Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boris gets confused again! A contradiction in terms in East London

How can a Green Enterprise exhibition and conference centre and London City Airport be put in the same article? At first view the idea of an exhibition and conference centre that uses Green materials and promotes positive environmental schemes seems like a fantastic idea that could bring new green enterprises to the East part of London. But building something like this right beside London City Airport which flies in the face of anything Green locally or even Globally is complete madness. Just like allowing the expansion in one of the most densely populated areas in the UK! Firstly with noise levels that regularly exceed 80db how are you to enjoy the environment? Secondly Silvertown and Britannia Village have a constant stench of Jet fuel that is left from standing and over flying aircraft from London City Airport.
We think that Boris Johnson has either been duped by Sir Robin Wales or more than likely he has just no idea what living or working beside London City Airport is really like.

You can read an article about the proposals Here in the East London Advertiser.
"PLANS have been revealed today for a £30 million 'Green Enterprise' exhibition and conference centre in East London.

The 'iconic' three-storey pavilion for the Royal Docks, near the ExCeL centre and London City airport, would be a permanent showcase for 'sustainable technologies' for a low carbon 21st century society.

It will be at the heart of a 'Green Enterprise District' being set up across East London to regenerate undeveloped industrial land to attract new investment, in a project announced by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Newham's mayor Sir Robin Wales.

Sir Robin said: "Nowhere else in Britain is undergoing transformation on the scale of East London. There is huge potential for investment and prosperity."

The centre will include a public exhibition, 300-seat auditorium and educational facilities with interactive exhibits, a café and shop.

A consortium is being put together by Siemens engineering and technology group to design and build the 'pavilion' covering nearly 40,000sq ft.

The structure, built with recycled steel and industrial by-product cement, will maximise natural daylight using high performance glazing, photovoltaic panels and energy efficient lighting.

Its design includes 'rainwater harvesting', ground source heat pumps and solar water heating. The centre is expected to be open early in 2012."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Judicial Review Hearing Date Set

The hearing date for the legal challenge against Newham Council in regard of the approval to allow London City Airport to expand to 120,000 flights per year has been set for:

18-19th November 2010 

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

London Assembly meeting on City Airport deferred

The London Assembly Environment Committee’s 10 June public meeting on expansion at London City Airport has been deferred.

In March this year, the Committee launched an inquiry into the environmental controls around the expansion of the East London airport, which could see flights increase from 91,000 to 120,000 annually. [1]

The deferral of the June meeting enables the Committee to conduct further background work, including a site visit. It also allows the Committee to await the outcome of the current Judicial Review of the decision to permit expansion and assess how it will impact on operations at the airport. [2]

The Committee intends to reschedule a public meeting for the autumn. In the meantime, members of the public are encouraged to continue sharing their views on how flights at London City Airport affect them by completing a short survey at:

Monday, May 24, 2010


Stop Stansted Expansion is about to organise the biggest party in its history following BAA’s humiliating climbdown over its plans for a second Stansted runway. BAA finally surrendered its position today, 24 May, formally withdrawing its planning application for a second Stansted runway which if approved would have made the airport bigger than Heathrow.

The second runway planning application had taken BAA more than four years to prepare and cost the airport operator some £200 million. However this is just a fraction of the cost to local homeowners in terms of the property blight which has plagued the local area for the past eight years, destroying the value of people’s homes but worse still, destroying long established communities.

Whilst SSE is delighted that BAA has finally faced up to realities and withdrawn its planning application, this is tinged with sadness and anger over the unnecessary damage which has been inflicted upon the area and the anguish that has been caused to so many local communities.

SSE will now be pressing BAA for three immediate actions:

· BAA must sell back all the homes and other properties it acquired in connection with its second runway plans, offering the original owners the first option to buy back;

· BAA should issue a public apology to all the local homeowners who were served with draft compulsory purchase orders in March 2008 and who having since been living under the constant threat of the bulldozer. The apology should then be followed by proper compensation;

· Having needlessly, recklessly and irresponsibly created eight years of blight, BAA and any future owner of Stansted should be prohibited from building a second runway at Stansted for at least 50 years.

SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone commented: “This is a day to rejoice. It is not every day that a local community is victorious over powerful big business interests – and they don’t come much bigger and more powerful than BAA. I would therefore like to pay tribute to all those who have fought so hard for so long to achieve this famous victory.”

She continued: “When we set up SSE in 2002, we were told by many that ‘we couldn’t stop a second runway; it was a done deal - we were wasting our time’. It turns out that it’s BAA whose been wasting its time, as well as £200 million of its shareholders money. Our task now is to ensure that we never have to go through all this again. The Government will be producing a new long term policy for the UK ’s airports next year. SSE’s final mission is to work with politicians, civil servants and others over the next 12 – 18 months to ensure that a second runway at Stansted forms no part of the long term plan for the development of the UK ’s airports.”

Next London City Airport!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Greenpeace Airplot:The Heathrow Contest

Exhibition of winning architectural designs in the campaign
which defeated Heathrow’s third runway

Oxo Tower Wharf
Bargehouse Street
South Bank
London SE1 9PH

2 - 6 June 2010, 11am – 6pm daily, admission free

Standing in the way of a third runway at Heathrow was a small plot of land called Airplot, owned by Greenpeace, Emma Thompson, Alistair McGowan, Zac Goldsmith, and tens of thousands of people from around the world. In January 2010 Greenpeace launched an architectural competition to design a 21st century fortress – capable of resisting BAA’s bulldozers and stopping construction of the runway. Architects from across the world rose to the challenge. The results are awesome and inspiring.

Just days after the winning designs had been chosen the new government announced they would be scrapping plans for the runway. The campaign to stop the third runway is over!

Come and find out how one of the biggest environmental campaigns of the last decade was won and see the designs that will ensure that the 3rd runway never, ever gets built.

More details:

Congratulations Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown a farmer who was to be turfed out of his generational family farm so that Stobart could redevelop Carlisle Airport has won his appeal , resulting in the quashing of the planning approval given by Carlisle City Council to Stobarts. The council were also refused the possiblity of an appeal at the Supreme Court.

Congratulations to Gordon on his victory!


Farmer wins appeal to stop Carlisle Airport revamp

Last updated at 13:51, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Cumbrian farmer has won his legal fight to overturn planning approval for the £25 million redevelopment of Carlisle Airport.

Gordon Brown

The Court of Appeal this morning quashed a decision by Carlisle City Council to allow Stobart Air to build a haulage depot and create a passenger and freight hub at the site.

Stobart said it was now looking at sites outside Cumbria for the depot, which could lead to hundreds of jobs leaving the county.

Three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal this morning upheld a challenge to the decision to grant consent to the scheme brought by Gordon Brown, of Irthington.

The council must now urgently reconsider the matter and faces hefty legal bills.

Stobart Air was granted permission for the plan in December 2009.

But Mr Brown claimed in court that the decision did not properly assess the environmental impact of the plan.

Lord Justice Sullivan agreed and said the city council should have insisted on a full assessment of the environmental impact not just of the freight facility, but also for the development of the airport.

Although the council insisted that it would carry out such an assessment before any wider planning consent was granted, the judge said that was not good enough and construction of the freight facility might give the developer “a foot in the door”.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Jacob and Sir Mark Waller, also said there was a possibility that the facility might remain “completed but unoccupied” until the wider airport development, if consent for it is granted, becomes a reality.

The city council was refused permission to appeal further to the Supreme Court and was ordered to pay Mr Brown’s substantial legal costs.

Lord Justice Sullivan also rejected Stobart Air’s plea that the planning permission should not be overturned as the company was willing to promise that it would not commence construction of the freight facility until a full environmental impact assessment of the entire project was carried out.

Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler said: “We are very disappointed with the decision that the planning approval has been quashed.

“The application has therefore been returned to the city council for redetermination.

“We intend to appeal as we feel the court has not given due regard to us as an airport operator.

“Despite this setback, we remain committed to finding a solution for our future logistics activities at the airport.

“But from a business aspect, we have little choice but to start looking at alternative options and sites that will also satisfy the requirements of the expanding Stobart business.

