Recovery on the horizon for California’s Ontario Airport

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Noting a positive trajectory in its recovery, Ontario International Airport in California has regained more than half of the passenger volume lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which nearly decimated global air travel a year ago.

According to data released by the airport, the total number of passengers that travelled through Ontario Airport in March – nearly 260,000 – was 11% higher than the same month last year when airport activity was effectively ground to a halt following government orders to close borders to most international air travel and public health authorities issuing stay-at-home orders.

However, in recent months, reports have shown that Ontario International Airport has the strongest passenger recovery rate in California and one of the strongest nationwide. Domestic passenger traffic is up nearly 16% from March 2020 and improving to about 63% of its March 2019 pace. Overall passenger volume, including international travel, had improved to about 60% of its March 2019 pace – an encouraging sign that the recovery is underway.

“It is not surprising that passenger volume was higher in March this year than March last year, but in looking back to March 2019, the pre-pandemic year, we get a better measure of our recovery and see encouraging signs with more than half of our traveller volume back,” said Mark Thorpe, CEO of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “Given the new and restarted services in recent months by airlines operating at Ontario and plans announced for the initiation of more flights coming by summer, we are confident that recovery is on the horizon, especially as more travellers receive vaccines and resume more normal travel routines,” he continued.

Air cargo shipments also continued their surge as many Americans transitioned to working from home and families increased their reliance on e-commerce for household goods and supplies. Commercial freight tonnage increased nearly 6% last month compared to March last year. And for the first quarter of this year, freight volume increased by double-digits to 11.5%.

 

Goldhofer’s Phoenix E towbarless aircraft tractor passes test phase with flying colours

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The Phoenix E towbarless aircraft tractor from Goldhofer has successfully completed its test phase and is now ready for action on the airport apron.

The AST-2 towbarless tow tractor was originally unveiled at Inter Airport Europe 2019 and is the flagship product among Goldhofer’s towbarless aircraft tractors. It offers speeds up to 32km/h for maintenance tows and also offers some of the best versatility in its class, handling the full range of today’s aircrafts with a maximum take-off weight of 253 tonnes. The challenge for the Goldhofer engineering team in developing the battery-powered Phoenix E was to produce an electric version to match the existing diesel tractor.

The electric tow boasts the same range of performance in terms of tractive power, maneuverability and reliability. It also offers additional advantages, such as lower operating costs and longer maintenance cycles. Plus, a triple-circuit breaking system ensures excellent tracking performance and maximum travel safety at all times. The Phoenix E also comes with Godlhofer’s IonMaster technology – a high-performance electric drive concept that works with extremely efficient 700 V lithium-ion batteries, which have proven themselves in the application of electric buses, meeting the high standards of safety.

The vehicles can be easily charged at all standard AC and DC charging points with up to 150kW. Compared to diesel-powered vehicles, the system offers neormous energy savings, very high total vehicle efficiency, and noise emissions approaching zero. And like the diesel version, the Phoenix E satisfies the highest standards of safety, with premium components and a full range of service and maintenance tools.

Telluride Regional Airport receives delivery of SAF from Avfuel

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Avfuel-branded Telluride Regional Airport has become the first airport and FBO in Colorado to make sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) available to its customers. The FBO received its first demonstrative delivery of SAF from Avfuel in Februrary, with two more deliveries made in March.

Telluride Regional Airport has since begun to receive regular deliveries of Neste’s branded SAF from Avfuel. The first load arrived on 15 April, with each truckload of the Neste MY SAF providing a 22 metric ton reduction in carbon emissions over its lifecycle, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon sequestered by 28.7 acres of US forests per year.

Telluride Regional Ariport can now consistently provide SAF for all jet and turbine aircraft that land at the airport in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainability goals.

“Our community desires to do its part in reducing carbon emissions,” said Kenneth Maenpa, Telluride’s Airport Manager. “As such, we are proud to be the first airport in Colorado to provide sustainable aviation fuel. Avfuel has worked diligently on the logistics for delivering SAF to Telluride Regional Airport, and we’re excited to announced this significant milestone that’s been three years in the making.”

