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Apron gridlock: Airlines ignore solution

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Apron gridlock: Airlines ignore solution

At no time is the peril of congestion at the Lagos airport apron more exposed than when a neutral person visits and witness the eyesore of disorderliness, writes WOLE SHADARE

 

 

Headache
Even as they expand their operations, Nigeria’s major airport, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, is operating below capacity. Although traffic has quadrupled over the years, congestion at both cargo and passenger aprons of the country’s busiest airport is giving both managers of the airport and foreign airlines huge concern.
The Lagos international airport terminal, which was commissioned in 1979, was designed to accommodate about one million passengers a year but ended handling more than three million passengers in 2018.
Also, when the airport was commissioned in 1979, the airport was having just eight aflight movement. The airport then handled just one cargo aircraft in one week. Now, there are about 30 with DHL using MMIA as their home.
Early this year, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) disclosed that a total of 15.2 million passengers passed through Nigerian airports in 227,834 aircraft movements in 2018. This was revealed in FAAN’s 2018 annual report released recently.
The report posted an increase of 2.5 million passengers from 12.7 million passengers recorded in 2017, representing 19.11 per cent increase. It also revealed an increase of 27,068 from the 200,766 aircraft movements recorded in 2017, representing 11.48 per cent increase.
Most airline executives know that congestion is a growing trend and has a general sense of what to expect when a hub or home airport begins approaching maximum capacity.
Eyesore
What one sees at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal in Lagos is an eyesore. Operators of wide-body airplanes practically abandon their aircraft on the apron for years without consideration for other users of the facility. The aprons are so congested that they pose serious security issues to other foreign airlines that have complained of the attitude of the owners.
Arik’s A340-500 airplane is sitting on a strategic area of the tarmac, thereby constituting nuisance and distorting the aesthetics of the area. The wide-body is weather beaten after it was exposed to the elements more than four years ago. FAAN seems to be helpless in forcing the owners to remove them as they hold claim to the fact that Lagos is their home base, thereby excluding them from paying charges on their parked aircraft.
Nigeria’s biggest airline by aircraft size has three B777S parked also indiscriminately on the apron for over a year; a situation that has raised eyebrow over the propriety of parking three big aircraft for one year, six months and one month respectively. Airplanes are bought to be in the air and not on ground. It also raised curiosity on exactly what the owners want to achieve with just parking of wide-body on the tarmac to rot away.
But the airline assured that the airplanes would be put to use as quickly as possible and deployed on international routes to London and the United Arab Emirates.
Medview and Allied Air equally have their aircraft parked at the cargo ramp of the Lagos, making it impossible for four big cargo aircraft to park to discharge their cargoes. Some of them like DHL take the tortuous journey of parking at the passenger apron of the airport. This puts enormous costs on the airline and ground handling firms who truck their cargo from the international wing of the Lagos airport to the cargo apron.

Plans for extension
A guided tour of the area by New Telegraph shows that the open expanse of land is supposed to be extended apron of the cargo terminal but along the line, contractors abandoned the project about ten years after budgetary allocations had been made. FAAN equally has congestion problems which could lead to incidents and accidents. There are indications that the management is trying to revive the contract and ensure that extension of the area is done.

FAAN engages aircraft owners
Regional Manager, South West of FAAN, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba, said from the original plan, the proposed expansion would take eight wide-body aircraft.
According to her, “not all of the aircraft are unserviceable. Some are serviceable but for reasons known to the owners, they decided to keep them here. We have written to them to take them to lesser busy airports at no additional cost to them. FAAN is even ready to wave parking fees for them just to ensure that they move their aircraft to a better place.
“We are urging them to go to smaller ones so that we will have space for safe flight movement. We have reached out to them. We have had meetings with them last week but. We are working together. We have a graveyard for those that are not serviceable, but these ones are serviceable.”
She explained that FAAN had seven bridges with three on one side meant for parking of wide-body airplanes like the B747, A330, and A340 among others by parking side by side each order without any safety risk..
“Here, we park Virgin and British Airways here. They have been using it since time immemorial. This place is home for British Airways. At the other side, you can’t big aircraft side by side. Now that we have Emirates at that side, we cannot park big aircraft near or beside it, we part a smaller one beside it.
“The Arik Air’s aircraft you are seeing there has been parked there since February 2015. We are seriously talking with Arik and we have reached understanding to move them to somewhere that it will not disrupt operations too much. We have to be careful of security too so that we don’t move them to where they will vandalise them.
“One of the aircraft belonging to Air Peace, a B777 has been there for more than six months. The other Air Peace aircraft also a B777 has been parked there for over a year and the third one was brought in February this year,” she added.

