Industry News




New Zealand’s Auckland Airport deploys automated pre-security gates

New Zealand’s Auckland Airport has introduced automated pre-security gates to improve processing times and journeys for international travellers.

The airport has installed 12 eGates that will scan the travellers’ boarding passes and permit them to the security areas.

The technology was developed with Vision-Box and marks phase one of a broader technology transformation at Auckland Airport.

The airport processes around 7,000 passengers through its international terminal every hour.

Auckland Airport general manager of operations Anna Cassels-Brown stated that the new technology, which replaced manual checks by two airport personnel, has increased the processing capacity by five times.

Cassels-Brown said: “The fundamental requirements of passenger processing are not going to change. We still need check-in, baggage drop, customs and security screening. But what technology can do is allow us to link the process together and streamline information in the background, helping to make the experience as seamless as possible.

“When technology is combined with a commitment to customer service, we will be achieving our ambition to make journeys better for all customers and operational partners at Auckland Airport.”

Vision-Box will introduce the second phase of its Orchestra software next year. The software will enable the integration of the pre-security gates with real-time flight information and permit multi-board passing for families.

It will also offer real-time reports and integrate with the access control system for validation of staff ID.

Last month, Auckland Airport launched the latest version of its app, providing real-time travel information from the passenger’s home to their departure gate.

In August, CPB Contractors received a NZ$221m ($141.97m) contract for the airport’s Taxiway Mike and Remote Stands Stage 2 project.

In July, Auckland Airport launched a NZ$100m ($66.54m) project to upgrade the roads leading to the terminal area.




Berlin Brandenburg Airport to open in October 2020

Germany’s Berlin Brandenburg Airport has stated that it will open on 31 October 2020, nine years after the initial target date.

Airport CEO Engelbert Lütke Daldrup announced the opening date to the Supervisory Board.

Airport construction commenced in 2006 with an initial budget of €2.83bn. The total cost of the project has now increased to €7bn.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport was expected to replace the Tegel and Schönefeld airports, which were deemed inadequate for the city’s future projected air traffic.

Its opening was postponed due to various issues such as technical problems, planning errors and controversies.

The airport construction was delayed as the construction planning company declared bankruptcy in 2010.

In 2012, it was discovered that the airport’s fire protection and alarm system had issues, which have been prevalent to date.

In 2013, the European Union (EU) started an investigation into whether Germany violated EU environmental-protection laws for the airport’s flight routes.

Increased air traffic to the two other airports in 2014 forecasted that Berlin Brandenburg Airport would operate at full capacity on opening. Due to this, the airport needed to undergo redesigns before opening.

In 2015, an investigation was launched regarding alleged fraud by Siemens, Bosch and Deutsche Telekom unit T-Systems about their work at the airport.

In addition, the airport manager was jailed for taking a bribe from the fire protection system company, Imtech. Safety-testing firm TÜV discovered 800 wiring breaches at the airport site.

Tegel Airport is expected to be closed around a week after the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport.




Flughafen Zurich secures concession for India’s Jewar Airport

Swiss airport operator Flughafen Zurich has secured the concession for the design, development and operation of Jewar International Airport in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The operator will construct and operate the airport for a period of 40 years.

Located 80km from India’s capital city Delhi, the airport is expected to accommodate the region’s growing flight traffic.

The investment for the first phase of the airport construction is estimated at CHF650m ($649.6m).

Following the construction of the first phase in 2023, Jewar Airport will have an estimated capacity of 12 million annual passengers.

After completing six years of commissioning the airport, Flughafen Zurich will pay a fixed passenger fee to the state-owned authority.

In a statement, Flughafen Zurich said: “After the successful sale of its remaining shares in the airport in Bengaluru (Kempegowda International Airport) in 2017, Flughafen Zürich AG is excited to be again present in India, a focus market for the company.

“With the award of the concession for the new Noida International Airport, Flughafen Zürich AG will participate in the expected growth of the Indian aviation market and will implement its best practices developed in Switzerland while maintaining the local Indian values.”

