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Airport Industry News: April 2013

Mar 29, 2013

Published biweekly –  available by annual subscription only (at a discounted rate through Brainseed) –

Managing Editor / Publisher: Martin Lamprecht

This information is provided by Momberger Airport Information as part of its partnership with Brainseed Global. Read about the partnership here.


Ground Handling News 

New rules to make ground handling services at large EU airports more competitive have been approved in a Transport and Tourism Committee vote. MEPs inserted service quality standards and staff provisions in a move to prevent any deterioration of working conditions. The European Parliament will have the final say in a plenary vote in April 2013. The committee agreed to boost competition for restricted, airside services by requiring at least three ground handling companies in airports handling at least 15 million passengers and/or 200 000 t of freight per year. These thresholds had been set at 5 million passengers and 100 000 t of freight in the Commission's initial proposal. MEPs inserted common criteria for minimum quality standards to apply to operational performance, staff training, adequate equipment, information and assistance to passengers, safety, security and compliance with environmental requirements. Exact figures, requirements and thresholds are to be set by the each airport and clearly indicated in the tender documents for awarding ground handling concessions, the committee text read.

Rules allowing airport service integrators and air transport companies to supply ground handling services would become more flexible, but all ground handlers - including subcontractors - would have to meet the operational minimum quality standards defined by each airport and comply with appropriate social and working conditions, so as to ensure fair competition. Service providers who fail to meet these standards could incur penalties and even be prohibited from providing further services. According to the amended text, separating the accounts of airports and ground handling operators would suffice to guarantee financial transparency and prevent distortions of competition.


Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has been awarded a ground handling licence at Manchester Airport, U.K., and won Turkish Airlines as its launch customer. WFS will commence passenger and ramp handling at the airport on 1 April 2013. It will provide a full range of handling services to airlines at Manchester, including passenger check-in, gate services, baggage loading and unloading, cargo delivery to and from aircraft, aircraft despatch, operations and weight and balance. This new operation will complement WFS' successful cargo operation at the airport and enable it to offer a complete portfolio of services to airlines in Manchester. WFS will provide passenger and ramp handling for Turkish Airlines' twice daily Airbus A319 and A320 flights to Istanbul. To lead its team in Manchester, WFS has appointed Gary Jenkins as General Manager and will initially create jobs for some 20 staff.


WFS has also entered into a long-term partnership with Wings Flight Services in Tanzania to operate a new cargo terminal at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The new USD 6 million cargo terminal at the airport is due to open for business on 1 September 2013. In 2012, cargo throughput at the airport was nearly 45 000 t. Julius Nyerere International Airport also served 3.5 million passengers, carried aboard 192 000 flights. The new WFS partnership is also engaged in a tender for the second passenger and ground handling licence at the airport.  


Operating Aspects

On 22 March 2013, the U.S. FAA announced that 149 airport control towers would be closed across the country due to the agency's budget saving implementation plan. "We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration," LaHood said. Approximately USD 85 billion of spending cuts started to hit various U.S. governmental departments, starting on 1 March 2013. The spending cuts, the so-called ‘sequester' or ‘sequestration' in U.S. government budget language, were included in the August 2011 debt reduction package. The FAA will work with the airports to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports, said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 air traffic control towers beginning on 7 April, part of its efforts to save USD 637 million spending in FY 2013, according to the statement.


Effective 1 April 2013, Qatar's Hamad International Airport (HIA) will begin soft opening operations for 10 passenger airlines including Air Arabia, Air India Express, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Flydubai, Iran Air, Nepal Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, RAK Airways, Syrian Air, and Yemen Airways. Qatar Airways' flights will not be affected. The national airline will move its entire operations from the current Doha International Airport (DIA) to Hamad International Airport (HIA) by the end of 2013. The 10 airlines listed will no longer have a presence at Doha International Airport (DIA) and will operate exclusively from HIA from 1 April. There will be around 32 passenger flights departing daily from HIA, equating to approximately 222 flights per week. Along with the concourse B opening on 1 April, the eastern runway, which is the longest of the two runways at HIA, and the uniquely designed, crescent-shaped air traffic control tower, will also be in operation.  


Talks are taking place between Dubai Airports and several airlines about starting passenger services at the emirate's second airport, it has been reported. The airport authority may make an announcement on operators in coming weeks, said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths. Dubai World Central will have room for 80 million passengers by 2027 and eventually grow to 160 million, more than double capacity at London Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest hub. Passenger flows through Dubai International, the emirate's main airport, climbed by 14.6% in January 2013 compared with the same month in 2012. Griffiths told reporters that the Dubai government was still weighing the question whether it made more sense to accelerate a move from Dubai International to Dubai World, or to let it happen more slowly. "We're looking at alternatives now, and in a few months we'll have a clear position," he said. "One plan is to build up quickly, within a 12-year frame. The other calls for longer, incremental growth over 15 years."  


