Integrating your Construction Data with Integrity

Integrating your Construction Data with Integrity

There is arguably no more important step in the data lifecycle process than integration. When we move to a new city, into a new home, or start a new career, we are effectively taking all our economic, social, and cultural values into an established but an also unfamiliar environment that we now call our own.

Collecting construction project information is no different. As-builts, schedules, budgets, and contracts are all fluid as the unique data associated with them. Therefore, it’s critical that as your organization or project evolves, there is a reliable system in place to fulfill all your project information needs.

Integrating Your Construction Data with Integrity

What is data integrity?

Data integrity refers to the accuracy, reliability, and consistency of stored data over its entire lifecycle. With construction projects, data can be unknowingly duplicated, outdated, or outright false delaying project milestone deadlines and inflating a project’s construction budget. Adding to the complication, complex infrastructure projects such as airport terminal expansion can have tens of thousands of physical assets from taxiway centerline light cans to air handler units that all need to be inventoried and be included in close-out submittals. Plans can always change, and unexpected audits can always happen. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Why is integration important?

When integrating any data, we must understand that data is dynamic and may not necessarily be suited for an Excel spreadsheet or Access relational database that we all know and love. Data integration makes data more freely available and easier to consume and process by systems and users. If done properly, it can reduce IT costs, free-up resources, improve data quality, and foster innovation all without drastic changes to existing applications or data structures. Certain aspects of projects may involve sensitive security information (SSI) or contain proprietary information that requires limited access. In this era of information security, preventing data leaks and breaches is more important than ever. When the integrity of data is secure, the information stored in a database will remain complete, accurate, and reliable no matter how long it’s stored or how often it’s accessed. You need a system that can put your data security first.

How to integrate actionable data

Data is only useful if it is timely and actionable. Modern organizations and construction projects are drowning in data but starving for information. Data can also take the form of dates, numbers, text, and files holding that data from a variety of applications that are only accessible to certain parties. If data is cleaned, organized, and archived it not only becomes useful throughout the construction project but after closeout too. You can integrate your project data into software from the Acquisition and Planning Phase into the Bidding Phase, Construction Execution Phase to the Project Closeout and Punch List Phase and Digital Twin Turnover.

Who is going to use this data?

Stakeholders have different data needs. A specification sheet showing an airfield electrician the model numbers of all the newly installed taxiway signs is nice to have but a spreadsheet created by the contractor detailing the preventative maintenance plan for the sign panels is far more beneficial. Imagine having this data right at your fingertips without the wait or figuring out who to call. By having a robust and secure system in place to store all your project information, all team members on a project can collaborate on objectives and accomplish tasks on time. Have your data audit ready. All the time.

How can the project team benefit?

Having the project team identify their data needs is essential for the integration process of a project to succeed. This can be a subcontractor wanting to share a multi-layered plumbing blueprint with an engineer or the airport security coordinator needing product warranty information from the security camera vendor. For a project team to benefit from data integration, management must support the system that is under development and involve users in the development process. This can ultimately save the two most important things to a project: time and money.

Luke Fowler, C.M Aviation Practice Lead at MySmartPlans

Swedavia Airports Meet Environmental Challenges by Embracing Tech

Swedavia Airports Meet Environmental Challenges by Embracing Tech

As airports adapt to new environmental requirements, technology steps up to help them keep track of their carbon footprint.

Swedavia and Veovo have partnered to introduce environmental emissions incentives for airlines. The airport operator’s flexible airport charges scheme essentially rewards airlines for operating out of Swedavia airports Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter with more fuel-efficient aircraft. In all, Swedavia operates 10 Swedish airports and is a leader in adopting environmental innovations.

The recently introduced CO2 and NOx Emission Charges follow a Swedish government requirement that airport charges be differentiated for environmental purposes. Airlines are charged more when operating aircraft with higher emissions and less when operating cleaner aircraft. The overall effect on airport revenue for Swedavia is neutral. 

Lena Wennberg, chief sustainable development officer at Swedavia, says:” Swedavia wants the travel of the future to be sustainable. For many years, we have actively worked towards a transition to more sustainable travel via our airports. By the end of 2020, Swedavia became completely fossil-free in our airport operations. Fossil-free renewable HVO-diesel is now being fuelled at our airports. Within the Swedish government’s initiative Fossil-free Sweden, which we work within, there are also goals for domestic flights to be completely fossil-free by 2030. For international traffic, all planes taking off from Swedavia’s airports must be fossil-free by 2045″.

