of yesterday's deal, Industry Funds Management (IFM) has taken a 35.5% equity stake in the enlarged MAG group.

Heathrow Airport Holdings made no comment on the deal yesterday, beyond confirmed completion of the sale in a single sentence statement. The former BAA group fought a three-year battle against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell Stansted before throwing in the towel following its latest defeat last summer.


Fears quashed by managing director

Sam Tonkin - Dunmow Broadcast - 7 March 2013

FEARS up to 1,100 jobs could be lost at Stansted Airport in a row over increased landing charges have been quelled by the Uttlesford hub's new managing director.

Andrew Harrison, appointed as Nick Barton's replacement last week by new owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG), told the Reporter that the company's aim was to create MORE jobs by utilising the airport's spare capacity. He also made it clear a second runway was NOT part of MAGs business plan.

"Our aim is to make Stansted the best airport in the London area - not the biggest but the best," said Mr Harrison, following the completion of MAGs 1.5billion takeover deal last Thursday. "We invested in Stansted Airport because we believe there is lots of spare capacity and a lot that can be done to offer a broader range of airlines and routes to fill it. This will allow us to grow the airport and hopefully to employ more people - that is the plan."

Last week Ryanair said it would be reducing weekly operations from the Uttlesford hub by nine per cent - the equivalent to more than 170 flights - in protest at increased fees at Stansted. The Irish low-cost carrier accounted for about 70 per cent of Stansted's traffic in 2011 and has estimated the cutbacks would lead to a loss of around 1,100 jobs at the airport.

But Mr Harrison was quick to alleviate concerns about the potential impact of any reduction in flights. "It is to be expected that Ryanair will put down a marker in terms of cost but that has been done based on the relationship with the previous owner and not the current one," he said. "MAG has a very positive relationship with Ryanair - which is Manchester's fastest growing carrier - and they are a really important part of Stansted's past, present and future."

He added: "In saying that, so is a broader range of destinations. People in the community have said we do not have enough business routes and no long haul routes and they want to have more choice of routes and carriers. We are looking for Ryanair and easyJet to grow, as well as other airlines, but it will take time as we look to build momentum. Ryanair always talk about jobs in relation to growth but I'm not sure how they got to their numbers. From our point of view we see Stansted growing rather than constricting, so I wouldn't worry."

Despite the assurances that a second runway was not part of MAG's agenda, Mr Harrison did caution that the future of aviation capacity in the UK was still an ongoing debate the firm would have to contribute to in due course. "There is a national government debate going on, which we support and think is important, but we would also like to see it go a bit faster because the process has been very slow. At some stage we will have to enter that debate but haven't spent time worrying about a second runway."

The new managing director would not be drawn on whether or not controversial drop-off charges brought in at the end of last year would be scrapped but said the move by BAA had come as a "surprise". He said MAG would look into the reasons behind the change but that it was too early to say whether charges would remain.

Improvements to car parking, including cheaper and more flexible options for passengers, are being explored along with better transport links to London, but Mr Harrison said he would have "his ears pinned back" to listen to the community's concerns. He added: "I am delighted to be here. I really want to engage with the local community, with the airlines and with our people here so that we can give people an airport they can be proud of."

"I am in listening mode at the moment. We want to understand the role people believe we as an airport can play. We see airports as a massive economic driver and a force for good. I have read a lot about the antagonistic relationship between the previous owners and the local community which I hope if we cannot put behind us we can at least move forward on a more positive common ground."

"Building a second runway is not why we came to Stansted. It is not part of our business plan." - Andrew Harrison.

Key aims of MAG:
* Adding over five million additional passengers at Stansted Airport by 2018
* Invest 40m over the next two years to provide more 'sparkle' and ensure the terminal experience befits a world class airport
* Incentivising airline growth at Stansted through the group's relationship with more than 80 existing airline partners at other airports
* Creating more retail space in the departure lounge by reducing the 'landside' check-in area, realigning the security search area, speeding up the security process and creating more space to shop and relax
* Develop different car park options, such as Meet and Greet and low cost options, and making Stansted easier to get to whether coming by train, road or parking at the airport.


Barbara Lewis - Reuters Brussels - 4 March 2013

Aviation pollution can only be stabilized by the middle of the century if a price is set on airline carbon emissions, research said, countering industry hopes that green goals can be met via technology improvements and biofuels.

A European Union scheme to force airlines using EU airports to pay for their carbon emissions caused an international outcry, forcing the European Commission to propose a year-long freeze of its law. As an alternative to the EU scheme, U.N. body the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is trying to agree a world-wide plan to curb aircraft emissions and meets again this month to try to make progress.

The research published on Monday by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in Britain, a specialist in environmental and aviation research, looked at all the proposals under consideration, including technological improvements, biofuels and streamlined take-off and landing procedures.

It found that the only way to have a significant impact was to put a price on carbon - in other words, to use a market-based measure (MBM), such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). "I think the simple message is that all measures are needed to reduce emissions. What we highlight is the potential gains from the MBM, which is the subject of so much political controversy at the moment," David Lee, a professor at MMU who led the research, told Reuters.

Lee has worked on a specialist research group for the ICAO as part of its efforts to tackle aviation pollution. He is also a technical advisor to the UK's Department for Transport on aviation, climate and air quality issues.

In 2010, the ICAO provisionally agreed to work towards a global goal of "carbon-neutral growth" for aviation from 2020, while the European Union advocated a 10 percent reduction by 2020 compared with a 2004-2006 baseline. With both those targets looking unachievable, the report explored likely growth to 2050. By then, EU road maps state carbon emissions from all sectors must fall by between 80 and 95 percent versus 1990 levels to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the level scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Assuming the EU's ETS is extended to 2050, the report found it could deliver CO2 annual savings of up to 587 million metric tons by the middle of the century. Based on scenarios of what kind of measures are agreed, it predicted total aviation emissions would rise to between 1,034 million metric tons and 3,105 million of carbon dioxide by 2050 compared with 630 million in 2006.

Commission figures predict the EU ETS could save 70 million metric tons of CO2 a year by 2020, but global aviation emissions will still be around 70 percent higher in 2020 compared with 2005. Aviation and shipping are the only sectors not covered by developed nations' commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on tackling climate change.

Even though the Commission, the EU executive, has proposed a freeze on its requirement that all aviation pays for its carbon, the European Union is still charging internal EU flights for their emissions via its ETS.

The EU executive has said it will automatically reapply its law to all flights if the ICAO fails to agree a convincing global alternative. The European Parliament is expected to endorse the Commission plan in April.

So far, the ICAO talks have delivered little progress. Campaigners have in particular singled out the United States, the biggest aviation emitter, as an obstacle because of a position paper showing it has proposed an airspace-based approach that would mean a huge number of emissions were not accounted for.

(Editing by David Holmes)


Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst - BBC News - 8 March 2013

The government admits that air quality laws will be breached in 15 regions up to 2020.
The Supreme Court has reserved judgement on the UK's breaches of EU air pollution laws.
The government admits air quality laws will be breached in 15 regions until 2020.

Londoners will have to wait until 2025 for pollution to enter legal limits.

Pollution levels in affected areas are a health risk to people on many of Britain's busiest streets, especially those with heart or lung problems. The government says the laws are unrealistically strict. The BBC understands that it also believes the European Commission is partly to blame because it did not set proper limits on pollution from diesel exhausts in the first place.

The High Court and later the Court of Appeal refused to take action on the issue, ruling that enforcement was a matter for the European Commission. An environment charity, ClientEarth, will now argue in the Supreme Court that the national courts must enforce EU environment law in the UK.

About 29,000 early deaths each year in the UK are blamed on air pollution - more than obesity and alcohol combined (although air pollution tends to shorten people's lives by a shorter time). Pollution from road traffic, particularly diesel fumes, is the most significant cause of poor air quality in most cities. The pollutants of most concern are tiny airborne particles, "PM10s", and nitrogen dioxide.

Alan Andrews, for ClientEarth, told BBC News: "It's a disgrace that we won't achieve compliance by 2020 or 2025 - and it's made worse that the British government is lobbying to weaken the limits because it claims they are unrealistic."

BBC News understands that the European Commission is encouraging the Supreme Court case because it would prefer to avoid a direct confrontation with the UK, which is objecting to other EU environmental rules. The timing for the government is unfortunate. This week it was forced to issue a severe pollution warning on air quality in London, with some pollution monitors registering 10/10.

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said: "If the Supreme Court does not require action, the European Commission must." A Defra spokesman said: "Our air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and most of the UK meets EU air quality limits for all pollutants. Our plans for nitrogen dioxide set out all the important work being done to meet EU standards in the shortest possible time."

The government says it has tried to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide through tax breaks and subsidies for low emission vehicles. It has invested 75m to support green bus technologies and 560m for local sustainable transport and given around 3m in grants to local authorities every year since 2010 to help them tackle pollution on a local level. However, the government's drive to reduce CO2 emissions blamed for changing the climate has partly contributed to the problem, by encouraging drivers to turn to diesel vehicles.

OUR COMMENT: Another reason for questioning any significant increase in the number of aircraft flights, leading to - More emissions, More CO2 and More pollution from nitrogen oxides and fine particles.

Pat Dale


Are we forgetting to consult on the
health implications of airport development?

Jangu Banatvala, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Virology, King's College London, School of Medicine
and Dentistry, London SE1 7EH, UK and Mala Rao, Professor of International Health, Institute for Health
and Human Development, University of East London, London, UK
Editorial, British Medical Journal - 23 February 2013

The United Kingdom's Department for Transport recently drafted an Aviation Policy Framework for the UK to achieve a balance between the economic importance of aviation and promoting good health and quality of life in the community. The framework stressed transparency in decision making, and it has been sent for consultation to the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs; the Treasury; the Department of Energy and Climate Change; and the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills but disappointingly not to the Department of Health.

A commission chaired by Howard Davies was launched in 2012 to make recommendations on airport expansion in the UK and, most recently, a public consultation on London's airport expansion opened with the promise of "the fairest possible evaluation" of the available options. Evidence from the public consultation will be submitted to the commission. Safeguarding public health in the face of industrial development should be one of a government's main priorities. The World Health Organization 1999 Charter on Transport, the Environment and Health4 - still extant and adopted by the UK government - recommended that community wellbeing be put first in transport and infrastructure policies. It emphasised coordination between transport, environment, and health policies.

The major direct adverse effects of aviation on health are noise, pollution, and the spread of communicable diseases. Indirect effects are an increasing challenge, as growth in air travel makes the aviation industry a major driver of climate change. Adverse health effects from noise are well established, particularly poor performance at work from interrupted sleep and impaired cognitive development in primary school children who live near airports. A narrative review commissioned and funded by the US Federal Aviation Administration Office of Environment and Energy and published in 2010 concluded that there was a likely association between repeated exposure to night-time aircraft noise and hypertension and ischaemic heart disease in adults. A 2007 study commissioned by the Department for Transport recommended the use of lower thresholds for noise metrics in dose-response research, and action is well overdue.

Noise from both aircraft and road transport affects health, but aircraft noise has the greatest effect. Although modern aircraft are less noisy, numbers of flights are increasing. Airports are served by road, rail, and air transport, and people living nearby are subjected to noise from all these sources, with attendant potentially serious health outcomes. Efforts are being made to reduce air pollution from industrial and domestic sources, but less effort is directed at noise from aircraft.

Pollution associated with the aviation industry is also a health hazard. Because of radiative forcing, the impact of emissions from jet aircraft is about twice that from land based sources. Particulate and other emissions result from aircraft and road traffic in the vicinity of airports, and are associated with cardiorespiratory morbidity and mortality. Landing and take-off emissions have received most attention, but recently cruise emissions have been shown to affect human health; about 8000 premature deaths annually worldwide may be attributable to this source. Regardless of whether technological advances in aircraft design and performance will reduce noise and air pollution, aircraft flying now may continue to be airworthy for many years.

