| CAMPAIGN UPDATE - AT A GLANCE
A summary of current events in SSE's campaign against expansion of Stansted Airport
and other recent news related to the expansion of airports and aviation - 15 September 2014
SSE welcomes Stansted's single runway plan
Stop Stansted Expansion has welcomed the fact that new long term plan for Stansted Airport, which has just been published by its owners, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), is based on Stansted remaining as a single runway airport. MAG describes the new long term plan as its Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) for Stansted, and it has initially been published as a draft for consultation. SSE says that the SDP offers considerable scope for "constructive dialogue" with the airport. SSE will be submitting a detailed response in due course. It will be a great relief for the vast majority of local residents that Stansted's new long term plan is based on Stansted remaining a single runway airport, says SSE. However, this still leaves scope - within Stansted's existing planning permission - for the airport to handle twice as many passengers and flights as it does today. In the course of the consultation on the plan, SSE will be pressing for the gradual phasing out of night flights and for 270 properties acquired by the airport as part of the now-aborted second runway plans to be returned to private ownership. SSE's preliminary response to the SDP can be found in its press releases dated 28 July and 2 September. For further information and to download the SDP go to: www.stanstedairport.com/developmentplan.
Stansted growth "central to Airport Commission's work"
MAG's vision - as set out in the draft SDP - is for Stansted Airport to expand from 18 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 45mppa on the existing runway, helping to solve the so-called "aviation capacity crisis" in the South East. The plan anticipates new routes and increased frequency and claims that this level of growth at Stansted could create an extra 10,000 jobs and a £4.6bn economic benefit. MAG argues that all this could be achieved without the need for additional land and within agreed noise and air quality limits. SSE has expressed doubt as to whether this would be possible but says that it is, in any case, premature to talk about raising the present 35mppa planning limit at Stansted to 45mppa when the airport is currently handling 18mppa - only about half of its present planning limit. The airport will be holding a series of public exhibitions in local towns and villages during September and October. Managing director Andrew Harrison said: "Stansted's potential for sustainable growth will be of enormous value as the UK strives to develop its global connectivity to support increased trade and investment, and these issues will be central to the Airports Commission's work as it develops its final recommendations to Government." See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
"Boris Island" rejected by Airports Commission
The proposal to build a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary has been rejected by the Airports Commission. Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the commission, said the cost, economic disruption and environmental considerations made the plan unviable. Boris Johnson, London's Mayor, who championed the idea that became known as "Boris Island", said the commission's decision was "myopic" and that any future government would return to the Thames estuary plan. The commission is now considering three alternatives: adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick. See the BBC News report and also the MayorWatch report.
"We must stay on our guard," says SSE
Immediately following the Airport Commission's decision on 2 September to reject 'Boris Island', SSE sounded a note of caution: "Boris Johnson's fundamental argument has always been 'Anywhere but Heathrow' and he has rejected Gatwick because it only has enough land for two runways, not three or four," said Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser. "We must therefore be on our guard for Boris to start extolling the virtues of Stansted as a 'compromise' solution. His hallmarks are populism and bare-faced opportunism." And so it proved. Within 48 hours of the Airport Commission rejecting the idea of a new airport in the Thames Estuary, Boris Johnson was calling for Stansted to be brought back into the frame for consideration as the UK's main airport for the future - expanded to a four-runway or even a five-runway hub.
Lib Dems "No" a blow for Heathrow expansion
The Liberal Democrats remain opposed to airport expansion in the UK. This will deal a blow to business hopes for a new runway at Heathrow, says the Financial Times. The party, the junior partner in the Coalition Government, will say in its draft election manifesto that there should be "no net increase" in runways in the UK, the paper reports. That would, in effect, veto the expansion of any airport - whether Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted - during the next parliament if the Lib Dems formed a second Coalition. Before the last election Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, warned: "A third runway at Heathrow would be a disaster for the local area as well as a disaster for the whole country."
Party leaders pressed to back new runways
The Let Britain Fly campaign group is appealing to the public to sign a pledge demanding that politicians back new runways in London and the South East. The pledge aims to put pressure on political party leaders, calling upon them to commit to building more runway capacity and to put this commitment in their 2015 election manifestos, and to ensure a parliamentary vote on airports expansion in 2016 at the latest. Using email and social media in the run-up to next year's general election, the campaign aims to engage hundreds of thousands of people across the country ahead of the release of the Airports Commission's final recommendations next summer. See the Travel Weekly report.
Business leaders back Heathrow over Gatwick
The CBI is calling on the Airports Commission to recommend a single, larger hub airport for the UK, saying the move is critical for maintaining Britain's long-term economic growth. Days before the Commission published its decision to reject "Boris Island", the business leaders group effectively endorsed Heathrow over Gatwick. See The Guardian report. Meanwhile, Heathrow has appealed to London Mayor, Boris Johnson, to back its campaign for a third runway. In an open letter to the Mayor, Heathrow's recently appointed chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, reminds Johnson that they share the same belief that only a large, hub airport can provide the scale and range of global flights that the economy needs. See The Guardian report.
