Industry News




OmniServ secures PRM services contract from Liverpool Airport, UK

OmniServ has won a multi-year contract from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) in the UK for the provision of services for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM).

In 2018, OmniServ provided assistance to 52,604 passengers requiring support across 22,065 flights arriving and departing from LJLA.

Under the new contract, OmniServ will continue to work with LJLA to deliver continuous service improvement to passengers who require assistance in getting around the airport.

The UK company was first appointed to deliver PRM services at LJLA in 2016 and after the first years of the partnership, LJLA’s rating from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has improved from ‘good’ to ‘very good’ in 2018.

The companies attributed this achievement to hard work, commitment to customer service and mutual collaboration.

OmniServ general manager for the north Marc Buckle, who led the team behind the tender, said: “I am genuinely proud of my team’s track record and relentless efforts in delivering a great service.

“They have taken LJLA’s brand values of faster, easier, friendlier and incorporated their meaning into every aspect of our passenger assistance operation.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership and work together in making Liverpool a beacon of excellence in the North West.”

As part of the extended contract, OmniServ will introduce new equipment and technology to enhance the overall passenger experience.

OmniServ group managing director Antony Marke said: “Our focus will remain on comfort and dignity as passengers travel through the airport.

“Our fundamental belief that every customer, regardless of their assistance needs, has the right to enjoy air travel will ensure LJLA remains an airport of choice for customers who rightly expect an excellent level of service.”

OmniServ is facilities management firm in the UK and European subsidiary of AirServ that provides services including Passengers with Reduced Mobility, aviation security, passenger services, coaching, and janitorial services.




Heydar Aliyev International Airport switches to Cloud technologies

Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Azerbaijan has become the first airport in the world to completely switch to Cloud technologies.

The airport serves as the home base for national carrier Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) and Buta Airways.

IT services provider Amadeus worked with the Baku-based airport in using Cloud to manage its passenger and operational systems.

The new software will enable AZAL to personalise passenger service more efficiently, and qualitatively enhance the booking system’s functionality, inventory database, and income management system.

Azerbaijan Airlines president Jahangir Asgarov and Amadeus general counsel and corporate secretary Tomás López Fernebrand have also signed an agreement on the introduction of Amadeus Altéa PSS software at AZAL.

Asgarov said: “One of our priority goals is to increase the passenger traffic in the country and modern technologies help us to do this. Partnership with Amadeus will allow us to improve the efficiency of work, and, most importantly, to improve the quality of services provided to AZAL passengers.”

In August 2017, the Baku-based airport upgraded its airport management systems with Amadeus’ full suite of solutions.

In the first five months of 2019, Azerbaijan’s airports served 1.85 million passengers. During this period, the base air carriers of Baku airport, AZAL and Buta Airways, carried 649,000 and 177,000 passengers, respectively.

The number of international passengers at Baku Airport amounted to 1.36 million, with 32.2% accounting for AZAL and 13% for Buta Airways.




Fiumicino Airport trials fingerprint-based drug test

Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, has successfully completed a trial of the new Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System for suspected drug mules.

The screening system works by analysing fingerprint sweat samples, which will be collected using a single-use, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge.

The cartridge will be studied by the Intelligent Fingerprinting portable analysis unit to offer a positive or negative on-screen result for all drugs.

The system helps airport and border control to act on intelligence received on possible drug mule suspects within just ten minutes.

It provides rapid critical early intelligence to customs staff, helping them to avoid criminal drug smuggling and protect individuals who are often coerced into operating as drug mules.

The test simultaneously screens for four drug groups, such as opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and cannabis, offering a simple, non-invasive and hygienic solution.

Intelligent Fingerprinting business development director Paul Yates said: “In trials conducted at Fiumicino Airport in Italy, we have seen how our fingerprint-based drug test can be used to aid intelligence-led investigations when travellers are suspected of trafficking drugs concealed within body cavities.

“Our test offers a quick and simple means of screening a passenger for drugs, which could indicate body-packing even when drugs have been concealed in swallowed sealed packets.