As for climate change, its health impacts are not confined to national boundaries. Although the developing world may be bearing the major brunt, the UK's resilience may diminish as climate shocks become more severe and frequent. This has to be reconciled with the aspiration not only of the UK, but of countries such as India and China, to facilitate growth in business, trade, and tourism by expanding civil aviation.

Unlike Environmental Impact Assessments, Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) are not obligatory, but should be conducted before policy decisions are made on major developments, to ensure that commercial interests are not placed before health. The government's record on airports is disappointing. For the major London airports only developments at Stansted had HIAs. However, the assessments were conducted by BAA (British Airports Authority), scarcely a transparent arrangement, because BAA, acting as the regulator and enabler, also had a major obligation to its shareholders.

The 2007 report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that HIAs should be mandatory, incorporated explicitly in sustainability appraisals, and subject to independent review. No action has been taken. It also emphasised that restriction of further airport development was crucial. Expert committees may occasionally produce inconvenient truths; the commission has been disbanded and not replaced.

In the UK the Civil Aviation Authority will be responsible for regulating aviation and airport planning. It is essential that health is considered when airport developments are planned. The Department of Health and the newly designated Public Health England must make their voice heard in the debate on the future of aviation policy. So far they have not.


Conservative MPs have written a strong warning to David Cameron that dithering over airports is risking dozens of seats at the general election

Evening Standard - 13 February 2013

In a growing rebellion, 17 MPs from around the South-East have signed a letter warning of "serious political ramifications" and "a backlash" as a result of delaying a decision about where a future hub airport will be built.

The MPs, backed by Mayor Boris Johnson and several ministers, say the Prime Minister's attempt to shelve the controversy until after polling day in May 2015 has backfired badly. Instead of blighting one area, uncertainty is placing "a severe handicap on Conservative candidates" in all the possible sites for expansion, which include Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and the Thames Estuary.

"We believe this needs to be resolved before the general election, and ideally the local elections in 2014," wrote the group, which includes Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith and environment committee chairman Tim Yeo. "We understand this may pose difficulties for candidates in the area affected, but it will at least ensure that the backlash is not shared by all those living in areas under consideration."

Mr Cameron last year appointed business leader Sir Howard Davies to review all options, opening the possibility of a Tory U-turn on a third runway at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson has slammed the delay as "ditherama" and a fudge. MPs believe Chancellor George Osborne was behind the plan and needs to be persuaded to climb down.

Mr Goldsmith said there was now "a net of fear" in five or more areas where voters fear local expansion. "This uncertainty is absolutely no good for the economy, it's unfair to voters, and it is very bad politics," he said.

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood, another signatory to the warning letter, said there was a danger of "blight over a number of areas where people fear an airport" but also a strong business case for accelerating a decision.


Sarah Chambers - EDP24 Online - 18 February 2013

Heathrow reported higher revenues and profits today after a record 70 million passengers used Britain's biggest airport during 2012. The company, whose customer satisfaction levels were also at an all-time high, posted an 8% rise in revenues to 2.46billion, while it returned to the black at an underlying level with profits of 46.4million.

However the airport is operating at close to capacity and the company warned this would limit the UK's ability to trade with emerging economies. There were 471,341 flights during 2012, just below Heathrow's cap of 480,000 a year.

Today's results from the former BAA company include Stansted Airport, which was sold after the year-end to Manchester Airports Group for 1.5bn. Stansted's passenger numbers declined 3.2% to 17.5 million last year.

The company predicted more strong growth in Heathrow's turnover this year and said construction of the new Terminal 2 should be completed towards the end of 2013, with operations commencing in mid-2014. The project accounted for a large slice of the 1.1bn invested in the airport during 2012, an increase of more than 30% on a year earlier.

Heathrow achieved an all-time record passenger satisfaction score in a survey produced by the Airports Council International for the third quarter, but the percentage of people passing through central security within the prescribed time was below last year's level at 92.8% in 2012. Meanwhile, Heathrow's retail income increased 4.4% to 6.21 per passenger, while the figure was 2.8% higher at 4.27 for Stansted.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 15 February 2013

A BUSINESSMAN based at Stansted has called on fellow traders to join forces and send a clear message to the airport's new owners. Terry Farthing, the managing director of Airport Lettings with offices at the Uttlesford base and Southend, wants other firms to fill in a survey he has set up.

Mr Farthing said: "Like the hundreds of businesses in the area, we were delighted when the years of uncertainty were brought to an end and new owners were announced last month. It now means we have some great opportunities to forge lasting and productive working relationships with Manchester Airports Group which could make a real difference to the local and regional economy."

His London Stansted Business Survey 2013 is a 10 question quiz asking firms based anywhere in the East of England for their experiences, views and ideas about how they see the future, working with the airport. He continued: "Our local airport is the biggest single site employer in the region and as we move into 2013 and the number of passengers grows there will be more and more opportunities for local firms to benefit. In the past there has been a feeling amongst many in the business community that the owners of the airport could have done more to give access and opportunities to local firms."

He claimed: "Those that have got work and contracts with BAA (previous owners) often have achieved this in spite of the system not because of it."

The owners of Manchester Airport agreed to buy Stansted, the UK's fourth biggest airport by passenger numbers, for 1.5bn earlier this month. The purchase follows a decision last year by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly known as BAA, to finally comply with the Competition Commission order to sell Stansted.

Mr Farthing said: "We are asking any business, small, medium or large to take just a few moments and complete this important survey. The best way we can let the new owners of Stansted know about what local firms think is to let them know direct. Just a few minutes spent on sharing your views could lead to new opportunities in the future."

Mr Farthing concluded: "It remains a tough economic climate to operate in. Firms are working harder than ever which is why working closer with the airport could mean we all benefit and the local economy sees real and lasting investment."


The sale of Stansted Airport as part of the break-up of BAA's holdings could coincide with a significant change in its operating outlook, as well as playing a part in reshaping the UK's airport competitive landscape

Centre for Aviation Online - 5 February 2013

As predicted in many of the latter editions of CAPA's Airport Investor Monthly, the deal to sell London Stansted Airport to a Manchester Airports Group-led (MAG) consortium that includes an Australian Pension Fund Manager, was concluded in Jan 2013 for GBP1.5 billion and is expected to pass all final hurdles within a month.

What does this acquisition of a piece of privately owned real estate effectively by a public sector organisation say about the privatisation of airports in the UK, about the North-South divide and about how UK air transport will shape up in the future?

And, as London Mayor Boris Johnson apparently turns his attention away from a big new "estuary airport" towards a more grounded solution at Stansted, MAG and its partners could be in the right place at the right time.

The UK's Competition Commission (CC) approved the sale of Stansted Airport by Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly BAA) to Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on 21 Jan 2013. The sale was announced late on 18 Jan 2013 and marks the completion of the three airport disposals which the CC ordered in its report into BAA's ownership of seven UK airports in 2009. In total, the three airports serve over 60 million passengers per annum and their sale realised a disposal value in excess of GBP3.5 billion.

The CC, previously known as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, had first published an interim document on 22 Apr 08, outlining its "emerging thinking" in its inquiry into monopoly practices at BAA and UK airports generally. One of the outcomes of the report was a recommendation to break up the then BAA's airport holdings, which were Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen (all in Scotland), London Stansted, London Gatwick, Southampton and the 'jewel' (as BAA saw it), London Heathrow, or require the operator to divest airports from its group. The report indicated that such an eventuality "is unlikely to take place soon."

MAG was always the favourite to win
MAG was always the favourite. Its core property, Manchester Airport (MAN) is much the same size and scope as Stansted and MAN has the fairly recent experience of constructing and implementing a second runway. There is a growing sense that the Davies Report, scheduled for 2015, will identify Stansted as at least one of the Southeast England airports where future growth - possibly expressed in the form of a second runway there - should be permitted. What's more, London Mayor Boris Johnson seems to be backing away from his big new 'estuary airport' proposal in favour of Stansted though it should be noted that Stansted is in Essex, not in Greater London (only London City Airport actually is in London), so his sphere of influence might not turn out to be as comprehensive as he thinks it is.

Mayor Johnson's new-found rationale seems to have been promoted by a report commissioned by the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport that found that constructing an additional hub airport instead of expanding an existing airport would not be financially viable and would weigh too heavily on the public purse; possibly to the tune of GBP30 billion. The research suggested that under most scenarios, expected revenues from a new hub airport for London would be "less than the expected costs of construction". Mr Johnson's transport advisors subsequently stated that transforming Stansted into a four runway hub airport would solve the nation's aviation capacity constraint problems. But MAG's CEO Charles Cornish thinks one runway is adequate.

MAG CCO Ken O'Toole could be the man for Stan
Another factor in this equation is that MAN has on board as its Chief Commercial Officer one Ken O'Toole, who was previously Route Development Director for Ryanair. Ryanair services at Manchester in particular and to a lesser degree at other MAG airports have multiplied since Mr O'Toole joined MAG and AIM has previously forecast that MAN could become the northern England equivalent of Stansted for Ryanair, which is its main base.

Could Mr O'Toole have been recruited with STN in mind? It does seem quite feasible. It sounds too cosy to be true but there almost seems to be a marriage made in heaven here...

Ryanair went out of its way to influence thinking on who should be the new owner of STN and to impress on bidders what it expected of them. In the wake of the completion of the deal Ryanair said it "welcomed" the purchase and is "looking forward to working with MAG there as we do currently in Manchester, East Midlands, and Bournemouth to grow Stansted's low fare traffic back over 23 million, where it was in 2007 before the BAA monopoly doubled Stansted's fees".

It sounds too cosy to be true but there almost seems to be a marriage made in heaven here, especially as MAG has declared that it wants to boost relationships with carriers like Emirates and Etihad Airways to expand at STN as it seeks to restore the airport to its 2007 traffic peak of 23.8 million passengers within a decade. MAN is already one of the busiest airports in Europe for the Gulf triumvirate of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Nothing was said about attracting carriers that are likely to compete with Ryanair like Flybe, or Jet2.com (which more than holds its own where it competes with the Irish carrier), or Monarch Airlines. Only airlines that might provide additional feed to and from Ryanair's extensive STN network through irregular, non-standard interlining.

Even if MAG was the favourite it was up against some strong opposition in this transaction. There was no opposition from GIP, which was the successful bidder for Gatwick and Edinburgh airports partly because even placing a bid would have shifted GIP into an alleged 'monopoly' category where it assuredly would not like to be. In any case it has enough on its plate with Gatwick and Edinburgh. MAG had been a bidder for Gatwick and at one time it was mooted it might even get together with GIP in the final phase.

The conclusion is: (a) STN was not overpriced but (b) MAG was very keen to get its hands on it.
Even so, organisations like the Morrison and Co consortium, including Infratil, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and Australia's Retail Employees Superannuation Trust; Macquarie; TPG; and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB)/YTL Corp (possibly Khazanah Nasional) are not to be sniffed at. Apparently the Morrison consortium withdrew because it could not secure bank financing (hardly an unusual story these days) so it did not bid. Neither did TPG. The MAHB consortium might well simply have left it too late. The final bids were lined up in the region of GBP1 million and GBP1.5 million to win it does seem rather a lot when Gatwick went for much the same three years ago. That represents a 3.6 point increase in the respective Ebitda multiples (12x to 15.6x) though against that must be weighed the EM for Edinburgh (16.7x) and Portugal's ANA (15x); an average of 15.8. The conclusion is: (a) STN was not overpriced but (b) MAG was very keen to get its hands on it.

Is Manchester Airports Group looking for more 'quality airports'?
Interestingly, this might well not be the end of the story where further acquisitions by MAG are concerned. After shelving this sort of activity for well over a decade, MAG is now flush with funds as a result of the deal that saw the incredibly well cashed-up Industry Funds Management (IFM) acquire a 35.5% strategic stake in MAG and form, over 18 months of negotiation, a strong partnership. Already, MAG's CFO, Neil Thompson, is talking about "the need to look at acquisitions that enable us to leverage the skill-set we have across commercial and operational areas. Manchester has the largest global network of carriers outside Heathrow and a very broad spread of good relationships." MAG said it was seeking to purchase a "quality airport" (sic) following the agreement with IFM to bring new equity into the business.

