| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - January to March 2015
WE NEED 24/7 RAIL SERVICES, SAYS STANSTED
Stansted's owners want train services to run from 3.40am from 2017
Robert Lea, Industrial Editor - The Times - 23 March 2015
Train services to Stansted should operate round the clock, or at the very least should start running very early in the morning from the City to help business travellers, London's third airport is demanding.
The government will soon start the relicensing of the East Anglia rail franchise when Abellio, the British division of the Dutch state railway that is the incumbent, will face stiff opposition from National Express, FirstGroup, the UK unit of MTR, of Hong Kong, and Keolis, a British subsidiary of SNCF, of France.
According to MAG, the parent company owner of Stansted, the refranchising system should be used.
LONDON AIRPORTS ANNOUNCE DEVELOPMENT PLANS
Alan Dron - atwoneline - 13 March 2015
Two of London's airports have published details on how they can expand to handle the increasing passenger throughputs in the southeast of the UK.
London Gatwick chairman Roy McNulty has written to the UK Airports Commission, currently in the final stages of reaching recommendations on the provision of new runways for the London area, while London Stansted has unveiled plans to make maximum use of its potential 45 million-passenger annual capacity.
Gatwick has made a series of guarantees beyond its expansion submission to the Airports Commission. These include a privately funded second runway would be operational by 2025; Gatwick bearing "all the main risks" of an expansion program including construction and operating costs; and paying £1,000 ($1,475) annually toward the municipal taxes of any residents either currently affected by noise above a 57dB(A) threshold, or who would become so affected by a second runway. This figure would be linked to inflation.
"Following a meeting earlier this month, I am now able to make firm guarantees on behalf of the Gatwick Board to the Airports Commission and to the government, McNulty said. Both Heathrow and Gatwick have support. But after years of delay most people agree on one thing - something needs to happen."
Stansted, which has an annual passenger throughput of around 20 million, expects this to rise to 30-35 million over the next decade and believes it can put in place measures to increase that to 45 million through operating more efficiently.
To help achieve the higher figures, its new Sustainable Development Plan calls for an enhanced rail link over the current route from London and elsewhere that terminates at the airport. This year will see the conclusion of an £80 million plan to improve the main terminal and it says minor taxiway improvements would help the single runway operate to its maximum capacity.
It also anticipates redevelopment of the north side of the airport on the far side of the runway from the main terminal. This was the site of the original airport terminal; it will continue to be used for general aviation purposes - but the area is ripe for redevelopment - both by the airport and for the area's wider economy, according to the plan.
NATS SEES TRAFFIC RISE IN FIRST TWO MONTHS OF 2015
Adsadvance Online - 17 March 2015
Air traffic in the UK increased in January and February compared to those months last year, with NATS, the UK's major air traffic management company, handling more than 159,000 flights in each of the first two months of 2015.
NATS provides air traffic control from centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS handled 164,805 flights in January, an increase of 1.6%, compared to the same month last year, with 412 minutes of delays attributable to NATS - a 65% reduction on the 1190 minutes in January 2014.
There was a 3.1% increase of traffic last month compared to that in February 2014, as NATS handled 159,439 flights.
London City Airport led the growth in traffic for the first two months in 2015 with a 16.4% rise in January and a 24.8% increase in February - which was mainly due to an increase in ski flights to continental Europe and additional capacity routes made to Edinburgh and Dublin.
Stansted's traffic levels increased 12% in January and Southampton continued its run of strong growth with a 13.7% rise in flights in February.
Looking at all flights handled by NATS, February saw 'Non-transatlantic overflights' lead the market segment with a growth of 7.8%, followed by domestic flights, which recorded a 7.0% rise - an increase for the fourth consecutive month.
The increase in the domestic market segment was due to additional routes being added to the airline winter schedules, predominantly at Bournemouth and East Midlands airports.
NATS attributable delay totalled 4,939 minutes in February - a 5.8% increase on the comparable delay performance recorded in the same month last year. This was due to the high demand of returning traffic at the end of the school half term holiday on 22 February.
Martin Rolfe, Managing Director Operations, NATS, said: "The February half term is always a particularly busy time for us in managing that sheer demand of traffic, which is why there was an increase in delay. However, it has been a successful start to the year with NATS safely managing an increase in traffic in both January and February compared to last year's figures. We're glad that we were able to continue to provide a safe and efficient operation for our airline customers."
OUR COMMENT: This raises the question of the changes to some of Stansted's departure routes, not welcomed by the local community because of the adverse effects on noise nuisance. The average delay per flight attributable to NATS last month was 1.9 seconds. NATS had claimed that by changing Stansted departure flight paths from the Dover to Clacton route there would be a benefit of "reduced delay at Stansted and other airports". SSE had already pointed out that in 2012 (the reference year), NATS achieved its best ever performance of an average of 1.6 seconds delay per flight. So, asks SSE's advisor on aviation noise, Martin Peachey, what's the benefit for Stansted?