“Body packing is a real concern for airport and border control staff, not just because it is a widespread way of smuggling drugs, but also because of the potentially fatal risk of acute drug toxicity it poses to mules, should a drug packet split or seep internally.”

Fiumicino Airport is one of the busiest airports in Europe by passenger traffic with nearly 43 million people served in 2018.

The airport features three passenger terminals, with two currently operational. It serves as the main hub for Italian airline Alitalia and Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling, which is owned by International Airlines Group.




Thales and Micro-X partner to expedite airport check-in

Technology firm Thales has partnered with Micro-X for the development of carbon nanotubes (CNT) X-ray systems to revolutionise airport checkpoint technologies.

The technologies will eliminate the need for passengers to queue up, open bags and remove electronic devices and liquids, allowing airports to free up a lot of space for commercial use or increase in traffic.

The integration of carbon nanotubes cathodes with backscattering image processing algorithms and artificial intelligence is expected to speed up identification of suspicious items.

Thales and Micro-X will initially partner on the design of miniaturised X-ray sources, which will power the companies’ future roadmap of innovative X-ray products for medical and security markets.

In the collaboration’s second part, both companies will address global sales and support of Micro-X’s Mobile Backscatter Imager (MBI) to evaluate improvised explosive devices.

Under the collaboration, Thales will cross-sell the MBI product manufactured in Adelaide, Australia.

Thales vice-president of microwave and imaging sub-systems Jean-Jacques Guittard said: “From airport checkpoints to counter-terrorism activities to future medical imaging devices, Thales and Micro-X are on the edge of a historically decisive moment.

“In addition to these high-tech synergies and as a major player in the digital domain, this partnership will give us a technological leap no one else can offer.”

Airport checkpoint technology is experiencing an immediate challenge, with worldwide passenger numbers on track to double by 2030, according to IATA.

Thales said the evolving requirement for checkpoints is to process far more passengers per hour than the existing industry average of 200 combined with enhanced threat detection.

In June 2019, Thales was awarded a contract to enhance smart operations at Geneva Airport in Switzerland.

Under the contract, Thales will deliver a centralised supervision system designed to gather and analyse operational data and identify any irregularities in real-time.




Doncaster Sheffield Airport to build solar farm to reduce emissions

Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has unveiled plans to construct a £2m solar farm aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

The solar farm is expected to open in 2020 and is estimated to generate 25% of the airport’s energy, saving 220t of carbon per year.

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere visited the airport to hear news of the solar farm development, which forms part of DSA’s 20-year masterplan. It includes a forecast of 4.7m passengers and 70,000t of cargo per year with the creation of an aerotropolis.

Passenger numbers for DSA are expected to increase to 1.45m in 2019 and double within the next five years.

DSA has also signed up to the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter in order to build a more balanced and fair industry for women.

Vere said: “To bring about real change in transport, we need to do things differently. From decreasing carbon emissions at airports to increasing female representation, the aviation industry is acting now to safeguard our future.

“Today’s investment shows that airports are finding practical ways to become cleaner and greener, and Doncaster Sheffield’s commitment to the women in aviation charter is another vote of confidence in our work to build a fairer sector for all.”

DSA is claimed to have launched the highest number of new routes at any airport in the UK since August 2018, including long-haul to Florida, Budapest, and Krakow. It is also expecting another record year for cargo.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) is part of Peel Airports. To date, the airport has seen £300m of investment from the Peel Group. Over 100 businesses are situated on the airport’s wider Aero Centre Yorkshire site.

The Peel Group said it plans to see an East Coast Mainline link for the airport within the next five years, which it said will turbocharge growth in the region.




Sendai Airport to trial Bespoke’s AI-powered chatbot Bebot

Japan’s Sendai Airport is set to start a trial of Bespoke’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot adviser Bebot for a period of three months to serve travellers who speak English.

Bebot is Bespoke’s travel-focused AI technology and provides a responsive and friendly channel for queries.

Sendai Airport’s guests will be connected to Bebot automatically when accessing free Wi-Fi at the airport.

Bebot gives travellers access to airport information with regard to shops, restaurants, luggage storage, and other available services.

