Air links P&R Statement – Fact check

The 2020 Association considers air links to be a top priority for Guernsey’s economic development.

We were disappointed by the 12 December 2018 statement by the Vice-President of the Policy & Resources Committee renouncing further investigation into a runway extension.

As part of our assessment of the rationale behind P&R’s announcement, we demanded publication of the PwC Air Links report.

Following our success we have been able to review the PwC report and feel obliged to point out that the P&R statement is at odds with many of the detailed findings in the PwC report and its overall conclusion.

Whilst these are numerous, we have outlined three critical contradictions at the start of this article (labelled Claims A, B and C) which are with regard to fundamental matters in informing our ongoing support of producing a cost benefit analysis relating to a runway extension (i.e.  Part B of the exercise as recommended by PwC).

We then continue with a more detailed examination of the comparison of the contents of the PwC Report, other sources and the statements made to the States as recorded in Hansard and the account of these statements as they now appear on the government website (labelled Claims 1 – 7).

We welcome views from the public and media on the runway extension. Please contact us via Facebook, email or a direct comment at the bottom of this article.

We are having our first public meeting at Les Cotils on the 2nd May 2019 at 7pm in relation to this. Please click on the link to confirm your attendance.

The three critical contradictions:

Claim A
Policy and Resources Statement

“The Policy & Resources Committee has reached the conclusion that the option of extending the airport runway will not be a game changer in respect of our connectivity”.

PwC Report

“The 1,570m extension appears to be the best runway option if it is feasible from a commercial and operational perspective for more than one airline”.

“A 1,700 -1,800m extension should be taken forward as the primary alternative to the 1,570m option. There are clear additional benefits and it is lower risk in the longer term, although there may be a substantial cost difference”.

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

The P&R statement contradicts the commissioned PwC report.

Claim B

Policy and Resources Statement

“The truth of the matter is that if [sic] were to extend the runway to the length that PwC indicate it would be a game changer, we would need a huge and complex planning inquiry, probably to bulldoze part of St. Peter’s…”

PwC Report

“Because of the geographical characteristics of the airport, an extension of the runway that goes beyond the existing boundary is likely to require filling in a ‘valley’ to the east, which would have an associated cost”.

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

The P&R statement contradicts the commissioned PwC report.

We also note the P&R statement contradicts Island Development Plan Policy IP4 “Airport Related Development Proposals relating to the operation or safety of the airport will be supported”.

Claim C

Policy and Resources Statement

“…enormous investment on which there may never be a return”.

PwC Report

“ASM have estimated that the extension plans would bring additional value to the Guernsey economy.”

On the 1700m extension: “We recommend that this is taken forward as the other runway reference case and subjected to detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine if the greater cost of this option justifies the tangible benefits”.

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

The P&R statement contradicts a previously commissioned report from ASM and concludes on a cost benefit analysis that has not yet been completed and that the recently commissioned PwC report actually recommends. They call it ‘Part B’.

A more detailed examination:

The following is a more detailed examination of the P&R Statement.

Our work became more complicated than it at first appeared: the statement as issued on the gov.gg website is manifestly different to the official Hansard in critical areas. Gov.gg statement quotations in green, Hansard quotations in orange, black where they both agree.

Claim 1

Gov.gg Para 25: The Policy & Resources Committee has reached the conclusion that the option of extending the airport runway will not be a game changer in respect of our connectivity”

Hansard Line 871: “..the Policy & Resources Committee has reached the conclusion – and we are unanimous in everything I am telling you this morning – that the option of extending the airport runway will not be a game-changer in respect of our connectivity.”

Gov.gg Para 43: “Sir, the Policy & Resources committee does not believe a case has been made to extend the runway, so we do not propose undertaking further work.”

Hansard Line 917: “Sir, the Policy & Resources Committee does not believe a value for money case has been made to extend the runway, so we do not propose undertaking further work.”

PwC Report, Pg. 20: “A 1,700 -1,800m extension should be taken forward as the primary alternative to the 1,570m option. There are clear additional benefits and it is lower risk in the longer term, although there may be a substantial cost difference”

PwC Report, Pg 20: “The 1,570m extension appears to be the best runway option if it is feasible from a commercial and operational perspective for more than one airline.” (However there is a caveat on  page 14 relating to payload restrictions.)

