GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 13 FEBRUARY 2015
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Europe’s regional airlines set out a strategy to strengthen air transport’s ties with European institutions
Fri 13 Feb 2015 – As a new leadership takes the helm at the European Commission for the next five years and sets out its work programme, Europe’s regional airlines are looking for a fresh impetus from policymakers, politicians and regulatory institutions on aviation issues. However, the sector’s trade association, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), is concerned that aviation may not be seen as a high enough priority. In a briefing to journalists last week, the ERA management set out its vision for the development of regional aviation in Europe in which it is seeking progress in key policy areas, including environment. ERA Director General Simon McNamara said the inclusion of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) had been a disaster and had led to a regrettable confrontation between industry and EU institutions.
With a new Commission and Parliament in place, together with new leadership at aviation bodies such as Eurocontrol and EASA, there was a unique opportunity at a pivotal time of change to drive a new vision for aviation in Europe, said McNamara.
“We want that vision, along with a strategy to achieve to it, to go down a path that will promote our business,” he said. “In a way, the fact there is no clear vision from the Commission as yet on aviation means there is blank sheet of paper to work with and we are hoping to find open minds.”
McNamara said the industry had a negative image on the environment despite its good record on improving performance related to noise and emissions.
In its ‘Future of Regional Aviation’ strategy report, the ERA says that by its inclusion in the EU ETS, European aviation’s commitment to environmental protection should be recognised and an indication that it was fulfilling its role.
Boet Kreiken, President of the ERA, said EU plans to kick-start the economy was good news for Europe’s regional airlines, which for too long had been in the doldrums. He noted that three out of a hundred EU citizens now worked in another EU state, which was expected to double over the next 12 years or so, and cross-border connectivity would be essential.
It was important to be ‘green’ but equally important to provide employment opportunities across the regions, he stated, and believed many of the environmental issues around noise and emissions would be solved by technology. Rather than imposing taxes, more should be done to help airlines access easier finance to acquire cleaner and quieter aircraft, he suggested.
Regional air transport was a lifeline for outlying communities in Europe but many ERA members were finding it a very tough market to operate in and there would likely be further consolidation and restructuring amongst regional carriers, reported Kreiken, who is also Managing Director of KLM Cityhopper.
Load factors were too low in Europe – around 75%, compared to 85% in the United States – he reported, adding: “This must be solved fast, it is a big issue for the future.”
He criticised the lack of progress on the Single European Sky, noting that there was no political ownership of the issue, and was also scathing of the monopolistic behaviour of service suppliers such as airports and air traffic providers.
James Sibley, EU Policy Analyst with political intelligence specialists DeHavilland EU, told the briefing that the revised structure introduced by the incoming European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, could be a positive for EU policymaking. Key project teams will now be responsible for cross-cutting major policy fields, with Energy Union and Climate Change being amongst those of special interest to aviation, he said.
“While the proof of the effectiveness of the new project teams will only come with time, the change represents a positive step, introducing new horizontal layers into what was previously a very vertical institution,” said Sibley. “Whereas Commissioners would previously often compete over policies and legacies, the new structure should hopefully result in a more focused and collective effort.”
Although the Commission had yet to articulate its approach to aviation, a proposal for a new Aviation Package was significant, he believed.
The new Commissioner responsible for transport, and therefore aviation, is Violeta Bulc, a Slovenian entrepreneur and politician without previous experience of her portfolio. However, notes Sibley, she particularly referenced the Single European Sky during her confirmation hearing.
Replacing Connie Hedegaard as Climate Commissioner is Spain’s Miguel Arias Cañete, who also takes on the Energy portfolio. Given his oil industry background, Cañete was a controversial appointment but, suggested Sibley, is likely to be a less confrontational personality than his predecessor.
European Regions Airline Association (ERA) , ERA report: ‘The Future of Regional Aviation’ , DeHavilland EU
Winnipeg International becomes the first airport terminal in Canada to receive LEED sustainability certification
Thu 12 Feb 2015 – Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport has become the first airport terminal in Canada to become LEED certified. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system is used in 150 countries and is a mark of excellence for green buildings. It provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies that ensure high performance in areas such as sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The terminal, designed by architects Stantec, achieved a silver rating, which the airport says was beyond the category initially targeted.