Other tourism information, such as transportation options and directions to other major areas in Japan, will be provided by the chatbot through natural language capabilities.

Bebot is now available for US-based airports, hotels and travel destinations.

Bespoke founder and CEO Akemi Tsunagawa said: “Wondering about a connecting flight, where to find a money exchange, how to take a cab to a nearby restaurant, or where to find a comfortable place to stay? Bebot will give you an answer right away.

“Our unique AI was developed from the ground up to serve the specific needs of travellers, providing them with the timely info, tips, and guidance they need to navigate foreign lands and new places.”

Bespoke’s advanced AI has been developed with a focus on empowering travellers with essential information and tips in a familiar chat service.

The company’s AI is augmented by on-the-ready human chat, providing a no-compromise, instantaneous source of information to customers and travellers.




California’s air regulator approves zero-emission airport shuttle rule

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a comprehensive effort to clean up airport shuttles in order to promote the development and use of zero-emission airport ground transportation.

As per the regulation, which will be phased in over a 13-year period, all shuttle fleets serving the state’s airports should switch to 100% zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. This applies to public and private fleets, including parking facilities, rental car agencies, and hotels.

The board estimates that the regulation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 500,000mt.

CARB said zero-emission shuttles are already operating across the state and have been purchased by six airports, as well as by private businesses serving nine airports.

There are currently 48 ZEVs in operation in the state and a further 100 have been ordered.

According to the CARB, current and on-order ZEV shuttles represent more than 15% of all airport shuttles in California. The agency said the increased adoption of these technologies is required to meet air quality and climate goals.

As per the new regulation, shuttle fleets will be required to report the details of their vehicles from 2022.

Fleets that need ZEV shuttle replacements should be zero-emissions from 2023.

Shuttle operators will be required to report to CARB from 2022 to 2035, when all fleets should be fully compliant.

CARB executive officer Richard Corey said: “California continues its forward march toward a zero-emission future with airport shuttles presenting a great opportunity for showcasing this process.

“Shuttles are a vital part of airport activity. The transition to zero-emission shuttles not only provides consumers with clean, quiet transport but will help further expand the reach of this ultra-clean technology into the heavy-duty transportation sector.”

A proposal is also being developed by the CARB to achieve further emission reductions by requiring zero-emission airport ground equipment.




Fraport Greece unveils new design of Mykonos Airport

Fraport Greece, which is responsible for maintaining, operating, managing, upgrading and developing 14 regional airports in Greece has unveiled the design of the new Mykonos Airport.

The design of the airport combines modern architecture with the traditional style of the Cyclades.

Mykonos Airport has undergone a series of expansions since its opening in 1971. The objective of the architectural teams at K-Studio and Betaplan was to design a façade with special reference to the morphological principles of Mykonian architecture, while meeting the requirements of a modern day airport terminal.

The design approach has been inspired by the Aegean pigeon houses, as well as other traditional examples of Aegean architecture, and combines the tradition of Mykonos with its modern side.

The airport, which will be completed in 2021, will be a continuation of the aesthetics and landscape architecture inviting travellers and users to begin their exploration of the island through the airport.

In addition to the refurbishment of the terminal, Fraport Greece’s plans for Mykonos Airport include a 2,000m² extension to the northern side of the existing building, which will host the airport’s new arrivals area, and an expansion of the existing building by another 500m² to create more gates.

The plans also include the creation of new retail and food and beverage areas, and the complete refurbishment of sanitary facilities.

Fraport Greece CEO Alexander Zinell said: “We are particularly proud of the architectural design of the new Mykonos Airport, which combines the vision of the company with the unique features of the Myconian lifestyle.

“This new architectural approach is the result of a continuous dialogue with the local community.

“The new Mykonos Airport in 2021 will be a prominent symbol of Cycladic architecture. To date, we have implemented a series of upgrades on an operational level, while construction is ongoing during the high-season.

“With a total investment of €25m, Mykonos Airport will become one of the most modern airports in Greece, a worthy gateway to this outstanding island.”