Aéroports Côte d’Azur unveils ambitious plans to emit zero greenhouse gases

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As France’s first carbon neutral airport group, Aéroports Côte d’Azur – which manages Nice Côte d’Azur, Cannes Mandelieu and Gulf of St-Tropez – has revealed its plant to put an end to greenhouse gas emissions in just 10 years. The group also intends to show the way forward for the entire aeronautical sector by proposing concrete measures to limit the impact of air transport.

The 10 year deadline will put the airport well ahead of the 2050 deadline for net zero emissions that 192 European airports signed up to in June 2019.

Each of the airports in the Aéroports Côte d’Azur group will advance at their own pace, in line with their individual needs and requirements. Gulf de St-Tropez Airport, which has been carbon neutral since 2018, will produce zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, by further cutting its emissions and installing a carbon well on site that will absorb 23 tonnes of CO2 equivalent of residual emissions. Looking ahead this platform will become a net absorber of 2.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2022, and of 21 tonnes by 2034. As such the airport will continue to contribute to the conservation of the region, by absorbing the emissions from aircraft in the approach, taxiing and take-off phases.

Cannes Mandelieu will follow the same roadmap, with five emission reduction stages leading up to 2030, when the zero emissions target will be reached. From 2034, the platform will even be able to absorb at least 14 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Meanwhile, Nice Côte d’Azur, which became France’s first carbon neutral airport in 2016 and has already slashed its carbon emissions by 80% in 10 years, faces an even tougher challenge. With passenger numbers continuing to rise year on year, it has become France’s second-largest airport, behind Paris.

“Today, passengers passing through our terminals account for hardly 100 grams of CO2, which is 92% less than the average of European airports,” explained Isabelle Vandrot, Head of Sustainable Development and the Environment at Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.

“This figure represents a record and an incentive to do even better. But these last few grams are the most difficult to eliminate, because they bring us face to face with technical or technological barriers that must be raised, if we are to achieve our goal of zero grams of emissions in just 10 years” Vandrot continued.

In 2020, the airport will have reduced its emissions by 83% by electrifying 80% of its service vehicles, then by 86% in 2021, by making its freight terminal and technical centre gas-free. The gradual withdrawal of gas from all the buildings, the development of photovoltaic panels and the decarbonisation of special machinery will all contributed towards the airport achieving its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Nice Côte d’Azur will also install carbon wells to absorb the CO2 emitted by aircraft using the aircraft.

“Taking action to reduce our own environmental footprint to zero is meaningless, unless emissions are reduced along the entire chain. Reducing emissions in the approach, taxiing and take-off phases is an important step. This is what we call the LTO cycle,” said Dominique Thillaud, Chairman of the Board of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.

He added: “At Nice airport, this cycle represents 10.75 kg of CO2 per passenger. This is the carbon balance of a single tropical mango, for example. Over the last five years, this figure has dropped by 20%, while the number of aircraft using the airport has increased by 2.5% during the same period. This shows that it is possible to increase traffic and to decrease emissions at the same time. This is encouraging, and we want to go further and faster.”

Sustainable measures that will adopted across all three airports include: moving to 100% electric fleet vehicles; making use of gangways that supply electricity to parked aircraft so on-board equipment can be used without running auxiliary engines which are noisy and polluting; preparing for the arrival of sustainable aviation fuel; and signing electricity supply contracts with a green and locally-sourced energy guarantee.

“Our approach may appear to be highly virtuous, but it amounts to the simple application of obvious common sense. In Nice, the electricity supplied to all our gangways and pop-outs is green. We funded the extension of the tram lines to our terminals and we introduced a 100% electric passenger shuttle service. We have been neutral since 2016 and we will meet the 2030 deadline”, Thillaud highlighted.

Measures for airlines include: systematically following the single-engine taxi procedure; promoting sustainable aviation fuel; adjusting airport fees according to the actual environmental footprint of each aircraft. The measures have been designed to be inciting, rather than punitive, prompting action instead of levies.

SBD airport

Construction begins on SBD Airport’s new cargo facility

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Construction has begun on the development of a new cargo facility at San Bernardino International Airport after the final ground lease was approved for the Eastgate Air Cargo Facility project by the airport authority.

Located at the airport, the project is part of the airport’s master plan to revitalise the former Norton Air Force Base which was shuttered in 1994 and will support additional air cargo.

