It has been more than a year since the Government of Spain and other European governments began to take radical measures due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has meant a substantial change in the different social, economic and health dynamics and processes, among others. One of the most affected sectors has certainly been aviation and air travel. Many countries have strict protocols in place to limit entry and exit through their borders. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus and guarantee the greatest possible safety for both airport staff and users, a series of measures have been taken. In this post we are going to look at exactly what these measures entail.
European Union measures
We will now take a look at some of the most important measures taken in the European Union.
On June 15, 2020, the European Union launched the RE-OPEN EU project, designed to promote safe transport within its borders and with third-party countries. It offers general information on European countries centred on epidemiology and transport measures, quarantines and requirements for entering and leaving any given country.
Green digital certificates
A legislative measure approved in March 2021 to create a common framework in which to establish a certificate detailing the vaccination, tests and recovery of travelers. The intention is to be able to launch it this June.Within this concept, non-discrimination for health reasons are considered and therefore it will include people who are not vaccinated and have had a test with a demonstrable negative result. It is what has become popularly known as the COVID Passport.
Unity in terms of travel measures
Measure adopted on 13th October 2020, referring to the coordination of member countries with regard to restrictions on the movement of their citizens. It establishes a series of key points in which common protocols should be set out:
⦁ Common criteria when establishing restrictions on movement.
⦁ Define different regions by colour depending on the severity of their situation.
⦁ Clearly define the measures taken with respect to travelers from high-risk countries: testing and quarantine steps in place.
⦁ Provide information to passengers when they need it.
Airport Health Accreditation
This certificate is a recognition for airports that receive it for putting in place the necessary health measures for the protection of staff and passengers. This certificate meets the requirements of four different international organizations:
⦁ ICA: Airport Council International.
⦁ ICAO: International Civil Aviation Organisation.
⦁ EASA: European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
⦁ ECDC: European Centre for Disease Prevention.
⦁ WHO: World Health Organization.
These measures not only guarantee a safe space at airports, but also help to regain the trust of the public when it comes to choosing air travel again over other forms of transport.
Some of the recommended measures are capacity control, the use of protective screens, the blocking of seats, disinfection of the facilities, guaranteeing a safe distance, use of masks and hand gel, contactless facilities, such as automatic taps that are activated by a sensor and that, on the one hand, reduce water consumption, and on the other, avoid contact with the water taps, thus preventing contagion.
In Spain there are already 19 airports that have this accreditation, including Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat and Palma de Mallorca.
Airport measures to ensure safety
In the previous section we saw what measures need to be fulfilled to be awarded the AHA and guarantee safety for passengers and airport staff. We are now going to explore some of the measures that airports are taking to go that extra mile in terms of health and safety.
Digitisation of processes
During the last decade, the digitisation of processes at airports was something that became trendy. However, now it seems that it is an increasingly pressing need. In this sense, we could say that the arrival of COVID-19 has been a catalyst to really boost this digitisation. Some of the benefits of using IT are:
⦁ Improving user experience.
⦁ Building more trust.
⦁ Improving airport performance.
⦁ Obtaining data on passenger movements.
⦁ Automation of processes
⦁ Greater protection against COVID-19.
Contactless Technology for Contactless Terminal
Contactless has become one of the leaders of airports’ digital evolution and this becomes even more apparent when we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic that reinforces lack of contact, both physical and social.
This type of technology applied to airports allows passengers to barely interact with their staff. It allows them to fully automate their trip: check-in, billing processes, security checks, boarding, etc. At Airport Gurus we want to draw special attention to biometric control: identification, measurement, calculation and automated verification of biological indicators (face, hand geometry, iris, retina patterns …), which provide unique person recognition.
One of the best examples is BCIA airport, Beijing. It is the second busiest airport in the world. However, thanks to IT systems they have been able to streamline processes thanks to having become a fully contactless space. For the same reason, the airport features more than 600 control points, 250 automatic access points and 30 baggage drop-off points. Airports are increasingly going to imitate this model in the bid to launch contactless terminals.
Baggage Handling System Innovation Technology
The digitisation of processes has also come to fruition in the handling of baggage. In the current era, practically all novelties and innovations are influenced or driven by the pandemic. And within the digitisation and automation of luggage management, a new trend has appeared: UV disinfection. With this, it is possible to disinfect baggage and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
One of the best examples of these procedures is Kuala Lumpur airport. They have installed a series of bulbs in a closed tunnel through which bags travel and are automatically disinfected. Using this protocol, 99.9% of microbes can be successfully eliminated.
A large number of airports have begun to include CT (Computed Tomography) scanners among their prevention technologies. Thanks to these, passengers will no longer need to remove electronic devices and liquids from their hand luggage when they go through the security checkpoint procedure.
Undoubtedly, all these measures, whether put in place at a European level or on the airport’s own initiative, will set the trend for the future. The digitization of processes, contactless, disinfection and security in all protocols … All this will require a shared effort to guarantee the implementation of the latest in IT. At Airport Gurus, we work to guarantee that airports adapt to current trends.