It’s been a rather odd week in regards to airport related news as we’ve seen three news articles about three separate people dying at an airport or on a flight this week. And none of the incidents sounded like daily business:
It’s been a rather tough week for airport IT professionals in the United Kingdom and the USA after two unrelated glitches caused havoc for Millions of travelers in the two countries. Here are our topics for this week:
This is going go be a juicy airport news update. In the mix are news pieces such as French protests, a singer shutting down an entire airport or a passenger landing a plane in Dublin, to name just three.
Another week has past and with that it’s time again for your weekly update of important (or interesting) airport events that reached us during the week. Today we have three courses and one little dessert story for you.
Let’s start dishing up with two stories from the US. The first one arrived on Thursday from The New York Times and focused on a building boom that hit US airports when it read that “New York’s three major airports, as well as the airports in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago, are spending billions of dollars. Many of the airports have aging terminals, some built in the 1960s and 1970s, that are ill suited to the bigger planes, bigger security lanes and bigger crowds of modern-day air travel. They are replacing or improving existing terminals, updating food concessions and parking garages, or adding runways to keep up with growing demand.” Next on the schedule to unveil a new addition to its facilities is Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS) with the opening of the new Terminal 3 at the end of the month.
The second American story read as following in our tweet on Thursday:
The New York Times reported that in a section of Shannon Airport in Ireland (SNN), carved out for the Department of Homeland Security, passengers are screened for explosives and cleared to enter the United States by American Customs and Border Protection officers before boarding. When they land, the passengers walk straight off the plane into the terminal without going through border checks. The article then continued by saying that at other foreign airports, including those in Madrid, Panama City and Tokyo, American officers advise the local authorities. American programs in other cities expedite travel for passengers regarded as low-risk.
Now let’s move to our final main course, coming from the United Kingdom: For avid readers of our blog, it’s of no surprise that the ongoing discussion about a new airport vs the expansion of London Heathrow (LHR) is making headlines again. This time The Financial Times wrote on Wednesday that David Cameron has paved the way for a U-turn on building a third runway at Heathrow airport, amid signs that Downing Street is cooling to the idea of building a new hub in the Thames Estuary. According to the article Mr Cameron left open the prospect that the Conservatives would campaign at the 2015 election in favour of expanding Heathrow – a move that would please the business lobby but infuriate environmentalists and Londoners living under the flight path. Once again, our bet is we’ll be writing many more words about this saga before airport building machinery can be spotted on English soil.
No meal is complete without a dessert. So, here’s ours for today, coming from The Daily Mail in London. They wrote that from today millions of passengers flying into Heathrow airport (LHR) will be able to see the giant image of the 2012 heptathlon hopeful alongside the words ‘Welcome to our turf.’ The image shows British World Champion Jessica Ennisand measures 53 by 75 metres (173ft x 246ft) which is bigger than 15 tennis courts. Watch the time-lapse video of how it was created here.
That’s all we have – well, actually, there’s one more thing (think of it as a petit four with your coffee…), a quote we found quite appropriate for this forum (thanks, Matt, for sending it in!). Enjoy and read you again next week!
I love the self-contained, hermetic universe that is an airport.
I love the recycled unnatural air. Suspended between coming and going,
I can breathe again. (Eric Weiner)
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.
I am sure you agree that 2008 has been a very difficult eventful year. This also holds also true for the aviation industry as our selection of the top 10 news stories about airports shows:
10. London Stansted blockade
Early December environmental activists have stopped flights at London’s Stansted airport (IATA: STN) after breaking through to the runway, raising security concerns at Britain’s third-busiest airport. The protests against a further expansion of the airport caused a serious knock-on effect on the airport’s flight operations causing over 50 flights to be cancelled.
9. Opening of Beijing airport Terminal 3
On March 26, Beijing airport (IATA: PEK) opened its new Terminal 3, designed by Sir Norman Foster, after four years of construction. It is the world’s largest airport building, covering more than a million square meters, designed to accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers a year by 2020.
8. Closure of Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport
Open one, close one; on the October 30, Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport closed down for good. Originally opened in 1923, the later built airport halls and neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler’s “world capital” Germania. Read our full coverage here.
7. Kalitta Air crash at Brussels airport
On Sunday, 25 May a Boeing 747 cargo plane overshot the runway at Brussels Zaventem airport (IATA: BRU) and crashed resulting the aircraft to break into 2 parts. The spectacular picture made the news everywhere.
6. Frightening landing at Hamburg’s airport
A low pressure system named “Emma” nearly caused a disaster at Hamburg airport (IATA: HAM) in March. The Lufthansa A320 plane struggled to make the runway through 90 kilometre-per-hour crosswinds resulting in the 39 year old pilots last minute go-around procedure and a safe second attempt. The frightening approach was caught on camera and is an extraordinary piece which will now probably be used all over the world in pilot training classrooms.
5. Hong Kong wins ‘Airport of the Year’ award
In July Hong Kong International airport (IATA: HKG) was named best Airport in the world, in the passenger survey results released by Skytrax. Despite being “only” rated in 5th place in the most-timely airport survey, Hong Kong received the prestigious award after Skytrax collected 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10-month time period. Read our congratulating article here.
4. Spanair crash at Madrid airport
A combination of basic pilot error and an electrical failure was the possible cause of the crash of a Spanair plane at Madrid’s Barajas airport (IATA: MAD) on 20 August that killed 154 people. The airport was closed for several hours after the accident.
3. Radar malfunction at Dublin airport
In the midst of the summer holiday season, Dublin airport (IATA: DUB) made the news with its malfunctioning radar system which meant that controllers lost some functionality on their screens meaning they were unable to see the labels attached to ‘blips’ that signify individual aircraft. The problem resulted in massive delays and many cancellations over several days.
In March BAA, the company that owns Heathrow airport, opened its newest addition of what should have been a proud event for London’s most criticised airport. Instead, the opening resulted in a PR disaster with BAA losing thousands of bags over several months. The event then became one of the triggers leading to the demands of breaking up BAA’s monopolistic ownership of airports in the UK.