FLIGHTS AROUND STANSTED AIRPORT
TARGETED BY LASERS 45 TIMES LAST YEAR
Dunmow Broadcast - 28 March 2015
Aircraft pilots were targeted with lasers around Stansted Airport 45 times last year.
Data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show flights were subjected to laser attacks on average once a week. The figures follow a Freedom of Information request.
Statistics from the CAA show Stansted Airport recorded 39 such attacks, the second lowest of any UK airport. Heathrow recorded 168. However official reports which include flight zones further afield from the airport in Essex bring the total up to 45, though these do not cover other airspace in the county.
It is not known whether the incidents were accidental or deliberate efforts to blind pilots during a critical phase in the flight, though some of the cases have been logged by pilots as "persistent". They stretched throughout the year, with the first of 2014 recorded on January 4 and the last on December 20.
A spokesmann for the CAA said: "Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight is a serious risk to the safety of passengers and crew, as well as people living close to airports. During critical phases of flight, such as take-off and landing, pilots need to employ maximum concentration. Being dazzled and temporarily blinded by an intense light could potentially lead to flight crew losing control of the aircraft. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is now a specific criminal offence and the police are becoming very good at catching the perpetrators. We strongly urge anyone who observes a laser being used at night in the vicinity of an airport to contact the police immediately."
An Essex Police spokesman added: "Shining lasers at aircraft pilots is extremely dangerous and could cause long-lasting personal injury as well as having catastrophic results. We, like other police forces, will prosecute anyone, regardless of age, who chooses to endanger peoples' lives. We will not tolerate our officers or other pilots being subjected to such criminal behaviour."
There were 1,442 laser attacks reported in the UK in 2014, while UK flight operators reported a further incidents 312 overseas.
STANSTED PUBLISHES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
HIGHLIGHTING THE GROWTH POTENTIAL OF EXISTING RUNWAY
Stansted Airport Online - 4 March 2015
The Report claims:
"The ability to double passenger numbers to 40-45 million within agreed noise and air quality limits and existing boundary; Supporting extra 10,000 on-site jobs and generating £4.6bn in additional economic benefit; Key enabler of growth in the East of England, east London and along the burgeoning London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor"
Stansted is the UK's fastest growing major airport, serving over 20 million passengers a year. The airport has the capacity to more than double its current throughput to around 40-45 million passengers a year within the existing airport boundary and approved environmental limits. Making use of Stansted's spare capacity also has the potential to generate an extra 10,000 on-site jobs and £4.6 billion in additional economic activity, demonstrating the vital role the airport has to play in not just supporting economic growth and development in the region but also international connectivity for the UK to support increased trade and investment.
As part of its commitment to working in partnership with key stakeholders and local communities, Stansted carried out an extensive consultation to take account of the views and ideas of those with an interest in the airport's future development. During the consultation period Stansted held 10 public events in surrounding towns and villages; 11 local authorities, 10 parish councils and 14 business groups along with members of the public responded to the consultation and the consultation website pages received over 4,000 visits.
The majority of respondents recognised the value of making use of the existing runway capacity at Stansted and offered their support, subject to appropriate mitigation measures being in place to minimise environmental impacts. Many also noted how Stansted's community outreach programme and approach to partnership working were positive changes under Manchester Airport Group's (MAG) ownership.
Getting passengers to and from the airport was another key priority for stakeholders, in particular the rail journey times between Stansted Airport and London. There was strong support for the partnership approach being taken by the airport to working with DfT and Network Rail to identify ways to speed up rail services on the West Anglia Main Line, both for airport passengers and other users.
As a result of the consultation process, changes to the Sustainable Development Plan that Stansted has introduced include:
* A renewed commitment to work in close partnership with neighbouring authorities, the London Boroughs, the Greater London Authority and transport providers to develop robust business cases to secure investment in transport infrastructure including the West Anglia Mainline, A120 and M11.
* To work with partners including community groups, airlines, air traffic control and Government to understand and minimise the impact of all aspects of noise and drive forward change with our aim and commitment to provide transparent reporting of air noise impacts as well as to manage, mitigate and reduce where possible the number of people affected by noise.
* The continuation of a Community Trust Fund to support social, economic and environmental projects. In the last financial year (2013-14), Stansted Airport contributed over £112,000 to the Community Trust Fund.
* An extension to MAG apprenticeship programmes to increase the number of new recruits to 10 a year and work with on-airport partners to increase or introduce apprenticeship opportunities across the airport.