2003 BAE SYSTEMS Infrastructure Solutions: Guernsey Airport Runway extension, JAC Report1/Issue3/27.01.03: Pg 15

“5.6 Conclusion

For the purpose of runway length, therefore, the new generation of regional jets have been selected as the design aircraft, as these are likely to form the majority of scheduled jet aircraft movements towards the end of the 25 year planning period.

This results in a required runway length not less than 1700m as being a minimum requirement to allow satisfactory payload range performance for these types of aircraft.”

2003 November 26 Billet, Para 6.4 (Pg 2391) ends: “..A runway length of 1,700 metres is the minimum to enable, “satisfactory payload range performance for these types of aircraft.” (page 15, BAE SYSTEMS Infrastructure Solutions’ Guernsey Airport – Runway Extension Report 1 – Runway and Taxiways, January 2003).”

2020 Conclusion – NO BASIS IN FACT

1700m was a solution 15 years ago to future proof us for the next 25 years.

Claim 2

Gov.gg Para 26: “The truth of the matter is that if [sic] were to extend the runway to the length that PwC indicate it would be a game changer, we would need a huge and complex planning inquiry, probably to bulldoze part of St. Peter’s, and enormous investment on which there may never be a return.”

Hansard Line 875: “What we do know is that if we were to extend the runway to the length that PwC indicate it would be a game-changer. We would need a huge and complex planning inquiry, probably to raze to the ground part of St Peter’s and enormous investment on which there may never be a return. The truth, Members of the States, that so far at least, there is no compelling or even marginal business case for an extension of that magnitude.”

We break this down:
Claim 2.1
Gov.gg and Hansard: “..we would need a huge and complex planning inquiry..”

Island Development Plan section 20.5, pg 21 states:

“Policy IP4: Airport Related Development
Proposals relating to the operation or safety of the airport will be supported where it would ensure the continued effective, efficient and safe operation of the airport.”

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

The 2016 IDP effectively reserves the land for airport use.

 Claim 2.2

Gov.gg: “..probably to bulldoze part of St. Peter’s..”

Hansard: “..probably to raze to the ground part of St Peter’s..”

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

St Peter’s in Guernsey lies to the west of the runway. Recommended 1700 – 1799m development examined in PwC report on page 20 lies to the east; there is nothing in the report that suggests that any work needs done beyond the existing western boundary.

A Code 3 (1200- 1799m) paved runway will remain within the current airport boundaries. However a RESA would have to be accommodated to the east of the existing boundary, presumably over the La Villaize Rd. or by infilling it.

 Claim 2.3

Gov.gg and Hansard: “..and enormous investment on which there may never be a return”

1700m extension costed at £23M in 2003, (at least) £23M in 2009,

option C2 in Billet XXIV 2009 volume2 p.1857 gives indicative cost.

The Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors made a joint submission which P&R received on or shortly after the 14/09/2018. In the section relating to economic impact due to the weakness in the island’s connectivity:

“the impact would approach £100m per annum in lost GDP to the island”

2020 Conclusion – SPIN

Recuperation period for Guernsey economy seems short.

Has the cost of not doing anything been calculated?

Air visitors are at their lowest since 1998. Economy suffering.

Claim 2.4

Gov.gg Para 25: “The Policy & Resources Committee has reached the conclusion that the option of extending the airport runway will not be a game changer in respect of our connectivity”

2020 Conclusion – SPIN

This seems in contradiction with Hansard Line 875:  What we do know is that if we were to extend the runway to the length that PwC indicate it would be a game-changer.

 Claim 2.5

Missing from Gov.gg version

Hansard Line 878: “The truth, Members of the States, that so far at least, there is no compelling or even marginal business case for an extension of that magnitude.”

2020 Conclusion – MISLEADING

PwC proposed a professional, fact-based cost/benefit evaluation (business case) of a runway extension as Part B of the process, but this has not yet been undertaken. P&R have established their position before the facts, and it appears that they do not want them to be evaluated.

Note: The 2018 PwC Report, 2003 BAE SYSTEMS Infrastructure Solutions JAC Report and the generally accepted development would be a 1700 – 1799m runway. The pavement could be contained within the current airport boundary. A RESA (runway end safety area) would need to be created to the east of the current airport boundary. 

