Main News August 15

Under the Weather…

India is again proving a tough testing ground for foreign handlers.

The latest attempt by Universal Weather & Aviation to handle there has been unsuccessful, even though it tried to form a joint venture company in India in order to offer its own ground handling services. The irony is that this Houston-based company is no stranger to the Indian continent, having provided trip support for the past decade; moreover, its agents have acted in supervisory rôles for the local handlers that it uses.

According to the Indian government, a hundred percent foreign equity is not allowed when it comes to ground handling providers. The JV was applied for some 12 months back and only now has the company been notified that the application has been denied; employees of the joint venture (which is known as Universal Aero Flight Services India Private) will not therefore be granted ramp access.

Jetbridges and power for Wichita

JBT AeroTech has been awarded a contract exceeding US$8m to supply gate equipment for the Wichita Mid-Continent airport. The order, placed by the Wichita Airport Authority, includes glass-sided Jetway passenger boarding bridges, JetAire preconditioned air units and Jetpower 400 Hz ground power units. As such, it represents one of the largest orders for glass-walled boarding bridges in the US.

Collective agreement ratified

At the end of July, Servisair and Teamsters Local 419 finally ratified a collective agreement for members working at Toronto Pearson International airport. The new collective agreement will assure a continuation of service for both the traveling public and commercial cargo operations.

The agreement was reached with some assistance from the Labour Program’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service: this provides dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the Canada Labour Code.

Cherry ripe…

Were you aware that Sea-Tac’s key export is the humble cherry?

This year has been exceptional in terms of the crop yield, with experts saying that it is the second best year ever. That, in turn, has created many opportunities for extra cargo flights. Eight cargo airlines that use freighters have carried cherries this summer out of Seattle, in addition to the conventional belly cargo carriers.

Amongst the carriers that have added capacity are EVA, Asiana, China Eastern, China Airlines, Korean Air and Nippon Cargo: all have all added extra flights or charters.

At the time of writing about 22m, 20 pound boxes of cherries had been filled – with more to come.

Delta shifts stance on fuel supply

Delta Air Lines has cancelled a multi-year contract with BP with a view to exchanging refined fuels from Delta’s Trainer refinery for more jet fuel. This comes in the wake of a product exchange contract between Delta’s subsidiary Monroe Energy and BP, which was terminated at the start of July.

Delta has said that it has replaced BP with another, as yet unnamed, party. The airline added that the termination was early, but it did not say when the contract had been due to expire.

When Delta bought the 166,000 barrel per day Philadelphia refinery in mid-2012, it struck several agreements to supply crude and buy its refined products, thereby reducing its need to trade directly in the oil market. One of those was a multi-year agreement with BP, which was to buy some of the refinery’s non-jet fuel products, such as gasoline and diesel, and sell jet fuel back to Delta. It struck a similar deal with Phillips 66 to swap Trainer’s refined products for more jet fuel.

The SEC filing made no mention of another agreement from 2012, that of a three-year deal under which BP was to supply crude oil to the refinery.

Extension to screening program agreed

US Customs and Border Protection recently extended its Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot program for a further year, following representations from freight forwarding representatives. It has also reopened the application period for new participants.
In fact, the pilot scheme was set to expire in July but will now be extended until 26 July 2015.
The program, which analyzes advance data on inbound air shipments to the US in order to assess the level of risk, is currently in its pilot phase, although US Customs and Border Protection has indicated that over time it intends to expand it to apply to all inbound air cargo.

 

Main News July 25

IAM in staff agreement ratification at US Airways

Three workgroups at US Airways, which are represented by the International Association of Machinists, have ratified three collective bargaining agreements that in total cover more than 11,000 employees. The agreements will remain in effect for US Airways’ employees until a joint collective bargaining agreement (extending to the 30,000 employees of the new American Airlines) has been reached.

Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, expressed his pleasure in reaching the agreements. He added that these agreements would allow the company to focus on the next steps for the airlines’ fuller integration, and in so doing, would pave the way for bringing the two employee groups together.

Whilst it has been a long haul for the two airlines to get this far, other staff negotiations and agreements are in place, or at least are in the pipeline.

Delta hoping to profit from domestic crude

Monroe Energy, one of Delta Air Lines’ subsidiaries, has signed into a five-year agreement with Bridger (a midstream energy company), to supply 65,000 barrels of domestic crude oil daily to its refinery in Pennsylvania.
This agreement, which will supply about a third of the crude oil that is refined every day at the facility, is a significant step forward in Delta’s strategy to manage its jet fuel expenditure. This cheaper domestic crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota will replace the more expensive crude that historically has been imported to the refinery.