Safety concern
Shin-Aba lamented that the situation posed serious safety issue to the airport, adding that they caused serious security issue.
She said: “It discourages investors. It discourages people coming in especially cargo like DHL that is when they come, we ask them to go to International area to offload. It puts extra cost on them. Those are the issues that these overstayed aircraft are causing.”
She lambasted the attitude of some Nigerian airlines for their disregard of laid down procedure or in conforming to rules of engagement.
According to her, “if an international airline is bringing in different aircraft from what they normally operate, they will write you and tell you that they are coming with A330 or A350 and ask if we have a space and facilities for them on ground to accommodate them.
“At times they send their technical staff down. But Nigerian operators will go book aircraft, knowing what we have on ground. Less than 24 hours, they will tell us they are bringing an aircraft. Yes, it is the responsibility of FAAN for not expanding facilities as much as the growth is not marching it up but then, when we now that this is what we have on ground, you have to sit with the operator. There are some airports all over the world too that airlines take charge of their terminals. They build terminals, they built aprons and it is the way to go. Like the A380 in Amsterdam is built by Emirates because they wanted to take A380 there.”

Last line
Not only is the sky getting busier, the Lagos airport apron from which planes operate are also bursting at the seams with permanent parking of their disused aircraft.

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Aviation

China’s new mega-airport ready to open

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China’s new mega-airport ready to open

China is poised to open a new mega-airport to the south of Beijing, already home to the world’s second-busiest aviation hub, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) will see its first commercial flight take off around September 20, according to Chinese state media, with main tenant China Southern planning to deploy an Airbus A380, the world’s biggest airliner, for the maiden journey.

The greatly anticipated airport ushers in a new era for air travel to and from the Chinese capital, which has been in desperate need of a second global gateway.

The existing Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is hitting full capacity, making it nearly impossible for airlines to add flights at desirable times.

In 2018, more than 100 million travelers passed through its three terminals — making it only the second airport in the world to cross that passenger traffic milestone, after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. China is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest air travel market by 2022.

The multibillion-dollar Daxing, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and her Chinese partners, is built for the future, boasting four runways and a terminal the size of 97 soccer pitches upon opening of the first phase — as well as customer-service robots that will provide travelers with flight updates and airport information.

The “modest” initial operational target is to accommodate 72 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually by 2025. The ambitious master plan calls for the building of a total of seven runways, and moving at least 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo a year through the airport.

Construction for the $11.5 billion project began in 2014, with more than 40,000 workers on site at its peak. The terminal bears all the hallmarks of Hadid’s signature contour lines, with plenty of natural light shining through its more than 8,000 distinct rooftop windows.

Nicknamed “starfish” by Chinese media for its shape of five concourses connected to a main hall, Daxing aims to reduce walking for passengers, long a complaint about many new mega-hubs. The airport authority has promised a distance of no more than 600 meters (650 yards) — about eight minutes of walking — between security checkpoints and the remotest gates.

Another passenger concern is Daxing’s location. It’s in the far south of Beijing, a city notorious for traffic jams. The new airport is some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Tiananmen Square in the city center — and even farther away from the main business districts in the east and north.

Brushing aside such worries, officials say they have built more than just an airport — but rather a truly integrated transportation hub that will eventually see high-speed rail, inter-city services and downtown-to-airport express trains all stopping right beneath the terminal. The airport express trains, traveling at a top speed of 160 kilometers an hour (100 mph), promise to whisk arriving passengers to the city in less than 20 minutes.

Yet others say a new mammoth aviation hub will only worsen flight delays in Beijing, already ranked near the bottom of on-time performance lists among airports worldwide.

There is no indication that the Chinese military, which controls most of the country’s airspace, will loosen its grip to give airliners more maneuver room. But aviation officials and airline executives predict reduced delays at Daxing thanks to its multi-directional runway design that improves operational efficiency in the air, as well as its location south of Beijing — eliminating many flight detours aimed at avoiding the city’s large “no-fly” zone.

Alliance shakeups, time slot shifts

For frequent fliers around the world, though, it may take some time to figure out if Daxing will be their preferred gateway to the Chinese capital.

It was going to be a crown jewel for Skyteam, one of the three global airline alliances, with China-based members China Southern and China Eastern — each assigned 40% of the new airport’s departure and arrival time slots by the government — moving all their Beijing flights to Daxing to become anchor carriers. Other Skyteam members such as Delta, Korean and Air France-KLM will move to the new airport in phases.

China Southern, however, will now leave Skyteam by the end of this year, having signed agreements with several members of rival Oneworld alliance, including American Airlines and British Airways, for closer cooperation.

Adding another twist to the confusing plot, Air China — the country’s flag carrier and a Star Alliance member — was supposed to remain at the current Capital Airport along with other Star carriers. But it was recently given 10% of Daxing’s time slots after authorities allowed China Eastern to keep its highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai shuttle flights at Capital, reports CNN.

All the tenant intrigue aside, Chinese officials are eager to showcase the country’s newest mega-hub to the world upon its grand opening, announcing that flights from Daxing will cover 112 destinations around the globe by next spring.

