Airport News September 2005

Airport News September 2005

Data-sharing deal challenged by European Parliament. The European Parliament is challenging an agreement between Europe and the U.S. on sharing airline passenger information. The European Commission and EU governments in 2004 reached a deal with the U.S. to share data. The agreement stipulates that European airlines must turn over detailed personal data about passengers who travel to the U.S. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hold hearings on the issue Oct. 18. Some members of European Parliament believe the agreement violates privacy laws. Sep 29, 2005

Homeland Security’s first privacy officer steps down. The Department of Homeland Security’s first chief privacy officer said she will leave her post for a position at General Electric. Nuala O’Connor Kelly played a role in delaying Secure Flight, an airline security program that gathers information about travelers by accessing commercial databases, according to privacy advocates. She also launched an investigation of JetBlue Airways, which turned over passenger records to the government for a security project. The Department of Homeland Security has named Maureen Cooney, O’Connor Kelly’s chief of staff, as acting chief privacy officer. Sep 29, 2005

Feds end testing of Registered Traveler program. The Transportation Security Administration will end testing of the Registered Traveler program, which allowed some travelers to move through airport security quicker in exchange for providing personal information. The TSA will review the program, a spokeswoman said. However, some TSA officials do not want to expand the program. Critics say the program never became popular because it could only be used at the airport where participating travelers were registered. Sep 27, 2005

Feds should postpone Secure Flight screening testing. An advisory committee said the Transportation Security Administration should not test a screening plan matching airline passenger names against terrorist watch lists until it addresses privacy concerns. The TSA planned to start testing the Secure Flight program next month. The committee said the TSA did not specify how the technology will match the names or how it will address the possibility of false matches. Sep 26, 2005

United States immigration authorities are tightening up on one of their more daft so-called security innovations. From Tuesday October 4 all arrivals to that fine country will have to give precise details of their first night’s accommodation. A full address including postal code will be required. And it is no good giving the name Avis at whatever airport you have arrived at, saying you were driving to another state overnight. That will cost the airline [pounds sterling]1,900 and they will have to find you (and one suspects all your party) a seat on the return flight. Holiday makers flying in expecting to take a leisurely cruise back to Southampton the same day on Queen Mary 2 might take note that its address is Pier 92, Hudson River, NY 10014. But they are not night-stopping, the ship gets away that evening. In any event it is very unlikely that the authorities will actually get around to checking every person’s overnight accommodation address but some (probably newspaper) crank will no doubt put down The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 and get away with it. http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org Sep 26, 2005

TSA flies in more screeners into Houston ahead of storm. Houston’s two airports on Thursday overflowed with people hoping to leave the city ahead of Hurricane Rita. Officials said many Transportation Security Administration screeners did not report to work, which slowed the security screening process. The TSA flew in additional screeners from other Texas cities Thursday. Sep 23, 2005

Design changes at airports called for to handle storms, disasters. Hurricane Katrina has forced airport directors to rethink the role their facilities play when disasters strike, The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney writes. After the storm hit New Orleans, its airport was used as a shelter and a hospital. New Orleans Airport Director Roy Williams suggested at an industry conference that changes should be made to terminal designs. Sep 23, 2005

Lawmakers say mass transit security needs improvements. U.S. senators have called for improvements in subway and bus security to prevent a terrorist attack. They also questioned claims by a top Transportation Security Administration official who said security on the U.S. mass transit system was “outstanding.” Sen. Joseph Lieberman , D-Conn., said just $300 million had been spent on mass transit security since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sep 21, 2005

Proposed changes to banned items list face scrutiny. The Transportation Security Administration is considering allowing airline passengers to carry some sharp objects, including small knives, on commercial jets. Flight attendants, some lawmakers and family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks oppose the plan and say it would undermine improvements made to aviation security. Christopher Bidwell, managing director of security for the Air Transport Association, said the federal review was an attempt to better focus security efforts on passengers who might need additional screening. “What happened after 9/11 is you had just a multitude of additional security measures that just got put in place and there was no real analysis,” said Bidwell, Sep 20, 2005

Proposed changes to banned items list face scrutiny. The Transportation Security Administration is considering allowing airline passengers to carry some sharp objects, including small knives, on commercial jets. Flight attendants, some lawmakers and family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks oppose the plan and say it would undermine improvements made to aviation security. Sep 19, 2005

