February’s top stories: EC announces new guidelines, Heathrow and Avianca partner

2 March 2014 (Last Updated March 2nd, 2014 18:30)

The European Commission has adopted new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines and Heathrow Airport has partnered with Avianca to provide the UK with its first direct connection to Colombia for nine years. Airport-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from Febuary 2014.

February’s top stories: EC announces new guidelines, Heathrow and Avianca partner

EC announces new guidelines to shore up regional airports

The European Commission has announced new guidelines to allow airports and airlines promote sound use of public resources for growth-oriented initiatives under its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy.

SAM strategy aims at fostering growth while minimising distortions of competition that would undermine a level playing field in the single market.

Designed to ensure good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, the new guidelines are in line with EU state aid rules. Commission vice-president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "The new state aid guidelines are a key ingredient for a successful and competitive European aviation industry.

Heathrow and Avianca partner to provide UK’s first direct connection to Columbia


London Heathrow Airport has announced a deal with Colombia’s national airline Avianca to provide the UK with its first direct connection to Colombia for nine years.

As part of the Star Alliance, from July, Avianca’s passengers will be offered four flights a week through Heathrow’s new second terminal, which will open this June.

Although initial discussions between Heathrow and Avianca took place in 2009, it took about five years for the deal to be established due to a connectivity crunch.

Dubai Airport on track to become world’s busiest hub


Dubai International Airport has announced record traffic in the year 2013 with 66.43 million passengers passing through the airport, up 15.2% from the 57.68 million traffic recorded during 2012.

The airport noted that the increase can be attributed to network expansion and monthly passenger numbers which exceeded five million for 12 consecutive months.

With this rapid growth rate, Dubai Airport will overtake London Heathrow Airport as the busiest international airport, which reported traffic of 72.3 million in 2013, up 3.4% from 2012.

DHS warns US airlines of possible shoe bomb threat

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned international flights flying into US from abroad of a possible shoe bomb threat.

Sources familiar with the matter reportedly said that the warning is not specific to an airline or time frame, and is based on very recent intelligence, but not related to domestic or outbound flights.

A statement from the DHS said: "Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever-evolving threat environment."

Volcanic eruption in Indonesia shuts down three airports

A volcanic eruption in Java has spewed ash and sand over a large area, forcing the closure of three Indonesian airports.

The eruption occurred on 13 February on Mount Kelud, the 1,731m mountain located 85 miles south of Indonesia’s second biggest city, Surabaya, sending millions of cubic metres of dust and rocks into the atmosphere.

As a result, roofs of some houses reportedly collapsed under the debris, while ash up to an inch covered of Surabaya as well as other areas, forcing motorists to switch on headlight in daylight.

Atkins and CSWADI bag $5.8bn Qingdao airport project

A joint contract for a new Qingdao airport in the Shandong Province of China has been awarded to UK-based engineering, planning, project management and consulting services firm Atkins, and China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute (CSWADI).

Qingdao airport is one of the largest of five airports approved by the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC).

NDRC has earmarked a total amount of RMB150bn for the development of the five airports.

Russian forces reportedly seize two airports in Ukraine

Men wearing Russian-marked military uniforms reportedly blocked Belbek international airport in Sevastopol in the capital of Ukraine’s strategic Crimea region early on Friday.

Interfax news agency has reported that armed persons, dressed in camouflage, remained on the premises of the airport. BBC News said that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has denied the involvement of Russian servicemen.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said that unidentified men were patrolling other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, which serves the regional capital. In a Facebook post Avakov wrote: "I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation."

The situation at the Simferopol airport has returned to near-normalcy, with flights landing and departing on schedule.

London Gatwick Airport makes £30m available to improve flood resilience

London Gatwick Airport has put aside £30m as a resilience fund to avert future disruption to passengers following the unprecedented flooding on Christmas Eve.

As many as 72 flights were cancelled or delayed on 24 December, leaving thousands of passengers stranded as floods from a nearby river caused power cuts in the North Terminal.

Non-executive director David McMillan was immediately tasked to review flood resilience, disruption and passenger welfare at the airport.

McMillan’s report suggested actions that Gatwick Airport, airlines and baggage handlers could take to prevent disruption of that scale in the future. All of these recommendations have been accepted.

As well as offering £100 of vouchers to every passenger whose flight had been cancelled, Gatwick made £5m available to fund flood alleviation improvements.