New Airport Insider

New Airport Insider is an online magazine for forward thinking airport professionals and engineers. Led by a team of experienced airport professionals, New Airport Insider offers insights into the most relevant airport issues, emerging technologies, trends, and companies, and the opportunities that they create for airports.

Indonesia Airports Build: Why a Second Jakarta Airport

Jakarta Airports

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport is one of the most congested airports in the world. As explained in part one, the largest Indonesian airport has failed to cope with passenger growth and will continue to do so in the future. This means that Jakarta is in desperate need of a second large airport to cope with future growth.

Presently, downtown Halim Perdanakusuma Airport is used to relief Soekarno-Hatta, but with very limited capacity and limited space for expansion. Therefore a complete new greenfield airport is seen as the best solution. Located further away from the city centre, such a new airport will not only serve the Indonesian capital, but also the densely populated areas of the adjacent Banten and West Java provinces.

Multiple large greenfield airport projects are in various stages of development. There are Karawang Airport and Kertajati Airport east of Jakarta, and Lebak south of Jakarta. Karawang and Lebak are seen as the best options to complement Soekarno-Hatta, but contrary to Kertajati Airport, actual construction work is yet to start. Karawang Airport is even blocked by the West Java Province as it will be competing with Kertajati Airport.

Halim Airport: the Old Jakarta Gateway

In January 2014 Halim Airport was reopened for domestic operations to reduce pressure on Soekarno-Hatta. Garuda Indonesia’s low-cost subsidiary Citilink is currently the only user that actually moved operations away from Soekarno-Hatta to the previous international gateway of Jakarta. Due to the limited amount of available slots and the requirement to split operations between two airports, Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia Indonesia and Lion Air all cancelled their plans to operate from Halim.

Yet in October 2014, Lion Group announced that they will invest $436 million in the airport to develop a new terminal, capable of handling up to 12 million passengers per year, and other facilities such as taxiways and aprons. There are also plans to build a monorail to downtown Jakarta. Halim will serve as a base for Lion Air’ full service subsidiary Batik Air with construction work on the terminal expansion  to be finished by July 2015.

In 2006 Lion Group already saw potential in Halim Airport, with subsidiary PT Angkasa Transportindo Selares securing a 25-year lasting concession for its commercial operations. Though state-owned airport operator AP II was assigned to manage the Indonesian Air Force owned airport when it re-opened in January 2014. When Lion Group wanted to start making use of its concession, the Supreme Court had to order AP II  to hand over the management of Halim to Lion Group.

Despite Lion Group’s expansion of the airport, Halim is doomed to remain a secondary airport only. The airport is located just 10km from the centre of Jakarta, and is surrounded by an expanding city (see above image). Further, there is no room for extensive expansion beyond its current single runway, and only limited space for terminal expansion. Moreover, environmental and social considerations are a major issue in the operation and expansion of Halim Airport.

Lion Group Secures Own Airport Infrastructure

Just a few weeks after the announcement of Lion’s plans for Halim Airport, the airline group confirmed plans for a new large airport just south of Jakarta in Lebak, part of the Banten Province.  Construction is to begin in 2015 with first operations to start in 2018 – an ambitious goal for a large greenfield airport project. The airport is planned to reach a capacity of up to 50 million passengers per year and will serve as the main hub for no-frills airline Lion Air, replacing Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Lion Group CEO Rusdi Kirana commented in November 2014 that they received initial approval from the Transportation Ministry to develop a new four-runway airport in the Lebak Regency. One of its runways will be able to handle the Airbus 380 in the light of a potential partnership with a  Gulf carrier (Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways), though no concrete plans have been made about such a partnership. Lion Group plans to break ground in 2015 on a site of 600 hectares it already owns.

The airport is also intended to become the largest cargo airport in Indonesia, serving as a multimodal hub for the domestic market. The airport site which will eventually be as large as 5,500 hectares – two times the size of Soekarno-Hatta Airport – will include warehouse facilities, wholesale distribution centers, a commercial zone for shopping and a fast train connection to Jakarta.

For the new Lebak airport, Lion Group will source private funding as it is not subject to state-funding. The airline group is planning to sell 30% of its share in one of Indonesia’s largest IPO’s (Initial Public Offering) in 2016. This IPO is intended to raise about $820 million to partly fund the new airport project. Other unknown companies will also be involved in a new consortium to help fund the airport.

Conflict Over Competing West Java Airports

East of Jakarta there are plans for two other major airports, Karawang International Airport and Kertajati International Airport. Karawang is the preferred option for both the national government and the city of Jakarta. The estimated catchment area of Karawang has a large overlap of about forty percent with that of Soekarno-Hatta. In other words, Karawang could take over a large share of the demand in Eastern Jakarta to relieve Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Kertajati Airport which is located further to the east has an estimated overlap with Soekarno-Hatta of just 2%, with Greater Jakarta completely outside the catchment area of this airport. Therefore Kertajati will not be able to take over an adequate share of Soekarno-Hatta’s traffic.

Airport Jakarta

Though Kertajati Airport is the preferred project of the West Java Province government. West Java’s government is pushing to increase airport capacity in the important metropolitan area of Bandung, where Kertajati Airport will be built. However Karawang and Kertajati share a significant part of their catchment area and according to West Java there is room for only one large airport in that region and therefore sees Karawang as a major threat.

Karawang Airport, which will be funded by the independent Japanese government agency Japan International Cooperation Agency, still needs permission from the local government of West Java to start construction. The latter applies the brakes to ensure his favorite Kertajati airport gets ahead: it could easily take until 2017 before Karawang airport receives governmental approval.

Meanwhile plans for West Java’s Kertajati have been accelerated and expanded when the first phase’ target doubled in size, aiming at a capacity of 24 million passengers per year and up to 500,000 tons of cargo. With operations planned to start in 2018, West Java wants to make sure Kertajati airport starts operations before Karawang so that it has a first-mover advantage. Kertajati Airport is planned to expand to a capacity of 40 million by 2035.

