Industry News

Despite objections by the airlines and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, federal officials will be auctioning airport takeoff and landing slots at New York’s three major airports — JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark-Liberty — in an effort to reduce nationwide flight delays caused by airport congestion, beginning in January.

According to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, the government will gradually auction up to 10 percent of the landing and takeoff slots the airlines currently operate at the airports. Peters also announces plans to spend $89 million on taxiway improvements at Kennedy Airport, and to reduce the number of hourly takeoffs and landings at LaGuardia from 75 to 71. The change at LaGuardia should cut flight delays there by 40 percent, Peters says.

The Air Transport Assn., which represents major U.S. carriers, reports it plans to file suit to stop the move, which comes despite findings by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that DOT/FAA does not have the legal authority to auction slots.

Congress recently approved the extension legislation, H.R. 6984, that will continue to fund the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. aviation system through March 31, 2009. An FAA reauthorization bill passed last year by the House, and under consideration by the Senate, includes an adjustment to the general aviation fuel tax to provide additional funding each year for continued transformation toward a satellite-based aviation system, also known as NextGen.

While general aviation groups remain pleased that new user fees have not been implemented by Congress via long-term FAA reauthorization, airport groups remain frustrated by the series of continuing resolutions coming out of Congress. Airports continue to call for raising the cap on Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to $7 from the current $4.50, and call for increases to Airport Improvement Program funding by $100 million per year.

Briefings ...

11th circuit court of appeals – rules that aviation services provider Business Representation International, Inc., in a high-profile wage-and-hour class action brought by 53 skycaps, was not liable for back wages. In Pellon v. BRI, the skycaps unsuccessfully argued that BRI violated minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and sought back wages as compensation, claiming that BRI failed to apportion the skycaps’ job duties between tipped and non-tipped tasks. The appellate court determined that there was no evidence that BRI had violated the FLSA.

abia — Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport announces that ultra low-cost carrier vivaAerobus will begin service to Puerto Villarta, initially with two flights per week beginning on January 15.

aircraft technical publishers — of Brisbane, CA announces an expanded agreement with Honeywell to republish and distribute technical publications for Honeywell engine APUs, landing gear, avionics, and additional aviation components. The technical publications will be distributed and accessed through ATP NavigatorV®, an independent industry standard platform for aviation compliance and safety information management;

arinc direct — expands its portfolio of flight services for business aviation with a new, fully-integrated Weight & Balance and Performance (runway analysis) application. Developed in cooperation with the Aircraft Performance Group, the program enables ARINC Direct customers to perform calculations online from any standard Internet computer connection;

Baa boston — developer of the AIRMALL® at Boston Logan Int’l Airport, unveils new concessions in Terminal B/American Airlines, the culmination of a two-year, $33 million airport development project. Renovations add some 20 new units to the AIRMALL®, incorporating a mix of international, national, and local brands.

bombardier flexjet — based in Dallas introduces the Flexjet 25 Expert Guide Edition* jet card, designed for holiday gift-giving. Each limited edition card from Bombardier Flexjet, the fractional jet ownership program of Bombardier Aerospace and Jet Solutions LLC, the air carrier operating the Flexjet 25 program under FAA Part 135, pairs the experience in private jet travel with an opportunity to have exclusive access to world-renowned authorities for private travel. Prices start at $107,900, and gift-givers who purchase a Flexjet 25 Expert Guide Edition jet card from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2008 have an opportunity to choose one of six Expert Guide packages.

boston logan int’l airport — announces that the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport, okays airline rates and fees that will cut the expenses airlines are expected to face this fiscal year by an anticipated $13 million to $14 million. Massport will be able to pass on those savings by leaving about 35 vacant positions unfilled, reducing the hours of some offices and services, cutting back on discretionary spending, and other measures. It also acted on the airlines’ suggestion that Massport refinance its costs for building facilities. Massport’s most recent fiscal year ended June 30 with a $4 million surplus. So it will funnel that money back to carriers, which could receive up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars each.

boston logan int’l airport — and former Major League Baseball star Jerry Remy celebrate the grand opening of his new restaurant, Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill, in Terminal C. Event featured the unveiling of Terminal C’s new 11,000-sq. ft. Dining Terrace.

