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Gatwick

Norwegian Air International (NAI) has welcomed a “long overdue” approval from the US Department of Transportation for its foreign carrier permit.

Several large US and European carriers had waged a two-and-a-half year battle to block the award, arguing that NAI’s Irish registration was a flag of convenience.

However, their case was dealt a major blow in April, when the DOT stated that the “NAI appears to meet DOT’s normal standards for award of a permit and that there appears to be no legal basis to deny NAI’s application”.

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Britain’s government is expected to announce this week where new runway capacity for London will be sited. 

Heathrow and Gatwick airports are competing for the new infrastructure, but rumours are circulating, based on an article in New Civil Engineer, that both may get the green light, along with an extra runway for Birmingham.

Former chancellor George Osborne, in line with the Airport Commission study concluded while he was in government, has recommended Heathrow for expansion, possibly followed by Gatwick.

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We’re only five days in to the New Year and London’s Heathrow Airport has already hit the headlines, twice.

On January 3, Heathrow reported that MPs from both Labour and Conservative are “united in the need for Heathrow expansion”, despite the usual political divide between the two parties.

This news came after the release of the first poll that followed the government’s response to the Airport’s Commission and showed two thirds of the Conservative and Labour MPs are in favour of the third runway at Heathrow over a second at Gatwick.

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Gatwick Airport yesterday (August 17) published its response to the Airports Commission Final Report which was submitted in July, hitting back at what it perceived as the flawed claims of the study.

London’s second largest airport slammed claims made in the report that its proposal for the capital’s new runway offers fewer economic benefits than Heathrow’s suggested extended northern runway and will use the additional capacity to focus on short-haul routes rather than long-haul ones.

At the time of submitting the final commission, chair of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, said: “Heathrow is best-placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy.”

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After almost three years the independent UK Airports Commission has finally delivered a verdict, and it’s exactly what the government didn’t want to hear.

Out of three short-listed options – a new runway at Gatwick, an extended runway at Heathrow and a third runway at airport – the Davies Commission plumped for the latter.

In what was really a two-horse race between new runways at Gatwick or Heathrow, the commission concluded that “expansion at Heathrow delivers an earlier and more significant increase in the scale and capacity of the UK’s overall long-haul network”.

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With the dust now settled on the most extraordinary British election since the early 1990s, Talking Point’s thoughts turn to its consequences for aviation policy. For those still unacquainted with the results: David Cameron’s Conservative Party won a slim but totally unpredicted majority, mainly at the expense of its former coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, who were annihilated at the polls.

Labour, meanwhile, suffered a bloodbath north of the border, where the Scottish National Party booted out all but one its members of parliament on a surreal night that saw party grandees unseated by political neophytes and, in one case, the youngest new MP since 1667. Scotland is a sideshow, however, when it comes to UK aviation planning, which is chiefly concerned with airport expansion in south-east England. Given the enormous divergence of their fiscal plans, there was surprisingly little difference between Conservative and Labour policy on this issue.

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Airports in south-eastern England are like old but still functioning boilers: everyone knows they need to be upgraded to avert serious discomfort, but the decision is always put off for another winter, and another, and another…

Unfortunately, “there is no more long grass left for this issue to be kicked into”, according to one manufacturing lobby group.

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