Industry News




Covid-19: UK plans to introduce airport testing

The UK is reportedly planning to introduce an in-airport Covid-19 testing arrangement amid increasing pressure from airlines and travel companies to scrap the current quarantine rules.

According to a Financial Times report, the UK Government is assessing the feasibility of moving to a system where passengers will be tested for Covid-19 when they arrive at British airports.

The move may reduce the need for passengers to remain in self-isolation from 14 days to a minimum of seven.

Under the new system, passengers will be tested twice: once when they land and again a week later. If the results of both tests are negative, they can break their quarantine after seven days.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “You probably have to have some kind of quarantine period here, perhaps seven or eight days, maybe a test then. But these are the things we’re working through at the moment.”

However, Shapps did not provide a time frame for the introduction of the new testing regime.

This comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson endorsed the current quarantine system as the airport system will not be effective in identifying all virus cases.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the global aviation industry, with revenues anticipated to shrink by 60% compared to the projected baseline (pre-Covid-19 forecast for 2020).




BIAL and Xovis launch Queue Management system

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has partnered with Xovis to launch a new queue management system at Kempegowda International Airport (KIAB / BLR) in Bengaluru, India.

The technology will reduce wait times and enhance operational efficiency and the flow of passengers.

In addition, the passenger flow management system Xovis PTS will display live wait times on the screens at processing points to enhance the user experience.

The data provided will also allow internal teams to plan resources in advance.

BIAL CEO Jayaraj Shanmugam said: “At BIAL, our aim is to make BLR Airport the most digitally advanced and efficient airport in the world. This system is part of BIAL’s vision to enable journeys, create experiences and touch lives as part of the gateway to a new India.”

Furthermore, 200 sensors at the airport will capture passenger flow coordinates at departure gates and the check-in, immigration and security hold areas for domestic and international flights.

Xovis CEO Andreas Fähndrich said: “We hope this is the first of many happy collaborations between BIAL, our team and IDDS, our partner in India.

“The ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday was a significant moment; it reflected the collaboration and camaraderie we have experienced throughout this exciting project. We look forward to continuing this collaboration should there be a need for system extensions.”

In a separate development, Delhi International Airport has collaborated with Genestrings Diagnostic Centre to set up a Covid-19 testing facility in its Terminal 3 car parking area.

The facility has been set up for select inbound overseas passengers travelling by connecting domestic flights. It is scheduled to be operational in a few days.

Those testing negative will be allowed to continue their onward journey.




Finavia pilots UVC technology to disinfect security control trays

Finavia is set to test ultraviolet C (UVC) light technology at one of its airports to disinfect security control trays by killing bacteria and viruses.

The disinfection technology being piloted is based on UVC light, which is used to clean surfaces in the healthcare and food industries, among others.

Finavia Helsinki Airport executive director Ulla Lettijeff said: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we already upgraded the cleaning process of security control trays during the spring, but the aim of the pilot project is to raise hygiene standards to a new level and find the best UVC disinfection method for the airport environment.

“Our expectations are high for the performance of the equipment we are piloting. This new technology will help us intensify disinfection even further and improve cleaning standards. We will now be able to disinfect empty security control trays quickly after each use.”

The energy-efficient, environmentally friendly cleaning method is quicker than other traditional sanitising methods.

The project will test different equipment to determine the product that best suits the airport environment.

Finnish company LedFuture Oy is one of the companies providing the technology.

LedFuture also pioneered a light emitting diode (LED) technology-based disinfection solution to be tested by Finavia.

The UVC-LED disinfection technology is based on research by the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).




Indian Government to evaluate AAHL’s plan to acquire Mumbai Airport

The Government of India will evaluate Adani Airport Holdings’ (AAHL) request to acquire controlling interest in Mumbai Airport.

The Minister of Civil Aviation of India Hardeep Singh Puri told CNBC-TV18 that the government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will examine AAHL’s request to acquire a 74% stake in Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), which operates the airport.

Minister Puri was quoted by the publication as saying: “As per shareholders’ agreement and operations, management, development (OMDA) agreement, the shares held can be sold subject to certain conditions and the consent of AAI and the Government of India.

“The request for purchase of shares by Adani Group was received by us and we will examine it.

“OMDA lays down [the] mechanism of revenue sharing between AAI and concessionaires and it also stipulates the service standards that the airports shall maintain. All future developments of an airport is governed by OMDA.”

Recently, AAHL, the holding company of Adani Group’s airports business, signed an agreement to acquire the debt of GVK Airport Developers, the holding company through which GVK Group owns a 50.5% equity stake in MIAL.

AAHL also plans to acquire a 23.5% stake of MIAL held by minority partners Airport Company of South Africa and Bidvest.

Mumbai Airport is one of the busiest airports in India in terms of passenger traffic.

Recently, the airport started operating 200 flights every day, doubling aircraft movement amid the Covid-19 crisis.




Covid-19 impact: Heathrow begins formal consultation on redundancies

Heathrow Airport in the UK has initiated a formal consultation with unions on redundancies as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact air travel.

