Airports and airlines warn against inconsistent travel restrictions
Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), Airlines for Europe (A4E) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have warned the prime ministers of European countries regarding the inconsistencies in Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The letter, addressed to the prime ministers, transport, health and home affairs ministers of the European Union, Schengen Area and the UK, outlines concerns regarding the failure to adopt a science-based, coherent approach to travel restrictions.
Most of the restrictions imposed by the countries are said to be inconsistent with World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) principles.
The aviation sector has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the letter, countries have adopted different approaches despite repeated requests to implement restrictions that are science-based, harmonised and coordinated.
The organisations state that the unilateral national measures are divergent from the expert guidance and adversely affect consumer confidence.
In addition, such restrictions do not include other options to safeguard the citizens of the countries, such as track-and-trace systems.
The letter added: “The European Aviation sector is urging EU / Schengen States and the UK to reconsider restrictions to travel that have been imposed between them, including quarantines.
“We fail to see any valid science-based and proportionate justification for such restrictions from a health policy perspective.”
The organisations have urged that the efforts should be coordinated at EU level, in partnership with the UK, and should align with the evolving situation.
They have also urged countries to reinforce risk-based and proportionate measures rather than blanket bans on passengers arriving from certain countries.
It also stated that the interoperability of contact tracing apps should be maintained, along with the adoption of EASA / ECDC and ICAO Take-Off Aviation Health Safety Protocols.
In addition, the public must be accordingly informed in coordination with the travel and tourism industries.
Edinburgh Airport to lay off one-third of workforce
Edinburgh Airport in Scotland has announced that it will lay off around one third of its workforce due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made after a long and detailed consultation process with staff and unions. The move is expected to help the airport prepare for a prolonged recovery.
Edinburgh Airport employs 750 direct personnel. These redundancies will affect all areas such as frontline staff, management, and support functions.
The airport added that the terms of the lay-off were supported by over 90% of those who participated in the ballot.
The personnel who will be laid off will receive letters and will leave on 31 October.
Edinburgh Airport CEO Gordon Dewar said: “This is a bitterly sad day for the airport and for those colleagues who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own but due to the impact of this dreadful pandemic.
“We have worked with unions and staff over the past four months to protect as many jobs as possible, but unfortunately we have to confirm this regrettable news as the business prepares for whatever comes next.”
The airport has added that it used the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme during the past few months while it considered the best approach for recovering from the pandemic.
Dewar added: “Aviation was one of the industries to be hit first and unfortunately will be one of the last to fully recover, so job losses have been unavoidable. The situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of an ill-thought-out and unworkable blanket quarantine policy, which has massively impacted on passenger numbers.”
South Korea plans to build new airport by 2028
South Korea is planning to build a new airport on the southeastern coast by 2028 to serve both civilian and military aircrafts, Pulse News has reported.
The news comes as Gunwi and Uiseonin counties in the North Gyeongsang Province reached an agreement for a new airport to replace the 59-year-old Daegu Airport. The counties are expected to jointly host the new airport.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense is expected to officially announce the two candidates in a committee meeting next month.
The proposed airport will have a 3.2km-long runway to service mid to long-haul international flights.
According to the publication, the defence ministry and transport ministry will discuss a plan to build two separate runways to serve military and commercial aircraft.
The passenger terminal for the international flights is expected to host ten million people annually.
The construction work for the new airport is expected to begin later this year after arranging a construction plan and measures to compensate nearby residents, as well as calculating the total cost.
Daegu International Airport, which opened in 1961, was on the site of the Air Force K2 base.
The government aims to turn around 25% of the K2 site into a residential area, 14.8% into an industrial area, 6.7% into a commercial site and 53% into infrastructure such as parks.
Vilnius Airport selects Mitnija to build new passenger terminal
Vilnius Airport in Lithuania has selected Lithuanian construction company Mitnija to construct a passenger terminal.
The company was awarded the public tender worth €25m for the passenger terminal.
Mitnija will construct a new 14,400m² passenger terminal along with the transformation of access areas spread over another 34,000m² area.
The terminal is expected to begin operations by the end of 2022.
The passenger terminal will have an energy efficiency rating of A++ and will be constructed in the northern part of the airport.
With this new terminal, the total area of the airport terminals will increase by one-third while the capacity will increase to 2,400 passengers hourly from the existing 900.
The new terminal will feature two storeys. The first storey will feature the passenger check-in and public spaces, while the second level will house the security check area and Schengen passenger departure gates.
Furthermore, the terminal will be equipped with necessary technical areas, such as baggage screening and sorting and engineering systems.
It will be connected to the current terminal with a spacious gallery to ensure easy movement.
Vilnius Airport head Dainius Ciuplys said: “We are launching one of the most important stages of this four-year project. Detailed planning of works and needs has taken several years.