Veovo’s Revenue Management software will automatically calculate airlines’ environmental impact at the airport, using industry emission data sets and Swedavia’s innovative environmental charging approach. Swedavia shares the calculations with airlines on their invoices.

” The industry’s drive towards increased sustainability and carbon neutrality requires a toolkit of innovative technologies and approaches, including charging that rewards cleaner aircraft,” said James Williamson, CEO of Veovo. “We are pleased that our aeronautical billing engine with complete charge flexibility will support Swedavia in their initiative.”

Swedavia’s climate transition work was recently honoured by the Airports Council International (ACI), awarding the operator the Eco-Innovation Airport of the Year in 2021.


Airports embrace sustainability 

Readers may be interested in the perspective of Jennifer Desharnais, Manager Sustainability at ACI World, who advises the aviation industry not to consider sustainability as a mere “box-ticking exercise.”

In her article, A Sustainability Strategy: Why it Matters – published on ACI Insights, Desharnais states:

“Airports are not new to the practice of operating as sustainably as possible. Several show true leadership, and clearly have a solid sustainability strategy that cascades down and engages all employees. These airports typically create innovative partnerships, collaborate with both in-sector and out-of-sector stakeholders, invest in technologies and training, embrace change, understand the needs of the passengers and communities they serve, and measure their impact on society and the environment. Overall, the airport sector is one that recognises the intricate interdependencies of all three pillars of sustainability, and the associated risks and opportunities.”

But there will be a lot of measures to account for, and technology companies can help make progress toward a carbon-neutral future more transparent. 


The future of flexible airport charges

ACI World has suggested that flexible airport charges might also result in the more efficient use of airport infrastructure. ACI World published a policy brief on this topic at the end of last year—Airport Charges: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom—with the assistance of InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. and the support of Oman Airports Management Company, ACI Africa, ACI Latin America-Caribbean, and ACI North America.

The brief suggests:

  • Policies on airport charges should ensure that they serve the travelling public’s and local communities’ best interests.
  • Strictly cost-based airport charges do not ensure that infrastructure is used more efficiently to benefit the travelling public.
  • The primary focus of charges should be on market needs and signals for the efficient use of infrastructure.
  • The best way forward in the changing competitive landscape is through commercial agreements between airports and airlines.
  • Light-handed oversight formats are preferable in exceptional situations where economic regulation of charges is deemed necessary.


More flexible policy 

The environmental incentive scheme introduced by Swedavia appears to be a better solution to keep Europe’s airports on target than the Fit for 55 proposals put forth by the European Commission.

Fit for 55 refers to achieving a 55% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 relative to 1990 levels and encompasses the goal to meet net-zero targets by 2050. The European Commission has proposed mandating the use of sustainable aviation fuels (in its ReFuelEU Directive), requiring the supply of electricity to stationary aircraft (in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, AFIR), and putting an effective price on CO2 emissions and jet fuel (through the EU Emission Trading System, ETS, implementation of CORSIA, and the European Taxation Directive, ETD).

While well-intended and in some ways aligned with aviation’s environmental commitment, ACI Europe has pointed out that Fit for 55 could have an unintended negative impact on European airports, airlines and passengers alike.

An analysis conducted by Oxera on behalf of ACI Europe finds:

  • The AFIR will require airports to upgrade or change their infrastructure to ensure electricity supply is available at aircraft gates and stands.
  • The other proposals will increase airlines’ costs— e.g. by introducing a kerosene tax. The extent to which airlines mitigate, absorb or pass through these cost increases to passengers and how passengers respond to any fare changes will determine the effect of these proposals on carbon emissions and demand and revenue at airports.
  • The Fit for 55 proposals will reduce demand at European airports.
  • Fares on direct flights could increase by 11% in 2030 and 13% in 2050, leading to a reduction in demand of 5% in 2030 and 6% in 2050.

However, the Oxera report points out that while these policies will dampen demand, the overall trend is for future passenger demand to exceed 2019 levels. These policies will not curb flying. Aircraft will remain a preferred form of transport for many. Instead, they will only lessen the number of flights operating in Europe. 

Climate change is a global issue, and the solutions should also be global. 

Oxera finds Fit for 55 might encourage more airlines to program connecting flights that avoid European airports and switch routes to connect through other airports instead. Even flights originating in Europe destined for long-haul routes may choose to connect through airports elsewhere. After building the infrastructure to attract connecting flights, Europe’s airports need to remain viable. 

What is more, this policy shift would not effectively accomplish its mission.

