Airlines, Airports and Airliners News 30 May to 5 June 2022
Compiled by Willie Bodenstein
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THIS WEEK IN AIRLINES, AIRPORTS AND AIRLINERS
Comair suspends flights pending receipt of funding.
United applies to launch historic, first-ever nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and Cape Town.
Ethiopian launches new flight connecting Lomé with Washington DC.
2022 AFI Aviation Week events forge important progress for African air transport recovery.
IATA reforms needed to attract / retain ground handling talent.
Airbus increases its UK innovation footprint to develop new hydrogen technologies.
IATA and ICP cooperate to enhance air cargo security in the UAE.
ATR paves way for next generation of its best-selling aircraft.
Changi Airport Terminal 2 reopens progressively as passenger traffic increases.
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COMAIR SUSPENDS FLIGHTS PENDING RECEIPT OF FUNDING
Comair has announced that regrettably it is obliged to suspend all British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com flights from Tuesday evening 31 May 2022 pending successfully securing additional funding. The company's business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have advised that the process to raise the necessary capital is in progress and that there is reason to believe such funding may be secured. Once received, the airline will be able to recommence operations, but regrettably under these circumstances, the practitioners have no choice but to voluntarily suspend all scheduled flights until the funding is confirmed.
British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com ticket sales have also been suspended with immediate effect. "We deeply regret the inconvenience this suspension will cause our customers. We did everything we could to avoid it. Comair, the BRPs and the lenders are working all out to get the funding in place so that we can resume our normal flight schedule as soon as possible," says Comair CEO, Glenn Orsmond.
"Comair is inherently a viable business. We have two of the best airline brands in the country. We are on track to carry over 4 million passengers this year and generate R5.3 billion in revenue. We have excellent staff, a modern fleet, good sales and distribution channels and low operating costs, which is why we believe the funding will be secured." For customers on British Airways (operated by Comair) flights, British Airways' booking with confidence policy will apply. Details can be found here. Customers may also contact the Contact Centre on BAContactCentre@comair.co.za .
QATAR AIRWAYS STATEMENT ON AIRBUS A350 AIRCRAFT
Although Qatar Airways is not usually in the practice of issuing detailed media statements, given the inaccurate information and statements that continue to be issued by Airbus and in the interests of our customers and the industry, we now do so.
The judgment handed down by the justice, Mr. Justice Waksman in a hearing in the High Court on Thursday (26 May) has exposed for all in the aviation sector to see, the fiction of the Airbus narrative that the condition affecting the Airbus A350s is a simple "cosmetic" paint issue. In his ruling, based on evidence provided by Airbus, Mr. Justice Waksman set out in his findings that there is "no simple fix to the problem" and that the only current proposed remedy, which involves extensive and potentially repeated patching of the fuselage of all affected aircraft, "deals with the symptoms of the Condition, not the Condition itself."
Qatar Airways will receive full disclosure on the details of the accelerated surface degradation condition from Airbus for the first time, in advance of the trial, however, for the time being Mr. Justice Waksman's independent assessment of the condition is an important milestone.
His ruling states: "Further, it is not suggested that these problems are one-off, confined only to the aircraft already delivered to Qatar or further aircraft the subject of the A350 agreement. Indeed, Airbus's own positive case, as pleaded in its Defence, is that the condition is effectively bound to occur at some point in the lifetime of an A350 aircraft because it results from a different coefficient of expansion as between the composite fibre reinforced polymer ("CFRP") of which the airframe is made, and the expanded copper foil layer ("the ECF") which is bonded to, or cured onto it.
The reason for the presence of the ECF is to act as a lightning conductor which prevents serious damage to the aircraft in the event of a direct lightning strike which is said to happen, on average, once a year to passenger aircraft in regular service. What this difference in the coefficient of expansion means is that these two sets of material expand and contract at different rates and at least in the form present on the A350, leads over time to (at least) the cracking of the layers of paint above.