Branson (MO) Airport — the first privately financed and operated commercial service airport in the U.S., announces that construction on the airport’s 7,140x150-ft. runway is almost complete. Airport is scheduled to open next May with an air show featuring the country’s top air show performers.

civil aviation authority — the U.K. aviation regulator for Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports, expresses strong support for the break-up of BAA, the U.K. airports operator, and urges the sale of two of its airports in London and one in Scotland.

conde nast traveler — announces the airport in Portland, OR scored top marks as the favorite U.S.
airport for business travelers, while Singapore was the number one airport destination for international travel, according to a new survey. Tampa, Florida and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., rounded out the top three domestic choices in the Conde Nast Traveler poll.

dhs — Dept. of Homeland Security plans to put all incoming air cargo through radiation detectors at the nation’s major airports to prevent terrorists from smuggling radioactive bombs into the U.S. Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff says he is concerned about weapons of mass destruction getting into the country by air or by boat. Four major U.S. airports will be outfitted with radiation detectors before the end of the year, plan calls for the nation’s 30 largest airports to have detectors.

eclipse aviation — the manufacturer of the world’s first very light jet (VLJ), the Eclipse 500, announces that the Russian State Bank Vnesheconombank Supervisory Board has approved the construction of a factory in Ulyanovsk, Russia to assemble the Eclipse 500 jet. VEB expects to finance the project in full, with a total value of $205 million. VEB and the Ulyanovsk region administration will be among the shareholders of the enterprise.
eden hydrogen inc. — a U.S. subsidiary of Eden Energy Ltd. based in Chicago, is awarded funding to add Hythane® fueling capability to the existing hydrogen station at Los Angeles Int’l Airport (LAX) as part of a project to fuel a fleet of pick-up trucks used as utility vehicles at the airport. The total cost of the project is $288,000, funded primarily by a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC), a Southern California agency that awards alternative fuel funding to clean transportation projects. Hythane® is Eden’s patented, near-zero emissions blend of hydrogen and natural gas which results in dramatic reductions in harmful emissions such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, NOx, and carbon dioxide while maintaining engine power and fuel mileage efficiency.

Edmonton int’l airport — opens the first airport-located Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen restaurant, offering dishes ranging from Chinese to Thai and East Indian to Malaysian.

Embraer — celebrates the opening of its 47,700-sq. ft. service center at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Facility will service the company’s Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 450, Legacy 500, and Legacy 600 executive jets.

FAA — Joe Del Balzo, founder and president of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, is selected by Robert Sturgell, acting FAA Administrator, for membership on the agency’s Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee. Del Balzo who once served as acting Administrator, will chair the Aircraft Safety Subcommittee.

flightcraft, inc. — announces the completion of a $1.5 million Business Aviation Terminal at its Eugene, OR facility. Flightcraft’s Eugene FBO now offers executive luggage service, improved catering facilities, two conference rooms, wireless Internet, ramp and parking lot security cameras, and other amenities.

frasca int’l, inc. — of Urbana, IL, is awarded a contract by FAA to build a Cessna Citation Mustang Flight Training Device (FTD), which will be qualified as a FAA Level 5 FTD and will be located at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. The FTD will accurately replicate the flight deck of the Mustang and will include the Garmin G1000 avionics package and Frasca’s TruVisionTM Visual System.

galaxy aviation — announces the acquisition of the FBO service provider at Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) in Hayden, CO. Yampa Valley Regional Airport, with its 10,000 foot runway, is the only field serving Steamboat Springs that is capable of accommodating the largest GA aircraft. Galaxy negotiated a purchase agreement with the Spectrum Jet Center and a new long-term lease agreement with Routt County. It is the sixth FBO location for Galaxy.

GAO — Government Accountability Office’s Gerald Dillingham, the agency’s top authority on aviation safety, tells a House panel that even though FAA “has given a higher priority to runway safety” there were 24 of the most serious kinds of runway incursions — defined as an event in which any aircraft, vehicle or person intrudes in space reserved for takeoff or landing — in fiscal 2008. The rate of serious incidents, measured by number of incidents per one million takeoffs and landings, increased 5 percent in the first three quarters of FY2008, according to Dillingham. The rate of all types of runway incursions, ranging from near collisions to minor incidents in which there was no threat to safety, was 6.72 in the first three quarters of 2008, up 10 percent compared to the same three quarters in 2007 and 2001, when the rate was at its previous peak of 6.11.

