Hans Airways readies for proving flight from Birmingham Airport in UK

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Hans Airways – a new long-haul airline serving routes between the UK and India, celebrated the arrival of its first Airbus A330-200 on UK soil this week. The new aircraft, which flew in from Palma Airport in Mallorca, was welcomed by the airline’s CEO Satnam Saini, COO Nathan Burkitt and CCO Martin Dunn.

Hans Airways has collaborated with maintenance and repair overhaul (MRO) specialist STS Aviation Services for re-registration tasks and entry into service modifications ahead of its route-proving flight for the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the coming weeks.

Commenting on its arrival in Birmingham, Saini said: “Our first widebody Airbus arriving in the UK is a big and significant milestone on Hans Airways’ journey to launch. These past 12 months we are pleased to have added a wealth of competence and experience to our leadership and management team and recruited and trained up a full complement of exceptional pilots and cabin crew, who will be ready to fly as soon as the airline’s AOC is awarded.”

Prior to arriving in Palma, the aircraft underwent a thorough 200-hour inspection in Abu Dhabi (UAE) by Etihad Engineering before returning to Spain (its original country of registration) for final contractual, administration, financial transfer and customs clearance.

“We are delighted STS has been selected as a long-term key maintenance supplier to support Hans Airways Airbus A330,” said Colby Payne, Head of Sales for STS. “As a result of this partnership, we have accepted the first aircraft for a maintenance visit at our state-of-the-art, wide-body aircraft MRO facility in Birmingham and look forward to supporting Hans Airways with further projects as its growth continues.”

Initially, and once it has been awarded its AOC alongside similar accreditation from India’s DGCA, Hans Airway is planning a four times weekly service between Birmingham in the UK and Amritsar in North India. A major commercial and cultural centre in the heart of Punjab, Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion and home to the Harmandir Sahib, famously known as the Golden Temple.

Signature Aviation unveils permanent FBO facility at Birmingham Airport

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Private aviation terminal operator, Signature Aviation, has opened its newly constructed private aviation facility at Birmingham Airport in the UK. The new terminal provides a permanent home for Signature and a full revival of Signature Birmingham following a flood affecting its previous 1930s era terminal building.

“Signature rapidly mobilised to operate from a temporary facility immediately following the damage to our previous FBO,” said John-Angus Smith, Managing Director for Signature EMEA. “However, this opening solidifies our ongoing commitment to our customers and to Birmingham Airport as we look to the future.”

The entirely new site represents the airport’s newest FBO facility, featuring a 222 sq.m. building complete with a passenger lounge, refreshment area and a passenger security screening checkpoint. Pilots are also well catered for with their own lounge, and there is an electric vehicle charging station.

“The newly built FBO in Birmingham reflects the resilience of our team and the importance of this location within our EMEA network,” shared Daniel Myles, Signature Aviation Area Director UK. “General aviation continues to be a commercial driver to both the airport and Birmingham City and we look forward to greeting attendees of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Women’s UEFA Football Championship this summer.”

Birmingham Airport switches to renewable electricity

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With ambitions to be net-zero by 2033, Birmingham Airport has made the switch to using electricity generated from renewable sources.

Commenting on the latest step in its lower carbon journey, Tom Denton, Head of Sustainability for Birmingham Airport, said: “This reflects our sustainability ambitions and is a small but important step towards our eventual goal of net-zero carbon by 2033. We’re pleased, but, with so much more work still to do, it’s still way too early to celebrate.”

In recent years, the UK hub has reduced the carbon emissions it controls by 33%, by introducing low-carbon alternatives into its operation, including solar, electric vehicle transition and other energy-efficiency measures.

“We’re excited to be supplying Birmingham Airport with zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity and supporting them in their sustainability journey,” said David Taylor, Sales and Marketing Director of Bryt Energy. “We’re proud to be a part of it and look forward to helping them explore future opportunities for carbon reductions,” he added.

The airport’s contract with Bryt Energ runs until the end of March 2024.

Flybe takes-off from Belfast City Airport

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After a year of “extremely hard work,” according to Flybe CEO, Dave Pflieger, the regional carrier has launched its first commercial flight on 13 April from Birmingham Airport to George Best Belfast City Airport. The resurrected airline’s inaugural flight was greeted with a water cannon salute on its arrival at Belfast.

Offering up to four daily flights between the two airports, Flybe will also serve Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Heathrow, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, East Midlands, Manchester, Southampton, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle from Belfast City – it’s second main base of operation.

More than 100 direct new jobs are expected to be created in the Belfast region, as well as an additional 40 local partner jobs in ground handling and maintenance companies. Flybe’s arrival is expected to create even more indirect jobs elsewhere in the local Northern Ireland economy.

Flybe’s CEO, Dave Pflieger said: “We chose Belfast Airport as an important base for our operations because of its fantastic people, its key location just five minutes from the city centre, and the opportunity it allows to connect Northern Ireland with mainland UK.

“We have plans to rapidly grow and create further jobs and look forward to adding even more flights as the summer progresses.”

