How airlines and airports are creating digital companions to keep passengers informed during COVID-19

With travel restrictions and pre-departure testing requirements constantly changing, passengers are presented with more travel information than ever before. Here, we take a look at how air transport stakeholders from the likes of United Airlines, Delta, Changi Airport Group, Airbus, Singapore Airlines, Airports Council International (ACI) World and Apple Maps are turning to digital means to streamline the booking process, keep passengers informed and inspire confidence in travel.

One-stop online platforms

Using United Airlines’ Travel-Ready Center customers can review COVID-19 entry requirements, find local testing options and upload any required testing and vaccination records for domestic and international travel.

A number of airlines recently launched their own digital platforms that contain all necessary information pre-travel. United Airlines, for instance, unveiled its Travel-Ready Center where customers can review COVID-19 entry requirements, find local testing options and upload any required testing and vaccination records for domestic and international travel. The digital platform is accessible both on the United app and website, and provides customers with a personalised, step-by-step guide of what is needed for their trip.

Similarly, Singapore Airlines introduced a one-stop-shop online portal, as part of a new pilot service launched in partnership with Collinson. Using the online portal, passengers are able to book a pre-departure COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests, and receive their results directly on the platform. Customers can make an appointment for a pre-departure test with their preferred clinic from the list of recognised testing facilities available on the online portal, as well as receive their test results directly on the platform, which they can then present upon check-in at the airport. The portal is also able to house digital health passes documenting passengers’ COVID-19 status, such as the IATA Travel Pass.

Following the trials with SIA, low-cost carrier Scoot also launched a partnership with Collinson to introduce the digital platform.

Digital travel concierge

It’s not just airlines that are introducing new digital means to keep passengers informed. Changi Airport Group this week unveiled a new Safe Travel Concierge (STC) for passengers flying into Singapore, offering personalised pre-travel guidance and COVID-19 test booking.

After registering for an STC account, passengers then need to add their upcoming trips. Depending on their profile and trip details, they will be shown a customised list of pre-travel requirements to complete before flying to Singapore. In addition to booking their on-arrival PCR test, passengers can also access services such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s electronic Arrival Card and Health Declaration form through STC. Passengers can also stay updated with the latest COVID-19 news on the portal.

CAG’s Managing Director for Airport Operations Management Jayson Goh explained that Changi Airport Group initially trialled the STC prototype at TravelRevive, the first hybrid tradeshow in Singapore, in cooperation with the Singapore Tourism Board.

He explained that the online concierge service can ease the anxiety of air travel by helping passengers navigate their pre-travel requirements.

In a more unusual move, Airbus became the first aircraft manufacturer to launch a new travel companion app, called Tripset. The app aims to provide real-time flight and travel information to passengers. With two interfaces, the app enables passengers to know both currently available flights and the destinations to which they can fly. According to Airbus, Tripset is “airport-, aircraft- and airline-agnostic”. Once a ticket has been purchased, the app also provides passengers with information on what to expect at their departure and arrival destinations.

This is one of the few times Airbus is targeting its offering directly to the consumer, and it would be interesting to see how the aircraft manufacturer is planning to stimulate demand among passengers to download the app, instead of interacting directly with their preferred airline.

Interactive travel maps

Apple Maps now features COVID-19 travel information for over 300 airports worldwide.

In partnership with the Airports Council International (ACI) World, Apple Maps has updated its native Maps app to feature COVID-19 information designed to assist passengers when travelling. Apple Maps on iPhone, iPad and Mac will now show COVID-19 health measure information for over 300 airports worldwide when searched via the app, either through a link to the airport’s own COVID-19 advisory page, or directly on the in-app location card itself. Using information collected from airports through ACI’s web-based Health Measures Portal, ACI data captures new health-related measures implemented at airports in response to COVID-19. More detailed information about the health measures in place at individual airports around the world is also available through ACI’s Check & Fly mobile app and passenger portal. The Check & Fly app provides a way for airports to communicate to passengers directly about what to expect when they plan to travel, helping them to meet any requirements, and making their journeys smoother and more efficient.

“The recovery of air travel will rely on passenger confidence in the industry’s focus on their health and welfare,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira in a press release following the announcement. “Having this information displayed in Apple Maps will help to make this crucial data much more broadly accessible to passengers. This will help passengers to plan their journeys and be reassured that their health and safety remains a priority for the industry as we all work towards a sustained return to operations and global connectivity. Collaboration remains key to a globally coordinated recovery and we are grateful to our members for the partnership we have forged to deliver this important tool that will contribute to the rebuilding of passenger confidence in air travel.”

Delta Air Lines also recently rolled out a new tool, called the Delta Discover Map, in partnership with FTE Startup Hub member xCheck. The digital map allows passengers to easily find the cheapest destinations to fly to, as well as any travel restrictions like quarantine or COVID-19 testing requirements at each destination.

While this influx of travel information mobile apps and digital platforms is certainly good news for passengers, it will be intriguing to observe how well these apps will perform in this rather overcrowded digital travel app space. During the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from a number of industry leaders on their strategies to support passengers in the post-COVID-19 world through digital innovation. Find out more here

source: https://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2021/04/how-airlines-and-airports-are-creating-digital-companions-to-keep-passengers-informed-during-covid-19/?utm_source=Future+Travel+Experience+News&utm_campaign=de8c5e8410-fte_nl_090421&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5a8fdd64e-de8c5e8410-91950936

Google Maps has a wild new feature that will guide you through indoor spaces like airports

PUBLISHED TUE, MAR 30 20219:29 AM EDTUPDATED TUE, MAR 30 202112:25 PM EDTTodd Haselton@ROBOTODD

  • Google on Tuesday announced several new features that are coming to Google Maps.
  • The coolest one lets you navigate indoors using augmented reality, which displays arrows and markers on your phone’s screen to show you exactly where to go.
  • Google’s big maps update also includes other features that will roll out in the coming months.

Google on Tuesday announced several new features that are coming to the Google Maps app. The coolest one will help you find your way through indoor spaces like airports, malls and train stations using augmented reality.

The updated Live View AR feature, which overlays digital guides on top of the real world to provide directions as you look through your phone’s display, now works indoors. So, say you’re in an airport and need to find your gate or an ATM. You search for what you’re looking for in Google Maps and markers will guide you with arrows and other digital indicators.

Here’s an example: check on the source

Live View for Google Maps first launched for Android and iPhone in 2019, but it initially only provided these sorts of directions outdoors. You can access Live View by searching for something in Google maps on your phone, tapping “Directions” and then, when available, tapping the “Live View” option next to “Start.”

Google said it’s first rolling out in some malls in Chicago, Long Island, New York, Los Angeles, Newark, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, California, and Seattle. In the coming months, it will also launch in airports, malls and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich. Other cities and locations will eventually support the feature, too.

Google’s big maps update also includes other features that will roll out in the coming months, like air quality information, integration with grocery stores for curbside pickup, and an option to select the most eco-friendly route when driving.

source : https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/30/google-maps-launches-augmented-reality-directions-for-indoor-spaces.html

Incheon International named world’s first Airport Customer Experience Level 4 accredited location

by Dermot Davittdermot@moodiedavittreport.comSource: ©The Moodie Davitt Report31 March 2021

SOUTH KOREA. Airports Council International (ACI) World today announced a new level in its Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme and revealed the first airport to reach it: Incheon International in South Korea.

Since ACI launched the world’s first Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme in 2019, 45 airports around the world have joined the programme to improve their customer experience management.

Incheon Airport President & CEO Kyung Wook Kim: Pledges to adopt new and advanced technologies to lift the consumer experience further at the Korean hub

Incheon – one of a few Level 3-accredited airports in 2020 – joined the piloting phase of Level 4 accreditation to contribute to its development. Accreditation included site verification which starts from Level 4 – this was conducted virtually due to the constraints of the pandemic – leading to Incheon being recognised as the first level 4 accredited airport in the world.

“Incheon already has a strong record in customer experience management, and we were grateful for their participation in the pilot of Level 4 of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “As the aviation industry continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and prepares to support a sustained recovery, meeting the changing needs and expectations of customers will be ever more important and we congratulate Incheon on being the first airport in the world to achieve this level of accreditation.”

Incheon International has ranked highly in the ACI Airport Service Quality rankings over many years (T2 pictured)

Incheon Airport President & CEO Kyung Wook Kim said: “We are proud to be recognised as the first Level 4 accredited airport in the world, and it is our honour to participate and contribute to the development of the Level 4 – Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme. The programme provides a true 360° view of airport customer experience management. Incheon will continue to improve its best-in-class customer experience by providing a new and pleasant experience to customers and by adopting advanced technologies in all areas of airport operations based on innovative thinking.”

The accreditation programme offers a common definition and framework for customer experience management. ACI said that it helps airports to assess and improve their management of the traveller experience and to identify new practices that can be developed to progress through the levels of accreditation. Accreditation at each level also serves as a marketing tool for airports to show their commitment to improving customer experience.

The programme is designed with five levels of accreditation and the pilot phase of the final level – Level 5 – is expected in 2022.

source : https://www.moodiedavittreport.com/incheon-international-named-worlds-first-airport-customer-experience-level-4-accredited-location/

Royal Schiphol Group building a roadmap towards a “fully autonomous airside operation” in 2050

INITIATIVES | ROBOTICS & AI // MAR 2021

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal Schiphol Group continues its investment in innovation, technology and new solutions to create smart, future-proof ground handling processes. Ahead of her presentation at the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo, taking place on 25-26 May, Rosina Kotey, Innovation Lead, Royal Schiphol Group, spoke to FTE about the airport group’s new vision to operate fully autonomous and sustainable airports by 2050.

“An innovation mindset is crucial”

Rosina Kotey, Innovation Lead, Royal Schiphol Group, will deliver a presentation on the airport group’s ambitious vision at the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo (25-26 May).

Royal Schiphol Group’s innovation approach is based upon McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model, which the airport group calls “earth, moon and mars” innovations. Kotey describes the ‘earth’ model as the incremental innovation which addresses day-to-day challenges; ‘moon’ defines transformational innovation and more fundamental changes to the workings of existing value chains; while ‘mars’ as a more disruptive innovation, which sees the introduction of new value chains and operating models. “Schiphol’s innovation department orchestrates all innovation for the entire group and focuses on exploring moon and mars innovations, whereas earth innovations are driven by the rest of the organisation of Royal Schiphol Group,” she explains.

“An innovation mindset is crucial, which is not only having the ability to have novel ideas but being completely comfortable with dealing with not knowing the outcome at the start, seeing failure as an imperative part of growth and progress. Not being afraid to say I don’t know the answer… yet! But always being eager to investigate, research, experiment in order to find out what the answer is. We call it having a “Rockstar” mentality!”

