Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Air rage debate in windy Blackpool

Monday was a very windy day in Blackpool on the North West coast of England. So windy I couldn’t hold the camera steady to take photos outside. But here is a photo of the very bling ceiling of the Winter Gardens conference centre, with the chandelier lights. Wandering around Blackpool was a contrast; it looked pretty bleak with lots of empty shops, and could do with investment in local services and infrastructure.

Yet, in the face of the recession and plummeting passenger numbers and freight volumes, Blackpool Airport has just started a £2.5 million improvement programme including upgrading the runway. Blackpool Airport’s passenger numbers fell from 558,278 in 2007 to 439,200 in 2008. January 2009’s passenger statistics showed an enormous 63 per cent drop from the same month in 2008, to just over 7,000 people. Airports all around the world are still going ahead with gigantic expansion programmes in spite of plummeting traffic.

I was on an “Air Rage” panel discussing aviation expansion at the Green Party conference. Also on the panel were Rupert Read, lead candidate for the Eastern Region in this year’s European elections (the Green Party is the only UK political party to unequivocally oppose aviation expansion) and Robbie Gillett of Plane Stupid, a campaigning group recently hitting the headlines when an activist threw green custard over Peter Mandelson to highlight his support for aviation expansion as an unelected official.

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