‘Boris Island’ fails for being ‘too risky and expensive’

'Boris Island' fails for being 'too risky and expensive'A proposal for a Thames estuary hub airport has “substantial disadvantages” that collectively outweigh its potential benefits, the Airports Commission ruled today.

The scheme put forward by London Mayor Boris Johnson has not made the shortlist of options for providing new airport capacity by 2030 following a detailed further study into its feasibility.

Sir Howard told the BBC the estuary airport scheme was “too risky” and too expensive, with estimated costs of between £30-£60 billion of public money.

“We do not think it is a sensible option to pursue,” he said.

“The Mayor was looking for a solution. I don’t think it’s completely idiotic. Unfortunately our conclusion is that we can’t take it forward.”

He added: “The national interest suggests we need to find additional capacity somewhere.”

In a separate statement Davies said: “We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames estuary is the right answer to London’s and the UK’s connectivity needs.

“While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London’s.”

He added: “There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary.

“The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount.

“Even the least ambitious version of the scheme would cost £70 to £90 billion with much greater public expenditure involved than in other options – probably some £30 to £60 billion in total.”

Davies said: “There will be those who argue that the commission lacks ambition and imagination. We are ambitious for the right solution.

“The need for additional capacity is urgent. We need to focus on solutions which are deliverable, affordable, and set the right balance for the future of aviation in the UK.”

The commission will now continue its appraisal of the three shortlisted proposals for additional capacity. It will publish the appraisal for public consultation in the autumn.

Back Heathrow campaign co-ordinator Rob Gray said: “This decision is a major victory for the thousands of local residents in west London who had begun to fear the worst.

“However, despite the emphatic rejection of Boris Johnson’s plans, the UK still has a problem because Heathrow is bursting at the seams.

“The UK’s only hub airport might have dodged a bullet from the Mayor of London but a slow death awaits if it is not allowed to expand.

“The Airports Commission has said ‘No’ to Boris Johnson but for the sake of local jobs and UK prosperity, it now needs to say ‘Yes’ to growth at Heathrow.”

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “This is an important juncture in the aviation debate because now Britain’s choice is clear; expand Gatwick and support genuine competition, lower fares and greater choice for passengers or expand Heathrow and return to the stale monopoly of the past and watch the cost of going on holiday, travelling for business and exporting goods and service go up.

“We believe Gatwick has the strongest case. It is the only option left on the table that can be delivered with more certainty than either of the Heathrow options, and it can be delivered without the significant environmental impacts expansion at Heathrow would inflict on London. It can be delivered faster than any other option, and at low cost and low risk.

“Furthermore, expanding Gatwick will ensure the UK is served by two successful world class airports.

“It can liberate hub capacity at Heathrow and open up the opportunities for affordable long haul travel to emerging markets for the benefit of everyone, made possible by new generation of aircraft such as the Dreamliner.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Ban threat to airlines which refuse to share passenger lists

Ban threat to airlines which refuse to share passenger listsImage via Shutterstock

Airlines are to be forced to share passenger lists with the security services as part of the latest crackdown on international terrorism.

Carriers that do not agree may not be allowed to land in Britain.

Prime minister David Cameron announced a series of measures yesterday design to prevent Islamic extremists from returning to the UK having fought in Syria and Iraq.

It is estimated that around 500 British nationals have travelled to the region to fight for groups like Islamic State, which has been gaining ground in Syria and northern Iraq.

As part of new discretionary plans to meet the threat, the government will also introduce laws enabling security force to seize the passports of anyone under suspicion at UK borders.

Cameron told the House of Commons: “What we need is a targeted power to exclude British nationals from the United Kingdom. We need to address any potential gap in our armoury to keep our country safe.

“It is a duty for all those who live in these islands so we will stand up for our values, we will in the end defeat this extremism and we will secure our way of life for generations to come.”

The announcement of the crackdown comes just days after Britain’s terror threat level was raised to severe indicating an attack was highly likely.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Voluntary travel firm collapse a ‘wake up call’ for regulation

Industry works to help fulfil charity trips

Some students are in Kilimanjaro
Some students are in Kilimanjaro

The collapse of charity travel firm Student Adventures has provided a ‘wake up call’ for new standards in the voluntary tourism sector, a membership body has said.

GBCE Ltd, trading as Student Adventures, ceased trading on Wednesday leaving some students on trips in Tanzania and Peru while many others have had to abandon plans.

