May 2012 (early)

Yvette Cooper - "A damning report on Government mismanagement of border security"

The Shadow Home Secretary comments on this week's report from Immigration Inspectors.

Transport Minister Justine Greening comes clean on Heathrow queues

Air India sacks 10 more pilots after strike

Trade unions say up to 400,000 marched in London today to protest over pensions & cuts

An estimated 32,000 off duty police and their supporters protested in London today

Pictures from today's protests courtesy of the Socialist Workers' Party

May 10th pension strike and protests - Report from the Socialist Party

10th May 2012

Airports play down impact of Border Agency strike

Airports draft in back-up teams to deal with strikes

Several MPs and political figures have stated that they will attend today's rallies and picket lines. Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper is marching with an estimated 32,000 off duty police (who are not allowed to strike) while Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell is attending a solidarity rally in London and visiting picket lines. Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey is scheduled to speak at the assembly.

Public sector workers are furious that they have has their pay frozen for two years followed by another two years with a cap in pay rises at 1%, which will devalue wages (and pensions) by around 15% to 18%. In addition they have been told that they must pay more into their pensions, work longer and receive less when they retire.

#M10 strike "as solid as #N30"

10th May 2012

Andrew Lansley defends minister veto on publishing NHS risk register

BA takes next step in bmi integration

IAG announces that it will put nine former bmi routes up for sale on May 23rd. Meanwhile, it has been reported that a deal has been agreed to sell bmi regional to Sector Aviation Holdings for around £8 million.

BMI Regional sold to Aberdeen consortium

10th May 2012

Up to 400,000 to strike today in pensions dispute

Heathrow chaos: Travelers spend more time in line than in the air

Heathrow queues criticised in report

An official report by Immigration Inspectors finds that passport control staff had their numbers cut by 15% in Heathrow's Terminal 3 as passenger numbers went up.

10th May 2012

Air France-KLM Passenger Traffic Up, Cargo Drops

'Attacking employee rights is a hard right agenda that will not boost growth', says TUC

The TUC says that the reduction in worker rights announced in the Queen's speech today is nothing less than a charter for cowboy bosses and will not help the economy. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is intended to make it easier for employers to sack workers and restricts rights to apply to a tribunal.

Queen's Speech reaction from the TUC

9th May 2012

Thousands of Unite’s public sector members take part in pensions’ protest tomorrow

Strike set to cause major disruptions at UK airports

Indian Carriers Default On Airport Charges

Immigration minister Damien Green is lying, says travel industry

85% of people surveyed in the travel industry do not believe Damien Green's promise that all passport control desks will be staffed at peak times over the Olympics.

9th May 2012

Labour lead is 5% ahead of Tories and LibDems combined says latest poll

Feltham MP calls for aircraft noise compensation

Ministers block release of NHS risk register

The ConDems' contempt for the voters, the 99% and the law continues as the cabinet ignores a legal ruling that it must publish the NHS risk register, which warns of dangers to public health from the Health and Social Care Bill (Act) that it pushed through, despite election manifesto promises to the contrary.

Cameron’s vetoing of NHS Risk Register release “a desperate act which will backfire badly”

9th May 2012

Air India Cancels Flights As 100 Pilots Go Sick

ConDems' local elections defeat fails to halt cuts agenda

FTSE 100 bosses' pay 'rose 11% last year'

While the average pay rise last year was 1.1%. and many people saw their pay frozen or even cut, top bosses saw their pay go up by ten times that of the 99%. We are not "all in this together" and there is only one fair way to ensure that the wealthy who caused the recession are made to pay for it. We need a one off 20% wealth tax for all property and assets valued at over £1 million. No loopholes, no get out of jail free cards. The 1% have exploited the rest of us for long enough and it was their greed that caused the recession, the bail out and the deficit. It's time for them to dig into their pockets and pay their fair share of the recovery.

9th May 2012

Kingfisher To Start Paying January Wages

BBC - Has the airport experience become too horrible?

