Wizz Air to establish Vienna base

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Wizz Air is to establish a new base operation at Vienna Airport, representing an investment of $331 million.

The Austrian base will open with one Airbus A320 aircraft in June, followed by the deployment of two additional Airbus A321 aircraft in November. The airline will operate a total of 17 new routes from the Austrian capital in 2018.

The newest Wizz services will connect Vienna with Gdansk, Tuzla and Varna from April, with Bari, Malta, Rome, Valencia and Tel Aviv from June and with Billund, Bergen, Dortmund, Kutaisi, Larnaca, Nis, Ohrid, Tenerife and Thessaloniki from November.

In 2018 Wizz Air will offer 450,000 seats on sale on its Austrian routes, operating 69 weekly flights by the end of the year from Vienna Airport. By adding the Austrian capital to its network, the airline now connects 145 destinations across 44 countries.

József Váradi, chief executive officer at Wizz Air, said: “Wizz Air’s Austrian customers now have the opportunity to travel from Vienna on an extensive network of routes to Europe and beyond at the lowest prices and experience Wizz Air’s great service on-board one of Europe’s youngest fleets. The new routes will also allow Wizz Air’s customers from other countries to experience for themselves the beauty of Austria’s cities and mountains.”

The new base establishment will create 120 new direct jobs with the airline and support additional jobs in the local aviation, transportation and hospitality industries.

Clark Airport partners with SITA to enhance communications

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As passenger traffic continues to grow in Asia Pacific, Clark International Airport – a gateway to the Philippines that is managed and operated by the government-owned enterprise, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) – has teamed up with SITA to install its AirportHub, which enables airlines to connect their applications and IT systems at an airport quickly and easily.

Cathay Dragon, the regional airline of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Group is already benefitting from the enhanced communications with Cathay Pacific’s general manager, IT infrastructure and operations, Kerry Peirse saying:

As an airline we need to be agile and be able to open new routes quickly and easily. When we connect our systems at an airport, like Clark International, that already has SITA AirportHub in place everything moves faster. Being able to connect to AirportHub removes the complexity of dealing with local telecom providers. It is streamlined and efficient, which means we can be up and running in a matter of weeks not months and the secure shared infrastructure offers consistent global service standards.

Located in Central Luzon, Clark Airport serves both North -Central Luzon and the northern Metro Manila area with the local catchment estimated to have a population of 23 million. In 2017, the airport’s passenger numbers rose 58% to its highest ever levels.

“SITA AirportHub allows us to provide the airlines, grounds handlers and our other tenants with secure and reliable bandwidth, including wireless connectivity to access off-airport applications. As more airlines choose to use Clark International they can be assured that they will have world-class, resilient and cost-effective communication services available to them,” said Alexander Cauguiran, acting president and CEO of Clark International Airport.

AirportHub is now available at more than 400 airports and provides 6,500 connections across the world, ranging from remote and regional destinations serving less than a million passengers to large international hubs.

“As passenger numbers continue to rise in Asia Pacific, airlines and airports are looking for services that maximise infrastructure. This is exactly what AirportHub enables. Clark International is the latest airport to join the growing number of airports that are working with SITA and the airlines to use shared infrastructure to deliver world-class services cost-effectively,” said Sumesh Patel, SITA President, Asia Pacific.

Adding that SITA’s investment in this shared infrastructure greatly minimises the likelihood of network isolation at the airport, Sumesh concluded: “The entire community can benefit from the reliable, secure, cost-effective, and scalable communications services which are enabled at the airports and which are the foundation upon which all the airport IT systems operate.”

Bergen Airport implements BlipTrack to improve wait times

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Norway’s second busiest airport with over six million passengers annually, Bergen Airport has followed in the footsteps of its Avinor sister airports, Oslo and Stavanger, by implementing BlipTrack’s queue management technology.

Designed to eliminate wait-time guesswork, the queue management solution will enable staff at Bergen to accurately measure and predict how many people are standing in line and for how long. Subsequently they can then optimise resource utilisation and improve the passenger experience.

“We want to make travelling easier for our passengers. The implementation of BlipTrack will help to ensure that passengers experience a quick and easy passage through this stage of the journey, and significantly increase the opportunity for a positive experience throughout the airport,” said Øystein Skaar, Bergen Airport’s director.

The airport recently opened a new terminal capable of handling up to 10 million passengers a year. To complement the infrastructure improvements, access to both live and empirical data insights on passenger queue and dwell times will provide airport management with the ability to monitor queue line density at security checkpoints so that they can respond promptly and effectively to irregular operations and disruptions.

