Editor’s comment: What lies ahead?

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Although the end of 2020 brought with it a glimmer of hope following the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out around the world and a post Brexit UK-EU trade deal being agreed, the new year has so far got off to a rocky start. New strains of the coronavirus (first detected in the UK and South Africa in December) have prompted dozens of travel bans and widespread concern about what this all means for countries around the world.

Many countries have already reacted by closing their borders and suspending commercial flights to restrict the spread of any new strains and, on Monday 4 January, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, declared another nation-wide lockdown until the end of February at the earliest with other countries also reintroducing or extending their own lockdowns. It՚s yet another devastating blow to airports and the aviation sector as a whole.

“While airports understand the public health reasons behind the renewed lockdown, it comes on top of the EU’s ban on UK nationals travelling to the EU for non-essential purposes,” said Karen Dee, the Airport Operators Association’s (AOA’s) Chief Executive.

“We are fast approaching a full twelve months of aviation being effectively shut down, with only limited support for UK airports provided to date,” she continued.

AOA is calling on the UK Government to step up its support for the aviation sector and to cover operational losses during the current heightened restrictions, as well as to extend all existing forms of support until aviation is able to operate free from the barriers that have prevented any meaningful recovery to date.

“The UK aviation industry will play a crucial role in enabling the country’s economic recovery and Global Britain, but can only do so if it gets the support necessary to get through the coming months and years,” Dee concluded.

And while Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL’s Director General, is confident that the recovery will start to firm up in 2021 as the vaccine rolls out across the globe, he also warned that continued financial support is required across the aviation sector in the years ahead. “If we’re ready to ՙbuild back better՚ in 2021, we must start tackling core issues, such as the way the aviation system is financed, regulated and integrated,” he said.

It might not be quite the bright, shiny start to 2021 we had all hoped for, but now is certainly not the time to give up. It’s time to buckle up for the long road to recovery, but recover we will!

Otherwise, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and please do get in touch if you’ve got a story you’d like to share.

Best wishes,

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway


daa International named as operator of new Red Sea Airport

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Dublin Airport Authority (daa) International has been named as the operator of a new airport at Saudia Arabia’s Red Sea Development Project.

A major development project being built over 28,000 square km on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, the Red Sea Project has been billed as a luxury tourism destination. The first phase of the project, which includes the construction of the new airport, as well as up to 3,000 hotel rooms, recreational facilities and residential properties, is due to be completed by the end of 2022.

The Red Sea International Airport, which is being designed by architecture firm Foster + Partners, is set to serve one million passengers annually by the project’s completion in 2030, with a peak capacity of 900 passengers per hour.  The terminal has taken its inspiration from the local landscape and aims to provide a tranquil and memorable experience for passengers from the moment they arrive and aims to emulate the experience of a private aircraft terminal to every passenger.

A subsidiary of daa, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, daa International has been operating Terminal 5 at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, since it opened in 2016. As the operator of Saudi Arabia’s new airport it will provide airfield and terminal operations, aviation services, facilities management and it will oversee commercial activities, as well as corporate and financial services.

“Our state-of-the-art airport will provide a unique gateway for guests arriving at our destination, and this announcement is an important step in bringing the experience to life, ahead of welcoming visitors by the end of 2022,” said John Pagano, Chief Executive of TRSDC. “daa International was selected because we are confident that they can deliver not only an airport experience worthy of our luxury destination, but for their commitment to ensuring our sustainability goals are met.”

Nick Cole, Chief Executive daa International added: “The Red Sea International Airport will become a fundamental part of each visitor’s journey to this unique destination, and we believe their holiday experience should start from the moment they land. We intend to deliver a seamless airport experience for passengers, underpinned by a commitment to achieving the development company’s stringent sustainability goals.”

Stage one of managing the new airport’s operations will involve ensuring that all airport designs benefit the customer. Stage two will cover planning a full and seamless operational model for when the airport opens to the public, while the final stage will be to manage and operate this plan, maintaining the highest standards in customer experience and sustainability, while prioritising safety and security.

Construction of a runway, seaplane runway, taxiways, helipads and a road network for the airport is already well underway. On completion in 2030, the Red Sea Project will comprise 50 hotels, up to 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

Arconas unveils bullet- and blast-resistant seating at Brownsville Airport

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Airport seating and furniture manufacturer Arconas has partnered with Amulet Protective Technologies to unveil an industry first: bullet- and blast-resistant airport furniture at Brownsville/ South Padre Island International Airport in Texas.

