A selection of photographs from our community meeting at the Indian Gymkhana Club on March 8. It was great to see so many friends and familiar faces at the first meeting we have been able to organise for two years.
In the run up to COP26, there has been a massive media focus on Britain’s domestic airline routes. The Campaign for Better Transport staged a fascinating race last month between the train and plane on a journey from London to Glasgow. For the record, the plane won by just two minutes.
On top of this, controversy was generated around Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s budget. Which saw a cut in air passenger duty for domestic flights, leaving environmentalists reeling in the run-up to COP26 and arguing for reductions in train fares instead. However, Heathrow does not need to compete with Britain's railways for passengers, because they both serve different purposes.Read more
The long-awaited lifting of the US travel ban was finally announced in September.
18 months into travel restrictions, the US government has said it will lift its travel ban on UK and EU citizens that had been in place since the start of the pandemic.Read more
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), created from household and industrial waste instead of fossil fuels, can offer up to 80% fewer carbon emissions over their lifecycle than traditional jet fuel, but their mass-rollout is hindered by lack of supply, resulting in high prices and subsequently, low demand.Read more
It’s not surprising that within the aviation industry it is new, innovative fuels like hydrogen, battery or sustainable aviation fuels that receive the most attention from commentators. After all, it’s kerosene that causes the emissions.Read more
For a major international airport, Heathrow, unlike its European rivals, is poorly served by rail access. Currently, Heathrow is only directly linked by eastward-facing rail lines towards central London that neglect the huge number of passenger flows to the south and west of the airport.Read more
As part of the effort to decarbonise aviation, it’s often Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) that receive the attention. They are of course important, and immediately available - which helps. But whilst SAFs can cut carbon today, it has been said that hydrogen could eliminate carbon from aviation in the future. Let's explore this for a moment.
Over the last few weeks, the UK has quietly set out its credentials for it to lead the way in research on the use of hydrogen for powering aircraft.Read more
I want to pay tribute to Iqbal Singh Vaid today, on behalf of Back Heathrow, but also personally. Sadly, Iqbal passed away on Wednesday 23rd March, at the age of 78 after battling long-term illness.
But battling is something Iqbal Singh was renowned for in west London, where he was a pillar of our local community.
He was a retired BA employee, a General Secretary of the Indian Workers Association (IWA) and received many accolades from Unite the union. Many of us will remember him as a passionate trade unionist and a powerful orator. His oratory was as strong and clear in English as it was in his native Punjabi.
Influential people wanted to hear what he had to say, not just because he was clear in his beliefs on issues like workplace rights, equality, job creation and the expansion of Heathrow, but because they knew he was embedded in the community he loved – he spoke for many people. Iqbal took his passion for grassroots organisation from the union movement to the Indian Workers Association.
Personally, I enjoyed his counsel. He was knowledgeable, articulate and wise. To have all those qualities in such abundance is a rare thing.
He will be missed by many people, particularly his family and the Southall community in which he served with distinction.
Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.
Parmjit Dhanda and all at Back Heathrow
The Back Heathrow campaign has a long-standing interest in a successful aviation industry – the clue is in our name.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that we are very concerned by forecasts from the New Economics Foundation that up to 124,000 jobs are at risk across aviation and the wider supply chain it supports.
Employers, trade unions and the government all have a part to play in ensuring we tackle the Covid 19 pandemic whilst also keeping the aviation industry going strong. It was right for the government to take steps to minimise unnecessary travel but wrong that, so far, it has failed to properly understand the crisis in towns adjacent to airports and offer the support necessary to protect jobs that will be key to the country’s recovery.
One of the reasons for this lack of focus on aviation is that the industry and trade unions have been largely ignored when they have argued their case.
Back Heathrow therefore supports calls from the aviation industry and the TUC for the establishment of a tripartite body of government, trade unions and industry to replace the rejigged but smaller Environmental Social and Governance Group to guide aviation into the recovery and beyond.
Now, more than ever we need a plan for how the aviation industry can safely return to normal including some targeted support which recognises the seasonal and interconnected nature of the aviation sector.
Back Heathrow believes that if the government really wants to safeguard as many jobs as possible in the sector then it needs to provide support to retain capacity and capability to rebuild and recover. A recent report from the industry and trade unions calling for ‘full business rates relief – including the full furlough scheme remaining in place whilst restrictions are in in force’ and ‘a commitment to invest in technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry’ is the minimum required and should be supported.
Although, the March Budget statement did extend the job retention scheme, there was no mention of aviation. It was a missed opportunity.
A strong aviation sector is needed if the UK is to have a strong post-COVID recovery, both in terms of international trade and vital employment opportunities in all regions of the UK. It is now down to the government to listen to the aviation industry and its strong trade union base, to give the economy the much needed boost it needs.