Australian airports boosted by rise in demand for Jetstar’s domestic services

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Airports across Australia have welcomed the news that Jetstar, the Melbourne-headquartered low-cost carrier (LCC) is set to operate more domestic flights in February and March in 2021 than in any previous year. Travel demand for the airline’s low fares are already exceeding pre-COVID levels.

Jetstar will operate more than 850 return weekly flights across 55 routes by March 2021 – this represents more than 110% of Jetstar’s pre-COVID schedule (compared to March 2019). The additional services will be operated by the airline’s Airbus A320s that would normally be used to serve overseas links to destinations such as Bali and Singapore.

According to Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans, “Travel demand to popular holiday spots is bouncing back in the lead up to the summer holidays.

“Australians are globally renowned for loving travel and as we approach 2021, demand for our low fares services is stronger than ever.”

Almost 90% of Australians plan to travel domestically in 2021, according to a recently conducted survey carried out by Jetstar. More than half of the 1,500 people surveyed also said they plan to visit destinations they’ve never been to before and, in good news for businesses reliant on tourism, are more likely to spend on domestic travel than they would have been in previous years. The survey also revealed that Hobart and Melbourne saw the biggest rise in popularity as destinations, with Cairns and the Gold Coast rising even further in appeal to families with international travel off the cards for some time to come.

With international borders remaining closed, Evans conceded that there is “a lot of repair work to do given the huge toll the COVID crisis took on airlines.”

However, he concluded: “The flexibility we have across our fleet means we can offer these extra services, help boost tourism and the local economies of the communities we fly to and also get more of our people back in the air.”

Southwest Airlines plans to increase links to California

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US low-cost carrier (LCC), Southwest Airlines plans to boost its links to California by serving both Santa Barbara Airport and Fresno Yosemite International Airport in the second quarter of 2021.

“Our arrival in the heart of California, both on the Central Coast and in the Central Valley, will round out nearly four decades of investment in our California Customers and communities,” said Southwest Airlines CCO and Executive Vice President, Andrew Watterson.

“While other airlines seem to fall in and out of love with the state, we’re focused on increasing the reach of our low fares and flexible policies in places where we expect them to make a difference.”

Kevin Meikle, Director of Aviation for Fresno Yosemite International Airport, added that the new links are in response to demand from residents and businesses throughout Central California to be able to benefit from the LCCs service and connectivity. “Southwest will expand the Central Valley’s air transportation gateway to Yosemite, sequoia  and Kings Canyon National Parks, and we look forward to our new partnership with Southwest and their arrival in the spring,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Cathy Murillo of Santa Barbara, said: “We salute Southwest’s bold decision to enter one of the most vibrant and beautiful regions in California, bringing visitors to our sweeping coastline to experience our mild Mediterranean climate and distinctive Spanish-influenced architecture. For our residents, our partnership with Southwest will energise the economic rebound to come in 2021.”

Following the first Southwest flight to Palm Springs on 19 November, the addition of Fresno and Santa Barbara will position Southwest Airlines as an option in 13 California airports before summer 2021, further deepening the airline’s commitment to the Golden State.

Alaska

Alaska Airlines offers pre-clear service for Hawaii-bound passengers

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Passengers travelling with Alaska Airlines to Hawaii can now opt to avoid lines and bypass the airport screening process once they arrive in Hawaii with an approved negative COVID-19 test by using Alaska’s Pre-Clear programme.

The airline’s Pre-Clear programme launched this week in coordination with the State of Hawaii and is the first of its kind to enable travellers to obtain an exemption from the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine before departure. Once a passenger has been pre-cleared they are given a pre-clear wristband at check-in or at the departure gate.

Hawaii began a pre-testing programme back in October, which allowed passengers entering the state having tested negative for COVID-19 in advance of their arrival to proceed without the current two-week mandatory quarantine. However travellers have been subjected to long wait times on arriving in the islands as part of this programme. As a result Alaska received approval to pre-clear guests who complete the state’s requirements prior to check-in, so that no additional screening is needed after arrival at Hawaii’s airports.