The airport issued formal Section 188 notices, which initiated a 45-day consultation period that may result in job losses.

The move comes after the airport authorities and unions failed to reach an agreement following months of discussion.

According to a report in The Guardian, the Section 188 notices will enable Heathrow to offer new contracts to employees after the consultation period is over.

This may lead to salary reductions for those who agree to stay on at Heathrow, as well as voluntary redundancies and furloughs.

Although the airport insisted that it will guarantee a job to all workers who wish to stay with the business, the move may result in more than a thousand job losses.

In a statement, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “Discussions with our unions have taken place over four months and our final offer is informed by feedback we have received from them.

“But with air travel showing little sign of recovery, these discussions cannot go on indefinitely and we must act now to prevent our situation from worsening.”

The spokesperson added that Heathrow witnessed an unprecedented fall in passenger numbers following the pandemic, which has cost the airport more than £1bn since the start of March.

The provisional traffic figures for this month show that passenger numbers are 82% lower on a year-on-year basis compared with 2019.

Recently, Heathrow Airport announced that it has trialled three rapid point-of-care Covid-19 tests in a bid to replace the current testing system with quarantine rules and support the recovery of the aviation sector.

One of the tests claimed to provide results in as little as 30 seconds.




Covid-19: Los Angeles Airport implements touchless technologies

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the US has accelerated the implementation of touchless technologies to enable passengers to travel safely during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the operator of the airport, is working to provide passengers with a touch-free experience from the curb to the gate.

This comes when the airport is preparing to handle a surge in passenger numbers ahead of the Labor Day holiday.

LAWA CEO Justin Erbacci said: “At LAWA, new technology is making our facilities more touchless, clean and easier to navigate as we welcome more travellers back to the skies.

“We are aggressively creating a touch-free journey from the curb to the gate, setting the standard for a reimagined airport experience.”

LAX is now equipped with touch-free faucets, hands-free drinking fountains and hand sanitiser stations.

Currently, the airport features 250 hand sanitiser stations while an additional 100 will be installed this week.

The Los Angeles airport also enables passengers to use their phone as a remote control for check-in kiosks. The Tom Bradley International Terminal now features a dozen airline check-in kiosks within its departures level.

The US Customs and Border Protection deployed at LAX is also piloting biometric technology to expedite the verification process of international travellers.

In addition, the airport is piloting a virtual assistance programme at Terminal 2. This service allows passengers to receive assistance from a customer service professional by interacting over a touch-free tablet system installed at the information booth.

Meanwhile, Transportation Security Administration has implemented new credential authentication technology (CAT) at LAX.

The CAT system allows passengers to insert their photo ID into a reader for authentication, eliminating the need to exchange documents or showing a boarding pass at entries.

Overall, 30 scanners are available in each LAX terminal.

The airport has also implemented more than 700 Plexiglas barriers at airline ticket counters and other locations to minimise physical contact.

The airport is now equipped with touchless elevators programmed to stop at every floor and personal protective equipment vending machines with a touch-free payment facility.

LAX has also started using thermal camera technology to identify travellers with high body temperatures.




US to allocate more than $1.2bn in infrastructure grants for airports

The US Government is set to allocate more than $1.2bn in infrastructure grants for airports as the economy gradually recovers from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding will be awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration to 405 airports located across 50 US states, Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and the US Virgin Islands.

Overall, the investment includes more than $1bn from the Airport Improvement Program and $152m in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grants to equal a 100% federal share.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao said: “This $1.2bn federal investment will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from Covid-19.”

The grants will be used to carry out several safety and infrastructure projects. These include the construction and repair of runways and taxiways, installation of airport perimeter fencing and the creation of airport master plan studies.

It will help in purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, as well as aircraft lighting and signage work.

This comes more than a month after Chao announced that the government will invest more than $273m in airport safety and infrastructure grants.

Since January 2017, the current administration has allocated around $13.5bn to improve infrastructure and safety at US airports.

This year, the government granted $10bn in economic assistance to the airports during the Covid-19 crisis.




Nigeria reopens revamped Akanu Ibiam International Airport

The Government of Nigeria has reopened Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu following extensive renovation.

The airport was closed in August last year for maintenance work, reconstruction of the facilities and expansion of the runway.

Domestic flight operations at the airport will resume immediately, while international flights are scheduled to commence on 5 September.

Nigerian Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria as saying: “It is a great pleasure for me to be in Enugu in the month of August for the reopening of Akanu Ibiam International Airport for flight operations.

“The local flight can come to start from today and the international flight on 5 September, once the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force has opened the gate to come in.

“We are proud to say that this project is indeed a testimony to Mr President’s commitment to infrastructure development in the country.”

The airport was closed after safety concerns were raised about the dilapidated condition of the runway.

Overall, the federal government contributed NGN10bn ($25.9m) for the rehabilitation of the airport.

Last month, Nigeria resumed domestic flight operations after a three-month lockdown imposed by the government to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

The aviation authority implemented appropriate measures across the airports, such as mandatory temperature checking, disinfection of luggage and physical distancing during the check-in procedure for the safety of passengers and staff.