A Position On The Podium For Cochin International Airport
Ranjit Shergill / July 12, 2021 / 0 comments
Cochin International Airport in the State of Kerala, India, has become the country’s third busiest Airport (after Delhi and Mumbai) for International Passenger Traffic, for the five month period from January 2021 to May 2021. This is despite the fact that India is currently experiencing its most aggressive outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the aforementioned five month period, the Airport handled 589,460 International Passengers, and for the month of April, it was the second busiest Airport in india for International Traffic, with 138,625 Passengers.
Furthermore, Cochin International Airport Limited, who operate the Airport, have stated that the surge in Passenger Traffic has also been witnessed in Domestic Traffic, with levels in June alone doubling to that of previous months. Indeed, overall Cochin International Airport has climbed from the country’s fourth busiest Airport to the Podium.
In summary, Cochin International Airport handled a total of 1,556,366 Passengers during the first five months of 2021. Pre Covid-19 pandemic, the Airport handled ten million passengers, so if the upward trajectory of recent months continues, then the recovery outlook for India’s Aviation sector appears positive.
Kerala A Safer Haven From The Covid-19 Pandemic
Cochin International Airport Limited have since rolled out a comprehensive Covid-19 Testing Program, which has been at the epicentre of their Air Passenger Traffic growth in recent months. The initiative has been strongly backed by the State Government of Kerala. Cochin International Airport Managing Director, Shri. S.Suhas IAS, said, “The Kerala government installed free RT-PCR testing facilities at all Airports for International Arrival Passengers. An integrated travel facilitation strategy was launched at the Airport whereby officials of District administration, health, revenue, police departments have been working round the clock for increasing the comfort level of the Passengers.”
FlyPop has become the latest low-cost Air Carrier to have finalised a UK Airport base to operate out of, in this case, London Stansted Airport. Indeed, the UK startup Air Carrier has aspirations to fly long haul, with initial focus on routes to secondary Airports in India.
Consequently, FlyPop believe that the demand for direct flights to such Indian cities will be the epicentre of their customer travel demands. These sentiments are echoed by FlyPop’s CEO, Navdip Singh Judge. He said, “London Stansted Airport has a history of being the base for low-cost carriers and we feel it is the perfect fit for our passengers. FlyPop is focused on serving the Indian and South Asian diaspora communities living in the UK and their visiting friends and relatives, for whom London Stansted is the most convenient Airport location.”
FlyPop Keen To Pop Open Its Aircraft Doors ASAP
FlyPop intends to offer return fares from London Stansted to Indian Cities for as low as £99! Navdip Singh Judge explained the mechanics of how offering two-figure fares can still be profitable and challenged other competitors to see if they can match it.
He said, “Yields are funny terms, aren’t they? Yields are the difference between CASK [cost per available seat kilometre] and RASK [revenue per available seat kilometre]. So, we want to have our CASK so low that the yield will end up being quite healthy. That’s the art of yield management. We are going to start flights at £99, so if anybody wants to beat us with that, let them try it.”
FlyPop intends to use the double decker Airbus (A330-300) Aircraft to operate flights between the UK and India. The launch date of flights between the destinations is to be confirmed and very much subject to Covid-19 restrictions relaxing. Indeed, India remains on the UK’s red list of countries, thereby meaning tourists from the UK cannot travel to India, and any UK citizens returning from India are subject to strict quarantine rules. Furthermore, on FlyPop’s website, under the FAQs section, it reflects such uncertainty, stating that “Subject to Covid-19 restrictions, we look forward to welcoming you onboard later this year.”
As and when they can launch operations, FlyPop is expected to fly routes from London Stansted to Amritsar and Ahmedabad, with Kolkata and Goa to follow shortly thereafter.
FlyPop is continuing to negotiate deals with other secondary Airports in India, with the anticipation of hopefully starting operations before the end of the year.
