IATA reported on global passenger traffic for June last month, and a worldwide 6.2% rise in passenger numbers will be something of a relief for an industry that has been struggling through a period of economic uncertainty.
As has been the case for some time now, airports in regions like the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America have generally been performing more strongly than their US and European counterparts, with the Middle East posting a particularly impressive 18.2% rise in international passenger traffic in June, easily exceeding the region’s capacity growth of 13.2%. This kind of demand will likely spur further airport expansions and new-build projects in the future.
Europe meanwhile, has been struggling with a steady decline in passenger traffic growth so far in 2012. Although the region achieved a 2.9% passenger boost in June, relatively flat growth across the board compared to other regions is causing major concern.
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said the H1 results reflected fundamental economic weaknesses. "Some airports received a much-needed boost from the European football championship, but the wider industry context remains grim," he said.
After a close call at Washington National Airport in Virginia involving the near-collision of three US Airways planes on the runway, the US Federal Aviation Administration has suspended opposite direction operations at all airports in the country.
Opposite direction runway operations allow the simultaneous take-off and landing of aircraft on parallel runways, but an ATC miscommunication meant that two taking-off flights almost crossed paths with another landing aircraft. The incident has been attributed to bad weather conditions, as well as a lack of standard protocols for traffic-reversing operations.
Leading up to the Olympic Games in London this summer, speculation was rife as to the effect that the global event would have on surrounding airport operations, with some suggesting that the UK capital’s airports might be unprepared for a sudden surge in traffic.
In the event, BAA’s airports actually registered a slight decline in passenger traffic for July, which the operator attributed to a drop in British passengers travelling abroad and non-Olympics visitors choosing to delay their UK holidays until after the Games. It remains to be seen if London Heathrow experiences a rapid increase in traffic, as all these deferred holidays begin to take place.
The Olympics weren’t the only major shake-up for BAA in August – last month also saw Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of Qatar’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority, agree to purchase a 20% stake in the operator for $1.4bn.
BAA’s majority shareholder Ferrovial said that the deal would help the company to invest in airport assets in emerging markets like Latin America, while Qatar Holding noted that its investment is a reflection of its belief in the long-term strength of the UK economy.
The stunning Inca site of Machu Picchu has long been one of Peru’s most popular tourist destinations, and the country has now unveiled a new plan to capitalise on its global renown by building a new $460m international airport in the nearby city of Cusco.
The Peruvian government notes that the city’s current airport operates only limited daytime flights and cannot handle major foreign flights, making it inadequate to serve a region that relies on tourism so heavily. The current airport’s inner-city location reportedly prevents larger flights from being able to approach, so the new project has secured a tract of land in the town of Chinchero to ensure there is adequate space.
In what is hopefully the final delay in a rather protracted development process, the opening of Qatar’s massive New Doha International Airport (NDIA) project has been pushed back to the second half of 2013.
The delay has reportedly been attributed to the termination of the Lindner Depa joint venture’s $245m contract to carry out the interior fit-out for the airport’s passenger lounges. However, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told the Moodie Report that the project partners are now preparing to start transferring operations to the new airport, and some elements of the project, including its cargo and VIP terminals, are still set to open by the end of 2012.
Brisbane Airport has now completed its new $350m Domestic Terminal. The Domestic Terminal Precinct project kicked off in 2010, involving a $40m upgrade to the common user satellite terminal, a $60m expansion of the northern domestic terminal apron, the construction of a $196m multi-storey car park and an elevated skywalk.
According to Brisbane Airport’s chairman Bill Grant, the terminal upgrade will leave the airport well-positioned to handle the estimated 33 million passengers who will be using the Domestic Terminal every year by 2029.