Tag Archives: London

Digital ATC Tower for London City Airport



It has been announced that London’s City Airport is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. Working closely with NATS, the UK’s air traffic provider, London City has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 high definition cameras and 2 pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a 360-degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airport and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements. The 50-metre digital tower was approved by the London Borough of Newham in late 2016.

Construction of the tower is due to be completed in 2018, followed by more than a year of rigorous testing and training, during which the existing 30-year old tower will continue to operate. The digital tower will become fully operational in 2019.

Irish AOC for SAS

SAS is establishing a new AOC in Ireland and opening operational bases in London and Spain.  The airline says it is taking the measures to make it more competitive in the face of intense price pressure and rising demand for leisure travel in Europe.

“In line with SAS’s strategy of focusing on those customers who travel frequently to, from and within Scandinavia, the majority of SAS’s airline operations will continue to be based in Scandinavia moving forward.  The establishment of new bases means we can complement our Scandinavian product and, in time, build an even broader network with a superior schedule to the benefit of our customers,” explained Rickard Gustafson, SAS President and CEO.

The Star Alliance member intends to have its new operations up and running for the winter 2017/18 season, with aircraft based in London and Spain having the same customer offering and appearance as other airline operations at SAS.

Green Light for Norwegian

Norwegian Air International’s (NAI’s) foreign air carrier permit has finally been approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), paving the way for the carrier to begin transatlantic services between Ireland and the US.

Ireland-based NAI had originally applied for the permit three years ago, but the DOT was reluctant to give it the go ahead amid concerns raised by US carriers.  The authority tentatively sanctioned the application in April but final approval only came on December 2.

“Regardless of our appreciation of the public policy arguments raised by opponents, we have been advised that the law and our bilateral obligations leave us no avenue to reject this application,” the DOT wrote in its final order.

Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said: “We welcome the long overdue news that Norwegian Air International has finally been awarded a foreign air carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation.  The decision paves the way for greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Above all, it is a victory for millions of passengers who will benefit from more choice and lower fares.  We now look forward to continuing our global expansion, delivering new routes, more jobs and economic boosts.”

The news came as Norwegian announced a major expansion of its Transatlantic services from London/Gatwick.  The low-cost carrier is increasing the number of long-haul flights it operates from the East Sussex airport by 55%, raising from 22 weekly departures to 34.

Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s CCO, said: “Our US flights are more popular than ever and customer demand shows low-cost long-haul flights are here to stay.  By expanding the number of transatlantic flights from Gatwick, we are giving tourists and business passengers more flexibility, attractive fares and convenient schedules.  With nine more 787 Dreamliners entering our fleet next year, this will be just the beginning of our UK expansion.  Norwegian will continue to grow the number of great value flights to the US and drive down fares to become the UK’s number one airline of choice.”

Services to New York/JFK will increase to double-daily (except Wednesday) from August 10 with Los Angeles becoming daily in April.  There will also be five weekly departures to Oakland-San Francisco while Orlando and Fort Lauderdale will operate thrice- and twice-weekly respectively.

PIA Eyes SriLankan A330s

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has confirmed it is in negotiations with SriLankan Airlines concerning the wet lease of four Airbus A330-300s.

The Pakistani national carrier has been looking for additional widebody jets to operate its new premier service, which is being launched on August 14.  SriLankan Airlines has proposed leasing four of its seven Airbus A330-300s and a high-level team from PIA, led by CEO Bernd Hildenbrand, recently visited Colombo to inspect the aircraft and negotiate a contract.

SriLankan Airlines is looking to offload the jets after the Government of Sri Lanka said that it would no longer fund continuing losses.  As a result, SriLankan has ended all operations to Europe, bar its daily Colombo-London link, leaving it with spare capacity.

Pakistan International Airlines’ new premier service will debut on the London Heathrow route, and will feature fully lie-flat beds in the premium cabins.  The airline is putting its cabin crew through a three-week training course to prepare them for its introduction.

A statement on PIA’s website said: “With new aircraft, more professional crew and improved service standards, the new service aims at providing an altogether different experience to passengers.  This service will go a long way in helping PIA regain its market share both domestically as well as internationally.”

easyJet Begins EU AOC Process

Luton-based low-cost carrier easyJet has started the formal process of acquiring an air operator certificate (AOC) in another European country after the UK voted to leave the EU.

The airline currently operates on a UK AOC which enables it to operate across Europe but after the referendum result and the uncertainty surrounding how it would affect the European Open Skies agreement, the airline has begun putting its contingency plan into action.

“easyJet is lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe,” a statement on its website read.  “This would mean that easyJet and all European airlines can continue to operate as they do today and this objective has been supported by European airlines, with Airlines For Europe, Europe’s main airline association.

“As part of easyJet’s contingency planning before the referendum we had informal discussions with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC (air operator certificate) in a European country to enable easyJet to fly across Europe as we do today.

“easyJet has now started a formal process to acquire an AOC.”

The airline said that until the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations are known, it will not need to make any structural or operational changes.  It also reaffirmed its commitment to Luton where it has been based for 20 years.