heathrow test and release

Editor’s comment: A step in the right direction

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heathrow test and release

Airports across the UK have this week breathed a collective sigh of relief following the announcement that from 15 December the UK Government will reduce the 14-day period of self-isolation to five days for international arrivals, on receipt of a negative COVID-19 test.

The Government has also introduced financial support designed to provide commercial airports and ground handlers in England with relief equivalent to their business rate costs, capped at £8 million per site.

A spokesperson for Doncaster Sheffield Airport described the news as, “A step in the right direction for what has been a punishing year for airports.”

While passengers will be expected to meet the costs of getting a COVID-19 test themselves, one of Doncaster’s biggest operators Wizz Air is offering passenger discounts on COVID tests. “We are committed to getting the UK flying safely again,” said Wizz Air UK’s Managing Director, Owain Jones. “So it is with great excitement that we announce our partnership with Confirm Testing, through which our customers can secure the necessary testing services at a specially discounted price.”

Andrew Bell, Chief Executive of Regional and City Airports (which owns and operates Bournemouth, Coventry, Norwich and Exeter airports) added:

These announcements are a much-needed boost as aviation looks to bounce back from the greatest challenge it has ever faced, with regional airports having been amongst the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic… We will continue to lobby hard and work with Government on what other steps can be taken to safeguard the UK’s regional airports.

However, while the Government’s policy on financial support has been welcomed by smaller airports in England, not all airports will see full business rates relief. The UK’s primary hub, London Heathrow – one of the UK’s largest business rates payers, with an annual bill of around £120 million – is a case in point.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO at London Heathrow, underlined that the business rates grants for English airports fails to provide any significant relief for larger airports, which are so crucial to providing the international connectivity needed by the UK after Brexit.

“The proposed reduction in business rates for Heathrow is only 7%, compared to an 82% reduction in passengers,” he said, explaining that despite suffering a £1.5 billion loss in the first nine months of this year, Heathrow will continue to pay a large majority of this sum, as a result of the Government failing to assess the contribution paid by airports on a case by case basis.

“Small airports in England, and all airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland have had a 100% waiver from business rates. The Government’s proposed approach is discriminatory against large airports, and we will now carefully consider our next steps,” Holland-Kaye concluded.

While not music to the ears of all airports, the UK Government’s announcement will certainly go some way to supporting high fixed-operating costs for regional hubs that have seen more than an 80% reduction in passenger traffic, resulting in a catastrophic loss of revenue.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to register for your complimentary copy of the December issue of Regional Gateway magazine by subscribing here.

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway

Kempegowda Airport records high cargo throughput

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India’s Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru (BLR) has recorded a 26-month high in cargo tonnage, having handled 34,339 metric tonnes of cargo in October 2020.

The airport witnessed its highest-ever domestic outbound tonnage of 8,117 MT last month, largely driven by e-commerce shipments. Perishable commodities, which have been the major growth driver for BLR Airport in 2020-21, continued to be the top international commodity, accounting for 12% of total exports in October.

The airport became the first air transport hub in India to witness positive growth in September 2020, with this trend continuing in October, when the airport registered a 0.1% increase against October 2019. The record single-day Air Traffic Movement (ATM) was 52 ATMs on 22 October, when the airport saw a volume of 1,359 MT of cargo.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport opens COVID-19 testing facility

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Phoenix Aviation Department has partnered with local health and wellness company, ExpreSpa Group to open an XpresCheck COVID-19 testing facility at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona.

Located in terminal 4, the testing facility has been converted from a closed urgent care medical clinic. The facility will host six separate testing rooms with an anticipated capacity to administer more than 400 tests per day. COVID-19 testing options will include a rapid molecular COVID-19 test, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and the Blood Antibody test. All three tests are already being offered at JFK International airport, Newark Liberty and Boston Logan International Airport.

As well as passengers testing will be offered for airport employees and members of the public whether they’re flying or not. Residents can pre-book their appointments in advance or come for a drop-in visit. XpresCheck will verify the patient’s residency at the time of the test. The City of Phoenix is using Federal CARES Act funding to supplement the cost of testing for local residents who not have health insurance that covers the service.

“A COVID-19 testing site in the airport terminal may give passengers peace of mind about their own health, fellow passengers and can help to boost travel,” said Thelda Williams, Phoenix City Councilwoman – District 1 and Chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Innovation Subcommittee. “Phoenix Sky Harbor is a gateway to Arizona and a major economic engine for the state; partnerships like this add another layer of health safety.”

Meanwhile Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego said: “Widespread testing is one of the best ways to fight COVID-19. The City of Phoenix continues to provide testing opportunities for all residents and looks for new, innovative ways to assist in slowing the spread. The city’s newest partnership with XpresCheck will offer testing for airport employees, travellers and members of the public. These services will help restore a bit of normalcy and convenience to the airline industry by providing an extra layer of security and comfort.”

Christchurch Airport first to achieve Level 4 Transformation on ACA programme

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Christchurch Airport in New Zealand has become the first airport in the Asia-Pacific region and in the world to reach the new Level 4 Transformation on the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

The new ACA levels (4 Transformation and 4+ Transition) – the highest carbon certification an airport can achieve – were announced just over a week ago at Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s annual congress.

