Industry News




Vilnius Airport to reinstate regular passenger services from mid-May

Vilnius Airport in Lithuania is set to partly resume regular passenger services from mid-May as Lithuania and other European countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.

The first flights will commence on 13 May and are scheduled to fly to Riga and Frankfurt.

Initially, the airport will carry out flights from Vilnius to Frankfurt three times per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Air carrier Lufthansa will operate these flights, the airport stated.

Meanwhile, AirBaltic will operate daily flights to Riga.

A spokesperson for Lithuanian Airports Aviation Services said: “We believe that now is the appropriate time to gradually ease travel restrictions, and we have established a clear strategy for which we are intensively preparing.

“Our strategy is based on the newest health safety recommendations, situation of the virus in every destination country, and plans established by the air carriers. In this stage, Frankfurt is a very important destination and hub airport from which airlines offer many connecting flights to Europe and beyond.”

The airport also suggested that more airlines will restart flights in the second half of this month. However, final decisions are yet to be made by air carriers.

The authorities said earlier that those who travel will still be required to quarantine themselves for two weeks after returning to Lithuania.

So far, Lithuania has over 1,419 confirmed Covid-19 cases. 46 people have died while 638 have recovered in the country.

The lockdown in the country is anticipated to be extended for another two weeks after May 11, with new easing measures.




Leidos acquires L3Harris’ airport security business in $1bn deal

Leidos has completed the purchase of the L3Harris Technologies’ Security Detection and Automation businesses in a cash deal valued at $1bn.

This February, L3Harris agreed to sell its airport security and automation business to Leidos.

The businesses offer airport and critical infrastructure screening products, automated tray return systems and other industrial automation products.

The Security & Detection Systems and MacDonald Humfrey Automation businesses are said to have annual revenues of around $500m.

The businesses will run with the Leidos Civil Group, which is spearheaded by Civil Group president Jim Moos.

Along with the existing cargo and baggage screening product lines of Leidos, the company has over 24,000 systems installed in 120 countries.

Leidos chairman and CEO Roger Krone said: “In line with our mission of making the world safer, healthier and more efficient, this security detection and automation acquisition furthers our important work in the secure movement of people and commerce globally.

“We are excited to support critical infrastructure wherever it is needed, and to help transform the global security marketplace.”

Moos said: “This deal expands our scope and scale in securing ports and borders, enhancing passenger movement in airports of the future, and fortifying infrastructure for national security and public venues.

“We are pleased to welcome more than 1,200 L3Harris employees around the world to the Leidos team, who share our deep commitment of providing our customers with a fully-integrated security technology ecosystem.”

The acquisition will expand Leidos’ product portfolio, increase international presence and help it develop new solutions.

Based in Virginia, the US, Leidos serves the defence, intelligence, homeland security, civil, and health markets.




ACI World announces 10.7% decrease in passenger traffic in February

Airports Council International (ACI) World has announced that, in February, worldwide passenger traffic decreased by 10.7% compared to the same month the year before.

In January this year, passenger numbers increased by 1.9%.

The decrease in passenger numbers is attributed to the effect of Covid-19 in the Asia-Pacific region.

The rolling average of the 12-month passenger numbers increased by 1.8% by the end of February. However, the numbers are expected to decrease drastically in the coming months.

The impact of Covid-19 on February traffic was contributed by the Asia-Pacific region, however numbers for March, which will be published next month, will reflect the wide spread of the virus.

For the freight industry, traffic saw a decrease of 0.5%, while the global 12-month rolling average decreased by 2.7% as of the end of February.

ACI World director general Angela Gittens said: “The coming year will pose major challenges for the industry, as travel restrictions and lockdown measures continue to impact the industry. Since we can expect that a global recession will take hold, it is now likely that the impacts of Covid-19 may be felt well into 2021.

“In February, only data from Asia-Pacific, where the epidemic originally occurred, was showing a major effect on global traffic. We know we will see declines in other regions once March data becomes available, as this is when most of the travel restrictions and national lockdowns started.

“Though global freight volumes should not be affected to the same extent as passenger traffic in the coming months, the freight industry should still face major challenges.”

ACI World predicts that the impact of Covid-19 will affect the demand and the supply chains along with decrease in the capacity of airlines.

Last month, ACI World released its annual report that outlines the key contributions of the airport industry to the global economy.




San Diego International Airport makes face covering mandatory for all

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has made face-covering mandatory for all passengers, visitors, tenants, contractors and employees while on airport property.

The new measure is in accordance with California Health and Safety Code to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, as per the County of San Diego Health Officer directives, persons with medical or mental health conditions or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering will be exempted by the airport from adhering to the new rule.

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority president and CEO Kim Becker said: “SAN’s top priority is the health and safety of all airport users. We’ve taken many steps to help curb the spread of Covid-19 and appreciate all airport users adhering to the local and state health orders.”

The airport has also put in place various other measures to ensure the safety and protection of its passengers and employees.

To enforce the 6ft social distancing rules at the airport, the authority has placed red tape markings on floors at security checkpoints, airline ticket counters, and concession areas.

All airport users are urged to follow social distancing measures and other CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of germs. This includes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Meanwhile, San Diego International Airport remains fully open as essential critical infrastructure in the transportation systems sector. It is currently transporting critical medicines and supporting commerce and tourism for the San Diego region.




FAA awards $1.19bn in safety and infrastructure grants to 439 airports

The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced airport safety and infrastructure grants worth $1.187bn to 439 US airports.

The announcement was made by US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao.

