After months-long shutdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, airports and airlines are hoping to restore passenger confidence and safely resume operations, by relying on smart technologies to implement a new approach to passenger management and introduce new hygiene measures.
SITA, the multinational IT company providing telecommunication services to the air transport industry, has introduced solutions that allow passengers to use their mobile device as a remote control for touchpoints such as self-bag drop and check-in kiosks, removing the need to touch any airport equipment.
Speaking at the Aviation Week webinar event Sebastien Fabre, Vice-President Airline & Airport, SITA said: “The past few weeks have seen airlines across the globe tentatively take to the skies. This is reflected in a resumption in activity across our network and improved baggage volumes, up 55% month-on-month in May where volumes were at a record low.”
“Our industry must transform the passenger experience to increase traveler safety while balancing economic pressures from slow customer demand. To successfully walk this tightrope and navigate a return to the skies for viable volumes of passengers, airports and airlines need to assimilate new information from governments and health officials, adapt operations immediately and automate processes permanently,” Fabre added.
“For example, at San Francisco Airport, we have SITA Flex which enables a full mobile and touchless passenger journey. This means travelers can print bag tags from their mobile phone on self-service bag points,” he said.
Fabre said that SITA was rapidly rolling out new solutions centered on three key areas:
- Distancing: Using real-time monitoring technologies along with predictive analytics, SITA can ensure appropriate distancing between passengers at key points across the airport. Predictive analytics will also support more proactive planning. There is also an opportunity to extend the boundaries of the airport where key steps such as check-in and bag drop are managed before arriving at the terminal through a passenger’s mobile.
- Hygiene and Sanitation: SITA is helping reduce the risk of infection by avoiding contact at key touchpoints. Using a combination of biometric and mobile solutions, passengers no longer have to touch a kiosk or surface, managing their journey from their phone.
- Health checks: In addition to integrating health or thermal checks into key touchpoints such as check-in kiosks, governments will – by leveraging SITA’s risk management solutions – be able to use pre-boarding check (Advance Passenger Processing) and perform analytics on passenger journey data to identify and mitigate potential health risks.
As for airports that are not equipped with the native mobile platform, SITA uses technology to remotely control self-service devices such as kiosks with a mobile phone, removing the need to touch any airport equipment.
SITA also believes a harmonized approach to data management between governments is crucial for mitigating the risk of resurgence.