Tag: Airport

Virus-killing robot zaps airport viruses as pandemic travel picks up

The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in an era of distinctive travel experiences for those going against expert guidance to stay at home ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

a store inside of a building: LightStrike is a UV robot that is a proven killer of the novel coronavirus.

© Bryan Glazer/AP
LightStrike is a UV robot that is a proven killer of the novel coronavirus.

Not only are airlines mandating that passengers wear masks throughout flights, but mid-outbreak travelers are also facing innovative gadgets meant to combat the coronavirus, though the efficacy of some is questionable, according to epidemiologists. Some airports, such as Los Angeles International, have installed thermal imaging cameras to scan for fever symptoms, while airlines such as United have installed touchless kiosks, enabling passengers to keep their hands clean while checking in.

As air travel gains some steam and coronavirus-related shutdowns return in pockets of the country, one of the latest iterations of virus-fighting tech at the airport is a germ-zapping robot at San Antonio International Airport in Texas. It’s called LightStrike, and other airports are considering whether to invest in the $125,000 device that has been shown to be effective against the coronavirus. Some airports are watching to see whether travel improves over the coming weeks, according to officials at Xenex, the company behind the device.

“When you bring something like SARS-CoV-2 into focus, institutions like hotels, airlines, professional sports teams, they’re looking for what’s best-in-class to kill it,” said Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex.

Xenex says that its robot business has increased 600 percent amid the pandemic. Most of the increase is related to the health-care industry, but the robot also has entered new markets such as hotels, professional sports facilities and police stations.

Initially developed for use in hospitals and recently picked up by a local school district in Texas, LightStrike is 43 inches tall, about the size of a wheelchair, and has to be pushed along by an operator to reach targeted areas.

The high-tech plug-in pushcart uses powerful bursts of UV light to combat viruses on surfaces within a seven-foot radius in each direction, according to Mark Stibich, an infectious-diseases epidemiologist and chief scientific officer at Xenex.

A LightStrike robot operates inside San Antonio International Airport. (Xenex)

A LightStrike robot operates inside San Antonio International Airport. (Xenex)

It’s been known for decades that UV radiation can destroy viruses by chemically altering their genetic material. However, different pathogens are susceptible to UV light at varying wavelengths. Many traditional UV devices use low-intensity mercury bulbs, which means they may take longer to kill organic material such as viruses. By contrast, LightStrike robots have a powerful xenon UV-C light source capable of damaging the DNA and RNA of viruses in a matter of minutes.

When plugged in, the machine stores up a charge and releases the UV light in quick, pulsating bursts that also happen to be gentler on surfaces than continuous UV rays generated by mercury, according to Xenex. The device is not safe for use on humans, and the company built in a motion sensor, so the robot automatically turns off if a person comes within a certain range.

In a test run

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PHOTOS: Nithiin and his wife Shalini are spotted at the airport as they head to Dubai for a vacation

Nithiin and Shalini were spotted in casual and comfy airport look as they were heading to Dubai. Check out photos.

Nithiin Shalini airport photos PHOTOS: Nithiin and his wife Shalini are spotted at the airport as they head to Dubai for a vacation

Telugu actor Nithiin Reddy, who tied the knot with his long-term girlfriend Shalini Kandukuri during the lockdown, has finally headed for a vacation. The actor and his wife Shalini were spotted at the airport today as they were heading for their first romantic holiday after marriage. One can see, Nithiin sporting casual look while Shalini is seen in her comfy airport look. The couple made sure to cover their face with a mask for precautions due to COVID-19. 

Nithiin and Shalini had planned a big fat wedding in Dubai but due to pandemic, the couple hosted a small ceremony in Hyderabad in July. The wedding took place in attendance of a few family members as per the lockdown guidelines imposed by the Telangana government. The Bheeshma actor’s partner is an MBA graduate who studied in the United Kingdom (UK). They met each other through a mutual friend and dated for several years before tying the knot. Nithiin is the son of noted Tollywood producer, distributor and exhibitor Sudhakar.

Meanwhile, check out their airport photos: 

Also Read: Makers of Nithiin & Keerthy Suresh starrer Rang De cancel the shooting schedule in Italy? 

On the work front, Nithiin is awaiting the release of his upcoming film, Range De co-starring Keerthy Suresh. Rang De is helmed by filmmaker Venky Atluri, and the makers are considering resuming the shoot in Dubai. This seems to be Nithiin’s both work and vacation. 

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Charlotte Airport Sees Thanksgiving Travel At 60% And Concedes It Cannot Stop The Unmasked

At Charlotte Douglas International Airport, now among the country’s busiest airports with nearly 5% of all U.S. traffic, airport and American Airlines officials expect Thanksgiving holiday travel to reach about 60% of last year’s level.

Sixty percent is a high number at a time when the coronavirus crisis is hindering travel. But American Airlines has focused on Dallas and Charlotte, its two largest hubs, because they serve the Sunbelt and Caribbean destinations that leisure travelers prefer.

Nationwide, airport security clearances on Wednesday totaled about 34% of the total on the same weekday a year ago, the Transportation Security Administration reported, conforming to what industry trade association Airlines For America said Monday, in a media briefing: TSA checkpoint traveler throughput is running 65% below year-ago levels.

During the Thanksgiving travel period, A4A said, major carrier schedules expect to operate about 61% of the departures they operated in 2019 – up from about 54% in the preceding and following two-week travel periods.

In a column published Wednesday in The Washington Post, seven governors from both parties advised Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving.  

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against travel during the Thanksgiving period. Also Thursday, United Airlines said it has recently seen a drop in bookings and an increase in canceled reservations. United had planned a 55% fourth quarter scheduled cut and said it may cut more.

While the aircraft environment is widely felt to be safe, the total travel experience has safety gaps.

Airlines have mask policies and generally enforce them on the aircraft, but in general, at U.S. airports, no one enforces mask policies —-Not airline workers, not airline employees, not airport police, not the Transportation Security Administration.

“We have to rely on people to do what they’re supposed to do,” Jack Christine, Charlotte Douglas chief operating officer, told reporters Wednesday. “The airport does not have the authority to have someone leave the airport unless they are causing a disturbance.”

Asked if the airport could force a person with Covid-19 to leave, Christine said that airport police – who are members of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department- can remove passengers who create a disturbance.

But there is no clear path to manage people who won’t wear masks or who are found to be infected with Covid-19. Christine said he knew of no cases of infected passengers traveling through the airport. As far as an inability to remove people who refuse to wear masks, “airports around the country have that issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, American’s strategy to focus Charlotte and Dallas will be in full force during the Thanksgiving travel period.

On a recent investor call, American President Robert Isom said passengers “want to go to places in the Caribbean, the Sunbelt (and) places in Mexico, adding, “You will see us continue to try to leverage our assets in Dallas and Charlotte.

Isom said that in the third quarter,

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Albany airport first to get GE Aviation’s safe travel technology

COLONIE — Albany International Airport on Thursday will debut an app developed by General Electric Co. that will provide updated information on cleaning routines designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

GE’s Wellness Trace App will read QR barcodes at 45 locations throughout the airport. Travelers can scan the codes with their smartphones to learn how recently each location was sanitized and how frequently. The information is updated each time the area is cleaned.

Lavatories, seating areas, ticket counters and other high-touch areas are among the locations covered by the app developed for the airport by GE Aviation’s Digital Group.

Travelers can obtain the information by using their smartphones to scan the QR barcode.

“Today there’s 45 places at the airport” with QR barcodes travelers can access, said Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Aviation’s Digital Group, “ranging from lavatories to Chick-fil-A,” one of the airport’s most popular concessions.

One goal is to expand the technology to taxicabs and to services such as Uber and Lyft, and to aircraft and other airports, Coleman said.

“We’re proud to have Albany International as our launch customer,” Coleman said. “The app is helping them closely track Covid-19 cleaning protocols today, with the potential to track other health screening as the industry and regulators navigate safe travel in a post-pandemic world.”