Mr Thompson noted, "There aren't many airports that if they are appropriately managed can't have a broad mix of airlines across charter, low-cost, long-haul and so on". (That mix is something MAG handles very well). He added, "If we were to make any acquisition you'd expect MAG to be very well-organised and prepared, both in terms of the equity and debt requirements and the subsequent integration of the business. The shareholders will have a significant involvement. They are very supportive."

Could MAG become the new BAA? Might it eventually divide up the UK between itself and GIP?
The number of passengers the two organisations now account for runs to almost 88 million per annum (41.67 million at MAG and 46.02 million at GIP), which is around a quarter of all UK passengers and more than what is now left at BAA/Heathrow Airport Holdings (81.1 million). (All figures based on 2011 traffic totals). Would either or both of MAG and GIP prefer now to focus on non-UK investments? That is what BAA did shortly after privatisation but ultimately it had to regress all the way back to its UK core and then had some of that taken away from it. Both MAG and GIP will be wary not to make those mistakes. Or is this the measure of their investment for both organisations?

MAG needs to remain focused on MAN to keep the locals happy
Certainly there is a danger that MAG could take its eye off the ball where Manchester Airport is concerned, which would not please the local community. It is not that MAN cannot be expanded further. Apart from the Ryanair base there is also a large and growing one operated by easyJet.

In the long haul segment MAN has one of the densest networks of Middle East flights by the 'big 3' Gulf carriers in Europe, an SIA service from Singapore, a fistful of daily North American flights and is actively courting airlines to fly key routes such as Los Angeles, Bangkok and several places in China.

But STN has the better overall prospects if the Davies Commission comes down in favour of it. It would be no great surprise if the resources of the MAG route development division were directed more towards enhancing Stansted's product rather than favouring Manchester's. Airport Investor Monthly has often employed analogies with the world of professional soccer and with two of the world's biggest clubs located in Manchester it is appropriate to use another one here.

There has long been a suspicion among ever suspicious Mancunians, that ever since Manchester United was taken over by US owners as part of their sporting 'franchise' that those owners could, if it suited their purpose, simply rename that UK franchise 'United' and move it to London to play at Wembley or in the Olympic Stadium, whose future use is under negotiation.

MAG has now staked its claim to a substantial piece of air transport real estate in the rich half (the south) of the 'north-south' divide...
Just as, in fact, the owners of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball franchise did when they shifted it to Los Angeles. An analogy too far? Perhaps. After all MAG remains headquartered in Manchester and has not actually been 'taken over' by anyone. Then again, once the GIP fund had started selling equity in Gatwick Airport, it was not long before it was the minority partner there. However you look at it MAG has now staked its claim to a substantial piece of air transport real estate in the rich half (the south) of the 'north-south' divide. Quite how it will respond will be fascinating to observe.

HS2 high speed rail to Manchester could be threat or opportunity
Another factor to bear in mind is how the UK coalition government is tackling that same 'divide', as it has committed to do. At the end of Jan 2013 it released its proposals for the second stage of HS2, the high-speed rail line that is already scheduled to operate between London and Birmingham by 2024.

The extended second stage will take the 225 mph line onto two branches beyond Birmingham, one to the east via the East Midlands and Sheffield to Leeds and one to the west via Crewe (a long established railway junction) and Manchester Airport to Manchester. The idea is that by connecting these metropolitan centres quickly to the capital they will benefit economically though the counter-argument is that it will merely focus even more commerce on London. The second stage is to be completed by 2033-34. A proposed link to London Heathrow is suspended until the Davies Commission reports on its future in 2015.

There are so many permutations arising from this HSR scheme (which might still never be implemented) that the mind boggles. It certainly seems to put Manchester at an advantage. Apparently the agreement to put a station at Manchester Airport, where it would feed directly into all three terminals, was very toughly negotiated and fought for locally by an unholy alliance of councillors, MPs and the business community. With the absence of a Heathrow link - at least for now - this means that both Birmingham and Manchester airports would be directly connected to the line, which runs close to half the population of England, while no London airport would be. That would go a long way towards 'rebalancing' the economy.

In spite of the enormous timescale involved here that must force MAG to wonder if, just as it seals the deal on Stansted, it should continue to concentrate on Manchester's potential. Could there be an offshoot of the track that would enable fast rail travel between Manchester and Stansted airports with a single change of train? The journey time presently is over five hours. Right now there is no air service between Manchester and Stansted, though it would be a reasonable bet that MAG will try to entice an airline like Flybe to operate the route, if only for the sake of its own management.

But what effect will the station at Birmingham Airport have? Journey times between that airport and central London will fall to around 40 minutes, less than Stansted?central London and about the same as Gatwick - central London. On that basis there is little prospect of MAN attracting passengers from southeast England by rail when those passengers would have to by-pass Birmingham Airport en route. One would assume that Birmingham's own route network will grow almost as big as Manchester's while the latter is waiting for the line to be extended.

HS2 seems to offer a greater incentive to Birmingham than to Manchester though there is a much greater prospect than there has ever been that these 'provincial' airports generally will be able to give the two big London airports a run for their money. It all depends on how the airlines interpret it. All three of these airports (a) have the infrastructure (Manchester); (b) are building it (Birmingham); or (c) have the physical capacity to expand (Stansted). That said, Stansted requires a vastly better and quicker rail line into London itself, as MAG must appreciate.

Yet another aspect is how MAG's GBP650 million Airport City project will fit into the equation.
Building high-speed rail lines often frees up existing lines for more freight services and this is presumably part of the plan. There are already several lines running into the airport's central station and there is at least the potential for additional tracks to be laid to take rail freight into a railhead to serve the World Freight Centre and (later) Airport City. Stansted of course also has a considerable share of the UK's airfreight and MAG's other possession, East Midlands Airport, is the biggest of all in this category.

A new and healthy era of airport competition could be emerging in the UK
There is certainly a synergy developing between these players - MAG, Birmingham Airport, and the government through the HS2 proposal - that is capable of breaking the mould of dominance in the air transport sector that London has previously enjoyed (and which CAPA's Airport Investor has tacitly campaigned against over the previous eight years).

Quite apart from the potential for Manchester and Birmingham to develop faster there should be some real competition now in the London & Southeast England market with the major airports owned by five different entities, if Southend Airport is included. This might encourage the proposal put forward by Stewart Wingate, the CEO at Gatwick Airport, that the Davies Commission should opt to support the concept of three competing primary London airports each with two runways, to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, Mr Wingate is not exactly 'flavour of the month' just now with his comment that aircraft should be forcibly diverted away from Heathrow in the winter, alleging that airport cannot handle snow.

That synergy is even represented in the traffic figures emanating from Manchester and Stansted airports. For the second successive month Stansted's traffic was up again in Dec 2012, this time by 4%. That apparently modest achievement has to be weighed against the fact it went about three years without gaining any passengers at all. Manchester's passenger figures were up by 5.1% in Dec 2012, to an overall average of +4.6% for the year (19.7 million compared to 17.5 million at Stansted). On the financial front MAG has also performed reasonably well latterly. In the six months ended 30 Sep 2012, it recorded a small increase in operating profit of 1%.

As high speed rail spreads its tentacles the length of the UK, there is a promise that the previously London-centric airport system will change in nature over this decade, fed by new ownership and new competitive dimensions. MAG's move into Stansted will certainly ensure that it is close to the heart of all of these new developments.


Transport department cuts projected flyer numbers for years to come, reflecting economic woes and end to era of cheap flights

Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 29 January 2013

The anticipated number of people wanting to fly from British airports in future has been cut substantially in official forecasts to reflect the nation's economic decline.

Campaigners seized on the Department for Transport (DfT) figures to query the aviation industry's claim that new airports are urgently needed to meet demand. However, the DfT said the figures meant all airports in London and the south-east would probably be operating at full capacity by 2030, though it could take until 2040 for that to happen.

The DfT said that it anticipated around 315 million passengers annually at UK airports by the end of the next decade. That is 7% fewer than predicted in late 2011 and 90 million fewer than in forecasts from four years ago. Overall, it predicts demand will grow at between 1% and 3% a year, down from a previous assumption of 5%. But its forecast range suggests numbers could double by 2050 if the building of new runways is "unconstrained".

The latest forecast reduction is mainly due to a less optimistic assessment of the UK's future GDP, and the related number of people able to afford air fares as the era of cheap flights ends.

John Stewart, chair of the pressure group Hacan, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: "The exact figures about future demand may be uncertain but the trend is unmistakable: the growth in air travel in the developed world is slowing down. Any proposals for airport expansion must be seen in this light."

The Stop Stansted Expansion group said the figures showed that even in 2050 Stansted airport could meet demand without a second runway. Residents have been alarmed by suggestions made by the London mayor, Boris Johnson that the Essex airport should be considered for redevelopment as a four-runway, 24-hour hub.

The government's Davies commission on aviation will report in 2015 on the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England, with the focus likely to be on Heathrow's thwarted plans for a third runway. Sir Howard Davies has said that one of his first tasks will be to scrutinise the official demand forecasts.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 11 February 2013

STANSTED Airport's managing director Nick Barton is bullish this week as new owners prepare to take over at the Uttlesford low-cost hub.

He told members of the consultative committee set up to monitor the base's management that the 1.5 billion price agreed by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) last month was a vote of confidence for his staff. He said: "They have paid a significant price for the airport... which I think reflects extremely well on the quality of the airport we have here and its prospects for the future."

Stansted's current owner - Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly known as BAA - picked MAG from four bidders after three years of legal wrangling with the Competition Commission to keep its Uttlesford base. MAG is a holding company owned by the 10 borough councils of Greater Manchester, but as part of the Stansted deal which is expected to complete by February 28, Industry Funds Management is to take a 35.5 per cent strategic stake in MAG.

Mr Barton said: "We met all four short-listed bidders and we felt all of them were good for the airport - but we felt that the one with the best strategic bid was MAG. We think it?s very much in the interests of Stansted that they are the owners."

The take-over comes as passenger numbers at Stansted take off once again after a series of slumps. Mr Barton said: "We are seeing positive growth for the first time in five years - this is a significant change. Volumes are starting to grow quite a lot... we are looking to a third month of growth."

As part of the upturn, Easyjet is moving one of its larger, 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft to Stansted as it launches longer routes to Marrakech in Morocco and Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt as well as Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria as part of the budget airline's 2013 schedule.


Adam Luke - Cambridge Evening News - 7 February 2013

Campaigners fighting a second runway at Stansted Airport claim new air traffic forecasts show there is no demand for expansion.

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), said predictions published by the Department for Transport last week reveal the Uttlesford hub, which handled 17.5 million passengers last year, will be able to meet its market demand without another runway even in 2050. In the report, it is forecast that Stansted will need to accommodate 26 million passengers in 2030 and of 38 million passengers in 2050.

Mr Sanders said: "These new official Government forecasts are far more credible than anything we have seen before, and far less threatening. They show that even in 2050, Stansted would be able to meet all its market demand without any need for a second runway."

Last month Manchester Airport Group (MAG) bought Stansted for 1.5 billion, and have set a target of returning to 2007's traffic peak within a decade - about 24 million passengers per year.

Mr Sanders added: "Amid all the hot air from Boris Johnson about building a four-runway 'mega-hub' at Stansted, it's refreshing to have some realism from the Department for Transport and Stansted?s new owners. If we can remove the threat of any new runways once and for all, this will lay the foundations for a vastly improved long-term relationship with the local community."

It is estimated that demand for air travel in the UK overall will grow from 221 million passengers last year to 320 million passengers a year in 2030. The figures actually represent a far slower growth than over the past 40 years, in large part due to higher oil prices.


Rare praise has been heaped on Stansted Airport by a campaign group

Cambridge News - 14 February 2013

Stop Stansted Expansion's economics adviser Brian Ross spoke at the airport's community consultative committee, the last to monitor BAA's performance before the airport's sale to Manchester Airports Group.

Mr Ross said Stansted was "environmentally efficient" compared with competitors - cutting the need for aircraft movements by increasing seat occupancy.