Meanwhile, Matthew Hall, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport added: “It’s great to see Flybe take to the skies today from George Best Belfast City Airport.

“Providing choice and convenience to the people of Northern Ireland is something we pride ourselves on, and securing these 12 new services to destinations across the UK and Europe with Flybe only strengthens that offering further.”

 

Corendon Airlines takes off from Birmingham Airport in the UK

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European leisure carrier, Corendon Airlines, is now offering flights to two destinations in Turkey from Birmingham Airport in the UK. The airline is operating flights twice a week to Dalaman and three times a week to Antalya on its B737-800 aircraft.

As well as operating its Antalya service during the summer season, Corendon will also extend this service into winter 2022/ 23.

Tom Screen, Aviation Director for Birmingham Airport, said: “We are thrilled to welcome  Corendon Airlines to Birmingham and are pleased initial sales numbers are strong. This bodes well as the aviation sector gets back on its feet and the British public take to the skies once again after a two-year Covid-19 layoff.  We look forward to developing the partnership with Corendon Airlines further in the coming years.”

Paul Riches, Commercial representative of Corendon Airlines added his enthusiasm for the new service saying: “We plan to increase our Birmingham flights to many other popular holiday destinations in the following seasons. We aim to provide holidaymakers direct and comfortable flights to sunny destinations and we are confident our Birmingham flights will be successful in summer 2022 and beyond.”

Self-driving shuttle bus takes to the roads around Birmingham Airport

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As part of trials underway in Solihull in the UK, a state-of-the-art self-driving shuttle bus will take to the roads around Birmingham Airport over the next six weeks. The trial is part of a council-led project to test how Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) might be integrated into the area’s local transport network in the future.

The zero emissions self-driving shuttle was initially demoed at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) last Autumn, where it operated autonomously on Solihull roads for the first time, while carrying carrying passengers.

This latest deployment will see the shuttle, which will be limited to a top speed of 20 mph, transporting passengers around a longer and more complex route at the airport, while interacting with other road users. The trial route will provide airport staff with a new temporary service linking the departures entrance to one of the car parks. As well as airport staff the bus will also be available for members of the public to use.

Nick Barton, Chief Executive, Birmingham Airport said: “Autonomous technology promises enormous benefits to airports and the service companies that support them, with the potential to transform the way we work and improve efficiency and safety, for passengers, staff and other airport users.
“We are really excited to be working with Solihull Council on this trial, which will provide us with invaluable insight into how we can start to safely incorporate CAVs into our vehicle fleet. This trial of fully electric vehicles, and testing their capabilities on site, is making sure we are working towards our net zero carbon target by 2033.”

The success of this trial at Birmingham Airport will provide further knowledge and experience of self-driving vehicles in a real-world environment providing the evidence to support the technology being rolled out at scale across Solihull in the future.

Describing his delight at working with Solihull council and Birmingham Airport, Miles Garner, Sales and Marketing Director at autonomous shuttle manufacturer, Aurrigo, added: “Aviation is a major opportunity for Aurrigo, with a genuine desire to find new technologies that can improve the passenger experience. This could be through our driver-less shuttles, our Auto-Sim modelling software or it could be through our Auto-Dolly cargo/luggage dolly that can replace the traditional tugs that are commonplace in airports all over the world.

“We’ve recently completed projects at Changi Airport in Singapore and Gerald R. Ford International in North America, putting the UK on the global map for autonomous technology deployment.”

Aer Lingus Regional services take off from Belfast City

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Emerald Airlines, the exclusive operator of Aer Lingus Regional, has begun services from Belfast City Airport.

The regional carrier’s inaugural flight from Belfast City to Birmingham departed on Thursday 24 March with the airline’s first phase of flights including services to Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford and Manchester. Flights from Belfast City to Glasgow and Exeter will commence in early May, 2022.

Ciaran Smith, Head of Commercial at Emerald Airlines said: “With our growing team of cabin and flight crew based in Belfast City Airport, combined with other customer demand to travel again, Belfast has always been an important market for us.”

With the airport just a five minute drive from Belfast city centre, Ellie McGimpsey, Aviation Development Manager added, “Birmingham has always been an incredibly popular route from Belfast City so it seems fitting to launch our partnership with Emerald Airlines with flights to Birmingham. We’re certain Birmingham, along with Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds Bradford will be successful services used by both business and leisure passengers.”

Aer Lingus Regional flights will be operated by the ATR72-600 aircraft – an ultra low fuel burn aircraft emitting up to 40% less CO2 on short, regional flights compared to similar regional aircraft.

Emerald Airlines will face competition on its Belfast City-Birmingham route with the resurrected Flybe taking to the skies again in April and serving the same route, as well as others from Belfast City.

Knock Airport welcomes Ryanair link with Birmingham

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Irish low-cost carrier (LCC), Ryanair, has added a Birmingham to Knock service to its 2022 schedule. The twice weekly service reinforces the airline’s commitment to the UK as it rebuilds its tourism industry following the global pandemic.