Heathrow and Los Angeles top airport hate lists

Olympic merchandise still being supplied by sweatshops says watchdog

Employment rights monitor Playfair reports that Olympic sportswear is still being produced by workers who are denied the most basic employment rights, denied safety equipment, forced to work excessive hours for minimal pay and threatened with dismissal for complaining. It had previously been revealed that child labour had been used to manufacture some Olympic mascots.

The TUC is calling on the International Olympic Committee to enforce the rights guaranteed by the United Nations Universal Declaration.

8th May 2012

Airbus finds solution to wing cracks

400,000 to go on strike over public sector pension cuts

Union tells members not to volunteer to solve immigration crisis

BAA owner Ferrovial in talks to buy outsourcing company Enterprise

Customs checks 'drop as staff move to passport control'

The BBC reports that it has been told by the Immigration Services Union that the number of customs checks on arriving passengers has dropped as UKBA staff are moved to deal with passengers at passport control. The union has expressed concern that the government is acting to appease the media on passport queues, but failing to deal with the lack of resources at the UK borders.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has reported that rich passengers are being allowed to use the VIP suite at Heathrow for £1,800, allowing them to avoid having to queue at passport control at all. This revelation will hardly sooth the tempers of those who do have to wait.

The Telegraph published "Diary of an Immigration Officer", giving concerns over a number of issues. UKBA staff were pulled out of other areas to ensure desks were manned when Immigration Minister, Damien Green visited Terminal 3, leading to breaches of queue times elsewhere. Officers were pulled off desks for uniform checks and there were concerns that training levels of additional staff from other airports were not appropriate for Heathrow.

Theresa May ordered to cut airport queues

National security under threat from airport queue 'circus'

Border control delays: diary of an immigration officer

6th May 2012

Iain Duncan-Smith "sneers at" disabled workers at Remploy

Disability rights campaigners are calling for the immediate resignation of Iain Duncan-Smith after he accused workers at disability employer Remploy of "sitting around all day drinking coffee" and said that they should "get a proper job". Civil rights lawyers should be looking to see if IDS can be sued under discrimination legislation for victimisation, citing "vicarious liability" as Remploy is an "emanation of the state" (government controlled) and IDS an employee of the government.

The ongoing attacks on disabled people by the right wing media (especially the Daily Mail) is disgusting enough, but we should be able to expect senior government ministers to maintain a higher standard. Slandering or making disparaging comments about the disabled is no different to making racist or sexist remarks. It must not be tolerated and - in this writer's opinion, is illegal.

Campaigners are still trying to get the government to reverse its decision to close most of Remploy's facories, which will make an estimated 1,500 disabled people redundant, with little chance of getting alternative work with today's high unemployment and inadequate equality laws.

6th May 2012

Immigration "Queue Busters" doing little to prevent delays

Union News - European unions form anti-austerity alliance

The Spectator - Cartoon Page

Air France-KLM Won't Back Down On Cost Cutting Plan

Boris wins as London Mayor, but LibDems beaten into third by Greens

Ken Livingstone has narrowly lost the election for Mayor of London by 3%, but Labour made major gains in the London assembly, with an 8% improvement over 2008. Political analysts note that Ken polled well, despite bad press in the weeks before the election. However, the "cult of Boris" won the battle, with many LidDem voters switching to Johnson on the day.

This let the Greens in to third place, begging the question if the LibDems have any future in British politics, having betrayed nearly every principle that they claimed to hold before the election.

5th May 2012

Air France-KLM Core Losses Widen In First Quarter 2012 - Fuel Costs Blamed

Morning Star - "Coalition's local election disaster is a rejection of austerity"

Voters have turned their backs on the Tories and LibDems in local elections across the country. A second recession, record unemployment, pay freezes, the NHS sell off, education becoming a privilege of the rich, the "granny tax" in the budget... the list of reasons not to vote Tory or LibDem goes on and on.

Now Mr. Clegg, are you going to carry on sucking up to the least popular post war prime minister, or are you going to walk away from the coalition and let your successor start trying to salvage what little credibility your party has left? Expect the LibDem party members to let you know their feelings on this issue very soon, Nick.

