Industry News




Swissport to provide ground-handling services to Air New Zealand

Swiss aviation services company Swissport International has been selected by Air New Zealand to provide ground-handling services at four major airports in Australia.

As per the contract, the Swiss firm will provide ground-handling services for 8,000 additional flights in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth annually.

The contract will further boost Swissport’s growth prospects in the Pacific region.

According to Swissport Pacific CEO Glenn Rutherford, the new long-term contract will create 250 new jobs in Australia, while employees would stand to benefit through an investment of more than $13m in training, skills development and specialist equipment.

Rutherford added: “Working with Air New Zealand marks a further expansion of Swissport’s presence in the Pacific region and further confirms our role as the region’s fastest growing ground handler.

“We’re committing an additional $13m in training, skills development and specialist equipment and will continue to focus on ongoing development opportunities for our team of three thousand plus employees.”

The Swissport and Air New Zealand contract in Melbourne and Sydney will come into force from November. The contracts for Brisbane and Perth will commence in February and March 2019, respectively.

Swissport is also planning to roll out electric vehicles wherever possible.




Memphis International Airport conducts drone demonstrations

Memphis International Airport has carried out drone demonstrations as part of the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP).

The UAS IPP programme aims to conduct advanced drone operations in selected airspaces in a bid to generate data and knowledge for UAS policymaking in the future.

At the airport, the programme concentrated on the inspection of aircraft, as well as surveillance of security/perimeter fence and security monitoring of the ramp.

The test of UAS follows the selection of Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) by the US DOT in May.

Drone operations were carried out at Agricenter International and included simulated runway and perimeter security inspections in addition to safety and backup procedures for drone operations.

Additionally, the UAS IPP seeks to carry out advanced drone operations in selected airspaces to produce data and knowledge for future UAS policymaking.

The programme will be conducted over the next two to three years.

MSCAA has partnered with the City of Memphis, Memphis Police Department, Memphis Fire Department, Agricenter International, the Tennessee Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics, the University of Memphis, GE subsidiaries AirXOS and Avitas, Intel, Flirtey, 901Drones, and ForeverReady Productions to execute the programme.

901Drones coordinated the operations, with the Memphis Fire Department and representatives from other partner organisations attending the demonstration.

The UAS IPP will be used to speed up the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and to realise the benefits of unmanned technology in the US economy.




Ryanair accuses UK traffic controller of discrimination at Stansted

Ryanair has accused the UK’s air traffic control (ATC) service provider NATS of practicing discrimination against it and other carriers at London’s Stansted Airport.

According to Ryanair, NATS is giving ‘special treatment’ to Heathrow and preference to Gatwick Airport.

Data from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed that Stansted Airport experienced 52% of all ATC delays in the London area between January and March this year due to NATS, while Heathrow did not face any delays and Gatwick suffered only 10% of the delays.

The data also showed that Luton and London City faced 30% and 8% delays respectively during the same period.

Ryanair COO Peter Bellew said: “Ryanair and Stansted are clearly being discriminated against by the UK airline-owned ATC provider NATS. That Stansted has had 52% of all NATS delays in Q1 while Heathrow has 0% (and Gatwick just 10%) is unjustifiable.

“These disruptions are unfair and unacceptable, and we call on the UK Department of Transport and the EU Commission to take urgent action to ensure that the UK ATC provider (NATS) is fully staffed and treats each London airport fairly.

“NATS don’t have enough staff. Ryanair is today submitting a formal complaint to the European Commission and the UK CAA over this blatant discrimination against Stansted Airport and Ryanair.”

Due to ATC staffing shortages and management failures, Ryanair and other EU carriers have allegedly been compelled to cancel hundreds of flights.

The airline also expressed dissatisfaction over NATS’ refusal to explain the reason for 52% of all London ATC delays occurring at Stansted.

In 2016, Ryanair accused NATS of discriminating against Stansted flights. The airline, along with Stansted airport, called for a probe by the CAA.

CAA in its report did not find NATS guilty of giving undue preference or discriminating. NATS was, however, urged to take remedial steps to address the problem in staffing shortage.