Plans for Karawang International Airport are to reach a capacity of up to 70 million passengers, with 4 runways. Although expanding airport capacity in the Eastern Jakarta region is a key project, the protective attitude of West Java towards Kertajati brings the Karawang project in jeopardy. And while the construction of Karawang Airport was planned to start in 2015, it is very unlikely that this deadline will be met. Meanwhile, construction on Kertajati Airport’s first runway is underway (with South Korean construction group Samsung C&T being involved since summer 2014 to ensure the smooth development of the project).

Why Airport Development Remains Uncertain

Karawang Airport and Lion Group’s new Lebak airport are 2 greenfield projects that could solve the capacity shortages in the region, though both are still in the planning phase.

Lebak airport is planned to be operational by 2018, ambitious for a greenfield project of this size as construction will only start in late in 2015. And Karawang Airport is blocked by West Java because of conflicting interests with Kertajati Airport.

Regional interests conflicting with national projects are daily business in Indonesia and a major reason for the current problematic state of its infrastructure.

Lion Group could actually prove to offer the best solution by moving away from Soekarno-Hatta as one of its main customers, and securing its own airport capacity in Halim and Lebak.

It is striking that a private airline group has to develop its own airport capacity to overcome problems caused by a failed airport strategy by AP II and the Indonesian governments. Lion Group seems to succeed in turning this problem into a commercial opportunity and at the same time gaining a competitive advantage over airlines that remain dependent on Soekarno-Hatta.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter. You can also use hashtag #newairportinsider

Photo credits: Halim Perdanakusuma Airport by Marina Lystseva and West Java map by Clyde & Co (Michael S. Horn).

References:
Lion to spend $436m to take over Halim airport
Lion Air plans IPO for new airport
Caution Over Lion Group’s Lebak Airport Plan
A new Jakarta airport:Taking flight or grounded by delay?
Competition accelerates Kertajati airport schedule

A-CDM in Europe: Is the Ball Rolling?

A-CDMIn the course of one month, the ECAC zone could add 3 more Airport Collaborative Decision Making airports to its list of 12 in 2014. Latest to join was London Gatwick Airport on November 7th, and early October we welcomed Milano Malpensa Airport as Italy’s second, and Stuttgart Airport as Germany’s 5th addition already. Benefiting from lessons learned and thanks to German A-CDM procedure harmonization, Stuttgart pulled its project off in just over one year.

It looks like we are eventually picking up the required implementation pace. Can we do better? Definitely; many airports do have an A-CDM project in the pipeline, and many others should have, by now..

Airport CDM

From the Benches to the Trenches

All too many skeptics have been pointing fingers to Eurocontrol for this unconvincing implementation rate, but let’s be realistic here: one cannot expect the organisation to steer 10 or 15 projects simultaneously and guide every individual airport through the concept elements, preventing them from sitting back and relaxing until the next discussion round.

But more and more fingers are pointing in the direction of trade organisations and industry bodies like IATA, CANSO, ACI, … who excel in circumlocutory statements and press releases on collaborative decision making, but still haven’t rolled up their sleeves and stepped into the field to actually listen to the concerns of A-CDM stakeholders. Well, at least I have been around for 4 years in the Brussels Airport A-CDM program, and yes, as an A-CDM advocate, I have expressed the concerns of the community on quite a few public speaking occasions, but I don’t remember any of the aforementioned bodies stepping in or offering advice afterwards.

I’m asking myself if they are aware of their mitigating role in ongoing discussions and misunderstandings about the very core of the collaboration concept of A-CDM that are still haunting us after all those years

Airport CDM

Change Ahead?

To my pleasant surprise, a pertinent question was asked by someone from IATA in the ‘A-CDM at airports’ group on LinkedIn: “What can Eurocontrol, IATA, ACI, … do better to optimize implementation and delivery of benefits?”. So, it ís realised that there are ‘some issues’ with having the A-CDM concept adopted by the aviation industry… and I consider this to be a modest breakthrough. So I engaged with a counter question: ‘the one who only does what he has been doing will only get what he has always gotten, so what about some thinking outside the box and reaching out to the practitioners out there?’

My question was left unanswered, but for starters, I was happy to be able to take the conversation off line and elaborate on the chasm between boardroom A-CDM and the actual thing; issues which I will not withhold you, but which deserve a separate -and upcoming- blog post.

A-CDM

and Change Ahead?

Some weeks ago, I was invited by DLR to assist in a debate at the Airport IT 2014 conference on the importance of joint airport stakeholder decision making in future concepts such as Total Airport Management, for which A-CDM is a prerequisite (so this was me, arguing that A-CDM is approached too system-centric, in front of a fine selection of airport IT providers…).

Lots of buzz on ‘collaboration’ during the coffee breaks, and the word -again to my pleasant surprise- trickled down into many a slick airport tech-and-tool presentation. Yes, the success of an A-CDM project is measured by the transparency of its cross-stakeholder procedures rather than the performance of its tools.

Now, let us step up in the pursuit of the customer intimacy factor in project implementation and reach out to the practitioners to not only provide a system and bail out, but to make it actually happen and install a culture of sustained stakeholder engagement on those A-CDM airports to-be

… because an ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory.

What’s your take on this issue? Besides a healthy dose of experience, what more is needed to gain momentum for A-CDM implementation? And how do we approach the powerhouses of the industry to get them rolling up their sleeves.

Look out for upcoming posts on A-CDM implementation and challenges. Meanwhile, I invite you to enjoy the extraordinary pictures from Vitor Azevedo. Vitor is on the push back team of Swissport at Brussels Airport, but might as well be a professional photographer. Have a look at www.brusselstarmac.be

Season’s Greetings from New Airport Insider

New Airport Insider

As 2014 wraps up, I want to share with you a few things.

We are proud to be referenced on the 21st of December in FinanceAsia.com, paragraph before last. The only thing, they referred to us as an airline magazine.