Newark Liberty wages still undecided

According to sources, the matter of workers’ wages at Newark Liberty International could be resolved in the near future.

United Airlines, the airport’s primary carrier, has said that it still questions whether the agency has the legal power to impose a wage hike. But the airline has also said that its vendors may be contractually bound to comply with the order.

The Port Authority in January ordered wage increases of US$1 an hour after July 31 for workers who were making less than US$9 per hour; this category included baggage handlers and cabin cleaners. The agency also said that workers could be earning US$10.10 an hour by February 2015 and might see subsequent increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Improved service for Calgary

Cathay Pacific Airways has said that it will be enhancing its freighter services in Canada with the introduction of a twice-a-week scheduled service to Calgary: this is set to get underway in October this year. The Calgary service is to be operated with Boeing 747-8 freighters, which will be transporting machinery and perishables from Calgary to Hong Kong.

Job cuts at Buffalo create uncertainty

United Airlines has said that it will be outsourcing jobs at Buffalo Niagara International airport to a vendor. This cost-cutting move is likely to affect upwards of 70 employees and comes in the wake of the carrier posting a loss of US$609m in the first quarter of this year.

The action isn’t in isolation, though: United is going through the same process at a dozen US airports in all. The change will take effect in October this year, and will involve a range of employees such as baggage handlers and ticket and gate agents.

The impending outsourcing will create a degree of uncertainty for United employees at the airport. The vendor (PrimeFlight Aviation Services) will make the staffing choices and it is expected that those signed up will be on a lower salary level than at present.

On the plus side, all senior staff have been offered jobs, albeit not necessarily at the same station. Workers could well find posts at other United bases, such as Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix and Dulles, where staff are actively being sought. It is understood that severance packages are also available.

Main News July 11

Alliance partners boosting lounge at LA

The Tom Bradley terminal at Los Angeles International now has a new and improved Business and First Class lounge.

Qantas, along with oneworld alliance partners Cathay Pacific and British Airways, has unveiled the new premium class lounge, which is complete with showers, a bar serving specialty cocktails and coffees, and a taco stand.

Business, First Class passengers and certain frequent fliers with status will have a wide choice of seating areas, some social, some quiet for business purposes. A highlight is the communal fireplace, with ample seating surrounding it.

For now, the lounge is about 11,000 square feet. When it is completed early next year, it will be around 40,000 square feet in all, and will be able to accommodate up to 600 people.

Raising the bar – at last

A comprehensive wage and benefits proposal from the Port of Seattle Commission would raise minimum wages for thousands of airport workers to US$13 by January 1, 2017.

The proposal, unveiled at a recent port meeting at Seattle-Tacoma International, includes provision for airport worker benefits and vacations, as well as training for additional advancement.

The port’s re-examination of wages and benefits was spurred in part by City of SeaTac’s voter approval of a US$15 minimum wage late last year. However, the court ruled that the municipal minimum wage boost did not apply to the 14,000 staff then on low wages at the airport.

Luggage to go

Despite all the media coverage about charges for bags and the increasing cost of ancillary services on today’s carriers, travelers, it appears, are still quite happy to shell out for the luxury of taking their luggage with them.

These, at least, are the findings from surveys conducted by The GO Group, an international ground transportation service provider, and GO Airport Express, a GO member and Chicago-based ground transportation company serving O’Hare International and Midway airports.

More than 917 travelers were polled in this year’s survey on luggage preferences. The survey records that 32% of respondents said that they prefer to check in their luggage whilst 21% said that they prefer to carry on bags, with 26% admitting that they both check in and carry on bags. Some 27% admitted that their decision depended on the situation, such as the length of their trip and the number of bags they were carrying.

This compares with a 2013 poll of 570 travelers, in which 28% said that they checked their bags. Just 19% said that they always carry on bags whilst 23% said that they did both. In 2013 30% cited that it depended on the situation.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, passenger airlines collected US$797m in baggage fees, or 1.6% of total operating revenues, in 2013.

