Heathrow

Mr. Davies, the head of the Airport Commission is considering 58 proposals,from runway extensions to developing green-field sites and aims to release an interim report in December. The target is for a final report in 2015, Davies said in his first current statements since his appointment.

The commission hopes to produce one option, and in addition to the proposals received, it is considering ideas that were not submitted to them such as connecting Heathrow and Gatwick with a high-speed rail link.

Do that now – we say.

Mr. Davies did say Heathrow and Gatwick may be allowed to build runways to meet expected growth in demand for air travel.

The background to this issue is that it is accepted as fact that flight capacity is approaching capacity at London’s airports, with Gatwick and Heathrow particularly pressed.

Heathrow Airport Ltd. submitted three plans to the commission, each capable of delivering extra flights at a cost of up to 18 billion pounds. The proposals would boost the number of people using the hub to 123 million to 130 million from 80 million today.

But Heathrow is located in an inconvenient location being positioned on potentially very valuable and useful real estate and with a flight path right over central and affluent (and influential) West London.

Boris Johnson would like to shut Heathrow completely and develop a new airport in the Thames estuary with an estimated cost of £65 billion. Boris would also propose to develop Stanstead Airport to the north of London into a hub. The obvious benefit if the Johnson proposal is the 1,220-hectare Heathrow site situated on prime West London land homes for up to 250,000 people.

Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport and has identified alternatives for constructing a new landing strip to the south of the existing one. Gatwick estimate that it could add a second runway for around 5 billion pounds, this would eliminate the need for a single U.K. hub.

So what will the future bring? Watch this space…

British Airways say that Heathrow’s passengers are set to lose out in what it calls a “Double Whammy of Price Hikes and Spending Cuts.”

The issues concerning British Airways are:

· Airport charges set to increase under Heathrow’s new pricing structure
· Investment in airport facilities to decrease
· Heathrow’s investors in line to reap the rewards
· British Airways calls on the CAA to safeguard customers’ interests and increase the airport’s efficiency

British Airways say that the owner of Heathrow Airport is gearing up to hit passengers with a double whammy of price increases coupled with a cut in spending on facilities, a move British Airways say is set to be sanctioned by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which has a new statutory obligation to further the interests of customers.

The CAA is due to publish its final proposals next week for the airport charges that are levied on airlines and their customers for the period from 2014 to 2019.

British Airways argument is that the CAA’s initial proposal of RPI–1.3 per cent means that charges at the airport are set to increase by £600m over the five year period. This will maintain Heathrow’s position as the most expensive hub airport in the world and will continue the upward trajectory of charges levied by the airport.

Furthermore, British Airways argue that by its own admission, in the next five years Heathrow plans to cut spending at the airport by £1.5bn even as the charges increase and that the airport owner has publicly stated that if it does not get a settlement of RPI+2 per cent it will cut spending by a further £1bn, resulting in carrying out only “reactive maintenance” whereby facilities will be fixed only if faulty rather than maintained to standard or improved.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said: “Heathrow’s management seem incapable of running their business efficiently within a routine cost control environment which is a day-to-day reality for most companies. If they can’t introduce customer improvements in a cost effective way, then they should step aside and let someone else run the airport.

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh

“Rather than become more efficient, it appears that Heathrow’s priority is to further line its investors’ pockets. The airport already pays its shareholders a handsome dividend and has grown its profits throughout the period of global recession – a luxury not afforded to a large number of businesses.

“Heathrow has been protected from the harsh realities of the market place due to past over-generous regulated charges. The CAA has the responsibility to deliver a Heathrow that is efficiently run, fairly rewarded, and priced comparably with other hub airports.”

After an absence of over a dozen years, British Airways is rumoured to be on the verge of returning to Jakarta.

jakartaBritish Airways have long declared their desire to serve more of Asia’s fast growing economies and, although the Indonesian economy has recently entered something of a difficult period, it is surely only a question of time before flights to Jakarta are resumed.

One of the more persistent rumours is that any new route to Jakarta will be operated as a tag-on to its Singapore service and that British Airways will receive 5th freedom rights to fly passengers between the two South East Asian cities.

Others have suggested that a more likely option is for British Airways to kill-two-birds-with-one-stone and resume flights to both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta at the same time. British Airways has been absent from the Malaysian capital for almost as along and, now that Malaysian Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, there is a perhaps a stronger argument that British Airways should serve Jakarta as a tag-on to KL and leave Singapore, one of its premium business routes, as a stand-alone service.

There are currently no direct flights between the UK and Indonesia. Garuda, the national carrier of Indonesia, had planned to commence services between Jakarta & London Gatwick this year but has had to postpone them until mid 2014 at the earliest. The reason given was that the poor condition of the runway at Jakarta does not currently allow the airline to operate its 777-300 at full passenger / freight capacity and that, until that hurdle is overcome, the airline cannot operate the service profitably.

Of course the only reason that Garuda chose London Gatwick is the lack of slots at Heathrow. Any London – Jakarta service will be heavily biased towards the business market so, if British Airways does re-commence flights from Heathrow, Garuda might consider shelving their flights altogether.

For British Airways, the question of whether or when to return to Jakarta will be determined not just by potential traffic but also by juggling slots and aircraft. As British Airways consolidates the slots its secured from the takeover of bmi, the perception is that it will increasingly ditch a number of short and medium haul routes in favour of more lucrative long haul routes.

With British Airways also currently in the process of a huge fleet replacement program, there is also the issue of which aircraft the airline would use on any new service (ie if not as a tag-on to Singapore). Being a mainly business orientated route with relatively low volume, a Boeing 777-200 would be the natural choice from the airline’s existing fleet with either the Boeing 787 Dreamliner 8 or 9 series being the ideal long-term option.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

 

 

 

British Airways is adding capacity to Mexico City with a new, 4th weekly service.

The additional service between Heathrow and the Mexican capital will commence from 27th October, the start of the high season.

The new service, BA 243, will operate every Sunday, departing Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at 12:40 and arriving in Mexico City at 18:20; the return flight, BA 242, will depart Mexico City at 21:00, arriving back in London at 13:00 the following day. The new Sunday service is in addition to existing flights on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

The increase in capacity comes despite competition from AeroMexico who commenced their own thrice weekly service between Heathrow & Mexico City in December 2012.

Mexico

British Airways has been part of a trial that has successfully reduced aircraft noise for almost 100,000 people living under Heathrow’s flight path.

The findings from the trial, detailed in the Helios Report, are that over a 5 month period from last December, changes to the routes taken by early morning flights arriving at Heathrow resulted in 100,000 people living under the flight path experiencing less noise from aircraft. Some 17 aircraft land at Heathrow every morning between 04:30 & 06:00.

The trial was a joint venture between Heathrow Airport, the National Air Traffic Service, British Airways and HACAN which campaigns against further runways or flights at the UK’s busiest airport.

Despite the success of the trial, the report states that it should not be continued and that ”pre-trial assessments should be undertaken to predict likely outcomes to better understand the balance of the likely benefits against the unintended negative outcomes”.

Commenting on the trial, John Stewart, long-time head of HACAN stated:  ”This is the first time we have worked with the aviation industry in this way. Although the trial had some problems which would need to be addressed in any future experiments, to bring relief to 100,000 people is a considerable achievement.”

Of course any co-operation between HACAN and both Heathrow / British Airways is likely to be short-lived as the latter 2 press on with their campaign to have a 3rd runway built at Heathrow. Even if permission for a 3rd runway is eventually granted, it is unlikely that it would be ready until 2025 at the earliest which leaves some 12 years of Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport airport, operating at 99% capacity.

The only short-term solution to this problem would be to allow Heathrow to use its 2 runways for mixed-mode operations, ie allowing both runways to be used for both landing and take-off at the same time. This would significantly increase the airport’s capacity but would lead to residents living under the airport’s flight path to endure traffic noise for almost 20 hours a day, far in excess of what they currently endure.

British Airways Heathrow