Press mention

Further, here are the 3 most read articles, all time.
No. 3 Australia Airports Build: The Other End of the Line by Dan Parsons
No. 2 Incheon Airport South Korea Evaluates European A-CDM by Kris de Bolle
No. 1 Introduction to Airport Planning: The Master Plan by David Ruiz-Celada

And here are the links to all the articles we have published, by category:
U.S. Aviation by Greg Principato
A-CDM by Kris de Bolle
Australia Airports Build by Dan Parsons
Airport Wildlife Risk by Dan Parsons
Safety Assurance by Dan Parsons
China Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont
Turkey Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont
Indonesia Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont & Maxim Roelen
Planning and Development by David Ruiz-Celada
New Airport Insider news by Jinan Alrawi

Last but not least, the New Airport Insider team wishes your family and you a warm holiday and a superb 2015!

Thank you for being here and we will back with a new post on the 14th of January 2015.

Photo credit: by Marianne DeSelle via Flickr

[Airport Survey]

In collaboration with ADB Airfield Solutions, we are conducting a short online survey to identify top issues that concern airports and key priorities for 2015. The survey results will be published on both websites in May 2015 and all data collected will remain confidential. Will you take the survey?

Indonesia Airports Build: What You Need to Know

Jakarta AirportEditor’s note: As some of you know, we like to give aspiring aviation professionals a voice as part of our Generation Y feature. So today we have Maxim Roelen who is writing a 2-part series on Indonesia airports focusing on the situation in Jakarta. 

Jakarta is the beating heart of Indonesia’s aviation market, one easily forgotten, but it is growing at a dazzling speed. IATA expects Indonesia to become the sixth largest air passenger market in the world and the fifth largest domestic market by 2034. But not all is so rosy in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s largest carriers Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air are planning massive growth, focusing at the highly congested Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Despite tremendous growth, Jakarta and Indonesia have failed to expand airport capacity. Real solutions stay behind and airlines are worried about their planned expansion with already hundreds of aircraft on order.

Earlier this year, Guillaume Dupont wrote about the capacity constraints in Jakarta (Indonesia Airports Build: Jakarta Airport Failure) and those of Indonesia in general (Indonesia Airports Build: Overcrowding). In part 1, I will focus on the continuing capacity constraints at Soekarno-Hatta airport, and in part 2 on alternative airports.

An Explosive Growth in Indonesian Air Transport Market

In 2014 the Indonesian air transport market will exceed 100 million passengers, with yearly growth rates exceeding 10%, double the economic growth. IATA expects that by 2034 Indonesia will represent 270 million passengers, of which 191 million on the domestic market. High economic growth, a growing middle class and the ASEAN Single Aviation Market are the 3 main ingredients for Indonesia’s growth.

The growing ASEAN market will play a key role as of 2015. A partly deregulated market in Southeast Asia will allow more routes, higher frequencies and more competition. Ticket prices will likely drop, enabling more people to fly. After opposing the ASEAN single aviation market, Indonesia agreed in 2014 to open Jakarta for unlimited capital-to-capital flights.

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport alone has been responsible for over 60% of Indonesia’s market. Including the broader surrounding region of Jakarta, it can be expected that it will represent 150 to 200 million passengers in 2034.

How Chronic is Airport Capacity Shortage?

As the primary Indonesian airport, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta handled not less than 60.1 million passengers in 2013, quite an achievement for an airport which was designed to handle just 22 million passengers.

Terminal expansion is being carried out as we speak, but too little, too late. Plans are to improve the airport experience and increase capacity to 62 million passengers per year, a project which will be finished in 2017 at the earliest, while actual traffic will already exceed the 62 million mark in 2014 and is expected to reach 80 million by 2020.

Airport expansion in Indonesia has been a matter of (late) reaction instead of coordinated planning and anticipation, causing a chronic shortage of airport capacity. This is not only the case in Jakarta, but also in the rest of the country as explained in the earlier article of Guillaume in May 2014.

Current alternatives for the highly congested Soekarno-Hatta Airport are basically non-existent, except for the small downtown airport of Halim which was reopened in January 2014 to civil traffic. So far only Citilink moved a limited amount of flights to this airport. Reopening of this airport was deemed a temporary solution, though the Lion Air Group is on the contrary betting for the long term on Halim. Halim Airport will be covered in more detail in part 2.

How Faulty is Soekarno-Hatta Expansion?

In 2013, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was the tenth busiest airport in the world according to ACI, but probably the biggest example of how airport development can be a total failure.

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II (AP II) failed to expand the airport to facilitate rapid growth. Numerous projects have been proposed over the past decade, but none finished so far.

Currently, Terminal 3 has a capacity of 4 million passengers, but by the end of 2015 the new expanded 380,000m2 facility should be able to handle 25 million annual passengers. The existing Terminal 3 will be an integrated part of the new U-shaped facility. Designed with the help of Seoul Incheon Airport consultants, this terminal is supposed to become the most modern and efficient airport terminal in Indonesia, a symbol for a modern and quickly evolving Indonesia. A great leap forward, even though Terminal 3 will not solve Soekarno-Hatta’s issues with its 25 million capacity.

Indonesia Airports

Also part of the $1.24 billion expansion plan of AP II is to expand the two original terminals.

Terminal 2 was built for 9 million passengers and will be expanded to handle 19 million passengers by 2016. Domestic Terminal 1 will be enlarged to handle 18 million passengers by 2017, up from its current capacity of 10 million. Both terminals will be connected with an integrated building which will house commercial zones, hotels and will be used as a ground transport hub for the airport. Drop-off zones for taxis and buses and 20,000 car parking lots are planned. An automated people mover will allow smooth transfers between terminals and a train connection to the city center is planned.

The whole refurbishment project is to be finished by 2020, though delays can be expected. Just 2 years have been foreseen for the expansion and complete refurbishment of Terminal 1 and 2 after the opening of the new Terminal 3 and a few more years to finish the massive integrator building, an ambitious undertaking for an airport that failed in expansion for more than a decade.

