June’s top stories: Birmingham and Sydney airports target 70 million passengers

30 June 2013 (Last Updated June 30th, 2013 18:30)

Birmingham and Sydney airports unveil plans to surpass 70 million passengers, Frankfurt improves runway capacity using satellite systems, while the French Government announces an intention to divest a stake in Paris's Charles de Gaulle and Orly owner Aeroports de Paris (ADB). Airport-technology.com wraps up key headlines from June 2013.

June’s top stories: Birmingham and Sydney airports target 70 million passengers

Airport image

Birmingham Airport unveils 50-year expansion plan


Birmingham Airport in the UK, together with a coalition of Midlands councils and business leaders, has unveiled a 50-year expansion plan, which could transform it into a bigger hub than Heathrow.

The proposal involves the addition of a new terminal, incorporating the HS2 fast rail network and adding a second runway, which will allow the airport to boost its passenger capacity to around 70 million passengers and air transport movements to 500,000 per year.

Plans also include the development of a business park for Birmingham’s manufacturing sector together with an expanded airport site.

Sydney Airport releases plan to double passenger capacity

Sydney Airport in Australia has unveiled its ‘2013 Preliminary Draft Master Plan’, which targets doubling passenger handling capacity to 74 million per year by 2033, without any modifications to runways, curfews or the current flight cap.

Scheduled to be submitted to the Australian Government by late 2013, the draft plan focuses on the integration of the airport terminal and improvement of transport to the airport.

The concept plan involves developing the airport into two integrated terminal precincts, with international, domestic and regional services in each, which is expected to improve efficiency and enable passenger transfers between services under the same roof.

EU probes planned flight paths of Berlin Brandenburg Airport

EU probe

The European Union (EU) has launched an investigation into whether Germany violated EU environmental-protection laws while planning flight routes at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

The newly designed flight paths, which were specified in January 2012, are being probed for allegedly infringing on areas rich in wildlife, including cranes, white-tailed eagles, swan and moorhens.

Germany will now have to reply to a letter from the European Commission in Brussels, within two months, seeking information regarding the routes’ compliance with EU directives.

France to sell stakes in Aéroports de Paris

The French Government is planning to reduce its stake in Aeroports de Paris (ADB), the owner of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, by selling off shares worth €690m.

France Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has asked the government organisation in charge of state holdings to arrange the disposal of ten million shares, while the government would in return retain a majority stake in the airport operator.

The French state currently owns about 54.5% of ADP, while the state-sponsored strategic investment fund FSI holds another 5.6%.

French air controllers’ strike delays flights across Europe

French air traffic controllers

A strike by French air traffic controllers (ATC) protesting against the European Union’s (EU) plans to liberalise civil airspace and lower air-traffic charges has affected thousands of flights across the continent and forced cancellations of more than 60% of flights in France.

The stike has led to the cancellation of more than 3,000 flights across Europe, with more than 2,000 in France alone, as more workers joined the two-day strike that ended on 12 June 2013.

The union for ATC said that 11 countries have participated in the strike, with France witnessing the biggest walkout, which also saw a ripple effect on other European nations.

The strike comes in response to plans by EU regulators to spread out their powers to reduce air-traffic charges and cut down flight routes in the union, challenging national controllers.

NATS begins optimised transatlantic flight trials

UK air traffic services provider NATS has started trialling environmentally optimised transatlantic flights under its TOPFLIGHT project.

Part of the SESAR programme, TOPFLIGHT will allow NATS and its project partners to reassess and gather feedback on the feasibility, benefits and scalability of the SESAR concept, with minimum fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

The SESAR joint undertaking co-funded project involves trialling up to 60 British Airways (BA) flights, during summer 2013, to assess factors including push-back time, climb and descent profile and routing in a bid to mimimise emissions and boost efficiency.

Initial flight trials kicked off during late May 2013 between Heathrow and Canada, following six weeks of cockpit simulation work.

GMR seeking compensation from Maldives over contract termination

GMR Group

Indian infrastructural firm GMR Group is seeking compensation of $1.4bn from the Maldives Government claiming ‘wrongful termination’ of the 25-year upgrade, modernisation and management contract for Ibrahim Nassir International Airport in Male.

Filed in a Singapore court where arbitration proceedings are to be heard, the final order in the issue is anticipated to reach its conclusion by late March 2014.

The Maldives Government said that the termination of GMR’s contract in November 2012 was based on a paper presented on the technical, fiscal and economic issues.

Satellite-based landing system goes live at Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport in Germany has commissioned Indra Navia’s NORMARC 8100 CAT III ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) to improve runway capacity in low-visibility conditions.

The commissioning marks the beginning of system validation testing, which is being done by Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) together with EUROCONTROL and other members of the project team.

Deployed as part of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme, the new satellite-based landing system is expected to boost signals from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), making them precise and reliable to deploy during aircraft approaches and landings.

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