Goldhofer’s Phoenix E towbarless aircraft tractor passes test phase with flying colours

By Airports, Featured, Ground handling, NewsNo Comments

The Phoenix E towbarless aircraft tractor from Goldhofer has successfully completed its test phase and is now ready for action on the airport apron.

The AST-2 towbarless tow tractor was originally unveiled at Inter Airport Europe 2019 and is the flagship product among Goldhofer’s towbarless aircraft tractors. It offers speeds up to 32km/h for maintenance tows and also offers some of the best versatility in its class, handling the full range of today’s aircrafts with a maximum take-off weight of 253 tonnes. The challenge for the Goldhofer engineering team in developing the battery-powered Phoenix E was to produce an electric version to match the existing diesel tractor.

The electric tow boasts the same range of performance in terms of tractive power, maneuverability and reliability. It also offers additional advantages, such as lower operating costs and longer maintenance cycles. Plus, a triple-circuit breaking system ensures excellent tracking performance and maximum travel safety at all times. The Phoenix E also comes with Godlhofer’s IonMaster technology – a high-performance electric drive concept that works with extremely efficient 700 V lithium-ion batteries, which have proven themselves in the application of electric buses, meeting the high standards of safety.

The vehicles can be easily charged at all standard AC and DC charging points with up to 150kW. Compared to diesel-powered vehicles, the system offers neormous energy savings, very high total vehicle efficiency, and noise emissions approaching zero. And like the diesel version, the Phoenix E satisfies the highest standards of safety, with premium components and a full range of service and maintenance tools.

Air bp now offering ongoing SAF supply at three UK locations

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

International aviation fuel products and service supplier, Air bp, has now supplied sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to three airports in the UK as part of its commitment to delivering SAF on an ongoing basis. Centreline FBO at Bristol Airport became the first UK location to receive a supply of SAF from Air bp in March, while London Biggin Hill and Airbus owned Hawarden Airport in Flintshire, North Wales, where SAF will be used to fuel the Beluga aircraft have also now received their first Air bp SAF supply.

These latest agreements demonstrate the importance of collaboration between fuel supplier, airport and customer in driving demand for SAF and ultimately help to meet the industry’s lower carbon goals.

“We are excited to see these ongoing commitments to SAF supply,” said Andreea Moyes, Sustainability Director, Air bp. “Stakeholders’ willingness to invest in SAF and collaborate with us will help drive demand and deliver carbon reductions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces. We are committed to working with stakeholders to explore the viable sale and purchase of SAF, which we believe is one of the aviation industry’s key routes to reducing carbon emissions.”

Air bp’s SAF is made from waste based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil, which is blended with traditional jet fuel. The SAF blend supplied is around 35% SAF and the SAF component provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of around 80% compared to traditional jet fuel it replaces.

Stephen Elsworthy, Manager of Fuel Services at London Biggin Hill said that by offering SAF to its customers and resident businesses, “we are helping them to meet their sustainability goals too, and vitally, contributing to our industry’s aim for a net zero carbon future.”

Meanwhile, the delivery of SAF at Hawarden Airport has seen Airbus take the next step in reducing its industrial carbon footprint with the maiden flight of a Beluga super-transporter using SAF. The North Wales line station, which uses the Beluga fleet to transport aircraft wings to Toulouse, Hamburg and Bremen is the second Airbus European site to use SAF, after Hamburg introduced the fuel to its cargo activities at the end of 2019.

“The progressive deployment of sustainable aviation fuels at Airbus’ sites is an essential part of our decarbonisation roadmap. We’re proud that Broughton has become the second Airbus site to introduce SAF in its Beluga-fleet operations,” said Andy Owen, Beluga Line Station Manager at Broughton.

Menzies Aviation commits to carbon neutral operations by 2033

By Airports, Featured, Ground handling, NewsNo Comments

Aviation logistics specialist, Menzies Aviation, has committed to making 100% of its operations carbon neutral by 2033, which also happens to be the company’s 200-year anniversary. According to Menzies, it is the first aviation company to make this ground-breaking commitment to carbon neutrality.

