Industry News




Amazon to expand operations at Chicago Rockford Airport

Amazon Air is set to expand its gateway operation at Chicago Rockford International Airport in the US, in a bid to boost its presence in the central region.

The cargo airline is Amazon’s freight delivery service, formerly known as Amazon Prime Air. It is based in Hebron, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio.

Amazon Air director Sarah Rhoads told media sources: “We are excited to extend our Amazon Air operation at Chicago Rockford International Airport.

“We are expanding the operation in Rockford to ensure we have the capacity to continue to fulfil our promise to our customers.”

Chicago Rockford International Airport executive director Mike Dunn told 13 News that Amazon has been operating out of a 72,000ft² building at the airport.

As part of the expansion, the company will add an additional 120,000ft² with an investment of approximately $11m.

The company can currently park up to eight aircraft. Its plans will see the development of a ramp parking area for more aircraft.

Amazon Air currently operates out of more than 20 airports across the US. The expansion will help increase capacity and package sorting capabilities at the airport.

Primary hub of Amazon Air is at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said: “We are thrilled to see this expansion. This says a lot about the investments we have made as a community coupled with the great leadership from the director and board to ensure that our airport continues to be a driving economic force for our community and region.”

The expansion is expected to complete next year.




Kent, Sussex and Surrey residents ‘support’ Gatwick Airport expansion

Gatwick Airport’s master plan to increase capacity by making better use of its existing runways has been backed by three-quarters of residents in Kent, Sussex and Surrey counties in the UK.

Gatwick said that nearly 67% of people who participated in the survey commissioned by the airport supported its plans to safeguard land to build a new runway, according to a survey by YouGov.

Just 14% of survey participants objected to the airport’s growth plans.

London Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Our draft master plan sets out our vision for the airport’s sustainable growth into the 2030s and explains how it can meet the UK’s increasing demand for air travel and global connectivity.

“The plan would help us to bolster the national and local economies for future generations and I encourage as many people as possible to take part in our ongoing consultation process.”

A public consultation on the airport’s draft master plan will run until 10 January.

Wingate added: “These results show that an overwhelming majority of residents in Sussex, Surrey and Kent who were surveyed both support our plans for growth and recognise how important they are in terms securing the region’s economic prosperity and new jobs for generations to come.”

However, the opposition campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (Cagne) has criticised the poll.

Cagne told BBC: “Gatwick are purposely misleading people during this consultation and we find it absolutely appalling that Gatwick have released this poll result now when the consultation does not finish until 10 January.”

The master plan includes a proposal to bring Gatwick’s emergency runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.




Heathrow launches app to support visually impaired travellers

Heathrow Airport has introduced a new app called Aira to help almost 6,000 visually impaired travellers that use the facility every year.

Starting today, passengers can access up to date information and personalised assistance using the Aira app on their smartphone or tablet.

The app launch forms part of the airport’s £23m investment to improve the experience of all passenger needs.

Available as a free download, the app will connect travellers directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through Heathrow and helps find places such as gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets, and restaurants.

It will also offer live information on news affecting their journeys.

Data shows that the number of travellers seeking special assistance at the airport is increasing by around 8% per annum.

Heathrow customer relations and service director Jonathan Coen said: “We are transforming the assistance service we provide to our passengers and empowering them to be as independent as possible when they are travelling through Heathrow.

“We have already invested £23m in an upgraded contract with our special assistance partner, OmniServ, and introducing new equipment, training, and technology to help improve our service.

“Aira takes us one step further, and will deliver a better travel experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their journey via Heathrow.”

The new initiatives have been launched after collecting feedback from passengers and following guidance from the Heathrow Accessibility Advisory Group.

The group is chaired by disability rights advocate Roberto Castiglioni and helps Heathrow deliver its vision to become industry leading when it comes to accessibility and inclusion.




Delta to launch first biometric terminal in US at Atlanta airport

Delta Air Lines is set to introduce the first biometric terminal in the US at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s (ATL) Terminal F.

The new technology will be launched in collaboration with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

With the new biometric terminal in place, passengers flying directly to an international destination on Delta, Air France, Aeromexico, KLM or Virgin Atlantic Airways can use the facial recognition from entering the airport up to the departure gate.

Travellers can use the new technology to check-in at the self-service kiosks in the International lobby and drop checked baggage at the counters in the International lobby.

Additionally, the biometric terminal will be used to identify passengers at the TSA checkpoint, board a flight at any gate in Terminal F, as well as undergo CBP processing for international passengers arriving in the US.

Delta COO Gil West said: “Delta’s successful launch of the first biometric terminal in the USA at the world’s busiest airport means we are designing the airport biometric experience blueprint for the industry.

“We’re removing the need for a customer checking a bag to present their passport up to four times per departure, which means we’re giving customers the option of moving through the airport with one less thing to worry about, while empowering our employees with more time for meaningful interactions with customers.”

Delta said that the touch points across the terminal in Atlanta were available from mid-October. Almost all 25,000 passengers who travel through ATL Terminal F each week have selected this optional process, with only 2% opting out.

Following its successful launch in Atlanta, Delta is planning to introduce the new technology at all 14 international gates at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s McNamara Terminal by mid-December in association with CBP and the Wayne County Airport Authority.




Airports and airlines cybersecurity spending to reach $3.9bn in 2018

Cybersecurity investments by airports and airlines are increasing year-on-year and expected to total $3.9bn in 2018, according to a report from technology firm SITA.

Titled ‘2018 Air Transport Cybersecurity Insights’, the report says that investment in cybersecurity by airports is expected to increase to 12% of their overall IT budgets in 2018, up from 10% in 2017.

