Madrid Airport new terminal design

Editor’s comment: Ebbs and flows

By AirportsNo Comments

The Regional Gateway team take a look at the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

Following the news last week that European airports are experiencing a slowdown in passenger traffic, you may be excused for feeling somewhat blue.

Despite the challenges, there is a glint of sunshine through the clouds as a number of airports, in Europe and worldwide, have launched ambitious plans this week to accommodate growth and boost passenger numbers.

Aiming to create the “best airport experience in Europe,” Malta International Airport has launched a “radical” programme for development, addressing the airport’s continuing traffic growth (the airport saw passenger figures rise 7.4% in 2019).

Plans include a major expansion of the terminal floorspace, with the designs set to draw inspiration from the clear sea and skies of the Maltese Islands.

Across the pond in Arizona, the Prescott Regional Airport – Ernest A. Love Field has begun construction of a new $13.9 million passenger terminal to replace the current facilities built in the 1940s. The airport has recorded a “dramatic” increase in passengers opting for commercial air services since SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, began service in August 2018 – with more than 73,000 passengers utilising the service since then.

Once built, the new terminal will enable the airport to continue serving the current commercial air service but has also been designed to allow for simple expansion to accommodate future growth.

Finally, the sun appears to be shining for Bern Airport in Switzerland as it looks ahead to the anticipated summer launch of start-up ‘virtual airline’ flyBAIR.

Following the collapse of Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines in 2018, the airport has faced a rocky few years with the loss of scheduled flights. The carrier was based at Bern Airport and flew to 19 European destinations.

Bern Airport holds a majority share in the flyBAIR start-up, which plans to market flights from Bern to holiday destinations around Europe.

The start-up aims to run a “lean operation” and has partnered with regional carrier Helvetic Airways to operate the flights. The airline has been supported by crowdfunding, securing over 1,300 shareholders and has also received strong interest from the Swiss population, with flight bookings “over expectations”.

Having secured the co-operation agreement with Helvetic, the start-up airline appears to be moving closer to its summer launch, while Bern Airport is one step nearer to seeing scheduled flights once again.

It may not have been a smooth journey for the Swiss airport and there may yet be challenges ahead, but it is cheering to see regional airports, airlines and the communities they serve pulling together to secure links to the world.

And finally… It is with a heavy heart that we bid a fond farewell to our esteemed Senior Reporter Kimberley Young. She has worked tirelessly across the Regional Gateway portfolio over the past two and a half years and has been an asset to the team. She will be sorely missed and we wish her the very best going forward.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Centre FXE

Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center partners with Signature Select

By AirportsNo Comments

Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center in Florida has become a member of Signature Flight Support’s network of Fixed Base Operations (FBO).

Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center offers a full FBO service including hangar, ramp, Jet A & avgas, maintenance, avionics, paint & interior services. The Jet Center is located at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), providing access throughout South Florida and quick turns on the ramp. 

Owen Busch, Senior VP of Sales at Signature Select stated, “Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center is a superb addition to the Signature Select program. We are pleased to welcome them to the Signature network. Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center has an excellent reputation, experienced staff, and facilities that will continue to provide customers with an exceptional choice when visiting the South Florida area.”

Marshall Myles, Fort Lauderdale Executive Jet Center’s CEO said the FBO is “excited” to become a Signature Select member, adding, “Branding our Fort Lauderdale Executive FBO as Signature Select was a natural choice to deliver greater value and exceptional service to our customers.”

Signature Select members are supported by its sales and marketing teams and promoted amongst its network of more than 200 worldwide locations. Owners retain control of their business but partner with Signature’s teams supporting them in “extending the network and providing customers with a superior FBO experience.”

Hobby Facial Recognition

Houston’s Hobby Airport introduces facial comparison technology

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments
Hobby Facial Recognition

Houston-based William P. Hobby Airport has become the first in Texas to use facial comparison technology for international arrivals and departures. 

The technology launched at the airport on 19 February 2020 and is set to reduce wait times at security checkpoints.

Upon arrival, an international traveller will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s facial matching technology will then compare this photo with archived images that the traveller previously provided to the government such as passport and visa photos. In the cases where travellers cannot be matched, they will be manually processed by a CBP officer. New photos of US citizens will be deleted within 12 hours; photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.

Simplified Arrivals is expected to cut the wait times at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by half, whilst aiming to “enhance the travel experience” for the one million international passengers that go through Hobby Airport annually. 

“Hobby Airport has taken a big leap into the future of travel…This is an important step to realise our goal of becoming a 5-star airport,” said Houston Aviation Director, Mario Diaz.