Keith Sawyer, Avfuel’s Manager of Alternative Fuels, added: “Avfuel is thankful for the true partnership it has with the Telluride Regional Airport team, working together to provide cleaner solutions in one of the world’s most stunning natural environments. We congratulate the airport on being the first to provide SAF in the state of Colorado, which not only provides significant emissions reductions, but also raises awareness on the environmental benefits and safety of the product.”

Open 365 days a year, the Telluride Regional Airport is North America’s highest commercial airport at 9,070 feet above sea level and is a self-sustaining operation.

Boutique Air expands network out of Merced Yosemite Regional Airport

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San Francisco-based commuter airline Boutique Air plans to expand its network out of the Merced Yosemite Regional Airport in California and will begin operating nonstop flights to Las Vegas, Nevada from 22 April.

The new route will offer a round-trip service on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays using the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.

This will be the third Boutique Air route out of Merced and provides customers in the Las Vegas region with a quick direct flight to Yosemite National Park and surrounding area.

“Several years ago we operated flights from Merced and we are thrilled to offer this popular destination again,” said Shawn Simpson, Boutique Air CEO. He added that the reinstated route is in response to passenger demand. “With the lifting of pandemic restrictions people are really ready to start travelling again. Vegas has been at the top of the request list for our Merced customers.”

Founded in 2007, Boutique Air is an FAA certified and US Department of Transportation authorised airline. It is also a full codeshare partner with United Airlines and has and interline agreement with American Airlines. Fares for flights between Merced and Las Vegas will start at $99 per person.

 

 

Avianca awards Menzies cargo contract at Miami International Airport

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Under an agreement that marks one of the most significant wins in the history of Menzies’ cargo business, the aviation logistics specialist has been awarded a five-year cargo contract with Avianca at Miami International Airports (MIA) in the US.

MIA is a strategically important cargo gateway for the airline and the top-ranking US domestic airport for international freight. From May, a team of more than 300 Menzies professionals will provide warehouse cargo handling services for Avianca and the airline is already working closely  with the global aviation logistics specialist in preparation for the start-up next month.

Operating from a 225,000 sq. ft. warehouse and processing around 250,000 tonnes of cargo per annum through the facility, Avianca focuses on flowers, fish, fruit and vegetables on the import side and a broad mix of commodities on the export side of the business.

“We are so proud that Avianca has selected Menzies to be their cargo handling partner at their Miami hub,” said John Redmond, Executive VP, Menzies Americas. “This award marks a major milestone, not only for our cargo operations in the US but globally, and represents Avianca’s great confidence in Menzies’ excellent standards and ability to provide a quality service that is safe, secure and consistent.”

Ruben Atehortua, Director Cargo Operations – Avianca Cargo added: “The Avianca organisation is delighted to be starting a new chapter alongside Menzies Aviation at our Miami hub, which is one of our most important operations. We have every faith that this is the beginning of a strong alliance which will enable us to continue providing an exceptional service to our clients whilst enhancing our position in the Miami market.”

He also underlined that “this partnership is underscored by our mutual commitment to efficiency, improvement and reliability, and we are looking forward to working closely with Menzies to advance our state of the art operation.”

Gary Jet Center enters agreement with Cirrus to be an authorised service centre

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Based at the Gary/ Chicago International Airport in the US, Gary Jet Center (GJC) has entered into an agreement with Cirrus Aircraft to be an Authorised Service Centre (ASC) for the aircraft manufacturer.

As part of the agreement, GJC will have trained technicians on both the SR-Series piston aircraft and the Vision Jet, and will provide customers with a full range of aircraft maintenance on the Cirrus Aircraft. In addition to routine and annual Cirrus Aircraft maintenance, GJC will offer composite and paint repair, warranty support, Garmin and Avidyne avionics servicing, and air conditioning services.

“We are excited to be a part of the global network of Authorised Service Centers for Cirrus Aircraft,” said Jeff McLain, Director of Maintenance for GJC. “For nearly 30 years, Gary Jet Center has been performing maintenance on a variety of aircraft with our Part 145 Certificate, and to secure this relationship with Cirrus is a tremendous addition to our offerings. We look forward to providing exceptional service and support to Cirrus owners in the Chicagoland area and beyond.”

