GATCOM Weekly Newsletter - December 2019 (2)


CAA: Call for Evidence on recognised assistance dogs

View the Consultation documents and guidance here. Submissions via email to consumerenforcement@caa.co.uk by Friday 10 January 2020.

Transport Strategy for the South East - Consultation Draft

Transport for the South East (TfSE) has launched a consultation on its draft Transport Strategy. The closing date for comments is 10 January 2020.

Click here to see TfSE press release, click here to see the consultation document and click here to see the Executive Summary. 

CAA Consultation - Airspace classification review 2019-2020

The CAA would like help to identify volumes of controlled airspace in which the classification could be amended to better reflect the needs of all airspace users on an equitable basis. Submissions by 3 March 2020 via the website. Click here for supporting documents and Survey.


  •  Cash-strapped Hong Kong Airlines has seven planes impounded - Travel Mole 17.12.19

Hong Kong Airlines had seven of its planes impounded at Hong Kong by the Airport Authority due to outstanding payments. The planes were seized in accordance to an Airport Authority Ordinance and could be sold off if debts are not paid within 60 days. Neither the airline nor the airport authority disclosed the nature of the unpaid bills but the South China Morning Post reports HK Airlines could owe up to HK$17.2 million in unpaid airport fees. Read more

  • British Airways pilots vote to accept pay deal - BBT 17.12.19

British Airways pilots have voted to accept an offer from the carrier to close a long-running dispute over pay and terms and conditions. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said members voted by nearly nine to one to accept the final deal, which was proposed by ACAS. Read more

  • Government commits to reform airline insolvency process - Travel Mole 19.12.19

ABTA has welcomed a commitment in the Queen's speech to reform the airline insolvency process following recent failures, including Thomas Cook Airlines and Monarch. Boris Johnson's new government said the law would be changed to protect passengers in the event of an airline going bust. The government envisages introducing a mechanism to make it easier for the CAA to grant insolvent airlines a temporary operating licence so they can repatriate passengers. The government also plans to increase the CAA's oversight of airlines in financial difficulty to reduce the likely impact of future failures, and also put the CAA in charge of repatriating both ATOL and non-ATOL protected passengers. Read more

  • Govt sets out plan to limit rail strike disruption - BBT 20.12.19

The government has set out plans to reduce disruption to passenger journeys caused by rail strikes, but the move has been labelled a threat to workers' rights by a major union. Under the legislation, which was proposed in yesterday's Queen's Speech, rail workers would be obligated to provide a minimum service during industrial action. The law would see industrial action ruled unlawful unless a "minimum service agreement" is in place, with the threat of penalties levied against unions. Read more

  •  Heathrow warns third runway will be delayed by at least a year - Travel Mole 20.12.19

Heathrow has said its plan to build a third runway will be delayed by at least a year after the Civil Aviation Authority rejected its request to quadruple spending. The airport says the new runway will now not be completed until sometime between early 2028 and late 2029. Read more


  • Major extension to Gatwick Airport hotel would almost double capacity - Crawley Observer 16.12.19

Bloc Hotel, based at the airport's South Terminal in Perimeter Road East, opened in 2014 with 245 rooms. However since opening it has seen high occupancy rates with levels reaching 99 per cent between March 2018 and March 2019. It has therefore submitted a planning application for an extension so it can provide another 228 rooms to Crawley Borough Council. The proposed extension would be located above the existing South Terminal building next to the existing Bloc Hotel. Read more

  • Flooding causes major disruption to Gatwick rail services - Travel Mole 20.12.19

Heavy rainfall is causing major disruption to Gatwick rail services, with Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express journeys all affected. Rail operator Southern has told passengers not to travel between Brighton and Gatwick and warned services from London to the airport are also affected. Read more

  • Crawley councillors share memories and tributes to Geraint - Crawley News 18.12.19

Crawley's mayor joined staff and councillors outside the town hall to pay their respects to Geraint Thomas [GATCOM] as his funeral cortège passed. Read more


  • Potential impact of aircraft electrification on airport infrastructure at Heathrow - Cranfield University 10.12.19

Heathrow Airport is looking to understand how electric aircraft will impact future infrastructure needs with the help of researchers from Cranfield University, the University of Essex and the University of Reading. Read more

  • 'World's first' commercial electric aeroplane takes flight - Air Quality News 11.12.19

The 'world's first' all-electric commercial aircraft has taken to the skies in Vancouver, Canada for its maiden journey. The project is a joint venture between Harbour Air and magniX and involved retrofitting a 62-year-old plane with a 560kw electric propulsion system. It flew for 15 minutes, with six passengers on board. Read more