Lounge joint venture

At the start of the month American Airlines and Iberia announced the joint operation of their new Admirals Club/Iberia VIP Lounge at Ezeiza International airport in Buenos Aires. American had originally opened the Admirals Club at Ezeiza International back in 1991. However, in order to further enhance the travel experience for its customers, American has decided to team up with Iberia to build the new joint lounge in Terminal B on the upper level. The new VIP lounge is conveniently close to the boarding gates for Iberia flights.

In Brief

Global Ground Support has renewed the lease for its 112,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Olathe. In addition, the de-icer specialist expects to add 25 new jobs over the next five years.

Main News June 26

Wage optimism yet to crystallize

Philadelphia is the latest airport to start looking at wage rates and remuneration for its staff.

Despite the fact that an executive order was signed some weeks ago by the town’s mayor, at the time of writing no tangible progress had been made in moving the statutory wage from US$7.50 an hour up to US$10.88.

The order actually applies to any bids or proposals issued after May 20, and starting January 1, all proposals and contracts will include a US$12 an hour minimum wage requirement. However, city officials have said that they cannot enforce current contractors and subcontractors to pay the minimum wage until new contracts are signed. In the interim, the service employees union, SEIU 32BJ, which represents the airport workers, is pressurizing City Hall and airlines to force subcontractors employing cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants to comply with the order.

Mass cargo handling: cause for concern?

The coming Air Cargo Advance Screening Program has had a lengthy gestation but there are still those who are worried that testing has not been as thorough as it could be. In this respect the Airforwarders Association, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders’ Association, the Express Delivery and Logistics Association and The International Air Cargo Association have all contacted the TSA and the Customs and Border Protection to voice their fears.

The problem seems to revolve around the fact that whilst ACAS has been operating as a pilot program, it has only been with a very small number of forwarding companies, and working out of a limited number of locations.

There is, though, plenty of evidence to suggest that Congress is keen to see the ACAS concept adopted, despite the fact that further testing may be desirable.

Sao Paulo automation coming

Come August, travelers passing through São Paulo International in Guarulhos who are over the age of 18 and have an electronic passport will be able to take full control of their terminal experience. This will be made possible through the automated border control eGates that are being installed in terminals 2 and 3 at the airport. These work through the expedient of facial recognition and secure documents to provide passengers with an autonomous experience that is divorced from contact with the federal police.

The most trusted…?

We all know that carriers enjoy their catchphrases but once these take the form of statements of fact rather than aspirations, what then? Can an airline legally claim hold of something as intangible as a description, especially one that is open to conjecture? Delta certainly thinks so – which is why it is in the process of trying to trademark the epithet of “The world’s most trusted airline.”

Is it?

And if it is successful in its bid, will a traveler be more likely to opt for the Delta experience in the future?

Environmental progress for Air Transat

Air Transat has become the first US carrier to complete the initial stage of IATA’s Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Program. The voluntary program is based on the core principles of compliance with environmental obligations and a commitment to continual environmental management improvement. Adopting the standard IEnvA procedures and recommended practises, says IATA, allows an airline to focus resources on improving its environmental performance rather than having to develop an Environmental Management System from scratch.

The actual program follows a two-stage implementation approach which involves a detailed assessment of flight operations, corporate and management activities that allows for early recognition of environmental management achievements. In this manner Air Transat joins the likes of Finnair, South African Airways, LAN, LAN Cargo, Malaysia Airlines and Kenya Airways as the only airlines so far to have achieved Stage 1 certification.

AA in agreement

American Airlines Group has said that it has reached a tentative agreement with mechanics and ground workers at its partner US Airways. The airline confirmed that the three-year contract agreements will be subject to member ratification and that they will cover 11,000 workers who are represented by the International Association of Machinists.

This union, it should be noted, was the only labor group at US Airways and American Airlines that did not publicly support the merger.

The Transport Workers Union represents both mechanics and ground workers at the pre-merger American Airlines. The machinists and the transport workers had previously agreed to represent the work groups jointly after the merger, and after the machinist groups had received a new contract.

On time ratings improve

The US’s largest carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.6% in April. This represented an improvement on both the 77.3% on-time figure recorded in April 2013 and the 77.6% on-time rate posted in March 2014, says the latest US Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report. The reporting carriers canceled 1.1% of their scheduled domestic flights in April: this was down from both the 1.8% cancellation rate posted in April 2013 and the 1.9% rate declared in March 2014.

