SASIG 2013/14 Meeting Dates

Regional News

Industry News

European News

Parliamentary News

Government News

House of Commons Questions

Media News


SASIG 2014/15 Meeting Dates

27 June 2014

24 October 2014

13 March 2015

Meetings are held at Local Government House, Smith Square, SW1P 3HZ, location map.


Regional News

13 May 2014 – Roadworks to improve the M25 between Stansted Airport and Hertford junction is taking place this week.

13 May 2014 – East Midlands Airport says it is fully aware the wind turbines at Spondon could cause disturbance to its radar system. The Airport said the turbines are located in a ‘sensitive area’ so when the turbines turn it appears as an unidentified object on the air traffic control display. The airport and Severn Trent Water both said they are working together on installing new technology to address the problem. Severn Trent Water have said the two 130-metre structures, in Megaloughton Lane, will not be fully operational ‘until later this year’.

13 May 2014 – Protesters against proposals for a second runway at Gatwick Airport have said that the airport’s recent consultation process exhibitions as ‘a huge success – for the opposition’. The Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC) have said Gatwick Airport Limited’s series of public consultation meetings around the area affected by the proposals, including in Crawley, East Surrey and Mid Sussex, had drawn ‘thousands of people’. GACC said the last of the 16 public consultation exhibitions, held in Copthorne, had taken the turn-out of people attending the meetings series to more than 6,000. But it added ‘the vast majority were clearly opposed to any new runway’.

14 May 2014 – The second phase of the Stansted Airport terminal transportation project will see capacity for 46 new retail units.

14 May 2014- Reading West MP Alok Sharma, has said that the plans to expand Heathrow Airport are ‘absolutely vital to the economic future of Reading and the wider Thames Valley area’.

15 May 2014 – ABM, a leading provider of facility solutions, announced that Air Serv’s United Kingdom subsidiary, Omni Serv, has been awarded a contract to partner with London Heathrow Airport Limited on the airport’s inter terminal bus services, which connect passengers between the airport’s terminals. Air Serv is an ABM Company. Also, Prologis has increased its stake in Heathrow logistics. The US-owned landlord and developer has bought a 171,500 sq ft terrace at the Lakeside Industrial Estate, Colnbrook. The move comes just weeks after Prologis revealed plans to build two speculative warehouses of 102,900 sq ft and 36,270 sq ft at Heathrow.

15 May 2014 – An advertising campaign has been launched at Humberside Airport to promote the region to visitors. The Bondholders marketing organisation has installed signs at key points in the terminal. Vinyl artwork has been created on the floor in front of check-in desks and arrivals areas for domestic and international flights. It stresses the Humber’s importance as an energy provider and the UK’s busiest ports complex, and Hull’s upcoming role as the UK City of Culture 2017.

16 May 2014 – The expansion of Lydd Airport in Kent can go ahead after a legal challenge to the Government’s approval was dismissed in the High Court. The £25m project for the airport includes a runway extension of almost 300m (984ft) and a new terminal block. A joint legal challenge was launched by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the campaign group Lydd Airport Action Group. The RSPB had argued that land around the airport – known as London Ashford Airport at Lydd – was of ‘exceptional’ importance to birds and the expansion would damage unique habitats on Romney Marsh.

14 May 2014 – Heathrow Airport said a third runway could now be delivered by 2025, a year earlier than the group estimated last July and bringing it into line with Gatwick Airport’s timetable.

16 May 2014 – Gatwick Airport’s consultation with its local communities ends on Friday. Feedback from residents in the East Grinstead and Dormansland areas has said that there needs to be more planning to sort out the infrastructure needed to cope with a possible second runway at the airport. Residents talked about the impact an estimated 17,500 additional personnel (and the 7,500 houses needed to house them) would have on surrounding towns and villages. And concerns were expressed about the lack of a solid plan to deal with the increased strain on traffic, transport, housing, schools and medical facilities which will heavily impact on all areas of West Sussex.


Manston Airport

14 May 2014 – Mr Sanjeev Joshi the businessman who brought together the US investment company RiverOak and the owner of Manston Airport, Ann Gloag, was accused in the High Court last year of attempting to mislead the court.