Similarly, airlines will invest an average of 9% of their overall IT budget on cybersecurity this year, up from 7% 12 months ago.

The report noted that many executives are aware that greater efforts are required to implement proactive cybersecurity measures.

SITA CEO Barbara Dalibard said: “The importance of cybersecurity is well-recognised and airlines and airports are investing in building a solid security foundation. However, the number of cyberthreats continues to grow exponentially every year, as does the sophistication of those threats.

“Given the complexity and integrated nature of the air transport industry, we need to move far quicker in establishing proactive defences to ensure we stay ahead of the game.”

The report also highlighted that 89% of airline CIOs are planning a major programme around cybersecurity initiatives over the next three years, up from 71% in 2017.

This is even higher for airports, with 95% planning major programmes by 2021.

According to the report, 57% of airline and airport executives are continuously focusing to ensure business continuity, through the protection of operational systems and processes.

Top priorities among airlines and airports under their cybersecurity investment programme are employee awareness and training (76%), achieving regulatory compliance (73%), and identity and access management (63%).

In addition, SITA has recommended a number of areas that require more in future, including proactive network monitoring and protection, securing the extended enterprise (Cloud, IoT) and protection from internal threats.




ACI Europe advocates traffic management reform to ease disruptions

Airport industry group ACI Europe has urged that air traffic management (ATM) reforms should be promptly implemented, including better integration of airspace and ground infrastructure to avoid flight delays and cancelations.

Releasing a new position on European Airspace at the 12th ACI Airport Exchange conference and exhibition in Oslo, ACI Europe highlighted how ATM disruptions and inefficiencies affect airport operations all the way into terminal buildings.

These ATM disruptions and inefficiencies were blamed for further deteriorating the passenger’s airport experience. Ultimately, this causes reduced revenues and additional expenses for airports.

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “Beyond passengers and airlines, airports are also impacted by ATM disruptions and the inability of airspace to keep up with air traffic growth.

“The promises of the EU’s Single European Sky project have failed to materialise. It is high time for a reset. We need to see meaningful reform.”

Elaborating further, ACI Europe said its vision and proposals aim to achieve a better integration of airspace and ground infrastructure.

It said that some progress has been made on implementation of operational processes such as A-CDM and new technology, as well as the institution of the network manager over the last ten years however airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) still operate too much in silos.

Jankovec added: “Operations at and around airports need to become more co-ordinated and consolidated and they should be based on open and shared data sets and improved coordination between all involved: airports, airlines, ANSPs and the network manager. This is the only way to really place the passenger at the core of operational processes.”

The list of ACI Europe’s demands includes setting up a contractual relationship between airports and ATC providers to support information-sharing and joint processes.

It also includes demands for integration of the Airport Operations Plans/Ground Coordinator (AOP/APOC) and the Network Operations Plan (NOP).

In addition, the industry called for concerted and faster technology investment planning by the network manager to enable more timely deployment of SESAR solutions/concepts.

The 12th ACI Airport Exchange conference ran from 27-29 November in Oslo. It was hosted by Norwegian airport group AVINOR.




Philippines to open new international airport in Bohol

The Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced that the PHP8.9bn ($169.37m) Bohol-Panglao International Airport (BPIA) is due to be opened by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Located on Panglao Island, Bohol Province in the central Philippines, the new facility will replace the existing Tagbilaran airport.

The new facility has been dubbed as the ‘green gateway to the world’ by the national government and covers an area of 13,337m².

Bohol airport was first conceived nearly 26 years ago and has been designed to accommodate approximately two million passengers a year.

BPIA houses a two-storey passenger terminal building (PTB), along with three multi-angled passengers boarding bridges.

The airport is capable of parking seven aircraft simultaneously, including bigger aeroplanes to support international operations.

An upgraded instrument landing system has been deployed at the airport to help aircraft land at night.

The new airport is equipped with utilities such as a powerhouse and systems for water supply, sewage treatment, and a solid waste disposal.

In addition, the airport houses control tower and administration building, fire rescue stations and maintenance building.

BPIA also features pinewood-style ceilings and solar panels, which could provide more than 30% power to meet the requirements of its passenger terminal building.

A Japanese consortium of Chiyoda Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation served as the prime contractor for the project. EEI Corporation acted as the sub-contracting partner and managed the civil works.

The design and consultancy work for BPIA was carried out by Japan Airport Consultants (JAC) in collaboration with Phil JAC.




Copenhagen Airports to implement charges agreement for five years

Copenhagen Airports (CPH) in Denmark has reached an understanding to implement a new five-year charges agreement with the airlines that make up the majority of its traffic.

The agreement reveals details on charges for airlines to use the airport until the end of 2023. It will also lay down the foundation for continued expansion and growth at CPH.

Charges will become effective from 1 April 2019 and continue until 31 December 2023. The agreement details the price for using the airport runways, terminals and services.

Initially, prices will be almost 5% lower next year compared to this year. They will then increase slightly during the rest of the agreement period.

The charges cut will be over and above the 10% reductions already implemented, which took effect on 1 April this year.

Copenhagen Airports CEO Thomas Woldbye said: “Last year, the Danish Government presented a new national aviation strategy. Copenhagen Airports fully supports the objectives of the strategy which focus particularly on increasing Denmark’s international and domestic accessibility.

“It has therefore been decisive for us to create a solid framework for our finances so that we can uphold a high investment and expansion level. The new agreement runs for almost five years and thus provides a good, stable foundation for our ambitious investment plans.”

CPH will present key elements of the new charges agreement to those airlines not already part of the agreement, as well the Danish Transport Authority (DAA) for approval and then become effective.

In future, CPH will construct Pier E to manage large long-haul aircraft. It will feature new aircraft stands and gates, baggage systems, as well as other facilities.