Main News June 10

Two new beneficiaries from IAG

Global businesses are set to benefit as Montevideo in Uruguay and Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic are added to IAG Cargo’s worldwide network, which comprises more than 350 destinations in total. Flights to the two new cities will start on September 1 and will build on the strength of the IAG Cargo network in Latin America, which will grow to 16 destinations. The new routes will be served from IAG Cargo’s hub in Madrid by Iberia Airbus A330 and A340-300 aircraft. Each flight will deliver between 9.4 and 12.7 tonnes of capacity on the Madrid–Santo Domingo route, and between 6.5 and 11.7 tonnes of capacity on the Madrid–Montevideo route.

SMS at core of new standard

The National Air Transportation Association, along with the International Business Aviation Council, has announced the creation of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (known as IS-BAH).

This represents a set of global industry best practices for business aviation ground handlers, at the heart of which lies a safety management system. The IS-BAH follows the long-established structure of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations Program and incorporates NATA’s Safety 1st Ground Audit Program. IS-BAH is set to provide standardization to handlers and operators around the world to meet the coming SMS requirements that have been mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

De-icer and distributor to form venture

Integrated De-icing Services and GTA Aviation have announced the formation of a strategic agreement to develop new business opportunities within Canada.

Both companies are industry innovators, with IDS widely considered as one of the most technologically advanced independent providers of de-icing/anti-icing services. The company is presently de-icing aircraft at 15 airports in the US and Europe. IDS also operates the largest fleet of forced-air de-icing trucks in the world and has twice earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies. GTA is a leading global distributor of high quality ground support equipment. The Canadian company offers a wide variety of new and refurbished ground handling equipment to airlines and airport authorities in dozens of countries.

Better boarding: time for change?

What’s the best way to board an aircraft?

It’s a thorny issue, and probably one that has dogged the sector’s logistics experts for many a year. A recent survey from the GO Group has found that the most favored method, at 55% of the vote, was that of boarding from the back. This was deemed most efficient of all, along with boarding from window seat to aisle seat, although there were other methods suggested.

Almost 300 people were sampled for the study, which was conducted in response to news some airlines have been testing boarding from back to front as well as outside in, with window passengers first, then middle seats then aisles.

Other suggestions included a desire that carry-ons be placed in bins above the owner, rather than being scattered around the cabin. Random boarding was also put forward as a method worthy of adoption, on the basis that everything is spread out and therefore bottlenecks would not occur.

The findings, though, don’t look as if they are going to change the status quo. After all, whether boarding is conducted from the back or front is immaterial provided that row numbers are clearly called out and, perhaps more importantly, travellers actually follow the boarding instructions in the first place…

Main News May 16

Airline investing in the future

Alaska Airlines is to pledge a total of US$1.5m towards job training at Seattle-Tacoma International airport.

This local investment will be made over the next four years in collaboration with the Port of Seattle, with an initial contribution to Port Jobs, a non-profit organization that is committed to preparing workers for the Port of Seattle economy.

In the first year, Alaska’s grant should help Port Jobs expand access to college courses through the Airport University, effectively doubling the number of courses, college credits and students. The grant will also enable Port Jobs to add more advanced courses than are currently offered. Alaska Airlines has been involved with Port Jobs since its inception in 1993 and has several key executives serving on its Board of Directors.

“As one of the largest employers at Sea-Tac airport, we believe it’s important to invest in a strong local workforce for the future of our business, our regional economy and the many families who rely on jobs at the port,” explained Toby Skey, Managing Director of Human Resources and board member at Port Jobs.

The Port of Seattle supports more than 200,000 jobs and generates US$6.8bn on its payroll. Alaska Airlines employs more than 7,000 workers at the company and partner vendors in the Seattle area to a greater extent than any other air carrier. Over the duration of the jobs training grant, Alaska expects to fill 2,000 family wage jobs in the Seattle market, and will be working closely with the Port of Seattle and Port Jobs to prioritize hiring graduates of the program.

Monterey on a roll

Monterey Regional airport has been celebrating its handling operation.

The efforts of the 42 staff, who take care of customer baggage, as well as other services, have culminated in the winning of the Outstanding Baggage Performance of the Entire Year 2013 award from United Airlines. The ground handling crew was the only station in the Western Region to win the award but sadly it comes from an airline that recently announced its plans to end a major route with the airport.

How good is the operation? The airport received 37 complaints about baggage operations in 2012, just 13 last year and has recorded none so far this year.

