Gatwick Obviously Not!

e-newsletter No.37

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Breaking news. Is.This.Huge?

Gatwick's ads said

"320,000 additional people will be affected by noise from a new runway at Heathrow. Compared to 18,000 at Gatwick"

And they said it often. Especially around Westminster, in national broadsheets and on Twitter as the Airports Commission was deliberating its decision on where airport expansion should take place.


Some months ago two members of GON's Strategic Team submitted complaints to the ASA about these ads, as the differential seemed huge and the figures appeared to be unverifiable. (We now know 3 others raised similar complaints)

Recently the Senior Investigations Executive at the ASA wrote to us, advising they upheld the complaints, stating that the net increase of people newly affected was 56,500 and 15,500 for Heathrow and Gatwick respectively (not 320,000 and 18,000) and that Gatwick’s 'comparison was not verifiable'.

We were asked to keep this ruling under embargo until now and see that many news outlets are picking up on this news today.

This is an extraordinary moment in the debate.
Let no one underestimate the significance of this ruling.

We know quite a few MP's read this. Could you make sure it reaches the parts of Government I can't, please? (Yet).

See the full BBC on-line News article here–33865365


Full BBC South East Today's TV report here (3.55 minutes in):

Even the travel industry's own Travel Trade Gazette headline today is "Gatwick slammed for 'misleading' advert":

This isn't really a discussion about who will suffer more - any suffering is too much, and we are working very closely with our friends fighting the flight path changes around Heathrow and City airports.

It is about trust. And believing in Gatwick and its maths.

When the flight path changes hit us all so hard last year, you will recall that Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick, assured Charles Hendry MP:

"… the impression may be that something has changed, although I can assure you nothing has …"
(To Charles Hendry MP, 18.07.14)


A little later, Sir John Stanley, then an MP (now retired after an exemplary career including at ministerial level) said:

"… On the grounds that Gatwick Airport Ltd has totally failed to be transparent about its financial evaluation, and has concealed the public expenditure implications of the infrastructure needed for a second runway, its proposal should be rejected by the Airports Commission"
(House of Commons, 18.12.14)

Given the ASA's Ruling and these concerns from Sir John, can anyone really trust their sums on what expanding Gatwick would cost the nation?

Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not!

Some excerpts from the Ruling:

"All of the complainants challenged whether the comparative claim was misleading. Two of the complainants challenged whether the comparison was verifiable because the ads omitted information about the specific source of the figures."

[Both upheld]

"We noted that in the specific expansion scenario for Gatwick reflected in the ads, while 18,200 people were newly affected by noise, the number of people newly removed was 2,700 and therefore the net increase in the number of people newly affected was 15,500. Similarly, for the specific Heathrow scenario selected, while those newly affected was predicted to be 320,700, the number of people newly removed was 264,200 and therefore the net increase of people newly affected was 56,500 …
We therefore concluded that readers would not adequately understand the basis of the comparative claim and that it was therefore misleading.

"We noted that the ads did not include any information regarding the source of the figures or the particular expansion scenarios, at both airports, they related to. Therefore, we considered that consumers would not be able to locate and interrogate that information, understand how the figures had been calculated or check that the comparison was accurate. Because of that, we considered that the comparison was not verifiable and concluded that the ads were in breach of the Code."

Full ASA Ruling here:

August 13th 2015

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