Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Spaceport America gets off the ground

The world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport began construction in the New Mexico desert earlier this week. The groundbreaking of Spaceport America initiates construction on a cutting-edge, 110,000-plus square foot facility which promises to herald an exciting new age for space exploration and development, at least for the super-rich.

The design for Spaceport America's terminal hangar facility, which in the image (above) looks suspiously like the Millennium Falcon, was created by a team of American and British architects that were selected after competing in an international design competition. URS Corporation, one of the world's largest design and engineering firms, teamed with lead designer Foster + Partners of the United Kingdom. The terminal should be completed some time in 2010.

Located near the White Sands Missile Range in state-owned desert 45 miles (72 km) north of Las Cruces and 30 miles (48 km) east of Truth or Consequences, it is currently under active development and is expected to be completed in 2010.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Seoul's Incheon: number one for passenger satisfaction

Seoul's Incheon airport has won this year's Skytrax World Aiport Awards. The awards, which are based on passenger satisfaction ratings, rated the South Korea's main hub as the best across 38 seperate categories.

Incheon beat last year's winner Hong Kong International Airport, while Singapore Changi Airport was ranked third. It's been a good year for the airport which has already bagged laurels for being the Best Worldwide Airport from Buying by Business Travel magazine and Best Duty Free Airport from Australia's Luxury Travel & Style magazine.

Over 8.6 million questionnaires completed by airline passengers in 2008/9, covering more than 190 airports worldwide. The survey evaluates traveller experiences across 39 different airport service and product factors - from check-in, arrivals, transfer through to departure at the gate. (via)


1 Incheon International Airport
2 Hong Kong International Airport
3 Singapore Changi
4 Zurich
5 Munich
6 Osaka-Kansai
7 Kuala Lumpur
8 Amsterdam
9 Centrair Nagoya
10 Auckland

© 2009 Copyright Skytrax (All rights reserved)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The world's weirdest airport names

In a brazen call for a bit of extra publicity, Skyscanner - actually an incredibly useful flight price comparision tool - has published a list of the oddest airport names. We don't usually approve of this kind of thing, but we couldn't hold back our giggles at #5

Skyscanner's Top 10 Personal Favourites:

1. Batman Airport (BAL) Turkey

2. Useless Loop Airport (USL), Australia

3. Black Tickle Airport (YBI), Canada

4. Mafia Airport (MFA), Tanzania

5. Moron Airport (MXV), Mongolia

6. Ogle Airport (OGL), Guyana

7. Brest Airport (BES), France

8. Eek Airport (EEK), USA

9. Pickle Lake Airport (YPJ), Canada

10. Raspberry Strait Airport (RSP), USA

First look: Barcelona T1

After months of delay, Barcelona El Prat new Terminal (T1) was officially opened yesterday by the primeminister of Spain.

One of the biggest civil engineering projects in Europe, the aluminum roofs cover an area 2.5 times the size of the Camp Nou football stadium (itself the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 98,772 seats), home to the city’s mighty football club, which recently won the European Champions League. The total surface area of the airport is the equivelent of a staggering 850 football pitches.

The terminal will almost double capacity at El Prat from around 30 million to 55 million. It has been suggested in the Spanish press that the new terminal will enable El Prat to consolidate its position among Europe's top ten airports. First impressions seem to suggest that it T1 forms a utilitarian counterpoint to the more beautiful and colourful Barajas airport in Madrid, which now has a smaller capacity of 40 million passenger per year.

The retail offering is impressive, 23,866sq m of shopping space, including many famous Spanish brands , including Adolfo Domínguez, Zara and Desigual. With a smattering of international brands, most notably Ferrari. Initially the terminal has 81 shops and catering establishments that will open for business over 2009. Eventually this will be extended to 73 shops and 43 bars and restaurants.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The superhub, your next generation airport

The New York Times has just published a fantastic piece describing the airport just over the horizon, which it describes as a "superhub", probably "constructed offshore on a man-made island". It then runs through a bevy of emerging airport technology trends: online check-in and ticketing; biometric security portals; monorails and underground trains. Nice pic too courtesy of Grimshaw Architects.

"The airport is designed like a wheel: at the center is the control tower, rising above a central hub encircled by airport and airline offices and topped by gardens; the outside rim houses the terminals, which are connected to the central hub by spokes — thin, glazed concourses with moving walkways."

Monday, 15 June 2009

Why it is even less of a Lonely Planet in Sydney

The first Lonely Planet concept store will open at Sydney International airport terminal one early in July. The new branch will offer the brand's award-winning travel guides and digital guides, as well as a range of travel accessories and merchandise. The store will have a special booth that will allow travellers to print there own guidebooks from the publisher's pick-n-mix chapters.

According to DFNI Digital, a leading travel-retail analyists, the new store will be Designed by Sydney-based agency Studio Red and will feature a graphic montage of book covers that appear to "spring from the wall". Products will be framed in a 3D-designed bookcase offset by intersecting suspended ceiling fins to suggest movement and travel. The shop’s interior design will also include a world map displaying Lonely Planet images from around the world.

Lonely Planet sales and marketing director Howard Ralley said: “Airports are strange places; travellers are half-excited and half-bored. Everyone waiting for a flight wants to be inspired or have their attention diverted, so we thought where better to open the world’s first Lonely Planet store presenting all that we do, from digital services to guidebook content? As well as more than 500 books, videos and quality travel gear, there will be i-touch screens to deliver expert information from our authors, plus the ability to print your own custom guidebook from our Pick & Mix chapters.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Engineers reject London's estuary airport

Boris Johnson's, the flamboyent - and controversial - Mayor of London has suffered a fresh setback to his plans to build a massive airport on an artificial island in the mouth of the Thames Estuary. A set of the world's leading engineers have rejected the plans on the grounds that the proposed airport's catchment area is too small, when compared to London's main hub, Heathrow.

But the point about Thames Esturary Airport is that it is on the right side of London. The River Thames opens out onto the English Channel and into the main flight path into London. Heathrow lies to the west of the city, forcing practically all flights to fly over the city. We like the idea a lot and think that an airport in the Thames is the only solution to London's overcrowded airports, the expansion of which causes much unhappiness and controversy.

Such concerns certainly don't seem to have deterred the developers of other offshore airports. And it shouldn't deter Boris.

Monday, 1 June 2009

First sight: Free wifi and power poles in Hong Kong International

Hong Kong International led the way last year when it became the first airport to offer free wireless internet access to its customers. Now they've go one better with the installation of a network of "power poles" that allow you to plug in your electonic items and recharge them. This is such an innovation, as many weary travellers will testify. Being able to recharge your laptop or mobile or iPod after a long flight, or on a connecting flight, is an absolute godsend.

Update: Power poles and recharging points also seen at London City Airport and Heathrow T5. Any more out there?


Final call: a history of airport identity

Just a quick nod towards the excellent exhibition on airline identity at the San Francisco Airport Museum which includes more than 125 vintage and present-day items from 45 airlines, plus flight attendant uniforms, airline signage, flight bags, in-flight service items, luggage labels, ticket jackets, safety cards and model aircraft to boot

The exhibition is on until August.