Industry News




Coronavirus Covid-19: MTX launches Disease Monitoring and Control app

MTX has launched its Disease Monitoring and Control app to provide real-time Covid-19 insights to government agencies, health officials, and airports.

The MTX Disease Monitoring and Control app offers insights regarding the prediction of at-risk communities and disease growth rates.

In addition, the app provides immediate clinical attention to infected people and aims to help limit the spread of the virus to at-risk communities.

MTX Group CEO Das Nobel said: “We are very proud to partner with the state government agencies to respond to the urgent request to help monitor and control the coronavirus outbreak.

“This system can be utilised for all epidemics across the nation to contain/limit the spread of disease.”

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new rules regarding aircraft arrivals from China, rerouting the flight arrivals to eleven major airports in the country. This came into effect from 2 February.

In line with the order, the MTX Disease Monitoring and Control app linked all the passengers arriving into the country with the system to implement the 14-day mandatory virtual quarantine process.

Passengers were able to access ‘an easy-to-use system’ to report any illness symptoms and connect with health organisations and hospitals if necessary.

The company is currently planning to extend the app to offer similar capabilities to local health organisations for treating symptomatic and at-risk patients.

Nobel added: “MTX values personal data privacy and security and will require consent of all individuals who enroll in the programme.”

The Covid-19 epidemic has at the time of publishing killed more than 3,100 people and infected more than 90,000 people around the world. The US currently has 91 confirmed coronavirus cases, with six deaths.




London Stansted Airport commences first stage of airspace upgrade

London Stansted Airport in the UK has started redesigning the corridors and flightpath network used by aircraft when arriving and departing the airport.

This project is part of the UK Government’s Airspace Modernisation Programme. The government has advised all airports in the UK to review the best use of new technology to increase efficiency.

Airspace is a major component of the country’s national infrastructure that has not been modified since the 1950s.

New technologies such as satellite navigation systems are capable of increasing airspace efficiency, thereby reducing stacking, delays and emissions.

Under the Airspace Modernisation Programme, all airports in the country are required to review their operations up to 7,000ft, while UK air traffic management company NATS will oversee the aircraft routes above 7,000ft.

In addition, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will oversee the whole process.

Over this week, London Stansted Airport has plans to host a series of focus groups with participants from the public, local businesses and the aviation industry to discuss the main principles to be followed when redesigning the airspace.

Next year, Stansted will launch a full public consultation regarding the airspace design.

London Stansted Airport operations director Nick Millar said: “When delays start to build upon our roads or rail network, the impact it can have on the ground is all too obvious. It’s easy to forget that we have a similar network in the sky, which our airlines and other airspace users rely on to get from A to B.

“This upgrade of the UK’s airspace is long overdue and will help make flying much more efficient and environmentally friendly. But we understand the impact aircraft can have on those people living near an airport, which is why we are undertaking a thorough programme of engagement to understand what matters most to our neighbours.”




ACI World announces preliminary passenger traffic data

Airports Council International (ACI) World has announced that, in December, worldwide passenger traffic increased by 4.9% compared to the same month the year before.

According to a preliminary data sample from major airports around the world, airports saw a 3.4% passenger growth compared to the previous year’s 6.4%.

For the freight industry, the initial end-of-year results saw a decrease of 2.5%, while 2018 saw an increase of 3.4%.

ACI added that freight volumes started to recover towards the last three months of the year, however, this is expected to be disrupted due to the Covid-19 global public health emergency.

Meanwhile, in December, both international and domestic passenger segments saw an equal increase of 4.9%.

For the full year, the international market saw a preliminary growth of 4.1% while the domestic market recorded an increase of 2.8%.

The North American and Asia-Pacific markets registered a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 6.4% and 6% respectively, with both international and domestic segments seeing good growth.

The European market recorded a YoY passenger traffic increase of 2.8% while the year ended with an increase of 3.2%.

In addition, Africa’s preliminary year-end growth was at 6.7%, the Middle East posted an increase of 3.3% and Latin America-Caribbean saw a growth of 3.7%.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “With ongoing trade wars and rising geopolitical tension in the Middle East, the global environment in 2019 was certainly challenging for air transport.

“Though a recovery for the freight industry was starting to emerge in the later part of the year, we now face a health crisis that could stifle the uptrend and lead us into another volatile year in 2020.

“The developing situation may not be a momentary shock to the air transport industry; rather it has the potential to produce a significant shift in this year’s global economic growth trend.”

Last month, ACI Asia-Pacific stated that the Asia-Pacific and Middle East airport revenues are under high pressure in January and February, even with moderate growth last year, due to the recent Covid-19 epidemic.




British airways trial autonomous mobility device at jfk airport

British Airways has started its trial of WHILL’s autonomous electric mobility devices at New York’s John F Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.

With this trial, British Airways will be the first airline to test electric mobility devices in North America.

British Airways stated that around half a million passengers with a requirement for special assistance use the airline and it is expected that the number will increase by 10% by next year.

This move is part of the airline’s strategy to explore new ways to provide a smooth travel experience to all its passengers.

The autonomous mobility devices are fitted with anti-collision technology and allow passengers to navigate to their desired destination at the airport.

They are capable of manoeuvring through the terminal from the check-in area to the boarding gate, without the need for manual assistance from the airport support team or the passenger’s travel companions.

The device also permits customers to change the destination multiple times to explore the airport on the way to the boarding gate.

In addition, the device is capable of returning to its original docking station independently after taking passengers to the required gate.

British Airways Innovation head Ricardo Vidal said: “Our customers tell us they would like greater independence and control over their journey through the airport, so we were keen to trial autonomous devices and see our customers' response to the very latest mobility technology in a real airport environment.

“Over the next few months, we will be collaborating on a further trial at our busy home hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 to gather more feedback and explore the introduction of this technology alongside our team of customer service professionals to provide a truly seamless and accessible airport experience.”

Last November, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in the US and Winnipeg Richardson International Airport (YWG) in Canada unveiled details from their trials of WHILL’s autonomous driving personal electric vehicles (EVs).




ACI Asia-Pacific states airports are under pressure due to Covid-19

Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific has stated that the Asia-Pacific and Middle East airport revenues are under high pressure in January and February, even with moderate growth last year, due to the recent Covid-19 epidemic.

The traffic report from last month shows a divergent performance in major airports in the region with some sites showing increasing growth until the Lunar New Year, which was on 24 January.

However, a decrease is expected following the coronavirus outbreak, which gained momentum late last month.

ACI Asia-Pacific expects a significant drop in passenger traffic amid travel bans imposed by many countries, as well as flight cancellations by airlines to stop the spread of the virus.

The region’s scheduled capacity has decreased substantially with a reduction of up to 15% expected this month.

During the Lunar New Year travel period, the civil aviation sector in China served 38.4 million passengers in the 40-day period, which marks a 47.5% decrease compared with the same period last year.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has estimated that more than 130 airline companies have reduced or cancelled flight operations to and from mainland China since the start of the outbreak in January.

The flight cancellations have led to a decrease in around 17.2 to 20.6 million passengers in the first quarter compared with previous estimates.

ACI Asia-Pacific director-general Stefano Baronci said: “The impact of the travel bans and restrictions in response to the outbreak is having a drastic impact on scheduled capacity. It is concerning that China, which contributed close to 60% of the 2019 traffic increase, will no longer be able to fuel growth in this first part of 2020.

“Airport revenue generation and growth are directly linked to traffic levels. We can, therefore, expect declines of significant proportion for airports in affected markets in the first quarter. However, the ripple effect will be felt across many airports beyond our region.”

Most of the airports in the Asia-Pacific region rely on revenues from non-aeronautical or commercial sources such as rental income, car parking and duty-free.




New Zealand to upgrade and expand Taupo Airport

New Zealand’s Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has stated that Taupo Airport will be upgraded and expanded.

The work will be carried out with a government funding boost worth almost NZD5.9m ($3.7m).

The project will modernise the airport terminal, extend the car park and upgrade the runway apron.

It is expected to generate 60 jobs during the construction phase.

Of the NZD5.87m funding, NZD5m will be provided by the Provincial Growth Fund while the central government will provide the remaining $870,000.

Under the NZ Upgrade Programme, NZD300m was allocated towards regional infrastructure investment opportunities. The funding will be directed by the Provincial Development Unit.

Jones said: “Taupo Airport is the gateway to the Central North Island. It is essential for both keeping local people and businesses connected, but also to bring more people to the region.

“The airport’s current infrastructure limits tourism and growth opportunities. Visitor numbers to the region are growing at a rate of 15% a year. A modern and comfortable airport will grow these numbers, and the regional economy, even further.

“These changes will enable larger planes and more travellers to be accommodated at the airport.”

Last December, Vodafone New Zealand launched a 5G network trial at Wellington Airport to provide travellers with high-speed connectivity.

In August, New Zealand’s Dunedin International Airport installed two advanced imaging machines, known as body scanners, to strengthen security for domestic passengers.

The new body scanners and smart lane X-ray baggage screeners are part of an NZD100m Aviation Security Service Project.




Court of Appeal rules against third runway at Heathrow Airport

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled against London Heathrow Airport’s plans to construct a third runway, calling it ‘illegal’.

The court said that the runway proposal did not take into consideration the government’s climate change commitments.

The plans for the third runway can proceed provided they adhere to the country’s climate policy, the judges said.

Environmental groups, councils and the Mayor of London presented the case against the third runway.

Heathrow has decided to challenge the court’s decision at the Supreme Court.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government, including on ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’, apart from one which is eminently fixable.

“We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful. In the meantime, we are ready to work with the government to fix the issue that the court has raised.”

However, the UK Government has decided against appealing the judgement.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment. This government won’t appeal today’s judgement given our manifesto makes clear any Heathrow expansion will be industry-led.”

Last August, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh criticised Heathrow Airport for hiding the increasing cost of the proposed third runway.

In May, the High Court of Justice in London rejected legal challenges from environmental campaigners opposed to the construction of the third runway.

Following the ruling, Heathrow Airport launched a 12 and a half-week consultation on its expansion plans to gather public opinion and improve the final planning application for the project.




TSA deploys credential authentication technology at Boston Airport

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed new credential authentication technology at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

The technology is capable of verifying the identification (ID) of a traveller and confirming their flight information in near real-time.

Last year, Boston Airport became the first US airport to test the credential authentication technology (CAT) scanners.

TSA has currently installed 25 CAT units at the airport.

A TSA officer will scan the traveller’s ID using the CAT unit, which will then inform the officer of the ID’s validity.

The unit also checks if the passenger has been pre-screened by the airline agent, meaning that passengers will not have to produce their flight boarding passes again.

The technology is aimed at boosting the security personnel’s capabilities to identify the use of fake documents at the security area.

The CAT units can verify around 2,500 types of ID, including passports, military common access cards and retired military ID cards.

Worth around $27,000, each CAT unit features a passport reader, ID card reader, a Federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light.

By the end of this month, TSA aims to install around 500 CAT units at 40 airports across the country. However, the units will not be fitted at each checkpoint lane.

TSA Massachusetts federal security director Bob Allison said: “The technology enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification.

“The system will also confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection.”

In October, Leidos secured a follow-on contract from TSA to maintain equipment used to carry out checkpoint screening operations.