| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - October to December 2015
Bold Claims to justify Changes!
CAA APPROVES ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLY CHANGES
AT STANSTED AIRPORT TAKE-OFFS
The CAA has confirmed changes to the flight paths
of aircraft leaving Stansted Airport
Herts & Essex Observer - 26 November 2015
The Civil Aviation Authority )CAA) has today approved changes to ensure aircraft departing from Stansted to the south-east will climb higher sooner - reducing fuel burn and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The move is part of major changes approved by the CAA making airline flights more efficient by removing 30,000 tonnes 0f CO2 a year.
The plans, known collectively as the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP) phase1a. were submitted to the CAA by NATS, the air traffic service provider, and followed consultation with the public between October 2013 and January 2014.
It is the first significant change as part of the UK's Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) which is set to modernise airspace by 2020. This is part of a European project to improve airspace infrastructure to deliver a more efficient use of airspace and enable environmental improvements, including fuel and CO2 savings by aircraft flying more direct routes and with faster climbs and descents reducing impact on overflown householders.
In total five changes have been approved which will see newly designed and more efficient flight paths implemented on February 4th next year, helping to improve capacity, minimise delays for air travellers, and further enhancing safety.
For Stansted, the departure switch will transfer the bulk of southerly departures via Detling in Kent to the south-east of the airport via Clacton to a point off the north-east corner of Kent (over the sea). The changes cover an area from Stansted to the Isle of Wight, including parts of Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Changes will affect commercial aircraft leaving London City, Stansted, Luton, Southampton, Bournemouth, Northot and Biggin Hill airports.
Phil Roberts, head of airspace, air traffic management, said, "The changes we have approved today will bring significant benefits to air passengers and any communities currently overflown by aircraft. We understand that aircraft noise disturbs many people. These changes move significant numbers of flights away from populated areas and will reduce overall emissions."
Each year the Future Airspace Strategy aims to:
Save over 160,000 tonnes of fuel
Save over 1.4m minutes of airlines' time
Save over 1.1m minutes of passenger time
Save over 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions
Ensure safety by reducing controller and pilot work load.
A Stansted spokesman said "We recognise the importance of NATS London Management Programme which aims to modernise UK's airspace around
London on order to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impacts. Phase 1 of the project which incorporates air space changes at a number of south-east airports, will enable a more efficient operation at Stansted airport for our airlines, helping reduce delays, carbon emissions and allow continuous climb departures. A safe and effective airspace system both in the UK and overseas is an essential factor in allowing aviation to grow and reduce its environmental impacts."
OUR COMMENT: There may be very good reasons why these airspace changes are needed but more noise for fewer people is NOT benefits for all!
STANSTED AIRPORT'S BOSS PONDERS PROSPECT OF SECOND
RUNWAY AS PASSENGER NUMBERS CONTINUE TO SOAR
Stansted Airport's boss Andrew Harrison is flying high
Herts & Essex Observer - 4 December 2015
Stansted Airport's success has ensured its owner MAG has enjoyed its best summer ever - and the sky's the limit for the future. The Uttlesford hub's managing director Andrew Harrison said long-haul leisure services could treble next year and he anticipated a full-service carrier could touch down as soon as next winter with a route to the United States.
Stansted is now handling 4.8m more passengers than when MAG (Manchester Airports Group) acquired the airport in early 2013, an increase of 27.4 per cent, and the group has announced an Interim Dividend for the half year to September 2015 of £38.6m, a 25 per cent year-on-year increase.
The airport's growth - registering a second year of double digit increases in passenger number - has raised the spectre of a second runway and when questioned MAG boss Charlie Cornish told the BBC he believed the development was "inevitable" as the latest figures were released. However Mr Harrison was keen to put the pronouncement in context.
Stansted Airport added more passengers year-on-year (1.2m) than either Heathrow (0.9m) or Gatwick (1m), making it the fastest growing major airport in the UK. He said: "Inevitably there will be demand for a second runway, just given the growth there is in the region - but it does not mean next year or the year after. It's about trying to not be disingenuous."
