London Heathrow Airport to Streamline Information Exchange for Better Efficiency

London Heathrow Airport is launching a new initiative to improve its competency, decrease flight delays, and improve flight punctuality, for its passengers.

The airport is debuting its Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) concept to partner with its airlines, ground handlers, air traffic control and airport employees, for increased knowledge sharing and informed and consistent decision-making.

The airport, which is currently operating at 99.2 percent capacity, has recently been severely criticised for its operational ineptitude, due to its increased workload.

Tim Hardy, the director airside of BAA Ltd, owner and operator of London Heathrow Airport, said, ‘With more than 1,300 flights every day, it’s crucial that we continue to look for ways to improve operational efficiency and thereby enhance passenger experience. A-CDM is about more than technology, it’s about behaviour change. It relies on every area of the airport’s operations working collaboratively to share information in pursuit of this common goal. We are excited to be launching this revolutionary new system and look forward to seeing the results.’

The A-CDM offers to break the life cycle of each flight into 16 stages, and report its progress at each stage to the operational crewmembers at the airport. The initiative is expected to improve the operational effectiveness of the aircraft, and lower the fuel consumption during flights, by helping to reduce taxiing times, in addition to providing ways to share information with all of the partner agencies.

John Proudlove, the NATS GM for Heathrow, said, ‘With CDM, air traffic controllers are able deliver a more efficient operation based upon accurate, comprehensive airfield information.’

New Gatwick Service For Caribbean Airlines

Caribbean Airlines, an airline company that has its base and hub at Piarco International Airport, Port of Spain, Trinidad, has commenced flights between Trinidad and Gatwick Airport in the UK.

The Gatwick service, which started on Saturday June 16, will be non-stop, twice weekly to Piarco International Airport.

Commenting on the inauguration of the new flights, Guy Stephenson, the chief commercial officer at Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Caribbean Airlines and its passengers to our airport today. This non-stop service will not only be welcomed by business travellers with links to the economic hub of Trinidad but also with holiday makers wanting to soak up the Caribbean sun and vibrant culture this destination offers.’

While Caribbean Airlines chief executive officer, Mr Robert Corbie said: ‘We are extremely happy to announce the start-up of our service from Gatwick to Piarco International Airport as our flights will provide a vital link between London and the Caribbean. We are well positioned strategically to become the preferred airline for all customers flying between London and the Caribbean with seamless connections to South America. ‘Fly Caribbean’ to experience the warmth of the islands as soon as you step on board.’

Caribbean Airlines joins other international air carriers that have chosen to commence operations out of Gatwick Airport this year, including Air Nigeria, Korean Air, Hong Kong Airways and Air China. The airport’s increased popularity with overseas operators is considered to be partly due to improvements in its facilities, on which the airport’s management has recently been investing £20m per month.

Airline ‘Storm’ Means Cheaper Flights and Airport Transfers

Cheaper flights and bargain airport transfers sounds like a great thing for holiday makers. But what is actually going on in the airline industry at the moment, and how will it affect passengers in the long term?

Many airlines are currently revealing low profit figures for the past twelve months, with a number of the larger airlines, including Quantas Airways, reporting a loss.

At a national level, there are also signs of the current industry struggle. Low cost airlines such as Flybe are experiencing difficulties; the Exeter-based company have reported a 6.2 million pre-tax loss. Another low cost carrier, BMI Baby, will undergo closure this year.

In an overall view of the current European situation, the continent’s airlines have been predicted to deliver a record loss of over one billion dollars. For an industry that was flying high only a few years ago, many are asking how these dramatic changes have come about.

The causes for these losses are both obvious and discreet, with several factors contributing. Rises in oil prices last year hit the industry hard and, although prices have dropped by eight percent this year, the combination of oil prices and other strenuous influences have left many airlines struggling to recover.

The economic crisis has played a large part in the lead up to what has been described as an airline ‘storm’, and many fear that a global economic slump could be on the cards. Director General of the International Air Transport Association, Tony Tyler, stated that ‘If the world enters an economic slump, that will be even worse for the industry than the higher fuel price was on its own’.

As airlines struggle to accommodate the drop in passenger numbers caused by the economic crisis and rise in oil prices, downsizing and staff cuts are being considered and implemented. In fact, the rise in staff and airport costs have also contributed to the current ‘storm’ taking place in the airline industry.

The question many people are asking is, what does this mean for passengers? The good news is that the situation may in fact benefit many passengers flying in the coming year rather than have a negative effect. The drop in fuel prices has led to cheaper flights in the first half of this year.

Although passenger traffic is still comparatively low on some airlines, bargain prices are enticing more people to fly and ensuring that great deals are available.

Competition amongst companies supplying airport transfers is also ensuring that prices are kept low, and there are now a number of low cost alternatives offering great value transfers to all the major UK airports.

As Rob Gill, founder of Suntransfers.com says “Airport transfers have typically been the domain of the well healed business traveller. However through mirroring the “no frills” approach of the low cost airlines, services like ours are able to offer all the benefits of being picked up at the airport and reaching your destination in the fastest practical time.  You’ll still get the air conditioning, the only difference is the lack of chauffeur’s hat and a much, much reduced fare”.

