Wanzl’s new luggage trolley designed with both passengers and airport operators in mind

By Airports, Baggage handlingNo Comments

A familiar brand around airport terminals Wanzl has unveiled its innovative new luggage trolley – the Voyager Evolution 3000, which is suitable for any airport no matter what their size.

According to Wanzl, while passengers benefit from the innovate design, airport staff will also appreciate the trolley’s elegant and dynamic look. With its low-weight, ergonomic handle with anti-bacterial powder coating, the world’s most reliable castors and Wanzl’s maintenance-free brake system, the Voyager Evolution 3000 is easy to manoeuvre and steer. The extended platform allows for large pieces of luggage, while an extended bumper protection safeguards users and airport fixtures from damage. The trolley also features a hybrid basket with the largest possible advertising space, which also allows for the integration of RFID tracking solutions for optimal fleet management.

Signature Aviation sees traffic increase

By Airports, Business AviationNo Comments

According to Signature Aviation, which operates the world’s largest FBO chain – Signature Flight Support, business aircraft activity continues to show an improving trend.

The company saw a 38% decline in revenues during the first six months of 2020 as a result of country lockdowns and travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In April the company noted a 77% reduction in activity year-on-year. However business aviation is now showing signs of recovery with May down an average of 58% from the same period in 2019. In June it was down just 32%.

Mark Johnstone, Signature Aviation’s CEO commented: “Since our AGM statement in mid-May, flight activity across our global network has continued to show an encouraging recovery and, in the US, with the support of the CARES Act, we have now called back all our furloughed staff. As we look forward, I remain confident in the resilience and potential of our market leading FBO business model, the quality of our unique network, the strength of our liquidity and therefore our ability to continue to invest in and grow our attractive and high return business.”

To further demonstrate the company’s positive outlook, Johnstone confirmed that Signature Aviation has recently reached an agreement to acquire two FBOs in Geneva and Sion in Switzerland. He added, “Finally, and as a precautionary measure given the macroeconomic uncertainties, we have secured a covenant waiver from our relationship banks for December 2020 and June 2o21.”

The company has also continued to invest growth capital during the COVID-19 period, recently opening its newly constructed Atlanta FBO, which has been built to LEED silver standard.

New deal will enable Airport Dimensions to expand passenger offering

By Airports, Non-aeronauticalNo Comments

In line with plans to expand its range of airport products, Airport Dimensions, the provider of premium shared-use lounges, has acquired ONGROUND Hospitality and the Sleep Lounge brand sleep’ n fly.

The deal is expected to expand the company’s presence in the Middle East following its win of the Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal lounge contract in January 2019.

A provider of a innovative airport solutions ONGROUND Hospitality opened the world’s first airport Sleep Lounge in 2013, with the aim of meeting the requirements of transit travellers in need of a power nap or overnight sleep within the airport terminal. The concept offers sleep pods and cabins that operated on a pay-by-the-hour basis.

“We’re delighted to be joining the Airport Dimensions family,” said Oliver Shulz, Managing Director at ONGROUND Hospitality. “We’ve already had an established relationship with Collinson (Airport Dimensions’ parent company) since 2017 and this latest deal represents the natural evolution of our growing partnership.”

Meanwhile Errol McGlothan, Managing Director at Airport Dimensions, said: “We know passengers want more choice and exciting new products at the airport, and this, our first ‘non-traditional’ lounge concept, enables us to explore a wider range of experiences for our customers.”

Global air traffic shows 51% recovery since lowest point

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) has noted a 51% recovery of global aircraft movements since 12 April 2020 – the lowest traffic point to date during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the 14 consecutive weeks have shown growth in unique aircraft movements, according to data produced by Aireon.

“While we still have far to go to regain normal traffic numbers, it’s encouraging to see trends that suggest we are on course for a rebound,” said Simon Hocquard, Director General of CANSO. “These numbers are a testament not only to the resiliency of the aviation industry, but to the efforts of air traffic controllers, air navigation service providers, airports and airlines who have provided an essential service throughout this period of uncertainty and change.”

The week of 12 April saw a decline of over 535,000 global flight movements, with the weeks of 15 March and 22 March seeing reductions of 124,000 and 207,000 respectively. However, the past 14 weeks have seen an increase of approximately 272,000 flight movements – a 51% increase. What’s more global average daily flight numbers increased by 5,800 flights in the past two weeks, bringing air traffic volumes to 60% of 2019 volumes for the first time since the widespread traffic restrictions began.

