Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Saudi Snaps Up 10% Ownership of London Heathrow Airport

3 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund will acquire a 10% stake in Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in Europe. Saudi is buying the share off of Ferrovial of Spain, while Paris-based Ardian will acquire 15 percent in a deal worth £2.37 billion ($3 billion) The deal is being made by the Public Investment Fund, known as PIF, which is chaired by the kingdom’s crown prince.

Ferrovial has owned its stake since 2006. The new deal is still subject to regulatory conditions

Heathrow’s parent company TGP Topco has various different owners, including other sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East. Here’s what the ownership looks like:

  • Qatar Investment Authority: 20%
  • Ardian: 15%
  • Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec: 13%
  • GIC: 11%
  • Australian Retirement Trust: 11%
  • PIF: 10%
  • China Investment Corporation: 10%
  • Universities Superannuation Scheme: 10%

Heathrow regained its top spot as the busiest airport in western Europe last year, after sliding down the rankings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of passengers at the London airport has been on the rise. Between January and the end of September, Heathrow’s terminals saw 59.4 million passengers, an increase from 44.2 million during the same period in 2022.

This year, the airport has been experiencing financial losses due to substantial debt, influenced by sharp increases in borrowing costs. Losses in the first nine months of this year were £19 million (approximately $24.1 million), down from £442 million (approximately $561.5 million) in the same period in 2022.

The airport still has more than £14 billion (approximately $17.7 billion) in debt.

Ideas

IDEAS: Frankfurt Airport Expands Biometric Systems for a Contactless Experience

4 months ago

Frankfurt Airport is set to expand its suite of biometric touchpoints to passengers of all airlines within the facility.

A female using a biometric system at an airport.
Credit: Fraport

The technology – SITA’s Smart Path biometric solution, powered by NEC – is already available for Lufthansa and Star Alliance Airlines passengers, which has seen over 12,000 passengers use the facilities at check-in, boarding pass control and boarding gates, according to a release from Fraport.

The technology gives passengers the opportunity to use their faces as their boarding pass by registering in advance on their mobile device through the app or directly at the check-in kiosk with their biometrics-enabled passports. 

When their registration is complete, passengers will be able to pass through the facial recognition-equipped checkpoints without showing any physical documents. 

“Together with Lufthansa and the Star Alliance airlines, we have been offering this innovative service since 2020, an experience – with the help of SITA and NEC – which will now be extended to all airlines. We are the first European airport to offer all passengers a contactless and convenient passenger journey using biometrics. Our goal for the coming months is to equip at least 50 percent of all check-in kiosks, pre-security and boarding gates  with the new and pioneering technology,” said Dr. Pierre Dominique Prümm, Fraport AG’s executive director aviation and infrastructure.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ideas

IDEAS: Baggage Trolleys With Smart Technology Introduced at Munich Airport

5 months ago

Baggage trolleys with built in smart technology have been introduced at Munich Airport, allowing travelers to receive flight information and real time updates via a built in tablet.

Credit: Munich Airport

The new technology has been launched as part of a six-month pilot project in partnership with Intelligent Track Systems, and are available to use for free within the airport’s Terminal 2.

In order to use the new technology, passengers will need to scan their boarding card or manually input their flight details, and the tablet will then provide access to real-time flight updates. The tablet also acts as an interactive map and guide of the terminal, allowing users to locate airport facilities, such as shops and restaurants.

Credit: Munich Airport

“Digitalization doesn’t always have to happen in the background. These tablets help our guests find their way around the terminal while ensuring they can always keep an eye on the latest flight information. The project is another element of our premium innovation hub. By connecting the digital and the analog world, it will bring real added value for our passengers,” said Dr. Jan-Henrik Andersson, chief commercial officer of Munich Airport.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.