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Rise of touchless technologies to enhance airport passenger safety in COVID-19 era

Airlines, airports, and regulatory authorities need to collaborate to establish a global framework for security and airport operations, finds Frost & Sullivan in partnership with Thales

June 25, 2021  By  SP&T Staff

Image: Getty / Fly View Productions

LONDON — Passenger flow through airports continues to be greatly affected due to COVID-19. Airports are currently adopting safety measures such as mobile check-in and health checks, but operations will soon include automated luggage drop-off and biometric solutions with integrated social distancing technologies. In the latter part of the year, as passenger numbers surge, touchless technologies will rise to prominence as tools to reduce bottlenecks and ensure traveller safety.

Frost & Sullivan analysed insights from Thales and other leading aviation experts in the article, How Can Airports Manage Uncertainty, Risk and Safety in a Post-COVID World? The article explores the trends in the aviation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, focuses on current airport terminal challenges and presents possible solutions across airport operations. Some of the issues discussed include the impact of furloughs, delivering passenger value with capital expenditure limitations, overcoming bottlenecks, and emerging technologies.

“Stakeholders must build a roadmap with airlines and airports and leverage tools that manage crowds, help passengers quickly find their way to terminals, and assist them on their flying journeys,” observed Jonathan Norman, Lead Consultant of Airports and Airlines at Frost & Sullivan, in a prepared statement. “Touchless options will be key, and industry leaders will look to suppliers, vendors, and technologists to come up with viable solutions to help travellers feel safe. Total airport management and novel Solution-as-a-Service for airport operations will be particularly valuable solutions in the current environment.”

“A structured approach, as well as time-saving and touchless technologies, could bring improvements to the current situation and provide long-lasting benefits to the industry,” noted Philippe Vrignaud, Vice President, Identification and Verification at Thales. “For instance, touchless operations, integrated security digital and management platforms that connect operations and offer trouble-shooting capabilities are instrumental in providing safe passage for travellers. Other solutions include social distancing technologies, real-time views of passengers, and an overall layout of the airport, including planned and monitored distribution of passengers.”


For real transformation, industry participants will have to:

  • Upgrade to AI-based security systems to provide smarter, more agile and more automated data processing platforms.
  • Incorporate touchless technologies such as temperature testing solutions or biometric authentication, for the safety of passengers and staff.
  • Globalize the decision-making process.
  • Drive the development of standardized procedures through collaboration with international associations such as WHO, ICAO, IATA, and ACI.
  • Establish a coordinated response that includes real-time awareness of crowds, activities, and threats.
  • Integrate systems to help detect underperforming processes and manage events.
  • Optimize field operations through information-sharing.

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