Efforts to revitalise the base led to AllianceCalifornia, the master plan to help the airport and surrounding region to prosper, aiming to bring sustainable economic revitalisation to the communities affected by the base closure. It is a public-private partnership between the Inland Valley Development Agency, SBD International Airport, and Hillwood, an estate development company.

The alliance celebrated the milestone after the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) Commission approved the final ground lease, giving the go-ahead for construction to begin on the cargo project.

“Since 2002, AllianceCalifornia has created over 12,645 permanent jobs, surpassing the 10,000 jobs that were lost when Norton Air Force Base had to close its doors,” said SBD International Airport’s Executive Director Michael Burrows. “Almost 20 years in the making, this Eastgate project is an incredible chapter in our public-private partnership with Hillwood. On aeronautically-restricted property, this was one of the more challenging yet truly vital elements of our multi-year revitalization efforts. It is a major step towards innovating a green, sustainable air cargo complex that flies and drives our economy without the use of public subsidies.”

The facility will feature a 658,500 square-foot building and two 25,000 square-foot maintenance buildings and 41 acres of new aircraft ramp. It is expected the facility will see 12-daily flights during the first year and 26 daily flights by year five.

Eastgate will utilise environmentally friendly practices, incorporating energy-efficient green buildings, electric vehicle charging stations and electric aviation ground support equipment. The project will also underground existing overhead power lines – decreasing fire hazards.

“Sustainability and job creation are at the core of Hillwood’s values,” said Hillwood Senior Vice President John Magness. “In partnership with nine highly-skilled labor unions, Eastgate will demonstrate the economic potential for environmentally responsible air cargo facilities at AllianceCalifornia.”

New roles created at Eastgate will include new aviation-specific occupations. The Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) which focuses on economic development in the region supports AllianceCalifornia’s efforts, with IEEP President and CEO, Paul Granillo commenting: “The logistics industry has fueled the Inland Empire’s spectacular recovery by generating an estimated 84,000 new jobs – that’s nearly one out of every four new jobs – over the past 10 years. Eastgate will continue to grow the region’s economy in air cargo, so we can work closer to home and create good jobs for workers of all skill and education levels.”

The Commission’s decision concludes a multi-year environmental and community review process and follows the Federal Aviation Administration’s Record of Decision of a Finding of No Significant Impact on the environment.

AFRAA and Routes MoU

AFRAA and Routes sign MoU to support growth in African aviation

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The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and Routes have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to stimulate new air services and champion the African aviation industry in what is the first formal agreement between the two in history.

Through the partnership, AFRAA and Routes will work jointly on sharing data and analytics, the promotion of key issues affecting airlines and airports within Africa and access to media opportunities – among other mutually beneficial actions.

With projections indicating that the African continent will be one of the fastest-growing aviation markets within the next 20 years – accounting for 334 million passengers by 2037 – Abdérahmane Berthé, AFRAA Secretary General commented that the MoU will be beneficial to support the development of aviation in Africa: “Which is growing at above global average rates but accounts for less than 3% of global traffic.”

“Strong partnerships among industry stakeholders are instrumental to the realisation of African aviation’s potential which will result in economic and social benefits for the continent,” Berthé added.

“Among our new strategic objectives is to become a hub for data intelligence and expertise on the African Aviation Industry,” he continued. “African airlines have to keep up with the developments through proper information management and data intelligence. We count on the data and analytics support from this partnership to back this objective.”

Steven Small, brand director for Routes, said: “We are delighted to have established a formalised agreement with AFRAA, following many years of working closely together.”

“The synergies in values between our organisations, regarding driving a sustainable air transport industry for the African region, makes this a powerful partnership that we are excited to develop,” he added.

Editor’s comment: All eyes on Davos

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

All eyes have been firmly focused on the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in Davos, Switzerland, this week. Government and business leaders have been joined by billionaires, climate activists and even the odd pop star for the forum, which is this year marking its 50th anniversary.

Despite the global climate crisis being one of the dominant topics for discussion at this year’s summit, which follows the theme ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’, eyebrows have been raised at the number of attendees who have arrived by private jet. Airports including Zurich, Samedan, Friedrichshafen and even Geneva have handled a significant increase in private jet activity. Not ideal given aviation’s reputation for its contribution to carbon emissions.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and one of the big stories that has come to light is that many of the business jets flying to and from the event are being fuelled with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The collaboration between Finnish fuel provider Neste and Jet Aviation Zurich has meant that SAF is available for the first time ever in Switzerland at Zurich Airport. Neste’s My Renewable Jet Fuel has a carbon footprint that’s up to 80% smaller than fossil fuel.

Commenting on the collaboration Thorsten Lange, Neste’s Executive Vice-President for Renewable Aviation said:

We are very excited about Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel being now available for the first time at the Zurich Airport. The aviation industry has set clear targets for a more sustainable future. And as the world leaders gather at the World Economic Forum, we are proud to co-operate with Jet Aviation and Zurich Airport and offer WEF visitors our sustainable aviation fuel, which contributes to efficient reduction of aviation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, under a payment-transfer initiative known as “book-and-claim,” operators flying to Davos were, for the first time, able to purchase SAF supplies, even at airports where SAF is not available. The initiative was in place at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, Laurence G. Hanscom Field Airport and Dulles International Airport. SAF will be apportioned to the purchasing aircraft at each of these hubs, and consumed through a routine operation at California’s Van Nuys Airport (VNY).

While it might not have been intentional, SAF is certainly getting the spotlight it deserves. As Brandon O’Reilly, CEO of Farnborough Airport, pointed out earlier this week during a media briefing, SAF is a tangible key to aviation’s sustainable future. Increasing the demand for SAF will be the game changer for more production, but stimulating that demand is where the challenge currently lies. We need to get the message out there that where there’s demand SAF will follow.

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.

Bole Airport

Ethiopian Airlines plans for a new airport in Addis Ababa

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Bole Airport

Despite Addis Ababa’s Bole Airport having just opened a second terminal last year more than doubling the airport’s capacity to more 22 million, the CEO of state-owned Ethiopian Airlines has revealed plans for a new ‘mega’ airport south of Addis Ababa.

Tewolde Gebremarian said the new $5 billion airport would cover an area of 35km2 and would be able to handle 100 million passengers. Ethiopian Airlines is currently based at Bole Airport but Tewolde feels it would no longer be able to accommodate the flag-carrying airline.

“Bole Airport is not going to accommodate us; we have a beautiful expansion project. The airport looks very beautiful and very large but with the way that we are growing, in about three or four years we are going to be full.”

With 19 million seats in 2019 Ethiopian is by far Africa’s largest airline.

Construction of the new airport is expected to begin later this year in Bishoftu, which is situated around 39km southeast of Addis Ababa. No details have been given on how the new airport will be funded or will be tasked with the construction

Ethiopian Airlines posted a net profit of $260 million in the 2018/2019 financial year according to Reuters and last year launched four-times weekly flights from Manchester in the UK to Addis.

Pictured: Addis Ababa’s recently expanded Bole Airport

Leeds Bradford Airport unveils plans for sustainable terminal

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Leeds Bradford Airport has unveiled fresh plans to build a state-of-the-art terminal which will aim to improve passenger experience and to also deliver one of the UK’s most environmentally efficient airport buildings.

The new plans are set to be submitted in spring 2020 and will replace a recently consented scheme and the existing terminal building.

The plans propose the construction of a three floor, 34,000 sq.mt. terminal on an alternative site within the airport’s boundary to deliver enhanced facilities which would allow the airport to meet its expected passenger demand and improve the level of service and efficiency. Features would include better surface access, with the site located nearer to the proposed rail link, fresh interiors and improved shopping, restaurant and bars.

If approved, the upgrade would create an airport terminal classified as ‘excellent’ by the BREEAM sustainability standard – only awarded to the most environmentally efficient buildings internationally. Completion of the terminal would also enable the airport to meet its target of net zero carbon emissions from airport operations by 2023.

“This proposed development is hugely exciting for Leeds Bradford Airport and the North and replaces our previously approved plans,” said Hywel Rees, Chief Executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, adding that the airport aims to “profoundly change the perception and reality of customer experience for passengers. To do this we need a terminal that meets the needs of the future in passenger flow and energy efficiency.”

Rees commented: “This proposal is not about growing beyond our predicted capacity; it is about meeting the same demand in a more efficient way, with a smaller environmental footprint; it is about creating a more modern building that can achieve operational excellence to give passengers the best experience; and it is about addressing the challenges we know our passengers face far too frequently and that cannot be overcome within our current building.”

The reveal of the new proposal marks the start of a consultative process and if approved, it is anticipated work could begin before the end of 2020 – with the terminal set to be completed in early-2030. The project will be privately funded by LBA’s owners AMP Capital.

“There has long been an understanding that regional airports form a vital part of providing connectivity to access global markets, attracting inward investment, and enabling a sharing of cultures,” said Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. “The plans to improve Leeds Bradford Airport are crucial and form a key part of the wider Northern Powerhouse and national aviation strategy, with environmental sustainability, including closer access to rail links, once built, critical.”

The airport’s existing terminal was built in 1965 and is the 15th busiest in the UK by passenger numbers. LBA received approval to expand its existing terminal in January 2019, and the airport’s current roadmap signposts a target of seven million passengers by 2030.

Aviation Minister, Paul Maynard, commented: “Leeds Bradford Airport is the global gateway to one of the most beautiful parts of the world, so it is vital passengers get the world class service this new terminal will provide. The new building will be more sustainable and efficient, helping the airport meet its net zero carbon emissions target by 2023, while boosting the local economy and securing thousands of jobs.”

Lubeck Airport

Lübeck Airport launches regional airline

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Lübeck Airport in north Germany is launching its own regional airline, Lübeck Air which will offer scheduled services to connect the city to Munich and Stuttgart.

Launching in June 2020, the airline will provide regular nonstop services to Munich and Stuttgart from June.

“With its own railway station and located at the junction of the A1 and A20 motorways, the airport’s connections are already excellent,” commented airport manager Jürgen Friedel. “Daily non-stop connections to the south of Germany will be a useful addition to the range offered by tour operators from this summer.”

lubeck airFlights will be operated with an ATR 72-500 turboprop, which the company suggests has “proven itself for regional traffic.”

“We are creating an offer that many people don’t even know anymore,” chief pilot Tobias Oberschäfer commented. Each ticket includes a piece of baggage and hand luggage, a small meal onboard and a seat pitch of 89cm.

“As the Lübeck Air plane surprises with seating for only 60 passengers – all of them window or aisle seats,” he continued.

The airline will also host a Falcon 7X with a range of up to 12 hours, offering business and VIP charter flights and able to land at very small airports.

The airline will be located at Lübeck Airport which currently serves mainly general and business aviation, however, its operators intend to make it the largest commercial airport in Schleswig-Holstein for scheduled and charter airport once again. The airport filed for insolvency in 2014 and commercial services ceased in 2016.

Since then the airport has gained a new operator and is currently going through the process of a terminal modernisation project with construction of an extension hoped to be finished in June. The terminal will be extended with a new waiting area and baggage claim while the old terminal has received a new look and will accommodate shops and check-in gates as well as offices and a restaurant with a large viewing terrace.

The airport has plans to grow, aiming to make the airport attractive for business and private flights as well as scheduled and charter flights. On its website the airport says: “Since mid-December 2018, the Airport Lübeck has had legal certainty for our development and building intentions. This has put an end to a waiting time of almost 10 years. Now the long-planned measures can be taken so that the resumption of scheduled and charter air traffic can finally become a reality.”


TSA reports record number of guns detected at airport checkpoints

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the US reported a record number of guns caught at airport checkpoints in 2019 – more than ever before in the agency’s history.

A total of 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints across the country, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.

The TSA reported that firearms were caught at 278 airport checkpoints nationwide. The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2019 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140; George Bush Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.

Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

“The continued increase in the number of firearms that travellers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. First and foremost, it should be unloaded. Then it should be packed in a hard-sided locked case, taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked.”

Travellers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA and even if a traveller has a concealed weapon permit – firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an aircraft. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and TSA advises travellers to familiarise themselves with state and local firearm laws, while airlines may also have additional requirements.

Travellers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow the guidelines. For example, firearms must be unloaded and packed in a locked hard-sided case, ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case next to the firearm.

The case should be taken to the airline check-in counter. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

Take a look at our graphic to see the number of weapons identified 2008 to 2019:



Editor’s comment: It doesn’t have to be taxing

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

If the first few weeks of the year are anything to go by then the aviation industry is set for an exhilarating ride in 2020.