Baggage handling used to be effected by all the individual airlines, each with its own workers. But in mid-2012, the airport switched to just one company, Envoy Incorporated, to take care of the whole operation.

The crew also won two awards, which they received at the start of the year, for work in 2013. They were the Proppy Award (from Horizon Air) for Excellent Leadership and Performance and the Commitment to Safety award, from American Eagle Airlines.

New venture looks to help GSE acquisition

Sasser Family Holdings has announced the launch of its ground support equipment finance and asset management subsidiary, that of Xced Aviation Services. Xced is positioned to provide single investor equipment financing solutions and life cycle management relevant to all GSE for the North American market.

The new company will be headed up by William R Long, who joined the organization in January 2014 to help establish this particular service offering.

“I am excited about this opportunity. Even this early on, I know that the level of service that Xced will be able to provide the industry is remarkable. Thanks to the expertise of our parent company, and our team, we’re entering the market with the immediate ability to provide tailored solutions to the marketplace,” he stated.

Xced’s services will include lease financing and traditional fixed purchase option financing structures on new and used ground support equipment, as well as a wide range of incremental asset management services, including trade-in of used ground support equipment, purchase and selling services, refurbishment services and refurbishment financing.

Baggage fees on the wane?

It’s official: a recent report has highlighted the fact that airlines are raking in less money from bag fees than they did two years ago. That said, they are actually making up for it by adding charges for extras, which includes securing a favorable seat.

The government has reported that US airlines raised some US$3.35bn from baggage fees in 2013, which was actually down 4% on 2012. That is the biggest decline since fees to check in a bag first appeared, back in 2008.

It’s known that some passengers will try to avoid bag fees through the use of airline credit cards or through earning elite level frequent-flier status. Others simply carry their bag on board in the hope of finding a slot in the overhead storage compartments.

The bag fee statistics were part of the information released by the US Department of Transportation, which added that airlines earned US$7.3bn in the fourth quarter of last year, reversing a loss of US$188m experienced during the same period in 2012.

The airlines also raised US$2.81bn in 2013 from fees for changing a reservation or ticket: this represented a 10% hike compared to the previous year. All that said, fees for checked bags, along with reservation changes and other services, have become a larger share of airline revenue and a principal reason why (some) airlines are now in the black.

Main News May 6

Over a barrel?

Delta Air Lines made the headlines when it bought the former ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer a while back, with the aim of securing an alternative source of jet fuel. The move was criticized by some at the time as a drastic measure with no short-term benefit. That point of view was underlined this month when the refinery posted losses of US$41m in the first quarter or 2014. However, it is expected to be profitable by the end of the second quarter. The refinery is operated by Delta’s subsidiary, Monroe Energy, in agreement with BP and Phillips 66.

In its defense, Delta said that one major unit at the refinery had been shut down for scheduled modifications, and that this had led to a decrease in production. Another fly in the ointment has been the impact of the rising cost of Renewable Identification Numbers credits: these are credits that refiners purchase to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard and they have created pressure on fuel prices.

Delta is now making infrastructural changes to the plant in order to increase refined production and boost jet and diesel production to around 50% of the refinery’s total output.

Five out of five for Southwest Cargo

Southwest Airlines Cargo was recently named the Airforwarders Association’s “Domestic Carrier of the Year” for the fifth year in a row. It also earned the Express Delivery & Logistics Association’s “Domestic Airline of the Year” accolade. This represents the fourteenth year in a row that Southwest has won the award.

The Airforwarders Association awarded Southwest the designation as the carrier of the year based on its on-time performance, customer service, problem resolution, claims handling, technology support, service options and its overall value.

Queues and views

A recent survey of passengers at US airports has come up with little conclusive evidence to suggest that travelers are unhappy with the laborious process that typifies check-in at today’s airports in a post 9/11 world.

In fact, Americans appear to be less than concerned about the level of security provided by Transportation Security Administration screenings at US airports, although most are in favor of the agency’s more fluid Pre-check program.

In the Harris Poll, only half of those surveyed said that they thought security screening performed by TSA agents was making air travel any safer. This figure compares with 43% who believed that the screenings made flying neither more nor less safe.

Overall, some 48% say that they believe the screenings are an effective deterrent to hi-jacking. This compares with 36% who reckoned that it made little difference one way or the other. Interestingly, some 15% felt that such security measures represented an ineffective deterrent overall.

