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Could a bigger airport actually make a greener Bristol?

Dave Harvey | 10:58 UK time, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Update 10:45 Wed night: What a night. After an hour of public speeches covering the whole waterfront, councillors decided to kick the airport decision upstairs. In council speak, the meeting will now be decided by North Somerset's "Planning and Regulatory Committee", I'm told within a month, but we will see.

Undeterred, they still had their debate, for another two hours. Everything from the number of taxis through Barrow Gurney to the international standards on climate change was discussed. In fact, this post below turns out to be not a bad guide to the argument; both my article and the comments below it.

Opposing councillors said approving the airport would make a mockery of the council's "core strategy" on sustainability. Those who backed the expansion argued that international emissions were not a subject for local councillors, and anyway "if people don't fly from Bristol, they will just drive to another airport".

Then they voted, 6-3 in favour of the Airport. This, of course, is just a recommendation. But a wily councillor who voted against the proposals and knows the council well told me afterwards that the final committee will almost certainly rubber stamp tonight's decision.

The Airport's expansion plans have cleared customs, and are on the runway waiting for the final green light. Thoughts please? Form an orderly queue now...

Lots more on BBC Radio Bristol with Steve LeFevre between 06:00 and 09:00 on Thursday.

Update 16:30 Wednesday Right, off to the big meeting now. To keep up with what happens, follow my twitterfeed here. I'll post some pictures, and the result when we get it.

Update 16:00 Wednesday Wow! This post has prompted a massive debate. And I hear North Somerset Council has laid on overflow rooms for the crowds they're expecting. Should be interesting...

Plane against a planet

Bristol is the capital of organic food. Of sustainable travel. It's a cycling city, with a funky digital, creative, graffiti zeitgeist.

We are so, like, now.

So the city wants to be officially Britain's Green Capital. And into this chilled out party hurtles a jet-powered neighbour, intent on drowning the party with its noisy planes. At least, that's how many in the city view Bristol International Airport's expansion plans.

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Their plans are massive, but here's the basics of them:

£150m buys the airport a new terminal twice the size of today's building and a five storey car-park. Passenger numbers sky-rocket from 6m a year now to 10m a year by 2020.

Already Bristol's councillors have lodged their "noisy neighbour" complaint. Full council passed a motion opposing the expansion, asking how this high octane growth would help the city cut its carbon footprint. They are not alone. 5,417 people have officially objected on North Somerset's planning portal, and the "Stop Bristol Airport Expansion" campaign is flying. As it were.

But what if the airport is the real green deal here?

Before you choke on your muesli, consider this.

First, BIA is not the only place to fly from. You may have noticed Britain has other airports, and Heathrow and Birmingham are not exactly a long haul from here. So if people can't fly from Bristol, they won't fly less, they will simply drive more.

Heathrow's traffic jams are already legendary, but have you seen the ones in the air? Stacked high above the runway, planes are held by air traffic control in organised aerial gridlock.

Aircraft at Heathrow "Regional airports are so obviously the green choice," says Richard Roller, a local businessman. Mr Roller makes ground power units for the aviation industry in Weston-super-Mare, exporting to the US, to Kazakstan, to the world. "Flying into Bristol is so easy, it's the only reason we're still here. But when you see how much fuel planes use waiting to land at Heathrow, it's obviously much greener too."

Second, jet engines are more efficient than car engines. Yes, that's right. The famously green Toyota Prius uses 4.3 litres of fuel to go 100km. Go the same distance on a new Airbus A380 with its Filton-designed wings, and each passenger uses just 2.9 litres. There is an obvious flaw in this, of course; planes go way further than we drive cars. But it's worth considering next time you decide to drive to that Spanish campsite, rather than flying and "wrecking the planet". The BBC's "Ethical Man" has been doing loads more sums on this, if it interests you.

A380 in the skies

The final argument for a bigger airport is slighty different. It's honesty. You see, as I revealed six months ago, passenger numbers can - and will - grow anyway. There is no new runway in these plans. They just want to make the growing crowds at the check-in more comfortable, sort out the parking and the approach roads.

So maybe the airports opponents don't hold all the green cards. And when the airport's website ran an online petition on their plans some 1,913 supported them.