“As guests start planning their 2021 travel to Hawaii, we’re focused on making the journey as safe, easy and hassle-free as possible,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines’ President. “We appreciate Hawaaii’s partnership to help ensure our guests are well-informed and visit these beautiful islands responsibly, wearing a mask and following the state’s safety guidelines.”

Having successfully piloted the Pre-Clear programme over the last week with flights from the West Coast to Maui, the airline plans to roll out the programme on all flights to Oahu and Kona on Hawaii Island.

“We appreciate Alaska’s commitment in helping to keep our community safe,” said Hawaii Governor, David Ige. “Alaska has been a true partner from the very start of the programme by communicating with their guests about the state’s requirements so that they are well prepared for their visit. Alaska’s Pre-Clear programme adds another layer of safety by helping to ensure that the majority, if not all, of Alaska’s guests arrive in Hawaii with proof of their negative COVID-19 test results.”

Ford Airport in the US ready to serve as gateway for vaccine distribution

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As the closest airport to Pfizer’s Kalamazoo manufacturing operations in Michigan, Gerald R Ford International Airport in the US is prepared to serve as a national and international gateway for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

With a 10,000 ft. runway, dedicated cargo facility and the appropriate ground support Ford Airport has the necessary infrastructure needed to support the transportation process. Critically it also the capacity needed to stage and transport billions of doses of the vaccine, which must be kept at -94 Fahrenheit.

The first cargo plane carrying the vaccine for domestic use departed from Gerald Ford Airport on 13 December, with tens of thousands of shipments expected to deliver the life-saving vaccine to locations across the US and around the world in the coming months. Airport officials have already been in discussion with four global carriers that have expressed an interest in transporting the widely anticipated vaccine.

“We’re here, we’re ready to help and we’re eager to get to work,” said Torrance Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “We have invested in the infrastructure needed to accommodate the wide-body aircraft that will be used to transport the vaccine – and we have the team in place ot handle the aggressive delivery schedule.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Ford Airport has adopted a number of measures to ensure its passengers and staff stay as safe and comfortable as possible through its Fly Safe. Fly Ford. campaign. The airport has also announced it will also serve as a COVID-19 drive-up test site for guests and the local community.

Commenting further on the airport’s role in transporting the vaccine, Richardson added: “Ford Airport is honoured to be a key part of the distribution chain for Pfizer’s life-saving vaccine. We often say our airport is the gateway to the world –  this gives us the opportunity to underscore that in an exceptionally meaningful way.”

Manchester welcomes Antalya link with SunExpress

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Manchester Airport in the UK has welcomed a new link to Antalya in Turkey, which will start flying in Spring 2021.

A joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, SunExpress is launching direct flights between the two cities on 26 March. The route will be served twice per week before going up to four a week from 30 May.

“It’s great to see SunExpress launch services to Antalya from Manchester Airport, the UK’s global gateway in the North,” said Karen Smart, Managing Director of Manchester Airport. “After a difficult year, the route will mean families and households across our vast catchment will have additional access to one of our most popular summer destinations.”

Meanwhile, Peter Glade, CCO of SunExpress, said: “After a year of staying at home, the people of Britain deserve a sunny vacation. Our new services to Antalya will serve the British people to arrive at their well-deserved holiday destination, fast, relaxed and for a competitive price, experiencing our unique SunExpress service.”

The new route from Manchester is already available for booking online.

Southampton celebrates the return of British Airways

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After what has been a truly challenging year at Southampton following the demise of Flybe, the impact of COVID-19 and subsequent travel restrictions on airlines and the delay on a decision on the airport’s runway extension, Southampton is closing the year with some good news. British Airways has unveiled that it will be launching 11 new European routes from the airport in summer 2021.