He said London's growth in the east and the increasing prominence of Cambridge would play a part in the debate about where capacity should be increased.
The Davies Commission into aviation capacity in the South East has predicted Stansted will be full by 2030 but Mr Harrison said 30m passengers a year at Stansted by 2020 was a realistic prospect from today's total of 22.5m. He expected the 23m ceiling to be breached by the end of the next financial year and that it was only a "hop, skip and a jump" to add a further seven million and to achieve that within five years was "eminently doable".
Stansted has planning permission for 35m passengers a year and a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick will take at least 15 years to realise.
In the meantime Mr Harrison said airlines were appreciating the extra options offered by Stansted as a viable alternative, particularly with the potential to improve connectivity with faster rail journeys into London and the advent of Crossrail 2.
Thomas Cook has already signed up to not only repeat but increase this summer's long-haul flights to America and Mexico and Thomson's Dreamliner service to Florida would further ramp up the choice for consumers looking beyond Europe.
He has been globetrotting, banging the drum for the region and Stansted, and said he expected a long-haul carrier to operate from the airport from winter next year or summer 2017. He said: "It's definitely going to happen."
He did not expect the escalation of action against Islamic State to impact on passenger growth, other than to affect the choice of destinations - for example looking for winter sun in the Canaries rather than Egypt.
He said his team was in contact with the Government to ensure safety and security were the top priority. Mr Harrison said: "We have worked with police to reassure people by stepping up police presence in the airport."
OUR COMMENT: Realistically Stansted has a very long way to go before passenger numbers reach their permitted maximum. The number of flights required would certainly cause carbon emission problems exceeding Stansted's share in what is likely to be agreed during current climate change negotiations. MAG should concentrate on a better travel experience for passengers and less noise for residents.
NATS FIRST TO COMMIT TO GREENHOUSE GAS REPORTING
NATS has become the first air navigation service provider to sign up
to an international voluntary framework committing to transparently
report its greenhouse gas emissions performance.
Aimee Turner - AirTrafficManagement Online - 8 December 2015
The UK air traffic management company was one of the first aviation related organisations to make this commitment and the 170th signatory to the Paris COP21 initiative. The initiative is being led by the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP Finance Initiative).
Currently, NATS is implementing the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol to standardise how it identifies and calculates greenhouse gas emissions and will now also voluntarily report this information using the Climate Change Reporting Framework.
As a responsible provider in the aviation industry, NATS recognises that it has a duty to reduce the impact aviation has on the environment and is taking strategic actions to improve the services it offers to its airline and airport customers to remain resilient to the effects of climate change.
Ian Jopson, head of environmental and community affairs, NATS, said: "Our business is about keeping the skies safe and delivering innovative air traffic solutions and airport performance. We're committed to finding ways to do that, while always working hard to minimise the impact our operation has on the environment and the people around us. We want to make a world of difference in the air, on the ground and in the community."
The air traffic control provider has ambitious environmental targets to reduce air traffic related CO2 emissions by 10% in 2020, to decrease inefficiency in UK airspace using a world first 3Di metric and to reduce its estate CO2 emissions.
WHAT AVIATION MEANS FOR THE FIFTH CARBON BUDGET
Aef.org Online - 26 November 2015
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official body advising the Government on climate change policy, has today published its advice on the fifth carbon budget including a restatement of its recommendation that aviation emissions should be no higher in 2050 than in 2005 (37.5 Mt). CO2 from the sector is currently set to overshoot this level even without any new runways and to be higher still if expansion takes place at either Heathrow or Gatwick.
New CCC analysis published today indicates that in a scenario where emissions are not capped and only low 'carbon abatement' options (such as technology improvements) are available, aviation emissions could be as high as 51.9 Mt by 2050, underlining the need for policy action to address the gap.
Carbon budgets ensure that the UK is on the right path to deliver the economy-wide 80% emissions reduction required under the Climate Change Act. So far, the Government has consistently adopted and legislated CCC's advice on the appropriate level of ambition for carbon budgets. The fifth budget will cover emissions from 2028-2032.