In brief

Landmark Aviation has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ross Aviation, a US-based FBO network, from investment funds affiliated with Centre Partners Management LLC and management. The acquisition will be subject to satisfying customary closing conditions.

JBT has said that its JBT AeroTech business has been awarded services contracts totaling more than US$7m by the United States Air Force to support its fleet of Halvorsen 25K cargo loaders. The services contracts continue through March 2015.

Main News April 15

More personnel promised for Miami

Miami International is to benefit from more passport control agents to handle its long immigration lines: the announcement comes from the US Customs and Border Protection department.

The actual number has not been disclosed yet but the additional staffing has been promised by the end of September 2015. In all, some 2,000 additional agents will be deployed across 44 ports in 18 states.

Miami is one of four Florida ports that will benefit from the staffing boost, according to Greg Chin, an airport spokesman. The others are Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Orlando International and Port Canaveral.

Staff happy with five year contract

Alaska Airlines’ 2,500 clerical, office and passenger service employees, who are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, have ratified a new five-year contract. The contract was approved by 62% of those who voted.

“Ratification of this contract demonstrates the great strength and commitment our COPS employees have for our customers and our company. It further shows our frontline employees’ dedication to maintaining Alaska’s position as an industry leader in customer service,” commented Jeff Butler, Vice President of Airport Operations and Customer Service.

The contract includes pay increases and job security provisions, amongst other improvements.

New shared-use lounge opens

Airport Lounge Development, the leading US independent shared-use lounge developer, announced earlier this month that it had opened the first and only shared-use airport lounge at Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport, called The Club at PHX. This marks group’s sixth club, which goes to reinforce its position as the largest portfolio of independently-operated, shared-use lounges within the US.

DAL cedes cleaning contract to Air Serv

Delta has played down talk of any direct redundancies resulting from the change of cleaning contract at Minneapolis-St Paul airport. In mid-April the carrier’s subsidiary, DAL Global Services, said that its existing contract would be taken over by Atlanta-based Air Serv, which already provides wheelchair, cart driving and skycap services at the Twin Cities airport for Delta. The change will apparently affect 400 or so full-time workers: about 100 are expected to remain with DGS but work elsewhere in the country, while a further 200 will move over to Air Serv in the Twin Cities. The remainder, about 100, had at the time of writing not expressed an interest in future employment with either DAL or Air Serv.

Main News April 1

Seattle on a charge

The Port of Seattle, along with Alaska Airlines and Western Washington Clean Cities, has unveiled a new project aimed at providing nearly 600 electric charging stations throughout the airport for ground support equipment: items will include baggage tugs, bag ramps and pushback vehicles.

By converting the GSE from fossil fuel to electric, those behind the project calculate that each year savings of around US$2.8m in airline fuel costs as well as 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be achievable: this equates to the removal of 1,900 cars from the road.
The port has installed bright yellow charging corrals with smart, fast-charging plug-ins for vehicles which will be able to receive a full charge in fewer than four hours. The smart technology determines which vehicle needs the most charge and meters out the power. The initial phase will provide 296 charging locations throughout concourse C, D and the north satellite. The second phase will cover the rest of the terminal at concourse A, B and the south satellite, for a total of 576 charging locations by September.
“This project provides the infrastructure for airlines to convert their vehicles from diesel to electric in Sea-Tac’s effort to become the first major airport in the US to provide charging stations at all gates,” commented Courtney Gregoire, Co-President, Port of Seattle Commission. “As many as 650 vehicles could eventually be covered by electric technology and make a huge difference in the airport’s carbon footprint.”
Alaska Airlines has taken the lead in this green opportunity, and has 204 electric vehicles (146 with Alaska, 58 with Horizon) in operation on the ground at Sea-Tac. The environmental benefits are substantial, since Alaska’s conversion to electric vehicles is the equivalent of taking 360 passenger vehicles off the road for a year, or a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of around 1,000 tons a year.
“Switching from fossil fuels to electric-powered equipment not only benefits the environment by reducing carbon emissions and fuel use, but the transition is expected to save Alaska Air Group about US$300,000 a year in fuel costs,” commented Jeff Butler, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of the Airport Operations and Customer Service segment. “These sustainability efforts help us keep our costs down in order to provide better value for our customers.”
Federal grants have provided the bulk of the US$31m project. The US Department of Energy provided US$5m through a grant with the Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition and US$3.5m came from a Federal Aviation Administration grant. Part of the grant money is being used to help airlines fund the purchase of new electric vehicles. Encouragingly, additional airlines are scheduled to join the program later this year.