Now I'm being deliberately provocative here, of course. If Bristol gets more comfortable and convenient, more of us will fly from there. That cheap weekend in Barcelona will be even more tempting about now, when the Spanish sun is up and Dundry is still frosty. If all airports were crushed, noisy cattle markets we would only fly the vital trips. And yes, because planes fly at high altitude, their emissions do more damage to our carbon calculations than earthbound cars.

Environmentalists have a one word response to the suggestion that new transport infrastructure eases congestion: M25. Remember the promises that a new orbital motorway would clear the jams from the south east's roads? Exactly.

Recently I met the aviation minister, Ian Lucas MP. I asked him how his industry helped the government meet its targets for cutting CO2 and climate change. His answer is relevant to this debate too, I think. "You're not going to stop people flying," he said, "and they will want to fly more. The challenge is how to meet that aspiration in as low carbon a way as possible."

He was talking about modern fuel-efficient aircraft, but he might also have meant local airports like BIA.

Right - over to you now for the next 24 hours, then councillors will have the last word in Weston.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Finally, someone who shares my view that regional airports are a good thing! Lets stop the Dr Beeching style building over of airports (such as Cambridge) and see sense.

  • Comment number 2.

    No!!!!! Purely from a personal (and yes selfish) point of view, I live in Wrington, just over the hill, and its already noisy enough with the current level of planes, and the type of planes. Couple this with the bypass that's been bandied around for years from the motorway to the airport (which would affect a lot of other villages, not just us) and its going to ruin our peaceful(-ish) rural lives. Surely property prices would plummet as well, great for others, but obviously not for those already living there.
    Also, would a larger airport potentially be a target for a terrorist attack? Especially as there's little security there at the moment...

  • Comment number 3.

    Living in Cheltenham, Bristol would be a natural alternative to travelling to Birmingham or a London airport, with the noted added road pollution and congestion involved in those options. The biggest issue with Bristol airport right now is the road access. It is a nightmare. It's a shame, because the airport itself is very good.

  • Comment number 4.

    Rather misleading, you're comparing per-vehicle-mile figures for the Prius with per-passenger-mile figures for the A380.

    If you're assuming only the driver is in the Prius then it's only fair to assume only the pilot is in the A380, that doesn't look any where near as flattering to the figures.

    If you're assuming a full passenger complement in the A380 however, then you should assume a full passenger complement in the Prius, and again, the A380 doesn't look to be better.

    Equating 1 litre of plane fuel with 1 litre of car fuel seems a little misleading too.

    If you're going to draw conclusions like "jet engines are more efficient than car engines", you need to back them up with an actual comparision that is valid, rather than furthering the already-large amount of misinformation in this sort of debate.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Second, jet engines are more efficient than car engines. Yes, that's right. The famously green Toyota Prius uses 4.3 litres of fuel to go 100km. Go the same distance on a new Airbus A380 with its Filton-designed wings, and each passenger uses just 2.9 litres."

    Sorry you can get 5 pasangers in to a Prius so that 0.86 letres per passenger for thw 100km or 1/3 of the fuel the air bus uses

  • Comment number 6.

    Until peak oil becomes a reality people are going to continue to fly. There's no point in pretending otherwise.

    BIA should be allowed to expand its facilities to make it more efficient and comfortable to use. People living near an airport who then complain that the airport is expanding do not have a leg to stand on and should pipe down. Their arguments about carbon emmissions are entirely pointless and baseless - not one gram of CO2 will be saved by denying BIA the opportunity to expand. People wishing to take flights will simply drive elsewhere to do so.

    Dave - I have to take issue with your first sentence - Bristol the capital of sustainable travel? Har-de-har - have you seen the state of our public transport? The presence of Sustrans in the city is one of our great little ironies.....

  • Comment number 7.

    -As the A380 won't fit into BRS, you should use the per-passenger fuel economy of the main planes scheduled to takeoff/land, currently probably A320 or similar

    -Then compare it with family holiday vehicle loads (2-4 passengers?)

    -And compare with an electrified train link from templemeads to mainland europe. We can dream.

    -The LHR third runway plans appear to rely on no regional airports to increase their CO2 footprint. The BRS plans appear to be inconsistent here.