Where does aviation fit in the UK climate change plan?
The CCC's recommendation that carbon budgets must account for emissions from international aviation and shipping is longstanding. To date these emissions have not been formally included in carbon budgets given concerns about the appropriate approach to accounting for emissions from international travel.
The advice published today calls on Government to begin including shipping emissions in carbon budgets, but that "continuing uncertainties in aviation's accounting within the EU ETS mean inclusion would be impractical at this time". In the interim, CCC maintains that carbon budgets should continue to allow headroom for the future inclusion of aviation.
AEF supports inclusion of aviation emissions in carbon budgets and we set out some possible approaches for doing so in our response to the CCC's consultation on its fifth carbon budget. But a continuation by Government of the current approach of ensuring that the UK is on course to deliver the long-term emissions target of 80% in a way that includes all sectors, and makes allowance for the future inclusion of aviation, is more important than formal inclusion of aviation emissions in carbon budgets in our view.
CCC recommends that aviation emissions should be no higher than 37.5 Mt in 2050 - the level in 2005 - and that the level of emissions reduction this assumes from other sectors in order to achieve the economy-wide target of an 80% cut is at the limit of what is feasible. In June this year, the CCC advised the Government to draw up a policy plan for closing the gap between currently forecast aviation emissions and the 37.5 Mt target.
What does this mean for the runway debate?
The Airports Commission, in making its recommendations for a new runway at Heathrow, produced two sets of forecasts. One, the 'carbon capped' forecast, assumed that Government continues to act on the CCC's advice in limiting aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt. The other, the 'carbon traded' forecast, ignored any constraint on emissions under the Climate Change Act and assumed that the only action to control UK aviation emissions would be inclusion in an international carbon trading scheme.
Today's advice from the CCC implies that Government must work on the basis of a 'carbon capped' scenario, and that the advice of the Airports Commission to build a new South East runway should be considered in this context.
What do we want Government to do?
The Government will propose draft legislation in response to the CCC's advice on the Fifth Carbon Budget in 2016. AEF will be asking for Government to implement the CCC's recommendation to allow headroom for aviation emissions, and to reconsider whether in fact sufficient information either is or will be available to formally include aviation as well as shipping emissions in carbon budgets from 2028.
To demonstrate its commitment to keeping aviation emissions at a level compatible with the Climate Change Act, Government should also set out a detailed policy plan for limiting aviation demand growth to no more than 60% above its level in 2005, in line with CCC's recommendation of June 2015, and no decisions should be taken to increase South East airport capacity unless it can be shown to be compatible with such a plan.
We're hoping that the international climate change conference in Paris this December will produce some ambitious long-term commitments. We're also hoping to see some evidence following the conference that the UK is willing to honour its domestic climate commitments now they are starting to bite. And getting aviation policy right is an important part of this picture.
STUDY CALLS FOR STRONG TRANSPORT CO2 TARGETS
ENDS Europe DAILY - 13 November 2015
CO2 emissions from international aviation emissions should be capped
at 39% of 2005 emissions levels by 2030 and shipping emissions at 13%
to limit global warming below 2°C, a study for the European
Parliament has indicated.
By 2050, emissions from aviation should not exceed 41% of 2005
levels. And the international maritime sector should target a 63%
reduction, a draft study by consultancy ko-Institut argued.
It was commissioned by the European Parliament's environment
committee to investigate emission reduction targets that would
achieve the objective of keeping global warming below 2°C and will be
published ahead of the Paris climate summit starting at the end of
But the targets, which would be implemented from 2020, should not be
considered as sectoral caps as they are "significantly below
mitigation potentials" for the sectors, the authors warned.
To achieve them, offsetting international transport emissions by financing reductions in other sectors should be allowed, according to the authors. And efforts to
reduce demand for international transport services by encouraging
behavioural change will also be needed in addition to technological
and operational improvements.
In 2012, aviation was responsible for 1.3% of global CO2 emissions
and shipping 2.2%. But their combined share of global CO2 emissions
may rise to nearly 40% by 2050 if action is not taken, according to
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have been slow to take action on
emissions and their proposed measures will only mitigate CO2
emissions growth rather than leading to absolute reductions, the
While ICAO has adopted a non-binding goal to stabilise CO2 emissions
from international aviation after 2020, the IMO has no plans to
implement emission reduction targets. ICAO is currently in talks to
agree on a market-based mechanism to achieve its goal.
The IMO has adopted efficiency measures to set energy efficiency
standards for new ships and develop plans to monitor energy
efficiency, but it has yet to agree on a market-based mechanism to
address emissions. The EU last year agreed monitoring rules
for CO2 emissions from ships as a first step towards a global target.
DECISION ON AIRPORT EXPANSION DELAYED AGAIN
Sky News - 10 December 2015
The Government has delayed making a decision on airport expansion until at least next summer.
The announcement came after the Prime Minister - who had at one stage promised a decision by the end of this year - discussed the controversial issue with senior Cabinet ministers. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said there was a "clear" case for airport expansion, "but it's vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come".
Did Zac Goldsmith 'Force PM Into Airports Delay?
He said ministers would "undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon" and "continue work on all the shortlisted locations".
These are two proposals for runways at Heathrow and one at Gatwick. In July, the Davies Commission recommended that a third runway at Heathrow was the best option - if work was undertaken to deal with noise and pollution - but also left open the option of expanding Gatwick instead. Critics of the move claim it will damage the economy and say it is a politically-motivated decision to avoid damaging resignations by high-profile Conservatives.
The party's candidate for May's London mayoral election, Zac Goldsmith, has promised to quit as an MP if Heathrow is chosen. Tory incumbent Boris Johnson is also fiercely opposed, along with Sadiq Khan, Labour's candidate for the role. Mr Khan accused the Government of delaying a decision "to avoid embarrassing" his opponent. Mr Johnson told Sky News it was time to "jettison the third runway" and "chuck it overboard".
He added that as well as the noise and air pollution it would cause, it is "so pathetically non-ambitious for Britain, which needs a hub airport with up to four or five runways".
A hub airport in the Thames Estuary in Kent has been pushed by Mr Johnson for years, although this idea was ruled out by the Davies Commission.
Mr Goldsmith, meanwhile, welcomed the announcement of the delay as "good news" for the capital. He said: "We know that any airport expansion must meet our legally binding carbon, noise and air quality limits. There can be no doubt that in a fair contest on air quality, Heathrow will not win."
Simon Clydesdale, aviation campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "Neither Heathrow nor the Davies Commission have managed to convince anybody that they can build a new runway without breaking pollution and carbon limits, which would be illegal, no ifs, no buts. Kicking the can down the road for another six months won't solve what is clearly an insoluble problem."
Business leaders were scathing in their assessment of the latest development in the long-running saga. John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Businesses will see this as a gutless move by a Government that promised a clear decision on a new runway by the end of the year. Business will question whether ministers are delaying critical upgrades to our national infrastructure for legitimate reasons, or to satisfy short-term political interests."
Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said business leaders would be "tearing their hair out" at the news.
OUR COMMENT: A quick poll conducted by the Herts and Essex Observer on where there should be a new runway revealed today (11 December) a majority for no new runway!
LIVING NEAR AN AIRPORT 'IS BAD FOR YOUR HEART'
Higher levels of asthma and heart problems among people residing
within six miles blamed on higher carbon monoxide levels
Colin Fernandez, Environment Correspondent - The Daily Mail - 21 October 2015
Living within six miles of an airport makes people much more likely to suffer heart problems and asthma, a study has found.
The researchers blamed pollutant carbon monoxide (CO) which is pumped out in higher quantities when planes are idling or taxiing on runways.
They found that hospital admissions for both asthma and other respiratory problems were 17 per cent higher for people living within six miles of an airport. Admissions for heart problems were 9 per cent higher. The study is likely to be seized on by those who oppose the building of a third runaway at Heathrow airport on the grounds that it will increase air pollution.
Academics at Colombia University and the University of California looked at the exposure to daily pollutions and health at areas close to the 12 biggest airports in California. The study took into account the direction the wind was blowing; areas within the six mile area downwind from the airport on days of higher pollution suffered higher incidents of heart, asthma and respiratory problems.
The areas close to the airports were more urban, more populated wealthier and with higher average house prices than California on average.
Health effects were measured by overnight hospital admission and emergency visits, with data from residents of 164 residential areas within six miles of the 12 largest airports in California.
Carbon monoxide is produced typically when airplane engines operating at low speeds such as when airplanes are 'idling'. The study said that LA Airport (LAX) is the biggest carbon monoxide pollutant in California. Another pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 is produced when airplanes are operating at higher speeds - but the researchers found that carbon monoxide, produced when engines are operating at slow levels, was the key pollutant linked to ill health in the study.
The researchers also looked beyond effects on the very young and the elderly to the whole population. The study suggests that even relatively small increases in ambient air concentrations lead to adverse health outcomes for respiratory and heart problems.
Professor Wolfram Schlenker, co-author of the study said: "We looked to identify the ways in which daily variation in air pollution affects population health, as well as trying to estimate the effect of multiple pollutants simultaneously, as it has been traditionally difficult to decipher which pollutant is responsible for which adverse health condition."
The study found that there was a knock-on effect from airports in the East Coast of America on California's airports. When airports in the east became congested, this led to congestion at Californian airports, which resulted in increased local pollution surrounding these airports.
The increases in pollution levels leading to spikes in hospital admissions occurred at levels far below current air quality standards in the US.
John Stewart, of Hacan, a pressure group that campaigns on behalf of people living near Heathrow, Britain's biggest airport said yesterday: "These findings bear out what people living close to Heathrow tell us. They complain of illnesses which can be linked to high levels of air pollution."
HOW LOUD ARE THOSE PLANES FLYING OVERHEAD?
New website reveals decibel readings for aircraft soaring past leafy suburbs
The tool has been developed for flight paths near all major UK airports
Homes in Richmond and Windsor experience around 60 decibels
Sounds between 55 and 75 decibels are equivalent to rush hour traffic
John Hutchinson - Mail Online - 20 October 2015
A new website reveals just how much passing aircraft are disturbing those living in the leafy suburbs below as they take off and land.
Users can tap in a postcode and instantly get a decibel reading for plane traffic, which it compares to a constant hum of a noisy dishwasher or living next to a main road.
The site has looked at all major UK airports and the impact of plane noise, taking flight paths into consideration. When buying a new house, is plane noise a factor? If so, a new tool can help you discover the truth.
Some areas are affected by between 55 and 75 decibels of noise, the site, run by Club Med claims. These levels equate to the sound of constant rush-hour traffic.
At London Heathrow, those with homes in the areas of Richmond, Windsor, Colnbrook and Isleworth, to name a few, are affected by plane noise over 60 decibels.
Manchester Airport, meanwhile, affects those with homes in the leafy Cheshire suburbs of Heald Green, Mobberley and Knutsford, with the latter suffering 60 decibels of disturbance.
The Club Med decibel tool can compare the noise from planes with other, everyday sounds.
OUR COMMENT: Stansted should be assessed. We have recorded sound levels of over 75 decibels in villages near the airport when a plane passes over. It is important to distinguish between average noise levels and the level reached when a plane passes over - and, how many planes, and, when (Night? Evening? Early morning?)
GOVERNMENT SIDESTEPS DIFFICULT AVIATION CO2 EMISSIONS
QUESTION IN RESPONSE TO COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Press Statement - Aviation Environmental Federation - 15 October 2015
Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is very concerned that the Government made no commitment in today's response to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report to address the recommendation for a framework to manage aviation emissions, despite it being a key challenge for a Government decision on airport expansion in the South East (due before the end of 2015).