Airbus's present position is that in respect of the A350s already delivered to Qatar and perhaps future A350s whose assembly has not yet been completed, there is no simple fix to the problem. The only thing that can be done is to apply patches to all affected areas (principally the fuselage) which could be as many as 900. That was the figure quoted by Airbus in respect of the aircraft where repainting work was done at Shannon Airport.
Patching for other aircraft may not be quite as extensive but on any view, it would seem to be considerable. The word "patch" is appropriate here. It deals with the symptoms of the condition, not the condition itself. The condition itself cannot be rectified by, for example, applying some yet further coating, with or without the paintwork being removed. Nor can it be achieved by removing the ECF (which is very difficult anyway since it is cured onto the CFRP) and applying a replacement ECF. In any event, unless the new ECF differed in its composition or design from its predecessor, the condition would be likely to emerge again, in time. The same appears to be the position if there was a simple repainting of the aircraft.
It follows as a matter of logic that the condition has resulted from the design of the aircraft so far as the relevant materials are concerned. There are only two possibilities. Either the use of this relatively new form of airframe made of CFRP (instead of a metal like aluminium), combined with any kind of ECF, will inevitably cause the condition or something like it. Or it is in fact possible to design and manufacture the relevant materials, staying faithful to the use of CFRP, but in a way which avoids the condition arising in the first place.
The former possibility seems unlikely. That is at least because the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is also made of CFRP and yet such aircraft (which first entered service in 2011) seem not to have exhibited the condition. This was a point made in submissions by Qatar. For its part, Airbus adduced no evidence to suggest that the 787 had manifested the condition."
A spokesperson for Qatar Airways said: "We have long been arguing that there is more to this issue than just paint and that the remedies proposed by Airbus do not deal with the fundamental issues affecting the A350. We're very pleased that this view has now been understood and accepted by the court."
Airbus continues to maintain that the issue is not a safety issue, however, Qatar Airways is of the opinion that the impact of the condition on safety of the affected aircraft can only be established once the condition has been properly investigated and the full root cause conclusively established.
Airbus continues to refer to the condition as a paint condition, despite the damage occurring to the underlying fuselage, and they maintain that this results from the fact that the A350 fuselage is of composite construction, however, Qatar Airways operates many other aircraft which incorporate composite elements and to date have no evidence of any such condition.
Qatar Airways has not found any other manufacturer that believes that such a condition is an acceptable condition associated with composite construction.
In relation to the A321 contract cancellation, Qatar Airways is extremely concerned about the precedent that Airbus is setting in the market to wrongfully terminate a launch customer aircraft order as they no longer wish to abide by the terms which they committed to and are legally obligated to, having entered into such arrangements freely.
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Qatar Airways remains within its contractual rights to reject delivery of further A350 aircraft whilst the aircraft type suffers from a design defect which has now been acknowledged by the court, and for Airbus to abuse its strength in the market to terminate a separate and unrelated contract for another aircraft type is extremely damaging for our industry.
Qatar Airways is ready to see this matter through to trial to ensure that its rights are protected and that Airbus is required to address an unprecedented and extremely unique and concerning defect impacting the A350 aircraft type, across the industry and multiple carriers.
Qatar Airways welcomes the judgement of the High Court and looks forward to the full expedited Trial. The required early disclosure from Airbus will give us an insight into the true nature of surface degradation affecting the A350s.
Our approach to this issue reflects our commitment to Qatar Airways' collective mission to achieve "Excellence in everything that we do," especially when it comes to the safety of our passengers and crew."
UNITED APPLIES TO LAUNCH HISTORIC, FIRST-EVER NONSTOP SERVICE BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND CAPE TOWN
United Airlines announced today it has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for three weekly nonstop flights between Washington, D.C. and Cape Town, South Africa. If approved, United's flights will become the first nonstop service ever between Washington D.C. and South Africa's legislative capital, Cape Town. This long-overdue route will benefit important government-to-government connections and increase communication and commerce with a region that has strong cultural ties to South Africa.
If approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), United's flights will become the first nonstop service ever between Washington D.C. and South Africa's legislative capital, Cape Town.
