Editor’s Highlights

Hot on the tail of the bumper summer Newsletter comes September’s. Parliamentary business was dominated by Brexit and the decision to prorogue and then re-open parliamentary sittings.  The main item of transport business was the collapse of Thomas Cook and the statements in both chambers from DfT ministers. There are, however, some interesting PQs which merit consideration as they include confirmation Gatwick has initiated the planning process to use its existing Northern Runway (further details from their press release can be seen here), and details of what Government is doing to support the greater use of bio-fuels and the introduction of electric aircraft.

Industry news was dominated by the demise of Thomas Cook, tentative industry responses to the Climate Crisis agenda that blew up over the summer and various airport capacity initiatives. Under-reported, but very important, was the letter from the Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change on International Aviation and Shipping emissions. This can be seen here. Crucially it suggests that to achieve Net Zero carbon by 2050, if R3 at Heathrow goes ahead, no other airport in the UK would be allowed to grow before 2050. Clearly this is an issue of major significance to SASIG and hence we are seeking ministerial meetings as a matter of urgency.

Finally, we also understand that the Airport White Paper is to be delayed until the next year; we are seeking clarification of what will be the 6th or 7th amended deadline.

Monthly Highlights

10th September – Parliament suspended for five weeks.

23rd September – Travel operator Thomas Cook collapses.

24th September – Supreme Court rules suspension of Parliament illegal.

25th September – Parliament resumes.

Events, Meetings and Conferences

SASIG Meetings

  • 7th November 2019: 11am-1pm: SASIG full meeting (Venue: LGA, Smith Square, London)
  • 26th February 2020: 11am-1pm: SASIG full meeting (Venue: LGA, Smith Square, London)
  • 17th July 2020: 11am-1pm: SASIG full meeting (Venue: LGA, Smith Square, London)

External Conferences

  • 11th-13th June 2020 – AeroExpo UK: The UK’s festival of aviation. Wycombe Air Park.

Parliamentary and Government News

Both the House of Lords and the House of Commons recessed on 25th July 2019 and returned on 3rd September 2019.  Parliament was then suspended for 5 weeks on 10th September.  Subsequently the suspension was ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court on 24th September and Parliament returned on 25th September.

Transport Questions:  House of Commons: 

There were no Transport questions in the House of Commons this month except for a statement on 25th from Secretary of State for Transport regarding the collapse of Thomas Cook.  It can be seen here .

Transport Questions:  House of Lords

There were no Transport questions in the House of Lords this month except for a statement on 25th from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Baroness Norbiton regarding the collapse of Thomas Cook. It can be seen here.

Parliamentary Questions: 

Q.1. Question (286261) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 3rd September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has he made of the effect of potential changes to the investment grade credit rating of Heathrow Airport on the (a) airport’s expansion plans and the (b) provisions of the Aviation National Policy Statement”.

A. Paul Maynard on 9th September 2019: “The Government is clear that the Northwest Runway scheme will be financed in its entirety by the private sector. As a private company, decisions that could impact its credit rating are a matter for Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) and its investors. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the independent economic regulator, has a duty to ensure that HAL can finance its airport operations. In its CAP1832 working paper on financial resilience and ring-fencing, published in August 2019, the CAA considered that the potential for a regulatory obligation on HAL to maintain an investment grade credit rating was worthy of further exploration. Comments from stakeholders are invited by 11 October 2019 ahead of a further working paper on the matter. The Government, with our independent expert advisers, and the CAA have conducted assurance work on the finance and affordability of HAL’s expansions proposals. This work has concluded that, so far as can be assessed at this stage of the process, and assuming current market conditions, HAL is in principle able to privately finance expansion without government support”.

Q.2. Question (286263) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 3rd September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the community impact consultation being conducted by Heathrow Airport on its expansion plans”.

A. Paul Maynard on 9th September 2019: “Heathrow Airport Limited are currently undertaking a public consultation on their plans to develop a Northwest Runway and associated infrastructure involving 40 events and sending information to approximately 2.7 million households. This is a statutory consultation, which should be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act 2008 and associated legislation and guidance. The assessment of the adequacy of the consultation, being conducted by Heathrow Airport Limited on its expansion plans, is something which the Secretary of State would consider as part of making a decision on whether or not to accept an application for development consent by that company. In making that decision the Secretary of State is statutorily bound to have regard to the consultation report accompanying the application, as well as other matters, such as any responses from local authority consultees about the adequacy of the consultation. That report has not been produced yet and the consultation is ongoing. It would be premature to comment on the adequacy of Heathrow Airport Limited’s consultation at this time, but it is something that would be carefully considered in the event of an application for an order granting development consent being made”.

Q.3. Question (285455) asked by Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport) on 2nd September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow is; and whether the project is fully funded”.

