Industry News




Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport plane fire kills 41 people

A Russian passenger airplane has been engulfed in flames at Sheremetyevo Airport, claiming the lives of at least 41 passengers.

Flight SU 1492, operated by Russian carrier Aeroflot, was flying with 73 passengers and five crew members on board from Moscow to Murmansk, a Russian city in the Arctic Circle.

The Sukhoi Superjet-100 plane was struck by lightning after it took off for Murmansk, with the pilot deciding to return to the airport.

However, Russia’s national carrier said that it returned due to technical reasons.

While landing, the aircraft skidded down the runway and its rear portion caught fire, emitting thick, black smoke.

Upon stopping, passengers used emergency slides from the aircraft’s two forward doors.

Russia’s Investigative Committee spokeswoman Elena Markovskaya told CNN that 37 people survived, five of whom are currently being treated in hospital.

An American citizen was killed in the crash, news agency Interfax reported.

An unnamed source told the news agency: “The plane sent out a distress signal after taking off, started emergency landing procedures, failed to land in the first attempt, and in the second it hit landing gear and its nose on the runway and started burning.”

The narrow-bodied, dual-class cabin aircraft entered service in mid-2011 and is capable of carrying more than 100 passengers.

Over 100 of the planes are in operation around the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into the incident.




SITA demonstrates latest technologies at Curaçao Airport

IT company SITA has showcased its latest technologies at Curaçao International Airport’s new terminal opening event.

During the opening event, SITA displayed its biometric solution, Smart Path, which allows passengers to go through the entire airport without the need to show their boarding pass and passport at every checkpoint.

The new system uses digital biometric ID management technology to make the journey easier.

The company also presented self-bag-drop technology that speeds up the process of checking bags in for a flight.

Curaçao Airport Partners CEO Ralph Blanchard said: “For more than a decade, SITA has been our trusted IT partner, providing Curaçao International Airport with a range of innovative technologies, including self-service kiosks, communications network management, flight information, and multi-media displays.”

SITA presented a new technology that compiles information on airport operations, including aircraft movements, check-in and security queue lengths, escalator status, traffic patterns at passenger drop-off and even restroom satisfaction levels.

Dubbed ‘digital twin’, the new technology will allow airport managers to see a complete picture of airport activity. The information is displayed on a big screen, which can also be seen in 3D virtual reality.

SITA recently secured a contract to deploy terminal management technology at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) to increase terminal operational efficiency and enhance travellers’ experience.

In March, Athens International Airport in Greece became the first airport in Europe to trial SITA Smart Path biometric technology at security.




Universal Aviation Singapore opens Seletar Business Aviation Centre

Universal Aviation Singapore has announced the official opening of the new Seletar Business Aviation Centre (SBAC) and its new operations offices at Seletar Airport in Singapore.

SBAC operations will be co-managed by a joint venture (JV) consortium, which includes SATS Seletar Aviation Services (SSAS), made up of Universal Aviation Singapore, SATS, and Jet Aviation.

Universal Weather and Aviation chairman Greg Evans said: “The official grand opening of the new SBAC is a historic moment in the history of business aviation in Singapore and will elevate the experience of private operators to Seletar Airport (WSSL).

“This beautiful facility will raise the bar for airports in the region by offering an elevated level of privacy, efficiency, and luxury for business aviation operators and potentially positions Singapore as the most business aviation-friendly country in the region.”

The dedicated business aviation facility SBAC is housed within Seletar Airport’s new terminal.

Located on the first floor of the SBAC, Universal Aviation Singapore’s new operations centre features an integrated crew rest lounge.

Universal Aviation Singapore managing director Yvonne Chan said: “We’ve made significant infrastructure and training investments at Seletar in order to continue to support our clients’ critical missions at this high-traffic and potentially high-stress airport.

“In 2018, we earned accreditation under the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) programme and we just recently purchased a brand new tow-barless lektro tug capable of handling aircraft up to a B737 or A320 – the first of this model in Singapore.”




