London Heathrow Airport bids farewell to Terminal 1


After 47 years Heathrow Airport's Terminal 1 will close its doors to passengers for the last time tonight.

British European Airways was the first operator to fly from Terminal 1 when it was opened by the Queen in May 1968.

The final departure is also due to be a British Airways flight, this time to Hanover.

Its closure will allow Terminal 2 to be expanded and comes in the week the Airport Commission decides whether to permit a third runway at Heathrow.

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said the industry expected Sir Howard Davies's report on airport expansionto be published later this week.

At its peak, more than nine million passengers a year passed through Terminal 1, which was the largest short-haul terminal in Western Europe.

In recent weeks, flights have been transferred to Terminal 2 and passengers numbers have fallen to just 1,700 and 17 flights a day.

Terminal 2 will be expanded to take the place of Terminal 1 and if the government supports a third runway at Heathrow then Terminal 2 will be extended further still.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye said; "The closure of Terminal 1 marks another important milestone in the transformation of Heathrow.

Terminal 1 has served Britain well for nearly 50 years, but will soon make way for the expansion of Terminal 2, giving Britain a world class airport that we can all be proud of."





Boris Johnson ditches £200m London City Airport expansion plans

Boris Johnson today pulled the plug on plans to double the capacity of London City Airport, saying expansion would “blight the lives of thousands of people”.

The Mayor of London said granting permission for the £200million scheme - including a 50 per cent increase in take-offs and landings - would lead to an "unacceptable" increase in noise, and stood by his call for the construction of a so-called Boris Island hub airport to the east of London.

His decision, welcomed by campaigners, drew accusations of "blatant electioneering" from the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, whose council waved through expansion proposals last month.

A Mayor of London spokesman today said: "The mayor has long argued that Heathrow Airport cannot be expanded due to the increased noise it would lead to in west London and he is not willing to expose east London to additional noise either.

"The Mayor continues to believe that a new hub airport to the east of London is the only long-term option that will provide enough aviation capacity – without detriment to the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people in London and the southeast."

Newham Council's directly elected mayor Sir Robin said Mr Johnson's decision was political and would cost the borough 2,000 jobs.

“Boris Johnson is guilty of blatant electioneering," he said.

"He is clearly more interested in chasing election votes in Uxbridge than securing vital jobs and investment in east London.

"The cost of that electioneering is 2,000 jobs in Newham alone, £750m every year for the UK economy and the loss of environmental improvements."

Expansion: the plans were touted as a major boost for the capital The attack prompted Mr Johnson to fire back: "Robin Wales doesn’t speak for the people of East London.

"Perhaps he’d like to explain why it’s acceptable to support proposals that would have blighted the lives of thousands of Londoners if this proposal had gone ahead."

Related stories

Expansion proposals included an increase in the number of take-offs and landings at the airport from 70,000 a year to 111,000, almost doubling the number of passengers to six million annually by 2023.

Under the plans, the terminal would also be extended and seven new stands for aircraft introduced.

But in a letter sent to Newham Council today Mr Johnson directed the local authority to refuse the airport's planning application.

Last month, City Airport's chief executive Declan Collier said expansion would be a major boost to London’s economy and would provide an urgent increase in air capacity the capital “desperately” needs.

Plans: file picture shows a plane landing at City airport in London He said: “Expansion will allow us to increase the flight capacity over the next few years that London so badly needs now."

Alan Haughton, from anti-expansion campaign group Stop City Airport, today said: “I am delighted by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson's refusal of these plans that would have seen thousands of residents entering a new London City Airport noise contour.

"The impacts of noise on residents should not be underestimated nor ignored as it has a direct impact on their quality of life - something that the Labour Council of Newham did not fully respect when they gave their approval.

"No other East London Council supported this application and thousands of residents objected."

A separate application to build a six-storey four-star hotel on the City Airport site has been left to the council to determine.

Source Evening Standard




Is Uber already harming the traditional London taxi?