A. Chris Heaton-Harris on 9th September 2019: “The Government supports the development of a Western Rail Link to Heathrow, subject to a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow Aviation industry. The Western Rail Link to Heathrow is included in the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, and in line with our normal rail investment process, the scheme is fully funded to its next business case review point”.

Q.4. Question (285456) asked by Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport) on 2nd September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what projections his Department has made for passenger numbers for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow”.

A. Chris Heaton-Harris on 9th September 2019: “Alongside expansion of Heathrow Airport, the Western Rail Link to Heathrow is forecast to carry over 2 million airport passengers to and from Heathrow Airport, as well as a significant number of employees of Heathrow Airport and non-airport rail passengers travelling between London and locations west of Heathrow Airport”.

Q.5. Question (287504) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 5th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on the safe use of Gatwick airport’s emergency runway of the expiry of Gatwick airport’s 1979 agreement with West Sussex County Council”.

A. Paul Maynard on 9th September 2019: “Gatwick Airport have recently informed the Secretary of State of their intention to prepare an application for development consent for the increased use of their emergency runway. The Department has not conducted a safety assessment on the basis that it will be for Gatwick Airport to prepare a safety, environmental, and economic case for the proposal which the Planning Inspectorate will examine through the development consent process”.

Q.6. Question (287597) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 5th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the (a) resources and (b) investment allocated by (i) airports and (ii) airlines to meet increases in passenger demand between 2014 and 2018”.

A. Paul Maynard on 9th September 2019: “The UK aviation market operates predominately in the private sector. It is therefore for airports to invest in their infrastructure to attract passengers and airlines, while airlines are well placed to deliver services to their customers by responding to demand for different routes. The government has set out last year that it supports airports to make best use of their existing runways beyond Heathrow, subject to environmental issues being addressed. In addition, the Airports Commission’s Final Report, published in July 2015, recognised that Heathrow airport was already at capacity and that the remaining London airports were not far behind – impacting the UK’s economy and global trading opportunities. It stated that there is a clear need for one net additional runway in London and the South East by 2030. That is why, following a vote in the House of Commons, the Airports National Policy Statement was designated as government policy in June 2018”.

Q.7. Question (287619) asked by Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport) on 5th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding was allocated to research into electric aviation in the last five years”.

A. Nadim Zahawi on 9th September 2019: “It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation”.

Q.8. Question (HL17750) asked by Lord Bradshaw on 5th September 2019: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what the trend has been in the amount of air pollution surrounding major airports over the last three years for which figures are available; and what progress they have made in securing a reduction of harmful air pollutants in those areas”.

A. Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 9th September 2019: “There is a long-term downward trend in the concentration of most pollutants surrounding major airports. Air pollution is the top environmental risk to health in the UK and the government remains determined to improve air quality. Our recent consultation on a new aviation strategy included proposed measures to ensure that aviation’s contribution to local air quality issues is properly understood and addressed”.

Q.9. Question (286606) asked by Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) on 4th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will set targets for the proportion of aviation fuel required to be sustainable sources; and if he will make a statement”.

A. George Freeman on 9th September 2019: “The Government is encouraging the production and use of sustainable alternative aviation fuels in the UK. Recent changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) mean that renewable aviation fuels are eligible for reward, in the form of tradeable certificates. Additionally, the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition (the F4C) makes up to £20 million of capital funding available to projects that will produce low carbon waste-based fuels to be used in aeroplanes and lorries. The Government welcomes the aviationsector’s positive progress in responding to the challenge of addressing its impact on climate change, including through new and innovative projects to convert waste to jet fuel. As the new Minister of State for the Future of Transport, I am actively considering further policies that the Government can put in place to assist the long-term uptake of sustainable alternative fuels in this sector”.

Q.10. Question (286696) asked by Jack Lopresti (Filton & Bradley Stoke) on 4th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport,what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers of his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had with representatives of the aviation industry on the potential for reductions in the level of (i) emissions and (ii) noise as a result of electric propulsion”.

A. George Freeman on 9th September 2019: “Ministers and officials across Government regularly meet with the aviation and aerospace sectors to discuss proposals for decarbonisation. The Government is considering further policies it can put in place to assist the long-term development of innovative technology such as electric propulsion.

In addition, the Government recently supported a Global Urban Air Summit held at Farnborough Airport, which brought together industry and academia to discuss the development of new technologies like electric and autonomous aircraft. The Transport Secretary also met a range of aviation stakeholders at the Light Aircraft Association Rally. I am actively meeting industry leaders to explore new ways to promote transport innovation”.

Q.11. Question (287570) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 5th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent comparative assessment he has made of the (a) financial and (b) environmental costs of travelling by (i) train and (ii) aircraft on journeys in the UK”.

A. Chris Heaton-Harris on 9th September 2019: “The Department for Transport has made an estimate of the percentage change in real terms of the average financial cost to the individual of travelling by train and aircraft on journeys made in the UK. For travel by train, the Department publishes statistics on travel costs, based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in the Transport Statistics Great Britain compendium. This is available from Table TSGB1308 here

The costs of travelling by air within the UK are not available from ONS data. However, DfT estimates are available based on fare data collected from the Civil Aviation Authority passenger survey from 2000. The real cost of the average UK one-way air fare, including taxes and charges, covering domestic flights from 2010 to 2017 decreased by 22%. From 2015 to 2017 the real cost decreased by 7%. The Department has not recently made a comparative assessment of the environmental costs of travelling by train and aircraft on journeys in the UK”.

Q.12. Question (287504) asked by Andy MacDonald (Middlesbrough) on 5th September 2019: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on the safe use of Gatwick airport’s emergency runway of the expiry of Gatwick airport’s 1979 agreement with West Sussex County Council”.

A. Paul Maynard on 9th September 2019: “Gatwick Airport have recently informed the Secretary of State of their intention to prepare an application for development consent for the increased use of their emergency runway. The Department has not conducted a safety assessment on the basis that it will be for Gatwick Airport to prepare a safety, environmental, and economic case for the proposal which the Planning Inspectorate will examine through the development consent process”.

National and Regional News

1st September – Gatwick commences planning process to use emergency northern runway. They have submitted a notice to the Planning Inspectorate.

3rd September – Bristol Airport defends its expansion plans and to be carbon neutral by 2025. It’s responded to claims it wants to protect its car parking capacity.

5th September – Industrial scheme at Doncaster Sheffield Airport gets the go-ahead. Planning consent’s been granted for industrial development scheme at the site of airport.

6th September – Uttlesford Council comes under fire for delaying planning permission for expanding Stansted. Four chambers of commerce have objected.

6th September – Noise complaints at Luton Airport have fallen. It has fallen by six per cent to just under 300.

8th September – Government considers Carlisle Airport to become freeport post-Brexit. Chancellor of Exchequer has said he would be happy to look at its plan.

8th September – Yorkshire Green Party demands millions should not go into Leeds Airport expansion. Says it is not that taxpayers’ money is used towards pollution of the planet.

11th September – Bristol Airport switches to a 100% renewable electricity supply. This is to help reduce its carbon footprint. 

12th September – An article in ‘City A.M.’ advocating ending airline monopoly at Heathrow Airport can be seen here

13th September – Campaigners say Heathrow expansion would be bad for wildlife in Richmond Park. They say the effect on biodiversity, tranquility and environment has yet to be properly addressed.

13th September – New car park set for Manchester Airport. A new 800-space car park looks set to be built in Styal after bosses convinced councillors they need it at the second attempt.

14th September – Gatwick plans 90,000 extra flights by 2038. This could bring 28million more passengers if plans for changes to the northern runway are approved. 

14th September – Norwich Airport expansion is needed. It will have to seek this because it is too small for new scanning equipment the government has ordered it to use.

14th September – Gatwick flightpath route 4 will not revert to its original route. They have refuted campaigners’ claims they have been told this will happen. 

16th September – Campaigners claim drop in noise complaints at Luton Airport is inaccurate. Figures show fewer residents’ complaints on the same quarter last year.

16th September – Pressure to approve Stansted expansion say campaigners.  They feel Uttlesford DC is being pressured into approving plans to expand.

17th September – Liverpool Council sells half its stake in John Lennon Airport.  It retains 10%, Peel retains 45% and Ancala Partners now has 45%. 

17th September – There’s progress in bid to bring flights back to Plymouth Airport. The council backed a motion from the Labour group on the issue at a meeting on Monday night.

17th September – Gatwick is to introduce auto-boarding in 2022. It is set to be rolled out in the new extension to Pier 6 once it is completed in 2022.

18th September – Ealing Council wants Heathrow to pay up to £190m to offset expansion impact. It is set to oppose expansion if it does not receive compensation. 

20th September – Belfast Airport reveals expansion plans. Majority owners say money is no object and there could be a new terminal building and additional routes in the future.

20th September – An article in City Metric by Green MP for London, Scott Ainslie, arguing against the expansion of London City Airport can be seen here.

20th September – Heathrow launches recycling trial. It’s trialling new technology that could turn unrecyclable passenger waste, including food and packaging, into airport furniture, uniforms and alternative fuels.

23rd September – An article in Air Transport World about Birmingham Airport’s plans to become Europe’s leading airport can be seen here

23rd September – Heathrow congestion charge would make £1.2 billion per year. If brought in alongside the 3rd runway it could eventually bring in £3.25 million a day says The Times.

24th September – Tower Hamlets Council opposes London City Airport expansion. They’ve criticised the environmental damage that would be caused through increases in operations.

25th September – An article in Travel Daily News says Heathrow remains the most internationally connected airport in the world. Further details can be seen here.

25th September – An article in Travel Mole says regional airports will lose as many as 1 in 10 passengers due to the collapse of Thomas Cook.  Further details may be seen here.

26th September – Leeds Bradford Airport urged to reduce passenger numbers. Campaigners against expansion call on council to scrap plans to build £100 million access road to airport.

27th September – London City Airport is growing in importance for local travellers. CAA analysis has found a 22% increase from the 117,000 passengers recorded in 2017.
29th September –Searches in Stansted catchment area for long-haul flights are high. Analysis shows over 50% of all searches came from potential Stansted passengers.
30th September – Farnborough Airport is bought. Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has announced acquisition of the airport from a consortium of private investors.
30th September – East Midlands Airport could be changing its flight paths. It’s announced flight paths could be changing to prevent noise and air pollution.

Other Aviation Industry News

2nd September – An article in ‘Airport Technology’ titled “On the block: a look at airport sales around the world” can be seen here.

2nd September – Dublin Airport noise regulator established. The new body, the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority, is being run by Fingal County Council.

3rd September – Public asked to give their opinion on Dublin Airport plan.  Fingal council says that the plan provides for the airport’s sustainable growth.

4th September – A blog in ‘Airport World’ titled: Navigating a Brave New World for Airports’ can be seen here.

6th September – There are hopes for Prestwick Airport to be bought. Scottish Labour said it was hopeful of ‘credible’ bids to buy the airport by the deadline today.

10th September – No-deal Brexit may turn Manston into a lorry park. Fears were raised after leaked DfT document warned of potential delays of up to two days for lorries heading to France via Dover if Britain left the EU without a deal.

11th September – Scottish Govt won’t rule out selling Prestwick Airport to US military. Transport Secretary sayscommenting on who may be bidding could “infringe” sale process.

11th September – Airport infrastructure must keep pace says ACI. Says many airports are near to/exceeding capacity causing congestion, affecting service levels and frustrating demand.

11th September – First meeting of Advisory Panel on Freeports takes place. Carlisle Airport is among those expressing an interest in the idea.

12th September – Protestors caught flying drones round Heathrow could face life in jail. The warning has come from the Metropolitan police.

13th September – An article in Routes Online about ‘App in the Air’ can be seen here.

13th September – Ireland West Airport development zone plans approved. Mayo County Council has approved the plans.

15th September – SNP criticised after £500m IBG development close to Edinburgh Airport is called in. Airport bosses wanted a more comprehensive transport assessment of the area. 

17th September – ACI report 6.4% growth in global passenger traffic. Further details can be seen here
19th September – Dublin Airport developments stalled over planned charge cuts. DAA CE said the Commission for Aviation Regulation was proposing to cut airport charges by 22%.

23rd September – Travel operator Thomas Cook collapses. World’s oldest travel company operating hotels, airlines, cruises & resorts, has ceased trading with immediate effect.

23rd September – Aircraft developments spur new market opportunities say experts at World Routes. They say the latest widebodies and narrowbodies are making new routes possible.

23rd September – Europe’s Airports confirm commitment to carbon neutral growth. ACI Europe has provided an update on the industry’s response to the Climate Emergency.
24th September – Frequent fliers could face extra tax under plans to cut emissions. Committee on Climate Change has written to Transport Secretary.
24th September – Cardiff Airport unveils eco timetable. It’s a timeline of immediate and short-term environmental goals in line with its plans to become a carbon-neutral airport.
26th September – BA issues profit warning. Airline owner IAG said two industrial disputes had cost it £150m and would lower pre-tax profits by £190m in 2019 compared to last year.
26th September – DAA says flights will operate as normal if there’s a no-deal Brexit. It’s planning communications campaign to inform public what will happen in this event.
27th September – Survey finds Dublin Airport passengers are opposed to cutting charges. They believe the money should be invested in facilities instead. 
27th September – Trade Union reps say Wick John O’Groats Airport needs to be more reliable to attract investment. They’re concerned the airport is getting its services run down.
28th September – More than 200 European airports commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. They are all ACI member airports.
30th September – HIAL launches drive to find contractors for centralised ATC system. The work will be worth up to £5million. 
30th September – Airports told to know their airlines at World Routes conference. They want airports to have done their homework and know what’s important to them.

SASIG Library Additions

The papers from the last ANEG meeting held on 18 July in London and attended by SASIG can be seen here.

The summer 2019 Defra Noise Policy Stakeholder update can also be seen in the members’ area of our website under Industry Reports.

A letter from Committee on Climate Change Chairman, Lord Deben, to the Secretary of State for Transport,  Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, about net-zero and the approach to international aviation and shipping emission (IAS) can be seen here. This letter responds to the Government’s request on how to bring IAS emissions formally within the UK’s net-zero target, setting out the rationale and the implications for the UK’s climate strategy.