3rd Runway Heathrow Airport

So the government has agreed to the building of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport, which should be completed by 2020. The new runway will increase capacity with an extra 200,000 flights landing each day. Unsurprisingly it hasn't been met with everyone's approval.

With the increased flights there are concerns over increased emissions and would involve a whole village being wiped out to build it. There is also increased noise pollution to consider which, from reading up on various news feeds, hasn't been covered too much due to more pressing environmental concerns.

As upsetting as it is for those to lose their homes in the village of Sipson, I agree with the 3rd runway at Heathrow. If Heathrow, a vital gateway for cargo and tourism in and out of the UK, doesn't expand with the potential traffic available, the UK economy will suffer. Increased capacity at Heathrow will invite increased trading of goods and tourists visiting the UK, this in return will bring more jobs.

I understand the concerns with emissions, however we've been lead to believe that they will be tightly controlled, with slots only available to the most modern/efficient aircraft. This is key, because with new aircraft you could increase capacity but keep emissions at virtually the same level. At the moment the avation industry contributes to 2% of emissions worldwide, and with the planned increase in traffic it would rise to only 3%.

For those against the expansion, the problem they have is that those campaigning against the expansion, aren't doing themselves any favours and has produced some great comedy over the last couple of days.

The 3rd runway was discussed on Question Time this week with Willie Walsh, Chief Exec of BA on the panel. The funniest and the best moment of the evening was when Baroness Tonge, exclaimed "if we allow runway 3 to go ahead, the emissions produced by Heathrow alone will be more than what the country of Kenya produces in a year". Willie Walsh brilliantly and simply calmly replied "I'm always interested to know if these people actually know how much emission Kenya produces in a year". The question was put back to Baroness Tonge, and would you believe it, she didn't know. She didn't have a clue!

Well I can't tell you much more either to be honest, however I can tell you in Kenya, carbon emissions are 200 kg a head; here in the UK it is fifty times that.

The Guardian also covered a particular story on Saturday with Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon making his thoughts known. Oscar winner Emma Thompson has emerged a leading figure in the protests, with some reports claiming she had event bought a plot of land on the potential development site. In response Geoff Hoon commented "She (Emma Thompson) has been in some very good films but I worry about people who I assume travel by air quite a lot and don't see the logic of their position. BAA don't wake up in the morning and think "we need a bigger airport" and airlines do not say "we need to put on more flights" unless there is a demand for it. So the point is about not just Emma Thompson, but lots of people. If someone living in LA says they didn't think it was a good idea to expand Heathrow, well the last time I looked the only way to get from LA to Britain is Heathrow".

To which Emma Thompson replied "Get a grip Geoff". Fantastic!!! And to Geoff's credit a very credible arguement.

2 comments:

Philip Howells said...

Walsh is a former Aer Lingus co-pilot and a failed would-be aviation strategist and his performance on Question Time showed only that his huge PR team prepared him better than Lady Tonge’s prepared her.

The fact is that whilst Walsh has reduced British Airways into “London Airways”, the other major airlines of the world regard the whole of the UK as a “hub” - the buzzword beloved by people who know nothing about aviation.

The genesis of BA’s malaise actually pre-dates Walsh whose predecessors set in train the contraction of BA but under Walsh the airline has completed the job - only last year BA closed its last remaining non-London transatlantic service - from Manchester to New York. Walsh’s reason was that he couldn’t compete. The reason he couldn’t compete is that BA, under a succession of non-airline people, has fired its Sales team as “unnecessary costs”.

This leaves BA with one tool to compete - price - and any fool knows that price alone can only be a short-term solution.

All the non-London transatlantic routes are now served by American carriers - well done BA!

In contrast, take a look at Emirates. Under the leadership of a great airline brain (raised not 20 miles from Northwich incidentally) Emirates is today the classic “5th Freedom” carrier. Based in Dubai its hugely profitable earnings flying full aircraft direct from several UK cities (not just London) to Australasia and the Far East (not even a geographically logical route) would have Walsh salivating with envy.

Before you fall into the “I love Walsh” trap as the City has done, I suggest you read how Bertie Aherne described Walsh when speaking in the Dail on 17 May 2006. He was speaking with the benefit of parliamentary privilege but you can read the transcript at:

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=DAL20060517.xml&Node=H3-2&Page=4

Finally, if further proof of the shallowness of the brain heading BA, speaking on another topic on Question Time Walsh said he would object to being called “Paddy”. This from a man who encourages everyone to call him “Willie”.

Ten minutes in a primary school playground would make “Paddy” sound almost complimentary.

Woody said...

Totally agree, I think Emirates is a far superior airline to BA (is it Maurice Flanagan you mean when refering to leadership?). I'm not a big fan of Willie Walsh to be honest, although I thought he handled the Heathrow debate well. I think the Terminal 5 fiasco was poorly handled and I flew through Heathrow a few months ago and found it to be a stressful, messy experience.

I was looking to go on holiday to New York, but due to lack of direct services from Manchester I've had second thoughts. With the move of the BBC to Manchester coming up, I'm sure BA may need to re-think.