The apprenticeship pathway can work for all and everyone

Back Heathrow team members attended the recent Hounslow Regeneration 2.0 Conference, skilfully and ably hosted by Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, where a range of business, political and educational stakeholders gave presentations on their roles in the future of the borough. It was fantastic to see so many people and businesses committed to making Hounslow a better place for both residents and businesses.

One of the presentations that really caught our attention was by Janet Rowson, head of Apprenticeships at the University of West London (UWL). Apprenticeships have long been one of the core pillars of the expansion promise, offering 10,000 apprenticeships to help young people locally into work.

At Back Heathrow we have often made reference to this offer as part of the wider Heathrow proposal, but what do we really know about the technicalities of what a modern apprenticeship looks like? In order to better understand this issue we listened with interest as Janet gave her presentation.

She introduced the topic by asking the audience how many of us knew that you could get a degree level qualification from an apprenticeship? Not many! Through the employer levy that was introduced in 2017, any company with a turnover of £3million or more can engage with the programme.

The employer must pay a salary, provide all the standard benefits of work and allow at least 20% time off for the apprentice to learn. If the employer is not eligible to pay the levy the apprentice is co-funded with the government.

From April 2019, for a non-levy-paying employer, the government covers 95% of the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. If an employer does pay the levy, it will also be able to transfer up to 25% of unused annual funds to other organisations.

UWL offers approximately 15 higher and degree apprenticeships starting at Level 4 intermediate to Level 7 masters level.

Across the wider UK, the number of apprenticeships starters has doubled from 20,000 to nearly 50,000 Since 2014-15. This includes a sharp increase in Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships at degree and master level.

The proximity of Heathrow means a strong relationship and the proposed new runway brings the potential for 5,000 new apprenticeship on top of the existing 5,000 already provided by the airport.

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye later told the conference that Heathrow airport had forged close links over decades with the local community and many Hounslow residents have had long and successful careers at the airport.

Heathrow says that to ensure sustainable, long-term employment for Heathrow’s current and future workforce it has launched a new Apprenticeships and Careers Show. It will give attendees the chance to explore future skills and apply for live vacancies and apprenticeships. It focuses on three main groups:

  • Employers offering current job opportunities and apprenticeships
  • School and college groups of Year 11, 12 and 13 students who can visit exclusively on the first day of the event to find out about their future career options
  • Active job seekers of all ages and abilities who are looking to join Heathrow immediately.

In the interests of fairness, there are other Apprenticeship schemes available in the colleges and universities across west London and the Thames Valley. However, Janet’s presentation gave us a real insight into what modern apprenticeships let you achieve and how the apprenticeship pathway can work for all and everyone.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the apprenticeship pathway on offer at UWL, you can find out more at -

Support for Heathrow expansion remains strong in local communities

This year has seen significant developments in the campaign for a new runway at Heathrow airport.

 Heathrow launched two of the biggest ever consultation exercises as the planning stage for the proposal edged forward. The planning application is now expected next year after the airport digests responses to its consultation on its ‘master plan’.

The latest polling undertaken by Populus in August shows that in 16 out of the 18 constituencies around the airport more people support than oppose the new runway.

The Back Heathrow campaign has been boosted by several council surveys that showed strong support for expansion among its residents. In February, a surveyof Hounslow residents revealed a significant shift in local opinion in favour of Heathrow’s new runway. It showed that 59% of residents overall supported a new runway – up from 44% in 2016.

In June, another residents’ survey– this one in Ealing, revealed that that a large majority of its residents now backed the scheme with 69% of residents backing expansion.

What factors are in play to keep support for a new runway consistently strong? Back Heathrow has always stressed the economic benefits of such a massive infrastructure project and the arguments remain persuasive: 5,000 new apprenticeships, 40,000 new local jobs and over 180,000 across the UK, and much improved public transport links.

This economic boost to prosperity is worth billions and has the potential to end youth unemployment in local boroughs. Good for residents, their families and the wider community across London and the UK.

A second factor that has gained traction locally is the idea that you can have expansion and tackle the challenge of climate change. A combination of technological innovation; more efficient aircraft and tough government regulations on carbon and air quality will ensure our country meets its targets on sustainability.