Even in an optimistic scenario of the whole project being finished on time, Soekarno-Hatta airport will still face a capacity shortage of about 20 million by 2020 (that is if no alternatives are found in the greater Jakarta region to cope with the projected growth). Possible alternative airports will be covered in part 2.

Airports in Indonesia

And a new Terminal 4 could further expand the airport’s capacity, but the opening is not expected until beyond 2021. Tri Sunoko, President of AP II, says this terminal will have a capacity of 18 to 20 million. That will raise the airport’s capacity to 80-82 million, a number that will already be reached by 2020 before the potential opening of Terminal 4.

How Important is a Third Runway?

Besides restricted terminal capacity, another major issue is runway capacity. The capacity of the existing two runways was raised from 64 to 72 aircraft per hour in 2014, after reducing the aircraft occupancy time and improving navigation systems. The airport wants to push this even more by increasing the capacity to 86 aircraft per hour in 2015.

In 2013, Soekarno-Hatta already handled around 399,000 movements on its 2 runways. That equals almost 200,000 movements per runway, the highest number of the 20 busiest airports in North and Southeast Asia.

If Soekarno-Hatta wants to reach its ultimate capacity and grow beyond 87 million, to 100 million passengers per year, it needs a third runway. AP II hopes to start constructing this new 3,660 meter long runway as early as 2016. The US$ 350 million needed to clear land might be provided by the national government, despite current legislation not allowing this.

According to Indonesian Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono, building another runway is the only possible solution to accommodate further airport expansion. In the most optimistic situation the runway opens in 2017, though given the current state of the project this can easily be delayed to 2018-2019.

How will Jakarta Secure New Capacity?

Despite ongoing expansion, Soekarno-Hatta is not able to catch up with growing demand. An ultimate planned capacity of up to 100 million passengers at Soekarno-Hatta is clearly not enough to serve the needs of the Jakarta region in the coming 20 years.

If Jakarta and the densely-populated surrounding region want to secure airport capacity for the long term, it needs a second major airport with a similar capacity as Soekarno-Hatta Airport. A new airport located outside Greater Jakarta can partly serve the same market as Soekarno-Hatta, while also catching the growing markets in the adjacent West Java and Banten provinces. Suitable projects in West Java and Banten are being planned, but yet to be constructed.

A detailed analysis of potential relief airports such as Halim and planned large hub projects, and the problem of competition between proposed airports east of Jakarta will be addressed in part 2.

References 
New IATA Passenger Forecast Reveals Fast-Growing Markets of the Future
Soekarno Hatta International Airport Terminal 3 Winning Proposal
ACI 2013 World Airport Traffic Report
ASEAN’s single aviation market must gear up for new but harder phase
AP II secures loan to develop Soekarno-Hatta 

Photos: Soekarno-Hatta Airport by Marina Lystseva, T3 by Woodhead, Soekarno-Hatta future overview by AP II.

Airport Survey!

In collaboration with ADB Airfield Solutions, we are conducting a short online survey to identify top issues that concern airports and key priorities for 2015. The survey results will be published on both websites in May 2015 and all data collected will remain confidential. Will you take the survey?

Greg Principato Joins NASAO

U.S. AirportsAs I write this I am less than twelve hours away from starting a new chapter in my life as President and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, also known as NASAO.

NASAO is one of the oldest aviation organizations in the United States, having been founded in 1931 before there was any federal/national aviation agency.  Coincidentally, I will also be elected the next President of the Aero Club of Washington the following day.  The Aero Club was founded in 1909.  I love history and tradition and so it is humbling to be involved with both organizations.

NASAO will be my “real job.”  Its members are the men and women who run aviation offices in the 50 US states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico which are US territories.  In the American system, state governments have a great deal of responsibility for the promotion of economic growth and commerce.  State governments play a major role in transportation policy as well.

From 1986-1990 I held a senior position for the Governor of the US state of Virginia.  The Governor for whom I worked, Gerald L. Baliles, made transportation the keystone of his term in office, and he served a year as Chairman of the National Governors Association (among the Governors who elected him to that post was a Governor of Arkansas named Bill Clinton).  Indeed, a few years later, in 1993, President Clinton named Gov. Baliles to chair a presidential commission to examine US aviation policy, the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry.  The fact that the President named a former Governor to chair what was a very high profile commission is telling.  Indeed, the Commission was so high profile nearly all of our meetings were televised nationally.  This was a source of some amusement to our European colleagues who were running a similar effort called the Comité des Sages, which was also chaired by a political leader, Herman de Croo of Belgium.  The work of the US commission remains the basis for national aviation policy.

In the statement I made when I took the job I stated that states are “where it’s at” in the promotion of economic growth.  Members of Congress are normally better known than Governors, but it is state Governors whom voters often hold most responsible for local economic conditions.  My new members form an important part of state government efforts to promote economic activity, as well as aviation growth.  Many people also think state governments have little to do with the international scene. I believed that when I went to work for the Virginia Governor.  How wrong I was.  State Governors, in many ways, are important sources of energy and support for open trade policies and international economic engagement.

You might be interested to know that of the six US Presidents who have served during my more than 35 years in the Washington policy community, four of them were state Governors.  By contrast, the other two were George H.W. Bush who was the first Vice President to be directly elected President since 1836; and Barack Obama who was only the third US Senator to be directly elected to the Presidency in the last 100 years.

I am very excited to take on this challenge.  I will continue to write as I can for New Airport Insider, because I remain convinced that what the aviation industry needs is a new kind of engagement and the participation of new and interesting voices.

Image credit: Sergio Morchon via Flickr

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Australia Airports Build: The Other End of the Line

Australia Airports

The focus of post 2 of this series was the pressure currently being placed on the Brisbane Airport in Australia, in part, from a type of mining operation known as FIFO. Obviously, for the FIFO concept to work there need to be airports at the other end of the sector and that is the topic of this post.

As introduced, FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) is a resourcing tool for remote and regional mine sites to staff their operations from larger population bases and locations offering a better lifestyle.