    -There's nothing green about a 5 storey parking area in greenbelt land. If we had BRT all the way down, if the coach service expanded to cover more of Bristol and/or the Templemeads passenger hub expanded then you could have green access to the airport. Right now the airport doesn't even tell you how to get there by bicycle on their web site.

  • Comment number 8.

    An entertaining article from Dave Harvey but the real question should not be "which airport should be expanded?" but "whether airports should be expanded?" There are powerful environmental reasons for not expanding them. And there are no convincing economic reasons for doing so. The percentage of business trips at the typical UK airport is around 25%. Expansion is not needed to cope with business demand. The growth proposals are fuelled by cheap leisure flights. They take more money out of a region like the South West than they bring in as British people flying abroad on holiday spend more money there than visitors flying into the South West spend here. For the sake of the local environment and the local economy, let's drop plans to expand Bristol Airport, and Gloucester, and Exeter and....

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with Sam.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sam and ice-wombat: fair point. If you pack that Prius, it will take more people further than an A380 on the same litre of fuel. Of course, plenty of cars do travel with just one passenger, and many of them guzzle more than a Prius. Equally, there are half-empty planes in the air, though the idea of an A380 superjumbo with just the pilot tickles me!
    I guess the point is that all travel has a carbon cost. And unless Bristol's air passengers refuse to fly from anywhere else, is there not still a strong argument that limiting expansion here just sends people up the motorway? It's a tricky one, for sure... any more ideas on this?

  • Comment number 11.

    briefly the answer to that is no - a bigger airport will not be greener.


    1) you assume that all passengers would fly anyway just from another airport. This is not the case. There CAA studies that show that people are only willing to travel for a certain distance to access flights, in the case of full price short haul that is around 1 hour, for low cost it was 2 hours (cos they could only get them from Stansted) but is probably less now, for long haul they are willing to travel further. By adding services at a local airport you will claw back some who used a more distant one (that is why numbers at Stansted were dropping even before the recession) BUT most of the extra passengers at the local airport will be new ie they wouild not have contemplated the trip otherwise.
    2) We produced a report last year analysing the CAA survey of SW passengers using Heathrow and found that it just is not credible that expanding BIA would lead to a significant drop in the "leakage" to Heathrow. This is because of the large number of destinations that the SW passengers access that way, how many of those are too far away for BIA to reach, and most importantly how small a share of the passengers using those planes come from the SW - meaning that a new route from BIA to the same destination would not be economic without generating a lot more passengers. If the BIA route did not replace LHR one - ie both planes flew, then this would amount to a huge increase in emissions.
    3) Even if EVERY passenger from the South West who uses Heathrow (2.8m in 2008) used BIA instead, that would save less emissions than adding one new daily scheduled flight to a European destination would create - and that would only carry around 100k passengers in a year. So it is clear that expanding BIA would radically increase net emissions.
    4) Some planes are around the same emissions per passenger-km in cruise mode ie around 90-100g CO2 per passenger km. That of course assumes an 80%+ full plane and ignores the huge amount of fuel used during take-off and landing. BUT a Prius, VW Blue Motion etc will have half these emissions if you have 2 people in the car (per passenger-km), a third for 3, a quarter for 4. On top of this, the emissions from aircraft have other gases and act at high altitude, which has around double the effect of the CO2 on its own. Thus the real comparison of a loaded green car to a loaded plane is something like 20-40g per pax-kmn for the car and 180+ for the plane. The average for all new cars last year was around 150g per km (ie one passenger) - still better than the plane. And of course few people drive 10,000km for the weekend!
    5) The A380 will never fly from BIA - it is too big and the runway is too short. The main planes wil be 737-800 and A319 for many years yet
    6) BIA handled 5.6m passengers in 2009, but 6.3m in 2008. The economy is one factor, but the main one is weak pound which made the cost of European flits much more expensive. With a continuing weak pound, and the prospect of more expensive fuel, it is hard to see where this massive growth is to come from. BIA insists that it can fit 8m into the existing terminal, and counts the "baseline" ie no development scenario in its planning application as 7.3m, so they have a lot of room it seems without being given permission. If they are constrained on passengers, perhaps they will find a more commercially sustainable business model than depending on £10 flights and making there profits from parking, coffee and sun-glasses!
    8) The Climate Change Committee stated that the likely rate of improvement in emissions per pax-km is around 0.8% per year. In order to hit the Government target that aviation emissions in 2050 are the same as in 2005, this implies that the peak must be in 2020 and that can be no more than 27% above 2005 levels. Even the optimistic rate of improvement (1.5% per year) allows 2020 to be only 57% above 2005. That would mean that BIA was limited to 8.3m passengers or less at 2020, and probably not grow much above that ever.

