Industry News




Passengers want more technology to improve journey, finds IATA study

Air passengers are keen to get access to new technologies that give them more control, information and improve efficiency during their journey, according to a report issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The report, titled 2018 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), is based on the survey of 10,408 passengers across 145 countries and gives important insight into passengers’ preferences during air travel.

Passengers said that they want to be kept informed throughout their journey mainly through their personal device.

Nearly 82% of respondents said that they would like to receive information on flight status, 49% on baggage, while 46% would like to receive waiting time information at security and immigration.

Almost 56% of passengers said that they want real-time baggage tracking throughout the journey. Airlines and airports are implementing tracking at major journey points, including loading and unloading, to meet passengers’ demand.

Mobile devices were the favourite option for travellers to receive information on their baggage and other travel elements. Nearly 73% of passengers preferred receiving information through SMS or a smartphone app.

To accelerate the security check, almost 65% passengers are ready to share personal data, while 45% of respondents are willing to replace their passports with biometric identification.

IATA Airport, passenger, cargo and security senior vice-president Nick Careen said: “As we move more and more towards digital processes, passengers need to be confident that their personal data is safe. IATA is working to establish a trust framework that ensures secure data sharing, legal compliance and privacy.”

Automated check-in was preferred by 84% of travellers, whereas 47% liked to check in online using a smartphone. Just 16% passengers opted for the traditional check-in.

Contrary to this, senior travellers aged 65 years and above expressed a strong desire for traditional check-in (25% vs global 17%) and bag-drop processes (42% vs global 32%).




USDOT sanctions $205m grant to develop airport infrastructure

The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded $205m in airport infrastructure grants for the modernisation of airports across 34 states.

More than half of these airports serve rural communities and mostly general aviation.

The latest grant is beyond the $3.31bn funding assistance, which was awarded in the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding during the fiscal year 2018.

USDOT secretary Elaine Chao said: “This $205m in Airport Improvement Program grants directly addresses the need for improved aviation infrastructure – especially in rural communities.”

This first increment of funding offers grants to projects at 37 airports, which include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals.

The construction and equipment supported by this funding are set to boost the safety, capacity and related issues at the airport.

On 9 July this year, the FAA issued a Federal Register notice, which contained the statutory rules, evaluation criteria and the submission process for the funding.

The remaining $1bn airport infrastructure grants will be awarded during fiscal years 2019 and 2020, based on requests submitted by 31 October.

To strengthen the safety and efficiency of the airports across the US, the FAA is managing the supplemental programme in coordination with the regular annual AIP grant programme.

US infrastructure, particularly its 3,300 airports, is said to enhance the country’s competitiveness and boost the travelling public’s quality of life.

The FAA is managing the programme over fiscal years 2018 to 2020.

In July this year, the FAA awarded $659.8m in airport infrastructure grants for the modernisation of 390 airports as part of a $3.18bn AIP.




Wizz Air selects SITA’s WorldTracer to track mishandled bags

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air has employed SITA WorldTracer to fasten the repatriation of mishandled bags to passengers.

Aimed at improving baggage services, the system enables Wizz Air to track mishandled bags quickly and gives travellers more certainty over their baggage.

SITA’s WorldTracer, which has been designed as a reporting and matching service of found bags, is used by more than 460 airlines and ground handlers in over 2,800 airports across the globe.

Wizz Air executive vice-president and chief operations officer Diederik Pen said: “At Wizz Air we recognise that baggage remains one of the most fundamental elements of our passenger experience.

“Arriving at your destination without your baggage can sour your entire trip. Therefore, in those rare cases when bags are mishandled, we need to be sure we can quickly get those bags to our passengers with minimal inconvenience. This is where WorldTracer plays such a vital role.”

WorldTracer is part of SITA Baggage Management, which allows airlines to have better monitoring of their baggage during journey and decrease the number of mishandled bags.