Although a large proportion of the general public may be struggling financially at the moment, in many ways, there has never been a better time to travel. As airline economy wavers, now is an opportune time to take advantage of lower flight prices and cheaper transfers.

Written by Sophie McGovern

Temporary Olympics Terminal Opens at Heathrow

As part of its plans for coping with a massive influx of visitors for the 2012 London Olympic Games, Heathrow Airport has opened a temporary terminal that has been specifically built for the occasion.

The temporary structure, which is designed to speed the flow of Olympic officials and competitors for the three days after the games end on August 12, has been built on the site of a staff car park. During its three days of operation it is likely to process in excess of ten thousand individual competitors, and their 37,000 items of luggage.

Theresa Villiers attended the opening of the terminal in her capacity as transport minister, and she commented, ‘August 13 is expected to be the busiest day in the whole history of the airport. 10,000 athletes, coaches and support staff are going to be coming through this temporary terminal. Having this extra departure capacity is going to be very important in ensuring that Heathrow can cope with that huge volume of departing passengers over those few days after the closing ceremony.’

According to Nick Cole, Heathrow’s head of operations for the Olympic Games, the temporary terminal has been constructed as much to guarantee normal service levels to regular users of the airport’s terminals one, three four and five during the period, as to speed the movement of Olympic traffic. He said, ‘If we do this and we get 10,000 athletes through this facility, it means that everybody else in the other terminals will feel just like it’s a busy summer day here at Heathrow.’

International Air Passenger Movement Improves in April 2012

While more and more passengers are travelling by air globally, it seems that the impending Euro zone crisis could affect European air traffic, according to the April 2012 global traffic results from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an international industry association of airlines that is headquartered in Canada.

While global passenger traffic has increased by 6.1 percent in April 2012, with a capacity increase of 3.8 percent, European airlines only registered a passenger demand increase of 5.9 percent for April, despite the fact that the period included the Easter holidays. The load factor is at a record level of 79.3 percent globally, while in Europe it’s at 80.3 percent.

Tony Tyler, the IATA director general and chief executive officer, said, ‘It’s a volatile and risky world. Airlines are being cautious managing through the uncertainty. Overall passenger demand was up 6.1 percent in April and capacity increases were held back to 3.8 percent.

There are signs that cargo has bottomed out. Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world. But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium-term.’

Asia-Pacific airlines have reported a growth of 9.3 percent against a capacity expansion of 4.6 percent, and load factors at 78.1 percent for April 2012.

North American airlines reported that passenger demand expanded by 1.6 percent in April, compared to the same period in 2011.

Middle East airlines have announced a 16.0 percent increase in passenger demand for April 2012, against a 12.7 percent capacity expansion and load factor of 78.3 percent.

Global Travellers to Shop More at Airports In 2012

The UK-based hotel company, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has released details of a study that suggests that global travel trends are set for a change in 2012 with an increase in airport retailing.

The survey has shown that travellers are shopping more at airport stores, with global airport retailing being worth £16 billion in 2012, making it the second fastest growing retail channel next to e-retail. Women that prefer to travel light and shop at the airports outnumber men, the research results indicated.

Travel in 2012 will be defined by the use of the Internet for just about everything, including booking flights and hotels, purchasing parking, and acquiring hotel and in-flight amenities. Travel companies are set to benefit from new services on the Internet, with travellers using the web to order food at restaurants in advance, so that it is ready for them on arrival, and to order goods in flight that are delivered when they return home. The IHG report dubs this growing phenomenon, ‘from tablet to table’.

New global travel patterns are also affecting local geographies, with the development of smaller towns around airports that are away from the main cities. IQ development is expected to be another growth area, with Forbes tipping the ‘Brain Development’ software industry to become a trillion-dollar earner, from the $265m that it currently takes in the US.

Research is also showing 100 new airports will be opened in China by 2020, while the Dubai World Centre Airport in the UAE will provide facilities including a golf course and the world’s biggest shopping mall.

Joe Ferry, the company senior vice president of global innovation and design, has said, ‘IHG is an insight led business and understanding the requirements of our guests both today and pre-empting what they may look like in the future is key to building our brands and nurturing loyalty. The Re-mapping trend, for example, is evidence of this. As we see the rise in populated areas outside of main city centres, our recently launched Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts brand will aim to cater for the specific needs of the Chinese traveller and also support the rapid growth of some of these Tier 2 and 3 cities in China.’

BAA Announces Sale of Edinburgh Airport to Global Infrastructure Partnership

BAA Ltd, the owner and operator of six British airports, has announced its decision to sell Edinburgh Airport in Scotland, to Global Infrastructure Partnership, a real estate infrastructure investment fund that already has Gatwick and London City airports in its portfolio.

The company is selling its 100 percent stake in the airport for £807 million, in a deal expected to close in May 2012. Edinburgh Airport has handled 9.3 million passengers in 2011, and generated gross earnings of £48.3m for the 2011 period.