Air India will be resuming flights to and from United Kingdom (UK) starting 1 May 2021. The news comes after the Airline suspended travel between India and the UK during 24 to 30 April. This was because of the huge surge in COVID-19 cases across India, that is on average over 300,000 a day, leading the UK government to tighten restrictions on travel between the two countries and adding India to the ‘red-list’.
Air India will start by conducting flights between Mumbai and London Heathrow on 1 May, with a return flight occurring on the same day. Thereafter, flights between Delhi and London Heathrow will resume on 2 May, which will then be followed by Bengaluru and London Heathrow on 5 May. This will enable thousands of Indians in the UK to be able to return home. Previously, this was rather challenging due to the limited services offered by other Air Carriers between the countries.
Requirement to Rebook & Revalidate
It is important to note that Air India will require passengers who have already booked the aforementioned flights to rebook or revalidate their flight tickets by contacting Air India. For those booking fresh flights anew, booking and validating can be done via the Air India App, website, or other third-party vendors offering flights.
Travel from India to the UK now comes with caveats, and Air India has reiterated the need for passengers to factor in the UK’s travel guidelines in relation to COVID-19. The Airline said, “It will be the sole responsibility of the passengers to ensure his/her eligibility to enter the destination country. Air India will accept no liability if non compliance results in denied boarding.”
Just as India is in the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, experiencing record number of cases, passengers landing at Silchar Airport in Assam have aggravated the pandemic, by somehow bypassing mandatory Rapid Antigen Test & RT-PCR Test on arrival at the Airport. Furthermore, local authorities are unaware of how these passengers managed to slip under the radar.
“On Wednesday, 690 people landed at Silchar,” said Sumit Sattawan, ADC, Health, Cachar district, “Some were exempt since they were transit passengers travelling to other northeast states. A total of 189 took the test — out of which six were positive. Around 300 went away, skipping the test. Regarding how they ran away and other details, we are still investigating what exactly happened”. However, he remained adamant that every effort would be made to trace the perpetrators.
Skipping Tests Over 500 Rupees
Passengers should undertake the necessary Covid-19 Tests at Tikol Model Hospital in the vicinity of Silchar Airport. This is due to the Airport lacking capacity to cater for mass testing. Public transport is provided to passengers from the Airport to the Hospital, or they can take private transport, subject to providing vehicle & driver details. The RT-PCR Test costs 500 INR (US $7), which appeared to be a key driver behind many passengers failing to take test.
Sumit Sattawan added, “The police are currently tracing the passengers who fled, following which legal action will be taken. Cases will be registered under relevant sections”. The need for enforcement is further heightened by the state of Assam currently having 9,048 active Covid-19 cases. As such, the State Government is currently ordering all public spaces and places to close by 6 PM each day.
Electric Energy Epitomises Exeter Airport’s Road To Recovery
Ranjit Shergill / March 21, 2021 / 0 comments
In the past 12 months, Exeter Airport has witnessed the absence of FlyBe (its main revenue stream) and a perpetuated downturn in passenger traffic and flights, owing to the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, as the prospect of reopening its Airspace draws closer, so does its strategy towards modernising flying from an environmental perspective.
Indeed, Exeter Airport could be about to witness the departure of the first hybrid-electric aircraft commuter flight bound for Newquay Airport. Should this be fulfilled in line with expectations, then this could be the ‘E-Normal’ moving forward.
2ZERO Project Initiative
All of the above is led by the 2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) project. This will witness an evaluation of the requirements for electric driven flights to be commonplace. Importantly, there will be particular attention paid to the recharging capabilities of aircraft batteries. The hope is that such initiatives will reduce emissions by up to 70%.
A key stakeholder in accelerating the growth of electric flights, AmPaire, was awarded £2.4 million by The Future Flight Challenge. As such, they hope for the entire Aviation Industry to complement the green school of thought, as evidenced by their Vice President of Global Partnership, Susan Ying’s comments. She said, “For electric aviation to become commonplace, and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases, we need to look at not only electric aircraft but the entire ecosystem to support electric aviation. That will be a key aim of the 2ZERO programme.”