Underlining the value of data-driven insights and analysis in gaining a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact within avaition, CANSO revealed its partnership with Aireon, global provider of space-based ADS-B data and air traffic management (ATM), technology in April.

Aireon CEO, Don Thoma, stressed that, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been clear that jurisdictions making decisions based on strong data have been the best prepared… For the aviation industry, data on air traffic has been crucial in understanding how the pandemic impacts a variety of critical aviation stakeholders, both in terms of understanding the trajectory of traffic recovery and how the ATM industry can continue to provide support for our eventual recovery.”

Ryanair reconsidering base closures in Germany

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Following the news last week that the popular low-cost carrier Ryanair planned to shut its base at Frankfurt Hahn Airport with Berlin Tegel and Dusseldorf also at risk of closure, the airline says it may now reconsider this decision.

The possible u-turn on base closures in Germany comes after pilots dropped their opposition to a deal that will cut pay and change working conditions to reduce layoffs. The airline said the move means that 85% of its pilots and 75% of cabin crew across Europe have now accepted temporary cuts to pay and conditions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a call with investors Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, was reported as saying: “When the German pilots last week rejected a pay deal, we closed three German bases. We may have to relook at that now that they accepted the deal over the weekend.”

According to Eddie Wilson, Chief Executive of Ryanair DAC, the largest part of the Ryanair Group which includes Austria’s Lauda and Poland’s Buzz, the deal is the same one that pilots initially rejected, including a pay adjustment downwards of 20% and increased scheduling flexibility.

Earlier this year Ryanair has said it plans to cut around 3,000 jobs due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, although this number could be reduced if staff accepted pay cuts. It has also said the pay cuts are due to be reversed by 2024.

Some of the airline’s regional bases in Spain and Italy are also under threat of being closed.

Cornwall welcomes Heathrow link with British Airways

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Following months of planning, Cornwall Airport Newquay has welcomed the return of a daily service to London Heathrow thanks to British Airways’ Public Service Obligation (PSO) operation to and from the UK capital. The flights will be operated using a fleet of A320s.

The service which launched on 24 July follows the administration of Flybe which had until March built up a strong market on their multi-daily service into London following the switch from London Gatwick last year. “Between March 2019 and March 2020, the Heathrow link carried more than 163,000 passengers. The flight operated with an average load factor of nearly 80%, clearly demonstrating its popularity,” said Pete Downes, Managing Director, Cornwall Airport Newquay.

The UK flag carrier launched the route right at a time when people are looking to return to summer holiday breaks, and businesses are starting to pick up again following the restrictions put in place during the recent coronavirus pandemic. “July has historically been the peak month for Newquay-Heathrow traffic, with a load factor of 91% this time last year,” noted Downes. He added that with many UK citizens now embracing stay cations and looking to take their summer breaks in the UK British Airways introduced its service at the perfect time. “We look forward to working with them to establish this link into Heathrow and continuing to push the message of how the route not only opens up Cornwall to the capital, but the world.”

The new service will open up opportunities for passengers to reach all corners of the world with a seamless process at Terminal 5. “British Airways offers a huge network of destinations from Heathrow in the summer, creating a lot more variety for the Cornish community wanting to explore the world, at the same time opening many new markets for our local business community and advancing inbound tourism potential,” highlighted Downes. “It is this level of service which sees the UK’s national carrier elevate the product offering substantially from anything that has been available to our passengers previously.”

Editor’s comment: The new normal

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Back in March before lockdown changed everything and it was still possible to fly pretty much wherever and whenever,  I was lined up to attend several airport conferences and exhibitions. One of which was AviaDev’s African airport and airline event in Madagascar back in May. If you had told me at that point that instead of travelling and meeting my contemporaries in person, the following months would see me doing pretty much every meeting online including a virtual conference… Well, I probably would have said, “As if!”

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t travel to the island nation located off Africa’s east coast in the Indian Ocean in May – Madagascar’s borders remain closed with all international and domestic flights suspended. However, this week did see me take part in a virtual business conference that brought together airport and airline leaders from across Africa for a full day of networking, insightful conferencing sessions and panel discussions. All from my desk at home.