  • Ryanair passengers 'will not know if 737 Max is due to operate flight' - Flight Global 11.12.19

Ryanair's aircraft allocation procedures mean passengers will not be told during the booking process whether or not their flights are due to be operated by Boeing 737 Max jets, according to group chief executive Michael O'Leary. Read more

  • World tourism on environmental precipice - Travel Mole 11.12.19

We all know that tourism is on a precipice. OK, we play up the positives - usually numbers getting ever bigger - but actually we know in our guts that it can't go on like this. Too much tourism related emissions, too many top destinations drowned by tourists, too much of tourism revenue being syphoned off by the OTAs, too many tourism-related terror outrages and natural disasters. Sooner or later the carousel is going to have to dramatically change or stop. And that will affect all of us. Read more

  • Airport facilitation of passenger services: Biometrics on the rise - ACI Insights 11.12.19

Biometric technology is becoming increasingly important as airports and airlines are constantly looking for ways to make the journey more convenient for passengers, while maintaining strict security standards. Biometrics offer the perfect solution for a safe and convenient travel experience. Read more

  • Dare to Dream: The organisation getting women into aviation - BBC 15.12.19

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima from Botswana describes the aviation industry as "white and male". To combat this, she founded Dare to Dream - an organisation whose aim is to get more women into all aspects of the industry. In this BBC Africa One Minute Story she explains how she inspires young African women to reach for the sky. Watch

  • Etihad completes trials of autonomous wheelchair at airport - Khaleej Times 16.12.19

Etihad Airways together with its partners Abu Dhabi Airports and WHILL personal electric vehicle supplier have completed guest trials of their innovative autonomous wheelchairs at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The trials involved over 60 guests with restricted mobility, who self-drove the wheelchairs, navigating crowded areas and lounges before safely arriving at their gate. Upon completion of the guest journey, the wheelchairs returned autonomously back to the docking station without requiring any human interference. Read more

  • Passport scanning by app - BTN 16.12.19

Checking-in for international flights has been made easier for American Airlines passengers after the company launched passport scanning in its mobile app. American says it is the first carrier to offer the system. The method uses scanning that transmits information securely from the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip embedded in a passport, allowing passengers to head directly to their flights without needing passports rechecked. Read more

  • CAA gives update on Thomas Cook refunds - Travel Mole 16.12.19

More than 75% of claims by Thomas Cook customers have now been received and settled, according to an update from the Civil Aviation Authority. The ATOL financial protection scheme, managed by the UK CAA on behalf of the Air Travel Trust, has now made payments of over £200 million to cover more than 250,000 claims in total. Read more

  • Aviation's future in forum spotlight - BT News 16.12.19

Key issues facing airlines and airports in the new decade will be under the microscope at the latest Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum (WEETF) policy conference in central London on 30 January; competition, environmental sustainability, growth and priorities for the sector will be featured. Read more

  • COMMENT: The year of living dangerously - BTN 16.12.19

Anyone in the aviation industry understands it is a turbulent business but even the most hardened observer could be forgiven for being unnerved by the events of 2019, with bankruptcies leading the charge. Our month-by-month round-up is a summary of some of the main events of 2019. Read more

  • Airport workers have the last laugh with passengers' confiscated security items - AOL 17.12.19

"With the winter travel season well under way, the Aviation security officers at Vilnius Airport opted for an unusual take on the Christmas classic, aiming to send an educational message on the importance of aviation security," Lithuanian Airports wrote on LinkedIn. "Using items that are prohibited to carry in hand luggage and which were taken away from passengers during screening, the lads at the Aviation security unit of Lithuania's main airport created a truly unique educational masterpiece." Read more

  • Boeing to halt 737 Max production - BBT 17.12.19

Boeing has announced it will temporarily suspend production of the 737 Max in January following two fatal crashes. The manufacturer was hoping the aircraft would be recertified and a grounding order lifted by the end of this year, but the US Federal Aviation Administration has refused to put a timeline on getting the planes back in the sky. Read more

  • The UK's net zero target: is aviation in or out? - AEF 17.12.19

Have they included aircraft emissions? It's the question we ask ourselves every time we see a new climate commitment, whether that's airports saying they're going carbon neutral, businesses and states committing to 'net zero', or claims about successful carbon cutting measures having been delivered in the UK. Read more

  • Do airports need new facilities to increase capacity? - ACI Insights 18.12.19

As the world's population continues to grow the demand for air travel also increases. For airports to be able to match the needs of all future passengers, proper infrastructure must be developed. This is time-consuming and can take many years for new infrastructure to be operationally ready in order to extend airport capacity to landside operations. During this period, airport operators are faced with the challenge of relying on existing facilities while the new one is being properly deployed to prevent running into any shortages. Read more

  • ICCAN Review of the Survey of Noise Attitudes 2014 - ICCAN 18.12.19

ICCAN has conducted a review of the Survey of Noise Attitudes (SoNA) 2014. To read the findings and recommendations for future work on aviation noise and health, or download a PDF copy of the full report, click here.