“Attaining external validation of our commitment to the principles of sustainable development is truly exciting,” said Barry Rempel, CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “Working closely with Stantec, our teams delivered a beautiful, functional facility that minimised its carbon footprint. It’s something that I believe our community will be able to take pride in for years to come.”
LEED strategies that were implemented in the terminal’s design include daylight optimisation to provide passengers an uninterrupted view of the prairie landscape and daylight sensors that switch on electric lighting when needed. Heating and cooling is provided to the building by circulating warm or cool water through flexible tubing located within the floor. Heated or cooled air is also introduced into the building at or near floor level so that the least amount of energy is used to keep passengers comfortable.
The windows and roof are significantly more insulating than conventional products, says the airport, resulting in better energy efficiency as well as preventing jet fuel emissions from entering the building.
In the 51,500-square-metre terminal’s construction, maximum use was made of recyclable materials and local products and materials were sourced whenever possible to minimise energy used in transportation.
“The building meets the needs and expectations of 21st Century air travellers and based on the LEED energy model, it is estimated that the building will achieve a total GHG reduction of over 5,000 tonnes per year when compared to code,” said Stanis Smith, EVP Buildings at Stantec Architecture, which has provided engineering and design services for airport terminal and infrastructure projects throughout North America.
Winnipeg International claims to be located at the geographic centre of North America and handles over 3.67 million passengers annually. With round-the-clock operations it also says it is the leading dedicated freighter airport in Canada as measured by the number of flights.
The airport notes it is one of only 17 terminals in North America, and 24 worldwide, to have received LEED certification for new construction projects.
In 2011, the Montreal head office of Air Transat became the first building in Canada to be awarded LEED platinum certification in the existing buildings category.
Winnipeg Airports Authority – Environment , Stantec Architecture – Airports , US Green Building Council – LEED
Atlanta proposes 30-acre facility to meet ambitious airport recycling target at Hartsfield-Jackson International
Thu 12 Feb 2015 – The City of Atlanta is proposing the building of a large recycling facility to handle the estimated annual 25,000 tons of waste generated at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which handles over 96 million passengers annually and is the world’s busiest airport. A study carried out in 2013 for the city found that in 2012 only 5% of the waste stream from the airport’s passenger terminals and seven concourses was recycled and the city is looking for at least 90% of waste to be recycled or composted, rather than sent to landfill, by January 2020. A 30-acre (12ha) site owned by the city has been identified south of the airport and a tender has been issued for leasing the land and the building and operation of the facility, to be known as the Green Acres ATL Energy Park.
The 2013 study indicated that around 80% of the current municipal solid waste (MSW) stream from the passenger complex consists of materials that could be recycled or composted, with 29% being made up of food waste and 32% of paper that was considered to be compostable.
The proposed facility must also be capable of reprocessing or recycling an estimated 19,000 tons of chipped yard trimmings from the city’s Department of Public Works, as well as handling 175,000 gallons of cooking oil and 50,000 gallons of grease trap fluids annually.
The city is looking for the ATL Energy Park to be up and running by March 2017. Later phases could include an education centre, a waste-to-fuel facility, local food production and a ‘green incubator park’.
A pre-proposal conference is being held next week and responses to the Request for Proposal (RFP) are required by March 11.
City of Atlanta ‘Green Acres ATL Energy Park’ RFP
US environmental groups and aviation sector lobby EPA and FAA over aircraft emissions endangerment
Wed 11 Feb 2015 – With the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to issue in May a proposed determination of whether carbon pollution from aircraft endangers public health or welfare, representatives from the US aviation sector and environmental groups have spelt out their different positions in open letters to the agency and the FAA. The EPA’s decision to address aviation emissions came last September after environmental organisations waged a four-year legal battle to force the agency to act. Six groups are now urging the Administration to move quickly to set emission standards and call on agency officials to simultaneously start analysing how to make airplanes less polluting, otherwise regulations could be delayed for years, they claim. US industry associations say in their joint letter that aviation requires a global rather than national approach to the standards issue.
The six environmental groups – the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, the National Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club – are demanding quick action on introducing strong standards that reduce aircraft emissions. They urge the EPA to act under the Clean Air Act “with the goal of proposing final standards no later than the end of 2015.”
