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 - July to September 2013


Gaspard Sebag & Kari Lundgren - Bloomberg Online - 26 September 2013

London Mayor Boris Johnson said European Union proposals barring the use of state aid for the construction of airports serving more than 5 million people a year would undermine plans to grow the U.K.'s aviation capacity.

Government subsidies for large airport projects, currently assessed on a case-by-case basis, would be outlawed starting in early 2014, whether for new infrastructure or upgrades of existing facilities, according to the draft EU blueprint. "There are unintended and potentially catastrophic consequences," Johnson said in a Sept. 20 letter to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. In "tying the hands" of member states, the measures would limit London's ability to expand vital links to emerging markets in Asia and South America, he said in the document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Johnson is at the forefront of a U.K. debate over airport capacity in southeast England that pits the existing Heathrow hub against his own proposals which include building an entirely new base far to the east. The EU rules would limit London to expanding terminal capacity at existing bases with less ambitious plans that could be more easily financed, he said.

Almunia's spokesman Antoine Colombani said the European Commission has taken no decision on the matter and that the EU's regulatory arm will now start to analyze feedback received during a consultation period that ended yesterday. "We will of course carefully assess all the arguments raised, including in Mr. Johnson's letter," he said.

The Commission said on publishing draft guidelines in July that airports with annual passenger numbers above 5 million are "usually profitable and are able to cover all of their costs."

Transport for London, the body that implement's the mayor's transport strategy, said in a submission accompanying his letter that while incremental investment can usually be privately financed, the delivery of larger one-off developments in the order of tens of billions of pounds would still require aid. Such projects would include the expansion or replacement of a major international airport, according to the document.

Johnson has said Heathrow, Europe's busiest hub, should be replaced by one of two undeveloped sites in the Thames estuary or by an expanded Stansted airport, 35 miles north of London. The proposals, along with those of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other airports and stakeholders, were submitted to the state-appointed Davies Commission on U.K. airport capacity earlier this year, with a final recommendation due in 2015.

"If the changes that the EC are proposing were adopted, they would seriously damage the ability of the commission to consider all options on a level playing field," Johnson said.

TfL said in its submission that a new hub as envisaged by Johnson requires an estimated 20 billion pounds ($32 billion) of investment. Heathrow has also described as "challenging" the likelihood of raising private funds for a more modest proposal for new runways costing from 14 billion pounds, it added.

A four-runway hub could quadruple the number of cities in China and South America served from London and add 50 percent more in the U.S., while restoring routes to U.K. locations now served only from Amsterdam Schiphol, Johnson said in July. A lack of airport infrastructure across Europe could cap the number of flights to 14 million annually by 2035, 2 million fewer than demand forecasts suggest will be needed, Tfl said.


Matt McGrath, Environment Correspondent - BBC News, Stockholm - 27 September 2013

On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal", according to a landmark report on the Earth's climate.

The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change. Scientists are 95% certain that humans have been the "dominant cause" of the rise in temperatures since the 1950s. They say that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long term trends.

The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system.

WWF: ICAO Forgoes Immediate Emissions Reductions for Promise of a Future Global Plan

MONTREAL WWF Press Release 4th October 2013

Delegates to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) today promised to start work on developing a global, market based measure (MBM) to reduce aviation emissions beginning in 2020, but in doing so missed the opportunity to start reducing emissions immediately and contribute to closing the ambition gap before 2020.

"The science is clearer than ever - 2020 is too late," said Samantha Smith, WWF leader of the Global Climate & Energy Initiative. "Right after the recent IPCC release, this was the first chance for governments in ICAO to take decisive action, and they failed."

"The world has waited 16 years for ICAO to demonstrate its serious commitment to reducing aviation emissions," said Jean Leston, Transport Policy Officer of WWF-UK. "What we got today seems a very small return for that effort. We expect a lot more ambition and commitment from ICAO over the next three years if a global, market-based mechanism is ever going to materialize."

"While ICAO delegates and the airline industry will be crowing about the significant progress they have made this week, the reality is that today's decision does nothing to reduce emissions in the short term. By essentially restricting the EU's Emissions Trading System for aviation to its own carriers and airspace, ICAO has handicapped the world's leading legislation to put a price on aviation pollution and once again allowed skyrocketing emissions to continue climbing."

"Today's decision commits delegates only to the possibility of an MBM agreement in by 2016. There is no guarantee. At a time when the world's leading climate scientists are telling us that that climate change is real and is happening faster than expected, international leaders must capitalize on every immediate opportunity to ratchet down emissions."


Robert Lea, Industrial Editor - The Times - 17 September 2013

Just when Stansted appeared to be the roomy, unbusy option for flights out of the South East, the poor relation of the London airport market has announced plans to fill its pleasant Lord Foster-designed terminal with millions of Ryanair passengers.

Under the new management of Manchester Airport Group, Stansted yesterday unveiled a ten-year deal with Europe's biggest airline that envisages Ryanair increasing its presence at the airport by 50 per cent by 2024, handling 20 million passengers a year. London's third airport said that would help it to increase its total annual passenger numbers to 30 million within ten years, up from the current 17.5 million going through the Essex terminal.

Ryanair has signed up to the target in return for MAG dropping its take-off and landing charges to the Irish budget airline incrementally as it adds more passengers. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said he had never done a deal like it. The airline negotiates discounts to fly to most of the airports it uses - and has been in legal hot water for being paid to land at certain airfields. "It is unique," he said of the Stansted agreement. "We have never before done a 10-year deal."

Mr O'Leary and MAG refused to comment on how large a discount Ryanair had negotiated. Asked if the lower fares he was promising to drum up business would erode profit margins, he said: "We will cut our fares at Stansted to deliver growth."

The deal follows six months of tough negotiations during which Mr O'Leary threatened to reduce his Stansted operations. Ryanair is the dominant airline at the airport, even more so during the downturn as other airlines have left for other airports - easyJet moved to Gatwick - or closed altogether. In 2007, Ryanair had 15 million passengers at Stansted, or 63 per cent of the near - 24 million the airport was handling. It is now responsible for three in every four passengers.

Ryanair has promised to increase annual passengers from 13.2 million by 1.2 million between next April and April 2015. It plans to grow by transferring services from other airports and increasing frequencies on current Stansted routes. It will also offer new services starting from next spring to Bordeaux, Dortmund, Lisbon and Rabat.

Mr O'Leary blamed the slump in Stansted's fortunes in the past five years on the "mismanagement of BAA" and the former operator's decision from 2007 to increase take-off and landing charges. BAA was forced to sell Stansted last year for £1.5 billion to MAG, a company partly owned by the ratepayers of Greater Manchester and which operates Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.


Steve McGraph - AUN News Online - 17 September 2013

LONDON (Alliance News) - The UK air regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, Tuesday said it will consult the industry and other parties over future regulation of Stansted airport after the new operator of the airport signed deals with low-cost giants Ryanair Holdings PLC and easyJet PLC.

Stansted was sold by the owner of Heathrow Airport, BAA, after the regulator deemed it had too much control over airports in the southeast of England and Scotland. It was bought in February by Manchester Airport Group, which then set about securing new deals with the airport's biggest users.

The CAA had already published a consultation on possible future regulation for Stansted under its new owner, but said it would now defer a decision on what the regulation will be while it consults following the deal with Ryanair and easyJet. Under separate new deals, the low-cost airlines both agreed to grow operations at the airport in return for more favorable landing fees and improved facilities.

The CAA had been due to publish its proposals for regulation of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports October 3, but the proposals for Stansted won't now be published on that date. The new regulatory framework for the three biggest London airports is due to come into effect from April 1 next year.

Under Ryanair's deal with Manchester Airport Group, Europe's largest low-cost carrier has pledged to grow traffic by over 50% to over 20 million passengers a year over the next 10 years. easyJet, meanwhile, signed a deal to more than double its passenger numbers at Stansted from a current 2.8 million passengers to six million passengers a year over the next five years.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 17 September 2013

AN estimated 7,000 new jobs could be created at Stansted after Ryanair this afternoon (Monday, September 16) announced major growth over the next 10 years. The long-term agreement with Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) will see the Irish budget airline increase the number of passengers it serves there by 50 per cent. From the current level of 13.2 million passengers a year in 2012, the number will grow to more than 18m by 2018 and then to nearly 21m by 2023.

Stansted Airport is already the biggest single-site employer in the East of England region. Some 10,200 people currently work for the 190 companies based there, including 1,300 employed by Stansted Airport Ltd (MAG).

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "This deal will see our Stansted traffic grow by over 50 per cent... in return for lower costs and more efficient facilities at Stansted. This agreement proves how UK airports can flourish when released from the dead hand of the BAA monopoly and is the first dramatic initiative by MAG to reverse seven years of decline, during which Stansted's traffic fell from 23.8m to 17.5m. As Stansted's biggest airline, Ryanair looks forward to a decade of growing traffic, routes and jobs at Stansted."

The 7,000 new jobs are estimated by Ryanair on the basis of research at international airports which shows 1,000 new posts are created for every one million extra passengers a year. Stansted's single-runway capacity is 35 million passengers per annum - about twice its current level.

As part of the deal, the low-cost, short-haul carrier will encourage other airlines to fly long haul from Stansted, a press conference at Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road, London, was told. The long-term growth agreement comes seven months after MAG completed its acquisition of the airport.

Ken O'Toole, MAG's chief commercial officer, said: "The new long-term agreement between Ryanair and MAG at Stansted shows that competition really does work, and it represents great news for both passengers and UK businesses. The deal secures a new and exciting era for both Ryanair and Stansted, and we're delighted to be supporting the airline's growth over the next 10 years."

"We acquired Stansted in February believing we could significantly expand the services on offer by competing more effectively to make the most of the airport's untapped potential and spare capacity. We were confident Stansted would grow if we offered great value to airlines, increased passenger choice and better services and facilities. Today's announcement, coupled with our £80m investment in the terminal, confirms that Ryanair shares our confidence and shows how we are succeeding in transforming Stansted under new ownership."

"Stansted has a really bright future in providing international connectivity for the UK. Over the next five years, MAG wants to make Stansted the best airport in London, so we will continue to compete hard to win business from airlines in our drive for passenger growth and to provide customers with even more choice."

Ryanair, Stansted's largest airline serving more than 140 destinations during the past 12 months, has also announced four new routes from the airport for next summer. The new destinations - not currently served from Stansted - are Lisbon in Portugal, Bordeaux in France, Dortmund in Germany and Rabat in Morocco.


Jenny Chapman - Cambridge News - 20 September 2013

Michael O'Leary's claim that an extra 7,000 jobs will be created by Ryanair's latest deal with Stansted Airport owners Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has been described by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) as wild exaggeration of the worst kind. This is because it could raise false hopes and it could also be seized upon by developers in their attempts to justify the need for ever more local housebuilding, SEE claims.

"The reality is that this Ryanair deal for the next ten years will do little more than return Stansted to its 2007/08 peak, at which time the airport employed about 2,000 more people than today," the pressure group continues. Highlighting the airport's recent employment record, SSE points out that if the Michael O'Leary school of logic were to be applied, Stansted would have lost over 6,000 jobs in the past five years, in line with the fall in annual passenger numbers from 23.8 million to 17.6 million.

"Quite plainly - and thankfully - that scale of job losses has not happened," said SSE's economics adviser Brian Ross. "Michael O'Leary's claim that 1,000 jobs are created for every extra million passengers is a wild exaggeration. In reality, low cost airlines generate about 300 jobs - including indirect jobs - for every million passengers."

SSE has also expressed surprise at the about-turn which MAG appears to have undertaken to prop up falling passenger numbers. The airport has planning permission to handle 35 million passengers and 264,000 commercial flights annually and is currently operating at only half those levels.

"When MAG bought Stansted it said that it wanted to make the airport more broadly based, with more airlines and more destinations," Brian Ross continued. "Ryanair already accounts for three quarters of all Stansted's passengers and this deal will entrench Ryanair even deeper as the dominant airline at Stansted and reinforce the airport's reputation as nothing other than a mecca for cheap leisure flights, especially since it comes on top of a similar deal that MAG did with easyJet a few months ago. In other words, this is just more of the same and MAG has done exactly the opposite of what it said it would do at Stansted."

He added: "In one respect, however, we can fully understand MAG's decision to strike a deal with Ryanair: Stansted has run up losses of £206m in its past three financial years and in the past 12 months it handled its lowest number of flights for 14 years. Something had to be done and, ultimately, it's a commercial decision for MAG to decide how best to use Stansted's spare capacity."

Ryanair said its job creation figures of 1,000 jobs for every 1 million passengers is taken directly from research produced by Airports Council International, which is the representative body for Europe's largest airports groups. "This research report confirms that 950 - 1,000 "on-site" airport jobs are created for every 1 million passengers at an international airport."

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "MAG is crystal clear about its ambition and plans for Stansted - to be the best airport in London. There's lots to do but we've made a great start."


Businessadvertiser Online - 20 September 2013

A member of the Government's advisory group on how to expand Britain's airport capacity has stood down after campaigners raised concerns over potential bias relating to Stansted Airport.

Geoff Muirhead has stepped down from his Government-appointed position on the Airports Commission after campaigners highlighted a potential conflict of interest and initiated legal action. The Department for Transport (DfT) said there was "no evidence whatsoever of bias" but agreed by mutual consent with Mr Muirhead that the "prudent" course of action would be for him to stand down.

The accusations from the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group stem from Mr Muirhead's links with Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which now owns Stansted Airport and has submitted proposals for expanding it to the commission. Although he stood down from his role as MAG chief executive in 2010, Mr Muirhead worked in an ambassadorial role for the company until earlier this year. When he was appointed to the Airports Commission in October 2012, MAG did not own Stansted but has since purchased the airport which serves London and the South East.

The Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group raised concerns of bias earlier this year and this month initiated legal proceedings against the Government, according to its website. A DfT spokeswoman said there was "no implication against Mr Muirhead's integrity" after he stood down. The Airports Commission said Mr Muirhead acted properly at all times but recognised that it was appropriate for him to step down to stop any perceptions of the commission's integrity being compromised.

The DfT spokeswoman said: "It has been decided by mutual consent that Geoff Muirhead will step down from his role as a member of the Airports Commission. The Secretary of State (Patrick McLoughlin) would like to thank Mr Muirhead for his contribution to this important work. "Mr Muirhead was appointed to the Airports Commission in October 2012, at which point Manchester Airports Group did not own Stansted Airport. MAG has since purchased Stansted and following its submission to the Airports Commission concerning options for the expansion of Stansted Airport, questions have been raised about the appearance of a potential conflict of interest.

"Although there is no evidence whatsoever of bias towards the MAG submission concerning Stansted, we have agreed that the prudent course is for him not to continue as a commissioner to avoid any perception of a potential conflict of interest. Both the Secretary of State and Mr Muirhead are fully committed to the success of the Airports Commission's work. We are quite clear that there is no implication against Mr Muirhead's integrity, which is emphasised by the importance he has placed on maintaining public confidence in the work of the Airports Commission. The commission is content that the processes in place and decisions taken by the commission to date are robust."

An Airports Commission spokesman said: "The members of the Airports Commission would like to thank Geoff Muirhead for his valuable and insightful contributions to their work programme. At all times in carrying out his work for the commission, he has acted properly. However, while they regret that this decision has been necessary, they accept that in the changed circumstances following Manchester Airports Group's submission of its proposals for expanding Stansted Airport, it has become appropriate for Geoff to stand down to safeguard against any perception that the integrity of the process may be compromised."

The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign group welcomed the decision but said they were disappointed that it took so long for the commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, and the Transport Secretary Mr McLoughlin to recognise Mr Muirhead's position was untenable. Peter Sanders, the group's chair, called for the commission and Mr McLoughlin to answer questions sent by the SSE legal team about whether the commission's work had already been "tainted".

Mr Sanders said: "By ignoring our concerns and allowing the matter to drag on, Sir Howard Davies and the Secretary of State have potentially compromised the work of the commission already and created the possibility of considerable extra delay, which is in nobody's interests. "Given that Mr Muirhead has been actively involved as a member of the commission for almost a year, we now need to know to what extent the work of the commission may already have been tainted."

"It is only when we have answers to the questions sent to the Secretary of State and commission by our legal advisers that we will be able to ascertain how much of the commission's work to date may need to be revisited." Mr Sanders added: "It is important to make clear that SSE's purpose in pursuing this action has always been - and will continue to be - to ensure that the issues regarding potential airport expansion are examined fairly, impartially and independently, and that this is seen to be the case."


Travelweekly Online - 24 September 2013

As many as 230,000 jobs could be put at risk in the Thames Valley if the government decides to close Heathrow and build a new hub airport, a new study claims. One in every 20 jobs in the area is directly attributable to the economic activity generated by the west London airport, it found.

Economic consultancy Regeneris considered the regional effect of three main airport options: an expanded Heathrow; a "do-nothing" scenario; and a new hub to the east or northeast of London, with Heathrow closing. If Heathrow were closed, "in the long run, of the order of 170,000 to 230,000 jobs could be at risk in the area due to their links to and use of Heathrow for travel". This represents 7-9.5% of jobs in the region, the Financial Times reports today.

The study was focused on one of the UK's most powerful economic areas: the so-called "western wedge" along the M4 motorway from the west London suburbs to Oxford, Newbury, Guildford and Basingstoke. With a range of IT, telecommunications, media and scientific research companies, it accounts for £137 billion in gross value added, a measure of economic output - or 10% of the UK total.

Regeneris managing director Stephen Nicol said one of the attractions of the western wedge for companies was its proximity to the UK's hub airport. "Heathrow airport is an enormously important driver of the area's economy," he told the newspaper.

The study was commissioned by West London Business and four local enterprise partnerships: Buckinghamshire Thames Valley, Enterprise M3, Oxfordshire and Thames Valley Berkshire. It looked ahead to 2030, when any airport development is expected to be completed, and again in 2040, when the effects would be "fully worked through".

If Heathrow were expanded, extra activity by 2040 would create 20,000 new jobs and raise gross value added by about £3 billion, the study said. Extra benefits of £230 million to £300 million would accrue from improved connectivity in the area.


Michael Jarvis - Herts & Essex Observer - 24 September 2013

ESSEX County Council (ECC) has warned the commission looking into the future of aviation in the South East against proposals for an "unwanted and unviable" super-airport at Stansted.