United's proposed service would begin Nov. 17, 2022, and operate on 787-9 aircraft, maximized to meet consumer demand and benefit both U.S. and South African travellers. If approved, the flights between Dulles and Cape Town will connect 55 cities across the United States to Cape Town, representing more than 90 percent of the entire U.S. travel demand to Cape Town. United's Washington Dulles hub is a gateway to the nation's capital and elsewhere, operating more than 230 daily flights to nearly 100 destinations around the world - including more than 10 world capitals and new service to Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria.
"From creating new jobs, to supporting key civic and aid organizations, United has taken tremendous pride in growing our family and operations in South Africa, and across the African continent," said Patrick Quayle, United's Senior Vice President of International Network and Alliances. "If awarded by the DOT, this historic nonstop service will significantly enhance travel options for consumers, strengthen ties between our countries legislative and diplomatic epi-centres, and benefit thriving travel and tourism industries serving our respective countries."
United has worked diligently to develop an African network to promote competition and provide affordable and consistent service options for U.S. travellers. The service will supplement United's existing flights to four cities in three countries in Africa. It will also allow customers to connect in Cape Town to other points in South Africa, and to other countries in the southern region of the African continent with its South African based partner Airlink and their Cape Town hub.
The Washington D.C. to Cape Town route is the largest between the U.S. and South Africa without nonstop service. D.C. is the second largest point in the U.S. for Cape Town demand and holds the fifth largest South-African-born population. United's proposed weekly flights will address this gap and complement United's existing South Africa service between New York/Newark and Cape Town and Johannesburg, providing nearly daily service to Cape Town offered by a single carrier.
United also maintains a close relationship with the Mandela Foundation and BPESA (Business Processing Enabling South Africa) a not-for-profit company that serves as the industry body and trade association for Global Business Services in South Africa. United recently announced a collaboration with travel company Certified Africa. Certified Africa's mission is to make travel to African countries easy, immersive, and life changing for millions of the African Diaspora across the United States.
ETHIOPIAN LAUNCHES NEW FLIGHT CONNECTING LOMÉ WITH WASHINGTON DC
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's leading carrier, commenced thrice-weekly passenger service to Washington DC via Lomé, Togo as of 01 June 2022. The new flight increases the frequency of Ethiopian Airlines' flights to Washington DC to 10 from the existing seven weekly flights it operates via Dublin.
Commenting on the launch of the new flight, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr Mesfin Tasew remarked, "We are very pleased to launch a new passenger service connecting Lomé with Washington DC. The U.S. is one of our most important markets due to the presence of a large African community and the growing business and tourism ties with Africa. The new flight further enhances the air connectivity between Africa and the U.S. and helps in fostering the economic, trade, tourism and diplomatic ties between the two regions. Going forward, we will continue to tap into opportunities for growing our services to more destinations in the U.S."
Currently, Ethiopian is operating flights to Chicago and two airports in New York in addition to its services to Washington DC.
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2022 AFI AVIATION WEEK EVENTS FORGE IMPORTANT PROGRESS FOR AFRICAN AIR TRANSPORT RECOVERY
The Seventh Edition of ICAO's annual AFI Aviation Week events concluded in Abuja, Nigeria last week driving multilateral progress and new capacity-building agreements addressing a range of key issues for the recovery and resilience of African aviation.
This year's event, held in cooperation with the Federal Republic of Nigeria's Ministry of Aviation, was attended by some 200 government, aviation, and industry officials, representing 46 States and 17 international and regional organizations, in addition to ten members of the ICAO Council.
2022 AFI Aviation Week comprised the ninth meeting of African Directors General of Civil Aviation, which reviewed the evolving aviation performance priorities in the AFI Region, the post-pandemic air traffic recovery in relation to outcomes from ICAO's High-level Conference on COVID-19, and ongoing efforts to expand skilled aviation professional human resource development in Africa.
