UK aviation at risk without government support

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Airports across the UK have once again been let down by the UK Government as it fails to recognise the dire situation facing airports and has yet to offer financial support targeted specifically at airports.

Following the unveiling of the UK Chancellor’s Winter Economic Plan, the Airport Operator Association’s (AOA’s) Chief Executive, Karen Dee, said that, “For months and months, the aviation industry has called for targeted support, but still nothing is forthcoming. The government appears blind to the scale and urgency of the crisis facing the UK’s airports.”

Throughout the pandemic, UK airports have had to effectively shutdown to commercial traffic, leaving them with in some cases 99% fewer passengers almost overnight.  Dee highlighted that even with the existing government support, the loss of revenue is enormous.

She warned of, “Significant financial and job losses throughout the UK’s network of regional airports,” as she pointed out that projections by the AOA show that up to 110,000 airport and airport related jobs are at risk.

Underlining the need for testing to be introduced to help get the industry back up and running again, Dee said that, “The continued dithering and delay on testing by government must end with the introduction of a robust testing system without any further delays.

“Airports across the UK need help now to survive the challenging winter months including business rates relief for airports in England and Wales, continuation of VAT-free sales airside, funding for the CAA, a temporary suspension of APD and a longer-term package of financial support that promotes, protects and enhances our global connectivity as our sector looks towards the long journey to recovery.

“The future of UK connectivity and global Britain is being put at risk by the continued lack of action from the government it is essential that they deliver this support and deliver it now.”

 

John Wayne Airport welcomes Clay Lacy Aviation FBO

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Clay Lacy Aviation has been awarded a 35-year lease at John Wayne Airport in California, US. The lease, which was awarded by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, is to build and operate a fixed base operation (FBO) to serve as a business gateway for Orange County.

Described as one of the most experienced and respected business aviation firms in the US, Clay Lacy was awarded the 15-acre leasehold to design, build and operate a full service FBO. The facility will feature more than 110,000 sq. ft. of hangarage, 42,000 sq. ft. of office space and a private terminal that incorporates the latest in sustainable design. The development will also include new facilities for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Air support Bureau and the Orange Coast College Aviation Science Department.

Having engaged with the local community and stakeholders, Scott Cutshall, SVP Business Operations at Clay Lacy Aviation explained that, “As a direct result of those conversations, we incorporated many features into our development that will be appreciated by airport users and the community,” he added.

Boosting employment for the local community the new FBO is expected to provide 180 high-paying jobs including openings for pilots, maintenance technicians, finance and accounting professionals, sales and marketing experts, hum resources and IT specialists.

Brian Kirkdoffer, President and CEO of Clay Lacy Aviation concluded: “As Orange County’s newest FBO, Clay Lacy Aviation will build world-class facilities, provide award-winning FBO services, created good-paying jobs, and will always be a good neighbour to the local community. This partnership will benefit the County, its residents and airport customers for decades to come.”

Neste partners with Shell to increase supply of SAF

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Neste, the leading producer of renewable fuels, and aviation fuel giant Shell have signed an agreement to increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The agreement, which will see the significant increase in the supply and availability of SAF from October 2020 anticipates the increasing desire from airports and airlines to reduce emissions.

“To tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions, the aviation industry must act fast,” said Anna Mascolo, President, Shell Aviation. The fuel supplier aims to reduce the carbon intensity of the fuels it sells by offering lower-carbon fuels such as SAF over time. “Today’s agreement with Neste will help shell Aviation customers to lower their emissions and demonstrates the kind of progress we can delivery by working in collaboration with others,” she continued.

Meanwhile Neste’s Executive Vice President for Renewable Aviation, Thorsten Lange, underlined that the aviation industry is essential for global business. He said it also generates growth and will help facilitate  economic recovery. “It also enables people to travel and goods to be transported rapidly across the globe. But if we are to address aviation-related emissions, we need to utilise all the available solutions. SAF offers the only viable alternative to fossil liquid fuels for powering commercial aircraft with an immediate potential to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions. We are fully committed to supporting the aviation industry, its customers and corporates with their emission reduction targets.”

