London City Airport supports foodbanks

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London City Airport has pledged to donate £50,000 to help nine foodbanks in its neighbouring boroughs of Newham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham.

The airport established a Community Fund which aims to provide local East London communities with an annual donation of £75,000. However, the impact of the coronavirus crisis has led to the airport securing an additional £50,000 for foodbanks.

Foodbanks are vital for the communities in East London, providing vulnerable people and families with essential supplies. The funds will allow organisations such as First Love Foundation to deliver food to people’s doors, as well as offering advice and support on the phone to those in need.

Pastor Obi Onyeabor from the Dagenham Foodbank stated that,“The kind donation from London City Airport will help us to replenish our supplies, deliver food to the doors of people that are self-isolating and continue with our soup kitchen for the homeless.”

Although London City Airport temporarily suspended all commercial and private flights on 25 March, it still remains accessible to support the emergency services and military in the national relief effort.

Kelly Tolhurst MO, Minister for Aviation commented, “London City Airport’s act of kindness shows that, despite the considerable challenges facing the aviation sector right now, businesses and those working in aviation are still supporting their local communities.”

HMG Aerospace publishes its INFOCUS product for 2020

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INFOCUS by HMG Aerospace is an annual series which puts the latest developments across key sectors within the commercial and civil aviation industry under the microscope. It was developed in response to a call for a greater level of comment, analysis and review from audiences spanning the HMG Aerospace portfolio. By zeroing in on a single topic, HMG’s expert editorial team is able to deliver a product which delves deep beneath the headlines, offering key insights and intelligent predictions.

So what will you find inside INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020? As we are witnessing around the world with the COVID-19 outbreak, the global aviation community faces numerous challenges every single day and these aren’t just limited to disease outbreaks. Geopolitical posturing, cyberattacks, mechanical faults, disruptive passengers, data breaches and airspace protection are additional risks that continually threaten to disrupt the aviation sector. However, despite these threats, air transport remains the safest form of travel with security at the heart of the industry’s concerns.

INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 looks at how airlines, airports and the rotorcraft community, as well as suppliers and industry associations, are rising to these challenges by exploring different sectors including safety and surveillance, airspace protection, training, passenger and baggage screening and cyber security. From guiding you through the typical attack surface of a model IFEC system to assessing the challenge of meeting the rapidly increasing growth in training needs, INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 offers a comprehensive insight into a constantly evolving industry sector.  View it Online, or Download it as a PDF.


Alaska’s regional airline on the brink of collapse

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Alaska has warned the US Government that its largest regional airline, RavnAir Group, as well as many other airlines are in danger of bankruptcy which could leave rural communities completely isolated.

RavnAir has experienced an “astonishing” decline in bookings and revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline filed for bankruptcy on 5 April and laid off most of its staff and grounded its fleet of 72 planes, claiming that “government aid would not arrive before it ran out of cash”.

With over 80% of Alaskan communities accessible by air, the country depends on passenger and air cargo transport. A lack of air travel could “damage our other industries such as oil and gas, mining, seafood, and tourism” according to Alaska’s congressional delegation.

RavnAir stated that the airline was working towards resuming its air services that are essential to communities and the state of Alaska. It hopes to receive rescue funding under the CARES Act from the US Government, – which expects to distribute $32 billion across the aviation industry. If the Alaskan carrier is successful in its bid to receive funding, it “hopes to restart operations with as many of its laid-off employees as required.”

Brisbane Airport accommodates grounded aircraft

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Brisbane Airport is decommissioning a cross runway in order to park its grounded aircraft.

This decision is one of the measures that the airport has taken in order to store unused aircraft, as well as allocating parking zones as storage and accommodating 100 planes free of charge.

The runway was planned to be decommissioned in May as part of the Operational Readiness and Testing program for the airport’s new runway. However, the current COVID-19 crisis that is having a significant impact on the aviation industry has led to Brisbane Airport’s decision to bring the process forward.