The week also included the meetings of the Steering Committees for the ICAO Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI Plan) and Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Security and Facilitation in Africa (AFI SECFAL Plan), the two most important aviation safety and security initiatives on the continent, and some important progress reports from key partners and stakeholders.
Lastly, this year's event included a Symposium focused on the operationalisation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), current environmental challenges and initiatives, and the status of States implementation of the ICAO Global and Regional Plans.
In his grand opening remarks to the event earlier this week, ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar itemized some of the key current priorities for the full and sustainable recovery of African air connectivity, highlighting the many potential socio-economic benefits to be gained.
Mr. Salazar also stressed ICAO's deep appreciation to its AFI Region partners for their important updates and valuable contributions, and expressed his appreciation for the new voluntary contribution received from Singapore to support AFI activities. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Singapore and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) on capacity building was signed during the opening session.
The ICAO Secretary General looked forward to the active participation of AFI States at the upcoming High-level meeting on States' Long-term global Aspirational Goal (LTAG) for aviation emissions, which ICAO will host in Montréal from 20-22 July, and urged all African States and relevant organizations to attend the 41st Session of ICAO Assembly this September.
"This will help to assure that African aviation has a strong voice at the global table, and assist ICAO in underscoring, through a well-attended, in-person global event, that the aviation network is once again bringing the world and its peoples together," he emphasized.
Mr. Salazar's remarks were accompanied by opening speeches from the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, the Acting Secretary General of AFCAC, Ms. Angeline Simana and the Senior Minister of Sustainability and the Environment of Singapore, Dr. Amy Khor. They were followed by the official opening remarks from the Federal Minister for Aviation of Nigeria, H.E. Hadi Sirika.
During his stay in Abuja, Mr. Salazar paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari.
IATA REFORMS NEEDED TO ATTRACT / RETAIN GROUND HANDLING TALENT
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for holistic reforms to manage the long-term need for a stable talent base for the ground handling sector. Thousands of ground handling staff left the aviation industry during the pandemic. Now as aviation ramps up, the severe shortage of skilled ground handlers is shedding light on the need for reform to stabilize the talent pool.
In the immediate term, the most pressing issue is the bottleneck for security clearances as the airline industry prepares for the peak northern summer season. Longer-term, IATA urges the ground handling sector to; adopt a stronger talent acquisition strategy, streamline on-boarding processes, and develop a more compelling retention proposition.
"The peak northern summer travel season is fast-approaching, and passengers are already experiencing the effects of bottlenecks in getting security clearances for staff at the airport. Additional resources are needed to accelerate the processing times for employment security clearances which can be as much as 6 months in some markets. The shortages we are experiencing today are a symptom of the longer-term challenges to achieve a stable talent base in ground handling," said Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President for the Operations, Safety and Security.
At the IATA Ground Handling Conference, IATA proposed a comprehensive approach to recruitment, on-boarding, and retention:
Recruitment: Attracting fresh talent is critical. This is made more challenging by perceptions created in the pandemic with the critical retrenchment of large numbers of staff, including those in ground handling.
IATA recommends: An awareness campaign to highlight the attractiveness and importance of ground operations in global logistics and transport operations. Adoption of a "25 by 25" campaign to help address the gender imbalance across the industry. Apprenticeships in partnership with trade schools to revitalize candidate pipelines. Career path mapping to demonstrate long-term prospects for people entering the sector.
Training and security clearance for new staff can take more than six months. More efficient and expedited on-boarding will allow the sector to adapt quickly to demand changes, including those which are seasonal. IATA recommends: A greater focus on competency-based training; moving to more online training and assessments will improve speed, flexibility and efficiency of on-boarding. Mutual recognition by authorities of security training and employee background records will expedite on-boarding and reduce redundant processes.
Greater standardization will improve performance, provide employment flexibility and broader career options. The IATA white paper recommends: Implementation of IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM) to standardize ground operations. Along with significant operational benefits and more efficient on-boarding, this would provide additional flexibility and opportunities for staff in terms of relocation, reassignment and recruitment. Training passports that mutually recognize skills and training across ground handlers, airlines and/or airports.
