Munich Airport expands flights services

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The number of flights on offer from Munich Airport is set to increase over the coming weeks. International air travel had come to a virtual standstill on account of the numerous travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, many airlines are now gradually starting to ramp up their operations from the German hub.

Lufthansa is due to resume regular services from Munich to Brussels, Milan, Rome, Vienna and Zurich over the coming days. Two US cities are also on the list of Lufthansa’s nonstop destinations. On Tuesday 2 June the airline reopened its route from Munich to Chicago while the first flight to Los Angeles took place on 3 June. Initially services to both US cities will be provided three days a week. Lufthansa also reopened three times weekly flights from Munich to Tel Aviv on 3 June.

Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings has already been serving its route from Munich to Palma de Mallorca again and will also be offering flights to Pristina again from 6 June.

Having maintained its operations from Munich over the past several weeks, Qatar Airways will continue flying to Doha four times per week. Greece’s Aegean Airlines has re-established its connection from Munich to Athens and is initially offering three weekly flights. Luxair is again providing services between Munich and Luxembourg five times a week, while airBaltic has resumed services to Riga four times a week. The schedule of existing connections operated by Alitalia to Rome, KLM to Amsterdam, Air France to Paris, Finnair to Helsinki and Belavia to Minsk will be partially expanded to provide greater frequency.

From mid-June Lufthansa is due to start flying to additional destinations including 30 additional European cities on a regular schedule.

For the time being all arrivals and departures at Munich will continue to be operated via Terminal 2. The wearing of masks continues to be mandatory in all terminals, while flooor markings have been designed in close consultation with the competent health authorities.

Aviation coalition calls for UK Government to..

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Sustainable Aviation, a UK aviation coalition, has called for the sector to be at the heart of the UK Government’s green recovery plan.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary, the Sustainable Aviation coalition has argued that a joined-up approach to decarbonising aviation will enable the UK to rapidly bounce back from Covid-19.

To achieve this, the coalition has called on the government to capitalise on the UK’s world-leading position on sustaianable aviation fuel (SAF) technology by committing £500 million to support early stage projects. The move follows the news last week that Europe’s first municipal waste-to-jet fuel facility – Altalto Immingham – was granted resolution for planning permission in North East Lincolnshire.

Adam Morton, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said: “In February this year, the UK aviation committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and laid out a plan to achieve this through investing in cleaner aircraft and engine technology, smarter flight operations, sustainable aviation fuels and high-quality carbon offsets and removals.

“Three months on, these actions all remain essential to delivering sector wide decarbonisation, particularly given the role UK aviation can play as an engine for rebuilding the economy. But to capitalise on these opportunities we need urgent action from government, particularly to support the commercialisation of SAF technology in the UK.”

The coalition is urging government to work with the industry to: Develop aircraft and engine technology R&D capabilities, ensuring the UK is among the first in the world to develop hybrid and electric aircraft. It also wants to see government accelerate airspace modernisation, to make use of new aircraft performance capability and reduce emissions and noise; and to progress robust carbon offset measures and carbon removal technologies.

Editor’s comment: The domestic boom

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While most commercial passenger travel has been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this week has seen the return of domestic services for India’s aviation sector.

Despite the number of new coronavirus cases still rising in India, the resumption of domestic flights is a clear signal that the country is moving to end its lockdown and is bracing for what comes next. To ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and staff, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued standard operating procedures to all its airports. These includes the need for passengers to register with the Aarogya Setu app on their phones. The contact tracing app has been developed by the Indian Government to connect essential health services with the people of India in the fight against COVID-19.

In line with India’s return to domestic services, a survey carried out this month found that domestic travel in the US and Canada is also set to boom. More than 14,000 US and Canadian travellers were surveyed in the study conducted by AirportParkingReservations.com.

Some 57% of respondents said that if they were to travel in 2020, it would be domestically in the US and Canada.

“Our customers are telling us that they would like to travel soon,” said Carlos Chilin, General Manger of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com. “They’ve indicated that a big factor for their decisions will be the health and safety protocols implemented to make them feel protected. Tourist locations in the US have a big opportunity to capitalise on the pent-up demand that should come as travel increases.”

Of course, the demand for domestic travel is not just limited to air travel. While flights aren’t ruled out of the equation, 43% of respondents also said they were interested in taking a road trip in 2020.

But whatever the mode of transport, it’s perhaps no surprise that as travel restrictions are lifted around the world airports and airlines will see demand leaning towards domestic travel first.

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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Editor’s comment: Face to face with the fut..

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Face to face with the future of flying

 

Although the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to result in catastrophic predictions for air traffic and revenue losses for airports around the world, there is a definite sense that we are moving into the next phase of responding to the disease – taking decisive action to prepare for the rebound.

As countries across the globe start to gently ease their lockdown restrictions, airports are exploring measures they can adopt to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus. At Ontario Airport (ONT) officials are advising passengers to wear face coverings and use common-sense measures such as washing hands with soap and water regularly and avoid touching their faces to help prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, the airport is also spraying every surface of the airport nightly with a highly effective disinfectant using a cordless electrostatic backpack sprayer. It allows the disinfectant spray to attract to the surface, rather than float in the air, bringing 360-degree disinfection and sanitising capabilities.