As Australia’s resource sector took off in the mid-2000s, companies had to compete on more than wages to attract enough personnel to make their operations viable. By flying in staff from cities, companies had access to a large pool of recruits and workers had the ability to earn attractive incomes while their families maintained a comfortable lifestyle at home.

In order to facilitate this system, mines and other resource company locations needed an airstrip, aerodrome or airport, depending on the size of the operation.

Industry-wide Growth

A comparison of certified aerodrome numbers from 2004 to 2010 showed that the overall numbers of such aerodromes increased by 30%.

Comparison of Certified Aerodrome Numbers 2004-2010 Grouped by Operator Type

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that the relative percentage of aerodromes owned by resource companies grew in excess of the overall increase. Over this period, 19 aerodromes operated by resource companies entered the certified airport business, so to speak, and this presented challenges both in the ramp up and the ongoing operation of these facilities.

The Need to Build

While the economics of mine development are beyond the scope of this article, to a casual observer, the case for having an aerodrome on one’s mine site must have been strong. In areas with dense mining activity, it became normal to have upwards of five aerodromes/airports located within a 30 nautical mile radius.

In the image of the Leinster Area, Western Australia, below, the large red aircraft are certified aerodromes (not current) and the smaller aircraft are uncertified landing sites in support of other mines and remote farming stations.

Close Aerodromes

The proximity of the airport to the site or village would have an impact not only on the work periods and fatigue considerations of the company but also the amenity and comfort factors for the worker. At the height of the mining boom, worker attitude to a site’s facilities became an important factor for some as they had the pick of work sites and were happy to move sites at a whim.

In addition to the basic number of new certified aerodromes at mine sites, the size of some of these facilities became significant as the boom progressed. While many aerodromes grew from humble beginnings as emergency airstrips and may have only required some paperwork and no physical works to accommodate a Dash-8-200 (the general trigger for certification, i.e. an aircraft with more than 30 seats), other sites required something bigger straight away. Some of these facilities went from nothing to jet in no time at all.

Fortescue Dave Forrest airport in Western Australia is one such airport. The Fortescue Metals Group operation near Nullagine was a significant development in its own right and needed an airport to suit. From a greenfield site, the company constructed a 2300 meter long runway with supporting infrastructure capable of supporting regular A320 aircraft, initially, and F100 aircraft, currently, from Perth.

In addition to dealing with the remoteness of the site and the scarcity of expertise and labour at the time, the project also involved cutting through a hill and diverting a creek to find that balance between cost and efficiency.

Building was just the First Obstacle

Once the airport was built, a whole new set of challenges for the mining company began. Running an airport, especially a certified aerodrome, comes with a bunch of regulatory and safety requirements. As mining companies focussed on doing what they do best, non-core activities such as running the airport either fell to mine workers as secondary duties or became outsourced to the village operator or another sub-contractor on site.

The results tended to vary.

Workers on these airport, invariably, had other jobs on site. Be they cleaners, cooks, safety officers, paramedics, they all needed training and few came with aviation experience. Luckily for the industry, competency-based training had been developed some years prior and tailored courses for mine sites were easily developed and deployed.

But it wasn’t as simple as that. With staff turnover high, it was not unheard of for training organisations to be visiting sites on numerous occasions to train up new workers with the previous staff having left for other opportunities. Sometimes, it was a matter of weeks between visits.

This training also focussed on the frontline workers, such as aerodrome reporting officers and ground handlers. Support for aerodrome managers was required as, again, people with little aviation experience had to navigate aviation safety regulations including grappling with the implementation of Safety Management Systems like the rest of the industry. In response, a healthy consultancy industry grew in support.

That consultancy industry has, in some ways, morphed into a dedicated airport operations service industry with a number of companies offering airport labour and full service solutions to mining and resource companies.

What Does the Future Hold?

The heat is off the mining sector generally but there are plenty of FIFO operations still in business. In some other areas, the FIFO concept itself is under pressure. Regardless of the outcome of these political and economic arguments, the benefit of aviation and airport supported operations is now too well known to not be considered in any future development or expansion.

In these leaner times, innovation will become vital as both mining companies and service providers seek to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The skills and knowledge gained during the boom times might become a valuable commodity for those seeking employment or engagement in a tougher market.

The next few years will prove to be interesting in the remote and regional areas of Australia.

Australia airports

Image credit: Top one is morning flight is by Tim Corbin via Flickr.

Do you want to contribute a guest post to New Airport Insider? Contact Dan Parsons, Kris de Bolle, Guillaume Dupont or Jinan Alrawi.

Happy Birthday to Me!

New Airport Insider birthday

New Airport Insider missed its first birthday, can you believe it? We published the first post on 4 October 2013 but forgot to celebrate our 1 year of existence. Today, 30 airport articles later, we want to share with you a bit of the journey with a few words from each of the team members.

Dan Parsons

Dan Parsons

“On first hearing of the New Airport Insider concept, I was excited. Not only about the opportunity to write for a global industry audience but for the chance to read about the experiences of my colleagues.

New Airport Insider was the destination I had been looking for – an insider’s perspective on the airport industry. The material already up on the site and in the pipeline represents the views and approaches of those in the fold.

Whether the material provides a bird’s eye view of an area’s development or a frontline view of birds on an airport, New Airport Insider helps airport insiders widen and deepen their understanding of their field.” Dan

Kris de BolleKris de Bolle

“I wouldn’t call it a passion, but I have always loved writing. Be it a book review on Google Books, or even a dull meeting report; always in a good mood when I can write about something.

Imagine the excitement when about a year and a half ago, I was contacted by Ms Jinan Alrawi to check if I would be interested to start a series of articles for a brand new blog concept by airport pro’s for airport pro’s, on what definitely ís a passion of mine: Airport Collaborative Decision Making.

Writing blog articles quickly proved to be a different ball game than writing meeting reports and book reviews. Lots of ‘meta stuff’ to take into account: keywords, lay-out, subtitles, pictures, credits… and deadlines! For God’s sake, what was I thinking!