    Some points that seem to be a little one-sided in your blog.

    1) you assume that all passengers would fly anyway just from another airport. This is not the case. There CAA studies that show that people are only willing to travel for a certain distance to access flights, in the case of full price short haul that is around 1 hour, for low cost it was 2 hours (cos they could only get them from Stansted) but is probably less now, for long haul they are willing to travel further. By adding services at a local airport you will claw back some who used a more distant one (that is why numbers at Stansted were dropping even before the recession) BUT most of the extra passengers at the local airport will be new ie they wouild not have contemplated the trip otherwise.
    2) We produced a report last year analysing the CAA survey of SW passengers using Heathrow and found that it just is not credible that expanding BIA would lead to a significant drop in the "leakage" to Heathrow. This is because of the large number of destinations that the SW passengers access that way, how many of those are too far away for BIA to reach, and most importantly how small a share of the passengers using those planes come from the SW - meaning that a new route from BIA to the same destination would not be economic without generating a lot more passengers. If the BIA route did not replace LHR one - ie both planes flew, then this would amount to a huge increase in emissions.
    3) Even if EVERY passenger from the South West who uses Heathrow (2.8m in 2008) used BIA instead, that would save less emissions than adding one new daily scheduled flight to a European destination would create - and that would only carry around 100k passengers in a year. So it is clear that expanding BIA would radically increase net emissions.
    4) Some planes are around the same emissions per passenger-km in cruise mode ie around 90-100g CO2 per passenger km. That of course assumes an 80%+ full plane and ignores the huge amount of fuel used during take-off and landing. BUT a Prius, VW Blue Motion etc will have half these emissions if you have 2 people in the car (per passenger-km), a third for 3, a quarter for 4. On top of this, the emissions from aircraft have other gases and act at high altitude, which has around double the effect of the CO2 on its own. Thus the real comparison of a loaded green car to a loaded plane is something like 20-40g per pax-kmn for the car and 180+ for the plane. The average for all new cars last year was around 150g per km (ie one passenger) - still better than the plane. And of course few people drive 10,000km for the weekend!
    5) The A380 will never fly from BIA - it is too big and the runway is too short. The main planes wil be 737-800 and A319 for many years yet
    6) BIA handled 5.6m passengers in 2009, but 6.3m in 2008. The economy is one factor, but the main one is weak pound which made the cost of European flits much more expensive. With a continuing weak pound, and the prospect of more expensive fuel, it is hard to see where this massive growth is to come from. BIA insists that it can fit 8m into the existing terminal, and counts the "baseline" ie no development scenario in its planning application as 7.3m, so they have a lot of room it seems without being given permission. If they are constrained on passengers, perhaps they will find a more commercially sustainable business model than depending on £10 flights and making there profits from parking, coffee and sun-glasses!
    8) The Climate Change Committee stated that the likely rate of improvement in emissions per pax-km is around 0.8% per year. In order to hit the Government target that aviation emissions in 2050 are the same as in 2005, this implies that the peak must be in 2020 and that can be no more than 27% above 2005 levels. Even the optimistic rate of improvement (1.5% per year) allows 2020 to be only 57% above 2005. That would mean that BIA was limited to 8.3m passengers or less at 2020, and probably not grow much above that ever.

    You can find info on a lot of this at www.stopbia.com

  • Comment number 12.

    Just a blast from the past. Is not Lulsgate, former name of, and site of, Bristol's airport a foggy area? The place is not easy to get to. Methinks that it is time to go back to the drawing board.

  • Comment number 13.

    I do not like the idea of excessive fuel consumption of either kind, but your article may be slightly misleading at one point:

    " Second, jet engines are more efficient than car engines. Yes, that's right. The famously green Toyota Prius uses 4.3 litres of fuel to go 100km. Go the same distance on a new Airbus A380 with its Filton-designed wings, and each passenger uses just 2.9 litres. "

    If there are two or more people in the car (heresy, I know, and probably against the law by now) the car is more efficient. The car disturbs the peace for less people, too.