Gresham, smith, and partners — a national architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm, is awarded a contract from the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), a research program managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), to develop wayfinding and signage guidelines for airport terminal and landside use. The resulting reference manual will provide airport operators up-to-date wayfinding and signage guidelines to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of passengers, and are expected to be made available in late 2010.
• Gresham, Smith and Partners also completes a $22 million master signage program for DFW Int’l Airport. GS&P is currently designing a comprehensive wayfinding program for the new Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. Int’l Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int’l Airport;

hagerstown (MD) regional airport — announces that, via the Essential Air Service Program, it expects Allegiant to begin twice weekly service to Orlando for $79. It will be the first commercial service at the airport since Sept. 30, 2007, when Air Midwest flew its last US Airways Express flight to Pittsburgh, according to the airport.

hartsfield-jackson int’l airport – and the Southern Conservation Trust announce the opening of Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary in Fayette County, GA some 15 miles south of the airport. The 56.5-acre site is a wetlands mitigation project associated with construction of the airport’s fifth runway.

Honeywell — and Satcom Direct, an innovator of satellite voice, fax, and Internet data service solutions, enter an agreement to provide flight support and cabin communications services in a turnkey package. Satcom Direct will also handle support and account management of Honeywell’s existing cabin services, including OneLink(TM), OneView, and JetMapII(TM).

iata — Int’l Air Transport Association releases international traffic data for August that confirms a continuing downturn globally. International passenger demand growth slowed to 1.3 percent, following disappointing growth of 1.9 percent in July. Passenger load factors fell to 79.2 percent, a sharp dropoff from the 81 percent recorded during the same period last year as capacity growth outpaced demand. International freight traffic saw its third consecutive month of contraction with a 2.7 percent decline following drops of 1.9 percent in July and 0.8 percent in June.

int’l communications group — of Newport News, VA receives approval from FAA for its in-house Repair Station. ICG employs some 100 people at its 115,000-sq. ft. headquarters facility in Newport News, VA.

Kansas city int’l airport — hosts KCI Cruise Night, drawing some 500 show cars and 200 spectator cars and hundreds of attendees.

MIAmi int’l airport — unveils a new art exhibit, one with a purpose — finding parents for foster children in Miami-Dade County. The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery, spearheaded by The Children’s Trust, is a groundbreaking project that seeks adoptive parents for 48 children through portraits taken by 30 of the world’s top photographers. The exhibit is being hosted by The Division of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at MIA.

mooney aerospace group, ltd. — of Kerrville, TX names Robert B. Gowens Chief Executive Officer of Mooney Airplane Company. Gowens, the former CEO, president, and vice president/GM of three different manufacturing companies in the recreational marine industry, brings more than 36 years of senior leadership experience to his new role. Dennis E. Ferguson remains the President of Mooney.

nashville int’l airport — begins work on Phase I of its Terminal Access Roadway Improvements (TARI) Project, designed to improve traffic conditions into and out of the main terminal complex.

NWA cargo — as part of the NWA EarthCares program, replaces engines on five of its freighter aircraft with more fuel efficient and higher performance engines, achieving a 5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and saving the airline an estimated 2.4 million gallons of fuel per year and eliminate over 26,000 tons of carbon emissions. NWA Cargo also made a progressive environmental move to purchase 4,200 lightweight cargo/luggage containers (LD3s), driving significant fuel savings of up to 1.3 million gallons of fuel per year.

OAG — Official Airline Guide estimates that the world’s airlines will offer 59.7 million fewer seats in the 4th quarter of 2008 than they did a year ago, a drop in capacity of 7 percent. OAG says the U.S. domestic market will account for just under 20 million of that figure, or 33 percent of the global decline in capacity.

o’hare int’l airport — announces the commissioning of the runway 10/28 extension, the first infrastructure project completed by the O’Hare Modernization Program. Runway was opened 56 days ahead of schedule and under budget. The 3,000-ft. extension brings the runway length to 13,000 feet.

panama city-bay county (FL) int’l airport — launches a new website to help educate the public on the progress of its new $318.5 million airport, set to open in 2010. Features milestones leading up to the groundbreaking of the airport, the first built in the U.S. in the past 13 years, as well as constant photo and video updates on the development of the airport;

philadelphia int’l airport — names International Shoppes as the first “Merchant of the Year” award recipient under the Philadelphia Marketplace’s EDGE! (Excellence Drives Great Experiences) Program, designed to motivate and reward merchants for providing great customer service to passengers at PHL.

