| 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 - 9 February 2015
Stansted flights reach 2000 levels
Stansted Airport reported significant increases in both flights and passenger numbers in 2014 but, points out SSE, this only returns the airport to throughputs recorded ten or more years ago. Today's passenger numbers are still less than the 2004 level, and the number of commercial flights, or air traffic movements (ATMs), is fewer than in 2000. A total of 19.98 million passengers was recorded in 2014, an increase of 12 per cent on 2013. The number of flights in 2014 was 143,463, up 8.5 per cent on 2013. Aircraft seating capacity and seat occupancy levels continue to increase. The growth in Stansted's traffic in 2014 has closed the gap between its actual throughput and the throughput permitted by its planning permission. However, passenger numbers still have permission to grow 75 per cent from their present level to 35mppa and ATMs have permission to grow 84 per cent to 264,000.
Gatwick's biggest customer favours Heathrow...
The boss of Gatwick Airport's biggest customer says there is no case for a second runway there and believes that Heathrow should be expanded instead. The chief executive officer (CEO) of easyJet, Carolyn McCall, says that Gatwick would have to substantially increase charges to pay for a second runway. She points out that despite the fact that slots are readily available, enabling long haul carriers to expand, there is "little appetite" to do so. Responding to an Airports Commission consultation, she says easyJet is committed to continuing to grow its operations at Gatwick but demand from passengers of all types make the case for a new runway at Heathrow rather than at Gatwick. In response, Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate said that easyJet's position was based on its own narrow commercial interests. See the Crawley & Horley Observer report.
...and here's why
If Heathrow is allowed to expand, easyJet plans to add 68 routes. Heathrow claims 30 airlines want to use the airport and up to 40 new long-haul destinations would be served if it gained a third runway, says Travel Weekly in a report on the conclusion of the Airports Commission consultation. The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, which represents more than 70 airlines, says expanding Heathrow is the best way to drive the UK's economy. The CBI and the Unite union have expressed the same view, says the magazine.
Stansted runway support "PR bluster"
Easyjet's support for a new runway at Heathrow, rather than Gatwick, has some interesting pointers for expansion at Stansted. Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser, says: "It is not entirely surprising that easyJet wants a new runway at Heathrow - where it has no operations - but does not want one at Gatwick where it is the airport's biggest customer. Nor is it entirely surprising that Heathrow's biggest customer, British Airways, is not pressing for a new runway at Heathrow. Airlines have to pick up the bill for any new runway and, in the case of Gatwick for example, airport charges would need to at least double, and possibly treble to pay for a new runway. The pain of financing a new runway would be magnified in the case of Stansted, which only has about half of Gatwick's passenger throughput and where Ryanair accounts for four out of every five passengers. And yet, curiously, its boss, Michael O'Leary, still voices support for a new Stansted runway. I cannot believe he hasn't worked out the maths. I therefore have to put it down to PR bluster."
Stansted targets long haul operators
Stansted Airport says an £8m upgrade of its Satellite One departure gate area is part of a £260m investment programme to appeal to long-haul operators. The planned Escape Lounge will serve the needs of the airport's "changing passenger profile". This is the first lounge in the main departures area since the airport opened 24 years ago. See the Cambridge News report.
"All hell to pay" if politicians back-track on Heathrow...
Sir Roy McNulty, chairman of Gatwick Airport and former chair of the Civil Aviation Authority, told the Observer there would be "all to hell to pay" from people living under the Heathrow flight path if political leaders performed a policy U-turn and backed a third runway. He said that David Cameron promised residents before the last election that there would be no third runway at Heathrow. Since 2010 the Conservatives and Labour had abandoned outright opposition to Heathrow expansion and now said they would wait for the Airports Commission report before deciding how to proceed, he added. Nick Clegg tried but failed at the last Lib Dem conference to get his party to support the expansion of airport capacity in the South East, whilst still ruling out Heathrow expansion. See The Guardian report.
...and it would be late and more costly
According to transport consultants, EC Harris, Heathrow has "zero" chance of opening a new runway on time, reports The Sunday Times. The EC Harris report says that it would be at least 2029 before a third Heathrow runway could open and says also that construction costs have been underestimated by nearly £6bn. However, it transpires that the EC Harris report was commissioned by Gatwick Airport, the rival contender for a new runway. Unsurprisingly, Heathrow has dismissed the report. See the Passenger Self Service report.
Business tickets on Ryanair
Ryanair has introduced business tickets which include priority boarding, an allowance of one hold bag weighing up to 20kg, which can cost up to £75 on top of a standard ticket. The new tickets give access to so-called 'premium' seats for which there is normally a £15 reservation charge, and the ability to change to another flight or destination on the same day up to 40 minutes before departure, for which the airline normally charges as much as £90. Ryanair is launching six new routes from Stansted in what will be its 30th year of operation. Ryanair now operates on 130 routes from Stansted, which is more than British Airways offers from Heathrow. See the Travel Agent Central report.
Profits hit by oil hedge
Ryanair returned to profit in the last three months of 2014 and has raised guidance for its full-year net profits from between €810m and €830m to a range of €840m to €850m. Traffic for the three months to 30 March was expected to rise 25 per cent, while falling oil prices would cut costs by 5 per cent. It warned that profit growth would be "modest" as its fuel was hedged at $92 a barrel whereas some competitors would benefit more quickly from lower oil prices. See the BBC News report.
Aircraft noise complaints up
More than two million people are now significantly disturbed by noise from planes, according to the National Noise Attitude Survey commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Aircraft noise is affecting twice as many people in the UK as it was a decade ago, it says. 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. However, Noisy neighbours remained the biggest bugbear (11 per cent) followed by eight per cent for road traffic. But aircraft noise was the only category to show a marked increase 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, which campaigns against noise at Heathrow, claimed the figures proved the introduction of quieter planes did not necessarily mean fewer disturbances for those on the ground. See the Get West London report.
Gatwick offers £46m sweetener
Gatwick Airport bosses have said money is available to contribute towards the cost of a new hospital serving Crawley if they are allowed to build a second runway. Crawley Borough Council announced that it would tell the Airports Commission a new hospital for Crawley and Horsham must be built if Gatwick is expanded. Gatwick Airport has pledged a £46.5 million fund for community infrastructure projects if it is selected to get a new runway. See the Crawley News report.
More feeder routes for budget carriers
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary expects low cost carriers to do a lot more "feeding" of passengers on to long-haul flights. He believes the days are numbered for how much longer national flag-carriers can operate intra-European flights because it is too expensive for them to compete on these point-to-point routes. "If you go forward in Europe in the next five or 10 years, I think the low-cost carriers, mostly ourselves and EasyJet will do a lot more feeding of major airlines," he told a news conference. British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France would instead concentrate on their more profitable long-haul routes, he said. See the RTE News report.
Climate change could reduce plane payloads
The amount of lift generated by planes travelling at a given speed will decrease as the atmosphere warms and air gets less dense. The result will be that cargo and, potentially, people could be bumped off flights that can no longer carry as much weight, according to Ethan Coffel of Columbia University speaking at an environmental conference in San Francisco. At present, on hotter days, planes fly faster to take off but on some hot days at some airports they may not be able to take off at maximum weight given the length of runway, he said. He predicted that weight restriction days might increase and that 15–20 per cent of the total payload might have to be removed before a plan could fly. See the Environmental Research Web report.
Carbon omission would negate runway benefits
The Airports Commission should explain why its CO2 emissions forecasts are lower than the Government's latest forecasts and how this might affect the Commission's final report, says the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF). The contradiction between the two sets of figures has implications for proposals for a new runway in the South East. Detailed analysis by AEF and Airport Watch shows that, if a new runway is built in the South East it will not be possible for the UK to meet its climate change targets. "This important new analysis was triggered by a startling admission by the Airports Commission when we met with their economics team last December", says SSE's Brian Ross. "The Commission has so far excluded carbon costs from their economic analysis because, if it was included at the level required to constrain demand to the UK target for aviation emissions of no more than 37.5m tonnes of CO2 by 2050, the economic benefits of an additional runway in the South East would be negated."
Air traffic procedures save 1m tonnes of CO2
Up to one million tonnes of aviation related CO2 is now being saved each year, according to UK air traffic services company, NATS. It says the reduction equates to more than €150 million in enabled fuel savings for airlines and an average 4.3 per cent 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. Last year NATS became the first air traffic control organisation to trial use of near real time environmental efficiency data using its 'Flosys' tool. See the Airport World report.
Press non-story on 'truth' about APD
The Daily Mail has pounced on a leaked letter from Chancellor George Osborne to 'reveal' that air passenger duty (APD) is a revenue-raiser, generating £2.5 billion a year for the Government and not a green tax. However, SSE points out that when the tax was introduced in1994 by the then Chancellor, Ken Clarke, he made clear that its purpose was, quite simply, to raise revenue, referring to the fact that aviation was "lightly taxed compared to other sectors", an allusion to the fact it was exempt from fuel duty and VAT. See the Buying Business Travel report.
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