Industry News




Covid-19: Wuhan Tianhe Airport undergoes disinfection

Officials have disinfected Terminal 3 at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport before it opens for passengers after around two months of closure.

In January, China shut down all modes of transport to and from Wuhan city, which was the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The airport is set to reopen on 8 April after the travel restrictions are lifted in the city.

Wuhan Tianhe International Airport is situated 26km north of Wuhan City and operates direct flights to New York, London, San Francisco, Paris, Rome and Moscow.

Xinhua quoted terminal management head Ye Tao as saying that the disinfection process for the 570,000m² area in the terminal was carried out by 161 professionals.

The disinfection included the terminal’s main facilities such as benches, elevators and trolleys.

Ye said: “The disinfection aims to create a safe and healthy environment for customers when operations resume.”

The key service personnel had to undergo training and assessments conducted by the airport. In addition, it also conducted run checks on important facilities that include fresh air systems, along with risk evaluations for resuming operations.

On 27 March, the Covid-19 risk evaluation of Wuhan was reduced to ‘medium risk’ from ‘high risk’. No cities or counties in the Hubei Province are stated to be ‘high risk’.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 69,000 and infected over 1,274,000 people worldwide.

China, which was previously the epicentre of the outbreak, has reported 82,626 cases and around 3,333 deaths.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported that on 4 April, 30 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in mainland China, of which 25 were imported cases. NHC added that there were three deaths, all of which were from the Hubei Province.

The total cases of imported infections in the country currently stands at 913.

Last month, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it has temporarily suspended the entry of foreign travellers who have visas or residence permits.




IATA states passenger demand in February decreased by 14.1%

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has stated that the global passenger demand for February decreased by 14.1% compared to February last year.

The demand for air traffic is measured in total revenue passenger kilometres (RPK).

This is reported to be the largest decrease in passenger traffic since 11 September 2001.

The decline is stated to be caused by decreased domestic travel in China and declining international demand within the Asia-Pacific region due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

IATA added that the capacity of February decreased by 8.7% while the load factor reduced to 75.9%.

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “Airlines were hit by a sledgehammer called Covid-19 in February. Borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. And the impact on aviation has left airlines with little to do except cut costs and take emergency measures in an attempt to survive in these extraordinary circumstances.

“The 14.1% global fall in demand is severe, but for carriers in Asia-Pacific the drop was 41%. And it has only grown worse. Without a doubt this is the biggest crisis that the industry has ever faced.”

The international demand in February decreased by 10.1% compared to February last year which is the highest decrease since the Sars outbreak in 2003. The figure is a contrast compared to the January figures which showed an increase of 2.6%.

Only the Europe and Middle East regions recorded an increase in year-over-year traffic.

The capacity decreased by 5% while load factor reduced to 75.3%.

De Juniac added: “This is aviation’s darkest hour and it is difficult to see a sunrise ahead unless governments do more to support the industry through this unprecedented global crisis.

“We are grateful to those that have stepped up with relief measures, but many more need to do so. Our most recent analysis shows that airlines may burn through $61bn of their cash reserves during the second quarter ending 30 June 2020.

“This includes $35bn in sold-but-unused tickets as a result of massive flight cancellations owing to government-imposed travel restrictions.”




Granite to reconstruct Nevada Reno-Tahoe International Airport runway

California-based Granite Construction has secured a $45m contract for a Runway 16R-34L Reconstruction Project at Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport in the US.

The contract was awarded by Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which operates the airport.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is a publicly owned airport and is located about 5km from the central business district of the city of Reno in Nevada.

Under the contract, Granite will reconstruct a 20-year-old runway at the airport.

The project is expected to use around 40,000 cubic yards of concrete, 25,000t of hot-mix asphalt, 22,000t of aggregate base, 40,000t of asphalt treated base rock and 60,000t of wildlife rock.

Wildlife rock is used to prevent borrowing and nesting by animals.