The submission took the airport three months to complete and required the airport to present a verified Carbon Footprint, a Carbon Management Plan in line with the UN Paris Agreement and a Stakeholder Partnership Plan to influence Scope 3 emissions. Independently verified proof of all Christchurch Airport’s carbon reduction achievements was also provided.

“Over the past year, we reduced our Scope 1 emissions by 83%, through installing ground source heating and cooling in our terminal building,” explained Rhys Boswell, the airport’s General Manager Planning and Sustainability. “Our Scope 2 emissions have reduced by 27%, against baseline year 2015, through LED replacements and improved energy efficiencies… Plus, as part of our commitment to support aviation industry transition to a low carbon future, we have installed aircraft ground power. When an aircraft is on the ground, ti can use electricity rather than jet fuel, and so saves approximately 730 tCO2e per plane per year,” he added.

The airport has also demonstrated evidence of actively engaging and leading its stakeholders towards delivering emissions reductions.

“We are very proud to be the first airport in New Zealand and in the world to reach this accreditation,” said Malcolm Johns, CEO Christchurch Airport.

As a regional airport, we set a good example for our regional peers and for the airport industry as a whole. We show that small is big when you are bold enough to set the bar higher on climate actions and to deliver on ambitious environmental goals. We will continue to work diligently to build a more sustainable aviation in strong cooperation with our business partners.

Meanwhile Boswell added that the certification is important recognition for the airport staff. “Our stated intentions are to be great Kaitiaki (guardians of our environment), and our Carbon Policy goals are to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, and absolute zero emissions by 2050. We have worked hard to demonstrate how emission reductions factor into our airport planning and decision making, now and into a low carbon future. Being recognised as the world’s first airport best practice in this area is a good feeling.”

Geneva Airpark

Geneva Airpark reaches new milestone with PART-145 certification

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Geneva Airpark

Geneva Airpark in Switzerland was awarded PART-145 certification by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) back in August. The certification has enabled the facility to provide line maintenance services for business jets to guarantee they comply with manufacturer’s manuals and to maintain the validity of each aircraft’s airworthiness certificate.

“Obtaining the PART-145 line maintenance certification is an important step for Geneva Airpark and its clients. It demonstrates our whole team’s high level of professionalism and our commitment to regularly develop additional services at the forefront of the requirements of the aeronautical sector, business aviation and its various stakeholders,” said Sophie Mabire, Geneva Airpark General Manager. “The capacity of the Geneva Airpark hangar is perfectly suited to line maintenance operations, alongside short, medium or long-term hangaring for the planes,” she added.

Line maintenance services for aircraft – including those manufactured by Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault – carried out within Geneva Airpark’s hangar include: Tire pressure, oxygen service and fuel drain.

Rapiscan launches its most advanced metal detection system yet

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Rapiscan Systems the global supplier of security checkpoint and inspection technologies is launching its most advanced metal detection system to date – the Orion Metor 900M.

Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use the Metor 900M is weatherproof with IP65 protection. Suitable for passenger screening at airports and other mass transit facilities, as well as for visitor screening at stadiums and critical infrastructure protection, it is designed to detect ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as handguns, knives and other security threats.

“The 900M combines a new performance level with the latest operational capabilities, demonstrating our continued commitment to developing the most advanced, state-of-the-art technology we can, in order to keep people and places safe from security threats,” said Mal Maginnis, President, Rapiscan Systems.

One of the key features of the 900M is its ability to offer enhanced screening capabilities, while allowing operators to maintain high throughput rates. by interpreting the electromagnetic characteristics and the shape of detected metals, the screening solution is capable of detecting threats and reducing false alarms or innocuous objects. Multi-zone displays enable operators to quickly and easily identify the location of the potential threat.

According to Rapiscan they have already had interest from several airports in the 900M.

Ontario Airport opens COVID-19 testing facility in time for holidays

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Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend Ontario International Airport in the US has opened a drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre to help facilitate travel plans. Airport officials forecast that around 280,000 passengers will travel through the Southern California gateway this weekend.

The testing facility is situated in a parking lot between terminals 2 and 4 and will be open from 7am to 9pm seven days a week. Tests will be administered by Covid Clinic, a local non-profit which operates testing sites in California and Arizona. Among the tests being offered are rapid antigen tests with results available in 20 minutes. Rapid test specimens are processed on-site while others are sent to local third-party laboratories with results generally returned in two to four days.

“The availability of COVID-19 testing adds a new level of service and convenience to the Ontario airport experience,” said Mark Thorpe, CEO of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “It is our hope that on-site testing administered in the comfort of a passenger vehicle will provide peace of mind to our customers, guests and airport employees, as well as any of our neighbours who want to be tested.”

With air travel showing signs of gradual resurgence, Ontario Airport has recorded six consecutive months of traffic growth since reaching its low point in April when passenger levels declined by 93%. Having regained around 50% of its passenger volume compared to a year ago, Ontario’s recovery ranks first among airports in California and third nationally.

