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November 4, 2012

October’s top stories: New York airports recover after Superstorm Sandy

October started with the usual airport developments and openings, then ended with chaos across the US East Coast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. wraps up the key headlines from October 2012.

By Chris Lo

International passenger traffic rose 5.1% in August: IATA

Passenger traffic

International passenger traffic achieved healthy year-on-year growth of more than five percent in August, it was announced by IATA at the beginning of October.

This impressive result turned out to be something of an anomaly, as Ramadan provided a ‘positive distortion’ of traffic figures. Without the distortion, traffic statistics were more modest, remaining flat when compared to June and July, with a 1.2% rise since January.

The Middle East region once again proved a traffic growth leader, with a 16.7% rise for the month.

Frankfurt Airport opens new 800m-long Pier A-Plus

Pier A-Plus complex

Frankfurt Airport achieved a major milestone in its plans to improve future capacity and competitiveness in October, opening the new €700m Pier A-Plus complex, one of two new terminals that are together expected to increase the airport’s annual capacity by six million passengers.

The new facility opened to the public on 10 October and is exclusively used by Deutsche Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners.

Smartphones fuelling demand for mobile self-boarding at airports

The inexorable rise of smartphone technology is influencing many industries, and airports are no exception, according to a report released in October by air transport IT company SITA. The company’s survey revealed a sharp rise in passengers using smartphones in the last year, up from 54% to 70%.

Passengers are also showing overwhelming support for innovations that can cut queuing times, with 89% citing self-boarding as a top technology. With 21% of passengers having used a mobile boarding pass and social media usage through smartphones on the rise, SITA described 2012 as "a tipping point" for mobile services in airports.

Kansas City International Airport plans new $1.2bn single terminal

Kansas City

Kansas City International Airport is planning a massive overhaul, transferring all operations from its three terminal buildings to a new $1.2bn multistorey facility.

The existing Terminal B would be demolished, while Terminal C would be leased as an office building. According to a study by the Kansas City Aviation Department, the single-terminal concept will be more economical due to its closer proximity to the main runway, the fuel farm, the cargo facility and the de-icer area.

"By moving back across the airfield, we save half a billion dollars," enthused Kansas City Aviation Department director Mark VanLoh.

The FAA is expected to grant approval for the project in 2013, with a two-year construction phase scheduled to begin in late 2014.

Copenhagen Airports to sell 49% stake in UK’s Newcastle Airport

Copenhagen Airports

Copenhagen Airports will sell most of its share of NIAL Group, the owner of Newcastle Airport in the UK, to AMP Capital Investors for around £150m, including £65m to pay off part of the airport’s £298m debt.

AMP Capital will add its 49% Newcastle Airport stake to the shares it holds in Melbourne and Launceston airports in Australia.

The investment group beat out competition from 3i and Antin to secure the deal. Copenhagen Airports sold its share as part of a wider share to refocus its attentions on developing its airports in Copenhagen.

Hurricane Sandy closes US airports

Superstorm Sandy

As was to be expected, the spectre of Superstorm Sandy cast its shadow across airports on the US East Coast at the end of October. More than 18,000 flights to and from the region were cancelled in the run-up to the storm and during the event itself, with airports in Philadelphia, Newark and New York particularly badly affected.

New York’s three airports remained closed in the aftermath of the storm because of the damage caused by floodwaters, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports around the world. Airports in the region began to reopen in stages during the few days after the storm.

By Wednesday 31 October, JFK Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport had reopened, with LaGuardia Airport following on Thursday 1 November with a limited flight schedule.

Related content

September’s top stories: US and Europe seek leaner, greener flights

September was a big month for ATC, with Europe and the US kicking off major projects as part of their next-gen navigation programmes. Meanwhile, major terminal projects moved forward in Nigeria and Taiwan.

August’s top stories: traffic stats, NDIA delayed again and new airport projects underway

August saw yet another delay for Qatar’s NDIA project, while Peru started planning a new airport for Machu Picchu and Europe bore the brunt of disappointing passenger traffic growth.

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