The exciting summer schedule will see BA CityFlyer connect customers travelling from England’s south coast with popular holiday destinations in Spain (Malaga, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca), Italy (Florence), Portugal (Faro), Greece (Mykonos), France (Bergerac Dordogne Perigord, Limoges-Bellegarde and Nice Cote d’Azur) and Germany (Berlin), as well as Edinburgh in Scotland. The airline will operate up to 17 flights each weekend between 1 May and 31 October 2021. Flights will be operated using BA CityFlyer’s existing fleet of Embraer 190 aircraft.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the British Airways family,” said Tom Stoddart, Managing Director of BA CityFlyer. “The ideal location of the airport and excellent facilities on offer will hugely benefit our customers along the South Coast as they plan to take to the skies again and book a well-deserved holiday in the sun.”

Southampton’s Operations Director, Steve Szalay, described the announcement as “fantastic news” for both the air transport hub and the surrounding region during what has been one of the most challenging years.

“It’s also great to see BA return to the airport once again and the range of excellent destinations on offer is sure to be a welcome early Christmas present for passengers looking to plan a European holiday next summer.”

Southampton has submitted a planning application to Eastleigh Borough Council to extend its runway by 164cm(538ft) to increase the number of flight and the type of aircraft that can land. It was initially hoped a decision would be taken before the end of the year, but that decision has been delayed until the new year.

“We’ve always been clear that the runway extension is critical to the survival of Southampton Airport, which is why it’s important we take on board all feedback to ensure all stakeholders are aligned, supportive and the right decision is reached for our community. We will be submitting additional information to Eastleigh Borough Council to review early in the New Year.

Editor’s comment: Transforming the way we travel

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The evolving behavioural patterns of passengers as a result of the global pandemic has led to a need for airports to reduce points of physical contact and address areas where space is restricted to help ensure the wellbeing of passengers and staff.

EUROCONTROL has already said that with health and safety a top priority across the global travel sector, airports need to focus on reducing the impact of space constraints across their facilities. In a study published in September, EUROCONTROL highlighted that for the same passenger numbers in a pre-COVID queue 50% more space is now required at check-in, while 100% more space is needed at security control and immigration.

Addressing the issue of space constraints in airports, travel technology specialist Amadeus is already engaged in a significant number of projects globally, that are aimed at reducing congestion in airports by implementing contactless technology and fostering a more streamlined passenger experience.

Current projects include deploying biometric boarding capabilities at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the US and facilitating a completely touchless experience across 20 of Norway’s airports.

In a recent study commissioned by Amadeus more than 6,000 travellers across France, Germany, India, Singapore, the UK and the US were quizzed on their concerns around air travel in light of COVID-19 and the technologies the industry can leverage to boost confidence and accelerate demand.

More than four in five (84%) travellers said technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months by addressing concerns around mixing with crowds, social distancing and physical touchpoints. More than a third (36%) said self-service check-in would increase confidence to travel in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 34% of travellers surveyed said biometrics that enable check-in, pass-through security and boarding without the need for physical checks would make them more likely to travel.

I’m firmly in the ‘say yes to biometrics’ camp. I signed my face away on social media a long time ago, so COVID or no COVID anything that helps reduce pressure points in an airport gets my vote!

For more insights from Amadeus make sure you subscribe now to receive your complimentary copy of the upcoming issue of Regional Gateway. It features Bruno Spada, Amadeus’s Executive VP Airport IT, explaining how the cloud can help regional airports respond to COVID-19.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway

Signature partners with Neste to offer continuous supply of SAF

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Signature Flight Support, Neste and NetJets have celebrated the delivery of an initial ceremonial gallon of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in the US and London Luton in the UK. This initial delivery marks the start of a global initiative to provide a permanently available supply of SAF to private aircraft.

Through its company-wide Signature Renew programme, Signature Flight Support has partnered with Neste in making low emission, renewable fuel a reality for business aviation, starting with two of Signature’s locations on its global network. By offering a consistent blended SAF supply Signature Renew is providing a safe and dependable low-emission option via Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel at SFO. This investment will allow customers such as NetJets, which was the inaugural recipient for the first uplift of SAF in San Francisco and Luton, to help meet their own sustainability goals by taking advantage of more than a 25% reduction in direct net lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from this blended fuel.

“The wait for SAF is over. We’re filling aircraft right now – thousands of gallons a day, every day – at SFO and Luton to meet the growing market demand,” said Tony Lefebvre, COO for Signature.

