Bosnia and Herzegovina improves airspace communications with Frequentis Comsoft

By Airports, ATMNo Comments

The Directorate of Civil Aviation for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHDCA) has introduced an Air Traffic Services Message Handling System (AMHS) from Frequentis Comsoft to replace the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN) and enhance aviation communication within its airspace.

The AMHS system enables all types of ground-to-ground aeronautical messages such as flight plans, meteorological messages and NOTAM messages to be sent and received in accordance with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Commenting on the collaboration with BHDCA, Thomas Hoffmann, Frequentis Comsoft Managing Director, said: “All three sites (Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar) now have technically identical systems after the system upgrade, which can be mutually supervised and operated. If required, the operational service can, once initiated, be automatically moved to the system at the contingency site in approximately 15 minutes, including the complete data history. We look forward to working together on future projects.”

BHDCA’s system consists of a location-independent, redundant operating system (OPS), contingency system (CONT) and a training and testing system (TRAINING/ TEST) and has been successfully operational since May 2020. The AMHS system is a communication system that represents a central point of access to international AMHS networks and data, linking user terminals of operational services and units of BHDCA into the world exchange of data and information.

During the implementation of AMHS into the operational use, an air navigation system safety assessment was also conducted by BHDCA.

“With BHDCA changing from AFTN to AMHS the ATM world becomes more modern, reliable and secure,” explained Vaclav Sourek, Frequentis Comsoft Sales and Marketing Director. He underlined that, “Frequentis Comsoft’s excellent track record with 65 AMHS customers worldwide proves that our clients are pleased with our AMHS system quality, which is our priority.”

Editor’s comment: The regional revival

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

While it might not be quite the ‘great revival’ we’ve all been waiting for, Europe’s regional aviation sector has received a much needed boost this week with new life being given to old brands.

In a bid to encourage passengers living close to Norwich Airport to travel from their local hub, travel agency Fred Olsen is set to revive the Travel Norwich Airport brand after it ceased trading earlier this year. Fred Olsen plans to work with airlines and operators flying from Norwich to support holidays and travellers flying from the region.

Commenting on the new venture Richard Pace, Managing Director at Norwich Airport, said: “It’s important for our industry and our region that commercial flying returns to growth as quickly as possible and this announcement will give greater choice and a significant boost to the airport.”

Meanwhile, regional and secondary airports in Britain and western Europe will be spurred on by the news that Thyme Opco, a company affiliated to hedge fund firm Cyrus Capital, has acquired the brand and assets of Flybe. The regional carrier went bust earlier this year, however, Thyme Opco is now looking to revive Flybe. By doing so not only will it restore essential regional connectivity, but it will also create employment opportunities and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the UK’s economy. According to Flybe’s administrator Ernst & Young, the airline could restart in early 2021.

And delivering another confidence boost for smaller hubs serving domestic and regional flights, an online poll conducted during Kiwi.com’s Virtual Interlining workshop hosted by AviaDev Europe on Wednesday 21 October found that the bulk (45%) of those surveyed believed that smaller airports with a majority of point-to-point traffic would be first to recover. By contrast 37% of delegates thought large airports would recover first.

According to Kiwi.com’s Head of Airport Partnerships, Patrick Zeuner, airports can use that point-to-point connectivity to replace lost transfer traffic by creating a virtual hub for self-connecting passengers. “It’s a win-win situation,” he said explaining that ultimately, virtual interlining can result in increased traffic and increased passenger spend, both in an airport and the destination it serves.

Whether it’s breathing new life into an old brand or collaborating with other stakeholders to create a virtual hub, it’s good to see airports and airlines continuing to fight back following the fallout from the global pandemic.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway.

Willard Airport

Willard Airport opens dedicated CBP facility

By Airports, Business AviationNo Comments
Willard Airport

The University of Illinois-Willard Airport in the US has unveiled its state-of-the-art US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility, which was funded and completed by the airport’s full-service FBO, Flightstar Corporation.  The new facility is capable of clearing private aircraft, crew and passengers arriving directly from international departure points.

“We are very excited for the completion and opening of the CBP general aviation facility,” said Tim Bannon, Willard Airport Executive Director. Prior to the opening of the new facility all private aircraft arriving from international departure points were required to first stop at other ports of entry before arriving in Willard.

“The addition of CBP services will be an asset to both the airport and our community,” Bannon continued. “This is the first time private aircraft travelling from international locations will be able to land directly at Willard Airport to complete international arrival border formalities.”

Crediting the airport’s strong partnership with Flightstar, Bannon underlined that the FBO had fully funded the construction of the facility and will pay for ongoing operational costs associated with the CBP operations at Willard. The CBP facility will be staffed from 9am to 5pm from Monday through Friday. Outside these hours, services will be provided based upon CBP officer availability.

Airlink

Windhoek welcomes return of Johannesburg link

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Airlink

With Southern Africa continuing to relax its intra-Africa travel restrictions, Airlink, the South African domestic and regional carrier, is resuming direct flights between Johannesburg in South Africa and Windhoek in Namibia from 26 October. Earlier this week, the airline commenced flights between Cape Town and Windhoek and between Johannesburg and the Namibian port city of Walvis Bay.

“We can’t wait to re-establish this important connection between South Africa’s and Namibia’s main economic hubs and enabel all-important trade, business and tourism between what are two very closely connected markets,” said Airlink CEO Rodger Foster.

The restored daily service will be operated by an Embraer E190, with the number of flights likely to increase in the coming months. The additional flights will likely be operated by the airline’s smaller Embraer ERJ135 regional aircraft.

The connection between Johannesburg and Windhoek will provide passengers with seamless links to Cape Town and Durban. It will also allow connections with the airline’s domestic South African destinations, such as Bloemfontein, East London, George, Hoedspruit, Kimberley, Mthatha, Nelspruit, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Skukuza and Upington.

Could all flights of the future lead to a virtual hub?

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Imagine if every airport was a hub rather than an endpoint to a journey. It might sound a little ‘out there’, but with Kiwi.com’s ‘Virtual Interlining’ initiative, airports can now position themselves as virtual hubs.

During a webinar hosted by AviaDev on Wednesday 21 October, Kiwi.com’s Head of Airport Partnerships, Patrick Zeuner, explained how Virtual Interlining can help stimulate visitor demand and passenger growth, as well as passenger spend.

Virtual Interlining connects carriers who do not normally cooperate, significantly reducing the cost and hassle of multi-segment journeys for the passenger, explained Zeuner. To ease the process of passengers having to collect any baggage, check-in and pass through security again, Kiwi.com has developed a number of solutions such as its ‘Hosted Stopover Programme’, optimised Minimum Connection Times and Transfer Experience optimisation to enhance the transfer process.

The online travel agency has already partnered with the likes of Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy on it’s Fly to Milano campaign and Budapest Airport in Hungary to support self-connecting traffic.

The Fly to Milano campaign saw transferring passengers encouraged to stay overnight with a free hotel stay and Consuela Scionti, Business Innovation Manager, Aeroporti di Milano, revealed the virtual interlining initiative also increased awareness for the airport and Milan as a destination on a global scale. Meanwhile, Balazs Bogats , Head of Airline Development at Budapest Airport said that having lost all its transfer traffic as a result of COVID-19, Virtual Interlining has presented his airport with the “opportunity to optimise those passengers who are now self-connecting through the airport.” Bogats also revealed that according to his calculations (based on IATA’s forecasting) around 7 million seats will be missing from eastern and western Europe in 2021 compared to 2019 figures. “There is certainly market potential for passengers to self connect and as the fastest growing market segment currently, I’d like to think that virtual interlining will help with our recovery,” he added.

The good news for regional and smaller hubs considering becoming ‘virtual hubs’ is that it doesn’t really matter what size the airport is. “It could be a small airport with limited connectivity” said Zeuner, explaining how Kiwi.com used its virtual interlining model to facilitate connections from long-haul flights arriving at Providence Airport with ongoing domestic flights. “Even a smaller airport with 3 million passenger capacity will benefit from those passengers transferring through their airport… It’s a win-win situation for all concerned – the airport, passengers and Kiwi.”

And in terms of the infrastructure needed? It’s minimal and depends on each airport’s requirements offered Zeuner. Budapest for example set up a transfer desk for self-connecting passengers, it’s beneficial but not always necessary, especially with the increased demand and roll out of self-service kiosks . “Factoring in consumer and customer behaviour and language needs is important,” he added. “Language can be a barrier so you need to think about where your connecting passengers are coming from so you can communicate with them easily.” Connectivity in terms of the carriers serving an airport is also key. “We’re always looking for airports with some low-cost traffic established,” Zeuner concluded. “That price competitiveness is key.”

Milano Prime to offer COVID-19 tests at both Linate and Malpensa

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SEA Prime, which manages business and general aviation infrastructure at both Linate and Malpensa airports through its brand Milano Prime, has collaborated with the San Donato Group to offer COVID-19 tests at both its Milano Prime facilities.

The San Donato Group is an Italian hospital group that will oversee the testing process. The nose-pharyngeal swab tests can be carried out at facilities located at both Milano Prime’s terminals at Linate and Malpensa. Alternatively passengers can opt to have the swab performed at their own address or at the San Donato Group’s own outpatient centres – Punti Raf First Clinic of San Raffaele and Palazzo della Salute GSD.

The new dedicated service confirms SEA Prime’s commitment to the wellbeing and safety of their customers and staff. In addition to offering international arrivals an additional channel to meet mandatory testing requirements it also provides benefits for departing passengers in terms of health and safety.

Jota Aviation touches down at Biggin Hill Airport

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Jota Aviation is opening an operational base at London Biggin Hill Airport. The specialist charter and cargo carrier is currently based at London Southend Airport.

Commenting on the move, Andy Green Jota Aviation’s CEO said: “With its proximity to the capital, London Biggin Hill is the ideal location from which to continue the growth in our operation. This is a very positive move for us, and we look forward to offering all our customers the quick reaction dispatches we are known for. I am excited to soon be providing outbound and inbound flights from our new base.”

Robert Walters, London Biggin Hill’s Commercial Director, added that, “As the only dedicated business aviation airport in the capital to remain open for essential flights throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to provide a secure commercial and operating environment for the Jota Aviation team, and we look forward to witnessing the company’s continued success.”

Header image: Left to Right – Andy Green, CEO Jota Aviation and Robert Walters, Commercial Director at London Biggin Hill Airport.
COVID-19 testing Canadian airports

Pressure mounts for rapid COVID-19 testing at Canadian airports

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COVID-19 testing Canadian airports

Faced with the major Air Transat layoffs announced for November the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling on the federal government to immediately deploy rapid COVID-19 screening at Canadian airports.

As a result of the layoffs Air Transat’s Vancouver base will be closed completely until further notice and the Air Transat component of CUPE has learned that the number of its flight attendant members will drop to less than 160 in November, from a total of 2,000 employees in pre-Covid times.

“All of our information indicates that Air Transat’s resumption of activities in the summer and fall of 2020 was totally safe for passengers and staff,” said Julie Roberts, President of CUPE’s Air Transat component.

A rapid screening system that provides pre-boarding results would be a crucial addition for reviving the airline industry. We sometimes forget that more than 600,000 jobs in Canada depend on this industry, directly or indirectly. What we need is an efficient federal screening programme.

In total CUPE, which is the largest union in Canada, represents more than 13,100 members in Canada’s air transport sector. In addition to Air Transat, this includes employees at Air Canada Rouge, Sunwing, CALM Air, Canadian North, WestJet, Cathay Pacific, First Air, and Air Georgian.

Hobart Airport extends SSP partnership with new £15m contract

By Airports, Non-aeronauticalNo Comments

Hobart Airport in Tasmania has agreed a four-year contract with SSP Group to redevelop its food and beverage experience. The contract is worth around £15 million and is an extension of the existing partnership between SSP and Hobart Airport.

Recognising the importance of providing a sense of place in the airport’s food and beverage offering , SSP has partnered with local brands Live-eat, Coal River and Cascade to bring the best of local and the wider Tasmanian region to the airport.

Those travelling through the airport will be treated to a strong mix of local favourites, offering locally sourced, Tasmanian ingredients, down-to-earth food and a selection of high-quality beer, along with healthy eating choices.

The latest technology is also being used to offer mobile ordering, whereby passengers can order through the convenience of their mobile devices.

Hobart Airport’s Acting CEO Matt Cocker said the airport is excited to be bringing some familiar local flavours to the Tasmanian gateway, saying, “We’re really proud to be supporting local businesses and producers after what has been a particularly challenging year… Our team are always striving to improve the customer experience and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with SSP to create a space that Tasmanians can be proud of. We are looking forward to being able to welcome passengers back to Hobart Airport with a brand-new menu that reflects the outstanding produce that is synonymous with our island home.”

As Australia’s oldest operating brewery the Cascade Experience at the airport will serve fresh, draught beer made with pristine Tasmanian water, as the brewery has been doing for more than 185 years. Passengers will also be able to sample a range of local wines and food sourced from regional producers.

Mark Angela, CEO of SSP Asia Pacific concluded, “We are confident that passengers will come to love the new look and feel of the airport, especially the food on offer and the new brand line up. Our intention is to create a welcoming environment that captures the true spirit of Tasmania for those arriving into Hobart  and a last piece of Tasmania for those departing.”

Kongsberg Remote tower at Menorca

Menorca Airport advances plans for remote tower system

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Kongsberg Remote tower at Menorca

Spain’s Menorca Airport is turning to a remote tower system for its air traffic control (ATC). Alongside Gesnaer Consulting and Avinor Air Navigation Services, Kongsberg has been selected to provide the advanced Remote Tower System.

The unique design of Kongsberg’s Electro-Optical Sensor Suite features a rotating platform housing a visual and infrased 360° daylight and infrared cameras as well as  pan-tilt camera platform with a visual zoom camera, an infrared camera, a laser range finder and a signalling light. Air traffic controllers are then able to view the digital out the window view on high resolution monitors.

One of the major benefits of remote tower technology is that the system can be extended to control multiple airports from the same control centre. Kongsberg and Avinor Air Navigation Services are already working together on the Ninox programme, which includes 15 different airports that will all be operated from a new control centre located in Bodø, Norway (pictured right).

“Remote control of air traffic brings new capabilities to air traffic operations, enabling safe operations at reduced costs,” said Kjetil Reiten Myhra, Executive VP Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace AS. “This is achieved by the combination of high-end technology and proven safe operation procedures and concepts. Kongsberg is proud to deliver our world class solution to Menorca Airport and AENA together with the industry team.”

The system is expected to be delivered in 2021 with Gesnaer Consulting responsible for implementing and executing the project on behalf of Spanish airport operator, AENA.