The Arconas Flyaway tandem seating with Amulet Ballistic Barrier technology integrated during the manufacturing process are designed to shield travellers in the event of an act of violence in a public space. The barriers are designed to be uniquely compatible with interior furnishings and meet the criteria for handgun, rifle and explosive-device threats. The seating is part of the Brownsville Airport’s new terminal, which covers 91,000 square feet and will be able to accommodate more carriers and passengers than the existing 50-year-old terminal.

According to Bryant Walker, the airport’s Director, “The new terminal incorporates the latest technology and features, including seating that can protect passengers and first responders if needed. Providing for the safety and comfort of our passengers is our top priority. We have no reason to believe we would ever need this technology, however, we try to plan for the unexpected. The decision to use Arconas seating with integrated Amulet barriers was an easy one to make.”

Commenting on the new seating solution, Arconas VP of Business Development, Lynn Gordon, said: “Arconas recogonises that our airport and transportation clients are looking for more options in their furniture. Terminal operators always take a safety-first approach to their facilities, so providing clients features that improve safety and protect lives has been incredibly well received.” She added: “We’re focused on improving the airport experience, which includes highly functional, durable, attractive, and now protective furniture.”

According to Amulet Protective Technologies President and CEO, Jeffrey Isquith, acts of violence in the public space have become a common occurrence. “Our No. 1 goal is to save lives – and this technology adds a critical layer of protection for the public. Amulet Ballistic Barriers are a 21st Century solution to saving lives and reducing injuries to innocent people.”

ʻInvisibleʼ technology such as Amulet’s barriers has fast become a key component of the physical security market, which is expected to double within the next few years.

Atlantic Aviation expands presence at Montrose County Airport

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Atlantic Aviation has completed the acquisition of a 30,000 square-foot hangar, capable of housing a Gulfstream G650, at its Montrose County Airport (MTJ) in Colorado, US.

“With customers spending more time in the Rockies and the size of business aircraft increasing, the additional hangar space enhances our ability to serve the growing needs of the general aviation community at MTJ,” said Jay Hamby, Senior Vice President of the Mountain Region. “In addition to its existing amenities, Atlantic Aviation MTJ now features a total of 57,000 square feet of hangar space.”

To complement the new hangar, Atlantic is also constructing a state-of-the-art fuel farm at the Colorado hub that will add 52,000 gallons of capacity to its existing inventory. Expected to be in operation by the end of 2021, this new fuelling infrastructure will also help support one of the fastest growing airports in Colorado.

Commenting further on these new facilities, Hamby added: “We are pleased to be working closely with the Montrose County Airport Administration to complete these projects and to continue to support the growth of the greater Montrose community.”

Negative COVID-19 tests required for all passengers travelling to Canada

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Following the rise in COVID-19 cases around the globe Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, has mandated that from 7 January all air passengers five years or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada.

The Canadian government has already implemented multiple measures to protect the health and safety of its citizens and to help prevent air travel from being a source of further introduction and spread of COVID-19 as well as new variants of the virus into Canada.

Passengers must present a negative laboratory test result to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to a passenger’s scheduled departure to Canada. Those authorised to enter Canada must still complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine even with a negative test result.

“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” said Garneau.

Meanwhile the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness underlined that, “The new testing requirement is an additional layer of protection that helps make Canada’s border measures among the strongest in the world.”

Loreto Airport welcomes flights from Dallas and Phoenix

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Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico has welcomed direct flights from Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth with American Airlines.

Introduced at the end of 2020, the five weekly flights are in response to demand for passengers seeking out warm winter during the winter holiday season. The oldest city in California and located in the centre of Baja California Sur, Loreto is increasingly popular with North American tourists who prefer coastal destinations and offers important cultural attractions in addition to an abundance of rich natural wonders.

American Airlines’ new direct routes strengthen the carrier’s presence and commitment to Loreto and demonstrate its confidence in the region’s tourism potential.

Swissport opens testing facility at Zurich Airport

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Swissport has partnered with Enders Diagnostics to open a pre-departure PCR testing facility at Zurich Airport in Switzerland. The new facility will be operated by Checkport and samples will not be taken by nasal swab but on a saliva basis, which is more convenient.

Tests are sold as self-test kits on site and can be performed independently with no assistance required from medical personnel in designated areas known as ‘test boxes’. Samples are then transported to the Swiss Analysis AG laboratory four times a day by a dedicated courier service with the result available within five hours. Customers will be informed of their result by a password-protected email.

The facility is open daily between 6am and 9pm and is intended for people who do not show COVID-19 symptoms but need a test for travel or in order to participate at specific events. Some countries will only allow entry once in receipt of a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate.

