| 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 - 23 November 2014
SSE vows to keep fighting changes to airport departure routes
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has announced that it will continue to oppose changes proposed by NATS to the use of Stansted's aircraft departure routes. NATS proposes to eliminate daytime departures from Stansted on the Dover (southbound) route and switching these flights to the Clacton (eastbound) route. This would apply to all flights between 6am and 11pm and, whilst some areas would benefit, it would mean twice as many departing flights overflying local communities beneath the Clacton route. When NATS first announced its proposals in June, SSE said that there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any shift was implemented. NATS has now published its Feedback Report claiming that "the package of net operational and environmental benefits presents a compelling case for change". However, SSE's analysis of the report shows a different picture. SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey said: "Despite overwhelming local opposition, NATS seems determined to implement these Stansted flight path changes, which would mean misery for many local residents. The NATS consultation showed that 82% of all respondents who expressed a view were opposed to the proposed changes but this has clearly not been enough". SSE says that it will press the CAA to look at the issue afresh if NATS does not adjust its stance. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Don't duck the issue says Airports Commission chairman
Launching a three-month public consultation on whether the choice should be Heathrow or Gatwick for an extra runway, Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said Britain risked being marginalised if the next Government ducked the decision. The Commission published its analysis, contained in 40 documents, setting out the pros and cons of two different proposals for a third runway at Heathrow and a proposal for a second Gatwick runway. The Commission concluded that adding an additional runway at either airport would cost significantly more than forecast and that the bill for passengers would soar. A second runway at Gatwick would be the cheapest option, costing £9.3bn plus about £800m from the taxpayer to improve road and rail access. The two Heathrow options would each cost about double this amount and would require taxpayer support of some £5.7bn for road and rail infrastructure. However, despite being much cheaper, Gatwick would deliver only about half the benefits to wider UK economy compared to expanding Heathrow. It is not yet clear how Sir Howard will rank the criteria against which he has assessed the three options - including the impact on local communities - before the Commission delivers its final conclusions after the next General Election. The consultation runs until 3 February 2015 and will test the evidence assembled and invite suggestions to improve the "mitigation measures". See The Daily Telegraph report.
"Some progress" on noise says SSE
The Airports Commission is now using a new measure for noise as a result of responses to a discussion paper on aviation noise. When runway options were first shortlisted in 2013, the only criterion used was 57dBA Leq 16-hour contour (an average measurement of noise over a period). But now the "Noise Scorecard" includes an alternative measure in line with guidance from the Aviation Policy Framework. SSE's noise adviser, Martin Peachey, welcomed the Commission's recognition that noise assessment based on a single metric is unlikely to produce a rounded view of the potential impacts of airport expansion proposals. "This shows that some progress has been made", says Martin. However, he says he is disappointed that the objective "to minimise and where possible reduce noise impacts" is weaker than an earlier one that referred to prioritising noise effects including annoyance.
Stansted's growth rate gets back to 2004 levels
Stansted Airport reports that passenger numbers are up 9.8% and growing at the fastest annual rate for almost ten years. In the 12 months ending October 2014, 19.4 million passed through the terminal. By way of comparison, SSE points out that Stansted handled 20.9m passengers in 2004 and so there is still some way to go before the airport recovers to the level of business it did ten years ago. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Stansted expansion "would create 10,000 jobs"
Stansted Airport has claimed that expansion could create over 10,000 jobs in the region over the next 10 to 15 years. In a letter to the Airports Commission the airport has asked for the planning limit to be lifted so it can double the number of passengers on the existing single runway. It says it was encouraged that the Commission included recommendations in its interim report for best use to be made of Stansted's existing capacity.
SSE's reaction was to say that, with current throughput at 19.4 million passengers a year (mppa) it is was - at best - premature for the airport to be pressing for the current planning cap of 35mppa to be lifted to up to 45mppa. SSE made a submission to the Airports Commission in July, setting out some of the difficulties associated with expanding Stansted beyond its current planning limits. See the Dunmow Broadcast report.
MPs demand better trains for Stansted
A cross-party group of MPs has called for improved rail links to south-east airports including Stansted. The MPs, including Dame Tessa Jowell, Margaret Hodge, Zac Goldsmith and Julian Huppert, say excessive car journeys and the consequent pollution is one of the biggest barriers to the future sustainability of airports. "For our major airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - the Government must commit to a step-change improvement in rail access," the MPs say. See The Guardian report.
Anglia rail study a "missed opportunity"
The London Stansted Cambridge Consortium says Network Rail's Anglia Route Study - which snubs the Davies Commission's recommendations for the Stansted rail link - is a missed opportunity. It is "alarmed" that the study contains only modest improvements for the West Anglia mainline during 2019-2024, instead preferring small, incremental changes to the service on the line. Stansted Airport also expressed their disappointment.
BA boss won't support shortlisted runways
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, which owns British Airways, says he won't support any of the airport expansion options shortlisted by the Airports Commission. He said he would "struggle" to support any of the options to expand Heathrow or Gatwick because he feared that construction costs would rise and push up airline charges. His concerns were shared by Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger. See the Flight Global report.