According to the SITA 2018 Baggage Report, airlines performed well to cut the rate of mishandled bags to 5.57 bags per thousand passengers, despite more than four billion passengers travelling last year.

SITA Europe president Sergio Colella said: “While better tracking technology and oversight of baggage has contributed to the halving of the mishandled baggage rate over the past decade – down from 18.7 bags per 1,000 in 2007 – there are still those unforeseen situations were bags are mishandled.

“In those increasingly rare cases, WorldTracer has proven that it remains the best solution to trace and return a mishandled bag to the passenger quickly.”




Avinor to trial self-driving snowploughs at Oslo Airport

Norwegian state-owned airport operator Avinor has unveiled plans to trial two autonomous snowploughs at Oslo Airport.

The self-driving snow clearing trucks will be used to keep snow away from airport areas. The project is part of Avinor’s plans to automate winter maintenance at airports across Norway.

Avinor Safety, Environment and Strategy executive vice-president Margrethe Snekkerbakken said: “Innovation is important to Avinor. In the future, many tasks in aviation will be resolved in other ways than today.

“Avinor wants to test autonomy and does, of course, see a potential for rationalisation in the future through new solutions for winter operations and in other areas. Avinor is at the forefront of testing this technology, but it is essential that safety is ensured in all such testing.”

The trial will be carried out during the normal winter season, starting at the turn of the year and lasting until April next year.

Vehicles will be closely monitored during operations and a driver will be onboard the truck to take control of the vehicle if the situation requires it.

The goal is to complete as many operations as possible for the autonomous vehicles so that the system can learn new things and develop further.

Besides ploughing convoys, the autonomous vehicles will be tested as independent snowploughs so that Avinor may transfer them to other airports without ploughing convoys.

Oslo Airport Airside Operations director Henning Bråtebæk said: “Last winter we saw more than three metres of snow and prepared the runway systems a total of 814 times, so conditions should be well suited for testing here at Oslo Airport.

“We’re looking forward to testing and being a part of developing this new and modern technology for clearing snow. Technology is currently developing in leaps and bounds, and projects like this will allow Avinor to remain among the best in the world in terms of winter operations.”




Lufthansa Cargo handles first electronic Dangerous Goods Declaration

German airline Lufthansa Cargo has handled a shipment with an electronic Dangerous Goods Declaration (eDGD) using the INFr8 platform at Frankfurt Airport.

The eDGD shipment is claimed to be the world’s first. It is from healthcare giant Abbott Diagnostics in Wiesbaden and was flown onboard cargo flight LH8222 to Mexico City.

Due to a lack of digital standards, the dangerous goods process has traditionally been paper-based. However, the use of the new electronic system INFr8 platform can help to detect errors in the accompanying document and correct it before the airline receives the consignment.

The trial phase of the INFr8 shipping portal has been successfully launched in collaboration with its partners. The pilot phase is expected to last six months.

Subsequently, the platform will be made available to all market participants who wish to use it as a standard tool.

Once fully implemented, the platform will minimise shipments rejection in the future while accelerating processing of consignment.

Lufthansa Cargo worked with International Air Transport Association (IATA) to establish a global eDGD standard as part of the association’s e-freight initiative.

Lufthansa Cargo operations board member and COO Sören Stark said: “We are pleased that the eDGD has celebrated its global launch with Lufthansa Cargo. This underscores our claim to be the industry pioneer in digitisation.

“There is still so much more for us to achieve here together with shippers, forwarders and airports.”

In addition to Lufthansa Cargo, logistics service provider Panalpina has been an important process partner to the platform developer Dakosy.

Frankfurt Airport has played an important role in dangerous goods handling for both companies.

Dakosy CEO Ulrich Wrage said: “Our shipping portal solves a major challenge in the air cargo supply chain, ensuring greater reliability and transparency for all.”




Airports Authority of India to develop airports in other countries

Airports Authority of India (AAI) has announced its plan to develop airports in other countries, similar to private entities GVK or GMR.