The CCC recommended in its annual progress report to Parliament that the Government should "publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions" that plans for UK 2050 emissions being no higher than 2005 levels, at or below 37.5mT, (implying around a 60% increase in demand).
Modelling by the Airports Commission has shown that in the absence of new policy action, aviation emissions are set to exceed the level recommended by the CCC without airport expansion and building a new runway would further increase emissions. AEF therefore considers it a significant and notable gap that none of the Airports Commission's proposed conditions for a third runway at Heathrow addresses its climate change impact, throwing the problem back to Government.
Instead of committing to provide the answers, the Government has sidestepped the issue, leaving open the prospect of Heathrow expansion without any concrete solutions to aviation?s soaring emissions.
Cait Hewitt, AEF Deputy Director, commented on the Government's response: "The need for a plan to tackle aviation emissions is important whether or not a new runway goes ahead, but we're particularly concerned that the Government has committed to taking a decision on airport expansion this year without a plan being in place for tackling the extra emissions this will generate. A decision in favour of a new runway without having a realistic emissions framework in place would be putting the UK's climate change commitments at risk."
The Government's response to the CCC has been published the day after Cait Hewitt gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on whether the mitigation options for CO2 emissions proposed by the Airports Commission are realistic and deliverable.
AVIATION INDUSTRY CLAIMS IT CAN MEET
POLLUTION LIMITS IN PITCH FOR NEW RUNWAY
Enlarged industry can stay within legal limits with government help,
director of Sustainable Aviation tells MPs as they meet to discuss
John Vidal - The Guardian - 14 October 2015
A bullish aviation industry seeking a new runway in south-east England has argued it can meet stringent carbon, noise and pollution limits if the government helps with incentives, provided aircraft engine and biofuel technologies improve as expected.
MPs on the environmental audit committee grilled Andy Jefferson , the director of the industry body Sustainable Aviation, putting it to him that an enlarged industry would breach legal limits and force other sectors to reduce their carbon emissions disproportionately.
"We accept there are challenges, but we believe we can get it right," said Jefferson. "A mix of carbon [trading] and new aircraft technology could achieve a 50% reduction in [UK aviation industry] emissions by 2050. We are starting to see the A380 and Boeings which are 20% more efficient. The next technological revolution is expected 2030-2040. This is is realistic and achievable."
But under questioning from the London mayoral candidate and Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who has strongly opposed expansion at Heathrow, he accepted that a reduction in carbon emissions could mean more noise. Jefferson said: "We accept the industry must grow within carbon limits. But there is a tradeoff between noise and carbon. It's the way planes are built. The challenge is to be low noise, low carbon and low emissions."
Asked to clarify whether lower emissions potentially meant more noise, Jefferson said: "It would be slightly more." He said the industry also accepted there had to be strict sound limits because research showed that aircraft noise directly affected people's health. A meeting with the World Health Organisation had suggested that the problem was a mixture of the volume of noise, the time it was emitted and its tone.
The industry backed a carbon trading scheme but Jefferson said he did not know what effect a strong carbon price might have on ticket prices. "I don't have the figures. But it would be a dramatic change if passengers pay the fee. A strong carbon price is going to reduce emissions. But go too far and there are consequences," he said.
With government support and incentives, he said that Britain could develop an important aviation biofuel industry, able to employ 4,500 people by 2030 and capable of manufacturing 4.5m tonnes of aviation fuel a year from waste gases by 2050. "That would reduce CO2 emissions by 25%. But policy incentives are not strong. Whereas the US has four plants manufacturing aviation biofuels, Britain has none. Globally over 25,000 flights have been made on sustainable fuels. It's a challenge, but a lot of great innovation is going overseas," he said.
The MPs were meeting in response to the Airports Commission's recommendation in June that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.
The commission, which was chaired by Howard Davies, said the expansion should only take place if the airport could meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. The MPs are due to question Heathrow airport officials later.
The £17bn expansion plan would mean 250,000 more flights a year, providing a £150bn boost to GDP over 60 years and 70,000 new jobs - but would mean demolishing 783 homes, including most of the village of Harmondsworth.
