Editor’s comment: We are all in this together

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

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

It’s difficult to know what to write in this week’s newsletter without reflecting on how much the world has changed in the last couple of days, let alone weeks or months. Just two weeks ago I travelled from Mexico to Ethiopia via London for the 5th Aviation Africa summit. Now, with much of Europe in lockdown, the prospect of any international and in some cases domestic travel is unlikely for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak is the greatest threat the global aviation sector has ever faced.

The rapid reduction in demand for air travel in recent weeks has led to airlines suspending services, in some cases across their entire network, and airports (regardless of their size) are also faced with having to enforce annual leave, temporary staff reductions and even the possibility of closure.

In a statement earlier this week, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) CEO, Charlie Cornish, said: “This temporary and dramatic downturn requires us to act now to protect our position at this crucial time. This will include enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs.” He added that MAG’s executive team has also taken a pay cut, and recruitment and capital expenditure plans have been frozen. “We are doing what we need to do in the face of an unpredictable and fast-moving situation.” It’s a similar situation for airports around the globe.

Cornish also warned that, “Aviation is essential to some of our most important industries and in forging trading relationships… Government needs to take decisive action now to make clear its total and unwavering support for airports, airlines and other travel companies. The UK depends on air travel to support its economy. The Government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.”

These are unpredictable times for aviation and businesses in general. But there is a sense of solidarity among many stakeholders. Luxaviation Group has launched the European Business Aviation Solidarity Initiative (EBASI). The group will support the European business aviation industry by sharing its expertise in procurement, purchasing power and finance resources with business aviation companies for free, allowing them to concentrate on the core operations of their business.

Meanwhile, and in recognition of the fact that airport operators remain first and foremost concerned with protecting the health and welfare of travellers but are also businesses in their own right, Airports Council International (ACI) World has proposed a global policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a general sense across the aviation community that we are all in this together as this crisis continues to unfold,” said ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens. “As the economic policy response is formulated, however, it is important to note that no measure or relief package should disproportionately benefit one sector at the expense of another…. The aviation industry and governments should approach the prospects for recovery strategically, pragmatically, and in partnership,” she concluded.

“Unprecedented times” is a phrase we will continue to hear repeatedly during this period, but so to is “we are all in this together”.

The Regional Gateway team is committed to standing alongside the global airport community and will continue to report on news concerning air transport hubs around the world, as well as highlighting the hard work of our industry colleagues throughout this challenging period. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’ve got a story you’d like to share.

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.

Star Air soars across India

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Star Air has become the first regional airline in India to launch services between Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Kishangarh (Ajmer-Rajasthan).

The airline launched its service on 18 February 2020. Mr Shrenik Ghodawat, MD of Star Air commented, “Star Air is the first airline, which has fulfilled the aspirations of millions of people, by starting the first-ever direct flight services between Indore and Kishangarh (Ajmer).”

Additionally, in response to passenger demands, Star Air is launching a route between Belagavi and Kishangarh via Indore, commencing from 16 March 2020. The extension of flights between Kishangarh to Indore will eliminate around 10 hours of transport for customers, expecting to reach people from the South and West Maharashtra, North and West Karnataka and many districts around Indore, providing easier connectivity to more rural areas.

The new service is likely to provide tourist with easier access to destinations, consequently benefitting the cities economies will an increase to tourism. The airline has aimed to make “currently suffering” routes become reliable and direct.

Embraer Profit Hunter at London Oxford

London Oxford Airport welcomes Embraer’s Profit Hunter

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments
Embraer Profit Hunter at London Oxford

Currently on a world tour visiting prospective airline customers, Embraer’s EMB-195 E2 Profit Hunter touched down at London Oxford Airport on Monday 16 March. The striking black and gold inspired Lion design drawing admiring crowds as it landed on the 1,552m runway, showcasing its unique characteristics to land on a short runway.

The aircraft has already stopped at Hydrabad Airport in India and Dubai World Central Airport, UAE. It arrived in London on 16 March having taken off from Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus (taking off just before the country closed the airport for international arrivals) and will be heading to Cape Verde on 19 March.

The Profit Hunter is the largest commercial airliner ever to land at the Oxford hub, which during late 2010 was a temporary home to an Embraer Lineage 1000 (a VIP version of the EJ-190 commercial variant).

James Dillon-Godfray, London Oxford’s Head of Business Development, stated: “We are delighted to welcome this stunning commercial aircraft to Oxford. It shows the extraordinary field performance of this family of jets.”

The twin engined, single aisle, fly by wire, state of the art Embraer E190-E2 with its high-aspect ratio wings, is the largest variant of Embraer’s family of upgraded E-Jets, delivering lower operating costs, significantly reduced emissions and noise levels. The Pratt & Whitney PW1900G geared fan powered aircraft features Honeywell Primus Epic avionics and a new flight management system.