“The project is necessary for increasing the capacity of Vilnius Airport and becomes even more relevant in an attempt to adapt to the new challenges posed by the pandemic. It will allow for even more efficient distancing.
“Its successful implementation calls not only for a modern, large area but also for technological solutions inside of it. The new terminal will therefore have a much more modern infrastructure designed for passenger convenience, more automated solutions and self-service.”
The terminal construction is not expected to affect the operations of the airport and will ensure the safety of the staff and passengers.
TSA uses credential authentication technology at Pittsburgh Airport
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has started to use new technology to authenticate the identification of travellers at Pittsburgh International Airport in the US.
It also confirms the flight information of the traveller.
The airport has been equipped with four new credential authentication technology (CAT) units.
TSA federal security director for Pittsburgh International Airport Karen Keys-Turner said: “Credential authentication technology enhances our detection capabilities for identifying altered or fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification.
“The system will also confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real-time through a secured connection.”
The CAT unit will scan the traveller’s ID, which will then inform the officer of the ID’s validity. As the passenger inserts the ID, there is a reduced chance of spreading the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The unit also checks if the passenger has been pre-screened by the airline agent, meaning that passengers will not have to produce their flight boarding passes again.
Passengers who are below the age of 18 and those who face ID issues will have to show their boarding passes.
The technology is aimed at boosting the security personnel’s capabilities to identify the use of fake documents at the security area.
The CAT units can verify different types of ID, including passports, military common access cards and retired military ID cards.
Each CAT unit features an ID card reader, passport reader and a federal personal identity verification ID card reader, as well as a monitor, stand and UV light.
In February, TSA deployed CAT units at Boston Logan International Airport.
Woolpert to develop UAS response guidebook for US airports
The National Safe Skies Alliance has selected Woolpert to develop an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) response guidebook for airports in the US, as part of its Program for Applied Research in Airport Security.
According to the project’s RFP, UAS is identified to be a major concern at airports for federal agencies and the US Congress.
The guidebook is expected to help airports in working collaboratively to plan for and respond to UAS threats.
As part of the contract, Woolpert will develop strategies for planning, identification and threat assessment, response and recovery, in relation to UAS.
In addition, it will address detection system considerations and legal, public policy and regulatory considerations, and offer relevant examples and case studies. It will also prepare a plan for community awareness and prevention.
Woolpert Aviation project manager and principal investigator Zachary Shuman said: “UAS present a very real incursion threat for airports and introduces multiple unknowns into the airport environment.
“This guidebook needs to be innovative and detailed, providing a consistent framework for airports to immediately, safely and effectively respond to UAS threats, and to work with local law enforcement to clearly define how to plan and identify these threats.”
Woolpert, which specialises in UAS aviation, research and application development, has formed an advisory board to provide additional perspective as part of its research process.
The production of this guidebook is currently underway and is expected to be completed next year.
Airports in Germany to provide free Covid-19 testing for travellers
Germany has announced plans to offer free Covid-19 coronavirus testing to all arriving passengers at its airports.
The decision was made by health ministers and senators from the country’s state and federal governments. The test will be available to returning holidaymakers on a voluntary basis.
DW reported Berlin state health minister Dilek Kalayci as saying that the travellers from high-risk areas will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine.
Those returning from non-risk areas will also be offered free tests, but not at the airports.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn stated that travellers returning to Germany can take a free Covid-19 test within three days of the date of arrival.
This move follows the rising number of cases in the country, which are related to people who are returning holidaymakers.
The proposal to mandate the Covid-19 test was rejected by the ministers and faced objections from the airport and consumer authorities.
Last month, Fraport and German airline Lufthansa partnered with Centogene to launch the first walk-in Covid-19 testing facility at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
A walk-in testing facility was also introduced at Germany’s Munich Airport.
The Robert Koch Institute reported 815 new cases of Covid-19 on 24 July, which is reported to be the highest increase in cases since May.
Germany has reported over 206,000 total cases with around 9,000 deaths. There are around 6,900 active cases in the country.
ACI launches accreditation scheme to evaluate airport health measures
Airports Council International (ACI) World has rolled out an accreditation programme to assess new health measures and procedures launched at airports in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Airport Health Accreditation programme aims to provide airports with the assessment of their safety measures with ICAO Council Aviation Restart Task Force (CART) recommendations, along with ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Covid-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol guidelines.
In addition, it will allow airports to demonstrate to passengers, staff, regulators, and governments that they are prioritising health and safety in a measurable and established manner.
The programme is voluntary and open to all ACI member airports of all sizes in all regions, noted ACI.
Topics covered by the accreditation include cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications and passenger facilities.
As part of the programme, airports are required to submit a completed questionnaire, along with supporting materials.
ACI will also conduct a virtual evaluation to determine that health measures are being applied in accordance with ICAO CART guidelines, as well as EASA and ACI recovery guidance.