European tourism demand remains positive albeit with a slower expansion rate compared to the last two years, according to the European Travel Commission’s (ETC) latest quarterly report “European Tourism – Trends & Prospects”.

Although external risks are failing to dissipate, destinations continue to grow at a modest rate and the overarching regional outlook remains positive (3-4% in international tourist arrivals in 2019).

The report also found that Montenegro maintained growth momentum at 18% welcoming a soaring influx of Western European holidaymakers in Q3. Turkey’s tourism peformance also showed impressive growth with a 15% increase in tourist arrivals. Meanwhile the collapse of Wow Air and the strong krona were attributed to Iceland’s declining arrival numbers (-14%). The destination is expected to record a downturn in 2019 for the first time since 2010.

While things appear stable in the European tourism sector amid external challenges, uncertainties and the poor shape of the global economy, the report underlines that the greatest risk lies in not seizing the opportunities at hand by encouraging more sustainable and inclusive tourism approaches.

“This latest report highlights that travel demand in Europe is in a good place, with steady increases in tourism numbers across the board,” said Eudardo Santander, ETC executive director. “Despite very real challenges, such as the looming threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and the collapse of several airlines, European destinations continue to post healthy rates of arrivals, which of course is to be welcomed. Meanwhile, European tourism needs to focus on developing long-term sustainable management solutions to enable tourism to flourish, rather than just merely grow.”

While intra-regional demand plays a key role in increasing tourist numbers in Europe, large long-haul source markets continue to make a significant contribution, particularly from the US with the dollar up against many other currencies. The Q3 report illustrates that several European destinations are witnessing increased arrivals from the US with significant interest in South-Eastern Europe (Turkey (+32%), Greece (+21%), and Cyprus (+27%)). As for the Chinese appetite for European destinations, a strong demand remains amid a relative decline in the economy with virtually all reporting destinations seeing an upsurge in Chinese arrivals or overnights (or both).

The report also noted that with an overall slowdown in the global economy, the increase in global revenue passenger kilometres – an indicator of airline demand – was 4.1%, which is below the average rate of expansion (6.1%) over the past 10 years. And, while load factors in Europe have been growing steadily for several years the collapse of carriers such as Thomas Cook adn Adria Airways in September will put further upward pressure on load factors in the near term. However, any capacity lost through their collapse will return later in 2019 with other airlines filling the void in due course which should facilitate conitnued increase in arrivals to Europe.

A special feature in the report analyses the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on travel and tourism in Europe. It reveals that the combined effect of the economic and non-economic factors associated with a ‘no deal’ scenario would cause a 7% drop in UK outbound trips in 2020 and an 8% drop in 2021, relative to baseline projections. Even more significantly, the report states that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have a permanent downward effect on UK outbound travel volumes. Spain is also likely to be the most heavily impacted per traveller volumes with an estimated 1.3 million fewer UK arrivals to the country in 2021 relative to baseline projects, and Ireland the most impact in percentage terms (-5%) in the same year.

Desert Jet has completed the construction of its new executive FBO at Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Palm Springs, California.

The $7m facility is the first and only full-service FBO in the area. It offers ground handling, ramp parking, fuel, hangar, aircraft detailing, maintenance, aircraft acquisitions, sales, management and charter. Offering a modern facility that strikes a balance between clean, contemporary design and function, the FBO is set to change the landscape at the Palm Springs airport.

The 32,500 ft² FBO can accommodate aircraft as large as the Guldstream G650 and Global 6000. It features floor-to-ceiling windows in the terminal as well as an observation deck and the only air-conditioned aircraft hangar in Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.

Jared Fox, Desert Jet’s CEO, commented: “We are experiencing tremendous growth in the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs area, with that comes higher demand for our aviation services. Desert Jet is poised to meet the increased demand with our brand-new facilities, additional jets and new executive team.”