With charities due to lose out on fundraising and volunteers other student and charity travel providers have stepped in to offer services, including Rare Adventures, which is not connected to GBCE.

Rare Adventures said in a statement: “We were very disappointed to hear the news that Student Adventures have gone into administration. We sympathise with all the students unable to complete their trips, having gone to a great effort to raise funds for valuable causes while undertaking a challenge of a lifetime.

“As a tour provider that offers not-for-profit services to charities, we have offered our assistance to affected charities and student fundraising organisations to ensure that all of the participants currently on events are securely returned to the UK and we are working with industry bodies to help confirm the validity of their return flights.

“The cancellation of their events is a massive injustice and should not have been allowed to happen had the operator been following existing directives from the Civil Aviation Authority.”

The company has pushed for more regulation over charity event providers particularly in the areas of governance, responsibilities and competence.

Rare Adventures has been working with membership body Bond to develop a group of charities and responsible operators that can look to define standards in the voluntary sectors.

Greg Clark, Rare Adventure’s CEO said: “All specialist volunteering and fundraising event companies must have staff qualified to deliver trips abroad to international quality and safety standards. Tour providers have a duty to go beyond traditional travel marketing to clearly demonstrate to charities and fundraisers that they have the operational as well as charity and international development experience, to serve this flourishing and dynamic area of altruistic tourism. “
Michael Wright, membership and communications director at Bond added: “The closure of Student Adventures is a wake up call for the sector. We have been hearing concerns from our members about regulation of voluntary tourism operators and are working hard with organisations like Rare Adventures to develop and enforce rigorous standards that will benefit the businesses, fundraisers and charities that go to great effort to ensure that the diverse and valuable tradition of voluntary tourism continues to flourish.”

Sourced from Travel Daily


‘Boris Island’ Airports Commission decision imminent

'Boris Island' Airports Commission decision imminentA decision could come as early as today or tomorrow over whether a Thames estuary airport should be added to a shortlist drawn up by the Airports Commission last year.

London mayor Boris Johnson’s scheme has already been thrown one lifeline after commission chairman Sir Howard Davies decided last year that further studies should be commissioned into an estuary airport, even though it failed to make the shortlist which included Heathrow and Gatwick.

Heathrow published an open letter to the mayor on Friday asking for his support if Sir Howard finally sidelines ‘Boris Island’ this week.

The letter was an opening salvo in what is expected to become an increasingly desperate dog-fight between Heathrow and Gatwick to gain the mayor’s favour.

But both airports are likely to be disappointed, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Johnson has long opposed expansion at Heathrow and the airport’s pleas for support are likely to fall on deaf ears.

But his view of Gatwick has also been negative. At a press conference in May, Johnson said that expanding Gatwick would be a “sham, a snare, a delusion”, adding: “Gatwick is not the answer … you don’t get the connectivity, you don’t get the hub.”

Responding to Heathrow’s letter about the UK’s airports expansion debate, a Gatwick spokesman said: 

“We will await the outcome of the Airports Commission’s decision on the estuary option before commenting.

“If the option is taken off the table we will write privately to the mayor, giving him the respect he deserves.

“Building a second runway at Gatwick will deliver two world class airports and competition, which will lead to lower air fares and greater choice for passengers and business. It will also help make Heathrow better; their expensive charges would come down and they would be better incentivised to alleviate ‘Heathrow Hassle’, which has blighted British travellers for years.

“Building a third runway at Heathrow will, in our view, diminish the choice available to ordinary British passengers, making it more expensive to go on holiday, to travel for business and to export goods and services.

“We support competition, reduced fares and two world-class airports serving the UK as a whole. As the mayor himself said: “Why on earth entrench a huge planning error and expand Heathrow and consign future generations to misery…?””

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Iceland volcano threat level lowered

A new aviation alert was issued by Iceland yesterday after a fresh lava eruption from a fissure near the Bárðarbunga volcano, but the warning was later lowered.

Iceland’s Met Office said there had been “a very calm lava eruption… hardly seen on seismometers”.

Aircraft were banned from flying within 6,000 ft of the volcano peak until the red alert changed to orange.

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that disrupted air travel across Europe.

Sunday’s eruption in the Holuhraun lava field area was “calm but continuous”, authorities said.

It happened in roughly the same place as an earlier eruption on Friday morning, and is the third to happen in the area in the last week, the BBC reported.

The latest eruption was more intense than Friday’s with around 10 times more lava said Armann Hoskuldssonk, a geologist from the University of Iceland.

But the Met Office later said: “No ash has been detected. The aviation colour code for Bardarbunga has therefore been re-set to orange.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said a number of the roads leading in to the area have been closed and police evacuated the area immediately to the north of Vatnajökull following Friday’s small volcanic eruption.

“High levels of seismic activity continue in the area around Bárðarbunga volcano in Vatnajökull glacier in the east of Iceland,” the FCO said.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Germanwings suffers ‘significant financial loss’ due to pilots’ strike

Germanwings suffers 'significant financial loss' due to pilots' strikeGermanwings was forced to cancel 116 departures – mostly German domestic flights – due to a half-day strike by pilots on Friday.

Around 15,000 passengers were affected, although many were able to travel via the Deutsche Bahn rail network instead.

Germanwings admitted suffering “significant financial loss” as a result of the strike between 6am and noon.

The airline said only a few international passengers turned up at German airports expecting to board flights, which had been cancelled.

Aircraft were leased in from other airlines to allow passengers to return from holiday destinations or travel to them.

“Germanwings deeply regrets any inconvenience caused to passengers as a result of this industrial action,” a spokesman said.

“The airline has striven to keep the effects of the strike action to a minimum.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Address UK air capacity ‘ticking time bomb’, says CBI

Address UK air capacity 'ticking time bomb', says CBIUK business leaders today called for a single UK airport hub with work to start by 2020 – with a second new runway by 2050.

The Confederation of British Industry did not identify where airport expansion should take place but urges the Airports Commission not to ignore the UK’s wider network of airports in its recommendations if maximum connectivity is to be achieved.

A CBI report highlights that by drawing on both transfer passengers and local populations, hub airports are best placed to act as a catalyst for these new routes.

Eight new routes to emerging markets alone would generate as much as £1 billion a year in trade, the study claims.

It shows that from a sample of 15 emerging markets, hub airports serve on average nearly three times as many destinations as point-to-point airports (27 to 8 destinations), while also delivering almost twice as many flights on the routes that are served – 1.5 daily flights from hubs on average, compared to 0.8 from point-to-point.

But with the UK’s hub capacity at Heathrow already full, the UK is falling behind on direct flights to emerging markets.

By drawing heavily on transfer passengers, the UK’s EU competitors with their own unconstrained capacity are creating connections to new destinations within the emerging destinations such as Xiamen in China and Recife in Brazil, as well as links to the major markets of the future, like Peru, Indonesia, Taipei and Chile.

CBI deputy director general Katja Hall said: “With Heathrow full and the UK slipping behind in the race for new connectivity, it is essential that the Airports Commission delivers a solution that addresses the ticking time bomb of our lack of spare hub capacity.”

The report warns that the Airports Commission must deliver a solution that injects competition for routes wherever possible, urging it to deliver an action plan that boosts ground access infrastructure to airports across the UK, as well as kick-starting the process of deciding where a second new runway in the south-east might be required by 2050.

“First and foremost, UK business wants action,” Hall said. “There can be no more excuses – we need to see the Airports Commission deliver a strong case for new capacity and a clear schedule for delivery, and politicians to commit to spades in the ground by the end of the next Parliament.

“But this research shows that while all airports have a role to play in growing the UK’s connectivity, not all airports play the same role.

“While no-one can predict the future of air travel, the track record shows that it tends to be hub airports that deliver the new connections to emerging markets that we desperately need.”

Using transatlantic flights as an example, the CBI research shows that routes that are served by multiple airports at each side tend to be as much as £500 cheaper than those served by just one destination at each end.

Hall added: “A thriving network of point-to-point airports will deliver another major plus for business users – affordability. Where demand exists, we need to take action to support the development of direct links, injecting competition wherever possible.

“Figures show that if people can’t easily get to an airport, they won’t use it, so sometimes our infrastructure on the ground is the missing link to the new air connections we need.

“We also can’t ignore the next capacity crunch which looms on the horizon by 2050.  If we are to avoid yet another damaging investment hiatus that put a brake on competition in the south-east, it’s important we think ahead now.”

The CBI’s call for hub capacity to be concentrated at a single location as the best way for boosting connectivity to new markets coincides with Heathrow stepped up its battle with rival Gatwick by placing adverts in today’s national newspapers claiming a third runway at the west London hub would deliver at least £100 billion of economic benefits to the UK.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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