“We are pleased to partner with Enders Diagnostics for the COVID-19 rapid testing centre at Zurich Airport,” said Daniel Steffen, MD Checkport Schweiz AG. “Passengers travelling to countries that require proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure now enjoy a simpler pre-departure procedure. Our new service brings great relief to air travel. We are convinced it will help motivate people to return to flying.”

Riga Airport starts new year with a sustainable outlook

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Riga Airport in Latvia has started 2021 demonstrating its readiness to work sustainably and purposefully to reduce carbon emissions having received Level 2 certification on the global Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme.

The airport achieved Level 2 status having demonstrated a reduction in carbon emissions relative to the average emissions of the previous three years.

“Sustainability, with the environment as one of its key aspects, must be at the heart of any company’s business today. Riga Airport works on these issues in a planned and purposeful manner, implementing its economic activities in such a way as to create as little impact on the environment as possible, but if such an impact exists, to minimize its consequences. By participating in the ACA programme and complying with its guidelines, the goal of Riga Airport is to certify for an ever-higher level of accreditation, ultimately reaching net zero level emissions,” said Laila Odina, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport.

The ACA programme is the only airport-specific carbon reduction programme in the world, the certificate of which confirms an airport’s strategic direction towards sustainable development and mitigation of climate change. More than 300 airports serving 45.1% of passengers worldwide are already signed up to the programme at various levels.

sheremetyevo new runway

Russia’s Sheremetyevo Airport opens reconstructed runway

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sheremetyevo new runway

Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow opened its newly reconstructed 3,552.5 metre long runway one on 24 December, 2020. The runway features two new high-speed-exit taxiways and its opening increases the capacity of Sheremetyevo’s three runways to 100 million passengers per year.

“We were able to do the reconstruction of Runway-1, which is an important stage in the development of the airfield complex thanks to the current concession agreement between the government, represented by Rosaviatsia, and Sheremetyevo Airport,” said Alexander Ponomarenko. “As a result, today we have three runways, which, together with the development of terminal capacity and in the context of normalising passenger traffic volume, provide an opportunity to achieve our strategic goal: serving 110 million passengers per year.”

The opening ceremony was marked by a parade of airfield equipment including a convoy of 38 items of special equipment used for the maintenance of the summer field and various aircraft travelled through the new Runway-1.

Reconstruction of the runway, which was completed within 10 months, was a priority project for the airport throughout 2020, due to the significant decline in the airport’s activities and revenue and the need to comply with strict anti-epidemiological measures. The total capital investment exceeded $114 million, with the project funded directly, and investments made under the terms of the concession agreement recouped from the investment component of aircraft take-off and landing fees.

The new runway has a load-bearing section that measures 60 metres wide. It can accommodate all types and modifications of Russian and foreign aircraft for take-off and landing, as well as future anticipated aircraft types. The operation of three runways alongside the commissioning of a new airspace structure will improve the fuel efficiency of airlines, as well as the safety and punctuality of flights. It will also reduce the workload on traffic-control and flight personnel through the use of conflict-free arrival and departure patterns.

According to a statement issued by the airport: In the long term, taking into account the further development of infrastructure and bringing passenger and cargo terminals to their design capacity, Sheremetyevo International Airport plans to join the league of the world’s largest aviation hubs and strengthen its status as the main transit air hub between Asia and Europe.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway offers free COVID-19 testing for passengers

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Passengers travelling through Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport can now receive a free COVID-19 test when using the Arizona hub, through a partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS).

Tests are  performed by Paradigm Laboratories, a private third-party contractor, and are available with no insurance requirements. Results are available within 48 hours.

“Gateway Airport’s ‘Stay Healthy, Fly Safe’ initiative is designed to protect employees, airport tenants and the travelling public from the COVID-19 virus,” said Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Executive Director and CEO J. Brian O’Neill A.A.E. “The State of Arizona’s commitment to provide additional testing locations like the one at Gateway Airport will help reduce the spread of the virus until more of the population has an opportunity to receive the vaccine,” he continued.

Ticketed passengers can make an appointment prior to arriving at the airport either by visiting the Labfinder website, or by scanning the QR code found on COVID-19 testing directional signs throughout the airport.

“Paradigm Laboratories is a proud partner of AZDHA and we are happy to play a part in making sure visitors to Arizona are doing so in a safe and healthy manner,” said Dave Johnson, CEO of Paradigm Laboratories. “Our goal is to provide accurate results in the shortest timeframe possible and testing is one way we all can work together to slow the spread of the virus.”