The Transportation Security Administration has taken the view that a one-way ticket is a terrorist tool and is compelling airlines to have their computers flag one-way tickets holders for extra screening. On a recent trip a reader (an ex-airline person), was erroneously issued a series of one-way tickets for what was actually a return trip, including an overnight stay. That caused the reservation system to flag his name and stamp his boarding pass at each stop with ‘SSSS’ – the dreaded ‘Quad-S’ – which alerts TSA agents to give him a personal “once over”. This happened four times in a single day and was, to say the least, inconvenient. He is worried now that he may be on some kind of Big Brother terrorist watch list! He suggests that Europeans traveling on one-way tickets might eventually become similarly afflicted. http://www.tsa.gov/public/index.jsp Sep 19, 2005

Immunity for diplomatic bags may threaten security. Some security analysts believe terrorists eventually could use diplomatic pouches in an attack. Diplomatic pouches are immune from security screening — the Vienna Convention protects the pouches from being opened or detained in any way. Some security experts have asked the U.S. and other countries to reconsider the policy on diplomatic bags. Sep 18, 2005

Homeland Security chief may face questions on storm response. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will likely be asked to explain his decisions before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. The White House and Congress have promised an “after action review” of the federal government’s response to the storm. Observers have criticized Chertoff for underestimating the storm’s severity and the suffering of victims trapped in New Orleans. Sep 16, 2005

Homeland security official says response to storm was poor. The Department of Homeland Security failed in its response to Hurricane Katrina, said Lee Holcomb, the agency’s chief technology officer. He said telecommunications problems accounted for some of the failure. As the water rose, backup generators used to run police radio transmitters and cell-phone towers were left without a power source. He also noted the Department of Homeland Security’s Web site was not updated frequently in the aftermath of the storm. Sep 15, 2005

Registered-travel company helps fliers speed through lines. A company called Verified Identity Pass offers travelers an encoded identity card allowing them to pass through airport security checkpoints without waiting in a long line, writes The New York Times’ Joe Sharkey. The card costs $79.95, and the program has about 7,000 enrolled members as of mid-July. It is in an early test phase in Orlando and is one of six registered-traveler programs that have been tested this year. Sep 13, 2005

Experts fear nation’s capital not prepared for terrorist attack. The government has spent more than $2 billion to protect Washington, D.C., since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but security officials say another large terrorist strike could result in chaos and confusion similar to that caused by Hurricane Katrina. Experts envision extreme congestion on the Capital Beltway as resident flee the city, and federal and city officials scrambling to determine who is in charge. Sep 13, 2005

TSA has not set goals for crew security training, report says. The Transportation Security Administration still has not set performance goals or created ways to assess cabin crew security training aboard commercial flights, a new government report found. The Government Accountability Office report also found the TSA has set no timeline for determining whether a voluntary self-defense training program established in 2004 for airline employees is effective. Sep 9, 2005

Airport Wi-Fi slow to catch on with business travelers. Just 25% of U.S. business travelers take advantage of high-speed, wireless connections at airports and inside jetliners, according to a study by Gartner. The number of hotspots has grown over the past several years. The study found travelers are ignoring Wi-Fi in airports because they don’t know what equipment they need to use the technology, how to connect or why they should use it. Sep 8, 2005

Flight 93 memorial to feature wind chimes, maple trees. The memorial dedicated to the passengers who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, will feature a set of chimes inside a 93-foot tower. Jurors who chose the design, which was created by Paul and Milena Murdoch of Los Angeles, described it as tranquil and beautiful. The memorial will also include two stands of red maple trees that will line a crescent walkway. Sep 8, 2005

Busy with hurricane relief, lawmakers postpone Wright campaign. Washington, D.C., lawmakers have postponed efforts to repeal the Wright Amendment as they work on hurricane disaster relief and the confirmation of a new Supreme Court chief justice. Lawmakers say they may consider the issue later this year. Sep 8, 2005

Security leaders worry about natural disasters. Nearly half of security leaders polled in a recent study say their emergency response organizations have not made significant improvements in preparedness since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The officials also said they are four times more worried about a natural disaster than a terrorist attack. The study was conducted before Hurricane Katrina. Sep 8, 2005

Federal air marshals stream into New Orleans airport. Hundreds of federal air marshals were sent to New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport Friday to restore order in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They recovered more than 70 firearms, as well as knives, ammunition and other weapons. Sep 7, 2005

Homeland Security’s Chertoff to lead hurricane recovery. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will coordinate the nation’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The Defense Department has created Joint Task Force Katrina as an on-scene command supporting federal relief efforts. Other federal agencies are moving forward with relief efforts, including the Department of Energy, which will release oil from the nation’s strategic reserve. Sep 1, 2005