Indian companies GMR, Adani, L&T and Reliance Infra competed for the contract to build Jewar Airport.

Along with Flughafen Zurich, Hong Kong ADP also reportedly bought the bid documents.

In June, Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL) called for e-bids for the construction of Jewar International Airport.

In March, Flughafen Zurich won the auction to operate the airports of Vitória and Macaé in Brazil. The deal was valued at R$437m ($114.73m).




Chinese airlines and airports increase automation and AI investments

A report by IT firm SITA has revealed that Chinese airlines and airports are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to offer a hyper-personalised self-service experience to their customers.

SITA 2019 China IT Insights revealed that AI is a key technology attracting investment.

The report states that 88% of Chinese airlines and airports have plans for programmes or research involving AI by 2022 and are prioritising virtual agents and chatbots.

This investment follows the country’s increasing demand for digital services as highlighted by the report, which found that 64% of Chinese passengers request a digital travel concierge.

In China, 43% of airlines currently use AI-powered chatbot customer services. It is expected that the use of such technologies will increase in the future.

The report revealed that 27% of Chinese airports have installed self-boarding gates that utilise biometrics with travel documents. This figure is estimated to increase to 66% in three years.

By 2022, over half of China’s airports plan to incorporate secure single biometric tokens for all touchpoints.

Airlines are also considering the use of self-boarding gates that leverage biometrics with ID. Approximately 60% of the airlines intend to use them.

SITA China vice-president and general manager May Zhou said: “China’s airlines and airports have a strong record in embracing technology and automation to drive efficient operations and high levels of passenger services.

“Now they are moving to the next level where they will harness AI to deliver more services, faster and to more people.”

By 2022, 93% of China’s airports and all of its airlines are planning to use mobile applications such as flight discovery, airline offers, check-in and flight status notifications.

Zhou added: “The adoption of self-service by passengers across China has been very encouraging for airlines and airports. At SITA, we see many in the industry who are now ready and planning to add biometrics to bring self-service to the next level.”




Manchester Airports Group launches child-friendly Wi-Fi

Manchester Airport Group (MAG) in the UK has become the country’s first airport group to introduce child-friendly Wi-Fi at its airports.

MAG owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports.

The Wi-Fi at the three airports is now capable of blocking inappropriate content, making it safe for children to use.

It was certified by Friendly WiFi, the government-initiated standard for public Wi-Fi introduced in 2014.

Friendly WiFi was established to ensure that Wi-Fi offered at public areas adheres to minimum filtering standards.

At places where the Friendly WiFi symbol is present, the internet does not grant access to inappropriate images and advertisements.

Earlier this month, the Wi-Fi at London Stansted Airport received the same certification.

MAG chief strategy officer Tim Hawkins said: “More and more of the 62 million passengers we welcome to our airports every year choose to connect to the free Wi-Fi we offer, whether that’s to check flight details, catch up on emails or chat to friends and family before they fly.

“As I’m sure many parents know, children also want to use their connected devices when they are at the airport and as a group we know that it is our duty to keep them safe online. Friendly WiFi provides further reassurance to parents and all our passengers that they can browse safely.”

MAG also revealed recent plans to open ‘aerozones’ as an initiative to connect its airports with local communities.

In April, MAG awarded a contract to Rohde & Schwarz to deliver its latest generation of R&S QPS201 security scanners.

This March, MAG teamed up with IT firm SITA to deploy further passenger self-service kiosks across its airports.




Cork Airport buys green electricity from Electric Ireland

Cork Airport in Ireland has decided to purchase eight million kilowatt-hours of green electricity from Electric Ireland every year.

The move is part of the airport’s sustainability strategy and Carbon Management Plan, which involves promoting energy efficiency and assisting efforts related to scheduled energy reduction, waste reduction and water conservation.

