Farnborough Airport Expansion: Safe Landing supports local community groups in fight

3 Oct, 2023

Throughout September, Farnborough Airport has been in the news as it continues its application process to increase the number of flights it can operate by 40%, from 50,000 to 70,000.

There’s been fierce opposition from local community groups already effected by the airport, and these community groups have been well supported by environmental groups, as well as us here at Safe Landing.

Read on to the end of the post to see ways you can voice your concern, or help in the fight against reckless expansion…

Safe Landing has always opposed Farnborough’s current plans for expansion. In June, we presented to Farnborough Aerodrome Consultative Committee (FACC). You can read our blog post about that here. This month, we presented to local community groups on Aviation Greenwash – an exceptionally well attended event, with a packed-out room. As well as our campaigning work, we’ve been approached several times by the media, with Finlay quoted on the BBC and Todd appearing in the Guardian.

If you’re involved in opposing Farnborough’s expansion, or work in the media and would like to talk to real aviation workers about their views on this issue then please contact us via: [email protected].

Speaking to the Guardian, Safe Landing member and former airline pilot, Todd Smith said:

“This is clear evidence that super-wealthy people are still capable of loving an animal like one of their own, which strangely offers me some sense of hope. Yet I’m left dumbfounded that the same people cannot connect to the collapsing natural world around them, and thus come to their senses,” 

“Farnborough airport is notorious for this form of excessive travel and continues to ‘greenwash’ their way out of accountability with fantasy tales of so-called ‘sustainable aviation fuel’. I’m not the slightest bit surprised K9 Jets is the latest ludicrous service they’ve added to their portfolio.” 

“As a former pilot, it seems clear to me we need to decelerate our lives and provide genuinely sustainable clean transport for the masses, rather than continue to expand super-polluting private jet airports which cater to a tiny minority of ultra-wealthy individuals – both human and non-human.”

Speaking to the BBC, Safe Landing member and aerospace engineer, Finlay Asher said:

polluting private jets catering to a handful of wealthy super-emitters” should be curtailed.

The group (Safe Landing) said the airport should move its business towards “more sustainable low-carbon flying for the masses“, involving cleaner fuels and larger planes.

To be clear, this is Safe Landing’s position on Farnborough Airport:

Farnborough Advice

Farnborough is primarily a private jet airport

Private jets are something we’ve talked about extensively at Safe Landing. To see our post on why we need to curtail private jet flying as soon as possible: click here.

Airport expansion and who it really benefits

As is so often the case, the aviation industry is pushing the narrative that growth is good for jobs (see BBC news screenshot below). But the truth is aviation growth is only good for business and shareholders in the short-term, but workers and local communities suffer in the long-term.

The owner of the airport is Macquarie Group, the owners of Thames Water, who have been widely blamed for the crisis and mismanagement of that company, whilst shareholders have lined their pockets. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Macquarie has said that the “average” ownership period for Macquarie is 9-12 years. Since they bought the airport in 2019, that suggests they might be ready to sell as early as 2030-ish. When community groups around Farnborough suggested that Macquarie would want to ramp up the size of the airport capacity to the maximum by this point to enhance the sale price, he didn’t disagree.

This is the dynamic we need to understand: business-as-usual expansion will provide short-term growth projections which will help owners increase their asset prices in the short-term, but will lead to bad economic investment and no guarantee of stable, long-term job security for workers and employment in the region in the long-run (i.e. into 2030). This shoots through the false ‘jobs’ and ‘boost to UK economy’ argument focused on by the airport owners in the media and in the airport expansion consultation.

Why invest in expanding infrastructure to support a form of travel which may well be either banned completely or regulated far more heavily in the near-future, rather than investing in transforming that infrastructure to be future-fit and compatible with genuinely sustainable forms of air travel? As aviation workers, we know where we’d like to see investment spent! Hopefully local councils and government will follow our thinking.



Get involved: Take Action Now

  • Sign this Greenpeace petition calling for a ban on private jets (more than 110,000 signatures already)
  • Sign this Farnborough Noise petition against expansion
  • Sign up to Safe Landing to stay up to date, receive regular posts explaining some of the complex issues and to meet like-minded campaigners
  • Learn about Frequent Flyer Levies, with links on writing a letter to your MP in support of progressive taxes on the wealthiest and most polluting travellers
Continue reading