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Financial assistance needed to protect airpor..

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Airports around the world employ – either directly or indirectly – 6.1 million people which makes up 60% of all employment in the aviation sector, according to Airport Council International (ACI) World. But the livelihoods of these millions of employees is now seriously under threat as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current estimates suggest airport industry losses of up to $70 billion compared to a project pre-COVID-19 baseline for 2020.

Subsequently ACI World is calling for measures to protect the livelihoods of these employees with Angela Gittens, ACI World’s Director General calling on States to “consider financial relief measures that will help to alleviate the significant drop in cash flows and to ensure operational and business continuity of airport activities, and to protect jobs.”

Gittens added: “The present crisis is leading toa domino effect and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, estimates that the decline in international visitor spending in the US will tally 13 times the impact of SARS and nearly double the impact of 8/11.”

On behalf of airports globally, ACI is asking for measures to be considered that include the immediate provision of government assistance through grants and subsidies to support operating expenses and wages to airport staff. Other measures include: ensuring secured financing and loans at preferential rates and bank guarantees; the suspension of all national and local aviation taxes for 2020; and the waiving or postponement of airport rents and concession fees applicable to airport operators, irrespective of their ownership status.

ACI is also suggesting that its member States must also consider maintaining a minimum level of employment to allow continued operations and to preserve a rapid return to full operations. This would mean supported wage guarantees with regards to those still employed and bridge-in programmes for those temporarily laid off.

Australian regional aviation to receive $298m..

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The Australian Government has agreed to a £298 million bailout for regional aviation so they can continue operating through the coronavirus crisis. The package was announced 24 hours after Australian regional carrier Rex had said it would struggle to transport coronavirus testing samples without a bailout and eight regional carriers including Pelican and Alliance warned they felt abandoned by the government.

The package will include $198 million for regional airline routes to 138 communities and a further $100 million for related companies that support the industry.

“Regional aviation has been smashed by COVID-19,” said Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. He also noted the “critical” role that regional aviation services play for remote communities that rely on regular passenger transport services, as well as for the provision of medical services. They are also essential for the 26,000 staff employed in the regional aviation sector.

“More than 100 regional and remote airports received a scheduled passenger service last month and this funding will be welcome news for the aviation workforce and the broader communities these services support,” McCormack added.

The government had already unveiled a $715m relief package for the country’s aviation industry earlier in March, although the Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said that waiving fees for some airlines “is not going to save jobs… Today we have companies representing thousands of baggage handlers, ramp workers, caterers, cleaners, drivers, cabin crew and security personnel facing a tough challenge.”

Quebec City Jean Lesage Airport looks beyond ..

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Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) has taken measures in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic that continues to affect the global aviation industry.

“While the situation is changing from day to day and even hour to hour, our role and our priorities have not changed: to help our passengers, from here and abroad, get home safely,” commented Stephane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB.

In response to border closures, the airport expects to only see a few hundred passengers each day which could result in a passenger drop of 85%. YQB is working towards solutions for this challenging pandemic, including a reduction in operating expenses and has had to temporarily lay off about 40 employees.

The airport is required to continue operating its runways and facilities, providing a minimum service for emergencies and the transportation of essential goods. It is also focusing on life beyond coronavirus and its role as a key player in the region’s economic development.

Poirier added, “YQB is a strong organisation and we are well positioned on the market. We are staying positive when we look to the future. Once this pandemic is behind us, we will work hard to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.”

Editor’s comment: Park life

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Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

 

As airlines increasingly operate skeleton services and ground their aircraft in response to the falling demand in traffic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic there’s a new issue arising. Where to park all these aircraft?

 

According to Flightradar24, there can be anywhere up to 20,000 flights in the sky at any one time but as the number of airlines suspending their services grows daily, airports across the globe are finding themselves serving as giant parking lots.

 

Cirium data has found that the number of planes in storage has doubled to more than 5,000 since the start of the year. More are expected to be parked up in the coming days with carriers including Qantas, GOL, Singapore Airlines and Emirates all suspending their services.

 

Qantas is already in discussions with airports and the government about parking its aircraft. Avalon Airport, west of Melbourne, expects to take 50 planes from Qantas and its low-cost offshoot, Jetstar. Reports suggest that Qantas is sending 30 engineers to Avalon to help maintain the planes so they can re-enter service once demand picks up again. The Australian carrier also plans on parking some of its ageing 747s at Alice Springs, which boasts a desert storage facility. Meanwhile with Cathay Pacific cutting 96% of passenger capacity in April and May, most of its aircraft have been left lined up at its hub, Hong Kong Airport. Austrian Airlines has already brought most of its aircraft home to Vienna Airport and British Airways has left much of its fleet of grounded A321s at Glasgow Airport.

 

In the US, 20 Delta Connection regional jets and 30 more from United Express will be parked up indefinitely at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport near Macon. The county will be paid for the aircraft to stay at the airport, the mayor said. TBI Airport Management, the company that runs the airport, is seeking FAA approval to close an auxiliary runway to free up more space, if necessary.

 

And at Denmark’s Copenhagen Airport two of the airport’s three runways have temporarily been recommissioned to accommodate grounded aircraft. The third runway will remain active for take-offs and landings.

 

The drop in passenger demand and air traffic has seen airports lose significant revenue from landing and take-off fees, as well as ramp fees, fuelling, car parking, duty free and other non-aeronautical tariffs. But could they recover some of that lost revenue from aircraft parking and maintenance services?

 

It’s not about making a profit (one report on CNN suggests that major European hubs charge in the region of $285 per hour), but about working together with local authorities and governments to find a solution that benefits all the players and ensures the industry is ready to get up and flying again once signs of recovery start to appear.

 

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Brits urged to return home amid airport closu..

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The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged Brits currently overseas to “return home now” amid the news that airports are starting to close “some without any notice”.

As governments begin to enforce lockdowns to protect their citizens the temporary suspension of commercial flights is leading to the closure of airports around the world.

Stating that the “the time to come home is now while you still can… and while there are still commercial routes to do so.” Raab also emphasised that where people could not get a commercial flight home the government would work “round the clock” to bring them back.

The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also reiterated that, “This is a very difficult time for British citizens travelling overseas, or those with families and loved ones abroad.

“We’re in close contact with airlines, who are working tirelessly to ensure British citizens travelling overseas can safely return to the UK. We are also working closely with other government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to ensure airlines are able to operate to bring people back home.”

Updated travel advice from the FCO tells all British tourists and short-stay travellers to return home as authorities have warned that further closures to air routes are likely to come in the next two days, and could see no notice given. A statement from FCO read: “Today’s update reflects the pace at which international travel is becoming more difficult with the closure of borders, airlines suspending flights, airports closing, exit bans and further restrictions being introduced daily.”

Riga Airport stays open with limited operatio..

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Following the temporary suspension of international scheduled and non-scheduled passenger flights Riga Airport will remain open so that it can cater for repatriation flights, cargo transportation and other permitted flights, including domestic flights from Riga to Liepāja operated by the national airline airBaltic.

There are currently 45 aircraft parked at the airport: 37 airBaltic aircraft, 6 SmartLynx and two WizzAir aircraft as well as three private aircraft. More than 50 aircraft will remain at Riga during the flight restriction period.

In cooperation with the Emergency Medical Service, the airport will screen passengers arriving on repatriation flights with medical points at the airport working to the schedules of these flights.

“The safety and health of our employees and the public are a priority and value at Riga Airport, and we must adopt and implement the measures in place to limit the further spread of COVID-19 virus,” said Ilona Līce, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport.

“Our main task during this time of crisis is to ensure the operation of these flights, as well as the operational and financial stability of the company, so that airport operations can be fully restored as soon as possible once the situation normalises,” she continued.

Companies operating at the airport will continue to repair aircraft, while training flights and technical flights without passengers will continue to operate.

Līce concluded that she would like to “thank the airport’s professional team for their efforts during this stressful period.”

HungaroControl perseveres with launch of SkyH..

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Despite the cancellation, due to the coronavirus outbreak, of this year’s World Air Traffic Management which was due to take place in Madrid 10-12 March,  The Hungarian Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP) HungaroControl is proceeding with the launch of SkyHub, the brand behind all its complex products and services, which make up the company’s tailored solutions to industry. Under SkyHub the company plans to continue tackling customers’ most tackling issues and deliver sustainable performance.

Attila Simon, Director of Business Development commente: “We are about to launch SkyHub, the brand behind all our complex products and services together, that provide end-to-end tailored solutions to industry. This is the next step in our evolution to stay at the forefront of the ATM industry.”

Additionally, the company has stated that is already harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to leverage its benefits within simulation and operational environments. An example of this is HungaroControl’s Virtual Pseudo Pilot, the ultimate software solution for ATC simulators built with unique pilot logic, which executes pseudo pilot tasks. Similarly, its AI based DeFog Tool is a state-of-the-art software solution enables you to guide aircraft even in dense fog.

mallaghan deicing

Mallaghan awarded €3m de-icer contract

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Serving more than 79,000 flights at Vnukovo, Domodedovo, Pulkovo airports in Russia UTG Aviation Services has awarded a €3m contract to Mallaghan (providers of airport ground support equipment) for the provision of six de-icing units.

The equipment will be used by the UTG Domodedovo ground handling company at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. “Winter conditions in Moscow are one of the worst on the European continent in regards of icing precipitation,” said Artyom Rakov from UTG Domodedovo. “Some seasons we have more than 100 de-icing days and our ground support equipment (GSE) must be able to withstand these harsh conditions,” he added.