Commenting on the letter, Vera Pardee of the Center’s Climate Law Institute, said: “The Obama administration needs to finally hold the airline industry accountable for its massive greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has delayed action for years, and our climate is paying the price. It’s time for federal officials to give this rapidly growing source of planet-warming pollution the attention it deserves.”
In their letter to the EPA and FAA, five industry associations representing airlines, aircraft manufacturers and business aviation maintain that as aviation is global in nature, with aircraft operators operating internationally and manufacturers selling their aircraft in international markets, emission standards should be agreed at an international level through ICAO.
The UN agency, through its Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), is currently working on a CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft though it is not expected to be approved until 2016.
“As the letter notes, the US government is planning to take steps under the Clean Air Act so it will be able to adopt the expected ICAO aircraft CO2 standard into US law once it is finalised,” Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for Airlines for America, told GreenAir. “As the US contemplates these steps, the US aviation associations wanted to be sure the government was focused on the facts and the role the future standard could play under the global sectoral approach.”
The letter’s signatories say the US aviation sector took the role of controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “very seriously”, and added: “As a result of our efforts, US airlines have improved their fuel efficiency 120% since 1978 and together with other aircraft operators account for only 2% of the nation’s GHG inventory, while driving 5% of the nation’s GDP.”
By contrast, the environmental groups contest in their letter that aircraft are one of the fastest-growing carbon emissions sources and point to a recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation that found despite the airline industry’s claim that fuel costs already force them to operate as efficiently as possible, there was a 27% gap between the most and least fuel-efficient airlines serving the US domestic market.
“Airplanes are critical to today’s global economy, and in order to combat climate disruption we need robust performance regulations for the sector,” said Friends of the Earth policy analyst John Kaltenstein. “The EPA and FAA must hold all modes of transportation, including the aviation industry, to the highest pollution standards so that we may curb these substantial emissions.”
Letter from environmental organisations , Letter from aviation industry associations
Airlines must use their market power to ensure biofuels meet the highest sustainability standards, says NRDC
Tue 10 Feb 2015 – An evaluation by US NGO Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) of sustainability standards followed by airlines using or intending to use biofuels finds the industry has made great strides in adopting such fuels with some airlines doing better than others on sustainability issues. This is the second annual report by NRDC on aviation biofuels but the first to name and score airlines on an individual basis according to a set of sustainability criteria. Airlines were scored on their participation in industry initiatives to promote sustainability certification, public commitments in sourcing, and the monitoring and disclosure of important sustainability metrics. Airlines with the highest scores include Air France-KLM, British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and Alaska. Airlines that might have expected to have performed well such as Lufthansa and American did not respond to the survey.
“It’s great to see certain airlines becoming leaders in the use of sustainable biofuels,” said Debbie Hammel, Senior Resource Specialist with NRDC’s Land & Wildlife Program and author of the ‘Aviation Biofuel Sustainability Scorecards’ report.
“As the world rises to the challenge of curbing climate change and cutting carbon pollution, addressing air travel pollution has to be part of the mix. The aviation sector has been pretty proactive about this issue, and an industry-wide increase in the use of sustainably produce biofuels is definitely on the horizon.”
The scorecard is intended to encourage airlines to use their market power to persuade suppliers of the importance of sustainability certification and also to make a public commitment to source fully certified sustainable biofuels.
Biofuel operators are making long-term design, employment and operational decisions to optimise production for the requirements of their marketplace, and many are now focusing on aviation as a key market, said Hammel in an NRDC blog.
“Sending a clear signal that production must be compatible with sustainability standards and independently audited and verified through credible certification programs such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) will cause operators to proactively build this into their planning and operations. This will incentivise upstream biofuel operators to pursue compliance and certification,” she said.
NRDC sent questionnaires to 32 airlines that have either used biofuels or have indicated they are planning to use them, and the 17 responses received were evaluated for the scorecard assessment.
The scorecard addressed five key areas:
- Airline membership in sustainability standards organisations or other groups working to promote sustainability certification in aviation biofuel development;
- Airlines’ public commitments to the use of sustainability certification in biofuel sourcing;
- Airline disclosures related to biofuel use, sustainable-certified biofuel use and percentage of sustainable-certified biofuels used relative to total biofuel use;
- Airlines’ monitoring and disclosures related to the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions profile of the biofuels they source; and
- Airline actions to determine the indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts of the biofuels they source, and to engage in efforts to better understand, manage and avoid ILUC impacts in biofuel production.
