Week in travel: Vancouver airport creates marijuana smoking zones

Ryanair faces another walkout in Belgium, American airports are required to provide space for nursing mothers, and Chinese city builds an artificial moon

As Canada became the world’s second country to legalise the recreational consumption of cannabis on Wednesday, the country’s institutions have started to react to the new conditions.

For instance, Vancouver international airport has just announced that it will allow passengers to consume the drug in designated areas within the airport.

A statement on the airline’s website reads: “We provide a smoke and vape-free environment inside the airport — at all times and for all substances — and have designated smoking and vaping areas outside the terminal building for public use. Airport users, as a condition of using the airport facilities, must obey smoke-free and vape-free signage at all times and for all substances.”

However, the areas will be outside the terminal because it must remain smoke-free.

Passengers travelling on domestic routes can carry up to 30 grams of the substance in their suitcase. The airport has put up signage around the airport warning people that “crossing international borders with cannabis is illegal”.

Federal transport minister Marc Garneau said: “As long as the flight is domestic, people are allowed to bring up to a certain quantity for their personal use. However, I would remind people if they’re going to a country like the United States – the rules of that country are the rules that apply.”

Combined with the airport’s excellent selection of food and an amazing aquarium, it may have just become the number one layover destination in the world.

Gatwick could expand by using emergency runway

The second busiest airport in the United Kingdom, London Gatwick, might have found a way to extend its operation at a lower cost than expected. Instead of constructing a new runway, the airport could simply rebuild the emergency runway that lies next to the main one.

Using the emergency runway could bring additional 50,000 flights per year to Gatwick — EQRoy / Shutterstock Vancouver airport creates marijuana smoking zones
Using the emergency runway could bring additional 50,000 flights per year to Gatwick — EQRoy / Shutterstock

The move, which could cost up to $650 million, would allow the airport to handle 50,000 more flights a year and place Gatwick in the position comparable with Heathrow,  

To comply with current international safety regulations the airport would have to move the standby runway slightly to the north. There must to be extra space of 12 metres between runways so that it can be operational.

Currently, Gatwick airport is under a 40-year agreement signed with West Sussex County Council promising not to use the standby runway for regular flights. However, the planning regulations are to expire next year.

“Under its current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies,” the airport said.

“However, the 40-year planning agreement will come to an end in 2019.

“The draft master plan sets out for the first time how Gatwick could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.

“This innovative development, which would meet all international safety requirements, would be delivered without increasing the airport’s noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience.

“While in the early stages of exploration, Gatwick is confident the project would remain within the existing airport footprint and existing framework for airport charges.”

Ryanair faces further strikes in Belgium

The strike season has not finished for Ryanair. After the series of walkouts that have taken place over the past few months, the carrier faces yet more.

The unions are demanding Ryanair change its position on employing staff under Irish law — rmanzanosgarcia / Shutterstock Vancouver airport creates marijuana smoking zones
The unions are demanding Ryanair change its position on employing staff under Irish law — rmanzanosgarcia / Shutterstock

Belgian unions CNE and LBC-NVK, who represent cabin crew members, are demanding Ryanair change its position on employing staff under Irish law. If the carrier doesn’t comply, the unions will organise walk-outs by the end of the year.

The workers’ representatives said in a statement that the European unions, who have submitted notices that they intend to strike, had “decided to put Ryanair on probation, as they do with their own workers”, according to Reuters.

“That means that if Ryanair does not radically change position and attitude, we will organise several strike days before the end of the year,” the unions said.

The unions criticise Ryanair’s practice of employing a large proportion of its staff under Irish law, which prevents the employees from accessing local social security benefits.

The Belgian unions added that they had received assurances from the European Commission that it would pressure EU countries to enforce legislation on their territory.

American airports required to provide space for nursing mothers

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has signed a new bill requiring airports to secure a space for mothers to nurse their children.

The spaces must not be a bathroom and need to be shielded from public view — Shutterstock Vancouver airport creates marijuana smoking zones
Nursing spaces must not be a bathroom and need to be shielded from public view — Shutterstock

All American airports will have to establish a private area with a door that can be locked in each terminal after the security checkpoint. The deadline for implementation is 1 October 2020.

The spaces must not be a bathroom and need to be shielded from public view. There has to be a place to sit, an electricity outlet and a flat surface, as well as be accessible for those with disabilities.

“This is a strong step forward toward a world where breastfeeding families across our country are seamlessly supported wherever they are — at their places of work, in their communities, in an airport, anywhere,” says Mona Liza Hamlin, chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee.

“No one likes flight delays, but for people who are lactating, extra time in the airport can mean finding a place to express milk or risking a dwindling milk supply or even infection.”

Chinese city of Chengdu plans to build an artificial moon

One moon is not enough. That is what the people of the southwestern Chinese town of Chengdu presumably thought when they came up with an unconventional idea — to build a new one.

Street lights of Chengdu might be replaced by an artificial moon— Shutterstock Vancouver airport creates marijuana smoking zones
Street lights of Chengdu might be replaced by an artificial moon— Shutterstock

The Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute has decided to construct an illumination satellite that would reflect sunlight back upon the city at night.

According to the Institute’s chairman, Wu Chunfeng, the new “artificial moon” should complement the natural moon while being eight times brighter. Light from the satellite should be so strong that it could replace street lights within a range of 10 to 80 kilometres of the city, while the precise illumination range could be controlled within a few dozen meters.

IFLScience reports that “the moon would be a satellite with a special coating that would reflect the light of the sun”. The idea originated in France, where an artist imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the ground reflecting sunshine through the streets of Paris.

Wu explained that the testing of the illumination satellite started years ago. Now the technology has finally matured.

There have been voices raised claiming that the light might have adverse effects on the daily routine of certain animals.

Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace at the Harbin Institute of Technology, explained that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should be harmless.