The Airports Commission has a view on happiness.  It got lost in the immediate analysis of its report. But it is important……because a key justification it gives of  a third runway at Heathrow is that flying abroad on holiday or to visit family and friends makes you happy.

On page 70 of its final report it says: 

Leisure flights have a high social value. Empirical analysis focused on passengers travelling on holiday or to visit friends and family has shown how the access to leisure travel affects mental health and wellbeing. The findings demonstrate these patterns of travel are associated with higher levels of life satisfactions, general and mental health, and happiness.”

The Commission had asked PwC to look at the academic literature on happiness.  They found that it did show that taking a holiday did make people happy.  There second claim – that air travel is associated with a higher level of happiness – was less well-founded because the statistical work that PwC did for the Commission didn’t split up the respondents into those that travelled on holiday by car, train or bus and those that flew.

However, it would be churlish to deny that cheap flights providing holidays in the sun don’t bring happiness to people.  Only last week I was having a snack at a cafe in Canning Town in East London.  When I asked the young waiter if he was going on holiday this year, his eyes lit up as he explained to me that for the first time in the years he and his girlfriend had saved enough money to fly off for a holiday to Portugal. 

The really interesting question is why the Airports Commission is, at least in part, justifying the expansion of Britain’s premier international airport on the grounds of increasing the happiness of a young lad from Canning Town.

Can it be that it found:

The proportion of business trips is falling  

London outstripping all world cities as an aviation hub

London is outstripping all world cities as an aviation hub.  It debunks the capacity crunch myth.  Far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.

Despite the “capacity crunch” at the capital’s airport, figures compiled by The Independent reveal that London remains the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin – and is racing ahead of its closest rival, New York.

A record 144.7m passengers flew through London’s five commercial airports in 2014. The figure translates to an average of 275 people – or one wide-bodied aircraft – arriving or departing every minute of every day of the year. The capital is 23 per cent ahead of New York, which has three airports.

The Independent has analysed passenger figures for the 20 key aviation cities, aggregating the traffic for all airports serving each metropolis. London’s catchment comprises Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City. Flight movements at Heathrow have reached their effective limit at 1,290 per day, and the airport’s passenger figures are now dwarfed by Atlanta and Beijing. Yet Heathrow grew 1.7 per cent thanks to larger aircraft. Combined with rapid growth at the capital’s other airports, London put on almost seven million passengers during the year, a rise of 5 per cent.

Read the full article:  http://ind.pn/1EcVggf .

HACAN reveals: 3rd runway could mean 13 hours of non-stop flying

If a third runway is built some areas will experience 13 hours of non-stop flying – a plane every 90 seconds.  These will include places under the new flight path like Harlington and Brentford.  It would also apply to places such as Richmond under the approach to the southern runway.

History of HACAN

HACAN started life in the 1960s as KACAN, Kew Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise. Within 10 years the acronym altered and we became HACAN, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.

Both organisations always recognised that Heathrow has a contribution to make to the national economy, and to the London’s local economy. We have never opposed Heathrow per se. Our aim has been to represent the concerns of the residents under the flight paths and around the airport.

HACAN became HACAN ClearSkies in 1999/2000 as aircraft noise became a serious problem for the first time in areas of London and the Thames Valley much further away from Heathrow. People are troubled by aircraft noise who live over 20 miles from the airport. There was a change in the way the aircraft were brought into land in 1996, bringing noise to these new areas. This was done in secret, without consultation or warning with the local councils or the local communities.  Subsequently went back to just calling ourselves HACAN.

We believe that residents have been betrayed by successive governments.

In 1978, the Inspector at the Terminal 4 Public Inquiry recommended the go-ahead for the terminal, but with a strict limit on the number of flights. Within a short time of the terminal opening (in the late 1980s) that limit had ben ignored.

In the 1990s we fought the longest Public Enquiry in UK history – lasting nearly 4 years – against Terminal 5. In 2001, the Inspector recommended the go-ahead for Terminal 5, but with a limit of 480,000 flights per year. The Government accepted the limit, but within 9 months it had put out for consultation proposals for a 3rd runway which would have increased the annual number of flights to 655,000. Terminal 5 in due to be open in 2007.

HACAN  has gone to the highest court in Europe over night flights.

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found in our favour, and against the Government. It agreed that night flights were an infringement of our human right to a good night’s sleep. But the Government appealed and the court upheld the appeal in July 2003. 

HACAN ClearSkies now works with protest groups across the UK and all over Europe.

We are not in the business of ‘exporting our misery’ to somebody else. We believe that the only hope to bring a halt to the incessant pressure for expansion of Heathrow is a change of direction in European policy.. We argue that, if the substantial tax concessions the industry receives each year were phased out, Governments could manage demand.


Coalition re-forms to oppose 3rd runway

A coalition has been formed to oppose any plans for a third runway at Heathrow. The Airports Commission, set up by the Government, is looking at two options for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, in addition to the option of a 2nd runway at Gatwick. Still on the table is the option of an Isle of Grain airport on the Kent Coast. The Commission is currently doing further work on all these shortlisted options. It will ask for further comments in the autumn. Its final report will be out in summer 2015 but, whatever its recommendation, the final decision will be up to the Government of the day.

Read about the options in more detail in the HACAN newsletter.

Keep checking this website for details of the emerging campaign against the third runway.

Below is a list of Public Meetings already organised:

4th February: Richings Park Residents’ Association hosting a meeting (Richings Park, not affected at present, would likely be under a flight path if a 3rd runway were built), Richings Park Sports Club, Wellesley Avenue, SLO 9BN at 7.30pm. HACAN amongst the speakers.

6th February: Justine Greening (last time round one of the most staunch members of our coalition) is holding a public meeting St Mary’s Church in Putney at 7 for 7.30 pm. John Stewart and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govinda speaking.

22nd February: UKIP are holding an anti-3rd runway meeting in Harlington, starting at 6.30pm.

11th March: 7.30pm at the Church Hall rear of Cranford Baptist Church, 1 Firs Drive, Cranford, TW5 9TD.