Narita International Airport, Japan's main international airport, has raised its capacity to allow tens of thousands more flights annually as it faces rising competition and criticism over high landing fees. Narita has opened 10 new aircraft parking spots and a new taxiway to increase access to an existing runway, meaning available flight slots would rise to 270 000 annually, up from around 250 000 now, the airport reported. Narita wants to boost competitiveness as rival Asian regional hubs, such as Singapore, try to lure away business. The Japanese airport has faced criticism for a long time over expensive landing fees charged to airlines and its inconvenient location, about an hour express train ride from downtown Tokyo. Narita has said that it would cut landing fees by as much as 50% for at least the next three years, as it also faces pressure from rival Haneda Airport.



Airport Security

The U.S. airport perimeter security market has reached its saturation point according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan. Most fence upgrades for perimeter control are small opportunities handled by local vendors. Security enhancements are the driving factor that will continue to open prospects into this niche market, although these are mainly implemented in larger airports. The new report from Frost & Sullivan, ‘U.S. Airport Perimeter Security', finds that the U.S. FAA invested an estimated USD 58 million in grants toward the market through its Airport Improvement Programmes (AIP) in 2012. However, future funding toward airport perimeter security is expected to decline through 2017. Additionally, the perimeter control segment, consisting of fences and gates, is at an oversupplied point.

The physical size and location of airports make it difficult to provide adequate and effective security. Companies have failed to succeed in offering airports an effective, reliable, and cost-effective integrated security system that is suitable to airports of all sizes. Most tailored security systems designed for large airports still experience vulnerability gaps due to factors caused by human error.

Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defence Senior Industry Analyst, John Hernandez, said: "Terrorism and unlawful intrusion are the primary causes driving the demand for effective perimeter security equipment. According to reports from the [U.S.] government, the TSA had not conducted vulnerability assessments for 87% of the close to 450 U.S. airports regulated by TSA for security in 2009. The lack of these assessments creates uncertainty around the physical security effectiveness of those airports." 


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the start of TSA PreTM operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, TX, at Checkpoint 2, near American Airlines ticketing, from 19 March 2013. TSA Pre✓TM is a passenger pre-screening initiative that allows qualified passengers to go through an expedited security process, which among other benefits allows them to keep their shoes and light outerwear on while going through the checkpoint. At AUS, select frequent flyers and members of the CBP Global Entry programme are now eligible to participate and may receive expedited screening benefits when travelling domestically.

TSA Pre✓TM is part of the agency's larger effort to implement risk-based security concepts that enhance security by focusing efforts on travellers considered high-risk and on whom the agency carried less information. To date, more than 7 million passengers have experienced TSA Pre✓TM. By the end of March 2013, this expedited pre-screening programme will be available in 40 airports across the U.S. for United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines frequent flyers as well for CBP Global Entry participants.  


The TSA has modified its list of prohibited items that can be carried on aircraft on an overall risk-based security approach with effect from 25 April 2013. The modified rule will allow passengers to carry small pocket knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 in and less than 1/2 in in width. Passengers will also be allowed to carry small and toy bats, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, billiard cues and two golf clubs, while the list retains razor blades and box cutters, full-size baseball, softball and cricket bats. TSA spokesman David Castelveter said that the decision was made to bring U.S. regulations more in line with ICAO standards, and would also assist in offering an improved passenger experience. "This is part of an overall risk-based security approach, which allows transportation security officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher-threat items such as explosives," Castelveter said. The U.S. Flight Attendants Union Coalition said that the decision was poor and short-sighted. "Continued prohibition of these items is an integral layer in making our aviation system secure and must remain in place," the Coalition said. 


Morpho (Safran), through its subsidiary Morpho Detection Inc., has announced that the Narita International Airport Corporation in Japan has purchased 13 high-speed CTX 9800 DSiTM explosives detection systems (EDS) for hold baggage screening. The latest evolution of Morpho's CTXTM family of EDS, the CTX 9800, is U.S. TSA-certified as high-speed and capable of screening more than 1000 bags/hr. All 13 units will be integrated into Narita International Airport's baggage handling system beginning in 2013 to replace legacy systems. This deployment will bring the total number of Morpho CTX EDS units in service at Narita to approximately 40.

Morpho's Clarity technology used in the CTX 9800 enables it to screen checked luggage at higher speeds while continuing to deliver high-definition 3-D (HD3-D) imaging of each bag. By utilizing advanced computed tomography (CT) imaging technology, Morpho said that the CTX 9800 can enhance operational efficiencies by screening bags faster and with fewer false alarms.    


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