In addition to benefitting airport management teams, Bergen plans to share the wait time information with its passengers to help reduce stress levels by creating realistic expectations for queue times.

Commenting on the new partnership with Bergen Airport, Preben Andersen, sales manager at BLIP Systems said: “With the new installation at Bergen Airport, BlipTrack has proven to be an effective platform to provide visibility on resource effectiveness for greater processing efficiency and improved passenger experience”.

easyJet launches flights from Tegel Airport

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easyJet has launched its inaugural flight from Tegel Airport in Berlin and its first domestic flight in Germany.

The airline has announced 19 new routes from Tegel Airport, including four domestic routes between the capital and Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart up to eight times a day.

In the coming months, the airline will also launch flights to 15 international destinations, including flights up to five times a day to cities like Vienna and Zurich and regular connections to leisure spots like Mallorca.

Combined with the airline’s existing operation at Berlin Schönefeld established in 2004, easyJet will fly 18 million passengers to and from Germany once the Tegel operation is fully established to 116 destinations, basing 37 aircraft and employing up to 1,700 people across the country.

Thomas Haagensen, country director for Switzerland, Germany and Austria, said easyJet is excited to be growing in Germany. He added: “Our new flights from Tegel will be particularly attractive for business passengers, offering early morning departures to enable day trips to key destinations in Germany and the wider DACH region.

“We look forward to combining all our Berlin operations into Brandenburg airport when the airport opens in October 2020. When we do so it will be easyJet’s second largest base, twice the size of any other easyJet base and will provide the platform for further easyJet investment.”

Rainer Bretschneider, state secretary for airport coordination in the Brandenburg State Chancellery commented: “After nearly 14 years of involvement of easyJet in Schönefeld, the added incorporation of Tegel in the flight plan represents a further strong commitment for the capital region of Berlin-Brandenburg. The new easyJet base strengthens the location, provides attractive connections and ensures important work job opportunities in the capital region.”

Chairman of the board of Berlin Brandenburg airport GmbH, Professor Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, said the expansion makes Tegel Airport and Schönefeld Airport the most important location for the airline outside of the UK, adding: “The decision made by easyJet shows how important the region is for the European aviation industry also in the future, and demonstrates the importance of the airports as drivers of growth in Berlin and Brandenburg.”

The airline plans to announce additional new routes from Tegel for the summer season starting 25 March 2018.

Toulouse-Blagnac plans to open new facilities in 2018

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This year the new facilities being constructed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France are to be gradually put into operation, with a low-fare and regional jetty to open in Spring.

In December 2017 the airport welcomed its 9 millionth passenger of the year, a new record footfall with growth of one million additional passengers in a year.

The airline reported that this growth has been “helped significantly” by three low-fare airlines: easyJet, Ryanair and Volotea “and confirms the success of the Toulouse-Paris connection, the leading route in Europe, which is largely fuelled by the Air France shuttle.”

The completion of the expansion works at the airport will support the growth in passenger traffic, as well as offer new services to travellers and airlines. Work began in the first quarter of 2017 to construct a new shopping area, security checkpoint system, a boarding jetty and 4-star hotel.

In the north of the airport, an extension of Hall D will accommodate all the security checkpoints with new generation equipment and a single access point to the boarding areas. The airport will also develop a new commercial area of 5,000m² dedicated to shops with around 20 new retailers and a redesigned food court offering. This extension is expected to open in winter 2018.

In Hall A, a 2,500m² jetty is being created to address the strong growth in low-fare traffic, with a waiting area, direct access to the tarmac, walk-on boarding for aircraft parked close to the jetty, and a quicker turn around for low-fare and regional airlines. The jetty is due to open in spring.

Hall A will also see the construction of a 4-star hotel with 148 rooms, directly connected to the hall, which is opening in autumn 2018.

The airport has also chosen the retailers for the commercial space that will open in 2018 in the boarding area with 17 shops (10 currently), 15 eateries (from 8 this year) and a duty free enlarged from 680m² to 1,850m². The expansion works will allow for the development of a much larger commercial area (5,000m² compared to 850m² currently available in the departure lounge of Halls C and D).

London’s Luton Airport celebrates record year

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Having welcomed 15.7 million passengers in 2017, an 8.6% increase compared with the previous year, London Luton (LLA) has marked 2017 as its busiest year on record.

Celebrations are set to continue at the airport throughout 2018 as it will be celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, which will be marked by the opening of the newly extended terminal building.

The new terminal will feature a new boarding pier with eight new boarding gates, as well as a greater variety of shops and restaurants. Eight certainly seems to be the magic number at the airport this year, as Wizz Air is introducing eight new routes including Athens in Greece, Larnaca in Cyprus, Keflavik in Iceland and the Italian city of Bari.

The popular low-fare carrier and Luton’s biggest airline, easyJet, has also announced five new routes including to Genoa in Italy and Reus in Spain. The increase of destinations served from Luton comes hot on the heels of a significant expansion of the airport’s route network in 2017, which saw the addition of 22 new routes.

“2017 has been another record breaker at LLA” said Nick Barton, CEO of LLA, before adding “we look forward to welcoming even more passengers as we enter our 80th year.”

As the demand for passenger air travel in the South East continues to grow, LLA plans to increase its annual capacity by 50% by 2020 by investing £150 million in the airport’s infrastructure and facilities. The airport is also campaigning for improved rail links, calling for four fast trains per hour to stop at Luton Airport Parkway station as part of the new East Midlands Rail Franchise.

Throughout 2018, passengers will see the airport transformed as we officially open our new terminal and reach the first phase of construction for the Mass Passenger Transit system, which will replace the current shuttle bus and create a rapid link between the train station and the terminal. However, this is only part of the solution to better public transport links and is why we continue to call on the government for four fast trains per hour between central London and Luton Airport Parkway.

Nick Barton, CEO of LLA.

Governor proposes $34m investment for Stewart International Airport

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Governor Andrew Cuomo, the 56th governor of New York State is calling on the Port Authority to approve a proposed investment of US$34 million to modernise and expand Stewart International Airport in Orange County, in southeastern New York State.

“By transforming Stewart Airport into a state-of-the-art transportation destination, we are providing an inviting gateway to the region and supercharging an economic engine for the entire Mid-Hudson Valley,” Governor Cuomo said. “This international transportation hub will provide a world-class passenger experience, attract new visitors and businesses and continue to move the Mid-Hudson Valley forward.”

The investment would support the construction of a permanent US Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station (FIS), which would allow the airport to handle both domestic and international flights and provide an improved passenger experience.

Currently, the airport uses a temporary federal inspection station, which requires staff to assemble moveable walls when international passengers arrive, which when in place, restricts the airport’s ability to handle domestic flights. A permanent FIS would support the airport’s potential to grow flight activity and passenger volume.

In a statement, the governor’s office said: “The airport provides an alternative option for residents and visitors in Mid-Hudson and downstate metropolitan area, specifically travelling to international destinations.”

Planning for future growth

Last year the airport began offering low-fare transatlantic flights with Norwegian and the expanded FIS would support continued passenger volume growth from these new international flights and increase bookings.

The governor has proposed a $27 million investment by the Port Authority to expand international passenger service at the airport. With this investment, project design is expected to be 100% complete by Q3, 2018 and construction of the new FIS is expected to be complete by Q1, 2021.

The new permanent arrivals facility would add nearly 20,000 square-feet of space to the existing terminal, and would enable the airport to offer continuous international passenger services through a modern FIS that meets US Customs and Border Protection requirements while allowing concurrent domestic and international flight arrivals.

It would also support the capacity to screen up to 400 international passengers per hour, incorporate Port Authority Sustainable Building Guidelines, including energy efficiency and natural daylight, and facilitate hardstand operations, including transportation of passengers from terminals to aircraft.

The governor’s office said: “Increasing passenger volume will support the regional tourism industry, as New York International is currently home to the New York Air Show, which already draws tens of thousands of people to Orange County and contributes more than $5 million in economic impact every year. In addition, with the development of LEGOLAND in Goshen, the Resorts Catskill Casino and other regional businesses have expressed interest in flying guests through the airport, which further supports the need to increase its capacity.”

Re-branding the airport

The governor has also proposed re-branding the airport New York International at Stewart Field. He argued that the current name does not communicate to international travellers where the airport is geographically based and changing the name would help attract additional flight services to the region.

The proposal also includes enhancing and re-branding the current Stewart Airport Express private bus carrier, providing service from the airport to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The service will be offered on a timetable to correspond with Norwegian’s flight schedule.

The governor is also calling on the Port Authority to release a request for proposal (RFP) to create a solar ‘carport’ photovoltaic system at the airport which would be constructed over sections of the parking area outside the main terminal building, utilising overhead canopies that would support arrays of solar panels. The PV system would also support the establishment of electric vehicle charging stations at the airport.

