Etihad Airport Technology

Etihad Airways tests new airport technology

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Etihad Airport Technology

UAE-based carrier Etihad Airways is partnering with Australian company Elenium Automation to trial a new technology which allows self-service devices at airports to be used to help identify travellers with medical conditions, which could potentially include the early stages of COVID-19.

The technology can monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of any person using an airport touchpoint such as a check-in or information kiosk, a bag drop facility, a security point or immigration gate. Services at these facilities will automatically be suspended if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness. Airport staff will then be alerted and can make further assessments and manage passengers as appropriate.

Etihad will intially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, intially with volunteers, and as flights resume, outbound passengers.

“This technology is an early warning indicator which will help to identify people with general symptoms, so that they can further assessed by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations,” said Jorg Oppermann, VP Hub and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways.

Elenium has also developed ‘hands free’ technologies that enable the touchless use of self-service devices through voice recognition, further minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.

Oppermann adds that the airline is testing the technology because “it will not only help in the current COVID-19 outbreak, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimise disruptions.”

Elenium Automation’s CEO and Co-Founder, Aaron Hornlimann, stated: “We believe this approach is a world first. Elenium has lodged patents for both the automatic detection of illness symptoms at an aviation self-service touchpoint, and touchless self-service technology at an airport. Combined, this would ensure health screenings can become standard across airports, without putting staff in harm with manual processes.”

He added that as well as providing the ability to screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking, the technology can also be retrofitted into any airport kiosk or bag drop installed as a desktop system at a passenger processing point. “We believe the introduction of touchless self-service and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner,” he concluded.

JOhn Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport maintains vital services

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JOhn Wayne Airport

California’s John Wayne Airport has been a vital part of the Orange County community for nearly 100 years. But now like airports across the US, John Wayne which provides more than 33,000 jobs to local workers and brings billions of dollars to the local economy admits that the coronavirus has taken a serious toll on airport operations, tenants and stakeholders.

Since 1 March the airport has experienced a 60% decrease in passenger traffic compared to 2019. In the last two weeks of March alone the airport saw a 90% decline in traffic. In light of this the airport has welcomed the news that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)through the CARES Act will award approximately $10 billion in funds to airports. It has yet to be confirmed when John Wayne Airport will receive its share of the funds but they will be sued to support its continuing operations.

In a statement the airport said: “John Wayne Airport is an essential service and we still have hundreds of employees working every day. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for their commitment and dedication. We have an outstanding team here at John Wayne Airport and we will continue to rise to the challenge in the days, weeks and months to come.

“We don’t know when this will end, but it will end, and we will get through it together. As a community, our smart decisions now will sustain us through this difficult time.”


Air Traffic Management committed to keeping s..

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Although air traffic has declined in recent weeks due to travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19, the air traffic management (ATM) industry is committed to offering critical air navigation services in all regions around the world. By maintaining these services, ATM is enabling the safe passage of vital repatriation and cargo flights transporting essential medical equipment and goods through global airspace.

“These are challenging times for the aviation industry but our members are taking every step necessary to make sure we can continue to provide essential ATM services around the world,” commented Simon Hocquard, Director General, CANSO.

A variety of steps have been taken to ensure that air traffic controllers can continue to deliver a safe and seamless service. This includes implementing employee protection and business continuity initiatives, such as new hygiene and distancing measures, dynamic rostering and remote working, remote research and development, and remote and restorative maintenance.

CANSO is working closely with its aviation industry partners and stakeholders to ensure smooth operations continue. In Asia Pacific and Africa, this has involved concerted efforts to safeguard operational units; and in Europe ensuring the entire aviation industry has financial security for the months ahead. In Latin America and the Caribbean, CANSO is providing vital contingency communications between air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airlines and airports thanks to its CADENA initiative – a data exchange network for the Americas.

Commenting on how there are about 5,000 aircraft in the sky at any given time, Hocquard said: “These all need our support to travel safely and efficiently through airspace, and the ATM community will continue to be there to guide each flight right from take-off all the way through to landing. No matter how air traffic levels fluctuate, our work never stops, and neither will our commitment to the airspace users we serve. Our thanks go out to the frontline staff, support services, organisations and suppliers for making this happen, and for maintaining the world’s vital air transport network in these uncertain times.”

He also stated that the weeks and months ahead will continue to test the aviation industry. “ATM needs to come together with all our industry stakeholders including airlines and airports in a joined-up approach to ensure financial security and operational resilience going forward, and ultimately to keep our skies safe.”

Asia Pac Travel Retail Incheon Airport

Asia Pacific travel retail industry at risk o..

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Asia Pac Travel Retail Incheon Airport

The Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA) is calling on governments in more than 45 countries across the region not to overlook those working in the region’s duty free and travel retail industry.

Grant Fleming, President of APTRA fears the region’s $36 billion travel retail industry and the more than 320,000 people that work within it are at risk of being overlooked by politicians as they devise financial rescue measures in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak. Subsequently APTRA is asking that duty free and travel retail industry are included in the same financial support packages as airlines, airports and maritime industries.

