Heathrow airport had 480,339 aircraft movements in 2018, moving over 80 million passengers to international destinations, and 1,715,440 tonnes of cargo.
A typical Boeing 747 aircraft uses approximately one gallon of fuel for every second of flight time, around five gallons per mile, or roughly 36,000 gallons of fuel for a ten-hour flight; not exactly planet-friendly. With an average fuel consumption (per annum) of 2,401,695 gallons to a mile, you’d think that Heathrow airport as an entity may be a little more self-aware when it comes to emissions.
Improve air quality
It seems that whenever we have to face a whole new financial charge for motoring, the well-worn “improve air quality and cut congestion” phrase is trotted out, as a ‘one size, fits all’ solution; whoever originally coined that phrase must be thanking their chosen deity on a daily basis for the gift that it was.
A fuel tax rise? To cut congestion and improve air quality. Ultra-low emission zone charges? We need to improve air quality and cut congestion. You want to drop a passenger at Heathrow to catch a flight? That’s a £15 charge to help improve the air quality and cut congestion.
Despite not being owned by the local authority or government, the plan to charge cars arriving at Heathrow on the ULEZ basis that’s been introduced in London will of course find favour with them – “the world’s first ultra-low emissions zone at an airport” has a certain environmentally friendly ring to it, and the fact that the M4, M25 and A30 major road networks are quite literally on the doorstep doesn’t make a difference; it’s the pollution and congestion in the drop-off zone that’s responsible for the southern air pollution.
To be clear, and fair, not every vehicle will be targeted, at least not until the third runway opens (when there will be a flat access charge to all passenger vehicles, taxis and mini-cabs) – just those vehicles that wouldn’t comply with the current limits for the London ultra-low emission zone. As to why Heathrow Airport Holdings feels that it’s truly necessary, the clue may lay in the fact that they haven’t yet submitted the final bid for the planning permission for expansion, with public consultation beginning on 18th June.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive for Heathrow Airport states: “Heathrow expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment, we must deliver on both. Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decisions to ensure that the airport grows responsibly”.
And with ‘improving air quality and reducing congestion’ being such a popular topic, a cynic (me, for instance) would wonder whether a few keywords and environmental catchphrases bandied about with the bid would help or hinder that bid?
Ground support and infrastructure
Of course, the next thought turns to ground support vehicles and aircraft ground handling; surely Heathrow airport will be upgrading every single vehicle in their fleet to comply with the latest emission standards?
With approximately 7,500 airside vehicles in use at Heathrow, which accounts for around 10% of the total NOx emissions from the airport, just ten percent of those vehicles are electric or emission-free at point of use. The largest NOx producer at ground level for Heathrow is the aircraft themselves – accounting for around 70% of the NOx produced at the site.
Creating a clean air zone is all very admirable, and while Heathrow is working hard to reduce their emissions overall, the fact is that charging older vehicles to enter their site, even just to drop passengers off, seems to relate more to profiteering than doing good – just the same as ULEZ and congestion charging, those motorists that don’t have a pick of vehicles, or can’t afford to upgrade to the cleanest, emission-free standards still need to use the service, and will be forced to pay no matter what.
It gets back to the old argument of why not incentivise rather than penalise? If you turn up in a non-ULEZ compliant vehicle, you must pay the standard fees, however, if you arrive in a cleaner vehicle that would comply with the ULEZ, you get reduced parking, or if just stopping for short time, perhaps even free parking.
The alternative, of course, is to use another airport (assuming they fly to the same destination), but that leads to further emissions due to miles driven, and it would only be transferring the problem to another site, a classic case of NIMBYism from Heathrow Airport Holdings, and it’s worth pointing out that the parent company also owns Glasgow Airport Limited and Southampton International Airport Limited – could this radical new plan be rolled out to other airports?
Do you think that Heathrow are doing this for the right reasons? Or is it a simple case of profiteering? Let us know in the comments.
I wonder what vehicles the employees at the airport use to commute to and from their workplace, particularly the executives at HAH? Your report is correct to question this move by the airport. I live close by and am gradually being put off using the airport. It is getting too big and the third runway is not needed at Heathrow, when capacity can be increased elsewhere, and will spread the load. Many emissions come from cars sitting in traffic jams, and I don’t see those disappearing any time soon.
The largest source of reducible emissions is due to the time aircraft spend under power between leaving the gate and taking off. This can easily be 45 mins per aircraft . The solution to this source of emissions is obvious – more capacity at the airport as will be provided by an extra runway.
