Flock ewe

Goats and three sheep will take over the runway mitigation site at
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tomorrow to test their skills at removing invasive plants.

Normally a five-person crew keeps invasive plants in check. The goats and sheep will hopefully assist with hard-to-reach areas, Sea-Tac airport operator The Port of Seattle says in a statement.

Weed work certainly bodes better for animals than the last time goats hung out at the airport. Nepal Airlines sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, after having technical problems with one of their Boeing 757 aircraft last year. The ghosts were slaughtered in front of the plane at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

The port, which must maintain about 180 acres of land, contracted the goats through small business Goat Trimmers.

(No word if the animals picture above are the breed that will be used at Sea-Tac. Also, image is from the National Geographic Society)


Science of sleep

Munich Airport
, in addition to offering a handy map/guide translated into 10 languages, offers scifi-looking
sleeping cabins, known as Napcabs.

Located in Terminal 2 near Gate H32,
the 2.50 x 1.40 meters (8.20 x 4.50 feet) sleeping and working cabin offers a bed, desk and Internet access.

Booking the cabins cost 15 euros ($22.05) for the first 15 minutes and four euros for every next quarter of an hour. One nights stay from 10 pm to 7 am costs 60 euros.

Five students participating in the 2007 Innovation Competition held by Munich University of Applied Sciences
developed Napcabs.

Thanks to
Flight's online editor Michael Targett for alerting me to this nifty photo.

(Photo from
Reuters photographer Michaela Rehle)


Terminal trial

JetBlue Airways tested its new digs at New York JFK Saturday.

"The trial went very well," JetBlue VP redevelopment Rich Smyth tells me in an e-mail. "Feedback was good with some creative suggestions. We have a questionnaire from each participant that we are reviewing now."

Frequent fliers participated in the trial to help the carrier prepare for opening day. Read about some of their experiences in The New York Times.

When T5 opens on October 1, JetBlue will operate around 170 flights from 18 gates, JetBlue VP redevelopment Rich Smyth says. Twenty gates will be in use by Thanksgiving and 26 gates will be available by spring 2009, he adds.

The 26-gate terminal will replace the carrier's use of the 14-gate Terminal 6 and seven temporary hold room gates.

(Photo by
Nicole Bengiveno of The New York Times)


What makes a new airport new?

Okay, here’s a quick quiz: new airport or new terminal? Pittsburgh. Denver. Washington National. Indianapolis.

It seems easy until you think about it. When Pittsburgh opened a “new airport” in October 1992, it used the same runways, airfield etc. But the airport site, the terminals, roadways and all affiliated apparatus, were brand new and lovely. So was it a new airport?

Then there's Denver. Well, that really is a new airport, or it was in 1995, when they abandoned the old Stapleton. They built it in the middle of nowhere–nowhere that’s very far from town, as anyone who’s tried cabbing it downtown will tell you.

What about Washington National, now called Reagan Washington National? Well, whether or not you’ve decided a totally new airport terminal counts as (a) a new terminal or (b) a new airport, you have to be careful. Here, they be made it a point to call it the ‘renovated’ National because local anti-noise activists were ready to sue the moment the airport moved toward any increase in capacity. So, when it opened in July 1997, it was just plain National.

What do we say about Indianapolis? The city touts its soon-to-open facility (November 11) as a totally new airport, and it is, unless you count the two old parallel runways. In that case, it’s just a new terminal, albeit a very nice one. Not to mention the new air traffic control tower that opened two years ago.

So, what is new?

A special thanks to Airline Business Americas editor David Field for guestblogging.

(Photos from Indianapolis International Airport).


T is for Terminal

New terminals are sprouting up everywhere! If by everywhere you mean Raleigh-Durham International and New York John F. Kennedy International airports.

The New York terminal opens October 1, followed by the North Carolina terminal on October 26.

Known as T5, the first post 9/11 terminal to open at JFK will house 26 gates for JetBlue Airways. Down south, Terminal 2 will have 32 gates, and for the yuppies, an organic-food market.

(Architectural rendering from Raleigh-Durham International Airport. More renderings and construction photos can be found here.)