A fully autonomous airport by 2050

Deriving from the ‘moon’ and ‘mars’ innovation philosophies, Royal Schiphol Group has laid out a future-looking vision to create a fully autonomous airport by 2050. In line with these ambitions, in February the airport group launched its new ‘Autonomous Airside Operations’ programme, which will see all airside vehicles be replaced by an interconnected fleet of autonomous, emission-free vehicles and all associated processes will be automated.

Kotey explains: “We identified several building blocks and themes and initiatives that we need to focus on to achieve our ambition. We are now building the roadmap towards a fully autonomous airside operation in 2050. A main part of how we build towards the future is by researching and experimenting. We take a stage gated approach in order to de-risk and validate the assumptions we have.”

Creating such a vision for the future and successfully implementing it is, of course, a massive undertaking for any organisation. Kotey tells FTE that her team has approached the challenge by breaking it down into three key tracks – hardware, intelligence, and transformation.

The hardware track, she explains, focuses on technology such as robotics, drones and autonomous assets and vehicles, in order to build a more sustainable and zero emission ground operation. An autonomous operation needs data and intelligence at the base of its operation, so the intelligence track utilises elements such as real-time data insights, adaptive routing, integral planning and forecasting and supporting infrastructure. “This intelligent structure consists of multiple layers that interact and build on each other. Prioritisation, planning and executing tasks according to the most important KPI’s, looking for the most optimised way to operate at all times depending on the situation at hand. All the Intelligence themes and initiatives have a focus on data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

However, to make the transition from the current state of operations towards a fully autonomous airside operations, Kotey says, there is still a lot that needs to be defined. “Many new processes need to be developed in a step change approach, while working towards a completely new operational reality. While the ambition for an autonomous airside is clear, many organisational aspects remain uncertain. We need to develop an integration strategy and an agile implementation plan that takes things such as the human factor in relation to autonomous technology, the required change in the internal and external stakeholder landscape, but also liability and legislation into account.”

Trials of autonomous vehicles and sustainable taxiing

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol undertook a trial of an autonomous baggage tractor that takes baggage to the aircraft on the apron.

Since the inception of the ‘Autonomous Airside Operations’ programme, Royal Schiphol Group’s ambitious vision has started to materialise in a series of trials and feasibility studies.

A more notable example is a recent project launched in partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ ground handling department, which observed how an autonomous baggage tractor can take baggage to the aircraft on the apron at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The aim of the trial was to discover whether the technology is safe and efficient and how self-driving vehicles can be integrated with other traffic at the airport. Sharing some of the findings of the pilot, Kotey says: “In the entire month of February, we did over 200 missions under many different circumstances. We had snowfall, rain, heavy wind, and clear sunny days in which we operated. This gave us the opportunity to experience the behaviour of the “TractEasy” in these different weather circumstances. We are working on a report on the findings of the trial, but a key finding that we can already share is that although we feel the technology needs some maturing, we still see opportunities to start with implementation of autonomous vehicles on a very small scale in low traffic areas. We will continue to investigate use cases that might be suited for such implementation.” Indeed, Rotterdam The Hague and Eindhoven airports are also expected to start testing autonomous baggage tractors this spring.

In another recent trial, Royal Schiphol Group explored the feasibility of sustainable taxiing. During the trial, aircrafts were brought to the runway by a special tow vehicle, also known as the “taxibot”. The vehicle is powered by a hybrid combination of electric and diesel engines and taxiing with the use of the “taxibot”consumes at least 50% less fuel aircraft engines would normally use while taxiing. The trial was conducted in partnership with a large ecosystem of partners, including Schiphol Airport, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Corendon Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, easyJet, and the airline handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services.

Indeed, Kotey points out that close cooperation with all airport partners is instrumental in helping Royal Schiphol Group achieve its vision. “Working together with several different airlines and ground handlers together with the Dutch Air Traffic Control is a fantastic opportunity to have all viewpoints and expertise at the same table. I think the saying “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together” says it all. To make a system change possible it is imperative to work together. We are incredibly pleased to have the involvement of our sector partners and invite others to join as well. We “the sector partners” have recently started working on the roadmap for sustainable taxiing as standard procedure at Schiphol Airport towards 2030.”

Emission-free airports by 2030

Creating a more sustainable future is at the epicentre of the company’s overall vision. “We want our airports to be the most sustainable in the world,” says Kotey. “That is why we have drawn up a route plan. It contains a number of concrete steps that will make our airports emission-free by 2030, for example with electric vehicles, sustainable energy and use energy efficiently, and sustainable taxiing.”

While the outlook for the coming years remains uncertain, it is clear that Royal Schiphol Group is on the right track to achieving its ambitious vision to build back better in a more sustainable way and lead the industry by example.

source : https://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2021/03/royal-schiphol-group-building-a-roadmap-towards-a-fully-autonomous-airside-operation-in-2050/?utm_source=Future+Travel+Experience+News&utm_campaign=c4fda19078-fte_nl_250321&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5a8fdd64e-c4fda19078-91968948

Royal Schiphol Group building a roadmap towards a “fully autonomous airside operation” in 2050

INITIATIVES | ROBOTICS & AI // MAR 2021

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal Schiphol Group continues its investment in innovation, technology and new solutions to create smart, future-proof ground handling processes. Ahead of her presentation at the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo, taking place on 25-26 May, Rosina Kotey, Innovation Lead, Royal Schiphol Group, spoke to FTE about the airport group’s new vision to operate fully autonomous and sustainable airports by 2050.

“An innovation mindset is crucial”

Rosina Kotey, Innovation Lead, Royal Schiphol Group, will deliver a presentation on the airport group’s ambitious vision at the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo (25-26 May).

Royal Schiphol Group’s innovation approach is based upon McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model, which the airport group calls “earth, moon and mars” innovations. Kotey describes the ‘earth’ model as the incremental innovation which addresses day-to-day challenges; ‘moon’ defines transformational innovation and more fundamental changes to the workings of existing value chains; while ‘mars’ as a more disruptive innovation, which sees the introduction of new value chains and operating models. “Schiphol’s innovation department orchestrates all innovation for the entire group and focuses on exploring moon and mars innovations, whereas earth innovations are driven by the rest of the organisation of Royal Schiphol Group,” she explains.

“An innovation mindset is crucial, which is not only having the ability to have novel ideas but being completely comfortable with dealing with not knowing the outcome at the start, seeing failure as an imperative part of growth and progress. Not being afraid to say I don’t know the answer… yet! But always being eager to investigate, research, experiment in order to find out what the answer is. We call it having a “Rockstar” mentality!”

A fully autonomous airport by 2050

Deriving from the ‘moon’ and ‘mars’ innovation philosophies, Royal Schiphol Group has laid out a future-looking vision to create a fully autonomous airport by 2050. In line with these ambitions, in February the airport group launched its new ‘Autonomous Airside Operations’ programme, which will see all airside vehicles be replaced by an interconnected fleet of autonomous, emission-free vehicles and all associated processes will be automated.

Kotey explains: “We identified several building blocks and themes and initiatives that we need to focus on to achieve our ambition. We are now building the roadmap towards a fully autonomous airside operation in 2050. A main part of how we build towards the future is by researching and experimenting. We take a stage gated approach in order to de-risk and validate the assumptions we have.”

Creating such a vision for the future and successfully implementing it is, of course, a massive undertaking for any organisation. Kotey tells FTE that her team has approached the challenge by breaking it down into three key tracks – hardware, intelligence, and transformation.

The hardware track, she explains, focuses on technology such as robotics, drones and autonomous assets and vehicles, in order to build a more sustainable and zero emission ground operation. An autonomous operation needs data and intelligence at the base of its operation, so the intelligence track utilises elements such as real-time data insights, adaptive routing, integral planning and forecasting and supporting infrastructure. “This intelligent structure consists of multiple layers that interact and build on each other. Prioritisation, planning and executing tasks according to the most important KPI’s, looking for the most optimised way to operate at all times depending on the situation at hand. All the Intelligence themes and initiatives have a focus on data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

However, to make the transition from the current state of operations towards a fully autonomous airside operations, Kotey says, there is still a lot that needs to be defined. “Many new processes need to be developed in a step change approach, while working towards a completely new operational reality. While the ambition for an autonomous airside is clear, many organisational aspects remain uncertain. We need to develop an integration strategy and an agile implementation plan that takes things such as the human factor in relation to autonomous technology, the required change in the internal and external stakeholder landscape, but also liability and legislation into account.”

Trials of autonomous vehicles and sustainable taxiing

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol undertook a trial of an autonomous baggage tractor that takes baggage to the aircraft on the apron.

Since the inception of the ‘Autonomous Airside Operations’ programme, Royal Schiphol Group’s ambitious vision has started to materialise in a series of trials and feasibility studies.

A more notable example is a recent project launched in partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ ground handling department, which observed how an autonomous baggage tractor can take baggage to the aircraft on the apron at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The aim of the trial was to discover whether the technology is safe and efficient and how self-driving vehicles can be integrated with other traffic at the airport. Sharing some of the findings of the pilot, Kotey says: “In the entire month of February, we did over 200 missions under many different circumstances. We had snowfall, rain, heavy wind, and clear sunny days in which we operated. This gave us the opportunity to experience the behaviour of the “TractEasy” in these different weather circumstances. We are working on a report on the findings of the trial, but a key finding that we can already share is that although we feel the technology needs some maturing, we still see opportunities to start with implementation of autonomous vehicles on a very small scale in low traffic areas. We will continue to investigate use cases that might be suited for such implementation.” Indeed, Rotterdam The Hague and Eindhoven airports are also expected to start testing autonomous baggage tractors this spring.

In another recent trial, Royal Schiphol Group explored the feasibility of sustainable taxiing. During the trial, aircrafts were brought to the runway by a special tow vehicle, also known as the “taxibot”. The vehicle is powered by a hybrid combination of electric and diesel engines and taxiing with the use of the “taxibot”consumes at least 50% less fuel aircraft engines would normally use while taxiing. The trial was conducted in partnership with a large ecosystem of partners, including Schiphol Airport, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Corendon Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, easyJet, and the airline handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services.

Indeed, Kotey points out that close cooperation with all airport partners is instrumental in helping Royal Schiphol Group achieve its vision. “Working together with several different airlines and ground handlers together with the Dutch Air Traffic Control is a fantastic opportunity to have all viewpoints and expertise at the same table. I think the saying “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together” says it all. To make a system change possible it is imperative to work together. We are incredibly pleased to have the involvement of our sector partners and invite others to join as well. We “the sector partners” have recently started working on the roadmap for sustainable taxiing as standard procedure at Schiphol Airport towards 2030.”

Emission-free airports by 2030

Creating a more sustainable future is at the epicentre of the company’s overall vision. “We want our airports to be the most sustainable in the world,” says Kotey. “That is why we have drawn up a route plan. It contains a number of concrete steps that will make our airports emission-free by 2030, for example with electric vehicles, sustainable energy and use energy efficiently, and sustainable taxiing.”

While the outlook for the coming years remains uncertain, it is clear that Royal Schiphol Group is on the right track to achieving its ambitious vision to build back better in a more sustainable way and lead the industry by example.

read more at source : https://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2021/03/royal-schiphol-group-building-a-roadmap-towards-a-fully-autonomous-airside-operation-in-2050/?utm_source=Future+Travel+Experience+News&utm_campaign=c4fda19078-fte_nl_250321&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5a8fdd64e-c4fda19078-91950936

30-second baggage disinfection coming to airports

A new luggage disinfection machine may become part of the biosecurity routine as global travel resumes.

By Abigail Klein Leichman  MARCH 22, 2021, 8:20 AM

Disinfecting baggage could become required in airports. Photo by White Field Photo on Unsplash

Alongside the x-ray machines that scrutinize our luggage at every airport in the world, we may soon see machines that provide 99.99% disinfection from germs on carry-on and checked bags.

Israeli biohazard disinfection startup WarpUV plans to start delivering AirFort machines this year to help airports contain the spread of bacteria, spores and the viruses that cause the common cold, seasonal influenza, Covid-19 and viruses yet to come.

“Biosecurity has become an urgent and critical staple of airport security since the Covid-19 containment shut down the vast majority of air traffic,” says WarpUV CEO and cofounder Amir Fischer, a serial entrepreneur who spent four years in airline and airport security at London Heathrow airport.

“Along with vaccinations and Covid-19 testing, disinfection of passenger luggage can ensure a safer air travel experience and help prevent future local outbreaks before they become global pandemics,” he says.

Ultraviolet disinfection in 30 seconds

WarpUV’s AirFort technology was created in-house and tested in Tel Aviv University’s microbial pathogenesis laboratory headed by Prof. Anat Herskovits. She also serves as WarpUV’s head of microbiology.

It takes less than 30 seconds for AirFort’s proprietary 3D array of ultraviolet lights to disinfect surface contamination from carry-on and checked bags, personal items and oversized bags and parcels before they enter an airport concourse or the plane’s cargo hold.

Speed will become essential when the volume of traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels, Fischer says, noting that other luggage disinfecting technologies in the pipeline take up to 30 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds.

“And it’s this speed that makes AirFort practical for handling the massive passenger volumes at major airports,” he says.Illustration of WarpUV’s AirFort luggage disinfection system. Image courtesy of WarpUV

In 2019, 17,500 commercial airports served more than 925 million passengers on nearly 39 million flights.

“With each passenger carrying one or two pieces of luggage onto planes annually, air travel remains one of the most vulnerable means for spreading airborne infectious diseases,” Fischer says.

“If you think about the multiple people who may touch the same pieces of luggage at an airport, just one infected worker or passenger who handled that bag could spread a virus far and wide,” Fischer tells ISRAEL21c.

Potential source of exposure

The US Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and Health and Human Services issued joint guidelines that categorize carry-on items, baggage, and luggage as a biohazard threat.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have also classified these items as a risk of contamination, and not only related to Covid-19.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the general risk to baggage handlers is low, but “potential sources of exposure could include surfaces touched or handled by a person with Covid-19 or by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.”

Fischer notes that baggage handlers at several airports became infected with Covid-19, in some cases forcing shutdowns.

“When looking at published data, only about 80% of infections are from known exposure to Covid-19 patients. If 20% of infections can be prevented using Warp AirFort technology, it’s a major step toward eradicating virus spread.”

Deployment in 5 airports

“Our plan is to begin deployment in five airports in 2021 and expand to more airports as quickly as we can build the machines,” says Fischer.

AirFort units will be installed in conjunction with existing luggage x-ray machines and on the incoming luggage conveyor and inbound checkpoints.

“The AirFort devices are designed to meet airports’ passenger flow – inbound and outbound– so we expect there will be a need for at least double the number of x-ray machines in airports,” Fischer says.

“WarpUV understands the current challenging financial climate in the air travel industry, and so we created a business model that offers two alternatives for the deployment of the devices,” he adds.

Airports may buy the devices outright via a purchase and service level agreement (SLA) or opt for a Machine as a Service (MaaS) model in which the airport is charged a small fee per passenger that could be covered by a ticket surcharge.

Fischer reports “a great deal of interest” in the AirFort devices.

“With access to nearly 100 airports via two leading industry distributors, WarpUV already has deals underway representing more than $100 million in revenue,” he says.

The company was formed in 2020 by Fischer along with Eitan Haimovich and Gil Luxenbourg.

For more information, click here

source: https://www.israel21c.org/30-second-baggage-disinfection-coming-to-airports/

Passenger experience and expectations during COVID-19

Nejat Kurt, Deputy General Manager of Operations at TAV Airports, looks forward to the aviation sector post-COVID-19, considering the actions undertaken by airports to ensure passenger safety and the role of contactless technology, which will remain key in regaining – and maintaining – passenger confidence.Passenger experience and expectations during COVID-19

Credit: TAV Airports – Skopje International Airport (SKP).

It soon became clear that this pandemic could not pass by without causing dramatic changes”

With 2020 having passed by in a flash, we were all convinced that it would be a period that would pass, and that we would soon comfortably get back to our travel routines and day-to-day activities. But it soon became clear that this pandemic could not pass by without causing dramatic changes to the spontaneous lifestyle that we have enjoyed for decades. We were not ready for the enormity of such challenges over such a long period of time, and we can still not even anticipate when this will all come to an end.

Looking to the future

We can view 2021 and the following years ahead from the below hypothetical perspective:

2021

During the course of 2021, we are going to effectively and efficiently understand and learn how to continue with our day-to-day activities, travels and journeys amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability and implementation of passenger antigen tests, rapid PCR tests and so on will, at some point, enable travel from one country to another. Since some countries have already implemented it as a requirement, we hope that this will quickly become common practice

By 2022, we can anticipate that vaccines are in place and rapid tests are still applicable and ongoing. With agreed and coordinated regulations and recommendations applied and in force, passengers are gradually regaining the necessary confidence to travel again. The year 2022 would most likely mark the start of a recovery period.

2023
The recovery rate would rapidly increase, especially throughout the 2023 summer season, when more and more travellers would feel comfortable to fly again, while visiting their favourite destination countries. During 2023, passenger tests are still applicable, while vaccine distribution and vaccine availability largely increased throughout the globe.

According to published information from Eurocontrol, we will see a full recovery by 2026.

While the world is rapidly adapting to the new normal, airports and airlines have implemented the necessary health and safety measures to ensure safety and comfort for their customers.

A new reality for passengers
A year ago, waiting in queues, gathering in groups and crowded areas and even being uncomfortable at security screening checkpoints was very common at airports. Back then, processing time was probably one of the main concerns for passengers.

With new habits established, passenger awareness has reached a different level”

With the pandemic in place, habits have changed and shifted in a completely different direction. Passengers are now avoiding crowded areas and queues. Nowadays, passengers are more observant, looking out for signage and guidance. Observation shows that duty free shopping notes a significant decline and that impulse shopping behaviour has vanished for now due to COVID-19. In addition, food and beverage courts are left empty.

With new habits established, passenger awareness has reached a different level. Namely, passengers are more inclined to use online check-in and self-check-in kiosks. Overall, they are more willing to use technology; even the unsecure traveller, who feels the need to have every single step of his journey pre-approved by any airport ID holder who is crossing his/her way. Now, even they are observing signage in more detail and are refrain from close contact and asking questions which they could figure out themselves.

What airports can do
Airports have demonstrated that they are ready to keep the pandemic under control, with all necessary standards, recommendations and requirements implemented and applied, ensuring that travellers can have a safe journey, from the airport building entrance, to boarding and accommodating their seats in the plane. These actions include:

Indicating the level of cleanliness, while making it visible, is a positive factor
Temperature screening points at the airport entrance (for both departing and arriving passengers)
Hand sanitisers are available across the airport, especially near and within the areas with frequently touched surfaces
There are signs and guidance, as well as public announcements and reminders for the passengers to wear protective masks, to keep physical distance and to frequently wash their hands
Only passengers are allowed to enter the terminal building, but not the ‘meeters and greeters’. This way, airports are providing confidence and comfort to both travellers and employees.
According to the 2020 ACI Global Traveller Survey Report, which was published by Airports Council International (ACI) in November 2020, the majority of travellers responded that the applied COVID-19 health and safety measures should remain in effect long after the decline of the coronavirus pandemic, especially:

ping all measures in place is certainly a confidence driver and a guarantee that the airport is a safe place for its customer, the passenger.

Employee wellbeing

It is not only signage and the option of a contactless experience that will help passengers to feel at ease, but the service provided by each individual working in the aviation system”

The most important part, which certainly plays a key role in regaining traveller confidence, are the airports and airlines’ employees. It is not only signage and the option of a contactless experience that will help passengers to feel at ease, but the service provided by each individual working in the aviation system. Employee focus has shifted from engagement to safety.

The frontline staff, or employees whose work duties require closer passenger contact, and those employees who are generally exposed throughout high passenger traffic must be ensured that they are safe at work. This can be achieved through effective communication and applied occupational health and safety standards. In order for them to be fully engaged, this motivation is a necessity. Employees must also be made aware that they should stay at home in case they have been exposed to, or have been in contact with, an infected person.

The airports and airlines’ top priority must be the health and safety of their employees, since, without their full engagement, it cannot be expected for passengers to feel comfortable and confident while travelling by air.

Another way to provide positivity throughout the process is to provide the necessary tools to airport and airline employees, such as ID badges showing their faces (since protective masks are covering their facial expressions).

Touchless or seamless travel

Airports have developed the possibility for passengers to check-in, drop-off their baggage and move from departure area to the boarding airside area with self-service available. Not all airports have reached such a level yet, but self-service is now required to transit from self-service to a contactless service. It is yet another concern of passengers to use touch screens, or self-service kiosks. A study in 2018 found that the dirtiest points in passengers’ journeys were not the toilets, but the check-in touchscreens. For that reason, it is important that hand sanitisers are available at locations where the passengers are required to interact with physical touch, or until touchless or contactless travel is in place.

source : https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/154897/passenger-experience-expectations-covid-19/

source : https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/154897/passenger-experience-expectations-covid-19/

World’s best airports for customer experience revealed

Airport Service Quality awards based on the views of customers in 2020

Revamped awards recognize how airports have responded to COVID-19 concerns

Montreal, 1 March 2021 – Airports Council International (ACI) World has today revealed this year’s Airport Service Quality awards which highlight the world’s best airports as judged by their customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on global passenger traffic in 2020 as well as changing customer perceptions and expectations of the airport experience. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, airports managed to collect ASQ surveys from their customers throughout the year and 108 awards have been won by 89 individual airports around the world.