14 May 2014 – Unite union have criticised the management of Manston Airport for failing to enter ‘meaningful’ talks to save the airport. Unite says it understands US group RiverOak Investment Corp will make an ‘improved’ bid for the site. The Connecticut-based consortium had a £5million offer rejected for the airport last week – shortly before owner Ann Gloag announced the site’s closure, saying no ‘viable alternative’ had been found.

15 May 2014 – The Unite union representing workers at Manston Airport made a last-minute request to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to keep the facility ‘technically open’ until a buyer is found. Unite said the Minister should insist that Kent Airport Ltd, the airport’s owner, keeps its Civil Aviation Authority licence operational.

15 May 2014 – Manston Airport’s 144 staff have left work for the last time after the airport closed. The owners had three formal offers to buy it but said no ‘credible or viable’ bids had been made (contains video footage).

18 May 2014 – Thanet’s new council leader, Councillor Iris Johnson, has said she is awaiting a call with the current owner Ann Gloag, to talk about keeping the airport open.


Airports Commission refreshed schemes

13 May 2104 – Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport Ltd., and ‘Heathrow Hub’ have presented details of their refreshed schemes to the Airports Commission.


Gatwick Airport

Details of the Gatwick Airport scheme which are currently available can be found here.


Heathrow Airport Ltd

Heathrow Airport have published their refreshed proposal for expansion which will be submitted tomorrow (13 May 2014) to the Airports Commission. Details of the Heathrow Airport Ltd scheme is available here. The submission follows discussions with local residents and businesses, the public, businesses around the country, passengers, airlines and elected representatives across the UK’s nations and regions. Key elements of the proposal include:

  • New rail access to Wales and the West through the Western mainline, the South and South West through Southern Rail Access, and the North through HS2.
  • Taskforce for Regional Connectivity will be established to develop proposals for how regional air links to the airport can be improved. The airport intends that additional capacity will be provided for flights to cities such as Inverness, Liverpool and Newquay.
  • Proposed runway located farther south, affecting ‘200 fewer homes’ – the proposal states that this is ‘intended to preserve historical buildings in Harmondsworth and maintains the existing M25/M4 junction’.
  • New section of M25 to be tunnelled and upgraded alongside the existing section.


Heathrow Hub

The Heathrow Hub proposal aims to tackle the issues of noise, surface access, cost and location, in its refreshed proposal. Details of the Heathrow Hub scheme are available here. Key features of the refreshed submission include:

Noise mitigation and communities

  • Potentially curtailing or ending night quota flights arriving after 4.30am and before 6am by making available more capacity later in the morning, or moving the touchdown point 2 miles to the West on the new runway extension in the critical early morning arrival period.
  • No new households brought into the noise footprint.

Surface access

  • The connection of Heathrow to the national rail network through the construction of large new passenger facility on land identified to the north.
  • 30 trains per hour based on Great Western and related services, enabling swift direct connections with regional centres; additional rail access to the south.
  • Partial tunnelling and bridging a stretch of the M25.
  • Enhanced junction 13 and a new junction to the new passenger interchange.
  • No closure of the M25 – the M25 road works would not affect existing traffic, which would be switched to the new section overnight.


Industry News

12 May 2014 – Air Traffic Control Services Ltd (ATCSL) who provide the air traffic services function at Liverpool John Lennon Airport has achieved the internationally recognised ISO9001 certification. Based at the Airport, ATCSL is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority as a provider of air traffic control and air traffic engineering services for three UK regional airports; Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield and Durham Tees Valley Airport, with staff based at all three sites. This independent assessment was conducted by the leading certification body, the British Assessment Bureau and by conforming to the ISO9001 standard, it demonstrates ATCSL’s commitment to both customer service and quality in delivery.

13 May 2014 – Passenger numbers for April saw rises at a number of airports. Stansted Airport have reported its busiest April since 2008 as over 1.72 million passengers passed through the terminal, up 10.7 per cent over April last year, passengers using HeathrowAirport rose by 6.7 per cent last month, at Manchester Airport there was an increase in passengers of 11 per cent more than this time last year, while Scotland’s two busiest airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow, both reported a 4.9 per cent growth in passenger numbers in April.