5th May 2012

London First Says UK Needs Heathrow Expansion

Man dressed as penguin gets more votes than LibDems

Monarch steps in after Bmibaby closure announcement

Monarch airlines promises to expand its services at Birmingham and begin new operations from East Midlands Airport after bmibaby is shut down by IAG in September (if no buyer is found).

4th May 2012

BNP wiped out in local elections

Cash strapped BNP have lost all six seats that they were defending and appear to have failed in their attempts to divide the British electorate on the grounds of race. However, UKIP who many see as the "acceptable" face of racism have made gains, polling 13% of the voters in the areas they put up candidates. So far Labour have made substantial gains at the expense of the Tories and LibDems.

4th May 2012

Theresa May to consider relaxing airport passport controls

In yet another government u-turn, it appears that the Home Secretary could scale back on passport checks rather than employ adequate numbers of UKBA officials. Details of a "risk based" approach to who will face full passport checks have yet to be released, but it seems likely that some form of profiling will be used together with a fast tracking system for passengers from countries that have few links to terrorism or illegal immigration.

Thersa May's proposals, if introduced within the next week, would also reduce the impact of a strike by immigration staff that is planned for the 10th of May over the destruction of pension benefits.

Demand for Air Passenger Duty income to be used to help ease airport queues

4th May 2012

Unions call for support for American and US Airlines merger

bmibaby to be grounded in September

IAG, having acquired bmibaby as part of a deal to buy bmi (and its slots) has announced that it will ground the airline in September unless a buyer can be found. This places 500 jobs at risk. Some, if not all of the destinations served by bmibaby are also likely to be scrapped, with IAG announcing today that bmibaby operatons in Belfast will end on the 11th of June, though bmi mainline flights will continue.

bmibaby to stop Belfast flights from 11 June

3rd May 2012

Aer Lingus narrows losses in 2012 first quarter

Give coalition "a bloody nose" in today's elections

Today's elections are a chance to tell the government what we think of the ConDems austerity measures combined with tax cuts for the super rich. Tell them we don't want them running our country, we don't want them controlling our councils and we don't want them in charge of London.

It's time to sack Boris. The only candidate who can realistically stop him from winning is Ken Livingstone, who made massive improvements to transport across the capital during his time in control and actually got affordable housing built (unlike his successor). The Tories have lied and broken their promises time and time again.

Get out to vote today. Don't let the Tories (or worse still, the racists and bigots in BNP and UKIP) get away with their "divide and rule" campaigns to benefit the 1% at the expense of everyone else.

3rd May 2012

Border staff strike on May 10th: Q&A for travellers

Business travel defies downturn in UK economy

Lufthansa To Cut 3,500 Jobs In Savings Push

Lufthansa admits that it intends to cut administrative jobs around the world in an attempt to cut costs by $1.5 billion. The airline has just announced a 380 million euro loss for the first 3 months of 2012, which it blames on high fuel costs.

Lufthansa Posts Q1 Loss On Fuel Costs

3rd May 2012

BAA says target for non-EU visitors to Heathrow missed 24% of the time

Former UKBA boss criticises actions to cut queues

Passengers Numbers Up, Cargo Flat In March

The trend for passengers to return in the wake of the (first) recession continues, but the air cargo sector continues to struggle. Passenger numbers improved by nearly 10%, according to IATA, while cargo only grew by 0.1%.

A rare exception to the depression of the airfreight market is Dubai airport, which has seen its cargo business quadruple in the first three months of 2012, a further sign of its commercial threat to the European hubs. The EU should also cast its eye towards Qatar, where ambitious plans for a new $15 billion airport in Doha should reach completion later this year. Another middle eastern airport that is gearing up for growth is Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, which plans to triple its capacity over the next three years.

Cargo volumes rising at Dubai's new gateway

New Doha International Airport to open in December

Riyadh Airport Expansion To Start In November

2nd May 2012

Grayling: safe work hurts businesses

Our cynical government continues to put profit before people by ignoring the 20,000 deaths each year in the UK from work related accidents and disease. Employment Minister, Chris Grayling continues to pander to unethical companies that threaten to take their business away from the UK unless they are allowed to operate unsafely without risk of prosecution.

