This week: strike pairs, renaming pairs and a new runway

This was an amazingly busy week in airport newsland! We found articles about the renaming of two airports, strike updates from two countries and an improvement project given the green lights. Oh and then there’s the pope too, but more about that later.

Let’s start with the strikes first: Frankfurt Airport (IATA: FRA) has been mentioned numerous times in our weekly news updates in regards to a union strikes of its ground staff. On Wednesday now, The Washington Post wrote the union had reached a deal in its long-running pay dispute with airport operator Fraport AG, ensuring there won’t be more strikes at continental Europe’s second-largest hub. Hallelujah!

On the other side of the Atlantic, however, a new strike started this week: USA Today wrote on Friday that Air Canada baggage handlers staged a walkout at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ) early Friday, causing some flights to be delayed. According to the article, hundreds of passengers were left in limbo after they had to get off several flights that were already on the tarmac and were forced to return back to the terminal.

It’s interesting how things came in pairs this week. Like the two strike news updates, this week we also received information about two airport name changes. And once again, like the strike news, one update came from Europe whereas the other reached us from North America. The European name change came from the Czech Republic when Reuters wrote on Wednesday that the Czech government agreed to rename the country’s main airport in Prague (IATA: PRG) to honour deceased former President Vaclav Havel. The news agency wrote that Havel, a former anti-communist dissident and playwright, was jailed by the country’s totalitarian rulers before the 1989 bloodless “Velvet Revolution” catapulted him to the presidency. It then went on to say that one of Havel’s close aides has protested the plan, saying the former president actually never liked flying. Apparently the idea that Havel should be remembered by a landmark like the country’s main entry port, won wide support across the political scene as well as the country’s intellectual elite, concluded Reuters.

Now, the second renaming news came from the US when the Chicago Tribune wrote that the Arkansas capital’s Municipal Airport Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to rename Little Rock National Airport (IATA: LIT) in honor of the former president and the current secretary of State, Bill and Hillary Clinton, a rare twin billing for the state’s former first couple. The news piece finished by stating that the renaming is part of a strategic plan that includes extensive renovations and expansion, with the aim of becoming an international airport.

Over in Hong Kong it was all about cheering this week as the city has approved the construction of a HK$136 billion (US$ 17.5 billion) third runway at the city’s international airport (IATA: HKG), wrote Reuters, as it tries to cement its position as a global flight hub. In the article it was quoted that Airport Authority Hong Kong, operator of the world’s busiest cargo airport, said it needs a third runway to keep pace with the rapid growth in air traffic. The airport’s two existing runways are forecast to reach capacity by 2020. According to the article the third runway, on which construction was expected to start in 2014 at the earliest will take about eight years to build.

And finally news involving the head of the Catholic church. To be honest the news snippet wasn’t really about an airport, but it had that word mentioned alongside it, so we figured it would be worthwhile quoting it here. Kind of as a little finish-off-piece to send you nicely into the new week ;-). Alright, enough bubbling, here’s the CBS News headline – you can read the full article yourself if you like: Pope uses cane at airport before heading west. Which airport was that? Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport (IATA: FCO) of course!

That’s all for now – safe travels!

[Photo from Flickr – Some rights reserved by StephenMitchell]