Header image: Shell refuelling photo taken pre-COVID-19 impact

Seychelles deploys Travizory technology to help re-open borders safely

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The Republic of Seychelles has become the inaugural client to deploy Travizory’s new technology which will facilitate the collection and analysis of traveller documentation to help ensure the safe re-opening of the country’s borders.

The technology will allow Seychelles health authorities to collect and identify health information directly from arriving passengers via easy to use web and mobile apps. This information is then fed securely into a single system, providing advance information concerning all travellers wishing to travel to the Seychelles. The system gives authorities the capability to run rapid and efficient vetting procedures to minimise COVID-19 and other security risks.

“Streamlining the process this way makes it faster and more accurate for our authorities, and reduces paperwork,” said Alan Renaud, Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine. “We wanted to move to a digital and paperless gathering of information, following the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for touchless and paperless travel.  The new system removes the guesswork for airlines at check-in and boarding. And, perhaps most importantly, it makes the passenger journey smoother and provides more peace of mind to travellers that they will not be stopped on their way.”

While enabling international travel to let in key workers and specialists is vital to ensure the safety of local citizens and to enable tourism to restart, airport staff were struggling to keep pace with the number of arrivals and accompanying paperwork to process. The new Visitor Management Platform replaces the current email and form-based system.

Airlines are also embracing the new system as they will know for sure that travellers have been authorised to travel. Airlines can now verify the validity of the traveller authorisation prior to boarding. Airlines can also submit Advance Passenger Information (API) data by electronic means to the Republic of Seychelles.

“By having all the passenger information submitted ahead of time, including passengers’ own health certification, we eliminate inefficiencies. Security clearance is streamlined, simplifying the process of entry. the end result is better performance and reduced risk, all of which comes together to improve the passenger experience, not only at airports, but in our archipelago as well,” offered Renaud.

Renaud Irminger, CEO of Travizory added, “It’s about providing the traveller with a positive experience. By making the whole process as painless as possible, giving people the assurance that they will be allowed to travel to the country and that the flight they are on is safe, the experience of visiting the Seychelles will now be even better.”

Explaining how the platform is future proof Irminger said, “As COVID-19 is replaced by the next threat, the technology can very easily be adapted to keep the Seychelles, its inhabitants and its visitors as safe as possible, from all threats regardless of where they come from.”

Meanwhile Didier Dogley, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine and Chair of the Re-opening of Seychelles Taskforce,  concluded: “The new technology will allow us to balance the need for tourism to grow and sustain our economy without compromising the health of our citizens. It will have a positive impact on tourism and the wider economy in the Seychelles, as well as clearly demonstrating Seychelles ability to deploy digital solutions.”

Editor’s comment: Turning a crisis into an opportunity

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Winston Churchill famously said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”

The former British Prime Minister’s quote has seldom been more appropriate than now given the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. It was certainly a directive that was adopted by speakers and delegates alike during this week’s AviaDev Europe online conference. Rising to the theme of adapt, develop and engage, the overriding message from discussions was clear – don’t be afraid, address the challenges, adjust your model and do not waste this downturn.

“This is a whole new card game and the reality is nobody knows the rules,” offered Claus Raasted, Director for the College of Extraordinary Experiences. He delivered an invigorating talk on how to exploit the unique possibilities of a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, in which he cited Churchill’s quote. “Those who dare, get to rewrite the rules. If you just wait and repeat what you did yesterday, you will fail,” he enthused.

It was fitting then that ahead of the event, Juraj Toth, Managing Director of AviaDev Europe, told Regional Gateway that he was “Excited and proud of the AviaDev Europe team, that we are the first in this space to launch a platform for the route development community to get together online, in the post-COVID world.”