Mineta (the airport, not the man) fights back

Locked in a bitter battle to with its northern neighbours, San Jose’s Norman Y. Mineta International Airport will use municipal funds to help lower airport rents in an effort to keep airline service.

A city council measure lets the airport use about $2.2 million to reduce the Cost per Enplaned passenger to $8.61 in this fiscal year (ending in June.) The cost, a key airport metric, had been $9.02, a figure that was inflated by the airport’s ambitious $1.3-billion modernization and expansion program, airport spokesman David Vossbrink says.

The largest carrier at Mineta, Southwest Airlines, with a 45% market share, approves of the airport’s expansion, he said. Southwest usually seeks a CPE of about $5, however. A prime rival to the San Francisco and Oakland international airports, Mineta sits in the heart of the Silicon Valley and has long attracted hi-tech traffic.

The moves, along with a traditional incentive program, may be used to persuade carriers to resume service to the East Coast, Mineta air service development director Ed Nelson says. JetBlue is ending its San Jose to Boston Logan flight, Continental is ending service to Newark Liberty and United ends its Washington Dulles flight this autumn, leaving the airport with only one transcontinental route, JetBlue to New York JFK.

Nelson said that the airport also hopes to persuade a foreign-flag carrier to begin Asian service. American, which had ‘de-hubbed’ domestically at San Jose starting in the year 2000, ended a Tokyo Narita flight in 2006, a major blow to the airport. Its only international service is to Mexico.

A special thanks to Airline Business Americas editor David Field for guestblogging.

New Cali airport boss

Veteran airport executive Richard Howell will succeed Klaasje Nairne as airport manager of California's San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport effective next month.

Nairne retired after nine years as airport manager.

Smart move for Howell. San Luis Obispo aiport has a better looking Web site than his previous employers.

Howell most recently worked for Waco Regional Airport in Waco, Texas. He also has Colorado Springs Airport and Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany, Georgia, on his resume.

Read more here.


One is a lonely number

Runway construction will ground nearly all operations at Idaho Falls Regional Airport next month.

Only one of five carriers will continue service between September 2 and October 2. Horizon Air will maintain Boise flights using 37-seat Bombardier Q200s on a shorter runway while the 9,000 ft runway is rebuilt because of failing asphalt.

Loss of air service and related activities, such as car rentals and concessions, is expected to cost the airport $10,000 a day, director of aviation Len Nelson says. Actual construction is estimated at $9 million.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines/Skywest Airlines will bolster service at Pocatello Regional Airport to handle passengers from eastern Idaho.

Horizon will resume service to Seattle and Boise with 76-seat Bombardier Q400s on October 12; other carriers will resume Idaho Falls operations on October 2.

(Photo from Idaho Falls Regional Airport)


Blue-light special at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach International Airport will lower landing fees and offer other incentives to entice new domestic and international service to the beach. As if the opportunity to shag wasn’t enough.

Landing fees for existing service will be lowered to 5 cents per 1,000 lbs of gross certified maximum landed weight (GCMLW), down 75% from the current fee of $1.97 per 1,000 lbs GCMLW.

Estimated cost savings to airlines is $1.2 million, says Lisa Bourcier, a spokeswoman for airport owner Horry County.

“We can’t sustain this every year but [we’re] willing to see if we can bring in new markets,” she says, adding that landing fees will be evaluated next year and will likely increase, perhaps to 75 cents per 1,000 lbs GCMLW.

For the second year in a row, seasonal landing fees will be waived between December and February to address the challenges of serving a seasonal destination and to encourage year-round service.

The waiver of seasonal landing fees is expected to save airlines $400,000, Bourcier says.

To attract new destinations, Myrtle Beach International will offer carriers the option of being invoiced at a rate of $2 per available seat for common use terminal area fees and security fees in-lieu of the rate formula in the standard service agreement. To be eligible for this option, carriers must maintain existing service at the airport and must operate 50-seat plus aircraft on the new route.

Landing fees and terminal rents will be dropped for new nonstop international service operated with 50-seat plus aircraft.

In light of rising fuel prices and airline plans to reduce capacity system-wide, Bourcier says, “We’ve been doing like every other airport, monitoring current service we have. We have pretty good service. We can always use more. That’s why [we] try to attract new markets and let the ones that served us faithfully know we appreciate them.”