Cork Airport has been decreasing its energy use each year since 2009, despite growing passenger numbers. This year, passenger traffic is expected to grow by more than 8%.

The airport was awarded the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Public Sector Energy award and has crossed the 2020 National Public Sector Energy Reduction Targets.

Cork Airport Asset Care head Bill Daly said: “This commitment to switch to 100% green electricity forms part of Cork Airport’s overall sustainability strategy.

“Cork Airport has previously won the SEAI Public Sector Sustainable Energy Award and we are currently achieving an annual energy consumption reduction of 48% from a 2006-2009 baseline, independently validated through the SEAI Monitoring and Reporting Programme.

“We are fully committed to developing environmental standards in all areas of our business in order to ensure a safe and efficient airport facility. Switching to 100% green energy is a further endorsement of our sustainability agenda at Cork Airport.”

Airport Council International has named Cork Airport as the Best Airport in Europe that caters to less than five million passengers.

In June last year, aviation services company Swissport International opened its Aspire airport business lounge at Cork Airport.

In early 2018, Cork Airport renamed its main runway to adjust to changes to the earth’s magnetic poles.




Abu Dhabi Airports Company plans airport development in Romania

UAE-based Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with South Development Group to develop Romanian airports.

This is ADAC’s first venture outside of UAE as it considers alternative revenue streams.

The move was announced by ADAC CEO Bryan Thompson during a media briefing.

Thompson was quoted as saying: “We are exploring partnership opportunities for the future management and development of airports in Romania.”

The agreement includes Bucharest Airport and five regional Romanian airports.

Thompson also stated that Abu Dhabi Airports is looking into projects in collaboration with other countries and airports.

He said: “We are predominantly focused on Africa, Eastern Europe and Indonesia. There are many opportunities out there.”

In the briefing, Thompson added that the new AED10.8bn ($2.94bn) Midfield Terminal Building in Abu Dhabi Airport was 97.6% complete. He did not provide a precise timeline on when the terminal would open.

Once completed, the new terminal is expected to boost the capacity of the airport, enabling it to handle more than 45 million passengers annually.

Construction of the 742,000m² terminal begun in 2014. It was 86% complete in 2017 but faced some setbacks that delayed its opening.

The terminal features a baggage handling system capable of processing approximately half a million bags a day.

In July, Abu Dhabi Airports carried out a full-scale operational trial of the Midfield Terminal.

Conducted as part of the continuing development of the Terminal Complex and the ongoing Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) process, the test assessed the new terminal’s capacity and facilities.




Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport commences trial of cleaning robots

Moscow Domodedovo Airport in Russia has started a pilot project to test cleaning robots.

The airport is trialling TASKI SWINGOBOT 2000, CLEANFIX RA 660 NAVI and Russian VeDroid robots in its office space and terminal building.

The test assesses the robots’ safety, design, cleaning quality and economic efficiency.

While the robots offer fast and high-quality cleaning, the airport believes that they should be customised to suit the airport environment.

Through the initiative, the airport intends to increase automation in air hub operations.

Moscow Domodedovo press secretary Alexander Vlasov said: “Safety is our key requirement for cleaning robots.

“It is essential that if the obstacles appear, for instance, baggage trolley, a robot should stop, make a quick decision and resume movements without performance degradation. If a robot cannot continue the cleaning, it should go back to the service station.”

The trial is expected to be completed at the end of this year and the airport will finalise its purchase decision next year.

Many airports have recently been testing robots for different purposes.

Last month, Christchurch International Airport started testing humanoid robots at its terminal to study emerging disruptive technologies.

San Diego International Airport also recently started field tests for various airport-related solutions such as autonomous robots for security and augmented reality at its Airport Innovation Lab.

In March, Gatwick Airport signed a framework contract with Stanley Robotics for the testing of robots that valet park passengers’ cars. It will be the first UK airport to trial valet parking robots.

In addition, Stanley Robotics and Aéroports de Lyon / VINCI Airports deployed valet parking robots at P5+ car park at Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport.