UK aviation industry pushes back against quar..

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As part of measures aimed at avoiding a second peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government has said that it will impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine period on passengers arriving by air in the UK.

Addressing the nation on Sunday 10 May, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

A reciprocal deal with the government in Paris means restrictions would not apply to passengers from France. In a joint statement, the UK and French governments agreed to “work together in taking forward appropriate border measures.

Describing the mandatory quarantine as having “a dramatic impact on our industry”, Karen Dee from the Airport Operators Association said: “If people have to quarantine for 14 days, they will be much less likely to want to travel, so there will be a dramatic impact on us at a time when we are already seeing passenger numbers decline by around 98%.”

Meanwhile, a letter from industry trade body Airlines UK on behalf of a number of airline and airpot CEOs to the Prime Minister asserted that “an open-ended quarantine, with no set end date, will make an already critical situation for the UK aviation, and all the businesses we support, even worse. People will simply choose not to travel to and from the UK, at the same time as economies in Europe and around the world begin opening up their borders and removing their own quarantines – making the UK aviation sector unable to compete.”

Derek Provan, Chief Executive Officer of AGS Airports, which owns Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton Airports said: “We expected to be moving into a restart position hopefully within a matter of weeks but it is now clear that with this measure in place, we are back to the drawing board once again to understand when we may restart the economy and open our airports properly.”

Industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) has said it would seek exemption to the quarantine for offshore workers as some reside outside of the UK and will be affected by these new measures.

Airport industry to be hit by $97 billion los..

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According to the latest figures from the Airports Council International (ACI) World, the global airport industry is due to be hit by a loss of more than 4.6 billion passengers and $97 billion in revenue during 2020.

The forecasts of prolonged – and more widespread – impacts and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in worsening predictions for traffic and revenue losses for airports across all regions.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on airports, the wider aviation ecosystem, and the global economy continues to worsen and represents an existential threat to the industry unless governments can provide appropriate relief and assistance,” said ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens.

“As traffic and revenue have collapsed, the airport industry has taken all possible measures to preserve stability, but the challenge remains that a significant portion of airport costs are fixed,” she continued.

ACI World has applauded governments around the world that have stepped in to support both airport jobs and operations, but Gittens highlighted that more needs to be done in to ensure that operations can be scaled up to meet demand as the industry restarts.

Measures for airports that ACI World has called for include wage subsidy schemes, the protection of airport charges and revenues, urgent tax relief, waivers to airport rents and concession fees, the continuation of charges on air cargo operations to maintain essential airside and cargo facilities. The association is also calling for grants and subsidies, secured financing, loans at preferential rates, and bank guarantees to be made available.

Echoing ACI World’s statement, the UK Airport Operators Association’s (AOA’s) CEO, Karen Dee, underlined the need for a “strong, vibrant airline and airport sector that is able to compete domestically and internationally to deliver the routes and accessible air fares that passengers and businesses rely on.”

Dee has called on the UK Government to take a number of steps. “Airports need clear public health measures, based on medical advice, that ensure passenger safety and wellbeing while facilitating travel,” she said.

“In light of the expected long road to recover, continued financial support will be necessary to ensure that UK airports can facilitate the restart of the aviation industry,” she continued as she highlighted that the government needs to invest in the future success of the UK’s aviation industry or risk UK aviation falling behind its international competitors.

Editor’s comment: Face to face with the fut..

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Face to face with the future of flying

 

Although the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to result in catastrophic predictions for air traffic and revenue losses for airports around the world, there is a definite sense that we are moving into the next phase of responding to the disease – taking decisive action to prepare for the rebound.

As countries across the globe start to gently ease their lockdown restrictions, airports are exploring measures they can adopt to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus. At Ontario Airport (ONT) officials are advising passengers to wear face coverings and use common-sense measures such as washing hands with soap and water regularly and avoid touching their faces to help prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, the airport is also spraying every surface of the airport nightly with a highly effective disinfectant using a cordless electrostatic backpack sprayer. It allows the disinfectant spray to attract to the surface, rather than float in the air, bringing 360-degree disinfection and sanitising capabilities.