“Tech Lion” is the latest of the specially painted jets that form Embraer’s E2 demo series, which includes a tiger, an eagle, and a Great White shark.

AOA warns UK airports could close without government intervention

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

The Airport Operator’s Association (AOA) has warned that UK airports may face closure if the government doesn’t intervene.

“Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt,” said Karen Dee, CEO of the AOA, commenting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

“The UK’s airports are critical national infrastructure, fulfilling a vital public service, and are on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is essential that airport businesses remain operating and are able to weather this storm, so that they can provide the connectivity which drives growth, employment and prosperity after the crisis has abated.

“With travel bans proliferating and passengers unwilling to fly, traffic through airports has plummeted. UK airports are taking immediate and drastic action to cut costs and are scaling back investments in light of the situation. Due to the fixed costs of operating airports, the government will need to provide additional support.

“The government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.”

Among other measures the AOA suggests that the government should be ready to provide or organise emergency financing as a measure of last resort. It also suggests that business rates and other government rates and taxes on airports should be suspended and that there should also be a deferral of payments of all VAT, corporation tax and other taxes for the duration of global flight restrictions.

“For the sake of the UK economy it is essential for the UK Government to catch-up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief.

Dee concluded by underlining that, “To help kick-start aviation again once the pandemic is retreating, the government should suspend Air Passenger Duty for six months.”

airBaltic to temporarily reduce services

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments

Due to the development of the ongoing coronavirus crisis and its impact on the global aviation sector, airBaltic has made a decision to temporarily decrease its overall capacity by a further 30% and to temporarily reduce its fleet to a total of 22 operating aircraft between March 29 and May 31, 2020. The move will see the airline cancel more than 2,000 flights.

“The health and safety of our employees and the public is airBaltic’s highest priority,” said Martin Gauss,airBaltic’s CEO. “The situation is changing very quickly, and we are forced to make some hard but necessary decisions. For now, we have reduced the capacity and cancelled flights, unfortunately we have to temporally reduce our team as the scale of operation is decreasing significantly. These are temporary measures during the crisis, and we need to be ready to get back on our growth path once the situation improves.”

In line with network adjustments, airBaltic is also having to temporarily reduce the number of its employees by up to 400. The company will seek voluntary solutions, unpaid leave, non-extension of probation time and termination.

However, the airline was also quick to point out that it has a well-developed crisis plan. Since 28 February, an action group C19AG has been established at the company, which regularly evaluates the latest situation to ensure it takes the necessary measures.


Signature Flight

Clear Channel Airports extends partnership with Signature Flight Support

By Airports, Business Aviation, FeaturedNo Comments

Clear Channel Airports (CCA), the US-based airports business of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, has renewed its contract with the global FBO network Signature Flight Support to transform the media and marketing approach for over 140 private aviation terminals throughout North America and the Caribbean.

Signature Flight Support’s new advertising programme will include new custom digital networks of LCD and LED screens across the top 20-25 private aviation terminals around the country. Many of the high-end brands that have consistently advertised across these private aviation terminals increased experiential and select exclusive foundation partner opportunities will be available.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with Signature Flight Support,” said Morten Gotterup, President, Clear Channel Airports. “Their network of FBOs presents the world’s leading brands and products with the absolutely unique ability to interact with the world’s highest net worth individuals, partners and families as well as in many cases their staff representatives,” he added.

“We will be working very closely with the Signature Flight Support team to create truly innovative and unforgettable advertising and sponsorship opportunities from new experiential activations to exclusive brand partnerships. Our partnership is poised to create some groundbreaking initiatives in the private airport advertising sector.”

Meanwhile Shawn Hall, CCO, Signature Flight Support said “We are thrilled to build upon our long-standing partnership with Clear Channel. Together, we are focused on maximising the opportunities that only our unparalleled network can deliver to the world’s leading brands.” He added: “We’re excited to bring to life new and innovative approaches to advertising in our FBOs, along with exclusive experiences and surprise and delight moments that engage and excite our customers. We look forward to collaborating with like-minded brands and partnering with them to deliver compelling, multi-year campaigns and activations.”

Signature Flight
OTG shopping

Checkout-free shopping arrives in US airports

By Airports, FeaturedNo Comments
OTG shopping

Hospitality group OTG is introducing Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in its CIBO Express Gourmet Markets at two US airports enabling passengers and visitors to shop faster by selecting their items and walking out.

The new technology was rolled out at Newark Liberty’s Terminal C on 16 March with additional stores at the New York hub as well as LaGuardia Airport following suit.

By using Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in these markets, busy airport travellers can quickly enter the store using their credit card, grab the items they wish to purchase, and just walk out for maximum speed and convenience.

“We’ve found that shoppers truly appreciate checkout-free retail experiences, so we’re thrilled to be working with an innovative company like OTG to bring our proven Just Walk Out technology to their airport stores,” said Dilip Kumar, Vice President, Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon.

