ACI calls for closer co-operation between air..

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ACI EUROPE’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec has called for closer co-operation between airports and Air Traffic Management (ATM) to improve performance and sustainability.

Speaking at EUROCONTROL’s Digitally Connected Airports conference, Jankovec highlighted the importance of all players in the aviation ecosystem and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) in particular to work together in managing and developing infrastructure capacity in the air and on the ground.

Airport Operational Centres (APOCs) are local collaborative operational platforms designed to bring together the airport operator, the local ANSP, airlines, ground handlers, police and customs. This facilitates a “constant sharing of information” to ensure a better (and more integrated) use of available airport and airspace capacity. ACI Europe suggest this leads to a reduction in flight delays and cancellations.

“In Europe, airports went through a major business transformation as Governments have stepped back in favour of corporatisation and privatisation. That transformation has clearly led airports to focus on operational efficiency and quality. This is as much about putting the passenger at the forefront of everything we do as making the most of our facilities,” Olivier Jankovec explained.

The association suggest that ANSPs have yet to join APOCs at major European airports, with the exception of London Heathrow where NATS is participating. ACI EUROPE considers that “the establishment of formal contractual relationships between airports and ANSPs would help achieve that.”

Jankovec continued: “Our efforts to achieve more efficiencies require ANSPs to work with airports in a more integrated manner. This means breaking existing operational silos – and finally getting ANSPs to get involved in and support Airports’ Operational Centres.”

These issues have become increasing relevant in the face of the Climate Emergency and the industry’s sustainability drive, Jankovec stressed, adding, “By adding even more pressure on the need for more operational efficiency, the Climate Emergency makes the case for airport & ATM integration a no-brainer. But beyond that, the EU’s climate objectives require an ambitious structural ATM reform that can achieve real de-fragmentation.”

Heathrow airport

Heathrow Airport responds to Judicial Review ..

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A judgement by the UK’s Court of Appeal has applied the brakes to the expansion of Heathrow Airport with a third runway, finding that the government’s policy on the new runway was “unlawful” as it did not take climate commitments to the Paris Agreement into account.

The judges declared the government’s decision to allow the expansion was unlawful, preventing the project from going ahead until a review finds it fits the relevant provisions and the UK’s climate policy.

Commenting on the findings of the Judicial Review, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’ – apart from one which is eminently fixable. We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful.”

“In the meantime, we are ready to work with the government to fix the issue that the court has raised,” the spokesperson continued, adding that Heathrow had been a leading force in encouraging the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord. “Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain. We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future.”

The airport suggested the outcome requires the government to undertake more work to ensure a third runway would “definitely be compatible with a strategy to mitigate climate change under the Paris Agreement.”

In a summary of the judgements, the Court of Appeals stated: “We have not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at Heathrow,” adding that a national policy statement supporting the project is not “necessarily incompatible with the United Kingdom’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change under the Paris Agreement…”

The airport announced on 20th February that it has become one of the world’s first major aviation hubs to become carbon neutral for its infrastructure, and the first to target zero carbon by the mid-2030s.

The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, tweeted: “Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment. This Govt won’t appeal today’s judgement given our manifesto makes clear any Heathrow expansion will be industry led.”

In 2018, MPs voted in support of the government’s proposal for a third runway at Heathrow, and the expansion plans have also received support of regional airports in the UK.

Birmingham Airport Customer Service

Birmingham Airport invests in customer feedba..

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Birmingham Airport Customer Service

Birmingham Airport has invested over £100k in a bespoke customer feedback system which is to be available throughout the site. 

The airport has partnered with realtimeknowledge.com, a company which specialises in operational reporting, to create the system named the ‘Voice of the Customer’. It is aimed at improving and innovating the airport’s customer feedback process, enabling the customer experience team to resolve any trends of issues. Overall, it is expected to highlight problems that need immediate improvement. 

“We’ve been focused more than ever on making improvements to the passenger journey. Ensuring our passengers have the best experience possible is a priority for us – we want passengers to remember Birmingham Airport for all of the right reasons,” said Stuart Haseley-Nejrup, Head of Customer Experience of Birmingham Airport. “The Voice of the Customer system will help us to do just this, allowing us to delve much deeper into feedback, quicker than ever before.”

Feedback gathered through the Voice of the Customer system will be directly sent to the customer experience team who are able to react to passengers concerns and comments immediately. This investment will allow feedback to be submitted through mediums including 59 instant feedback touch screens, 10 QR codes for mobile or tablet devices, or written feedback posted in any of the 10 designated post boxes. Written feedback will be manually entered into the system so it can be analysed with other responses. These feedback points will be located in key passenger touchpoint such as check-in desks, security, departure gates, washrooms, lounges and on-site car parks. 

Since its introduction in January, the system has gathered 47,000 pieces of feedback compared to an estimated 1,000 a year through previous written surveys. Haseley-Nejrup commented, “The uplift in feedback since implementing the system has given us invaluable information to create great experiences for our customers, as well as highlighting any friction points across the customer journey for us to make improvements to.” As the system is live, it enables passengers to react in the moment so areas in the terminal that potentially fail can be attended to faster than it may have before.