“That’s the important thing for us: growing the business and securing more jobs for whichever region we will be based in.”

Aviation consultant Peter Elliott, who once worked for Mr Tinkler, and has fought protracted legal battles against Stobart Group and Mr Tinkler, said: “I am thrilled for the people of Irthington.

“There will now be no air freight aircraft flying low over their village.”

He also called on city council leader Mike Mitchelson to “consider his position”.

First published at 11:59, Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Published by

Saturday, May 15, 2010

FOE Press Release: Third runway plans for Heathrow scrapped

Third runway plans for Heathrow scrapped

12 May 2010

Commenting on the scrapping of airport expansion plans at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

"We're delighted that the new government has scrapped plans to expand UK airports - this is an encouraging sign that the coalition takes cutting aviation emissions seriously. They must now rule out expansion at regional airports too.

"We need a new aviation strategy which makes carbon reduction a priority and goes at least as far as Labour's target to limit aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050.

"Proposals to reform Air Passenger Duty are good news and will encourage airlines to use their planes more efficiently. But much of our emissions comes from flying goods around - so the new tax must cover freight flights too."

If you are a journalist seeking press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


FTF are proud to work with Friends of the Earth 

Centre For Asia Pacific Aviation - An article that will make campaigners and residents smile.

Coalition Government full frontal attack on British aviation; Heathrow R3 in jeopardy

14th May, 2010

Key Points:

Coalition government vows to cut back on airport expansion, will raise aviation taxes;
Heathrow third runway to be axed;
Lib Dem MPs able to influence aviation policy;
Labour had been more pragmatic on air transport matters;
No regional airports policy exists – regionals look for crumbs, led by Birmingham;
Unfavourable contrast with European mainland and Gulf airports;
More impetus for BA to shift equipment to Madrid;
Olympic dream fades;
Johnson’s Estuary Airport still likely to be rejected;
Coalition committed to ‘high-speed rail’;
Per-plane tax to be introduced – prospects for domestic UK airlines diminish;
Other tax measures will be introduced;
Futurologists get bad vibes.

Five days of horse trading followed the British General Election on 06-May-2010, which ended in a stalemate with no single party having a working majority in the House of Commons. The eventual outcome was a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, announced on 11-May, the first in the UK for 70 years. And the green voice has gained several octaves in the process. The respective parties in this coalition are at opposite ends of the political spectrum and it is not at all clear how long it can last. But so long as it does there will be major challenges for British aviation.

One of the few things the coalition parties seem to agree on is a perceived need to curtail air transport. Indeed, the very first joint policy statement they made was not about Britain’s huge financial deficit and how to reduce it without slashing public sector jobs, hiking taxes massively or harming essential public services; nor was it about immigration, crime, education, the Afghanistan conflict or any of the other matters that the electorate voted on. Instead the priority was an insistence that the third runway project at London’s Heathrow Airport be cancelled – a proposal that had appeared in both parties' manifestos but that had barely been noticed by the public, outside a small area of southeast England. This policy statement alone speaks volumes about the future for air transport in the UK.

To put the matter briefly into some sort of context, the Conservatives have been out of power since 1997, when Labour won a massive majority, since slowly whittled down. The Liberals, who became the Liberal Democrats in 1988 on merging with the Social Democrats, were last in power - again in a coalition government, with the Conservatives (Winston Churchill began political life as a Liberal) - in the Second World War and were last in power in their own right in the 1920s.

While out of power, the normally pragmatic Conservatives have lurched to the centre left, become more touchy-feely and acquired ‘green’ credentials (their logo even changed colour from blue to green). The Liberal Democrats (LDs) have rock solid green credentials and part of the horse trading with the Conservatives was on the adoption of environmental policies such as wind turbines instead of nuclear power stations. The LD’s leader, Nick Clegg, becomes Deputy Prime Minister to David Cameron although that role has been largely symbolic in previous administrations.