Alaska aiming for the easiest experience

April will see Alaska Airlines launch its online self-bag-tagging options.
Self-tagging online gets underway on April 21 for passengers traveling non-stop between Seattle and San Diego, Anchorage or Juneau, whilst there are plans to expand the option for customers traveling from other airports later this summer. This launch follows the completion of a successful pilot program, which was offered to customers traveling between Seattle and Hawaii in 2013.
“Our goal is to be the easiest airline to fly. That’s why we’re introducing additional self-tagging capability so customers who prefer self-service options have the ability to print bag tags at home during the check-in process,” explains Curtis Kopf, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of Customer Innovation. “Tagging your bags at home can save some time at the airport. If printing your bag tags at home isn’t your preference, our friendly airport staff will gladly help check your bags to your final destination.”
In consequence, travelers flying to or from any of the four debut cities will receive a pre-trip e-mail with a link to request a free reusable bag tag holder by mail. Tag holders will also be available for collection at each of the four airports. Passengers who elect to self-tag will enjoy a designated Self-Tag Express lane when they arrive at the airport.

Luggage theft: arrests made at Los Angeles

Following a period of sustained police surveillance at Los Angeles airport, in March officers swooped on the homes of a number of baggage handlers suspected of pilfering bags at the airport over a period of months.

According to reports 14 handlers, all working for Menzies, were detained whilst a further six were arrested. Police have revealed that further workers may also be implicated in this scheme, which allegedly has involved the theft of thousands of valuable items from passenger bags as they made their way through the sorting systems at the airport. Acting on the spike in passenger complaints at Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley, the UK-headquartered handling company was identified. For its part Menzies has been working with the LAX and the Los Angeles police departments in an effort to resolve the situation.

Main News March 14

Passenger baggage to be scrutinized

United Airlines is looking out for travelers who try to bring oversized bags into the cabin.

The crackdown on oversized bags on behalf of the carrier is a strategy, it says, aimed at dealing with one of the biggest complaints in terms of customer feedback. Overhead bins are frequently so overfilled with carry-on bags that a slower boarding process becomes the norm.

“We are getting feedback from customers who have the right-size bags, telling us that there is not enough space in the overhead bins,” said a United spokesman.

United communicated its plans to its MileagePlus members, reminding them that carry-on bags can be no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The airline has also been distributing size gauges, which are installed in the airport terminals, to allow the traveling public to measure their carry-on baggage before boarding. This type of aid has been in use in Europe for some years now amongst the low cost carrier sector.

Streamlining the process at Lambert St Louis

US Customs and Border Protection has admitted Lambert St Louis International to its Automated Commercial Environment Cargo Release Pilot with immediate effect.

The ACE Cargo Release Pilot (which was formerly known as Simplified Entry) allows importers to file a streamlined set of data earlier in the import process, and gives them the opportunity to update their entries, right up to the carrier’s arrival, so that information submitted is the best available.

Under ACE, CBP can review shipment information much earlier in the supply chain, and either issue an admissibility message or request additional data. Filers can then resolve issues before the aircraft departs for the US, or during transit, resulting in fewer goods being held on arrival.

ACE Cargo Release streamlines electronic transmission for the filer, and assists importers in planning and arranging their logistics. The carrier submits the manifest and/or the Air Cargo Advance Screening security filing, while the importer submits the Simplified Entry data set.

ASIG in acquisition mode

ASIG has agreed to acquire the assets of Skytanking USA, an independent provider of aviation fuel services. The company, which is headquartered in South Florida, has operations at 14 US airports, six of which represent new markets for ASIG. Skytanking USA provides commercial aircraft refueling and jet fuel facility maintenance. It also provides fuel facility maintenance and inspections for the US military forces at a total of 47 installations, which is a new addition to ASIG’s fuel services portfolio. Under the terms of the agreement, ASIG will divest four operations in Germany and Austria to Skytanking Holding, of which Skytanking USA is a subsidiary. The acquisition of assets should be completed in March subject to customary transaction approvals.
Tony Lefebvre, ASIG’s President and COO, commented on the strategy. “This acquisition represents a strategic expansion of our core fuel business in the United States. Skytanking USA, which began operations in 2003, has created a strong customer base by leveraging their expertise in aviation fuel services.”

 

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