Saturday, December 03, 2011

Game On

I  wandered off in rather windy conditions, on an excursion to Stapleford this afternoon, for a CAA briefing on the proposed Olympic airspace restrictions; all rather depressing if one happens to be a pilot or indeed, has an aviation business of any size.

As you might imagine, flying anywhere, unless it's from the big airports, is going to be made extremely awkward and should an innocent pilot step-out of line, or cross any of the imaginary restricted lines in the London or Olympic events airspace, dotted around the country, then it's more than likely he or she will have an Apache gunship arriving as company, rather quickly. That's all very reassuring from a security perspective but does rather beg the question of what happens in a highly populated and urbanised environment, should some unwelcome guest plan a flying visit? To be honest, I'm not convinced that the reaction time, measured in a few minutes, is enough but the authorities are going to equal lengths to reassure the public and ensure they know where everyone is and who they are at all times.

It appears that all the country's smaller airports are going to be full to capacity and those, like Manston and Lydd, lying just outside the restricted zone, will be crammed with visiting executive jets, which must be good for us in Thanet, given the potential tourist traffic coming our way during the games. It should be a plane-spotters paradise.

Quite how the people from the smaller jets get to the Games, I don't quite know, as the Government have precluded any heliport around Stratford to keep the area 'Green.' I'm assuming there will be regular helicopter traffic to Southend, just inside the restricted zone and use of the high-speed rail link from Ramsgate. I can't imagine anyone taking the car because of the anticipated traffic chaos. I read yesterday that train drivers will be given a £600 bonus just for turning-up for work, which has pleased the RMT union leader, Bob Crow no end.

Mind you, if you can afford to visit the games in a business jet, then you won't be short of a bob or two for the rail or helicopter fare to take you to Stratford, I'm sure!

From my point of view, there is some small consolation that the Farnborough Airshow is just before the Games and they have inquired about opening the show every day with a big banner display. As I did at an earlier airshow for Dubai Aerospace, I may yet get lucky. Anyway, one Farnborough is finished and the airspace locks down, I may well have an enforced month off with my feet up for a change!


Readit said...


I think you will find the high speed train from Ramsgate is curtailed for the duration of the games. Insufficient rolling stock to service the games and provide regular services.

DrM. said...

Quite right Ken, i recall seeing something along those lines coming from Southeast trains

I guess they will have to get the bus service!

Anonymous said...

Simon, I'm sure Thanet Council have fought the corner of those Thanet residents who use the high speed service daily - who number in their hundreds - and now have no service to get to work of the games during the consultation that took place.

The fact there is not even a limited peak time service is not acceptable, and I'm sure our local MP's and council are doing everything they can to reverse this situation.

Then again, it seems you weren't even aware of it.......

DrM. said...

I was aware of a reduced service on SE trains because I had the email release from Mike Gibson and that will impact the whole of Kent is, I would judge, more of a KCC and MP matter to pursue on our behalf from a county-wide perspective.

Put another way, Government is inconveniencing millions of people because of the Games, balancing this with the hoped for revenue returns that may accrue from Olympic tourism.

They are, for example, quite prepared to see businesses from a number of different sector, aviation included, go down, without any form of compensation and I'm sure you would agree that's not acceptable either but it's what will happen.

mingles4all said...

I'm right with you on this Simon. Its scandalous that something that will benefit a relatively small number of people will have such consequences for such a large population.

Anonymous said...

Night flights will benefit a relatively small number of people and will have such consequences for such a large population here in Ramsgate.

Tom Clarke said...

How do you know, Stargazer? How about some facts and figures to back up your small number of people. A flourishing airport could do wonders for the area but we will never find out unless we give it a try.

On the other hand, if it is still doomed even with night flights, as some of the anti-group would have us believe, what have you got to worry about. It will close and that will be that.

But then, just maybe.........

mingles4all said...

Put another way, Local Government is inconveniencing thousands of people because of night flights, balancing this with the hoped for revenue returns that may accrue from theoretical jobs.

They are, for example, quite prepared to see businesses from a number of different sector, Ramsgate hotels included, go down, without any form of compensation and I'm sure you would agree that's not acceptable either but it's what will happen.

Peter Checksfield said...

Exactly Tom, it's the same with the (very) small group of people who claim that no one wants a Tesco in Margate.

Ren Wood said...

mingkles4all, have you ever counted the number of busy hotels, cafes, hire car firms, storage and transportation companies and sundry other businesses that exist around successful aurports. How many holiday destinations have airports right on the beach virtually yet still attract thousands of visitors.

If Ramsgate doesn't then I would suggest it is more because it is a dump full of whinging NIMBYs.

Michael Child said...

Just a couple of thoughts here, although I suppose I ought to state my position on the airport first. While I am broadly supportive of the airport I would want to see a considerable payback in jobs for increased night flights.

It has occurred to me that there is a way to please both parties in this argument, which is to offer the airport a similar ratio of night flights to day flights as that enjoyed by Gatwick and Heathrow.

That way if there were the jobs associated with a busy airport, well we would get woken up in the night, conversely if the airport continues to fail, as it has for the last 50 years, well we wouldn’t get woken up in night very often.

Personally I think the way forward for the airport is to encourage the expansion of the heritage aircraft side. I suppose it was the business with refuelling of Iran’s planes, - now stopped by the airport - that highlighted the problem. Inasmuch as the flights were only viable boarding passengers at one of the country’s main airports and only dropping into Manson to refuel, and it wasn’t viable to run these flights with the passengers going to and from Manston, where the planes were landing anyway.