Each aircraft landing now carries an average 144 passengers, compared with 113 a decade ago and 59 in 1993. By contrast, each touchdown at Gatwick has an average of 142 travellers on board.

However, Mr Ross repeated that any second runway for Stansted remains unnecessary based on future passenger number prediction.


London First lobby group's plans would increase
rail services to the Essex airport

Declan Lynch - NCE Online - 14 February 2013

The case for Stansted to become a four runway aviation hub for London was significantly boosted this week after plans for a 12bn Crossrail 2 line connecting the airport to the city centre were published. Last October Stansted emerged as a possible candidate to replace Heathrow as London's hub airport along with two sites in the Thames estuary (NCE 11 October 2012).

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is consulting on the best location for a new 24-hour four runway hub airport for the capital. This work will be fed into the Department for Transport's Davies Commission review of UK aviation policy due to be published in 2015.

Aecom global transportation strategic planning and advisory director John Vincent said the Crossrail 2 proposals have opened up the case for Stansted. "It becomes more viable from a transportation aspect," he said. "I think it has already emerged as GLA's plan B option if a Thames Estuary airport is not viable. Current rail services to Stansted restrict its expansion," added Vincent.

Stansted is currently served by four trains an hour from Liverpool Street station, with a journey time of 50 minutes. Crossrail 2 would provide a faster, direct link to major central London stations such as Euston, St Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria. At this stage it is not known what the Crossrail 2 journey time from central London will be.

London mayor Boris Johnson strongly hinted that Crossrail 2 would fit his hub airport criteria. "A four runway hub is indispensable for London," he said. "I don't think we are going to get that at Heathrow, so an airport in Essex fits into what we are trying to do." Johnson was speaking at the launch of the Crossrail 2 proposal which was produced by business lobby group London First.

The proposed route, which runs from south west to north east London features a 24km long tunnel between Wimbledon and Hackney. It was drawn up by a working group chaired by former transport secretary Lord Adonis and including Transport for London representatives. From Hackney, the line is to connects with the Greater Anglia line at Tottenham Hale, giving direct access to Stansted airport.

Manchester Airports Group bought Stansted airport for 1.5bn last month after the Competition Commission ordered previous operator Heathrow Ltd to sell it. Stansted refused to be drawn on whether it wanted to become a major hub airport. "Stansted Airport's strategy is to drive growth and fill the available capacity on the existing single runway," said a Stansted Airport spokesman.

But the spokesman said the airport was keen to improve its rail connectivity. "Our current focus is the 'Stansted in 30' campaign [for a 30 minute train journey between Liverpool Street and Stansted] we have launched to improve the reliability and journey times on the rail line between the airport and London. Better rail links will help Stansted attract more passengers and airlines," said the spokesman.

TFL to evaluate south east airport proposals
London mayor Boris Johnson has appointed consultant Atkins and architect Zaha Hadid to help develop plans for a new hub airport in south east England. Atkins will lead three of six packages of work: airport design and infrastructure; surface access; and environmental impacts. The firm will work with architects Pascall & Watson and Zaha Hadid Architects on the airport design and infrastructure work package.

The team will evaluate around 15 different proposals for a hub airport in the south east, producing a shortlist in the next couple of weeks. Atkins will then work on a detailed feasibility of the shortlisted options ready for Johnson to submit a recommendation to the Davies Commission on air capacity in south east England.

OUR COMMENT: Boris would be better advised to spend "his" money on more effective plans to improve London's very poor air quality rather than encouraging a major spoilage of the countryside and villages round Stansted.

Pat Dale


BBC News - 1 February 2013

A proposal to expand Gatwick and Stansted airports so they can compete with Heathrow has been put forward by Gatwick Airport's chief executive.

Stewart Wingate said both the airports in West Sussex and Essex should expand. The plan would see three airports of a similar size competing with each other and spreading the economic benefit and environmental impact, he said. But anti-expansion campaigners said the South East had enough air capacity and demand should be spread across the UK.

Several plans have been put forward to increase air capacity in London and the South East including expansion of Gatwick, Heathrow, and regional airports. There are also three plans to build airports in the Thames Estuary off Kent, and a proposal to build a four-runway airport on Goodwin Sands near Deal.

'Noise and disturbance'
Mr Wingate said: "What we're promoting is a model which sees the airports of the South East competing with one another. What that means for us is a second runway going into Gatwick and subsequently a second runway going into Stansted."

But John Byng, vice chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said the prospect of a second Gatwick runway was "worrying" and added: "It will create much more noise and disturbance for local people."

He said: "There are lots of services that would be further overstretched by the expansion of Gatwick and what's more it's not needed. There is plenty of capacity in the South East for the flights that are needed. There isn't an airport in the country that's full except Heathrow. We ought to be spreading the load of aviation around the country better and certainly the one area of the country that doesn't need more employment of the sort that the airport provides is the South East."


Travel News - 6 February 2013

International Airlines Group (IAG), the UK-based parent company of Iberia and British Airways, has criticised the UK government policy for increasing airport capacity in the southeast of the UK.

The company chief executive officer, Willie Walsh, said at the opening session of the Business travel Show 2013, in London, "My own view is that we are not going anywhere with this. British Airways has planned its business on the basis that there will be no third runway at Heathrow. In 50 years time I expect that BA will still be operating from a two-runway airport at Heathrow."

"I have heard Gatwick talking about a second runway but that is assuming that airlines are willing to pay for it. I am not going to spend one penny on new runways at Stansted or Gatwick."

Earlier a study commissioned by the London Heathrow airport owner, BAA Ltd, suggested that lack of capacity at London Heathrow Airport is affecting the UK's economy. The report, prepared by Frontier Economics, says that the lack of capacity is currently costing the country up to GBP14bn a year in lost trade, and the loss may increase to GBP26bn a year by 2030.

London Heathrow currently operates at 99 percent capacity, with no extra capacity for new trade routes to new economies, thereby affecting the growth of the UK economy. There are around 1,532 more flights to cities in Mainland China from Paris and Frankfurt airports than from London Heathrow.

The mayor of the city of London, Boris Johnson, has appealed to the city's businesses and people to forward their views on how the city can solve the capacity crunch at London Heathrow airport.


Andrew Parker and James Pickford - Financial Times - 11 February 2013

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, has raised doubts about the case for the taxpayer subsidising a new hub airport, appearing in front of the Commons transport select committee on Monday.

A report by Oxera, a consultancy, said last month that a new hub to replace Heathrow - such as a four-runway airport in the Thames estuary - may require up to 30bn of public subsidy, mainly to cover road and rail links.

Mr McLoughlin highlighted how much of the UK's aviation infrastructure was privately funded, saying: "We do not generally subsidise airports... I am not looking for ways of spending extra money on something provided by the private sector."

He highlighted cost estimates of up to 80bn for a new hub airport, describing these as "very substantial figures". He rejected suggestions that he was appointed transport secretary last September because he was sympathetic to Heathrow's expansion - his predecessor, Justine Greening, was against new runways.

Mr McLoughlin repeated the coalition government's policy of opposing Heathrow's expansion during this parliament, and highlighted how ministers had set up a commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to consider how to preserve the UK's position as a leading aviation hub. Heathrow, the UK's only hub, is operating at full capacity, and Gatwick and Stansted could reach the same position by 2025. Mr McLoughlin defended the government's decision to ask the Davies commission to produce its final report after the 2015 general election.

Boris Johnson, London's Tory mayor and strong opponent of Heathrow's expansion, criticised the timetable, saying it should be possible to reach decisions next year. Mr Johnson favours three locations for a new hub - two in the Thames estuary, plus Stansted - but has issued his own "call for evidence" to examine a range of proposals.

He criticised a proposal by Tim Leunig, an economist, to expand Heathrow by shifting its centre of operations to the west, and building four runways over the M25. The Davies commission is to consider the proposal.


Essex businessman Terry Farthing - EADT Online - 12 February 2013

THE owner of a business based at Stansted Airport is encouraging other firms in the region to have their say on what they want from the new owner of the airport. The former BAA group has agreed to sell the Essex airport to Manchester Airport Group in a 1.5billion deal, following a ruling from the Competition Commission.

Terry Farthing, managing director of Stansted-based Airport Lettings, which also has offices at Southend Airport, has now launched an online survey which he hopes businesses across the eastern region will complete.

Mr Farthing said: "Like the hundreds of businesses in the area, we were delighted when the years of uncertainty were brought to an end and new owners were announced last month. It now means we have some great opportunities to forge lasting and productive working relationships with Manchester Airport Group which could make a real difference to local and regional economy," he said.

"In the past there has been a feeling amongst many in the business community that the owners of the airport could have done more to give access and opportunities to local firms," added Mr Farthing. "The best way we can let the new owners of Stansted know about what local firms think is to let them know direct."

The survey can be found here. Mr Farthing intends to present the results and findings to the new owners.


Chris Britcher - Kent News - 12 February 2013

More details of a proposed multi-million pound airport to be built on the Goodwin Sands will be unveiled this Friday at a special presentation in France.

The Goodwin Aiport proposal was first mooted by the marine civil engineering frim Beckett Rankine to be considered as part of the review of south east aviation. The airport would be based on the famous sands, some six miles off the coast of Deal. Now it will hope to win continental backing with its Europe launch this week.

A spokesman for Beckett Rankine said: "Several proposals for hub airports have been presented to date, which are currently under consideration by the Davies Commission, appointed by the British Government, and due to report back on the preferred option by the end of 2013."

"After consideration of all the issues, it seems that the Goodwin Airport proposal not only best suits the long-term needs of the south east of England, but also the north-west of Europe."

Friday's prsentation takes place in Calais.

OUR COMMENT: Back to the 1980s - when a somewhat similar plan was deemed too expensive!

Pat Dale


Shropshire Business News - 10 February 2013

Heathrow bosses will this week announce multibillion-pound investment plans for the west London airport. But the bosses are also likely to announce an increase in the amount they charge airlines for using the airport which could mean a rise in ticket prices.

Hours before the Heathrow plans are unveiled, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and London Mayor Boris Johnson will give evidence on future aviation strategy to the House of Commons Transport Committee. Details of the Heathrow investment plans will be published on Tuesday and are expected to reveal that 3 billion will be spent in the period 2014 to 2019.

Heathrow airline charges are now the equivalent of 17 per passenger but this could rise to as much as 25 for the five-year period. Heathrow bosses, led by chief executive Colin Matthews, would prefer a decision sooner rather than later on whether Heathrow will retain its position as the UK's main hub airport and whether a third runway will be built.

But former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, who leads a Government-appointed commission looking into aviation strategy, is not due to deliver his final report until summer 2015.

Mr Johnson is among those who have been critical of what they see as the slow timetable for the Davies Commission. Mr Johnson, unlike the coalition Government, is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow and prefers a new Thames Estuary airport serving London. He and Mr McLoughlin are due to appear before the Commons Transport Committee on Monday.

In his evidence Mr McLoughlin is likely to tell MPs the subject of airport expansion - always a political hot potato - cannot be rushed if the right solutions are to be found. Critics of this policy have accused the Government of kicking aviation decisions "into the long grass".

It's Official Now!


Wandsworth Guardian - 5 February 2013

A new report has concluded exposure to night-time aircraft noise can increase the risk of serious health problems. The document, produced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), states noise levels above 45 decibels can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and dementia.

According to the figures, the average night-time aircraft noise level in Putney and Wandsworth Town, which lie under the arrival flightpath at Heathrow, exceeds 45 decibels. The CAA report also found noise levels above 55 decibels result in increased risk of heart attacks.

Under the existing night flight quota Heathrow is allowed to land an average of 16 flights between 11.30pm and 6am each night. In practice almost all of these planes are brought in to land between 4.30am and 6am, waking Wandsworth residents on a daily basis.

The document is to be used as part of a Government consultation on the rules governing night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. The existing night flights regime for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted comes to an end in October 2014 and the consultation, which ends on April 22, will help shape the new system. A second stage consultation on more detailed proposals will follow.