The findings showed that only one airline is a direct member of the RSB, although 16 of the 17 respondents are members of the industry’s 28-strong Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which is a member of the RSB and represents their interests. The survey found that only two of the airlines that responded have made contractual arrangements to use RSB certification in their sourcing efforts. The NRDC therefore calls on SAFUG to make a firm commitment to use the certification framework created by the RSB.
Having found that less than half of respondents said they were researching or monitoring the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels and ILUC, compared to a majority in last year’s survey, the NGO urges airlines to strive for total transparency in the volumes, greenhouse gas profile and sustainable certification used in aviation biofuel sourcing.
It also recommends that airlines that do not already have dedicated biofuels staff should hire specialists to focus on this fuel. The survey found that one airline had two full-time staff focused on biofuels and three responded they had one. All the other airlines said they had one or several people who devote some of their time to this subject.
“How airlines move forward is still up in the air,” concludes Hammel. “While some in the industry have made real progress in implementing sustainability commitments this past year, there’s more to do. The industry must commit to robust standards for sourcing these fuels to ensure that they’re truly sustainable in the long term.”
NRDC – Debbie Hammel’s aviation biofuels blog , NRDC – ‘Aviation Biofuel Sustainability Scorecards’ (pdf)
Either confront the environmental challenge or risk losing any new runway capacity, UK regulator warns sector
Tue 10 Feb 2015 – The UK’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has said if the industry and decision-makers are not more ambitious in tackling the sector’s environmental challenges, they will face the prospect that essential additional runway capacity may never be built. The threat comes as Heathrow promises a more generous noise insulation package that would be eligible for around 160,000 homes in the airport’s vicinity if it was given the go-ahead to build a third runway. Heathrow said the offer goes above and beyond UK requirements and is comparable to those offered by other European hub airports. A CAA report says Heathrow currently spends far less than its continental rivals on noise mitigation and compensation on a per passenger handled basis. Tasked with delivering a decision on new runway capacity in the south-east of England, the Airports Commission closed its final public consultation last week.
In its response to the consultation the CAA said local communities must not be expected to simply suffer the consequences of airport expansion, and industry, government and those involved with delivering a potential new runway should do more to minimise disturbance.
“It cannot be right that we expect to be able to build more runway capacity without the industry making big improvements to how it minimises its impact on its neighbours,” commented Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA. “The solution is partly operational – such as using the quietest aircraft available in the most efficient way – but industry improving the way it works with local communities is also crucial.
“This is now key to this debate, as communities cannot be expected to put up with airport expansion without much better engagement and compensation, and more of a say in a development that will have a major impact on their local area.”
As the independent regulator, the CAA has not endorsed any of the three schemes shortlisted by the Commission – a new runway and an extended dual-use runway at Heathrow, and a second runway at Gatwick Airport – but believes the building of any of them is necessary.
However, said Haines, unless the local community issue was comprehensively tackled, “it’s hard to see how the additional runway capacity that will benefit consumers and industry for generations to come will ever be built.”
In a report published last year, ‘Managing Aviation Noise’, the CAA estimated (page 53) Heathrow spent €0.11 ($0.12) per passenger it handled on noise mitigation measures during the period 2007-2011. By contrast, Paris CDG spent €0.19 (1995-2008), Madrid Barajas €0.29 (2000-2013), Frankfurt €0.51 (2001-ongoing) and Amsterdam Schiphol €0.58 (1984-2005).
In its submission to the Commission, the CAA says there must be a significant increase by major UK airports on spending on noise mitigation and compensation for local communities, reversing the current situation where spending is lower than that in Europe and the United States.
Heeding the warning, although Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye says it is as a result of local consultations with residents, the airport has announced a new enhanced scheme if the government approves its proposal for a third runway. This, it says, expands on previous proposals and is comparable to those offered by other European hub airports.
The scheme would cover a zone based on the EU-preferred 55 decibel noise contour measurement. In total, Heathrow estimates that over £700 million ($1.06bn) could be spent on the insulation package, an increase of over £450 million ($685m) from that it proposed to the Commission last year, and an increase of over £610 million ($928m) from its previous proposals for a third runway.
