BRITISH AIRPORTS could save up to 20% on fuel costs with a new free service from Energy Shark, under which energy suppliers bid to `win' their power supply contract. Airports simply enter their current fuel usage details on the Energy Shark web site (www.energyshark.com) and participating energy suppliers bid online in a real time reverse auction for their gas supply business. The auction is completely free, and is anonymous. The energy suppliers can see the current best bid being offered, but not the identity of the competition bidder or the business they are bidding to supply. Only when the company is ready to accept the most attractive bid are its details passed on to the successful bidder. Energy Shark chairman Nigel Outten said: "Everyone benefits. Airports can effectively negotiate with a host of energy suppliers by the simple click of a mouse, and cut costs in a significant area of overhead. The energy suppliers can get their best price in front of the company's decision-maker, without the cost of salesmen on the road, advertising or expensive direct mail operations. This means, in turn, that they can pass much of the saving on in the form of lower prices, with no compromise in safety or quality."
RYANAIR HAS selected Brussels/Charleroi as its European hub as part of its continued expansion of low fare operations. The arrival of more Boeing 737s in late February meant the airline has been able to increase the number of destinations as well as frequency on some routes -- 30 flights a day are planned from Charleroi.
Ryanair's decision to build a new transit facility at Charleroi airport in Belgium has upset French authorities who oversee Beauvais airport, the French facility north of Paris, which until now has handled most of Ryanair's transit flights to the Continent. In the words of Jacky Lebrun, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Oise department, which has jurisdiction over Beauvais airport: "Ryanair already represented 70% of all our traffic, and it really wanted to build its new platform at Beauvais, but unfortunately we were stymied by local residents who limited our possibilities of expansion." According to Mr Lebrun, construction of Ryanair's facility at Beauvais would have allowed the doubling of the number of passengers provided by Ryanair from 400,000 to 800,000, giving the airport a yearly total of 1 million passengers. "It was feasible," says Mr Lebrun, "as we are authorised to expand to a limit of 1.5 million passengers." ADERA -- the defence association of local residents opposed to any expansion of Beauvais airport, and indeed the continuation of night flights by such airlines as Ryanair -- very stridently lobbied against any further activity by Ryanair at Beauvais, to the point where the Irish airline decided to pull up stakes and set up its facility over the border in Belgium. Beauvais also happens to be one of the airports on the French government's shortlist to house the third Paris regional airport, when a choice is handed down this summer as to the site of a new international facility. "With Ryanair's decision," says Mr Lebrun, "we also lose a good number of jobs. As matters now stand, we employ 300 persons, largely as a result of Ryanair's presence, and with their new transit facility, the number would have easily reached 1000. But, unfortunately, this is an electoral period (municipal elections are being held this spring) and it was impossible to find any local official ready and willing to support Ryanair's terminal." (Paul Michard)
Meanwhile, Ryanair has criticised the British Airports Authority, saying it could not expand at its Stansted base because of growing traffic congestion. The airline has been quoted as saying that peak-time delays at Stansted were preventing short-term growth. Its chief executive Michael O'Leary said the airport struggled to deliver the 25-minute turnaround times the company requires. "There needs to be more efficiency to cope with low-cost airlines, which bring 90% of the passengers through the airport," said O'Leary.
Peel Objects to Humberside/East Midlands merger
PEEL AIRPORTS Limited, the developer behind the 80 million [pounds sterling] Doncaster Finningley Airport scheme, has submitted its objection to the proposed take-over of East Midlands Airport by Manchester Airport. Peel was invited to comment by the Office of Fair Trading, along with other airports and airlines concerned at the potentially dominant position the group would have outside the south-east. Peel Airport's Commercial Director, Neil Pakey, said: "Even without the merger we see Humberside and Manchester `ganging up' with Leeds Bradford and the small airfield at Sheffield in an anti-competitive stance. Fortunately, the airlines have made it very clear that they will continue to develop the airports in those regions but equally they insist that only Finningley will give people in South Yorkshire the opportunity to fly from its regional airport."
