Editor’s comment: Where is everybody…..

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Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

Last year saw European airports experience their slowest passenger growth for five years according to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe. Its 2019 traffic report found that passenger traffic across its European airport network (46 countries) grew by +3.2% in 2019 compared to +6.1% in 2018.

Echoing this reduction in growth for air passenger traffic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also revealed earlier this month that global passenger traffic results for 2019 grew by just +4.2% compared to the previous year. It marked the first year since the global financial crisis in 2009 that passenger demand has fallen below the long-term trend of around 5.5% annual growth.

So, if they’re not in the airports and they’re not on the aircraft where have all the passengers gone?

Describing 2019 as a “pivotal year”, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said that while passenger volumes were up “the deceleration has been notable on the back of both supply and demand pressures.”

That said he did also stress that some of the supply-side pressures might start easing, “especially if the 737 MAX is finally approved to fly and and if the recent decrease in oil prices is not reversed”.

The exposure of EU airports to airline bankruptcies and EU airlines generally limiting capacity growth and network expansion, as well as the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, all correlated with growth halving in the latter half of the year.

While just 51% of smaller regional airports (those handling less than 5 million passengers) reported an increase in traffic, larger regional airports including (Krakow, Seville and Nantes) demonstrated significant gains in passenger traffic as a result of route development strategies and the expansion of direct international air connectivity.

Looking forward, ACI Europe reports that airports have planned for continued lower growth in passenger traffic with the recent coronavirus outbreak causing uncertainty across the industry as the wider economic consequences start kicking in.

IATA and ACI Europe might be reporting slow passenger growth, but it’s full speed ahead for the Regional Gateway team. At the beginning of next month I’m off to Ethiopia for the 5th Aviation Africa summit, where I’ll be moderating a session on the rise of Africa’s sustainable airports. Then at the end of March I’ll be in Paris for Passenger Terminal Expo. Oh yes, and we’re busy closing the March issue of Regional Gateway magazine… And breathe!

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Airports in Europe experience slow passenger ..

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European airports experienced their slowest passenger traffic growth in 2019 for the last five years, according to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s latest traffic report.

ACI Europe traffic report

ACI Europe traffic report

The report, which covers all types of passenger flights to, from and within Europe including full service, low cost, regional, charter and others revealed that passenger traffic across its European airport network (46 countries) grew by +3.2% in 2019. Representing half the growth rate registered in 2018 (+6.1%) last year’s figures still resulted in European airports welcoming an impressive 2.43 billion passengers.

Largely driven by a decline in domestic traffic, the passenger growth slowdown was more significant at non-EU airports. The EU market accounted for 76% of the total passenger traffic growth in 2019. It also reflected airline consolidation and limited airline capacity expansion, as aircraft movements only increased by +1.1% during the year and became negative in the last quarter.

The report also illustrated that freight traffic dropped by -1.9% in 2019, the worst performance since 2012. With the exception of December freight traffic remained negative throughout the year with EU airports dragging the performance down by -3.2% while non-EU airports remained mostly positive at +1.9%.

With trade tensions easing and the global economy expected to pick up in 2020 (subject to the coronavirus being effectively contained) its hoped that the freight downturn will bottom out and move towards a recovery over the next 12 months.

Commenting on the slow passenger growth Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI Europe said: “Over the past five years, Europe’s airports have increased their passenger traffic by more than +32% – meaning they have actually accommodated an extra 595 million passengers since 2014. But 2019 was a pivotal year. Volumes were up, but the deceleration has been notable on the back of both supply and demand pressures.”

Although many airports have planned for continued lower growth in passenger traffic Jankovec added that some of the supply side pressures might start easing, “especially if the 737 MAX is finally approved to fly again and if the recent decrease in oil prices is not reversed.”

The recent coronavirus outbreak has also caused uncertainty across the industry and the wider aviation and transport market. While the traffic impact so far has been marginal and mostly limited to those airports with direct air services to China, Jankovec stated, “We estimate that in February, the top 10 EU/ UK airports will collectively lose 475,000 passengers, which would amount to just 1.2% of their total traffic for the month.” However, he also warned that “as wider economic consequences start kicking-in in China and potentially beyond, the impact on air traffic could become more widespread and significant for Europe’s airports.”

The exposure of EU airports to airline bankruptcies as well as EU airlines generally limiting capacity growth and network expansion on the back of less favourable economic conditions and Brexit uncertainties correlates with growth halving as the year progressed.