The PwC Report does not recommend the 2000m option.

In order for the Aurigny jet to autoland in fog a minimum runway length of 1650 m is required as the landing distance is increased when a E195 is autolanding even if the radio aids and runway lighting was improved to CAT 3. The current Guernsey runway length is limiting even for the E195.

Claim 3

Gov.gg Para 27: “The Policy & Resources Committee does not believe that the community nor the political body has the appetite for that. Therefore spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money on listing the pros and cons of a set of runway extensions that are unlikely to be built in our lifetime will not be a worthwhile exercise”

Hansard Line 880: same with qualifier “.. a set of runway extensions that in our view are unlikely to be built in our lifetime will not be a worthwhile exercise”

Gov.gg Para 31: “So if the States does not agree with P&R’s recommendation, if States Members believe that their parishioners want us to spend upwards of half a million pounds investigating the runways further, then they will have the opportunity to direct the Policy & Resources Committee otherwise.”

(Hansard Line 890 substituted ‘parishioners’ with ‘constituents’)

The PwC Report, Pg 20, states ..“A 1700 – 1800m runway extension should be taken forward as the primary alternative to the 1570m option. There are clear additional benefits and it is lower risk in the longer term” they go on to say that this “..would be likely to provide benefits in terms of opening up Guernsey to a wider range of fleet and airline options, including British Airways and European charter operations” and they continue “We recommend that this is taken forward as the other runway reference case and subjected to detailed cost – benefit analysis to determine if the greater cost of this option justifies the tangible benefits.”

2020 Conclusion – MISSING BASIS IN FACT

That analysis would form Part B of the Report (the business case) which must be completed for at least a 1700 – 1799m extension before an opinion such as P&R’s above can be reached. A proper decision making process is obligatory for all major investments; policy must not be formed on a whim. It must be made in an objective, evidence based manner.

Where does P&R’s ‘belief’ come from?

Claim 4

Gov.gg Para 39 – 43: “Let me be clear then, on the Policy & Resources Committee’s position as it concludes its review:

What islanders consistently tell us is that they want frequency; what a longer runway offers is potentially less frequency as larger aeroplanes rotate routes less frequently.

What Economic Development wants is choice; a longer runway does not guarantee choice – airlines could start flying in on the current runway if they see a business case.

What our island wants is an island airline with the right fleet and a commitment to the island – not a procession of so-called brand airlines cherry picking routes every summer.

Sir, the Policy & Resources committee does not believe a case has been made to extend the runway, so we do not propose undertaking further work.”

Hansard Line 913 substitutes “..What Economic
Development, completely understandably, wants is choice. ..”

and Line 917: “Policy & Resources Committee does not believe a value for money case has been made to extend the runway..”

PwC Report, Pg 34: “The importance of each indicator varies by passenger group. Reliability is a key issue for all passengers”

In the split between ‘Business’, Leisure’ and ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’, affordability is in all groups, and top of two.

Frequency is not mentioned on this page.

The CofC/IOD’s press release states that competitive fares are most important (80% of respondents) and frequency is 5th (28%). We quote:

“The IoD and Chamber are concerned that the States are failing to address the concerns of the business community in respect of the evaluation of the islands air and sea links.

The statement made by Deputy Lyndon Trott on behalf of P&R issued to the States on 12th December suggests conclusions have already been drawn in the evaluation of the current status and assessment for the development of the air links and sea links infrastructure. Whilst we agree with the opening statements regarding the criticality of the impact of our transport links, we disagree with the recommendation to terminate the evaluation of air links without having completed the evaluation process.

With regards to the Policy and Resources Statement the IoD and Chamber would like to clarify the following specific points: 

(1)   The business groups undertook the survey and submission at the ‘specific request’ of the Economic Development/ Policy and Resources committees in support of the work undertaken by PWC. 

(2)   The joint member survey clearly identified “Competitive Fares” as the top priority for Guernsey’s connections with London, highlighted by 80% of respondents. The need for “6 flights per day to Gatwick though out the year” was 5th, highlighted by 28% respondents.  Given P&R’s statement it would be helpful to understand evidential basis on which they identified frequency as the leading consideration in the development of air links. 