Pointless talking about an airport ULEZ when the pollution from planes is unlimited
Even more pointless when you add the pollution caused in the adjacent area.
Also, much of the need to increase Heathrow Airport’s capacity is because the airlines are encouraged to route passengers from regional airports via connecting flights to Heathrow, rather than flying direct. I’ve often had to fly to the USA via an already over-busy and over-polluted Heathrow, rather than having the option to fly from a northern airport. The whole airline routes system needs revising. Why am I routed into one of the busiest cities in the world. If the government is serious about pollution, we should be developing regional airports instead of making false claims that taxing the motorist is going to do anything.
Land Rover Man, Heathrow promote this as the ‘Hub Airport’ system, all good and efficient, they suggest, to fly lots of people in from numerous ‘provincial’ Airports. Certainly good for Heathrow as it scoops up so much of the International Flight trade. Not so good for the local folk though, as HAL grabs up land and properties around the area, with many old and much valued local Communitys being smashed and ruined as Heathrow Grows disproportionately to a point of serious ‘profit before people’!
The evidence shows that what you would like to happen is already happening. Many transatlantic flights now leave from B’ham , Manchester , Edinburgh , Glasgow and various others + London’s 4/5 other airports that are not Heathrow. You can even fly transatlantic from London City but you have to refuel in Ireland as the planes cannot take off with sufficient fuel from City due to the short runway . Heathrow will be better connected by rail once the Elizabeth line ( Crossrail ) is up and running so – depending on where you live – that may be a more viable and lower polluting option.
Not pointless for Heathrow Airport Limited! It will have ‘expert’ consultants working avidly to spread the good word for them about about their enviro-friendly ground vehicles, it will insist on ULEZ all round the Airport so that all the locals are who can’t afford new vehicles become highly penalised in their own ‘back yards’ while HAL receives and dispatches masses of massive aircraft every day to spray Planet Killing Gases all round our Planet. The company’s speciality is DEVIOUS HYPOCRISY.
Every little helps . See my comment to Mark T’s post.
In my opinion it is profiteering.
Airports in this country are just a licence to rob passengers.
It already costs almost £6 per hour to park there. It’s absolutely just profiteering.
Luton airport has seen a rise in people being dropped off in unofficial areas and walking up the hill to the airport, because of extortionate parking charges just for dropping off. This creates congestion in other areas.
You can park in the long stay car park for up to an hour for free and use the free shuttle service to either drop off or pick up.
You think you can park the car, get a shuttle bus each way and see off the passngers all in a hour? More like 2 hours as many shuttle buses are only every 20 minutes.
I HAVE USED LUTON AND STANSTED AIRPORTS MANY TIMES WHEN I WORKED AS A MINICAB DRIVER AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO PARK UP IN THE APPROPRIATE CAR PARKS, GET THE SHUTTLE BUS, SEE MY PASSENGERS INTO THE TERMINAL AND RETURN TO THE CAR IN UNDER AN HOUR!
No. Because this means you have to drive further to get to/from a car park, drive around to find a parking space, followed by a more polluting cold engine start, creating more pollution than a simple drop-off, as well as adding the pollution from the shuttle bus, which is probably a clapped-out diesel. The lowest pollution is by letting people do a hot engine drive-through drop-off or pick-up, which minimizes pollution. This tax is counter-productive and will increase pollution.
Will all aircraft have to pay? They pollute more than most vehicles.
Whether or not they pollute more depends on several factors, including journey length, route, number of passengers, etc.
For many typical, short journeys, cars are more polluting than planes. For longer journeys, cars’ pollution levels decrease but may still be more polluting per passenger mile than planes.
Guess you better go and read the figures again or go to @specsavers, because other than large car and 1 passenger aircraft are more polluting.
LOL. Read my post. I specifically refer to typical, short journeys but you seem to be focusing only on long journeys.
Get your teeth into this if you want more detail :
Jonto, Stop playing the old adage that because a plane carries say a hundred passengers you can divide the emissions from the plane by the number of passengers on board so claiming the carbon footprint is per passenger against a car with the driver only. The plane produces X amount of emissions regardless of how many people are on it and also you have to take into consideration what the laden weight of the plane is as to how much fuel it will use on a flight.
So you think that arguments should be based on popular myths and public opinion rather than facts?
So, start charging for the cars to enter, in an attempt to put them off coming to the airport, but increase the number of flights and add an additional runway at Heathrow to increase flight capacity – presumably so that the additional flights can make up for the lost pollution by the cars that may not enter!!!!