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

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Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

A lawyer for victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 said on Tuesday he wants Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hand over documents about the decision to keep the Boeing 737 MAX in the air after a deadly Lion Air crash last October.

A week after Lion Air Flight 610 nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, the FAA warned airlines that erroneous inputs from an automated flight control system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down, but the agency allowed the jets to continue flying.

Five months later, the same system was blamed for playing a role when ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew and prompting a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX that remains in place.

“The decisions to keep those planes in service are key,” Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said at a status hearing before U.S. Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago.

Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by at least a dozen law firms representing families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, who came from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and 19 Canadians.

Families of about 60 victims have yet to file lawsuits but plaintiffs’ lawyers said they anticipate more to come. Most of the lawsuits do not make a specific dollar claim, though Ribbeck Law Chartered has said its clients are seeking more than $1 billion.

The lawsuits assert that Boeing defectively designed the automated flight control system. The system is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in both accidents.

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit directly but said it is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities. The manufacturer has apologized for the lives lost in both crashes and is upgrading software. But it has stopped short of admitting any fault in how it developed the 737 MAX, or the software.

The FAA said it does not comment on litigation. The agency has defended its decision not to ground the 737 MAX sooner and has said it is following a thorough process for returning the jet to passenger service.

Clifford, who was appointed lead counsel on Tuesday to represent the majority of plaintiffs suing Boeing over the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said he would pursue two tracks in the case: one for clients who wish to settle with Boeing and another for those who want to push for discovery.

In his role as lead counsel, Clifford will help the different plaintiffs “speak with one voice,” said Ricardo Martinez-Cid of Podhurst Orseck, a law firm that is also representing Ethiopian Airlines crash victims.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers who represent victims of airline crashes generally work for free and receive a percentage of the settlement or award.

Amos Mbicha, who lost his sister and her son in the crash of ET302 which occurred soon after it departed Addis Ababa for Nairobi, said some Kenyan families had not sued yet because they had difficulty choosing between the many law firms seeking to represent victims, reports Reuters.

“You look at the brochures, it all looks like everyone worked on the same cases,” he said. “It’s confusing for people.”

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by families of Lion Air crash victims, who were almost all from Indonesia. Those cases are already in mediation and are not expected to be consolidated with Ethiopian Airlines.

“While the cases share some common issues there are big differences, most importantly the critical evidence of what Boeing did and did not do between October and March,” said Justin Green, a lawyer from Kreindler & Kreindler, who was appointed co-chair of the plaintiffs’ committee on Tuesday.

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Aviation

Bees delay flight for over two hours

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Bees delay flight for over two hours

Bad weather. A technical fault. A late-arriving aircraft. Just some of the reasons your flight might be delayed.

One to add to the list: a swarm of bees.

On Sunday morning, Air India flight 743 from Kolkata to Agartala was delayed by two and a half hours after a swarm of honeybees clamped themselves onto the window of the flight deck.

The swarm took up residence on the left hand window panes, obstructing the pilots’ vision.

Windscreen wipers failed to remove the bees. The swarm was only cleared when the airport fire crew was recruited to use water cannons.

The plane had already been delayed 90 minutes due to a technical fault, before the bee attack added an extra hour’s delay.

The flight to Agartala, in northeast India, takes just 60 minutes.

“The plane left the parking bay at its scheduled departure time, then there was a technical issue and it had to return back to the parking bay,” Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee told CNN. “There was a delay of 1.5 hours due to the ground staff attending to the technical fault.

“After that, there was a bee attack. A swarm of honeybees came and landed on one section of the cockpit glass. Thousands of bees just sat on the left side of the cockpit window blocking the view of the pilot.

“The pilot tried to remove the bees by using windscreen wipers but it didn’t work.

“Airline staff informed the airport authorities and we deployed a fire tender from the fire station located inside the airport. Using a water cannon, they dispersed the bees.”

The plane took off two and a half hours behind schedule. There were 136 passengers on board, including Bangladeshi politician Hasan Mahmud, the country’s Minister for Information.

Kolkata airport — Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International — is one of India’s busiest, processing 21.8 million passengers a year, with 40 million predicted by 2021.

It is known as one of the country’s most modern airports, using solar panels to generate energy.

Bhattacharjee told CNN that airport staff had carried out checks for bees in the wake of the incident.

“We did not find any beehives on any structures inside the airport,” he said. “They came from outside the airport premises.”

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Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

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Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

Officials say an Air China jet bound for Beijing has made an emergency return to Dulles International Airport after reporting an engine fire.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration says that the Air China flight landed safely Tuesday in Washington after reporting an engine fire and that its pilot was in contact with air traffic control at all times.

The FAA says Air China Flight 818 departed Dulles at 4:39 p.m. EDT and returned at 5:54 p.m.

A spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority identified the craft as a Boeing 777, which the aircraft maker says seats from 317 to 396 people, reports The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman with Air China didn’t immediately respond to requests for additional information.

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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on

By

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

Published

on

By

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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