| 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 - 17 January 2015
Stansted Passenger numbers rise by 12%
Stansted reported a 12.0 per cent year on year increase in passenger numbers in 2014 and an 8.5 per cent increase in the number of flights handled. Just under 20 million passengers used the airport in 2014, which was its highest annual passenger throughput since 2003. Stansted handled a total of 143,463 commercial flights in 2014, slightly fewer than in the year 2000. As a result of larger aircraft and fewer empty seats, Stansted's flight numbers are increasing at a far slower rate than its passenger numbers.
Meanwhile, Gatwick reports a record-breaking year...
Gatwick reported its busiest ever year with over 38 million passengers passing through the West Sussex airport in 2014 - an increase of 7.6 per cent on the previous year. The number of flights were up 4.0 per cent to 256,350 - consolidating Gatwick's position as the busiest single runway airport in the world. Nick Dunn, Gatwick Airport's chief financial officer said: "Gatwick's record-breaking figures show an airport serving the widest range of travel and airline models - exactly what is needed from the decision about the UK's next runway."
...and Heathrow also posts record passenger numbers for 2014
Although Heathrow has for many years been at its limit in terms of the number of flights it can handle, the UK's busiest airport still managed to handle more 1.4 per cent more passengers in 2014 than in 2013. A record 73.4 million passengers made journeys through Heathrow in 2014, with passenger volumes up 6.3% to Latin America, 5.2% to East Asia and 3.5% to the Middle East & Central Asia. Using this opportunity to press his case for a third runway, the Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: "Only by expanding Heathrow can we add direct flights to the world's growing cities, increase our exports and connect all of the UK to global growth. Expanding Heathrow will help Britain win the race for growth."
...and not to be left out... Luton Airport also has a bumper year
Nick Barton, the former managing director of Stansted and now the chief executive of Luton Airport reported that a record 10.5 million passengers used Luton in 2014, an 8.1% increase on 2013. This uplift in passenger numbers was reported just a month after Luton announced major development plans starting with a £100 million modernisation and expansion plan to increase Luton's capacity from 12 million to 18 million passengers a year by 2026.
MAG says that Stansted will apply for second runway in next decade
Stansted will re-submit plans for a second runway by the mid-2020s, says Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted's owners, Manchester Airports Group. Projected rate of growth would see it exceed its present cap of 35 million passengers a year and reach its full capacity of 45 million on its single runway by 2030. The Airport Commission's ruling on expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick would be immaterial to Stansted's plans, he told The Times.
Ryanair boss supports second runway prediction
The chief executive of Ryanair, Stansted's largest customer, has also predicted that the airport will get a second runway. Speaking at a Suffolk Chamber of Commerce lunch, Michael O'Leary urged business leaders to support expansion at Stansted because the airport would drive growth in the eastern region. He challenged the perception that Stansted was too far from London, adding that there are more European and UK routes from Stansted than from Heathrow. He noted an increase in the rate of growth of passenger numbers and that 19.4 million passed through the terminal in the 12 months ending October 2014. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
SSE puts Stansted growth in perspective
In a radio interview, Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser, pointed out that although passenger numbers at Stansted had increased substantially over the past 12 months, the airport would handle fewer passengers in 2014 than 10 years ago and was still only at about half the capacity of the existing runway. He reminded listeners that proposals for any additional runway or runways at Stansted had been rejected by the Airports Commission.
Regional airports a short-term solution - Davies
Regional airports have a key to play over the next decade in helping the UK meet a "capacity crunch" in the South East, said Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, speaking at the Runways UK conference. He acknowledged that a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would not be ready until at least 2025, and before this point regional airports like Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester should continue to develop new long haul routes. However, he also said that the Commission had concluded that regional airports do not provide a long-term answer to the question the Commission was set up to address, namely, how does the UK maintain its status as a global hub for aviation? See the Business Desk report. In a subsequent article in the Financial Times on 17 December, Sir Howard said that while it was vital that other airports - including Stansted - expanded, it was not possible to direct airlines to fly from airports where they did not believe demand was adequate. Constraining supply of take-off slots in the south east, where demand was highest, would result in lower overall connectivity and a less efficient, less carbon-efficient network, he said.