SSE challenges NATS' claims over CO2 savings
Stop Stansted Expansion is in dispute with NATS over the percentage of CO2 reductions that would result from the proposed changes in departure routes from Stansted Airport. SSE says that NATS are exaggerating the potential savings by comparing them only to CO2 emissions during the aircraft landing and take-off (LTO) cycle whilst ignoring the cruise element of the flight. Using the lowest ratio of cruise/LTO for the whole flight, SSE calculates the saving to be less than 1 per cent - and even less if long haul flights came to Stansted. SSE also accuses NATS of omitting to explain that its claim of up to 15,000 tonnes less CO2 per year emitted into the atmosphere is based on a computer prediction for a 40 per cent increase in flights.
NATS told the Herts and Essex Observer that, in absolute terms, up to 15,000 tonnes less CO2 per year would be emitted into the atmosphere. SSE pointed out that this was based on 40 per cent more flights than at present - and even then it was a relatively small saving in comparison to aircraft emissions at Stansted last year of well over a million tonnes of CO2.
New runway would defeat carbon reduction target
A new runway would make it "effectively impossible" for the UK aviation sector to stay within the required level for the UK to meet its target for carbon reduction under the Climate Change Act. This is the conclusion of research undertaken by the Aviation Environment Federation. Under the Act, the UK must reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. That would mean total UK carbon emissions of no more than 160 million tonnes (Mt) per annum by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change suggests that to stay under this limit, aviation carbon emissions would need to be no more than 37.5Mt per annum and, at that level, aviation would account for just under a quarter of the UK's carbon budget in 2050. The researchers found that a new runway - wherever it is situated - would contribute an additional 8.2Mt of carbon emissions and make it "effectively impossible" to meet the target. See The Carbon Brief report. The study, funded by the WWF, developed future scenarios of emissions based on aviation forecasts from the Department for Transport. It found that in order to build a new runway and still meet the 37.5Mt target, air travel at regional airports would need to be reduced. This, the study concluded, would be "politically very difficult to implement and have significant economic consequences."
Stansted owners sign deal with NATS
Manchester Airport Group and NATS, the UK's leading air traffic control provider, have signed a new ten-year contract for air traffic control and engineering services at both Manchester and London Stansted airports. See the Breaking Travel News rpeort.
Stansted boosts local economy...
Manchester Airport Group claims that its four airports - Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth - contribute £4 billion a year to their regional economies, according to the Group's latest 'Corporate and Social Responsibility' report. The report also says that the four airports support 45,200 full time employees, about a quarter of whom are at Stansted. See the Manchester Evening News report.
...but fails to satisfy its customers
Passenger satisfaction with Stansted Airport has "nosedived" over the past 12 months to 43 per cent, with only Luton rated by passengers as worse than Stansted with a score of 37 per cent. For the second year running Southend was rated as the best UK airport, scoring 85 per cent for passenger satisfaction. The figures come from the annual passenger survey by the respected consumer magazine Which? A spokesman for Stansted said it took feedback on board but that it was in the process of a five-year transformation after it was sold by BAA last year. See the Essex Chronicle report.
Ryanair introduces business class...
Ryanair has introduced tickets aimed at business travellers willing to pay more for better service. The new tickets will allow a change to another flight on the same day to any airport in the same destination country, a bigger hold baggage allowance, priority boarding and fast-track security check. To receive these services, customers have to make sure they tick the right boxes during the airline's much-criticised booking process. If they don't, they will miss out but still be charged the 'Business Plus' price, Ryanair told The Telegraph.
...and orders more new, larger aircraft
Ryanair has signed a deal with Boeing to buy 100 Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 aircraft at a list price of up to $11 billion. It has also secured options on 100 more of the same aircraft, bringing the total value of the deal to about $22 billion at list price, if all the options are exercised. The 737 MAX 8 aircraft has a list price of $104 million but Ryanair would be expected to have negotiated significant discounts. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said he aimed for the airline to carry 150 million passengers a year by 2024, up from the 82 million passengers it carried in 2013. He said Ryanair intends to exercise all the options because the 200 new planes are key to achieving its target growth. O'Leary said that the new planes will seat eight more passengers than the 737-800 models currently in Ryanair's fleet and will reduce fuel consumption by about 18 percent compared with current models. See the Daily Mail report.
...and bids for Cyprus Airways
Ryanair has submitted a non-binding bid to buy struggling Cyprus Airways as the Irish carrier eyes expansion in the region. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said buying the airline would open up passenger channels in the region as well as the Middle East. Cyprus Airways operates a fleet of six aircraft compared to 303 at Ryanair. Mr. O'Leary told the Irish Independent that Ryanair is also still interested in establishing a base in Israel, operating flights to destinations in the UK, Russia, central Europe, Germany and other markets. See The Independent report.
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