Industry News




Cape Town Airport to cut domestic and international flights calls

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has announced that from March 2018 boarding calls for domestic and international departures will no longer be made throughout Cape Town International Airport.

Only limited boarding announcements will be made at international departure boarding gates.

ACSA operates Cape Town International Airport.

Cape Town International Airport spokesperson Deidre Davids said: “As Cape Town International Airport, we have noted the feedback from passengers in independent customer surveys citing complaints about noise levels in airports.

“In keeping with global trends and the aviation’s move toward passengers being increasingly self-sufficient we are adopting the global trend of silent airports. The obvious benefit of a silent airport is reduced noise, which has been an issue of contention for our passengers.”

The public-address microphones at the airport’s domestic and international departures terminal and gates will be switched off from 1 March.

With regard to boarding times, gates and any other changes, passengers will be advised to check their boarding passes and the flight information display boards.

A silent airport policy has been implemented at airports worldwide in a bid to enhance the airport’s ambience and decrease complaints about the number of calls for individual passengers to board their flights.

As per the standard operating procedures, passengers of most domestic flights need to start boarding at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. International travellers will need to board one hour before their flight sets off.

Centralised terminal announcements will only be made for important updates, including gate and time changes, security, and system failures.




Dubai Airports plans southern runway modernisation at DXB

Dubai Airports has confirmed plans to carry out a comprehensive upgrade of the southern runway at Dubai International (DXB) in a bid to improve safety, service and capacity levels.

As a result, the southern runway 12R-30L will be closed while resurfacing and replacement of the airfield ground lighting and supporting infrastructure takes place from 16 April to 30 May 2019.

Nearly half of the normal flights could be grounded during the runway upgrade, which will force the airport’s capacity to be temporarily reduced.

All airlines have received advance notice from Dubai Airports to plan for the flight reductions and schedule planning.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said: “In the months ahead we will be working closely with Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, airlines and other stakeholders to ensure we optimise service and capacity during this period next year and minimise the impact on our customers.”

As part of the southern runway refurbishment project, about 60,000t of asphalt and 8,000m³ of concrete will be placed to strengthen and resurface the runway and adjacent taxiways.

Upgrade works will also include installing 800km of cables and replacing more than 5,500 runway lights with environmentally friendly technology.

Dubai World Central (DWC) will serve as an alternative location during DXB’s upgrade to assist affected flight schedules, as well as chartered flights, cargo, and general aviation operations.

Currently, DWC is set to complete an expansion programme that will increase its capacity to 26 million passengers per year, up from the current 5-7 million passengers.

In a separate development, 122 Automated Border Control SmartGates at the airport have gone live as part of a transformation programme which aims to offer a new border control experience to passengers and improve the immigration security process.

Designed by Vision-Box and Emaratech, the SmartGates can expedite passenger clearance at Dubai Airports’ borders and provide a fast self-service transaction through multi-biometric verification, sustained by passport, Emirates ID, and SmartGate cards authentication.




International flights contributed £4.7bn to UK GDP in 2017

A new Oxford Economics report revealed that 5.5 million foreign visitors arrived in the UK through Gatwick Airport in 2017, adding £4.7bn to the country’s GDP and supporting 93,000 jobs.

The ‘Visitor Economy’ report on the airport’s impact on the country’s economy further highlights that the UK received a boost of £1.2bn in taxes on transactions, wages and profits generated by businesses serving overseas visitors.

Gatwick Growth Board co-chair Steve Norris said: “As a vital piece of UK infrastructure, Gatwick provides a significant contribution to local, regional and national economies and this report shows that this still has room to grow, both in terms of the number of inbound passengers and the value of each visit.

“As Gatwick continues to grow, it is our job as the Growth Board to ensure the benefits it brings to the economy are felt, not just nationally, but also by the airport’s regional and local neighbours and these roundtables have provided plenty of positive ideas as to how.”

Commissioned by the Gatwick Growth Board, the report noted that the UK economy receives a boost of £200m to GDP and 4,000 jobs every time 100,000 travellers from Asia land at the airport.

