Hamburg Airport celebrates additional Wizz Air routes

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Hamburg Airport is celebrating five new routes with the Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air. Lviv, Belgrade and Chișinău are brand new to Hamburg’s destination network with flights to all three cities starting in early July. From 24 July, Wizz Air will also operate two weekly flights to Tirana in Albania and from 9 August will expand its existing service to Bucharest with four flights per week to the Romanian capital.

“The fact that Wizz Air is resuming flight operations at Hamburg Airport, even expanding its commitment with three brand new destinations, is a very positive signal for our passengers,” said Gesa Zaremba, Senior Manager Traffic Development at Hamburg Airport.

Wizz Air began resuming operations at the German hub as early as the start of June, when it operated three flights per week to Skopje in North Macedonia and twice weekly flights to Varna in Bulgaria. It has since reopened connections to the Ukranian capital of Kiev and offers five flights per week to Gdansk on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast. With the new destinations added to the timetable this summer the airline will fly from Hamburg Airport to a total of nine destinations in eastern and central Europe.

Like airports around the world Hamburg Airport has introduced various measures on site to make it easier to observe the necessary distancing and hygiene regulations. “Our passengers want to fly again, on city trips, vacations and to visit family. We are well prepared at Hamburg Airport with clear hygiene and safety measures in place, we make air travel safe and enjoyable for passengers,” added Zaremba.

Swissport and Collinson team up for COVID-19 testing scheme

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Collinson – owner of airport lounge provider Priority Pass – has partnered with ground and cargo handling firm Swissport to pilot airport-based COVID-19 testing to ease quarantine for travellers arriving in the UK.

The private service would see passengers booking a Covid-19 test before beginning their journey to the UK, which would then be carried out on arrival by Collinson nurses in a Swissport facility with the airport terminal, with the result known within around five hours.

The tests could mean easing restrictions that would otherwise see passengers needing to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK. Inbound travellers who test negative would be exempt from quarantine, just as cabin crew and some essential workers are already.

Both Swissport and Collinson have written to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to ask for the government’s support for the ‘Test-on-Arrival’ scheme, which could see it added to an existing list of exemptions for quarantine.

The tests use the gold standard of virus detection, RT-PCR testing, which is sensitive enough to detect the particles of COVID-19, even if the passenger has displayed no symptoms. Under the proposals travellers taking the RT-PCR swab test would continue to their quarantine address provided at the time of booking to await the result, which, if negative, would allow them to come out of self-isolation. In the less likely event that the test is returned positive, the passenger will be asked to abide by government isolation requirements and remain at their given quarantine address for the next 14 days.

ANSPs implement measures to address financial crisis

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Data collected by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) shows that air navigation service providers (ANSPs) across Europe have taken extraordinary measures to reduce their costs in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Traffic is at a mere 15% of what they were this time last year and subsequently ANSPs have had to contend with a dramatic decline in revenues. The situation has been compounded in Europe by the deferral of ATC charges by the airlines, despite the need for ANSPs to provide a full service so that the skies remain open and safe.

Emergency measures including a reduction in staff costs of 11% on average and a 25% cut to executive pay salaries have been introduce by ANSPs to tackle their revenue shortfall. In nations where it’s possible about 20% of staff have been furloughed for either a portion of their work time or a defined period of time. Negotiations in many ANSPs are underway with staff representatives to introduce further measures.

“There is a misconception that ANSPs enjoy a financially protected position but this simply not the case,” said CANSO’s Director European Affairs, Tanja Grobotek. “Just like everyone in the industry they are having to reduce their costs. The measures available to do that vary from State to State primarily because of different employment law and labour relations. Also, the infrastructure investments of European ANSPs are at different stages of implementation, so while some can be deferred, in other cases deferrals would create more costs than savings.”

CANSO’s data also shows that ANSP’s have turned to their investment profiles for savings, cutting about 25% in CAPEX costs. This includes postponing or cancelling non-vital projects while maintaining priority and ongoing investments.

