Airbus and Air France spearhead Paris bid to advance hydrogen-hub airports

By David Kaminski-Morrow11 February 2021

Airbus and Air France-KLM are joining airports operator Groupe ADP and other French entities to explore the use of hydrogen at Parisian airports.

They are seeking projects focused on storage and distribution of gaseous and liquid hydrogen within airports, options for hydrogen recycling, and diverse uses of hydrogen in aeronautics – such as its application to ground operations and infrastructure energy supply.

The aerospace organisations and the French capital, supported by governmental promotional agency Choose Paris Region, state that they intend to build a “unique” airport eco-system centred on hydrogen and establish the city’s airports as “hydrogen hubs”.

These partners are jointly issuing a “worldwide call” for expressions of interest in the exploration of hydrogen and the transformation of airport infrastructure to take into account the emergence of hydrogen as a fuel.

Selected projects, following the closure of a 19 March deadline, will be disclosed at the end of April.

Airbus H2 aircraft-c-Airbus

Source: Airbus

Airbus has previously unveiled conceptual designs of hydrogen-fuelled aircraft

France’s government previously unveiled an aerospace strategy which focused on the development of zero-emission aircraft by 2035, and Airbus has been directing its efforts towards the potential of hydrogen power. Paris Region also adopted a ‘Hydrogen Plan’ in late 2019.

The advent of hydrogen, the partners state, will “revolutionise” the way airports are designed and operated.

Their vision of the future hydrogen-based airport eco-system will also encompass large and small companies, start-up enterprises, laboratories and universities.

“Airbus is determined to drive a bold vision for the future of sustainable aviation, and to lead the transition to zero-emission commercial flight,” says Airbus executive vice-president of engineering Jean-Brice Dumont.

“Hydrogen is the one of the most promising technologies that will help us meet that objective. But we won’t be able to do it alone.”

The partners’ initiative aims to identify advances in technology and research and test economically-viable solutions to the issues of using hydrogen on a large scale at airports.

“We must prepare today to welcome the hydrogen aircraft in 2035 by transforming our airports into real hydrogen hubs, in which we wish to develop various uses, with our stakeholders, around airside and city-side ground mobility,” says Groupe ADP deputy chief Edward Arkwright.

Air France-KLM executive vice-president, corporate secretary, Anne-Sophie Le Lay says the introduction of new energy sources is “fundamental” to shift towards “more sustainable and responsible” air transport

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ACI commends airports for customer engagement during pandemic


Airports Council International (ACI) World has commended airports that have continued to prioritize listening and engaging with customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The Voice of the Customer’ recognition is for airports that have demonstrated significant efforts in gathering passenger feedback through the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) program to help them better understand their customers during the pandemic. To qualify, an airport member must have collected three or more quarters of data. It is separate from the organization’s ASQ awards and in total 140 airports have received recognition.

“The Voice of the Customer celebrates the commitment of airports that continued listening to passengers and adapting processes and procedures to meet changing expectations of customer experience in response to Covid-19,” said ACI world director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “As our industry works toward recovery, airports that listen to – and prioritize the needs and expectations of – customers will be better placed to respond. ACI’s ASQ program gives airports the tools, objective measurement and benchmarking for them to gather information on the needs and expectations of customers and help drive their performance in response.”

The awards were sponsored by airport IT technology provider Amadeus. Bruno Spada, the company’s executive vice president of airport IT, commented, “We are proud to support this important recognition of airports that relentlessly sought to gather passenger feedback during the pandemic. During that period, we have worked in partnership with airports to help them rapidly scale passenger handling capacity up or down, to serve passengers in new parts of the airport or off-airport and to make their experience contactless.”

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How digital transformation and AI will lead future development of aviation in post COVID-19 era

By Megha Paul On Feb 9, 2021TD Editor

Dubai Airshow 2021 will serve as a platform to showcase the role of cutting edge technologies in bolstering the recovery of the aviation, aerospace and defence industries following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

The impact of the pandemic has accelerated the use of new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cybersecurity, touchless solutions, 5G, robotics, and automation. These solutions serve as a means to drive new opportunities within the industry and enhance safety, operations, productivity and profitability.

A recent report shows that 69% of aerospace and defence executives say they have prioritised anticipating and responding to supply-chain events in order to protect the customer experience. COVID-19 has emphasised the need for more resilient, flexible and adaptable supply chains for the industry. Executives overwhelmingly agree emerging technologies like AI, internet of things, automation and wearables have accelerated the pace of automation over the past three years.

60% of industry executives are also making investments for long-term remote work a priority for the next six months. This indicates the increasing importance of digital transformation within the aerospace, aviation and defence sectors. AI is also being used to deliver personalised travel experiences to passengers in order to generate the maximum customer satisfaction. A new market study predicted a CAGR of 46.4% for AI in the aviation market by 2023.

As part of Dubai Airshow 2021, aerospace companies from across the world will launch and exhibit their latest technologies and innovations to promote the sector’s growth in the region and the world. The event will also include conference programmes dedicated to the topics of AI, 5G, and cybersecurity.

New ideas, innovation and higher customer expectations have created a prime opportunity for start-ups within the aviation, defence and aerospace sectors. Co-located with Dubai Airshow will be a new launch event called VISTA – a start-up hub giving innovators within the aerospace and defence fields a rare chance to access venture capitalists and investors who are increasingly looking for disruptive new entrants that can out-hustle the big players. In a regional first, VISTA will feature a number of sub-events in partnership with Gothams, a leading accelerator that is helping to build the next generation of aerospace and defence start-ups.

Commenting on its partnership with VISTA at Dubai Airshow 2021, Elodie Robin-Guillerm from Gothams said: “We believe in the importance of providing the right resources, technology and connections to help empower companies to successfully own their vision and accelerate into the aerospace and defence industries. The start-up ecosystem is thriving not just with ideas, but also with innovative startups and investors looking to help businesses scale up and expand. Dubai Airshow 2021 will be an important, in-person, platform for understanding the role of innovation, cutting-edge solutions and services for the future growth of the aerospace sectors. It will be the only live event of its kind this year and we look forward to collaborating with the wider industry to help showcase the power of technology for its future.”

A recent announcement between Amadeus and Norwegian airport operator Avinor paves the way for a touchless travel journey for passengers. Avinor, which operates 44 airports, is trialling touchless technology that allows passengers to check in, drop bags, proceed through security and board their flight.

The impact of technologies such as cybersecurity, robotics, AI and 5G will be high on the agenda at Dubai Airshow, which is set to take place at Dubai World Central (DWC), Dubai Airshow Site, from 14-18 November 2021.

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British Airways to trial VeriFLY digital health passport

BA will trial the VeriFLY digital health app on all transatlantic routes between London and the US, starting from 4 February

British Airways will become the first airline in the UK to trial the VeriFLY digital health app, allowing customers to verify COVID-19 test certificates before they travel.

The trial will begin from 4 February on BA’s transatlantic routes between London and the US.

Passengers can download the app to their mobile device, and then check that they meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility. The software then confirms the test matches the country’s regulations with a ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ message.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO said: “Although flying is currently restricted, it is essential we do as much as we can now to help those who are eligible to fly and prepare to help our customers navigate the complexities around changing global entry requirements when the world re-opens.

“We remain focused and committed to finding user-friendly, evidence-based solutions to make journeys as seamless they can be. Through these trials, we hope to provide travellers and governments on both sides of the Atlantic with the tools and the reassurance they need to make safe travel possible.”

The trial follows the recent announcement that American Airlines, British Airways’ joint business and oneworld partner, now allows all customers to use VeriFLY when they are travelling to the US from all international destinations.

British Airways is also simultaneously conducting a testing trial with American Airlines and oneworld on some routes from the US to the UK. The results of the trial will be shared with Oxford University, the academic partners and with governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

Robert Isom, American Airlines’ President said: “We are pleased to be working hand-in-hand again with our partner, British Airways, to make transatlantic travel as seamless as possible for those who are permitted to fly by utilising the latest in digital technology.”

VeriFLY’s software, which has been developed by private software company Daon, allows people to combine travel verification documents and COVID-19 test results in one place, ensuring travellers are fully compliant with the entry requirements for their destination before leaving home. Certified customers will be fast-tracked through the airport where specially designated desks will be available for check in.

Phase two, which will follow in the near future, will extend to cover customers travelling to the UK from the US across both carriers. This will make British Airways and American Airlines the first transatlantic partners to offer a digital solution for eligible customers flying to the UK.

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United Airlines Has a New Online Feature to Help You Get ‘Travel-Ready’ Amid COVID-19

The feature is accessible on both the United app and website via the “My Trips” section. BY CAILEY RIZZO JANUARY 25, 2021

United Airlines has launched a new digital platform allowing passengers to review all the information they may need for upcoming travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Titled “Travel Ready Center,” — unveiled on Monday — travelers can upload any testing or vaccination records necessary for an upcoming trip and find local testing centers. The feature is accessible on both the United app and website via the “My Trips” section. 

“While pre-travel testing and documentation are key to safely reopening global travel, we know it can be confusing for customers when they’re preparing for a flight,” Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer, United said in a press release. “Starting today, our ‘Travel-Ready Center’ gives customers a personalized, step-by-step guide of what is needed for their trip, a simple way to upload required documents and quickly get their boarding pass, fully integrated within our app and website.”

Once travelers have a trip booked with United, they will be able to access the Travel-Ready Center and verify their travel requirements. Depending on their destination, the feature will display information about documentation or testing requirements necessary to board their flights.

Once travelers — 18 or older — upload their documents, they will be reviewed by a United employee. When the documents are verified, travelers will be cleared for check-in and can receive their boarding pass before heading to the airport. 

United's Travel Ready app


Over the coming weeks and months, the Travel-Ready Center will expand its offerings and introduce new features. Come February, passengers will be able to use the digital center to book a COVID-19 test and will also be able to video chat with a United agent to answer questions about travel restrictions via the airline’s virtual customer service platform. Visa requirements for traveling overseas will also be made available in the Travel-Ready Center over the coming months.

If vaccination records or “vaccine passports” become necessary for travel, that information will be made available in the digital center, as well. 

United has been developing several digital solutions to streamline travel during the pandemic. Last year, United introduced an interactive Destination Travel Guide, allowing passengers to search for and filter destinations around the globe by their COVID-19 restrictions. 

Other airlines are also working on new digital travel solutions. Last week, American Airlines debuted a health passport app. Etihad and Emirates also joined an international health passport app. 

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How Lidar Sensors are Helping Airports to be COVID-Safe

A lidar-based real-time crowd analytics solution has recently helped Orlando International Airport create one of the world’s safest terminals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using lidar sensors, people moving around a building can be tracked thereby dramatically improving the usability, safety and cleanliness of large spaces. 

Seven Vista lidar sensors at Orlando International Airport are able to pass data between each other, allowing seamless tracking of the same person across large overlapping areas. This covers almost 100 per cent of the terminal area of roughly 50,000 square feet.

Unlike surveillance cameras, lidar sensors do not capture biometric data, making the data anonymised and compliant with privacy laws. They also perform accurately regardless of lighting conditions.

Lidar airport

Picture: The Indoor Lab’s Safe Place™ solution uses the intelligent lidar data from Cepton’s Helius™ Smart Lidar System to deliver ground-breaking visual analytics of the foot traffic at Orlando International Airport. Image credit: The Indoor Lab.

Social Distancing and Floorplans 

Deployed by The Indoor Lab, the leading provider for monitoring real-time foot traffic using lidar sensors, the solution, called Safe Place™, uses Cepton’s award-winning Helius™ Smart Lidar System. 

According to The Indoor Lab, the full solution implemented in Orlando led to a drastic improvement in people’s adherence to social distancing through Thanksgiving and into the busy holiday travel season.

The software can also be used to help optimise layouts in aisles, walkways and retail spaces, as well as addressing safety risks. Data on crowd density, dwell times, motion tracking and speed of individuals can be used to manage queues and reduce crowding.

Crowd Tracking

The project at Orlando International Airport is one of several early projects initiated by The Indoor Lab and Cepton as part of a strategic partnership. The companies hope to collaborate to help enable a more efficient design of public and private commercial spaces, and improve public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

Patrick Blattner, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of The Indoor Lab said: “We have a 15-year history of crowd tracking across retail, events, airports, and stadiums. So, when COVID-19 started spreading exponentially and negatively affected many public and private spaces, we consulted with leaders involved in drafting proposals for the International Franchise Association, including the use of lidar technology to help put the country back on a path towards normalcy. 

“With public concerns focused on cleanliness of public and commercial spaces, we extended our Safe PlaceTM platform beyond occupancy and social distancing, creating the first proprietary real-time sanitization detection solution in the market. A Safe Place™ enabled environment ensures locations have been cleaned, distancing measures are followed, and safer occupancy levels are maintained. Our partnership with Cepton helped us deliver against this promise. Our patent-pending Safe PlaceTM platform with real-time cleaning detection is the first of its kind in the world.” 

Picture: a photograph of an image showing people moving through an airport terminal. Aircraft can be seen from the windows

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 14 January 2021

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SITA and Etihad Airways reveal a smarter path to crew safety and efficient operations

by Gustavo Pina Director, SITA Lab

The impact of COVID-19 has tipped the air transport industry into turmoil with planes grounded for much of 2020 and significant economic and operational challenges to solve.

The industry has moved quickly to find new solutions to meet the new health measures required by the pandemic. From head-mounted thermal scanners to social distancing technology, an accelerated rate of technology adoption reassures passengers that their flight will be safe. 

At the start of the pandemic, airline operations helped ensure the delivery of cargo planes containing critical supplies for countries most at risk and facilitated the repatriation of citizens. This work required airport and airline staff to work through the peaks of infection.

Now as many countries in Western Europe strap into their second lockdown, we are excited to be trialing a new solution that addresses some safety concerns of crew members. 

Working with a trusted partner like Etihad Airways at Abu Dhabi Airport we were able to apply our next-generation biometric technology to address key concerns for crew members and boost the airline’s efficiency. The objective was to create a better system for entry and exit to the restricted Crew Briefing Center (CBC). Our challenges were clear:

  • Reduce lining up and speed up the crew check-in process at the CBC, reduce flight preparations stress and in turn improve crew morale and energy levels
  • Enable a low touch process to mitigate COVID-19 risk by using facial recognition technology
  • Integrate ‘biometrics on-the-go’ convenience for the crew to use their smartphones
  • Enable an automated flight roster retrieval and roll call using facial recognition cameras

Having implemented SITA Smart Path, our low touch passenger solution at leading airports globally including Miami Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport  BCIA, and having a good understanding of how mobile-solutions can turn a passenger’s phone into their remote control for travel, we felt equipped to address these challenges.

Layers of complexity were added by the strict security regulations required. Making the technology accessible and intuitive for staff was also a high priority. Bring your own device (BYOD) was a key element of the project and why we developed a crew iPhone check-in app.

The face recognition uses Apple’s True Depth camera technology and there is also a shared iPad check-in app that allows the crew to answer regulatory compliance security and safety questions. Should there be any issue with a crew member’s mobile phone, several iPads have also been deployed at the CBC which the crew can use if they need to. A supervisor web portal enables monitoring of this activity and visibility on crew status.

We’re excited to partner with Etihad to trial the facial biometric services as part of the airline’s digitalization strategy.

Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi, Vice President Flight Operations, Etihad Aviation Group said: “Etihad is constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions that will drive improvements in the airline’s operations and enhance the experience for guests and employees. We believe that facial recognition technology has the potential to enhance the efficiency and security of airline operations and are happy to be partners with SITA in this trial.”

Although this is a Proof of Concept running until late February 2021, we are hopeful the findings will lead to a broader solution for the industry at a time when crew and passenger safety is under the microscope.

Concepts from SITA’s innovation team have a successful track record of becoming commercial solutions. One example of a productized project is SITA’s CrewTab, a powerful yet easy-to-use tablet dashboard that digitizes cabin crew activities before, during and post-flight, to increase operational efficiency, empower crews and personalize service excellence.

SITA’s strategic technology research team stimulate technological innovation in the air transport industry and bring emerging technologies into SITA’s portfolio. The team innovates in collaboration with airlines, airports, and technology specialists globally.

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Hamad International Airport chosen as the Best Airport in the Middle East

The Peninsula

Doha: Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been voted as the “Best Airport in the Middle East” for the fourth consecutive year by Global Traveler’s GT Tested Reader Survey Awards. One of the most prestigious and respected accolades in the business travel industry, the award honours the sustained, outstanding customer service offered by HIA in its passenger-oriented airport experience.

For the 17th consecutive year, Global Traveler asked its distinguished readers to vote for their favourite travel products and experiences. An estimated 72 per cent of Global Traveler’s readers frequently travel in first and business class.

HIA’s commitment to enhancing passenger wellbeing has allowed the airport to place passengers at the heart of its airport experience. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, HIA has implemented numerous safety, security and wellbeing measures, along with new lifestyle offerings that aid in alleviating the stress caused by travelling during such times of crises.

Francis X. Gallagher, publisher and CEO, FXExpress Publications. Inc said: “It is a testament to Hamad International Airport’s dedication to a holistic passenger experience that our readers have chosen HIA as the Best Airport in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year. Congratulations to Hamad International Airport on upholding its role as the avant-garde force in delivering an outstanding airport experience in the region.”

Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer at Hamad International Airport said: ” We would like to thank the distinguished readers of Global Traveler Magazine for voting for us for the fourth year in a row. To be recognised for our efforts in ensuring the comfort and peace of mind of our passengers, especially during this unprecedented time, is an honour that bolsters us to continue improving our passengers’ airport experience. In our role as a gateway to the world, we at HIA are committed to the wellbeing of our passengers, which has allowed us to lead the charge in facing the COVID-19 pandemic with proactive safety measures and innovative technologies.”

As part of HIA’s swift and comprehensive steps towards passenger and employee safety against the pandemic, the airport has implemented the latest technologies like fully autonomous disinfectant robots, advanced thermal screening helmets, ultraviolet disinfection tunnels for all checked-in passenger luggage and an in-house developed face mask detection system to ensure the use of masks.  HIA’s Smart Airport Program utilises self-service and biometric technology to provide passengers with a safe and contact-free check-in and bag-drop experience.

HIA has also added a suite of services and facilities to improve its passenger experience. It introduced a sleep lounge earlier this year with sleep pods and cabins, where visitors can pay by the hour to relax between flights. It also introduced new food and beverage options at the terminal including the exclusive Harrods Tea Room and a vegan café with a healthy and innovative menu. The airport has also opened a variety of high-end luxury retail outlets offering products available exclusively to HIA’s passengers.

Engr. Al Meer  continued: “We remain committed to serve our US markets and strengthen the Qatar- U.S. cooperation, which is evident by our national carrier, Qatar Airways rebuilding its network to 11 destinations in the U.S. by March next year.”

Qatar Airways recently announced the launch of four weekly flights to Seattle from 15 March 2021, marking the seventh new destination launched by the carrier since the start of the pandemic. The airline has also partnered with Alaska Airlines to launch a frequent flyer program from 15 December 2020. Qatar Airways also plans to implement codeshare cooperation in line with the U.S. carrier, which is set to join oneworld in March 2021.

Qatar also announced earlier this year that 2021 will be celebrated as the Qatar – U.S. Year of Culture, which will fortify the evidently mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries and open doors for new opportunities. The year will recognize the two nations’ cultural and artistic diversity, encouraging intercultural dialogue, and deepening mutual understanding. The year-long program will feature a variety of exhibitions, festivals, competitions, bilateral exchanges and events that will be held in both countries,  inviting people to explore and appreciate one another’s culture.

Hamad International Airport continues its expansion project to increase its capacity to more than 60 million passengers annually. It also focuses on offering elevated retail and lifestyle experiences.

Based in the United States, Global Traveler is a renowned source of global premium travel expertise. The publication’s readers surveys are a prestigious source of information and cover other aspects of the travel industry, such as First- and Business Class Surveys and Best Airport in the World.

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Dubai Airports chief views 2021 with ‘cautious optimism’

Mandatory Covid-19 inoculations would be a ‘huge economic negative’ and unnecessary where PCR tests are in place, Paul Griffiths says

Tourists arrive at Dubai airport amid safety protocols in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. The chief of Dubai Airports expects momentum to pick up with the global roll out of vaccines and economies opening up. AFP
Tourists arrive at Dubai airport amid safety protocols in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. The chief of Dubai Airports expects momentum to pick up with the global roll out of vaccines and economies opening up. AFP

The chief executive of Dubai Airports said he views 2021 with “cautious optimism” as countries distribute Covid-19 vaccines and economies rebound.

“We are geared up and ready to expect a surge in demand once the vaccines start to [be distributed] in any meaningful scale,” Paul Griffiths told Bloomberg TV on Monday.

“Four billion people around the world have been in lockdown over the last eight to nine months; that is half of the population, and one of the most aspirational things that everyone wants to get back to is freedom of movement.”

Dubai International Airport was the world’s busiest international travel hub before the Covid-19 crisis.

Global pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca have achieved major breakthroughs in developing a coronavirus vaccine in recent weeks.

The first vaccine given in the US on Monday, where the pandemic had killed more than 306,460 people.

The UK began to give people the vaccine last week.

Mr Griffiths said the inoculation would not be required to fly into Dubai as it would be “a huge economic negative … I can’t see that being a requirement”.

“We have got so many sensible measures, including PCR testing on arrival, to make sure travel is safe enough for everyone to consider taking a journey. So, in my view, that would be … unnecessary.”

The aviation industry has opposed the vaccination requirement for passengers amid fears that it could hit air travel in a similar way to quarantine measures.

Mr Griffiths’s optimism for an industry recovery was also buoyed by the success of the UK-Dubai air travel bubble set up about a month ago.

“We are very confident that we are going to get back to about 30 per cent of our normal throughput during the month of December, which is probably going to be about double what we experienced through the previous months,” he said.

The emirate is set for an “incredibly busy” holiday season because of the agreement between the two governments, he said. About 65 per cent of the airlines that were flying at the start of the year have resumed flights to Dubai.

The airport is preparing for an austere 2021 but is prepared to sustain liquidity around a traffic base that is less than 30 per cent of pre-Covid levels, he said.

“We are now in a position where we can weather the storm going forward,” Mr Griffiths said.

“What is not certain is what the speed and shape of that recovery will be, but we stand ready to be able to take advantage [of it] when it comes.”

The coronavirus pandemic has dented the revenue of airports and airlines around the world as countries shut borders to prevent the virus spread.

The UAE has been gradually opening up to tourists over the past few months after putting in place the necessary safety measures.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions within two weeks and the emirate will resume “all economic, tourism, cultural and entertainment activities” within that period.

Earlier this week, the UAE announced plans to double the Dh41.2 billion ($11.2bn) spent each year on domestic tourism by 2030 and also encourage staycations.

Aviation and tourism are central to the UAE and are a pillar of the country’s economic diversification strategy.

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