For more information about our campaign visit Back Heathrow’s website:

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director, Back Heathrow


Back Heathrow – working with trade unions

If you squeeze past the leafleters outside the centre where the Trade Union Congress conference takes place a bigger picture emerges. There is always much to admire in the sober way complex, national issues are debated among the hundreds of delegates who attend this annual policy-setting event.

Back Heathrow had a stall in the exhibition area at the Brighton Conference Centre and were pleased to discuss the arguments for expansion with delegates as they browsed the hall.

The conference agenda – many pages of motions for debate – was also helpful. Although there was no direct mention of Heathrow, there were several motions for debate – about infrastructure investment, apprenticeships, skills and the green economy – subjects that feed into how the Heathrow expansion project can achieve the twin objectives of economic growth and sustainable airport expansion.

On apprenticeships, TUC delegates passed a motion from the University and College Union calling for high quality apprenticeships with real job opportunities.

A call from Community union for the TUC to lobby the government for better skills provision for people who have left employment was also carried. British employers spend 50% less on training per employee than the EU average. It wanted employers to recognise the importance of transferable skills.

Tackling the climate crisis and moving to a low carbon economy was the subject of a successful motion from Unite. It called for a ‘just transition’ to a balanced low carbon energy mix, investment in skills and infrastructure and protecting high quality jobs.

A motion from GMB to secure UK green jobs was also carried. It stated: Combatting climate breakdown is not just a moral issue, but an economic one for communities and workers across the UK. It should be a top priority for governments. Decarbonisation could produce thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs in renewables and in the supply chain, but this requires political will.

It commits the TUC to campaign for: Fair funding for the cost of decarbonisation; local labour in construction; skills for the future;investment in skills to meet our needs now and in the future and fair pay and rights at work.

Heathrow airport also organised a fringe event where Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability at the airport, Richard Bassford, Government Affairs Manager at Virgin Atlantic and Greg Archer from the non-governmental organisation, Transport and Environment had a wide-ranging discussion on how the UK aviation sector can grow and meet climate change targets. It’s good to know that the goals of Heathrow expansion: jobs, prosperity and sustainable growth fit into the campaigning objectives of the TUC and its 5.5m members.


How to grow aviation and cut carbon

Simon Jenkins recently wrote in The Guardian that, when it came to Heathrow expansion, Boris Johnson had dropped his assertion of “f**k business” for “f**k west London”. Simon has a right to his opinion, but if we’re serious about saving the planet, he’s missing the bigger picture. Today, as governments everywhere grapple with the challenge of maintaining economic growth whilst tackling climate change, we have in the UK an opportunity to demonstrate how innovative thinking and bold leadership can deliver a low carbon future.

People are on the move across the globe, this year more than 4.6 billion journeys will be made by plane. The “average citizen” flies once every 22 months now, compared to once every 43 months 18 years ago. Without growth at hub airports like Heathrow we will only add flights to our airspace, by moving passengers to Paris, Amsterdam or other hubs before continuing their onward journey.

Some broadsheet columnists say the UK should turn its back on aviation to reduce carbon, but we could achieve much more by using what we learn at Heathrow, under the UK’s strict planning regime, to influence the world.

In the United States the busiest airlines represent nearly a fifth of total global air traffic with 632 million passengers or 18.6% of the total. China is second with 555 million passengers, whilst the UK journeys represent just 4.3% of the total. Countries like China are meeting this huge demand by building 234 airports in the next 15 years. Asia is experiencing tremendous growth with new low-cost carriers putting travel within reach of burgeoning middle-class populations.

Yes, it is great news for connectivity and prosperity, but it is taking place against a backdrop of global climate change and major questions on how to tackle it.

The UK has taken significant unilateral steps with a commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But, for many this just isn’t good enough. Some will continue to call for the cancelling of projects like Heathrow’s new runway, or even rationing the number of times we can fly each year.

But would such unilateral action make any real difference? It won’t’ stop China building its 234 new airports. The UK accounts for just 1% of global carbon emissions, a miniscule amount when compared to the giants of China and the USA. Without international cooperation, draconian measures at a UK level won’t make the slightest difference.

The challenge is to manage this demand in a responsible way – across the world – and meet our ambitious carbon reduction targets. Thankfully, the answer lies nearer to home than many would think.

Necessity drives invention. Heathrow airport has been bursting at the seams whilst waiting for the go-ahead for expansion and it has had to innovate within these constraints to stay ahead of its continental rivals. To tackle the problem of noise it looked at how it could do things differently – with smarter management of its airspace, by incentivising landing slots for quieter aircraft, better management of landing gear and by experimenting with more efficient angles of ascent and descent. Innovation has made a difference, it has reduced the noise envelope around the airport by 90% since the 1970s, whilst capacity has doubled.

Politicians should set tough targets on air quality, carbon emissions and noise at all UK airports, as the forthcoming Development Consent Order (the planning permission) will for Heathrow. By doing so aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and airports will be forced to innovate, and that’s where Britain’s experience can play a unique role and help guide others. Cars, trucks, and buses in the UK are changing, with carbon emissions planned to reach zero by 2040 as we move away from petrol and diesel engines.

This move to innovate would never have happened if governments hadn’t brought in legislation that has forced us to change behaviours.Airports, led by Heathrow must go further through the introduction of public transport infrastructure, ultra-low emissions for cars that travel there and a huge scaling up of consolidation of cargo vehicles which transport goods for export.

The biggest innovation will need to be in aircraft technology, with the introduction of electric planes. Already small aircraft capable of carrying a handful of passengers are being tested and Norway has plans to upscale to an all-electric domestic fleet by 2040. The right constraints on Heathrow’s planning permission for growth will help develop its reward to airlines of £1 million pounds for the first electric planes to land at the airport. And like the revolution in the UK car industry, we should not ignore developments in hybrid and aviation biofuel technology.

Our experience, knowledge, and intelligent solutions can be our gift to the wider world. Exporting low carbon technology solutions to Beijing, Delhi and Jakarta isn’t just an opportunity, it’s our responsibility.But without the expansion of Heathrow, the imperative to develop these solutions is dimmed. That’s not a good look, for west London or the rest of the world, Simon.

Parmjit Dhanda

Vaisakhi celebrations for Back Heathrow

Back Heathrow had a stall at the Southall Vaisakhi Mela on April 14, playing its part in an important event for the local Sikh community. We had an enjoyable day out and the message of Vaisakhi - friendship and mutual respect - were much in evidence at Norwood Green. 

For Back Heathrow it was a chance to meet some old friends and make some new ones. Our stall was surrounded by food stalls and was in front of the stage and sound system that supplied infectious Bhangra beats. Thanks to DJ Jazz Kalsi at Intamixx Entertainment for raising the temperature on what was a coldish spring day. Thanks also to event organiser Jaz from Asian Events Media and all the dancers and performers on the day. 

Vaisahki Southall 2019 in Norwood Green parkLeft to right: Guy at the Back Heathrow stand, new sign ups, event attendees

From the warmth of the welcome, it was clear that support for a new runway at Heathrow airport is very strong in the local community. Jobs, apprenticeships, and prosperity for future generations are key to that support. However, more than anything, people wanted to know when the runway was actually going to be built? What was causing the delay? 

They understood that parliament approved the decision last year, but what many did not know was that a group of councils, led by Hillingdon, were taking legal action against the airport. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of delay causes concern in a community so reliant on the economic benefits of our airport. 

Last Sunday also gave us the chance to remind people that the consultation on the detailed planning stage begins in June. It is vital that the local community have their say, so when the time comes – get involved. 

Heathrow takes its responsibilities seriously and must get it right if it is to receive government sign-off to finally build the new runway. It must work just as hard to ensure its future operations are sustainable, in order to meet air and noise targets set by the government. 

But as we found at the 2019 Southall Vaisakhi Mela, if it creates opportunities and prosperity for future generations, local people will continue to back Heathrow. 


Heathrow tops the league, but for how long?

Heathrow airport has done it again. The business news company, Bloomberg has announced that for 2018 the airport held onto its status as Europe’s busiest.

Heathrow handled 80.1m passengers last year, with its nearest rival, Paris Charles De Gaulle, trailing 8m passengers behind.

One interesting reason that explains why Heathrow is ahead in passenger numbers is because airlines/carriers use bigger jets to maximise their returns from the airport’s two busy runways.

As the table below shows, the UK, Spain and Germany all have two airports in the top ten busiest airports in Europe. Together, Heathrow and Gatwick were the busiest with over 126m passengers between them.


Heathrow has been the world’s number 1 airport for international passengers, but in 2017 lost this top spot to Dubai Airport. However, by way of compensation in 2018, Heathrow Terminal 2 was voted by SkyTrax as the world’s best airport terminal.

On top of that, in 2017 - for the third consecutive year, travellers from around the world awarded Heathrow ‘Best airport in Western Europe’.

But nothing stands still in the world of aviation. A new airport in Istanbul, designed to handle 90m passengers a year by 2020 will put pressure on Heathrow’s premier status - where the new runway won’t be ready until 2026 at the earliest.

The report also looks at the rate of increase in passenger numbers, and top of the league in 2018 is Moscow with passenger growth of 14.3%. Heathrow languishes second from bottom with growth of just 2.7%, and with only Gatwick below it at 1.1%.

These figures clearly illustrate the problem Heathrow has. The airport operates at 98% capacity and has little room for passenger growth without further expansion. It has been argued that operating at such a level has constrained UK economic growth and restricted the development of new routes to growing economies in Asia and elsewhere.

When new public transport infrastructure improvements like Crossrail and HS2 are completed it is estimated that by 2030, 70% of Britain’s population will be within three hours of the airport. As the UK’s only hub airport, it is crucial that the airport thrives if the UK is to be economically competitive.

Let’s talk about Carbon

The Friends of the Earth protest at the High Court today will not tell you the whole story about climate change.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that faces us in the UK and wider world, we should all agree on that.

However, it is a problem that should be shared by all and to argue scrapping expansion would solve climate change is wrong. The enemy is not aircraft but carbon. The reality is that you can’t uninvent aircraft or the aviation industry, the trick is to target the real culprit – carbon emissions.

Putting to one side the economic benefits of expansion – jobs, new skills and investment, let’s look at some of the anti-expansion arguments.

Figures from the government’s committee on climate change show that overall emissions fell by 5% between 2015-2016 and the UK is on target to meet its carbon budget targets.

Although transport accounts for 25% of emissions, this consists of mainly petrol and diesel cars. Since 1990 UK emissions have fallen 43%, while the economy has grown over 70%, while carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – is down 36 per cent.

Many factors can help to limit emissions, like better flight seat occupancy; improved fuel efficiency and changes in airline routes.

Heathrow control tower and plane (c) Heathrow media centre

Heathrow must play its part in tackling climate change if it wants to expand and as part of this role has announced its plan for future growth to be carbon neutral. Heathrow’s objectives for neutral carbon growth are based around:

Aircraft technology: the goal is to continue to improve the fuel efficiency of the global fleet of aircraft by 1.5% a year until 2020.

Airspace and operations: airspace needs to be modernised to take advantage of satellite navigation technology that exists, allowing much more efficient flight, lowering carbon emissions.

Sustainable fuels: is a critical ingredient for the aviation industry in the UK to reduce carbon emissions. They are made from agricultural or industrial waste and provide an alternative to the traditional fossil fuels that power jet engines.

Carbon pricing and offsetting: aviation can help by investing with other sectors and activities that can reduce or capture emissions where they can do it more cheaply and quickly.

To achieve these goals Heathrow must also meet the wider objectives of the government to control and reduce emissions and to meet their international obligations.

Any vision for travel and transport should be a part of wider urban, road and infrastructure development. This can reduce traffic and enhance air quality, reduce congestion and noise.

There is a lot to be done, and it is important to see aviation playing its part.


Graham Stewart

Head of Communications

Cllr Tej Ram Bagha (1939 to 2018)

The team at Back Heathrow send our condolences to the family of Cllr Tej Ram Bagha, who sadly passed away earlier this month.

Cllr Bagha was a strong supporter of the campaign for the third runway. Having spent his career working at Heathrow, and representing a community reliant on the airport for work, Cllr Bagha’s steadfast support for growing jobs and the prospects of people in Southall ran through his 25 years of public service at Ealing Council.

Arriving in the UK in 1963, Cllr Bagha was among the first generation of Commonwealth migrants to settle in Southall at the height of Britain’s post-war labour shortages. Eventually finding work with British Airways, Cllr Bagha spent 29 years as a baggage handler at the airport. His commitment to Heathrow lasted well beyond his time with BA, where he continued to work as a special assistant, helping disabled passengers navigate the airport’s terminals well beyond retirement.

First elected in 1994, Cllr Bagha’s commitment to the community in Southall was extensive. A school governor of Allenby Primary School for over 20 years; a longstanding member of the Indian Worker’s Association executive; a key figure at both his local Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha Temple and the national Sri Guru Ravidass Societies organisation. In recognition of his life long commitment to public service, Cllr Bagha was appointed as Ealing’s first citizen as Mayor of the Borough from 2014 to 2015.

Cllr Bagha is survived by his son, daughter and three grandchildren, and our thoughts are with his family at this challenging time.

A Question of Opinions

Parmjit Dhanda speaking at the Labour Conference roundtable.

Party Political Conferences are in the news this week. For Back Heathrow it’s been an opportunity to make our case to decision makers.

As a former MP, being back in the mix of a party conference and the fanfare of speeches, statistics and opinion polls was quite exciting.

I was invited to speak at a roundtable discussion about revamping Britain’s infrastructure. The panel was made up of politicians and trade unionists, who all had views on how we should speed up job creation and build for the future.

I talked about the need to improve the planning process, about the importance of good community engagement and (importantly for this audience) - the need for politicians to be brave.

Whether its airport expansion, major roads, railways or power stations, the infrastructure we need to live our lives, create jobs and grow our economy is stymied and, at least in part, politics and politicians must take responsibility.

At a time of economic and political instability it is more important than ever that our politicians become braver about national infrastructure and articulate the reasons to ‘do’ rather than find excuses to ‘not do’.

Heathrow’s new runway is an interesting but not untypical example.

To make my point, I highlighted some interesting Populus polling unveiled by Heathrow last week. The poll confirmed what regular polling has shown since 2015 – that more local people across the swathe of local Boroughs support Heathrow’s expansion than oppose it.

Politicians are sometimes pushed around by the loudest voices, and the sensible silent majority are often overlooked.

For example, did you know that in the Hillingdon Borough (where the Council is leading the legal fight against expansion) support for expansion outweighs opposition by 19 points in Hayes & Harlington constituency, where 71% of residents have a close link to the airport.

In Uxbridge & South Ruislip support is ahead of opposition by nine points and 53% have a close connection, (like employment) at the airport.

But there is work to be done to ensure the public view is reflected in the local politics there.

While the Parliamentary vote may be through, people must still have their say. Heathrow has just announced January and June consultations for 2019 to develop plans for an expanded Heathrow. We will continue to support local communities and businesses to ensure they have their voices heard during the consultation process.


Parmjit Dhanda

Executive Director at Back Heathrow



Back Heathrow Supporters Celebrate Year’s Achievements

Back Heathrow supporter group photo

Back Heathrow supporters group photo

Last Friday evening, over 200 Back Heathrow supporters gathered for a summer party at the Indian Gymkhana Club in Osterley to celebrate the campaign’s success over the last year.

In June, MPs voted in favour of expansion with a majority of 296. This is the biggest milestone of the campaign to date, and our supporters were key to winning the vote with such a big margin.

Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda, kicked off the evening with a speech and a little awards ceremony for categories including ‘Best Actress of the Year’ for Cllr Helen Manghnani for her portrayal of Theresa May and ‘Media Darling of the Year’ for Fiona Sadek and her interview with the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

'Best Actress of the Year' Cllr Helen Manghnani  'Media Darling of the Year' Fiona Sadek of Richmond

Cllr Helen Manghnani (left) and Fiona Sadek (right) accepting their awards.

Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing and Southall, also attended the event and thanked his constituents for their support and highlighted the importance of Heathrow expansion by providing thousands of jobs and apprenticeships for his constituency. Councillors from Spelthorne, Ealing, Slough, Hounslow and Reading were also present, in addition to members of the Hounslow Chamber of Commerce.

Parmjit said, "It was great to see the level of support in Hounslow at this event. At Back Heathrow we're very proud of the ethnic and social diversity of our supporter base. We are truly representative of the area. We are bound together by a desire to see new economic opportunities and jobs for their local communities and our country. After the parliamentary vote, we'll work to ensure that expansion delivers the best possible scheme for the local economy and the local environment."

The event was a great success, and we are forever grateful to our supporters for all the work they do for the campaign, and their commitment and belief in the expansion of Heathrow, so thanks a million everyone!