priva technologies, inc. — deploys its Cleared® Security Platform at Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall Int’l Airport in a government-approved biometric airport access control security program. The program, called SecureScreen, is a joint effort of TSA, Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA), Coalition of Airline Pilots’ Associations, and Priva Technologies with support from BWI and the Maryland Aviation Administration.

renewable energy group — a biodiesel producer and marketer, announces its sponsorship of the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO). Renewable Energy Group (REG) has been involved in algae oil-to-biodiesel commercialization for more than two years, and recently announced it has implemented technology to refine the oil from a variety of algae strains and produce algae biodiesel exceeding ASTM standards. The ABO is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and advocate for the development of commercially viable transportation and power-generation fuels as well as other non-energy applications for algae biomass.

ruby’s diner — is expanding with a new location at Newark Liberty Int’l Airport, scheduled to open in November. Ruby’s Diner is an Orange County, CA-based restaurant group with more than 40 locations throughout Southern California, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Ruby’s Diner currently has three other airport locations (LAX, Las Vegas, and Houston).

Service Elements — based in Phoenix announces the release of its new service delivery audit program for business and general aviation to systematically uncover service and service delivery issues and to define or uncover specific solutions;

siemens — is awarded a more than 5 million euro design-build contract from Greenhut Construction Co. for a new in-line baggage screening system at the Pensacola (FL) Gulf Coast Regional Airport. Siemens will provide 438 meters of baggage handling conveyor, eleven Siemens-patented high-speed diverters, and a screening matrix consisting of four explosive detection systems and four vertical sort units. Siemens will also provide eight baggage piers for carrier-specific sortation and three baggage carousels to replace the existing ones.

Signature flight support — headquartered in Orlando, acquires Southern Aero Services Ltd, which wholly owns Interflight Executive Aircraft Services, the sole-source provider of FBO services at London Gatwick Airport in the U.K. Signature Flight Support now has 23 locations at cities across Europe.

solazyme Inc. — announces it has produced the world’s first microbial-derived jet fuel. Solazyme’s algal-derived aviation fuel as analyzed by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), a leading fuel analytical laboratory, passed the eleven “most challenging” specifications needed to meet the ASTM D1655 standard for aviation turbine fuel.

southwest florida int’l airport — in Ft. Myers reports August traffic at 449,000 passengers, a decrease of 8 percent compared to August 2007. Year-to-date, passenger traffic is down 5 percent over the same period last year.

tim hortons — the Canadian-based donut and coffee shop chain, begins construction of an outlet at Kelowna (HI) Int’l Airport. Restaurant is expected to be open for business in time for the Christmas travel season.
united airlines — announces that it has decided to halt its service out of LA/Palmdale Regional Airport starting Dec. 7. United, which was the only major carrier at Palmdale airport, says it was losing “significant money” on the initiative despite receiving government subsidies. The pullout comes 15 months after LA politicians welcomed United to Palmdale in an attempt to redistribute the passenger load away from LAX.

u.s. customs and border protection — signs a joint agreement with the United Kingdom Border Agency to strengthen both countries’ borders by sharing information on people who may present a threat — including illegal immigrants, smugglers and foreign criminals — before they arrive. As a result of the agreement, CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC) and UKBA’s Joint Borders Operations Centre (JBOC) will strengthen the capability of the U.S. and the U.K. to verify travel documents, detect false identities, determine admissibility, carry out customs purposes, and identify persons traveling between our countries who may pose a security risk.

wayne county airport authority — reports that airlines will pay some 38 percent more to operate at Detroit Metropolitan Airport under a proposed budget move. The average cost per enplanement is expected to rise to an average of $8.13 for FY2009 (average is expected to be $5.91 for FY2008, which ended Sept. 30, and was $5.13 in FY2007). Overall, the authority expects to charge airlines $39.8 million more in 2009.

wichita aero club — is formed by a consortium of business, government, and educational organizations in the greater Wichita, KS area. Patterned after the Aero Clubs of Washington and Atlanta and The Wings Club in New York, the new group plans to host monthly luncheons and invite high profile speakers to address major aviation industry issues. It will also have a website, publish an online newsletter, and host fund-raising events.

xojet — announces that it has reduced the fuel surcharge (put in place in the wake of record-high oil prices) for on-demand flights by 9 percent. It’s estimated the reduction will save clients some $1,000 on the cost of a round trip transcontinental flight.