The Road To May 2022
2ZERO project will run until May 2022, by which time there should be clear evidence of progress towards reducing emissions, rather than just coming out of a pandemic recovery. Such thoughts were echoed by East Devon District Council leader, Paul Arnott. He said, “We are keen to support a green recovery rather than just a return to business as usual and today’s announcement is a really important step towards this. It will ensure that the airport can act as a test bed for new technologies including electric flight and can play a leading role in helping to meet the global challenge of decarbonising the aviation industry.”
In summary, the future of the freedoms of the sky will be determined by the care the air is treated with.
THE ‘L’ IN KLM HAS A NEW IMPORTANCE: ‘LONG HAUL’ FLIGHTS CAN NOW RESUME!
Ranjit Shergill / January 30, 2021 / 0 comments
KLM can look forward to a resumption of their Long Haul Flight Operations, due to relaxation measures by RIVM (the Dutch National Institute for Public Health & the Environment) on the requirements for Air Crew to produce a negative rapid Covid-19 Antigen test before flight departure from ‘high risk’ countries.
Resumption of Long Haul Flights
After a consultation took place between KLM and RIVM, it was agreed that Air Crew will undertake a rapid Covid-19 Antigen test before departing the Netherlands and can take the same test upon returning to the Netherlands. Consequently, this eliminates the risk of Air Crew not being able to board return flights from ‘high risk’ countries and therefore potentially being stranded abroad for a period of time until they could satisfy the previous requirements.
That being said, passengers travelling from ‘high risk’ countries to the Netherlands, will still be required to present a negative rapid Covid-19 Antigen test, as well as a negative PCR test that is conducted no more than 72 hours prior to travel. This could become problematic in countries that do not have such comprehensive rapid Covid-19 Antigen testing facilities. However, KLM said they will try to support passengers in such predicaments as much as possible.
The Road Ahead
It is also important to note that the resumption of Long Haul routes, will enable KLM’s Cargo Operations to continue to transport Covid-19 vaccine supplies back to the Netherlands. KLM remains intent on stringent measures to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, and they can now achieve this in an environment that does not completely hinder their Long Haul Flight Operations.
Malta’s International Passenger Traffic Experiences Spiral Dive in 2020
Ranjit Shergill / January 24, 2021 / 0 comments
Malta International Airport’s decade long growth in airport passenger traffic came to a grinding halt in 2020, dropping to just 1,748,050 compared to a high of 7,310,289 in 2019.
Whilst the island has a storied diving scene, the dive in airport passenger traffic took precedence in 2020. Consequently, Malta International Airport PLC (who took over the management of the airport’s terminal back in 2002) has recorded its lowest passenger traffic under its management.
That said, Malta is targeting a summer 2021 surge in passenger traffic, with plans to rollout a comprehensive fast-track vaccine program complemented by a robust Covid-19 testing program.
“In order for this prediction to materialise it is imperative that, over the next weeks, measures aimed at boosting consumer confidence take centre stage. A faster vaccine roll-out should be complemented by the establishment of much-needed uniform testing regimes and travel requirements at a European level,” said Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg.
Such statements are a clear indication that should these parameters not be met with immediate effect, then 2021 could be a continuation of 2020’s lack of tourist footfall, thereby putting local livelihoods at risk of insolvency.
All eyes will now focus on the Airport’s Board of Directors meeting on 24th of February 2021, where further discussions will take place on implementation and effectiveness of Covid-19 compliance measures.
The UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) decided to relax travel restrictions to/from the Canary Islands on 03-July-2020. Consequently, this presented the opportunity to experience Covid-19 tourism abroad, and on this occasion the destination was Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Indeed, situated just over 1,000 miles off the southwest coast of mainland Spain in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and arguably the most appealing for the adventure minded traveller. Its golden sand beaches and turquoise infused blue sea represents just a teaser of what the island has to offer to travellers.
