Sheltair expands US operations westward

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Aviation services and development company, Sheltair Aviation, has entered into a long-term lease agreement with Jefferson County, Colorado, to construct and operate a full service FBO and hangar complex at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC).

Offering convenient access to downtown Denver and Boulder, Metro Airport is a full-service general aviation airport and Sheltair’s move here marks the company’s first corporate presence west of the Mississippi. To date, the company has spent the last 30 years growing its reputation along the eastern seaboard – Sheltair currently operates 17 premier FBOs and manages almost 4,000 000 square feet of aviation related properties throughout Florida, Georgia and New York.

Commenting on the move, Jerry Holland, founder, chairman and CEO of Sheltair said: “Our newest corporate address in Colorado reflects the natural progression of a company that carefully studies the market, identifies communities that embrace general aviation, considers the role of airports in supporting regional economies and the vision of local officials. Based on these criteria, it was easy to conclude that Sheltair wanted to be at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport.”

Phase one of the development plan includes a new 10,000 square foot FBO facility, a 35,000 square foot hangar and a new fuel farm at the Colorado-based airport. Meanwhile future plans include development of an additional 25 acres of aviation related space.

Remarking on how KBJC is an ideal location for Sheltair to expand its operations westward, Paul Anslow, the airport’s director revealed that during 2017 Metro Airport handled over 170,000 aircraft operations, before adding: “We are proud of the fact that our priorities are customer service, safety, and the creation of a business-friendly environment. We offer the aviation community unequalled service 24 hours a day, seven days a week and this is particularly important when meeting the needs of those travelling for business, pleasure, or both.”

Meanwhile Jefferson County Commissioner, Libby Szabo, commented: “Sheltair’s arrival reflects the continuing execution of the airport’s master plan that calls for a series of carefully thought out expansions with professional partners with whom we have complete confidence.”

Stansted Airport delivers economic prosperity to UK capital

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Ken O’Toole, London Stansted’s CEO, has underpinned the role that the airport plays in London’s future economic prosperity and has called on the UK Government to develop a national aviation strategy to support growth at all of the country’s airports.

Speaking at the London First Infrastructure Summit 2018 on Wednesday 12 September, Mr O’Toole addressed an audience of 500 infrastructure industry experts. He stated: “London has never been in greater need of a vibrant aviation industry and as we look to the future we need to ensure we have the connectivity to trade globally, attract overseas investment and encourage tourists to our shores. We need to make best use of available airport capacity now to make this happen.” 

Referencing the $600 million investment currently underway at London Stansted, he reiterated how this will enable the airport to deliver as much as 50% of London’s total expected passenger growth over the next decade.

He also called on the UK Government to match the airport’s growth ambitions with swift and supportive action including; delivering an aviation strategy that sets out a clear plan for maximising the potential of the UK airports most capable of driving economic growth in their regions; to introduce long overdue reforms on Air Passenger Duty (APD); and committing to increased investment to reduce queue times at the border for inbound passengers to the UK.

O’Toole went on to explain how the approval of the airport’s current planning application to serve 43 million passengers a year will not only grant London Stansted a licence to grow, but  it will also give the green light to continued economic growth for London and the East of England.

“Stansted is the London airport with the most available capacity today… Our carriers are bullish about their future. London and the East of England will remain buoyant, and in order to keep stimulating growth for the airport and wider economy, we are transforming our air facilities through our £600 million investment programme.”

He added: “We have put forward a strong planning application to increase the cap on passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers per annum, an increase we will deliver within existing limits on flight movements and noise impacts.”

 

Kempegowda Airport welcomes new face-recognition technology

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Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru (BLR) South India, is set to deploy new face-recognition technology offering passengers a seamless journey as they travel through the airport.

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates BLR, has signed an agreement with Vision-Box to launch paperless biometric self-boarding technology, aimed at transforming the passenger experience and creating a future-ready airport.

The first Greenfield airport in India to be built as a private-public partnership, Kempegowda began operations in 2008 and has significantly enhanced the regional and worldwide connectivity of Bengaluru and Karnataka. It is currently the busiest airport in South India and earlier this year was awarded the title of ‘Best Regional Airport in India and Central Asia’ by Skytrax.

The new biometric technology will now mean that BLR will become the first airport in India to have an end-to-end solution for paperless air travel. Simplifying the entire process from registration to boarding, the technology will identify passengers by scanning their faces as they move through the airport. The first implementation is due for completion in the first quarter of 2019, with Jet Airways, Air Asia and SpiceJet passengers the first to make use of the technology.

Commenting on the agreement, Hari Marar, MD and CEO BIAL said: “BLR Airport will continue to lead from the front in transforming air travel in India by leveraging on technology. We will continue to offer more delightful experiences to all our passengers as they travel through BLR Airport. Vision-Box’s state-of-the-art biometric technology combined with its passenger flow platform will enable a seamless journey for our passengers, without obstacles, waiting lines or hassles, from registration to boarding.”

