Hamburg Airport recognised for comprehensive hygiene measures

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Germany’s Hamburg Airport has been recognised for its high level of coronavirus safety measures. With European travellers longing to head away to foreign shores this summer the airport has been awarded the Airport Council International’s (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation Programme certificate – making it the fourth ACI-certified airport in Germany, following the hubs of Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin-Brandenburg.

The certification, which is valid for one year, takes into account diverse factors in all aspects of airport operations including: the possibility for social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, spatial layout and passenger facilities, passenger communications, and the protection of personnel.

“Many people in northern Germany are longing to fly on holiday again or to see their friends and family who live far away,” said Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport. “Business travellers want to meet their partners in person again. Passengers rightly expect a high standard of hygiene and safety measures. At Hamburg Airport, we are doing everything to ensure that passengers feel safe and at ease here. That is why we had our performance reviewed on the basis of independent criteria – successfully. Certification in the ACI Health Accreditation programme confirms that the measures we have put in place are well thought-out and effective, and that they are applied consistently.”

Hamburg Airport has implemented numerous hygiene and protective measures to make travel as safe as possible since the start of the global pandemic. An inter-department Expert Group maintains constant communication to ensure the measures always keep pace with new regulations and developments. Employees in almost every functional role at the airport are represented, bringing with them a broad spectrum of expertise.

Medical masks are mandatory inside the terminals and on-board aircraft. Self-service kiosks throughout the terminal have masks, disinfectant wipes and gels available to purchase. Perspex panes, hand disinfectant dispensers, floor markings an display monitors help people comply with the now familiar hygiene rules while at the airport. Additional cleaning teams have also been deployed. Airlines offer ‘non-contact’ check-in facilities as well as self-bag drops.

Passengers as well as the general public are able to undertake a coronavirus test at the airport from service providers, Centogene and EcoCare.Both PCR tests and rapid antigen tests are available, subject to charges.

London Luton passenger numbers down by 66%

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London Luton Airport (LLA) has revealed that passengers were down by 66% in September compared with the same period last year. Just 575,000 passengers travelled through the London hub.

In line with the Airport’s Council International (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation programme,  various measures have  been undertaken at the airport to ensure that it remains both a safe and secure environment for both staff and passengers. This has included enhanced cleaning and the installation of protective screens, as well as the introduction of hand sanitiser stations and the need to wear face coverings throughout the airport. Luton was the first UK airport to receive certification from ACI under its Health Accreditation programme.

“I am immensely proud of all the staff at LLA for continuing to deliver a high level of customer care and service even during these challenging times,” said Alberto Martin, CEO of LLA.

Martin added that following some recovery in passenger numbers during the summer months that has unfortunately been short-lived with numbers beginning to drop off again. “I welcome the formation of the government’s new travel taskforce, but urge them to work closely with industry to quickly and safely remove the need for self-isolation with testing.”

In addition to increasing measures to ensure the well-being and safety of passengers and crew, LLA is focused on delivering the best possible customer experience during this period. Earlier this year it became the first and only airport in the UK to be awarded with ACI’s Customer Experience Level 1 accreditation and new CAA data has shown that 89% of passengers rated their experience as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in 2019 compared with 82%  in 2018.

Pressure mounts to drop quarantines in favour of testing protocol

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Pressure from European airports as well as other aviation stakeholders has intensified to drop quarantines in favour of an EU-wide passenger testing protocol.

Aviation bodies, including Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have outlined a common framework for pre-departure testing to re-establish freedom of movement in Europe ahead of the upcoming holiday season. This will provide far greater assurance and the ability for cross-border travel, that will enable travellers to plan family reunions or vacations. ACI Europe has also underlined this will serve as a lifeline to the millions of workers in the travel and tourism sectors whose jobs remain at risk.

All three organisations state unequivocally that a common testing protocol would further reduce transmission risks, restore confidence among the travelling public and protect livelihoods by allowing the travel and tourism sectors to begin their recovery.

The proposed framework is based on two overarching principles: Quarantines must be replaced by testing prior to departure – Research has established that 65% of travellers agree that quarantine should not be requried for passengers who test negative for COVID-19. Furthermore, travel restrictions must be coordinated and based on common risk assessment. This supports the risk assessment criteria and the common colour coding system/ mapping of designated areas already proposed by the European Commission, but which is yet to be endorsed and fully implemented by other EU states.

Data from IATA show air traffic to, from and within Europe is down by 66.3% year to date and the latest figures from ACI Europe reveal that as of 27 September passenger traffic in the EU had further plunged to -78%. Following a letter sent to the European Commission President von der Leyen on 17 September calling for action to help prevent the further demise of the industry, industry bodies have now submitted a framework for how an EU-wide testing protocol for travel (EU-TPT) could work.

The associations have reiterated their calls for the Commission and Member States to prioritise the development and implementation of the testing protocol. “We need to learn to live – and travel – with the virus,” the letter said. “Re-establishing the free movement of people and air connectivity across our continent in a safe way must be a priority.”

A testing protocol would allow for passengers to travel in a safe and harmonised way, rather than having their plans disrupted and made uncertain by constantly moving quarantine goal posts.

The letter also highlighted the continually worsening outlook for passenger demand along with crippingly low forward bookings for the winter season – down -80% from 2019. The planning certainty and risk-based safety of a common testing protocol would give European countries an effective way to reduce transmission both in communities and during air travel whilst stimulating the economy.