Our journey into Tenerife from Madrid ran very smoothly and we came to find out that the aircraft is equipped with HEPA filters that kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses in recirculated air. It is important to note that the culture of wearing a face masks to protect each other from Covid-19 appears to be fully engrained into Spanish culture and it has had a positive knock-on effect on incoming travellers complying with such rules. Indeed, this was evident throughout the island, be it indoors or outdoors. Unless you are one and half metres separated from another person, then you should wear your mask. Mainland Spain was severely hit during the peak of its Covid-19 pandemic, and the lockdown entailed a strict protocol (where you were only allowed out of the house to the supermarket, pharmacy or absolute emergency reasons). Therefore, now gradually coming out of lockdown and opening up their country once more to its most storied and precious industry (tourism), Spain and the Canary Islands will not undo all the sacrifices made to contain the spread of Covid-19. Completion of forms for contact tracing purposes and taking of temperatures are commonplace. Furthermore, it is not something that is frowned upon, but rather viewed as an overriding priority in reopening the country.
Upon arrival in Tenerife on 8th July 2020, we checked-in to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel, located on the north of the island. In the hotel reception, we were greeted by an immaculate process in how to ensure the safety of guests. Immediate sanitisers were available, and all staff and guests embraced the use of the mask where necessary.
The ocean views from the hotel room balcony were majestic. Restaurant menus are no longer in circulation and instead its all paperless in the form of QR Codes put on dining tables. A quick scan and your menu is ready for viewing. For dinner, they served a signatory Canary Island salad, that contained a plethora of sumptuously presented avocado and honey vinaigrette. Lest we not forget the truly glorious, salt smothered Canary Potatoes.
Upon checkout, we stopped by Hotel GF Victoria, where they demonstrated to us their implementations for managing Covid-19. Guests or no guests, they were certainly operating continuous cleaning, socially distanced seating arrangements and an overall burning desire to bring customers through their doors with safety and luxury meeting in a positive light. The pool and room balconies looked in pristine condition, and the mini breakfast buffet served comprised of delicious salmon cocktail sandwiches and chocolate & cream filled desserts.
Thereafter, it was time to witness the Covid safe environment created within the Siam Shopping Mall. Again, the appreciation for wearing face coverings is religiously respected by locals and this appeared to rub off on tourists as well. Indeed, a plethora of colourful masks were worn to give it that sense of ‘the new normal fashion’. Customers may not be hurling into stores in the masses, but it is clear to see that shopping is still popular in these neck of the woods, and the store staff buy into the concept of serving customers behind a mask.
Prior to lunch, there was a visit to Casas Bioclimáticas ITER (bioclimatic accommodation) that dubs itself as ‘holidays off the main tourist track’. The open-space layout and feel of this sustainable bubble environment was evident. The view of Montana Pelada (a volcanic cone formed from an underwater eruption) were met with a pleasant bird whistling sound of the wind.
Las Vistas beach was the setting for a Canope Lunch under a gazebo. Once again, the Covid conscious environment meant that the public toilets more closely resembled the comfort that one would experience in their home toilet. Furthermore, the care for cleanliness by the beach jovial characters was evident. There was sufficient social distancing on the golden sand beach that was still able to generate a bustling atmosphere, without the suffocation of overbearing crowd numbers.
Exploration of sea life was next on the agenda, on-board the White Tenerife Catamaran in Puerto de Los Cristianos. We were accompanied by a biologist, who demonstrated the precision work undertaken in tending to a turtle’s damaged flipper, and thereafter restoring it back to their natural sea habitat. Elsewhere, dolphins occasionally popped up above the seabed to create a a momentary ‘catch me if your eyes can’ sensation.
