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WWF & AEF: Civil Aviation Authority report on airport capacity ‘a contradiction in terms’

12th January, 2012


10 January 2012

WWF and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) today rejected the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) report claiming that new runways are needed in the Southeast in order to meet consumer demand. The CAA’s report ignores the advice of the Government’s climate advisers and is also in direct contradiction to Government policy to make the most of the airport capacity we already have.

According to WWF and AEF’s assessment of available UK airport capacity (1), there is already sufficient capacity in the Southeast and other regions to meet future demand, in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommended limits to aviation growth to ensure the sector plays a role in limiting its carbon emissions. The analysis shows that a small shortfall is expected in the Southeast which is not sufficient to require a new runway, so long as the trend towards larger aircraft continues.

Using BAA forecasts at the Terminal 5 inquiry, which show average passenger numbers per aircraft increasing from 143 to 198 over time, and assuming that other Southeast airports would also reflect the trend towards higher passenger loading, albeit at a lesser extent (2), WWF and AEF concluded that the shortfall in Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) in the Southeast by 2050 would be tiny – less than 1 percent.

Jean Leston, senior transport policy advisor at WWF-UK, said: “This report is just the latest in aviation industry ‘groupthink’ that new runways will magically lift us out of recession. It’s time they got back down to earth and thought about the climate impacts of what they’re saying. Every time we build more high carbon infrastructure, such as airports and runways, we’re pushing the world towards dangerous climate change. And we can forget any chance of hitting UK climate targets.”

Tim Johnson, director of AEF, added: “I am alarmed that the CAA, who have no official status as aviation policy advisors, are now trying to tell the Government what to do. Their calls for more capacity are the latest in industry lobbying that would see us return to the bad old days of unconstrained aviation growth at a time that people are flying less and there is spare capacity that could be better used, in the Southeast and elsewhere.”


Notes to the editor:

1. The WWF/AEF report, Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector, shows that, in most regions, there is available runway and terminal capacity to meet demand to 2050, and in line with CCC limits to aviation growth, without the need for further expansion

2. Excluding Heathrow, a 15% growth in passenger loading is assumed for Southeast airports over the next 40 years, from 107 to 123 passengers per aircraft.