“We are doing everything in our power to maintain ONT during this national emergency and we will be ready for a return to full operations as state and county governments ease safer-at-home orders,” said Atif Elkadi, Deputy CEO, ONT.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has become the first airport to trial a full-body disinfection chamber. The airport is also conducting a pilot test of applying an antimicrobial coating on all passenger facilities and high-touch surface areas in the terminal. And both Bournemouth Airport in the UK and Paine Field Passenger Terminal in Washington are looking at the use of fever detection technology to identify passengers with high temperatures and determine whether they are fit to fly.

Chinese-based technology and innovations company, KC Wearable, has developed a smart helmet (pictured) for screening fevers in public spaces, that’s ideally suited to the airport environment. It can scan up to 13 people at once and 200 people in a minute.

Airports are certainly facing up to the challenge of ensuring the health and safety of all those passing through their doors. But Vilnius Airport in Lithuania has adopted a different tactic altogether. Ensuring that social distancing measures are adhered to and passenger numbers are restricted, it’s innovating in a different way by hosting a drive-through cinema on the airport apron in the absence of commercial passenger traffic. It’s the first time the tarmac space has been used for anything other than the parking, refuelling and boarding of aircraft and is all part of the Vilnius International Film Festival, which runs until the end of May.

Fly-through cinema. I hope it doesn’t catch on!

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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$9m funding secured for remote airstrip upgra..

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The Australian Federal Government is investing $9 million across 45 airstrips in isolated communities to ensure that those living in remote, regional and rural locations will be better connected with vital air services.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said funding under the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program will enhance the safety and accessibility of aerodromes in remote areas and improve delivery of essential goods and services including health care. Works will include improving runway surfaces, stormwater drainage and runway lighting.

“These airstrips provide access for aero-medical flights, urgent supplies and allow people to travel to regional centres for essential work and appointments,” Mr McCormack said.

“We are investing in the future of regional communities by delivering better and safer access for regional Australians needing to travel.”

Harrods Aviation reopens Luton and Stansted F..

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Following its temporary closure on 27 March, Harrods Aviation has reopened its London Luton and Stansted FBOs and maintenance hangars. Air Harrods, the helicopter management business, has also resumed operations.

In response to the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidelines the decision to temporarily close both facilities was taken by the board to safeguard the welfare of its staff and customers, and in the wider general interests of the country.

Initially hours of operation and staff numbers will be limited for safety reasons, but as the situation becomes clearer and aircraft movement numbers increase operations are expected to get closer to normal during the summer months.

“We are confident we have in place the correct measures to ensure we can operate efficiently and safely at both bases,” said Kerry Besgrove, operations director for Harrods Aviation. With new arrival and departure procedures in place, health screening and a very strict entry policy to our facilities, we feel the time is right to safely open once again our operation.”

Paul Norton, managing director of Harrods Aviation added, “I would like to thank our incredible workforce who, to a person, have been understanding and supportive during this pandemic, both those furloughed and those who remained working from a home environment, I thank you.”

Virgin Atlantic to stop flying from London Ga..

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Virgin Atlantic has said that it will stop flying from London Gatwick Airport as it expects to cut just over 3,000 jobs or up to a third of its workforce.

Having taken its inaugural flight from Gatwick in 1984, the airline, which was founded by Sir Richard Branson, has struggled to secure a UK Government bailout following the coronavirus crisis. It plans to reshape and resize the business to ensure it is fit for the future.

Describing how the airline has weathered many storms since its first flight 36 years ago, Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO said that “none have been as devastating as COVID-19.” While Government and private sector talks (to financially support the airline) are ongoing, Weiss stressed that the carrier “needs to reduce costs and preserve cash.

The carrier plans to retain its landing slots at the airport in case demand increases in the future, although it has made it clear it will leave with or without holding on to the slots. Instead it will focus on operating from its London Heathrow base and Manchester.

The announcement will be a further blow to Gatwick as Virgin’s decision to cull its workforce and stop flying from Gatwick follows the news that British Airways plans to make up to 12,000 of its staff redundant and could also look to exit Gatwick. The union Unite has said that the latest move threatens the future of Gatwick Airport.

“We have grave concerns about the impact on Gatwick Airport and the local economy following this latest blow,” said Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland.

“The Virgin announcement that it is pulling out of Gatwick follows that of Norwegian and BA indicating that they are reducing operations and pulling out of Gatwick.

“There have been 18,000 job losses announced in the UK aviation sector in the last week alone and this makes the case even more more strongly that the aviation industry-specific package Unite has consistently called for, and the government has promised, must now be delivered.