As part of Africa Tomorrow, which took place on 21 July under the theme ‘Reinventing resilience in Africa’s aviation, travel and hospitality sectors’, I moderated a session on the New Normal – the African Airport Experience. I was joined by Fundi Sithebe, Chief Operating Officer, at Airports Company South Africa (ACSA); Nicolas Deviller, Deputy CEO, Ravinala Airports in Madagascar; and Lawal Abdullahi, Operations Officer and Special Assistant to the CEO of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

With South Africa having undergone one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, ACSA has now reopened all nine of the airports in its portfolio. However, international flights are still not permitted; the airports are only serving domestic traffic. As part of the ‘new normal’ ACSA has introduced mandatory health screening, self-service check-in desks and COVID-19 monitors (employees who support passengers as they move through the airport terminals).

Similar measures have been adopted at the airports operated by FAAN. These include passengers being encouraged to check in before arriving, contact between staff and passengers during security screening being kept to a minimum and bags being disinfected before being allowed inside the terminals.

While Madagascar’s airports remain closed, Nicolas Deviller explained how Groupe Aéroports de Paris (ADP), which formed the Ravinala concession in Madgascar, is exploring the introduction of a new international sanitary standard in air travel (in line with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) guidelines) to ensure health and safety standards are met throughout the traveller journey. Suitable for all size airports, the programme has already been tested in Benin, Guinea and Madagascar as well as other hubs around the world. The group has also introduced ‘sanitary corridors’ on certain flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Réunion, with other hubs in Africa and elsewhere set to follow. The aim is to ensure consistent regulations and processes are adopted across different airports to minimise the risk of virus transmission and instil passenger confidence. Deviller stressed the need for continued collaboration between all stakeholders as the industry looks to a post-pandemic landscape.

Fundi Sithebe agreed, saying: “If there is one thing I’ve learned in this journey, it’s that collaboration is critical. This situation has forced us to integrate and we need to continue working together to ensure our standard operating procedures are aligned and that we have the same common desire to increase passenger confidence and bring air traffic back to levels that are as normal as they can be. I am pleased to report that ACSA and its airlines have been working well together.”

Lawal Abdullahi added that exploring non-aeronautical and more importantly ‘non-passenger’ revenues will be key to ensuring airports remain buoyant in the future. “We are looking at exploring all the unique opportunities offered by each of our airports, many of which offer extensive real estate opportunities. It could be that we look into property development, agricultural use or the option of building leisure attractions such as a shopping mall or cinema.”

The resounding message from the panel discussion was that while the depth of the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic is epic, the continent’s aviation sector is still ripe for growth. Yes, stakeholders will need to dig deep, business models will need to be rethought and preparing how to successfully navigate another pandemic must be integral to plans going forward, but airport leaders are ready to embrace this ‘new normal’.

You can read a full account of my session from Africa Tomorrow in the September issue of Regional Gateway magazine, so make sure you’re signed up to receive your complimentary copy.

As for me… I’ve adapted to my new working environment and being able to network extensively with colleagues far and wide via my computer has proved invaluable. However, I miss the ability to travel freely and meet with people face-to-face. And I can’t wait to fly out to Madagascar in June 2021 for AviaDev Africa’s postponed Aviation Development conference.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

UK airports to suffer a £4 billion loss in 2020

By Airports, Featured, Insights, NewsNo Comments

The full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on UK airports is proving utterly devastating.

According to the Airport Operators Association (AOA), during the first four months of the pandemic UK airports lost just under £2 billion, the equivalent of more than £150 million per day, or more than £10,000 per minute.

The group predicts that collectively its member airports will lose at least £4 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. This doesn’t account for the multiplier effect on the businesses and wider community within an airport’s catchment.

“These projections reinforce the significant challenges that UK airports continue to face after the worst four months in the history of commercial aviation,” said Karen Dee, AOA’s Chief Executive.

“Whilst we have seen passengers begin to return, passenger numbers are not expected to reach pre-Covid levels for a considerable period and airports will continue to face challenges and pressures unimaginable six months ago,” she continued.

