In a bid to help airports plan their recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, EUROCONTROL has published a study highlighting actions needed to improve performance when implementing COVID-19 measures.

Compiled by the Airport Research Center (ARC) in collaboration with Airports Council International (ACI) Europe and other industry partners, the study underlines the need for airports need to focus on reducing the impact of space constraints as well as the need for national authorities to harmonise measures across EU Member States. It explores the impact of measures introduced as a result of COVID-19 on terminal operations, such as passenger journey time, terminal throughput and boarding gate processing capacity.

Describing the study as “providing airports with a detailed set of process assessments indicating where they need to focus as traffic recovers,” Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL’s Director General, added, “It highlights the vital importance of harmonisation of measures for air travel, key to passenger confidence and efficiency.”

Emphasising the urgent need to address space constraints within airports, the study found that, for the same passenger numbers in a pre-COVID queue, 50% more space is required at check-in, 100% more space at security control and 35-50% more space at boarding gates. It also found 30-50% more space is required for baggage reclaim, and up to 10 minutes additional time to the departing passenger journey.

The study found that airports need to focus on key limiting components – security control/ immigration in terms of throughput challenges, and boarding gates and baggage reclaim in terms of space constraints. It also noted that airports congested before the COVID pandemic can expect to reach their maximum saturation capacity at just 60-75% of their peak 2019 traffic. In line with the call from various industry bodies, the study concludes that greater harmonisation in terms of COVID measures supporting passenger safety and re-building trust is essential across EU Member States.

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