Earlier this week the future of Europe’s largest regional carrier looked uncertain. Amid speculation on Monday 13 January that Flybe was on the brink of collapse, the airline remained tight lipped, simply stating that it “continues to provide a great service and connectivity for customers” and that it wouldn’t “comment on rumour or speculation.”

However, one day later, Flybe was commenting on a rescue deal that had been secured. The UK Government has agreed to defer the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) paid by the regional carrier and raised the possibility of a loan for the airline – although discussions on the latter are ongoing. This in turn prompted shareholders behind Connect Airways – the consortium led by Virgin Atlantic and the Stobart Group which took over the ailing airline last year – to increase its investment in line with plans to rebrand Flybe under the name ‘Virgin Connect’ later this year.

With Flybe carrying more than half of UK domestic flights outside London, the potential loss of the carrier would have been a huge blow to regional airports across the UK as well as Europe. The airline accounts for the vast majority of flights from airports including Southampton, Belfast City, Exeter, Cornwall Newquay and Anglesey. Any loss of service to these hubs would have a detrimental impact to the local economy and jobs.

Welcoming the news of the rescue package, the Airport Operators Association’s (AOA’s) CEO, Karen Dee, stated: “The action the government has taken to help secure the future of Flybe will support the current and future jobs that this connectivity provides at UK airports and in the regions.” She also underlined the “critical and unique role in the UK aviation system,” that Flybe plays in terms of “supporting the development of the regions, providing essential connectivity to businesses and stimulating the growth in trade.”

While Dee also revealed she is looking forward to the UK Government’s longer-term plans to review APD – “Europe’s highest aviation tax”, the news wasn’t so well received by climate activists who have branded the move a disaster for the environment. Anna Hughes, director of Flight Free UK, said: “Flying is already artificially cheap owing to a lack of tax on kerosene. To cut APD as well would be a disaster for the environment.”

Also calling for a reform, but this time on the way airport slot allocation is governed, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe is arguing that the core principles of existing legislation date back some 27 years and are no longer fit for purpose.

Olivier Jankovec, Director-General of ACI Europe, commented: “A regulatory regime based upon what the air transport market looked like 27 years ago is not only anachronistic – it is limiting the ability of airports to pursue more sustainable operations, develop air connectivity for their communities and to promote airline competition for the benefit of customers.”

Urging the European Commission to pursue an ambitious reform, ACI Europe is calling for greater consideration to be given to airports’ and their regions’ strategic objectives in the slot allocation process; increased transparency over slot allocation decisions; special provisions to apply for the allocation of slots at extremely congested airports; and the introduction of a ‘slot reservation system’ to incentivise airlines to hand back unused slots for reallocation in a timely manner.

After the relaxing festive break, there’s nothing like easing back into things gently…

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.

Southampton Airport introduces canine crew

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Southampton International Airport has employed some four-legged helpers to help soothe nervous fliers and passengers with hidden disabilities. The Canine Crew, a pack of therapy dogs from the charity Therapy Dogs Nationwide, will be on patrol once a week and will be stationed in arrivals as well as departures along with their volunteer handlers.

Fully temperament tested and highly experienced in their trade, the therapy dogs will benefit passengers as well as staff in the airport.

“Four-legged companions are well known for boosting general happiness, well-being as well as mood and we are very excited to welcome them to the Southampton Airport family,” said Simon Young, Head of Passenger Operations. “Our sister airport in Aberdeen was the first in the country to trial airport therapy dogs and we are happy to be carrying on that legacy,” he added.

The launch of Southampton Airport’s Canine Crew on Tuesday 14 January coincided with a charity collection for national pet charity, Blue Cross. Commenting on the collaboration Kirsty Smith, Rehoming Supervisor at Blue Cross Southampton said: “We see every day how incredible pets are and how much of a benefit they bring to our lives; through the joy they bring and often helping alleviate our stress and worry in difficult situation.”

Meanwhile Paulette Hockley, Placement Officer at Therapy Dogs Nationwide, added: “We are very privileged to have passionate volunteers who keep our charity running by taking their own dogs into establishments to give comfort, distraction and stimulation.

“We are looking forward to working with Southampton Airport and sharing the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy with both passengers and team members”