  • Comment number 14.

    I personnely think it is essential for bristol and the surrounding area, I fly twice a month for my work (not through choice but to feed my family, well and that little bit more ;0) Anyone who wants people to travel less is dellusional, THE PEOPLE will suit there own needs before the planet. Yes we are selfish people (see greeno1311) most of us would like to think we are green and care about the planet. Sadly thats only until our own needs become more pressing.
    I know some of the people on here will say how lovely and green they are and I say "good for you"
    I do my wee bit for the planet, but this is one bit that we need sorry.

  • Comment number 15.

    5 People may fit in a prius but as all car fuel figures are based on the lowest spec version with only the driver on board you have little choice but to quote for single occupancy - straight divison does not work. Remind me where is the prius made - do they teliport it to the UK?

  • Comment number 16.

    One area where flights from BRS work but LHR doesn't is travel elsewhere on the UK mainland. It doesn't work well to drive to LHR to fly to manchester, glasgow or liverpool.

    What would be good would be some decent railway to take us north, the last time I tried the train to scotland I decided I would rather drive than spend 2 hours stuck somewhere between birmingham and sheffield -and why we were zig-zagging across the UK was a mystery to me. However, we now have 3G dongles for laptops, so those hours spent on the train can be useful, whereas hours spent on the M6 aren't.

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree that BIA will need to expand to enhance the customer experience in the same way that other modes of transport do. Every type of business no matter what it is has to innovate/change to stay in business, that's life unfortunately. I definately think that the airport should contribute heavily into the transport provision around the airport to limit distruption to surrounding residents.

    Jeremy Birch (SBAE) "Quote" 1) you assume that all passengers would fly anyway just from another airport. This is not the case. There CAA studies that show that people are only willing to travel for a certain distance to access flights, in the case of full price short haul that is around 1 hour, for low cost it was 2 hours (cos they could only get them from Stansted) but is probably less now, for long haul they are willing to travel further. By adding services at a local airport you will claw back some who used a more distant one (that is why numbers at Stansted were dropping even before the recession) BUT most of the extra passengers at the local airport will be new ie they wouild not have contemplated the trip otherwise.

    Sorry Jeremy, that's absolute rubbish. I like to holiday/visit friends/family abroad with my own family once if not twice a year and I will travel to whatever airport I can get a flight from. I have flown from 7 different UK airports to various destinations around Europe and North America and I have used BIA just as much as other UK airports. Numerous people I know do exactly the same thing. At times I have heard, can't get a flight from BIA so flying from LGW/LHR/MAN/BHX etc.

    When you talk about Stansted I think you will find, it's demise is down to:

    1. The current economic climate.

    2. Airlines like Ryanair refusing to pay BAA's high airport fees, which resulted in the airline threating to reduce it's based aircraft/rotations which it carried out.

    BIA is just starting to grow it's pax numbers again while every other top ten ranked airport in the UK are still recording monthly declines. Yes BIA's increases are due in part to Ryanair, but speaking from experince I have only flown with them once from BIA as I have found it cheaper to fly with other airlines both full service and lo-cost from BIA.

    If every everyone who opposed the expansion could stand up and honestly say they have never used BIA or any other airport for that matter I would fully support them. But I fear this will never happen, so they are as much at fault for creating the demand for air travel as the rest of us.

    I do hope the airport is allowed to expand and improve it's facilities to provide an airport we in the west country can be proud of. Like I said, if allowed it should be with conditions to improve transport links in and around the areas affected by it's presence.

  • Comment number 18.

    If it helps the passengers to fly out, and it isn't overly expensive I say build it. People are gonna fly, and they are gonna fly more and more, so the fuller the planes the better for the enviroment. Seriously when it comes right down to it people all do their recycling, etc.. but if it works out easier most will not be to bothered about the enviroment, after all there is always tomorrow to start worrying!

  • Comment number 19.

    It surprises me that Bristol Airport (no need for 'international' - an airport is by definition international) has survived as well as it has given its shortcomings.

    It's very difficult to get to without getting tangled in Bristol's traffic. Its elevation makes it prone to fog. The runway is not long enough to handle fully laden long range aircraft and has an adverse gradient. The runway is dangerously close to the A38.

