Monthly Archives: February 2018

Birmingham Airport Passenger Experience Investments | Airports NewsIn readiness for a busy summer period, Birmingham Airport has announced its investments to improve passenger experience in the journey through the airport, including new flight information displays and digital signage, redevelopment of security areas, boarding gates and a refurb of the current passenger waiting areas for boarding and security.

The whole airport site will enjoy some investment, as new restaurants and eateries, retail areas and a new 178-room Hilton Garden Inn are set to open later this year.

The major airport hub has experienced record growth, as have many airports around Europe during last year alone. This year will also see new long-haul routes for Birmingham, including to New York, Toronto and Boston, in addition to more short-haul destinations.

Airports all over the world are now putting more importance on passenger experience, and investments are becoming commonplace as passenger traffic increases. Infrastructure investment has been key during the last decade, to ensure a scalable approach is taken to rising passenger numbers, increasing mandatory regulations and the surge in passenger expectation.

Birmingham airport has confirmed that additional staff will be recruited in key ‘front-of-house’ locations, and the latest in digital signage will be in place before the beginning of the busy summer season.


FMG,Pepper Roboter,Flughafen MünchenPassengers using Munich Airport at the moment will be greeted by its newest staff member, affectionately known as Josie Pepper. Josie is the first humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence, and Munich Airport and Lufthansa are very proud of her.

Josie Pepper stands just over a metre tall, and she is on duty in Terminal 2, greeting passengers as they arrive, and helping them with their enquiries. According to her creators, Josie has ‘sparkling round eyes and a pleasant voice,’ and is currently working within a test phase to gauge passenger reactions to her.

Josie has been hailed as ground-breaking, and she actually speaks to passengers, not just delivering pre-defined speech, but with a ‘brain’ that interacts with airport data via the cloud.

The idea is that she will ‘learn’ about airport systems and will gradually become more proficient with her answers to passenger questions. The system is believed to steadily improve as she learns more, which will lead to more detailed responses over time.

Josie was named by airport staff when she arrived, and was created by SoftBank Robotics, a French company. She speaks fluent English and is equipped with IBM Watson IoT artificial intelligence.

London City Airport WWII Bomb Scare | Airports NewsLondon City Airport was forced to close earlier this week following the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb at George V dock during planned airport works.

The bomb, a 500kg device, was discovered on Sunday and forced immediate closure of the airport and led to the evacuation of local residents while Metropolitan Police and the Royal Navy examined the device and attempted to remove it.

The airport remained closed on Monday, affecting as many as 16,000 passengers due to use the airport as flights were cancelled. The airport reopened for business as usual during the early hours of Tuesday morning, and affected passengers were urged to contact their airlines for further flight information.

According to local historians, it is believed that up to 10% of the bombs dropped on London during the Blitz did not detonate as planned. As the number of bombs dropped is estimated at around 20,000, there is little wonder that discoveries of WWII devices are still happening more than 70 years later.

The airport, the only one located in the City of London made a statement to affected passengers and local residents thanking them for their patience and understanding, and thanked Police and the Royal Navy for their efforts to bring the incident to a safe conclusion.

Flights are now operating as expected, and affected passengers should contact their individual airlines to find out more about their flight status.

ACI Europe concerns over Brexit and protectionism | Airport BlogACI Europe delivered an overview of its ‘burning issues’ last month in the annual New Year Reception in the European Parliament.

Although optimism remains high about traffic growth, and ACI Europe reaffirmed its support for more ‘Open Skies’, concerns remain in place about the potential impacts of Brexit and about airline protectionism.

Dr Michael Kerkloh, CEO of Munich Airport and President of ACI Europe, addressed the gathering to voice fresh warnings and concerns that also mentioned the ‘self-serving nature of [airline protectionism] the current campaign for more airport charges regulation.

Brexit concerns

Following the reception, ACI Europe’s board met with EC Task Force 50 to talk about Brexit impacts on the aviation industry across Europe. The first phase of Brexit negotiations have delivered a small sense of relief for UK and EU airports, who are glad that there appears to be some form of support of a transition period, but Dr Kerkloh remains concerned that the risk of a ‘no-deal’ scenario are still very real. He said, ‘For now, we still remain completely in the dark as to what will happen at the end of the transition. One thing is pretty clear though – the political dynamics shaping these negotiations are very much at odds with business interests.

Dr Kerkloh added that ACI Europe has repeatedly stressed, since the beginning of the Brexit negotiation process, that there is a ‘need to keep the most liberal aviation regime between the UK and the EU – to safeguard air connectivity.  Anything more restrictive than the current Single Aviation Market will come at a cost.  There is just no winning alternative.

Open Skies

ACI Europe has concerns over EU Regulation 868/2004 on unfair trading practices in European aviation. As staunch supporters of the Open Skies initiative, ACI Europe, according to Dr Kerkloh, ‘We are worried that some are trying to use the revision of Regulation 868 to advance a protectionist agenda.  Don’t get me wrong: Open Skies need to go hand in hand with fair competition and we do support the Commission proposal. But the rules must be crystal clear and specific – they should not be open to different interpretations.  Also, Regulation 868 should be triggered only when damage is demonstrated and only as a last resort – after all other applicable dispute resolution mechanisms have been exhausted.  These are essential safeguards to prevent abuses in the use of this Regulation and maintain trust with our trading partners internationally.

Airport charges

Currently, the European Commission is evaluating the EU Directive on airport charges, and Dr Kerkloh unequivocally defined what needs to be at the very heart of this evaluation. He said, ‘These new market dynamics need to be at the core of the evaluation.  That means that the evaluation must resolve the contradiction in policy approaches between airport charges and State aid.  The Commission’s own State aid rules and the European Court of Justice have already acknowledged the reality of airport competition.  So, I have a very simple question: How can we be told that airports compete when it comes to looking at State Aid, but that airports suddenly no longer compete when it comes to dealing with airport charges?