It initially seemed as if the roles of Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment would have been LDs, but the jobs eventually went to Conservatives. A Liberal Democrat did fill the Energy and Climate Change brief and the LD Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable, popular in the media as a formally educated economist (there are precious few of them in British politics) becomes Business Secretary where he will also be able to influence aviation matters, replacing Labour’s Lord Mandelson, who, despite other shortcomings, at least fought air transport’s corner.
Labour disappears to lick its wounds - leaving some plane dangerous leaders

The Labour Party, which had, ironically, become the pragmatist where air transport was concerned, and which had backed the third Heathrow runway, has disappeared from the scene for at least as long as this coalition government lasts.

Labour is meanwhile in some disarray – the ‘New Labour’ project started by Tony Blair seems to have come to an end. To complicate matters further, the minor parties now represented in Parliament are mainly (regional) nationalists from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whose primary concern, understandably, is to fight for local interests rather than national (British) ones. And Parliament even has its first ‘wild card’ MP from the Green Party – the affable but strident party leader Caroline Lucas – who can be expected to be extremely vocal on all air transport matters.

It is almost as if pressure group Plane Stupid had managed to have its own candidate installed at Westminster. What chance her getting a minor Cabinet role in the future? If Ms Lucas were to take the Transport portfolio, the grim picture would be complete.
Not only Heathrow, but also Stansted and Gatwick under the gun

While cancellation of the Heathrow runway project grabs the headlines, other measures proposed are of equal concern.

For example, the new government has also agreed to reject the construction of additional runways at London Gatwick and London Stansted airports. The latter, owned and operated by BAA/Ferrovial but still potentially subject to enforced sale, has been involved in public enquiry hearings concerning a second runway, which it considers essential. The former, now owned mainly by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), could not have a second runway until 2019 anyway under previous legal agreements, but despite recent announcements by its management that they don’t want one right now, surely they must do for the long term – how else can the world’s busiest single runway operation airport, which seems to have regained some popularity since GIP took it over – expand? And what does this decision do to encourage further investors, as GIP wants, after attracting South Korea Pension Fund and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority?
Birmingham improbably seeks to capitalise at Heathrow’s expense

Naturally, some airport managements have sought to capitalise on these developments - but appear to have overlooked the bigger picture. Birmingham Airport for example “welcomed the new Government’s thinking and fresh approach” and insisted it can “form part of the solution to the ‘Heathrow problem’", as there is spare capacity at Birmingham, which is less than 100 miles north of London, enough to take another nine million passengers immediately. (More distant Manchester Airport, which already has two runways, has been quiet so far). Birmingham’s logical thinking is that in these ‘difficult times’ it makes sense to use and improve existing facilities rather than build new ones. Fine, but Birmingham needs a runway extension for long haul services, which is already being fought tooth and nail locally by organisations like Friends of the Earth – it hopes to have it completed by 2014.

But the airport is not exactly out in the boondocks; there is a large municipal housing estate right next door and the flight paths are over heavily built up areas to the east and south of the city. Even though a village would not have to be destroyed as in the case of Heathrow, a large forested area would. And to the ‘Greens’, who now have huge influence in this government, a tree is as important as a person. In short, Birmingham should not think it will receive any favourable treatment. It is just an airport, and there is no alternative ‘regional airport policy’ in this coalition.

Continental airports to benefit? - Paris CDG, Amsterdam, Frankfurt - and the UAE

So any other regional airport that opportunistically perceives some local advantage out of the Heathrow decision is likely to find itself similarly compromised.

All this contrasts unfavourably with the position on the ‘near Continent’ of the European mainland; those airports that compete with Heathrow and which will help their respective city-regions compete for the financial services companies that will inevitably relocate from London in the wake of new EU legislation – something that had evidently worried previous Prime Minister Brown intently.

The less busy Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for example already has two pairs of parallel runways (even if their configuration is not ideal). Frankfurt has three runways with a fourth planned, Amsterdam five plus a specialised GA runway with a seventh planned, and Madrid four. There is little point in adding terminal capacity at Heathrow such as T5, the rebuilding of terminals 1 and 2 and the proposed T6 while it struggles to handle aircraft on two runways, operating at 98% capacity for most of the day. A child would understand that.