Warning that it’s important to note that the measures being taken by its members are being implemented to deal with the immediate situation rather than as long-term solutions, Grobotek added: “We have learned from previous crises the danger of making deep cuts now which could come back to haunt us as capacity crunches and flight delays when traffic levels return to normal. And so as well as dealing with the immediate challenges, we must keep an eye to the future.”

Belize’s Philip Goldson Airport to reopen

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With lockdown restrictions around the world easing, Belize’s Prime Minister has announced that the country’s Philip Goldson International Airport will reopen on 15 August as part of the country’s five-phase reopening strategy for tourism.

Belize has enjoyed more than 50 days of a COVID-19 free environment and in addition to its low population density and its geographic location just a short flight away from most major US cities,  the country is well poised for post-Covid-19 travel. The reopening of the airport will allow for further travel relaxation around the country.

All passengers arriving in Belize will be required to adhere to health and safety measures implemented by the Government of Belize including social distancing, hand sanitisation, proper hygiene and the wearing of face masks in public spaces. They will be required to download the Belize Health App and complete the required information prior to boarding their flight to Belize. A unique ID number will then be allocated to the passenger and will be used for contact tracing while in the country. Passengers are also being encouraged to take a COVID PCR test within 72 hours of travel to Belize. Those who fail to provide a negative COVID-19 test will be tested on arrival and their own expense. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be placed in mandatory quarantine for at least 14 days.

In addition to government guidelines Philip Goldson Airport has implemented its own additional cleaning and santisation measures. These include: installation of barriers and sneeze guards between passengers and immigration and customs officers. Passenger luggage will also be sanitised prior to being taken inside the terminal.

The reopening of Philip Goldson Airport will also pave the way for the resumption of services at Belize’s regional hubs and airstrips dotted around the country.

 

UK air bridges set to boost European aviation

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UK ministers are in talks to create air bridges that could allow Britons to holiday in Spain, Italy, Greece, France and other countries without quarantining on their return.

Since 8 June people arriving in the UK have had to self-isolate for 14 days in a move that was introduced to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The air bridges will enable passengers arriving in the UK from the specified countries to do so without quarantining and will be a welcome boost to airlines and airports as well as passengers ahead of the peak summer season.

Austria, Germany, Croatia and Turkey are also reportedly among the countries officials are considering to create ‘air bridges’ with. It is also understood that long-haul air bridges are also being considered for further down the line. Those countries being considered to share an air bridge must have a small enough rate of infection to allow people to travel there and back without having to undergo 14 days of self-isolation.

Amid the news that the airport ground handling company Swissport announced plans to cut more than 4,500 jobs, some are arguing that air corridors should be considered across the whole of the EU and Schengen area. In addition, the European commission has warned it could be considered discriminatory to allow travel corridors between some but not all EU countries.

Describing the air bridges as “travel corridors” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a Downing Street press conference that they are a “massive priority” to reinvigorate the aviation industry and help rebuild the economy.

The UK bridges policy is expected to be finalised on Thursday 25 June at a COVID-19 strategy meeting.

Commercial flights resume at Bournemouth and Exeter airports in the UK

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Both Exeter Airport and Bournemouth Airport in the UK are welcoming the resumption of commercial passenger flights.Both airports are operated by Regional & City Airports (RCA).

Ryanair passengers took off from Bournemouth for Malaga on 23 June for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the airline to ground its flights. Additional routes are also available to book throughout July for flights to destinations including Alicante, Dublin, Faro, Girona, Krakow, Malta, Murcia, Palma, Paphos, Prague and Tenerife.

TUI plans to recommence services to Antalya, Corfu, Dalaman, Lanzarote, Palma and Tenerife from 1 August.

“In the middle of a difficult period for aviation and UK business as a whole, a return to commercial flying marks the first signs of recovery and gives a much-needed boost to regional and international air connectivity,” said Steve Gill, Managing Director of Bournemouth Airport .

Meanwhile Ryanair plans to recommence routes from Exeter to Alicante and Malaga from Saturday 4 July, followed by additional routes with Loganair later in the summer to Edinburgh and Newcastle. matt Roach, Exeter Airport’s Managing Director, said: “We’re delighted to get going again, and in particular to welcome Loganair to Exeter Airport for the first time, particularly as it secures key routes to Newcastle and Edinburgh for our region and customers.”