Albany’s airport was a natural place to introduce Wellness Trace App. GE Research in Niskayuna, which worked with GE Aviation on the technology, is a 10-minute ride from the airport, and GE officials are heavy users of the airport. Meanwhile, airport CEO Philip Calderone has been a proponent of using advanced technology to keep travelers safe “from curbside to the boarding gate,” he said in an interview this week. “We’ll be the cleanest and perhaps the smartest airport,” he said, adding that a new airport master plan now being developed seeks to have Albany serve “as an incubator for new smart technologies.”

GE Aviation is a major supplier of jet engines to the world’s airlines, as well as aircraft avionics and electrical power systems, and it hasn’t been immune to the impact the pandemic has had on air travel. The new technology eventually could help airlines seat passengers to minimize the threat of Covid-19 and make them more confident in the safety of air travel.

GE also is looking at ways to minimize the threat anywhere crowds gather, including hotels, conference centers and other venues. The company is working along those lines with Formula One racing in Europe, Coleman said.

Another location where the app can add value to the airport is the area before the security checkpoint, said Amy Linsebigler, a chief scientist at GE Research. GE already has technology to manage patient flow and the use of surgical suites in hospitals, and can apply that to the flow of passengers through security checkpoints, she said.

“We’re working on social distancing and queuing even before they get to the security checkpoint,” said Calderone.

GE researchers plan to use artificial intelligence and

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Return to JFK airport set for February, thanks to pandemic travel lull

  • United will resume its service at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 1 with flights to California.
  • The airline ended service at JFK in October 2015 after losing money there.
  • A lull in traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic helped United find space at JFK.

a large passenger jet flying through a clear blue sky: United Airlines Boeing 767-400 ER Extended Range with 2x CF6-80 engines aircraft landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport AMS EHAM in The Netherlands, the Dutch capital.

© Provided by CNBC
United Airlines Boeing 767-400 ER Extended Range with 2x CF6-80 engines aircraft landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport AMS EHAM in The Netherlands, the Dutch capital.

United Airlines has set a date for its return to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport: Feb. 1.

The Chicago-based airline is taking advantage of a lull in traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic to grab some space at what is normally one of the country’s most congested airports, CNBC first reported in September. The airline ended service at JFK in October 2015 after losing money there.

Video: Southwest will no longer keep middle seats empty on flights (TODAY)

Southwest will no longer keep middle seats empty on flights



United is planning to operate Boeing 767-300ER planes to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 7. Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, said it could expand service with more frequencies or to other airports.

United serves the New York area from its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, where it dominates service, and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

But United executives saw an opening at JFK. Airline capacity in New York state is down 65% this month from a year ago compared with the national average of just over 40%, according to Airlines for America, a trade group that represents United, American, Delta and other large U.S. airlines.

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New Marriott Hotel by KEF Airport

The new Marriott Courtyard hotel.

The new Marriott Courtyard hotel.

A new 150-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel opened by Keflavík International Airport in early October,


reports. Since then, the bulk of the guests have been US soldiers, but the hotel is open to all customers.

We reported in August that a hotel had just been

shipped from China

, and that’s the one that has now opened – made of 78 steel units.

“The operation has gone well during a tough economic situation,” Hotel Director Hans Prins reports. The price is very reasonable, given the quality. The Courtyard Hotels are four-star hotels and among Marriott’s 30 brands.”

“The location is essential,” Hans states. “It plays an important role in how well we’ve performed the first month, and it will play a part in our success in the future. There certainly is need for such a hotel in the area.”

He is optimistic about the future. “I’m very optimistic. The number of foreign tourists will increase again,” he states.

Hans is a Dutchman who has been in the hotel business for 35 years. This is the fifth hotel he opens for Marriott in Europe. Before working for Marriott, where he’s been since 2015, he worked for Corinthia Hotels in St. Petersburg and before that for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in Russia.

“Coming to Iceland felt like home right away,” he states. “The people are very friendly, and the nature is beautiful. I see a great opportunity for the hotel in Iceland.”

Hans is happy to be living in Reykjanesbær and used to living far away from big cities, having been brought up on a farm.

“One of the reasons I accepted this project is my desire to see Reykjanesbær and Keflavík prosper. This hotel will have a positive impact on the community. I have worked in big cities where a single hotel doesn’t make all the difference, but it makes a difference for Reykjanesbær to have the hotel in business,” he concludes.

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N.J. man, 26, found shot to death in hotel parking lot near Newark Airport

A 26-year-old Union County man was found shot to death Friday night in the parking lot of a hotel near Newark Airport, authorities said.

Patrick Shukla, of Elizabeth, was found by police in the lot of Country Inn & Suites by Radisson on International Boulevard, according to Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and the Elizabeth Police Department.

Police were called to the area shortly before midnight and found Shukla seriously wounded. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Ruotolo said.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Elizabeth Police Detective Carrie Scharpnick at 908-558-2069 or Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Sean Holcomb at 908-358-8377.

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Suite Life: Airport hotel Crowne Plaza for Jewel escapade and sensation of travel, Travel News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – I finally chill at the pool outside my room, just before checking out. After two days of intense exploration at Jewel, I am lulled by the vision of aquamarine water and the clusters of palms submerged in planters.

In this sunken courtyard, I gaze at the clouds drifting overhead. That’s when it dawns on me that I have not seen a plane flying for two days, though I am at the airport. The empty sky is a sign of pandemic times.

Still, the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, restful and stylish, is an escape from anxiety.

Its design is contemporary Asia, with stylised frangipani motifs on the facade. Rest on seats shaped like papaya slices. Tropical-fruit furniture are vibrant splashes in a darkened lobby. The subdued lighting lets transit guests, fresh off the borderless world of planes, move into a restful mode at the hotel lodged in Terminal 3.

The Crowne Plaza’s identity as an airport hotel is evident everywhere. I check in at the same time as a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight crew and we stick to separate safely-distanced paths to the lobby. Air crew also have their own lifts to rooms on designated floors.

Before the pandemic, international plane geeks would ask for specific runway rooms to spend hours watching planes lift off and land at one of the world’s busiest airports.

Now, guests like me can still spy airliners at the viewing galleries in Terminals 1 and 3. I pop into Terminal 3 for partially blocked views of grounded planes, and it is dispiriting. To think we once regarded travel as a birthright.

It is uplifting, however, the moment I step onto the link bridge between Terminal 3 and Crowne Plaza to Jewel, with its indoor waterfall, fantasy gardens, retail, dining and play zones.

Jewel is a destination of many dimensions, and the hotel adds to that experience. Mine is the Stay, Shop, Play room package that includes a ticket for the attractions at Jewel’s Canopy Park. The hotel is also close to the new Jurassic Mile, which I visit after my late check-out.

Crowne Plaza has been named the Skytrax World’s Best Airport Hotel for six successive years. There are nearly 60 Crowne Plaza properties in airports like Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle. These airport stays are designed for business travellers’ work and play. I suppose I am a variation of a business traveller during my one-night stay.

My Premier King Pool View room is awash in a calm palette of neutral colours. There is a huge desk and a bath tub.

The room and the fabulous courtyard-pool put me in a resort frame of mind, even as I have city amenities for my work.

I imagine business travellers and even staycationers may be rushed, always trying to do more. So fuel up with breakfast at Azur in the hotel, where I order laksa and latte with a QR code.

My pace had been non-stop, but ending my 48 hours at a

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Orlando airport travel rebounding gradually; Southwest to stop keeping middle seats open

Orlando International Airport leaders are celebrating some of the busiest days for travelers since the plunge in activity this spring because of the pandemic.

Airport director Phil Brown said the activity levels indicate the beginning of a multiyear recovery and “reflects a pent-up demand for travel” that he hopes will carry through to the holidays.

Airport leaders rely on the Transportation Security Administration’s screening figures as the most current indication of activity. More than 36,000 passengers were checked by TSA officers on Sunday, which, by that category, placed Orlando’s airport as the busiest in Florida and fifth-busiest in the nation, according to airport officials.