Rick Blatstein, CEO of OTG, explained that the introduction of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in OTG stores is expected to revolutionise the airport experience for passengers. He added that this work with Amazon is another step in OTG’s ongoing commitment to providing a frictionless experience.

“We’re incredibly proud to be integrating Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology into the OTG airport experience,” he said. “OTG has always embraced technology as a means of optimising the airport experience so that we can give our guests their time back. By using the world’s most advanced shopping technology in our CIBO Express Gourmet Markets, we’re doing just that by putting our guests in full control of their time.”

According to OTG, its reimagined airport terminals are designed to be perfect gateways to the cities and regions they serve, integrating here-and-now technology, iconic design and locally sourced dining and market options that create a true sense of place. Reinforcing this philosophy the adoption of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology showcases the company’s approach to leveraging advanced and innovative technologies to create a seamless airport experience and to offer its airline carrier partners terminals that travelers want to visit.

HungaroControl perseveres with launch of SkyHub

By Featured, NewsNo Comments

Despite the cancellation, due to the coronavirus outbreak, of this year’s World Air Traffic Management which was due to take place in Madrid 10-12 March,  The Hungarian Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP) HungaroControl is proceeding with the launch of SkyHub, the brand behind all its complex products and services, which make up the company’s tailored solutions to industry. Under SkyHub the company plans to continue tackling customers’ most tackling issues and deliver sustainable performance.

Attila Simon, Director of Business Development commente: “We are about to launch SkyHub, the brand behind all our complex products and services together, that provide end-to-end tailored solutions to industry. This is the next step in our evolution to stay at the forefront of the ATM industry.”

Additionally, the company has stated that is already harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to leverage its benefits within simulation and operational environments. An example of this is HungaroControl’s Virtual Pseudo Pilot, the ultimate software solution for ATC simulators built with unique pilot logic, which executes pseudo pilot tasks. Similarly, its AI based DeFog Tool is a state-of-the-art software solution enables you to guide aircraft even in dense fog.

mallaghan deicing

Mallaghan awarded €3m de-icer contract

By Featured, NewsNo Comments
mallaghan deicing

Serving more than 79,000 flights at Vnukovo, Domodedovo, Pulkovo airports in Russia UTG Aviation Services has awarded a €3m contract to Mallaghan (providers of airport ground support equipment) for the provision of six de-icing units.

The equipment will be used by the UTG Domodedovo ground handling company at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. “Winter conditions in Moscow are one of the worst on the European continent in regards of icing precipitation,” said Artyom Rakov from UTG Domodedovo. “Some seasons we have more than 100 de-icing days and our ground support equipment (GSE) must be able to withstand these harsh conditions,” he added.

“Aircraft safety is always imperative, thus efficient procedures and innovative technology allow UTG Aviation Services holdings to ensure a seamless experience for passengers despite the challenging weather conditions.

“Together with engineers from JSC ‘Aerosmart Systems’, another company from UTG Aviation Services specialising in GSE maintenance and rentals, we have advised on developing 50+ changes for special package of equipment – ‘Arctic Kit’ for those de-icers.

“Mallaghan has done an incredible job. They have extensive experience in the manufacturing of ground support equipment, so had the capability to adapt the technology for our strict and very demanding requirements.

“The team had a complete understanding of our needs based on its vast experience and we worked very closely throughout the design and manufacture of these units.”

Commenting on how this is Mallaghan’s first entry to the Russian de-icer market, Owen McKenna, Sales Director at Mallaghan, said: “The requirements were quite unique and challenging so the technical specification is therefore entirely bespoke.”

Whilst the Mallaghan product portfolio has traditionally focused on passenger stairs, high lift trucks for catering and cabin cleaning, de-icers, water trucks and toilet trucks, the company recently launched an Airport Bus.

Eastern Airways adds to Southampton Airport

By FeaturedNo Comments

Eastern Airways is due to commence a route between George Best Belfast City Airport and Southampton, commencing 23 March 2020.

The connection, previously flown by Flybe, will operate up to seven flights per week.

“Southampton has been a popular route from Belfast for a long time…This new service to be operated by Eastern Airways will importantly reconnect Northern Ireland with the south coast of England,” said Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport. Upon the announcement, she added “we look forward to further building upon this route network with the airline.”

Following Flybe entering administration, Eastern Airways returned to its own standalone booking system and also launched connections from Southampton to Manchester and Newcastle, expecting frequency and the number of destinations to increase. An additional route to Teesside International Airport has also been introduced to provide passengers with a connection to Aberdeen.

Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ General Manager of Commercial and Operations commented, “Adding a Belfast City service from Southampton Airport, along with our new Manchester and Newcastle services…is a significant expansion with up to 70 departures a week in total. We are ensuring Southampton is reconnected to the regions throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

The Belfast route is expected to benefit leisure passengers that are connecting to cruises, providing inbound passengers with London rail connection within the hour and access to cruise ships via the port.