Thales has detailed some of the new health and safety features that are likely to be implemented in the air travel industry to restore consumer trust in the wake of COVID-19. In that regard, the company notes that many people will not feel comfortable traveling even after the virus has passed (at least not right away). According to a recent IATA survey, 40 percent of potential travelers in the UK, the US, Germany, Australia, and India indicated that they would wait at least six months before booking another trip once the virus is finally under control.
With that in mind, Thales predicts that the industry will overhaul its passenger screening protocols to make the process more sanitary for employees and passengers alike. Airports will place a much greater emphasis on contactless screening technology, and deploy thermal scanners to try and spot people who may be infected with COVID-19 or another disease.
The new safety measures will also extend beyond security checkpoints. For example, airports could lower their capacity to enable social distancing inside the terminal, and then enforce those standards with proximity tags that beep whenever a traveler is too close to another traveler for an extended period of time. Masks are also likely to become standard both in the terminal and on the plane itself.
Thales believes that COVID-19 will create a new normal for air travel, in the same way that 9/11 forced the industry to respond with entirely new security procedures. As it stands, year-over-year passenger demand was down 65 and 70 percent in April and May respectively, which speaks to the scope of the crisis that the industry is facing.
Thales went on to highlight its own portfolio of airport screening solutions, which includes biometric technology that has already been deployed at airports in New York, Paris, and Madrid. The company has made similar safety recommendations for rail travel, and has advocated for the use of facial recognition to support social distancing.
July 2, 2020 – by Eric Weiss