From 1 August TUI will recommence routes from Exeter to Corfu, Dalaman, Heraklion, Lanzarote, Palma, Paphos, Tenerife and Zante.

Both airports have remained open for medical and military flights as well as general aviation throughout the pandemic. With commercial flights now resuming, additional measures have been introduced to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers. These include the installation of additional hand sanitiser units, enhanced cleaning, protective screens and the installation of floor markings and signage to help passengers maintain safe social distances.

San Francisco Airport introduces tote-based independent carrier system

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San Francisco Airport (SFO) is the first US airport to go live with a tote-based Independent Carrier System (ICS). The CrisBag ICS has been installed in the airport’s new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 and has been designed for shared airline use.

The ICS enables 100% track and trace as each bag remains in the same tote throughout the baggage handling and integrated security screening process. In addition the integration of an Explosives Detection System (EDS) makes CrisBag the first system to be certified by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for in-tote baggage security screening.

SFO engaged Beumer to install and test the CrisBag system as part of a redevelopment programme of the terminal that is scheduled to be complete in 2023. Prior to the redevelopment began there were 15 Computer Tomography X-Ray (CTX) machines serving several independently airline operated and owned baggage systems. The consolidation to a shared use baggage system using CrisBag has meant a reduction in the number of security screening machines that are needed for baggage screening within the terminal.

The Explosives Detection System was tested by the TSA. With 100% track and trace there is no loss of baggage tracking and the CrisBag system reduces manual handling at the TSA’s Checked Baggage Reconciliation Area inspection stations.

The innovative layout of the carrier system has also enabled the airport to significantly reduce tug traffic which has benefitted the airport as well as being good for the environment.

The Beumer Group has also been awarded a contract for a new baggage handling system in Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport that will mirror the system in Terminal 1.

Manchester Airport’s safe travel measures as operations resume

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Manchester Airport has introduced a range of safe travel measures to align with airlines resuming their services. A range of airlines have already announced or re-started operations from the UK’s third largest airport.

Last week saw Manchester’s first flight to Dubai start back with Emirates, while Monday 22 June sees Eastern Airways resume its Southampton service and Swiss Airlines’s restarting flights to Zurich. In addition to its Dublin service, Ryanair is also increasing its operations with routes to 16 destinations including Lanzarote, Alicante, Milan, Ibiza, Lisbon, Prague and Tenerife.

The airport has been carrying a trial of measures for a number of weeks and has now updated its advice to passengers so they know how to prepare for their journey and what to expect on arriving at the airport.

The safety measures introduced at the airport include wearing face coverings, enhanced cleaning, bookable security slots and temperature checks. A mix of graphics, posters, animations and social media content have enabled the airport to help share these measures with passengers.

Passengers are advised not to travel to the airport if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or someone in their household is self-isolating. They are also advised to check the latest government advice regarding travel at their destination and any requirements for passengers returning to the UK, such as quarantine restrictions.

The airport is also recommending that only those travelling by air enter the terminal building and to keep a distance while inside the terminal to comply with social distancing guidelines. Face coverings should be worn at all times across the airport campus, on airport buses and within the terminal. Customers should bring their own face coverings.

Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the airport, but passengers are reminded to wash their hands regularly using soap and water. The airport is also cleaning all surfaces on a rolling basis; trialling UV cleaning technology on escalator handrails and installing protective screens in busy customer areas. It is also trialling other potential safety measures, such as the use of temperature testing equipment at the entrance to security.

Brad Miller, COO at Manchester Airport said: “We’ve been trialling a lot of safety measures for the last month to ensure they are appropriate and firmly in place ahead of airlines ramping up their operations. We are confident we have the right mix of things in place to facilitate safe travel and allow passengers to fly with confidence.”

London City gears up for reopening

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Having closed to commercial passenger traffic on 25 March in response to the coronavirus crisis, London City is preparing to reopen for passenger flights on 21 June.

