UK Air Routes Agreements Offer Reassurance Post-Brexit Passengers travelling to Canadian airports can continue to enjoy clear passage after Brexit, according to the UKs Transport Secretary, following an aviation agreement made between the two countries at the end of last month.

The agreement spells good news for the aviation industry, which has been surrounded by uncertainty following the UKs decision to leave the EU in 2016. The UK-Canada arrangement will replace the current EU aviation agreement, thus assuring continued access to the aviation routes the UK currently enjoys with Canada.

This follows the UK government’s announcement last month of a new Open Skies agreement with the United States, which will also mirror and replace the current EU arrangement.

The recent agreements will ensure continued access to vital air routes that carry millions of people across the Atlantic every year, will also make sure business operators will not lose out, and will pave the way for future trade deals supported by air travel.

The UK-Canada air route has been steadily growing over the past six years, and more than 3.5 million passengers were transported last year alone.

This is all good news for the aviation industry, and for global trade opportunities, which rely on the UK as a major European hub. These two latest arrangements with the US and Canada come after an announcement that another eight bilateral arrangements have already been concluded with other countries – Switzerland, Israel, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Georgia and Morocco.

UK transport secretary, Chris Grayling said after the US agreement, ‘Our transatlantic flights have helped to bring our countries even closer together, strengthening our ties and boosting our economies. This new arrangement and those concluded with 8 other countries around the world are proof that the UK will continue to be a major player on the world stage after we leave the EU.

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Airport News | Trends in Aviation for 2019While passenger traffic numbers will continue to grow at a stable rate, some industry experts are looking at what could be trending next year, such as how many airports are looking at expansion projects all over the world, how the competitive framework will create opportunities and how disruptive the UKs departure from the EU will be.

Biometrics and integration

Intensified competition driven by passenger growth is already encouraging greater investment in airports infrastructure. This is most commonly seen in the introduction of biometrics, and the drive towards the single-token airport journey. Biometrics are creating opportunities, but are also creating disparate data, so integration is becoming the focus of airports on a global scale.

Brexit

Across Europe, traffic is increasing, and industry analysts conclude that the rise in line with GDP could spell airport revenue increases of 2-4%. The uncertainty still surrounding Brexit and the UKs access to the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) following March 2019 is creating concern about reduced passage of passengers and freight through the UK.

Although many experts agree that the likelihood of a standstill of EU-UK traffic is slim, in the short-term, traffic could be affected, particularly when another area of uncertainty surrounds the right of movement of passengers between the two areas and whether visa arrangements will be made. Airport operators and airlines with a reliance upon EU-UK traffic may face a period of disruption which could result in revenues being affected.

Merging airports and acquisition

Airports across the world, and notably in the Asia-Pacific region are looking towards the consolidation of assets as competitive positioning increases. Opportunities for mergers and acquisitions are popping up all over Europe due to the expansion of favourable conditions such as low interest rates, for example.

This trend is likely to increase, according to industry analysts, and additional opportunities look favourable in regions such as Latin America, where in 2019, 12 airports in Brazil are being scheduled for investment and privatisation. This is expected to attract global interest.

Denver International Airport Launches Off-site Bag Drop | Baggage Handing SystemsDenver International Airport (DEN) has launched a new facility to assist passengers with their baggage. The off-site bag drop is located in the car park of the airport and offers passengers and personnel much greater flexibility.

Passengers can use the facility, in the Pikes Peak or Mt. Elbert parking areas to drop off baggage and print boarding passes before boarding shuttle busses to the terminals. The initiative will also create additional space on the shuttle busses and make travel easier for passengers, who can simply arrive at the terminal without their luggage, streamlining the check-in process simultaneously.

Maintaining compliance and security and increasing passenger experience

Baggage handling is an important part of the airport operational environment, particularly since new tracking regulations were introduced earlier this year. With strict guidelines for baggage handling and reconciliation, airlines and airports have been looking for new systems and solutions that maintain security yet make the passenger experience more enjoyable.

Baggage management systems are gaining new ground in airports of all sizes all over the world, and offering flexibility is a major part of airport standards. The latest baggage management solutions incorporate seamless tracking and reconciliation solutions, enabling compliance while meeting growing passenger demand.

If passengers are happier, operations run smoothly as a result, and airports can maintain flexibility in terms of resource deployment throughout the airport – and now that can begin before passengers set foot in the terminal environment. Off-site check-in solutions are not new, but the latest technologies are being utilised to revolutionise passenger experience.

Instances of misplaced baggage have historically cost the aviation industry millions of pounds every year, and the latest regulations are in place to drastically reduce this expense for airlines and airports globally. IATA Resolution 753 promises to deliver enhanced tracking and baggage reconciliation around the world for member airlines to ensure costs are reduced, efficiency is increased, and passenger satisfaction achieved.

Airports Integrate Systems Software to Improve Efficiency and Passenger SatisfactionAirports all over the world are investing in the latest software solutions to reinforce their commitments to improving efficiency and passenger satisfaction. In today’s airport environment, greater efficiency is being achieved via systems integration and this is an area that can benefit the airport in many ways, from the back office to the terminal front line.