The additional parking zones include runway 14/32, Taxiway Papa and various other aprons, modified to accommodate the aircraft. It is anticipated that aircraft manufactured by the likes of Boeing, Airbus and ATR for various airlines will all be stored here.

As domestic airlines are still permitted to fly, Brisbane Airport still expects to cater for  narrowbody aircraft which are being used for regional services. Although it will be operating a heavily reduced capacity, the airport will remain open as it pledges to “keep the lights on and the front door to Queensland open.”

The airport continues to work with airlines to offer support on a case by case basis, looking to “remain confident that recovery will come and that we must be ready to not only return to normal, but to prosper.”

Monterey Regional Airport takes significant hit

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monterey Regional Airport in California, US has experienced a significant hit with traffic down by 90%.

The airport, which is served by Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, United Airlines, American and JSX, is faced with arrival and departure cancellations each day as airlines are forced to fly less frequently due to the drop in demand and airport closures. Airlines are approaching the situation on a flight-by-flight basis but there have also been challenges with staff availability especially with officials ordering non key workers to stay at home and those with coronavirus symptoms having to self isolate.

What’s more, Visit California, a nonprofit organisation that partners with the state’s travel industry has issued an update on its website that says “this is not the time to vacation in California” since virtually all tourism assets are closed until further notice.

Monterey Regional Airport’s Executive Director, Mike La Pier commented that the effects are “consistent with other airports…Right now nobody’s flying. It is turbulent times on many levels.”

The airport’s revenue depends on passenger traffic as well as associated activities including car rentals, transportation fees, parking and other revenue streams.

In order to help its staff, as well as concessionaires and tenants through these unpredictable times, the airport is working to delay rent payments, only purchase essential items, reducing working hours and cutting back on advertisement.

Airports in China start to reopen for domestic services

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As the demand for medical supplies and equipment from Chinese manufacturers continues to grow, China’s air cargo operations are showing signs of returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels according to The World of Aviation.

What’s more, reports also suggest a small uptick in domestic passenger travel as key airports reopen in the coronavirus epicentre of Hubei Province. Coronavirus cases are flattening across China and it’s been almost a week since a COVID-19 case has been reported in Hubei.

One of the measurements airports across the province have implemented to detect and limit the further spread of the virus is mass thermal imaging of passengers in departure and arrival halls. They are also providing staff with masks, gloves and isolation rooms for suspected virus victims.

In a statement Xu Zuoqiang, Chairman and General Manager of the Three Gorges Airport (also known as Yichang Sanxia Airport) – one of the airports to reopen – revealed that the airport had carried out comprehensive disinfection and issued staff with training to cope with epidemic control and prevention.

Wuhan Tianhae Airport is also expected to reopen on 8 April servicing flights for those who test negative for coronavirus. However, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has stated that as a precaution, flights between air transport hubs in Hubei Province and Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing and Taiwan will not operate for the time being.

China has noted a reduction in passenger numbers of around 70% since the coronavirus outbreak. Reinstating airline services and resuming connectivity will be vital in boosting the country’s economic recovery.

IATA Chief Economist, Brian Pearce agreed, “We are seeing some signs of a turning point in the Chinese domestic market.” However, he added this was not the case for the industry as a whole with border closures having a significant hit on bookings.

Abilene Regional Airport

Abilene Regional Airport adapts to outbreak

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Abilene Regional Airport

Abilene Regional Airport in Texas is currently maintaining its flight schedule, even though the airport has experienced a decline in passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus.

Abilene Director of Transportation Services Don Green commented: “You have to keep in mind that we’ve been through pandemics before. We’ve been through SARS. We’ve been through H1N1 here.” Additional precautions are in place at the airport, such as adding lines of tape to ensure passengers stay at a safe distance from each other and staff and to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Additionally since 28 March, passengers travelling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have had to identify themselves to state troopers situated at the exit lanes, before completing a form that agrees they will self-quarantine for at least 14 days or until they leave Texas.