Located close to La Quinta home and club communities including PGA West, the Quarry, Madison Club, Griffin Ranch and the Hideaway, the airport is also ideally located for VIP passengers wanting to access events at the Empire Polo Grounds, such as Coachella Festival and Stagecoach Festival. It’s also within a couple of miles of the Thermal Motorsports Club, the BMW Performance Centre and the HITS Ranch.

New Zealand baggage-handling firm Glidepath has been acquired by French-based robotics company B2A Technology for an undisclosed sum.

Glidepath’s executive chairman and founder Sir Ken Stevens said that after nearly 50 years it was time for him and his family to sell and move on.

“The sale will allow Glidepath to build on its strong performance and prospects with a new owner who has the right synergies, capabilities and customer centric values to step up and take the business to the next level of growth.”

Glidepath’s rapid growth over the last decade can be attributed to the boom in international travel and parcel growth. Sir Stevens, who was knighted in 2007, will step down as executive chairman of the company, which has more than 1000 projects in 68 countries.

Head-quartered in New Zealand, Glidepath has a network of regional offices operating across Canada, US, Latin America, India, South Africa, the Pacific and Australasia.

Meanwhile B2A Technology president, Pierre Marol, explained how the acquisition of Glidepath will boost the growth potential of his combined group, which includes Alstef, BA Systèmes. “Glidepath can offer a wider global market presence, expanding and complementary product range and greater commercial strength while remaining true to the shared values of collaborative innovation, customer focus and care for its people,” he said.

Evolved from the meeting between Alstef and BA Systemes, B2A Technololgy designs, integrates and maintains intralogistic solutions to improve the performance of logistics processes. It’s mission is to support its worldwide customer base by providing them with turnkey integrated systems and services. With 500 employees and €100m turnover, B2A currently manages baggage handling systems on four continents.

Des Moines International Airport in Iowa has become the 20th base of operations for Allegiant Air. The Las Vegas-based carrier will begin base operations at Des Moines on 14 May 2020.

The announcement heralds a $50m investment which will locate two Airbus A320 aircraft at the Iowa base and introduce at least 66 new, high-wage jobs to the community.

Allegiant aircraft on the runway

“For Allegiant to select Des Moines International Airport as a base of operations is a historic day for Des Moines, our airport and the two-and-a-half million passengers who fly through our City each year,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.

“The financial investment and well-paying jobs this brings to our community is significant and most appreciated.”

Iowa’s capital city and the Greater Des Moines region are the core of one of the fastest growing areas in the Midwest. Home to more than 791,000 residents, the region is known for iconic festivals and events, sports and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as a burgeoning business environment. In recent years, Des Moines has been named among the nation’s top places to live (US News & World Report, 2018) and top locations for business and careers. (Forbes, 2017)

Des Moines has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Allegiant, spanning more than 15 years. Keith Hansen, Allegiant’s vice president of government affairs stated that: “Having locally-based aircraft and crews will open up a wide range of options for new service and more flights throughout the day. We’re excited to bring more opportunities for affordable, convenient travel, and expand Allegiant’s presence as a hometown airline for Hawkeye state residents.”

Having entered service at Des Moines in 2003, Allegiant currently offers eight direct routes – to Orlando-Sanford, St. Pete-Clearwater, Punta Gorda, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Sarasota in Florida; Phoenix-Mesa in Arizona; Los Angeles in California; and Las Vegas in Nevada.

Commenting on how the airport continues to play a critical role in the economic vitality of the region, Kevin Foley, Des Moines Airport Authority Executive Director said: “Iowans continue to prove travel is important to them and Des Moines is committed to growing air service in our market. Through this partnership with Allegiant, not only will we be adding jobs in our community, we will be opening the door for new destinations and adventures.”

Leisure carrier Jet2.com has purchased Thomas Cook’s slots at a trio of regional UK hubs: Birmingham, London Stansted and Manchester Airports.

In a statement Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said the acquisition will “play an important role” in supporting the airline’s growth at the three airports.

He continued: “We have been adding more flights and aircraft, resulting in increased capacity, at each of these bases for many years. Today’s announcement is the latest demonstration of our commitment to providing holidaymakers with more choice and flexibility when it comes to flying to sun, city and ski destinations with our award-winning airline.”

Manchester and London Stansted Airports are both owned and operated by Manchester Airports Group (MAG). A MAG spokesman said: “We are pleased to see Jet2.com’s plans for continued growth at Manchester and London Stansted Airports, after they acquired Thomas Cook slots from the liquidator. Jet2.com’s growth will result in more flights, more aircraft and more choice for passengers as they look to book their holidays for next year.”

The airline has recently been expanding capacity and destinations in its route network, announcing summer flights to Innsbruck from Birmingham and Manchester Airports for Summer 2020, as well as adding two new Greek destinations from next summer (Lesvos and Peloponnese) from Manchester and London Stansted.

Meanwhile, the airport slots at London Gatwick and Bristol Airport belonging to Thomas Cook have been sold to easyJet.

Image: London Stansted

Birmingham Airport has set itself an ambitious target to prioritise becoming a net zero carbon airport by 2033.

The airport has set its ambitious target ahead of the UK’s target of 2050 in recognition of the growing need to address climate change. As part of its commitment the airport is prioritising zero carbon airport operations and minimising carbon offsets. It has already cut its carbon emissions since 2013 by 33%, and emissions per passenger by more than 50%, despite growing passenger numbers by 40%.

Admitting that he doesn’t have all the answers as to how the airport will hit its target, Nick Barton, Birmingham Airport’s CEO did however reveal that “we are confident that through innovation and collaboratively working with industry, government, manufacturers, on-site partners and employees, we can reach our target by 2033.”

He also revealed that he believes the biggest opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint is via on-site renewable energy generation. “Technology is changing at some pace and the movement to a net-zero economy itself is driving innovation across the energy and transportation industry, and we are going to take advantage of this,” he added.

“Over the next six to 12 months we will be working to revise our existing carbon management plan and develop a roadmap. This will allow us to set and prioritise genuine carbon reduction objectives rather than carbon off-setting schemes, as we see this as the least favourable option.”

Acknowledging that there are wider concerns about emissions from flights, which airports are an enabler of, the UK aviation and aerospace industries have already invested £22bn in green technology since 2005. Birmingham Airport itself works with Sustainable Aviation, which is made up of airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air traffic service providers to work together towards a common goal of cleaner, quieter and smarter aviation.

“We are also doing our bit locally to help airlines reduce their emissions,” said Barton. “We are fully supportive of the UK’s Airspace Modernisation programme, which the Committee on Climate Change advise is required to be delivered if the UK is going to achieve net-zero by 2050.

“We’ve already delivered changes to our airspace as part of the UK Airspace Modernisation programme and we will continue to work with the CAA, Sustainable Aviation and airline partners to help reduce aircraft emissions further.”

The airport is publishing an updated Sustainability Strategy later this month, outlining its vision to address the key aspects of its environmental and community impacts over the next five years, including noise, carbon, waste, water, air quality, biodiversity and employment.

Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) in Barbados is helping brands benefit from greater reach with airline passengers. The Caribbean’s ‘leading airport’ has partnered with Clear Channel Advertising (CCA)as its exclusive advertising provider.

As part of this agreement CCA will design and launch a contemporary media programme for GAIA that captures the spirit of Barbados. The programme will entail the fusion of high-tech media, sponsored mobile charging stations and spectacular large-format displays among concourse environs to maximise revenue for GAIA and captivate passengers for brands. In addition to ‘Welcome to Barbados’ theming, displays will feature a 4-mm LED video wall, illuminated and non-illuminated tension fabric displays, exhibit and specialty displays and glass wraps.

“Our diligence confirmed that CCA is the airport media innovator and leader,” said Terry Layne, Acting CEO, Grantley Adams International Airport, in reference to CCA operating at more than 260 airport programmes around the globe. “The sophisticated media program CCA proposed is comprehensive, best-in-class and will deliver what brands want, and, improve the overall experience for our valued customers,” he continued.

Brands benefitting from the GAIA’s new media program range from among industries such as tourism, banking and finance, real estate, international business, retail and distribution. In addition, its thriving rental market, driven by the tourist population, attracts many foreign homebuyers.

GAIA’s airport traffic for 2018 was 2.19m. It caters for flights serving other Caribbean islands, as well as connections to major cities in the US, Canada and Europe.

Several business aviation associations have responded against suggestions from some British politicians of restricting business aircraft access to airports in the UK on emissions grounds. Instead industry leaders emphasised the government should support SAF use and production.

Representatives of the Labour Party have shared support for proposals to restrict private jets from UK airports, in the wake of a report (‘Jet Set Go’ from thinktank Common Wealth) that proposed a “near-total ban on fossil fuel powered private aircraft using UK airports from 2025 onwards.”

Andy McDonald MP, shadow transport secretary tweeted: “A phase-out date for the use of fossil fuel private jets is a sensible proposal.”

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) argued that such proposals disproportionately target a single mode of transport, “with a proven record on carbon reduction and an aggressive push underway for the availability and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).”

SAF could reduce aviation’s carbon lifecycle emissions by up to 80%, the associations argued, and are fully certified and ready for use in all turbine engines.

IBAC Director General Kurt Edwards said the industry has been pressing ahead with SAF: “Instead of singling out business aviation for prohibitive restrictions on airport access, UK leaders should focus on efforts to make SAF more widely available in the UK through positive incentive policies to encourage production and use of SAF in greater quantities.”

Business aviation leaders reaffirmed their commitment to reducing emissions ten years ago with a plan to reduce the industry’s overall emissions 50% by the year 2050, relative to 2005 levels – with the development of SAF a key to this.

“Business aviation has continually led the way in promoting products, procedures and policies to reduce aircraft emissions, with proven results,” said National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We urge leaders in the UK and elsewhere to set aside punitive proposals like this one, and work with us to build upon the significant progress made to date.”

“In addition to the work being done by business aviation manufacturers, operators and fuel suppliers to accelerate the adoption of SAF, we are also working to move past fuel-powered aircraft entirely, with development of electric, hydrogen and solar energy sources,” Bolen added.

The leaders also pointed to the history of industry investment in satellite-based avionics, winglets, airframe composites, advanced propulsion systems and other innovations to improve fuel efficiency of aircraft. Over the course of the past four decades, carbon emissions from business aviation have been reduced by 40%.

“At a time when leadership is needed on sustainability, the proposed ban lacks meaningful value,” Edwards commented. “It will have a de minimis impact on emissions overall while denying connectivity for London and hindering competitiveness for companies of all sizes in the region and beyond.

“Let’s focus on proposals that would have a real effect on emissions reduction while also promoting aviation connectivity and sustainability,” he concluded.

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) also responded: “As a sector, we know that passengers are increasingly demanding to be transported sustainably. Outright banning private jets in the UK as suggested, however, would do little to curb climate change (business aviation is but 2% of 2% of aviation’s contribution to global emissions). Furthermore air traffic is an international business, meaning unilateral, isolated solutions make little sense. We’re therefore proposing a more achievable and holistic approach.”

The EBAA instead proposed actions to support the industry’s sustainable efforts, commenting: “Real opportunities to significantly reduce the environmental impact of aviation in Europe exist, which have yet to be acted on despite being on the transport agenda for years. Governments must therefore focus on concrete actions that support European operators and their sustainability efforts.”

The actions suggested include the delivery of the Single European Sky, which the EBAA suggest could save an estimated 10% of CO2 emissions if implemented, as well as policies to support production and delivery of SAF and accelerating its use, and finally the association recommended research and innovation programmes to support the improvement of engines, battery development to speed the progress of electrification and aircraft fuel-efficiency.