It was also the nation’s busiest day, topping a combined 1 million passengers screened by the Transportation Security Administration, which hadn’t dealt with such a volume since March.

But on the same Sunday last year, TSA officers counted 2.6 million passengers. Overall, the nation’s climb to 1 million passengers screened in a day has been gradual since a low of fewer than 88,000 passengers on April 14.

A sign of the uptick in air travel: Southwest Airlines on Thursday announced it would no longer keep middle seats open, beginning Dec. 1.

“It was easy for airlines to block middle seats early in the pandemic when there was very little customer demand for flights,” said Scott Keyes, chief executive officer of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a website service that notifies subscribers of low fares.

“But with demand slowly creeping back up for months, it’s becoming costly for airlines to continue blocking middle seats. At some point Southwest had to rip the band-aid off, and I would expect Delta, Alaska, and jetBlue to follow suit soon,” Keyes said.

Southwest Airlines said its decision to no longer block off middle is based on studies “that point to aircraft cabins as an environment where transmission of the virus is statistically improbable for two primary reasons: the uniform usage of masks; and sophisticated air systems that introduce fresh air throughout a flight.”

Among airlines, Southwest Airlines maintains a sizable lead in average daily departures from Orlando International Airport, with 70 nonstop flights to 28 cities. That’s a third fewer than a year ago.

American, Spirit, Frontier, Delta and JetBlue have similar numbers of daily flights in the mid-20s range. JetBlue operated nearly 40 flights daily last year. United is lagging behind with 17 average daily departures.

“We do see some increases in demand, as well as continued increases in customer confidence,” said Delta spokesman Drake Castañeda. “Delta continues to evaluate its schedule and is adjusting as needed based on customer demand, government travel directives and CDC guidelines.”

With tepid activity levels compared with the the start of 2020, both Orlando’s airport and airlines nationally are planning to shed more jobs, scale back costs and leave planes parked.

Orlando International Airport has not been cleared yet for flights to and from much of Europe. Service on U.S. and foreign carriers continues to Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Panama.

While conditions aren’t as

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Nashville Airport Authority approves first on-site hotel


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A 14-story Hilton will be the first on-site hotel at Nashville International Airport in about three years, the airport authority announced Wednesday, reports the Nashville Tennessean, a USA TODAY Network publication.

A hotel has been planned for two years as part of the larger BNA renovation and expansion program underway.

The developer and brand were approved Wednesday morning by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. It is scheduled to open in late 2023.

Chartwell will finance the roughly $95 million hotel and the airport will fund an attached $82 million four-level parking garage with bonds. 

Nashville airport hotel to open in 2023 (Photo: BNA Airport and Chartwell Hospitality)

“This high-end hotel, and the many amenities it brings, adds a special touch to our BNA Vision expansion,” said airport CEO Doug Kreulen. “It’s easy to see the appeal for passengers catching an early morning flight, arriving late at night or who simply want the convenience of a hotel room right here at the airport. We think it will be a popular venue for corporate functions and business meetings with unique airport views and sightlines.”

Franklin-based Chartwell Hospitality will erect and operate the building branded by Hilton with 292 rooms including six suites. 

A rooftop bar and pool will offer airfield views. Other amenities include a bar and music lounge, high-end restaurant, ballroom, meeting and event spaces and fitness center.

A covered pedestrian bridge will connect it to the terminal. 

Construction will begin this fall with Corgan leading the design work. 

“We are excited to deliver this modern and luxurious on-airport hotel that is a powerful symbol of the hospitality and global connectivity of BNA,” said Chartwell Hospitality CEO Rob Schaedle. “(It) expresses Nashville’s spirit of creative innovation and dynamic transformation into a world-class city.”

Completed construction on the BNA Vision plan includes a new parking garage, an upgraded International Arrivals Building and added Concourse D.

Security checkpoint expansions will be added to more ticketing and baggage lanes and another new parking garage nearly completed, along with redesigned ride-hailing pickup and dropoff areas. A new pedestrian plaza and administrative building are also nearly complete. 

Forget about that empty middle seat: Southwest Airlines to start filling planes in December


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