Airports in Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal grew at more than twice the EU average. Airports in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Greece underperformed while those in Sweden, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia registered declines in passenger traffic.

While traffic at the top five European airports (Paris-CDG, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Istanbul) increased overall by +1.8% throughout the course of the year just 51% of smaller regional airports (handling less than 5 million passengers per annum) saw their traffic increasing, compared to 77% for the rest of the industry.

Larger regional airports however recorded impressive gains in passenger traffic as a result of route development strategies and the continued expansion of direct international air connectivity. These include: Krakow (+24.2%), Seville (+18.3%), Nantes (+16.7%), Dubrovnik (+14.1%), Bordeaux (+13.3%), Brest (+11.1%), Bologna (+10.6%), Bari (+10.2%), Porto (+9.8%), Valencia (+9.8%), Naples (+9.3%) and Marseille (+8.1%).

Global de-icing market set for growth

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easyjet de-icing

Thanks to an increase in the number of airline operators around the world and continued uncertainty over adverse weather conditions the global aircraft de-icing market is estimated to grow at a higher Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), according to The Global Aircraft De-Icing Market Report 2025.

De-icing is vital to help prevent aircraft malfunctioning while in the air – the accumulation of ice can hamper the capability of a plane to fly safely and efficiently with frost, ice and snow all affecting the power that permits an aircraft to fly by way of altering the form of the tail and wing, as well as adding to an aircraft’s drag and weight.

Airports in North America are forecast to see the maximum share of the market for de-icing systems. This is primarily due to an increase in passengers and airline customers at US airports, which are among the busiest in the world. In addition the threat of hurricanes and adverse weather conditions in this region further adds to the need for de-icing of an aircraft’s exterior. In January 2018, more flights than ever before were grounded in North America due to storms.

As an innovative system offering an alternative to forced air and electro-thermal procedures the introduction of Electro-Impulse De-Icing (EIDI) is expected to boost the markets’ development according to the report. EIDI requires less power for a similar outcome to previous systems which has led to a rise in its implementation by airline operators.

Head image: Churchill Falls Airport in Canada is investing in de-icing services.

Allegiant expands network with nine new route..

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Las Vegas-based Allegiant is expanding its network with the addition of 9 nonstop routes including connections to San Diego in California and Destin-Fort Walton Beach in Florida.

The new routes are part of the low-cost carrier’s service expansion in 11 cities. “With summer quickly approaching, we know that many leisure travellers are looking to secure their vacation plans,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant Vice President of Planning and Revenue.

Flights to Las Vegas via McCarran International Airport (LAS) will commence at the beginning of June 2020 from three locations: San Diego International Airport, Fort Wayne International Airport and Tucson International Airport.

Meanwhile, new routes to San Diego will commence on 3 June. These will include services from McCarran International Airport, Tulsa International Airport, Billings Logan International Airport, Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The new seasonal route to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport from Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal is set to commence on 4 June 2020.

“These new routes expand our network of affordable, convenient flights and offer vacationers nonstop access to even more popular destinations for their summer adventures,” concluded Wells.

Ideagen

Ideagen partners with Kuwait’s Civil Av..

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Ideagen

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in Kuwait has signed a long-term agreement with UK-based company Ideagen, which specialises in governance, risk and compliance software.

Ideagen will assist the DGCA to adopt digital systems and processes to ensure it is operating in a more streamlined, and efficient manner.

The partnership is in line with the DGCA’s decision to adopt digital systems and processes to ensure a more efficient and streamlined  process that will reduce the risk of human error. It will see the introduction of Q-Pulse, Ideagen’s safety and risk management software and its document review software, PleaseReview. “The deal makes the DGCA in Kuwait the first aviation regulator in the world to use Ideagen’s review software for document collaboration,” explained Joseph Moore, Sales Consultant, Aviation at Ideagen.

“Not only will this massively reduce the amount of time required for the various revisions of aviation regulations and documents that they create, but it will allow for greater and smoother collaboration with their airline customers,” he continued.

Meanwhile Engr. Emad AbuRezq, Head of Standards and Safety Regulations, Kuwait DGCA commented: “Operating at the very highest levels of security and efficiency is of paramount importance to us, as we are responsible for the safety of aviation in the State of Kuwait.” He then added, “We are confident that our partnership with Ideagen will allow us to move onto a new level in terms of quality, efficiency and safety.”