Official figures show that the numbers of people interested in becoming a London taxi driver have fallen and the car-booking phone app Uber is being blamed. But is this the beginning of a serious decline for the traditional black cab, ask Harry Low and Justin Parkinson.
"The cab trade is facing its biggest challenge in 300 to 350 years," says Steve Albasini, who's been driving a London taxi for seven years.
Cabbies in the UK feel under threat from Uber, a US firm which allows passengers to book cars using a mobile phone app, paying by debit or credit card, rather than cash. Its main selling point is that it is cheaper than taxis hailed in the street.
Transport for London figures show the number of people studying "the Knowledge", the geographical training for licensed taxi drivers, fell from 3,326 in 2012, when Uber started in London, to 2,159 last year. Under this system, would-be drivers spend between two and four years imbibing an encyclopaedic level of detail of the capital's streets and traffic systems. They learn about 320 routes, 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest, such as museums, restaurants, embassies and colleges.
The aim is that, once qualified, they can get a passenger home anywhere in London as quickly and safely as possible. The written exam at the end of their training costs £200 and the practical test another £400. These are in addition to the expense of training, with several Knowledge schools offering courses.
Uber, by contrast, allows drivers to start earning money far quicker. There's no equivalent of the Knowledge - instead there's a reliance on GPS technology to get around cities.
It's a model that's proved popular since the company started in San Francisco in 2009, spreading to 57 countries. Figures released in March show there are now more Uber cars than yellow cabs in New York. In the UK it's expanded into Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester. The business's global value has been placed at $40bn (£25.4bn).
"The figures on London cabs from TFL sound pretty much right," says Steve McNamara, head of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association. "Doing the Knowledge is a big time investment. Why would you do two or three years' training, when you have the promise instead of going out and earning instant money? We're very, very concerned about the situation."
MacNamara argues that a growth in Uber vehicles is clogging up the streets of central London while they wait to pick up passengers, also reducing air quality. He claims Transport for London is not doing enough to ensure standards are maintained.
Albasini agrees. "Some people will say 'What's the point in doing the Knowledge?'" he says. "GPS can get you somewhere, but being driven by someone who knows what they're doing is better than being driven by someone who is slave to a piece of computer equipment. That's a bad thing for Londoners."
Ex-servicemen at a taxi training school gaining knowledge of the city
London's taxi drivers have a special term for the quietest period of the year, starting in January, calling it "kipper season". This year, things didn't really pick up again during spring, says Albasini. "I'm working 70 to 80 hours a week," he says, "and I'm just about making the same money I used to from 50 hours a week."
The capital's cabbies are proud of their history. In 1654, Oliver Cromwell set up the Fellowship of Master Hackney Carriages, a name still used for black cabs. The Knowledge test was introduced after the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. Visitors complained that drivers were making too many mistakes. The training continued after the first motorised cabs came into use in 1898.
Uber claims that its use of GPS technology alleviates the need for such learning today. Its drivers are vetted to ensure they haven't committed sexual or violent offences, as are licensed cabbies.
Taxi cabs stand idle during industrial action, 1966
After Uber journeys, passengers and drivers rate each other, by giving them up to five stars, based on courtesy, effectiveness and general behaviour. They can leave comments too. Uber says this ensures standards are maintained.
It's not the only rival to black taxis, as minicabs, whose drivers also don't have to learn the Knowledge, have been around for many years and are also regulated by Transport for London.
"We believe we are helping to grow the overall transport pie and offer a complementary service, working alongside iconic black cabs, other private hire services and public transport to keep London moving," says Jo Bertram, regional general manager for Uber UK, Ireland and the Nordics. "The efficiency of our technology helps us offer our services at a competitive price, which means we can attract people who might otherwise have driven their own cars."
As well as protests against Uber in London, there have been demonstrations in cities across Europe. It's banned in Berlin and Madrid, while in the UK, unions in Leeds gathered last year to oppose its launch there.
There have been complaints about Uber's "surge" pricing, where rates increase at times when not enough cabs are on the road. But the company says its app explicitly shows when this is happening and that the reason for it is to tempt off-duty drivers back to work to meet demand.
When an "equlibrium" is reached, the customer's costs start to fall again, it adds. The company apologised last year when the algorithms meant that surge pricing kicked in during a deadly siege at a cafe in Sydney.
Despite the criticisms, Uber's expansion looks set to continue.
For now, Steve Albasini, who studied molecular biology at university before becoming a cabbie, is planning to keep going. "When I got my badge, I felt more proud about that than getting my degree because I worked really hard to get the Knowledge. I love driving a cab around London. Whatever happens, there's no other job in the world like it."

Source BBC





Expansion of Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport could be damaging to health, the Green Party has claimed

Expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick airports could be damaging to health, the Green Party has claimed.

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for the South East said a new runway could be "bad news for air quality".

Both airports have said they would meet legal limits on air quality.

A consultation by the Airports Commission on the issue ends on Friday with a recommendation to the government on airport expansion due in the next few weeks.