The arrival flight paths for both Heathrow runways carve across parts of Battersea, Wandsworth Town and Putney. Departing planes also cause noise disturbance in Tooting and Earlsfield.


Jane Wakefield, Technology Reporter - BBC News - 12 February 2013

Air traffic control in the UK could be in for a radical overhaul if research into a new way of locating and tracking aircraft gets the green light.

Radar provider Thales has been given funding to look into using existing TV signals to locate and track aircraft. Dubbed multi-static primary surveillance radar, the system has several benefits. Chief among them is the fact that it would free up spectrum for next-generation mobile services.

Valuable spectrum
The proposed system works by utilising the TV transmitters that are dotted around the UK. Each will receive the same TV signal but at a slightly different time because of the reflections and interactions with aircraft flying in their vicinity. The received signals are then compared to the original broadcast, and the difference is used to locate the position of the aircraft.

The two-year research project is being funded by the Technology Strategy Board, a government agency set up to find innovative ways of using technology. Thales believes that the large number of TV transmitters means the system could provide a more reliable infrastructure than the current one which typically relies on one radar per airport.

From the government's point of view, a new system would mean that they could sell off spectrum currently used by air traffic control.

Wind farms
The auction of the airwaves that will allow widespread 4G services in the UK is ongoing but the government is already looking to release more spectrum for 5G services, probably around 2020. Another issue for current air traffic control systems is that they face interference from wind farms, which are increasingly springing up around the UK to provide alternative sources of energy.

John Smith, head of Air Traffic Management strategy at Thales, told the BBC that the two issues make a compelling argument for change but admits that not everyone is persuaded that the current system, which has been in use since World War Two, needs an overhaul.

"There are an awful lot of barriers to gaining acceptance in the market place," he said. "In the air traffic control industry there is a belief that things have always been done a certain way and so there is reluctance to move to something that is radically different. We have to prove, first and foremost, that it is safe."

News from America


Bill Hemmings and Vera Pardee - Huffington Post - 30 January 2013

For airline passengers, it was a modest surcharge added to tickets in the name of fighting climate change: $3 for a transatlantic flight, for example. But for airlines, it has turned into a massive windfall. Delta collected as much as $40 million. United about the same. The amount reaped by the entire industry in 2012 has been estimated at up to $2 billion.

And none of the money went to its intended purpose - a fact worth considering as the international community meets this week in Montreal to grapple with the vital question of how to reduce the aviation industry's massive greenhouse gas pollution.

Airlines levied the fees in anticipation of an expansion of the European Union's efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Europe's regional carbon-trading program started in 2005 and was expanded to cover European and international flights from the beginning of 2012.

But that expansion plan drew ferocious opposition, especially from U.S. airlines and their congressional allies, who spread wild claims that such modest fees would bankrupt the industry. They argued that aviation's carbon pollution should instead be addressed through international negotiations.

After relentless attacks, the EU suspended the measure for a year last November. That pleased the airlines - but it didn't prompt them to return the carbon fees they'd already collected from passengers.

Allocating emissions from aircraft is exactly the task now facing negotiators in Montreal at a special meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations body tasked with the job of brokering a global deal to reduce aviation carbon emissions. Ironically, ICAO had ruled out a global measure in 2004, which prompted the EU to act.

It's important work. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising 3 to 4 percent per year. Getting a handle on this problem is critical if we're going to head off catastrophic climate change. Unfortunately, airlines have managed to help stymie international negotiations to curb emissions for 15 years.

The airlines' windfall carbon profits - and what they show about the industry's propensity for hypocrisy and double-talk - should be on ICAO negotiators' minds. After all, the industry and its spokesmen, such as Airlines For America (A4A), are hardly in need of additional funds to amplify their already extraordinary efforts to derail progress on reducing aviation's carbon pollution.

Instead, the money should go to developing countries that are desperate for the international community to commit substantial resources to fight climate change, particularly in areas vulnerable to extreme weather and sea-level rise. International sectors like aviation should contribute because of the global nature of airline travel.

The likelihood of ICAO agreeing on a global measure this year is fading even though international opposition to Europe's trading program - including A4A's failed challenge at the European Court of Justice - rested on the argument that it was ICAO's prerogative to solve these issues globally.

Instead, ICAO has already retreated to considering plan B, which is merely to develop rules for states or regions (such as the EU) to implement their own trading schemes pending an ICAO solution. But a plethora of complex, overlapping, and potentially competing regional programs is decidedly not the answer.

Moreover, regional-only plans harbor other Trojan horses. Most countries, including the U.S., report their aviation emissions to the UN on the basis of fuel sales as a proxy, and forecast trends based on whole flight emissions. That is, of course, the most sensible and direct way to measure airplane emissions. Yet Todd Stern, the U.S. representative at ICAO, seems to favour an alternative that counts emissions only over the sovereign airspace of countries.

For U.S. airlines, this plan would have the distinct advantage of reducing potential liability for aviation carbon by 75 percent. Singapore and the Gulf States, home to some of the world's largest aviation hubs, can presumably hardly keep a straight face: Given the miniscule time that air traffic to and from their airports travels across their sovereign airspace, their responsibility would end before the aircraft wheels were even up. Overall, the sovereign airspace approach would cover a mere 50 percent of global aviation emissions, since the high seas would be excluded.

U.S. positions on aviation carbon barely disguise A4A's agenda to avoid investment in fuel-efficient aircraft and other sensible approaches available today to reduce the warming effects caused by air travel. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has gone so far as to seek permanent exemption from Europe's aviation carbon trading program. But the U.S. aviation carbon footprint is some 25 percent of global levels, and America has an enormous responsibility to show constructive leadership.

Washington should reject the self-interested arguments peddled by lobbyists now flush with money from unwitting passengers who thought they were helping fight climate change. The Obama administration should now act upon the hard facts underlining the need to curb U.S. aviation emissions. It's time to turn climate-change rhetoric into constructive action.

OUR COMMENT: The fate of the EU aviation carbon emissions "saving" scheme is still pending, Now we await the Davies commission's deliberations and report on how much aviation expansion is sustainable.

Pat Dale


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 22 January 2013

THE Government has announced the first of two new reviews of night flights at Stansted Airport today (Tuesday, January 22).

Minister of State for Transport and Chelmsford's Tory MP Simon Burns said: "This first consultation seeks views and evidence on a range of issues including the effectiveness of the current regime, the costs and benefits of future options and airlines' fleet replacement plans. Additionally this consultation includes a review of current evidence on the costs of night flights, particularly noise, and the benefits of these flights. It sets out our thinking on how we would expect to appraise the policy options for the next night flights regime and seeks views on our approach."

"We will publish the second consultation later this year and this will include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights. These proposals, which will be informed by the evidence we receive from this first stage consultation, will need to strike a fair balance between the interests of those affected by the noise disturbance and those of the airports, passengers and the UK economy."

On March 26 last year, the government announced that it would extend the existing 2006 restrictions on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for a further two years until October 2014. Airports face limits on total movements - take-offs and landings between 11.30pm and 6am - and also a quota system, which works by allocating points according to how noisy an aircraft is.

At Stansted in the summer season between March and October, the limit is 7,000 movements and 4,650 points, reducing to 5,000 and 3,310 in the winter. A Stansted spokesperson said today: "Night flights are economically and socially important for Stansted Airport, our passengers and our airlines, as well as for UK Plc. We recognise that they are also a concern for those living closest to the airport. We believe the consultation should strike the right balance between the economic benefits of night flights and the noise impacts. We will be giving careful consideration to the consultation document and responding in due course."


Adam Jupp - Manchester Evening News - 20 January 2013

Manchester Airports Group has struck a 1.5bn deal to buy Stansted Airport.

Supporters of the deal, reported in Saturday's MEN, claim it could bring more money to Greater Manchester's ten councils, which currently own MAG. Here, MEN head of business Adam Jupp examines what it means for taxpayers, the airport and the region as a whole:

1) If Manchester Airports Group is owned by the 10 Greater Manchester councils, how can it afford to spend so much on another airport at a time when there are huge cuts to public services?
The councils have not had to pay anything towards the deal, which is set to be finalised at the end of February. The cash has been raised through a combination of MAG selling a 35.5 per cent stake in itself to an Australian company called Industry Funds Management and agreeing a new debt package with its banks. The deal will see Manchester council reduce its stake in MAG from 55 per cent to 35.5 per cent. The other nine town halls, which currently have a five per cent stake each, will share equally the remaining 29 per cent.

2) Will Manchester Airport itself benefit?
As a result of this deal, MAG will control nearly 19 per cent of the UK aviation market, owning Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth. That is likely to strengthen its bargaining power when negotiating with airlines. As a result, the deal could help airport bosses in their quest to bring new routes to Manchester.

3) Why was Stansted so attractive to MAG?
Stansted has seen its passenger numbers fall by around a quarter over the past five years and that is why MAG thinks it has huge growth potential. It believes it can improve the airport's retail areas, increasing the amount of money brought in by its shops, restaurants and bars. After investing heavily in Manchester's terminals, retail revenues have risen steadily year-on-year - they grew from 69.4m in 2011 to 74.6m in 2012. MAG will also be looking to make the most of its airline relationships to bring passengers numbers back to what they were five years ago. Ryanair currently accounts 70 per cent of all flights out of Stansted but the airport is only at 47 per cent capacity. MAG will be looking to encourage other carriers like Jet2.com, Flybe and easyJet, many of which have a strong presence at Manchester, to launch new routes from the Essex gateway.

4) Could it lead to greater profits, which could then be distributed to the 10 Greater Manchester town halls?
The councils have reduced their stakes in MAG but have agreed to the deal in the hope it will boost the dividend they receive each year. The dividend is based on MAG's annual earnings and in 2012, 20m was paid out, of which 11m went to Manchester and 1m each to the other nine. Buying Stansted will automatically add around 80m to MAG's profits, which the group will hope to increase through the measures mentioned above.

5) Is 1.5bn value for money?
When weighing up whether a deal represents value-for-money, analysts tend to look at the purchase price as a multiple of a company's underlying profits. The 1.5bn price tag was 15.6 times Stansted's 2012 earnings. When looking at other airport deals, Newcastle sold a 49 per cent stake in itself for a reported 150m, which was 16.1 times its profits, while Edinburgh Airport was sold for 807m - 16.7 times its earnings. On that basis, the Stansted deal has been viewed as a good one from MAG's perspective by some industry commentators.

6) What are the risks associated with a purchase of this magnitude, particularly during the current recession?
There is, of course, a risk that MAG's plans for Stansted won't come off. However, it has a proven track record of not only managing an airport of a similar scale - Manchester - but improving its performance, even during a recession. In the last six months alone, Ryanair and easyJet have added routes from Manchester, while United Airlines started daily flights to Washington and American Airlines started using bigger aircraft for its New York and Chicago services. Earlier this month, it revealed revenues, profits and passenger numbers in the six months to the end of September were all up on last year.

7) Who were Manchester's rivals for the Stansted deal?
Various parties have been reported as being interested in Stansted during the sale process. By last week, there were just three left in the race, with MAG up against Malaysia Airports, which lodged a joint bid with YTL, the company that owns utilities firms Wessex Water, and Australian investment bank Macquarie.

8) Will any people currently employed at Manchester Airport be transferred to Essex?
It is too early to say but it is unlikely large numbers of workers will be asked to transfer to Stansted. MAG has said it has "a detailed integration plan in place to ensure a seamless transition of ownership and operations at Stansted."

9) As MAG is owned by the people, why were the people not consulted?
The proposals were first put the the Association of Greater Manchester Councils, then secured approval from each town hall individually, where they were voted on by publicly-elected councillors.

10) And finally, with all the cutbacks taking place, which we hear about on a daily basis, why didn't our town hall leaders consider selling their stake in MAG?
Selling their shareholdings in MAG would have netted a one-off windfall for the councils. However, it is hoped by not only retaining their stakes, but backing the expansion of the group, the amount they pocket year-on-year through their dividends will grow.