Ruling on pollution a "major blow" for Heathrow
A ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has dealt a "major blow" to plans to expand Heathrow, according to the cross-party 2M Group of councils close to the London hub. They have claimed there is "no way out" for Heathrow but the airport says the ruling will make no difference to its plans. The UK's Supreme Court has assumed responsibility for enforcing EU pollution law after the CJEU rejected plans by the UK Government to avoid a showdown with the EU by agreeing to reduce pollution levels by 2025, but the date has slipped to post-2030. Nitrogen Dioxide levels at Heathrow are already in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive, with the airport blaming traffic on the M4. The CJEU has rejected this plan and UK ministers will have to prepare new measures for reducing illegal pollution levels 'as soon as possible'. See the Get West London report.
Heathrow and Gatwick drowning debate on runways
A coalition of environmentalists and senior MPs has written to Sir Howard Davies, head of the Airports Commission, complaining that Heathrow and Gatwick are exerting "unfair influence" in the debate about alternative solutions to UK airport capacity. The two airports' heavyweight advertising and PR campaigns promoting new runways is drowning out discussion, according to the campaigners. The Independent reports that the cost of the campaigns was likely to be over £7m. Heathrow had also helped fund a community group arguing for airport expansion.
High-tech Cambridge could bring long-haul to Stansted
The prospect of long-haul flights between Stansted and the USA has increased with higher passenger numbers and Stansted's proximity to Cambridge's high-tech and life science communities, according to Stansted managing director Andrew Harrison. London was gradually moving east and Cambridge was becoming increasingly popular with international companies as a centre of intellectual capital through life sciences and technology, he said. See the Business Weekly report.
Ryanair jumps the gun on APD cut
Following Chancellor George Osborne's announcement in his autumn statement that APD (air passenger duty) is to be abolished for children under 12 from May 2015 and for children under 16 the following year, Ryanair said it would refund the £13 duty for under-12s six weeks earlier than the government's date. This will cover the Easter holiday period. Ryanair said the move would cost it up to £2m. See the London South East report.
Commission's "stinging" rebuke to Network Rail
The chairman of the Airports Commission has reprimanded Network Rail for ignoring a key recommendation that there was a need for a "detailed study" of the idea to lay extra rail lines from the capital to make best use of London's third airport. In what The Times called a "stinging letter" to Network Rail chiefs, Sir Howard Davies said that Network Rail's draft study was "insufficiently ambitious". The London-Stansted-Cambridge consortium wants travel times on the line to be cut to half an hour.
Pass on fuel price reductions, says Danny Alexander
UK airlines have been urged by chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander to reduce ticket prices to reflect fuel price savings. He welcomed a decision by Virgin Atlantic to trim ticket prices by £10 and called on other airlines to follow suit. See the Travel Weekly report.
Big cut in aviation emissions possible by 2050
Research into sustainable aviation fuels, sponsored by a consortium of UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service provider NATS, identifies the potential for a 24 per cent reduction in aviation carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and the generation of £265m in economic value, plus the creation of 4,400 jobs in the UK over the next 15 years. The report warns that government support will be vital to achieve this potential. See the Click Green report.
"Runner beans not runways"
Two members of aviation campaign group Plane Stupid scaled the roof of a hotel near Heathrow Airport where the Airports Commission was holding a public consultation on the proposed third runway and unfurled banners, one reading "Runner beans not runways". See the Get West London report.
Council drops runway support over new flight paths
Alterations to the flight path over parts of West Kent have prompted Kent County Council to withdraw its support for a second runway at Gatwick Airport. Council leader Paul Carter said the new landing path had caused outrage, making life "intolerable" for local people. He said: "The noise impacts on West Kent from Gatwick's current runway are already unacceptable and a potential doubling of these impacts with a second runway would be intolerable." See the Kent & Sussex Courier report.
Information centre launched
Construction work has started on Stansted Airport's Aerozone that will offer schoolchildren, college pupils and community groups information about career opportunities, focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths. See the Cambridge Network report.
Rail users call for Stansted-Braintree link
The Braintree and Witham Rail Users Association has put together a plan for a direct rail line from Stansted to Braintree. It wants to see a new route from the airport to Dunmow, Braintree and on to Witham, then to the new Beaulieu Park station due to open in 2019, then to connect with Chelmsford. The group claims the £150m project could be paid for by funding from the EU, central government, Abellio Greater Anglia and Stansted Airport. See the Essex Chronicle report.
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