It has instead called for greater focus on realistic, affordable and practical options that will allow "sensible growth" in Essex. The Airports Commission, chaired by economist Sir Howard Davies, has been asked by the Government to look into whether the UK needs more airport capacity in order to cope with increased demand for air travel.

It has been asked to make short-term recommendations by the end of December and to provide a long-term plan when it submits its final report in the summer of 2015 - after the next General Election. Earlier this summer, Stansted's owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), agreed with Mayor of London Boris Johnson that four runways at Stansted was one solution to the capacity issue - while stressing that making full use of the low-cost base's 35 million passengers-a-year single-runway capacity is the priority.

In a report published today (Tuesday, September 24), ECC said that proposals like closing Heathrow and building five-runway "super-hub airports", either at Stansted or in the Thames Estuary, would be too costly and disruptive to deliver.

Council leader Cllr David Finch said: "The UK does not have the time or the money to waste on unpractical or undeliverable schemes that could suck up a sum of taxpayers' money equivalent to twice the UK's defence budget. Any proposal for a giant super-hub airport at Stansted is completely unacceptable to the council and Essex residents."

While ECC supports sensible growth at Stansted, it does not believe the case for a second runway exists at the moment. However, it understands that additional runway capacity at airports across the South East - including Gatwick and Stansted - is likely to be inevitable in the long term.

Cllr Finch added: "Stansted has the scope to more than double its annual passenger and freight numbers before anyone even thinks of the need for a second runway, but this commission has to look at long-term options and we have to be realistic about that. If ministers in London do impose further capacity on our airport, they need to know that a bill comes with that. We would need assurances that the environmental impact would be minimised and that there would be massive investment in road and rail infrastructure for Essex."

In July, Uttlesford District Council - the planning authority for Stansted Airport - similarly looked to ground fears that Stansted could become a four-runway airport. Deputy leader Cllr Jackie Cheetham, who chairs the Stansted Airport Advisory Panel, said: "The council feels the commission should be doing more to encourage a national solution to this issue rather than focusing on meeting demand in the South East, as it is doing at present."

"The new owners at Stansted have made it clear that they regard utilising the unused capacity at existing airports as the best solution for air passengers. The council thinks this is a sensible approach. Stansted has planning permission to accommodate 35 million passengers a year but is currently handling around 17.7 million, so it could double the number of passengers without needing to expand. We have long campaigned for improved rail connections to the airport and faster journey times to London. In our view there would need to be a commitment to provide these ahead of any increase in passengers, let alone any possible future expansion. This would have to be done in a way that didn't adversely affect rail services for other non-airport travellers and commuters."

Cllr Cheetham added: "It is worth pointing out that the Government is several years away from making any decision regarding the Commission's findings and that airport operators are many years away from acting on any policy decisions that may arise from them."

Stansted's biggest customer, Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, has recommended that all three London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - be allowed to add an extra runway "at the earliest possible date" and rubbished any new greenfield airport plan such as "Boris Island".

Boss Michael O'Leary said: "Three new runways at the three competing London airports is the only sensible and consumer-focused solution to the chronic runway capacity shortages in London and the South East. We cannot wait 30 years and allow billions of pounds to be wasted on 'Boris Island'. Sadly, the very appointment of the Davies Commission is just the latest example of the spineless approach of David Cameron's Government, which talks about stimulating growth and job creation, but, instead of pursuing growth policies, panders to tree huggers and Nimbys."

Last week, it was announced that Ryanair - Stansted's biggest customer - and MAG had signed a 10-year deal to add an estimated 7,000 new jobs and almost eight million extra passengers. Under the agreement, Ryanair must deliver an increase in passengers at Stansted of more than 50 per cent - growing from 13.2m today to almost 21m in 2023 - in return for a "modest" discount in fees.

Mr O'Leary made it clear he was prepared to cannibalise Ryanair's services at other airports to keep his part of the bargain and land an enlarged fleet at the airport from next April - in advance of new aircraft arriving in September. In all, the low-cost carrier will base 43 aircraft at Stansted, up from 37, servicing 120 routes on more than 2,000 weekly flights and will add Bordeaux, Dortmund, Lisbon and Rabat to its network.

The expansion will also see a change in flying patterns away from the morning and evening peaks to a more even daily distribution as MAG seeks to make full use of Stansted's single runway. The Ryanair deal follows June's agreement with Stansted's second biggest airline, Easyjet, to grow its traffic from 2.8m travellers a year to six million over the next five years.

Stansted's managing director, Andrew Harrison, said the latest pact was far from Stansted putting all its eggs in a low-cost basket, but in fact key to unlocking a new phase in the airport's evolution: Ryanair will work with MAG, using its connectivity to lure long-haul operators to Essex. "In getting growth with Ryanair, we are setting the scene for the growth in long haul, too," he said.

MAG's chief commercial officer, Ken O'Toole, was emphatic: Stansted's catchment area has 46m passengers but serves just 17m, and his aim was to use MAG's long-haul contacts at Manchester, where 80 airlines operate, to go head to head with Heathrow and Gatwick. He said: "We acquired Stansted in February believing we could significantly expand the services on offer by competing more effectively to make the most of the airport's untapped potential and spare capacity. MAG wants to make Stansted the best airport in London, so we will continue to compete hard to win business from airlines in our drive for passenger growth and to provide customers with even more choice."


Eleanor Busby - Cambridge News - 19 September 2013

Town councillors voted against building any extra runways at Stansted Airport last week.

At a Saffron Walden town council meeting on Thursday, councillors rejected all the proposals issued by the owners of the airport - Manchester Airports Group (MAG) - in July.

In a submission to the Airports Commission, MAG outlined plans for a second runway to be added - either to the north-west or east of the exisiting runway. The owners also presented the airport as a good place for four runways in order to replace Heathrow as London's hub airport.

Cllr Richard Harrington proposed for the town councillors to reject all three proposals presented by MAG. All the councillors, except Cllr Cliff Treadwell who abstained, voted against further expansaion at Stansted Airport.

Cllr Harrington, who presented the vote, said: "It is the longstanding policy of Saffron Walden town council to oppose any additional runways at Stansted and this is not changing."

The Davies Commission - looking into how to meet the demand for additional airport capacity - will draw up a shortlist of airport plans by the end of the year.


Nicholas Cecil - Standard News Online - 23 September 2013

Ed Miliband has warned the Government-appointed airports chief of Labour's deep concerns over plans for a third runway at Heathrow, The Standard reveals today.

The Labour leader held talks with Sir Howard Davies, who chairs the Airports Commission, in which he is understood to have reiterated his party's stance on proposals for airport expansion in the South East. Labour is sceptical that a third runway, and possibly a fourth, can be built at Heathrow without causing more noise and pollution misery for hundreds of thousands of Londoners. It also insists that any airport expansion will have to meet the target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Labour is not ruling out supporting a bigger Heathrow but it is likely to demand convincing evidence that extra noise and pollution can be sufficiently mitigated. At a fringe meeting yesterday, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "There are really legitimate concerns about the impact of a third runway at Heathrow on local communities in terms of noise and air quality. However, we will have to await the Airports Commission report to see what Sir Howard Davies recommends and it's important not to prejudge his work."

Aviation sources said Sir Howard, former director of the London School of Economics, was concerned that Ms Eagle was moving towards favouring a second runway at Gatwick. The Airports Commission is due to deliver an interim report this year before publishing its final conclusion after the 2015 general election. But Labour could be tempted to reject Heathrow expansion before the election to boost its chances of winning several key marginal seats, including Battersea, Brentford and Isleworth and Ealing Central and Acton.

Labour has also criticised the delay in publishing the final Airports Commission report and two former trade ministers, Lord Digby Jones and Lord Mervyn Davies, have written to Sir Howard to raise this issue with him. They wrote: "We are increasingly concerned about the gradual decline in Britain's global aviation capacity when compared with our European competitors and the negative impact this is already having on our economic competitiveness. While the UK has continued to do nothing, many of our developed economy global competitors such as Germany have already modernised their airport infrastructure."

Heathrow bosses have published proposals for a third runway, and even a fourth. They say the impact will be cut by locating runways to the west of the airport and using quieter aircraft - a claim disputed by anti-expansion campaigners.

Gatwick's owners today said they could lure one of the global airline alliances if they win permission to build a second runway. Stewart Wingate, chief executive at the Sussex airport, said he was targeting either SkyTeam or Star Alliance but conceded that OneWorld, led by British Airways, would never leave its Heathrow base.

Although the alliances have said they want to remain at Heathrow, Mr Wingate said: "If an alliance were to move down at some future point into Gatwick not only would there be room for that alliance to grow, but that would create more space at Heathrow for the other remaining alliances to grow too."

Gatwick wants to build a new runway to enable the airport to deal with 87 million passengers each year by 2050 compared to 34 million now. Stansted's owners today launched a campaign for an ungraded rail link to London as they seek to attract long-haul flights to the Essex airport.


Daniel Michaels - Environment & Science Online - 19 September 2013

BRUSSELS - World aviation officials are "very close" to resolving a long-running fight over airplane pollution that has threatened to spark a global trade war, said European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.

Air-transport officials from across the globe meet in Montreal Tuesday to tackle issues including airline security, air-traffic control modernization and flight safety. Their top priority, though, is striking a deal to limit aircraft emissions of greenhouse gasses. An EU program to charge all airlines landing or taking off in Europe for their carbon-dioxide pollution provoked international ire and threats of retaliation before it was suspended last year.

Participants at the triennial assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a 191-country arm of the United Nations, acknowledge the difficulty of getting so many governments to agree on anything substantial. The U.S. is generally positive about the proposal, but the positions of China and India remain uncertain, say people close to the talks.

Still, after a lower-level ICAO body early this month approved a draft proposal on environmental issues, attendees are cautiously optimistic for the assembly, which runs through Oct. 4. "Now we are really very close to having a satisfactory solution," Mr. Kallas said in an interview.

Industry officials and regulators want to find a way to limit growth in airplane emissions without crippling aviation. If countries don't reach a deal, "there will be huge uncertainty in global aviation" and the threat of trade battles, Mr. Kallas said. Failure in Montreal will almost certainly prompt the EU to reinstate its earlier emissions-trading program, Mr. Kallas said. EU countries "are bound by laws."

The fight has been brewing since 2008, when the EU adopted its program to charge airlines for their carbon-dioxide emissions. The plan, known as the emissions-trading system, sparked global opposition because other governments argued the EU's method of levying carbon charges on all flights at EU airports infringed on their sovereignty.

The EU late last year relented, and for one year limited its plan to cover only flights between airports in the now 28-country bloc. Brussels is now proposing a more permanent shrinkage of the program to cover flights within EU airspace, regardless of their origin or destination. Some other countries still oppose this, and airlines say the logistics of implementing it will be messy. But the shift has significantly defused foreign opposition.

"The key has been cooperation with the United States," Mr. Kallas said. The U.S. had previously led a group of nations, dubbed the "coalition of the unwilling," that fought the EU emissions plan. Other countries have refrained from commenting after earlier opposition. China last year displayed its anger by blocking its airlines from buying dozens of big jetliners from the Airbus unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., EADS officials have said. Chinese officials haven't openly acknowledged the move.

The proposal under discussion now calls for ICAO to spend the next three years developing a program to cut emissions using what are known as market-based measures. These generally center around carbon offsetting, in which emissions from one source can be counterbalanced by environmental measures elsewhere. The program would then be adopted at ICAO's next assembly, in 2016, and take effect in 2020.

One remaining dispute is whether the EU should continue its emissions-trading system in its own airspace until then. IATA and some foreign countries oppose this. Mr. Kallas said the EU can't budge on the issue after making many concessions. "We have certain mandates, certain limits, we cannot cross," he said.

Airlines and environmentalists - often at odds on aviation emissions - say the deal under debate in Montreal isn't ideal but may be better than continued disputes. "Environment is a global challenge. Aviation is a global industry. And we need a global way forward," said Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group. Annie Petsonk, international counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, said indecision at ICAO "would tip the issue back into the acrimony of a trade war, while carbon pollution continues to pile up in the atmosphere."

EU officials will spend the next 10 days haggling with their counterparts before the full assembly votes, probably on Oct. 4. "It's all about politics now, not about the environment anymore," said Bill Hemmings, program manager for aviation and shipping at Transport & Environment, an advocacy group in Brussels.


Chris Stevenson - The Independent on Sunday - 22 September 2013

Scientists are to tell the international community that they are at least 95 per cent sure that human activity is the main cause of climate change, according to one of the most authoritative reports on the subject.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will say next week that certainty has increased from "very likely" to "extremely likely" that human activity has caused more than half of the observed temperature rise from 1951 to 2010, in a large part due to fossil fuels and deforestation. The Fifth Assessment Report, known as AR5, is the IPCC's most definitive yet, and will run to thousands of pages. It will be released in several stages over the coming year after contributions from more than 800 scientists in 85 countries.

It is set to be finalised by a group of scientists before its release on 27 September, but draft pages show that in addition to temperature rises, changes are being observed throughout the climate system. Findings from the IPCC are expected to show that the world's oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic, with sea levels rising. They also indicate that the potential for weather to become more extreme depends on which of a number of potential scenarios come to pass.

Sea levels have risen by 19cm in the past century, with the pace accelerating due to melting ice and sea water expanding as the world warms. They project that sea levels will rise between 26cm and 81cm by 2100, depending on the severity of the temperature increase - now "likely" to rise by 2?4C by 2100. The oceans have absorbed 93 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases between 1971 and 2010, according to the draft report, with the top 75m warming by at least 0.1C a decade.

Leaks from the draft report have also caused controversy. The IPCC's findings show that the rate of warming has slowed down in the past 15 years with the rise dropping from 0.12C per decade between 1951 and 2012, to 0.05C between 1998 and 2012, which has been seized on by climate change sceptics. However, experts state that such a drop can be explained by natural variations in the climate and factors such as volcanic eruptions that spew ash into the air, which can dim sunlight and cool temperatures. Such a "hiatus" is not expected to last, they add.

The IPCC also cites the case of Antarctic sea ice, which has increased by 1.5 per cent per decade, with the reasons for this not fully understood. However, the report states with confidence that global ice sheets are losing mass and that the pace of melting is increasing.

The draft report has been welcomed by climate change activists, with the potential it brings to push governments into action, but some doubt that the political will exists to make the change. "The report confirms what we already know, rather than offering radical new insights," said Dr Doug Parr, the chief scientist of Greenpeace UK. "One would hope that the report will give impetus to the political process. The excuses for inaction are dying away and the IPCC report helps that process." He added: "This report forms the bedrock of showing that there is still a problem and that things have got to change."

But Tom Burke, the founding director of E3G, a non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate the global move towards sustainable development, who is also currently an environmental policy adviser to the mining giant Rio Tinto, claimed that "political will has declined" in recent years over climate change. "I think politicians are distracted by the economic crisis, but you also have trillions in investment in fossil fuels through the next decade and basically if you solve the issue you are going to take the value out of that," he said.

Mr Burke added that this "was not a criticism of the IPCC report" and that we would still see events "drive public opinion" on the issue of climate change as the 2015 deadline for a new deal - set by the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha last year - draws ever closer.


Huffington Post Online - 10 September 2013

Flying is often the cheapest, quickest and most convenient way to get to that beach, city break or weekend away. Unfortunately it's also the cheapest and quickest way to heat the planet! Aviation accounts for about 5% of all global warming; its emissions are so large that considered as a country, it would be the world's 7th largest emitter of CO2, between Germany and South Korea.

Despite its huge emissions, little has been done by the international community. 17 years of discussions at the responsible UN body, ICAO, has yet to result in any action to regulate emissions. In the meantime, the EU decided it needed to act to on its runaway emissions. But a storm of international protest orchestrated largely by Washington obliged Europe to back down and give ICAO more time. Just last week we heard that the latest proposal from across the pond is to permanently castrate the EU's action by slashing the emissions reductions to less than a half - without any guarantee that ICAO will deliver on global emissions.

Also, though it may seem that everyone is flying these days, aviation remains predominately a pastime of the well-off: a 2011 report shows the average household income of UK leisure passengers travelling from a predominantly low cost carrier airport like Stansted was more than a third higher than the UK average. The income disparity at airports like Heathrow is presumably much greater.

Meanwhile the debate over whether the aviation industry deserves the multiple subsidies it receives in Europe heats up. First among the lavish concessions is that aviation fuel is not taxed: drivers pay on average 40p per litre to fill up the family car while the average EU flight receives an £8,000 tax-break every time it fills up. This is a £27 billion fuel tax break across the EU every year for both EU and foreign carriers. Moreover there is no VAT on airline tickets, which costs EU countries well over £6 billion a year in lost revenue and means higher taxes for all to make up the shortfall!

In addition it's now becoming apparent that aviation receives at least £2.5 billion a year in 'State Aid' - direct subsidies from EU taxpayers - but quite likely very much more. The EU has very strict rules as to when and how states can grant such subsidies to industry. For aviation these rules ban any country from funding day-to-day operations at airports. The European Commission now openly admits that its rules have been flaunted for years by national and local authorities keen on having a local airport. Whether an airport is needed or can make money doesn't seem to matter. But instead of enforcing the rules, the Commission intends to do the opposite; sanction billions in past illegal aid and legitimise these practices which squander taxpayer money for a further "transitional" 10 years.

All these egregious tax breaks not only distort competition, deplete government coffers and inflate wage taxes, they accelerate climate change by boosting passenger numbers through artificially cheap tickets. Aviation's emissions in the EU have expanded dramatically, particularly from the low-cost sector operating from highly-subsidised regional airports. We estimate that the additional CO2 generated by these subsidised flights is probably greater than the amount of CO2 that the EU's aviation climate regulation was supposed to reduce.

With accelerated changes to our climate, urgent action is required by the EU to end all tax breaks for aviation. The tax loopholes have no demonstrable benefit for European citizens, also apply to foreign tourists and airlines and lead to all of us, rich and poor, to involuntarily subsidise those who fly through lower take home pay.

At the very least the fastest growing and most climate intensive from of travel should pay its way just like all the other sectors of the economy. Taxing the poor so that the rich may heat the planet about the fastest way possible doesn't add up. Welcome to the tax-free world of aviation.


Anne Paylor - ATW Online - 23 September 2013

Scandinavian low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has confirmed reports it has summoned Boeing management representatives to Oslo later this week to address reliability issues that have dogged the carrier's two new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The airline said a number of teething problems had forced it to ground the new aircraft, the first of which was delivered in late June, several times over recent weeks, causing unacceptable disruption and delay for passengers. A Norwegian spokesperson confirmed these problems included brakes, hydraulic pump and power issues. Further problems last weekend - understood to have involved oxygen supply to the cockpit and a valve problem - have prompted the carrier to call the meeting later this week.

Norwegian SVP-corporate communications Anne-Sissel Skånvik said: "We will tell Boeing that this situation is far from good enough. We have not had the reliability that we had expected from brand new planes, so something must happen, fast. Our expectation is that their strict quality control systems rule out 'snag' and technical issues before delivery to the customer."

In a statement Boeing responded: "Boeing is working with Norwegian to address issues. We are disappointed to have issues so early in our 787 operations. We regret the disruption caused to Norwegian and its passengers. We are committed to improving the 787's in-service dispatch reliability and are applying the resources required to achieve the results that we and our customers expect. We have a significant focus on component reliability improvements and are working airline-by-airline to ensure we have the right support in place to help each airline through the entry-into-service process."

Boeing also said its 787 fleet is averaging about 175 revenue flights per day, has flown more than 12,000 revenue flights since return to service in April, and more than 30,000 revenue flights since the 787 entered service. Norwegian has ordered eight 787 Dreamliners, the third of which is due to be delivered in 2013, with a further four in 2014 and one in 2015.

OUR COMMENT: The Dreamliner has been promoted as the quieter low emission plane of the future that will help solve concerns about aviation's effects on the environment.

Pat Dale


Environmental organisations are opposing plans for airport expansions
in the UK, claiming that it is unsustainable and unnecessary

Bonnie Gardiner - Business Reporter Online - 2 September 2013

As the debate continues over how to improve capacity at airports in London, environmental organisation Friends of the Earth says that the concept is "nothing more than a political football".

"We don't think that the business case for expansion is being made robustly enough," says Jane Thomas, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "This stuff is being kicked around like a political football. A lot of this is political posturing, and that costs the communities and the environment a huge amount, so we urge politicians to be very mindful of that."

The stress in response to decreasing air travel for business reasons is not taking into account the different ways in which people can conduct business, insists Thomas. "At the moment we are still the destination of choice. Business traffic is falling, but it's because people are using video conferences; executives aren't needed to jet around the world. People are doing business differently and this new model hasn?t been factored in."

Thomas also notes that many regional companies conduct their business in Europe, where air travel is unnecessary with services such as Eurostar and the upcoming completion of HS2. An alternative suggestion to free up airport capacity would be to scrap short-haul flights around the UK, for which there are already adequate alternatives. "It's ridiculous in Heathrow there are flights to Manchester, Leeds and Scotland," says Thomas. "You've got runways that are used for long-haul destinations that take on short-haul flights and that's why the capacity at Heathrow is 97 per cent; poor usage of runway."

London mayor Boris Johnson has long rallied for a new hub airport to be built in the Thames estuary, despite similar proposals being rejected since 1943 on economic and environmental grounds. In May, the Commons Transport Committee said that the "Boris Island" and other estuary airport proposals would be hugely expensive, could harm wildlife and mean the closure of Heathrow. The committee and the majority of airlines are in favour of building a third runway at Heathrow, while some would prefer expansion of Gatwick or Stansted.

Aviation is expected to account for one quarter of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The RSPB, WWF UK and Heathrow campaign group HACAN submitted a report to the government, in which CE Delft found that once a city reaches a certain level of "connectedness", further expansion is unlikely to significantly affect the economy.

The government's airport commission, headed by Lord Davies, has been set up to examine aviation capacity and the need for expansion in greater detail, and will produce its final recommendations in a report to be published in 2015.


Transportxtra Online - 6 September 2013

Opponents of plans to expand Stansted Airport have initiated legal proceedings against the Government over Geoff Muirhead's membership of the Airports Commission.

Muirhead is the former chief executive of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which now owns Stansted. MAG has submitted Stansted expansion plans to the commission. Pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion says that although Muirhead retired as MAG's chief executive in 2010 he continued to work for the group until January 2013.


Travelmole Online - 3 September 2013

TUI Travel is calling for an industry standard on reporting fuel and carbon efficiency for UK airlines to make comparisons easier.

The operator believes it would enable greater transparency so that customers can choose which airline to fly with and the Government to use the information to adjust taxes.

According to the tour operator's research, 50% of customers felt it was very important that their holiday company be more transparent about what they are doing to reduce their impact on the environment and to support local communities. Two thirds of customers stated issues about carbon emissions, climate change and pollution were very important to them.

Jane Ashton, director of sustainable development at TUI Travel PLC, said: "If all airlines were reporting on carbon emissions using consistent metrics and sources of measurement then we believe the Government could start to use this information to adjust taxes that they are currently imposing on airlines".


Tom Bawden - The Independent - 5 September 2013

The ozone pollution caused by flights over the UK is among the lowest of any country in the world - but only because the sheer volume of flights to and from the country have already left the atmosphere so thick with the greenhouse gas that it has become relatively much more difficult to generate more of it, a new report finds.

Research into nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from aircraft reveals that the amount of the ozone greenhouse gas they produce varies considerably from region to region, with flights to and from Australia and New Zealand producing the most.

Ozone is produced when nitrogen dioxide emissions react with sunlight - the other reason why flights over and around the UK are relatively low producers of the gas, which is responsible for climate warming and health hazards such as respiratory problems.

Steven Barrett, lead author of the paper, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: "Our findings show that the cleanest parts of the atmosphere exhibit the most dramatic response to new emissions," with the area over the Pacific, around 1,000 kilometres to the east of the Solomon Islands, being the most sensitive.

Emissions of oxides of nitrogen from flights over the Pacific produce 5.1 times as much ozone as an equivalent flight would do over the UK and are 3.7 times higher than for the US. This is because - unlike the UK - there are relatively few flights in the Pacific region, meaning there is proportionately less ozone in the atmosphere. Furthermore, sunlight levels are high.

As a result, 1kg of aircraft emissions over the Pacific creates 15kg of ozone, compared to just 3kg over the UK. This is the first study to examine the environmental impact of specific flight routes, rather than aviation more generally.

"The places that the sensitivities are highest now are the fastest growing regions in terms of civil aviation growth, so there could potentially be ways to achieve significant reductions in the climate impact of aviation by focussing on re-routing aircraft around the particular regions of the world where ozone formation is highly sensitive to emissions of oxides of nitrogen," Mr Barrett said. "Of course, longer flights are going to burn more fuel and emit more CO2, so there will be a trade-off between increasing flight distance and other climate impacts, such as the effect of ozone," he added.


Reuters Point Carbon - 5 September 2013

The EU agreed to a deal late Wednesday to scale back its law regulating carbon from flights as U.N. negotiators pledged to craft a global pact on aviation emissions that would not take effect for seven years. EU officials agreed at U.N. talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace in the bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), said the EU's top climate official Jos Delbeke, a move that would scale down a law that covers all flights to and from Europe.

The deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting of the U.N.'s aviation body ICAO ending October 4 and by EU lawmakers, drew fire from green groups and sparked a renewed threat of legal action by European airlines. "There are bits and pieces of that text that make everybody unhappy. So it's maybe not too far away from an ideal compromise," said Delbeke at an event at the EU Parliament in Brussels.

The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year to give ICAO more time to strike a global deal and avert a global trade war from major trading partners such as China, India and the US. The agreement will force airlines to surrender more permits for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than the current temporary practice of regulating domestic EU flights, boosting Carbon, analysts said this week.

Bill Hemmings from the environmental group T&E said the move was an "unnecessary concession" that had little to do with efforts to tackle climate change and did not amount to a guarantee that ICAO would tackle aviation emissions globally. "This is appeasement on a grand scale. How can it be that the future of EU policy in this sector can be decided behind closed doors by 40 faceless men and a few women in Montreal?" he told the Brussels event.

Peter Liese, a senior member of the EU Parliament, said the assembly needed to scrutinize the plan further but hinted that it may have to accept the measure as the best possible compromise. "It is far from an ideal solution... (but) I'm really concerned that if we just oppose what is on the table then we may see a total collapse of our effort," said Liese.

He said the Parliament might propose to merely to extend its suspension the global reach of the EU ETS rather than re-working its law permanently. "Personally I would not be ready to give another blank check to ICAO and say if they don't agree in 2016 we just look at it then," he added, referring to when the U.N. body has pledged to finalize the global deal.

Legal Threat
The EU Parliament and member states would have to agree to the new law by early next year to prevent an automatic resumption of existing legislation. But this could re-start a legal case from the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) over fears it will distort competition, said John Hanlon, secretary-general of the group. "We will be watching very closely... If (the deal) is not going to deliver what we have a right to expect, we will reactivate that suit," said Hanlon.

ELFAA represents some of Europe's biggest carriers including Easyjet and Ryanair and believes its members face discrimination under an EU-only scheme versus carriers with dominant business outside Europe.


The Commission investigating London's airport capacity could
underestimate the impact of noise on people under the flight path
because it is working from outdated maps, councils have warned

David Millward - Daily Telegraph - 8 September 2013

The 2M group, an all-party alliance of 24 local authorities, has voiced fears the inquiry led by Sir Howard Davies, could fail to take into account the increase in flights and shift in population over the last 30 years. According to the group, which opposes the expansion of Heathrow, the Commission is set to rely on noise surveys which were compiled in the early 1980s.

It said that relying on this data could leave several hundred thousand people being subjected to even greater levels of noise nuisance. According to the group not only has the number of flights risen dramatically since the study was compiled in 1982, but new communities have found themselves under the flight path, notably in London's Docklands. In addition noise levels deemed acceptable in the 1980s - 57 decibels - have been deemed excessive by the EU and a study commissioned by the previous Government.

"The problem with the noise measure produced by the original 1980s study is that it does not bear any relation to real-life experience," said Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council, one of the members of the 2M group.

"It is difficult for a measure to command public confidence when it effectively tells people living in places like Barnes, Fulham, Putney, Ealing, Chelsea, Stockwell and Windsor that they are not affected by noise because they live outside the 57 decibel area around Heathrow. Our own evidence as local councils responding every day to complaints on aircraft noise suggests that the true number affected by Heathrow operations is around 1m - four times the figure implied by the 57dB contour."

Similar concerns have been voiced by the London Assembly, where members from all parties are backing Boris Johnson's opposition to Heathrow's expansion. It has told the Davies Commission that 725,000 people - three times more than any other European airport - have been affected by noise from Heathrow.

"The Davies Commission is clearly concerned about aviation noise and is prepared to listen to the concerns of Londoners, many more of whom are now experiencing unbearable disturbance," said Murad Qureshi, Chair of the Assembly's Environment Committee. "Once confined to West London, this is now a pan London issue which cannot be ignored any longer. We are completely against any expansion of Heathrow, either through increasing passenger numbers or building more runways."

"Already thousands of Londoners are unable to sleep at night and many children in the capital have their lessons disrupted by plane noise. Expanding passenger numbers would also go against ongoing attempts to tackle air pollution in London. The views of Londoners on aircraft noise are crystal clear. We hope the Davies Commission can see the level of concern being expressed by Londoners is now such that it must be a key consideration in any decisions over future airport capacity."


Decisions could be made on surveys over 30 years old

Chiswickw4 Online - 6 September 2013

Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion have called on the Airports Commission to order a new study of attitudes to aircraft noise. Without an updated study the councils fear the Commission will be limited to basing recommendations on sites for new airport capacity on surveys carried out more than 30 years ago.

The 2M Group has also republished the ANASE study into attitudes to aircraft noise which was rejected by the last Government. ANASE, which reported in 2007, showed that the official method for measuring community annoyance did not take account of rising numbers of aircraft. The councils say that, while adopting the ANASE findings would provide the commission with a more robust benchmark, the real answer is to order a brand new study that properly reflects current attitudes.

Hillingdon leader Ray Puddifoot said: "It shouldn't be down to the local authorities to resurrect the ANASE findings. It is astonishing that neither the last Government nor the present one has done this. We took the decision to invite the ANASE team to address the concerns expressed about their work at the time. This is the first time they have been given this opportunity. We believe the updated study is an important body of evidence which we are happy to make available to the Davies Commission."

Wandsworth leader Ravi Govindia said: "The problem with the noise measure produced by the original 1980s study is that it does not bear any relation to real-life experience. It is difficult for a measure to command public confidence when it effectively tells people living in places like Barnes, Fulham, Putney, Ealing, Chelsea, Stockwell and Windsor that they are not affected by noise because they live outside the 57 decibel (dB) area around Heathrow. Our own evidence as local councils responding every day to complaints on aircraft noise suggests that the true number affected by Heathrow operations is around 1m - four times the figure implied by the 57dB contour."

Today's noise averaging system (Leq) was introduced following the ANIS study in 1982 - more than 30 years ago. While this new metric gave greater weight to the noise energy produced by individual aircraft at source, it has failed to give adequate weight to a near doubling of noise episodes at Heathrow during the standardised 16-hour period. As a result complaints from residents grew while the contour itself was shrinking.

The accompanying map clearly shows the vast difference between the 57dB contour and what 2M say is the more accurate and relevant measure of noise nuisance - 55dB.

The Airports Commission, which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies, examines the need for additional UK airport capacity and recommends to Government how this can be met.

In their evidence to the Commission the councils call for:
* A new social survey of community attitudes to aircraft noise that can provide a rational basis for assessments on future capacity
* A new noise threshold for the area around Heathrow that gives sufficient weight to the numbers of movements and noise episodes experienced in any one hour
* A review of compensation arrangements for communities affected in line with a new threshold

The 2M response is supported by Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead, Southwark, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, and South Bucks.


Residents have complained of the noise being
so loud it drowns out conversations

BBC News - 4 September 2013

People living under the flight path of Heathrow Airport are being invited to wear body sensors to monitor stress caused by aircraft noise.

Parts of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead are affected by the sound of planes taking off. About 140 residents have already taken part in a study using a mobile phone app to record and chart plane noise. The University College London (UCL) is extending the project to monitor the stress inflicted on people's bodies.

The WideNoise aircraft monitoring app allows residents to upload recorded sounds of aircraft noise and log their responses - ranging from feeling calm to hectic. Since it was launched in April, it has recorded and mapped around 4,500 incidences of aircraft noise, a spokesman for Windsor and Maidenhead council said.

Volunteers sought
One third of the recordings uploaded so far have been above 80 decibels, said councillor Carwyn Cox, cabinet member for environmental services. Many of the comments logged were from residents who complained that the aircraft noise "spoilt conversations, use of their gardens, picnics and, generally, their evenings", he added.

Mr Cox said: "This [body sensor project] is to follow on from the WideNoise initiative. This idea is to try to take that a little bit further and find out what their body is experiencing with aircraft noise. Hopefully there will be some volunteers who will come forward to take part in, what we think, will be a very useful idea to try and get a bit more information of the impact of aircraft on individuals."

Mr Cox said no volunteers had yet been recruited but he urged anyone interested to get in touch so that the trial could start in the next few weeks. The data collected in the study will be used to produce a map to show where in the borough residents are most affected.


Piers Evans - Airport World Online - 6 September 2013

As they compete to expand, Heathrow and Gatwick are both claiming that their proposal works best for residents under flight paths. In their submissions to the UK's Airports Commission today, London Heathrow and London Gatwick are taking their rivalry into the issue of noise. The commission is due to report in 2015 on how the UK can best safeguard its air connectivity.

Gatwick is arguing for a second runway, on the grounds that its point-to-point model fits the sector's likely future pattern. Heathrow is basing its case for a third runway on the need for hub connectivity. But both are now aiming to win the argument over noise, a crucial issue in the debate over how London can expand its air infrastructure.

In its submission today, Heathrow states Londoners would experience less noise pollution if it gets to build a third runway. Meanwhile, Gatwick maintains with a second runway, its noise would impact no more than 11,800 residents.

"The overall number of people who could be affected by noise from a second runway at Gatwick would be equivalent to less than 5% of the people Heathrow impacts today - mainly because aircraft would not fly over highly populated areas of London," said Gatwick in a statement. "This fundamental fact will not change in the future."

But Heathrow rests its case on how next-generation aircraft such as B787s, A380s, A350s and A320NEOs can enable it to keep cutting the impact of noise on Londoners. As well as "encouraging the quietest aircraft to use Heathrow", the hub undertakes to route aircraft higher over the capital, and to ensure high-noise areas get periods of respite with no flights overhead.

Heathrow also vows to provide free noise insulation. "Even with a third runway, the measures set out above mean that in 2030 there will be around 10-20% fewer people within Heathrow's noise footprint than today," said Heathrow in a statement.

While Heathrow operates almost twice as many flights than in the seventies, "around 90% fewer people are affected by noise", said Heathrow's sustainability director, Matt Gorman.

But for Stewart Wingate, Gatwick's CEO, this is not the issue. "The Government has made clear that its primary policy objective in this area is to limit and where possible reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise," he said. "Against that policy background, it seems clear that a second runway at Gatwick would be much preferable to a third runway at Heathrow; when more people are already significantly affected by noise than at all the other major EU hub airports put together."


Rob Gill - Buyingbusinesstravel Online - 7 August 2013

The Airports Commission has published 50 proposals on how to solve the UK's lack of hub airport capacity with Heathrow already operating at full capacity.

The commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, today (August 7) released details of all the submissions it has received on how and where to increase long-term airport capacity in the south-east. Many airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham have already made their proposals for expansion public during the last few weeks, ahead of the submission deadline last month.

While London mayor Boris Johnson through Transport for London has also submitted three possible options including two sites for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary (Isle of Grain and Boris Island) as well as an expanded Stansted. Luton has also made its case to become the UK's new hub airport by expanding to four runways. The airport argues that any new hub should be located to the north of London as it will be more accessible to greater parts of the UK.

Other possible sites for a new hub airport include:
London Medway Airport, on a site north of the village of Cliffe in Medway, Kent
Goodwin Sands, a group of sandbanks off the Kent coast, close to Deal
Foulness Island, in the Thames estuary close to Southend-on-Sea

Away from London, proposals have also been made for an expanded Cardiff airport which would be linked by a high-speed rail line to London and Heathrow, and a new airport in the Severn estuary replacing both Cardiff and Bristol airports.

There are also several suggestions for improving connections to existing airports such as extending the Crossrail rail project to Stansted, or turning London into a Hub City by enhancing transport links between the existing airports and the city centre.

One proposal suggests creating a new "Universal Hub" train terminal at Farringdon in central London which could serve all of region's major airports. Several private individuals have also submitted their ideas for increasing capacity to the Airports Commission.

The commission is now inviting comments on all of these proposals. It will then draw up a short-list of the "most credible long term options" which will be revealed in the commission's interim report to be published in December when it will also make its recommendations on the UK's overall need for extra hub airport capacity.

"There will be further opportunities to comment and submit views on these short-listed options in 2014," added the commission, which is not due to present its full report until after the next general election in summer 2015.


BBC Radio 4 - Transcript of 'Today' Programme - 7 August 2013

Evan Davies - It's twenty-eight minutes to nine.

The Airports Commission has been beavering away for the last nine months or so. Its mission - some might say 'Mission Impossible' - is to come up with a proposal for airport capacity - particularly hub capacity - around London and the South East. It's a decision which will affect the entire nation. The Commission is not reporting yet. It's not even giving us a shortlist of options yet. But it appears to have something close to a long list now. Sir Howard Davies, the Chairman of the Commission is with us. Morning.

Howard Davies - Morning.

Evan Davies - Is that the right way to characterise where you are?

Howard Davies - Where we are is that we have asked the airports, and indeed other people, to put ideas to us as to where they think additional capacity should be put, if indeed there is a need for it. And some people have argued, quite cogently, that they don't think we do need additional capacity if we could spread the traffic around. But we've received all these proposals and we're publishing them today. Perhaps surprisingly, there are about 50 [Laughter] have been put to us although only half of them are for additional runways and some of them perhaps are a little bit far fetched. I think there's one that goes through John Humphries garden, which we may...

Evan Davies - Obviously that would have to be ruled out. [Laughter]

Howard Davies - I imagine so. But there are a number of interesting new proposals. For example, Heathrow are proposing something which is rather different from what was planned before. The old third runway is not in fact now on the table but other different types of runway are. So we're publishing all of these today and we're asking people to comment on them. We know that we need to get down to a handful by December because it's really not reasonable to leave large areas of the country uncertain about whether a runway will be going past the bottom of their garden. So we need to work quickly now to produce a manageable shortlist which we'll look at in detail.

Evan Davies - And to what extent are all the options you are looking at essentially offered to you by other groups, mostly groups who incidentally have some vested interest in a particular option coming out of all of this, and to what extent are you using your own imagination and saying: 'Look, there might be some other options that are not part of the things that Heathrow or Gatwick or Manchester Airports Group are proposing'?

Howard Davies - Yes we are doing that. We have looked back also at things like even the Roskill Commission way back in the 1960's.

Evan Davies - Ah! ... the 1960s ... the last one to ...

Howard Davies - Indeed. But there was also a South East Regional Airports Study which looked at a lot of other sites. I think it's fair to say that most of the plausible possibilities have been put to us but there are a couple where we are looking at whether there is, for particular reason, a proposal that might make sense but which hasn't been proposed by anybody.

Evan Davies - Can you at this stage rule anything out in terms of the approach you are taking? So, for example, are you certain that we need a hub? You've said no to that. Are you certain that there isn't a possibility, for example, of expanding airports outside of London to take some of the pressure off Heathrow. Is that something that's still in play?

Howard Davies - We are still looking at the whole question of just how much additional capacity is needed and where it should be. It is very important that what we propose is within the climate change policies - that are legislated, of course. And so some of the ideas that we just expand to cater for any level of demand I think are implausible because you cannot imagine aviation growing so much that the climate emissions of the rest of the economy have to be reduced to zero in order to accommodate it. So we are looking at that first, and we are then looking at what use you can make of other non-London and the South East airports. And only when we've done that shall we see just what additional capacity is required in London and the South East. All of that will be done by December.

Evan Davies - And in just a few seconds. You never feel like a futile thing for you to be doing. You mentioned the Roskill Commission. It was an example of a great commission that looked at London airport options and then was ignored. Willie Walsh thinks this one will be ignored if it comes down in favour of a third runway at Heathrow. Is there any chance it will just sit on the back burner?

Howard Davies - Well, I often think of the myth of Sisyphus, where Camus's famous novel says we must imagine that Sisyphus is happy pushing his rock up the hill. I'm very happy to be pushing this rock. I think eventually we'll get it to the top.

Evan Davies - Sir Howard Davies, thank you. We look forward to talking to you again on this subject.


Dominic O'Connell - Business Editor - Sunday Times - 11 August 2013

READ through the list of new runways in southeast England proposed to the Davies commission and you end up thinking any patch of grass near London - or any sandbank in the Thames estuary - risks being covered by tarmac.

Sir Howard Davies, chosen by the coalition to examine the problem of new runways for London, has to sort the wheat from the chaff. While there is much imaginative thinking among the 50 suggested projects - I particularly like the idea from the architects firm Büro für Mehr (Office for More) to put planes on a rolling production line after they land, filling them with bags and passengers as they creep along before roaring off back down the runway - we are likely to be left with the same old favourites that have been with us for 20 years or more.

First, expansion at Heathrow. Second, a new hub east of the capital on or near the estuary. Third, a greatly expanded Stansted. You can defend any of the choices, but the last time the race was run, Stansted was the winner. Many decried the choice - the airport is a long way from London and the existing rail links are wretched - and eventually the plan was abandoned. It was, however, the choice arrived at once all the competing political forces had been sifted through by Whitehall and ministers. The arguments have changed little over the past decade, and, right or wrong, I suspect we are headed for Stansted again.

Ryanair needs Walsh
STAYING with aviation, I offer some unsolicited succession planning advice to Ryanair. Michael O'Leary, its loudmouthed and hugely successful chief executive, has to leave some time, and has hinted at his departure in the past. One of the possible internal candidates to replace him was Michael Cawley, the chief operating officer, but he recently said he would leave his executive post to become a non-executive director.

I think David Bonderman, Ryanair's chairman, should make a call to Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, owner of British Airways and Iberia. Walsh has been at BA and then IAG for eight years, a long tenure for a FTSE 100 chief executive, so it might be time for him to think about what's next.

He and O'Leary have clashed over the years, but the relationship appears to have warmed up recently. There is also a view among aviation analysts that Ryanair will have to soften its low-cost-at-all-costs approach, and Walsh fits the bill, having run a full-service airline but retained his reputation as a bruiser. O'Leary - and Ryanair itself - have often flirted with the idea of a long-haul airline, something Walsh knows all about from his time at BA.

And in case you were thinking it's a step down in terms of size for Walsh, you would be wrong. Ryanair closed last week in Dublin at ?7.20 a share, giving a stock market value of £8.9bn. IAG's market value is just under £6bn. Walsh for Ryanair might sound a mad idea - but stranger things have happened at sea, and certainly in the air.


Travelweekly Online - 27 August 2013

A decision to build a new hub airport for London rather than expand Heathrow would lead multinational companies to quit the UK in favour of Amsterdam or Paris.

That is the view of a leading business group in the region - the Thames Valley Confederation of British Industry (CBI). It said multinational companies with bases in the Thames corridor regard access to Heathrow as "vitally important" and a new hub to the east would force some to move abroad.

CBI Thomas Valley director Steve Rankin said: "If a new hub were to move to the east then they [companies] would have to move too. But they would move outside the UK, probably to somewhere like Schiphol or Paris or Dusseldorf."

The Thames Valley CBI is one of five west London business groups to have commissioned a study of the economic impact of relocating London's hub which they intend to present to the Davies Commission on airport capacity.

Rankin told the Financial Times: "Accessing the UK from a foreign but nearby airport is easy for these [multinational] companies."

Steve Lamb, chairman of the Thames Valley Berkshire local enterprise partnership, said: "Heathrow is one of the key reasons why the economy to the west of London is as wealthy as it is."

Unipart corporate affairs director Frank Nigriello told the Financial Times: "To have an airport on the other side of London is not helpful."

London Mayor Boris Johnson, a leading proponent of an east London hub airport, has argued multinationals would relocate abroad if such an airport is not built.


Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 26 August 2013

A new runway at Heathrow airport would be a quarter-owned by local residents under plans submitted to the commission examining the future of Britain's airports.

The idea, put forward by the Co-operative wing of the Labour party, would be a novel way to reduce the formidable local opposition to the project. There is resistance not only from those with homes on the potential sites of the third runway but also from large numbers of people living under Heathrow's flight path in west London.

BAA, Heathrow's owner, expects that a noise compensation regime would be needed if a third runway ever received the go-ahead from Whitehall. It is standard practice for airport owners to offer such compensation to people affected by expansion. Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said last year that the big constraint on Heathrow was noise: "People will debate the relative merits of providing people with double glazing versus providing people with financial compensation," he said. "All of that is perfectly legitimate."

But the Co-op idea goes much further and proposes the setting up of a mutual runway trust with a 25 per cent stake in the project. Not only would the trust be involved in business decisions related to the runway, it would also benefit from the "inevitable considerable profit" generated. The trust would have the freedom to invest in community projects or initiatives to benefit local people.

Gareth Thomas, chair of the Co-op party - which counts 32 Labour MPs among its members, including shadow chancellor Ed Balls - said one private company should not own the whole runway "lock, stock and barrel". Under his proposals, the trust would be modelled on a building society or foundation hospital, with a board of local council leaders and a professional executive, supported by a governing council of residents.

"The community should benefit directly by owning a powerful share of any new runway," said Mr Thomas, MP for Harrow West. "Business as usual won't be good enough."

The coalition government is deeply divided over aviation. Senior Tories, including chancellor George Osborne, are keen on Heathrow expansion, against the wishes of their Liberal Democrat colleagues. Labour's official position is against expansion but Mr Balls is understood to privately back the project, in contrast to Ed Miliband, the party leader.

The issue was put aside last summer as the government launched a commission under Sir Howard Davies. He recently published a list of 50 proposals for options to expand aviation capacity in the UK. In his letter to Sir Howard, Mr Thomas said that an additional runway was likely to lead to noise, pollution and inconvenience for communities under the flight paths.

"As you and your commission weigh up whether to recommend new runways should you decide that additional capacity is needed," he wrote. "I hope that you recognise that who owns any new runway(s) matters too."


All three global airline alliances say they want to remain at hub airport

Andrew Parker - Financial Times - 11 August 2013

The world's biggest airlines have ruled out moving from Heathrow to another UK airport, bolstering the chances of a highly contentious third runway being built at Europe's busiest hub.

All three global airline alliances have said they want to stay at Heathrow, even though some of the options being considered by an independent inquiry into the hub's overcrowded runways would require them to move to one of the smaller airports around London.

The airports commission chaired by the economist Sir Howard Davies is examining at least three solutions to Heathrow's problems: adding a third runway there: expanding Gatwick airport south of the city: or building a new hub to the east of London in the Thames estuary. If the commission decides that the UK could support two hubs, it could recommend the relocation of at least one of the three alliances currently at Heathrow.

British Airways has emphasised its wish to stay at Heathrow and the Oneworld alliance, which is led by the UK flag carrier, said its commitment to the hub reflected the airline's view.

Star, which includes Germany's Lufthansa, United Airlines of the US and Singapore Airlines, is the second largest alliance at Heathrow after Oneworld and pointed out that its member carriers planned to move into the hub's new Terminal 2 next year.

"This will allow us to effectively compete with the other alliances in Heathrow and add to the quality of our services and therefore we do not see any opportunity for us to make a change to another airport," it added.

SkyTeam, which includes Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines of the US and China Eastern, said Heathrow was of "utmost importance" to the alliance. "Relocating to another London or UK airport is not an option for our members," said Tae Joon Kim, SkyTeam's vice-president of airport services in a letter to the Davies commission.

Long-haul airlines generally prefer Heathrow to Gatwick because the bigger airport is used by more business passengers, who pay premium fares. Gatwick, the UK's second largest airport, has suggested that it could turn itself into a hub if it gets permission to build a second runway. Gatwick opposes Heathrow's expansion and is interested in persuading one of the airline alliances to move there.

Insiders at Star and SkyTeam said the only circumstances in which they might consider moving from Heathrow would be if all three alliances were to relocate together to a new hub.

However, they echoed Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, BA's parent company, who has expressed strong doubts about how a new hub could be financed. London mayor Boris Johnson is proposing a four-runway airport in the Thames estuary, to cost the taxpayer at least £25bn.


Medioacentreheathrowairport Online - 14 August 2013

An independent report has concluded that night flight trials carried out earlier this year brought noise respite to approximately 100,000 people living under the Heathrow flight paths. The Helios Report found that respite trials, backed by both the aviation industry and the residents' group HACAN, benefited thousands of people in South-East and East London as well as many residents of Berkshire.

During the five month 'Early Morning Noise Respite Trial', which ended in March of this year, air traffic controllers were instructing pilots to avoid specified areas on alternate weeks in order to give residents a break from the noise. The scheme only involved flights arriving before 6am. There were very few infringements of the designated areas.

The trial, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, did though have some unforeseen consequences. Some areas, such as Brockley in South East London saw an increase in night flights. Also during the trial aircraft joined the approach paths further from touchdown in order to avoid overflying the exclusion zones. This in turn resulted in the areas between the zones being overflown more during the trial. The Helios report recommends that the trial should not be taken forward in its present form and adds that, in future, pre-trial assessments should be undertaken to predict likely outcomes to better understand the balance of likely the benefits against the unintended negative outcomes.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow's Sustainability Director, said, "The results of this trial are very encouraging, showing that by working with local communities and our partners across the airport we can find new ways to bring noise respite to thousands of residents. We will now examine what improvements we can make to retain the benefits of this trial whilst addressing the challenges."

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, said, "This is the first time we have worked with the aviation industry in this way. Although the trial had some problems which would need to be addressed in any future experiments, to bring relief to 100,000 people is a considerable achievement."

Ian Jopson, Head of Environment and Community Affairs at air traffic control firm NATS, said, "The trial was a very positive example of how the industry and community can work together to look for ways to limit the impact of noise. The latest precision navigation technology makes it more feasible to provide respite through innovative air traffic control procedures, and this trial has been an important first step in understanding how we can best take advantage of it."

Captain Dean Plumb, Strategy and Environment Manager, British Airways, said, "British Airways is glad to have played a role in trialling these innovative procedures to reduce early morning noise. We are entering an exciting era where modern aircraft are capable of flying more flexibly and quietly than ever before. It is particularly satisfying to be working with local communities, through HACAN, to understand how to best use these new capabilities."

About the Early Morning Noise Respite Trial
On 5th November 2012, Heathrow, in partnership with HACAN, NATS and British Airways, launched a new trial to test whether creating 'noise relief zones' for communities under the flight path could ease disturbance for residents. On average, around seventeen flights arrive at Heathrow each morning between 04.30 and 06.00. As air traffic controllers route these aircraft through the sky to achieve the safest and most efficient arrival routes, the flight paths are spread across areas of London - there is no set route. The Early Morning Noise Respite Trial was designed to explore whether the flights - particularly at the beginning of their approach into Heathrow - can be routed in a more defined way, offering more predictability for residents living below.

There were four trial areas, two to the east of the airport and two to the west. These areas covered places such as Vauxhall, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Common, Westminster, Bermondsey and Streatham to the east of the airport, and Binfield, Reading, Purley on Thames and Winnersh to the west of the airport.


Joe Sturdy - Essex Chronicle - 7 August 2013

DOMINATED by Ryanair and easyJet, its huge glass terminal and 17.5 million passengers a year, Stansted Airport has long been seen as the place for cheap travel to Europe. But while it is the first stop for sun-seeking holidaymakers, 70 years ago it was a very different place.

In 1943 with Britain in the grip of war, thousands of US Air Force planes were flying in our skies and George Washington Field - as Stansted Airport was then known - was in the process of being constructed. With no terminal building and only tents in sight, the airfield's main runway, 6,000 feet by 150 feet and two smaller subsidiary runways, were built by the US Army Engineers, eventually making the north Essex airport the ninth biggest American air base in East Anglia at 3,000 acres.

Home to the US Air Force's 344th Bomb Group with 64 Martin Marauder B-26 bombers, some 266 missions were flown to France and the Low Countries, dropping around 7,000 tonnes of bombs on their targets - and the group led 600 aircraft of the US Air Force into action on D-Day. It was also a maintenance base for aircraft and following the end of the European war, became a rest and rehabilitation centre for American troops.

Last Friday, the 70th anniversary of the completion of the runway was celebrated with a fly-past from a Second World War P-47 Thunderbolt and a visit from one of the group's former members, Major Edward W. Horn, who helped plant a commemorative tree and unveiled a memorial to the airmen stationed at Stansted.

The 88-year-old Major, who became a German prisoner of war after he was shot down in 1944, said: "Seventy years ago, I was flying my B-26 Marauder off this runway, and now I stand here today in remembrance of my fellow 344th Bomb Group airmen and in honour of those who did not return from their missions."

The airport's managing director Andrew Harrison, said: "To be able to welcome Major Edward Horn back to the airport for the first time in years is a particularly poignant and humbling moment. We should be proud that our airport played a pivotal role in the Allied victory. We owe them all an immense debt of gratitude. Stansted is very proud of its past and the critical role the airfield played during World War II as a US Air Force base. It's amazing to now look back and acknowledge those early efforts which have ultimately culminated in the Stansted Airport we see today."

Stansted's runway was lengthened to 10,000 feet in 1957 by the US Army Engineers. This runway still remains today - albeit reinforced - making it the third longest at a UK public airport, behind Heathrow and Gatwick. On Monday the tarmac accommodated a British Airways Airbus A380 (above), the world's biggest passenger airliner. It touched down for the first time as part of the airline's flight training programme before it enters long-haul service later this year - an elderly runway enabling a young and daring flying machine to do its magic.


