Transport CommitteeSupplementary written evidence from WWF-UK (AS 69A)

WWF-UK wishes to submit the following subsidiary points to support our oral evidence, given to the Transport Select Committee on 28 January 2013 as part of the Committee’s afternoon session on Airport Capacity.

We believe it is important to provide this additional information in support of the points that we were making, especially as we were unable to elaborate on these points on the day. Unfortunately, we felt that some of our attempts to provide considered answers were interrupted by rather aggressive questioning and chairing before we were given a chance to make our points.

Our subsidiary points, which are also referenced in the corrected oral evidence transcript, are as follows:

1.Inbound passengers from emerging economies (see p22): Since 2000, UK airports have been able to accommodate rapidly growing inbound passenger traffic from emerging economies, notably India, China and Brazil, within existing capacity and can continue to do so in future. WWF believes that it is important for UK airports to continue to attract inbound passengers from emerging economies, especially as inbound passenger traffic from key tourist markets such as the US and Japan are in decline. It is therefore reassuring that Heathrow currently offers more than three times the number of flights to major Indian cities, and more than two times the number of flights to Hong Kong (with its excellent connections to mainland China) than its nearest Continental rival (Source: International Air Connectivity for Business, AirportWatch/WWF, 2011). According to UCL analysis, there are currently 800,000 inbound passengers coming to UK airports from India, China, and Brazil. It would take at least a doubling of this number to arrive at the “millions” of passengers envisaged by Kwasi Kwarteng. Freeing up capacity at Heathrow for these inbound passengers is another reason to move flights of lower economic value (for example point-to-point leisure flights primarily used by UK passengers) to other Southeast airports such as Gatwick, Stansted and Luton with spare capacity.

2.Capacity constraints and rationing of flights (see p23): WWF is not against people flying on holiday or business but we are against Business As Usual rates of aviation growth which are unsustainable—and not likely to happen in any event as DfT forecasts of aviation growth have been continuously downgraded since 2003 and again last week. WWF’s One in Five Challenge and research into FTSE 500 trends in business travel also demonstrate that big business is reducing its reliance on flying. With regard to the social equity aspects of flying raised by Mr Stringer, we would note that a disproportionate number of flights are taken by the wealthy already. We share concerns about equity impacts of all policies, not just aviation, but respectfully submit that concerns about distribution of wealth and disposable income is a much bigger question that is not best addressed through aviation policy.

3.Work in other countries to reduce business flying (see p24): For example, WWF-Hong Kong has also been encouraging less flying and greater use of videoconferencing by the financial sector, especially given their link to UK offices that are already holding more virtual meetings. Case studies with companies such as the Man Group have been used to question the need for a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport.

4.Aviation fuel duty (see p25): UK air transport currently does not pay fuel duty, unlike other transport sectors. The European Commission published its proposal for a revision to the Energy Tax Directive (ETD) in 2011. Discussions are ongoing within EU institutions, including member states, to end the ban on the taxation of aviation fuels for international flights contained in Article 14 in the ETD. Member states are already permitted to tax aviation fuel for domestic or intra-EU flights although the UK has not pursued this option, using Air Passenger Duty (APD) instead to raise tax revenue from the aviation sector. The amount raised by APD (£2.2 billion in 2011–12) is substantially less than the revenue that could be raised if aviation had to pay fuel duty and VAT on airline tickets—“lost” revenue estimated to be worth £11 billion per year. (

5.Continental hub expansion (see p26): WWF does not believe that Continental hubs will expand to take more British passengers. According to European Voice, “The Heathrow case has been replicated across Europe, with efforts to build or expand airports in anywhere but the most remote locations meeting fierce public resistance. There are only four new airports planned in Europe between now and 2030.” We would also repeat our broader point that the fact that some British passengers use Continental hubs is perfectly normal and reasonable—in line with the fact that some Continental passengers use UK hubs. This is an inevitable consequence of a rational and efficient global air network—in contrast, it would be very strange to justify never-ending airport expansion on the view that every airport needs to act as a hub to every conceivable destination.

Our view is that Heathrow should be redefined as the premier hub for long haul routes with a high percentage of business and transfer passengers. In order to open up new routes to emerging economies from Heathrow, to retain its competitiveness, it would be sensible to reallocate slots for flights of lower economic value, especially point-to-point leisure routes, to other Southeast airports.

February 2013

Prepared 31st May 2013