 

New direct route links Bristol and Gothenburg

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The British carrier bmi regional is launching its second direct route between Bristol, the UK’s gateway to the South West and Göteborg Landvetter Airport in Sweden.

Launching on 22 January 2018, the link between the two cities will be operated twice weekly on an Embraer 145 and will bring the number of destinations served by bmi from Bristol to nine.

“As part of our on-going strategy to connect key business regions, it was a natural choice to increase our service offering to/ from Gothenburg by adding a further Gothenburg route to our network connecting Sweden’s second largest city to our largest UK base in Bristol,” said bmi’s CCO Jochen Schnadt.

“Given our experiences on the Birmingham to Gothenburg market so far, we believe this new route will prove attractive to business as well as leisure customers alike enjoying bmi’s service of fast and convenient air services,” Schnadt continued.
bmi regional’s network out of Bristol already includes Paris, Milan, Munich, Brussels, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Aberdeen, but Gothenburg is the airline’s first Swedish route from its biggest UK hub.

Citing the UK as a popular destination for passengers travelling from Göteborg Landvetter, while Brits top the list when it comes to the number of incoming airline passengers to Gothenburg, Charlotte Ljunggren, Göteborg Landvetter’s airport director said: “We are really pleased that we can start the new year off with another new direct route from Göteborg Landvetter. This new route will give more people from western Sweden the chance to discover a new, exciting destination in a convenient way, and at the same time we can welcome more Brits to Gothenburg and everything the city has to offer.”

Home to Scandinavia’s largest port and a hub for global trade, Gothenburg is popular among those travelling from the UK as a minibreak destination. The city has garnered a well-earned reputation for its fabulous food, eclectic culture and vibrant nightlife and also serves as a gateway to the stunning coastline of West Sweden.

“We are delighted with the announcement of the new Gothenburg route operating from Bristol Airport. This extends the choice of destinations available to passengers from the South West and Wales, whether travelling for business or leisure. The route also provides inbound visitors, using Bristol Airport, ease of access, whether it is for a city break, visiting the various tourist attractions and conference venues the region has to offer,” added Nigel Scott, Bristol Airport’s business development director.

Norwegian offers low-fare link from Milan to Los Angeles

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Norwegian is to launch direct low-fare flights from Milan Malpensa Airport in northern Italy to Los Angeles from 16 June.

The hub in northern Italy serves a number of low-fare airlines including easyJet and Wizz Air.

Norwegian will use the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to connect Milan to Los Angeles for the first time in 16 years. The four flights a week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday will allow passengers to reach Los Angeles from Northern Italy in around 12 hours, without any stopovers, starting from €239.90 each way.

“2017 has been a year of exponential growth for Norwegian in Europe and the United States,” said Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos. Adding that in 2018, “we will continue our long-haul expansion by offering passengers easy and affordable connections between the US and some of Europe’s most exciting cities.”

Riga Airport starts 2018 on a passenger high

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Riga Airport closed 2017 on a record-breaking high as it welcomed its six millionth passenger for the year at the end of December.

Arriving from Copenhagen on the Latvian low-fare carrier airBaltic, Egle Marcinkeviciute transferred through Riga en route to Vilnius.

The airport, which is served by a number of low-fare and regional carriers, has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years and has invested heavily in its infrastructure, helping to make it more attractive both to airlines and passengers. New retail and service opportunities, including a spa and beauty salon as well as a barber shop, were opened in the departures terminal last year enabling passengers to make the most of their time at the airport.

The past year has seen the airport increase passenger figures by 12%, with the airport continuing to improve its position as a convenient transit hub to travel to further destinations – the number of passengers in this segment has increased by about 30%. Cargo volumes also increased by about 25%.

Commenting on the success of the past year, Ilona Lice, chairperson of the board of Riga International Airport said: “Passenger records were broken each month: in July, the number of passengers exceeded 646,000, which means that we served almost 21,000 arriving and departing passengers every day. In the winter season, passenger figures also showed a positive trend.”

Lice concluded that she hoped the improvements will drive further growth in passenger traffic and new routes saying: “I am happy and satisfied that the airport is becoming more and more attractive not only to passengers but also to airlines.”

Just shy of 20 new destinations from Riga Airport were opened last year, while several airlines have announced new routes for the coming year, including links to Lisbon (Portugal), Kutaisi (Georgia), Gdansk (Poland), Bordeaux (France) and Malaga (Spain).

 

Inset image: Riga welcomed the six millionth passenger, Egle Marcinkeviciute, to travel through the airport during 2017 at the end of December