Vision-Box CEO, Miguel Leitmann, added his support for the partnership saying:

We’re very proud to team up with Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru. Together we’re raising the flag of a historical milestone, marking not only the significant improvement of the experience of those who travel through Bangalore, but also the accomplishment of a seamless digital airport journey. This is the first end-to-end face recognition-based walk-through experience in Asia and the largest in the world. It is also one of the most significant steps towards the Digital India campaign endorsed by the Government.

 

Billund Airport sees increase in flights to Riga

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Western Denmark’s largest gateway, Billund Airport, has confirmed that the low-fare carrier, airBaltic will increase the number of flights it operates to Riga in 2019.

The airline currently operates a daily service between the two cities using its fleet of 76-seat Q400-NextGen’s. From March 2019 it will add an extra four weekly flights, increasing this for the peak summer season with a fifth additional flight, resulting in 11 weekly services in total.

Commenting on the news, Jan Hessellund, CEO of Billund Airport, said: “It’s great news that airBaltic has decided to further invest in Billund Airport by adding these extra flights to its schedules for next summer, giving passengers even more choice and flexibility to connect with the Latvian capital and beyond through the carrier’s growing network.

The expansion proves that airBaltic is a strong brand in our catchment, and with the carrier currently in a strong growth phase, I’m sure that these additional flights will prove to be popular not just with our point-to-point passengers, but those looking for better connections via Riga.

Jan Hessellun, CEO of Billund Airport.

Adding that “Billund Airport has been a fantastic partner along the way of developing our business in Western Denmark,” Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management, also revealed that the airline now offers “widened travel options between Billund and Riga, and via Riga to over 70 destinations on our network spanning Europe, the Middle East, CIS and the Baltics.”

AirBaltic’s frequency increase on top of Wizz Air’s recent news that it will add a twice-weekly service from Kiev Zhulyany, means the number of weekly flights from Billund to Eastern Europe will grow by close to 20% in S19.

Belfast City takes delivery of new fire-fighting vehicle

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George Best Belfast City Airport Fire Service has taken delivery of a new 33-tonne fire-fighting vehicle, to ensure its continued compliance with the highest safety regulations.

Purpose built by the Spanish firm Iturri, the new vehicle offers the latest technology in aviation fire-fighting and rescue. The culmination of a five-year procurement and manufacturing process, it is the first of three new fire tenders, each representing an investment in the region of £1 million.

Additionally, the new fire tenders are part of an overall £15 million capital investment programme at the airport. When complete, it will include a new security search area and refurbishment of the departures lounge with an enhanced retail offering.

“Our vision for the airport is to deliver an experience that exceeds our customers’ expectations. This encompasses every service at the airport including the vital work that is carried out by our fire service behind-the scenes,” said Mark Beattie, operations director at the airport.

Meanwhile, Seamus MacMahon, Chief Fire Officer and Head of Emergency Planning at Belfast City Airport declared that: “Belfast City Airport Fire Service is responsible for safety of all aircraft within the airfield.”

He added that: “In addition, our 33 full-time fire fighters are trained first medical responders to the three million visitors to the airport each year.

“The new fire appliance was custom-built in Seville and comes equipped with full thermal imaging and infra-red driver vision, meaning the tender can operate in zero visibility. It can also fight fires whilst on the move, carrying 11,500 litres of water.

“It is equipped with an electronic control system and the latest communications systems ensuring we are ready for any eventuality should it occur.”

ExecuJet to expand operations in Africa

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Part of the Luxaviation Group, ExecuJet is all set to become the first business aviation company to operate and manage a Pilatus PC-24 jet in Africa, when it takes delivery of the new aircraft next month.

Based at Cape Town International Airport in South Africa the aircraft will be available for charter from Cape Town to destinations including Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Meanwhile passengers flying from ExecuJet’s fixed-base operator (FBO) at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, will be able to reach the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Kenya and Mauritius.

Dubbed the ‘Super Versatile Jet’, due to its flexibility and ability to operate in and out of very short and unpaved runways, the PC-24 received EASA and FAA type certification in December 2017 and is the ideal choice for Africa’s more remote airports, some of which are situated in testing terrain.

“Africa is the perfect environment for the PC-24,” said Gavin Kiggen, VP Africa, ExecuJet. “With its testing terrain and challenging runways, and we are honoured to be the first business aviation operator to manage the aircraft in the region.” He added: “ExecuJet’s worldwide commitment to service excellence makes us industry-leading in our field, which is testament to all the hard work and dedication exhibited by our staff and partners. We are looking forward to welcoming the aircraft when it arrives at our Cape Town facility in October.”

Gateway Airport gains new San Diego link

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Arizona’s Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (Gateway Airport) is all set to welcome a new nonstop service to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California from 15 November.

The new link will be operated by California Pacific Airlines (CPA), making it the third airline to announce a new service from Gateway Airport in the last month.

“We are delighted to announce this addition to our inaugural schedule,” remarked CPA’s EVP and COO, mickey Bowman. “Similar to our base in Carlsbad, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport offers no hassle, easy access to the valley of the sun from a fantastic facility in the Phoenix East Valley.”

