By Scott Wright

GLASGOW Airport is to trial a range of innovations aimed at addressing the challenges facing the aviation sector as passenger numbers continue to bounce back from the pandemic.

The airport has signed a five-year partnership with the publicly funded Connected Places Catapult, which will see it become the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab. It will involve the airport running a host of new technologies designed to enhance the passenger experience and freight management. And it will aim to accelerate the decarbonisation of ground and air operations, including the electrification of flight, hydrogen use, data analytics and ground transport links.

The catapult is directing millions of pounds of Innovate UK funding into the collaboration, which will also support existing projects in the region. These include Glasgow Airport and the catapult’s ongoing involvement with CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland), which is working with NHS Scotland to build the first national drone network to transport essential medicines, bloods and other medical supplies throughout Scotland, including to remote communities.

Andy Cliffe, chief executive of AGS Airports, owner of Glasgow Airport, said: “New technologies have the power to transform the experience of everyone who interacts with the airport. As passenger numbers continue to recover after the pandemic, we want to develop a more inclusive passenger experience and as Scotland’s largest cargo airport by freight value, there is an opportunity to grow the volume of imports and exports moving through Glasgow.

“With those opportunities, making Glasgow Airport the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab will put us at the forefront of new developments that can make journeys and freight movements smoother. This partnership also aligns with our own sustainability commitments to balance the undoubted economic and social benefits the airport delivers with our climate change responsibilities.”

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “Glasgow Airport is of hugely strategic importance to the city’s trade and business investment, and our members all understand the economic benefits that highly innovative, connected airports can provide. We have a powerful supply chain of local companies that can support the airport and airlines to innovate, something we’re very keen to support among businesses across Glasgow.”