    Now Filton on the other hand would be ideal. It is easily served by the M5 and the main railway line. It has a long, flat, wide runway. It's easy for the people of Bristol to get to, being so close to the centre, etc.

    Surely that would be a much better aerodrome to develop? Why hasn't anyone thought of that I wonder?

  • Comment number 20.

    Well, that's what I call a debate kicking off!
    Good to hear from everyone, keep those comments coming - and come back and read what people are saying about yours.
    Of course the irony is that most of the council debate must ignore the actual impact of planes on our climate, and concern themselves with direct "planning issues" such as noise, ground traffic congestion, pollution etc. Still, after last week's meeting in Bristol on the biofuel power station, don't bank on councillors restricting themselves to the narrow interpretation of planning guidance.
    I hear they have booked an overflow room at Weston Town Hall for Wednesday night's planning committee. Should be busy. Remember, if you can't get there - or don't want to miss the football! - check in back here or follow the tweets on @bbcbusinessdave.

  • Comment number 21.

    As an engineer, and a pedant, I would like to complain about the misuse of the term 'efficiency' both here and more widely in the non-technical press. It really is a case of 'apples and oranges'.

    In this context, efficiency is the percentage of the energy that is put into a system which comes out the other end as something useful (for some value of 'useful'). A car engine might be 25% efficient, for example, meaning that of the stored chemical energy that goes in, a quarter ends up as useful motive effort. Efficiency is a dimensionless ratio, so the units have to cancel.

    Grams of CO2 per km, litres per 100 km or miles per gallon are not measures of efficiency, they're measures of fuel consumption. In the case of a vehicle (aircraft, boat, car) this depends on both the vehicle's energy demand (i.e. how difficult is it to push the vehicle through the air/water) and the efficiency of its engines. Misusing the term 'efficiency' is unhelpful, when 'fuel consumption' is both correct and self-explanatory.

  • Comment number 22.

    nfo: A good point well made. My information is that, precisely described, the best new jet engines on passenger airliners are 37% efficient, while petrol engines in cars manage about 25%, and diesels around 32%. Forgive me abbreviating the detail in the original post!

  • Comment number 23.

    BIA will stay a backwoods dump of an airport until the road access is improved.

  • Comment number 24.

    If your argument is that smaller airports are greener then that is an argument against expanding Bristol Airport and instead building a new airport similarly sized to (or smaller than) the existing one. It could then be built in a convenient location which minimises traffic and car travel.

    As it is I don't think Bristol Airport is conveniently situated for road access. It really needs a rail link: the money should go into that, if anything.

  • Comment number 25.

    The problem with these kind of discussions is that a vocal minority will always oppose airports. Some of this vocal minority are people who would directly suffer from the noise (etc.) so you can see why they would object (they never get properly compensated, is the problem). The rest of the vocal minority are just people who will always oppose airports no matter what (how dare the unwashed peasants want to go on holiday abroad). On the other side is the silent majority who would benefit from easier air travel, but they are never heard. The only people who are ever heard on the other side is the associated commercial interest. So the question is whether they have more influence in the end than the middle class anti-airport vocal minority.

    The M25 argument is amusing. It's not too surprising that the M25 ended up being over full because it was a road designed in the 1950s which didn't fully open until the 1980s. And when it comes to trains (a service which is highly subsidised by the taxpayer, unlike motorways) when there is higher demand than supply then funnily enough the argument is always that we should provide more supply. But when it comes to cars and planes the usual vocal middle class suspects always give the exact opposite argument, that we should restrict demand. Of course these partisans would claim that trains are "green" but any service that has to be subsidised is not "green", it just means that customers of that service have successfully externalised the cost of their journey onto the rest of society.

  • Comment number 26.

    We the people of this world, and the economies of this world need air travel. Why the 'greenies' (of whicj i am one) pick on air travel is beyond me. If we were to concentrate on the real problems such as deforestation and the poisoning of the seas (where most co2 is absorbed and oxygen released) then we could all have our own private jets and not worry. As for Bristol airport, it needs upgrading because at the moment its nothing but an embarasment to Bristol.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a frequent business flyer with family in Bristol this is the only blog I feel compelled to contribute to.

