Industry News




India to build 100 new airports by 2024 to boost air connectivity

India’s Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman has announced that 100 additional airports will be developed in the country by 2024.

While presenting the Union Budget for the year 2020-21, Sitharaman allocated Rs1.7tn ($23.7bn) to support the country’s transport infrastructure.

The new airports are expected to aid the UDAN Scheme. UDAN, or ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’, is India’s regional airport development scheme that aims to make air travel inexpensive and accessible for more Indian citizens.

When compared to the global average, air traffic in India has grown substantially. It is expected that the country’s air fleet number will increase from 600 to 1,200.

These airports are aimed at easing the strain on India’s current travel hubs.

The Economic Survey stated that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) manages 136 airports, while six others are Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). India is currently the world’s third-biggest domestic market for civil aviation.

In 2019, greenfield airports in Durgapur in West Bengal, Shirdi in Maharashtra, Pakyong in Sikkim, Kannur in Kerala and Kalaburagi in Karnataka commenced operations.

Since the start of UDAN, 43 airports have started operations. Four of these commenced in 2019-20.

The finance minister also stated that 1,150 trains will operate under the PPP model. In addition, the private sector will aid in the redevelopment of four railway stations.

The construction of a power capacity near the rail track is also being planned by the government.

Meanwhile, GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) signed an agreement for the commissioning, operations and maintenance of the Civilian Enclave at Bidar Airport in the southern state of Karnataka.

Flight operations from the airport are expected to commence in the first week of February. One flight will operate between Bidar and Bangalore every day.

This deal was signed under the centre’s UDAN Scheme.

Last July, the Government of India approved a proposal to lease out three AAI airports under the PPP model.




Coronavirus: Eight US airports to receive flights from China

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced new rules regarding aircraft arrivals from China to restrict the spread of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

Coronavirus has so far killed 362 and infected 17,386 people in 25 countries.

The DHS stated that all flights arriving from China and passengers who visited China in the past 14 days will be rerouted to eight specified airports in the country.

DHS Acting Secretary Chad F Wolf said: “While the overall risk to the American public remains low, funnelling all flights with passengers who have recently been in China is the most important and prudent step we can take at this time to decrease the strain on public health officials screening incoming travellers.

“These steps will also expedite the processing of US citizens returning from China, and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people.”

The airports with the necessary authorisations are JFK Airport, O’Hare Airport, San Francisco Airport, Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Honolulu Airport, Los Angeles Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, and Washington-Dulles Airport.

The department has also authorised three additional airports, Newark Liberty Airport, Dallas / Fort Worth Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport to receive the flights and passengers from 3 February.

These 11 airports will be equipped with enhanced screening procedures, as well as provisions to quarantine passengers who may be infected.

The US has reported nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection, however, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that immediate risk to the general public is low.

Wolf added: “To minimise disruptions, CBP and air carriers are working to identify qualifying passengers before their scheduled flights. Once back in the US, it’s imperative that individuals honour self-quarantine directives to help protect the American public.”

Many countries and flight operators have adopted measures to restrict travel from China in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Last week, the US extended coronavirus screening to 20 airports that serve around 90% of all incoming passengers from China.




IATA joins forces with UIC to support intermodal travel

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has partnered with the International Union of Railways (UIC) to support intermodal travel and interoperability.

Under the agreement, the companies will focus on data exchange standards supporting intermodal travel.

The partners will explore collaboration opportunities from the perspective of existing distribution processes and standards.

They will also explore opportunities from the angle of transformative retail-based ‘offer-order’ processes and standards.

IATA and UIC hope that these approaches will promote opportunities for value-creation in intermodal partnerships.

Some of the areas that will be explored by the partnership include journey planning, shopping, reservations, servicing and ticketing.

The partnership will also focus on industry coding, accounting and settlement, legal aspects and check-in and validation control.