High-speed Baggage System Plan for LHR T5
A BAGGAGE system with the capacity to handle 6,800 bags per hour, allowing passengers to transfer between flights as fast as at any other in Europe is being planned by British Airways for terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. With the possibility of a Government go-ahead by this autumn, work could start early next year. The airline's agreement with the British Airports Authority (BAA) assumes that T5 would eventually be able to handle all BA's flights at Heathrow. BA is proposing to join the BAA in financing the terminal, including the cost of the baggage system. Colin Clarkson, BA Director T5, said: "The unique challenge for us in designing the most customer-friendly terminal in Europe is its size. From the main building's front entrance to its furthest satellite is more than 0.93 mile (1.5km). An area five times the size of St Paul's Cathedral could comfortably fit into the main building alone. Our main baggage system must be able to operate over six floors, a drop of more than 98ft (30m), while achieving turnround times that match the best of our European competitors."
Birmingham's SAAB Deal
SAAB, THE Swedish executive car maker, has chosen Birmingham International Airport to unveil a new marketing strategy to be rolled out across the UK.
A new 150,000 [pounds sterling] `brand centre' has been opened in the Airport's Millennium Link to enable passengers to learn more about the Saab brand and its products. The Birmingham site is the first in a series of similar facilities to be installed at prestigious locations throughout the UK. There are plasma screens showing technical data and dramatic graphics, as well as interactive touch-screens. Ray Savage, the Airport's Head of Commercial Operations said, "We're delighted that Saab has chosen Birmingham Airport to launch this innovative and exciting concept. This is another excellent example of Birmingham being at the cutting edge of airport commercial activity."
Luton to Get New Management
TBI PLC, the UK-based airports group, is to take majority control of London Luton and has said it is seeking to reach agreement over handling charges disagreements there with resident airline easyJet. TBI added that it has been frustrated by its current stake in London Luton Airport Group Ltd, the airport's operating company, which only amounts to 25% and that it will now exercise a pre-emption right to increase its share to between 71.4 and 90%. The deal, potentially worth 82 million [pounds sterling], would involve buying out Luton's current major financial backers, Barclays Private Equity and Barclays UK Infrastructure Fund, which have announced their intention to sell their 65% stake. The exact percentage of TBI's stake will depend on whether the remaining shareholder, US company Bechtel which holds a 10% share, exercises its right to increase this to 18.6%. The buyout will give TBI management control of Luton, adding another airport to its portfolio, which includes Cardiff and Belfast International in the UK and Stockholm Skavsta Airport in Sweden.
Saratov to Get `New' Airport
THE MINISTER of Transport and Communications for the Saratov regional administration announced on January 24 that negotiations are almost complete for the use of Engels air base as the new commercial airport for Saratov. Engels currently houses Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers and normally Russian security considerations would preclude such an airfield being used for commercial flights, but the Minister explained that the 1 3/4 mile (3km) runway is well away from the military facility. This would allow security to be maintained by constructing a civil airport on the other side of the runway, well away from the military area, although this would mean constructing new taxiways and facilities on the airfield perimeter. A method of transporting passengers to the airport would also have to be found. Vasiliev estimated that the necessary work could be completed for $1 million, which seems to be a very low estimate, rather than $10 million to construct a completely new airport, which he says is desperately needed for the region. Despite the low estimate, external investors are still being sought to fund the project.
AFTER FIVE years of co-operation, Star Alliance members Lufthansa and Thai Airways International are expanding their partnership. The two airlines have signed a MoU on jointly operating Munich-Bangkok. Starting July 1, the two airlines will share costs and earnings on the route, which is currently served with five flights per week by Thai.
