BAA answers Star questions
THESE are the 20 questions we asked BAA Stansted - and the answers in full from Stansted director of communications Mark Pendlington.Q1: Why has Stansted developed as a budget-carrier airport when we were told that it would become an international hub offering flights around the world when the new terminal was built in the early 1990s?A: The whole aviation market has changed since the early 1990's with the revolution in low cost travel now giving tens of millions of people the opportunity to travel to more places, more often, than ever before.
THESE are the 20 questions we asked BAA Stansted - and the answers in full from Stansted director of communications Mark Pendlington.
Q1: Why has Stansted developed as a budget-carrier airport when we were told that it would become an international hub offering flights around the world when the new terminal was built in the early 1990s?
A: The whole aviation market has changed since the early 1990's with the revolution in low cost travel now giving tens of millions of people the opportunity to travel to more places, more often, than ever before. Stansted is a world leader in the sector and proud to be so - and travellers come from all over, including 660,000 a year to and from Suffolk who travel through the airport. It's people who drive the demand which is why our short-haul and international route network is now bigger and more successful than ever before.
Q2: What responsibility does BAA have for the disruption caused to people living under the flightpaths?
A: Air travel is all about getting the balance right between the social and economic benefits it brings, and the environmental effects of more flights. We're working hard to maximise the benefits and minimise the effects - and know that if we are not successful, then we will not be allowed to grow.
Q3: Why should people believe today's claims that an expansion of the airport would lead to more inter-continental flights when the promises of the past were not fulfilled?
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A: They are not “claims” - it's already happening! With passenger numbers already at record levels - and growing - we have a total of 163 international destinations, including to Canada, USA, Iceland, Turkey, and Israel, with more routes expected later in the year. It is fair to point out though, that Stansted will always remain predominantly a short haul destination airport, but with more long-haul traffic than we have today - which is what people tell us they want.
Q4: What provision has BAA made for the likely fall-off in demand for cheap flights when new carbon taxes are introduced over the next few years?
A: Up to date government forecasts tell us that by 2030, 490 million people will want to travel by air to and from the UK. Even with a second runway at Stansted and an additional one at Heathrow, capacity constraints will still mean that over 25 million people who want to, will not be able to fly; and these forecasts take full account of the likely impact of carbon pricing, the cost of oil, and the likely economic circumstances during the period.
Q5: Does BAA Stansted have any discussions with NATS, CAA, or the airlines themselves about the routes aircraft follow after they have left the 43 Sq Km “footprint”?
A: Every aircraft that departs from Stansted does so on a clearly defined route that is set down by the Department for Transport after extensive consultation with the public and other organisations. Flights that flagrantly disregard the routes are fined, with money going direct to community good causes. Currently 98 per cent of all flights obey these strict rules. All of this is monitored by independent organisations on which local community representatives sit and hold us to account.
Q6: What is the motivation for BAA Stansted's desire for expansion? Is it simply a case of maximising profits?
A: We need to expand because more people want to travel - it's as simple as that! If we can do that successfully then we can make a profit, and what business would not aspire to do so. As a private company we have plans to invest over £2 billion in facilities over the next 11 years - without a penny coming from the taxpayer. And don't forget, that the prices we charge and the money we can earn are heavily regulated by the CAA.
Q7: Has BAA made any representations to NATS or CAA to get air corridors moved?
A: Not yet, because the consultation about any redesign of airspace in this area has not yet taken place. Like everyone else we are waiting to hear what the proposals actually are before we can have our say on this important issue. We understand that Suffolk County Council will be one of the organisations to be fully involved in this NATS consultation process, with the final decision up to the CAA.
Q8: How would an expansion in the number of flights lead to less disruption on the ground in Suffolk?
A: This question assumes that all the flights over Suffolk are going to or from Stansted. They are not. Suffolk sees flights totally unrelated to the UK, whilst others will be on routes to and from other UK airports and a smaller proportion will be on route to and from Stansted. Our airlines already operate one of the most modern, quietest fleets in the world and the aviation industry is working successfully to reduce noise impacts even further. We know that if the airport grows to 35 million passengers a year by 2015, the local noise 'footprint' and the number of people affected would be significantly less than was judged acceptable by the local planning authority in 2003 when it gave us permission to grow to the current limit of 25 million passengers a year.