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “For 75 years, IATA’s mission has included supporting and facilitating the development of the commercial standards that enable the smooth and efficient operation of a globally inter-connected air transport network.

“As customers increasingly seek sustainable travel options, it is important that providers work together to provide seamless exchanges of passengers and passenger information. IATA has extensive experience in facilitating standards development to support intramodality and our MoU with UIC is an important step toward strengthening this activity.”

Last month, a report from IATA found that carbon emissions per passenger have more than halved since 1990 due to improvements in fuel efficiency.

In June last year, IATA said governments need to take a harmonised approach in allocating airport slots according to the principles of certainty, transparency and flexibility.

IATA has been exploring ways to address the slot problems and capacity constraints faced by airlines.




Lithuanian and Dublin Airports report increase in passenger numbers

Airport operator Lithuanian Airports has revealed that its three airports handled 6.5 million passengers in 2019, marking a significant growth compared with 2018, while Dublin Airport has reported 4% year-on-year (YoY) passenger growth.

The highest increase was observed at Lithuania’s Kaunas International Airport, which recorded a YoY growth of 15% in terms of passenger numbers from 2018.

This growth is said to be higher than that of Riga, Tallinn and Warsaw Airports.

Vilnius Airport crossed the five million annual passengers mark for the first time, which is a 2% increase since last year.

The airport introduced four new destinations to London City, Eilat, Kharkov and Southend and a new airline company, Laudamotion, also started flight operations from the airport.

In addition, the frequency of flights to Istanbul, Stockholm, Vienna and Tel Aviv were increased and the airline company airBaltic started using the larger Airbus aircraft, which offered more seating.

Palanga Airport saw an increase of 12% in its number of flights.

Lithuanian Airports Aviation Services Division head Aurimas Stikliūnas said: “The number of flights in Palanga grew faster than that of passengers. Such change was determined by two new and strategically important directions to Dortmund and Bergen, also the increased frequency of flights to Riga.”

The airport handled 17.2 thousand tonnes of cargo last year, which marks a 7% increase compared with the previous year.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, Dublin Airport served 32.9 million passengers last year, which is a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 4%.

Short-haul traffic at the airport saw an increase of 5%, with 27.7 million passengers, while long-haul passenger traffic was around 5.2 million, which is a 4% increase.

Dublin Airport introduced 25 new routes to Calgary, Dallas-Fort-Worth and Minneapolis-St Paul, among others. Passenger capacity also increased for the existing routes from the airport.

Dublin Airport plans to introduce 12 new routes to locations such as Shanghai via Helsinki with Juneyao Air, and San Francisco with United Airlines.




Kuala Lumpur Airport pilots facial recognition technology

Malaysia Airlines has partnered with IT firm SITA to pilot facial recognition technology at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.

Known as the Single Token Journey concept, the technology provides single-identification verification for passengers at all airport touchpoints such as check-in, security and customs.

This is a part of the site’s Airports 4.0 initiative to transform Kuala Lumpur Airport into a smart airport using big data analytics (BDA).

The technology will be piloted for three months and will be available for passengers boarding two daily Malaysia Airlines flights to Narita International Airport in Tokyo and Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.

With the introduction of this technology, the need to check the identity of passengers at multiple checkpoints will be eliminated as all passenger information will be made available to the airport’s different authorities.

Malaysia Airports acting group CEO Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh said: “Our main focus in moving forward is to strengthen Malaysia’s position as an aviation hub. We will ensure that services at our airports are at par with other mega hubs around the world.

“Harnessing technology for this purpose is one way we can simplify airport processes for our guests. This initiative is especially timely in view of Visit Malaysia 2020. We expect to have a successful pilot so that we can implement this in totality at KUL.”

Earlier this month, Malaysia Airports opened the newly refurbished immigration arrivals hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2).

In February last year, the company allocated MYR300m ($73.72m) to upgrade the baggage handling system (BHS) at the main terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.