* An increase in the reach of our employment and education projects to North and East London Boroughs
Stansted Airport's Managing Director, Andrew Harrison said: "Stansted has such a bright future and will play a key role in the region's long term success by providing the international connectivity needed to make this part of the UK a great place to live and work. The Sustainable Development Plan sets out how the airport can grow over the next 10-15 years to make use of the capacity provided by the existing runway and generate an extra 10,000 on-site jobs plus £4.6 billion in additional economic activity, and demonstrates the vital contribution Stansted will make to supporting economic growth of this region, right along the London-Stansted-Cambridge growth corridor."
"I would like to thank all respondents for their input into the consultation process and those that took time to visit the public exhibitions. The dialogue doesn't stop here and we will continue with our partnership approach and ensure all our stakeholders are kept up to date with airport developments."
Local authorities and business groups commenting on Stansted's potential for growth included:
Councillor Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council: "We recognise and value the importance of Stansted Airport to our county's economy, as a gateway to Europe and the rest of the world and therefore as a crucial enabler for our ambitious plans for growth. We welcome the positive relationships that have been established with Manchester Airport Group (MAG) since the acquisition of Stansted Airport and plans to diversify the operations so look forward to working with MAG to build on this collaborative approach and help develop Stansted's plans for growth."
Councillor Lady Newton, Braintree District Council: "Braintree District Council recognises the importance of Stansted Airport's status as a major part of the UK's strategic infrastructure and, increasingly, as a key driver of economic growth regionally and nationally. The Airport is already a major employer of the District's residents and will continue to provide significant employment opportunities so we support the Airport's planned growth within its existing planning permission."
Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of London First: "Better air links serving London will grow Britain's ability to trade with the world, attract investment and generate jobs. Seeing as we probably won't get a new runway to serve London for over a decade, we need to maximise the potential of those airports serving the capital that have spare capacity. Under the ownership of MAG, Stansted has made impressive and rapid progress in improving the quality of its service and attracting new passengers and routes. We would now like to see government help stimulate future growth potential by improving the quality of rail-air links serving the airport."
OUR COMMENT: Those who live further away from the airport may be impressed with the prospect of bigger business opportunities but 10 mppa extra passengers (over the present permitted limit) is not going to make a significant difference to the local economy, and will only add to noise and traffic around the airport. MAG'S ambitions appear to look even further, towards a second runway. Does Essex really want this and all that it implies for the surrounding countryside, County towns and villages?
NETWORK AVIATION GROUP EXPANDS
CARGO SERVICES AT STANSTED
Theloadstar Online - 3 March 2015
Network Aviation Group is expanding its cargo services at Stansted by adding a 4th weekly service between Kenya and London.
The announcement, which was made at Air Cargo Africa 2015 in Johannesburg today will see an additional McDonnell Douglas MD-11 flight depart Nairobi on Fridays and arrive on Saturdays at Stansted.
Welcoming the announcement, Graeme Ferguson, M.A.G's Commercial Director for Cargo, said: "Stansted Airport and M.A.G are delighted to announce that Network Aviation Group is increasing services at Stansted. The extra flight will allow the airline to ship up to 80 tonnes of time sensitive goods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers direct to the UK."
"We are committed to ensuring that Stansted remains a cargo centre of excellence for the UK and this extra service is another step in our offering."
230,000 tonnes of freight is shipped annually through Stansted on 11,000 cargo flights to and from 200 countries including textiles, fruit and vegetables, flowers, electronics, pharmaceuticals, mail, race-horses and Formula One equipment. The airport is one of the largest cargo hubs in Britain with more than £9.5bn worth of cargo transported every year.
Leading carriers operating freight services at Stansted include Asiana, FedEx, Martinair, Cargolux, Panalpina, Qatar, Royal Mail, Silk Way, ANA Airline Management, Titan, TNT, UPS and West Atlantic.
NATS PRESSES AHEAD WITH CONTROVERSIAL CHANGES
TO STANSTED AIRPORT DEPARTURE ROUTES
Herts & Essex Observer - 3 March 2015
AIR traffic controller NATS has confirmed it is pressing ahead with changes to departure routes at Stansted Airport, despite renewed criticism by campaigners.
It has submitted its proposals to the CAA and if approved, it expects to implement the revision in December this year. The changes would entail switching daytime flights from the existing south east (Dover) departure routes to the existing east (Clacton) departure routes.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) opposes this because it believes the overall result would be more overflying and increased noise disturbance for local residents within a 20-mile radius of the airport.
SSE called for clear and compelling benefits for those residents before any changes were implemented and claims more than 82% of those who responded to NATS consultation about the changes objected. As a result, SSE has written to the CAA to express its dissatisfaction with the consultation process and, in line with the CAA's responsibilities for overseeing the process of flight path changes, to draw attention to its perceived shortcomings.
In the letter, SSE has set out the reasons why it believes the NATS consultation was flawed and why the figures presented by NATS for claimed benefits were "neither fair nor accurate". These figures related to the claimed reductions in flight delays, CO2 emissions and the number of people adversely affected by overflights and noise.
SSE is also pressing the CAA, under the Freedom of Information Act, to provide a copy of the NATS submission seeking CAA approval for the proposed flight path changes. This has now been taken to appeal because of the CAA's initial refusal to provide the information requested.
SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey said: "From the local perspective around Stansted Airport, there is no doubt that residents overall would experience more overflying and associated noise exposure. SSE wants the CAA to look at this whole issue afresh. The shortcomings in the application of the airspace change process need to be satisfactorily resolved before any final decisions can be made."
A NATS spokeswoman said: "The 12-week consultation NATS carried out last year, regarding a proposal to change the use of two existing departure routes at Stansted Airport, was conducted in accordance with CAA guidelines. It sought to determine whether there was any relevant information that had not been considered in drawing up the proposal. However, the responses received highlighted no issues that had not already been taken into account."
FLIGHT ATTENDANT UNION PUSHING FOR BETTER AIR QUALITY
Gulli Arnason Financial News Online - 25 February 2015
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) said it is pushing for improved air quality in aircraft cabins to protect both the crew and the passengers.
"AFA continues to lead the fight for better air quality in our aircraft," said AFA International President Sara Nelson. "Most Americans go to work with the expectation of breathing clean air, but until we achieve better standards for cabin air quality, flight attendants don't have this guarantee."
AFA's efforts to improve the cabin environment span the last three decades. From advocating for smoke free skies to today's current discussions on air quality, AFA remains steadfast. The union advocates that the airline industry either end the use of engine bleed air for cabin air supply or utilize filters to halt the circulation of contaminated air. Current bleed air systems can introduce potentially toxic engine oil fumes into the cabin.
Is airport expansion compatible
with controlling climate change?
CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITTEE: IS AIRPORT EXPANSION
VIABLE WHEN EMISSIONS ARE CAPPED?
aef.org.uk online - 19 February 2015
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to the Airports Commission in response to the recent consultation on shortlisted expansion options at Heathrow and Gatwick.
The letter reiterates the Committee's earlier recommendation that the Airports Commission's economic analysis of the expansion options should reflect the need to restrain aviation growth in order to manage emissions from the sector.
This in effect means that the costs of limiting emissions - which may be transferred to passengers or industry - are included in the cost-benefit analysis for each of the three expansion schemes. The Airports Commission has yet to complete this assessment.
The letter states that passenger growth could be constrained either directly through "limiting demand in a balanced manner across existing capacity" or indirectly through a form of carbon tax or carbon trading system.
AEF's response to the consultation highlighted how difficult either of these options would be in practice if a new runway was built. Limiting emissions to the level recommended by CCC could require:
* The introduction of a carbon tax, rising with time to between £329 and £1316 by 2050 according to the Commission's own analysis
* The introduction of planning caps on activity at regional airports
* Requirement of sectors other than aviation to make cuts in emissions beyond the level currently deemed feasible by the Committee on Climate Change, to allow for further leniency for aviation
The CCC is clear that the Government's airports policy should reflect the need for aviation emissions to be no higher in 2050 than in 2005, this being the maximum level of emissions that would be compatible with the Climate Change Act.
However, the 'uncapped' forecasts for national aviation emissions produced by the Airports Commission exceed the 2005 emissions levels under all three possible expansion options. In the absence of some unspecified policy that would limit emissions, therefore, a new runway would result in the UK failing in its legal climate commitments.
STANSTED REVEALS MULTI-MILLION POUND EXPANSION PLAN
Cambridge News - 4 February 2015
Stansted Airport wants more passengers and is spending millions of pounds to attract them.
This morning it announced the next phase of its "airport transformation" - an £8m upgrade of its Satellite One departure gate area. Unveiling details at the Future Travel Experience industry conference in central London, the airport's managing director, Andrew Harrison outlined Manchester Airport Group's vision to transform the passenger experience.
Part of a wider £260m investment programme, this development aims to appeal to long-haul operators. Plans for the airport's new Escape Lounge were also unveiled; a development which serves the needs of Stansted's changing passenger profile and the first lounge in the main departures area in the airport's 24 year history.
Speaking at the conference Andrew Harrison said: "These are really exciting times and will be a significant turning point in the airport's history. Having successfully returned Stansted to growth, making it once again London's fastest growing airport, we're driving forward our ambition to attract a greater mix of airlines, including long-haul connections to serve our region and the London - Stansted - Cambridge economic growth corridor."
