Flying Matters

Flying Matters crashes

This blog carries a warning. Before reading it, fortify yourself with a little rum or whisky.  Flying Matters, the pro-aviation lobby group that has fought so hard for expansion of airports across the country, is to fold. According to that well-known publication 'An Executive Review of Business Travel', Flying Matters will be wound up at the end of the month because its corporate backers (mostly airlines) are falling out amongst themselves about the future direction of policy.

So it is farewell to it's chairman Brian Wilson, the once radical Labour MP, who became Tony Blair's Energy Minister and a big defender of nuclear power and airport expansion. Who would have though it would end like this for the radical young journalist who, 40-odd years ago, founded the West Highland Free Press, the hugely popular newspaper which brought a breath of fresh air to Scotland's highlands and island by giving a voice to the crofters and challenging the staid establishment press.

And it's farewell, too, to the face of Flying Papers, Michelle di Leo. Michelle, who once tried to join the anti-expansion network, AirportWatch, under an assumed name, is the daughter of Tony Blair's first aviation minister Glenda Jackson MP. She married Jackson's Dan Hodges who chaired Freedom to Fly, the earlier pro-aviation lobby group, which folder in 2003.

The demise of Flying Matters is a sign of the confusion within the UK aviation industry. It is still in a state of shock that a conservative-led Government dared to drop new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. Never before has the industry had such a reverse. For 50 years it has got what it wanted. But it was on the wrong side of the popular revolt - against a third runway at Heathrow. Flying Matters has been swept aside by that.

An executive review of Business Travel commented:

"The organisation did cover a wide spectrum of the industry, including both British Airways and Unite, but there was an argument that Flying Matters carried little weight of influence." It went on: "Any future lobbying group is expected to be formed around a more focused alliance. Vital is the selection of the individual to lead such a coalition, common consensus being that British Aviation is currently lacking such a person."

You can send you condolences to Brian and Michelle at:


Plane Stupid demand resignations from Flying Matters

Plane Stupid's bit of maths and common sense have shown the aviation lobbying group Flying Matters claims are nothing but greenwash. The group now has 2 choices - either to find the evidence to support their statements, or publish a full retraction with a public apology. If they fail to do so and the directors do not resign, they will be reported to the Serious Fraud Office and the Government's Climate Change Committee.

The greenwash on their website says:

  • The industry is committed to improving fuel efficiency of new planes by 50% by 2020.
  • The industry is committed to getting emission down to 2000 levels by 2050 despite a trebling of air passengers.

In an exchange of e-mails with Flying Matters, they could not provide a single piece of evidence for their claims - hardly surprising when these claims need to break the law of physics. Instead they tried to pass the buck to Sustainable Aviation who tried to pass the buck to the International Aviation Transport Association.

Flying Matters are the main industry lobbyists and they represent all the key aviation companies and organisations. Ludicrous false claims like 'this is no joke' are used as justification for airport expansion and aviation friendly Government policy.

Their lies are a serious abuse of power and the SFO and Climate Change Committee will have an absolute duty to investigate fully and prosecute.

Industry starts clutching at straws

Clutching at straws

While global economic turmoil continues to undermine air transport, die-hards within the aviation industry are left clutching at straws. Rather than accepting that bankrupt airlines, union disquiet and falling passenger figures are a sign of the times, our old friends at BAA and Flying Matters are getting desperate - and desperate times call for desperate (and underhand) measures.

Firstly we have the news that BAA have been rumbled trying to hijack an online debate by posing as members of the public. The Woodland Trust's blog post about expansion at Stansted had generated a heated response, but repeated postings in favour of the scheme just didn't ring true. The Trust decided to investigate and found that the posts all came from a computer registered to...BAA! Shame on you.

Flying Matters: nah nah nah nah nah!


While everyone has been laughing at BA boss Willie Walsh and his unfortunate boasting about T5 moments before it all went tits-up, Flying Matters campaigner Davy Lewy was running his mouth off about the glory of T5.