And indeed, the learning curve was steep, but I loved (well, about) every minute of the ride up until now. And we’re not running on empty yet: the initial idea of writing 3 short articles on A-CDM, has evolved in an ongoing series of 7 blog posts with evergreen content on airport data sharing in Europe, enjoyed now by over 180 hi-end subscribers. And know what the funny thing is? That I started off by panicking about how will I ever manage to write three 750 word articles about A-CDM…

So I invite you to take that leap of faith, join the New Airport Insider Team, write about YOUR passion and share it with the world of airport professionals!” Kris

Guillaume DupontGuillaume Dupont

“The New Airport Insider adventure started for me in late 2013 when I joined this tiny community after being contacted by Jinan Alrawi, the founder. The idea is to create an online magazine for airport professionals. And that is a good idea. There are many sites focusing on airlines, manufacturers, or other aspects of the aviation industry but very few cover airports. Over the past year, I wrote 5 articles, along Dan Parson and Kris de Bolle, the two main writers. And as I like to understand both causes and consequences, my articles always feature an overview of the market and the airlines’ landscape, which happen to be highly appreciated by our readers.

Of course it is really motivating to know that experts, people interested in aviation or curious spirits will read our analysis and learn, criticize, compare, or share. And this from all over the World. At New Airport Insider, we look at countries from all over the World. Our team is made of five different nationalities, and our readers way more than that. The main reason why I love aviation is because it a world of innovation, of extreme competition and without boundaries. And still, each country has its culture, its way to deal with things, and its economic realities. In my articles, I try to explain this essential background.

As the curious writer that I am, working with New Airport Insider has allowed me to learn a lot about how fast aviation is changing, everywhere. This is probably the best source of motivation for me.

Since October 2013 we strive to produce quality content for airport professionals. I think New Airport Insider shows unique points of views and analysis, and I hope our readers all appreciate that. Although it is not easy to grow, I wish that during our second year of existence, other writers will want to join our group. We will also start to collaborate with companies which might want us to focus on an area where they are particularly active. As you can see, started from scratch one year ago, we still have ambitious plans to boost New Airport Insider. Want to be a part of it? You can contact us!” Guillaume

Also, Greg Principato is joining New Airport Insider to help us grow. Many of you may know him as he is the former President of ACI-NA. We are very excited to have Greg on board. He will also write for New Airport Insider.

Greg Principato

Greg Principato

“Although I have worked on aviation policy issues in one form or another for my entire 35 year career, I became especially immersed in aviation policy when I was tabbed to serve as executive director of a presidential aviation commission in 1993.  Though much has changed in aviation over those years, one thing remains clear:  aviation discussions and debates rarely change much.  The issues don’t seem to change, nor do the solutions.  People in aviation have become comfortable with their traditional ways of thinking.

In 2005, I was named President of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).  I had never worked at an airport before, and now I was sort of a “new airport insider” if you will.  What I had observed as an outsider involved in aviation policy was confirmed by my new view as an insider.  Once I had been there long enough to have gained some credibility, I began to actively and vocally push for new thinking and new ways of doing things.  It was a hard slog.

Making it even harder is the fact that many aviation publications and forums for debate do not stimulate new thinking.  We much prefer stories about how wonderful we already are, rather than the new future we ought to work to build.

That is why I am excited about the birth of New AIrport Insider.  If ever there was an industry in need of fresh thinking, it is aviation.  And if ever there was an industry in need of a fresh new forum for that thinking it is aviation.  New Airport Insider fills an important void.  I congratulate it on its first anniversary and look forward to contributing to its mission in the coming years.” Greg

Jinan AlrawiJinan Alrawi

“One day I “met” airports, then thought how can we create a community for airport professionals to meet, to share knowledge, expertise and to collaborate. The answer was easy: the Internet and technology. Use these to bring a community together online. This is how it started more than a year ago.

It has been a bigger challenge than I realized to launch, to build and to grow New Airport Insider. But along this short path, I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined and this at a fast pace.

Looking forward, we are growing the team, the topics we cover and we will bring you content in more formats. Also, we are merging DC Design Tech with New Airport Insider to form only one entity: New Airport Insider. Further, we will have a new logo but most importantly we will migrate to a more powerful platform in the coming months to optimize your experience.

Lastly, I want to say big thank you to the team and to you our readers for subscribing to New Airport Insider.” Jinan 

Photo credit: birthday cake via Flickr  

How Industry and Media Drive U.S. Aviation Debate

Airports

Editor’s Note: Today, we are pleased to have an opinion post by an industry thought leader Greg Principato

Would you like to contribute a guest post to New Airport Insider? Contact us.

No One Is Interested, No One Understands

When I was President of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) from 2005-2013, I spent a great deal of time trying to interest the media and policy makers in the issues of how airports were funded and financed, how they were run and so on.  It was a constant struggle.  The funding and financing structure was out of date and inadequate to modern times?  Who cares!  Too hard to explain!  Boring!

The airlines were responsible for air service and lost baggage?  Well, the flight no longer comes to the airport!  The bag was lost at the airport!  It is an airport issue! You must be trying to duck responsibility! Security?  Passenger facilitation?  Well, the guy slipped through with a sharp object at the airport!  The elderly lady was patted down at the airport!  The planeload of passengers was stuck in the arrivals hall at the airport!

Food and beverage and retail?  Why are airports trying to be shopping malls anyway?  Why is public money being spent to sell magazines, coffee and shirts?  Passengers might/need want that stuff?  No, it must be an airport plot to make money!

Airports are prepared for safety and security problems that may arise?  Nah!  Can’t be true!  Anyway, who cares if they are prepared?  It’s only news, only an issue, if something goes wrong.  And then we don’t care whether the public understands or not.

Enter Vice President Biden

I recall talking to an aviation correspondent for ABC News, who told me of her unsuccessful struggles to get her editors interested in such issues.  I spoke with a top editor at the Economist, who was interested at first, but whose publication never followed up.

And then along came Vice President Joseph Biden (Full disclosure: I worked on his Senate staff from 1982-86), saying on more than one occasion that American airports are more like developing country airports and that they do not measure up, in any way, to airports in places like Singapore or Hong Kong (though those places are hardly developing).  The media all of a sudden became interested in airports.  Maybe not for the right reasons, but at least they were interested.

So, what does this mean?  Will the American airport industry be able to take advantage of the “attention”?  Who cares if airports overseas have better food and beverage options; if they are more comfortable for travelers, if they have bigger immigration halls or better customs technology?  Who cares if their restrooms are cleaner?

What Vice President Biden did, intentionally or not, was tap into the American urge to be the best at whatever we do, or to at least not be embarrassed by what we do.  And this should not just be about the airport side of the equation.  Airlines, labor, concessionaires and other all ought to be looking for ways to use the attention the Vice President’s words have cast to make the case for airports, for their importance to the economy, and to work with other aviation industry sectors to enact policies that make much more sense in the 21st century.  And they have a perfect opportunity with the basic law authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration set to expire in 11 months and due to be reauthorized.

This Time Is Like The Other Times

But two things are conspiring to keep that from happening:

First, is the Ebola situation.  And second is the fact that all facets of the industry, so far, are just retreating to their corners to argue their classic positions on the range of aviation finance issues, thereby passing on the opportunity to work together to forge a new future.

Regarding the American response to Ebola, media are hyping the story for all it is worth.  CNN, which devoted most of a month to the issue of the missing flight MH370 is now All Ebola All The Time.  Whenever there is a shred of news, or even some kind of change, it is reported as “breaking.”  Worse, there is normally a frightening headline splashed across the bottom of the screen for all to see, telling us that the bedding from the first Ebola victim in the U.S. hadn’t been changed in days, or more recently, splashing figures across the screen about how many new cases we might expect to see in coming weeks and months (leading many who see it to believe many of those cases will be in their own neighborhoods).

Please do not think I believe this is not a major world story, deserving of much coverage.  It is both of those.  But more than anything, it is deserving of clearly communicated and accurate information.  It is deserving of leadership.  I must say that industry has stepped up on this issue.  Globally, Airports Council International (ACI World) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have joined with other stakeholders to take constructive action and convey important and high level information.  Their regional counterparts, including my former association (ACI-NA) are pulling their weight and performing important service.  ACI Europe’s statement of October 14th is one of the most sensible I have seen on the topic.  Of course, that has not stopped the media from “reporting” that screening will be carried out “by” airports, even though the truth is that it will be carried out by public health officials “at” airports.

But I know from experience that when industry groups address topics such as these they are often seen as defensive; and not just because the media likes to portray them that way.  It just sounds, to the man on the street’s ear, defensive.  And, frankly, the media does not exist to lead the public, or really even to educate it (a philosophical discussion that could last for hours over some fine wine).

U.S. Aviation

Public Leadership Needed in Aviation

This is where public sector leadership comes in.  Unfortunately, the loudest voices in the United States belong to those who want to ban flights from the three most impacted countries (the fact there are NO flights from those countries does not seem to matter).  At one congressional hearing last week, an important congressman tried to make the case that a major airport in his state should ban certain flights, even though it has no authority to do so.  The surest way of shortening the Ebola problem is to defeat it where it is most virulent.  We cannot do that by drawing a curtain around the region.

And as to whether U.S. aviation interests will take advantage of the light the Vice President has shined on the industry, early returns do not look so good.  Airlines and airports are each using Biden’s comments to advance their own agenda, even though there is plenty of room for both to come together and design a whole new system to finance infrastructure, air traffic control security and facilitation.  No one likes the current system.  But, again as I learned from experience, even if some in industry want to come together to change things, their motives are suspect.  We do not need sound bites and we certainly do not need blame.  We need leadership from elected and appointed officials on these matters; leadership which will likely not be forthcoming.

I could say the same about security and a host of other issues.

Back to the Future

Many of you reading this blog post do not live in the United States, but given the travel that begins or ends here, what we do here is of some interest around the world.  As I write future posts on New Airport Insider, I will attempt to shine a light on how things get done and decided (or not decided) here; even when examining issues of global importance.

Vice President Biden’s comments have drawn a lot of attention around the world.  They have certainly drawn a lot of attention here in the United States.  Once we have “defeated” Ebola and even after we have done the same to ISIS and their ilk, the problems he observed will remain.  What will be done about them?  Will anyone care?

The answers to those questions remain open.

Images by Stephan.

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Beijing New Airports

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China is now renowned for building hundreds of airports throughout the country. Having 90% of the Chinese population living less than 100 km from an airport by 2020 is one of the many ambitious targets found in the government’s five-year plan. We covered these in our first article China Airports Build. Also mentioned are China’s three megalopolis of Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing which account for one third of the country’s air passenger traffic. These cities already have well-developed air transport systems serving roughly the three cities’ 60 million inhabitants. Yet, Beijing’s Capital Airport (BCIA), the second busiest airport in the world, has exceeded its capacity while handling 83.7 million passengers in 2013.

Capital airport’s capacity was raised to 82 million passengers per year in 2008 with the opening of Terminal 3. It increased capacity by 50 million passengers after a 4-year extension. At this occasion, a new runway was built, as well as a shuttle train that makes the airport reachable from Beijing subway in 15 to 20 minutes.

The idea of a new airport for Beijing actually came up in early 2000, though an expansion of the current airport was preferred at the time. But aviation has been growing fast and 6 years later it is more than time to move forward.

2 Beijing International Airports to Meet Demand

Traffic at Beijing Capital is expected to reach 90 million passengers per year in 2015. And Beijing-based Air China will receive 113 airplanes during the next three years. All-in-all, Chinese airlines should operate 4200 aircrafts at the end of the decade, twice more than today. Back in 2011, the Civil Aviation Administration of China was already warning:

It is now impossible to add even one more flight to the tight daily schedule of the capital airport

Proposed in 2008 and approved in late 2012, Beijing Daxing airport work started this month and it should be four years before it opens. 14 years after the opening of Shanghai’s second airport in PuDong, Beijing will soon have its second international airport. Together, Shanghai airports handled 83 million passengers in 2013, approximately the same amount than Beijing Capital.

Beijing Daxing Airport

Beijing Daxing Airport: How Modern Is It?

Like Beijing Capital’s airport express, a brand new 37km-rail link to the city will be built in order to move passengers from Beijing South Railway station (and then Beijing subway) to the airport. But Daxing airport could also feature quite unprecedented ideas in China. First, the airport will not only serve Beijing but also nearby’s Megalopolis of Tianjin or cities in Hebei. Meanwhile, Tianjin airport experienced a double-digit growth in 2013, then handling more than 10 million passengers. The provinces and cities are working together to coordinate the work, and the government is looking at building new highways or rail links in the area. That seems like a huge change in China’s policy – building new airports everywhere (again, see our China Airports Build: Too Many Too Fast?). This example brings the hope of having fewer airports but better integrated in the hole transport network. Beijing New International Airport will then incorporate a “Ground Transportation Center” to enhance air-ground public transport connectivity.

Secondly, with the creation of a low-cost terminal under consideration, Beijing’s new airport could be another significant step in favor of the development of low cost carriers in the country. The new airport will also have a dedicated runway for military use, and will replace Beijing Nanyuan, a semi-military base and hub of China United Airlines due to close once Daxing airport is completed, having its flights moved to the new airport

New Beijing Airports

Among the two major airports, traffic will be split by alliance. Air China will stay in Capital – remaining will be the base of Star Alliance, and Skyteam (thus including China EasternChina Southern and Xiamen airlines) and oneworld airlines will be moved to Daxing. Since 2013 Beijing allows a 72h visa-free transit that will help passengers needing to connect between the two airports.

Beijing Daxing is expected to handle 45 million passengers per year on its four runways when it opens. More unaligned carriers will move when the latter expands, the second traffic target being 72 million passengers in 2025. According to its designer NACO, Beijing Daxing could handle up to 130 million passengers with its eight plus one runways. Yet, the current Beijing Capital Airport will stay the biggest one for at least some years after the opening.

Looking Forward

The location selected will leave room for numerous expansions. 11 villages must be relocated to clear up to 3000 hectares of land. Undoubtedly such a large project will completely transform the region, and accelerate the development of the area. 500 000 jobs could be involved with Beijing’s new airport.

Beijing is a major city where having 2 airports makes sense. The government understands the benefits of an integrated transport network, and selected a strategic area that has room for growth. Assuming an 8% yearly growth, Beijing Daxing would be fully used when it opens in 2018, having to cope with about 50 million passengers. Yet, the growth has been slowing down over the past years in several major Chinese airports, and is expected to be slightly slower, though liberalization measures could change the story.

Photo credits: Capital Airport street view by keso and Capital Airport T3 by little_ram

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Australia Airports Build: Brisbane Airport Under Pressure

Brisbane Airport

This is part 2 in a 3-part series on Australian airport development. Part 1 looked at the decision to build a second airport in Sydney and the politics surrounding that decision.

Fuelled by the commencement of the Asian century, Australia’s resource sector has experienced a significant boom but with its natural resources often located in regional and remote locations, mining companies had to come up with attractive models for manning their operations.

It has been during this period that FIFO (Fly-In, Fly-Out, pronounced Fye-Foe) has become almost industry standard. FIFO involves all or part of a mine site’s workforce flying in from a city to work and live on site for a week or two and then flying home for a week or two before starting the process again (this is often called a swing).

Home Base

One of these home cities is Brisbane on the east coast of Australia. In addition to being a significant recruitment centre for the state’s FIFO workers, the greater south-east Queensland region has been a significant growth area for retirees, industry and commerce.

This has meant that Brisbane Airport has been and remains under pressure.

Peak hour delays have been a good source of fodder for local news outlets as inter-capital-city shuttles and fleets of regional turbo-jets descend on the airport at evening peak times. The demands of general business and mining schedules sharing common requirements for a finite serving of time.

But as any airport operator knows, you can’t flick a switch and have more tarmac. While the airport has 2 runways, regulatory decisions have resulted in limitations on its Converging Runway Operations (CROPS).

This means that a new parallel runway is needed.

Chicken and Eggs

A parallel runway was identified way back in the airport’s 1999 Master Plan. In the 2003 Master Plan, a parallel runway complex was expected to be delivered in 2012. And yet, in 2012, the airport and major airlines were at an impasse on the funding of the, now overdue, project.

The question of when the airlines should pay seemed to be the sticking point.

The airport operator, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), was, at the time, seeking an increase in passenger charges in the years leading up to delivery of the new runway to fund approximately 25% of the project. This proposal would eventuate in a surcharge of $1.80 for domestic passengers and $3.15 for internationals.

The airlines dug their heels in with one airline suggesting the proposal was like asking consumers to pay for the iPhone 10 years before its release.

While the increased capacity is sure to benefit all parties in the long run, discussions who should carry the liability and the risk for what would be an extended construction period continued for some time.

Eventually, agreement was reached and construction began in earlier this year.

Now the Easy Part

Compared to the work to reach this point, it would seem that the engineering and construction required to reclaim land and construct a brand-new runway and taxiway complex is relatively simple.

The fun part is watching it unfold as the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) takes us along for the ride.

Part 3 of this series will look at the other end of the FIFO journey and a couple of the remote airports that grew from little (or nothing) to accommodate a lot of people and/or some relatively large aircraft.

Image (CC) Andrew Sutherland

Editor’s Note
We’re back after the summer break and will continue bringing you 2 new blog posts a month. If you have comments, we would love to hear from you. Also, if you have a topic you would like us to cover. Email us at hello[at]dcdesigntech.com Thank you!

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