Pure profiteering, people should try to use other airports (although it won’t be long before they all stick their snouts in the trough)
Cardiff Airport already has. They’d soon reverse the charge of people chose to stop flying for a while. They wouldn’t need a third runway then either..
Manachester airport costs £3 minimum just to drop off – bloody cheek!
Bristol Express drop-off/pick-up charges £1 for 10 mins; £3 for 10-20 mins; £5 for 20-40 mins; £20 for 40-60 mins then £20 per hour or part thereof. Fine unless flight arrivals are delayed or, as happened to me last year, baggage takes forever to get to the belts. My husband ended up paying £5 for what should have been a £1 fee (not a huge amount in the great scheme of things but bloody annoying). We complained to BRS and got an apology with a “not our fault guv” despite the fact that the flight arrived on time and it was only the fact that they had fewer baggage handlers on site.
I now get my husband to wait off site until I ring him after I’ve collected my luggage! Takes him a couple of minutes to get to express pick-up and I’m there waiting for him!
It’s just another con by the airports like they charge you to book your seats to make sure you can sit together, now most tickets are printed with consecutive numbers so by rights you would be sitting together anyway. Along with car parking charges etc etc why dont people stay at home even just for a year then you would see a deffinate drop in these charges when thier profits drop.
Profiteering of the case that most customers are captive who fly from Heathrow.
Manchester is run by thieves…. but then again its council owned so you might expect to get ripped off. I never use Manchester.. Liverpool and Leeds are handy enough and have flights to hubs such as Amsterdam and Dublin.. plus they are much more pleasant to use.
So – how are people meant to come to the airport??? Not everyone has a straightforward train connection or fly at a time when they can catch a train (very early or very late). This is total rubbish!
Will Heathrow offer a drop-off point outside the airport and provide buses to get to terminals? Or are we expected to walk from the outside perimeter onto the departing terminal with children and suitcases in tow???
Utter profiteering and taking advantage of passengers who clearly have no other way to come to the airport.
Absolutely. For business purposes I’m often traveling to Heathrow from Worcester as there are no flights from Birmingham. How do I get to Heathrow if not by car? Drive to Worcester station. Park up. Train to Paddington…. 2hr 20mins minimum (yup, you read that right). Train to Heathrow. Total journey time around 4hrs and costs £110 return. Or a 100 minute drive. Right.
They’re part way there already – London Transport buses into the terminals are free, but good luck trying to find a convenient spot to drop off/pick up your passenger.
I am not sure if it is even possible to walk from outside the airport to the terminals
Actually, there are very good bus services from the main roads around Heathrow. However, all that Heathrow are doing is pushing the problem onto the residents and businesses in the surrounding area. I suspect it’s a cynical way to claim they’ve reduced Heathrow’s carbon footprint, when, in actual fact, they’re going to increase local traffic and local pollution by building a third runway. They’re still responsible for the increase in environmental damage, but can tell the half truth that it’s not inside the airport.
The problem I see is the ease of access to the airport. For London and major cities there is good links but that is not true of other areas. You also pay a fortune to park at the airport The tunnel does become busy for terminals 2 and 3 ..perhaps we need a drop off zone away from the airport near the M25 with a free shuttle to the terminals
There is a way to avoid parking fees: if you park in the long stay carpark you have 2 hours free parking – enough time to get the free shuttle bus in to drop off/collect passengers. If you have a long delay it is possible to go back to the car, drive out and back in, and still get free parking.
A similar system works at Stansted – you may have to wait up to 15 mins for the shuttle bus, but as free it is worth it!
Although the 2 hour free parking works really well it’s in the T&Cs that you cannot return to that or any other long stay car park within 24 hours. So the pop out and re-enter scenario could land you with a penalty notice.
I think you’ve missed the point…to GET to the long stay car park you have to enter the airport..and the charhe is from when you enter the airport ! So its a no-win situation.
And what everyone so far has missed out on is the workers at the airport…o will they be exempt from this daily charge, if not there will be a demand for wage increases to cover the cost as 95%+ work shifts, and there is no alternative method to get to work.
Oh and finally…a major A road crosses thru the airport South side. Diverting off that will cause chaos around the smaller side/back roads.
The Scottish government scrapped the plan to build an electrified rail link to Glasgow airport years ago. I’d like to think that they’d reconsider that if a ULEZ charge is to be introduced there but I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.
