2019 top news stories

3 January 2020 (Last Updated January 3rd, 2020 12:58)

NATS began trialling AI technology at Heathrow Airport to cut delays and Manchester Airport became the UK’s first 5G connected airport. Airport-technology.com has wrapped up key headlines for 2019.

2019 top news stories
NATS commenced a trial of an AI-powered digital control tower at Heathrow Airport. Credit: NATS Limited.

NATS trialling AI technology at Heathrow to cut delays

UK air traffic management service provider NATS commenced a trial of an AI-powered digital control tower at London’s Heathrow Airport to reduce flight delays.

NATS invested £2.5m in a ‘digital tower laboratory’ at Heathrow to understand how technology could support the air traffic operation.

Featuring a suite of 20 ultra high definition (UHD) cameras and AI-powered technology, the digital tower will monitor aircraft and help the airport to regain 20% of lost capacity caused by low cloud and reduced visibility from the control tower.


Manchester Airport to become UK’s first 5G connected airport

British telecom major Vodafone partnered with Manchester Airport to test 5G mobile technology services to enable passengers to download their favourite content in super quick time.

Manchester Airport became the UK’s first 5G connected airport through the collaboration.

The trial invited holidaymakers and business travellers at Terminal One to participate in a test and download content.


Melbourne Airport introduces smart-security screening point

Melbourne Airport became the first airport in Australia to launch a fully integrated smart-security screening point aimed at decreasing long queues and improving the travel experience for passengers.

The redeveloped T2 security screening zone comprises eGates and Smart Security lanes. The lanes are fitted with body scanners and automated tray return systems, making the screening process easier and more efficient for flyers.

As part of the initiative, the airport deployed three additional screening lanes, dedicated fast-track lanes, as well as staff and goods lanes.


Report suggests airlines’ baggage tracking improved delivery by 66%

Baggage delivery rates at airports increased by 66% due to the introduction of additional tracking points by airlines, according to a report published by IT firm SITA.

The SITA 2019 Baggage IT Insights report suggested the upward trend in baggage delivery could be seen in airports across the world.

The report highlighted that baggage tracking is being carried out at the check-in and aircraft loading stages, as well as during transfers and arrivals. This helps to decrease the mishandling rate and boost the delivery rate.


AAI to invest $2.67bn to modernise airports across India

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) unveiled a Rs190bn ($2.67bn) plan to modernise the ailing airport infrastructure across the country.

AAI will invest the funding over the next three years to upgrade airport infrastructure, focusing on India’s smaller cities.

A senior AAI official told The Economic Times: “We are not making investments in just smaller airports but also airports like those in Kolkata and Chennai. While work on upgrade at many airports has begun, work at some of the others will begin soon.”


China opens huge Beijing Daxing International Airport

China formally opened new multi-billion dollar Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is nearly the size of 100 football fields.

The starfish-shaped airport was inaugurated at a ceremony attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Located 46km from the city, the airport is situated at the junction of the Daxing district and Langfang City, which is in the Hebei province of North China.


Qatar’s Hamad International Airport reveals phase B expansion plan

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) unveiled its phase B expansion plan at Cityscape Qatar in Doha.

According to the plan, the expansion project will introduce a 10,000m² indoor tropical garden to a central concourse at the airport.

It will also feature a 268m² water feature, which the airport said would be the project’s focal point.

HIA noted that its expansion will be carried out in two phases, A and B.


Christchurch International Airport trials humanoid robots

Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand started testing humanoid robots at its terminal as part of an initiative to study emerging disruptive technologies.

Other technologies that the airport is testing under this initiative include autonomous smart shuttle and virtual reality training for its fire service.

Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said that a total of three Pepper robots have been tested at the airport by staff. Of them, one will become operational at the terminal.


New Orleans International Airport opens 35-gate North Terminal

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) in the US inaugurated its $1bn terminal to accommodate rising air traffic.

The 35-gate North Terminal was designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and Manning Architects in partnership with Crescent City Aviation Team (CCAT), which is a joint venture of Leo A Daly and Atkins.

As well as leading the terminal design, CCAT designed the concession programme, three concourses and two parking garages.


Flughafen Zurich secures conditional letter of award for Jewar Airport

Swiss airport operator Flughafen Zurich received a conditional letter of award for Jewar International Airport in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Noida International Airport CEO Arun Veer Singh handed over the letter to the Flughafen Zurich CEO Daniel Bircher.

Last month, Flughafen Zurich secured the concession for the design, development and operation of Jewar International Airport. The operator will construct and operate the airport for a period of 40 years.