14 May 2014 – For the first time ever Ryanair has cut the number of routes operated – by a net 84 to 1,312. Ryanair’s secondary airports serving major cities such as Barcelona, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Milan, Oslo and Stockholm have seen the biggest number of net routes dropped.

14 May 2014 – American Airlines has launched a new service from Manchester Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, North Carolina. The route will be operated by US Airways.

14 May 2014 – CityJet launched two new routes from Cambridge International Airport this week – flying to Amsterdam and Dublin

14 May 2014 – British Airways has announced it will be increasing its number of services from Newcastle Airport to the capital from the beginning of next month.

15 May 2014 – Heathrow Express RMT has called for further strike action.

16 May 2014 – Airline operator Flybe has launched its inaugural flights from Newquay Airport to Birmingham and London Southend. Daily flights to Birmingham are now available from Newquay and flights into London Southend will operate three times a week throughout the summer, with one way fares from £20.99 including taxes and charges.

17 May 2014 – The travel industry has been slow in adopting the use of data, according to Google’s head of travel Dan Robb. Speaking at the Advantage conference in Dubai Mr. Robb said there is a ‘huge opportunity’ for the industry to make better use of the data that is available to them.


European News

14 May 2014 – Speaking at the ACI Europe’s Regional Airports Conference and Exhibition in Madeira, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said that regional airports’ growth has significantly underperformed against the industry average – with passenger traffic growing by just 3.4 per cent between 2008 and 2013 compared to an overall industry average of 11 per cent.Further details of Mr Jankovec’s speech are given below.

Subdued air traffic recovery

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said ‘After 10 years of extremely dynamic growth, the global financial crisis was really a turning point for regional airports across Europe. Their traffic recovery has lagged behind the industry average. This is mainly due to the fact that airlines have not added much capacity in the market and that they have tended to retrench on hubs, trunk routes and larger markets which are able to deliver higher yields’.

While the first quarter of 2014 indicates that passenger traffic at regional airports is finally growing more in line with the rest of the industry, the slow pace of the economic recovery and continued structural market changes are pointing to the permanence of slower growth prospects and increased competitive pressures.

Mr Jankovec added ‘Low Cost Carriers are moving upmarket, increasingly targeting primary or larger airports. At the same time, Full Service Carriers tend to limit capacity growth to their long-haul network out of their hub airports, while Regional Airlines are focused on survival. All this means regional airports will continue to face significant headwinds – with network instability, seasonality risks and fierce inter-airport competition’.

Economic sustainability and connectivity

Mr Jankovec said that the number one challenge for regional airports remains economic sustainability. The traffic recovery has not yielded an improvement in profitability, with 58 per cent of airports with less than 5 million passengers per annum and 75per cent of those with less than 1 million passenger per annum now being loss making. Their ability to increase their aeronautical charges is almost non-existent, due to the impact this would have on keeping existing air services and attracting new ones. With public financing retreating and tighter EU State aid rules, the only way forward appears to be cutting costs further.

Mr Jankovec warned ‘In the wake of the financial and euro-zone crises, most regional airports have already gone through extensive cost cutting. There is very little low hanging fruit remaining and we now face the very real prospect of airport closures in several countries – notably in the UK, France, Germany and Italy’.

At the same time, regional airports are facing increased connectivity risks – which are also directly affecting their communities. Unveiling some of the preliminary findings of a comprehensive European Airport Industry Connectivity Report due to be launched next month, ACI EUROPE pointed to a worrying trend which has seen direct connectivity from regional airports with less than 5 million passengers per annum decrease by 3.4 per cent since 2008. In contrast, Their indirect connectivity – via hubs and other airports – has increased by 17 per cent over the same period.

Mr Jankovec said ‘the recent losses in direct connectivity reflects an increasing concentration of air traffic. They also show that regional airports are becoming more dependent on hubs to deliver the connectivity that their communities are requiring. Direct routes and frequencies have been lost, and this is detrimental to regional and local economic development. Market developments are presently not moving towards restoring these connectivity losses and if airline consolidation finally takes hold in Europe, the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. This is precisely what has happened in the US, where airlines have squeezed out smaller cities – as reported in a 2013 MIT report’.

ACI EUROPE linked these challenges to its own competitive agenda for Europe’s regional airports. This agenda calls for more tailor-made policies and regulations adequately reflecting the constraints inherent to these airports and the increasing market dominance of airlines.

