Sunday, 1 November 2009

Is Dubai International Airport Too Big?

Emirates exclusively occupies the astoundingly large Terminal 3 here at Dubai (code: DXB / OMDB), which is presently the largest building in the world!
The scale came about due ambitious facility provisions and Emirates operating a fleet consisting of only wide-body jets, the biggest of which is the Airbus A380.

The space necessary to accommodate aviation's largest passenger jet of the moment is significantly greater than previous aircraft in use, and as is common around the world, airports like Dubai are finding it necessary to build specific gates to accommodate the A380.

DXB's official website has a useful map and preview resource, and is a wise investment in time to get acquainted with this super-sized terminal complex.

Facilities here are a shopper's dream (or nightmare; it depends who is picking up the bill!) The Dubai Airports company describes it as follows:

“Established in 1983 by the Government of Dubai, Dubai Duty Free was the first of its kind in the Middle East. To date, Dubai Duty Free, winner of over 70 international awards since 1983, continues to be a global trendsetter.”

What could be perceived as undesirable here though is the continual announcements by an automated computer system for flight information. It can get quite tedious when there are several hours until a departure yet the constant reminders and final calls for other passenger's boarding gates intersperse the shopping experience.

Contemplating the size of this building and its connections, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed if the goal is just to get from one point to another. And this is a valid criticism, for all the acclaim which accompanies the world's largest building, the disadvantage is the veritable trek to get anywhere. Sure, there are 82 moving walkways to assist, but it still takes ages!

Further Information

  1. World Architecture News - The architectural perspective of Dubai Airport's Terminal 3.

  2. Air Transport World - Explains the lengths required to accommodate the Airbus A380 at Dubai International Airport.

Technorati tags; Dubai International, airport information, DXB.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

What is a Fortress Hub Airport?

Essentially a fortress hub is any airport where one airline has a dominant number of gates in use, totalling more than a 70% majority.

Competing airlines are allowed to fly from such an airport, however in reality the hub airline has such a distinct monopoly over resources that circumstances can become anticompetitive. For example, the main airline negotiates contracts with the catering contractor, the baggages handling contractor and is also a major employer within the airport. Therefore this influence can be leveraged to the airline's advantage by influencing decisions which would not usually be within the scope of effective airline control. For example; future expansion and infrastructure developments within the fortress hub.

A case study of such a fortress hub, is Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (code: DTW / KDTW), found in Michigan, Detroit.

In the 1980's several smaller carriers endured mergers and acquisitions, for example Republic Airlines merged with Northwest Orient Airlines, which later became Northwest Airlines.
Fast forward to 2008 and Delta Airlines bought Northwest Airlines to form the largest carrier in the world, employing in the region of 75,000 staff.

These airlines subsequently became part of the SkyTeam alliance and now have a overwhelming presence at Detroit Airport, due to the scale of the combined members; Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and Air France occupying almost every air-side gate. This would have been even more impressive but for fellow SkyTeam member Continental Airlines, also flying from DTW, departing this month to join the competing Star Alliance.

Technorati tags; Detroit, fortress hub, DTW.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Dusseldorf International Airport – Germany

Dusseldorf International airport last year experienced a record breaking 18.1 million passengers through its modern and clean terminals, which offers truly integrated onward travel.

Most slick of all is the infrastructure link with the airport's own rail terminal: Bahnhof Düsseldorf Flughafen. A significant railway station served by a myriad of German train services, including the sleek and super-fast ICE train.

A boon for plane spotters and aviation enthusiasts is the news that Dusseldorf airport has two observation decks overlooking the runways. Both are far from each other, which offers a different perspective for viewing the aircraft movements, takeoffs and landings. One viewing deck is situated on top of the railway station adjoined to the airport, towards the perimeter threshold. The second is situated on the third floor of the more centrally located Terminal B.

The airport operator (Flughafen Düsseldorf GmbH) also offers airport tours for a fee, and keenly markets the observation decks as a day excursion for family members old and young. It is perhaps a little unnecessary that there exists a small entry fee to the decks. (Which is essentially just standing on a roof!)

Dusseldorf's main interior space is large and airy, with a high ceiling and a fresh, clean atmosphere. The facilities are more than adequate, and well-groomed staff scurry around quietly keeping the place in order.

Serving the various car parks and the three terminals at Dusseldorf International Airport (code: DUS/EDDL) is their SkyTrain - an efficient automated railway suspended in the air, travelling up to speeds of 50 km/h completing all the stops along the 2.5 km route in only five minutes.

Concrete runways comprise the landing surface at Dusseldorf, of the two parallel runways, 05R/23L is the longest at three kilometres.

Airlines flying from Dusseldorf International:

Aegean Airlines
Aer Lingus
AeroSvit Ukrainian Airlines
Afriqiyah Airways
Air Baltic
Air Berlin
Air Cairo
Air Europa
Air France
Air Malta
Air Via Bulgarian Airways
AirLift Service
Atlas Blue
Best Air
BH Air
Blue Line
Blue Wings
British Airways
Bulgarian Air Charter
Corendon Airlines
Croatia Airlines
Czech Airlines
Danish Air Transport
Delta Air Lines
Egypt Air
Eurocypria Airlines
Free Bird Airlines
Ghana International Airlines
Hamburg International
JAT Airways
Jet Time
KD Avia
KoralBlue Airlines
Lotus Air
Mahan Air
Montenegro Airlines
Nouvelair Tunisie
Olympic Airlines
S7 Airlines
Sky Airlines
Sun Dor
Travel Service
Tunis Air
Turkish Airlines
Turkuaz Airlines
XL Airways Germany

Monday, 7 September 2009

6 Million Bags Lost in European Airports

A recent article from Travel Insurance Insider reveals that airport lost luggage is still a critical issue, despite the modern technologies employed within the airport terminals of Europe.

The staggering figure of over six million bags actually get lost every year in European airport terminals. This is despite the advances of barcode technology and automated conveyor belt systems which minimise the human involvement as far as practicable.

Statistics are sourced from the Association of European Airlines, which is a reliable entity with an overview of its participating member airlines.

Many passengers who travel through airports on a regular basis will have witnessed the seemingly mountainous stack of accumulated suitcases in a far corner of the baggage collection area. It is only when personal involvement beckons one to experience this element of airport facilities, that it truly dawns; how large a problem this is.

An arbitrary tot-up of personally witnessed unowned bags could fairly summarise a daily total of hundreds, only considering the one airport being travelled through! Here lies the statistical evidence; it's not hundreds; it's millions!

The outcome of this research singled out TAP Portugal and British Airways as the top two airlines at risk of loosing your bags, necessitating a claim on the airline passenger's travel insurance policy.

Read the full article here: Airport lost luggage insurance, by Travel Insurance Insider.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Narita International Airport – Tokyo, Japan

Only four miles East of Narita itself, this airport (code: NRT / RJAA) takes the strain of serving mainly international departures while the nearby Haneda Airport primarily looks after Japan’s domestic flights.

Narita airport took the name “New Tokyo International Airport” up to 2004 in order to differentiate itself from other Airports also serving Tokyo, such as Haneda.

Incidentally, Greater Tokyo also contains two military air bases; Yokota and (Naval Air Facility) NAF Atsugi, which are home to an American presence in the region.

Cargo is a very important aspect of Narita airport’s activities as it facilitates the profitable trade around Asia, America and Europe, whereby exports account for a staggering $12 billion.

Narita accounts for 70% of Japan’s entire cargo imports and exports by value: Even including maritime ports! Regarding volume of air cargo handled (in tons), Narita International Airport is ranked third in the world after Hong Kong (China) and Incheon (South Korea) respectively. (Source:

The future of Narita’s dominance as an international Airport is being challenged with the nearby development in 2009 of a further two competing civil airports; Ibaraki Airport (developed from the Hyakuri Air Base) and Shizuoka Airport (newly constructed).

Below is the list of carriers and terminals currently serving Narita international airport:

Terminal 1 - North Wing
  • Aeroflot Russian Airlines
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • Aircalin
  • Alitalia
  • British Airways
  • Continental Airlines
  • Continental Micronesia
  • Delta Air Lines
  • KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways

Terminal 1 - South Wing
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air Japan
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Eva Air
  • IBEX Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Lufthansa German Airlines
  • MIAT Mongolian Airlines
  • Scandinavian Airlines System
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Thai Airways International
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Uzbekistan Airways
  • VARIG-Brazillian Airlines

Terminal 2
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Niugini
  • Air Pacific
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • Biman Bangladesh Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Egypt Air
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Iberia Iran Air
  • JALways
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jetstar Airways
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Mexicana
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Transaero Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines

Map of Narita International Airport:

View Larger Map

Further Information

Technorati tags: Airport information, Narita international, Japan, NRT.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Toncontin Airport - Tegucigalpa Update

Yesterday saw
Toncontin's airport runway blocked by military vehicles as political unrest affects flights bound for MHTG (TGU), with all flights cancelled. Some 20,000 supporters of exiled Honduras President Manuel Zelaya were confronted by the Honduran army at the airport.

This informative article about Toncontin International Airport, reveals that the airport is equipt for both military and civil use. The unusual recent events however seem to have given precedence to the military capacity in this situation, as the airport has become the centre of attention.

Technically the airport was said to be open, however the military vehicles purposely parked across the 1863 metre runway in order to prevent the exiled President's private Venezuelan jet from landing.

For the travelling public, this incident will affect the following airlines operating a service to Toncontin International Airport, Tegucigalpa:

  • Aerolineas Sosa
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Isleña Airlines
  • TACA

Further information from Associated Press reports the President's jet circled Tegucigalpa, but later landed at a nearby airport:

Friday, 6 February 2009

Beijing Capital International Airport - China

Situated 17 miles North West of Beijing itself, this airport (code: PEK / ZBAA) is an international airport of entry and Beijing’s shining jewel is its massive new passenger Terminal 3.

Fully operational in March 2008, this $3.5 billion development epitomises the word; spaciousness! Attaining a floor space of nearly one million square metres, Beijing’s Terminal 3 is truly amazing. Just to put it in perspective, it is larger than London Heathrow’s Terminals 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 put together!

The story of China’s behemoth T3 landmark begun in November 2003 when the contract was awarded to the design team, comprising Foster and Partners (Architects), NACO (a Dutch airport planning company) and Arup (Engineers).

Before the completion of Terminal 3 estimates set future annual passenger numbers through Beijing at 60 million in 2015. But only several years later and already passenger throughput has approached 54 million per annum!

 Photo: Inside Beijing Terminal 3

Not only a hub for future passenger growth, the new Terminal 3 is also a cultural symbol of China’s presence. Thoughtful touches such as coordinated lighting, mean that even when viewed from the air, Terminal 3 emits a powerful red glow; in-keeping with China’s national colours. Certainly, it is a landmark structure.

Despite there only being one cargo terminal here, it is huge and processes about the same tonnage of goods each year as Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport which benefits from four additional runways compared to Beijing.

Photo: Beijing Airport Views

Map of Beijing Capital International Airport

View Larger Map

Further Information

Technorati tags: Airport information, Beijing Capital International, PEK.