To reach carbon neutrality Menzies will focus on investing in electric ground support equipment (GSE), reducing emissions through identifying operational efficiencies and balancing remaining emissions with carbon offsetting initiatives. The transition to lower emission and electric GSE is key to reducing carbon footprint and supporting customers’ sustainability ambitions and in 2020 Menzies made significant progress in upgrading equipment as part of new contracts. It’s new contract with Qatar Airways at Gothenburg and Stockholm airports has enabled Menzies to invest in three new electric baggage tractors and two new electric aircraft loaders, as well as an electric towbarless tractor in Stockholm. Meanwhile in South Africa, a new contract with Mango Airlines saw the Group purchase 15 new electric belt loaders and 12 new electric baggage tractors across three airports – Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. And in North America, Menzies has replaced and retired older, less efficient GSE across four locations with plans to do so in more locations across the region.

Alongside investment in new equipment, Menzies will also support teams with implementing processes to make zero fuel spills a daily target throughout the business as well as local initiatives to reduce energy use and lessen environmental impacts.

Commenting on how the the company’s carbon neutral goal coincides with its milestone anniversary in 2033, Philipp Joeinig, CEO and Chairman of Menzies Aviation said: “As flight volumes recover we see an opportunity to rebuild the aviation industry to be more sustainable, and we will be taking advantage of this to promote greener operations across our entire business. With our Sustainability Strategy and Programme now in place, we have clearly defined targets and supporting action plans to help realise them, however it is critical that we build relationships across the aviation ecosystem, from trade bodies to suppliers, to ensure that we can collectively remove barriers to green innovation and adoption.”

Paine Field Passenger Terminal voted one of America’s best small airports

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

For the second year in a row Paine Field, which is operated by Propeller Airports, has been named a winner of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards for Travel – 10 best small airports in the US. The airport has continued to offer full operations in the wake of the global pandemic.

Noting that the travel industry has had a difficult year, Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports said “we’re so pleased that as things slowly resume and people return to flying that readers still recognise the value, convenience and service level we provide at Paine Field. We’re proud of this honour and look forward to continuing to proivde the best-in-class airport experience we’ve become known for.”

Ranking alongside airports such as Myrtle Beach and Bradley International, Paine Field was recognised for its convenience to downtown Seattle, and an enjoyable and comfortable experience for its passengers. With valet parking, lounge-style seating, and boutique food and beverage options not found in any other airline terminal in the country, Paine Field has set a new standard for airport amenities and services.

While the public-private partnership model for airports is relatively novel in the US, Propeller’s partnership with Snohomish County has resulted in significant economic success for the region, saving taxpayer dollars while offering a quality travel experience. Despite the recent downturn in travel as a result of the global pandemic, Paine Field has reported seeing even more new passengers since the onset of COVID, thanks to enhanced cleaning and screening that it says can be better managed in a small terminal. Measures that have been introduced include temperature checks for all passengers, electrostatic cleaning of all boarding gates between flights, the use of hospital-grade HEPA filters within the facility air handling system, along with hand sanitising dispensers placed throughout the terminal.

Regional hubs in Canada welcome restoration of WestJet routes suspended as a result of COVID.

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

WestJet is restoring domestic flights to Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Quebec City after service was suspended as a result of COVID-19. The reinstatement of service to the five airports is set to be resumed from the end of June and will restore WestJet’s complete network of pre-COVID-19 domestic airports.

“We committed to return to the communities we left, as a result of the pandemic, and we will be restoring flights to these regions in the coming months, of our own volition,” said Ed Sims, WestJet, President and CEO. “These communities have been a crucial factor in our success over our 25 years and it is critical for us to ensure they have access to affordable air service and domestic connectivity to drive their economic recovery.”

In addition to the resumption of services to these five airports, WestJet will also resume service between St John’s and Toronto, which was indefinitely suspended in October. And following a temporary suspension the restart of service between St. John’s and Halifax will be advanced from 24 June to 6 May.

“Our focus remains on the safe restart of air travel. We ask that federal and provincial governments work with us to provide clarity and certainty to Canadians, including travel policies that support economic recovery and restore jobs,” continued Sims.

In recognition of the investments that WestJet’s travel and tourism partners in the respective regions need to make to begin to recover from the pandemic, the airline will continue to encourage the Atlantic premiers to advance their efforts to ensure the region is open to Canadians this summer.