  • BA forms joint business with China Southern - BBT 18.12.19

British Airways and China Southern Airlines will launch a joint business on 2 January which will initially see the carriers codeshare on a number of flights. Customers of both airlines will be provided with an expanded choice of flights as a result of the partnership, with the carriers due to cooperate on scheduling and pricing. Read more

  • Airport chiefs test radar system that can target drones over a mile away - Telegraph 18.12.19

Airport chiefs are testing new "detect and destroy" technology that could identify and bring down drones more than a mile away to avoid a repeat of the Gatwick Christmas chaos. Qinetiq, the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) research agency, has built a radar and camera that can pinpoint the location of a drone every 0.5 seconds to within half a metre. Read more

  • We're extending our Artificial Intelligence trial to include full low visibility conditions - NATS 18.12.19

Earlier this year we started a project looking at whether we could apply a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ultra-HD camera technology to help cut airport weather- related delays. Read more

  • The busiest times over Christmas for UK airports - Independent 18.12.19

Predictions on the days over the festive season when travellers can expect the biggest crowds at UK airports. Read more

  • ABTA: The holiday season (in numbers) - Travel Daily Media 19.12.19

This holiday season (from 18 December 2019 to 2 January 2020), ABTA estimates that five million UK passengers are heading abroad. Millions of people will be leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting high numbers. Read more

  • Which? advises passengers to fly with Jet2, not BA or Ryanair - Travel Mole 19.12.19

Air passengers were urged to choose Jet2 over both British Airways and Ryanair today after the holiday airline scored highly in the annual Which? Travel survey while its two rivals were panned by customers. Read more

  • Accountancy watchdog extends probe into Thomas Cook collapse - Travel Mole 19.12.19

The Financial Reporting Council started looking into accountancy firm EY's audit of Thomas Cook' financial statements for its full last financial year immediately following the tour operator's collapse in September. The accountancy watchdog has now announced that it will investigate the audit of Thomas Cook's financial filings for the year to the end of September 2017 as well. Read more

  • French strike hits Eurostar's first ski trains of the season - Travel Mole 19.12.19

Eurostar has been forced to change the departure times of its first ski trains of the season due to a national strike in France, which will cause some skiers to miss their first day on the slopes. Eurostar said the changes had been made due to the strike action in France leading to the closure of some railway lines in the Alps. Read more

  • 'Bill' the robot to help guide passengers at Heathrow - Telegraph 19.12.19

British Airways has turned to a pair of helpful robots that can guide tourists to their check-in desks at Heathrow Airport in a bid to boost customer satisfaction. The 4ft tall robots, called "Bill", have been let loose at Britain's busiest airport to make it easier for passengers to get around. The two robots, which are multilingual, can guide passengers to cafes, check-in areas, restaurants and toilets around Terminal 5. Read more

  • Queen's speech outlines Thomas Cook compensation bill - Travel Weekly 19.12.19

The government will pass new legislation to compensate Thomas Cook customers making personal injury claims. The purpose of the proposed bill is to "enable the government to administer a capped compensation scheme to support customers of Thomas Cook facing the most serious hardship as a result of life-changing injuries, illness or loss of life for which UK-based Thomas Cook companies would have been liable". Read more

  • Being a controller at Christmas - NATS Blog 20.12.19

Every year, while most of us are enjoying turkey, mince pies and questionable festive TV, there are people across the country who give up that time to help others. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and many others forgo time with their families to look after those who need it most. Air traffic controllers might not be in the business of saving lives, but every day they - along with our engineers - help thousands of people reach their destinations safely. And the same is true throughout the holiday period, with controllers across the country giving up time with family and friends to help make sure others can get to theirs. I spoke to a few controllers from across NATS about the highs and lows to being a controller at Christmas. Read more

And finally - you can generate your own personalised Santa flight plan in our Elf Traffic Control portal at www.nats.aero/Christmas. [worth having a festive peek!]



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