Airport retail and commercial services which includes food and beverage, provide up to 60% commercial income for airport owners and as such constitute a crucial business sector, the association argues. “The dynamics of duty free and travel retailing are intrinsically linked to the aviation and maritime industries and its viability is entirely dependent on the return in passenger traffic,” said Fleming.

Headded: “ The travel ecosystem is multifaceted and, beyond airports, the duty free and travel retail industry integrates deeply with the region’s vital tourism market – directly with operators such as airport retailers, airlines, cruise-lines and downtown shopping malls and also indirectly with everything from hotels to travel agents and tour guides. We are calling on over 45 governments across the region to recognise the unique economic contribution of the entire Travel Retail industry and to prioritise support packages to our channel and the many that are, and will be, affected financially by COVID-19.”


Biggin Hill Airport unveils recovery package

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London Biggin Hill Airport is launching a recovery package, branded ‘Return to the Skies’ to help operators maintain their aircraft and to keep flight crew training current during the coronavirus pandemic. The end goal is to ensure that once the lockdown is over and travel restriction are lifted flight operations can be resumed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The package of services applies to all business jets and is available to operators whether they are based at the London hub or just visiting. The package will be included in the price of a single landing fee and will entitle operators to six landings, all to be used on a single day (for visiting aircraft, the first arrival will be included in this total). Other benefits include complimentary handling, free aircraft parking for the first two hours and access to crew support and the airport’s briefing room.

“London Biggin Hill remains fully operational for essential flights, but operators are facing many challenges during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Robert Walters, the airport’s Commercial Director. “Keeping aircraft and crew ready  to restart operations is difficult but with our Return to the Skies initiative we are giving clients access to the services they need. By pulling together like this, we can get our industry back on its feet as quickly as possible and support the global economic recovery,” he continued.

MRO services at the airport can  cater for Bombardier, Gulfstream, Textron Aviation, Pilatus and Dassault aircraft, and are provided by the OEM or an authorised service centre. Additionally, as furloughed employees are still permitted to continue training, it is expected that the Return to the Skies package will help operators keep their flight crews current and ready to start work immediately when conditions improve.

Monterey Regional Airport takes significant h..

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monterey Regional Airport in California, US has experienced a significant hit with traffic down by 90%.

The airport, which is served by Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, United Airlines, American and JSX, is faced with arrival and departure cancellations each day as airlines are forced to fly less frequently due to the drop in demand and airport closures. Airlines are approaching the situation on a flight-by-flight basis but there have also been challenges with staff availability especially with officials ordering non key workers to stay at home and those with coronavirus symptoms having to self isolate.

What’s more, Visit California, a nonprofit organisation that partners with the state’s travel industry has issued an update on its website that says “this is not the time to vacation in California” since virtually all tourism assets are closed until further notice.

Monterey Regional Airport’s Executive Director, Mike La Pier commented that the effects are “consistent with other airports…Right now nobody’s flying. It is turbulent times on many levels.”

The airport’s revenue depends on passenger traffic as well as associated activities including car rentals, transportation fees, parking and other revenue streams.

In order to help its staff, as well as concessionaires and tenants through these unpredictable times, the airport is working to delay rent payments, only purchase essential items, reducing working hours and cutting back on advertisement.

Editor’s comment: Testing times

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


This week has brought some welcome news with airports in China’s Hubei Province – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak ­– starting to reopen for passenger services amid the news that no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the province for almost a week.


One of the measures regional hubs across Hubei have introduced to help monitor and prevent the further spread of the virus is thermal imaging. It’s being used to detect signs of fever among passengers in departures and arrivals halls. Staff are also being provided with masks, gloves and isolation rooms to further test suspected virus victims.


It’s a similar story at other airports around the world. In Pakistan, international passengers must provide a copy of their coronavirus test results 24 hours prior to boarding a flight landing at any of its airports.


However, in the UK it’s a different scenario. Despite a nationwide lockdown, passengers arriving at the country’s air transport hubs from abroad are not subjected to any temperature checks or additional measures.


According to the Department of Health, the temperature checks hold little or no clinical value and will not be introduced at UK airports – a decision that’s supported by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.


It’s been a testing week for many airports in the UK as they are having to temporarily close their doors due to a significant decline in passenger demand and airlines subsequently grounding their fleets. And in the West Midlands, Birmingham Airport is working with local authorities to convert one of its aircraft hangars into a temporary morgue for victims of COVID-19.


For East Midlands Airport, however, it’s a different narrative altogether. The airport has established itself as a gateway for essential goods during these unprecedented times. As the UK’s largest dedicated air cargo operations airport it continues to operate 60% of its scheduled flights. Employees at the airport are working hard alongside logistics giants such as DHL, UPS and FedEx to ensure that critical supplies such as face masks, hospital equipment and other medical supplies can be transported to and from the country as efficiently as possible.


There are no winners in this scenario, but it’s important that we continue to share the positive stories and remember that these grim times will end. As a former colleague told me this week, what we need is solutions, belief, courage and hope.