  • The proposals reduce carbon emissions per passenger by 54% in 2050 on flights within the EU, but only by 20% on flights that connect EU and non-EU airports.

ACI EUROPE proposes the following policies:

  • Further incentivise and provide financial support to increase uptake of SAF (sustainable aviation fuels).
  • Allocation of revenues from taxation and ETS for aviation decarbonisation
  • Exempt small airports from supplying electricity for stationary aircraft
  • Engagement with the EU’s main trading partners and other third countries to accelerate international decarbonisation goals and actions

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said: “The achievement of our climate goals is too important to proceed with anything other than the fullest body of knowledge possible. And the social and economic cohesion that comes with robust air connectivity is too valuable to our continent and communities to put at risk. Oxera’s report shows that the ‘Fit for 55’ package, whilst unquestionably valuable in its aspirations and directions, invites unwelcome and unanticipated consequences through a lack of a comprehensive and cumulative impact assessment. As we all strive to decarbonise our sector, let us go forward with our eyes wide open. The process will be costly and lengthy, and ours is by its very nature a global industry. The measures we propose today will help create a firm foundation for us to move forward whilst protecting Europe and its citizens from distortion and exclusion. We urge the European Institutions to incorporate these in their next steps”.

While the objective is to ensure a sustainable future for humanity, there are more gains to be made from flexibility.


Fresh green tech opportunities

In her article, Desharnais also raises awareness about the complexity of reporting, highlighting opportunities for the tech sector to offer solutions that will help keep aviation on track towards net-zero 2050.

“The spotlight on sustainability is resulting in a multitude of ESG ratings and rankings, sustainability reporting frameworks and guidelines, and target setting guidelines, popping up all over the sustainability landscape. Often dubbed the “ESG alphabet soup”, the topic continues to gain greater attention every day, demonstrating the pressing need for standardisation. For airports and many other businesses, it can easily become confusing. ACI’s ESG Management Best Practice aims to help airports better understand the differences between ESG and sustainability reporting, the steps they can take to start or improve reporting, and the reasons why investors are interested,” she writes.

ACI World’s Sustainability Strategy for Airports Worldwide, published late last year, is free to download and a recommended deep dive into the process. 

The environmental commitments made by the aviation industry—to achieve net-zero targets by 2050—requires technological innovation not only in aircraft and fuel systems but in how we measure and keep track of operations. Governments, investors, and the travelling public will demand transparency along the path to net-zero. Ensuring accurate reporting will be essential.

After all, sustainability is nothing without accountability.

Biometric ID To Speed Up Passenger Process As Changi Airport’s T2 Reopens

Biometric ID To Speed Up Passenger Process As Changi Airport’s T2 Reopens

The Changi Airport Group, which manages Singapore’s Changi Airport, has announced a phased re-opening of the refreshed and updated Terminal 2 beginning May 29. Biometric identity will help expedite passenger processing at this terminal as Changi Airport prepares for increased passenger traffic in the coming months.

Changi’s T2 closed for upgrading work in May 2020, taking advantage of a reduction in passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The upgrades are ongoing, with a planned completion date of 2024. When work is finished, the upgraded terminal is expected to handle five million more passengers than it did before the project began. This increase would put the terminal’s capacity at 28 million passenger movements per year.

The first phase of T2’s progressive re-opening addresses the needs of peak-hour travel for airlines operating in Terminal 3. It adds capacity for critical touchpoints, including arrival immigration, baggage claim belts, and contact gates at the southern wing of the terminal. A few flights will depart from boarding gates at T2, though passengers will still check-in and clear departure immigration at T3 during this phase of the reopening.

Mr Tan Lye Teck, CAG’s Executive Vice President of Airport Management, said of the reopening, “CAG is encouraged to see the strong pickup in travel demand and has worked closely with our partners to bring forward the progressive reopening of T2 ahead of the June travel peak to meet this demand. The start of flight operations at T2 will provide more capacity to support our airline partners, who are also gearing up to serve more passengers in the months ahead. T2 will reopen in phases over the next two years to support Changi’s recovery as a regional air hub.”


Biometric automation at immigration

One of the expanded T2 features will be a larger Arrival Immigration Hall. It will rely on automated immigration lanes and wider special assistance lanes to speed up passenger processing. The automated immigration lanes will be available to Singaporeans and residents who have enrolled their iris and facial biometrics with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). Eligible foreign visitors who have registered their biometrics on arrival in Singapore can also access these lanes.

Singapore’s ICA has embraced biometric ID, introducing the Multi-Modal Biometrics System (MMBS), which captures iris, facial and/or fingerprints of arriving and departing travellers at ICA passenger halls. ICA also has plans to make biometric identification available to foreign travellers who may visit Singapore often and prefer the speed and convenience by allowing them to register for Biometric ID for future trips. The Straits Times reports separately that the ICA intends automated clearance to be the norm for all travellers to Singapore beginning next year, 2023. The automating of these processes also supports pandemic containment, reducing the number of interpersonal contact points throughout the journey.


Passengers welcome biometric touchpoints.

The adoption of biometric automated immigration lanes is consistent with the advance of this form of identification and its popularity with passengers. The Global Passenger Survey (GPS) published by the International Air Transport Association in November of last year reflected greater trust placed on this technology.

  • 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46% in 2019).
  • 51% would be willing to share their biometric data with partners, including hotels and car rental companies, if it helps facilitate their onward journey.
  • 36% have experienced using biometric data when travelling.
  • 86% of those who have used biometric data to travel were satisfied with the experience.

And the immigration process accounts for two of the top three touchpoints where passengers welcome the ease of biometric identity:

  • 51% Entry Immigration
  • 47% Exit Immigration
  • 34% Security check

Airports have been investing in IT to support greater automation of the journey, with biometrics playing an essential role in that. SITA’s IT Trends report reveals:

  • 84% of airports will invest in self-service processes.
  • 83% of airports will implement touchless solutions for passengers and staff.
  • Nearly three-quarters of airports are also investing in biometric ID management solutions for passengers (74%), with 45% of those planning significant programs and 29% conducting R&D programs.

As SITA reports, “Investment in solutions for passenger identity management have increased in 2021, with several areas seeing growing implementation.” SITA says biometric identity will support several passenger processes beyond border control.

  • Self-check-in remains a key aspect of identity management solutions, with over half of airports (59%) in 2021 having implemented this (up from 46% last year).
  • A further 23% plan to implement self-check-in by 2024. Self bag-drop also remains critical, with 46% having invested (up from 35% last year) and a further 32% planning to do so.
  • Airport security (up from 28% to 40%) and enrolment at the airport (up from 20% to 29%) have seen growth in the past year.

For future investment, the focus is on departure and boarding gates.

  • 27% of airports have implemented automated border gates at departure using biometrics and travel documents, but 64% plan to have these implemented by 2024.
  • 24% have implemented self-boarding gates using biometrics only, but 62% plan to by 2024.
  • Over the next three years, 38% of airports plan to implement a secure, single biometric token for all touchpoints, though this is only implemented in 3% of airports today.


Is this the dawning of the age of passport-less travel?

Big hullabaloos made over the colour of passport books may be a thing of the past sooner than we might have imagined. As biometric identity becomes the norm, these paper documents could go the way of the dodo.

While the universal deployment of biometric identification is a welcome concept in the travel space, some issues with the technology will still need to be ironed out before we leap forward. Addressing data security, privacy controls, restricted access to biometric databases, and eliminating false-positive/false-negative results are only a few of these issues. There are ethical concerns, particularly in terms of the broader application of biometric data in commercial spaces. What is the risk of our biometric identifiers being sold or traded between companies and for consumer profiling? It is far greater than zero.

For those who may want to take a quick look at the possibilities and challenges ahead in a biometric world, this Thales Group report is a good resource.

Singapore’s broad adoption of biometric identity, and similar programs advancing elsewhere in the world, could mean at least some of us will get to experience a journey right out of what has been, up to now, merely speculative fiction.

The question becomes what we will make of this brave new world.

The Trouble with TOBT… and how machine learning can improve it

The Trouble with TOBT… and how machine learning can improve it

Airport performance relies on accurate off block times. Operators have all the data to make it so. It’s a matter of knowing how to put it to work.

In a sea of aviation acronyms, none has such a broad or deep impact on airport performance as TOBT: Target Off Block Time.

TOBT is the exact moment when airlines and ground handlers predict an aircraft will go off blocks – when passengers are seated, doors are closed, the boarding bridge has pulled away, and the plane will leave its stand.

All airport partners work in sync, based on the TOBT, to turn around aircraft as efficiently as possible, allowing traffic control to optimise the departure sequence based on the expected readiness of flights. But when things go wrong, cost, punctuality and customer experience can take a severe hit. For busier airports, inaccurate TOBTs can also impact runway capacity and the wider air traffic flow.


