Airport campaigners expose ‘deeply flawed claims’ in Leeds Bradford Airport email to its customers Campaigners against expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport have exposed claims made in an email sent to the airport’s customers yesterday.
GALBA (the Group for Action on LBA) warns that the email makes claims about job creation estimated before the COVID crisis. It also ignores the forecast doubling of greenhouse gas emissions and LBA’s plans to extend flying hours to 6am and 11.30pm.
Chris Foren, chair GALBA, said: “LBA’s email makes some deeply flawed claims about jobs and economic growth - their sums are hopelessly out of date. Everyone knows that the air travel business has been hit hard by the pandemic. Their email uses fantasy figures.”
He added: “LBA’s email also contains half truths. It talks about how ‘green’ a new terminal would be - but it doesn’t talk about the fact that it’s emissions would double if expansion is allowed. This has been confirmed by Leeds Climate Commission and the Dept for Transport. Nor does the email talk about the extra noise early in the morning and late at night and the increased air pollution that extra flights would cause.”
Headingley resident Nicky Ford said: “We have to choose what type of economic recovery we want. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, we need to create jobs in low carbon industries. We need to rebuild a sustainable local. economy.”
GALBA said they would also like LBA to clarify what its Data Protection policy says. Does it allow them to email customers about a public planning process? If it doesn’t, GALBA believes the airport may have broken privacy laws.
1) Out of date economic assessment and false claims in LBA’s email - an explanation: All the information below is taken from Appendix 11.1: Economic Impact Report, a background document for LBA’s planning application, available on Leeds Leeds Council’s website.
Note: below we talk about ‘full-time equivalent jobs’ rather than actual jobs. This is because employing 8 people one hour a day does not count as 8 jobs, but as one full-time equivalent job.
The jobs and growth figures don’t add up
LBA’s email says that investment in the airport will produce an increase in jobs of 5,230 compared to 2019, and an increase in GVA of £377 million - by 2030.
According to their own report (Table 6.7), the increase in the number of jobs will be only 2,310, and the increase in GVA will be only £159 million. The remaining 2,920 jobs and £218 million would happen regardless of the expansion
The data for direct economic impact are outdated - pre-COVID.
The report was prepared with data from before the COVID crisis (see paragraph 1.5), and the job predictions for 2030 assume that the number of passengers will increase to 7 million per year (see paragraph 6.16).
Jet2 and Ryanair, which accounted for more than 80% of seat capacity in 2019 (see figure 2.14) have been seriously affected by the pandemic.
Therefore, the claim about an additional 780 direct full-time jobs by 2030 (see table 6.7) needs to be reassessed.
The data for indirect and induced economic impact are outdated - pre-COVID
For indirect economic impact, the report uses the so-called ‘input-output’ method. This method requires tables describing how different industries across the UK interact with each other, to assess how one industry (in this case aviation) affects the others (such as hotels, contractors, grocery shops, etc).
The tables used for LBA’s economic report were updated in April 2019 (see paragraph 5.6). Because of the COVID crisis, all airlines are revisiting their deals with contractors (see Jet2 example).
Therefore, the claim about an additional 600 indirect and induced full-time jobs by 2030 (see table 6.7) needs to be reassessed.
The claim about creating tourism jobs is unreliable.
The aviation industry does not expect a recovery before 3 to 5 years (see for example).
The claim about an additional 670 full-time jobs related to tourism by 2030 (see table 6.7) needs to be reassessed.
LBA is mostly for leisure passengers going abroad, which do not bring significant economic benefits to the region. 71.5% of the passengers of LBA are leisure passengers going abroad (see paragraph 2.18). According to LBA’s report, “these passengers do not generate significant wider economic impact (and are in fact sometimes viewed as a negative in terms of economic impact)”.
2) Climate impact of Leeds-Bradford Airport expansion: researchers at Leeds University have examined the climate effects of LBA’s expansion plans. The airport wants to double the number of passengers using the airport every year from 4m to 7.1m by 2030. This means that by 2030, the climate impact of all the extra flights would be double the target for all emissions for Leeds as a whole. By 2045, the overshoot would escalate to almost a factor of 10. By 2050, the combined climate impact of all flights through Leeds Bradford Airport since 2018 would be almost double the carbon budget for Leeds as a whole. Even if only one in five passengers are Leeds residents, their flights alone would use up 35% of the city’s entire carbon budget by 2050. The full article is available here.
3) Leeds City Council accepts that aviation expansion and achieving zero carbon are ‘fundamentally incompatible’ - and new technologies are not on the horizon: Leeds City Council “accepts that aviation growth and meeting zero carbon targets are fundamentally incompatible until such time as new technologies are developed.” (P4 of Exec Board Climate Emergency report, 7 January 2020) Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ states: “In the medium to long term, there is some scope for technological change... However, the prospects for such innovations becoming widely adopted across the aviation sector in the short to medium term currently seem low - even if planes with new technologies became viable in the next decade, it would take many years for existing fleets to transition towards the new technologies. Given the nature of the climate emergency and the need to deliver deep reductions in emissions in the next decade, the growth of emissions from aviation therefore represents a major challenge.”