At this year’s Airport IT & Security 2018 conference in Amsterdam, held next month at Schiphol Airport’s Hilton, attendees will be invited and welcomed to the seminar – Keeping Pace with the Challenges of Security and Operational Efficiency.

The seminar will focus on the importance of drawing together disparate, new technologies and systems, integrating them to deliver greater situational awareness, enhanced analytics and ultimately increased efficiency.

What airport systems are integrable?

Within the airport environment every system and operational solution should be integrable. Only when systems can communicate with each other can a truly seamless airport operational environment be created.

For example, when access to airport and airline systems can be launched from any workstation, the operational environment becomes much smoother in its approach to check-in, loading and flight control, or when airport messaging happens in a secure, integrated environment, greater security is achieved, and reporting is made simpler.

In a world where security, efficiency and passenger experience is paramount, it is clear to see how systems integration can benefit airports of all sizes.

About the conference

Visitors to the exhibition and conference will have an opportunity to discover how airports can begin to work more closely with airlines and third-party providers in terms of messaging and real-time information-sharing. Connecting government agencies, customs and security providers, emergency services and local authorities delivers more flexibility and offers a transparent, yet seamlessly secure environment via automated, real-time messaging.

baggage-handling-trials-rotterdamIt has been announced that Rotterdam The Hague Airport will soon begin testing a new, automated baggage handling solution that promises to improve baggage processes through the use of automated vehicles.

The new system trials will run over three months and will give a real view of the effectivity of this level of automation in a live airport environment. Most interestingly, the vehicles will carry just a single item of baggage, and will use a system intelligence, or awareness, to determine the best route through the airport. Some industry experts are cautiously hailing the new technology as a solution for the future of airport baggage handling, while expressing an interest in the trials in terms of the cost-efficiency and security aspects of the system.

Another bonus feature of the system is its ability to power itself through the use of stored electricity generated by solar panels, and a further green benefit is that the vehicles are fully recyclable.

All over the world in airports of all sizes, baggage handling processes are being closely examined, particularly with the introduction of the latest mandate for seamless tracking of luggage – IATA’s Resolution 753. Within the mandatory regulations, airlines must now provide tracking information at certain points during the baggage journey.

The aim of the resolution is to significantly reduce instances of lost or mishandled baggage, a problem that costs the industry millions of euros every year. Through automation, and smart technologies, baggage handling systems suppliers across the globe are developing and introducing ever-evolving solutions to tackle these issues and contribute to raising passenger satisfaction.

Although many industry professionals believe that the future of all successful airport operations will lie in the use of biometrics technology, automation of core, critical systems such as baggage handling and reconciliation helps to streamline and increase operational productivity.

We will be following the Rotterdam airport baggage handling trials with interest over the next few months.

Emirates Biometric Path | Airlines NewsPassengers using Emirates Airlines in Dubai will soon enjoy a ‘biometric path’ according to recent promises from the airline, who have installed the latest biometrics technology in Terminal 3 at DXB.

The passenger journey from check-in to The Emirates Lounge at Dubai International will soon be guided by a single biometric profile using facial recognition and iris scanning technology. This will mean that passengers will then be able to proceed through all the necessary check-in and security processes without further documentation or hold-ups. Premium passengers will still be able to use accelerated check-in in the Emirates Lounge in Concourse B.

The Smart Tunnel has been launched by Emirates in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs in Dubai and is a world-first initiative. Passengers walk through the tunnel with no intervention from airport officials and are cleared biometrically. The current trials will continue to run internally, and wider testing will be announced once the initial trials are complete.

Emirates’ brand promise of ‘Fly Better’ will be further strengthened by the rollout of the biometric trials within T3 and the airline looks forward to analysing the new data and inviting consumer feedback.

A-FIDS _ Flight Information Display System | Increasing passenger experienceAccording to the latest analysis from the Airports Council International (ACI), global passenger satisfaction levels are on the rise again. Comparing Q3 of 2018 to 2017, ACI noted that levels increased to 4.21 from 4.17, and have remained stable since the start of this year.

The survey revealed that passengers are scoring airports higher in all categories from security to wayfinding, proving that investment in the latest technologies for Flight Information Display Systems, for example, has been worth it. Even the smallest global airports are receiving praise for their efforts.

Some industry professionals are not surprised at all by the revealing insights. As airline and airports competition increases, passenger satisfaction becomes ever-more important. When airports rise to the challenge of increasing passenger experience, (and airports around the world have been) they begin to consider all operational aspects, such as queuing, which has been successfully reduced by the introduction of CUTE systems and self-service applications.

As systems and solutions begin communicating, integration becomes more important, as does scalability when airport operators consider how to address critical flow times and exceptional circumstances. The world’s most innovative systems and solutions are often highly integrable, which makes day-to-day operations simpler and more streamlined – opening the door to automation.

The highest increase noted in the recent analysis was in the facilities category. This includes airport eateries and shopping, which are increasingly important for travellers, especially those that are no longer waiting in long queues.

When airports consider the planning aspects of facilities, and have greater capacity with streamlined services and processes, they can make better use of airport resources and terminal space. As passenger demand increases for higher levels of service and facilities, these types of reports and subsequent analysis can really help airports to serve as a model for passenger expectation.