Ahead of that date the airport has conducted  a survey that shows many of its customers plan to get back in the air as soon as possible.

The survey found that an overwhelming majority (79%) were either very likely or quite likely to travel when they are told it is safe to do so by the government and airports or airlines. Almost half of customers (48%) were very likely to do so.

And contradicting claims that business travel is over, 41% of London City’s flyers anticipate they will take a flight for business within the next three months.

Customers’ responses also revealed insights into what passengers expect from the new flying experience. With social distancing and personal hygiene at the front of everyone’s mind, 78% of London City’s flyers said they were more likely to avoid check-in desks, while 65% said having hand sanitiser stations in multiple locations is very important and 85% said they would be more likely to use an airport if they can get to their gate in 20 minutes or less. Additional cleaning of high-touch areas and surfaces was also deemed to be the single most important measure, with 68% of respondents calling it as very important.

Commenting on customers’ responses, Robert Sinclair, CEO London City Airport said: “This clear early demand from our passengers to get back to flying is really encouraging… We have worked hard to create a safe environment at the airport, so they can get back to flying in confidence. At the same time, we have to be careful not to sacrifice the speed through the airport which passengers have always valued and is now more important than ever, as these results show.”

Sinclair added that with the aviation market opening up across Europe this week, “It is my hope that air bridges can be agreed quickly with low risk European neighbours. This news would be a shot in the arm for the industry as well as for the wider UK economy.”

London First Transport Director, Adam Tyndall, added: “Both blanket Foreign Office advice not to travel abroad and the mandatory two-week quarantine for all arrivals into the UK should be limited to the highest risk countries. Aviation can play a vital role in the economic recovery – from exports and professional services through to universities and hospitality – but only if the government removes these indiscriminate constraints and reverts to a nuanced, risk-based approach.”

The first flights to resume at London City Airport will serve domestic routes. On 21 June British Airways plans to operate flights to the Isle of Man. New routes will also begin between central London and Teesside in the North East and Dundee in Scotland on 6 July. These will be operated by Eastern Airways and Loganair respectively.

To help boost regional connectivity, it is also expected that services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin, will also return in July.

Airports call for data-driven approach to slot waivers

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In response to the International Air Transportation Association’s (IATA’s) call to extend the current waiver from the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it rule for airports slots into the winter season, airports across Europe have warned that this additional flexibility will come at a high cost to airports.

Airlines claim they need the extension on the airport slot waiver to allow for additional operational flexibility to plan their schedules as they recover from the coronavirus crisis. However, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has highlighted that this will leave airports with operational costs and no revenues to cover them. If the slot rule is extended it will allow airlines to declare full schedules and hold on to the requested slots, but it will also enable them to cancel flights close to their date of operation. There is a danger here that airlines use the airport slot allocation system and the flexibility afforded by the waiver to ensure airport slots cannot be reallocated and keep competition at bay.

“There is no need to rush with a decision on this just now. The winter season is still more than 4 months away, with considerable uncertainty about the pace and shape of the recovery in demand for air transport,” said
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe. “We urge the European Commission to follow a data-driven and evidenced-based approach to assess whether extending the waiver beyond the end of October will be the most appropriate measure to support the restoration of air connectivity. This means it will also need to consider the impact on consumers and communities – as well as the economic viability of the entire air transport
eco-system, including airports.”

The association recalls that the current waiver requires the decision on any extension to be based on EUROCONTROL’s traffic projections and scientific data on whether the persistent downturn in air traffic is caused by the pandemic.

Furthermore, ACI Europe also notes that a number of airports are reporting that airlines plan to operate full programmes for the winter season – with their request for slots even exceeding those made last year for the same period.

For the benefit of all stakeholders ACI Europe is calling upon the European Commission and EU States to abide by several principles when considering airport slot waivers. These include: A data-driven and evidence-based approach; strict conditions applied to waivers to avoid unintended impacts on the competitive landscape; slots allocated in response to new requests are not eligible to qualify for the waiver; and slots must not be covered by waivers when an airline publicly announces that it will cease or reduce services at an airport.