Houston Airports (HAS) are working with CBP and Southwest Airlines, after the success of the biometric exit process was introduced in November 2018. “CBP is committed to working with our partners to ensure that the travel system is secure and efficient,” said Houston Director of Field Operations, Judson W. Murdock II. “The speed, accuracy and reliability of facial comparison technology enable CBP officers to confirm a traveller’s identity within seconds while further enhancing the customer experience.”

Passengers are provided the opportunity to opt out of the biometric process where they will instead be processed manually, consistent to existing requirements for entry to the US. CBP has used facial comparison technology to intercept more than 250 imposters attempting to gain access to the US since September 2018, by using another person’s travel documents. 

Regional Gateway - SkyWork Airlines ceases operations

Bern Airport looks ahead to flyBAIR launch

By AirportsNo Comments

Bern Airport subsidiary flyBAIR, has formed a co-operation agreement with regional carrier Helvetic Airways, ahead of its summer launch.

flybairThe start-up Swiss company plans to launch in May 2020, offering flights from Bern to Jerez, Crete, Kos, Mallorca, Menorca, Olbia, Preveza and Rhodes – as well as from Sion to Mallorca.

The airline has been supported by crowdfunding and has attracted a total of 1,398 shareholders to support the ‘virtual airline’. Flughafen Bern AG holds 15.3% of the share capital as the largest shareholder of the regional company. The airline will operate through a model whereby flyBAIR will be responsible for the marketing of operations, working with partners operating the flights.

Helvetic Airways will carry out flyBAIR’s planned flight connections from Bern and Sion using an Embraer E190-E1 aircraft, with Urs Ryf, delegate of the flyBAIR board of directors, commenting, “With Helvetic Airways we have found a partner that represents the Swiss values that also identify flyBAIR.”

Originally German Airways and Lions Air were set to operate the flights but could not keep the existing contract. Ryf explained that in Helvetic Airways flyBAIR has found a partner “Who knows regional airports very well,” and knows the Swiss market.

Bern Airport has faced a challenging few years following the bankruptcy of SkyWork Airlines in August 2018, and the resulting loss of scheduled flights.

SkyWorks was one of two airlines operating from Bern Airport and also had a base at the airport, operating flights to 19 European destinations.

In July 2019 the airport revealed it had faced a “difficult” financial year since the grounding, reporting that “the company closed that fiscal year with an annual loss of almost one million Swiss Francs.”

On the reveal of the flyBAIR project in 2019, André Lüthi, Board of Directors of the new airline called it a “Berner project for Berners” adding, “Now we all have a unique chance to show that we have sensible and ecologically justifiable public traffic in Bern want: as a tourist region, as a federal capital with a hub connection to the world.”

New Delhi Airport

Groupe ADP to acquire 49% stake in GMR Airports

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Airport developer and operator, Groupe ADP, has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire a 49% stake in the Indian group, GMR Airports.

The agreement has been made at a total purchase price of 107.8 billion INR (approximately 1,360 million euros).

The agreement is subject to certain conditions and will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will be carried out in the days following the announcement for a 24.99% stake, with a second phase for 24.01% subject to regulatory conditions – notably, obtaining the customary regulatory approvals for this type of project, particularly from the Reserve Bank of India. This will be concluded in the upcoming months.

Once completed, GMR Airports will be jointly owned with GMR Infrastructure Limited, which will retain a 51% stake and control over the company, and Groupe ADP which will be granted highly extended governance rights.

Groupe ADP suggested the acquisition is in line with the company’s international development strategy, based on the acquisition of airport clusters in dynamic regions. Air traffic in India is expected to rise by 6.5% per year on average between 2018 and 2038, with international traffic alone expected to grow at an average pace of 6.7% per year.

Augustin de Romanet Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aéroports de Paris SA-Groupe ADP said: “This acquisition comes with a robust industrial partnership and enables Groupe ADP to build, only two years after taking control of TAV Airports, a unique worldwide network of airports with a solid industrial expertise and strong development capacities. Medium and long term growth driver, this acquisition is a transforming position for the group in one of Asia’s most dynamic and promising countries.”

GMR Airports has a portfolio of seven airports in India, Philippines and Greece, and a subsidiary specialised in project management. Three of the airports are currently operated by GMR Airports including Delhi International Airport and Hyderabad International Airport in India, and the Mactan-Cebu Airport in the Philippines.

The remaining four airports are either under development (including Goa and Heraklion) or have been added to the portfolio after a bidding process (Nagpur and Bhogapuram) and will be operated by the group once works are completed.