Giving advice on how airlines can survive and rethink their future, Becca Rowland at MIDAS Aviation warned regional carriers they will need to work harder to be more competitive. She also referenced how passenger preferences have changed. “Safety and security concerns around connecting through airports are real and passengers will increasingly want to fly nonstop. Domestic and local regional travel will be first to recover, but long-haul travel will take longer. There are ways to make connectivity and hub systems work but those airports focused on long-haul connectivity will struggle,” she said.

Referencing how the current situation has provided tourism boards with an opportunity to regain their position of power at the aviation strategy table, Gavin Eccles, Professor of Aviation and Tourism Management, urged airports to work more closely with tourist boards to give confidence to airlines. He added, “However, we must be careful that we are coordinated in our approach so that airports and local tourism authorities don’t end up competing with each other.”

Shining the spotlight on the issue of seasonality and how it affects the aviation and tourist industry, Gerard Brown, Founder and CEO of Low Season Traveller (pictured), underlined the need for a collaborative approach. “Budgets are being cut so we should be using some form of barter system,” he advised. “Your airport or destination has a database of contacts that is different to mine. We can help promote each other’s business to our respective networks. No money changes hands, but in the long run we both benefit.”

The need to introduce rapid, cost-effective COVID testing at airports and the call for greater harmonisation over travel restrictions were also discussed, with Max Oldorf from CH Aviation illustrating how there was a definite and sharp increase in air travel when Europe opened its borders and eased travel restrictions in May, but a clear decrease in demand when the restrictions were reintroduced at the end of August.

The conferencing wrapped up with an insightful panel discussion on how regional aircraft are helping to rebuild the airline industry. And alluding to Churchill’s quote, Sameer Adam, Regional Vice President, Sales – Europe, Russia & CIS, Middle East and Africa at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, concluded that stakeholders across the regional aviation sector need to focus on the long game, saying “It’s about looking to the horizon and coming out of the COVID pandemic having made a difference!”

Have a great weekend and don’t forget, if you haven’t already seen it, the latest issue of Regional Gateway magazine is out now!

Chloë Greenbank,

Editor, Regional Gateway.

Karachi welcomes multiple new links with Pegasus

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As part of plans to expand its international network Turkey’s digital airline, Pegasus, will start operating flights to Karachi, the capital city of the Sindh Province in Pakistan on 25 September.

Passengers will be able to connect to Karachi via Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen in Turkey from Pegasus’ destinations in Manchester, London Stansted, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Cologne, Brussels, Kyiv, Bucharest, Kharkiv, Moscow, Stuttgart, Geneva, Barcelona, Marseille, Zaporizhia and Prague.

Ryanair expands route network from Göteborg Landvetter

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The Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair is investing further at Göteborg Landvetter Airport with a new direct route to Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ryanair will be the only airline to serve this route, which will start on 25 October and will be operated twice weekly with a Boeing 737-800. It is expected to be a popular new route as Western Sweden has a large share of residents with roots in the Balkan region and Bosnia in particular.

“We’re delighted that Ryanair has chosen to expand it operations at Göteborg Landvetter with a new direct route to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and under this challenging time we are pleased that Ryanair sees new opportunities in this market,” said Elizabeth Axtelius, Director Aviation Business at Swedavia.

Although Axtelius conceded that far fewer flights compared to before the pandemic can be expected for a while going forward, she also noted that she is cautiously looking forward to seeing more air traffic and passenger return to Swedavia’s airports in due course. “Health and safety is our top priority. In addition to the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s recommendations, we comply with international regulations and have introduced requirements for face coverings and other extensive infection control measures to create a safe environment both for passengers and employees at all of our airports.”

Editor’s comment: Quarantine roulette

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Less than two weeks ago, the UK opened up a travel corridor with Portugal enabling holidaymakers to travel freely between the two countries without having to self-isolate on their return to the UK. But a fortnight later and the corridor is at risk of closing again this weekend due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, Greece is clamping down on island restrictions after passengers arriving in Cardiff tested positive for COVID-19 having returned from the Greek island of Zante. Scotland and Wales have already placed Greece on its quarantine list as of Thursday 3 September.