OUR COMMENT: Note that these comments explore the possible consequences of the sale for Manchester residents, not those in Uttlesford and East Herts! Comments to be sent to the Manchester Evening News!

Pat Dale


Alasdair Reilly - Reuters - 21 January 2013

Manchester Airports Group's (MAG) 1.5 billion pound ($2.4 billion) acquisition of London's Stansted airport is being backed with a 1.2 billion pound club loan from a group of 13 banks, banking sources said on Monday.

The investment grade five-year facilities are split between term loans and revolving credit facilities, the sources said. Twelve of the banks committed just under 100 million pounds to the financing, while one bank committed around 50 million pounds, one of the sources said.

A portion of the loan is expected to be taken out by a bond, two of the sources said. The bond issue is expected within 12 to 18 months after close to give MAG time to make some progress in turning Stansted around before issuing bonds, another of the sources said.

Royal Bank of Scotland was sole debt adviser on the acquisition. MAG announced it had agreed to buy Stansted from Heathrow Airport Holdings on January 18.

As part of the transaction, Australian infrastructure investment group Industry Funds Management (IFM) will become an investor in MAG, invest new equity and take a 35.5 percent stake in the enlarged group, MAG said.

MAG is rated A by Standard & Poor's.


Ryanair accounts for two in three flights at Stansted

Geoffrey Robinson - The Times - 22 January 2013

The new co-owner of Stansted has claimed that it has no immediate plans to build more runways at London's third-largest airport.

Instead, Industry Funds Management, the Australian financier behind the Stansted deal, wants the airport to attract new budget airlines, diluting the power of Ryanair, which accounts for more than two in three flights.

Manchester Airports Group agreed a 1.5 billion deal to acquire Stansted from Heathrow Airport Holdings, the company formerly known as BAA, last Friday. As MAG was publicly owned - 55 per cent was held by Manchester City Council, with a further 45 per cent split evenly across Greater Manchester's other local authorities - it has relied heavily on a cash injection from the Australian fund manager.

IFM helped to pay for the takeover by spending up to 1 billion to take a 35.5 per cent stake in the enlarged MAG, which also owns the popular East Midlands airport and Bournemouth airport. It has interests in each of Australia's five main airports but until now has had no involvement in the British market. It is, however, well aware that Stansted is likely to be at the centre of the debate over the future development of London's airports.

Stansted has been the subject of angry demonstrations against expansion, but it is also one of the preferred options of Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, for a four-runway "superhub".

Stansted's annual traffic has fallen from nearly 25 million passengers a year to 17.4 million during the economic downturn, with easyJet largely defecting to Gatwick and other budget airlines closing. Last year it was overtaken by Manchester, which became Britain's third-busiest airport.

But last night a spokesman for IFM promised only a gradual recovery after the forced sale of the airport on competition grounds. "Stansted is currently running at about 47 per cent utilisation, so there is significant growth potential," the investor?s spokesman said. "The focus is to make [it] user-friendly. We can make the security and check-in experience even more efficient and there are enhancements to be made to the functioning of the airport and room for an increase in retail airside."

Of the domination of Ryanair at the airport, the spokesman said: "We aim to increase the traffic volumes through the airport by diversifying the airline base, with more low-cost carriers and maybe full-service airlines."

The Australian investor declined to be dragged into the airport expansion debate. "We have not factored in anything like a second runway," the spokesman said. "Our immediate focus is on taking the keys to a fantastic asset by the end of February and then taking one step at a time."

Over the weekend Charlie Cornish, MAG's chief executive, indicated there was little appetite for competing with Heathrow. He called Stansted "the London airport for Europe".


Pippa Crerar - Evening Standard - 25 January 2013

Sources close to the Mayor admitted he accepted expanding the Essex airport would be "the easiest" way to increase aviation capacity.

It comes after a major report claimed yesterday his proposal for an airport in the Thames Estuary was not "commercially viable". Today Mr Johnson criticised the "panda-like pace" at which the Government was coming up with a solution and again rejected Heathrow expansion.

He said: "I urge leaders of UK business now to look at the extraordinary potential of the alternatives either at Stansted or at the two estuary sites that, with sufficient political will, could be delivered on roughly the same timescale as the third runway at Heathrow and would be very largely financed by some of the international investors at Davos today."

However, City Hall sources acknowledged that Stansted increasingly looked like the front runner to get the Mayor's backing. He has been creeping slowly closer towards supporting expansion of the Essex airport since he first raised the prospect in a major aviation speech last autumn.

Speaking in Davos, Mr Johnson added: "We need a new 24-hour hub airport with four runways so that we can properly compete with our continental rivals and let me assure you that the expansion of Heathrow is a delusion and a disaster. We cannot understand the panda-like pace with which the Government is addressing the problem. See you in London - when you get clearance to land."

A report by the Commons Transport committee highlighted the risks of the Mayor's Thames Estuary airport idea to private sector investors as the project would rely on higher passenger numbers or heftier charges. But it concluded that building a hub airport instead of expanding Heathrow could still offer "good value for money" if it led to significant economic benefits for Britain.

It comes as a leading architect said the solution to the South-East's aviation crisis lay in creating a "hub-city" rather than a "super-hub" airport. Eden Project designer Grimshaw is the latest firm to throw its hat into the ring with a scheme to expand capacity. Unlike most of the other projects on the table, chief executive Jolyon Brewis has suggested splitting capacity between a number of existing airports. At the same time, he proposes encouraging transfer passengers to spend their time between flights travelling around the city on an Oyster-type card.


Posted on Woodland Trust web site by Kaye Brennan - 25 January 2013

BAA's airport monopoly was broken up even further last week with the announcement of a winning bid of 1.5billion for Stansted Airport. Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is the new owner. After the fight of the decade, will this be good news or bad news for ancient woodland?

The Woodland Trust has not seen any definitive evidence to prove that there is a real need to expand airport runway capacity within the UK. We are particularly concerned that any development should not come at the expense of the natural environment. No airport expansion that would impact upon any environmentally sensitive site can be viewed as environmentally acceptable.

The local campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), which we have worked with over the last decade and has been instrumental in continuing the fight against an expansion, has given a 'cautious welcome' to the purchase. The group's Economics Adviser, Brian Ross, makes the point that airports with one runway can accommodate up to 45 million passengers? so, with 18 million passengers, Stansted could grow without the need for a second runway.

MAG does have experience of building new runways. As a woodland conservation charity the Trust's primary consideration is that what remains of our ancient woodland is not lost or damaged further. Ancient woodland, together with ancient, veteran and notable trees, represents an irreplaceable semi-natural habitat that still does not often benefit from full statutory protection.

This is particularly relevant as ancient woodland is still facing considerable threats - our research shows that more than 100 square miles (or 5% of the total remaining amount) of ancient woodland in the UK has come under threat from destruction or degradation through the planning system in the last decade. It feels relentless. An application for a second runway could make this figure even more concerning than it already is.

At Stansted there are 6 ancient woods. All of these were under threat for ten years while proposals for a second runway were submitted, debated, opposed and finally dropped, with a little extra assurance coming from the Coalition's Programme for Government pledge to refuse permission for new runways at Gatwick (where even more ancient woods lie fearful) as well as at Stansted.

Will MAG, as the new owner - and with a global fund manager now owning a percentage of the company in return for stumping up the cash - want to stamp their mark on their new purchase? Will we see those plans back on the drawing board?


Tom Fitzpatrick - Regional News North West - 25 January 2013

The debate over UK airport capacity needs to cover the whole of England, rather than being "preoccupied largely by the concerns of the mayor of London", the chief executive of Manchester City Council has told CN.

Sir Howard Bernstein said Manchester would be contributing to the Sir Howard Davies commission set up to examine aviation capacity, which is due to report its final conclusions in 2015 and publish an interim report this year. But he said it was too early to predict the ramifications of Manchester Airport Group's 1.5 billion purchase of London's Stansted airport this week.

"What is very important is that we don't just have a debate about the South-east; we need to have a national airports plan," he said. "We will contribute [to the Davies review] but I'm not sure whether it is designed to put off the issue for the next couple of years." He said it should be broader than a discussion "pre-occupied largely by the concerns of what the mayor of London is about".

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has lobbied against Heathrow expansion and is in favour of a 'Boris Island' proposal for a new airport in the Thames Estuary. In December, Mr Johnson backed a feasibility study on expanding Stansted into a 'superhub' airport.

Sir Howard said the economic case for having a national high-speed rail line was "overwhelming" and that it was important the scheme penetrated cities such as Manchester. He added that the 33bn HS2 scheme will be "a challenge in terms of funding, but it's a challenge we have to meet".

Sir Howard is due to be one of several speakers at today's Manchester launch of Creating Britain's Future, the industry campaign led by the UK Contractors Group and supported by CN, which began in London last year. According to the UKCG, in the first three-quarters of last year construction accounted for 8bn-worth of investment in the North-west, a region that employs more than 200,000 people, representing more than 6 per cent of the local workforce.

The scale of the challenge facing the industry is huge, with 2012 planning approvals down 28 per cent on 2011. Construction output in the North-west is also expected to fall by an annual average of 0.9 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

Asked about the challenges facing construction firms in Manchester, Sir Howard admitted he had heard of "lots of developers and construction companies shedding surplus labour", which he said was a contributing factor to an increase in construction costs locally.

However, he said he had seen "a lot more evidence since the turn of the year of [growing] confidence among funding investors and local businesses". He cited digital technology, creative industries, bioscience and health as four major growth areas for Manchester. Just last week permission was granted for a 650m, 65-acre mixed-use commercial development dubbed 'Airport City', located north of Manchester airport.

At the Creating Britain's Future launch, Kier chief executive Paul Sheffield is expected to hail the work being done by Manchester City Council to support infrastructure investment. But he will say the industry needs to continue to work with local political leaders and central politicians to ensure they understand the value infrastructure brings to the region and the UK, and deliver "value for money for taxpayers through the efficient use of resources."


DfT - 29 January 2013

The Department for Transport today published new aviation demand forecasts. These can be accessed via this link. These update the August 2011 publication to reflect latest passenger data and revised projections of the economy.

The key results include:
Demand for air travel is forecast to increase within the range of 1% - 3% a year up to 2050, compared to historical growth rates of 5% a year over the last 40 years. The slowdown in growth rates in the future reflects the anticipation of market maturity across different passenger markets and a projected end to the long-term decline in average fares seen in the last two decades.

The major South East airports are forecast to be full by 2030. However, there is a range around this projection and they could be full as soon as 2025 or as late as 2040. Heathrow was effectively full in 2011 and remains full across all the demand cases considered.

CO2 emissions from flights departing the UK are forecast to increase from 33.3 MtCO2 in 2011 to 47 MtCO2, within the range 35 - 52MtCO2, by 2050.

OUR COMMENT: A significant fall in the forecasts. What need for extra runways?

Pat Dale

Is the sky now for sale?


Michael Bow - Cityam Online - 28 January 2013

LISTED private equity firm 3i has entered the fray to snap up a minority stake in the UK's air traffic control agency amid an ownership shake up at the air controller, it emerged yesterday.

3i, led by chief executive Simon Borrows, is understood to have registered its interest in bidding for a 12 per cent stake in National Air Traffic Services (Nats), which has been put up for sale by Thomas Cook Airlines and Tui Travel.

The FTSE 250-listed firm, which makes investments through its listed 3i Infrastructure fund, is in the midst of a restructure as management seeks to make infrastructure and debt management a larger part of the business. 3i, which has seen its share price rally close to 20 per cent since December, declined to comment yesterday. If 3i does bid, it is likely to face a flurry of rival offers for the stake, which is valued at around 65m.

Serco, Lockheed Martin and Global Infrastructure Partners, which owns Gatwick, have all been tipped in the past as potential investors. The Treasury, which owns a 49 per cent stake in Nats on behalf of the Crown, reversed a plan to sell its stake last year citing security concerns.

Another 42 per cent chunk is owned by a seven strong consortium of airlines called The Airline Group - which includes Thomas Cook Airlines and Tui Travel as well as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

The last set of accounts filed for The Airline Group show its 42 per cent stake valued at 227m. The combined Thomas Cook and Tui stake would be worth around 64.8m on that basis.