GJC’s team will have access to genuine Cirrus Aircraft parts, and will provide scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including CAPS inspection and recertification, ADS-B incorporation and other modifications to the avionics suite. It will also offer an aircraft management package to ensure the owner’s Cirrus aircraft is available for dispatch, as well as compliant with all FAA and Cirrus maintenance schedules.

Air traffic control services to continue for Canadian communities

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NAV CANADA, which provides air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million sq. km of Canadian domestic and oceanic airspace, has confirmed that it will maintain air traffic control service to Canadian communities, including Fort McMurray AB (pictured), Prince George BC, Regina SK, Saint-Jean QC, Sault Ste. Marie ON, Whitehorse YT and Windsor ON.

In an effort to streamline its operations and ensure its air navigation services align with market demand, NAV CANADA, launched 29 aeronautical studies last Autumn and subsequently has elected to limit changes to services across the country. In addition NAV CANADA has committed that there will no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country, however the company will suspend aeronautical studies currently underway related to remote or northern locations until further notice.

“Stakeholder engagement is at the heart of NAV CANADA’s aeronautical study process. The valuable input we have received indicates that a balanced approach is warranted as the industry navigates the ongoing pandemic. We are proactively taking these steps to maintain a consistent level of service as the aviation industry and our many partners shift their focus to recovery,” said Ray Bohn, President and CEO.

The aeronautical studies, which are still in progress, will consider other alternatives to safely streamline operations, including changes to hours of operation. Aeronautical studies that were related to hours of operation from the outset or that are related to Remote Aerodrome Advisory Services will also continues, except for those pertaining to remote or northern locations.

NAV CANADA’s Aeronautical Studies consider all relevant factors, including traffic volume, mix and distribution throughout the day; weather; airport and airspace configuration; surface activity; and the efficiency requirements of operators using the service. Formal consultation with stakeholders is central to all Aeronautical Studies.

UK PCR rate double the European rate

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With the UK Government releasing its Global Travel Taskforce framework for easing travel restrictions, research by ABTA – The Travel Association and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) reveals that the cost of PCR testing for international travel in the UK is double that of testing in other European countries. With a PCR test now required on Day 2 after returning to the UK from even the lowest-risk countries, the research also highlights the disproportionate cost of PCR testing for travellers.

On average a UK pre-departure PCR test costs £128 per person, while across eight key destinations the test costs less than half that at just under £62 per person. Those travelling from the UK to a European destination would pay an average of £306 for testing as they will need a UK pre-departure test, a pre-departure test in their destination country at the end of their holiday and a post-arrival test in the UK if they have flown to a green country under the new traffic light system announced on Friday 9 April.

Both ABTA and AOA are calling on the Government to look at whether passengers who have been vaccinated can be exempt from testing when travelling to green list countries.

“The restart of international travel needs to be affordable and accessible for everyone – so that people can take their much-needed overseas holidays and visit the family and friends abroad whom they’ve not been able to see for such a long time,” said Mark Tanzer Chief Executive of ABTA. “Travel to the lower risk, green categorised countries should be as unrestricted as possible. The requirement for a PCR test when you arrive back from a green list country could prove a cost-barrier for many people – we welcome the fact that the Government commits to engaging with industry on this issue. Small changes, like requiring a PCR test only if the individual gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, would make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against re-importation of the virus. The Government should also consider whether those who have been vaccinated can be exempt from testing requirements, should scientific evidence suggest reduced transmissibility.”

Karen Dee, Chief Executive, AOA added that the cost of testing could act as a significant barrier to restarting aviation. “With UK pre-departure and post-arrival tests costing around double the average in countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, UK travellers are penalised for wanting to travel from the UK.”

She also highlighted that, “with the Government offering free rapid tests domestically, it is vital that business travellers and holidaymakers can make use of these for green-listed countries upon their return. The Government should also work to reduce, if not eliminate, the cost for pre-departure tests in the UK.”

Echoing these sentiments, Henry Smith MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Aviation said that “the sky-high cost of PCR tests run the risk of being a major disincentive to travel for many and the Government must ensure that these costs are kept as low as possible, we simply cannot afford to have a framework that burdens people in the UK with double the testing costs of other European nations.