The FAA grant money includes Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants worth $731m and Supplemental Discretionary grants worth $455m.

The airports will receive money for the entirety of the eligible costs as per the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Chao said: “This federal investment of over $1bn represents the Department’s continued commitment to the safety and efficiency of our nation’s airports for the travelling public.”

The AIP and Supplemental Discretionary grants are expected to fund different types of projects in the US. Some of the projects include the purchase of aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, the construction of runways and taxiways and the repair of runways and taxiways.

The funds will also cover projects to install aircraft lighting and signage, to conduct airport master plan studies, and to install airport perimeter fencing.

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Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson added: “The 439 grants will ensure that airport sponsors can make the necessary improvements so their airports can operate in a safe and efficient manner for years to come.”

Last month, Chao announced an award of $10bn to commercial and general aviation airports under the CARES Act Airport Grant Program.

In February, USDOT announced airport infrastructure grants worth $520.5m to 287 airports located across 41 US states.




SCC to trial thermal fever detection technology at Bournemouth Airport

European IT solutions provider, SCC, has announced that it is trialling thermal fever detection technology at Bournemouth Airport in Dorset, the UK.

This move is expected to help the country with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people in the UK.

The technology is designed to aid businesses in adapting to life after the lockdown is lifted. This technology is currently being tested in hospitals, restaurants and airports.

The thermal fever detection technology is made of devices that are handheld and fixed multi-camera systems that can measure the body temperature and identify people who exhibit symptoms of fever.

It also provides real-time alerts to help in the intervention and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

SCC has installed the mobile thermal temperature detection system at the staff entrance of Bournemouth Airport. The system is hoisted on a tripod stand.

Security staff can monitor the system and the signs of a fever can be recognised before the employee interacts with other colleagues.

In the next phase of deployment, a multi-camera system will be installed at every entry point in the terminal building, along with the departures and arrivals area, which will enable the border staff to stop passengers who show symptoms of high temperature.

With this technology, airports can reopen safely and reduce the probability of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Airlines can also use the technology and eliminate the need to undersell occupancy to ensure social distancing on board the aircraft.

SCC CEO James Rigby said: “When the UK is ready to ease strict lockdown measures, we will see permanent changes to the way we live and work, and all businesses will need to implement new protective measures to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 and other contagious diseases by reducing the opportunity for transmission.

“Critically, all businesses must be in a position to demonstrate that safe social distancing measures are in place before the country is able to mobilise again, and SCC’s thermal fever detection solution could be an important component of solutions enabling this, helping companies regain consumer confidence and begin to recover from the most unprecedented economic event of modern times.”




TIACA urges African air cargo sector to formulate recovery plan

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has cautioned that the air cargo sector in Africa may face a capacity shortage for European operations.

The African air cargo sector has experienced a decrease of 70% in capacity to Europe compared to last year, according to CLIVE Data Services.

TIACA stated that this drop in capacity is "very concerning" as this sector provides people with basic necessities and essential medical equipment.

TIACA has urged institutional and private stakeholders to formulate an action plan to reduce the impact of this phenomenon.

TIACA vice-chairman and Astral Aviation CEO Sanjeev Gadhia said: “We are encouraging African airlines to respond to capacity requirements immediately, in particular by putting Passenger Freighter systems in place, such as those implemented by airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, SAA and Rwandair.

“Collaboration and cooperation between African airlines across their respective fleets and networks are both essential so we can overcome the challenges we are facing.”

Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the capacity of perishable export from Nairobi to Europe has dipped from 5,000t to 1,800t, severely affecting the Kenyan agriculture sector.

TIACA has asked the Air Cargo Community in Africa to formulate a ‘Recovery Plan’, which will help in sustaining the shocks of the pandemic.

Airlines, airports, handlers, forwarders and shippers will need to collaborate to ensure the recovery.

TIACA has stated that the African governments and civil aviation authorities (CAAs) need to implement measures that will aid the aviation sector and the economy.

TIACA noted that the measures should safeguard the sector from measures such as airport closures and quarantine of crews.

It also said that there is a need to standardise the requirements for crew quarantine.

Some other measures include lifting night bans and simplifying procedures for pharma and food cargo.




Covid-19: Hong Kong Airport applies advanced disinfection technologies

Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) has implemented the latest disinfection technology at Hong Kong International Airport to reduce the risk of the Covid-19 infection spreading amongst passengers and airport staff.

The new measures include disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating and autonomous cleaning robots.

Hong Kong International Airport is testing a full-body disinfection channel facility dubbed CLeanTech in live operations. It is a fully enclosed facility that offers complete disinfection and sanitising procedures to users within 40 seconds.

The antimicrobial coating in the interior surface of the channel kills bacteria and viruses on human bodies and clothing using photocatalyst and ‘nano needles’ technology.

It also uses sanitising spray for instant disinfection. To prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment, the channel is kept under negative pressure.

The facility is currently designated for use by staff involved in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers.

Furthermore, AA is conducting a pilot test of applying antimicrobial coating at all passenger facilities in a bid to prevent contamination.

Hong Kong International Airport said it will consider implementing it as a long-term disinfection measure after the completion of the trial in May.

It has also deployed autonomous cleaning robots, equipped with ultraviolet light steriliser and air steriliser, for the thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities.

These robots operate round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building. It can sterilise up to 99.99% of bacteria, including both the air and object surfaces, in just ten minutes.

Airport Authority Hong Kong Service Delivery Deputy Director Steven Yiu said: “The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority.

“Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work.”