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East Midlands Airport focuses on cargo operat..

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While airports throughout the UK have seen aircraft movements fall by at least 60% following the COVID-19 crisis, East Midlands Airport (EMA) has revealed that it continues to operate 60% of its scheduled flights. The difference being its flights are filled with products rather than people. Cargo operations at the airport are up 7.4% as a result of the need to transport medical equipment and online orders. The airport’s central location (it’s a four-hour truck drive to 90% of the population in England and Wales) means vital supplies flown into or out of the UK can be transported on in an efficient and timely manner.

Bev Fawdington Director of Uvamed, a Loughborough-based manufacturer of medical equipment, commented:

It’s really important for us to have the airport on our doorstep. The fact that it is so geared up to supporting businesses like ours with the exporting of goods is hugely beneficial, no more so than at the current time. Our products, which are in demand from hospitals all over the world, can be collected at lunchtime by a courier and be at the hospital overseas by lunchtime the next day.

In the week following the UK Government’s announcement about stricter social distancing measures (16 March), cargo aircraft movements increased by 10% at the East Midlands hub. In the two weeks since then (up to 29 March) the airport has noted an increase in cargo aircraft movements of 7.4% a day.

In addition to the urgent need for more medical and PPE equipment including face masks, the growth in cargo operations has been driven by ad-hoc flights as EMA takes on additional capacity from other airports that are now closed at night, together with a reduction in long-haul passenger flights from other UK airports which would normally carry urgent cargo alongside passenger luggage. A spike in online shopping as due to an increase in people now adhering to social distancing measures as well as increased operations by well-established carriers that have the infrastructure and broader international network supply chains in place at EMA has also contributed to the the growth in cargo operations.

Air traffic statistics published by Eurocontrol show that EMA has seen the smallest drop in flight numbers of any major airport in Europe over the last week. It’s followed by Bergen, Stavanger and Cologne.

More than £200m has been invested by some of the world’s largest logistics companies into bespoke handling facilities at the airport over the last two years. Employees at the airport, alongside logistics giants DHL, UPS, FedEx and Royal Mail have been designated as key workers so are working round the clock handling 1,000 tonnes a day between them, to ensure next-day-deliveries many of which are essential items for hospitals, shops and people isolated at home.

“East Midlands is providing around the clock support to fight back against COVID-19,” said Karen Smart, East Midlands Airports Managing Director. “It is at times like these when EMA really demonstrates its national value and shows how important airfreight is to keeping Britain moving. The airport is a vital lifeline for businesses that need to get products to market quickly, the NHS frontline, and those R&D companies that are working flat out to develop new medicines which can help combat crippling viruses such as COVID-19,” she concluded.


Airports in China start to reopen for domesti..

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As the demand for medical supplies and equipment from Chinese manufacturers continues to grow, China’s air cargo operations are showing signs of returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels according to The World of Aviation.

What’s more, reports also suggest a small uptick in domestic passenger travel as key airports reopen in the coronavirus epicentre of Hubei Province. Coronavirus cases are flattening across China and it’s been almost a week since a COVID-19 case has been reported in Hubei.

One of the measurements airports across the province have implemented to detect and limit the further spread of the virus is mass thermal imaging of passengers in departure and arrival halls. They are also providing staff with masks, gloves and isolation rooms for suspected virus victims.

In a statement Xu Zuoqiang, Chairman and General Manager of the Three Gorges Airport (also known as Yichang Sanxia Airport) – one of the airports to reopen – revealed that the airport had carried out comprehensive disinfection and issued staff with training to cope with epidemic control and prevention.

Wuhan Tianhae Airport is also expected to reopen on 8 April servicing flights for those who test negative for coronavirus. However, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has stated that as a precaution, flights between air transport hubs in Hubei Province and Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing and Taiwan will not operate for the time being.

China has noted a reduction in passenger numbers of around 70% since the coronavirus outbreak. Reinstating airline services and resuming connectivity will be vital in boosting the country’s economic recovery.

IATA Chief Economist, Brian Pearce agreed, “We are seeing some signs of a turning point in the Chinese domestic market.” However, he added this was not the case for the industry as a whole with border closures having a significant hit on bookings.

Abilene Regional Airport

Abilene Regional Airport adapts to outbreak

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Abilene Regional Airport

Abilene Regional Airport in Texas is currently maintaining its flight schedule, even though the airport has experienced a decline in passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus.

Abilene Director of Transportation Services Don Green commented: “You have to keep in mind that we’ve been through pandemics before. We’ve been through SARS. We’ve been through H1N1 here.” Additional precautions are in place at the airport, such as adding lines of tape to ensure passengers stay at a safe distance from each other and staff and to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Additionally since 28 March, passengers travelling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have had to identify themselves to state troopers situated at the exit lanes, before completing a form that agrees they will self-quarantine for at least 14 days or until they leave Texas.

Green concluded that while flight schedules are currently being maintained, things could slow down moving forward, but this is dependent on the airlines themselves.