After the sale of the airport, the company will still retain ownership of Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports in the UK.

Colin Matthews, the company chief executive officer, said, ‘Edinburgh Airport and its team have been part of BAA for a long time and we are proud of its achievements. We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. BAA will continue to focus on improving passengers’ journeys at Heathrow and its other airports.’

Adebayo Ogunlesi, the chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partnership, said, ‘Edinburgh Airport is a high quality infrastructure asset. We see significant opportunity to apply our tested and successful operational expertise and our knowledge of the global airports sector to develop and enhance the performance of Edinburgh Airport in years to come.’

The company has sold Edinburgh Airport, as recommended by the UK Competition Commission, after considering a decision to sell either the Edinburgh or Stansted airports to improve competition in the UK aviation industry.

Airport Retailers Losing Out as Travellers Fail to Locate Shops

Airports and airport retailers may be missing out on avenues for revenue generation as travellers are regularly unable to locate airport retail outlets for making last-minute purchases, says a recent study on passenger behaviour, conducted in the US, UK, France and Germany.

Around 23 percent of travellers surveyed in Germany, 30 percent in France, 34 percent in UK, and 35 percent in the US have reported being unable to locate shops, restaurants and other retail outlets at airports during the time they spend there. The findings are according to research conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, for NCR Corporation, a company offering mobile solutions for airlines and airport self-services.

Around 1.5 billion people travel by air every year, and travellers’ inability to locate retail outlets may represent a colossal amount of lost revenue for airport retailers, restaurants and service providers. Around 53 percent of UK passengers agreed that a mobile alert reminding them to proceed for boarding would allow them to search and shop at the airports in a more relaxed manner.

Tyler Craig, the vice president and general manager of NCR Travel, said, ‘This survey highlights the vast untapped potential airports still have to serve travellers who have the time and inclination to shop. Airports today get nearly 50 percent of their revenue from non-aviation sources. By employing some of the technologies used by today’s retailers such as mobile marketing and interactive, digital signage, airports can more effectively communicate with and make offers to travellers, boosting revenue while making their airports more welcoming, entertaining and user-friendly.’

The survey also showed that around 21 percent of travellers in the US, 18 percent in France, 15 percent in Germany and 12 percent in the UK have never shopped for anything at the airports; while 65 percent have purchased books, newspapers or magazines.

UK Airports May Lose Out To Foreign Airports Due To Capacity Constraints

The Board of Airline Representatives (BAR UK), a UK-based industry association of UK airline operators, has said that Heathrow Airport in London is operating under capacity constraints, which may cause global airlines to forgo fights to the UK.

A survey conducted by the association has revealed that around 53 percent of airlines surveyed will be increasing their services to other countries, instead of the UK, due to capacity constraints at UK airports. However, 86 percent of the airlines are interested in increasing their services to the UK, if Heathrow Airport was able to offer them more free slots.

The survey by Frontier Economics, supporting recent research, has found that around twenty-one emerging market destinations do not have a daily flight from Heathrow, but are connected with other European airline hubs.

This may have a direct effect on UK foreign trade, as around 20 times more trade is carried out with emerging market nations that have a direct daily flight to the UK than with those nations not having a direct flight. It is estimated that he UK economy may lose around £14bn in the next decade because of lack of trade with these emerging markets.

Mike Carrivick, the association chief executive officer, said, ‘UK business leaders should be very concerned about the restrictions on reaching new markets at such a critical time in the UK recovery effort. The survey’s results are a chilling reminder that the Government must act decisively, and soon, in the national interest. Restricting capacity at key airports to the same level as the last decade is actively encouraging airlines and trade to go elsewhere.’

MATERNA Offers New Generation of Automated Baggage Handling at Airports

MATERNA, a Germany-based information technology company, has launched its new Automated Baggage Handling technology at the Passenger Terminal Expo, currently being held in Vienna, Austria.

The new baggage drop-off technology is claimed to offer optimised bag drop procedures for both operators and passengers, which may be paid for through cashless transactions. Air passengers will now be able to print out baggage tags at home, and calculate and pay for excess baggage before they leave, by using the new technology.

For airport operators, the new solution offers a fully automated bag drop system, which may be developed using the existing conveyor belt systems that are commonly used at airports.

The new technology is part of the company’s recently launched Integrated Passenger Services (IPS) programme. IPS is claimed to offer an end-to-end solution for airline passengers, and airport operators, providing convenience and ease of payments for the services through smart phones.

IPS provides a range of solutions covering all airports services, from check-in to take-off. These will be including CUSS-based applications for kiosks; online or mobile phone check-in; automated self baggage drop; and solutions for security access and self boarding.

MATERNA has been offering its various bag drop solutions since 2003, with the goal of ‘Simplifying the passenger’s journey’. The new baggage drop technology, in partnership with Sick and Vanderlande, is currently being demonstrated at the annual Passenger Terminal Expo, running in Vienna until April 20, 2012.