Airports in this country are just a license to rob passengers.
It already costs almost £6 per hour to park there. It’s absolutely just profiteering. Pointless talking about an airport ULEZ when the pollution from planes is unlimited.
A very lazy, or biased, article. If you want to compare cars to planes you should compare pollution per passenger mile for each. Just picking the aircraft with the highest fuel consumption and quoting figures is meaningless without a valid comparison.
Jonto, once again you play the averages game by dividing emissions by passengers to give a carbon footprint. If a plane emits say 100 tons of pollution during a flight then it is still 100 tons regardless of how many passengers are being carried.
What is wrong with using the ‘averages game’. Do you think it would be less polluting to have 100 cars plus a dozen HGVs travelling from, say, Edinburgh to Athens, rather than one plane? Of course planes are highly polluting. What I have done in my posts is question the author’s comparisons.
I think the CEO answered this question.. he is apparently going to upgrade all his airside vehicles… now where would he be able to get the money to do that?
U.L.E.Z…. that would do it…. fleece the motorist… again
Heathrow airport is a private company so there is no legal basis for them to have access to the information to enable this to be done. Providing them the information will be a clear violation of GDPR. Add to that how will they deal with non UK car as the DVLA will not have this information. To sum up it will be illegal and unenforceable
Really? What about privately owned car parks that use ANPR? Try parking in one without paying and using GDPR as your defense in court.
I gave up flying to Italy a long time ago. Drive to Dover, get on the ferry then a pleasant two day drive. No luggage restrictions, staff at PandO and port seem to be pleased to see you. No parking charges or rip off hire car companies, and the costing isn’t that much different, it’s only the time.
Blatant profiteering and greed!!! This is a totally unfair tax on those who run older vehicles probably through necessity than choice!!!
Without doubt they must first tax the highest polluters, ie the aircraft.
Pure profiteering like the highwaymen that run other airports like Bristol, they see the motorists as a cash cow pure and simple.
ULEZ is just smokescreen, they couldn’t give a s**t about the environment or people’s health.
Agree 100%..if theyre worried or concerned about air quality etc then they wouldnt be building another runway for more poluting aircraft to land/take ofd from !
Less flights with bigger capacity is the answer, which would also require fewer ground support vehicles instead of additional ones for the increase in aircraft. However they’ll say “its what the customer wants…” No….it means you offer more choice to tempt the customer with.
Two fold, a source of revenue to help fund runway 3 and a good PR counter to the environmental lobby.
Utter disgrace, it will be a hindrance to Heathrow in the long run as customers will refuse to fly from Heathrow, or result in passengers being dropped off in unofficial drop off areas and causing congestion in those areas
I’m not interested in the obvious. What is of interest is where this is leading. It may be another brick in the dystopian wall.
In the short term, electric vehicles will become important and within 12 months, major manufacturers will have small electric vans released. My point is that our vehicle choice is changing at approximately the same speed as legislation. 10 years from now a significant number will be possibly even wholly electric and diesel and petrol vehicles with long range will be an expensive luxury.
Typical just charge the people you can. Easiest way to drop emissions is to NOT have a third runway, cut down on the amount of TO and landings, plant loads of trees, even do a bit of air scrubbing, simples, init.? But no you greedy bunch of bastar….
Our wallets are already being raped daily as an excuse to combat climate change/global warming. Put it back in my wallet and ask me again to stump-up when asia stops polluting.
Definitely not its just jumping on the band wagon and using the motorist as a cash cow, no different to London and every other city introducing emissions charges
sounds like simple profiteering to me
This certainly is profiteering and yet another TAX on the poorest motorists. It’s time to take a stand!
Absolutely not money money money, I own an electric car so as petrol car this is robbery! People wake up and take charge of this criminal behaviour
Hypocracy of the first degree! Another Rip off UK charge,,, unnecessary, and unjustifiable. And off course the “air” as in the sky doesn’t move around, remember Chernobyl, and the resultant fall out over Europe? Off course not, in their PC simplified world of thoughts!
£15 charge for all aircraft then, or is it just the motorist being ripped off again. This low emission zone payment, just another way to make easy money. Probably need money to pay for new runway.