Based on new hygiene related questions added to the survey questionnaire, ACI has introduced a new award – ‘Best Hygiene Measures by Region’ – of which there are 33 inaugural winners.

This award provided airports with a reliable method of gauging customer response to new health measures and recognizes airports’ success in responding to the intense focus on hygiene. The new category also complements ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation programme, launched last year, which has resulted in more than 275 airports being accredited already.

“ACI’s Airport Service Quality awards represent the highest possible accolade for airport operators around the world,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “This year more than any other, the awards recognize those airports that have listened to their customers and adapted the services and experiences they offer to meet changing needs and expectations under very trying circumstances.

“I am proud of the achievements of all ASQ award winners which shows their focus on delivering excellence in customer experience and setting an example of excellence for their peers. As we come together as an industry to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on customers that the ASQ programme provides will help guide the way.”

This year, ACI World entered into a long-term partnership with global travel technology company Amadeus to deliver the ASQ Awards.

“We at Amadeus congratulate all the ASQ award winners for their ongoing commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience in the face of adversity caused by COVID-19. Amadeus shares this commitment, which is why we’ve been investing for many years to bring a single, integrated platform for all aspects of passenger services to the industry, incorporating applications, hardware and services.” Amadeus EVP Airport IT Bruno Spada said.

“With a modular cloud platform, airports can better connect to airlines to bring new passenger service innovations like biometrics or contactless to market. They can base operations on a consistent flow of data throughout the entire airport journey, which is the key to delivering a truly smooth experience for passengers. And they can do all this with minimal effort or delay because we’ve taken care of the complexity in the cloud.”

source : https://aci.aero/news/2021/03/01/worlds-best-airports-for-customer-experience-revealed/

SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights reveals a sharper focus on safety, automation, and efficiency

The COVID-19 pandemic has refocused IT spending priorities for airlines and airports in 2020 as revenue plunged and the industry faced new health and operational requirements needed to keep flying.

Among the key findings from SITA’s 2020 Air Transport IT Insights, published today, was an accelerated investment in automated passenger processing focusing on touchless and mobile services. There was also a strong focus on virtual and remote IT services that allowed employees to work from home while ramping up communications with passengers. Cybersecurity and cloud services – that helped automate operations and drive new efficiencies – were key.

In 2020, SITA data showed that flight volumes plunged 44% year-on-year due to the pandemic. As a result of this impact on demand, IATA forecast the airline industry’s full-year loss at $118 billion.

David Lavorel, CEO SITA AT AIRPORTS & BORDERS, said: “The severe slowdown in 2020 forced the air transport industry to focus on driving new cost efficiencies. Adding to the pressure, airlines and airports had to rapidly incorporate new health measures such as touchless passenger processing and the handling of new health information and protocols, including PCR testing in many destinations. These efforts have been made in a market that continues to face rapid changes in air travel regulations that make operational planning volatile and last minute. 

“To solve these challenges, the industry has turned to technology and, in many cases, reprioritized where they invested in 2020. The good news is that airlines and airports were able to capitalize on existing trends to automation and have made significant strides in implementing new solutions that will bring new improvements for the passenger now and into the future.”   

Data and automation are key 

Making the check-in process completely touchless is now the main priority for airports and airlines to help protect passengers and staff, improve the passenger experience, and drive efficiency. 

Biometric technology is the focus for airport investment with 64% of airports aiming to roll out self-boarding gates using biometric & ID documentation by 2023, three times as many as in 2020. Airlines have doubled implementations and plan to double investment for self-boarding using biometric & ID documentation by 2023 (82%). 

Similarly, airlines are prioritizing a completely touchless check-in process, and most want mobile touchless payment options for all services provided. The majority (79%), is focused on enabling self-bag drop for passengers. All essential customer services will become contactless from booking to arrival, including automated lounge access and mobile delayed baggage reporting.  

Airline mobile applications for passenger services is a priority with nearly all (97%) of airlines having major programs and R&D in place by 2023. By 2023 the majority of airlines plan to send passengers real-time notifications on their mobile devices about their bags and plan to provide real-time bag-tracking information for staff.

Virtual IT services 

In response to the pandemic, most airlines and airports are investing more in in-house virtual and remote IT services allowing employees to work in a more agile and effective way while speeding up communications with passengers. Almost three-quarters of airports and airlines will continue to invest in data exchange, cloud services, cybersecurity, and business intelligence to accelerate their digital airport processes. This includes increasing services on passenger mobile apps and ensuring staff services are accessible via mobile or tablets. 

The full report, including methodology and charts, can be found here

source : https://www.sita.aero/pressroom/news-releases/covid-19-has-sharply-changed-the-it-spending-priorities-for-airports-and-airlines-in-2020/?mkt_tok=MDg5LVpTRS04NTcAAAF7cqa7eOojl_F1De6-LeJTEwRVAN0W6nM0ODg7WDR7B-yMEN67Ah-iJYoK6fXPKe_C04LS_Knplqj-TQM_7uCRseytQd6dWhtCWI4Wl97rhcPV

Covid safe air travel must ensure there are no weak links in the travel chain

To plan for, and to experience the safest air travel experience during the coronavirus pandemic, customers require facts about airline and airport COVID-19 safety standards being delivered, not speculative or hypothetical assessments. It can be easy for an airport or airline to say what they plan to achieve in terms of COVID-19 safety, but one can only accurately judge the effectiveness of safety protocols when you have tried, tested and experienced them.