3i's infrastructure division was uprated to a "buy" rating by Oriel Securities last week, with RBC Capital also putting a sector performance rating on the stock late last year.


Records from the Civil Aviation Authority show that pilots and crew
have to put on oxygen masks at least five times a week to combat
suspected "fume events"

Daily Mirror - 28 January 2013

Two top British Airways pilots died within days of each other after complaining about exposure to toxic fumes on passenger jets. Karen Lysakowska and Richard Westgate both claimed they had been poisoned by contaminated cockpit air.

Mr Westgate, 43, who passed away last month, had instructed lawyers to sue BA for alleged breach of health and safety guidelines. His lawyers think they can prove the existence of aerotoxic syndrome, a physical and mental condition they reckon could be seen as the "new asbestos".

Records from the Civil Aviation Authority show that pilots and crew have to put on oxygen masks at least five times a week to combat suspected "fume events". And, according to one specialist doctor, thousands of pilots are currently unfit to fly.

Ms Lysakowska, 43, who was buried four days ago, pleaded with BA bosses to look into the issue after she had to stop flying due to ill health in 2005. In a letter a year later, she said: "My objective is to get well and carry on flying and not enter a legal battle because of the impact exposure to contaminated air has had on my life but if I have to I will." She later developed cancer and decided not to proceed with the legal action.

Mr Westgate, a world record-breaking paraglider, voluntarily grounded himself in 2011. His family are now awaiting the results of two autopsies in Amsterdam, where he died.

No airline has air quality detection systems installed because a 2011 government-backed study by Cranfield University concluded that cabin air was safe. But Mr Westgate's lawyer, Frank Cannon, believes BA is liable under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations because it does not monitor the quality of air on jets.

Mr Cannon - who is pushing for an inquest into Mr Westgate's death where BA would be asked about aerotoxic syndrome - said: "I see this as an impending tsunami for the airline industry - it has been hushed and ignored for so long. We hope to use the inquest to give Richard the trial he never got. It would be the first judicial recognition of his condition."

A spokesman for BA said last night: "Our thoughts are with the families of the two pilots at this sad time. We are not aware of any legal claims relating to the two individuals. I would be inappropriate for us to speculate on the causes of their deaths."

Breathing in 'asbestos of the air'
It is rare for passengers to suffer from little-known aerotoxic syndrome but experts say they are at risk from the contaminated air. UK Committee on Toxicity claims that "fume events" occur on one flight in 100. This puts pilots and crew at greater risk of exposure. But it is thought that low doses will not lead to severe symptoms.

Warm compressed air is pumped into most aircraft from the jet engines in order to provide a comfortable environment. But campaigners say toxic chemicals used in engine oil can also enter the cabin despite safety features intended to eliminate fumes.

Symptoms - which include fatigue, blurred vision, and seizures - are said to be similar to those experienced by farmers working with sheep dips. The oil used to lubricate jet engines contains organophosphates, also used in the animal baths.

The Aerotoxic Association was founded in 2007 by a group of air crew who say their careers ended due to the condition. Pilot Kristof Van Gerven dubbed the condition "the asbestos of the air". Professor Michael Bagshaw, an expert in aviation health, said: "A range of chronic health issues are still reported by crew members."


Flight and cabin crew unions plan an EU-wide "walkout for safety" today
to demonstrate against proposed European rules for flight time limitation
and rest requirements

Phil Davies - Travelweekly Online - 22 January 2013

Pilot unions claim that European policy-makers will risk passengers' safety by adopting the new regulation submitted by the European Aviation and Safety Agency earlier this year.

But European airline bodies - the Association of European Airlines, the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association - have joined forces once again to emphasise that harmonised flight time limitation rules ensure 'utmost safety' in the air.

The three organisations insist that airlines "will never compromise on safety" and say the final proposed flight time limitation rules are not a relaxation of today's rules as the unions suggest. Instead they harmonise the different flight time limitation requirements that exist across Europe and even include some new and more restrictive requirements and limitations.

The safety agency's final proposals are the result of an extensive review involving all stakeholders including national safety regulators, airlines and trade unions, and are based on robust safety data including the review of almost 50 different scientific studies, the three aviation organisations stress.

A joint statement said: "Based on the EASA proposal, Europe will continue to have one of the strictest flight time limitation rules in the world. National safety regulators, for example the UK Civil Aviation Authority, have welcomed the EASA proposal which, to a large extent, is equivalent to the current well proven UK CAP 371 rules. The adoption process of the final rules should therefore not be derailed as a result of misleading information."


ENDS Europe DAILY - 22 January 2013

Airlines covered by the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) may have made windfall profits of up to ?486m last year because of a plan to exempt international flights to and from Europe from the scheme, new research suggests.

But airlines say the research by Dutch consultancy CE Delft for green group T&E is based on a flawed methodology and has drawn false conclusions.

The alleged windfall is based on the assumption that airlines raised extra revenues on tickets for intercontinental flights in the first ten months of last year to cover their likely carbon-related expenditure.

The European Commission subsequently decided to ask member states to postpone the inclusion of flights to and from non-EU countries in the ETS, meaning the 2012 costs airlines had anticipated will not now materialise.

Airlines may also have made a further windfall of up to ?872m from ETS-related "opportunity cost" on these routes, because airlines can also pass on the value of carbon allowances they received for free in their ticket prices.

An opportunity cost is the notional economic benefit a business could have accrued if it took some alternative action. In this instance, the alternative would be selling carbon allowances received for free on the market.

Assuming that airlines passed through in their ticket prices 50% of the total available windfall, they would have netted ?67m on routes to and from non-EU destinations, CE Delft estimates. A 100% pass-through could have earned them up to ?1.4bn.

The researchers based their calculations on a carbon price of ?7.60 per tonne, the average value on one trading platform between January and October last year.

Airline Lufthansa stands to gain the most, with a windfall of up to ?53.6m on the cards. But a spokesman for Lufthansa said the company only passes on the costs of allowances it has to buy on the market and "does not make any windfall profits".

"The fact is that with the 'stop the clock' derogation, non-EU carriers have no ETS costs at all and European carriers like Lufthansa or Air France/KLM are still heavily affected. All our European feeder flights to our hubs are still included in the ETS while feeder flights to non-EU hubs like Dubai are excluded," he stressed.

The Association of European Airlines (AEA) criticised the study's methodology. No airlines were consulted by the researchers, with the result that their conclusions are inaccurate, a spokesman told ENDS on Tuesday.

In addition to having paid for allowances, airlines have had to pay for costs associated with carbon monitoring and other aspects of ETS participation, the spokesman said.

Previous research has suggested that the practice of passing on the opportunity cost of carbon allowances is widespread in other sectors covered by the ETS scheme, including steel and oil refining.


The owners of Manchester Airport have agreed to buy Stansted,
the UK's fourth biggest airport by passenger numbers, for 1.5bn

Anousha Sakoui and Andrew Parker - Financial Times - 18 January 2013

The purchase by Manchester Airports Group follows a decision last year by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly known as BAA, to no longer resist an order by competition regulators to sell Stansted. It means that Stansted will be owned by a company whose leading shareholders are Greater Manchester's 10 councils.

As a result of the deal, London's three largest airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - will all have different owners. Previously they were held by BAA, but the Competition Commission insisted on a break-up. The three airports are expected to propose potentially contentious solutions to the capacity crunch in southeast England, as the government considers the vexed issue of where to build new runways.

Heathrow, the hub which is already operating at full capacity, is interested in increasing its runways from two to four. But Gatwick has suggested that it and Stansted should each add a runway. It would mean that London could have three airports, each with two runways, competing for business. Boris Johnson, London's mayor and a strong opponent of new runways at Heathrow, has indicated support for expansion at Stansted as a possible new hub airport.

The sale of Stansted will leave Heathrow Airport Holdings with just Heathrow and a handful of smaller airports, including Glasgow. The operator, whose largest shareholder is Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure group, had hoped to retain Stansted.

Stansted had been expected to sell for a discount to the 1.3bn that aviation regulators estimate its assets are worth. The sale price is 15.6 times 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, and the deal is expected to be completed by the end of February.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, one of the MAG shareholders, said: "MAG is a key driver of jobs and growth in the north of England and the acquisition of Stansted will help us deliver maximum value for Manchester City Council and the other local authority shareholders."

MAG worked with Australia's Industry Funds Management in the deal to buy Stansted. It beat competition for the airport from several bidders including Australian infrastructure fund Macquarie and a consortium led by New Zealand investor Morrison & Co, which dropped out earlier in the process.

MAG owns Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports. Under the terms of their partnership deal, Industry Funds Management will buy 35.5 per cent of MAG's equity and get half its voting rights.

Charlie Cornish, MAG chief executive, said: "We will use [our] expertise at Stansted to ensure that the airport can fulfil its potential as a high-quality alternative London access point for global air travellers. Stansted has scope to benefit from significant volume growth over the short, medium and long term."

Deutsche Bank and ING advised Heathrow Airport Holdings on the sale. JPMorgan Chase advised MAG. Gleacher Shacklock advised Industry Funds Management.


Peter Macdiarmid - The Times - 19 January 2013

Sixty thousand extra flights a year are expected at Stansted airport within a decade after it was sold to the owner of Manchester airport last night for 1.5 billion.

Manchester Airports Group won a three-way auction after the Competition Commission forced the former owner, Heathrow Airport Holdings, to sell. MAG, which also owns East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, said that Stansted had "significant growth potential".

Charlie Cornish, MAG's chief executive, said when he laid out his auction bid last year that he wanted to increase the number of flights from 130,000 to 190,000 a year, but did not declare whether he would endorse an extra runway.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has said that the next runway built in London would be at Stansted. Sir Howard Davies, former head of the Financial Services Authority, will announce by the end of the year if it should be included on a shortlist of options for airport expansion in the South East.

Mr Cornish said last October that Stansted was viable irrespective of the outcome of government deliberations. He wants to improve the airport's retail offering and foster better relationships with its customers, including Ryanair, the dominant carrier at Stansted.

Stansted handles 18 million passengers a year on 130,000 flights - a marked decline from only five years ago when more than 24 million passengers were flying out annually on more than 190,000 flights.

Brian Ross, a spokesman for Stop Stansted Expansion, said that it would accept MAG's proposals. He said: "Charlie Cornish recently said he wanted to return Stansted to 2007 levels within ten years and that is something we can work with them constructively on. That seems to be a realistic ambition and could be sustainable."

He said he did not believe that MAG would pursue a second runway as "they got their fingers burnt 15 years ago when they built a second runway they didn't need" at Manchester airport - which is roughly the same size at Stansted, handling about 19 million passengers a year.

MAG, which bought Stansted in partnership with the Australian infrastructure investor Industry Funds Management, does not need government permission to increase flights. Stansted is operating at only 47 per cent capacity.


Simon Calder - The Independent - 19 January 2013

Why does Manchester want another airport - surely it's already got one?

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) actually owns three airports already: Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth. MAG is a fascinating organisation, because it's local-authority owned: the majority by Manchester City Council, the remaining 45 per cent by the other nine boroughs of Greater Manchester.

Yet MAG has much bigger ambitions: it tried to buy Gatwick in 2009, and has now gained control of Stansted. In airports, scale is everything, and London is the world hub of aviation - so Manchester wanted to be part of it.

Put the deal into perspective
Manchester Airports Group has paid roughly the same for Stansted as Gatwick's new owners paid for an airport which is arguably, from an investment point of view, probably 50 per cent more attractive. A year ago Stansted lost its number three position to Manchester, in terms of passenger numbers, so this is an ironic turn of events; if Manchester aims to restore Stansted to the days when it was the fastest growing airport in Europe, it can do so only at its own expense.

There's one really huge airport in the UK, Heathrow, which has as many passengers than the next biggest three put together - Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted. Stansted occupies a beautiful building, but one with awkward rail links - the journey by train from central London has actually significantly slowed down in the 20 years since the rail line opened.

