March’s top news stories

9 April 2019 (Last Updated April 15th, 2019 11:58)

London’s Heathrow Airport has unveiled a list of 18 sites that qualify to host factories and yards to build components for its third runway project; Athens International Airport in Greece has become the first airport in Europe to trial SITA Smart Path biometric technology at security. Airport-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from March 2019.

March’s top news stories
Heathrow releases the names of 18 shortlisted sites to help construct third runway. Credit: LHR Airports Limited,

Heathrow unveils 18 shortlisted sites to help construct third runway

London’s Heathrow Airport unveiled a list of 18 sites that qualify to host factories and yards to build components for its third runway project.

The sites include logistics hubs in Yorkshire, the West and East Midlands, and the North West.

The 18 sites will now compete to become one of the final four construction centres, which will be announced early next year, ahead of the construction work on the $18.5bn third runway project starting in 2021.


Athens airport trials SITA’s biometric identity solution at security

Athens International Airport in Greece became the first airport in Europe to trial SITA Smart Path biometric technology at security.

The new solution enables travellers to use their faces instead of a boarding pass. At check-in, travellers participating in the trial can scan their passport and have their photo taken.

Passengers can subsequently move towards security where they can quickly be verified as a known traveller, eliminating the process of showing a boarding pass. Once their face is scanned, passengers are able to fast-track through security.


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 has deployed three additional screening lanes, dedicated fast-track lanes, as well as staff and goods lanes. This will enable the airport to boost its passengers’ processing capacity by 35%.


Studio ORD to design new global terminal at Chicago O’Hare airport

The City of Chicago selected Studio ORD to lead a team of architects selected to design the $2.2bn global terminal of O’Hare International Airport, which is part of an $8.7bn expansion project.

After a competitive process, the City of Chicago shortlisted five qualified architect teams, with Studio ORD emerging as the winning team.

Studio ORD is a joint venture (JV) formed by Corgan Associates, Milhouse Engineering and Construction, STL Architects, Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates, and Studio Gang Architects.


Tata Group-led consortium to acquire large stake in GMR Airports

A partnership between Tata Group, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and SSG Capital Management acquired a 45% stake in GMR Airports, a unit of GMR Infrastructure, for Rs80bn ($1.2bn).

The deal saw the consortium partners pay Rs10bn ($145.13m) as an equity infusion in GMR Airports while the remaining Rs70bn ($1.01bn) was paid towards the acquisition of its equity shares from the listed entity along with its subsidiary.

The deal means Tata Group owns a 20% share in the airport unit, while GIC hold 15% and SSG a 10% stake.

The Tata-GIC-SSG consortium clinched the deal, beating Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi, which was also engaged in negotiations with GMR.


Gatwick Airport and Stanley Robotics to test valet parking robots

Gatwick Airport in London, UK, signed a framework contract with Stanley Robotics to test robots that valet park passengers’ cars.

It will be the first UK airport to trial valet parking robots.

The trial will start in the second half of 2019 and continue into early next year.

The robot, known as Stan, will gently lift up the cars and store them in a secure car parking space once passengers leave their car in a spacious ‘parking station’ close to the South Terminal entrance.


Frankfurt Airport resumes operations after drone sighting closure

Frankfurt Airport in Germany announced that operations have resumed following a brief shutdown due to a drone sighting on 22 March.

After an illegal drone was spotted flying near the airport, operator Fraport suspended all landing and take-off of aircraft for 30 minutes as a precautionary measure to safeguard passengers.

Air traffic was stopped from around 5.15pm until 5.45pm on 22 March, an airport spokesperson told news agency DPA.


KCAD and Edgemoor break ground on Kansas City Airport terminal

The Kansas City Aviation Department (KCAD) and developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate broke ground on the $1.5bn terminal at the Kansas City International Airport in the US.

The new single terminal, which will be constructed at the site of the demolished Terminal A, will transform and modernise the current three-terminal layout at the airport.

Terminals B and C will continue to be operational during the construction of the new integrated project, but will be demolished upon the transfer of operations to the new integrated terminal.


CDA begins construction on expansion of Terminal 5 at O’Hare airport

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) broke ground on the first phase of a $1.2bn expansion of Terminal 5 at the O’Hare International Airport in the US.

The expansion of Terminal 5 is part of an $8.5bn modernisation plan announced in March 2018.

Scheduled to be completed by 2021, the expansion of the 25-year-old terminal is expected to increase the total building area by about 350,000ft².


UK Government approves e-passport gates for non-EEA passengers

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced that passengers of some countries will be allowed to use the e-passport gates, aimed at reducing wait times significantly.

Under the new scheme, which will come into force from June this year, travellers from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and South Korea will be able to use e-passport gates at UK airports and Brussels and Paris Eurostar terminals.

In his Spring Statement, the Chancellor also announced that paper landing cards for non-European Economic Area (EEA) travellers would be dropped simultaneously.