London High Court approves third runway at Heathrow Airport

The High Court of Justice in London has rejected legal challenges from environmental campaigners opposed to the construction of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The ruling was delivered by Judge Gary Hickinbottom who said he did not accept the arguments made by environmentalists when the expansion of Heathrow was approved.

If opened, the runway at Heathrow is expected to be the first full-length runway built in the London area for 70 years, Reuters reported.

Welcoming the High Court ruling on the expansion, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are delighted with today’s ruling, which is a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also.

“We are getting on with delivering the once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth, providing thousands of new jobs and an economic boost for this country and its future generations.”

Arora Group said that the project, named Heathrow West, is set to be exhibited to members of the public from 8 May. The initial round of consultation will help shape a development consent order to deliver a new terminal on Heathrow’s western boundary.

The proposals do not include the Northwest Runway, or major works associated with the M25.

In March, the High Court started hearing cases filed by five different petitioners opposing the proposed runway expansion project.

Prior to this, in January, a new report by the London Assembly Environment Committee suggested cancellation of plans for a third runway at the airport and measures to be taken to improve airspace in London.

The Aircraft Noise report calls for a halt at air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports.

CBI Infrastructure and Energy director Tom Thackray said: “As Heathrow’s plans show, expansion can – and must – be delivered in a way that benefits our economy and protects our environment as we deliver our ambitious climate change targets.

“With the new global links and routes it will bring, and the opportunity to unlock jobs right across the UK, a third runway at Heathrow operational by the 2030s will set the UK on course for a bright trading future.”




Budapest and Xi’an Xianyang airports agree to cooperate

Budapest Airport has accelerated its efforts to become a major distribution and logistics base for China in the Central and Eastern European region by signing a cooperation agreement with Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the recent Belt and Road Forum summit in Beijing.

Hungary Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said: “Between two countries ­like these, with quite a distance between them geographically, strong economic cooperation is only possible if they are well-connected, which is why aviation connections, direct flights between Hungary and China, are of key importance.

“For this reason, we are delighted that a cooperation agreement between the airport of Xi’an and Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport is signed, as this agreement may link additional Chinese cities to the network where direct flights are available from Hungary, from Budapest.”

Budapest Airport said it will also sign a cooperation agreement with Zhengzhou International Airport in May this year, during a planned Chinese delegation visit to Budapest, to further strengthen aviation links between Hungary and China.

Budapest Airport CEO Jost Lammers said: “The foundation stone was laid with the direct connection to Zhengzhou, and now it is time to further intensify our cooperation with our new Chinese partners, and thus exploit the enormous potential in the freight business in particular.”

The Hungarian airport noted that the support of the country’s diplomats and trade promotion experts has helped it to double the weekly capacity of direct cargo flights between Budapest, Hong Kong, and Zhengzhou.

The support has also helped to improve the belly cargo links onboard scheduled Air China passenger flights between Beijing and Budapest.

Cargolux has been operating two new direct cargo flights per week between Zhengzhou and Budapest since the start of April.

In 2018, Budapest Airport launched a €32.6m project to build a new ‘Cargo City’ freight centre, which it expects will increase demand from cargo operators.




Fraport commences construction on Terminal 3 at Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport has begun work on its new terminal, Terminal 3.

The project is expected to cost around €3.5bn to €4bn, making it Fraport’s largest single investment in the airport.

An estimated 5,000 construction workers per day will be employed during the peak of construction.

Pier G at Terminal 3 will have capacity for up to five million passengers. Once completed in 2021, the facility will be integrated into Terminal 3’s premium product.

Fraport CEO Stefan Schulte said: “We are building the future with Terminal 3, for Frankfurt Airport, the entire Rhine-Main region and far beyond. By employing state-of-the-art technology and intelligent processes to create an outstanding passenger experience, we are meeting the promise inherent in our slogan, ‘Gute Reise’, we make it happen.

