The new runway. Who’s going to pay?

With the news this month Dublin Airport is building another runway comes the inevitable questions from airlines – how much is it going to cost and who is going to pay for it?

History suggests that getting all sides to agree on the answers to these questions will not be easy. Back in 2005, the decision to construct a second terminal at Dublin Airport led to a bitter and protracted dispute between Ryanair, daa (the owners of Dublin Airport), and the Irish airports regulator, the Commission for Aviation Regulation. A change in management at daa appears to have led to a closer working relationship between Ryanair and the airport in recent years. The construction of the northern runway will be a vital test of this new friendship.

First, the cost: daa has put the cost of constructing the new runway at €320m. Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair have already questioned this figure, which is almost 30% higher than the original estimate of €250m. Ryanair has previously suggested the runway could be built for as little as €50m although, like many Ryanair statements, a large pinch of salt is required.

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A remote view

This article was original published in the April edition of the Aviation Intelligence Reporter. For information on subscribing to the Aviation Intelligence Reporter, click here.

The great and good of air traffic management gathered in Madrid last month for the World ATM Congress. All anyone could talk about was remote towers. Some were even seen wearing badges with ‘I heart remote towers’ emboldened across them.

Remote towers are taking off, if you’ll excuse the pun. Many are keen to join the cult. There was talk of remote towers operating in Dubai, Germany, Norway and Singapore as well as further operations in Sweden. The idea of extending the notion of remote management to entire airport operations was also touted. LFV, the Swedish ANSP, were keen to be sure that everybody realised they were the leaders in this area.

As positive as the story is around remote towers, it flags up one of the weaknesses of the ATM industry: an obsession with technology as the solution to all its problems.

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Striking controllers demonstrate the scourge of sovereignty

Subtlety is not Ryanair’s strongpoint. Its business has grown on the back of in-your-face advertising campaigns and a CEO not afraid to steal the limelight. Ryanair is essentially the bad boy of European aviation. The cool kid with the devil-may-care attitude, who everyone admires but no one has the guts to be.

Ryanair’s current headline-grabbing campaign is an online petition for, first, the removal of air traffic controllers’ right to strike and, second, to allow other European controllers to manage flights over French airspace during any strikes. Frustrated passengers, whose holiday plans have been scuppered by striking French or Belgian air traffic controllers, are being encouraged to sign up. Once the petition reaches one million signatories, Ryanair will personally deliver it to the European Commission.

Is this anything more than another Ryanair publicity stunt?

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GMBM. It’s a win-win for airlines.

There has been a flurry of press releases as negotiations get underway towards developing a global market based mechanism (GMBM) for the aviation industry. And, boy, does the airline industry want us to know about it. The GMBM is rapidly turning into a PR exercise rather than a means of addressing the impact of aviation on the environment.

Having somehow slipped out from any obligations at the COP21 negotiations in Paris late last year, all eyes are now turned to ICAO and the GMBM. Getting a GMBM agreed at the ICAO Assembly this year will be essential if the aviation industry is to repair some of its tarnished reputation on environmental matters. In this respect the GMBM is invaluable. Media-savvy environmental groups can no longer complain that aviation is doing nothing to address climate change. Passengers will be able to fly without any guilt. And best of all, its effect on fares, and therefore airline profits, will be minimal.

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How to kill a zombie, European style

We have been investigating how best to kill a zombie. Apparently, whatever your choice of weapon, the key is to aim for the head and don’t miss. Oh, and don’t let it bite you.

The zombie in question is a University of Ghent study on atypical employment in the aviation sector. As discussed in this month’s Aviation Intelligence Reporter, many are treating this study as Gospel evidence that the use of indirect employment contracts in the aviation industry poses a risk to working conditions and safety.

Those who have read the report will wonder why it’s getting so much attention.

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What the CANSO Performance Report doesn’t tell you

Data from CANSO’s latest Global Air Navigation Services Performance Report indicates a worrying deterioration in the cost efficiency of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) worldwide. Over the period 2010-14, unit costs have increased for almost all of the ANSPs included in CANSO’s survey.

Not that you’d know this from reading the CANSO report, which is keen to highlight that the majority of ANSPs have reduced their unit costs in 2014 in the context of rising traffic. However, further examination indicates that unit costs are generally still higher than they were four years ago, and ‘majority’ actually means 56%.

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Birmingham Airport: The new kids on the ANSP block

MEP Daniel Dalton recently posed an interesting question in the European Parliament: what is the Commission doing to enable the creation of a market for terminal air navigation services (TANS)? It is unclear what prompted Mr Dalton – usually so quiet on aviation issues – to ask this question. Perhaps a clue can be found on his website where he promises to that he will be ‘working to encourage infrastructure improvements and promoting the interests of Birmingham Airport’.

Is this an indication that Birmingham Airport’s new in-house TANS provider, Birmingham Airport Air Traffic Ltd (BAATL), is keen to expand into new markets?

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Five predictions for the aviation industry in 2016

The new year provides an opportunity for reflection and refocus. The various trade associations have been busy publishing their reviews of the past 12 months. These mainly consist of a self-congratulatory list of their achievements and a reminder to their members of the threats facing the industry. After all, they need to justify their membership fees somehow.

Of more interest to us are their plans and resolutions for 2016. Unfortunately, these cards tend to be played much closer to their chests. So, we’ve dusted off the crystal ball to provide five predictions for 2016.

Feel free to include your own predictions in the comments below. 

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A4E: doomed 2 fail?

As subscribers to the Aviation Intelligence Reporter will be aware, Europe’s latest trade association has yet to be named. The official announcement is expected at the European Aviation Summit next week. In the meantime, rumours have been circulating that the name will be…(drumroll please)… A4E. That’s ‘Airlines for Europe’ to you and me.

Where do we start?

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