GM Rao, Chairman, GMR Group commented: “The partnership with Groupe ADP is in line with GMR’s business direction to become a global airport developer and operator. We have been on a journey of defining airports of the future with key focus on passenger experience by leveraging enhanced technology and offering superior amenities. With Groupe ADP, GMR will have smoother access to global markets, opening up newer avenues of business growth.”

During the financial year 2019, GMR Airports recorded a total revenue of 715 million euros and reported an EBITDA of 205 million euros.

Through the acquisition, Groupe ADP will be granted extended rights including the presence of board members at GMR Airports’ board, equal to that of GMR Infrastructure Limited board members. It will also have the right to appoint predetermined executives within GMR Airports.

Image: Delhi Airport.

Editor’s comment: Where is everybody…?

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

Last year saw European airports experience their slowest passenger growth for five years according to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe. Its 2019 traffic report found that passenger traffic across its European airport network (46 countries) grew by +3.2% in 2019 compared to +6.1% in 2018.

Echoing this reduction in growth for air passenger traffic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also revealed earlier this month that global passenger traffic results for 2019 grew by just +4.2% compared to the previous year. It marked the first year since the global financial crisis in 2009 that passenger demand has fallen below the long-term trend of around 5.5% annual growth.

So, if they’re not in the airports and they’re not on the aircraft where have all the passengers gone?

Describing 2019 as a “pivotal year”, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said that while passenger volumes were up “the deceleration has been notable on the back of both supply and demand pressures.”

That said he did also stress that some of the supply-side pressures might start easing, “especially if the 737 MAX is finally approved to fly and and if the recent decrease in oil prices is not reversed”.

The exposure of EU airports to airline bankruptcies and EU airlines generally limiting capacity growth and network expansion, as well as the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, all correlated with growth halving in the latter half of the year.

While just 51% of smaller regional airports (those handling less than 5 million passengers) reported an increase in traffic, larger regional airports including (Krakow, Seville and Nantes) demonstrated significant gains in passenger traffic as a result of route development strategies and the expansion of direct international air connectivity.

Looking forward, ACI Europe reports that airports have planned for continued lower growth in passenger traffic with the recent coronavirus outbreak causing uncertainty across the industry as the wider economic consequences start kicking in.

IATA and ACI Europe might be reporting slow passenger growth, but it’s full speed ahead for the Regional Gateway team. At the beginning of next month I’m off to Ethiopia for the 5th Aviation Africa summit, where I’ll be moderating a session on the rise of Africa’s sustainable airports. Then at the end of March I’ll be in Paris for Passenger Terminal Expo. Oh yes, and we’re busy closing the March issue of Regional Gateway magazine… And breathe!

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Siemens teams up with Kunming Changshui International Airport

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Kunming Changshui International Airport in China has tasked Siemens Logistics with improving capacity by installing a more efficient baggage handling and sorting system.

The agreement includes the delivery of a state-of-the-art early bag store (EBS) solution for 3,000 bags and the latest generation of VarioTray technology. The latter consists of a 2,700m long tray-based conveyor line, a LineStacker to stack unused trays, and 26 TilterPlus tray systems that can discharge bags to both sides. A high-performance IT system will facilitate intelligent process management throughout the entire baggage handling system.

“With our leading EBS and innovative tray technology, we will make a significant contribution to help Kunming Airport cope with rising passenger numbers and increase its efficiency and competitiveness,” said Michael Reichle, CEO of Siemens Logistics.

The airport will be the third hub in China to benefit from Siemens’ Lift & Run EBS, which allows passengers to check in early, for example the evening before departure.

The country’s fourth airport after Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai and its biggest in southwestern China, Kunming is an important gateway to the region. In 2018 it served more than 47 million passengers. Ensuring airport operations continue to run smoothly throughout the installation is integral to Siemens’ delivery of the new technology.


Airports in Europe experience slow passenger growth

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

European airports experienced their slowest passenger traffic growth in 2019 for the last five years, according to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s latest traffic report.

ACI Europe traffic report

ACI Europe traffic report

The report, which covers all types of passenger flights to, from and within Europe including full service, low cost, regional, charter and others revealed that passenger traffic across its European airport network (46 countries) grew by +3.2% in 2019. Representing half the growth rate registered in 2018 (+6.1%) last year’s figures still resulted in European airports welcoming an impressive 2.43 billion passengers.

Largely driven by a decline in domestic traffic, the passenger growth slowdown was more significant at non-EU airports. The EU market accounted for 76% of the total passenger traffic growth in 2019. It also reflected airline consolidation and limited airline capacity expansion, as aircraft movements only increased by +1.1% during the year and became negative in the last quarter.