15 May 2014 – The European Commission has published a review of passenger rights’ complaint handling and enforcement in the European transport (aircraft) sector between 2010 and 2012. The review shows that complaints to national authorities for compensation and assistance have returned to lower levels since the exceptional year 2010 (i.e. ash cloud crisis and snow disruptions). Also, airlines get sanctioned in only 1% of the cases as most of the complaints are settled without having to resort to such measures in order to ensure enforcement. Complaints from persons with reduced mobility about problems in air transport remain very low in general and no sanctions were imposed to airlines for such cases.


Parliamentary News

12 May 2014 – Early Day Motion (EDM) 1324 – Creation of an Independant Aviation Noise Authority. Early Day Motion (EDM) 1324 was put down on 12 May 2014 by David Lammy (Tottenham) (Labour): That this House recognises that, for those who live near major airports, aircraft noise can be an imposition; believes that a fresh approach to tackling aircraft noise must be adopted in order to give such people confidence that their legitimate grievances are being addressed; echoes the Campaign Statement published jointly by Let Britain Fly, the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise and London First advocating the establishment of the role of an independent aircraft noise ombudsman; endorses the recommendation in the Davies Commission Interim Report of 17 December 2013 of the creation of an independent aviation noise authority (IANA); and urges the Government, when the Department for Transport issues its response to the Davies Interim Report, to publish both a timetable setting out how it will create an IANA and its plans for securing cross-Party endorsement of the backing for this initiative. This EDM has been signed by 2 MPs

15 May 2014 – Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, said voters may go into next year’s general election not knowing where any of the main parties stand on the expansion of airports in the south east of England.

16 May 2014 – The House of Commons Library has published a Standard Note on recent debates on taxing aviation, in the context of concerns about the structure of air passenger duty (APD), the rates of tax, and the Coalition Government’s consultation exercise on reforming APD, launched in the 2011 Budget. The development of APD since its introduction is set out in two other Library notes (SN413 & SN6426).


Government News

12 May 2014 – The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are seeking views on the proposed guidance to airports about setting, monitoring and publishing quality standards for providing assistance to disabled persons and people with reduced mobility (PRMs). The purpose of the guidance is intended to clarify the requirements of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled people and PRMs when travelling by air. The CAA have said that they have decided to produce this guidance to ensure that the objectives of the regulation are met and to help give disabled people and PRMs the confidence to travel, knowing that their assistance needs will be met at airports. Full details of the consultation are available here.

14 May 2014 – Transport for London’s Managing Director of Planning Michele Dix, has written to the Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, asserting that a new airport in the Thames Estuary would not mean the closure of London City Airport, or potentially Heathrow Airport.

15 May 2014 – Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport gave a speech at the fifth Annual International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (IICF) on the benefits of better transport infrastructure. Mr Hammond spoke about investments in UK transport infrastructure. Mr Hammond said that ‘International aviation is essential for increasing the connectivity of our economies and supporting international prosperity. It is a key engine for growth’, going on to express support for talks on air services being held by UK and Chinese aeronautical authorities in Beijing in July. He went on to talk about international investment in UK projects such as the Manchester ‘Airport City’ development, and also the role that UK businesses were playing overseas, including the company ‘Mott MacDonald’ who were  the ‘key adviser’ for the new international airport at Quito, Ecuador. A full transcript of the speech is given below.

‘I am delighted to take part in the 5th Annual International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum. We are here because we all recognise the benefits of a better transport infrastructure in our countries. Improved capacity and better connectivity between cities and nations boosts trade, and creates growth and prosperity.

Back home in London, my Government has placed improvements in transport infrastructure at the heart of our reform agenda. The UK Government has secured more than £70 billion of capital investment for transport across the next Parliament. Much of this activity is set out in our National Infrastructure Plan, which details the major UK investment opportunities for the rest of the decade. We are developing the biggest rail modernisation programme for generations by building Crossrail and HS2 (our flag ship high speed rail network), liberating space on existing networks and providing the capacity to help the UK grow and prosper.