Editor’s comment: Freeports prepare for..

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Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

It’s been one of those weeks where quite frankly I’d like to teleport out of here to somewhere warm, sunny and without looming deadlines…

But given my life isn’t a science fiction film I’ll stick to the day job and focus on ports of another kind. Freeports.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of last month, government ministers promised in a consultation launched on Monday 10 February to “unleash the potential” of deprived communities by creating up to 10 freeports in locations across the UK. An attractive proposition for airports, freeports offer different customs rules to those applied across the rest of the country. Goods which come into the port avoid tariffs and the areas can benefit from other incentives, such as tax breaks.

In a statement the government said it has “drawn on evidence from successful freeports around the world to develop a UK freeport model.” In addition to tariff flexibility, customs facilitation and tax measures the government is also considering “planning reforms and additional targeted funding for infrastructure improvements to incentivise innovation.”

Stobart Group’s Carlisle Lake District Airport announced its intention to become a freeport last year. Commenting on how it would be an incentive for businesses to come to the area, Carlisle MP John Stevenson said: “It would give sustainable support to the airport itself and put it on a long term secure footing… The challenge will obviously be that there are other ports that are equally as interested”

Speaking on behalf of the UK’s airport community Karen Dee, CEO Airport Operators Association, offered her support for freeports saying they “offer a potential opportunity for airports to facilitate more economic prosperity and the creation of new jobs in the areas they serve.”

Dee added: “We look forward to engaging with the Government on its proposals and ensuring they offer the best model for our sector, while not distorting competition between airports.”

However, the reaction to the freeport proposal from trade experts and other European countries has been mixed. Brussels is clamping down on 82 free ports after identifying that their special tariff and duty status has aided the financing of terrorism, money laundering and organised crime.

Still, the UK is forging ahead with its plans. Following a 10 week consultation period potential freeports will be invited to bid for the status with the government aiming to open the first locations as early as 2021.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Cornwall continues Heathrow connection

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Cornwall Airport Newquay (CAN) has confirmed the continuation of its London Heathrow connection with flights operated by British Airways. The announcement follows the news earlier this year that Flybe would be scrapping its subsidised route from Cornwall to London Heathrow and instead flying to and from Gatwick.

CAN has worked hard to ensure it maintains non-stop access to Europe’s busiest hub with British Airways will operate a five-times-weekly service.

“Safeguarding our link to the UK’s leading gateway has been our top priority following the recent change to our current Heathrow operation under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement,” explained Amy Smith, Marketing and Business Performance Manager, Cornwall Airport Newquay. “British Airways has recognised the demand we continue to see for services to LHR and we’re absolutely ecstatic to confirm we can continue to offer this vital link. With such a major global carrier we will be able to offer our passengers one-stop access to the world, while worldwide investors and tourists will benefit from an easier connection to our stunning county,” added Smith.

Maintaining the Heathrow connection alongside the renewed Public Service Obligation (PSO) to London Gatwick will preserve the global access required by local businesses. “This really is a momentous time in the history of Cornwall Airport Newquay,” stated Smith. “To have British Airways’ acknowledgement of the importance of such a service leaves me in no doubt that this underserved market will continue to grow. Essentially our region is more accessible to the world than it ever has been before.”

Almost 30% of CAN’s passenger traffic in 2019 travelled to London Heathrow, with an average 84% load factor on each flight. Seeing the UK’s largest gateway remain on its route network this summer means Cornwall Airport Newquay will provide more hub connections than ever before, as British Airways joins SAS’ service to Copenhagen, and Flybe’s link to Amsterdam (launching S20).

Contour Airlines to establish base at Indiana..

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Contour Airlines, the US regional carrier, plans to establish an aircraft base at Indianapolis International Airport and launch three new domestic routes. The airline has also revealed plans to create up to 55 new jobs in central Indiana by the end of 2023. It plans to immediately begin hiring pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents, mechanics and ground personnel to support operations.

“Contour’s investment is a win-win all the way around,” said Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority executive director. “Travelers have been demanding drive-market destinations, and we’ve been working for years to bring these to Indy and expand both business and leisure nonstop connectivity regionally. Jobs, a new record-breaking number of nonstop flights, and further proof you can get there from here! That’s a win for everybody.”