No-frills airline Ryanair plans to sue Channel 4 over a programme that
quoted pilots saying they were concerned over the airline's fuel policy

BBC News - 13 August 2013

"Ryanair has instructed its lawyers to issue legal proceedings against Channel 4 Dispatches for defamation," it said. The programme detailed three incidents in which Ryanair pilots had to call in emergency alerts because they were low on fuel.

"We stand by our journalism," said Channel 4.

Ryanair said that these incidents occurred because of bad weather, but that in each case, the aircraft fully complied with EU regulation. It said all its flights already carried extra fuel above the minimum EU requirements, and emphasised that it had not had a single passenger or flight crew fatality in its 29 years of operation.

The documentary featured a survey by the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG), a group of pilots seeking union representation, which found that 94% wanted regulators to conduct an inquiry. The group, not recognised by Ryanair, polled 1,000 pilots and first officers for the survey representing more than a third of the airline's total. It found that 89% did not consider that the airline had an open and transparent safety culture and two-thirds were not comfortable raising issues through an internal reporting system.

Ryanair said the group "lacks any independence, objectivity or reliability" and claimed the survey was part of a 25-year failed campaign to win union recognition at Ryanair. It added that flight crews were encouraged to report any safety concerns through an online confidential system.

In a separate statement, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), the independent safety regulator for Irish airlines, said that it regularly reviewed Ryanair's fuel policy and that the airline fully complied with European regulations. It also noted that that any employee could make a confidential report on any safety concern via its public website.


Reaffirming its position on short term capacity increase

Incentivetravel Online - 12 August 2013

The GTMC, the most influential travel management business community in the UK, has reacted to the publication of the summary of submissions received by the Airports Commission on the subject of making the best use of existing capacity in the South East, by reaffirming its position on short term capacity increase as soon as possible.

The GTMC focused its submission on Heathrow and the soonest possible increase in air capacity and connectivity whilst reinforcing that longer term boosts to capacity are vital but will take considerable time to come online. Heathrow's plan, if given the green light, could not be delivered before 2023 with proposals for Stansted and a new airport not deliverable until 2032 and 2034 respectively. The GTMC believes that relieving capacity constraints in the short term is critical to the UK economy's growth through ensuring greater direct connectivity with merging markets.

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: "The GTMC submission to the Airports Commission focused on the quickest possible solution to increasing air capacity in the South East and we will build on our submission, taking into consideration other proposals for the interim report due at the end of the year."

The GTMC submission called for the protection of existing night flight capacity at Heathrow and the introduction of Mixed Mode at Heathrow and its recognition as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project by the Government. In addition the GTMC asked the Secretary of State for Transport to undertake all required measures to ensure Mixed Mode is not subject to delaying tactics by opponents and The Secretary of State for Transport to lead efforts to ensure the right balance between additional routes and resilience from any additional capacity released at Heathrow.

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: "Our members work on behalf of corporates to facilitate the international movements of the business people who 'do the deals' that will underpin the UK economy's growth and as such we have a keen sense of the priorities for corporates in terms of connectivity; and the perspective of those business people actually travelling internationally. This insight combined with the data collected from the GTMC's bespoke 'Voice of The Business Traveller' survey gave us the ability to complete a submission to the Airports Commission on behalf of the business traveller."

The GTMC survey was of 1010 people who travelled internationally six or more times per year on business from airports in the South East of England, 37% of which travelled thirteen times or more.

The GTMC submission is supported by the fact that of the UK's top 300 businesses the majority have HQs within a 25 mile radius of the UK's major hub airport and the area around Heathrow outstrips the UK average in terms of foreign business locations - there are 100% more US companies and 260% more Japanese. Business travelers themselves also reflected the preference for additional capacity at Heathrow with 82% surveyed saying that additional capacity at Heathrow would benefit their business more than at any other airport.

In their submission the GTMC estimates that using both runways for take-off and landing (mixed mode) would add an additional 50,000 flights per annum, equating to around 65 additional flights per day during normal operating hours. The recommendation is backed up by the survey response of 62% showing support for Mixed Mode.

In addition the GTMC believes that there should be no movement by authorities to lessen the amount of night flights currently allowed during the 11pm - 7am period. Business travelers surveyed by the GTMC showed that night flights are a key component of international business with 49% saying that they had used night flights more than three times a year.

Paul Wait said: "The GTMC calls on the government to hold the line on night flights and recognize that they are a vital artery of connectivity to both emerging and traditional markets."

Paul Wait concluded: "Short-term measures are within the Government's gift and we call on the Secretary of State for Transport to lead efforts to release capacity but also to ensure that the right balance is struck between capacity to be used for new routes and retained for resilience."


Travelmail Reporter - Daily Mail - 26 August 2013

Air passengers are concerned about proposed changes to flying rules that could lead to an aircraft being flown by a pilot who has been awake for 22 hours, according to a new poll. Nine out of 10 people are worried about potential changes to shift patterns being voted on by MEPs in October, a survey by British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has revealed.

The new rules could lead to pilots operating long haul flights with two, rather than three, crew members and working up to seven early starts in a row. The changes to pilots' duty times and rest requirements have been proposed by the EU's European Aviation Safety Agency's (EASA) and are aimed at 'harmonising' limits on pilots' hours across the EU.

Under the new rules, pilots could be landing commercial jets after 22 hours awake - including 11 hours flying, plus stand-by time and travel to the airport. Under the current UK rules, pilots work a maximum of three early starts in a row and a maximum of 95 hours in 14 days. EASA is proposing to change this to seven early starts in a row and a maximum of 110 hours in 14 days.

Three pilots are needed on many long-haul flights but EASA has proposed that only two pilots are needed on some of the longest flights. Balpa says this will mean that the pilots have no opportunity to rest in flight before the landing. There are also currently many restrictions around pilots being called for duty on days off so that they can plan rest but, under the proposed changes, they can be called at any time on any day with no restrictions.

The number of hours pilots can be on home standby will increase from 12 hours to 16 hours, with flight duty starting to clock up after eight hours instead of six.

Commenting on Balpa's survey of 2,000 people, the union's general secretary Jim McAuslan said: "The British public are understandably concerned about their pilots being awake for 22 hours before landing a plane under new EU rules. Evidence shows this is similar to being four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying. The time is running out for our ministers, MEPs, the UK regulator and MPs to take urgent action and reject these unsafe EU rules to ensure that the skies above Britain remain among the safest in the world."

The European Commission (EC) said safety was the only objective of its proposal to revise the current EU rules in relation to flight time limitations (FTL). An EC spokesman said: "The Commission is determined to see stronger, safer rules applying across Europe in relation to FTL. This is the principle presiding the Commission's proposal to revise the current EU FTL rules. The Commission believes that the proposal presented to the Council and the Parliament in July will bring about major improvements across Europe for the safety of our citizens and flight crew."

"This proposal includes a number of clarifications and adjustments addressing issues identified by aircrew unions, by airlines, by the European Parliament, and by Member States. The proposal will not result in lowering the safety standards in any Member State."

A Commons' Transport Select committee warned that 22 hours of wakefulness was 'an extraordinary figure' - particularly for night flying - that raised levels of fatigue equivalent to being 'drunk'. UK pilots can currently go up to 18 hours without sleep.

The committee said it was concerned that "the new regulations are setting a standard that accepts a higher level of fatigue more generally and, if not managed properly, that could well lead to a situation where the accident risk will increase."

The Department for Transport insisted the EU blueprint would neither compromise safety nor increase the risk of pilot fatigue. However, the Government did accept some of the MP's findings - including a recommendation to investigate 'the potential under-reporting of pilot fatigue'.

Ministers said they would also be seeking a strengthening of specific EU 'fatigue' rules surrounding flight duties and rest periods and 'stricter limits' on how frequently airlines could use discretion to exceed maximum levels.


UTTLESFORD District Council is aiming to ground fears
that Stansted could become a four runway airport

Sinead Holland - Herts and Essex Observer - 23 July 2013

Last week the Essex hub's new owners MAG (Manchester Airports Group) agreed with Mayor of London Boris Johnson that such major expansion at the low-cost base was one solution to the UK's aviation crisis - while stressing that fully utilising the existing 35m passenger capacity is the priority.

The authority agrees. Uttlesford's deputy leader Cllr Jackie Cheetham, who chairs the Stansted Airport Advisory Panel, said: "The council fully understands that many residents will be concerned at any talk of airport expansion in relation to Stansted. An overwhelming majority of them made it clear by referendum that they were opposed to the building of a second runway when the last Government was preparing a previous air transport policy. The Airports Commission has been asked by the Government to look into whether the UK needs more airport capacity in order to cope with the increased demand for air travel."

"It has been asked to make short-term recommendations by the end of December this year and to provide a long term plan when it submits its final report in the summer of 2015. If the commission decides more airport capacity is required, the question it will have to address is whether this should be achieved by building a brand new airport or airports, or by expanding and exploiting the currently unused capacity at existing airports."

"The council feels the commission should be doing more to encourage a national solution to this issue rather than focusing on meeting demand in the south east as it is doing at present. The new owners at Stansted have made it clear that they regard utilising the unused capacity at existing airports as the best solution for air passengers. The council thinks this is a sensible approach."

"Stansted currently has planning permission to accommodate 35m passengers a year but is currently handling around 17.7 million, so it could double the number of passengers without needing to expand. Notwithstanding this, the council is fully engaged with the commission's consultation process. We have submitted our views in response to all four discussion papers it has issued to date and are currently making representations on the fifth paper, which concerns aviation noise."

"We have long campaigned for improved rail connections to the airport and faster journey times to London. In our view there would need to be a commitment to provide these ahead of any increase in passengers, let alone any possible future expansion. This would have to be done in a way that didn't adversely affect rail services for other non-airport travellers and commuters."

She added: "It is worth pointing out that the Government is several years away from making any decision regarding the Commission's findings, and that airport operators are many years away from acting on any policy decisions that may arise from them. However, the council is committed to ensuring that the views of local residents are taken into account by making representations to the commission throughout this process."

Ryanair, has recommended that all three of London's existing airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - be allowed to add an extra runway "at the earliest possible date" and rubbished any new greenfield airport plan such as "Boris Island".

Boss Michael O'Leary said: "Three new runways at the three competing London airports is the only sensible and consumer focused solution to the chronic runway capacity shortages in London and the south east of England. We cannot wait 30 years and allow billions of pounds to be wasted on 'Boris Island'. Sadly the very appointment of the Davies Commission is just the latest example of the spineless approach of David Cameron's Government which talks about stimulating growth and job creation, but instead of pursuing growth policies they pander to tree huggers and NIMBYS."

OUR COMMENT: Michael O'Leary appears unable to add any comments to the aviation debate without making gratuitous comments about those who disagree with his various claims and plans that are largely designed only to boost Ryanair's position in the aviation market.

Pat Dale


Local leaders do not believe the proposed four-runway hub,
or additional second runway at Stansted, could go ahead with
the current rail and road connections

Eleanor Busby - Cambridge News - 23 July 2013

Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, opposes further expansion at Stansted because of a number of disadvantages, including poor transport links Sir Alan said: "If Stansted Airport is to expand to the extent of one or more runways, a huge amount will have to be invested in improved rail and road connections. The present road and rail network is inadequate now." He added that Stansted, which is a 50-minute rail journey from Liverpool Street, is "too far" from the capital to be a hub.

An express service between London and Stansted has been raised as part of the proposed £12 billion Crossrail 2. Jonathan Rich, Councillor for Stansted North, said: "The idea of it presenting itself as a transport "hub" is a rather bizarre one. The airport tries to ensure that locals do not use the excellent bus, coach and railway networks which have stations in their facility. If those links improve, the airport will seek to make them less accessible to ordinary travellers."

There is also great concern about the impact the expansion would have on the environment, such as noise pollution, and on property values and businesses in the area. Alan Dean, Councillor for Stansted South, said: "The proposal is a pie in the sky exercise. It is a waste of everyone's time as there is no scope to have two hub airports for London and there is already one in Heathrow. But we shouldn't be complacent about it. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) need to be alert to any possibility and be ready on the starting line to fight another campaign."

Cllr Jackie Cheetham, UDC's Deputy Leader who chairs the Stansted Airport Advisory Panel, said: "We have long campaigned for improved rail connections to the airport and faster journey times to London. In our view there would need to be a commitment to provide these ahead of any increase in passengers, let alone any possible future expansion."

Stansted Airport currently has planning permission to accommodate 35 million passengers a year, but is only currently handling around 17.7 million. It has been suggested that it could double the number of passengers without expanding the airport itself. The UDC would prefer for MAG to use their unused capacity at Stansted, suggested in their commission, to meet the needs of more air capacity rather than expansion.

Cllr Cheetham said: "The new owners at Stansted have made it clear that they regard utilising the unused capacity at existing airports as the best solution for air passengers. The council thinks this is a sensible approach. The Government is several years away from making any decision regarding the findings. However, the council is committed to ensuring that the views of local residents are taken into account by making representations to the Commission throughout this process."


Eleanor Busby - Cambridge News - 1 August 2013

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) are threatening to take legal action if a key member of the Airports Commission refuses to resign.

The campaigners are calling for Geoff Muirhead to step down from the government-appointed commission, set up to take an impartial look at where to build runways, after claiming there was bias. In a newsletter sent out to their members, SSE highlighted that Mr Muirhead, who retired as chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in 2010, continued to work for the owners of Stansted until January this year.

Mr Muirhead represented MAG as an "ambassador" several months after he was appointed to the Airports Commission in November, which is now investigating where to build new runways in the South East of England. On July 19, MAG suggested that Stansted could have a second runway or even a four-runway hub.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders writes in the newsletter, dated July 26: "Politics and other extraneous factors can often be more influential and, in this regard, we already have one major area of concern. One of Sir Howard Davies's team of five commissioners, Geoff Muirhead, is the former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG). He is the only member of the Airports Commission with first hand knowledge and experience of the aviation industry. He spent 24 years with MAG during which time he led the Group's expansion policy and the construction of a second runway and terminal at Manchester Airport."

SSE have already written to Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission and Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, four times about the matter, and claimed they were "surprised and dissappointed" that Mr Muirhead had not yet voluntarily stood down.

In their newsletter, Mr Sanders added: "Now that MAG is directly lobbying the Airports Commission for major expansion at Stansted, we believe there is far too much at stake to allow the position of its former chief executive on the Airports Commission to go unchallenged. We therefore intend to give the Secretary of State and Sir Howard Davies one last opportunity to deal with the matter, failing which we intend to mount a legal challenge."

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "We are satisfied there is no conflict of interest. Geoff Muirhead's expertise in airports is the very reason he was appointed."


Kari Lundgren - Bloomburg News - 30 July 2013

Manchester Airports Group plans to spend about 40 million pounds ($61.3 million) sprucing up lounges and adding perks like valet parking to draw carriers like Etihad Airways and Emirates to London's Stansted Airport. In partnership with retailers, the new owner of the capital's third-largest airport will commit a total of 80 million pounds on a program of improvements including fast-track security lanes, a new food court and revamped shopping outlets, Chief Financial Officer Neil Thompson said in an interview.

"We're looking to use the relationships we have with the other full-service carriers such as Etihad, Emirates, etcetera to bring a richer mix of traffic to Stansted," Thompson said. "That typically incorporates broadening the product offering."

MAG signed an agreement aimed at growing traffic with EasyJet Plc (EZJ) in June, three months after buying Stansted for 1.5 billion pounds from Heathrow Airport Ltd., and is looking to complete a similar deal with the airport's largest operator Ryanair Holdings Plc. About an hour north of London, Stansted serves 17.5 million people each year and has specialized in low-cost services.

Designed by U.K. architect Norman Foster, the facility ranks behind Heathrow and Gatwick among terminals in southeast England. The airport will seek to tap the local catchment area of eight million people and draw travellers with new destinations, Thompson said. The landing strip, which now operates at about 50 percent of its capacity, has the potential to play a key role in adressing the U.K.'s airport constraints, he added.

Newfound Focus
"Stansted has had no focus and no incentive as part of the previous ownership to grow, so we're going to change that," the executive said. "There is plenty of opportunity for growth before any cost or expansion is required."

All of London's major airports submitted proposals this month to a state-appointed Davies Commission on future airport capacity. Boris Johnson, the city's mayor, has said he favors development of Stansted airport or a completely new base in the Thames estuary costing 65 billion pounds, while Heathrow itself has proposed adding a third runway by 2025-29 for as much as 18 billion pounds. Gatwick Airport said it could add a second runway for as little as 5 billion pounds.

Heathrow, Europe's biggest hub, served close to 70 million passengers in 2012, while London?s second largest airport Gatwick - owned by Global Infrastructure Partners Ltd. after an earlier BAA sale - handled 34.2 million travelers. Both larger facilities are operating close to the limits of their runway capacity.

Long-Haul Operators
Long-haul operators that fly to Manchester Airport, MAG's largest asset, include Etihad of Abu Dhabi, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines Ltd. (SIA) and U.S. carriers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL:US), United Airlines (UAL:US) and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC:US), as well as U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.

MAG's sales for the year ended March 31 climbed 5.3 percent to 393.1 million pounds, not including the one-month contribution of Stansted. Operating profit jumped 12 percent to 73.6 million pounds in the period, the Manchester, England-based company said in a statement. The group's Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth terminals served 24.5 million passengers in the fiscal year.

Work to improve Stansted will be phased with the completion of a new duty-free store in the summer of 2014, enhanced shopping areas finished by mid-2015 and final touch-ups to a renovated food court taking place through early 2016, Thompson said. The facility is capable of handling about 35 million passengers without major changes to the existing infrastructure, he said.


Brentwood Gazette - 2 August 2013

Should it be "Boris Island" in the River Thames, an enlarged Heathrow, another runway at Gatwick or another one at Stansted, that is the question. Unfortunately we probably won't know the answer until after the next general election in 2015 as the Government has kicked the future of aviation in the south east into the long grass.

Whether we like the sound of jet engines overhead or not there is no doubt that air travel is an important element in the economy of Essex. We have not one but two airports at Stansted and Southend respectively and both contribute greatly to not just their local economies but to that of the UK. Some would argue that we should leave things as they are but is to do nothing really an option? Many major international companies base their investment decisions on access to reliable airports and with Heathrow nearly at operational capacity we could easily lose out to competitors in mainland Europe or the middle East.