Moreover, there is an enormous capacity increase in the Middle East, especially at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, airports that will increasingly become competitors to Heathrow in a growing global village with shrinking, consolidating airlines.
Massive repercussions for British Airways at its home base - migration threat

The Heathrow decision will have repercussions for British Airways, which has all but reached agreement with Iberia to merge, subject to lingering concerns about the precarious financial position of both parties - concerns made worse in the case of BA by the recent and continuing volcanic ash effects, past and promised strike action and an apparent inability to solve its massive pension deficit.

BA CEO Willie Walsh is not the first to threaten to shift BA aircraft and services away from Heathrow, as he did in the build-up to the election as the rejection of R3 became a probability rather than possibility. Lord King, the company’s Chairman in the 1980s, threatened to move BA lock, stock and barrel to Stansted in a dispute over charges and expansion at Heathrow. But while it was always assumed the grizzly old ‘Margaret Thatcher’s favourite businessman’ was bluffing, Walsh almost certainly is not. It is quite possible he will shift equipment to Madrid to augment lucrative Latin American services there - though much will depend on the health of Spain’s ailing economy.
Olympic Games undermined?

Another area of concern must be the 2012 Olympic Games, which will be held in east London at a cost of many billions of pounds – and growing - incurred by the outgoing government.

The R3 decision might be interpreted by the heavily indebted Ferrovial as letting them off the hook concerning terminal enhancements that the previous government pressured them to make in preparation for the Games. The third runway project was very much part of that deal.

In fact, while it is inconceivable this coalition government would scrap the Olympics project, which is more than half completed, it could scale it down, to the detriment of smaller airports like London City (GIP), London Luton (municipal/Abertis), Southend (Stobart Group), Kent International (Infratil) and even Gatwick, all of which have anticipated making large profits from the event.

Thames Estuary Airport unlikely to be attractive to government either

The question of Boris Johnson’s much vaunted ‘Estuary Airport’ to the east of London also now comes into the equation. The eccentric Johnson is the (Conservative) Mayor of London and is tipped as a future leader of the national party, potentially sooner than later if the coalition goes pear-shaped. He has been lobbying for a floating airport in the Thames Estuary for the last two years and at least one minor party adopted it as policy for the election. On paper, it looks as if Johnson has moved a step closer to his dream. He has considerable influence within the Conservative Party; but that overlooks the LDs and their anti-airport policy, which will win the day, at least for now.

So how does the coalition plan to tackle Britain’s ‘congested skies’ and the ‘pollution’ they produce? The Conservatives’ stated aim prior to the election was to make Heathrow ‘better, not bigger’, whatever that means – surely you make it better by adding a runway that alleviates the overcrowding that exists already? The LDs aspired to much the same as part of plans to meet European air quality targets by 2012.
High speed rail is a phantom "solution", at least in the medium term

Instead of air travel, the policy of each party has favoured rail for several years now - not that improving the rail network in Britain by adding a couple of high speed lines will make any significant difference to the world’s busiest international airport, even with a direct connection into Heathrow.

The Conservatives stated they would link Heathrow directly to their ‘high-speed rail network’ which comprises a line from London through the Midlands (possibly to include Birmingham Airport) to the main north west England cities and eventually to Scotland, and possibly another line up the eastern side of the country. The LDs broadly concurred with that. Both parties vaguely aspire to the reopening of sleepy branch lines and stations throughout the country; those that were closed down in the ‘Beeching’ era of the 1960s. But since then the nationalised British Rail has been broken up into what is a partly private structure (the 33 rail operating companies) and the peculiar not-for-profit Network Rail that manages the infrastructure. It is not at all clear who would pay for these lines and stations to be re-opened.

Nor is it clear who would finance the cost of the high-speed rail lines, estimated at up to GBP30 billion, with a construction timeframe of 20 years. On top of that, many environmentalists, growing short of easy aviation targets, are beginning to turn their ire on to rail, which is no longer regarded as being as environmentally clean as it used to be, and especially since it was realised that large tracts of the nation’s most attractive countryside would have to be cut to pieces in order to accommodate the lines.
LDs + PPDs + APDs = ?