“Aircraft safety is always imperative, thus efficient procedures and innovative technology allow UTG Aviation Services holdings to ensure a seamless experience for passengers despite the challenging weather conditions.

“Together with engineers from JSC ‘Aerosmart Systems’, another company from UTG Aviation Services specialising in GSE maintenance and rentals, we have advised on developing 50+ changes for special package of equipment – ‘Arctic Kit’ for those de-icers.

“Mallaghan has done an incredible job. They have extensive experience in the manufacturing of ground support equipment, so had the capability to adapt the technology for our strict and very demanding requirements.

“The team had a complete understanding of our needs based on its vast experience and we worked very closely throughout the design and manufacture of these units.”

Commenting on how this is Mallaghan’s first entry to the Russian de-icer market, Owen McKenna, Sales Director at Mallaghan, said: “The requirements were quite unique and challenging so the technical specification is therefore entirely bespoke.”

Whilst the Mallaghan product portfolio has traditionally focused on passenger stairs, high lift trucks for catering and cabin cleaning, de-icers, water trucks and toilet trucks, the company recently launched an Airport Bus.

Doncaster-SHeffield

Doncaster Sheffield Airport plans for new rai..

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Doncaster Sheffield Airport owners, the Peel Group, alongside Sheffield City Region and Doncaster Council  have submitted an outline business case to deliver a new national and regional rail connection to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

 

The GatewayEast Growth Hub Rail scheme will introduce 4.5 miles of new track, connecting the East Coast Mainline (ECML) and the Lincoln line to a newly built station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport. The project aims to reduce congestion on the ECML and encourage growth in infrastructure for Sheffield and the surrounding areas. It is hoped that the railway will be operational by 2025.

 

The scheme is expected to have a “positive economic impact” as it has the potential to deliver 33,000 jobs in the North within the next decade – 10,000 would be deliverable in the next five years – in engineering, aviation manufacturing, energy and construction. Additionally, as the number of people who can access the airport through sustainable transport increases from 2.4 million to 9 million, it will also have an impact on the environment. There is to be an expected reduction of 18,000 car journeys which ultimately will result in the elimination of around 23,000 tonnes of CO2 in the UK’s road network.

 

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster said, “This GatewayEast Growth Hub Rail scheme is ‘oven-ready’ and demonstrates how Doncaster can deliver the North’s essential economic growth ambitions, delivering jobs and housing locally and by unlocking further economic potential at the airport, our borough, Sheffield City Region and across the North. The rail connectivity will quadruple access to the growth hub for jobs and flights by a sustainable travel mode.”

 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted an overall rise of passengers in the aviation industry to 8.2 billion by 2037 but showed a decrease in the demand within the UK industry. In response to this potential undersupply of future aviation, the scheme looks to connect the airport directly to East and West Coast mainline at high speed in order to increase its accessibility.

 

Peter Kennan, Board Member on the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership commented, “The importance of rail access to Doncaster Sheffield Airport cannot be underestimated…and development of ground transportation to the airport and its surrounding commercial and residential developments will be a major spur to further significant growth in jobs and economic opportunity all in an environmentally sustainable way.”

 

Dan Jarvis, MBE MP Mayor of the Sheffield City Region commented, “The benefits to communities and businesses through connecting the country’s fastest growing regional airport to the national and regional rail network are huge. We have to make sure that we get people off our roads and onto sustainable public transport. This investment would help make that a reality.”

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Stansted Dementia Friends

London Stansted trains 1,000 staff as Dementi..

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London Stansted Airport has reached a new milestone as more than 1,000 members of staff have been trained to become Dementia Friends, completing awareness training to support passengers with hidden disabilities travelling through the airport.

The airport is working with the Alzheimer’s Society to train all its staff, from security officers and office workers to firefighters and engineers, aiming to become a dementia-friendly community. The scheme will now be rolled out further, with the airport encouraging the 200 on-site businesses to make all 12,000 people working at the airport dementia-aware.

“An airport can be particularly stressful for a passenger living with dementia, so we’ve teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Society to make sure that they get the best support possible at every point during the airport journey,” said Lucy Martin, Accessibility Manager at London Stansted Airport. “Our aim is to train all our staff across all levels and roles and encourage the 200 on-site companies to adopt the training too and work with us towards London Stansted being a dementia-friendly airport.”

The training considers the whole airport environment and the challenges it can present to people living with dementia.

Mark Neville, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator for Essex, said the step showed a “united approach” from the airport, adding, “We know that busy environments, like airports, can often cause confusion and stress for people living with dementia. By having a better understanding of the condition and making adjustments, big and small, airport colleagues can make this experience much smoother.”

The scheme is one of several London Stansted has in place to improve accessibility of the airport for people with hidden disabilities.