MAG says great progress has been made in the past year with the £80m transformation of the terminal building. The new security area that has doubled in size opened last year together with phase one of the new departure lounge entered via the biggest walkthrough World Duty Free Store in the World Duty Free Group.
BORIS BACKS IMPROVED STANSTED RAIL LINKS
Phil Davies - Travel Weekly Online - 16 February 2015
London mayor Boris Jonson has added his weight behind calls for improved rail links between the capital and Stansted.
Upgrading the line carrying the Stansted Express train service was not among priorities put forward by Network Rail in a 30-year regional plan last autumn, mentioned only on a wish-list out to beyond 2040. Airports Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies criticised Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne for having ignored the commission's findings that rail links to Stansted must be improved as a priority.
Johnson is also backing a four-track solution, which could allow fast trains between the City and Stansted to run at around 20 minutes, less than half the current journey time. "There is a strong nationally important case to be made for four-tracking... as a precursor to Crossrail 2," the mayor wrote in a letter to Carne that has been seen by The Times, in which he added that he was "disappointed that it has not been fully assessed".
"Massively improving journey times and reliability between London Stansted and Cambridge [will] support the government's aspiration for Cambridge to become an economic powerhouse, part of improving the links between the 'golden triangle' of London, Cambridge and Oxford and improving surface links to Stansted," he wrote.
A spokesman for Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group told the newspaper: "Unlike other London airports, Stansted has spare runway capacity today and significant room to grow in the future. It is vital that faster rail services are delivered between London and Stansted to ensure that this potential is utilised, and it is encouraging that the mayor recognises this. We have identified a clear solution for speeding up train services to Stansted. It is now time to get on and deliver these improvements."
Network Rail said it would consider all the responses to its present consultation.
OUR COMMENT: We have to remember that Boris favours Stansted expansion if he can't get his estuary airport!
STANSTED AIRPORT'S NEW £8M HOTEL
SET TO OPEN BY CHRISTMAS 2016
Herts & Essex Observer - 19 February 2015
CONTRACTS have been exchanged to build a new £8m hotel next to Stansted Airport's terminal.
Strategic developer Urban & Civic has unveiled plans for an upmarket, 330-room facility on two acres next to Bassingbourn Road. The hotel site is Urban & Civic's latest investment in the London-Stansted-Cambridge growth corridor, and was announced at the company's annual general meeting last week. It is also behind the multi-million-pound Enterprise Zone and new settlement at Alconbury Weald near Huntingdon.
Work on the latest project - in partnership with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) - is expected to start in July and the hotel, to be run by a major branded franchise, is scheduled to be open for Christmas 2016.
Robin Butler, managing director of Urban & Civic, said: "This is a very rare development opportunity. Continuing enhancement of the rail, road and air links at the heart of the Cambridgeshire growth corridor are an imperative to maintaining economic momentum and competitiveness on a global scale. Urban & Civic have already committed substantial investment within the wider region and see London Stansted Airport as an essential component in the growth story. Working in partnership with MAG, we will ensure that we deliver a new hotel of a quality and standard which appropriately reflects this opportunity."
For MAG, Lynda Shillaw said: "This opportunity is a significant step for development at Stansted, providing a key facility to support the growth of the airport and opportunities for the local community through the jobs that it creates. Conditional planning for the hotel has been granted, but an operator is yet to be agreed and we are working closely with Urban & Civic to ensure that a high-quality development is delivered. The deal is testament to Stansted's growth potential as the UK's fourth busiest airport, where currently approximately one million passengers per year are being added."
The development is part of MAG's £260m investment plan to attract more passengers, airlines and long-haul services. Stansted is the fastest-growing airport in the UK, attracting 20m passengers a year to more than 170 destinations.
NEW REPORT FINDS EXPANDING HEATHROW OR GATWICK
WOULD REDUCE REGIONAL AIRPORT GROWTH
Aviation Environment Federation - 15 February 2015
A report by the Heathrow All Party Parliamentary Group has found that expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick would largely re-distribute growth away from regional airports and the other airports in the South East.
Under all ten forecasts produced by the Airports Commission, growth at regional airports (those outside the South East) is reduced if a new runway is built compared with the baseline forecast, taking growth away from the regions.
Growth at Heathrow would, the report found, be offset by up to a 28% loss in regional airport passengers, and around an 8% loss at other South East airports. The loss of growth at regional airports is particularly dramatic when carbon emissions are capped at 2005 levels in 2050, However, the redistribution of demand to the South East is still present even where the carbon target is not met. Growth from expanding Heathrow would be largely offset by loss of passengers from regional airports.
