Industry news

MAG and Ryanair sue UK Government over travel traffic light system



Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in the UK has reportedly teamed up with Ryanair to launch a legal action against the UK Government over the travel traffic light system.

The travel traffic light system rates countries green, amber or red based on their Covid-19 risk. MAG and Ryanair’s legal challenge seeks more transparency on how countries are being classified under the system. 

Other airlines are also expected to join the campaign in order to get a better understanding of how countries are placed on the green list of safe places to visit during the pandemic.

Both MAG and Ryanair have expressed their concerns about the sudden removal of Portugal, which was included in the green list in mid-May. As a result of this, British holidaymakers reportedly had to cut down their trips and fly back to the country via extra flights arranged by the airline companies.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish said: “We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries. But it is now clear the government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.

“Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they are safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands do not fall into that category.”

The UK Government justified its decision to move Portugal from green to amber, saying it was due to an increase in infection rates across the country. The decision was said to have been triggered by the emergence of a mutation of the Delta version of the coronavirus.

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise this is a challenging period for the sector, as we seek to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine roll-out. We have provided £7bn to help support the industry during the pandemic.”


London City Airport and Collinson to expand Covid-19 testing facilities

London City Airport in the UK has partnered with Collinson to set up a new, bigger Covid-19 testing facility near the airport terminal.

The facility will have the capacity to conduct more than 200 tests per hour. It will allow the airport to handle increased demand from passengers when the UK Government restarts international travel.

The facility will provide all government-approved Covid-19 testing solutions.

Travellers coming from amber-listed nations will be offered a same-day test to release service.

Passenger handling

Star Alliance, NEC and SITA partner for biometric touchpoint facility

SITA has teamed up with NEC Corporation and Star Alliance to facilitate touchless airport experience through biometric self-service touchpoints.

Under this partnership, frequent flyer programme passengers of Star Alliance member airlines will be able to use their biometric ID as their boarding pass across participating airlines and airports.

The agreement is intended to help deliver numerous biometric projects for accelerating the biometric passenger processing availability for Star Alliance’s member airlines.


Brazil trials digital boarding system in air shuttle service

Congonhas Airport in Brazil is testing a digital facial recognition technology developed by IDEMIA on the shuttle service operating between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The Project Embarque + Seguro 100% Digital Boarding System is said to be the world’s first testing process where passengers will not be required to show their boarding pass or an identification document while boarding the air shuttle.

The system has already been trialled at the airports of Florianópolis, Salvador, Santos Dumont and Belo Horizonte. Once approved, the federal government will start planning for the implementation of the technology in key Brazilian airports.

The IDEMIA-developed MFACE technology captures facial biometrics within seconds. It is expected to help speed up the boarding process and reduce queues. 


Paragon ID takes over baggage tags producer Security Label

Paragon ID has purchased Security Label, a designer and manufacturer of baggage labelling tags for the aviation industry.

The financial terms of the transaction were not shared. Paragon ID will acquire 93% of Security Label’s capital, effective 1 July 2021.

Security Label CEO Montassar Ben Hmida has the remaining stake in the firm. Paragon ID will purchase this stake at a consideration, which will be based on the performance of Security Label over the coming years.

Paragon ID will pay for the deal in cash, using its own cash reserves and available credit lines.

Security Label has collaborated with more than 400 airlines and airports in over 100 nations and has an estimated market share of 70% in EMEA.

Baggage handling

Siemens introduces new baggage handling system

Siemens Logistics has developed a new belt conveyor, VarioBelt TilterPlus. Equipped with a tilting device, the conveyor can move baggage in a linear direction, as well as to the left and the right.

The company says the three-way sorting system will result in a smaller footprint as fewer machines will be needed for a baggage handling system.

The system permits airport operators to expand their baggage handling installations in a modular manner.

With this flexibility, operators can modify the system according to the airport’s requirement, such as passenger traffic. Additional VarioBelt TilterPlus devices can be included in an existing sorting line, allowing installation work to be conducted during running operations.

In brief

Las Vegas McCarran Airport to finish concourse C revamp in August 

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport in Nevada, US, is reportedly on track to complete $13m concourse C renovation works by August. Renovation works began in October when the airport registered low passenger volumes.

Vinci Airports unveils solar plant at Portugal’s Faro Airport

Vinci Concessions’ subsidiary Vinci Airports has opened a new base for British airline easyJet and unveiled an in-airport solar plant at Faro Airport in Portugal. Vinci Airports delivered a $40m modernisation programme at the airport. Opened in collaboration with easyJet and the Portuguese tourism authorities, the new base is expected to facilitate the launch of new routes.

LAX starts automated people mover construction

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the US has started construction of an automated people mover (APM) elevated pedestrian walkway. This bridge will link LAX’s Terminal 4 to the West Central Terminal Area APM station.

Malaysia Airports concludes runway rehabilitation at Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Airports has announced the completion of the Runway 1 rehabilitation project at Kuala Lumpur International Airport within six months and on schedule. After meeting the requirements of the recent calibration and audit checks by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, the runway is now ready to commence flights operations. Following the rehabilitation work, the airport can manage nearly 78 flight movements per hour at full capacity.

Indra upgrades principal air traffic control centres in Spain

Indra has upgraded principal air traffic control centres in Spain, allowing more flights to be managed in an environmentally friendly manner. The company has already equipped five control centres with the SACTA-iTEC 4.0 automated air traffic management system. These centres manage flights crossing Spain in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands.


Dominica and MMCE sign agreement to build new international airport

The Government of Dominica has signed an agreement with the UAE-based Montreal Management Consultants Establishment (MMCE) for the construction and development of a new international airport in the country.

The agreement was signed in a ceremony attended by Members of Cabinet, MMCE representatives and other stakeholders.

The new airport project will be funded entirely by the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme and is expected to be completed by 2025.


Hamad Airport and HBKU join forces to improve passenger services

Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Qatar has formed a joint research partnership with Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Science and Engineering for optimising passenger services at the airport.

This is said to be the first such research partnership in the country. It will use visual analytics and dynamic graph research techniques to improve the passenger experience at the airport.

During the 36-month programme, the airport will receive research technique advice and software programming from the university.