LATAM Airlines to draw renewable energy from ACCIONA

Chilean passenger carrier LATAM Airlines Group has signed an agreement with ACCIONA for the supply of renewable electricity to the airline’s main facilities.

Under the contract, ACCIONA will supply 80% of the total electricity consumed by the airline in Chile. The agreement forms part of the framework of both the companies’ commitment to lower the impacts of climate change.

LATAM’s facilities located at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez Airport in Santiago, Chile will be provided with energy from ACCIONA renewable generation installations. Facilities include its corporate offices and the operation and maintenance base for its aircraft fleet.

The supply of renewable energy will enable the airline to cut 5,850t of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere per annum, which will provide the same air cleaning effect as 292,500 trees through photosynthesis.

ACCIONA Energía South America CEO José Ignacio Escobar said: “It is very good news for the country that reference companies in their respective markets should decide to cover their electricity consumption with energy from 100% renewable generation facilities, such as those owned by ACCIONA in Chile.”

In Chile, ACCIONA’s energy portfolio comprises the 246MWp El Romero Solar photovoltaic plant in the Atacama Desert and the 45MW Punta Palmeras windfarm in the region of Coquimbo.

Currently, the company is constructing a second windfarm with a capacity of 183MW in La Araucanía, and will start construction work on the Almeyda and Usya photovoltaic plants in the regions of Atacama and Antofagasta respectively, and the Tolpán windfarm in La Araucanía over the next year.

LATAM Airlines Group senior sustainability manager Enrique Guzmán said: “We are the airline with the most extensive network of connections in Latin America, serving 70 million passengers a year and connecting 143 destinations around the world.

“This means we have a responsibility in terms of caring for the environment, a deep-rooted commitment in our work, and we expect to continue making progress in the use of renewable energies in our operations.”




UK lifts ban on carrying phones, laptops and tablets in aircraft cabin

The UK Government has lifted a ban on carrying phones, laptops and tablets and other large electronic devices and accessories in the aircraft cabin on the majority of flights to the UK.

According to the Department for Transport, passengers arriving from Antalya, Bodrum, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen and Izmir airports in Turkey; Cairo, Hurghada, Marsa Alam and Luxor airports in Egypt; and Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunisia can carry electronic devices in the aircraft cabin.

However, normal cabin baggage restrictions will continue to apply.

In March last year, the UK Government imposed a ban on carrying large electronic devices and accessories on UK-bound flights from Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia as a precautionary measure against potential terror threats.

After working with the aviation industry and international partners to introduce tough additional security measures, the government has started lifting these restrictions on some flights.

The government has now also lifted restrictions on several individual airlines operating from other airports in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon.

In a statement, the UK Department for Transport said: “The vast majority of carriers operating out of these airports are no longer subject to these restrictions. Some airlines have decided to maintain the ban for operational reasons.

“This does not reflect the security standards at these airports, but is an operational decision by individual carriers.”

The Department for Transport will issue an update on an airport-by-airport basis, after restrictions have been lifted on all affected airlines serving the airport where restrictions were previously imposed.




London Stansted Airport releases design of new £130m arrivals terminal

London Stansted Airport has released images for its planned new £130m arrivals terminal, scheduled to open in 2020.

The rendering comprises aerial views of the terminal entrance and plaza style forecourt, along with pictures inside the spacious immigration and baggage reclaim areas.

Architect firm Pascall+Watson, which was selected as designer of the terminal in March, designed the latest concepts.

The company developed the designs for the new terminal and reconfiguration of the existing building into a dedicated departures facility in collaboration with Ramboll and Mott MacDonald.

London Stansted transformation director Paul Willis said: “The Arrivals Terminal is the centrepiece project of our £600m transformation programme and these latest images really whet the appetite of what the new and improved London Stansted Airport will look like when the facility opens in 2020.

“Our five-year multi-million-pound project will transform the experience for millions of passengers and help unlock the airport’s spare runway capacity, providing passengers with a wider choice of airlines and destinations.”