The state-run AAI will develop an airport in Palaly Airport of Sri Lanka. This would be AAI’s first project in Sri Lanka.

An AAI official told Press Trust of India that this move comes as “we are trying to get engaged with our neighbours.”

The AAI has signed an agreement with Indian External Affairs Ministry to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) on the development of Palaly Airport, which is located in the northern part of the island nation.

This area is strategically important for India as Palaly is located in Jaffna, which is a Tamil territory.

The technical and design aspects of the project will feature in the DPR, which is slated to be completed before December.

The AAI has developed over 60 airports in India and it plans to leverage its experience in developing airports to other countries on a bigger scale.

AAI currently manages over 120 airports across India.

A person with knowledge on the matter told The Economic Times: “India had earlier promised to develop Palaly airport which has been a demand by the Northern Province for some time.

“The airport will be Sri Lanka’s first in the north, give the northern people direct connectivity with places like South India, Malaysia, and Thailand.

“India has also offered to develop the Kankesanthurai airport also in the north, as well as the Mattala international airport in south Sri Lanka, abutting the Chinese developed Hambantota port.”




Study finds aviation industry should focus on carbon emission cuts

New research commissioned by the UK’s air traffic services provider NATS has revealed that cutting carbon emissions from aircraft should be the top priority for the aviation industry.

As part of the research, dubbed the Aviation Index, Ipsos MORI polled nearly 1,000 participants.

More than half (52%) of respondents said that cutting emissions from flying should be the main objective of any reworking of the UK’s airspace.

Nearly 36% of them said that improving flight paths is the next highest priority, followed by reducing noise (32%) and flight times (31%).

The research further revealed that the existing UK’s network of air routes and flight paths are unable to handle the growing aviation demands, as they were originally designed in the 1960s.

Additionally, 49% respondents have agreed to support changes to flight paths, against just 6% who would oppose any changes, with almost six in ten saying that the process should be given the same priority as the launch of high-speed broadband.

NATS environment and community affairs head Ian Jopson NATS said: “We know that people still want to fly and that demand is growing, but these results show us that people also want to see a reduction in the environmental impact of aviation. Modernising how our airspace is structured and managed is the main way for us to do that.

“These findings are totally in line with the guiding principles around airspace change, with minimising noise for local communities the top priority at lower levels and reducing carbon emissions at higher altitudes.”

The report also sheds light on people’s attitudes towards flying, from the factors they consider while selecting an airline and attitudes to flight safety, in addition to their concerns about the growing use of drones.




Alaska Airlines and Neste to promote use of renewable fuels

Alaska Airlines and Finnish firm Neste have signed a memorandum of understanding to design, develop and implement solutions for the adoption of renewable fuels across the airline industry.

The joint effort will expand the use of sustainable aviation fuels on Alaska aircraft and help the passenger carrier to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.

Additionally, the collaboration will focus on decreasing turbine emissions and inform about other performance and operational benefits.

The partners believe that cooperation within the industry and with key partners will help create the ‘lift’ necessary to help move aviation in the right direction.

Neste renewable products business area executive vice-president Kaisa Hietala said: “We are forerunners in the area of renewable fuels: Neste as a producer, and Alaska as a pioneer in the testing of renewable jet fuel on commercial flights.

“By working together, we will find the best solutions to secure the success in reaching Alaska’s goal to ‘fly greener’.”

Alaska is adopting targets to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport in collaboration with other airline partners.

Alaska Airlines Sustainability director Kirk Myers said: “At Alaska Airlines, we strive to fly true, true to our values, and true to the beautiful places and communities we fly to.

“We are proud to partner with Neste, the world leader in the production and advancement of renewable jet fuels, to support these efforts to fly more sustainably. This collaboration is another major step toward supporting the health of our communities and ecosystems.”

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners fly 44 million passengers a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the US to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica.