Another week has almost past and it’s therefore time for our weekly airport news round-up. This week we have the following headlines for you:
- French airport strikes
- Taxi blockade in Melbourne
- Airbus invents smart baggage
- Egypt Air makes emergency landing in Scotland
- JFK creates turtle barrier
- Old Hong Kong airport reopens, but not as an airport
To start off, Tuesday and Wednesday this week brought severe disruptions to France and other European countries when a strike by the French air traffic controllers saw its full impacts. The British based Telegraph wrote for example that the action forced Ryanair to cancel 200 flights on Tuesday and 244 more on Wednesday, while easyJet has cancelled 128 flights for each of the two days, mainly to France. Thankfully the planned third day of strikes was called off citing opposition from the French and German governments to the EU proposal, quoted International Business Times.
Tuesday also saw issues on the other side of the planet, in Melbourne, Australia when the local newspaper The Age wrote that Taxi drivers said they intended to block the taxi queue until a short-fare system is reintroduced to the Melbourne Airport (MEL). Drivers say they are now forced to wait hours in the airport long queue. If, by bad luck, they draw a fare to a nearby suburb drivers say they can end up earning just $7.50 in three hours. This is the second blockade after one in May over the same issue.
A lot more exciting news came from Airbus today. But it wasn’t the announcement of a new aircraft, it was the talk about a new electronic baggage system allowing passengers to reduce luggage stress while travelling. UK’s Wired Magazine wrote that the system, which Airbus is modestly referring to as “The reinvention of baggage”, contains sensors and an RFID chip which allow it to take care of tasks like weighing the contents of the suitcase automatically as well as communicating with the check-in system of various airlines. Watch this short video to learn more about this exciting innovation.
Not so much a late departure but more a late arrival had the passengers of Egypt Air flight 985 from Cairo to New York’s JFK when, according to the Huffington Post, it was diverted by fighter jets to an emergency landing in the U.K. after a passenger discovered a letter threatening the aircraft. British Typhoon fighter jets escorted the plane to Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport (PIK), where the flight was met by a heavy police presence. It stayed there for several hours before passengers were able to disembark, at which point officers searched the plane. The article then quotes the BBC which said one of its producers, Nada Tawfik, had discovered the note, written in pencil on a napkin, with the words “I’ll set this plane on fire” and what appeared to be a seat number written on it. She said that after discovering the note by the lavatory sink, she alerted cabin crew who then locked the toilet. Arrangements for onward travel will be made once all passengers have been interviewed, police said.
Lighter news reached us from New York this week when Staten Island’s “SILive” news reported that officials are building a 4,000-foot-long barrier to protect a runway at New York City’s Kennedy Airport (JFK). The obstacle is for turtles as according to the article the busy airport has been plagued in recent years by waves of Diamondback Terrapins that climb up out of Jamaica Bay looking for a place to nest. During last year’s mating season, airport employees had to carry 1,300 turtles off the tarmac.
And finally, have you ever wondered what happens to old, unused airports? Yes, most of them receive a new purpose and this week it was revealed that the old, iconic Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong reopens as a cruise ship terminal. The New York Times reported that starting Wednesday, passengers approaching the old runway will do so at crawl speed — and from the sea, rather than from the air. After 15 years of lying idle, the former airport will reopen its gates to the world’s travelers — as a cruise ship terminal at the southern end of the old runway. The new terminal cost 8.2 billion in Hong Kong dollars, or about $1 billion, and was designed by the architectural firm of Norman Foster, whose other designs include plans for the renovation of the New York Public Library. Mr. Foster’s firm also designed the larger airport that replaced Kai Tak in July 1998.
That’s all we have for this week – safe travels!
[Photo of the French flag By Mith (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]