The first phase of the transformation is currently underway and includes a new check-in zone, a new 350-seat restaurant and new short-stay car parks opening over the summer.

Ramboll Buildings director Scott Edgar said: “The Stansted Transformation Programme provides a fantastic opportunity to improve the performance of the existing assets in terms of passenger experience, commercial revenue, energy use and resilience, whilst also delivering innovative solutions in the design of the new infrastructure.”

Stansted Airport has welcomed nearly 27 million passengers during the last year.

The airport is currently capable of managing 35 million travellers per annum and is looking to increase its capacity to 43 million, subject to planning permission.




Sydney Airport unveils new 20-year development plan

Sydney Airport has released its latest Preliminary Draft Master Plan 2039 (Master Plan 2039) for the period 2019 to 2039 that underlines its various growth prospects over the next 20 years.

The master plan, which seeks public feedback, has been prepared in consultation with the airlines, Australian and NSW Government agencies, members of the aviation industry, local government, the tourism industry, and the business sector.

The plan will be submitted to the Australian Government for approval after incorporating necessary changes.

The new plan envisages that global passengers passing through Sydney Airport’s terminals would double over the next 20 years. The plan also predicts a 51% surge in passenger traffic at the airport, to 65.6 million by 2039.

The master plan said: “Our proximity to Asia and increases in global tourism and travel are expected to drive international travel. In particular, growth in major Asian markets, including China, India, South Korea and Vietnam.

“By 2039 we anticipate that the split between domestic and international passengers travelling through the airport will be 52% and 48%, respectively.”

Growth in the number of aircraft movements is forecast to be lower than passenger growth, with 408,260 aircraft movements predicted in 2039. The figure represents a 17% increase compared to 2017.

Outlining its key operational strategies, the airport said that it aims to continue the development of capacity in the T1 International Operations Precinct in the North West and South West Sectors.

It also seeks expanded capacity in the North East Sector to create a T2/T3 integrated operations precinct that will support international, domestic and regional passenger services.

Moreover, the master plan outlines improvements to taxiways, aprons and infrastructure. Through the taxiway improvements, the airport aims to reduce taxiing times for aircraft.

Development of new aprons across each of the terminal precincts is intended to accommodate aircraft stand demand in 2039, while aviation support infrastructure is intended to reduce impacts on the environment and community.

The plan includes new active remote aircraft parking stands in the North East and South West Sectors, as well as new remote aircraft parking stands in the South East Sector.

It includes a new air traffic control tower in the South East Sector that will be developed by Airservices Australia.

In addition, the plan covers expansion of the Joint User Hydrant Installation and extension of apron hydrant systems, and development of new freight facilities in the Northern Lands and South East Sectors.




US FAA to award $616.9m grants to airports

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to award $616.9m in infrastructure grants to airports in 45 states and four US territories.

The assistance is part of the total $3.18bn in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the US.

US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao said: “The department has been investing heavily in our nation’s airport infrastructure, which will strengthen economic growth and create jobs in communities across the country.”

The latest round represents the fourth increment of funding, which will offer 242 grants to 226 airports and financially support 408 infrastructure projects.

The projects include taxiways, aprons, runways, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, snow removal equipment, and two firefighting training facilities.

Aspen-Pitkin County/Sardy Field Airport in Aspen, Colorado, will receive $5.7m to support the design to relocate the existing Runway 15/33 for flight safety.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, will be awarded $17m for the final phase of a new 4,200ft taxiway around the approach end of Runway 9L.

Guam International Airport in Tamuning, Guam, will receive $16m for the construction of the final phase of a 30,000ft² aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) building.

Sioux Gateway/Col Bud Day Field Airport in Sioux City, Iowa, is set to receive $13m to reconstruct a portion of Runway 17/35 that has reached the end of its useful life.

Other airports to receive the funding are Lafayette Regional/Paul Fournet Field Airport, Alpena County Regional Airport, Olive Branch Airport, Helena Regional Airport, Akron-Canton Regional Airport, Piedmont Triad International Airport, Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport and Appleton International Airport.

The US DOT is providing AIP investments to boost the safety and efficiency of airports across the country.