SHE joins Heathrow protesters
With more than a nod to the success of Stop Stansted Expansion's now famous acronym, a new group has been formed to campaign against expansion of the UK's biggest airport. Politicians, campaigners and members of the public came together for the launch of Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE). Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell, called on political parties to 'come clean' about their positions on the airport's expansion before the general election in 2015. He urged those affected by the proposals to mobilise and demonstrate 'people power'. Other speakers included Robert Barnstone, of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) and Hillingdon Council leader Councillor Ray Puddifoot. The meeting heard that a third runway would mean an extra 260,000 flights a year and around 750 homes being destroyed. See the Get West London report.
Nearly half the public back airport expansion
A study by ABTA claims that 46% of the public support airport expansion in the south east, with just 16% opposed. ABTA said as well as positive public support, there is also a "clear understanding" in parliament for the need for "urgent action" on airport capacity, with previous ABTA research showing that 71% of MPs agree that the UK will be left behind if there is no clear, imminent plan on expansion. See the Buying Business Travel report.
Flybe to provide a "rich mix"
Flybe will start direct flights from Stansted to Newcastle, Newquay and the Isle of Man from March 2015. The airport's managing director, Andrew Harrison, said it would help provide "a rich mix of flight connections for the region we serve." See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Being nice pays off for Ryanair...
Ryanair has claimed that being nice pays after it posted a 32% rise in first half profits a year after pledging to transform its customer service, reports The Guardian. Chief executive Michael O'Leary, who will remain with the airline until 2019, said business has been booming since the carrier started work on improving customer service. He said Ryanair had spent a year eliminating a lot of the policies passengers did not like, allowing more carry-on baggage, allocated seating and cutting punitive charges. Profits for the half-year were €795m and Ryanair forecast full year profits would be between €750m to €770m. Mr O'Leary said complaints were down 40%. See the Daily Mail report.
...but there's another price to pay
Ryanair must pay €8.1m in damages and €200,000 in fines for breaches of French labour laws after an appeal court in Aix-en-Provence found the company guilty of paying workers under Irish contracts to avoid making French social security payments. And the European Commission has ordered Ryanair to return €300,000 to the German government over its setup at the Alternburg-Nobitz regional airport south of Leipzig where "certain service and marketing agreements" gave the airline an unfair advantage. In an earlier EC decision, Ryanair was told to pay back €500,000 to the German government for its contract at the Zweibrücken Airport. Ryanair said it planned to appeal both decisions. See the BBC News report and also the Yahoo! Finance report.
...and Michael O'Leary predicts another runway at Stansted
Speaking at a Suffolk Chamber of Commerce lunch in Bury St Edmunds, Michael O'Leary called on business leaders in the county to support Stansted, where his airline, Ryanair, is by far the biggest carrier, accounting for about 80% of the airport's passengers. Michael O'Leary, who signed a "ground-breaking partnership deal" with Stansted's owner Manchester Airports Group last year to deliver growth, said: "Support Stansted because it is going to be the main engine of growth in the region over the next five years." He said the airport was increasingly important to Ryanair who wanted it to develop, not just as a gateway to London but to the region. "Some perceptions of Stansted are incorrect," he said. "That it's miles from London, where Heathrow is just off Pall Mall. There are more European and UK routes from Stansted than from Heathrow." Although the current commission into aviation capacity headed by Sir Howard Davies is exploring the prospect of a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow as a first option, Mr O'Leary believed Stansted would eventually be where a new runway was built for the south east because unlike Heathrow and Gatwick, it was not necessary to "move the M25", he said. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
Former Stansted owner grabs regional airports share
Ferrovial, one time owner of Stansted Airport, is part of a consortium buying Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports. The Spanish construction firm is still the largest single shareholder in Heathrow whose parent company is selling the three regional airports. See The Guardian report.
Essex County wants 'rake-off' from Stansted
Essex County Council has passed a motion demanding that the Government devolves more power to the local authority under a "fair deal" challenge. It wants fair and consistent funding of public services and powers to cover skills funding, business rate retention, the establishment of growth areas - and to receive a share of passenger duty from Stansted Airport. See the Essex Chronicle report.
Ex-Stansted boss takes over at Luton
Stansted Airport's former boss Nick Barton has been appointed as the new chief executive of Luton Airport. Mr Barton left Stansted when BAA sold the airport to Manchester Airports Group. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
SSE calendar will help campaign
The 2015 edition of Stop Stansted Expansion's popular Community Calendar is now on sale across the region, featuring beautiful views of homes and heritage in the shadow of Stansted Airport. All proceeds from the sales of the calendar, the thirteenth to be produced, will be used in the continuing campaign by SSE to fight off the threat of an extra runway or runways at Stansted Airport. As in previous years, the A3 format calendars are priced at just £6 and will be on sale at some 20 shops across the area, as well as from a sales team drawn from SSE's members. The SSE campaign office can also arrange gift mailing at a small extra charge. See here for more information.
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