“We are doing everything in our power to maintain ONT during this national emergency and we will be ready for a return to full operations as state and county governments ease safer-at-home orders,” said Atif Elkadi, Deputy CEO, ONT.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has become the first airport to trial a full-body disinfection chamber. The airport is also conducting a pilot test of applying an antimicrobial coating on all passenger facilities and high-touch surface areas in the terminal. And both Bournemouth Airport in the UK and Paine Field Passenger Terminal in Washington are looking at the use of fever detection technology to identify passengers with high temperatures and determine whether they are fit to fly.

Chinese-based technology and innovations company, KC Wearable, has developed a smart helmet (pictured) for screening fevers in public spaces, that’s ideally suited to the airport environment. It can scan up to 13 people at once and 200 people in a minute.

Airports are certainly facing up to the challenge of ensuring the health and safety of all those passing through their doors. But Vilnius Airport in Lithuania has adopted a different tactic altogether. Ensuring that social distancing measures are adhered to and passenger numbers are restricted, it’s innovating in a different way by hosting a drive-through cinema on the airport apron in the absence of commercial passenger traffic. It’s the first time the tarmac space has been used for anything other than the parking, refuelling and boarding of aircraft and is all part of the Vilnius International Film Festival, which runs until the end of May.

Fly-through cinema. I hope it doesn’t catch on!

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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Editor’s comment: Now boarding for the age ..

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Although we don’t know quite when, we do know that one day the world will travel again. And when it does, the passenger journey will be a very different one to pre-COVID-19.

Wizz Air, which plans to resume some of its services from London Luton Airport on 1 May, has already outlined enhanced health and safety measures that will be in place for its passengers. These will include physical distancing before and during boarding and customers are advised to check-in and make any additional purchases, such as adding extra baggage, online before arriving at the airport.

Looking further down the line, a report by Singapore-based aviation marketing consultancy, SimpliFlying, has mapped out 70 areas of the passenger journey that could change due to the demands of travellers. It suggests that in the age of sanitised travel, passengers will be required to upload an immunity passport confirming the presence of antibodies for COVID-19. Once at the airport, only those travelling will be allowed to enter the airport, and they should arrive at least four hours prior to departure. Before they are allowed in the departure area, they will need to show their immunity passport or go through a disinfection tunnel and thermal scanners, to determine whether they are ‘fit to fly’. Bags will also go through UV disinfection or a ‘fogging’ process to be ‘sanitagged’.

Touchless vending machines in the boarding area, the need to maintain social distancing in the departure lounge and individual notifications delivered to passengers via their mobile phones are all to be expected in the age of sanitised travel.

Similarly, on arrival at their destination, passenger bags will be ‘sanitagged’ before being placed on the conveyor belt and thermal scanners will be used to identify passengers with a potential fever.

Passengers will seek assurance that they are not at risk of contracting a virus and consistency across countries will be required to help boost confidence in travel. As such a Transport Health Authority (THA) will define health screening and sanitation standards throughout the travellers’ journey.

There are bound to be other predictions about what the passenger journey of tomorrow will look like following the current pandemic. As passengers, we used to complain about airport queues and long waiting times. But it looks like this is something we will all have to get used to once the industry rebounds. I’ll embrace it, I can’t wait to travel tomorrow. But for the time being I know the right thing is to stay home.

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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Editor’s comment: Hanging on in there

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With aviation practically at a standstill, this week has seen yet more casualties for airlines. Virgin Australia has entered voluntary administration, although the administrator, Vaughan Strawbridge of Deloitte, has vowed to restructure and re-finance the business as it seeks out new buyers and investors.

Sir Richard Branson echoed this sentiment stating: “This is not the end of Virgin Australia, but I believe a new beginning. I promise that we will work day and night to turn this into a reality.”

Virgin Australia is not alone. Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian are also facing uncertain futures and have requested government support in order to survive. In the case of the latter, four of the Norwegian Group’s subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden have filed for bankruptcy.

Reiterating that the airline is not going down without a fight, Norwegian’s CEO, Jacob Schram, said: “It is important for me to underline that we are still fighting like dogs and the extraordinary general meeting on the 4 May is vital for our financial restructure and to get access to the [3 billion Norwegian Krona] in liquidity from the Norwegian government. At the same time we are constructing a stronger new Norwegian that will continue after COVID-19.”

In Africa, discussions are ongoing over South African Airways’ (SAA’s) future after the government there declined to offer the country’s national carrier further financial support. The airline plans to lay-off its entire workforce of 4,700 staff from the end of April. In a statement, the Department of Public Enterprises said while no agreements have been concluded, “There are discussions with the unions on alternatives to the current South African Airways business model, success of the business rescue process, and the best possible outcome for the airline’s employees.”