A message to Mr. Grayling from the HLC. We do not want unethical employers in this country. Tell them to get lost. Most of them are bluffing anyway. The lives and health of British workers are more important than the bonuses of a bunch of cowboy directors.

To put it another way - "the mansions of the rich should not be built on the corpses of the working class".

2nd May 2012

British government attacked for selling arms to repressive regimes

Airlines oppose fee to cut queues at Heathrow

While Willie Walsh may be prepared to pay more to the government to get his passengers through passport control quickly, the suggestion has been strongly rejected by other airlines who feel that they are already being squeezed enough by airport fees, Air Passenger Duty and the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme.

Heathrow queues: funding 'a red herring' says BA

2nd May 2012

Boris accused of being “out of touch with housing reality” as Ken targets Lib Dems

News International's offers to Boris Johnson revealed in Leveson evidence

Passengers face paying for passport checks under plan to end Heathrow chaos

Osborne’s carbon footprint grows as Shell decides against wind power

Critics of the Tories' failures to deliver on their election promise to be "the greenest government ever" are asking why it is still subsidising the fossil fuel industry by over £3 billion a year. Green lobbyists will be angered that the subsidies continue despite Shell ending its investment in wind power projects in the North Sea. Oil companies are still receiving massive tax breaks despite huge profits.

The solution seems simple. The subsidies to the petrochemical companies (at the taxpayers' expense) should be stopped unless they can demonstrate that they have put sufficient investment in to renewable energy research and carbon capture. Why should the aviation industry be taxed on carbon emissions at the same as the oil companies are subsidised?

2nd May 2012

UK border force staff cut by 10% according to leaked data

Public sector workers to strike over pensions next week (Thursday 10th May)

Willie Walsh - Government failings are putting off possible investors in the UK

Willie Walsh - Airlines are ready to pay to end Heathrow delays

Minister says Heathrow passport delays exaggerated; blames weather

Public want 'tougher' border controls despite Heathrow queues

Heathrow waiting times 'breached 107 times in two weeks'

The main Heathrow stories in the news today continue to focus on the reported delays at passport control. Even Boris Johnson has spoken

UCATT - Government has 'washed hands of asbestos victims'

Construction workers union UCATT accuses the government of ignoring victims of asbestos who have developed pleural plaques. Suffers of this condition, where the lungs become scarred after exposure to asbestos are entitled to compensation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but have no rights to claim in England and Wales. UCATT says that the government should follow the lead of NI and Scotland and bring in legislation that allows suffers of this condidtion to be treated similarly in England and Wales.

17th May 2012 

Skyport letter - Did BAA remove the leaflets at UKBA?

'Give us solid data' on APD and Heathrow, MPs tell industry

MPs supporting the aviation sector are asking for data on the damage to the economy that is being done by the increase to Air Passenger Duty and failure to permit development at Heathrow.

Delay in releasing Government airports policy risks aero-shambles, says expert

Banks' tight lending is 'preventing travel growth'

17th May 2012

EU heading for showdown with foreign airlines over ETS

Heathrow mixed mode trial to be extended by six months

Unions mark International Day Against Homophobia

Today (May 17th) is International Day Against Homophobia. LGBT groups, unions and activists continue their campaign for equal rights in the UK and an end to persecution internationally.

TUC courses for Equality Reps

17th May 2012

Portugese air traffic controllers to strike

Ryanair condemns Portuguese ATC strike

West Midlands Police is for sale but staff and public are in the dark

Theresa May heckled, accused of corruption and told to quit as she addresses Police Federation

European pilots and cabin crew stage protest in Germany

Pilots quickly react to claims by airlines that relaxing rules on their rest periods is safe.

EU airlines claim "New flight time rules are safe"

The Association of European Airlines, which represents 115 carriers across the region has claimed that new rules that give piliots fewer rights to rest time will not lead to a higher level of risk. This position is strongly disputed by pilots' unions, who say that fatigue is a significant factor in a high proportion of air accidents and near misses.