Sims concluded that alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, “we are hopeful that there will be an easing of onerous travel restrictions currently in place. We look forward to working together to safely reconnect Canadians to the region in the coming months.”

Fraport Slovenia partners with Frequentis to enhance aeronautical data quality

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

Frequentis has been selected by Fraport Slovenia to support Ljubljana Airport with enhancing aeronautical data quality (ADQ) in line with its airport expansion, which is due to be complete in summer 2021.

Frequentis’ smart ADQ solution is provided as a service under the company’s business model software as a service (SaaS), meaning it is responsible for every aspect of the service provision, its infrastructure and operation.

An important gateway to Slovenia and the surrounding region, Ljubljana Airport connects the Balkan region with Western and Central Europe. It is currently undergoing a terminal expansion project, which will the terminal building increase by 15,000 sq. m and feature a new departure hall, 14 additional check-in counters and five new security lines.

“Despite current reduced passenger numbers, we need to be prepared for the increased passenger demand expected during the recovery,” said a spokesperson for Fraport Slovenia. “With Frequentis smartADQ we will cost efficiently implement the software to fulfill the complex EU regulation, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of aeronautical data we share with SloveniaControl. This allows us to improve our processes and enhance safety, in turn supporting our goals for efficiency and growth.”

Charly Fesl, Director Airports, Frequentis added, “This is one more important airport relying on our managed software as a service offering. The software is hosted in the Microsoft Azure Cloud; the Frequentis smartADQ provides all ADQ functionality according to EU regulations, including Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/373 and Regulation (EU) No 139/2014 in a cost-efficient package, ensuring data quality through clear and streamlines rules and validation mechanisms. We are looking forward to bringing enhanced data quality to Fraport Slovenia, supporting their goals for more efficient airport operations.”

Birmingham Airport introduces lateral flow testing for employees

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

Birmingham Airport in the UK has introduced a free of charge rapid testing service for all its on-site employees to support the national drive to identify any positive cases of the virus in the workplace. The initiative is part of ongoing efforts to protect both customers and staff from COVID-19 and compliments the airport’s onsite passenger testing service, delivered by ExpressTest – a paid for service for those needing to prove a negative PCR or antigen COVID test and relevant ‘fit to fly’ certification.

Solihull Council has been enlisted to train airport personnel to set up and carry out quality assured testing. The airport has created a booking platform and dedicated testing centres for staff to carry out regular testing whilst working on site.

“Birmingham Airport is crucial to the region’s air transport needs, and as we prepare to restart the operation, testing will play an incredibly important role in our collective recovery,” said Al Titterington, the Airport’s Terminal Operations Director.

The aim of the lateral flow testing service is to detect workers that may be carrying the virus but who are asymptomatic. Results are sent directly tot he employee from the NHS Test and Trace service within 30 minutes of taking the test.

“By offering lateral flow tests to all who work at the airport, we can increase the chances of finding asymptomatic cases to protect our passengers, employees and partners and create the right conditions and reassurance to serve customers once restrictions are eased,” added Titterington.

With the airport preparing to welcome back employees and passengers once it is safe to gradually ease travel restrictions,  significant changes to its infrastructure have already been made to create a COVID-secure environment, in line with Government guidance. This includes the provision of hand sanitiser units throughout the site, perspex screens at customer touchpoints, social distancing markers and signage and an enhanced cleaning regime, using safe, anti-viral, mist treatment. It is also mandatory to wear a face covering in airport buildings and buses.

“It’s great to see workplace testing being rolled out by the airport,” said Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council. “The airport is a key economic asset within Solihull and so it is important to support this as national restrictions begin to ease… As we start carefully on the road to reopening, it’s important that businesses and workplaces encourage testing for their employees to identify positive cases quickly.”


Thales selected to prepare France for new Entry/ Exit system

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

In an effort to secure borders in France ahead of the new Schengen Area Entry/ Exit System,which will come into effect from February 2022 to register non-European citizens crossing an EU external border, the French Government has selected Thales to install several hundred biometric entry and exit registration systems at various border crossings including airports situated throughout the country.

“This new European entry and exit system represents a major challenge for Member States,” said the French Ministry of the Interior. “On the one hand, they are required to be ready and compliant with the regulations by 2022; on the other hand, they are faced with the operational reality and the fact that millions of people have to be processed each year, for whom we want to offer the smoothest possible experience,” stated the French Ministry of the Interior.”