As far as these rail proposals go we are in the land of make-believe but this coalition will go ahead with them. Meanwhile, the prospect for Britain’s domestic airlines diminishes. The LDs made clear before the election that they would introduce per-plane-duty (PPD) as an alternative to the already punitive Air Passenger Duty (APD), on the basis that the APD taxes full flights but not empty ones, and that they would charge an additional, higher rate of PPD on domestic flights “if realistic alternative and less polluting travel were available,” with the objective of raising an additional GBP255 million per annum. They would also start to tax airfreight for the first time.

Generally speaking, and despite the very high rate of tax currently charged on air travel in the UK, many people would be prepared to grit their teeth and put up with the higher costs, if the tax were to be channelled back into the community, for example in the form of environment-enhancing measures (on the basis that it is imposed as an environmental levy). But in reality, there is no guarantee that funds raised from the new per flight duty will be used for environmental or infrastructure benefits any more than APD was.

Indeed, the general population knows that it is no more than one of many stealth taxes employed to try to reduce the national deficit - no more, no less. That was the case under Labour and that will be the case now. The LDs made it known before the election that they aimed to raise more than GBP5 billion per annum from the tax, up from the GBP2 billion per annum under the Labour Party’s plans.

British Airways was one of the first airlines to pick up on this issue, insisting that “increased taxation on the UK aviation industry will create a financial incentive for customers to fly via continental hubs rather than direct from or in transit of, UK airports, leading to higher emissions”. (Actually, customers flying via continental hubs might even benefit UK regional airports, that BS has long overlooked – but the bigger picture is that a 'per plane' tax would hurt regional airports and reduce the range of destinations they offer).

But a handful of carriers (not Ryanair, of course, which regards any tax as a curse) perceive some ‘benefits’ from PPD. One of them is easyJet, which welcomed the tax reform and stated it was looking forward to working with the Government to “reform the air tax to make it a greener and fairer tax”. easyJet is an airline that benefits from a comparatively new fleet (mainly the A319). So much so that it’s outgoing CEO was openly criticised this week from within its own Board for lavishing money (GBP2.7 billion) on new aircraft while failing to pay a dividend or improving the share price.

It appears that easyJet’s endorsement of the PPD is based on the carrier's having such a new fleet, when the PPD could be configured to target airlines flying older equipment, as well as a comparatively high load factor compared with many legacy airlines.

If this is to be the case then airlines like, which predominantly operates in northern England and Scotland, outside the orbit of the government, have much to be concerned about. operates a fleet with an average age of over 20 years. It will also be the case that the tax means that the further passengers fly, the more they will pay, as with the APD, but even more draconian, of that we can be assured.

As if all this were not bad enough, the country is faced with an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) to 20% from the current 17.5% and increases in income tax that have been estimated as possibly up to six percentage points (although LD policy would increase the amount of earnings available before tax kicks in to help the lower paid - and the Conservatives seem prepared suddenly to go along with it).

VAT is currently not chargeable on air tickets or on aviation fuel in the UK. How long will that last? British governments simply love fuel taxes. The UK is one of the few countries in the world where motorists pay tax on tax – VAT is applied to the fuel duty imposed at the pumps.

So the general prognosis, for the reasons mentioned, is not good and the industry faces cancelled infrastructure projects, higher direct and indirect taxes and an all-pervading anti-aviation policy generally.
Futurologists preview the demise of aviation

A gaggle of futurologists, led by the UK-based Rohit Talwar, has even gone so far as to ponder the entire demise of the aviation industry – and not just in the UK. The event that prompted it was what the futurologists like to call a ‘wild card’ – in this instance the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland, in Apr-2010 that continues to cause disruption to airlines from Greenland to North Africa and all points in between, and upon which CAPA has deliberated since the closure of northern European airspace on 15-Apr.

See related report: Ash Attack shows real value of aviation to global economic and social fabric. More shocks to come

One of their concerns is what would happen if the ash cloud lasted two years, as some people have been warning? A particular focus has been on the potential effects of any longer term disruption on the ability to fly people and goods around the world and what that might mean for the aviation sector and those dependent on it.

The curtailment of air travel has put the focus on to the future of civil aviation. While it remains a crucial part of the transportation infrastructure around the world, the effects of a wildcard such as the ash cloud have bought the challenges it currently faces into starker contrast.