Keep Flying Safe - UK Airline Pilots Website

16th May 2012

Extra Border Control staff 'too late' for rush

Extra border guards to be recruited for Heathrow (but numbers to be cut after the games)

How Olympic merchandise from sweatshops is still being sold in the UK

Britain is only EU country in recession

Business leaders demand meeting with PM over aviation strategy

David Cameron's policies and lack of vision come under fire, yet again

Equality and Human Rights Commission has workforce halved

Only two days after the Equality and Human Rights Commission criticised the government for failing to assess the impact of its cuts on women, minorites and the poor, ministers have announced that half of the watchdog's workforce are to be cut. Its budget has also been halved and it has had its duty to promote a fair and equal society for all removed.

This cynical action by the government shows why the Tories are called the "nasty party". They regard the poor, the disabled and the disadvantaged as failures. They do not want a more equal society. They simply want to protect the privileges of the 1%. And they do that by playing divide and rule, setting one section of society against another and by blaming minorities for the problems that the wealthy have caused through their greed.

The unions will almost certainly announce a campaign to protect the EHRC and everything it stands for. Watch this space.

Theresa May declares war on equality laws

16th May 2012

Now the Tories come for the blind people’s benefits

India And China Fail To Comply With EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Five months after the EU introced a mandatory scheme to make airlines pay a tax proportional to their CO2 emissions, the only carriers to have failed to comply are from China and India. This leaves Europe in a difficult situation. Does it pursue the offending airlines through the courts or start impounding aircraft, so risking a trade war? Or does it avoid confrontation, leaving other airlines at a commercial disadvantage and likely to stop paying themselves?

May 16th 2012

Venezuela President increases workers rights as Cameron tears up UK employment laws

Fired! Government gives disgraced A4e the boot

The government has finally come to its senses (on one issue, at least) by cancelling its contract with A4e, the company that it selected to manage its workfare program. Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart was one of the Labour figures who had been calling for the contract to be scrapped.

A4e had been tasked with finding unemployed people unpaid work, using the logic that this would make it easier for them to get back into the workplace. Critics of the scheme said that this would just give cowboy employers the opportunity to get labour for free when they might otherwise have had to create paid jobs.

The ConDems amazing ability to back a losing horse was demonstrated in March this year, when it announced that A4e was a preferred bidder for prison education contracts, despite the company having come under investigation for multiple acts of fraud only two weeks earlier.

16th May 2012

Lufthansa May Bid For Portugal's TAP

Osborne allows tax avoiders to get away with murder – while you pick up the tab

A summary and analysis of last night's Panorama program

Tory peers urge ministers to back Heathrow third runway

Aviation blueprint argues against Thames Estuary airport

London Heathrow retains top spot as Europe’s busiest airport

The coalition's reluctance to consider a third runway at Heathrow comes under renewed pressure as claims are made that the UK is losing £8 billion in potential economic growth due to lack of aviaition capacity.

15th May 2012

‘Support builds’ for new Heathrow rail route

Damian Green grilled by MPs over Heathrow delays

BAA to David Cameron: Act now to save Heathrow Airport

The Evening Standard today reports that BAA's CEO, Colin Matthews has warned that if the government does not act now, London's future as an international business and travel hub could decline in as little as 15 years.

Mr. Matthews has also cautioned people of the danger of being attracted to investing huge sums in new airports that the public may not want to use, in what is presumed to be a reference to Boris Johnson's favoured plan for a £40 billion hub in the Thames Esuary. Mr. Matthews cites Montreal-Mirabel Airport in Canada, which was intended as a replacement for Montreal-Dorval, but closed to passengers after 20 years of failing to attract airlines.

Meanwhile, at a conference of the Guild of Travel Companies, a leading Tory has suggested that a number of Conservatives may rebel against the coalition's (lack of an) aviation strategy that addresses the potential billions being lost to the UK economy from lack of airport capacity. It is reported that four cabinet ministers have been critical of the government's current "no new runways in the South-East" position.

Tory insider warns travel sector of 'biggest-ever squeeze'

14th May 2012

Equalities watchdog slams Cameron for failing to assess impact of cuts on women

Border Force denies 'relaxing' e-gates to reduce queues

UKBA denies that it relaxes the rigour of its checks at e-gates during busy times to prevent queues building up. The response follows claims that a woman passed through an e-gate after presenting her husband's passport by mistake and concerns raised by UKBA's Chief Inspector, John Vine.

