28 AUGUST 2017

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Article from BTNews 28 AUGUST 2017

COMMENT: Oh no, it’s Project Fear

Just when you thought Project Fear was dead, as many believe it should be, up pop two stories which while ostensibly not linked have caused a ripple in the atmosphere and more than that if you believe in conspiracy theories, which of course BTN does not.

In the week a certain Tony Blair, pricelessly anointed by The Telegraph and others “Remaniac-in-chief” for his views on Brexit, was said to be meeting European Commission boss-in-chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a leaked study put the cat among the Euro-airport pigeons.

The confidential paper, written by WPI Economics on behalf of Manchester, Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports, was said to warn of a slump in air traffic if Britain does not broker an open skies aviation deal with the EU sooner rather than later.

The document was handed covertly to Sky News and picked up immediately by other media of varying hues. The resulting widespread coverage made free use of all the predictable words, of which slump was one of the mildest. “Airports brace for slump” was Sky’s take.

The Guardian wrote that “even if flights are not interrupted in March 2019 (when Britain leaves the EU), passenger numbers are likely to be hit hard without early assurances”. City AM said airports were warning the government that “air travel will plummet”.

Hard on the heels of the airport story came a plea from British Airways asking the UK Border Force, in so many words, to get its act together to deal with the long queues that have been forming at immigration counters this year.

It was a timely plea and BA was careful to acknowledge that it respected the work the force is required to do. It was the delays in implementation the airline was worried about. It was just a shame that BA felt it necessary to add that with Brexit “just round the corner”, the UK needs “more than ever” to show it is an easy place to travel to.

BTN  is duty-bound to cover the stories and has done so (see this issue), but the hysteria generated in the outside world has an all-too-familiar ring to it. Our stance as it has been throughout is to wait and see; others see it differently, but causing panic is probably not a good way to proceed.

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OUR READERS FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


CHRIS STOCK, Edinburgh

Project Fear was first coined by the Scottish nationalist supporters in the Independence referendum to counter the dire economic projections put forward by the UK remainers. PF is essentially about economics so to smear the airports raising their concerns about the economics of Brexit as part of PF is unreasonable when we consider the lengthy timelines of the airline schedules and what's more - is there anybody listening in government? The current state of UK/EU negotiations does not raise the confidence levels.


Louis Gonzalez-Lopez, London

"Project Fear was dead, as many believe it should be".... who are these 'many'? certainly not the CBI... "ripple in the atmosphere and more than that if you believe in conspiracy theories, which of course BTN does not." If there are no conspiracies and you don't believe the conspiracy theories then why mention them? This is the kind of snidey, underhand insinuation-by-denial so favoured of the alt-right "fake news" brigade. Referring to Project Fear implies then 2 opress releases were orchestrated to coincide ...Cynical tubthumping not balanced journalism. "It was just a shame BA felt it necessary to add that with Brexit “just round the corner”, the UK needs “more than ever” to show it is an easy place to travel to." You don't think that our international carrier should state its position - that it should just shut up and put up in the way that "Remoaners" are told to by those who voted Leave? These are not the positions I would expect from a "reputable" industry forum which should at the very least encourage debate. you may soon have one less reader...


Bernie Baldwin, UK

Using terms like Project Fear and Remainiac does nothing to invite the reader into the article as it immediately suggests a broadside against those who are still hoping to remain in the EU, rather than a reasoned argument. Aviation planning stretches out over many years, as you well know, so the planners cannot wait and see. If the parameters ahead look bleak, they are within their rights to say so.


Bernie Baldwin, UK

Using terms like Project Fear and Remainiac does nothing to invite the reader into the article as it immediately suggests a broadside against those who are still hoping to remain in the EU, rather than a reasoned argument. Aviation planning stretches out over many years, as you well know, so the planners cannot wait and see. If the parameters ahead look bleak, they are within their rights to say so.


Allan Schoenherr,

It is a real shame that BT news continues to lower itself with its blatantly biased reporting with regards Brexit. I am yet to see a balanced article reporting on the huge challenges the aviation faces amongst the inevitable upheaval. Also, the phrase " pricelessly anointed by The Telegraph" is an embarrassing piece of journalism. The quality of your newsletter has consistently been dropping with every pro-Brexit article. Surely you can do better?


David Bentley, Manchester/UK

The best thing you can do is to stop giving the fake news gutter press the oxygen it needs to survive.It's on its last legs as it is. As for Abbott,you'll get my more sense out of Costello.


David Learmount, East Molesey

Taking Simon Grigor's point, if the highest priority for the government's policy for the future of its Border Force that is going to carefully control immigration is to avoid paying one employee two hours' overtime, it doesn't bode well for good passenger service at Heathrow, Britain's most prestigious gateway to this brave new non-European world the UK is going to trade with.


Stan Abbott, UK/Durham

Wait & see? Till when? Till it's all too late? Typically of casual Brexiteers who inhabit a fantasy world of former empire...


Simon Grigor, Harrow

In my view the border delay issue is nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit, it\'s simply one of cost and staffing. Ever arrived at Heathrow (and probably other airports?) just before 11pm? The electronic passport gates go off at that time. Very strange you might think, until you realise that this is the likely time that higher levels of overtime kick in for border staff. The electronic gates need one member of staff present to deal with the \'did not recognises\', so Border Force can save paying that person\'s overtime by taking the gates out of use at that point. It\'s this cost issue that is probably behind the long queues at other times, too.


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