Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh rules out 3rd runway at Heathrow

BA chief executive Willie Walsh has finally admitted a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport "will never be built". He told a Times CEO summit yesterday that "it's dead" and that British Airways were looking for expansion at Madrid airport after their recent link-up with Iberian Airways.

John Stewart, Chair of the residents organisation HACAN, which campaigns against aircraft noise said:

"It now looks as if finally the third runway has been killed off. It's most enthusiastic backers, British Airways, are now planning for life without a new runway".

Stewart added:

"BAA should now sell off the houses they have bought in Sipson to allow life in the villages to get back to normal".

Whilst this announcement clearly represents a victory for the Heathrow villages and the UK's climate change act - at the same time we need to be really cautious that expansion doesn't just happen elsewhere instead. There are many regional airports across the UK that still have expansion plans and with the Times leader today pushing for a new airport on the Thames Estuary it is clear where the battle has now moved too. Expansion in Europe instead would also be problematic.

We cannot have airport expansion and meet our climate change targets. Fact.

British Airways launches new yuppie flight amidst protests

Protestors were out in force when City Airport’s first transatlantic flight to New York took off at 12.50 yesterday. Local group Fight the Flights was joined by supporters from Plane Stupid and HACAN to protest about the new all-business class flight which sends a handful of yuppie scum to New York and - most irritatingly - brings them back again afterwards.

The campaigners - dressed as City yuppies - had come together to celebrate sarcastically at London City Airport with banners proclaiming 'We love carbon emissions' and 'global warming is cool' and also making a lot of noise using whistles, drums and horns.

Alan Haughton, from Fight the Flights said, "We had a lot of fun but the message was deadly serious. The super-rich are getting pampered. The super-poor are under the flight path getting the noise and pollution. No wonder people are angry."

Elizabeth Baines, from Plane Stupid, said, "This makes a mockery of all BA’s claims that they want to cut their emissions. This sort of flight should have no place in a world threatened by climate change."

Photo by Mini Mouse. You can see more at his gallery.

Airlines launch media campaign to tackle climate change

It's official: climate change is over, and the aviation industry has come in out of the cold. Their latest campaign 'Save the Airlines from Copenhagen Cuts' will see a 200% increase in the number of press releases from starving airlines, all focused on one thing: making you think they're doing something about their emissions.

This campaign launches today, as BA Chairman Willie Walsh will make some announcement about a plan to reduce emissions from aviation by 50% below 2005 levels by 2050. It's a great announcement, which, as one of the commentators on the Guardian says, is, to its advantage, "unclutterd by any method of achieving the aim". Why bother with methodology or pathways when your target is so far off that you don't have to achieve it any time soon.

Indeed the new SaCC campaign has just one target: December's talks in Copenhagen. The industry really doesn't want to be lumbered into a Kyoto2 deal, so it figures that some good PR right about now will disuade cut-ready politicians from locking them into any legal framework. And what's better than offering to halve the Government's new target?

But there must be some hint at how the industry plans to achieve this preposterous new target. Let's look at it in a bit more detail. In 2005, according to the DfT, the industry emitted 37.5 million tonnes of CO2. In 2050, again according to the DfT, the industry was, as of January 2009, expected to emit around 59.9 million tonnes. But the airlines now think that they can reduce emission to 19 million tonnes.

But how do they plan to achieve this? Oh, right.

Carbon trading...

The party's over: end of cheap flights, says BA

Party cat

Anyone else feel like we're balanced on the edge of a cliff right now, looking down? The head of British Airways, Willie Walsh, seems to, predicting rising oil prices will bring about the end of the 'cheap' flight extravaganza. Yesterday oil hit $135 / barrel, promoting Ministers to utter the word "crisis" in muted tones around the corridors of Whitehall.

Meanwhile aviation fuel is at $1,350 / tonne and rising, and US flagship American Airlines has started charging customers for breathing (well, for checking in luggage and stuff). Back in Blighty airline CEOs are studying bottom lines as never before, trying to squeeze those margins ever tighter. Self-appointed experts predict that we could be seeing bankrupt carriers by the end of the year, and profit warnings from many others.