The opportunity to end decades of political dithering on airport expansion has been squandered, the UK transport committee has argued in a report on airport expansion in the south-east of England. In the report, the committee urges the secretary of state to set out a clear timetable for expansion, making clear the measures which have been accepted or rejected and the work which needs to be completed.
UK chancellor George Osborne has confirmed the government will launch a review into airport sales to make sure VAT savings are being passed on to shoppers. As thousands of travellers head off for New Year’s getaways, the chancellor confirmed that the extensive review will make sure that VAT relief in airports is leading to savings for shoppers, as it is intended to do.
The British government has delayed a decision on the potential construction of a new runway in the south-east of England until at least the middle of 2016. Citing concerns over the environmental impact of the development, the department for transport said more work was needed to fully understand the risks.
UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne has issued a discussion paper on possible changes to Air Passenger Duty as part of his latest budget. Although not committing the government to any changes in the unpopular levy, the paper will consider options such as devolving air passenger duty within the English regions.
Air Canada has announced that it will offer more daily flights from the UK to Canada than any other airline, with up to 88 non-stop services per week to eight major Canadian cities scheduled for summer 2015. From London Heathrow, Air Canada will operate direct flights to Toronto four times a day, daily to Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa and St. John’s, and three times per week to Edmonton.
Stansted Airport welcomed nearly one million more passengers in the first three months of 2015 over the same period last year as annual passenger numbers at the UK’s fastest growing airport increased by 16.3 per cent. The airport served over 20.9 million passengers in the 12 months ending March 2015. During March, the airport saw over 1.67 million passengers pass through the terminal, up 24 per cent on the same month last year and the tenth consecutive month of double digit growth at Stansted.
Leading UK air traffic control company NATS saw an increase in flight traffic of 4.2 per cent in March compared to the same month last year, handling a total of 183,187 flights. Domestic flights led the UK market growth with an increase of 7.7 per cent compared to March 2014. This is the fifth consecutive month of growth for this sector. This rise was due, in part, to additional routes to Scotland and Northern Ireland from London City Airport.
Exit checks have come into force at airports, ports and international rail terminals in the UK. It is hoped the checks will improve the government’s understanding of who is leaving the UK and create a clearer picture of who is staying in the country. They will also help the police and security services track the movements of known criminals and terrorists.
Seemingly interminable wrangling over the future of aviation capacity in the UK hit a new low earlier, with a second county council withdrawing support from the proposed expansion of London Gatwick Airport. Bowing to pressure from local residents, West Sussex Council voted by 37 to 26 to reverse a decision taken in July 2014 to support the expansion.
Officials in the UK government have launched in independent inquiry into the failure of air traffic control services in the south-east of England on Friday. National Air Traffic Services blamed a software glitch at its centre at Swanwick in Hampshire for the disruption, which delays at Heathrow and Gatwick.
Passengers arriving at UK terminals from Ebola hit countries in western Africa will face “enhanced screening” the government has announced. Those thought to be at risk arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will face the measures at London Gatwick and London Heathrow Airport and the Eurostar terminal in Folkestone.
All passengers leaving UK airports on flights to the United States may now be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up before boarding an aircraft. In new advice to travellers, the department of transport warned those unable to power up devices could face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft.