NI's Three Main Airports Operated At 52% Of Pre-COVID-19 Pandemic Levels In August
Northern Ireland's three main airports operated at 52% of pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels in August, according to data from the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
As reported by The Irish News, air travel activity has picked up in recent weeks due to the easing of restrictions on international destinations.
The CAA reportedly recorded 478,337 passengers at Belfast International, Belfast City and City of Derry airports in August, which is reportedly close to twice the number that was recorded for August 2020 of and 52% of the 912,213 figure that was recorded for August of 2019.
Belfast International Airport was reportedly the Northern Ireland's busiest airport in August, with 343,462 people passing through airport that month.
Belfast City Airport commercial manager Joanne Deighan reportedly said, "The removal of Northern Ireland travel traffic light system leaving just one single list of 'red' countries from October 4 as well as the announcement that the US will open up to fully vaccinated travellers from November is huge news for the aviation industry.
"And with over 88% of adults over 18 in Northern Ireland now fully vaccinated, we are already seeing an uplift in demand for short getaways and business trips over the next few months."
Belfast City Airport is reportedly expected to announce a further uplift in route activity in the coming weeks.
New Free Running Explosive Detection Dog Service Announced For Belfast International Airport
The above news came as a new Free Running Explosive Detection Dog (FREDDs) Service was announced for Belfast International Airport.
A statement published on belfastairport.com said, "A new Free Running Explosive Detection Dog (FREDDs) Service that will save both valuable time and money for local exporters has been launched by Speedlink International Logistics in Belfast.
"This is the only service of its kind on the island of Ireland, and it is estimated to shorten the process of screening and shipping dense cargo by up to three days.
"The FREDDs service operated by Speedlink International Logistics, which has operated in the freight forwarding industry for over 30 years delivering a combination of Air, Sea and Road transportation, is approved, and regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
"David Rogers, Director at Speedlink International Logistics, said, 'The vast majority of all cargo leaving Northern Ireland requires screening. However, significant tonnage of large, dense cargo does not leave Northern Ireland on time as it is fails screening or is simply unable to be screened.
"'Consignments therefore have to be broken down and rebuilt requiring additional labour at an extra cost and the shipping process is then delayed by several days. Goods are then late which has an impact on the entire supply chain.
"'The CAA estimates FREDDs, which can screen approximately 100 tonnes of cargo an hour, achieve a 98% pass rate significantly reducing the likelihood of any delays to the shipping of goods.
"'We are always looking for the most time and cost-effective ways to transport cargo, and the FREDDs remove the most stressful, problematic stage of the supply chain for our customers.
"'Feedback has been very positive with demand from both the north and south of Ireland, and we would expect a further uplift in the coming weeks as we enter the busiest quarter of the year.'
"Speedlink International Logistics expects further uptake of the new FREDDs service which will lead to job creation. The service is already being utilised by local companies including AB Cargo.
"Tony Budde, Managing Director of the firm, said, 'Due to the large number of manufacturing and engineering companies in Northern Ireland, there is a high volume of dense cargo coming out of the region on any given day.
"'When a container or pallet cannot be screened, the knock-on effect is troublesome. Aside from the delays and additional costs, it can result in damage to the goods, paperwork becoming obsolete, and ultimately a disrupted supply chain and unhappy customers.
"'We have been using the FREDDs on behalf of a number of customers in recent weeks and it has really revolutionised the process. All shipments have been screened in record time with a 100% first time pass rate and have therefore left Northern Ireland on time and with no surprise costs.
"'On occasion we have previously shipped items to various parts of Europe for FREDDs screening which can still be quicker than if consignments have to be broken down for secondary screening to leave Northern Ireland. Therefore, having the service delivered by a local company right here on our doorstep is really a gamechanger for us in terms of time and cost efficiencies whilst also reducing the overall carbon footprint of the goods.'
"In addition to the introduction of its new FREDDs service, Speedlink International Logistics has recently relocated to Belfast International Airport’s Cargo Village. Facilitating over 45,000 tonnes of freight each year worth more than £2.2bn to the local economy, Belfast International Airport is the third largest regional air cargo hub in the UK.
"Brian Carlin, Commercial Director at Belfast International Airport, said, 'As a major cargo hub within the UK, it's a real pleasure to welcome Speedlink and the FREDDs as our newest partner in the Cargo Village.
"'Alongside Speedlink's existing business, the addition of these dogs will allow us to attract further business to Belfast International Airport and assist in speeding up the cargo screening process.'
"For further information about Speedlink please visit speedlink.ie or contact the team on +44 2890 691332."
Belfast City Airport To Upskill First Aid Instructors To Become Mental Health First Aiders
The news about August passenger levels at Northern Ireland's three main airports also came as Belfast City Airport announced that it will upskill three first aid instructors to become mental health first aiders.
A statement published on belfastcityairport.com said, "To mark World Mental Health Day, George Best Belfast City Airport is partnering with QualSafe, one of the UK's largest Ofqual regulated awarding organisations, to upskill three in-house first aid instructors to become specialist mental health first aiders.
"With 1 in 4 people in the UK likely to experience mental health problems each year, there is a clear need for better support and resources, and as a responsible business leader, the airport is committed to ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of its employees.
"The initiative of training these on-site mental health first aiders follows the delivery of mental health training to 100% of staff earlier this year.
"Stephen Patton, Human Resources and CR Manager at Belfast City Airport, explained, 'Our people are at the heart of everything we do at Belfast City Airport. When they thrive as individuals, we thrive as a business.
"'The physical and mental wellbeing of our employees has and always will be of paramount importance and we continually invest in initiatives that promote wellness and balance in the workplace.
"'This recent initiative will enable us to have a specially qualified mental health first aider on site to confidently support any colleagues or indeed passengers experiencing poor mental health, which further solidifies our position as a responsible business leader and a great place to work.'
"The mental health first aiders will receive a QA Level 3 Award in Understanding Mental Health in the Workplace (RQF), a regulated and nationally recognised qualification that has been specifically designed to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions in the workplace and how best to offer support and guidance to colleagues.
"On completion of the four-day course, the qualified mental health first aiders will then be able to transfer knowledge to other departments across the airport enabling them to become mental health first aiders, generating a culture of understanding, support, and openness.
"For more information on how Belfast City Airport nurtures its workforce, visit www.belfastcityairport.com/Sustainability."
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