Britain is open for business and London, in particular, remains the preeminent base for international maritime business services. My country welcomes inward foreign investment into our major infrastructure projects, including rail, ports and airports – through fair, open, transparent, competition processes. But we are not unique in the UK. I know that every country in the world, and I am sure every person in this room, wants to see the benefit that improved infrastructure can provide their local community and wider economy. That’s particularly true for developing countries in regions like Africa, Asia and Latin America.

World Bank research has shown that infrastructure development have contributed more to rising wealth worldwide than other structural growth policies. So today I want to talk about how specialist infrastructure companies can help build better transport networks and improve efficiency. To give you an example, Africa spends on average $40 to $45 billion on infrastructure each year. However, a World Bank study estimated scope for $15 to $20 billion of efficiency improvements in this area.

UK firms have the expertise to help deliver these benefits. We’re encouraging UK and Chinese infrastructure firms to forge closer links to identify opportunities for collaboration. That means working together to provide a wide range of services, including project design, financing, procurement, management and construction, to provide emerging countries with a high-quality, enduring infrastructure to support long term economic development.

UK companies have a strong track record in delivering successful infrastructure projects around the world. They’re experienced in Public-Private Partnerships – an increasingly popular model for infrastructure financing in emerging countries. And they’re familiar with initiatives like the New Engineering Contract – a legal framework which has demonstrated over two decades a proven record in delivering major projects safely, on time, on budget and with zero litigation.

This know-how and experience complements those of Chinese constructors, which have been working on infrastructure projects in rapidly developing countries for more than thirty years. Together we know just what it takes – with China’s far-reaching presence and longstanding expertise in construction and the UK’s expertise in infrastructure investment, to achieve better outcomes in building large scale projects on the continent.

That’s why the UK government is committed to supporting further collaboration between UK and Chinese firms. Together, we can meet the infrastructure needs of other countries – and strengthen this partnership and provide a competitive service. An example of this is the Lamu Port, oil pipeline and transport corridor that has the potential to improve transport links between Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and indeed other countries in the region.

We’ve made real progress in recent years. At the 2010 UK-China Summit, we vowed to collaborate more closely in developing markets. And in September 2011, we signed a further Memorandum of Understanding to work together on infrastructure projects. During the British Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing last, he took part in an innovative collaboration forum involving UK and Chinese firms in African markets. Our own Institute of Civil Engineers has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China International Contractors Association to boost sector ties between the UK and China. And the UK government is working with the China Development Bank on economic development goals in Africa. As a result of all of this progress, a number of major collaborations are already under way.

I am delighted that Beijing Construction Engineering Group has joined Carillion PLC and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund as funding partners in an £800 million Joint Venture project to build Manchester ‘Airport City’. This is the largest UK development project since the London 2012 Olympic Games. Airport City will provide over 5 million square feet of business space and create more than 16,000 jobs.

International aviation is essential for increasing the connectivity of our economies and supporting international prosperity. It is a key engine for growth. To facilitate greater connectivity, our airlines are eager to increase the number and types of air services that can operate between the UK and China, and the range of different cities that can be served. I believe that the more liberal our international air service agreements are, the lower the costs and the greater the choice for consumers and businesses alike. That is why I am delighted that talks on air services are being held by UK and Chinese aeronautical authorities in Beijing in July.

In Africa, a Chinese construction firm joint venture has started work on site building a new passenger terminal at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The terminal, which will be Africa’s largest, was designed by UK architects Pascall+Watson. When complete it will eventually be capable of handling 20 million passengers a year, helping increase Nairobi’s competitiveness as a transport hub. And in Ghana, Lonrho has issued a letter of intent to China Harbour Engineering Company to be their construction partner on the Atuabo Freeport project. This facility could greatly support West Africa’s growing oil and gas industry. British companies are also achieving great commercial success in Singapore’s rail sector, as the country takes forward ambitious plans to double its Mass Rapid Transit network to 360 kilometres by 2030.

Other key transport infrastructure projects in Asia such as the planned high speed rail link between Singapore and Malaysia also present major opportunities for UK firms to share their world class expertise in this area. In Equador, the British firm Mott MacDonald was the key adviser for its new international airport at Quito. Mott were able to share their expertise on environmental disciplines including noise reduction, water treatment, flora/fauna protection and impacts on the local community. On completion, Quito Airport was awarded a United Nations Global Sustainability Award and is an outstanding example of British companies’ commitment to green construction and technologies.