The commission ordered a further air quality assessment after the Supreme Court set a deadline for the government to produce new plans for reducing air pollution levels.

It is due to recommend which of the three short-listed schemes - two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick - should go ahead.

However along with the Green Party, local councils in the Heathrow area and the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign have said the commission has underestimated the environmental impact airport expansion would have.

Mr Taylor said: "The reality is that building any major new runways would be seriously bad news for air quality, rule out any chance of meeting our climate change targets, and would result in an unprecedented increase in noise levels."

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick's chief executive, agreed air quality was now "even more fundamental" to expansion decisions.

"[But] Heathrow currently breaches legal air quality limits and it defies common sense that a third [Heathrow] runway will solve the problem," he said.

"In contrast, Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and its location means it can guarantee that it never will."

Matt Gorman, Heathrow's sustainability and environment director, disagreed with Mr Wingate's assessment.

"The commission's air quality analysis has confirmed an expanded Heathrow will go beyond meeting local air quality limits," he said.

Source BBC



London cab strike snarls up Victoria and Westminster

Parts of central London were brought to a standstill by taxi drivers protesting against operators they claim are working illegally.Members of the the United Cabbies Group (UCG) focused their demonstration outside Transport for London's (TfL) headquarters in Victoria Street.

Traffic built up quickly and the knock-on effect was felt by road users throughout neighbouring areas.TfL said it was working to clamp down on illegal minicab activity.It added that 331 private hire drivers had been reported since the recent launch of a high-profile campaign to ensure everyone complied with the regulations.However, UCG drivers complained that TfL is failing to properly regulate private hire drivers and minicab offices by not carrying out sufficient background checks on people applying for licences.

They also said minicabs, which are legally only allowed to take passengers that have pre-booked cabs, are picking up passengers from the street.The situation has got worse since the launch of Uber, a smartphone cab booking app, according to the union.Len Martin, chairman of the UCG, said: "We have continually complained of a lack of enforcement creating a real and present threat to lone females at night."David Garness, from Dagenham, Essex, who took part in the protest said: "We don't like demonstrating like this but TfL is turning a blind eye to what is going on."We have illegal operators coming down to London, sleeping in their vehicles, operating without insurance and without the necessary checks.

"TfL said it had urged the UCG to call off the protest saying it had launched an operation to clamp down and disrupt illegal activity by minicab and taxis.Garrett Emmerson, of TfL, said: "We are determined to protect the livelihoods of all legitimate taxi and private hire drivers through robust enforcement action."

Source BBC





British Airways flight from New York to London hits near supersonic speeds thanks to powerful jet stream

Read more: British Airways flight from New York to London hits near supersonic speeds thanks to powerful jet...

Dubai knocks Heathrow Airport off top spot for international movements

Heathrow has lost its title as the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic. The oil-rich Gulf city of Dubai has knocked London off the top spot, figures from the Airports Council International show.

A total of 68.9 million passengers had passed through Dubai International annually compared with 67.8 million at Heathrow as of December 22, despite a late slowdown in traffic with one important destination, trouble-hit Russia.
It confirms Dubai’s importance as a hub airport with a huge proportion of the users just changing flights and never actually leaving the airport. It also recognises the dramatic rise of Emirates, which uses Dubai as its home base.

The rise in passenger numbers at Dubai this year came despite only a single runway being usable for 80 days because of a refurbishment scheme, which caused a temporary decline in flights.

“Given the traffic achieved in the first 11 months, together with some of the busiest days on record in December, we are confident of ending the year above the 70 million mark and confirming our position as the world’s busiest international airport,” said Paul Griffiths, the British-born chief executive of Dubai Airports. He added: “Looking forward to 2015, the prospects remain exceedingly bright, and we expect to maintain the growth achieved this year in the next 12 months.”

Figures from the airport operator for November showed that passenger traffic was up 4.3% year on year to 5.5 million.
The most important airports in terms of international movement in descending order are Dubai, London Heathrow, Hong Kong, Paris CDG, Amsterdam, Singapore and Frankfurt.

Heathrow Airport showed an emergency landing on their TV screens

Read more: Heathrow Airport showed an emergency landing on their TV screens

UK airports brace for one of the busiest Christmases ever

Read more: UK airports brace for one of the busiest Christmases ever

Dope rope: Cocaine worth £500,000 seized from Gatwick Airport

Read more: Dope rope: Cocaine worth £500,000 seized from Gatwick Airport