It is based on two newly designated insulation zones, and residents would be eligible regardless of whether they experience noise under existing flight paths or will be newly affected by noise from a new runway. Homes in the zone closest to the airport with higher levels of noise stand to have the full costs of their insulation covered by the scheme. In addition, up to £3,000 ($4,500) in noise insulation would be offered to homes further away from the airport. The insulation package could include acoustic double-glazing in windows, ceiling overboarding in bedrooms and loft insulation and ventilation.
The airport says the improved offer is designed to reflect better the actual noise levels experienced by local people, that it should treat people equally, whether they are already exposed to noise or newly exposed to noise, and an acceptance that £250 million ($380m) compensation package previously earmarked was insufficient.
“Now we want to work with local communities to ensure that the opportunities from expansion – up to 40,000 new skilled jobs at Heathrow, 10,000 apprenticeships, tackling youth employment – benefit those who are most affected by expansion,” said Holland-Kaye.
Responding to the new offer, John Stewart, who as Chair of HACAN has fought a long campaign against Heathrow expansion, commented: “There is no doubt that this is much more generous than anything we have seen before and it brings Heathrow into line with other major European airports. But it does show how eager the airport is to get a new runway. It also suggests that residents have been short-changed in the past.”
Gatwick Airport, Heathrow’s rival for the one new runway proposed by the Airports Commission, maintains that just 18,000 new people would be affected if it was to be given the go-ahead for a second runway, compared to 320,000 people if Heathrow was to be expanded.
Said Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate: “Heathrow should follow Gatwick’s lead and offer to pay the council tax of people most affected if it’s serious about compensating people for noise. Heathrow can’t afford to do that of course as it already impacts more people than all the major European airports combined.”
However, itself facing strong opposition from campaign groups as well as local politicians and councils to expansion, Gatwick is concerned that noise analysis by the Commission is making it difficult for people to understand noise impacts and claims it includes distortions which prevent fair comparison between the three shortlisted schemes. The airport also highlights concerns over air quality limits at Heathrow.
“We all want the UK to prosper, but we should not pursue economic benefits at any cost to the environment – public consultation has clearly highlighted what difficult but pivotal issues noise and the environment will be in this debate,” said Wingate. “At this critical juncture, the Airport Commission’s decision should reflect the sort of country we want Britain to be in the 21st Century.”
A survey carried out by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has found citizens in England and Wales have come to be much less tolerant of noise in general over the past decade. Noise from neighbours and road traffic continue to be the biggest problem but aircraft noise has become the fastest growing source of irritation. In the year 2000, 20% of respondents reported being bothered, annoyed or disturbed to some extent by noise from aircraft, airports and airfields, which had risen to 31% by 2012.
“The results are revealing,” commented HACAN’s Stewart. “This dramatic increase in the numbers disturbed by aircraft took place during a decade when planes were becoming a little quieter. It can only be accounted for by the rise in the number of aircraft using UK airports.”
As far as the UK NGO Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is concerned, none of the proposals would reduce noise to levels safe for human health and called on the Commission to make clear the population that would be newly exposed to noise by each scheme and provide reasoning for the assumptions used of future fleet mix and flight paths.
The AEF also takes issue with the “broadly neutral” finding made by the Commission on local quality of life impacts from airport expansion and cites an analysis by PwC that found aircraft noise is negatively associated with all subjective wellbeing measures. Adding in worsening air quality concerns and doubts that aviation carbon targets could be met by the projected rise in air traffic, the AEF said “gaping holes” in the Commission’s analysis of the impacts concealed a potential “environmental disaster”.
The Airport Commission’s consultation on its assessment of the three proposed runway schemes and additional capacity in the south-east of England closed last week. The body headed by Sir Howard Davies will now sift through over 50,000 responses from individuals and organisations before publishing its report this summer after the country’s general election and submitting its recommendations to the incoming government. Last week, the main opposition party pledged a quick response but none of the mainstream parties has indicated that it would be bound by the Commission’s decision.
UK CAA – Submissions to Airport Commission , Airports Commission , Heathrow Airport – Noise insulation offer , Gatwick Airport – Environment & Noise