I understand that sustainable airport construction is of increasing interest in China and that there is a lot that we can share for our mutual benefit. As we look to the future, I very much hope that there will be increasing opportunities for UK firms to work with colleagues in China on joint projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We can provide expertise in areas such as design, project management, feasibility studies and financing – contributing to a transparent and efficient procurement strategy, and the development of world class infrastructure.

So my message today is simple: together, we are stronger and more prosperous. And I look forward to celebrating new collaborations and ventures in the future, which will not only benefit China and the UK, but that will also support growing prosperity in emerging markets around the globe’.


15 May 2014 – The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin gavve a speech ‘Building a 21st Century airspace route network’. The speech aimed to consider issues of UK airspace through the future airspace strategy. A full transcript of the speech is given below.

‘Thank you for that introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here. And I’d like to thank the Aviation Club for inviting me to speak today (30 April 2014). The last Transport Secretary to have this honour was Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in the summer of 2011. Britain was still firmly in recession. And we’d only just started to make inroads on the record public deficit.

I’m pleased to say, things have changed a bit since then. By sticking to the Chancellor’s fiscal programme, Britain’s economy is today recovering faster than Germany, Japan or the US. And 3 times faster than the independent Office of Budget Responsibility predicted at last year’s budget. Unemployment claims have fallen by almost a quarter. And we’re paying off our debts. In fact over the coming year, we expect to reach a key milestone. By cutting the deficit to half the level we inherited.

But these are still early days. We haven’t yet secured the long-term and balanced recovery that is this government’s biggest priority. So we’re continuing to do everything in our power to create jobs, boost growth, and make Britain more competitive. And there are few better engines for growth than aviation. An industry that contributes £11 billion to our economy. Carries 2.3 million tonnes of freight a year. And employs around 220,000 people in the UK.

There’s no question that if we want to build a strong, lasting recovery, then aviation must continue to flourish. A vibrant aviation industry is crucial to our prosperity. And while UK airports are now at their busiest since 2008. We also know that our competitors will overtake us if we fail to plan for our future capacity needs. Maintaining our hub status is absolutely pivotal.

That’s why we’ve set up the independent Airports Commission. The commission’s interim report – delivered at the end of last year – is a significant step towards our ultimate goal. A long-term, sustainable aviation programme that will meet the UK’s future capacity and connectivity needs. And we’ll be responding to the commission’s interim package of measures in June. But the challenge for the future goes beyond airport capacity.

Led by the CAA, and the Senior Delivery Group, this is an industry that recognises the need for change and investment. For example, if we want to remain a world aviation leader. We need to modernise some of the ageing systems and technologies that make up our aviation infrastructure. In particular, our airspace route network. And this is an area where we’re making real progress.

Although Britain is a small country, we are one of the best connected nations in the world. That means our airspace is some of the busiest and most complex in the world. The airspace design system we use for air traffic has proved to be robust and enduring. And we use it well. But quite simply, it’s out of date.

Much of the structure was established before 1970. Although its origins go back to the 1950s. When the vast majority of flights were propeller-powered. And the jet era was just beginning. So while the aircraft from that period have long since been scrapped or consigned to museums. The airspace system lives on. Now of course some parts of the air traffic infrastructure have been updated. NATS, for example, are justifiably proud of their recent achievements – as I discovered when I visited the state of the art control centre at Swanwick. In March, for example, NATS recorded its second lowest ever monthly figure for delays. Although it handled 0.6% more traffic, delays attributable to NATS totalled just 329 minutes.

But the shortcomings in older parts of the system are increasingly evident. Hardly surprising when the number of passengers travelling through UK airports has increased a hundredfold since 1950. We also have increasing competition for space in our skies from military, police and emergency aircraft. And from general aviation and business flights. Frankly, the teams that manage and operate the airspace system do a phenomenal job in the circumstances. But I’m sure they would agree that we can’t continue relying on the current airspace system indefinitely.

The reality is that we have a mid-20th century airspace network which – while safe – is neither resilient nor efficient enough to meet our 21st century needs. It means that airspace users are unable to benefit from expensive onboard technologies like performance-based navigation. And the lack of flexibility means that even days of moderately bad weather can lead to delays.