Essex Chambers recognise that air travel brings problems as well as solutions but on balance we believe the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. The idea of "Boris Island" or a similar "floating" airport in the River Thames might seem good, and it is certainly innovative, but it could have serious implications for the new London Gateway container terminal and the possible location of the proposed third Lower Thames Crossing. On balance we believe that it is a non-starter.

Heathrow and Gatwick are more realistic options but is it really a good idea to create even greater congestion at two already busy airports? We believe that the only real solution is for the Government to seriously consider allowing Stansted to meet future demands in the way that Manchester Airport Group have outlined in the submission to the Airports Commission - Capacity for Growth.

Stansted is already a major contributor to not just the Essex economy but to the wider south east and the UK generally. In fact the South East, including Essex, is a net contributor to the UK economy putting more into Government coffers than we receive back in investment. It would be foolish not to look at developing that still further.

The airport is the largest single site employer in the East of England employing nearly 10,000 people across 200 on airport companies of varying sizes. At present it is operating below capacity but without building a second runway but increasing the number of flights in and out there is scope to increase direct on airport employment to 12,000 to 15,000 and indirect employment to 4,000 to 7,000.

The ripple effects of developing Stansted still further have the potential to benefit large parts of Essex by attracting in new businesses, providing potential to grow the Enterprise Zone in Harlow, relieving the pressure on the science parks around Cambridge with new ones in Essex. We could also see the extension of Crossrail to Stansted, enhancing rail travel to and from London, and the full dualling of the A120 from Marks Tey to Stansted.

Manchester Airports Group have made a good start as new owners of Stansted and deserve to have their proposals given proper consideration and we urge the county's MPs and local authorities to lend their full support.

OUR COMMENT: Which of the proposals? Full use of existing facilities, a second runway or the latest one, a four runway hub airport?

Pat Dale


Press Release - Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign - 23 July 2013

GACC is opposed to the plans for a new Gatwick runway because we wish to protect the towns and villages and countryside of Surrey, Sussex and west Kent from the impact of an airport which would be bigger than Heathrow today. Indeed the plans show Gatwick growing from 34 million passengers today to around 90 million.

According to Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC: "When people begin to realise what is likely to hit them, there will be a tidal wave of public resistance."

The plans announced by Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) today are the opening shots in a long battle. When GACC has studied the plans in detail we will be putting in a counter submission to the Airports Commission - which is not due to report until summer 2015.

The plans make it clear that GAL's preferred option is the so-called wide-spaced runway - only a few hundred yards (or less?) from the residential area of Crawley. But amazingly little detail is given. No airport boundary is shown. No indication of where a new terminal (which would need to be bigger than T5) would located. Previous studies have shown that there would be insufficient space for aircraft to congregate around a terminal or to manoeuvre between the runways. Sewill said: "The plans confirm that Gatwick is too small ever to provide an efficient airport."

GAL talk big and glossy about the future of Gatwick as a hub to match Heathrow but previous attempts to operate Gatwick as a hub - by Laker, BCAL, Dan-Air, and BA - have all ended in bankruptcy or failure. The GAL submission rules out a close parallel runway because 'the capacity benefit is relatively small'. And rules out a middle width option because there would be no room for a new terminal.

An ominous threat hangs over the town of Horley and the medieval village of Charlwood (with its grade 1 Norman church and 80 listed buildings) in the sentence that options for a runway to the north of the airport will be included in later consultations.

The environmental cost of trying to build a full-scale new runway as shown in the plans would be high. It would mean:

* Twice the noise;
* Twice the pollution risk to health locally;
* Twice the climate change damage;
* Twice the airport-related road traffic;
* New flight-paths over areas at present peaceful. It is significant that no details are given of potential new flight paths - GACC has shown where they may go.

'More jobs' is often given as the reason for welcoming a new runway but in fact a doubling the size of Gatwick would require far more employment (both on the airport and in new firms in the area) than is available locally and would thus mean a massive in-migration of labour from other parts of the UK or EU. That would result in large scale new house-building; substantial pressure on the local hospitals and schools; road congestion; over-crowded trains; the urbanisation of large areas of Surrey and Sussex; and the loss of beautiful countryside and woodlands.

Sewill added: "In fact there is no need for any new runway in the South East. With Stansted less than half full, and with new larger aircraft coming into use, there is sufficient airport capacity to last until 2050. Indeed that is why GACC stands shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues at Heathrow and Stansted, and with CPRE, Friends of the Earth, WWF, the RSPB and the Aviation Environment Federation in opposing any new runway."

In the immediate future GACC will be concentrating on building up our membership and raising funds. "We may be David to an airport Goliath" said Sewill, "but we have a few stones in our sling."


Bobby Bridge - Tamworth Herald - 21 July 2013

A HEATED public meeting was held in Coleshill last night to discuss controversial draft proposals for Birmingham Airport's second runway. Dan Byles, MP for North Warwickshire, organised the gathering after documents were released detailing a potential second runway close to Coleshill.

Dan invited airport bosses to Coleshill School and brought them together with residents and local Councillors. Details of the current draft plans were also made available. "I was very concerned that Coleshill is mooted as a potential site for a second runway," said Mr Byles. "Having fought against HS2 for some years now, I know that residents are fed up with transport projects like this being imposed on them. I wanted to bring together Birmingham Airport executives with local residents so that they can answer their questions and shed light on their concerns."

The meeting became heated at times with many local people speaking passionately about Coleshill and were pleased to have the opportunity to raise their concerns directly with Airport bosses. Mr Byles, added: "I have supported the airport in the past as it directly and indirectly supports thousands of local jobs; I also support the extension of the existing runway. However I can't support these plans, and I find it difficult to see the need to develop a second runway whilst the airport is only running at 25 per cent capacity. Residents and I want to protect Coleshill. I was adamant that the meeting today was for residents to have the opportunity to ask questions, and not for politicians to grandstand."

"Unfortunately one or two people misjudged the mood and tried to score political points, but the residents made it pretty clear they weren't impressed. Most people were there to ask questions and gather information. Unfortunately many of us left with more questions than we went in with. I'm pleased the airport executives agreed to come back to Coleshill again when more information is available, and I will now work with the council and local residents to protect Coleshill and the surrounding area."

Mr Byles pledged to maintain communications between residents and the Airport and will update residents as the draft proposals develop. For any resident who would like to raise a concern over the airport they can contact Dan by email at dan.byles.mp@parliament.uk or calling 02476 315233.


James Dean - The Times - 31 July 2013

Boris Johnson set himself on course for a showdown with the Government's airports commission yesterday after insisting that he will oppose any recommendations that do not involve creating a four-runway mega-hub in East London.

The Mayor of London said he would support the commission only if it does the "right thing" and recommends building either a new airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent or "Boris Island", an airport built on artificial land in the middle of the Thames Estuary.

Earlier this month, the mayor submitted plans for both projects to the Davies Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, the former chairman of the now defunct Financial Services Authority, which is examining ways to increase Britain's airport capacity. Gatwick and Heathrow, which oppose Mr Johnson's plans, have proposed building additional runways instead.

"If the commission decides the right thing I will certainly support them," Mr Johnson said. When asked what he would do if the commission decided against his plans, he said: "Well, then I will oppose them."

Mr Johnson is understood to prefer the Isle of Grain site. However, he insisted that Boris Island, a "brilliant solution" that "only has noise impacts for about 50 people", was "definitely there in the mix".

The mayor was speaking on a visit to DP World London Gateway, a new deep-sea container port on the north bank of the River Thames. He said that a hub airport in the East and the new port at London Gateway would give Britain the huge logistics hub it needed.

London Gateway said yesterday that the port will create 36,000 jobs, 12,000 directly, and contribute £3.2 billion a year to Britain's gross domestic product when construction is complete. The first of six berths will be operational by October, it said, with numbers two and three to come next year. Construction of the final three berths has not yet been timetabled.

When completed, London Gateway will also be home to Europe's largest logistics park. Last month, Marks & Spencer announced that it would invest £200 million to build a 900,000 sq ft distribution centre at the site. Simon Moore, chief executive of London Gateway, said that the space taken by M&S represented around 10 per cent of the park's capacity. He added that London Gateway was in discussions with "a number of other companies" about setting up in the park.

London Gateway will cover an area three times the size of the City of London when completed. At 138m high, its container-loading cranes stand 3m taller than the London Eye. London Gateway will compete with Felixstowe, Britain's busiest container port, which has two berths capable of handling a new generation of mega-containerships, which can carry 18,000 containers at a time.

DP World, formerly the Dubai Ports Authority, runs 65 terminals across the globe. It handled more than 56 million containers last year and aims to handle 100 million a year by 2020.


The economic case for more capacity is based on defunct data:
this policy will only drag us back to the planet-burning past

George Monbiot - The Guardian - 22 July 2013

Hoisting 180lbs of human flesh 30,000 feet into the air and 4,000 miles across the ocean every time you want to talk to someone: does that sound like 21st-century technology, or a 20th-century throwback?

The lobbying power of well-established industries will always be greater than that of new or emerging businesses. So one of the impacts of lobbying is to keep dragging us back into the past. There is no better example than the demand to build new airports and new runways. Sold to the public with the promise of progress and modernity, their impact is to retard technological change.

In hardly any of the coverage of plans for a third and perhaps fourth runway at Heathrow or a new airport in the Thames estuary was the underlying assumption challenged: that building more airports is good for business. But since 2000 business flights by residents of the UK have fallen by 25%: a rate far beyond the general impacts of the recession. There are two likely reasons. Business travel is treated by many companies as a luxury, which is quickly cut when conditions tighten. And much of the perceived need to travel has been superseded by new technologies. Internet conferencing is cheaper, quicker and less taxing for workers.

But, at vast public and private expense, at the cost of homes and green spaces, peaceful skies and a benign climate, governments are trying to build more runways, to encourage people to stick with the old technology.

So much for business. The great majority of flights (85%) are in fact used for leisure, overwhelmingly by people in the top three social classes. The result is not an economic boon for the UK but a loss - a tourism deficit of £13.8bn last year. Planes are tubes through which money is sucked out of the country. The more flights there are, the more we lose. That's assuming that anyone wants to take them.

For even leisure flights are now falling far short of the forecasts that successive governments have made. In 2012, 8% fewer people flew than in 2007: the recovery in the number of passengers since the economic crisis began has been very slow. Could it be because the underlying growth in demand is grinding to a halt?

In 2007 the Department for Transport predicted that by 2030, if airport capacity grew without restraint, 495 million passengers would pass through the UK's airports. By 2009, its forecast had fallen to 465 million, by 2011 to 345 million and by 2013, to 320 million. The lowest possible level of demand anticipated by the department in 2009 (415 million passengers) was 20% higher than its central forecast just two years later.

The old forecasts are quietly buried in the hope that nobody notices that projected demand is collapsing. I suspect the new forecasts are also wildly inflated, but the plans of so many powerful people are riding on the department's false assumptions that it cannot afford to make a full revision of the nonsense it has published in the past.

So we overlook the fact that it was wrong in 2007, wrong in 2009 and wrong in 2011, and will doubtless be proved wrong in 2013. Its forecasts are treated as gospel, and the planners demand only that we build, build, build.

The aviation policy framework the government published in March was written as if the industry was still in its take-off phase. The same goes for the report in May by the House of Commons transport committee. The official purpose of the Airports Commission, which will assess the new airport plans, is "to maintain the UK's position as Europe's most important aviation hub". Why?

There is a real possibility that if the commission approves any of the extravagant schemes put before it, Britain will be building ghost airports for ghost planes. Already, in another transport sector - road traffic - the volume seems to be peaking much earlier than the Department for Transport forecast. If this happens, the department could be sued by investors in privately financed road schemes who take their money through tolls or shadow tolls. Perhaps one day the UK will be littered with schemes like Spain's Ciudad Real airport and its 4,000m international runway, upon which, since April 2012, only birds have alighted. Or the twin towers of Benidorm's In Tempo, Europe's tallest residential building, which was supposed to absorb a booming tourist industry but which remains unfinished and empty. "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Stand in the desert..."

Just as the forecasts for the growth in air traffic have proved false, so have the claims for the economic benefits it delivers. The airport lobbyists - and the government - maintain that greater connectivity stimulates economic growth. But a study by the consultancy CE Delft shows that in developing countries there is a weak correlation between connectivity and growth but no evidence of causation: economic growth could be causing the extra flights, rather than the other way round. In prosperous parts of the rich nations, even the correlation seems absent.

The evidence that increased air traffic boosts net jobs also seems to be missing. Ten years ago, when passenger volumes were lower, there were 200,000 jobs in aviation in the UK. Today there are 120,000. The Department for Transport has tried to mask this decline by surreptitiously including in its aviation figures jobs in aerospace manufacturing, many of which are in the military sector. The government's primary role in transport planning appears to be to deceive us.

Every time the government supports an old technology, it helps to stifle its new and cleaner competitors. When it deregulates polluting industries, or cuts the tax fossil fuel companies must pay, or tries to drive the expansion of aviation regardless of demand, it helps to lock in destructive technologies which would otherwise be rapidly replaced. If it stays in office long enough, we'll eventually revert to using the Newcomen engine.

Progress here is measured not by creativity or improvement, but by the speed at which we break up the living planet and our own quality of life. This is a government of the old, the dirty, the discredited, a mortal enemy of the innovation it claims to celebrate.

MAG (Stansted) joins the airports' runway race


Andrew Bounds - Financial Times - 19 July 2013

Stansted could surpass Heathrow to become a new international hub airport with four runways capable of handling up to 160m passengers a year, according to its owner Manchester Airports Group.

MAG proposed the idea to the Davies Commission, set up to examine options for airport expansion. Heathrow's bid to build a third runway has been stalled because it would add to noise levels.

MAG says that only 1,250 residents are affected by noise at the Essex airport, compared with 258,500 at Heathrow.

The £10bn cost would dwarf that of building a new airport in the Thames estuary, as proposed by Boris Johnson, the London mayor. Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: "Stansted is uniquely placed to meet the UK's aviation capacity needs now and over the next 15 years. Almost overnight, Stansted could double the number of flights it handles without any need for significant investment in new infrastructure. The costs and the environmental impacts of building new capacity at Stansted are likely to be far lower than at alternative locations. From the short term to the long term, Stansted ticks every box."

However, he said the commission should first consider expanding a number of regional airports, likely to be "best for passengers". That would see the likes of Manchester and Birmingham, which have spare capacity, attracting local passengers who use Heathrow and acting as mini international hubs, with Gatwick and Stansted adding a second runway too. "Should the commission take a different view and conclude that the UK needs an effective hub to provide international connectivity, then Stansted could certainly fulfil that role in a cost-effective way," Mr Cornish added.

He said that a Stansted expansion would also help boost the economy of fast-growing places such as Cambridge and Milton Keynes nearby.

Stansted is the third largest airport in the southeast, with more than 150 destinations and 17.5m passengers last year. It is heavily reliant on Ryanair, the Irish low cost carrier. Manchester is the only UK airport outside Heathrow with two runways and MAG believes its experience in obtaining planning permission for it and operating it stands it in good stead.

MAG, the UK's second largest airport operator, is still majority owned by Manchester City Council and its nine neighbouring authorities. To fund the Stansted acquisition, it struck a deal with Industry Funds Management of Australia last year in which the Australian group took a 35.5 per cent equity stake and 50 per cent of voting rights.

The Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies will report after the 2015 election.

On Wednesday Heathrow, the UK's only hub which is operating at near full capacity, set out proposals to add a third runway and, possibly, a fourth. On Monday Mr Johnson backed the case for a new four-runway hub on the sparsely populated Isle of Grain - a proposal similar to one by Lord Foster, the architect.

OUR COMMENT: An apparently sudden change of heart? From making full use of one runway to building four runways? No problems MAG says, plenty of land available and only a relatively small number of residents affected by noise? Have the new management not noticed that most of the land in question is ancient woodland, and high quality agricultural land? Do they really believe that they can establish and manage a four runway airport without a massive associated development? The UK is a relatively small island. Two areas have already been overpowered by Heathrow and Gatwick. Manchester itself has invaded the surrounding countryside. Airports up and down the country are now intent on expanding and are ignoring the lives of those who live in their area. There must be a limit. Airports invade living communities and while true economic interests are important, assumed passenger interests should not overrule the needs of the local communities, with whom ultimately the airport management will have to live with.

Pat Dale


Expanding Stansted would have a profoundly
damaging effect on a beautiful part of Essex

Evening Standard - 19 July 2013

Just ahead of the deadline for submissions to the Davies Commission, which is looking at plans for expanding aviation capacity, Stansted's owners have come up with a grandiose plan for a four-runway airport. It could, they say, solve the aviation crisis at a fraction of the cost of rival proposals from Heathrow or for the Mayor's favoured new hub airport. That would still mean a cost of £9.5 billion - probably more in practice - but it is far less than building a new four-runway hub from scratch. The expansion of Stansted is one of the Mayor's favoured options.

There is certainly a good deal to be said for using the infrastructure we possess to create greater capacity. But expanding Stansted on this scale would have a profoundly damaging effect on a beautiful part of Essex. There would also need to be serious investment to upgrade the currently lamentable rail link.

One other option that would see more modest expansion at Stansted - and at other airports - is the proposal by architect Sir Terry Farrell, who advises Gatwick's owners. He suggests a "constellation" of airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - with two runways at Gatwick and perhaps later at Stansted, linked by an improved rail network. That would deal with the problem that London's airports serve different geographical areas.

The Davies Commission, then, has much to ponder in the proposals submitted to it but none is going to be acted on this side of a general election, for political reasons. Yet London's need for better connections to global markets is acute. Changing runway use at Heathrow would help in the short term - but putting the needs of the economy ahead of political expediency would help even more.


London Mayor Boris Johnson's proposal to develop
a four-runway mega hub at Stansted has attracted criticism

Eleanor Busby - Cambridge News - 16 July 2013

In a report published on Monday, Mr Johnson suggested that the sites of Stansted Airport and the Isle of Grain in Kent, should also be considered for a new four-runway hub airport, alongside his outer Thames Estuary plan - dubbed "Boris Island".

Mr Johnson's report, which excludes Heathrow from the shortlist, stated that developing a four-runway airport at Stansted would have the "attraction of building on existing infrastructure and being sited in a relatively sparsely populated region. Stansted has none of the environmental or wildlife issues that would need to be overcome in the estuary."