The airline industry globally has debts of over USD200 billion, has only made a profit once in the last ten years and the losses continue to mount. Recent announcements have highlighted first quarter losses for AMR Corp (the parent company of American Airlines) of USD505 million, USD256 million at Delta Airlines and USD140 million for Continental in advance of its merger with United. Under such circumstances, the prospect of a two year stoppage of commercial aviation to Europe has led to some deep debate on the future of the aviation sector.
A viable future for the airline industry needs to be established

Increasingly, people are willing to ask the unthinkable question – does the airline industry have a viable future? While airline executives might baulk at the idea of discussing the topic, the industry does face very tough challenges as it strives to define a long-term future. Alongside issues of financial viability, there are growing concerns about how the industry, globally, can return to profitability while addressing over-capacity, environmental impacts, rising fuel costs, the possibility of emissions-trading regimes and carbon taxes, security requirements and changes in social attitudes.

What level of price hike would be required to return airlines to sustainable profitability – and would customers be willing to bear such increases? What new thinking is emerging about sustainable aviation business models? Would airlines have to be taken into national ownership and subsidised by governments as a critical part of national infrastructure? What impact would a dramatic reduction in the number of airlines and flights have on our lives – can we imagine a life without flying? Which industries would be most disrupted?

The airline industry is of course just one of the sectors being confronted by fundamental questions about its long term viability – many others will follow in the next few years. But it is against this background that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, one that has already played its hand as an opponent of aviation, takes power in Britain.
These are not idle threats

Lest anyone should still underestimate the gravity of the situation, these two statements, from the LDs prior to becoming part of the government, and from Friends of the Earth, make perfectly clear the problem.

Liberal Democratic Party, 30-Apr-2010: “Air travel is not taxed enough. The current charges on air travel do not reflect its environmental and economic cost. It has become cheaper to fly in real terms in recent years, and we need to make the polluters pay.” Source:

Friends of the Earth, Andy Atkins, Executive Director, 12-May-2010: "We're delighted that the new government has scrapped plans to expand UK airports - this is an encouraging sign that the coalition takes cutting aviation emissions seriously. They must now rule out expansion at regional airports too. We need a new aviation strategy which makes carbon reduction a priority and goes at least as far as Labour's target to limit aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. Proposals to reform Air Passenger Duty are good news and will encourage airlines to use their planes more efficiently. But much of our emissions come from flying goods around - so the new tax must cover freight flights too."

The coalition may not prove durable. But so long as it does, these voices will gain unprecedented influence in what has already become an aviation-unfriendly UK environment. Although this is hardly a time to be encouraging aviation activity to migrate offshore - along with its massive halo of economic activity - rhetoric looks likely to prevail over logic for at least as long as the existing government remains in power.

(Editor of CAPA's Airport Investor Monthly, David Bentley - himself a minor party candidate in the UK election - investigated the UK's bleak aviation future)


You may be interested to know that David Bentley stood for the UK Independance Party  in Oldham East and Saddleworth, Manchester and attracted 4%  - 1,720 votes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The New Coalition & Airport Expansion

Well here we are with a new coalition government and hopefully a new era in UK politics.
We at Fight the Flights are pleased with the decision of the new coalition to halt the new runway at Heathrow airport and that Stanstead and Gatwick have also been stopped.

What we at Fight The Flights want to hear is that Airport expansion at regional airports which (believe it or not London City Airport is graded as?) will also be halted. Remember London City Airport was given permission by Robin Wales's Newham Council to expand up to 120,000 movements per year from 76,000. Also remember that London City Airport is built in one of the most densely populated areas in the UK and only 200 yards from a primary school. It also broke it's section 106 by flying approx 20,000 flights over it's 76,000 approved by the council within a year. So that works then!!

We of course will be lobbying the new government to make assurance's that expansion at London City Airport will be halted and the increase in use of larger, nosier more polluting jets is pulled. We want local boroughs and communities who are negatively affected by London City Airports business to once again live a clean and normal life. We also want to remind them that aviation expansion is the biggest growing factor to the increase of CO2 emission which affects climate change.