Recent improvements supported the airport’s score of 90% through the CAA’s departing passenger survey, as well as other awards on customer service. The airport hopes to use the gathered information to create “a frictionless customer journey, which is easy and accessible for all.”

Wizzair announces route between Sweden and Po..

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Hungarian airline, Wizzair, has launched a new route between Skellefteå in Swedish Lapland and Gdansk, Poland. 

This route is the airline’s only service to the Northern part of Sweden and will operate twice a week, beginning 4 June 2020. At the time of writing, Wizz Air is the only airline to provide this direct route from Gdansk. 

The addition of Skellefteå to the airline’s network will be a gateway to the Swedish Lapland. This connection is expected to benefit the tourism and business communities of the region which is “constantly growing”. 

“Given the wealth of attractions Lapland has to offer and our great fares, we are sure customers will enjoy visiting this beautiful Swedish region,” said Andras Rado, Corporate 

Cornwall Airport Pete Downes

Cornwall Airport Newquay appoints new Managin..

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Cornwall Airport Pete Downes

Cornwall Airport Newquay is appointing Pete Downes as its new Managing Director from 4 May 2020. 

Downes will be moving from his position as Aviation Director at London City Airport where he “has been instrumental” in route development and airline growth, delivering passenger traffic in excess of five million per year. It is hoped that his experience in the industry will support the airport’s continued strategic growth and enhance its contribution to the Cornish economy. 

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead the team at Cornwall Airport Newquay, building on the airport’s impressive track record of delivery for the region,” Pete Downes commenting on his appointment by saying. “Having spent several years working in the South West of England previously, I’m looking forward to returning and working together with our airlines, partners and stakeholders to create an exciting future for aviation in Cornwall.”

This appointment comes at a time of network developments at the airport, including connections to Aberdeen, Newcastle, Glasgow, London Gatwick and Amsterdam, expected to launch in the spring of 2020. Cornwall Airport Newquay flies to over 20 destinations with its eight airline partners. 

Chairman of Cornwall Airport Newquay, Tim Jeans said, “As we reach more destinations by air than ever before from Cornwall, Pete is ideally placed to boost the future of the airport and the vital role it plays to connect visitors and businesses with our region.”

Are Ostersund Airport

Swedavia implements electric aviation strateg..

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Swedish airport operator, Swedavia, is adopting a strategy for 10 of its airports to handle electric aircraft. A testing venue is planned to be put into operation this autumn at Åre Östersund Airport with the aim of launching the first commercial electrified route by around 2025. 

This project is a part of Swedavia’s ambition to promote the transition to fossil-free domestic domestic air transport in Sweden by 2030 and fossil-free air transport for all flights originating in the country by 2045. The airline has been working to transition to bio jet fuel with the aim that 5% of fuel used to refuel at Swedish airports will be fossil-free by 2025. 

“Bio jet fuel is critical in a short-term perspective for driving the aviation industry’s transformation in the face of climate change. But in the long term, electrification can also play a key role. Swedavia wants to take an active part at an early stage of this development and get an understanding of the conditions needed for electric aviation from an infrastructure perspective,” said Jonas Abrahamsson, Swedavia’s President and CEO.

Looking ahead all 10 of Swedavia’s airports will all be developed for handling electric aircraft with Åre Östersund, Umeå Airport and Visby Airport already in the initial stages of developing electric aviation.

Operations for a testing venue are expected to begin in Autumn 2020, flying between Åre Östersund and Røros Airport in Norway. This movement is in collaboration with a number of partners in Sweden and Norway who are within the EU project Green Flyway. Currently, plans for aircraft parking stands, infrastructure for charging stations and the power supply are underway. 

Abrahamsson added: “We believe there is good potential for the first commercial electrified route in Sweden within five years. In the longer term, the electrification of routes can be an important addition to today’s scheduled traffic, primarily domestic flights. But electric air transport can also lead to brand-new routes between regional centres, which would benefit access and regional growth as well as create a whole new business model for air transport.”

Are Ostersund Airport

Syria’s Aleppo airport reopens to civilian ..

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Aleppo International Airport in North Syria, has announced it is reopening to civilian flights for the first time since 2012, when the war forced its closure. 

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted Transport Minister, Ali Hammoud’s announcement that “Aleppo International Airport has resumed operations.” Syrian Cham Wings Airlines will operate the initial flight on the 19 February 2020 from Damascus to Aleppo. Additional flights will launch from Cairo to Damascus in the following days. 

This announcement comes after Damascus secured the perimeter around Aleppo during an offensive against the rebels, with allied forced and government troops retaking neighbouring ground in the Idlib province. The government secured the M5 highway which connects Aleppo to Damascus. 

The airport was preserved throughout the war, with the Director of Aleppo International Airport, Mohammad al-Masri confirming that the airport is ready to receive flights, due to the completion of all repairs, adding that technical and ground services are ready.

After its closure in 2012, trial flights began in Aleppo from 2017. The government worked to secure surrounding areas of the city and to commence trading routes. The Governor of Aleppo, Hussein Diab, announced in August 2019, that the international airport was ready but security measurements had to be secured before flights were safe. 

SITA Fraport Brasil

SITA aids Fraport to speed up security proces..

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The airport operator Fraport Brasil has partnered with SITA to install self-service gates at Fortaleza Airport and Porto Alegre Airport in Brazil.

These gates will provide passengers with automated entry to the security checking area by scanning their boarding passes. This aims to reduce queues and process time, improving efficiency of the procedure. Fraport Brasil has implemented 14 SITA self-service gates at Fortaleza and another 12 at Porto Alegre. 

“A significant part of our remit is to invest in infrastructure to transform the passenger experience and make operations highly efficient at these two airports…which is why we installed these gates that read bar-coded boarding passes,” said Andreea Pal, CEO of Fraport Brasil. She then added, “We selected SITA because we know that using their technology allows us to process four times as many passengers to access the security checkpoint. This will significantly improve the customer experience.”

SITA’s solution integrates its software with the existing airport IT infrastructure, creating secure checks against airport systems. The company said it is the leading provider of airport technology in Latin America, enabling efficiency for airports, airlines, government agencies, ground handlers, and passengers. 

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President commented, “There is absolutely no question that passengers want automation because it makes their journey through the airport much smoother. And because it takes away the need for manual checks at every stage of the journey, it is both more accurate and makes more efficient use of the airport’s resources from staff to real estate.”

Regional Gateway appointed as AviaDev’s..

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Regional Gateway has partnered with the route development forum specialist, AviaDev, to be the official show news provider of the AviaDev Africa and Europe 2020 events.

“Regional Gateway is delighted to be appointed the official show news provider for the 2020 AviaDev events,” commented Mark Howells, publisher of Regional Gateway. “The AviaDev events have grown into leading forums on the important matters affecting regional aviation route development in both Africa and Europe. Regional Gateway is the leading title focused on regional airport business activities, so this partnership makes perfect sense in offering readers even more added value with extensive coverage of the key stories from the AviaDev events this year. We look forward to working with the AviaDev team on this new extended media partnership.”

As part of the agreement, Regional Gateway will publish daily coverage of both AviaDev Africa and AviaDev Europe across the title’s digital media channels, including a daily show e-newsletter distributed to attendees.

CEO & Founder of AviaDev, Jon Howell commented: “Independent players in the industry need to join forces. That´s why we at AviaDev are thrilled to intensify our cooperation with Regional Gateway. Based on the feedback we get our events both in Africa and in Europe really make a difference for the aviation development communities and with Regional Gateway our voice will be even stronger.”

AviaDev Africa will take place in Madagascar, 6-8 May celebrating its 5th anniversary, whilst the 3rd edition of AviaDev Europe is planned for November with a location to be confirmed.

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NZ Airports highlight domestic fare rise

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The New Zealand Airports Association has raised concerns over a rise in domestic air fares during the last three months of 2019, commenting that increased fares lead to “fewer people able to travel.”

According to inflation data shared by Stats NZ the cost of flying within New Zealand rose over the December 2019 quarter, with domestic airfares up 12%. Prices rose for many regional routes, as well as between main centres. Though, the analysts said domestic airfares do usually rise in December quarters.

The New Zealand Airports Association (NZ Airports), an association representing a network of 41 airports across the country raised concerns however, and said the rise will cost passengers an extra $165 million for a full year and will mean a passenger is paying $14 more for their flight, on average, compared to the same period 12 months ago.

“Families, businesses and tourism will be the losers from the big jump in flight costs” said NZ Airports chief executive Kevin Ward. “Increased fares translate directly to fewer people able to travel.”

“Domestic air fare increases on this scale are many times greater than the rate of inflation, and have a choking effect on regions at a time the Government is investing in provincial economies,” he said.

The increase coincides with Jetstar’s withdrawal from regional routes, the association said, and the agreement between Air New Zealand and Qantas to co-operate in each other’s domestic markets.

Air New Zealand, meanwhile, released a statement highlighting that it had decreased its lowest fares on 41 domestic routes in February 2019, reducing some by up to 50%.

The airline announced last February that it would move to shrink fares to make travel more affordable and aiming to boost domestic tourism.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Revenue Officer Cam Wallace said the response to the reduction of the airline’s lowest fares has been well received, “When we announced this overhaul in February last year, we committed to making three quarters of a million seats a year available for less than $50. It’s terrific to have well and truly surpassed this and to hit the one million milestone.

“Around 600,000 of these fares sold for under $50 have been for flights on our regional routes,” he said.

“We remain committed to delivering great low fares for our customers,” Wallace assured, but added that customers must book early as “they’re in hot demand.”