“We should be looking to less expensive and burdensome tests which are now the standard and accepted test in every other part of society rather than having Europe’s most expensive tests which will only make travel unaffordable for many.”

Header image: PCR tests being conducted at the CENTOGENE test centre at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

Signature Flight Support expands network with addition of Chantilly Air Jet Center

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Chantilly Air Jet Center, the newest full-service FBO serving the Washington, DC metro area has joined Signature Flight Support’s Signature Select network.

Based at the Manassas Regional Airport, Chantilly Air is an IS-BAH Stage 1 certified FBO. The 11,000 sq. ft. FBO terminal provides a range of amenities including a pilot lounge, snooze rooms and shower facilities. There is also a fitness centre for crew and passengers, as well as conference rooms and a refreshment galley. The greenfield facility also includes a 60,000 sq. ft. hangar and significant office space for rent, in addition to the provision of traditional FBO services, including fuelling, hangarage, a Part 145 repair station, as well as aircraft charter and fleet management.

Expressing his enthusiasm for joining the world’s largest network of FBOs, Tim Sullivan, COO Chantilly Air Jet Center said: “Chantilly Air is a family-owned entity that started in 1990. Building on our 30-year reputation as an aircraft charter and management provider, we look forward to becoming an FBO of choice for the metro DC area, as well as having a long and mutually beneficial partnership with the Signature network.”

Manasssas Regional Airport itself provides easy access to the I-66 and I-95 corridors, northern Virginia and downtown Washington, DC. It is the busiest general aviation gateway in the state of Virginia,and  is a towered airport with US Customs and Border Protection to accommodate international arrivals.

“We are pleased to welcome Chantilly Air to Signature Select and the global Signature Flight Support network,” said Mark Johnstone, CEO, Signature Aviation. “Chantilly Air’s reputation for ramp safety and adherence to industry best practices resonates with our own Signature Service Promise. I am confident their enrollment in the Signature Select programme will unlock significant mutual benefit for both of our customers and organisations.”

Air bp now offering ongoing SAF supply at three UK locations

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International aviation fuel products and service supplier, Air bp, has now supplied sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to three airports in the UK as part of its commitment to delivering SAF on an ongoing basis. Centreline FBO at Bristol Airport became the first UK location to receive a supply of SAF from Air bp in March, while London Biggin Hill and Airbus owned Hawarden Airport in Flintshire, North Wales, where SAF will be used to fuel the Beluga aircraft have also now received their first Air bp SAF supply.

These latest agreements demonstrate the importance of collaboration between fuel supplier, airport and customer in driving demand for SAF and ultimately help to meet the industry’s lower carbon goals.

“We are excited to see these ongoing commitments to SAF supply,” said Andreea Moyes, Sustainability Director, Air bp. “Stakeholders’ willingness to invest in SAF and collaborate with us will help drive demand and deliver carbon reductions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces. We are committed to working with stakeholders to explore the viable sale and purchase of SAF, which we believe is one of the aviation industry’s key routes to reducing carbon emissions.”

Air bp’s SAF is made from waste based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil, which is blended with traditional jet fuel. The SAF blend supplied is around 35% SAF and the SAF component provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of around 80% compared to traditional jet fuel it replaces.

Stephen Elsworthy, Manager of Fuel Services at London Biggin Hill said that by offering SAF to its customers and resident businesses, “we are helping them to meet their sustainability goals too, and vitally, contributing to our industry’s aim for a net zero carbon future.”

Meanwhile, the delivery of SAF at Hawarden Airport has seen Airbus take the next step in reducing its industrial carbon footprint with the maiden flight of a Beluga super-transporter using SAF. The North Wales line station, which uses the Beluga fleet to transport aircraft wings to Toulouse, Hamburg and Bremen is the second Airbus European site to use SAF, after Hamburg introduced the fuel to its cargo activities at the end of 2019.

“The progressive deployment of sustainable aviation fuels at Airbus’ sites is an essential part of our decarbonisation roadmap. We’re proud that Broughton has become the second Airbus site to introduce SAF in its Beluga-fleet operations,” said Andy Owen, Beluga Line Station Manager at Broughton.