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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.

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Munich Airport Security Breach Leads to Hundreds of Cancelled Flights | Airports NewsAround 200 flights were cancelled, and two terminals evacuated at Munich Airport on Saturday, following reports of an unauthorised entry to a secure area by an unidentified adult female.

According to the reports, the woman entered a secure area of Terminal 2 with no security checks and then disappeared. This was originally reported to the Police at 06:45am local time. An extensive, five-hour search of Germany’s second-busiest airport followed, and the terminal remained closed between 07:47am and 12:44pm while Police conducted a thorough investigation, and flights resumed at 1pm GMT.

Delays have led to the continuation of cancellations, and the airport warned airlines more cancellations could follow. By Sunday afternoon the number had risen to 300 cancelled flights, which left more than 32,000 passengers stranded.

According to local newspaper reports, Police have identified the 40-year-old woman, who was not considered to be an ‘extreme danger’. It is not yet clear if she will face any criminal charges for the airport security breach.

The breach was taken extremely seriously, and restaurants and duty-free stores also closed during the search. Passengers who had already cleared security areas were redirected through the arrivals lounge to pass through security again. Delays were severe and led to hundreds of passengers taking to social media to voice their concerns and in some cases, fury at the temporary closure.

The incident delayed sixty flights on the ground, which led to chaos in the airport. Passengers have since said that there was a worrying lack of information surrounding the situation, which was made worse by searing temperatures and led to several passengers being treated by Paramedics. According to local news, at one point, the Munich fire department was called in to blow fresh air into large ventilators in an attempt to cool down the airport.

Terminal two airlines were most badly affected, and inside around 700 people spent the night on camp beds in the terminal, as local hotels did not have sufficient capacity.

Thousands of passengers returned to rebook flights on Sunday, as delays continued throughout the day as airlines and airport operators struggled to deal with the backlog.

The airport is advising passengers to be patient and to contact the airline before attending the terminals.

Hamburg Airport Launch Self Bag Drop Kiosks | Airports NewsPassengers flying out of Germany’s Hamburg Airport with KLM, Air France and easyJet, will now be able to enjoy an enhanced travel experience with the introduction of ten Self Bag Drop kiosks, unveiled officially for use last week.

The Director of Aviation at the airport, Johannes Scharnberg, notes that the kiosks, provided by a German supplier, have already been a success and said, ‘Already after just a short period of operation, we can see that our passengers are not having any problems with the new equipment.  And we are very happy with the system’s stability. Many of our passengers have already discovered the benefits of the kiosks for themselves and given us very positive feedback.’

Self service applications are growing in popularity for airports of all sizes around the world, increasing efficiency, improving passenger experience and moving towards a seamless airport passenger processing system.

The Self Bag Drop kiosks will eventually serve more airlines, with common-use technology and the added benefits of cost-sharing. Airport operators can also optimise resource management within the entire airport environment using self-service applications.

More than 80% of airport check-ins now happen away from the traditional terminal counter, as more and more passengers use the online check-in facility offered by most airlines. Travellers are gaining greater control of their journey and can arrive later at the airport terminal than ever before. The use of Self Bag Drop means that passengers can simply arrive with a pre-printed boarding pass, which can be scanned and used within the kiosks to produce a baggage tag that the passenger can attach themselves and send the baggage through for security screening and automated transfer to the aircraft.

Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Self Bag Drop solution – ARINC SelfDrop – can process tagged bags in as little as 10 seconds, making a clear case for enhanced efficiency and promising to transform airport terminals on a truly global scale.

New Departure Hall B Opens at FRA | Airports NewsFrankfurt Airport’s new Departures Hall B within Terminal One has been completed and opened in time to give passengers a new departure experience over the Christmas holiday season.

Travellers will now be able to enjoy freshly-baked bread and pizzas around the clock in the new Airport Bistro, in addition to new, comfortable waiting areas, concept lighting and brand new information desk.

Airport operators, Fraport, are delighted with the new facility, and hope that passengers will enjoy the new meeting, waiting, eating and passenger information areas.

The new departure hall has the addition of careful planting, and the new areas have been created with an enhanced passenger experience in mind. Frankfurt Airport already offers an exclusive shopping experience, with many top designer stores on site, such as Versace and Pfueller, superb duty-free areas and a personal shopper service.

Find out more about Frankfurt Airport here.

belfast-airport-3iIt has been announced this week that 3i, the international investment management company, has taken ownership of Belfast City Airport in a deal that was originally announced at the end of last year.

3i are acting as fund managers for the deal, which is a part of a larger project for the acquisition of assets owned by the EISER Global Infrastructure Fund, including the airport.

Before the deal could go ahead, approval was required from the European Commission under the guidance of terms set out in the EU Merger Regulation. Approval has now been realised, and the deal for the Belfast City Airport finalised.

The identity of the new owners has not yet been made public.

Belfast Airport Solar Success | Airports NewsBelfast International Airport has announced the success of its dedicated solar power plant, with more than £100,000 worth of savings during the first ten months of operation.

Located just a third of a mile away, and cited as being the largest solar energy connection in the UK and Ireland to an airport, the £5million solar plant, named Crookedstone Solar Farm, is generating over 25% of its yearly electricity requirements.

In addition to the financial rewards, the solar plant, operated by Lightsource, is also contributing to the reduction in carbon emissions. It has been estimated that Crookedstone will save 2,100 tonnes in carbon emissions in each year of operation, improving environmental performance.

Belfast International Airport has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Lightsource for 25 years.

Corfu Amongst 14 regional Airports Sale | Airports NewsIt has been announced that the sale of 14 regional airports in Greece, first agreed in 2015, has now been finalised.

The €1.3 billion deal was agreed in the final quarter of 2015 to Fraport and Slentel Ltd, and was signed yesterday by the Greek ministers for finance, transport and defence. Part of the agreement includes the concession that the Fraport consortium will ‘use, operate and develop the airports over a 40-year period.’

Within the first four years, the consortium will upgrade the airports, which include the sites on the major tourist destination islands of Mykonos, Corfu and Santorini, and will ‘maintain and preserve service levels for the whole duration.’

Greece will retain ownership of the facilities and infrastructure, and the consortium will pay a yearly lease figure of €22.9 million.

The privatisation of the regional airports was originally agreed within the framework of the EU bailout in the summer of 2015. The €86 billion bailout also included the privatisation of ports and other Greek assets.