Friday, January 21, 2011

10% Decline in Flight Demand At London City Airport And The Taxpaying Scapegoats

Think it's noisy now? London City Airport shamelessly breached its planning agreement 4 years ago, (and Newham took no action at all) by allowing almost 20,000 more flights to use the airport than allowed - taking them up to around 90,000 air traffic movements that year. That year was a nightmare, and for many it was the tipping point from not being bothered too much by LCY operations at all, to being very bothered about the increasing noise levels. Now the Civil Aviation Authority statistics show that in 2010 the air traffic movements (atms) have plummeted back down to 59,919 offering a respite of sorts - but one that is purely as a result of lack of demand and which will change as quick as demand for flights changes.

If you think current noise levels are a problem at 59,919 atms then just imagine what it will be like at 120,000 atms per year and the impact on the daily lives of 100,000's of East Londoner's. Back in 2008, John Austin the then Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead made his concerns well known regarding the proposal to increase flights from 79,616 to 120,000 per annum:

“Many of my constituents are naturally concerned about increased levels of noise and atmospheric pollution if the planning application were granted. If permission is granted for an additional 40, 384 flights per annum over 260 week days, the airport will be allowed to operate an additional 155 flights per day".

So an 155 extra flights a day on top of the past allowance. If you are already affected things can sadly only get worse, and if you notice them but are not unduly bothered at the moment then be prepared as a 100% increase in flights each day will without a doubt further deteriorate already ridiculous noise levels and air pollution in the capital. We already know that noise levels in East London are comparable to those experienced in Kew due to noise research carried out, we also know that there is an ever building accumulative noise level of both London City and Heathrow jets overhead.

Surprisingly, Boris Johnson wants to make this worse for you too: he supports expansion at all airports apart from Heathrow, and in addition to continued expansion and more runways around the south east Boris Johnson wants a floating airport on the Thames Estuary. His plan isn't to replace other airport expansion, but to simply add to the capacity in the skies above us. These are the skies that both NATS and the CAA have already indicated that there is not enough space in. So what's changed? The aviation lobby, personal interests, politicians? Clearly the demand for flights is not there to support expansion plans despite their pulled out of the hat claims. LCY may keep spinning the PR of new flight routes, but they are not advertising how many flight routes have been dropped due to being unsuccessful and a lack of demand.

New flight routes being launched and then dropped at LCY within months does not indicate there is a demand from the public at all- Newquay to London City Airport was a great example. But of course at the time it was feted as having HUGE demand! Of course, that's why it's now completely disappeared off the timetable with many of the others. It's simply greed, and they can afford to be greedy: Aviation pays NO VAT and guess what: City Jet's new Boss on the block Christine Oumieres was reported on the Evening Standard website (sadly for some bizarre reason the item appears to have been pulled off the website yesterday - search for 'City Jet Tax' under the news category on Google and you'll find the listing):

"CityJet boss tells Government to look elsewhere for taxation targets‎"The boss of short-haul specialist carrier CityJet today fired a warning to the Government over making airlines a "tax scapegoat". ...

One resident commented:

"What a (bad) joke - no VAT or duty on fuel, no VAT on servicing, spares..... and they still can't make money? As the old soldier has it: "if you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined". It can't be blamed on APD since "all those City types" whose vitally important travel is the airport's raison d'etre are able to claim back their travel costs as business expenses. So perhaps CityJet aren't charging enough".

Obviously airports like LCY refusing to pay their security costs to around the tune of £5million a year and letting London Taxpayers pay it for them, and ZERO VAT is just not enough for this aviation industry. I think we ALL know who the taxpaying scapegoats are here - and they are the taxpaying residents of London and beyond (especially those that don't even use the airport!).

2010 Total Air Transport movements for the whole year (CAA)

LONDON CITY 59919 -10.4

HEATHROW 449283 -2.4

GATWICK 233567 -4.8

STANSTED 143069 -8.3