As I write this newsletter, Air Mauritius has also gone into voluntary administration with a statement from the airline’s board of directors explaining the board has taken the decision “to put the company under voluntary administration in order to safeguard the interests of the company and that of all its stakeholders.”

There is no doubt this is not the last we will hear of airlines struggling to survive the COVID-19 crisis. And the fallout from these airlines will have a significant impact on airports too. Many remote and regional hubs in particular rely primarily, if not solely, on the services of these airlines. With no arriving or departing passengers or airline customers, it’s unlikely they can maintain viable business models.

Manchester Airport Group’s CEO, Charlie Cornish, has underlined the essential role that Virgin Atlantic has played in boosting the local economy and in “allowing Manchester to become one of the best connected European airports to the US.”

Meanwhile, Ogaga Udjo, Founder of ZA Logics, a Johannesburg-based aviation consultancy, underlined that: “Besides the loss of roughly 4,700 full-time jobs, a shutdown of SAA risks upending key supply chains for the country and wider region.” This includes the majority state-owned company that operates nine of South Africa’s airports, suppliers of fuel and ground transportation, as well as travel and tour operators. 

There are days when the future seems bleak, but this is no time to dwell on that. Airports and airlines are certainly not giving up. They are thinking on their feet, innovating and fighting to emerge intact on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

And one thing that has become increasingly apparent is how vital the aviation industry is in modern society. From the shipment of critical medical goods and equipment, food supplies and other essential items to emergency flights, repatriation services and (hopefully in the not too distant future) the continued growth of business and leisure travel, airlines and airports have a vital role to play in bringing the world together.

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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New app detects COVID-19 risk in airports

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Amorph Systems, an IT technology and solution provider specialising in the aviation sector, has teamed up with VANTIQ, specialists in next-generation applications, to create a new system that will help airports worldwide address real-time operational requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.

By combining thermal cameras, flight information, passenger flows and real-time communication the application can detect passengers with high temperatures and alert airport operation control teams to identify potentially contaminated areas. The system also enables airport staff to quickly re-direct passenger flows, re-position flights and re-allocate staff.

“Airports are under incredible pressure right now, as they address exceptional operational issues caused by COVID-19,” said Dr. Frank Frauenhoffer, Managing Director of Amorph Systems. He explained that the new application will not only allow airport teams to manage the current situation, but also to prepare for future waves of COVID-19 or other potential virus outbreaks. “In order to keep passengers safe, airports need to apply new real-time health measures.”

Built in just two weeks, the new application is based on the existing Amorph.aero system, which is used by dozens of airports to plan, forecast and manage passenger flows and airport resources. It uses VANTIQ’s agile development platform, which combines real-world data and real-time events and uses an array of sensors, edge devices and artificial intelligence to power the next generation of applications.

Marty Sprinzen, co-found and CEO of VANTIQ, commented, “It’s amazing to see how people are stepping up to innovate in this pandemic, and we look forward to helping Amorph with other industrial applications. There will undoubtedly be many changes in how the world operates in both the short and long term.”

 

London City Airport supports foodbanks

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London City Airport has pledged to donate £50,000 to help nine foodbanks in its neighbouring boroughs of Newham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham.

The airport established a Community Fund which aims to provide local East London communities with an annual donation of £75,000. However, the impact of the coronavirus crisis has led to the airport securing an additional £50,000 for foodbanks.

Foodbanks are vital for the communities in East London, providing vulnerable people and families with essential supplies. The funds will allow organisations such as First Love Foundation to deliver food to people’s doors, as well as offering advice and support on the phone to those in need.

Pastor Obi Onyeabor from the Dagenham Foodbank stated that,“The kind donation from London City Airport will help us to replenish our supplies, deliver food to the doors of people that are self-isolating and continue with our soup kitchen for the homeless.”

Although London City Airport temporarily suspended all commercial and private flights on 25 March, it still remains accessible to support the emergency services and military in the national relief effort.

Kelly Tolhurst MO, Minister for Aviation commented, “London City Airport’s act of kindness shows that, despite the considerable challenges facing the aviation sector right now, businesses and those working in aviation are still supporting their local communities.”

RavnAir

Alaska’s regional airline on the brink of c..

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RavnAir

Alaska has warned the US Government that its largest regional airline, RavnAir Group, as well as many other airlines are in danger of bankruptcy which could leave rural communities completely isolated.

RavnAir has experienced an “astonishing” decline in bookings and revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline filed for bankruptcy on 5 April and laid off most of its staff and grounded its fleet of 72 planes, claiming that “government aid would not arrive before it ran out of cash”.

With over 80% of Alaskan communities accessible by air, the country depends on passenger and air cargo transport. A lack of air travel could “damage our other industries such as oil and gas, mining, seafood, and tourism” according to Alaska’s congressional delegation.

RavnAir stated that the airline was working towards resuming its air services that are essential to communities and the state of Alaska. It hopes to receive rescue funding under the CARES Act from the US Government, – which expects to distribute $32 billion across the aviation industry. If the Alaskan carrier is successful in its bid to receive funding, it “hopes to restart operations with as many of its laid-off employees as required.”

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.