Australian Airports Association to hold Pavements and Lighting forum in Sydney

Australian Airports Association logo. (AAA)

The Australian Airports Association’s (AAA) Pavements and Lighting Forum will be held from May 1-3 in Sydney.

This is the third time the AAA has put on the event, which focuses on pavements and lighting projects and is part of the AAA’s program to provide the airports industry with comprehensive technical training.

Speakers included representatives from regional and major airports, as well as those from industry. There will also be an exhibition area and forum dinner.

“With the ever increasing popularity of the forum we are expecting 250 regional and major airport representatives to attend this specialised event,” AAA chief executive Caroline Wilkie said in the conference program.

The previous two events were held in Brisbane (2013) and Sydney (2015).

More information can be found on the AAA website.


Source : Australian Aviation

IATA highly critical of UK and US electronics ban

Recently introduced bans on the carriage of certain electronic devices on United States and United Kingdom bound flights is not an acceptable long-term solution to aviation safety, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says.

IATA has slammed the UK and US governments’ electronics bans, which requires passengers to check in all personal electronic devices larger than a smartphone on nonstop flights from a number of Middle East and North African countries.

“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate,” IATA chief executive and director general Alexandre de Juniac said on Tuesday in a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

“Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe.

“We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”

The US ban applies to passengers on flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, with laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units and travel printers and scanners required to be transported as check-in luggage.

Smartphones and medical devices will be permitted to be carried on board the aircraft.

The UK government quickly followed with a similar ban. However, it only applied to six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

de Juniac criticised the lack of consultation with airlines prior to the ban being implemented.

“With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions,” de Juniac said.

“Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport?

“And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travellers. We must find a better way. And Governments must act quickly.”

de Juniac reiterated IATA’s call for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.

“While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure,” de Juniac said.

“To do that effectively intelligence is king. And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It’s the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft.”


Australian Aviation

Kerrie Mather to step down as Sydney Airport chief executive

Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather at AAA national conference.

Kerrie Mather has announced she is stepping down as chief executive of Sydney Airport.

Mather’s decision to leave the company she has led since 2002 comes as Sydney Airport considers whether to take up its right of first refusal to build and operate the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west.

The airport has until May 8 to inform the federal government of its decision.

Mather, who will stay on as chief executive until her successor is appointed, said in a statement on Wednesday Sydney Airport was well positioned for the future.

“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with industry, governments and the community, to grow aviation connectivity and choice, domestically and internationally,” Mather said.

“It’s the right time to transition to new leadership. I look forward to continuing to work with the leadership team until the new CEO starts.”

The company said an international recruitment firm had commenced the search for a new chief executive.

Sydney Airport chairman Trevor Gerber said Mather had made a “tremendous contribution” in her time as chief executive.

“Under Kerrie’s leadership, Sydney Airport has developed strong and enduring relationships across the aviation industry, with all levels of government both in Australia and internationally, and with our local communities,” Gerber said.

“Sydney Airport is in a strong position, and well placed for future growth as Australia’s premier international gateway. We have a dedicated and talented leadership team in place that will ensure a seamless transition.

When the Commonwealth sold Sydney Airport in 2002 it included a 30-year right of first refusal to build and operate any airport within 100km of the existing terminals at Mascot.

In February, Mather said the government’s proposal represented a “challenging investment proposition” given the Commonwealth was not offering any funding assistance for the construction of the terminals and runways that are estimated to cost between $5-6 billion.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said recently an independent or government-owned airport at Badgerys Creek would be a win for airlines and the passengers they carry.

“A second international airport competing with Sydney Airport could yield significant benefits to both consumers and airlines. An independent operator of Western Sydney Airport would have a strong incentive to invest, set competitive prices and offer improved service levels to effectively compete with Sydney Airport,” the ACCC said in its Airport Monitoring Report for 2015/16.

“On the other hand, a common owner of the two airports would have an incentive to restrict investment and delay the new airport in order to maximise returns from its existing assets.”

The federal government has said it was prepared to build the airport itself should Sydney Airport not exercise its right of first refusal.


Australian Aviation

Virgin Australia goes from Space+ to Economy X

Virgin Australia has launched a new Economy X product across its fleet. (Jordan Chong)

Virgin Australia has launched a new Economy X product that replaces its previous Space+ offering and gives passengers what group executive for airlines John Thomas describes as “speed on the ground and space in the air”.

Economy X, which offers extra legroom seats that come with extra perks such as priority boarding, priority screening and dedicated overhead locker space, is being progressively rolled out across Virgin Australia’s domestic and international fleet.

Thomas said more than half of Virgin’s 75 737-800s have been reconfigured with the new Economy X branded seats, which feature a red stripe on the headrest with “Economy X” in white lettering.

The majority of the fleet was expected to be fitted with Economy X by the end of May.

On the Boeing narrowbody, the seats are pitched at 34 inches compared with 30 inches on Virgin’s standard economy seats.

The seats will be available free of charge for platinum members of Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyer program on domestic and short-haul international services.

For everyone else, the seats will be available as an add-on to their purchased fare, starting at $29 for a Sydney-Melbourne flight and rising to $149 for a long-haul Sydney-Los Angeles flight.

The pricing represents an increase from prices of $10-$50 for Virgin’s previous Economy Space+ product. There will also be an increase in the number of seats available as Economy X compared with Economy Space+, which mainly featured the exit rows in the cabin.

Thomas said Economy X was about giving passengers more ways to choose how they wanted to fly.

“What we found was they want speed on the ground and space in the air and that is basically what we give you with Economy X,” Thomas told journalists in Sydney on Thursday.

“We believe that it will revolutionise the domestic travel experience and give our customers that level of choice that’s never been seen in the Australian marketplace in the past.”

Figures from Virgin showed about 20 per cent of economy seats on its 737-800s, 737-700s and 777-300ERs have been rebranded to Economy X, while the percentage was in the single digits for the rest of the fleet. (See table below.)

On Virgin’s long-haul flights, those seated in Economy X will also receive a guaranteed first meal choice and noise cancelling headphones in addition to priority checkin and priority boarding.

Thomas said giving good customer experience “flows directly to be bottom line”.

“The more that you give customers choice, the more that you actually give them control of their experience, the better experience it is for them,” Thomas said.

“And interestingly enough, the better you can make their experience, the more financially profitable you can be.”

Economy X will be offered for sale from Friday March 31 for flights from May 21 2017.

Economy X seats
Economy X rows 
Percentage of  all economy

Boeing 737-800


Rows 3-5, 13, 14


Boeing 737-700


Rows 3-5, 10


Boeng 777-300ER


Rows 20-25, 26, 39


Airbus A330-200


Row 28


Embraer E190


Row 12


ATR 72-500/600


Row 1


Fokker 100


Row 12


Fokker 70


Row 11


Australian Aviation