To incentivise the regional carrier the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Contour Airlines up to $1.5 million in the form of a Minimum Revenue Guarantee, meaning the company only earns it if it does not meet its minimum revenue targets for the routes. Additionally, the IEDC offered the company up to $550,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired. The city of Indianapolis supports the project at the request of Develop Indy.

According to OAG Contour is one of the most punctual airlines in North America.  “Indiana is a natural fit for Contour Airline’s growth,” said Matt Chaifetz, CEO of Contour. “We look forward to employing Hoosiers and bringing Indy travelers nonstop service to key business and leisure markets.”

The airline’s new daily air service, which it plans to launch in June 2020, will connect Indiana to Nashville International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport. It will also bring the total connectivity available from the Indianapolis airport to 53 nonstop destinations, an all-time high.

“In Indianapolis, individuals can enjoy a rich quality of life in an accessible community without sacrificing connectivity to family and friends across the country,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Indy is proud to welcome Contour Airlines and its portfolio of premium regional flight options to the growing number of choices available in our market. Indianapolis International Airport’s continued growth helps to support the continued growth of our city.”

Known as the Crossroads of America, Indiana is within a one-day drive to 60% of the U.S. population and is home to more than 1,700 miles of interstate, three international ports, the second-largest FedEx hub in the world and the award-winning Indianapolis International Airport, which has been named the best airport in North America for the seventh consecutive year from Airports Council International. As part of Gov. Holcomb’s efforts to make Indiana a magnet for job creation, Indiana is committed to improving the state’s connectivity by attracting new nonstop and direct flights to and from Indiana’s airports.

ryanair budapest croatia

Budapest reconnects with Croatia

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ryanair budapest croatia

Following a 13-year hiatus, Budapest Airport will once again be connected to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast thanks to a new seasonal Ryanair link serving Zadar Airport.

“Re-introducing Croatia to our destination network is fantastic news, especially for the tourism in both cities – more than half a million Hungarians visited the south eastern European country last year,” said Balázs Bogáts, Head of Airline Development, Budapest Airport.

“The historic city of Zadar with its old town of Roman ruins, medieval churches and cosmopolitan cafes has been a growing attraction
for Hungarians for many years now and in return we have seen the number of Croatian visitors to our own beautiful city grow significantly,” he continued.

Bogáts also revealed that he expects Ryanair’s flight between the two popular tourist destinations to be in high demand throughout the summer.

The popular low-cost carrier will operate the new route from its Lauda base at Zadar from 2 July and will offer an additional 300,000 seats over the peak season. Ryanair is one of Budapest Airport’s fastest-growing airlines offering 58 destinations across its Hungarian network.

munich airport cashless payments

Munich Airport introduces mobile payments

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munich airport cashless payments

Germany’s Munich Airport is set to become the first location in Europe to offer mobile, cashless payments thanks to a partnership with Wirecard, SES-imagotag and wirecube.

The new friction-less payment system is being rolled out a eurotrade retail unit (MyCorner shop) located after security in Terminal 2 . The ‘Smart Checkout – Tap, Pay & Enjoy’ mobile payment solution enables consumers to use their smartphones to pay for articles right at the store shelf by scanning an electronic price tag. This eliminates waiting times at the cash register. And in contrast to existing payment systems on the European market, customers don’t need to download an app.

“By simplifying and speeding up the checkout process, we can deliver an even better shopping experience for our 48 million passengers per year and keep pace with their ever-increasing expectations,” said Philipp Ahrens, Vice President Center Management at Munich Airport.

To shop and place articles in their shopping basket, customers simply hold their smartphone up to the SES-imagotag digital shelf labels. The product is captured via near-field communication (NFC) or a camera scan of the QR code. The phone then opens a wirecube mobile web app within seconds enabling customers to complete their purchase by scanning their credit card with their phone camera or entering the card details manually.

After the pilot phase, the payment system will be extended to other eurotrade retail locations, including 12 duty free shops and 14 other stores offering magazines and newspapers, travel needs and souvenirs.

“The new payment system gives our customers a self-checkout option for the first time,” said Sven Zahn, Managing Director. “This offers significant added value for travellers in a hurry. And as Munich Airport’s retail arm, we are expecting a boost in sales – especially for fast turnover goods that are purchased on the go.”

Costs to retailers for setting up the new payment system are quite limited if the electronic shelf labels from SES-imagotag are used. By expanding the functionality of the labels to include a payment system, they become an additional point of sale that is far more cost-effective than conventional cash systems, both in terms of initial investment and ongoing expenses