“With the new terminal, we are adding sufficient capacity for about 21 million more travellers annually by the year 2023.”

The main terminal building, along with Piers H and J, will be completed in 2023. After construction, the airport will be able to handle 21 million more passengers.

Pier G will have a total floor space of approximately 55,000m² and the main terminal building with Piers H and J will occupy around 306,000m².

Retail outlets and restaurants will occupy around 1,960m² at Pier G and around 9,700m² at the main terminal building with Piers H and J.

Minister of Finance of the German state of Hesse Thomas Schäfer said: “The construction of Terminal 3 is an important step for strengthening the airport’s competitiveness and therefore also that of the state of Hesse as a center of economic activity.

“Over the next few years, Fraport AG will invest up to four billion euros in the project. This has the potential to create many new jobs while increasing the importance of Frankfurt Airport as Germany’s largest place of employment.”

An option to construct a Pier K later will also be provided, which will increase the new terminal’s total capacity to 25 million air travellers.

Fraport wholly-owned subsidiary Fraport Ausbau Süd is responsible for managing, supervising and monitoring the construction project.




Australian Border Force IT outage causes delays at airports

Passengers arriving at or departing from Australian international airports have been delayed due to an IT outage experienced by the Australian Border Force (ABF).

Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney international airports were affected by the IT system failure, which caused the SmartGate passport control machines to go down.

The airport authorities processed passengers manually while the machines were down.

Passengers posted photos of long queues at the airports, where people were forced to wait for a considerable amount of time for processing.

An Australian Border Force spokeswoman said that the IT systems impacted by the outage have been restored.

“Additional ABF staff have been deployed to process passengers at international airports and to minimise delays in cargo processing where possible,” the spokeswoman said.

“While the addition of staff has seen reduced delays at some airports, passengers are still encouraged to arrive at airports early to allow additional time for processing.”

ABF controls the SmartGate passport machines, which automatically process passengers through passport control by using facial recognition technology and the passenger’s ePassport to check their identity.

Apart from Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney international airports, the SmartGate machines are also installed at Adelaide, Canberra, Gold Coast, Cairns, Darwin and Perth airports.

People of any nationality can use SmartGates. They must also have an ePassport or other machine-readable passport or be able to follow the instructions without help.

ABF is the country’s frontline border law enforcement agency and customs service. The agency, which is an operationally independent body within the Home Affairs portfolio, aims to facilitate the movement of people and goods across the border.




Gatwick Airport trials service to assist special needs passengers

Gatwick Airport has launched a new service that allows blind and visually impaired passengers to call agents that can help guide them through the airport.

Available free of charge and 24 hours a day, the on-demand service can be accessed through the Aira app on a smartphone.

Passengers with special needs can call professionally trained agents who will help them to read documents or even find their bag on the luggage carousel.

The service is being offered on a trial basis for a period of six months in collaboration with budget carrier easyJet.

easyJet special assistance advisory group chair Lord David Blunkett said: “This is a great experiment and innovation which I know over time will be life-changing in terms of providing equality to passengers with no or little sight.

“This extremely ground-breaking technological breakthrough will allow the partnership between easyJet and Gatwick to demonstrate, for future use across airports here and across the world, just how a simple app and addition to an iPhone or other similar technology can make such a difference.”

In order to use the service, passengers will have to download and install the Aira app.

The app also offers the latest information on a passenger’s individual journey plans, including flight information and onward connections, among other services.

Gatwick Airport said that 12,000 passengers per annum inform the airport that they are blind or partially sighted. The new solution will make journeys hassle-free for these passengers, it added.

Gatwick Airport chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said: “Airports are complex environments and this new system helps to give blind and visually impaired passengers more independence so they can more easily relax and enjoy their time at Gatwick.”

Gatwick has already been working with the RNIB to ensure that the airport has appropriate processes and services to help blind and visually impaired passengers.