In an interview with the Toronto Star just before it all went wrong, Lewy got carried away, telling the journo that we should "[R]ejoice that as of today, with the launch of Terminal 5, the chances of losing your luggage have been greatly reduced."

Ha ha ha! I hope that's some consolation to the thousands who ain't flying anywhere, thanks to BA and BAA's failure to fix the baggage handling system in time for the big day...

Turn up the spin: how politics works

Spin dial

Imagine you run BAA. You quite want a runway at your airport, but no one else does. Your runway will require a whole village to be flattened, including three schools, a graveyard and 750 houses. Building the runway will make it very difficult to meet our climate change targets. But you really, really want the runway, because then you'll make loads of cash. What do you do?

Simple - you hire lots of ex-Labour apparatchiks to work at your company, and use their contacts ruthlessly. Meanwhile your mates in government hire a whole bunch of your ex-employees, until you've created one big incestuous family and blurred the lines between your company and the people who run the country. Sorted!

Thank you for flying

Thank you for flying

Amongst last week's astonishingly supportive media carnival, there could be heard a lonely voice denouncing our actions on the roof of the Commons. That voice belonged to Michelle Di Leo, of comedy aviation industry lobby group Flying Matters.

Flying Matters are the leading purveyors here in the UK of the kind of 'discourse' analysed by the boffins in my last blog; in some respects they are a bit like Plane Stupid's Evil Twins, regularly popping up in the papers and on telly saying outlandish things in support of their industry's expansion plans. Like the luminaries celebrated in the 2005 feature film Thank You For Smoking, Flying Matters' main purpose is to mislead policy-makers and the public about the harm caused by their client industry.

Flying Matters: bashing Brian


Poor Brian Wilson, former Labour energy minister and chair of Flying Matters. In what should have been a classic opportunity to get their feet further in Brown's door, the comedy lobby group funded a meeting at the Labour conference by Brownite think tank the Smith Institute.

That's where it all started to go wrong. According to Private Eye, Wilson launched into a tyrade in favour off airport expansion - particularly Heathrow - and denounced opponents of unrestrained growth as "imposibilist". Sadly for Mr. Wilson, the topic of the debate was "'Going Green', and everyone - including his co-speakers, inclluding Lord Whitty and Babara Young of the Environment Agency - turned on him.

The chairman of the meeting tried to bail him out, crying "This is rapidly turning into a bashing Brian exercise, which is very entertaining, but we need other questions", but by then it was all too late. Brian just had to sit back and smile his way through the rest of the talk.

Flying Matters versus the Climate Change Bill


Everyone's favourite pro-aviation group, Flying Matters, has been hard at work. They'd like international aviation left out of the Climate Change Bill, and have written to lots of MPs asking them not to listen to the science.

Luckily one of them sent us a copy, which we have kindly transcribed for you. For your viewing pleasure we present: why aviation should get special treatment. Please take one pinch of salt and retire to enjoy:

Flying Matters: who is Bella Regazza?

Cookie Jar

"Its always a sign that someone is losing an argument when they start making unfounded allegations." So says our arch-nemesis Flying Matters, accusing us of lying to the Times, which last week published an article claiming that they were spying on us.

Only problem is that we caught them at it. Earlier this week FM Director Michelle Di Leo sent an email to the administrator of an aviation campaigners discussion list, pretending to be an Italian campaigner against airport expansion. Calling herself 'Bella Regazza', she asked to be included in the mailing list.

It's in the post, Bella

Back in September the Lib Dem conference was blessed by the attendance of Michelle Di Leo from Flying Shatters.

For the purposes of clandestine operations against aviation activists, Michelle now goes by the nom de guerre 'Bella Regazza'. Honestly, I'm not kidding. She imagines herself, perhaps, as a soldier of fortune marching through the jungle of our 24/7 media, a duty free RyanAir gift tie knotted around her forehead as she slices down hippies with her sharpened machete of corporate truth.