STANSTED AIRPORT HITS 22M ANNUAL PASSENGER
MILESTONE & HOPES TO BEAT RECORD NEXT YEAR
Will Lodge - firstname.lastname@example.org - 12 October 2015
Bosses at Stansted Airport hope to set a new record for passenger numbers next year - as it moves ever-closer to offering scheduled long-haul flights.
Today the airport revealed it had broken the 22 million annual passenger milestone for the rolling year total for the first time in more than six years - and served more than two million people monthly for five months in a row for the first time since 2008.
Directors at the airport hope that even if the fast pace of 15.8% year-on-year growth - which saw passenger numbers break 20 million annually just eight months ago - does not continue, the record of 23.9m hit in 2007 will be beaten at some point during 2016.
Mark Souter, the airport's head of business development, said: "There has been a huge amount going on here, particularly since the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) took over ownership, not just on business development but also improving the infrastructure and experience here at Stansted. The filled seats shows the strength of our region and that people are starting to return to the airport."
"MAG has been pumping money into improvements at the terminal so we are growing fast but also making a good experience for passengers as well. We are only about halfway through spending £260m in five years."
Mr Souter recently attended the annual World Routes conference in South Africa to continue the airport's pitch for new airlines to fly from Stansted, including to long-haul destinations. Although more details cannot yet be revealed, Mr Souter said the airport was looking both east and westbound and he was confident Stansted was growing in attraction to airlines.
In the shorter term there are new routes to Reykjavik, Vienna, Gothenburg, Castellon and the Azores beginning in the next few months. Summer flights to Orland, Cancun and Las Vegas from Thomas Cook also proved popular, with the operator early in the season pledging to return to the airport next year, along with Thomson in the chartered sector.
Mr Souter said: "We have spent quite a bit of time engaging with businesses across the region, in Ipswich, Colchester, and travel agents too, to build up a really good picture of what our customers want. Also we have been working with travel agencies and tourism bodies who tell us their interests for markets travelling in. Just under half of our tickets are bought in Europe for people travelling in so we have good awareness as an airport overseas."
It is not just about passenger numbers at Stansted, as the amount of cargo handled through the airport's freight operation has also continued to rise while the average number of seats filled on each flight has reached 87.8%.
OUR COMMENT: MAG have also claimed that environmental effects have been reduced, though no figures have been provided, except for a 24% fall in the number of complaints about noise. We await actual details.
AIR QUALITY MAJOR FACTOR IN AIRPORT EXPANSION
DECISION, SAYS TRANSPORT SECRETARY
Businessreporter Online - 6 October 2015
The impact on air quality will be a "major consideration" when the Government makes a decision on airport expansion, according to Patrick McLoughlin. The Transport Secretary insisted that the issue is being taken "incredibly importantly" by ministers.
Building a third runway at Heathrow was recommended in July by the Airports Commission, which rejected expansion of Gatwick. But Gatwick's chief executive, Stewart Wingate, claimed expansion of the West Sussex airport would deliver the economic boost of increased capacity "at a fraction of the environmental impact" of Heathrow.
He went on: "Heathrow's poor air quality already breaches legal limits and it is difficult to see how expansion could legally go ahead with the millions of extra car journeys an expanded Heathrow would generate. In stark contrast, Gatwick is well within legal air quality limits and can guarantee we would remain so with a second runway."
Mr McLoughlin told the Press Association: "We take climate and we take air quality incredibly importantly, so it will be a major consideration in the decisions we make."
Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, wrote to the Transport Secretary last month to state that "appropriate measures" can be taken to address air quality at an expanded Heathrow and claimed "limited weight" should be placed on the suggestion that the issue "represents a significant obstacle".
Heathrow has committed to having no more airport related road traffic after expansion by improving rail links to encourage passengers and staff to use public transport. It also wants the London low emission zone to be extended to the airport area and local diesel buses to be replaced with cleaner vehicles.