SAF is the cornerstone of aviation’s answer to environmental responsibility. Creating an affordable alternative to traditional Jet A is vital to ensuring we’re able to help our customers reduce their carbon footprint. We’re proud to be able to deliver this capability to all private aviation customers at SFO and Luton and look forward to growing our capacity at additional locations and launching new sustainability programmes next year.

As a leading producer and supplier of renewable fuels Neste is committed to helping grow the supply of SAF globally. It expects to have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tonnes of SAF annually by 2023. As a drop-in fuel offering an immediate way to reduce the direct greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, SAF requires no new investments or modifications to aircraft or airport fuel distribution systems. When used in its neat form, Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% over its lifecycle compared to traditional fossil jet fuel.

Commenting on the collaboration with Signature and NetJets, Neste’s VP Renewable Aviation North Amercia, Chris Cooper, said the partnership is driven by two things: “The demand for private and business air travel is growing and the people onboard these aircraft want their carbon footprint to go down. Neste, Signature and NetJets, as industry leaders, decided to work together to connect the dots from fuel production, to supply and distribution and to aircraft operations to make sustainable business and private air travel a reality. This is just a first step and I look forward to working with these great partners to get more SAF to more airports and in more aircraft.”

As the primary launch customer, NetJets has committed to purchase up to 3 million gallons of SAF through Signature Renew for all flights out of SFO and its Columbus International Airport home base in Ohio.

“Sustainability has been foremost on the mind of our clients and of NetJets, as we recently announced our expanded Global Sustainability Program,” said Brad Ferrell, NetJets Executive Vice President Administrative Services. “Signature and Neste have provided the solution for SAF in the market, and NetJets’ purchasing commitment helps ensure SAF’s continued availability. We are proud to join our partners in taking the lead in commercialising renewable fuel sources and adoption.”

Charleston Airport debuts new parking facility with smart technology

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Ahead of what is typically a busy travel season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Charleston International Airport in South Carolina, US, has opened its new 3,000 space parking garage.

The new facility features multi-space parking guidance sensors, rooftop parking sesnors, internal wayfinding and external signs along the road and the entrance.

“When we planned for this new garage, it wasn’t simply about adding more spaces, we wanted to make sure our customers could locate an available space faster and have a more enjoyable parking experience,” said John Robison, Manager of Landside Operations. “The addition of the parking guidance system accomplishes that goal.”

The new garage is also the largest parking structure in the region to feature the parking guidance technology, which was installed by Parking Guidance Systems, LLC, who have already installed this system in several airports across the US. “We worked closely with Charleston Airport officials and the building contractor to make sure the system not only met their design needs, but performance demands as well,” said Derek Frantz, VP at Parking Guidance Systems.

Featuring five levels, the car park has a dedicated level for rental cars on the first level, while two to five where the parking guidance technology has been deployed, are for the general public to use. The multi-space sensors and wayfinding signage allow the traveller to quickly choose a level and parking space based on their desire. The roof level also features INDECT Views, the latest in rooftop parking technology, for a similar experience.

Canadian air traffic controllers speak out against control tower closures

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Canadian air traffic controllers have spoken out against the air navigation service provider, NAV Canada, after the ANSP announced its intention over recent months to close seven air traffic control towers and reduce the level of service at their respective airports.

NAV Canada has also served the Union notice of their intent to further reduce the air traffic control workforce outside these units.

The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA) says that despite chronically understaffed air traffic  control units across the country, Canada has enjoyed the safest levels of air travel in the world since NAV Canada’s inception in 1996. CATCA warns that to further reduce staffing levels will not only debilitate the air navigation system’s ability to maintain its previous capacity and safety, but it will also impede Canada’s airlines’ ability to recover moving forward.

CATCA will continue discussions with both stakeholders and the Government in an effort to find a sustainable solution for the continued provision of this essential service. In a statement it argues that “the reduction in services NAV Canada is attempting to introduce within the system is reckless and unacceptable. We remain committed in maintaining the integrity of our profession as well as the trust the public has in the service our Members provide.”