Adoption of new technologies and automated processes to create diverse job opportunities and career paths to attract a new generation talent.
"An industry-wide approach to lay the foundations for more efficient talent recruitment, on-boarding and retention will pay big benefits in terms of efficiency for all concerned. The cornerstone is the standardization that can be achieved with the adoption of the IGOM. Its global implementation will have a huge and positive impact in all aspects of ground handling, including talent management. The potential is to shift working in the sector from having a job to developing a career," said Careen.
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AIRBUS INCREASES ITS UK INNOVATION FOOTPRINT TO DEVELOP NEW HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGIES
Airbus is strengthening its presence in the UK with the launch of a Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) for hydrogen technologies. A priority for the UK ZEDC will be the development of a cost-competitive cryogenic fuel system required for the successful entry-into-service of Airbus' ZEROe passenger aircraft by 2035 and to accelerate UK skills and know-how on hydrogen-propulsion technologies.
The UK ZEDC will benefit from the recent commitment by the UK Government to guarantee £685 million of funding to the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) over the next three years to support the development of zero-carbon and ultra-low-emission aircraft technologies.
"Establishing the ZEDC in the UK expands Airbus' in-house industrial capabilities to design, develop, test and manufacture cryogenic hydrogen storage tanks and related systems for the ZEROe project across Airbus' four home countries. This, coupled with our partnership with ATI, will allow us to leverage our respective expertise to realise the potential of hydrogen technology to support the decarbonisation of the aviation industry," said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer.
Technology development at the new UK ZEDC, to be based in Filton, Bristol, has already started and will cover the full product capabilities from components up to whole system and cryogenic testing. End-to-end fuel systems development, a speciality of Airbus in the UK, is one of the most complex technologies crucial to the performance of a future hydrogen aircraft.
The ZEDC complements Airbus' existing Research and Technology footprint in the UK, as well as the work on cryogenic liquid hydrogen tanks being done at Airbus' existing ZEDCs in Madrid, Spain and Stade, Germany (composite structure technologies) and in Nantes, France and Bremen, Germany (metallic structural technologies). All Airbus ZEDCs are expected to be fully operational and ready for ground testing with the first fully functional cryogenic hydrogen tank during 2023, and with flight testing starting in 2026.
With this new facility, Airbus reaffirms its long-term commitment to remain a major player in Britain's world-leading aerospace ecosystem, working with the Jet Zero Council to drive forward research in the sector, supporting green jobs and helping the UK meet its ambitious net zero targets.
The launch of the UK ZEDC follows the opening of the £40 million AIRTeC research and testing facility in Filton in June 2021, jointly funded by the ATI and Airbus, to deliver the next generation of aircraft wing, landing-gear systems and fuel system designs.
IATA AND ICP COOPERATE TO ENHANCE AIR CARGO SECURITY IN THE UAE
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Federal Authorities for Identity, Citizen, Custom and Port Security (ICP) in United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to work together on the deployment of a Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) System in the UAE.
UAE will be the first country outside of the US and the EU to implement a PLACI regime to create a more secure air cargo supply chain in the country.
The submission of advance cargo information enables ICP to target and assess risks related to cargo shipments prior to the arrival of the shipment to the country of destination. This new layer of security to be applied before loading shipments bound to UAE complies with principles set jointly by the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Customs Organization. The cooperation between IATA and ICP will ensure that industry standards will be integrated in this PLACI regime.
"IATA has a strong relationship with ICP and is proud to assist in the development of the UAE's pre-loading electronic advance information program. The project will employ IATA messaging standards and existing business processes in one of the few pre-loading electronic advance information programs currently developed worldwide. The endorsement of IATA standards by a national administration is an important step towards harmonizing standards across the industry which is critical for the secure flow of trade. We look forward to a successful implementation, setting an example for other countries," said Kamil Alawadhi, IATA's Regional Vice President for Africa and Middle East.
"The cooperation between IATA and ICP regarding air freight security will contribute to achieving a higher level of security in this vital sector in light of harmonizing national regulations with international standards. This will facilitate the smooth flow of supply chain security and trade through a developed and coordinated approach, which will reinforce UAE's position as an international center for trade and shipping. It's worth noting that the ICP UAE is one of the pioneering institutions implementing the initiative which complies with International Civil Aviation Organization and World Customs Organization joint standards" said His Excellency Major General Suhail Saeed Al Khaeeli ICP General Director.
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ATR PAVES WAY FOR NEXT GENERATION OF ITS BEST-SELLING AIRCRAFT
ATR, the world leader in regional aviation, recently announced its plans for the next generation of its best-selling family of regional aircraft by 2030, the ATR 'EVO'.
The plan foresees advanced design features and a new powerplant with hybrid capability to offer customers the next generation of ATR aircraft. It will encompass innovative technologies to enable significant improvements in performance, economics and sustainability. Incorporating a new eco-design that includes new propellers and enhanced cabin and systems, it will remain a two-engine turboprop that can be powered by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
ATR CEO Stefano Bortoli, said: "Our next generation of aircraft will be a step forward in responsible flying through further incremental innovation. When it enters the market, the new ATR 'EVO' will pave the way towards a decarbonised future for aviation. Key benefits include a 20% overall fuel improvement and 100% SAF compatibility. This means that the aircraft will emit over 50% less CO2 than a regional jet when powered by kerosene. When using 100% SAF, its emissions will be close to zero."
Fabrice Vautier, ATR SVP Commercial, said: "The ATR 'EVO' will be even more economical, with double digit operating cost savings achieved in particular through 20% lower fuel burn and 20% overall maintenance cost reduction. This means airlines can serve thin routes more profitably, and communities can benefit from more connectivity, more essential services, and more economic development. Our aim is to continue to offer customers and society ever more inclusive and responsible air transportation."
Stéphane Viala, ATR SVP Engineering, added: "We have issued a Request for Information to the main engine manufacturers for the development of the new powerplant that will combine existing and future generation engine technology. The ATR 'EVO' will feature improved performance in terms of time to climb and an enhanced cabin, with increased use of lighter bio-sourced materials. Recyclability will also be at the heart of our new design."
In the coming months, ATR will work with airlines, engine manufacturers and systems providers, with the aim to launch the programme by 2023.
CHANGI AIRPORT TERMINAL 2 REOPENS PROGRESSIVELY AS PASSENGER TRAFFIC INCREASES
Changi Airport Group today announced that operations in Terminal 2 (T2) will resume on 29 May 2022, the first phase of the terminal's reopening as Changi Airport prepares to meet the expected increase in passenger traffic in the months ahead. Closed for upgrading works since May 2020, T2's phased reopening will augment Changi's capacity. When completed by 2024, the expansion works will raise the terminal's capacity by five million to 28 million passenger movements per year.
In this first phase of T2's progressive reopening, key touchpoints such as arrival immigration, baggage claim belts and contact gates at the southern wing of the terminal will be ready for flight operations. T2 will host mainly peak-hour arrival flights of airlines operating in Terminal 3 (T3). A small number of T3 departure flights may use boarding gates at T2 although passengers on these flights will continue to check in and clear departure immigration at T3.
Those coming to Changi to receive passengers are advised to check which terminal an arriving flight has been assigned to. The information will be available on the Changi Airport website (www.changiairport.com) and the iChangi app at least two hours before the flight's arrival time.
The expanded T2 will see a larger Arrival Immigration Hall with more automated immigration lanes and special assistance lanes. The automated immigration lanes will serve Singaporeans and residents who have enrolled their iris and facial biometrics with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, as well as eligible foreign visitors who have done the same upon their arrival in Singapore.
As more passengers are enrolled, the number of automated immigration lanes will be increased. As for the special assistance lanes, these feature a wider width than conventional lanes, allowing passengers with mobility aids, as well as big family groups, to clear immigration more easily.
In the Baggage Claim Hall, there will be three collection belts, with one that has been lengthened to handle more bags.