Atlanta airport could feel effects of Delta bankruptcy. Delta Air Lines’ decision to file for bankruptcy protection could affect Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Revenue generated from Delta helps the airport pay off $4 billion in bonds used to fund expansion projects, including a new runway and international terminal. Delta and its affiliate carriers handle 78% of the passengers who travel through Hartsfield-Jackson. Sep 15, 2005

Maryland board approves new name for BWI. Maryland will rename its largest airport to honor the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The name changes from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Comptroller William Donald Schaefer criticized the move, claiming Marshall did not like the city of Baltimore. The measure received approval from the state’s Board of Public Works Wednesday. Sep 1, 2005

Bangkok’s new international airport called Suvarnavhumi will take a further and significant step forward on Thursday, when Thai International Airlines lands its first aircraft at the airport. On board its newest Airbus A340-600 will be His Excellency Dr. Thaksin Shinawartra, Thailand’s prime minister , and members of the Thai cabinet, together with the managing committee for the development of the airport. Following will be a Boeing 747-400, with more than 400 guests and members of the press. Suvarnabhumi Airport is approximately 25 kilometers (16 miles) from downtown Bangkok in the Bang Phli district. It is expected to open operationally at the end of March 2006. http://www.bangkok-bkk.com Sep 19, 2005

Birmingham Airport went live last week with the KLM Internet check-in service, enabling customers to select their seat, change their meal option and print out a boarding pass when sitting at their own computer. This launch follows a successful take-off, of the service at Schiphol, London City (April 2005), Newcastle Airport (July 2005), and more recently Bristol (August 2005) and is proving a hit with business travellers once the simplicity of the system gets into their mind. The launch at BHX confirms KLM’s plan to rapidly roll out the service across its 14 UK regional departure points over the next year. The Fokker 50 (see left) http://www.bhx.co.uk Sep 2, 2005

Boston airport to launch reserved parking program. Logan International Airport in Boston is readying a program that will let travelers reserve a parking space in advance. The reserved spaces will carry a premium price, be within short walking distance of the terminal and are expected to be available beginning in January. Sep 15, 2005

FAA expected to approve Chicago airport expansion Friday. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected on Friday to approve a plan to expand Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The FAA will continue with a financial analysis of the project and will report on whether the economic benefits of expansion exceed the costs by the end of the year. Benefits must exceed costs for the project to receive federal funding for its first phase. Sep 29, 2005

D/FW, Southwest launch new Wright ads. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will launch an expanded ad campaign this week supporting the Wright Amendment, the law that limits flying out of Dallas Love Field. Southwest Airlines, which operates a Love Field hub, is asking lawmakers to repeal the law. It recently released a new commercial supporting its position. Sep 14, 2005

D/FW fares fell again in first quarter. A new Department of Transportation report found ticket prices at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport continued to drop during the first quarter of 2005. American Airlines cut ticket prices, which drove the decline. However, the report found D/FW remains the eighth-most expensive. Sep 9, 2005

New Dallas terminal features art, hotel, Wi-Fi access. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport recently unveiled its new Terminal D, a 2 million-square-foot facility used by international passengers. The 28-gate terminal features Wi-Fi access, a Hyatt Hotel and large sculptures, paintings and multimedia displays. Sep 7, 2005

Horseback riders improve security at Houston airport. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks raised concerns that the perimeters of airports are not properly secured. To improve security, volunteer horseback rangers patrol the area surrounding Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, riding on 25 miles of trails. The program has attracted horse enthusiasts who must go through training and a background check to participate. Sep 28, 2005

KLM’s Crown Lounge at Schiphol has been considerably expanded and now offers a fully refurbished interior and improved catering service. The concept lounge was specially developed in response to extensive research among passengers and will be applied to all KLM Crown Lounges worldwide. Located in the European departures hall the huge facility now offers seating for 581 travellers. Hot and cold snacks are available all day. Internet and smoking areas are available. Worldwide, KLM operates eight Crown Lounges: three at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and five on foreign soil in Dubai, Houston, Johannesburg, Toronto and Glasgow. The facilities in Dubai and Houston will be the first to be upgrated in the next six months. http://www.klm.com Sep 26, 2005

London[sup.1]s Heathrow Airport T5 has been topped out by the minister for transport Alistair Darling, in a well-attended ceremony in the new terminal building last week. BAA says it will become officially operational on Sunday 30 March 2008 at 0400. Capable of handling 30m passengers, construction on the 4.2bn project started in September 2002. Both the main building known as T5A and its satellite (T5B), are now glass clad and getting ready for fitting out. The two are connected by an underground Bombardier people mover, which can take you from the international side (T5B), to the short haul building (T5A), in 50 seconds. To put the whole thing in perspective, T5 covers the area of Hyde Park and will have no less than 120 retail outlets, a 12,000 space multi-storey car park and a 600-guestroom hotel (Sofitel). There is also a 34 mile long airside road tunnel, now complete, which links the complex to T3 and will be used for all airside operations. http://www.heathrow.co.uk Sep 2, 2005