A case in point is Exeter Airport, which despite the Channel Islands-based carrier Blue Islands starting new routes, and leisure carrier TUI restarting its summer holiday programme from 1 August, is cutting jobs. The airport – part of the Regional and City Airports group which also owns and operates Bournemouth, Coventry and Norwich Airports – blames the economic fallout from the coronavirus health crisis for changing the way it must operate. It is understood that 96 jobs will go with those affected employed in a range of roles. They include baggage handlers, air traffic control, ground crew, security and the fire station.

To prevent further job losses and support the sector through the unprecedented crisis, the AOA alongside CEOs of UK airports have written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeking relief from business rates payments for 2020-2021; additional support with employment costs beyond the October end of the coronavirus job retention scheme; funding for the Civil Aviation Authority for the 2020-2021 charging period; and a suspension of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for at least six months to stimulate increased airline activity.

Stating that airports have done everything in their power to weather the storm without specific government support afforded to other sectors, Dee said that the loss of close to £2 billion during the lockdown should serve as a wakeup call to Government. “It should lead them to finally grasp the severity of the challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed and continues to pose to the sector.”

We cannot have a full national economic recovery without a thriving aviation sector; airports are essential components of Britain’s ambition to be a global trading nation and form a vital network for economic stimulus across the UK, levelling up the regions. These figures show that it is high time that the government acts with urgency and supports airlines through the biggest challenge that they have ever faced.

Karen Dee, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association (AOA).

Decline in passenger traffic sees Swedavia push ahead with redundancies

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Looking back at the first half of 2020 Swedavia, has noted that the impact of COVID-19 was particularly dramatic during the second quarter of this year when 321,000 passengers (compared to 10.7 million in 2019) flew to or from the Swedish operator’s airports. A decrease of 97%.

To replace the company’s decrease in net revenue (which amounted to around 1.3 billion Swedish kronor), Swedavia’s owner – the Swedish state – provided a capital injection of 3.15 billion kronor. During the last few weeks of the quarter, the aviation market showed signs that a recovery had begun with the market moving towards a new normal with new conditions following the pandemic.

“Swedavia entered the crisis in a very good financial position,” said Jonas Abrahamsson, Swedavia’s President and CEO. “However, our operations are entirely dependent on variable revenue from our customers, and the crisis entailed lost revenue for Swedavia of almost 500 million kronor a month during the quarter. The 3.15 billion kronor capital injection has been vital to the company’s ability to create long-term value and to safeguard critical Swedish infrastructure.”

Swedavia has taken proactive measures to counter the decline in air travel, and it is expected that these measures will cut the company’s costs by about one billion kronor and reduce investments by the same amount in 2020. “In the short term, Swedavia’s view is that the aviation market in both 2020 and 2021 will be strongly affected, which will have consequences both for access and for the companies that operate in this market,” said Abrahamsson. He added that short-term cost savings need to be implemented with further efficiency improvements and long-term sustainable measures.

He concluded that, “Unfortunately, among other moves, it means that we need to carry out a major part of the redundancies of 800 full-time positions that we announced in March, during the second half of the year. This is a difficult but necessary decision that no one could have imagined we  would need to make when we started the year. The changed market situation also means that we are now giving priority in our investment portfolio to projects and measures that increase efficiency, flexibility and service rather than to capacity.”

London Oxford Airport welcomes new Tamarck Aerospace facility

By Airports, Business AviationNo Comments

Situated just outside the UK capital, London Oxford Airport is set to welcome a new European Installation Centre for Tamarack Aerospace, the manufacturer of Active Winglet Technology.

The new facility implements thec ompany’s long-held expansion goals and marks an exciting growth phase for Tamarack.

“We are very excited to be expanding into Europe, strengthening the business and being able to offer the same high level of service that our customers in the US love so much,” Nick Guida, CEO of Tamarack Aerospace said. “After a short period of building experience, our goal is to offer customers installations in just one week, which will be of significant benefit to mainly the charter market that exists here.”

Tamarack’s new facility will independently operate out of the Oxford Jet Maintenance International (JMI) facility. “We have had a great relationship with Tamarack Aerospace for a number of years, and love their innovative Active Winglet product,” Ed Griffith, director at JMI said. “We already carry out a range of maintenance on Citation 525 series aircraft at our brand new state-of-the-art 18,000ft facility, so this partnership is a great fit for us and our customers.”

Tamarack’s firs two customer installations are set to begin in late July 2020.