To achieve greater efficiency and capacity in our airspace network, we must embrace the latest technology. Not just around London, but right across the country. So the CAA has been working with the industry to develop its future airspace strategy. This is a flagship programme that provides the blueprint for a modern airspace system. Not only overcoming the particular challenges we face in Britain. But also setting the standard for other countries to follow.

Of course the UK does not sit in isolation. The management of our airspace is influenced by traffic from the North Atlantic and continental Europe. As a key part of the European air traffic management network. We act with Ireland as the interface between the EU and North Atlantic. The European Commission wants to improve the organisation of airspace through the single European sky (SES) initiative. There are several ways in which we are working to implement SES regulations.

We have established a functional airspace block with Ireland to optimise service provision in our airspace. This has already realised £57 million of savings through more direct routings of aircraft. And it’s expected to save almost £250 million by the end of 2019. We’re developing a performance plan to improve efficiency and capacity, while maintaining safety. And we’re taking part in the SESAR project to improve air navigation.

Until recently, much of this work was conceptual. Now the focus is shifting to implementing a more modern and efficient airspace control network. And we believe the future airspace strategy presents a model of how this can be achieved.

So what does it mean in practice? Well, all aircraft flying to and from London will use performance-based navigation techniques. This will substantially increase their navigational accuracy. And will help us manage our airspace far more effectively. We’ll be able to separate aircraft by time rather than distance. And we’ll create a common transitional altitude in the UK.

By 2020, it’s predicted that these changes will save around £200 million in fuel, reduce CO₂ emissions and minimise delays. Airborne holding over London should also be significantly reduced. Cutting pollution, fuel usage, and flight times. The new strategy will also allow local communities to have some say in how airspace is managed.

Longer term, it will be essential for the delivery of any new runways or improvements to airport capacity without any negative impact on other airports. Indeed, the Airports Commission in its interim report stressed the importance of the future airspace strategy, particularly in the south east. The focus now is for the Civil Aviation Authority – through its Senior Delivery Group – to implement the strategy as soon as possible. With representatives from the airports, airlines, NATS, government, and the CAA, the Senior Delivery Group has a vital role to play in overseeing the transformation of our airspace.

Today I’ve just focused on one key area of our modernisation programme for aviation. But look around the country, and there’s a huge amount of other work going on. Many airports – including Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh – are improving terminals and passenger facilities. We’re investing in better rail links to airports. From Crossrail and HS2, to the Northern Hub in Manchester, and a new £500 million link between the West Country and Heathrow. And the Airports Commission is building a case that will unlock the debate on runway capacity.

So let me finish with this message. Although UK aviation has suffered from stagnation, underinvestment and lack of consensus. Today, the industry’s prospects are brighter than they have been for years. As our economy recovers, we will be ready to meet rising demand for air travel, with a sustainable plan for growth. And by working in partnership with the industry, we will ensure that Britain remains a global aviation leader. Thank you’.


House of Commons Questions

Shuker – Effect on GDP of the reform to the air passenger duty

13 May 2014

Gavin Shuker, Shadow Waste and Water Minister (Labour, Luton South): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate his Department has made of the potential effect on GDP of the reform to the air passenger duty banding system announced in the 2014 Budget; and if he will make a statement; (2) if he will commission a dynamic modelling study on the economic effects of air passenger duty; and if he will make a statement.

Nicky Morgan, Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Conservative, Loughborough): The economic and fiscal effects of Government policies are routinely assessed by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Information can be found in the OBR’s economic and fiscal outlook, at: The Government expects the reform to air passenger duty announced in Budget 2014 to support export trade confidence by strengthening UK links to overseas markets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer), keeps the use of dynamic modelling under review.


Media News

14 May 2014 – The publication Business Traveller blogs about using the Heathrow Express.


PDF Icon SASIG Regional&IndustryNews Bulletin 13 May – 18 May

PDF Icon SASIG RegionalNews Bulletin (AC&Manston)13 May – 18 May

PDF Icon SASIG ParliamentaryNews Bulletin 13 May – 18 May

  The Parliamentary information in this Bulletin is sourced from De Havilland Information Services plc