A Heathrow spokesman said: "The Government's Airports Commission confirmed a third runway at Heathrow can go ahead without breaching air quality legal limits, as long as we continue to implement our mitigation plans."
Mr McLoughlin said ministers were also examining the work done by manufacturers to reduce aircraft emissions and would take into account the impact of expansion on the country's economy. "We have... got to look at what do companies like Rolls-Royce - who are at the leading edge of improving the emissions from aircraft - are doing, and make sure that the United Kingdom overall is not put at an economic disadvantage," he explained.
Prime Minister David Cameron is due to announce a decision on expansion by the end of the year.
REPORT REVEALS UK WILL NOT MEET
CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS WITH NEW RUNWAYS
Economicvoice Online - 8 October 2015
"Airport Expansion Doesn't Make Climate Sense" published by the Green Party
A Green Party report to be published on Friday (9 October) will reveal that the UK will not meet its climate change targets if David Cameron goes ahead with a new runway at Heathrow, Gatwick or anywhere in the South-East of England.
Airport Expansion Doesn't Make Climate Sense will provide a fresh perspective on the airport expansion debate by offering alternatives to new runways that a climate-sensitive government would pursue; including moving many short-haul flight passengers onto existing rail services and taxing very frequent flyers.
The report's key messages are that airport expansion does not make climate sense, the current expansion debate offers a false choice and that the UK cannot make its contribution to cutting carbon emissions whilst expanding its airports and increasing emissions from aviation.
Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett said: "Airport Expansion Doesn't Make Climate Sense demonstrates how the current expansion argument is offering a false choice. Debating between Gatwick or Heathrow masks the reality that that the UK has to reduce air passenger numbers, not increase them. The report highlights a number of ways to halt the apparent need for airport expansion, including the introduction of a frequent flyer tax which would tax aviation much more fairly."
"David Cameron and the London Mayoral candidates must explain how it's possible to build a new runway while meeting the UK's targets for cutting emissions. This report shows it isn't."
Sian Berry, the Green Party's candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral election, who is speaking at an anti-Heathrow expansion rally at Trafalgar Square on Saturday said: "Bigger airports make no climate sense. We cannot increase our emissions from aviation while making a fair contribution to keeping global warming within safe limits. How can the Prime Minister convince delegates at the Paris climate talks he's serious if he goes there while wanting a new runway?"
"Greens are the only party with the clear message that we need no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or anywhere in the South-East of England. It's our job to convince the government to end this false choice debate, trying to pit communities against each other over which airport to expand and who should suffer the increased pollution and noise that would result.?
Could this be the deciding factor?
AIRLINES NEAR CYCLICAL 'DOWNTURN', WARNS ANALYST
Ian Taylor - Travelweekly Online - 8 October 2015
Airlines faces a downturn that will put weaker carriers out of business despite the sector nearing a high point in the trade cycle, a leading aviation economist has warned.
Centre for Aviation (CAPA) chief financial analyst Jonathan Wober told the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Helsinki: "We are somewhat at the top end of the cycle and it won't last forever."
Wober reported a global operating profit by airlines of 4.6% in 2014 and described this as "at the upper end of the cycle". He forecast an annual profit rate of 5.9% for the sector this year and said: "Annual operating margins have not exceeded 6% in four decades."
North American airlines were "outperforming" the market, said Wober, but he described the European sector as "a laggard" and Asia as "in decline".
He said: "The fleet growth trend is up. Oil prices will probably stay low. But six years after the financial crisis global GDP has yet to reach the long-term trend rate and there are uncertainties in the global economy. There is a better level of capital discipline, with airlines using cash to pay down debt and return some capital to shareholders. But return on capital [still] fails to meet the cost of invested capital."
He warned: "We will have a downturn." However, Wober added: "There are too many airlines, so that will be a good thing. It is a kind of stress test on restructuring. Weaker players will exit the market. Stronger airlines will be able to buy the weaker at a lower price. Maybe there will be pressure to relax restrictions on [airline] ownership and control."
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