“We are pleased to add this new route to Knock as part of our UK’s 22 schedule, offering our customers yet another amazing European destination to choose from when planning their summer break,” said Ryanair’s Director of Commercial, Jason McGuinness.

As part of its growth plan, the airline has already added more than 560 routes and opened 16 bases throughout the last 12 months. Looking ahead to next year, the “addition of 65 new B737-8200 ‘Gamechanger’ aircraft to its fleet, which offer 4% more seats, 16% less fuel and a 40% reduction in noise emissions, making Ryanair’s S’22 schedule the most exciting and environmentally friendly to date,” added McGuinness.

Birmingham Airport named as Flybe’s new headquarters and crew base

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The revived regional carrier, Flybe, has revealed that Birmingham Airport in the UK will serve as its new headquarters and first new crew base. The launch of the new Flybe is expected not only to enhance essential regional connectivity in the UK, but also to create many valuable industry jobs and help restart local economies as they rebound from the pandemic.

The airline is among the first UK carriers to be certified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) since Brexit. It will serve key regions across the UK and EU with operations scheduled to begin in early 2022. In a move that will create around 200 direct new jobs in the Birmingham and West Midlands region, the airline’s HQ and operations centre will be located in Birmingham Airport’s Diamond House. An additional 400 direct jobs are projected to be created nationwide.

Describing Birmingham as “an ideal choice”, Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger, cited the city’s great people, highly skilled workforce, its central UK location and the airport’s function as a global travel as reasons behind choosing the West Midlands hub as its home base.

“The announcement marks the culmination of over 12 months of dedicated hard work by all involved, and it would not have been possible without the support of the CAA and the UK Government,” he said.

Meanwhile Nick Barton, Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport added: “Flybe’s announcement that Birmingham has been chosen to become the headquarters for its launch next spring is fantastic news for our region’s connectivity needs, and it will bring with it some great new employment opportunities. Dave’s vast experience in managing start-up airlines and turnaround situations, coupled with the recovery of the Midlands’ economy post-Covid, means that Flybe’s return to the skies from Birmingham is a shot in the arm for our airport as well as West Midlands businesses and communities. We look forward to working with Dave and his team in preparation for next spring and to launch such a well-known brand here in Birmingham.”

Belfast City Airport launches digital transformation programme

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Belfast City Airport has kickstarted a six-figure, five-year, digital transformation programme to enhance operations and future-proof the airport for sustainable growth.

The first phase of the innovative programme, accelerated by support from Tourism Northern Ireland’s ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit Digital Welcome’ fund, has already successfully delivered an Amazon Alexa skill, implemented by AirChat, an omnichannel, automated customer service tool, and installed the first of a 20-screen digital way-finding portfolio in the terminal building.

The airport is the first in Northern Ireland to harness voice search functionality and implement a 24/7 multi-channel customer service tool, allowing passengers greater choice and flexibility in how, when, and where they receive their travel updates.

“Like any modern business, digital transformation is vital to Belfast City Airport, not only for effective operations on a day-t0-day basis now, but also in future-proofing the organisation for sustainable growth,” said Brian Roche, Director of IT at Belfast City Airport.

“The creation and implementation of these digital platforms will not only benefit our inbound and outbound customers greatly and provide another layer of excellent customer service and assistance, but also proves our commitment to continually providing an airport experience that exceeds the expectations of our passengers,” Roche continued.

As one of the world’s most popular voice-controlled virtual assistants, Amazon Alexa tackles the important issue of digital accessibility by acting as an invaluable tool for those with visual impairments or physical, communicational, or cognitive disabilities.

The AirChat platform allows users to register for real-time, pre-departure flight updates which are then sent directly to their device via Facebook, Twitter, What’s App and webchat, but also unlocks the opportunity for the airport to communicate with passengers even before they arrive on-site or after they have completed their journey.

Commenting on the airport’s digital developments, Roche added: “Our passengers are at the heart of everything we do and convenience for our passengers is the catalyst behind our investment in these digital solutions, and those to come later down the line in the roll-out of our complete business transformation strategy.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Tourism NI recognised the same opportunities we identified to further enhance the passenger experience and welcome at Belfast City Airport and pledged its support to helping us develop our vision.”

And in recognition of the role that Belfast City Airport plays as a main gateway to Northern Ireland, Dave Vincent, Chief Digital Officer at Tourism NI added: “Already a central transport hub that offers a quick, safe, convenient transit, the airport’s dedication to further enhancing the passenger welcome through digital innovation is to be applauded.”

The customer-facing elements of Belfast City’s digital transformation follow the launch of the airport’s new website and will help solidify its position as UK and Ireland’s most convenient airport, with the highest Civil Aviation Authority ranking for accessibility services.

Header photo: Dave Vincent, Chief Digital Officer at Tourism Northern Ireland (left), joins Belfast City Airport’s Director of Information Technology, Brian Roche (right), to launch six-figure, five-year, digital transformation programme.