Have Airbus heard of climate change?

Airbus take-off

Remember the one about the CO2 emissions and the potential catastrophe? Airbus clearly haven't. They're cock-a-hoop over some projections they scribbled on the back of a fag packet, which predicts massive sales for their big fat planes.

Airbus reckon there'll be 28,534 passenger and freight aircraft in the air in less than two decades' time - more than double the current total of 13,284. Of course, these planes need places to land, so - guess what! - they're predicting loads and loads of new runways.

Plane Stupid grabbed a smoker a few minutes ago, and scrawled all over their ciggies. We've worked out that if we don't build these runways, there won't be anywhere to put all these new planes, effectively scuppering Airbus's plans. Another reason to oppose the third runway (as if one were needed)?

Noise from third runway to blot out lessons for 100,000 school kids

Third Runway Schools

Could this be the latest excuse for not doing your homework? The Evening Standard has identified that if the third runway goes ahead, over 100,000 pupils will have their lessons interupted by the roar of jet engines.

Although schools closest to the runway will suffer from the loudest noise, schools in Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham will also have regular overhead flights, at up to one every minute-and-a-half. Hardly a peaceful learning environment.

The schools affected are all listed in the Standard article, and include Oratory Roman Catholic Primary School, the feeder school for London Oratory (as formerly attended by the children of one ex-PM, Tony Blair). Would the runway be getting such government support if they were still going there?

Richmond speaks: no expansion!


As part of the government's 'consultation', they've been hosting exhibitions around West London to explain the expansion. Their Westminster event was gate-crashed by Greenpeace, who denounced the consultation as an 'airfix'.

Residents in Richmond were polled as they left their exhibition - and the results are not what BAA want to hear. Only half of those questioned felt that they had been told what they needed to know about the expansion, with 49% of people still uncertain as to how they would be affected were the plans to increase flights to 700,000 per year given the go-ahead.

What planet is Walsh on?

Metal Earth

It's Sunday, and I'm feeling generous. So let's take a moment to consider the plight of BA boss-man Willie Walsh. British Airways used to be a national institution: the airline into whose arms we collapsed after a week of dealing with our inability to speak other languages. Now it's associated with losing your luggage, strikes, crash landings, lying about climate change and blackmailing pensioners.

Walsh's latest misguided scheme is to persuade local councils to support expansion. Local papers around the airport picked up a BA press release, which urged councils to back the third runway. The same councils which formed the 2M group to oppose expansion. The phrase "coals to Newcastle" springs to mind...

BA blackmails former staff for Heathrow support

BA planes

Sometimes you read an article which is truly shocking. This, dear readers, is one of them. British Airways has been sending leaflets to retired staff, claiming that their pensions are at risk if the third runway doesn't get the green light.

The leaflet urges former employees to write to Ruth Kelly in support of expansion, claiming that their pensions depend upon Heathrow's expansion. A quote in large print from Sigrid Mapp, chairman of the Liason council, which represents retired staff, says: "As pensioners, the security of our pensions depends directly on the longterm success of British Airways and that again depends on the success of Heathrow."

BA have already been rebuked by the Advertising Standards Agency for making false claims about the environmental impact of the third runway in a letter to frequent flyers. Frankly, making nonsense claims to the biggest polluters pales into insignificance compared with blackmailing elderly people who've devoted their lives for your company. If this is how low the aviation industry is sinking, then the forces of opposition must be doing something right...

What price expansion?

Money, it'a a crime

As the end of the Heathrow consultation gets closer, the eyes of the business community turn towards BAA. Expansion can reap financial rewards for investors, and those fat cats in trading houses across the City are always seeking to make some bucks. But is BAA a good investment opportunity?

Not according to the Times, which has dug up a report by investment bank JP Morgan. Those bankers aren't feeling optimistic about the company, claiming that “Based on existing capex facilities [the loan available to pay for capital expenditure] we expect BAA could run out of cash in Q1-2 2009”.

Ouch! Not what Stephen Nelson and his cronies want you to hear. But it's not the first time that analysts have doubted BAA's finances. Last month the Sunday Times reported that BAA was to make a year-end test of whether it was in breach of the covenants on some its loans, and last year we reported that financiers had downgraded BAA's economic status to 'junk'. Looks like that third runway might be a longer shot than we'd thought...

Third runway not enough says BAA

Runway 4

Anyone who thought BAA understood 'sustainable aviation' should think again. Under interview by the London Assembly's Environmental Committee, chief exec Stephen Nelson refused to rule out a fourth runway, saying that claiming the third runway was the end of expansion would make him a "hostage to fortune".

BAA has repeatedly promised that each round of expansion would be the last. In 1995, according to the Times, BAA stated in its official newsletter: "BAA has said repeatedly that Terminal 5 will not lead to a third runway. BAA has said repeatedly THERE WILL NOT BE A THIRD RUNWAY. And BAA has been proved right. The Secretary of State has accepted the BAA view. The issue has been settled; people’s concerns have been met. What now of those who claimed BAA was not telling the truth?"

What now indeed. Apparently the areas currently up for consideration for runway four are north of the airport alongside the M4 or to the south, wiping out the villages of Bedfont and Stanwell. Needless to say, both options would require the demolition of thousands of homes. Hardly likely to engender more support for their latest plan, is it?

You noble residents all, stand up now, stand up now

Putney Debates

They may not be the Putney Debates, but there's not a lot in it. Residents' meetings held throughout West London have been so over-subscribed that organisers have had to move the location or turn residents away.

The meeting in Putney saw over 700 people queuing to get into St. Mary's Church ("the biggest attendance at any airport meeting ever organised by the council and the biggest public meeting in 20 years" according to a local councillor). A meeting at Chiswick earlier in the week saw over 1,000 people turn up, and organisers had to persuade the local choir to hold their practice elsewhere. A meeting in Richmond-upon-Thames was attended by over 600 people.

There are meetings all over London (details after the jump), so if you have any questions about the expansion, or if you just want to make your voice heard, make sure you go to one. There's also the Central Hall rally on the 25th of February, so if you only go to one event, make it that one!

BAA-d taste

Plane over roof

Some might consider it bad taste to use the near-death of a lot of people to push the third runway agenda. But I haven't been able to switch on the radio today without hearing some aviation industry shill or other trying to use the accident at Heathrow yesterday to justify expansion.

This is pretty ironic given that the accident didn't directly have anything to do with congestion. Jeff Jupp of the Royal Academy of Engineering said: "It certainly looks like a power failure on the approach."

Heathrow expansion rally - be there

Heathrow Gasmask

If you only go to one protest on the 25th of February, come to the Central Hall rally against the third runway: two days before the consultation ends.

There will be speakers and the usual sort of stuff, but frankly, that's not as important as your being there. This is the last chance to show the Government the strength of opposition to the expansion plans before the end of the consultation, so get up off the sofa and attend. Monday the 25th of February, 7pm, Central Hall, Westminster.

Oh, and I promise not to sneak off if it starts raining (mostly because the rally's inside).