“The pandemic has impact life in every aspect, but we strive every day with our airline partners to take steps to reassure passengers that they can travel safely,” Thorpe said. While international carrier Volaris initiated nonstop services from the California hub to its Mexico City base earlier in November, Delta Air Lines resumed daily nonstop services to its Atlanta hub in July and twice daily, nonstop flights to Seattle-Tacoma Airport in October. Southwest Airlines restarted its Chicago Midway International airport route while United Airlines restarted flights to Houston’s George H. W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in August. And Frontier Airlines plans to restart and add flights to seven popular US destinations from Ontario between February and May 2021.

Arconas unveils new seating, power and lighting collection

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Arconas has unveiled is new furniture collection of seating, power and lighting designed for public interiors, including airports. The Hopscotch collection is a series of innovative and streamlined modular components inspired by minimal yet playful playground sketches.

The Hop bench is characterised by its minimalistic and sculptural design and features full upholstery over plush padding for comfort. The robust structure is designed to withstand high-impact spaces. The Surge power station meanwhile doubles as a table or work surface, as well as providing a place to charge personal electronic devices. It features eight USB ports, four AC plugs and two wireless charging spots. And the Beacon light station is a triangular LED floor lamp created to softly illuminate a space and can be place in a space by itself or beside other furniture configurations.

“The Hopscotch collection offers a myriad of combinations, provides a touch of luxury to public space furnishing, and makes comfort available to all users. This is high density seating with a modern touch,” said Keith Rushbrook, Partner at REPUBLIC of II BY IV, the firm tasked with designing the collection.

Pablo Reich, Executive Vice President of Arconas added that, “The multiple configuration options provide flexibility to create customised social stations – which include but are not limited to – temporary waiting areas, short-term work spaces, charging stations, reading zones, coffee corners and conversational hubs.”

Quebec City Jean Lesage Airport earns recognition for health measures

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Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) in Canada has received the Airport Health Accreditation global seal of excellence from Airports Council International (ACI) for the health measures put in place since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

ACI’s accreditation is granted following a rigorous evaluation based on cleaning and disinfection standards, social distancing, protection of employees, layout of the premises and communications to passengers.

Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB commented that, “From the beginning of the pandemic, we quickly deployed proactive measures to ensure that the Québec City airport remained a safe place. We continue to hold regular biosafety discussions with our business partners. Together, we have an obligation to be prepared and proactive.”

Alongside enhanced cleaning procedures, measures introduced at YQB since the beginning of the pandemic have included a reduced number of luggage carts and an increased number of hand sanitiser kiosks. Access to the terminal has been restricted to same-day passengers and airport employees only, while temperature screening of passengers and non-passengers is carried out at checkpoints by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

Plans outlined to drive modernisation and digitalisation of European ATM

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To effectively coordinate the modernisation of Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) system in the coming years leading airspace users, airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager have formed a partnership and jointly released a set of high-level principles.

With ANSPs fully committed to the delivery of the Digital European Sky, Janusz Janiszewski, CEO PANSA commented on how this equal partnership represents the successful vehicle to making this a reality. “The leadership and inclusive approach for stakeholders in all phases of the ATM lifecycle is key to achieve the Single European Sky objectives.”

Thanks to the wealth of operational and institutional expertise possessed by the members engaged in the partnership, it is perfectly placed to provide decisive and clear added value to ATM stakeholders and the European aviation system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has massively impacted European ATM and the only way for European ATM to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic is by working together. The Partnership of operational stakeholders and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager is hugely important in this regard; an alliance of equals with unparalleled expertise and experience that can really get things done and deploy an effective, cost-efficient, scalable and environmentally sustainable European ATM infrastructure for the future.

Eamonn Brennan, Director General EUROCONTROL.

The principles outlined as a result of the collaboration include: Building and making use of an unprecedented pool of civil and military ATM expertise; Simplifying processes and expanding perspectives beyond EU boundaries to support stakeholders across the whole European network; Combining a performance-based and passenger-centric approach with the network perspective; Focusing resolutely on the environmental performance of ATM to support the European ‘Green Deal’; Delivering the highest level of buy-in from all involved stakeholders; Widening the scope to all major deployment and infrastructure initiatives requiring synchronisation at pan-European level; Establishing a closer link between the technology innovation cycle and ATM operations addressing the most urgent priorities and operational needs; Defragment deployment and coordinating investments through a reinforced programme management approach; And creating a ‘virtuous cycle’ to link and de-risk all phases of the ATM lifecycle through close cooperation with the SESAR Joint Undertaking.

Commenting on behalf of European airports, Olivier Jankovec, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said: “Being fully involved and part of the deployment of SESAR is a must for ACI Europe. This is about pursuing our agenda for a closer integration between airport operations and Air Traffic Management, which is instrumental for ensuring a greener, more passenger-centric and more efficient air transport system.” He added that the industry trade body is, “delighted to be part of this new industry partnership together with EUROCONTROL Network Manager” and is looking forward to, “leveraging the SESAR programme to build back better.”