“The UK has world class airline and aerospace companies –highly developed and world leading, but the sector needs support in the period of recovery from this pandemic, if it is to retain this position.”

 

 

Alaska airports to benefit from infrastructur..

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The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed that it will award more than $102 million in airport and infrastructure grants to Alaska’s airports.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) owns and operates 239 airports including the Alaska International Airport Systems, which is comprised of Fairbanks (pictured) and Ted Stevens Anchorage International airports. Alongside these two hubs, other sate-owned airports to benefit from the funding include Barrow, Bethel, Cordova, Crooked Creek, Kasigluk and Nome.

“We are always incredibly grateful of the support we receive from our federal partners but even more so during these challenging times,” said John Binder, Alaska DOT&PF Deputy Commissioner of Aviation. “The FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding is awarded to airports annually based on passenger volumes. This funding is critical to continue strengthening not only Alaksa’s but our nation’s aviation infrastructure,” he continued.

The funding includes approximately $72.2 million in AIP grants and an additional $29.9 million in Supplemental Discretionary grants.

New helmet offers rapid fever screening solut..

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Authorities in China, the UAE and Italy have already introduced the use of fast-screening fever detection helmets.

Representing the next generation of thermal imaging cameras and helping to drive down wait times and ultimately keep people safer, KC Wearable, has developed its Smart Helmet as a unique solution to test people for COVID-19, that’s ideally suited to an airport environment.

The fast-scanning infrared camera is connected to an AR headset, enabling wearers to measure a passenger’s temperature in real time. As a fever is one of the key symptoms of COVID-19, the KC helmet, which has over 96% accuracy is an effective way of detecting individuals with the virus. It can scan up to 13 people at once and 200 people in a minute.

“COVID-19 continues to pose unparalleld challenges to our way of life around the world,” said Dr Jie Guo, Global Head at KC Wearable. “Amidst the chaos, there are two overriding priorities. Firstly, protecting the health and safety of our citizens; and then getting back to our normal way of life. The KC helmet is our first step in achieving both aims,” he added.

Salt Lake City Airport transitions airport ja..

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Amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has awarded its commercial janitorial contact to Flagship Aviation Services.

Prior to the transition, Flagship implemented advanced measures including leveraging their strong vendor network to deliver much needed disinfectant, supplies and equipment. They also transported senior management and suppliers for onsite support and training.

“As COVID-19 continues to impact passengers and communities around the world, we are helping SLC take more preventive measures to reduce the risk of contamination within their environment,” said Kevin Barton, VP of Operations at Flagship.

By introducing advanced disinfecting processes and frequent touchpoint sanitising, along with additional safety procedures, Flagship says it is helping increase passenger confidence while achieving a new standard of cleanliness.

Hong Kong Airport steps up disinfection measu..

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With temperature checks, autonomous cleaning robots and antimicrobial coatings set to become the norm in airports around the world, Hong Kong Airport has not only applied all these latest technologies  in a bid to step up its efforts to battle COVID-19, it has now become the world’s first airport to trial ‘Clean Tech’, a full-body disinfection channel facility.

Although the facility is currently only designated for use by staff at the airport, the aim is for it ultimately to be used by passengers. A person’s temperature is checked before they enter an enclosed channel for a 40-second disinfection and sanitising procedure. The interior surface of the channel is equipped with an antimicrobial coating which can remotely kill virus and bacteria on human bodies and clothing by using the technologies of photocatalyst and ‘nano needles’. Sanitising spray is also applied for instant disinfection. To prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment, the chamber is kept under negative pressure.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) is also conducting a pilot test of applying an antimicrobial coating on all passenger facilities and high-touch surfaces in the terminal, including handles and seats of automated people movers and passenger buses. Smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, toilets, seating areas, baggage trolleys and elevator buttons are also being treated. After completion of the trial in May, the AA will consider implementing it as a long term disinfection measure.

“The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority,” said Seven Yiu, Deputy Director, Service Delivery of the AA. “Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new meausres to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work.”

Autonomous cleaning robots are also being used to ensure thorough disinfection of public areas. The Intelligent Sterilization Robot, is equipped with ultra violet light sterlizer and air sterilizer and is deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas around the terminal. Moving autonomously the robot can sterilize up to 99.99% of bacteria in its vicinity, including the air and object surfaces, in just 10 minutes.