The evenings in Tenerife present the chance to look upwards and star gaze. The destination for this was El Parador, where the most famous rock of the island, Roque Cinched resides. Not only has the rock defied the laws of gravity, it has the appearance of a vain face knowing that passers-by are certainly stopping to take selfies with it side by side. The star gazing experience was complemented by a clear sky and calm winds. Whilst it can get a little on the cool side in Tenerife post sunset, you will be too distracted by marvelling at Galileo identifications and plenty more that the night vision of the island attracts.
For those that enjoy gathering bags of culinary delights, the Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África is the island’s haven for such gastronomy. Indeed, a plethora of sumptuous fruits, vegetables and seafood is prevalent.
One should definitely visit the Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueología that houses the skeletal remains and architecture produced by the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, The Guanche. Lunch took us to El Patio de las Palmeras, where we were greeted by a jolly orchestra quartet. The signatory Red Mojo sauce formed part of the starter dish with Cheese and Mange Tu.
The setting for the evening was the the northern town of La Laguna, with its fascinating colour variant buildings, narrow streets and plethora of Tapas restaurants. The La Laguna Gran Hotel has the feeling of a boutique establishment and is dubbed the crossroads of history and luxury.
A further ascendancy from La Laguna led us to Sendero de los Sentidos. This hiking path brings you very close to the local nature, not least the artistically crafted spider webs intricately designed to be the centrepiece of various tree leafs. Further along the trail were panoramic vantage points that were arguably home to clearer skies than ever before, with a significant reduction in air traffic during the preceding four months.
A trip to Tenerife is incomplete without visiting some of its most storied vineyards. Indeed, this resulted in a visit to La Casa del Vino and la Casa de la Miel. Here, we witnessed a demonstration of making two of its finest wine sauces, both of which had a spicy pepper kick! Thereafter, it was time to produce your own version of the sauces, accompanied by bread and the vineyard’s signature House Wine. Interestingly, the tour guide stated that the USA was their biggest customer, but sales to the region have declined since a certain Donald Trump increased import taxes on wine to 25%!
The sound and splendours of Tenerife’s wildlife was next on the agenda, with a visit to Loro Parque. The entrance is decorated with Thai architecture that provide an idyllic setting for its inhabitants. One of the highlights of the park experience has got to be the Penguinarium, with Antarctic Emperor Penguins taking the limelight. Penguin’s eggs are laid here, so that they grow and develop in an environment befitting of the Antarctic. There was even a moment to capture two tortoises piggybacking! The dolphin and sea lion shows were running immaculately, and the social distancing aspect in the spectators area demonstrated that one can continue to watch in comfort, with no hinderance to the entertainment provided.
The setting for dinner was La Cofradía de Pescadores restaurant, where seafood was savoured on a balcony where a lovely blanket of cloud made the backdrop volcanoes look sizzling!
The final day of the trip provided the opportunity to explore the backroads of Tenerife (Punta de Teno), and experience the backpackers trail, storied lighthouses, local crafts, culture and singing. Part of the trail involved inadvertently walking past a wedding ceremony. Suffice to say, the wedding was also conducted with a Covid-19 compliant manner.
The evening concluded with dinner at El Lago Martianez, a huge open air pool area, with a restaurant area providing further oceanic backdrop views. The dishes included decorative Ceviche, Salmon and fruitful gelato ice cream.
In summary, the Canary Islands has implemented as meticulous measures as possible to create a Covid-19 safe environment, whilst not neglecting the importance of a pleasurable tourist experience. Eighteen workstations have been created to analyse and redesign all elements of the tourist trade. Sanitisers and the wearing of face masks are commonplace, be it indoors or outdoors.
All of the above does not hinder the tourist experience too negatively. Although wearing a mask in 30 or more Celsius heat feels like an add-on to the outside air temperature, there are sufficient distractions in scenery and history that take precedence.
If tourists travelling to the Canary Islands can unite with the locals in compliance with the new health and safety measures, they can be sure to enjoy all the island has to offer with peace of mind.