Finavia joins NEA to support electric aviation development

Finland’s airport network operator Finavia has joined Network for Electric Aviation (NEA) to support the development of electric aviation.

The Nordic initiative aims to speed-up the development of electric aviation in the Nordic countries.

The move is part of Finavia’s climate programme undertaken with the view to reduce CO2 emissions at Finnish airports. Finavia’s goal is to make these Finnish airports carbon dioxide neutral by 2020.

Joining the NEA is one of the operator’s initiatives towards the development of electric aircraft.

Finavia has already funded a fully electric aircraft, which conducted flight trials successfully at Malmi Airport in Helsinki in 2018.

Finavia technical director Henri Hansson said: “Electric-powered aircraft will likely be a vital part of tackling the environmental challenges of the aviation industry. As an airport operator, we want to find out what kind of development electric flying will require from our airports.”

“I believe that, in Finland, the first electric passenger aircraft will fly on a domestic route by the end of the 2020s. If a clean method such as wind or solar power is used to produce the necessary electricity, the electric aircraft of the future could fly completely emission-free. Electric aircraft will be suited especially for short routes.”

The NEA network consists of Nordic airport operators, Nordic airlines and start-ups specialised in electric aviation work on infrastructure, industry issues and new business models.

In November 2018, Finavia announced plans to use Neste MY Renewable Diesel in vehicles at Rovaniemi, Kuusamo, Ivalo and Kittilä airports in Finland.




Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to open Terminal 3

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the US is set to open its Terminal 3 North Concourse early this February.

The terminal has undergone extensive modernisation under the $590m Terminal 3 upgrade project.

The North Concourse, which is the last component of the project, features ten airline gates, as well as new shops, restaurants and other customer amenities.

Flights will start arriving at the newly renovated North Concourse Terminal 3 from 3 February.

The project was financed through airport revenues, including parking, concessions and tenant fees, without using local tax.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said: “This is a great day for Phoenix. We also marked the completion of a multi-year modernisation project at the airport.

“The new concourse will be home to local restaurants, stunning art, a nursing room, and increased energy efficiency standards. This is another important investment in our state’s number one economic driver.”

The terminal first opened in 1979 and was voted to be named John S McCain III Terminal 3 after long-time US Senator.

As part of this ceremony, a newly-fabricated plaque honouring the late John S McCain III was unveiled at the terminal.

By 6 February, all airlines from Terminal 2 will be relocated to Terminal 3. The renovated terminal will operate Air Canada, Alaska, Boutique Air, Contour Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Sun Country and United.

Terminal 2 will be closed once the renovation completes.

In January last year, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the US opened a new South Concourse and terminal processor.




Athens Airport expansion plan receives approval

Athens International Airport in Greece has reportedly received approval for its expansion and renovation plans.

Situated about 20km east of the Greek capital, Athens International Airport, or Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, is named after a Cretan politician and prime minister of Greece in the 19th century.

The expansion project is expected to incur a total cost of around €700m.

It will commence after the 14 other regional airports, operated by Fraport Greece, complete their renovation plans.

Under the expansion plans, the work will include the modification of the airport apron and construction of a general aviation track, a building and a taxi rank.

The airport terminal will feature jetways, ramps, VIP and lounge areas and shopping and dining areas.

Its expansion is expected to add 100,000m² of area for the new airport facilities.

After the expansion project, the airport is expected to accommodate 30 million passengers annually, which will rise to 50 million by 2040.

Last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) sanctioned a €180m loan for the construction of a new international airport at Heraklion in Crete, Greece.

The airport will replace Heraklion’s existing airport, Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport, which is heavily crowded and unable to accommodate extra passengers with the necessary level of service and security standards.

Last September, the Greek Government approved the sale of a 30% stake in Athens Airport.

In June, Fraport Greece unveiled the design of the new Mykonos Airport, which combines modern architecture with the traditional style of the Cyclades.