Totally insane this pure profiting and a rip off. But then Heathrow is not owned by an English company it’s owned by a Spanish Company called Ferrovial . There are a lot of passengers who use Heathrow for both work and leisure who do not live within a viable public transport area including passengers who live within a few miles who rely on either family, friends or Taxis to get them to the Airport. Heathrow is reasonably well served public transport wise IF you live in London, but if you live outside of London such as Surrey, Hampshire & Berkshire all of these counties are within a few miles of the airport however there is no viable public transport to get there. From the area I live in Heathrow Terminal 2 is 20 minutes by car, public transport options there is a bus that is timetabled every couple of hours and takes 2.5 hours to get to the airport and was £10 single about 18 months ago, or train into London Waterloo then across London on the Underground and either keep changing till you get to a station that the Piccadilly line runs through or change at Paddington for the Heathrow Express again costly.
The Spanish are trying to raise the money to build the 3rd Runway and are hitting the motorist who brings their passengers to the airport, Forget 3rd runway from everything I have heard it’s not needed. If it’s truly about emissions deal with the aircraft and airport vehicle first before looking at those who bring the passengers to the airport
I agree emissions need to be reduced, not just at airports, but across the board. Who is keeping this levy? I assume it’s BAA. If the money was used to provide free or reduced park and ride facilities to and from the airport, it would be more justified. It’s a cynical attempt to appear to be greener than they currently are, when the vast majority of the pollution is generated by running their business. The motorist seems to be paying for everything. Cycle lanes, parking to shop, airport drop off and pick up etc. while the roads are full of pot holes and sleeping policemen (hardly a green solution). It’s about time the motorist, which is the majority of us, got a fairer deal!!!!
Outright profiteering. I really hope that users vote with their feet (or wheels in this case).
At Southampton-Eastleigh airport there is a £2 drop off charge and ten minute time limit. So people tend to be dropped off outside the entrance, which is short distance to the lobby.
If Mr Holland-Kaye would promise that all the money raised by this measure will not simply be poured into Heathrow’s coffers, but be given to an ecologically sound project I would believe that it is being done for an ecologically sound eason.
All this is B*****t. Unless they also ban all aircraft that are not Ultra Low Emissions it is cloak and mirrors. The management and politicians they are trying to please are all hypocrites.
Money grab. pure and simple.
I don’t agree with a third runaway. why not use HS2 and extend Birmingham airport.
Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited is in turn owned by FGP Topco Limited, a consortium owned and led by the infrastructure specialist Ferrovial S.A. (25.00%), Qatar Investment Authority (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) (12.62%), GIC (11.20%), Alinda Capital Partners of the United States (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10.00%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (10.00%). That is just 10% UK owned!.
Did someone mention profiteering? Add to that an inability for UK users to do anything about it, ie bring pressure to bear … !
I think all imposers of costs on motorists and households for “environmental” or “clean air” reasons should have to specify to the penny what they are using the money for. Adding to the coffers of the government and private enterprises at the expense of people who have no choice but to utilize a vehicle is, like parking machines that do not give change, stealing and taking money under false pretenses. Yes we should have cleaner air, bu the main offenders are usually those imposing the fees on everyone else.
It seem more profiteering than helping the earth and its not an good excuse either.
Of course this will roll out at other airports. It’s a “money earner”, as well as making the airport operator look good to the Green Brigade, for introducing “carbon offset”.
Yet another ‘no brainer’ tax on the motorist for the airport operators. Next, they’ll be doing the same at railway stations, outside schools, and other drop-off points — unless we band together and start actively protesting!
Sheer profit making – no other words for it. I drop my wife at Terminal 3 and am in and out in about 5 minutes so for that I am going to have to pay £15.
Sheer robbery but it will happen to appease the Green movement and lip service
Heathrow isn’t remotely interested in pollution. They increased parking charges to exorbitant levels to discourage people driving to the airport (so they said). The result – I get a taxi to take me and a taxi to pick me up resulting in 4 journeys rather than 2! Still works out cheaper than parking at LHR.
The UK airline industry is in danger of total collapse due to passenger uncertainty caused by the government’s and parliament’s failure to implement Brexit. Whether you agree or disagree about Brexit, the intolerable uncertainty is reducing holiday and business travel. And this is the time when Heathrow airport decides to further discourage its customers by attacking the motorist.
Who are these idiots?
The pollution and carbon footprint of aircraft completely dwarfs other forms of transport, with commercial vehicles following a long way back. Cars are almost insignificant by comparison. Question – Are the authorities firing ‘buckshot’ at the wrong target, rather than firing a snipers bullet at the main culprit?
Plain profiteering and simple greed:-(
Load of b————S they should charge the aircraft 15 pound per passenger for drop off