Of the big four London airports - the other three being Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton - Stansted is the furthest from the centre, and also furthest from the key road and rail arteries. It's only a little bit unfair to describe it as an airport people use because they have to. Manchester Airports Group will be seeking to change all that.

What will passengers notice?
More flights to more interesting places - and a wider range of airlines. At present three out of four flights at Stansted are on Ryanair. Experience suggests it is unhealthy for any airport to be so dependent on a single airline.

The new owners are likely to be talking to easyJet to try to persuade Britain's biggest low-cost carrier to move more planes to Stansted, and trying to entice every other large European airline. Looking further afield: until now, there hasn't been any mileage in Stansted aggressively seeking long-haul routes and business travellers, because it would be doing so against the interests of Heathrow - the dominant partner in the business formerly known as BAA.

A few long-haul airlines have come and gone, including the business-class only airlines, MaxJet and Eos, as well as Air Asia X to Malaysia. But if Stansted can find the right airline that needs a fast track to the London market, Heathrow and Gatwick will take notice.

What will passengers notice?
In the short term, nothing. Stansted is a well-run airport operating at about half its capacity, which means that it is usually uncrowded and tranquil. Longer term, it will have to get much busier if Manchester Airports Group is to realise a reasonable return on investment. The new owners will try to grab traffic initially on short-haul routes from Gatwick and Luton, partly through enticing financial deals - but also by promising excellent customer service.

Will we see a new route from Manchester to Stansted?
No. British Airways, Eastern Airways and Air Berlin all tried to fly profitably between Stansted and Manchester and abandoned the idea.

Aviation - The Future


Laura Pitel - The Times - 2 January 2013

With a green portcullis logo and smart cover page that echoes Commons house style, the all-party group on aviation's report has the air of an official parliamentary document.

The 46-page inquiry is self described as aviation policy and air passenger duty. Few would disagree that it is a subject worthy of parliamentarians' attention. But the report fails to mention one key fact: it was produced with the help of the airline industry, which vigorously opposes the tax on flying and has a strong vested interest in seeing government policy change.

A note in the introduction thanks a lobbying company, MHP Communications, and the campaign group, A Fair Tax on Flying, for their assistance. It omits the fact that one of MHP's clients is Heathrow airport. A Fair Tax on Flying, meanwhile, is formed of a coalition of main airlines and travel companies that believe that air passenger duty harms jobs and growth. The stance is shared by the all-party group, which advocates the growth of the airline industry and the re-examination of air passenger duty to boost the UK economy. It is not a stance with which everyone would agree.

The group's chairman, Brian Donohoe, said that anyone could discover the nature of the all-party group and its supporters with a bit of online research. "Everyone knows the direction we are coming from and going in," said Mr Donohoe, who is Labour MP for Central Ayrshire. He denied that the backers of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign should have been explicitly set out in the report: "Where do you stop?". He added that MHP was acting of its own accord rather than on behalf of Heathrow in providing support.

Others said that the report, and its presentation, was misleading. Susan Pearson, of the group AirportWatch, said: "Just as I would be surprised if an all-party group on brewers came out in favour of teetotalism, it would be equally unlikely for a group so closely linked to aviation to produce an objective report. The degree of involvement of the industry should always be completely transparent when giving out facts to the public."

Despite a clear emphasis on transparency in the guidance for all-party groups, there are several other examples where groups have failed to properly declare the source of their secretarial or financial support. The group on Energy Studies does not flag up the fact that its secretarial services are provided by a consultancy that is retained by renewable energy companies and the Qatari sovereign wealth fund. The group's chairman, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, said Bellenden had been hired directly by MPs and peers to perform the role in November. He added that the parliamentary record-keeper had been informed, although that information does not appear on the relevant register.

The group on Georgia failed to declare that the Georgian Government was indirectly funding administrative costs through a consultancy firm. At the time, the group was run by Denis MacShane, the Labour MP who was forced to resign over expenses fraud. Mark Reckless, the group's new chairman, said that the financial support had stopped after the election of a new Georgian president in October but that JS Strategy, which wrote speeches and provided advice to the former president, would continue to work for the group for no charge.

Several other groups, including the ones on Spain and Pakistan, give only the name of a consultancy that works for them, without offering information on its clients.

Some MPs defended the use of corporate funds, arguing that there was nothing wrong with seeking outside help. Chi Onwurah, a Labour MP who co-chairs the Parliamentary Internet Communications and Technology Forum (Pictfor), said that funding from the private sector allowed her group to be active and to inform parliamentarians about a subject.

"I recognise that there is concern that they can be used by vested interests to promote a particular agenda," she said. "I think you've got to be aware of that concern but also we must not lose sight of the fact that they can promote a positive agenda without using public funds. That's what Pictfor does."

James Gray, head of the Armed Forces group, which accepted more than 17,000 in 2012 from defence companies, said: "If you ask MPs to pay for anything they won't, because they are all a bit hard up... I'm opposed to public funds being used, so outside funds - totally declared and fully transparent - are a good way to do it."


Luton Today - 8 January 2013

The company that runs Luton Airport has been accused of "glossing over" negative reaction to its expansion plans. London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) announced on Monday that 65 per cent of the responses to a recent consultation were in favour of plans to grow the airport.

But one campaign group, Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE), said the figures released by the airport did not show the full picture.

The full breakdown, provided with the airport's planning application, shows only 26 per cent of responses from members of the public were positive, while 64 per cent were against expansion. The remainder were undecided.

Concerns included increased noise, scepticism over the number of new jobs promised, further traffic congestion and increased pollution. But public responses made up less than 40 per cent of the total 1,360 received. The majority came from airport staff, airlines, unions, local businesses and chambers of commerce.

Airlines and airport staff were 100 per cent in favour, and the majority of responses from local businesses and chambers of commerce were positive, citing economic benefits and better ability to compete with other airports.

HALE spokesman Andrew Lambourne said: "The spin doctors at the airport must have worked overtime to gloss the community response data. For a start, given the major impact which expansion of Luton Airport would have on local communities, a total of just 1360 responses to a so-called public consultation is a derisory number. The main reason for that is that the roadshow events were very poorly publicised and arranged right at the last minute, so very few people turned up. Only about half the responses are from the general public at all, once you sift out chambers of commerce, airport staff and other stakeholders. And of the people who did attend the exhibitions - and can therefore be regarded as informed - 75 per cent of them oppose the expansion plans."

LLAOL said on Monday that it had listened to feedback and amended its planning application to add two extra 'noise mitigation measures' - a new limit on night flights and a reduction in noise violation limits, with penalties for breaches from 2014.

Airport managing director Glyn Jones said: "LLAOL has listened to the local community and has put in place a robust plan to deliver a balanced, sustainable development, which offers a number of significant economic and social benefits. These include the creation of approximately 5,100 new jobs, increasing value to the local economy, and improving the built environment of the airport."


Rose Jacobs - Financial Times - 6 January 2013

Air travellers hit by rising ticket prices in recent years are facing another tough decade as the cost of aircraft finance joins other culprits, such as high fuel prices and airlines' capacity discipline, in exerting upward pressure on fares.

A report by PwC, the consultancy, predicts the cost of financing new aircraft purchases will rise inexorably over the coming years, as traditional sources of funding withdraw from the market.

European banks have been pulling back as they seek to comply with stricter capital requirements, and new investors from Asia and the Middle East are not moving in at a fast enough rate to take their place, the report says. Moreover, changes in the rules surrounding export credit - or government loan guarantees on some aircraft deals - are expected to drive up rates.

But demand is forecast to stay strong as airlines scramble for new, more fuel-efficient aircraft models that can reduce operating costs significantly, and as airlines in emerging markets increasingly opt to buy new rather than second-hand jets.

"It remains to be seen who will pay for the incremental costs," said Neil Hampson, one of the report's authors. But he pointed out that after a difficult decade for the aviation industry - with 9/11, Sars and swine flu, volcanic eruptions and the recession hitting traffic numbers - airlines might be reluctant to give up hard earned profit margins.

Peter Hyde, an analyst at Liberum Capital, argues the rising cost of financing could be good news for the airline industry as a whole if it means carriers are forced to maintain capacity discipline. "If they're not convinced they can persuade customers to pay more for the cost of flying, they'll be slightly more reluctant to order new planes," he said.

Since 2003, the number of aircraft deliveries made by Boeing and Airbus has climbed relatively steadily, even as the profits of the world's airlines fluctuated - with the industry as a whole recording losses in five of those years. That is in part down to easy access to credit, says the PwC report.

Mr Hampson said he expected higher rates of return to attract a wider range of investors to consider aircraft financing in the coming years, including sovereign wealth funds. "There's a lot of money washing around looking for a home. Even if by entering a market you change the market, most of these aircraft deals should yield better returns than the places where most of this money is currently parked."

Should that be slow in coming, some airlines are looking into alternative ways of financing their fleets. British Airways, for example, is considering becoming one of the first European carriers to fund future aircraft purchases with a hybrid bond.


Several airlines reported flaws in the plane this week

BBC News - 11 January 2013

US regulators have ordered a review of the 787 Dreamliner plane after a series of incidents put a question mark over the safety of Boeing's flagship plane. The review by the Federal Aviation Administration will look at the design and manufacture of the planes. It is not clear whether the planes in the air at the moment will be grounded.

An electrical fire, a brake problem, a fuel spill and cracks in the cockpit's windshield have affected Dreamliner flights in the past week.

"We are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said. "We are working with the FAA and our customers to ensure we thoroughly understand any introductory issues that arise. While we take each issue seriously, nothing we've seen in service causes us to doubt the capabilities of the airplane."

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of the most advanced aeroplanes ever created. Much of it is made from very strong, light carbon-fibre composite material. However, a spate of technical issues has hurt its image. On Friday, two new problems were found, adding to Boeing's woes.

On Friday, All Nippon Airways reported a crack in the window on the pilot's side of the cockpit. It caused no problems for the 237 passengers and nine crew on a flight from Tokyo's Haneda airport to Matsuyama, but the return flight was cancelled. The same airline said another Dreamliner flight, shuttling between Haneda and the southern Miyazaki prefecture, experienced a delay due to an oil leak from a generator inside an engine.

On Wednesday, ANA cancelled a 787 flight from Yamaguchi to Tokyo because of a brake problem. On Tuesday, Japan Airlines cancelled a Boston to Tokyo flight after about 40 gallons (151 litres) of fuel spilled.

An electrical fire broke out on board a Japan Airlines Dreamliner on Monday shortly after it landed in Boston, following a flight from Tokyo Last year, a United Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing because of an electrical problem.

In December, Qatar Airways grounded one of its 787 Dreamliners after several manufacturing faults caused electrical problems similar to those that affected the United plane. Last month, the head of Qatar Airways criticised Boeing in an interview with the BBC over several manufacturing faults that have resulted in the grounding of one of its three 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Boeing has delivered 50 of the 787s, starting in late 2011, and has orders for nearly 800 more. To get through the backlog, Boeing is increasing production to build 10 of the planes per month by the end of the year. By comparison, it builds more than one 737, Boeing's best seller, every day.

Analysis Jorn Madslien Business reporter, BBC News
Getting the Dreamliner to market was a slow and painful process. Although it completed its first test flight back in December 2009, it was the autumn of 2011 before the plane was delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways - more than four years late.

Conflicts with Boeing's suppliers contributed to the delay in making the world's first carbon-composite aircraft, but there were also plenty of technological hurdles. Now it seems many of them have not yet been overcome, with ever more airline customers questioning whether the planes are sufficiently reliable, and indeed, whether they are even safe.

Boeing insists the latest hiccups are mere teething problems, though it is clear that even in a best-case scenario the aerospace giant's reputation will have suffered a serious setback.

OUR COMMENT: It was hoped by the aviation lobby that the reduced noise and emission levels claimed by Boeing would help justify a bigger expansion in air travel while still meeting climate change reduction targets and satisfying those suffering from exposure to today's aircraft noise. Judgement on these aspects of performance awaits further assessment.

Pat Dale

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