As airports and passengers adjust to the new kind of normal, one thing is clear… An airport’s ability to demonstrate heightened hygiene standards and protocols will be crucial in restoring the confidence of travellers and staff, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you think about the sheer number of passengers typically travelling through airports each day it’s easy to see how the rapid spread of infectious diseases is possible. And while bathrooms and washrooms are obvious environments for bacteria and germs to thrive in, it’s the trays used during security screening that are a real cause for concern. According to a 2016 study conducted at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport by a team of experts at the University of Nottingham in the UK and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, “plastic security screening trays appeared to pose the highest potential risk, and handling these is almost inevitable for all embarking passengers.”

Earlier this week, Smiths Detection announced the launch of its new ultraviolet (UVC) light kits capable of destroying up to 99.9% of microorganisms present on baggage trays at the security checkpoint. The kits automatically disinfect trays as they are being transported from the reclaim area back to the divest station. And thanks to the specially designed casing and other safety measures, the UVC lights pose no exposure risk to staff or passengers. Richard Thompson, Smiths Detection’s Global Director Aviation, stated, “UVC lights are a practical, straightforward way that airports can help reduce the transmission of any bacteria or virus that might be on the surface of its trays now and in the long term.”

Meanwhile, to assist airports in adhering to social distancing recommendations Veovo has launched its “quick to deploy” Virtual Queuing and Passenger Density Management solutions to help with safer travel. Designed to monitor crowd density and maintain airport-wide safe distancing measures, Veovo’s solutions enable operators to improve the responsiveness of sanitation service providers, directing teams to where cleaning is most needed. “To safely manage crowding, operators need accurate timely data,” pointed out James Williamson, Veovo’s CEO. “By accommodating new social distancing needs in our solution, we enable safe and proactive planning to reduce crowds and to make sanitation and disinfection programmes more effective.”

And at some of the bigger airports around the world, robotic cleaners and Smart Screening Helmets, that enable airport staff to conduct contactless temperature readings, are increasingly being deployed. But for passengers who have forgotten to pack their own personal protective equipment (PPE), Las Vegas McCarran International Airport has come up with a simple, yet inspired solution – PPE vending machines. Passengers in need of hand sanitiser, gloves, or a face mask can now stock up on such items at one of the three machines located in Terminals 1 and 3.

Forget snacks on the go, the new normal for travel is going to be all about heightened hygiene awareness and face masks on the fly…

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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