Also revealed is that Airports Commission figures point to overall passenger growth rate from 2030 being the same whether airports are expanded or not (at 1.4% per year), with similar forecasts of the total national numbers of flights and destinations served. Growth in the number of flights at Heathrow corresponds with a reduction of 207,000 regional flights a year to and from regional airports by 2050.
Under some forecasts, particularly those with a carbon limit, the total number of passengers nationally would be lower if a new runway was built compared to the underlying baseline. This trend could be a result of a new runway being associated with an increased proportion of long haul flights, which produce more CO2 per passenger than the short haul flights and therefore take up more of the available emissions.
The report concludes that expansion in the South East could have a significant negative impact on the regions and on the overall efficiency of the UK economy. The findings fit in with those from our research, which showed that in order to allow growth of emissions at an airport in the South East, regional airports would have to be constrained in order for climate targets to be met.
The release of the report shortly after comments from the director for regulatory policy at the Civil Aviation Authority, Iain Osborne, about the regulator's view that congestion in UK airspace means that South East airport expansion would lead to restrictions at regional airports. Speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum, he told delegates: "You can't have hundreds more movements into a hub airport and allow traffic to a regional airport."
AIRPORTS COMMISSION SLAMMED
FOR AIR QUALITY EVIDENCE 'GAPS'
airqualitynews online - 3 February 2015
Consultation on three options for airport capacity expansion in the UK at either Heathrow or Gatwick ends today.
The Airports Commission has today (February 3) been criticised by environmental groups for "major gaps" in its evidence regarding potential air quality and noise impacts of building new runways at either Heathrow or Gatwick.
Three options have been shortlisted for airport capacity expansion in the UK - two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick - by the Airports Commission, an independent body tasked with making final recommendations in a report slated for summer 2015. Two of the three schemes shortlisted by the Airports Commission would see an expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The Commission launched a report on the three options in November 2014 alongside a public consultation, which closes today. The report made no specific recommendations, but stated that all three options would require expansions to local road networks and would therefore have a negative impact on air quality. And, while the Airports Com mission conceded that it has yet to complete full detailed modelling of the air quality impacts of each of the three expansion options, it said that there was nevertheless "sufficient evidential basis for consultees to express their views".
However, responding to the consultation today, UK-based NGO the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) slammed the "gaping holes" in the Airport Commission's analysis, which it said concealed "potential environmental disaster".
"We are very disappointed that despite the thousands of pages of analysis the Commission has published on its short-listed proposals, the environmental analysis it committed to undertaking has not been finished in time. By its own admission, the Commission has not completed a detailed enough assessment of the impacts of a new runway either on air quality or on the cost of meeting national carbon commitments."
The AEF added: "The environmental assessment presented so far is a patchwork of often damning, though incomplete, evidence about the impact of expansion, which could take place in areas described by the Commission as already suffering from 'environmental stress'."
As a result, the AEF is calling on political parties not to accept the Airport Commission's recommendations "until all the relevant evidence has been gathered and made available for public scrutiny".
Chaired by Sir Howard Davies, the Airports Commission forecasts that a third runway at Heathrow would cost £18.6 billion, extending the northern runway would cost £13.5bn, and a second Gatwick runway would cost £9.3bn.
Will more airports expand?
UK REGIONAL AIRPORTS INVITED TO BID FOR ROUTE FUNDING
UK airports and airlines are being urged to bid for government funding
of up to ?22.8 million in the next year to help launch new routes
Airport World Online - 22 January 2015
The Department of Transport says the 'start up aid' will be made available from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which was announced by the government in June 2013 and is open to airports with fewer than five million passengers per year. This fund has already been partly distributed to support strategic routes to London from Newquay and Dundee, but is now being extended to bids for more routes.
The ?73.1 million is available to cover three years of financial support for start-up aid, with ?22.8 million being made available to bids in 2015/16 and around ?26 million a year for each of the remaining years. The aid will create new routes, boosting connectivity, increasing trade and supporting jobs in the regions.
Aviation minister, Robert Goodwill, says: "Smaller airports are vital to local economies and ensuring they thrive is a key part of our long term economic plan. I want to encourage the industry to apply to expand their routes, to generate UK growth and jobs, as well as boosting our trade links with countries all over the world."
Chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, says he created the Regional Air Connectivity Fund because, as a Highlander, he appreciates the immense value of regional air routes to people living in remote communities across the UK. "This fund has already supported valuable services like Newquay's London route, which has a return of 2.5 for every pound invested, making it great value for taxpayers too. I hope this further funding will help other areas sustain economically important connections too."
To apply for the funding, airports and airlines will have to provide evidence to show their proposed route will generate local benefits and represents value for money.