The airport’s new routes to Hong Kong, Chongqing, Tianjin and Taipei are the driving factors behind this passenger boom, which is set to grow with the launch of other new routes to Asia.

Asian travellers spend an average £1,185 per visit, compared to the £705 overall average. Other contributing travellers include those coming from the US spending £1,021, and Australia spending £1,047, as well as those from the Rest of Americas spending £1,117.

The report further indicated that 1.6 million visitors mainly from Scotland and Northern Ireland arrived at other parts of UK last year and contributed £588m to GDP and 12,700 jobs.

Other findings of the report reveal that more than four-fifths of visitors were from Europe, with Spain, Italy and France being the top three origin countries, followed by the US.

About a fifth of visitors came from Germany, Denmark, Holland and Ireland for business purposes.




UK grants funding for development of aviation security solutions

The UK Government has sanctioned a total of £1.8m to assist eight projects in developing new technology aimed at boosting airport security and improving the screening process.

The new aviation security solutions are being designed to improve threat detection capabilities, reduce queues and support faster airport screening processes.

Security Screening Technologies is one of the recipients of the grant, using new imaging technology to scan shoes for explosive materials.

Currently under development, the step-on shoe scanner will quickly take high-contrast images of shoes for analysis on computers. Any footwear that is flagged as dubious will then undergo secondary screening.

The funding is part of the five-year Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme, an initiative that aims to develop new technologies to boost aviation security.

UK Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “The safety of people travelling on all modes of transport is our top priority and the Future Aviation Security Solutions programme is just one example of the huge importance we place on the security of passengers.”

Sequestim also received financial support. The Wales-based company has designed an alternative walk-through screening system.

The platform will reduce the number of manual checks and travellers will not have to remove outer clothing.

Each project team will have to develop their technology into a fully functioning prototype within one year so that it can be tested at airports.

Other projects that received funding include Durham University’s machine learning algorithms for X-rays; University College London’s application of machine learning to recognise irregular items and groups of objects in bags; and SEADM’s portable system to screen for explosives in cargo, working with Smiths Detection.

University College London has also secured funding for electromagnetic imaging for baggage and cargo. Funding will also be given to Scanna MSc for the development of a step-on shoe scanner to detect explosives and weapons, as well as the University of Cambridge for a project that changes the focus of training for airport security personnel.




Indra wins contract to renew Algeria’s air traffic management system

Global consulting and technology company Indra has won a €47m contract from air navigation service provider Etablissement National de la Navigation Aérienne (ENNA) to overhaul Algeria’s entire air traffic management system.

Under the terms of the contract, the company will also renew Algeria’s air surveillance system and air navigation communications.

In Algeria, Indra will deploy the same technology and capacities as implemented in Europe, enabling ENNA to comply with the strict norms of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The scope of the contract includes modernisation of the regional control centre in Algiers and construction of a new centre at Tamanrasset.

Indra will also be responsible for renovating the systems of the approach control centres at Algiers, Annaba, Constantine, Oran and Hassi Messaoud.

The company will also supply ENNA with two air traffic management simulators, which will support adaptation to the new automation system while helping to train its controllers.

The project will also focus on enhancing surveillance throughout the country’s airspace by installing 11 radar stations equipped with four primary radars and nine mode S secondary radars, as well as 13 ADS-B surveillance stations.

The air traffic controllers’ workstations will also be equipped with Garex 300 digital voice communications supported by a network of 27 VSAT satellite stations with two hubs for the space segment, in addition to 30 VHF stations and over 20 HF stations.

This digital communications network will deliver a ground-air link to the pilots, ensuring the transmission of control and radar data to the centres, and add communications between the various control centres.

ENNA will also receive logistic support such as training, technical support, guarantees, spare parts, repairs and updates from Indra throughout the whole lifecycle of the system.

The modernisation project is set to be completed in a year and a half.




UK flyers may lose legal protections post-Brexit, Skycop claims

A hard Brexit may deprive 28% of UK air passengers visiting Europe of their rights to compensation from delayed or cancelled flights, according to claims company Skycop.