Minneapolis airport commission cancels expansion. The Metropolitan Airports Commission has canceled plans to expand the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Northwest Airlines, the airport’s largest tenant, recently filed for bankruptcy protection. The airline’s financial problems could have other affects on the airport: The airport floated $275 million in general obligation bonds for Northwest, and Northwest directly accounts for 35% of the airport’s revenue. An airport spokeswoman said the airline is current in all obligations. Sep 26, 2005

Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport is to be further developed at a cost of $500m over the next five years. Top-priority projects include doubling the area of the passenger terminal; extension of the parking facilities, and the installation of a new baggage-separation system with a higher level of aviation security. The range of services for air passengers will be extended in 2006 and embrace a minihotel for transfer passengers. Also new will be a trade and entertainment center ‘Domodedovo Plaza’, a cinema complex, and ‘a cafe on the roof’ with viewing positions enabling visitors to actually see the airport in full. http://www.domodedovo.ru/index_en.asp Sep 19, 2005

Storm cost New Orleans airport $300M in damages, lost revenue. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport officials expect the federal government to cover the $300 million in damages and lost revenue caused by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the damage to the airport will be repaired within four months. Officials expect revenue to recover gradually over the next 16 months. Sep 19, 2005

New Orleans is beginning to get back to something like normal, with the Louis Armstrong airport reopening for limited passenger services last week. A further indication of progress is the announcement by the Orient Express owned Windsor Court Hotel, that it will be ready for business on Tuesday November 1. The Windsor Court is located in the New Orleans business district and the 324-guest room property, considered one of New Orleans’ premier hotels, was fortunate that over 80% of the rooms were undamaged. The property was not affected by flooding and was able to evacuate all guests and staff safely, shortly after the storm. The hotel’s recovery and construction team have already completed a thorough engineering review and begun repairs. City power has been restored and the hotel believes that portable water will follow in a matter of days. Last week Whiskey Blue, considered as one of the hottest bars in town reopened. http://www.windsorcourthotel.com http://new-orleans-msy-airport.webport.com Sep 19, 2005

Runway reconstruction in New Orleans finished just in time: Officials say the reconstruction of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Airport was completed about two weeks ago, just in time to allow the airport’s two runways to reopen for hurricane relief flights. The runways were repaved and elevated in case of a hurricane, said Mario Rodriguez, deputy director of planning and development for the airport. Damage done by Hurricane Katrina will cost about $40 million to repair, he said. Sep 6, 2005

New Orleans airport resumes limited commercial service. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport officially reopened for commercial airline service today. It will handle just two flights to and from Memphis, operated by Northwest Airlines. Officials say the airport will not resume full operations for nearly 18 months. Before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the airport operated 350 daily flights. Sep 13, 2005

New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport, which does not have flights to London, continues to suffer from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and is only operational for humanitarian relief and civilian and military rescue efforts. There is no timeline for the resumption of air service into the airport and all commercial flight operations have ceased. Such is the situation that passengers who have left their cars at the airport are currently forbidden to even try and collect them. The airport website is however working and is the best means of keeping up to date. http://www.flymsy.com Sep 2, 2005

Airlines resume Houston service after storm. Airlines resumed some service Sunday at Houston’s two airports. Continental Airlines operates it largest hub at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport and said it resumed mainline flights Sunday. Its regional affiliates will not start service until Monday, the airline said. Hobby Airport was open for service as well. The airlines had canceled flights ahead of Hurricane Rita, which hit the Gulf Coast Saturday. Sep 26, 2005

Building height restrictions proposed for Phoenix. Officials in Phoenix are proposing changes to rules on how tall buildings can be in order to make flying in and out of the city’s Sky Harbor International Airport safer. The changes would set a general cap of 40 stories for most buildings, however, the rules could wind up allowing taller buildings in some areas while reducing the height limit in others. Sep 21, 2005

Seattle-Tacoma airport would survive without Southwest. A new report suggests Southwest Airlines’ proposed move to Boeing Field would not create significant financial problems for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Scott Hamilton, a Sammamish, Wash., aviation consultant, wrote the report. He also found that the competitive threat to Alaska Airlines if Southwest moves “is not as large as presumed.” Hamilton said neither he nor his company, Leeham, have ties to the airports or airlines. Sep 2, 2005

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