14th May 2012

BBC - Children held at Heathrow Airport in 'degrading' conditions

The Independent Monitoring Board says that while conditions in the UKBA's short term holding facilities at Heathrow have improved over the past 5 years, they are unsuitable for holding children or families overnight. Terminals 3 and 4 were particularly singled out for criticism. UKBA says that this is due to limited facilities provided by the airport operator and that it has raised the matter "on numerous occasions". BAA says that UKBA has not spoken to them recently about any problems, but would not comment further as it had not seen the report.

14th May 2012

Government failure to grasp importance of aviation 'incredible' says travel boss

IAG sells bmi regional for $12.9 million

Too rich to queue? Is it ethical to offer fast track security for an additional fee?

As Luton Airport opens up its fast track security to economy passengers for a payment of an extra £3, the Guardian asks if the rest of us should really be expected to wait or hand over our money. Should we not be able to expect a (reasonably) queue free service in all aspects of our lives without having to pay more?

13th May 2012

100,000 doctors vote tomorrow on strike action

American Airlines To Explore Merger Options

PIA threatened with Heathrow ban during Olympics unless punctuality improves

Pakistan International Airlines has been told that it must substantially improve its punctuality, as missing planned slots times is disrupting schedules for other airlines at Heathrow, which is near capacity. PIA has responded that many of the delays were due to circumstances beyond its control, such as late aircraft checks by the CAA or security reasons.

13th May 2012

Disabled people forced into residential care because council won't pay for home support

American Airlines takes legal action to get employee facebook, twitter and phone info

This is a US report, but we have already seen Heathrow employees subjected to discipline and dismissal because of posts they have (allegedly) made on facebook and in forums and blogs. The internet is a useful tool to share information, but be aware that big brother employers may be watching you.

12th May 2012

Unions warn of more strikes in summer if pension grievances are not addressed

Bloodless bean-counters rule over us – where are the leaders?

The Daily Telegraph asks if our companies are being run by a new breed of manager who look after their own interests ahead of their companies. Are these new managers akin to a type of parasite on the buisinesses they control? And are managerial qualifications really more important than an genuine understanding of specialist industries (such as aviation)? Should we not be seeking out people with passion, commitment and vision to lead our companies instead of those who think that key strategic decisions can be made by simply looking at a balance sheet?

12th May 2012

Government has no idea on airports, says IAG chief Willie Walsh

Boris Johnson renews call for estuary airport

Thames Airport protesters target London mayor Boris Johnson

BAA issues warning over Heathrow capacity

In a damning attack on government strategy, Willie Walsh says that he will not take part in consultation on the future growth of UK aviation, as ministers are refusing to consider the most sensible options, such as a third runway at Heathrow.

12th May 2012

Cheap flights: how the add-ons add up

Heathrow growth is finished, insists Transport Minister

The government continues to bury its head in the sand over London's lack of aviation capacity. A travel conference heard a series of negative comments from Justine Greening about Heathrow, leading to the conclusion that its future will be nothing more than "a base for upmarket holiday flights".

The HLC believes that the Tories are making a huge error. Investing in Heathrow would be one of the most effective ways of bringing trade and growth to the UK, creating jobs and securing Britain's future status in the world economy. Failure to back Heathrow risks 220,000 jobs in West London and thousands of businesses that support the aviation industry.

Gatwick continues to emerge as Heathrow rival

11th May 2012

Prison officers defy strike ban - "68 year olds shouldn't have to control violent offenders"

When prison officers walk out and police officers take to the streets in their tens of thousands, the government should take notice. These two groups are seen as defenders of the establishment and their loyalty to the principles of law, order and government are taken for granted. Yet today saw them make a statement to the ConDems that they will not be taken advantage of any longer. Why should workers have to stay on in their jobs into their late sixties to afford a decent retirement? Why should we expect those who are responsible for managing violent offenders to carry out their jobs until many are no longer fit to do so?

10th May 2012