COMMENT: Freedom to Fly
Freedom to Fly, the lobby group which includes most of the UK”s important airlines and the airport operator BAA, has struck a blow against some high profile individuals who are using their names to protest against airport expansion. The chef Jamie Oliver and former Beirut hostage Terry Waite are firmly in their sights. Freedom to Fly is placing a series of advertisements in local newspapers showing photographs of Mr Oliver and Mr Waite, under the caption. ”They fly, Why shouldn”t you?”, noting that the two gentlemen have ”confessed” to being regular airline passengers, whilst at the same time protesting about airports. The advertisements are to appear this week in the Crawley Observer, the East Anglian Daily Times and the Hounslow Chronicle, which respectively serve Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow. Mr Waite has been a regular guest at the Business Traveller Airline of the Year awards lunch and Jamie Oliver has an internet diary which notes he took 24 overseas flights in 2002. Clearly a case of celebrities saying ”don”t do as I do, do as I say”. It would seem that the leader of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign actually lives in Northern France and commutes once a fortnight to Essex, another example of the hypocrisy of the whole campaign.
There has to be a balance between what the country, and indeed the community, requires in terms of transport, and our requirement to look after the environment. However ”not in may back yard” (NIMBY) is not an argument. Heathrow has now been around for more than 50 years. Most of its neighbours moved into the area knowing full well of its existence. Stansted as an airport is even older. Today”s aircraft are far, far quieter than their first generation jet predecessors.
ABTN has long held that a central data list of serious protesters be held in order that they are refused passage when trying to check-in for a flight. This would probably contravene civil liberties law, but protesters must be stopped from echoing what must be a minority view. If they don”t like aircraft flying then don”t fly. There are safeguards in place to control airport expansion. This is why government is making so much effort in its air transport review. Mr Oliver and Mr Waite, protest if you will. That is your right. But then take your business to Eurostar or the Harwich ferries. Or shut up. http://www.freedom2fly.com