The report also illustrated that freight traffic dropped by -1.9% in 2019, the worst performance since 2012. With the exception of December freight traffic remained negative throughout the year with EU airports dragging the performance down by -3.2% while non-EU airports remained mostly positive at +1.9%.

With trade tensions easing and the global economy expected to pick up in 2020 (subject to the coronavirus being effectively contained) its hoped that the freight downturn will bottom out and move towards a recovery over the next 12 months.

Commenting on the slow passenger growth Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI Europe said: “Over the past five years, Europe’s airports have increased their passenger traffic by more than +32% – meaning they have actually accommodated an extra 595 million passengers since 2014. But 2019 was a pivotal year. Volumes were up, but the deceleration has been notable on the back of both supply and demand pressures.”

Although many airports have planned for continued lower growth in passenger traffic Jankovec added that some of the supply side pressures might start easing, “especially if the 737 MAX is finally approved to fly again and if the recent decrease in oil prices is not reversed.”

The recent coronavirus outbreak has also caused uncertainty across the industry and the wider aviation and transport market. While the traffic impact so far has been marginal and mostly limited to those airports with direct air services to China, Jankovec stated, “We estimate that in February, the top 10 EU/ UK airports will collectively lose 475,000 passengers, which would amount to just 1.2% of their total traffic for the month.” However, he also warned that “as wider economic consequences start kicking-in in China and potentially beyond, the impact on air traffic could become more widespread and significant for Europe’s airports.”

The exposure of EU airports to airline bankruptcies as well as EU airlines generally limiting capacity growth and network expansion on the back of less favourable economic conditions and Brexit uncertainties correlates with growth halving as the year progressed.

Airports in Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal grew at more than twice the EU average. Airports in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Greece underperformed while those in Sweden, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia registered declines in passenger traffic.

While traffic at the top five European airports (Paris-CDG, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Istanbul) increased overall by +1.8% throughout the course of the year just 51% of smaller regional airports (handling less than 5 million passengers per annum) saw their traffic increasing, compared to 77% for the rest of the industry.

Larger regional airports however recorded impressive gains in passenger traffic as a result of route development strategies and the continued expansion of direct international air connectivity. These include: Krakow (+24.2%), Seville (+18.3%), Nantes (+16.7%), Dubrovnik (+14.1%), Bordeaux (+13.3%), Brest (+11.1%), Bologna (+10.6%), Bari (+10.2%), Porto (+9.8%), Valencia (+9.8%), Naples (+9.3%) and Marseille (+8.1%).

Global de-icing market set for growth

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments
easyjet de-icing

Thanks to an increase in the number of airline operators around the world and continued uncertainty over adverse weather conditions the global aircraft de-icing market is estimated to grow at a higher Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), according to The Global Aircraft De-Icing Market Report 2025.

De-icing is vital to help prevent aircraft malfunctioning while in the air – the accumulation of ice can hamper the capability of a plane to fly safely and efficiently with frost, ice and snow all affecting the power that permits an aircraft to fly by way of altering the form of the tail and wing, as well as adding to an aircraft’s drag and weight.

Airports in North America are forecast to see the maximum share of the market for de-icing systems. This is primarily due to an increase in passengers and airline customers at US airports, which are among the busiest in the world. In addition the threat of hurricanes and adverse weather conditions in this region further adds to the need for de-icing of an aircraft’s exterior. In January 2018, more flights than ever before were grounded in North America due to storms.

As an innovative system offering an alternative to forced air and electro-thermal procedures the introduction of Electro-Impulse De-Icing (EIDI) is expected to boost the markets’ development according to the report. EIDI requires less power for a similar outcome to previous systems which has led to a rise in its implementation by airline operators.

Head image: Churchill Falls Airport in Canada is investing in de-icing services.

Allegiant expands network with nine new routes

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Las Vegas-based Allegiant is expanding its network with the addition of 9 nonstop routes including connections to San Diego in California and Destin-Fort Walton Beach in Florida.

The new routes are part of the low-cost carrier’s service expansion in 11 cities. “With summer quickly approaching, we know that many leisure travellers are looking to secure their vacation plans,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant Vice President of Planning and Revenue.

Flights to Las Vegas via McCarran International Airport (LAS) will commence at the beginning of June 2020 from three locations: San Diego International Airport, Fort Wayne International Airport and Tucson International Airport.

Meanwhile, new routes to San Diego will commence on 3 June. These will include services from McCarran International Airport, Tulsa International Airport, Billings Logan International Airport, Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The new seasonal route to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport from Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal is set to commence on 4 June 2020.

“These new routes expand our network of affordable, convenient flights and offer vacationers nonstop access to even more popular destinations for their summer adventures,” concluded Wells.