The initial application stage will run for five weeks, closing on Wednesday, February 25 before ministers will announce a shortlist of bids in March 2015, and a list of successful bidders will then be published in June.
OUR COMMENT: It's not just about Heathrow v. Gatwick. In these days of austerity there is still money for more flights! Forget climate change, forget noise problems, forget overall transport planning!
RYANAIR HAS CHANGE OF TACK
OVER INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION
Ryanair is in talks with London Stansted Airport about how to work with
long-haul airlines to provide European connections for international flights
Travelmole Online - 23 January 2015
The airline believes its improved image will help it form partnerships with established long-haul airlines to help boost Stansted's flight international network and passenger numbers. The airport is looking to expand through transatlantic routes and flights to the Middle East.
Ryanair believes in five to 10 years time, major airlines like British Airways and Air France will call on low-cost airlines, like itself and easyJet, to do their short-haul feeds.
This would allow the big carriers to focus on their high yielding long-haul business, it said. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the only issue would be who would pay compensation to passengers who missed a connecting flight.
Some industry observers said this change in direction signals the end of Ryanair's own plans to launch a long-haul operation. Last September, O'Leary said he would be disappointed if Ryanair didn't launch transatlantic flights within five to 10 years. The latest plans were unveiled as Ryanair confirmed six new routes from Stansted.
OUR COMMENT: Maybe MAG (with Ryanair's support) will apply for the new grant!
CHANCELLOR ADMITS ADP IS A CASH GRAB
Buyingbusinesstravel Online - 24 January 2015
A letter leaked to the Daily Mail shows Chancellor George Osborne has admitted Air Passenger Duty (APD) is not a green tax.
The tax was originally launched in 1994 as a green measure to deter people from flying, but the letter appears to show the government now views it as a nothing more than a cash generator. Osborne said the levy, which is applied to all passengers leaving the UK, "is fundamentally a revenue raising duty".
The letter was sent to Olivier Jankovec, director general of the Brussels-based Airports Council International, in August, according to a report by the national newspaper. Osborne said in the letter that APD raises £2.5 billion per year for the UK government. He also said he plans to improve the current system by simplifying it on "a revenue neutral basis" and including business jets.
There is mounting pressure from airlines for the government to scrap APD completely, ahead of the entry of aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012.
A recent survey by the Board of Airline Representatives UK (BAR) showed airlines are increasingly worried about their ability to operate effectively from Heathrow in particular. The organisation surveyed its 86 member airlines, which include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, about taxes and capacity constraints at the London airport.
The threat of Air Passenger Duty (APD) being imposed alongside the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) next year will have a "critical impact on profitability" said nearly half the airlines (46%), with 42% saying it would have a "significant" impact.
OUR COMMENT: A Daily Mail inaccuracy - APD was introduced, not as an environmental tax but as a revenue raising tax. In announcing the new tax in his 1994 Budget speech, the then Chancellor, Ken Clarke, said that the aviation industry was "lightly taxed compared to other sectors". He was of, course, alluding to the aviation industry's exemption from fuel duty and VAT.
Brian Ross, SSE Economics Advisor
ONE MILLION TONNES OF CO2 SAVINGS IN UK AIRSPACE
Airport World Online - 22 January 2015
Up to one million tonnes of aviation related CO2 is now being saved each year, according to figures released by UK air traffic services company, NATS.
The reduction it says equates to more than ?150 million in enabled fuel savings for airlines and an average 4.3% cut in CO2 per flight. The improvements are the result of changes to UK airspace that allow for more direct routes and improved vertical profiles; the use of more efficient procedures, such as continuous instead of stepped climbs and descents; and the introduction of new air traffic control technologies.
Over 300 changes to UK airspace have been made over the past six years in an effort to find better and more efficient routes for airlines, which includes the more flexible use of military airspace when not in use, something that has saved 30,000 tonnes of CO2 alone.
The introduction of GAATS+, the tools that allow controllers to offer airlines the most efficient altitudes across the North Atlantic has itself enabled savings of over 110,000 tonnes of CO2. Getting more environmental data into the hands of operational employees has also been a priority, and last year NATS became the first air traffic control organisation to trial the use of near real time environmental efficiency data using its 'Flosys' tool.
NATS is the only air traffic services provider in the world to be financially incentivised to improve environmental performance.
A reduction of 4.3% means it has exceeded its own interim target of cutting aircraft CO2 by 4% by the end of 2014, ahead of the longer term goal of a 10% cut by 2020.
Ian Jopson, NATS head of environment and community affairs, says: "We set ourselves these targets as part of our environmental programme because it is the right thing to do for both the environment and our airline customers in terms of cutting their fuel bills. Getting to this point has been very challenging. It's taken significant effort, some innovative thinking and collaborative working with our customers and neighbouring air traffic service providers. To have exceeded 4% is now the perfect springboard to achieving our longer term ambition of a 10% reduction."