Granite’s Lockwood Facility will provide the materials for construction.

Granite regional VP Brian Dowd said: “Granite has a long history of performing work at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, performing close to $100m of work over the past 20 years.

“We look forward to once again working with Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority on this critical infrastructure improvement project.”

The company stated that the construction work is set to start in the second quarter of this year and will finish in the fourth quarter of next year.

In February this year, US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced airport infrastructure grants worth $520.5m to 287 airports located across 41 US states.

Of the grant money, $31.7m was allocated for runway reconstruction at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

In May last year, US Government approved a $779m funding package aimed at modernising 127 airports in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico.

A $10m infrastructure grant was allocated to Reno-Tahoe International Airport to repave the runway.




ACI World states Covid-19 could reduce airport revenues by half

Airports Council International (ACI) World has released its economic analysis, which states that the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic can decrease the passenger traffic by around two-fifths and airport revenue by half this year.

According to the previous forecast by ACI World, the passenger traffic is expected to decrease by 38.1%, which equals 3.6 billion passengers.

This reduction in passenger traffic and flight cancellations will lead to reduced revenues for airports.

The airport industry was slated to generate around $172bn in revenue, due to Covid-19, the industry could see a loss of 45%, which exceeds $76bn by the end of this year.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “The global airport industry has faced multi-billion-dollar losses already in the first quarter of 2020, but it is now predicted that the impact of Covid-19 will extend not only to the second quarter of 2020 but also the second half of the year.

“Most experts in the air transport industry agree that recovery may take a year to 18 months to reach pre-crisis traffic levels and the industry may not record pre-Covid-19 traffic volumes again before the end of 2021.

“A fair and equitable global economic policy response is required to safeguard essential airport operations, to protect millions of jobs worldwide, and to ensure the survival of the industry and lay the foundation for a fair recovery.”

Airports have implemented different measures to safeguard their financial stability amid decreasing revenues.

Airports are reported to have high fixed and unavoidable costs and have started decreasing the variable costs by postponing capital expenditure, closing some parts of the infrastructure and addressing staffing costs.

According to ACI, it is expected that there will be a faster domestic passenger traffic recovery.

However, international passenger traffic is expected to take more time to recover as international flights require reciprocal permissions.

It added that different states will recover at different paces to ease the travel restrictions imposed by different countries.

Earlier this week, ACI World released its guidelines for the IT practices to be executed at airports amid the disruption caused by the pandemic.




Qatar Airways to temporarily reduce 40% of staff at Hamad Airport

Qatar Airways has announced that it will temporarily reduce 40% of its staff at Hamad International Airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bloomberg quoted a spokesperson as saying that the reductions were in food and beverage, retail and ground staff.

This follows the reduced passenger numbers due to the travel restrictions.

The staff will either work remotely from home or take paid or even unpaid leave. They will not be present at the airport.

In other news, Qatar Airways also tweeted: “#QatarAirways has acquired 500K COVID-19 test kits to contribute to #Qatar relief efforts. @HIAQatar #HIAQatar.”

Aviation has been one of the most affected industries during the pandemic and many airlines and airports have laid off employees or closed part of their operations.

Emirates, Dubai’s state-owned airline, was also impacted by the crisis, causing the Government of Dubai to announce a capital infusion to safeguard the business.

Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum tweeted: “Today, we renew our commitment to support a success story that started in the mid-1980s to reach its goal of sitting on the throne of global aviation.

“The Government of Dubai is committed to fully supporting @Emirates at this critical time & will inject equity into the company.”

Earlier this week, the UK’s flag carrier British Airways (BA) halted all its flight operations from London Gatwick Airport due to the reduced demand.

London City Airport also announced that it will halt all commercial and private flight operations temporarily.

Last week, Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow announced its plans to close the arrivals and departures at Terminal D from 1 April.