Q9: How can an airport expansion be approved when it relies so heavily on one operator, RyanAir, which operates 66 per cent of the flights?
A: Expansion will not be judged on the basis of which carriers operate at the airport, it's much more about demand and the availability of capacity. What we do know is that where demand exists there will be carriers to serve it.
Q10: Stansted is already a successful airport. Why can that success not be sustained if it remains at its present size?
A: Yes, we are successful, but what business would wish to stand still with millions of customers wanting to buy its product. We are a global industry and if customers find somewhere else to go then travellers will lose out, as will all the opportunities we offer to business and to friends and family. Many of the world-leading industries in the Ipswich area and in the region would have their future plans compromised without convenient access to global markets.
Q11: Why is BAA so concerned about public opinion?
A: Stansted is a people business, and what people business does not care deeply and passionately about public opinion?
Q12: Why did a BAA spokesman warn The Evening Star that running a campaign against expansion could damage our relationship?
A: If the Evening Star want to be anti expansion then of course our working relationship will change - up until now the paper has joined us in promoting new routes and services, sometimes experiencing them at first hand themselves. Ultimately, it's the readers who will decide whether they want to stay at home and just read about the excitement of travel, or will they want to get out there and see it for themselves - we are confident of the answer!
Q13: Why does BAA not understand the concern and anger felt by people living outside the 43 sq km footprint who have seen the number of flights over their homes increasing substantially?
A: We do understand, but at the same time we don't hide the fact that airport operations have an impact locally. Locally, we have invested millions of pounds in schemes to help alleviate the worst affects. To help everyone better understand these impacts we monitor noise in places like Sudbury. In a recent independent survey, for example, it was found that community noise was 9 times more frequent than disturbance from Stansted aircraft, so let's not run away with the idea that aircraft are the only culprit. We at least are doing something about it.
Q14, Q15 and Q16: If BAA is given permission to extend, would it put any pressure on NATS/CAA to ensure a more even spread of flights over the region? Does BAA make any representations to NATS/CAA and airlines to try to ensure planes do not fly over sensitive areas of East Anglia - thereby ruining their attractiveness as destinations? Does BAA have any proposals of its own to ease the noise pollution problem over greater East Anglia, or is it merely in the business of doing what it is told by NATS/CAA?
A: The design of airspace is up to the CAA; where planes fly is up to NATS; Stansted is the airport operator. Around half of all aircraft arriving at Stansted fly over the Suffolk area. The county is not overflown by departing aircraft from the airport. Arriving aircraft are at heights of around 9,000 - 15,000ft under the direction of NATS. Airlines, NATS, BAA and CAA work together to continuously improve operational performance and meet strict environmental objectives.
Q17: Why is it necessary for the economy of East Anglia to have so many flights to so many medium-sized cities in Europe?
A: Eastern England has a £100 billion economy. Small, medium and large businesses thrive here and want opportunities to be competitive and win in the global market place. We have over 4 million business passengers a year and in a recent poll of local members of the chamber of commerce, 90% said that the airport is important for the future of their business. And as we grow, there will be even more job opportunities with the 180 businesses we have on the airport site and in the wider region.
Q18: What is BAA's estimate of the value of Stansted to the East Anglian economy - ie how much money does it bring into the economy set against the money taken out of the economy by tourist spending outside the UK after flying out of Stansted?
A: Growing the airport to 35 million passengers a year would generate £2.9 billion in net economic benefits and will generate around 4,000 new jobs. In salaries alone, this means an additional income into the area of £77 million a year, on top of the £400 million salary figure of today.
Q19: How long does BAA see its expansion plans being sufficient for?
A: Airport capacity is generally planned in 30 year cycles so we are providing for predicted passenger growth up to and including 2030.
Q20: Will a second runway and 68 million passengers be Stansted's final ambition - or would BAA want to get even larger in the future?
A: Current government policy does not support any more than one new runway at Stansted, and we have no plans for more than that.