Passengers understand there is a risk if they travel abroad and for many it’s a risk worth taking. But this game of ‘quarantine roulette’ is not a long-term solution. Heathrow Airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, believes the UK Government simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to deal with anything beyond the current health crisis. Addressing Aviation Club members on Wednesday 2 September he underlined that, “It’s no good standing on the sidelines and criticising the government. We need to step up and help them understand that aviation is a lifeblood for the economy and re-opening borders safely is vital to ensuring a successful recovery.”

Heathrow, which in collaboration with Collinson and Swissport already has a COVID-19 testing facility ready to go, is pushing the UK Government to give the green light for COVID testing at airports. Holland-Kaye also acknowledges that it’s vital regional hubs across the UK are not left behind on the road to recovery. He noted that his airport is already in touch with Cardiff Airport to share and discuss its research on testing. “We need airports across our route network to be in an equally strong position as we emerge from the current situation,” he argued.

To help boost travel demand Swiss Airlines is also calling for coronavirus testing to be implemented at Switzerland’s airports to help passengers avoid the country’s compulsory 10-day quarantine requirement. Under Swiss Airline’s plan, the costs of the tests would be jointly covered by medical providers and airports rather than the passengers. And in Germany, those returning from abroad are tested free of charge at all major airports and have been since early August.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, has lamented the lack of cooperation between governments in implementing the restart of air travel with policies such as closed borders and quarantines continuing to annihilate the industry. “What is killing aviation is the fact that governments are not managing the risks of open borders. Instead they are keeping global mobility effectively in lockdown… We need governments to take on the leadership to manage risks and adopt a mindset of not being defeated by the virus. Then, with testing, technology, science and determination we can re-open borders and get the world moving again,” he stated.

We certainly shouldn’t be gambling with aviation’s future. Yes COVID-19 has been devastating but aviation stakeholders still have everything to play for and as Holland-Kaye concluded, “We can achieve extraordinary things when we work together.”

Best wishes,

Chloe Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway

Doncaster-SHeffield

Wizz Air strengthens base at Doncaster Sheffield Airport

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Doncaster-SHeffield

Doncaster Sheffield Airport has welcomed Wizz Air’s expansion at the air transport hub with the addition of a second Airbus A320 aircraft . The Hungarian carrier is also offering six new routes to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Lisbon and Eindhoven from Doncaster Sheffield. The new routes will start on 22 October.

The addition of a second based aircraft and the new routes comes less than three weeks after the announcement of Wizz Air UK’s based operation at the airport. This recent development of Wizz Air’s offering at the airport reflects the positive response from customers. It also demonstrates the airline’s long-term commitment to bring affordable travel opportunities to its British customers on Europe’s youngest aircraft fleet.

SAN receives Environmental Achievement Award

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San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Airport Authority) has received an Environmental Achievement Award for its Airport Development Plan (ADP) Outreach.

The award from the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) recognises the airport’s outreach, education, and communication efforts surrounding the ADP which envisions the replacement of Terminal 1 with a more modern facility and other improvements that enhance the airport experience for everyone.

. More than 100 meetings were conducted with educational institutions, business groups, chambers of commerce, local and state elected officials, and local community groups. Additionally, the Airport Authority worked extensively with regional partner agencies to ensure that the airport could be seamlessly connected to the region’s transportation and transit infrastructure.

“The ADP outreach plan took a proactive and intentional approach to bring the Draft Environmental Impact Report to the community to ensure stakeholders were heard, input and concerns were received and we responded appropriately,” said Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President and CEO. “We appreciate ACI-NA’s recognition of SAN’s comprehensive and collaborative approach to community outreach.”

While the ADP was approved to move forward in January, the impacts of COVID-19 have paused all capital improvement projects, including the ADP.