Mr Johnson believes a new hub airport would be able to support more than 375,000 new jobs by 2050 and add £742 billion to the value of goods and services produced in the UK. But Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden who has the airport in his constituency, has called the plans "absurd".

Sir Haselhurst said: "I have long believed that it would be wrong to build another huge airport for London at an inland site whether Stansted or elsewhere. Boris is right first time when he talks of an inner estuary site. He should stick to that and take his eyes off rural England."

"When Boris says that Stansted has none of the environmental or wildlife issues that would need to be overcome in the estuary, it suggests that he knows nothing about North West Essex. Nor can he have read the report following the Airport Inquiries 1981-85 in which the Inspector concluded that even a second runway at Stansted would be 'an environmental catastrophe'.

"He says that a hub airport would be able to support new jobs, but where does he expect the people to be housed? The present population of the District of Uttlesford is 79,400 and even at this moment the Council is having the greatest difficulty in persuading local residents where to put the 3,300 extra homes needed by 2026."

Peter Sanders, Stop Stansted Expansion chairman, commented: "Boris Johnson's dismissal of our local heritage and landscape is an affront to all the people of North West Essex and East Herts. As Mayor of London, of course, he has no need to involve himself in our affairs. It is surely no coincidence that he rejects expanding Heathrow, which is within his constituency. It remains our view that there is no need for any extra runways in the south-east."

Mr Johnson believes a new hub airport could be created by 2029. He said: "For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow is quite simply crackers." Mr Johnson's plans will be submitted to the Government-appointed Airport Commission later this week.


Ryanair boss says 'Boris Island' would waste billions, as London
mayor puts forward airport plans for sites in Thames estuary

Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 18 July 2013

Stansted airport is expected to give the government the option of building a second runway there on Friday's deadline for submissions to the Davies commission on airport expansion.

The owner of Stansted, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), will put in a "flexible" submission to the government's airports commission which would allow for the expansion at the Essex site that has been called for by London mayor Boris Johnson and even rival Gatwick. However, MAG will also argue that the government should make more use of existing capacity in the north of England rather than channel traffic through the southeast.

Stansted is adding its submission to those of Heathrow, which this week published three alternatives for a third runway, and Gatwick, which has submitted plans for a second runway in 2019. Johnson has proposed two different sites in the Thames estuary or the transformation of Stansted into a new, four-runway hub airport, to replace Heathrow.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary made a submission on Thursday calling for extra runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, urging the government not to waste years and billions of pounds on "Boris Island".

The prime minister, David Cameron, instigated the commission last year after pressure from his own MPs and business groups to reconsider the case for airport expansion in south-east England. Heathrow and others in the aviation industry have claimed that Britain's economic interests are harmed by insufficient space at the nation's main airport to meet pent-up demand for long-haul flights to emerging markets.

The commission, led by former Financial Services Authority boss Howard Davies, will consider all the submissions and draw up a shortlist of feasible options to be announced by the end of this year in an interim report. It will issue its final recommendations in 2015.

Heathrow: a third runway

The idea: Heathrow says the only airport capacity that matters is hub capacity. This means extra runways are needed at an airport big enough to host connecting flights whose passengers then transfer to long-haul services. The airport is 99% full and it has set out three possible locations for a third runway, although combinations of their plans could also allow a fourth or even fifth runway in the future.

The cost: Between £14bn and £19bn, paid for by Heathrow. The taxpayer might get a £6bn-8bn bill for enhanced infrastructure around the airport.

The downside: At least one of six villages nearby would be flattened. An extra 240,000 planes a year would fly over London and, while Heathrow claims planes will become quieter thanks to technological breakthroughs, opponents say noise would only increase.

Will it happen? The bookies' favourite. Heathrow has the most powerful voice in British aviation and is home to British Airways. If Davies accepts the hub airport theory, this is the easiest option. But it would be bitterly opposed by environmentalists and residents of west London.

Gatwick and Stansted

The idea: Gatwick has launched constant broadsides against Heathrow's argument that a single hub is the most desirable outcome for the country. It points out that 90% of passengers at London airports start or end their journey in the capital and most passengers prefer to fly direct to their destinations, instead of transferring to a connecting flight at a hub airport. Global Infrastructure Partners, Gatwick's owner, believes that former owners BAA had little interest in developing a rival to Heathrow. GIP says proper investment is making Gatwick a genuine competitor. A new runway would let it grow further when it nears capacity in the next decade. To make a "constellation" of competing airports, it suggests giving Stansted a second runway, too.

The cost: An estimated £5bn, paid by the airport, although Gatwick has not made its submission public.

The downside: About 17 listed buildings would be demolished, although the area is scantily populated compared with Heathrow.

Will it happen? 4-1 against. An agreement rules out new runways until 2019 and, for all the "constellation" talk, airlines pay through the nose to be at Heathrow rather than take up the empty space at Gatwick. Bar a radical shift in mindset or economics, there seems little rush to expand here.

Hub to the east?

The idea: The London mayor agrees that one, bigger, hub airport is necessary. But Johnson is against expanding Heathrow, pointing to the hundreds of thousands of people already badly affected by aircraft noise. He says a new, four-runway hub could regenerate poorer areas to the east of London. His favoured scheme is the Lord Foster proposal on the Isle of Grain, although he has also submitted plans to the Davies commission for an alternative on an artificial island in the Thames estuary or for the substantial redevelopment of Stansted.

The cost: At least £23bn - but additional infrastructure such as new roads and railways pushes the cost past £50bn. Johnson hopes for some private investment but his record with London's cable car and bike hire suggests taxpayers would foot most of the bill.

The downside: Noise and air pollution would affect far fewer people than Heathrow does, but countryside would disappear and new towns would have to be developed to sustain the airport. Isolation would put greater pressure on surface links and mean longer journeys to the airport.

Will it happen? The Isle of Grain, not favoured by the bookies, looks more feasible than the Boris Island schemes. But it would have to deal with a range of issues including airspace congestion. The accompanying closure of Heathrow makes it an enormous political gamble.

The Regions

The idea: Birmingham and Manchester airports have plenty of spare capacity but millions of passengers who live on their doorsteps travel down to London to get a plane. If these regional airports were talked up by the government and designated national airports, with supporting infrastructure and incentives, they believe more foreign airlines would use them. Between them, they could handle 56m more passengers, which is more than a third runway at Heathrow would bring.

The cost: No new runways needed, although the HS2 railway (£50bn) is a crucial ingredient in its success.

The downside: More noise, but less upheaval. Birmingham has already started expanding its runway without demolitions, to fit the largest long-haul planes, and Manchester has two runways for the job now.

Will it happen? It could happen by default if Davies and the government shy away from building new runways in south-east England.


Ross Bentley - EADT Online - 20 July 2013

Proposals to add extra runways at Stansted Airport have been branded as "opportunistic" and "irresponsible" by campaigners.

The criticism from the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group came last night after Manchester Airport Group (MAG) submitted its vision for the future of the Essex airport to the Airports Commission consultation into UK air capacity.

The document outlined an option to add an extra runway that would raise Stansted's capacity to around 90million passengers a year, as well as a longer-term option of creating an airport with four runways that would be able to service up to 160m travellers per annum.

The report has been welcomed by Essex Chambers of Commerce and comes in the same week that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson put forward plans to create a four-runway hub airport at Stansted, which currently has one runway that services 17.5m passengers each year.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, which purchased Stansted from BAA in a £1.5billion deal earlier this year, said: "Stansted is uniquely placed to meet the UK's aviation capacity needs now and over the next 15 years. Almost overnight, Stansted could double the number of flights it handles without any need for significant investment in new infrastructure. Developing new capacity at a number of airports is likely to be best for passengers."

"Should the commission take a different view and conclude that the UK needs an effective hub to provide international connectivity, then Stansted could certainly fulfil that role in a cost-effective way. Both options should be considered, but whichever path the commission takes, the costs and the environmental impacts of building new capacity at Stansted are likely to be far lower than at alternative locations."

But SSE chairman Peter Sanders said the proposals simply resurrect the expansion options for Stansted put forward by BAA, which were defeated three years ago. He added: "We really shouldn't have to go through this whole argument again just three years after the last threat was lifted. We are profoundly disappointed that MAG has behaved in this opportunistic and irresponsible way. We will be doing everything possible to convince the Airports Commission to reject the idea of any new runways at Stansted."

However, the chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, Denise Rossiter, welcomed the proposals. She said: "MAG have already made a significant impact in the short time they have owned the airport and I have no doubt about their capacity to deliver for the future. Their ideas deserve full consideration by the Airports Commission and we are happy to support their ambitions."


Robert Peston, Business Editor - BBC News - 17 July 2013

To tell you what you know, the UK is an economy with unsustainably large imbalances.

The income we receive from the rest of the world, from what we export and from our overseas investments, has for 30 years been too small to cover what we buy abroad. Which is one important reason why the indebtedness of the nation, or the sum of government, business and household debts, is unsustainably large and rising. And, the gap between what the government spends and receives from tax revenues is also widely seen as unsustainably large, and not falling fast enough (sorry I am lingering on the blimmin' obvious).

Now there are only two ways to deal with such imbalances. One way is austerity: households can save more, buy less and become reconciled to diminished living standards and less opulent lifestyles; governments can reduce their expenditure and put up taxes. The other way is to promote growth, especially of trade and inward investment, so that the gap narrows between exports and imports, and activity in the UK revives to boost tax revenues for the government.

The hub effect
Now you might think that growth sounds like far and away the most attractive of the two options: it would allow us to sustain and even possibly improve our standard of living, whereas austerity is all about accepting that we've been living beyond our means.

Heathrow is more-or-less at full capacity
But if you thought promoting growth was the easier option, well I have only one word to say to you: "Heathrow".

To explain
There is a consensus that an open trading economy like the UK's requires what is known as a "hub airport". This is an airport which serves lots of destinations all over the world with direct flights, and caters for vast numbers of passengers in transit between destinations. There is evidence that the benefit of a hub airport is not just in the direct travel revenues it generates but in the way it stimulates trade, and persuades overseas businesses to open offices and plant near the airport.

Quantifying these benefits is not a precise science, but Frontier Economics estimates that a better London hub would add up to £2bn to trade.

Here is the thing: Heathrow is Europe's biggest hub airport, but it is more-or-less at full capacity and is creaking; so it has seen important new flight routes, to fast growing Chinese cities (for example), gravitate to rival hubs, such as Frankfurt. And that brings the risk that Chinese businesses will set up shop near Frankfurt, and not in Britain.

Which is why, as various ministers and officials have said to me many times since the election, the infrastructure project that would probably do more than others to stimulate growth would be building one or two additional runways at Heathrow. But, of course, almost the first action of the coalition government was to do the opposite, by shelving plans for the expansion of Heathrow.

However, recognising it may have been a bit hasty, the government then set up a commission, under Sir Howard Davies, to make a recommendation in 2015 on the best option for ensuring that the UK continues to have Europe's leading airport hub.

Too late?
The point is that for all the likely economic benefits of adding to Heathrow's capacity, the political cost was seen by the government to be too great: alienating those who fear their lives would be ruined by increased noise pollution and a deterioration of air quality was just too scary. Does this reveal a flaw in the ability of the coalition to make tough decisions? Some would say it does, although that would be to ignore 50 years of dithering by successive British governments about whether to embark on the kind of infrastructure modernisation that comes more naturally to the Chinese, Americans and French.

So today Heathrow is lobbying Davies's commission to show favour on one of the three sites it has identified for an additional runway - and reject rival proposals from Gatwick and Stansted, and the ambitious project championed by London's mayor to flatten Heathrow, construct new homes and businesses on the released land and build a whole new hub to the east of London.

Anyway, even with a following wind (which doesn't exist), none of this will happen for many years (the earliest a new runway Heathrow could open, given the political, planning and construction timetables, is 2025 - and that would be for the option that delivers the least capacity gain for the most disruption to residents). By which time, the moment of maximum benefit for the British economy may well have long gone.


It is hard to imagine how the UK will cut greenhouse gases by 80%
by 2050 if it is building a third or fourth runway

Editorial - The Guardian - 17 July 2013

This week has been an apt reminder that George Orwell's dismissive name for the England of 1984 was Airstrip One. Except where the venerable gloom-monger was referring to America's pernicious influence, the past few days have given another meaning to the term, by underlining the strength of the aviation lobby. The week began with the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, setting out his plans for a giant new airport on Kent's Isle of Grain. Yesterday saw the comeback from the consortium running Heathrow airport: three options for a third runway, to be built by the end of the next decade.

Two very different blueprints for the future of Britain's transport network and its economy, but with one tarmac-coated common assumption: that the future inevitably lies in building more airport capacity at the cost of many billions and allowing tens of thousands more flights - at ruinous cost to the environment.

Just what does ruinous mean? Start with the local costs. The easiest, quickest option from Heathrow, building north, would mean demolishing the villages of Sipson, Harlington and Cranford Cross and displacing 2,700 households. The least invasive plan would still destroy part of a reservoir, a village and would involve building over the M25.

Full credit to Sir Howard Davies and his fellow airports commissioners for calling all submissions in so early - because they have effectively forced the aviation lobby to show their hands and give all-too-concrete detail about the costs of their schemes. After the Heathrow expansion plans were canned in 2010, an entire industry began a well-resourced campaign in talking up the need for a hub and how London risked losing out to Paris and Amsterdam. Such rhetoric sounded persuasive in the abstract, but many Londoners (and non-Londoners) will find the specifics hard to stomach.

Before putting this debate into a wider context, it is worth remembering a few specifics. First, Heathrow remains the busiest airport in Europe. Second, projections of demand are often wrong. As the National Audit Office observed last year, Britain's first high-speed rail line was built on "hugely optimistic" forecasts for demand that never materialised.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, controlling the growth of aviation will be crucial to ensuring Britain meets its carbon emissions targets and therefore plays its part in averting climate catastrophe. It is hard to imagine how the UK will cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 if it is building a third, a fourth (as suggested by Heathrow yesterday) and perhaps even preparing a fifth runway in a corner of west London. Expanding airports in the south-east risks locking Britain into a climate-destroying and regionally unbalanced future. No amount of lobbying should distract us from that.


New runway proposals at Heathrow and beyond are the right answers -
to the wrong question. The right question is how many flights
can the climate withstand?

Damien Carrington Blog - Guardian Online - 18 July 2013

In the debate over building new runways in the UK, we are getting a lot of new answers - to the wrong questions. A huge lobbying effort has successfully changed the argument from whether we need more tarmac for more flights to how many new runways we need and where should they be laid.

The turbo-charge to the lobbying comes from the prospect of short-term economic growth, sought at any cost by the government. In contrast, the issue of the heavy and fast growing impact of aviation emissions on climate change has faded like a vapour trail in the hurricane force PR campaign.

The fundamental problem is that aviation is a rogue industry, darting across international borders to escape climate justice. While paying lip service to environmental concerns, its masters use the complexity of attempting to curb the carbon emissions of a global business to avoid any curbs at all.

An attempt to bring emissions from flights through Europe under the EU's emissions trading scheme was foiled by the US and China, while the UK declined in December to bring aviation emissions into the country's legally binding carbon budgets.

With aviation an outlaw, it's impossible to say exactly what number of flights would be compatible with the UK's pledge to cut 80% of the greenhouse gases driving global warming by 2050. The harder other industries are pushed to cut carbon, the more headroom there would be for aviation.

But there is plenty of flak available to down the high-flying claims of the aviation industry, such as arguing that its emissions are a tiny part of total emissions. Aviation made up 6% of UK emissions in 2011 but will make up at least 25% of the total in 2050. What happens with aviation will have a huge influence on whether the UK keeps its climate promises, particularly because it will rely on fossils fuels for decades to come.

Another claim is that new capacity is desperately needed to avert economic catastrophe. Yet, as George Monbiot has pointed out, business flights to and from the UK have fallen by 25% since 2000 and make up just 12% of flights. Furthermore, London is already already miles ahead of any competitors: it is the busiest city in the world for flights and has at least double the number of flights to business destinations than any competitor.

The number of flights may well be able to increase in future, if emissions are offset by more efficient planes and air traffic control systems and are part of a national carbon budget. But with many UK airports, particularly Stansted, very underused, the argument for new runways is shaky at best.

There is also little sane reason why so many slots at London airports should be taken up by flights to such exotic locations as Manchester and Edinburgh: short haul flights only add up because the outlaws of aviation pay no tax at all on their fuel nor VAT on their tickets and complain bitterly about air passenger duty.

Local environmental problems of noise and air pollution will, rightly, rank high among objections to specific plans. But it is the global problem of climate change that is fundamental. So far the aviation industry has cleverly used the global nature of the problem to avoid action. You can't act nationally or regionally, they say, because you'll just displace the planes and airports somewhere else: it's global action or nothing and the latter is the less bumpy ride, thank you very much.

But this will change, I think. Aviation will be brought under national and regional carbon caps as progress continues on international action on climate change. When the permissible emissions come to be divided up between flights, farming, factories and fuelling the UK, it's quite possible that soaring emissions from aviation are not seen as the top priority. At that point, any new runways will stand only as multi-billion-dollar monuments to the hubris of an industry accustomed to operating without constraints.


Joe Bates - Airport World Online - 19 July 2013

Foster+Partners has formally submitted plans for a new four-runway hub airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary to the government's Airports Commission. The Thames Hub Airport proposal has been advocated by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and has been developed with the support of a number of leading organisations. The new hub airport can open in 2029 with capacity for 110 million passengers per year at a cost of £24bn, and has the flexibility to grow to 150mppa.

According to the submission, the majority of flights can approach the airport over water, relieving five million Londoners of the noise, pollution and dangers of flight paths over the capital. The submission also states that unlike Heathrow, the airport can operate 24-hours a day. And Foster+Partners claim that the airport has a viable private funding model, which ensures that it will be financially sustainable and can achieve a fair price for passengers and airlines.

The proposed site capitalises on the eastward thrust of London's development and existing investments in high-speed rail, reducing the need for additional surface access by connecting with High Speed 1, High Speed 2 and Crossrail. Journey times by rail from St Pancras would be just 26 minutes, or 40 minutes by rail from Waterloo, says the submissioon.

