SITA has released a new Runway for Future Operations report to help the air travel industry bounce back from its COVID-19 slump. To that end, the report describes some of the safety and security measures that will need to be put in place to restore people’s confidence in the air travel industry in the wake of the pandemic.
The Future Operations report places a particularly strong emphasis on digital and contactless passenger solutions. For example, allowing passengers to check in before they get to the airport will minimize the need for queuing and make it easier to enforce social distancing protocols. By the same token, facial recognition will allow travelers to pass through security and board their planes without touching any airport infrastructure or handing physical documents to staff.
“We need a focus shift from immediate actions like masks and hand sanitizers to longer-term and more sustainable solutions,” said SITA CEO Barbara Dalibard. “Automation of operations will play an important role in reducing queues and touchpoints at the airport as passenger volumes begin to recover and social distancing becomes increasingly difficult.”
SITA noted that air travel has already started to recover. Overall traffic has gone up for eight weeks in a row, and has now reached levels that are 45 percent of what they were before the pandemic. Meanwhile, year-over-year totals were only down 69 percent for the month of June, which represents a considerable improvement over the 80 percent figure in May. However, the future is still uncertain, which is why Dalibard advises airports to prioritize technologies that will continue to yield efficiency benefits after COVID-19 has passed.
“Resilient and agile systems that increase efficiencies and can respond to unpredictable fluxes in passenger numbers will greatly influence those who can adapt and thrive in this new reality,” concluded Dalibard. “The pandemic represents a new 9/11 moment for air travel and how we respond will define our industry for decades to come.”
July 22, 2020 – by Eric Weiss