COVID-19 testing, contactless technology, mobile apps and off-site processing will be essential for air travel to resume

Céline Kanu, Head of Passenger Processes and Facilitation, IATA: “There is an urgent need to leverage available technology to provide flexibility and maximize its benefits. This will be achieved through global coordination rather than approaches.”

Over the past few months, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been at the forefront of the air transport industry’s efforts to recover from the significant impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The association has undertaken a number of initiatives to support the industry. For example, the creation of a new framework for multi-layered biosafety measures, which eventually became part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Takeoff Recommendation. It also advocates for government financial relief for the sector, including direct financial assistance through cost reductions, tax deferrals, aircraft parking fee waivers, and exemptions from the 80/20 slot rule at some major airports.

So when FTE recently spoke to Celine Kanu, Head of Passenger Processing and Facilitation at IATA, we talked about restoring passenger confidence, the importance of COVID-19 testing, and creating new contactless passengers. I wanted to know more about the association’s position on the matter. App.

FTE: What does IATA think about the key steps to restart the industry?

Celine Kanu: As an industry, we have devised the necessary protocols to operate safely during the pandemic and ensure that aviation does not become a vector for the spread of the virus. But there are limits to what we can do, and now governments need to play their part to restore trust. One of the biggest challenges is the ever-changing entry and quarantine regulations put in place by governments. Stimulating demand is difficult when travelers face ever-changing rules and regulations.

FTE: So how is IATA supporting the industry’s efforts to boost the all-important consumer confidence that has taken a hit in recent months?

CC: We have been at the forefront of devising biosafety protocols to ensure that air travel is not a vector for the spread of COVID-19. Part of that focus is educating the traveling public about air quality on airplanes. The design of the onboard air conditioning system and his use of HEPA filters result in an air quality that is closer to a hospital operating room than anything else. Additionally, highlighting new guest room cleaning protocols is also at the forefront of our communications efforts.

FTE: What is IATA’s position on COVID-19 testing, health passports and new testing methods?

CC: Testing can be a means to reopen borders and lift quarantine restrictions. With current testing technology (mainly PCR), this would ideally be done before departure and outside the airport. As testing methods evolve, antigen testing at the airport upon departure may be the best option in the future. However, the technology to do this at the required scale is not yet available. In any case, standards for documenting test results and making them available in a mutually acceptable format between countries is something that the relevant authorities will need to address.

FTE: How important a role will technology play in helping the industry provide a safe, sanitized and contactless experience?

CC: Disinfecting airport facilities is a critical component of the reopening strategy. Investing in contactless solutions is necessary, although it is not necessarily enough to fully restore passenger confidence. IATA is currently accelerating the creation of a new standard that will enable remote use of self-service kiosks from mobile devices. This is the first step. However, clearly more work is needed to develop standards to enable IATA One ID. IATA One ID is a concept that allows passengers to have their biometrics recognized by airlines, airports and governments during their travels. While the automation of identity authentication and verification improves passenger convenience, it also increases the need for security agencies to facilitate the movement of passengers across borders.

FTE: I hear that IATA is currently working on the next contactless travel application. Could you tell us more about this initiative?

CC: As IATA tests some elements of One ID, the mobile app appears to be a key tool for passengers to take back control of their data and share it as they wish with airlines and governments . We are currently developing a solution that will allow passengers to capture and share their passport information to facilitate the process end-to-end.

FTE: Can you provide an update on the IATA NEXTT initiative? How can the industry move beyond legacy systems to adopt initiatives such as airport off-site processing and automation?

CC: The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on travel, passenger confidence and airport operations have further confirmed the relevance and necessity of the NEXTT concept. The industry is focused on flexible approaches and resilience with high drivers to ensure cost efficiency. There is therefore an urgent need to leverage available technology to provide this flexibility and maximize the benefits achieved through global coordination rather than individualized approaches. Close cooperation between airlines, airport operators and governments is more essential than ever. Airlines may need to review their current passenger processes, airport operators may need to help redesign airport facilities, including gate areas, and governments may need to adapt applicable rules and regulations. yeah. Having a common vision to drive these changes was the cornerstone of the IATA-ACI NEXTT joint initiative. Promoting best practice use of technology through the NEXTT initiative will advance broader off-airport processing activities, improving customer experience and efficiency. Advanced processing also facilitates access to reliable real-time data and the implementation of contactless solutions that limit interactions between passengers, airlines, and airports.

FTE: Do you feel there is closer collaboration happening and how do you think it can be improved?

CC: The industry has worked together very effectively through ICAO to agree on the necessary protocols. This was done in record time. But what we need now is for the government to actually implement what it has agreed to do.

FTE: What is IATA’s long-term prediction for airport traffic recovery? What other insights can you share about what is expected to happen next?

CC: We currently expect domestic air travel to reach pre-COVID-19 levels by 2023, with international travel taking at least one year to recover until 2024.

In the absence of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, testing will be essential, especially to enable international travel. As testing technology improves, rapid and reliable testing at airports should become possible. This should allow countries to lift current travel restrictions.

As airlines, airports and their partners look for ways to recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, FTE provides a platform to share critical insights and knowledge from within and outside the industry. is dedicated to. Biosecurity, touchless travel, off-site processing, and the use of technologies such as automation and biometrics are among the topics to be discussed at his FTE APEX Virtual Expo on December 8-9. Learn more about.

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