Meanwhile, airport expansion plans have felt an impact. Horry County Council approved the construction of up to 18 additional gates at the airport terminal, which was built in the 1970s.

Phased in construction has been decided upon instead of adding 18 gates at once because of the uncertainty in the airline industry and the economic downturn, Bourcier says.

Design has been narrowed to three schematics and the county council will vote on a final layout in October, she adds.


Smaller planes, bigger gains

Construction at Canada's Prince George Airport prompted WestJet to wet lease smaller aircraft.

The Canadian carrier normally flies 100-seat plus next generation Boeing 737 aircraft between Prince George and Vancouver. Because the main runway will be closed for centreline lighting installation next month, WestJet will fly 37- and 50-passenger seat Dash 8 aircraft from Hawkair Aviation.

Dash 8s will add about 20 minutes to the thrice daily flights, WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer tells me in an e-mail.

WestJet and others will use a 5,500 ft. (1,676 m) east-west runway during construction instead of the 7,400 ft. north-south runway.

Regional operator Air Canada Jazz also flies Dash 8s on Vancouver-bound flights. However, that airline will feel less of an impact because it flies regional jets and Dash 8s to the airport, Prince George Airport general manager Stieg Hoeg tells me.

Runway closure is part of the airport's plans to extend the north-south runway to 11,400 ft. in an attempt to diversify revenue by attracting cargo operators flying on crowded Asia-North America routes, Hoeg says.

For airlines flying from the Pearl River Delta to the southern USA, stopping at Prince George Airport offers some operating efficiency and fuel savings, Hoeg explains.

While no cargo carriers have signed on with the airport yet, a lot of airlines are looking for ways to cut fuel costs, he says.

In July, Canada's office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities approved the airport's participation in the international air cargo transshipment program.

The program enables the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to authorize foreign carriers to ship cargo through the airport to third countries, even if such rights are not provided for in Canada's bilateral air transport agreements.


New Caribbean Airport

St. Vincent and the Grenadines will replace its existing airport with a facility capable of accommodating international operations.

Existing E.T. Joshua airport can only accept short-range turboprop aircraft from neighbouring islands. Its runway is 4,700 feet.

Construction of the $217 million Argyle International airport will begin August 13. At present, only airfield design has been completed, a spokeswoman says in an e-mail. The terminal building, control tower and other facilities will be designed in the coming months, she adds.

The airport is expected to open on 375 acres on the eastern coast of St. Vincent by late 2011. The new airport is named for the coastal area on St. Vincent that it will occupy.

The new facility will have a 9,000-foot runway able to accommodate Boeing 747-400s, 737s, 767s, Airbus A300s and A320s and MD80 aircraft.

The existing airport will be converted for use by commercial properties and businesses.

Photo from Agency for Public Information (API) St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Celebrity family feud

May this be the first and last time I ever cite People magazine on my blog, but this story is too juicy to pass.

Hairspray star Nikki Blonsky (right) and her father were arrested after fighting with the family of America's Next Top Model contestant Bianca Golden (left) in the departure lounge of the Providenciales International Airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Golden was also charged with assault.

Poor airport staff. This isn't Los Angeles International Airport, people.

And you thought flying in the Bermuda Triangle was dangerous!


Pittsburgh Strikes a Pose

Eye candy at Pittsburgh International Airport goes beyond airplanes this fall.

Artist Nancy Judd’s recycled trash fashions will be on display today through December 31.

Six pairs of shoes can be found in Concourse C, including lacy shoes made recycled office paper. Two outfits will be in Concourse D.

Junk mail and how to reduce it is the theme of the exhibit, Judd says.

She likes to display her educational works at airports because of the large, broad audience she reaches.

Recycle Runway creations also include a vintage bathing suit decorated with colourful 2 HDPE post-consumer plastic from detergent bottles (pictured) and a 1950s-style cocktail dress adorned with rusty nails.

While the bathing suit isn’t at Pittsburgh, you can catch it at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport starting in July 2009. Twenty looks will be on display in Concourse E for 12 months. Recycle Runway moves to Orlando International Airport in 2010.

(Photo from Nancy Judd)