Green concluded that while flight schedules are currently being maintained, things could slow down moving forward, but this is dependent on the airlines themselves.

Quebec City Jean Lesage Airport looks beyond coronavirus

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Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) has taken measures in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic that continues to affect the global aviation industry.

“While the situation is changing from day to day and even hour to hour, our role and our priorities have not changed: to help our passengers, from here and abroad, get home safely,” commented Stephane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB.

In response to border closures, the airport expects to only see a few hundred passengers each day which could result in a passenger drop of 85%. YQB is working towards solutions for this challenging pandemic, including a reduction in operating expenses and has had to temporarily lay off about 40 employees.

The airport is required to continue operating its runways and facilities, providing a minimum service for emergencies and the transportation of essential goods. It is also focusing on life beyond coronavirus and its role as a key player in the region’s economic development.

Poirier added, “YQB is a strong organisation and we are well positioned on the market. We are staying positive when we look to the future. Once this pandemic is behind us, we will work hard to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.”

London Southend Airport updates operational plans

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, London Southend Airport has updated customers on its operational plans during the coming weeks and months.

The airport’s airline partners have all either suspended or reduced their services. Both easyJet and Ryanair have suspended their operations until May at the earliest. Wizz Air is reducing its service to three weekly flights to Bucharest. Loganair is maintaining flights to Aberdeen and Derry three times a week and Fly One will return to a twice weekly service from May.

As a result of these changes the London airport has amended its opening hours. It will be open from 16:30 to 21:30 on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays. With a significant reduction in passenger service, the logistics operation plans to operate as normal in order to support the local and wider economy, hoping to safeguard jobs and ensure the continued import and export of goods. Glyn Jones, London Southend said he was pleased that the “airport will contribute to the local community and its economy by securing jobs and contributing to the economy.”

Jones added: “I want to take this opportunity to express my immense gratitude to the incredible team here at London Southend Airport who have responded fantastically to the unprecedented challenges faced by the aviation industry and by the world as a whole.”

UK airports disappointed with government’s support package

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The Government has decided not to support airlines and airports with one, comprehensive package but instead, will review each case individually.

Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), Karen Dee commented, “After having publicly announced a support package for airports and airlines, we’re surprised by where we find ourselves today. Our industry will now have to fight on its own to protect its workforce and its future.”

Dee added that, “With passenger numbers approaching close to zero, UK airports have seen a major drop in revenue. They are taking unprecedented steps to safeguard airport staff and operations through this crisis, which could include in some cases considering shutting down for a period of time.” This, she warned, could have “major impacts for UK communities and businesses.”

Citing how airports continue to operate as  gateways for lifeline services to the Highlands and Islands communities and UK Crown Dependencies as well as freight services that ensure supplies arrive in the UK, Dee highlighted how airports also serve as operational bases for UK Search & Rescue services, for offshore oil, gas and wind farms that provide vital energy supplies. However, with UK airports now experiencing a significant decrease in passenger numbers and therefore, a major drop in revenue several have been forced to temporarily close to safeguard employees and operations.

Emphasising that other countries across Europe have recognised the vital role airports play and are rallying to support them. Dee warned that he UK’ Government’s case-by-case approach “will mean that it will not be feasible to provide the support necessary in the coming days”. Subsequently airports will struggle to provide critical services and effect the UK’s recovery from the current epidemic. A comprehensive support package for airlines and airports would have provided financial support and it would have put in place the necessary measures to support airports, ground handling agents, air navigation service providers and others in their operational recovery once the pandemic recedes.

AOA  has urged the Government to reconsider and at the very least provide a comprehensive package of support for airports and ground-based services  to ensure the successful recovery of the aviation industry. It would increase the flexibility of the employment retention scheme, extend business rate relief, allow VAT and other tax deferrals, suspend regulatory costs where possible and provide relief from airport policing costs.