(3)   It is apparent that Policy and Resources have focused on an extension to 2000m, which is inconsistent with our prior understanding that the PWC review was recommending investigations of two much more modest options, 1550m and 1750m. It would be helpful to understand why such an extreme position which would clearly cause a lot of distress in the local Parish has been proposed as the solution against which to judge viability. 

The survey clearly expressed the concern of the business community with the current situation, the lack of progress and the lack of a cohesive plan to evolve our air and sea links leading to a lack of confidence to make investment in the business environment.”

2020 Conclusion – NO BASIS IN FACT

The CofC/IOD drew their conclusions from material in circulation prior to this P&R statement and indeed that statement referred to those surveys. (Para 21)

Claim 5

Gov.gg Para 41: “What Economic Development wants is choice; a longer runway does not guarantee choice – airlines could start flying in on the current runway if they see a business case.”

Hansard line 910: What Economic Development, completely understandably, wants is choice. A longer runway does not guarantee choice – airlines could start flying in on the current runway if they see a business case.

2020 Conclusion – UNCLEAR OR MISLEADING

What was inferred by ‘choice’? Implication is choice of airlines.

If so, this is not true in sense they can only fly in restricted aircraft and or reduced payloads. No low cost Easyjet / Ryanair. So selective airlines only. Aurigny.

Claim 6
Both Paras 11 – 13: “Back in 2016, the-then new Committee for Economic Development told us it would be bold and brave. But there was little progress on air and sea links… (and ending) …That was why the President of the Policy and Resources Committee and I submitted an amendment to take forward a review of air and sea links infrastructure which was wholeheartedly supported and agreed by the Assembly.”

The sequence of events was as follows:

The States’ meeting of 27th June 2017 on the P&R Plan had the following submission from the CfED:

On p.147 second bullet point it stated “Examine the viability of extending the runway in order to facilitate additional connections with the UK and Europe by Q4 2017 and report the findings to the States.”

Deputies Roffey and Soulsby drafted an amendment to remove this work stream.

Following the brouhaha that followed P&R suggested the following amendment which was passed by the assembly. The Roffey/Soulsby amendment was withdrawn.

Amendment 29 was – “To insert at the end of the words in Proposition 6 b): “, but subject to deleting the “Guernsey Runway Extension (Pipeline) from table 27 and replacing it with “Strategic Air and Sea Links Infrastructure (Pipeline)”.”

The time frame for delivery therefore became the responsibility of P&R.

P&R were aware of this and the sequence of events is recorded in Hansard for the appropriate meeting & particularly so as P&R laid the amendment to do the work:

 
and the final amendment was:
 
 
2020 Conclusion – FALSE
 
The Committee for Economic Development work stream was stopped and taken over by P&R.
Claim 7

Gov.gg Para 30: “We should also remember that [sic]he States’ Trading Supervisory Board is looking at extending the RESA, as directed by the States, and is reporting back in the first quarter of 2019, and the requerants have said that this might be the solution needed.” 

Hansard Line 885: “We should also remember that the States’ Trading Supervisory Board is looking at extending the runway end safety areas (RESAs), as directed by the States, and is reporting back in the first quarter of 2019, and the requérants have said that this might be the solution needed.”

Both: Para 72 /  Line 970:  Repeated in summary: “Work on the extension of the RESA”

Deputy Kuttelwascher’s Requete on the length of Guernsey’s runway does not seek to extend the RESA, it suggests  reducing the RESA at the eastern end of the runway to 90m, and the potential use of EMAS and other measures, if required. It does not discuss the RESAs in the plural, and that is significant.

In spite of Deputy Kuttelwasher’s challenges to the P&R spokesman in the question time (Hansard line 1010), and a nonsensical response being offered (Hansard line 1019), no correction was made.

All members of P&R including the spokesman voted for the above requête on the 24th Oct 18.

Using existing runway.

2020 Conclusion – FALSE

The spokesman did not understand the subject.

Deputy Trott, Hansard, line 1043: “We have an obligation in Government to be open and transparent. We have an obligation to be honest with our community.”

The following is a comparison between part of the the published version of the statement on the gov.gg website, and the Hansard, where the Hansard version is the struck out text, and the underlined that on the gov.gg website.

© 2019 The 2020 Association

 

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