The Thames Hub Airport is also strategically located close to the South East's major ports, including the new Dubai Port World's Thames Gateway, to enable the successful economic integration of rail, sea and air freight, state its supporters, who claim that under current legislation, the planning process would be identical to a third runway at Heathrow.

And it is believed that given the go-ahead, the Thames Hub Airport could open within 16 years - about the same time as it is estimated that it will take to build a new, third runway at Heathrow.

Finally, the submission argues that fewer homes would be relocated than at Heathrow and, without the constraints of an urban site and operational airport, it would be more cost-effective to build. It adds that the new gateway could be developed in phases according to demand, allowing for the creation of "a prosperous new London borough and a sustainable commercial centre to rival Canary Wharf".

Following the submission of Foster+Partners? proposals, Lord Foster commented: "The infrastructure of a nation can never be taken for granted. Only for so long can we trade on an inheritance from the past. Heathrow, with its military origins, is a case in point. There is a limit to how much it can be patched up and enlarged - even for the needs of today, let alone tomorrow - and would you ever choose a location which dictates flight paths over the heart of London?"

"We have reached a point where we must act, in the tradition of those Victorian forebears and create afresh - to invest now and safeguard future generations. Why should we fall behind when we could secure a competitive edge?"

He added: "The choice is not about time or money. A new four-runway true hub airport in the Thames Estuary, at £24 billion, costs less to build than two extra runways at Heathrow and can be realised on a similar timescale. Our funding model shows that it could pay for itself within a decade of opening."


Michael O'Leary wades in as deadline nears
for submissions on aviation capacity

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent - The Independent - 19 July 2013

As the deadline approached for submissions to the Davies Commission on aviation capacity, Ryanair waded into the debate by demanding new runways at all three of the capital's three main airports. The Irish airline claimed that an additional runway at each of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would provide enough capacity for the next half-century.

Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, described Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission as "Another example of David Cameron kicking the can down the road". But he added that it "offers a unique opportunity to finally introduce effective competition and excess capacity in London's runway infrastructure".

Mr O'Leary said: "Three new runways at the three competing London airports is the only sensible and consumer-focused solution to the chronic runway capacity shortages in London and the South East. We cannot wait 30 years and allow billions of pounds to be wasted on 'Boris island'."

The owners of Ryanair's main base, Stansted, were lukewarm about adding another runway. The short-term aim at the Essex airport is to try to win back the passengers who have deserted it over the past six years.

Manchester Airports Group, which bought Stansted earlier this year for £1.5bn, told the Davies Commission that the airport could handle twice as many planes and passengers as it does now without significant investment in new infrastructure. The previous owners, BAA, hoped to build a second runway with a price tag of £4bn, but abandoned the plan in 2010 in the face of opposition and declining passenger numbers. Usage has fallen by 27 per cent from a peak of 24 million passengers in 2007 to 17.5 million last year.

Manchester Airports Group's chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: "Developing new capacity at a number of airports is likely to be best for passengers". However, he left the door open for the advisory body to recommend additional capacity saying: "Whichever path the Commission takes, the costs and the environmental impacts of building new capacity at Stansted are likely to be far lower than at alternative locations".

The cost of constructing a four-runway airport at Stansted, able to handle up to 160 million passengers a year, is estimated at £10bn. This week Heathrow's owners said that a third runway would cost a minimum of £14bn. The Essex airport claims that, even with new runway capacity, the noise impact would be minimal compared with Heathrow: "Stansted handles 50 times as many passengers as Heathrow for every person affected by noise".

Boris wants to export London noise to Stansted!


Matthew Beard, Transport Editor - Evening Standard - 4 July 2013

Boris Johnson today sought to bolster his case for a "super airport" by publishing research claiming that a four-runway hub alone could deliver a boom in flights to emerging markets.

A report commissioned by the Mayor showed that only a four-runway airport in London could double the number of destinations from the United Kingdom to China and South America. These new routes would deliver a huge boost to trade with a daily flight to the Chinese city of Xi'an - home to a major software industry but not currently served directly from the UK - creating UK exports worth an annual £350 million.

Findings of the report, by York Aviation, were made public by City Hall just two weeks before the Mayor submits his proposals on the best solution to the capacity crisis to the Government's aviation commission.

A "Boris Island" airport in the Thames estuary and a giant expansion of Stansted are being pushed by the Mayor.

Mr Johnson said: "We are looking here at definitive proof that London and the UK will benefit hugely from significant expansion of our hub airport capacity. To get the flights we need, it has to be four runways operating efficiently in one place rather than spreading haphazardly across the South-East. A four-runway airport will secure us the direct connections to the emerging markets around the world that will allow us to compete with our international rivals, who are busy building and growing their mega-airports as we speak."

According to the research, a four-runway airport can deliver a much wider range and greater frequency of flights than if the same number of spread across the region, such as an extra runway at Gatwick. The number of flights per week to Mexico could increase from 21 to 53, serving five cities instead of the current two. Ten new destinations could be added to south America, including twice daily flights to both Lima and Santiago de Chile, both of which are currently served by rival European hubs.

The Mayor argues that such an extensive schedule is only possible with a hub because it will attract large number of transfer passengers that make these proposed new routes to new markets financially viable.

But he ruled out Heathrow as a four-hub solution, saying it lacked the space to configure the facilities and its expansion would be a blight on local residents. Daniel Moylan, the Mayor's aviation adviser, said: "This new data further illuminates the need for an airport to have four runways and room to grow, because it is spare airport capacity that allows airlines to innovate and experiment with new routes and emerging markets."

The research will be submitted to the Davies Commission?s discussion on airport operational models, which apart from a superhub, can include a split hub - such as the parallel expansion of Heathrow and Stansted, or the "Heathwick" solution that connects Heathrow and Gatwick by a new rail link.


Gatwick Airport has appointed a world-leading architect
to help in its plans for runway expansion

BBC News - 8 July 2013

Sir Terry Farrell will help in its proposals for a "constellation of three London airports" with two runways each. Gatwick said competition between it, Heathrow and Stansted was "the best solution for London". Sir Terry's previous projects include the MI6 building and Home Office headquarters in London and Incheon Airport in South Korea.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive at the West Sussex airport, said: "Having designed major transport infrastructure around the world, including the hub airport in South Korea, he will bring to the airport a track record of delivering major transport projects whilst ensuring London and the UK gets the right solution."

In September, the government announced an Airports Commission to look at aviation in the UK, including how to deal with the South East's congested airports. Sir Terry's firm, Farrells, will look at the impact on London of having competing airports of equal size compared to a single "mega-hub" airport.

He said: "The world city of London, with the largest aviation market in the world, is the hub and its airport infrastructure needs to evolve and grow around the city. The concept of building a single mega-hub airport is at significant odds with what London needs."

In June Heathrow bosses claimed a third runway would be "cheaper, quicker and better for the economy" than building a new airport. London Mayor Boris Johnson backs a Thames Estuary airport, calling the third runway idea a "giant step back".


Stansted airport handles almost 50 times as many passengers
as Heathrow for every person affected by aircraft noise, a new
discusion paper from the Airports Commission has found

Alistair Osborne, Business Editor - Daily Telegraph - 5 July 2013

The study, which will form part of the Commission's analysis of where to build new runways in the UK, finds that more people are affected by noise at Heathrow than at any other major European airport.

Moreover, Heathrow handles far few passengers and aircraft movements than any other British airport for every local resident disturbed by aircraft noise. Tellingly, the study demonstrates that if noise was the only factor taken into consideration, it would be much less disruptive to build a new runway at Stansted, Gatwick or Luton than Heathrow.

The Commission's 67-page report uses the traditional measure of evaluating noise exposure - a level of 57 decibels over a 16-hour period from 7am to 11pm. On this measure, it finds that Stansted handles 12,467 passengers for every person affected by noise - 47.8 times more than the 261 passengers handled by Heathrow. For Gatwick the figure is 9,233 passengers, while Luton handles 3,927 and Manchester 638.

Stansted also caters for 108.8 aircraft movements for every person affected by aircraft noise versus just 1.8 at Heathrow. The results are based on 2006 figures.

The Commission said the "new metrics are attempts to describe the noise efficiency of the airports", adding: "This analysis throws up some interesting discussion points. Of the UK's larger airports, all of Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester position better under the revised metrics than they do under a simple population survey comparison. It could be argued, therefore, that these airports are relatively more noise efficient than other UK airports."

Simply looking at the population affected, Heathrow unsurprisingly comes out worst given the number of people living close to the busy hub that handled almost 70m passengers last year. At a level of 57 decibels, the Commission report finds that 258,500 people suffer from noise pollution versus 3,700 at Gatwick, 1,900 at Stansted and 2,400 at Luton. Manchester is Britain's second noisiest airport, in terms of local residents affected, at 35,200 people.

Lowering the decibel count to 55, the study finds that Heathrow is by far the most noise polluting of Europe's major airports, with 725,500 people affected versus 238,700 at Frankfurt, 170,000 at Paris Charles de Gaulle and 43,700 at Amersterdam's Schiphol. A spokesman for the Commission stressed that the study was "only a discussion paper and is not meant to hint at any decision". It plans to publish a short-list of possible sites for a new runway by the end of the year with a decision in 2015 - after the next election.

John Strickland, an aviation consultant at JLS Consulting, stressed: "Noise is going to be an important component in any decision but the Commission has got to walk a tightrope between environmental factors and economic ones - where to put capacity to boost economic growth and job creation. Heathrow is also in transition towards quieter aircraft with the A380 and new engines on the [Boeing] 787."

A spokesman for Heathrow said: "We know noise is an issue for people under the flight path which is why we encourage airlines to fly only their quietest aircraft into Heathrow by charging airlines more for noisier aircraft and have schemes to insulate local properties." He added "the airport had recently published a new document "A Quieter Heathrow", which sets out our commitments on noise reduction such as publicly ranking airlines according to their noise performance and increasing fines for those that breach the rules."

He said this would "continue the progress which has seen the number of people affected by noise at Heathrow fall from around 2m in the mid-70s to around 250,000 today".

OUR COMMENT: The noise measurement used does not give a full picture of noise nuisance since it is an average figure and takes no account of the actual number of flights.

Pat Dale


Airbus says each A380 will save BA £100m in fuel costs
over its lifetime and significantly cut noise disturbance

Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 4 July 2013

The first of a new generation of British Airways doubledecker superjumbos has arrived at Heathrow, bringing the promise of the quieter, fuel-efficient flying sought by passengers, airlines, and the airport's neighbours alike. The 469-seat Airbus A380, the first to be owned by a UK airline, was signed over in a ceremony at the manufacturer's Toulouse airport base before departing for London.

Airbus claims that the giant planes, with an upper deck six feet wider than the Boeing 747s they will replace, will each save the airline £100m in fuel costs over their lifetimes. The fuel bill for one long-haul flight runs into six figures and the A380 is said to be 16% more efficient. More significantly for those under the flightpath, the A380's "noise footprint" on landing at Heathrow - the area greatly affected by noise disturbance - is claimed to be a quarter of that of a 747. Heathrow charges lower landing fees to quieter aircraft and is continuing to develop stands and taxiways to accommodate the A380s.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow's sustainability director, said the aircraft would contribute to noise reduction and that noise now affected fewer people around the airport than at any time since the 1970s, despite flight numbers having almost doubled. Keith Williams, the chief executive of BA, told crew and passengers: "You're part of the future." Both BA and Heathrow believe the aircraft will transform aviation - including the fraught debate over additional runways at London's hub airport. BA has ordered 12 A380s. Four other airlines already operate the planes out of Heathrow.

Williams said: "These aircraft are the start of a new era for British Airways. Over the next 15 months, we will take delivery of new aircraft at the rate of one a fortnight as we put ourselves at the forefront of modern aviation. The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board."

BA is unlikely to have secured the same discount on the $403m (£265m) list price obtained by the earliest adopters, but takes delivery after Airbus has resolved the problems of cracks in the wings that grounded several A380s in 2012.

Fabrice Brégier, the chief executive of Airbus, said it was a "very proud moment" and significant for the image of Airbus, marking the first longhaul aircraft the European manufacturer has supplied to a previously entirely Boeing-made BA longhaul fleet. He said that BA, which has ordered 12 A380s as well as 18 A350s, the plane that made its first test flight last month, was among its top 10 customers but added, with a Gallic dash, that it was much higher "in our hearts" - a notable change from the once frosty relationship between Airbus and BA.

Brégier said that the constraints of Heathrow, where the limit on takeoffs and landings has been reached, meant that more airlines would be looking to the capacity offered by the superjumbo. Airbus's chief operating officer, John Leahy, speaking aboard the flight from Toulouse, said that 40% of the A380 was British-made and that Airbus was sustaining 100,000 jobs in the wider supply chain. Around 4,500 people in Britain worked directly on the A380. BA has also chosen Trent-900 engines made by Rolls-Royce in Derby.

The flight touched down at Heathrow just after 10.30am, with the pilot, Captain James Basnett, telling passengers that the flight was making aviation history, adding: "Ladies and gentlemen, you have never seen a bigger smile on the face of a captain in your life." The plane was met by 380 British Airways employees at a hangar in Heathrow.

BA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliners - carbon-fibre planes which are much smaller than the A380 but with a similar range and fuel efficiency - arrived at Heathrow last week, making BA the first airline in Europe to operate both of the pioneering planes. The A380's first passenger flight will be to Los Angeles on 24 September.

OUR COMMENT: The claim that the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 promise more fuel-efficient flying and a substantial reduction in noise is disingenuous as far as the noise is concerned. Both these aircraft are larger than the corresponding aircraft they replace but with higher thrust and weight performance. It is true that the noise emitted when rated and certified upon manufacture is less than the planes they replace. But the reduction is so small that at best it is just noticeable and at worst it is hardly perceptible. While it is true that since the 1960's and the older 707s, aircraft engine noise emissions have reduced markedly, the ability to make further technical improvements is very limited. The improvement curve is now almost asymptotic to zero.

This claim for the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 is based upon noise certified ratings which are measurements and computer modelled figures for a specific certification test. They do not necessarily represent the noise perceived on the ground by people living under the flight paths near airports. This is dependent on many factors, not least of which is the manner in which the plane is actually flown. Aircraft are intrinsically noisy machines and the modern jet engines emit 140 decibels of noise. That's 8 times louder than a pneumatic drill and 250 time louder than normal conversation. The problem arises with not just the noise of each one, but the numbers of flights. Added to which noise perception is influenced by the size of the emitting source. The bigger the plane, the larger noise it seems to make.

So whilst the certified noise ratings for these new planes are lower, a larger plane flown differently can cause more noise annoyance. And if the number of flights or noisy events is increased, while the reduction in noise of each one would not be readily noticeable, the increase in the number of noisy events certainly would be.

Martin Peachey
SSE Noise Consultant


Aviation Environment Federation - 4 July 2013

A new study has shown that both air pollution and night noise can independently cause large increases in 'subclinical atherosclerosis'. This is a condition that typically precedes heart problems. Subclinical atherosclerosis can be detected by tests, but would not be picked up in the normal course of events because it precedes clinical symptoms.

Dr. Philip Harber, a professor of public health at the University of Arizona said "In the past, some air pollution studies have been dismissed because critics said it was probably the noise pollution that caused the harm, and vice versa. Now we know that people who live near highways, for instance, are being harmed by air pollution and by noise pollution."

A key finding is how large the effects are. A 2.4 ug/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) increase in small particulates increases the risk factor that was measured by 20%. The limit for small particulates allowed by UK and EU air pollution standards is as high as 20 ug/m3.

An increase in night noise of 5 dB increases the risk factor that was measured by 8%. While the study looked at noise from road traffic, there is no reason to believe that noise from aircraft does not have similar effects. Night time noise from aircraft regularly exceeds the maximum level recommended by the World Health Organisation.


Businessweekly Online - 1 July 2013

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin joined M.A.G chairman, Mike Davies and Stansted Airport MD, Andrew Harrison to launch the start of an £80 million project to transform Stansted's iconic terminal building and meet the demands of modern air travel.

The way passengers travel by air has dramatically changed over the last decade. For example, the overwhelming majority of Stansted passengers check-in online and over half travel without checked-in baggage. To reflect this, Stansted is undertaking the biggest transformation since the terminal opened in 1991 to improve all aspects of the passenger journey. Stansted's state-of-the-art Lord Foster designed terminal building will be enhanced by making better use of existing space and providing passengers with new security facilities and an enlarged departure lounge.

New owners M.A.G have wasted no time in identifying ways to improve the passenger experience, with the long-term ambition of becoming the best airport in London. To inform its approach to the redevelopment, M.A.G has used research by psychologists to understand the points when passengers feel confused, stressed and relaxed during their time at the airport. They also analysed changing trends and passenger expectations over recent years and in the future to inform the plans.

To ensure Stansted's award winning terminal continues to provide passengers with award winning levels of service, M.A.G is investing £40 million in the project to redevelop the terminal - supported by a further £40 million that will be invested by commercial partners.

The transformation will provide a more intuitive and easier journey through the airport, a bigger and relocated security area, double the amount of seating, better restaurants and more shopping choice alongside improved way-finding and additional flight information screens. The new design will also provide flexibility to accommodate future airline requirements as Stansted grows it existing customer base and begins to attract a broader range of airline partners.

Patrick McLoughlin said: "Just three months into its ownership of the airport M.A.G. has shown it is prepared to invest in the infrastructure to improve passenger services and provide new facilities. The millions invested in this project will transform Stansted Airport's terminal building and the way passengers use it. That's not just good news for travellers, it's also good news for the country because this sort of improvement to our transport infrastructure helps to make the UK more competitive in the global economic race."

Andrew Harrison added: "Today marks the start of a significant investment programme to transform the terminal and help deliver our ambitious plans to radically improve Stansted and make it the airport of choice in London for airlines and passengers alike. The way airlines and passengers use the airport has dramatically changed over recent years with far fewer passengers using check-in desks or travelling with hold baggage but spending more time in the departure lounge."

"This exciting transformation project responds to these changing trends and will create a quicker and more efficient security process and bring some sparkle to what is already a fantastic terminal. Our focus is to provide great service and facilities and put Stansted in the strongest position to compete effectively for new routes, airlines and passengers and this transformation of our terminal is a critical element in achieving this aim and central to our future growth plans for Stansted."

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