Further environmental and fuel savings are expected to be enabled over the next five years, with NATS planning the wholesale redesign of UK airspace to take advantage of modern aircraft navigation technologies, as well as ?782 million worth of investment in new air traffic control technologies.
OUR COMMENT: If these figures are reliable they are welcome, BUT as those residents living under changes routes in the Stansted area already know, some changes bring additional noise. Also CO2 production within the airport perimeter has to be factored in as well. Presumably this Report will be published. The recent report from the Aviation Environment Foundation shows that present plans for air flights expansion means that agreed national CO2 reduction targets cannot be met.
CLIMATE CHANGE COULD MAKE FLIGHT HARDER
Environmental Research Online - 20 January 2015
As the atmosphere warms and air gets less dense, the amount of lift generated by planes travelling at a given speed will decrease. The result? More cargo, and potentially people, could be bumped off flights that can no longer carry as much weight.
"Generally at the moment on hotter days, planes fly faster to take off," Ethan Coffel of Columbia University, US, told environmentalresearchweb at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December. "On some hot days at some airports they may not be able to take off at their maximum weight given the length of the runway."
Coffel, who's a keen follower of aviation, looked at the number of weight restriction days per year at four airports in the US. Currently there are up to 40 of these days each year. But in New York, for example, the number of weight restriction days between May and September could triple by mid-century if climate changes under an RCP8.5 emissions scenario - Coffel found that for a Boeing 737-800, a common short-to-medium-range airliner, the increase could be 50?200%.
Such weight restriction days could see 10,000 lb of cargo or passengers, roughly 15?20% of the total payload, having to be removed from the plane before it can fly. Generally an airline would remove cargo in preference to passengers, but either way the measures could cause increasing disruption.
So what can be done to adapt to the problem? Clearly, mitigating climate change would help. Failing that, airports could increase the length of their runways so that planes can take off at higher speed. This solution is expensive, however, and requires space, which may not always be available.
Advances in aircraft technology may also be needed to boost take-off speed for a given length of runway but this could involve trade-offs with aircraft cruise speed and fuel efficiency. Airlines could also shift long flights to cooler parts of the day, or use larger planes (although again, this would be less efficient).
According to Coffel there haven't been many studies of climate change and aviation. In 2013 researchers at the University of Reading, UK, showed that climate change could affect flights by boosting turbulence.
Coffel said that increases in storms, as well as sea-level rise and flooding at airports, could also affect aviation in the future, and pondered whether impacts such as these, as well as the projected increase in weight restriction days, could motivate airlines to act on emissions reduction.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN UK
AFFECTED BY AIRCRAFT NOISE DOUBLES
Robert Cumber - GetWestLondon Online - 26 January 2015
More than two million people are now significantly disturbed by noise from planes, according to new survey which campaigners say calls into question Heathrow's third runway claims.
Aircraft noise is affecting twice as many people in the UK as it was a decade ago, according to a new survey. The proportion of people claiming to be significantly disturbed by planes has doubled from two per cent in 2000 to four per cent in 2012, a newly published government report indicates.
More than 2,700 people across the UK were quizzed about the impact of noise on their daily lives for the survey commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Noisy neighbours remained the biggest bugbear, with 11 per cent of respondents declaring them a significant irritant, followed by eight per cent for road traffic.
But aircraft noise was the only category to show a marked increase in the latest National Noise Attitude Survey, with roughly 2.4 million people now saying it has a serious impact. Nearly a third (31 per cent) of people said they were bothered to some extent by the din from planes - up from 20 per cent in 2000.
HACAN, the anti-Heathrow expansion campaign group, claimed the figures proved the introduction of quieter planes did not necessarily mean less disturbance for those on the ground. Its chairman John Stewart said: "The results are revealing. This dramatic increase in the numbers disturbed by aircraft took place during a decade when planes were becoming a little quieter. It can only be accounted for by the rise in the number of aircraft using UK airports."
"It should act as a warning to those who argue that the noise climate around Heathrow will improve even if a third runway is built because of the introduction of quieter planes and improved operational practices."
Bosses at Heathrow have claimed that even with a third runway and 260,000 more flights a year, the number of people affected by aircraft noise would fall by a third due to quieter planes. They last month hailed the arrival of the first Airbus A350 XWB to serve the airport, saying it was 21 decibels quieter than required by regulations for a plane of its size. They promised to phase out older and noisier planes in favour of new models like the XWB.
OUR COMMENT: No mention of the effects of noise on health, especially the association with high blood pressure and subsequent risks to heart health.
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