It’s surely been a week from hell for many travellers in Australia and New Zealand as the ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano, high in Chile’s Andes, disrupted air traffic first in New Zealand, then over in Australia in Hobart (IATA: HBA), Melbourne (IATA: MEL; LD reviewed) and Adelaide (IATA: ADL; LD reviewed) before moving further east and affecting Perth in Western Australia (IATA: PER) later in the week. Interesting was that there were massive differences whether flights were cancelled or not depending on the individual airline. Qantas took the cautious approach and grounded most of its flights on affected routes whereas its competitors Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways argued they could take routes avoiding the ash or fly below the cloud. In an email to its frequent fliers, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce backed his airlines decision on the fact that “unlike the meteorological authorities in Europe, Australia’s [Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre] VAAC does not have the ability to calculate ash density so we are unable to access definitive measurements.”
Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams return to make a new US television appearance in their airport “mockumentary”, Come Fly With Me on BBC America. The new series starting this Saturday features the duo as they play almost 50 characters found in a fictional airport terminal. A few weeks back we wrote an article about the show being mostly filmed at Stansted airport (IATA: STN; LD reviewed), 48km (30mi) outside of London.
Frequent travellers and residents in London already love it: the iris scanner that awaits you for checking your identity upon entering the United Kingdom. The system aptly called IRIS (which stands for “iris recognition immigration system”) is very popular there and certainly makes immigration procedures a lot quicker. Now IATA, the International Air Transport Association unveiled a new technology at their annual meeting this week which could cut the time it takes to clear security checks at airports from the current 35-minute average down to seconds while it also dramatically improves security.
It’s been a rather uneventful week in airport news terms. But that, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t present you with some interesting and some juicy aviation stories this week! First of all, the spotlight is put on a nation that’s not regularly in the news and most certainly not with aviation stories: Mongolia. This week Passenger Terminal Today revealed hat the landlocked nation has agreed with the government of Japan on a US$270 million soft loan, repayable over 40 years, to build a new airport to service Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar. The city’s current airport, Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA: ULN; pictured) suffers from occasional high winds and has a relatively short runway unsuitable for 747s and larger aircraft.
I’ve been in Brisbane quite a few times but whenever I landed there it’s always been the domestic terminal. So when I recently got a chance to fly out of Queensland’s capital to Port Moresby (IATA: POM; LD reviewed), I took the opportunity and reviewed the international terminal of Brisbane Airport (IATA: BNE) for my loyal readers:
It was easy to pick this week’s biggest airport event. And no, it wasn’t the free roaming airport bear in Montana nor was it the airport toilet song writing artist. More of that later. It – of course – was all about the volcanic ash cloud over Britain and mainland Europe. After the eruption of Icelandic volcano “Grímsvötn” on Sunday evening, we posted an article on Tuesday asking whether this would bring down much of Europe’s air traffic again similar to last year. Luckily the outcome so far wasn’t as grim as widely forecasted. The Wall Street Journal even calls the threat to be entirely over while other media aren’t all too sure yet.
Well, well – don’t they say what goes around comes around? After last year’s disastrous effect on European air travels caused by the ash cloud from the erupting Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, many voices were heard on how to better deal with such an event the next time it occurs. Last year the resulting airspace closures cost economies world-wide billions of dollars, no wonder everyone is eager to handle the problem better this time.
It seems as this week was mostly about Delta Airlines and Minneapolis St Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP). The news started on the good side when Delta Airlines announced new dining options and Apple iPads to rent at the airport as published by the Pioneer Press on Tuesday. The article read that the changes are part of a $2 billion investment to improve the overall travel experience for customers after similar upgrades at New York-area airports. Then, just when it was all happy days, on Saturday, local time, the news came from the same airport that Delta had to cancel 250 flights due to a power outage at the airport. According to a CNN report, the cause of the extended outage has not been pinpointed yet.
It’s no secret, LateDeparture has always had a love-hate-relationship with the UK’s third busiest airport. Whilst the airport itself is quite alright, it can feel crowded plus the pure nature of mainly operating low cost carrier can add to the airports stress level (as reviewed a while back). Now, however, the airport presents itself in an entirely different light. And it’s not because of the UK Competition Commission’s turnaround of allowing BAA keep owning the airport, it’s a different story: the actors from the controversial but highly acclaimed comedy show, Little Britain, Matt Lucas and David Walliams launched a spoof of British documentaries Airport and Airline. The series officially started in Britain on Christmas day last year and follows the activity at a fictional airport and three airlines: FlyLo (a low-cost airline), Our Lady Air (an Irish low-cost airline) and Great British Air (a major international British airline).
This week three US airports caught our attention: First on Tuesday there was San Francisco’s International Airport (IATA: SFO; LD reviewed) which made headlines with the arrival of the first scheduled Airbus A380 flight. The Lufthansa plane with flight number 454 landed at the Northern Californian airport on Tuesday morning for the first time and was welcomed by a fire truck and many eager plane spotters as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.