Not an organisation noted for humility, the owners of London’s Heathrow airport have had a string of poorly managed PR disasters in the last few months. It might not be headline hitting “We sent everyone’s luggage to Reykjavik ” stuff, but the anger they have recently brought upon themselves is potentially far more damaging to their long term plans than anything as trivial as losing a couple of planes full of suitcases.
Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (formerly BAA) appear to be shooting themselves in the foot on an almost weekly basis. Five important groups of people are all complaining louder and more often than at any time in recent years.
Take for example The letter that was sent to many thousands of local addresses in February 2019. A thick white envelope containing a very neat very official looking form regarding “Land Referencing” a technical term that 99% percent of recipients will never have heard before.
The document contained a map of the locality with the recipients own property marked out . The result was an immediate uproar. Letters to local papers and websites expressed fear that the property in question would be
In March 2019 Five Local councils are taking the Government to a judicial review. According to Windsor and Maidenhead Council chief Simon Dudley, when Chris Grayling said that the new runway would result in less noise for locals he was either misguided or deliberately misleading. Heathrows own maps and estimates of an additional 200000plus flights per year make that an easy statement to qualify with figures. Mr Dudleys assessment that the judicial review will halt the expansion looks to have quite some weight.
Locals to the west of London who were looking for some respite in aircraft noise due to the scrapping of the Cranford agreement are also up in arms. Cranford was a government undertaking from the 1950s that protected the towns to the east of the airport from excess aircraft noise by limiting traffic that could fly in that direction. Towns to the west of the airport that in the 1950s were significantly less populous bore the brunt. Although Cranford was first provisionally earmarked to be dropped back in 2009 towns west of Heathrow still suffer disproportionaly from this edict ten years later. in Feb 2017 the planning inspectorate effectively abolished the Cranford agreement yet the flight shedules have not been altered to reflect it.
Heathrow really do seem intent on upsetting locals. They deliver questionnaires that ask questions equivelent to whether you would prefer to be shot at dawn or at 7.00am. Not a good way to get on with your neighbours.
The airlines are not happy with Heathrow either. In early Auguest 2018, BA boss Alx Cruz wrote a letter to the Times newspaper to complain about the ‘border farce’ at Heathrow with its queues of 25 minues for EU nationals and 45 minutes for others to get through passport control.
The Government are also angry with Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd. Whilst in June 2018 the cabinet did grant approval for the Airport’s expansion the backlash has mired them in bad publicity and litigation. Many MPs have questioned how the expansion can possibly go ahead in light of the Government’s plan to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050.
The department of transport says that airline emissions will grow from 37 million to 43 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030 at a time when advice is that levels need to actually shrink by 80% to meet target and avoid killing the planet. Flying out of Heathrow isn’t going to be such a popular option if half the world’s airports are under water.
In short, everyone has a problem with hub and spoke Heathrow Airport, a huge organisation running roughshod over the wishes of practically all its neighbours, day and night.