Covid-19: British Airways (BA) suspends operations at Gatwick Airport

The UK’s flag carrier British Airways (BA) has halted all its flight operations from London Gatwick Airport due to the reduced demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BBC reported that the airline told its staff in an email that it is facing a ‘challenging market environment in unprecedented circumstances’.

BA stated: “Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick.”

It added that it is unsure of when the services will resume.

However, the airline is continuing its operations from Heathrow Airport, which is its main hub. These operations are also reduced and have been closed completely at Terminal 3.

BA is currently operating from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

The UK Government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office established a partnership with airlines to bring home British tourists stranded by the coronavirus (Covid-19).

In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) negotiated by the Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary, various airlines such as Virgin, EasyJet, Jet2 and Titan Airways have signed the agreement.

Last week, Gatwick Airport announced that it would close its North Terminal from 1 April due to reduced demand.

London City Airport also announced that it will halt all commercial and private flight operations temporarily.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far infected more than 800,000 and killed over 38,700 people around the world. The UK has reported 22,465 deaths and 1,412 deaths so far.




Covid-19: ACI World releases IT practices guidelines for airports

Airports Council International (ACI) World has released its guidelines for the IT practices to be executed at airports amid the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Passenger traffic has decreased at airports around the world due to the travel restrictions imposed by governments to limit Covid-19’s spread.

Due to this, airports have decreased their number of staff on site, including IT professionals.

Airports have implemented emergency HR measures and increased their use of online collaborative tools and remote working.

However, these measures pose different challenges and risks to the airports. ACI World stated that the Advisory Bulletin, named Airport Information Technology, outlines recommendations to aid in the transition.

ACI World director general Angela Gittens said: “Airports are being forced to reconsider their normal business and operational processes and this advisory bulletin provides airports with a set of important key actions for addressing IT concerns during this pandemic.

“A key aspect for airports, especially with larger numbers of staff accessing IT systems remotely, is the implementation of cyber resilience for business continuity.

“It is imperative for airports to have up-to-date cybersecurity policies and procedures, which should be made available and apply to not only the IT and cybersecurity personnel, but the workforce in general.”

The guidelines offers guidance regarding a strong collaborative team, building an effective and secure IT infrastructure to be used for remote access and establishing a common information sharing approach.

It also includes the adoption of innovative technologies and solutions that can be used for autonomous operations.

ACI World’s bulletin also includes guidelines to help airports in restoring normal activities and restarting systems after the pandemic.

Gittens added: “Airports are currently focused on ensuring business continuity, but they will hopefully soon be considering how to manage the business impact in preparation for recovery and to accelerate growth.”

Earlier this month, ACI World issued new practice guidance regarding airport security screening to safeguard screeners, passengers and staff while preserving security measures.




Covid-19: IATA updates airline impact assessment report

Based on the recent developments regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has updated the impact assessment on airline passenger revenues and RPKs.

It stated that the outbreak has increased more than the scenario estimated by IATA earlier this month.

Due to the increasing number of confirmed cases and deaths, many governments have implemented travel restrictions that have led to a decrease in demand for airlines.

It is estimated that around 8,500 passenger aircraft have been grounded, which accounts to 1/3 of the total passenger fleet around the world.

The estimation chart estimates a three-month-long ‘lockdown’ of the global air travel market, along with a gradual U-shaped demand recovery.

IATA stated: “Notwithstanding some recent signs of some upturn in the China domestic market, for the industry as whole we expect the recovery process will be slower than the six to seven month timeframe observed in past epidemics.

“The extension of recovery time reflects both the staggered timing of the start of the virus outbreak in different regions and the expected global recession, which will continue to impact passenger demand even after the border restrictions are lifted.”

As per the assumptions, passenger revenues are expected to decrease by $252bn compared to last year while the RPKs will decrease by 38%.

These figures state the ‘immediate and critical liquidity challenge’ that will be faced by airlines in the future.

As most airlines have lower than three months of liquidity, survival during this period is not expected to be easy for most of the airlines.