The decision to launch the new route follows passenger demand from travellers in the Greater Phoenix area, with the Carlsbad/ San Diego region one of the most frequently requested destinations.

CPA will offer six weekly departures on the new route using 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jet aircraft.

Commenting on the new service, A.A.E’s executive director, J. Brian O’Neill said: “Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is pleased to add California Pacific Airlines to its growing list of domestic and international air carriers.” He added: “The Carlsbad/ San Diego area is an extremely popular destination for residents across Greater Phoenix. We are confident that this new nonstop service on California Pacific Airlines will be very successful.”

Nelson’s new ATC tower opens for business

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Situated in the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson Airport (one of New Zealand’s busiest regional airports) has opened its new air traffic control tower.

Costing an estimated NZ$6 million Nelson Airport’s tower is likely to be the last bricks and mortar tower to open in New Zealand as the industry moves from radar to digital technology.
The new tower is part of the airport’s NZ$32 million redevelopment project, which when complete will include a new terminal and infrastructure upgrades. It has been funded by Airways, New Zealand’s air navigation service provider, and built by local construction firm, Gibbons Construction. Measuring 22-metres high, the six-level tower is almost double the height of its predecessor and will be manned by four staff in two shifts.

Commenting on the opening of the new control tower, Airways CEO, Graeme Sumner said: “we’re very much becoming a data-rich, software dependent business with the right level of expertise still in the tower and you’ll see operations like this in the tower for some time to come because we are risk-averse, so you don’t change things too quickly.”

Air traffic controllers will manage around 125 take-offs and landings each day and 46,000 flight movements each year. The radar systems currently in use at the tower will eventually give way to a satellite-based system as part of a NZ$120 million investment in air traffic management upgrades across New Zealand.

Explaining how the Nelson tower needed to be replaced before the technology had advanced sufficiently, Sumner concluded: “What we’ll be seeing in Nelson is what is going to be available everywhere else in New Zealand and that’s going to give us a whole new range of functions that we didn’t have before – certainly it’s going to get people to land more efficiently and you will get far more even flow between aircraft.”

Congratulating Airways on the new tower, Nelson Airport’s CEO, Rob Evans, said: “This new tower will provide much greater resilience as the airport continues to grow into the future to support a vibrant and extraordinary region.

“The design compliments our stunning new terminal in delivering what will be an unrivalled regional airport experience for all our customers.”

CityFlyer enlarges fleet at London City Airport

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BA City Flyer has ramped up its services at London City Airport (LCY), introducing four Embraer 190 aircraft to its fleet and adding a new destination to its network from the UK capital.

Parent company British Airways says the new aircraft will join the existing fleet next year, bringing the total number to 26 aircraft and adding nearly 20% more seats from the airport. The enlarged fleet will be complemented by a new year-round service to Rome, Italy from the London hub, which will be launched on 11 November this year. Additionally a fifth daily service will also be added to the popular Zurich route on week days.

“BA CityFlyer is London City Airport’s largest airline partner and this investment in four additional E-Jets demonstrates absolute commitment to its base at London’s most central airport,” said LCY’s CCO, Richard Hill. He added that “an enlarged fleet will mean more choice for tourists and business travellers alike, giving customers more flights to the destinations they love, under the British Airways brand. Introducing a Rome service and adding frequency to Zurich, already one of our busiest routes, keeps London connected to major European cities, and is a real endorsement of the London City proposition by our home-based carrier.”

The airline has been on a drive to expand operations at the airport in recent years. Luke Hayhoe, general manager commercial and customer, BA CityFlyer, revealed: “It is very positive to continue the year-on-year expansion at London City Airport. We added 13% more capacity in 2018 and will add nearly 20% in 2019. The new route to Rome will increase the number of British Airways’ destinations from London City Airport to 33.

Japan’s aviation sector hit by Typhoon Jebi

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As Typhoon Jebi swept through western Japan on Tuesday 4 September, it has paralysed the country’s second-largest population centre around Osaka with widespread power outages and flooding to the region’s main airport.

Several reports have suggested the typhoon is carrying strong winds of up to 135mph, making it the country’s strongest storm in 25 years and grounding flights. Although the storm is expected to have weakened by Wednesday morning, Japan’s meteorological agency has warned it could trigger landslides and further flooding.

Built on an artificial island, Kansai International Airport was almost directly in the storm’s path and remains partially submerged as it suffered flooding to its runway and terminal building. The airport was forced to close entirely when a tanker collided with the bridge linking the airport to the mainland. A spokeswoman for the airport reported that it doesn’t know when the airport can resume operations.

Authorities have issued evacuation advisories for more than one million people with hundreds of flights cancelled, as well as scores of ferries and train services halted by the devastating storm.

Nanki-Shirahama Airport on the south coast of Honshu has also experienced strong winds of 92mph.

Anticipating further disruption to airport operations, both domestic and international airlines have decided to cancel flights scheduled to depart and arrive in airports across western and central Japan with passengers advised to check with their carrier before heading off.