In line with the directive approved by the European Union, those countries that are part of the Schengen Area will be required to deploy pre-registration kiosks or similar equipment in order to allow non-schengen visitors to register their identity quickly and securely, including their biometric data (fingerprint and facial biometrics).

“Thales’ expertise in identity and border management provides us with technological reliability, without having to make a choice between security and ease of use,” added the French Ministry of the Interior.

The Thales Gemalto Border Kiosks will incorporate various document verification and biometric technologies, offering rapid registration for travellers, as well as highly accurate identity verification, data management protection and advanced operational fluidity at border crossings.

“The pre-registration kiosks are equipped with our state-of-the-art technologies for identity creation and verification,” explained Youzec Kurp – SVP Identity and Biometric Solutions at Thales. “They are based on software optimised for ultra-rapid checks of a document’s authenticity and intelligent detection of any attempted identity fraud. We have therefore been able to develop high-performance tools to support operations, without compromising the safety and protection of travellers’ data.”

SITA ramps up airport portfolio with Irish expansion

By Airports, NewsNo Comments

To help develop the next generation of its SITA AT AIRPORTS portfolio, the IT provider is expanding its Agile DevOps teams in Letterkenny, Ireland. SITA established its office in Letterkenny in 2003 and since then has grown the team from 20 to more than 100. As part of its expansion, the company’s new roles include software engineers, test engineers, UX designers, scrum masters and product owners.

With the air transport industry now in a confirmed, albeit slow, recovery from COVID-19, airports, airlines and governments are looking to further streamline their operations and passenger journey through automation and digitisation. In response to this growing demand, SITA is accelerating the innovation and development of new solutions across border management, airport operations, passenger processing and border management, which are already being used in more than 1,000 airports globally.

“We are all eager to see our industry rebound and technology is a vital component of its recovery. Airports and airlines are looking to technology to automate the passenger journey while digitalising their operations to drive new cost efficiencies,” said David Lavorel, CEO SITA Airports and Borders.

Commenting on the decision to expand their presence in Ireland, Lavorel noted that Letterkenny, has in recent years established itself as an important hub for software development. “Through the support of the Irish government, Letterkenny is recognised as a vital hub for software innovation, making it an obvious choice as a strategic location for the development of our SITA AT AIRPORTS portfolio.”


Toulon Hyères Airport welcomes two new easyJet routes

By Airports, Featured, NewsNo Comments

Low-cost carrier easyJet is expanding its French network with the addition of Toulon Hyères Airport in the south of France. Operated by VINCI Airports, Toulon Hyères will now offer links with Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (four times a week) from 28 June and London Gatwick (two times a week) from 23 June.

The connection with Paris will act as a bridge between the Toulon hub and international destinations thanks to the numerous other lines operated via the Parisian airport. It will also help broaden the opportunities for the international and economic development of the Var region. Meanwhile the link with London Gatwick, which is also operated by VINCI Airports, is the first time since 2018 Toulon has had a direct connection to the London gateway. With more than 4,000 British citizens owning a second home in the Var region, the new route is in response to popular demand. It is also the second new connection from Toulon Hyères to another VINCI network airport, following the opening of the line to Nantes Atlantique, which occurred in July 2019.

“This achievement is the result of the excellent relationship between easyJet and VINCI Airports’ teams,” said Nicolas Notebaert, CEO of VINCI Concessions and Chairman of VINCI Airports. “easyJet is setting up for the first time at Toulon Hyères airport. The new lines to Paris and London are a fantastic opening for Var inhabitants, and will favourably support the local tourist economy’s recovery. We are particularly proud to open the line to London Gatwick, another airport in the VINCI Airports network. the synergies within our network of platforms open up development opportunities for the territories in which we are established.”

easyJet continues to grow its presence in France having established seven bases in the country. “We are happy to see Toulon-Hyères join our network and thus become the 21st airport served by easyJet in France,” said Bertrand Godinot, General Manager of easyJet France. “Our crews are eager to welcome passengers departing from Toulon-Hyères aboard our modern fleet, but also to introduce tourists to the charms of the Var region, thereby contributing to the connectivity and economy of French territories.”