What’s the Future for Airport Terminal Buildings Resulting from Covid 19?
Prior to Covid 19 there were several airports in the Planning Phase for new developments that exceeded 100 Million Passenger Per Year. One of the largest airports in terms of Passengers Per Year is Dubai International Airport. It is really unclear how long it will take their existing facilities to get back to 2019 levels.
With all this uncertainty, it is also unclear how long it will take for the construction market to start hiring staff again. To keep busy, I have been doing internet stuff. I have an area on my website that describes this. As a systems integrator, I find that these activities keep me up to date with the Information Technology world, and at the same time, I do research on Airport Development Plans which is what this article is about. Browse around my website to see what is new.
Without a doubt, Covid 19 will significantly impact existing and planned Airport Terminal Buildings.
The only comparison to this impact would be that which resulted from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. This had major impacts on Security and Security Screening and a much more invasive check on passengers. But we all know this part.
Moving forward, I see several areas that need to be addressed for existing and new airport Terminal Buildings.
The Terminal Building has been classically divided into a Landside Area and a Controlled Airside Area. The Controlled Airside area is after Immigration for Departing Passengers and Before Immigration for Arriving Passengers.
The Immigration area leading up to the processing counters is a major ‘choke’ point (as we all know). As a result of Social Distancing, these areas must be greatly expanded and provided with carefully planned staging points with floor markings and barriers to keep passengers on the correct path. The same would apply for those Immigration Counters where passengers already have an ‘E-Gate Pass’ where they can ‘self-process’.
The next chokepoint is the Baggage Collection Area. We all know the crowds around those circular baggage collection points. This is going to be a major impact on the collection halls. For those airports with many conveyors, there may be a need to separate arriving passengers by seat numbers and then assign them to specific collection conveyors. For those airports with only a few collection conveyors, some clever thinking will be required. Any ideas?
Passenger and Baggage Screening Area must be much Faster. A rethink of the old 9/11 process will be required. The main area to look at is pre-screening, and especially for Covid 19 clearances.
While airport terminals remain mostly desolate, initiatives should be underway to verify passenger health pre-flight and assure that airports are scrupulously clean.
There are various technologies in trial phases now. These include a contactless voice-activated kiosk for monitoring passengers’ temperature, heart and respiratory rates before check-in. It’s being developed in partnership between Etihad Airways and Australian company Elenium Automation, and it’s undergoing tests at Abu Dhabi Airport.
In another initiative at HKIA, invisible antimicrobial coatings that destroy germs, bacteria and viruses are being applied to high-touch surfaces in the terminal such as kiosks, counters, and trolleys.
Hong Kong’s airport is also testing autonomous Intelligent Sterilization Robots equipped with ultraviolet light sterilizers that roam the airport, disinfecting passenger facilities.
From an operational point; It’s not just the passenger crowding and flows which will need a different approach. The way airports allocate gates, baggage carousels, and manage turnarounds, will need a radically new perspective. They will need to be more mindful about how they distribute gate allocations to maximize separation, whilst accommodating the flight volume.
One thing we can be assured of – the resulting impact of COVID-19 will see changes to terminal building operations on a scale far more significant and long-lasting than after 9-11.
On the positive side, there’s no need to wait for new technologies to be invented to help people maintain healthy distances in terminal buildings. We already have them. With bundled on-demand services, predictive intelligence, and occupancy monitoring systems, airports can be supporting social distancing within weeks of installation.
You can find a great article in Airport World by clicking HERE.
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Keep Safe and Take Care