    I'm currently based in Dallas, Texas, and for quite some time used the Continental service from Bristol to Dallas via Newark. The convenience of flying from and into Bristol soon wore out and I reverted to a direct flight from Heathrow to Dallas Fort Worth as Newark all too frequently suffers from bad weather and delays.

    Over the recent Christmas period I hosted 9 visitors from Bristol, all of whom used the direct American Airlines flights from Heathrow on my recommendation. Despite the need to get to LHR and back to Bristol they all agreed that the direct flight was much better than using the service from Bristol.

    The truth of this matter is that LHR has many daily flights to DFW that are full (since some flights have been cut these fights are VERY busy) will people from all corners of the UK... almost all of whom use ground transportation to get to the airport.

    What really needs to be investigated is the issue of how many current and future passengers are prepared to travel to gain the benefits of direct flights mad how many people would willingly forego the road trips that cause so many traffic problems in the UK.

    Another thought to throw into the mix is how long will it take for local authorities to propose congestion charges for 'out of towners' to access airports?

    The final point I want to air is that residential property with easy access to local airports in the US often sells for premium prices to people whose livelihoods are inextricably tied to air travel. Perhaps the tipping point for property prices around Lulsgate is dependent on the airport meeting the needs of all local travelers, both business and pleasure.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dave:
    "The famously green Toyota Prius uses 4.3 litres of fuel to go 100km. Go the same distance on a new Airbus A380 with its Filton-designed wings, and each passenger uses just 2.9 litres."

    ... Lets be less disingenuous and compare like with like, shall we? If I'm off on holiday, I'm not usually going on my own. With a family of four in the Prius, we're doing better than the plane again, at just under a litre of fuel each.

  • Comment number 29.

    "We the people of this world, and the economies of this world need air travel. Why the 'greenies' (of whicj i am one) pick on air travel is beyond me. "

    im not surprised you are confused. you are critiquing what you are defending in the same sentence !

    i'm sure the economies of the world can find a solution to having no air transport. they coped before with just boats and trains. not alot is even transported by planes anyway just people going on non essential journeys. they can communicate by email instead, or stay at home.

    sorted.

    if we cant even decide that a obvious thing like aircraft journeys for pleasure are a non essential extravagance that could immediately be disposed of with little harm to human life in at least attempt to reduce carbon emissions, we are truly fooked on finding a way to limit climate damage from things far more essential to the continuation of our bloated human civilization.

  • Comment number 30.

    re. #14 would agree if i worked, and when i finally do (inviting insults here...) then it would be an absolutely godsend, but its already annoying enough coming back from uni and having planes flying literally directly over the house and trying to revise/work/whatever.
    an expansion would be fine so long as the previously mentioned bypass doesnt go ahead, and that night flights and noise volumes arent increased, which is unlikely....
    theres no rare species around us that i know of that can deter the expansion, so likelihood is itll happen anyway
    if it does, just hope it helps with my swing bowling on our circket ground.... somehow....

  • Comment number 31.

    Easy - don't fly from Bristol. Cardiff is much easier, staff are a lot friendlier. And who said Bristol wasn't secure? This is the worst airport to go through if you're in a hurry! Re no. 11 - it may be true that the holiday traveller does not want to go miles and miles to the next airport, but the business traveller will. In times when everybody is cutting down on travel cost, it is worth looking into Heathrow flights (unfortunately!) and even Gatwick. Some holiday connections such as Gibraltar don't even get offered from local airports and they should, so no wonder that trip to LHR et al are still necessary. If I could, I would avoid them!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Dave, whilst Jet Engines have made fantastic strides in recent decades it is perhaps a bit misleading to use the Toyota Prius as a comparative example in your article. Fundamentally, the Toyota Prius will do, say, approximately (for argument sake) 5L/100Km regardless of whether there is 1, or a maximum 5 passengers on board, so the nett consumption will range from 5L/100Km down to approximately 1L/100Km depending on load. The A380 & other current Jets on the other hand will only achieve, at best, say 3L/100Km per person transported, therefore will at best achieve 15L/100Km for 5 persons transported, and at worst (for argument sake, assuming some savings in weight) approximately 10L/100Km for 1 Person transported, no where near achieving parity, never mind exceeding the performance achieved by the car, all other variables accepted (distance, practicalities, etc,...).

 

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