Currently, British consumers enjoy legal protections and rights such as compensation for issues with flights under European legislation.

Compensated passengers are provided with meal vouchers, telephone calls and hotel accommodation, as well as financial payments in the event of unexpected flight delays or cancellations.

Post-Brexit, British airlines will be leaving the air passenger rights agreement, in addition to losing all aviation entitlements set under internal EU aviation market policy since 1990, according to Skycop.

Skycop CEO Marius Stonkus said: “The liberal aviation market we have today is one of the main factors that led to the lucrative development of LCCs [low cost carriers] such as easyJet or Ryanair. Both sides will have to come to new agreements and UK carriers are at risk of losing free access to their markets.

“However, it’s not only airlines that should take action before it’s too late. UK citizens have no time left to hesitate over flight compensations and should start fighting for it as soon as possible.

“It’s only a year until present and past flight disruptions will lose its right to compensations ranging from £221 to £532.”

The UK Government can agree on a new set of rules or come up with an alternative system with the EU before 29 March 2019. However, any new proposals could be rejected by the 27 remaining EU member states.

Skycop cited examples of airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair, which are trying to avoid the adverse effect of a hard Brexit.

Although easyJet will retain its head office in the UK, it has recently established a subsidiary in Austria with a separate EU Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

Similarly, Ireland-based Ryanair has applied for a UK AOC. However, the airline has warned passengers about possible changes to their bookings after Brexit.

Other airlines are updating their websites to warn future travellers about the possible changes for post-Brexit bookings.

In the event of no Brexit deal, UK carriers will lose free access to operate commercial services throughout the EU, which could result in the mass cancellation of flights.




OR Tambo Airport’s FBO terminal welcomes first international flight

Fireblade Aviation has announced that the company’s fixed-base operations (FBO) terminal at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa has welcomed its first international flight.

The FBO has been developed as a private air terminal in order to meet the requirements of VIP and VVIP travellers.

Fireblade Aviation CEO Jonathan Oppenheimer told media sources: “We are excited to service international movements, which will complement our current domestic aircraft movements and enable Fireblade Aviation to fulfil its intended potential.”

An assortment of officers from the Department of Home Affairs, South African Revenue Services and the South African Police Service cleared the arriving international flight, as well as the passengers on-board.

Furthermore, the country’s airport operator, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), noted that its main terminal at OR Tambo will be freed up to provide additional capacity.

Runway crossings will also be reduced to improve arrival and departure times, as well as enhance overall safety.

The Fireblade terminal is situated on a corner of the Denel site at OR Tambo International Airport, on the opposite side of the runways from the main passenger terminals.

Fireblade Aviation recently opened the new FBO terminal, following approval from South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs to operate an international customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.

The company is based at Johannesburg International Airport and operates as a fixed-base operator and aircraft charter firm.




Emirates to introduce service between Auckland and Bali

Dubai-based airline Emirates is planning to launch a new daily service from Dubai to Auckland, New Zealand, through the island of Bali in Indonesia.

Starting from June 2018, the new service complements Emirates’ existing non-stop daily service between Dubai and Auckland and its daily A380 service between Dubai and Christchurch through Sydney. Emirates will offer a total of three daily services to New Zealand to global travellers.

The airline’s two existing daily services are currently operated by a Boeing 777 300-ER in a two-class configuration.

Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark said: “We are confident that our year-round service between Auckland and Bali will be well-received by our customers, not only in New Zealand and Indonesia, but also from our global network particularly from markets like the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.”

The new service is expected to provide better connections for London and other major European cities.

Welcoming Emirates’ announcement, Auckland Airport aeronautical commercial general manager Scott Tasker said that the new service will add more than 250,000 seats to the route.

Tasker added: “Bali continues to grow as a popular holiday destination for Kiwis, who can now fly there non-stop, year-round. Additionally, this new service provides an option for European travellers to stopover in Bali when flying to and from New Zealand.”

The new service is also set to provide 20t of cargo capacity between New Zealand, Bali and Dubai.