PARIS BEAUVAIS handled 387,000 passengers in 2000, very much in line with its figures for 1999. The airport saw only 64,000 passengers handled in 1996 but the arrival of Ryanair in May 1997 changed the scene, and now that the airline is operating four times daily to Dublin and twice daily to Glasgow, a 10% rise in passengers to 346,000 was seen last year. With a dedicated coach service operating to Paris Porte Maillo, 43 miles (70km) south, well over 50% of passengers choose this FF50 route to reach the French capital.
AN INTERNAL working group has been set up at SAGAT (Turin Airport's managing company) with the primary goal of "managing the company in compliance with the development plans of the new private shareholders." According to SAGAT's MD, Fabio Battaggia: "It will be necessary to promote the presence of a multiplicity of aircraft and operators at this airport, make investments to create airport capacity, improve the quality/price ratio of airport services, diversify our assets and sources of income, and seek areas of integration and co-operation with other regional airports, starting with the shareholder SAB, manager of Bologna Airport." SAB holds 4.13% of the new SAGAT shares.
Newcastle Shortlist for PPP
NEWCASTLE AIRPORT, after receiving 30 initial expressions of interest, has short-listed two organisations interested in forming a public, private partnership (PPP). The bidders can potentially acquire 49% of Newcastle Airport's equity, the rest being held by local authority shareholders. One is a consortium consisting of Alterra Partners, Singapore Shanghai Enterprises and Flughafen Zurich Airport Group. The other is Copenhagen Airport. A final decision on whether to proceed with the PPP people will be taken in April.
The 32m [pounds sterling] extension to Liverpool airport is beginning to take shape, with the first structural steel now in place. The scheme managed by Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) for client Peel Holdings will extend and upgrade the existing facility in order to accommodate the 400% increase in passenger traffic in the five years between 1995 and 2000. Owned by Peel Airports, a subsidiary of property development company Peel Holdings, Liverpool Airport now handles more than two million passengers a year, and looks set to exceed 2.5m in 2001.
Due for completion in December 2001, the extension upgrade scheme will triple the size of the existing terminal from 8,000sq m (88,000sq ft) to 24,000sq m (264,000sq ft). A total of 36 new check-in desks will be provided, with the check-in area designed to accommodate additional desks at a later date should they be required.
Balkan Stops Flying
ON FEBRUARY 14, Balkan Bulgarian Airlines ceased all services, reportedly because it had insufficient financial resources to cover aircraft insurance. It seems that the financial status of the Bulgarian flag carrier was "very unstable and unclear", according to sources close to the Bulgarian Privatization Agency. Then on February 21, the Sofia City Court put the Israeli-owned airline into receivership. The court's decision was based on an $11 million claim made against the airline by the Bulgarian insurance company Bulstrad. All Balkan's passengers have been transferred to other airlines at home and abroad, among them Hernus Air and BAC.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Government has decided to accelerate the privatisation of the last state-owned airline, Hemus Air.
AEROFLOT, WHOSE flights are based at Sheremetyevo terminals one and two, has announced the launch of a project to develop an additional US $300 million facility there. When plans were first put forward, airport management felt that this should be attached to terminal 1.
However, as Aeroflot operates only domestic flights from there, its preference was for terminal 2, which is home to its high yield international flights. Both sides hove now agreed on terminal 2, with Aeroflot taking a 15% stake in the project. The facilities are expected to be in service by the end of 2003.
Display Upgrade for Dortmund
FOLLOWING IN the footsteps of Frankfurt/Main and Cologne/Bonn airports, Dortmund Airport is also now equipped with new display technologies supplied by Vossloh Systemelektronik (VST) of Karsfield near Munich.
In addition to other types of display, flap displays are an important element in all VST projects -- a technology which had seemed on its way to obsolescence, but which is now once again the centre of interest. With modern airport design allowing the maximum amount of light into buildings, displays with nonreflecting surfaces are essential. Thanks to their high contrast ratio, flap displays are currently the only displays, which guarantee very good legibility at the extreme angle of 140%, even in direct sunlight.