Airlines, airports, and lounge providers across the world have invested time and resources to ensure that the travel experience is safer for customers and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, and since mid-2020 Skytrax audit teams have travelled across the globe to evaluate these new hygiene, cleanliness, and safety protocols. The integrity of the certification process underlines why the programme is regarded as a global benchmark of COVID-19 Safety Rating for the air travel community worldwide.

The COVID-19 safety ratings investigate and evaluate the door-to-door air travel process, and identify any weak links in either the airport or airline health, hygiene and safety procedures.

“we are all only as safe as the weakest link in the chain”

Skytrax COVID-19 Safety Rating is based on professional and scientific investigation of the effectiveness and consistency of actual health and hygiene standards provided by airlines and airports, and the rating is only applied after a broad range of protocols have been observed and assessed for effectiveness and consistency. There are ratings of airport and airline COVID-19 safety standards that lack authority because they do not track real-world standards and simply look at “theoretical” safety protocols. Such checklists do not study the practical and successful implementation of measures and are nearly always self-certified by airlines and airports.

Aside from the simple factors of design, frequency, and placement of safety items such as signage, hand sanitisers and distancing markers, a questionnaire analysis cannot consider passenger behaviour and market demographics, staff behaviour and monitoring, and real aspects of social distancing such as spatial layouts and passenger flows. Across the airline experience, it is the actual application of safety protocols that is relevant, rather than simply considering expected or stated procedures.

A broken safety link: airport processing at Amsterdam Schiphol

Critically, it is the scale and consistency of measures that are so important to ensure that customers are fully conversant with both the local regulations and accepted international norms of COVID-19 safe behaviour. From the start of the COVID-19 research and analysis, Skytrax have observed that passenger attitudes vary greatly depending on the type of lockdown and restrictions in place in their home country. Airline and airports recognised as delivering some of the highest safety protocols have acknowledged such issues by reinforcing measures to manage passengers and apply more stringent controls, and the needs and importance for this vary from region to region.

“Some airports must improve COVID-19 safety standards”

Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: “When we award a COVID-19 Safety Certification, we place not only our own reputation on the line, but the trust of air travellers around the world, and this is why we provide factual health, hygiene and safety ratings, and do not assume or speculate. As with any rating assessment that we apply, this does not take a one size fits all approach, and it is absolutely crucial to consider factors such as customer behavioural habits, airport terminal size and infrastructure, airline network and markets, local technology and supply chains, and all other relevant issues to ensure we have thoroughly examined standards.”

While vaccination programmes gather pace in some regions, the global inconsistency of the rollout means measures undertaken to reduce the spread of coronavirus are likely to remain in place for at least 12-18 months, and in terms of large scale travel recovery we are all only as safe as the weakest link in the chain in respect to COVID-19. It is therefore critical for air travel providers to be delivering robust, consistent, and enforceable measures to ensure the well-being of customers and staff.

COVID-19 safe environment: Hamad International Airport, Doha

Consistency of safe travel protocols across both the airport and onboard experience is more essential than ever, and this is where Skytrax have seen the greatest variances that need to be improved. The safety assurance benefits in having maximum control of both areas is highlighted by the 5-Star COVID-19 Safety Ratings achieved by Qatar Airways and their hub at Hamad International Airport in Doha, both delivering a safe and seamless travel experience.

During the first stages of COVID-19 airport safety analysis, Skytrax have noted that some airport “stated” safety protocols are not being achieved in the “actual” standards provided to customers, and it is this divide that causes concern about airports failing to deliver upon their health and safety assurances. Discipline, control and consistency are key factors if a recovery in air travel is to truly offer travellers a safe and trustworthy environment. Overpromising and under-delivering can destroy the reputation of the industry in its quest to rebuild customer confidence in air travel, and this is why Skytrax state that it is critical for the necessary hands-on assessment to be applied in COVID-19 safety rating.

Another example where COVID-19 safety procedures are being well enforced is Rome Fiumicino Airport, with effective signage, covid guidance and cleanliness standards. In high movement areas, the airport has an in-house Bio-Safety Team of 40 staff that seek to control social distancing and ensure face mask use compliance.

Amongst major airlines, Air France, British Airways, Emirates and Lufthansa are all currently Certified with the 4-Star COVID-19 Safety Rating, and the inclusion of Ryanair in this rating group demonstrates that the higher Covid ratings are not limited to full-service carriers only. The health, hygiene and safety features that Skytrax investigate relate to air travel as a whole and how successful an airline is at delivering Covid safety, whether flying in first-class or with a low-cost airline.

Accepting that many of the safety protocols and procedures introduced during COVID-19 are going to be with us for years rather than months, we are now seeing further improvements to COVID-19 safety measures by some of these airlines and I hope to see one or two of them upgraded to the highest 5-Star COVID-19 Safety Rating in the next few months,” added Edward Plaisted.

The first COVID-19 Safety Ratings for airlines in Asia and North America are expected to be announced by April 2021.

source : https://skytraxratings.com/the-facts-behind-airline-and-airport-covid-19-safety-performance