TOBT – the king of pre-departure milestones

Of course, a target off block time does not live in isolation. It’s one of several milestones within an Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) framework used by airports and their partners to share a common situational awareness of the pre-departure process. But TOBT is the king of milestones upon which all others are derived.

TOBT illustration

TOBT is initially automatically calculated by the airport based on the flight arrival information. About 30 to 40 minutes before departure, usually, when the turnaround process has started, airlines and ground handlers coordinate and update the time based on the operational situation. The TOBT must be updated at least 10 mins before departure to ensure that it is relevant and useful.

And therein lies the challenge.

This critical milestone relies on busy airline or ground staff to manually estimate departure readiness within two minutes. That’s a lot of pressure to come up with an accurate estimate. It also relies on their experience with estimating – a challenge if they’re new to the job – and whether they genuinely have good visibility of the situation and all its moving parts.

As a result, the accuracy of this milestone can vary widely. Many large airports report it to be less than 60% accurate within 5 minutes, with even fewer TOBTs accurate to within 2 minutes. The result is significant knock-on effects on apron congestion, gate resourcing planning and departure sequencing, and even the wider regional air traffic flow.

But there is a better way.


Machine learning as a cornerstone of predictions

By automating the prediction of off-block times, operators can achieve far more accurate and stable off-block performance than when relying on the estimates of a distracted ground crew.

Three capabilities make AI and, in particular, its subset machine-learning, exceptionally powerful in predicting off block times.

  1. Machine learning can process massive amounts of data.

Machine learning can help by quickly sifting through rich data pools to analyse past off-block time performance and identify patterns. Data used to train the prediction model can include origin, destination, carrier, aircraft type, gate, passenger load, boarding times and airfield condition – vast amounts of data from different sources, all contributing to greater accuracy in off block timings.

  1. Machine learning can provide granular predictions in real-time.

Predicted off block times are not a static milestone. As a machine learning engine ingests data in real-time – such as live flight, weather, boarding, passenger flow or video analytics capture of ground handler activities – it dynamically updates predictions based on the situation.

  1. Machine learning can continuously learn and improve outcomes.

A machine learning model can be continually refined, automatically learning from past events to make better predictions,  or adjusting the weighting of data to ensure the most accurate and relevant data is used when updating the model.


Bringing machine learning to life

We could see huge benefits in making our technology more adaptable, reduce the complexity in configuration, and develop systems that ultimately get better over time. With that in mind, and by defining key AI and ML-powered forecasting capabilities that would leverage what airports and their partners already have – lots of data – allows faster and more accurate forecasts.

The Veovo ‘Airport ML at scale’ approach is built on lessons from multiple airport client engagements. We firmly believe that this is the future of airport technology, where enhanced services like this are easily integrated to deliver real operational benefits quickly.

And there are significant benefits of a ML-powered, higher quality, predicted off block time. It drives better planning, timely operational decisions and enables post operations analysis to drive a continuously improving airport performance. All this from making that one simple time stamp more accurate.

Introducing AI/ML capabilities need not be complex or daunting.  By wrapping the “smarts” into a reusable service block and coupling it with open and flexible integration, these components can be quickly adopted, enhancing current system and operational performance, and then built on over time.


Transforming airport performance

Machine learning brings data and human know-how together to solve one of aviation’s thorniest challenges: on-time departures. With the help of machine learning, TOBT accuracy can be dramatically boosted – from less than 50% accurate to within five minutes using manual methods to up to 90% accuracy.

When airports and their partners have confidence in off block times, they can better use their airside assets, get more capacity out of the same resources and ultimately deliver a better service to passengers.

Machine learning is giving those organisations that embrace it a significant head start in transforming airport performance. Operators and their partners already have the data gold they need. All they need to do now is access to the right prediction engine and integration framework to help them mine it.

Veovo CEO James Williamson is joining the CIO Panel at the 2022 World Aviation Festival’s Airport T.EX stream, which will explore the extent to which data drives the quality of an airport’s curb to gate passenger flow.

What’s up with I.T? Attracting top and diverse talent to the aviation industry

What’s up with I.T? Attracting top and diverse talent to the aviation industry

Whilst we see the light at the end of the runway in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many barriers and challenges to overcome to fulfil the pent-up demand of travel. With many domestic markets showing strong signs of recovery, certain international markets are now dropping testing requirements making for stronger demand as we head into the busy summer season. ACI World forecasts a return to 2019 traffic levels in 2024 which highlights that we need to get to work now in order to handle the growth from today.

Airports are currently undergoing many challenges during the recovery phases of the pandemic. Across many of the world’s airports, queues are starting to become the norm at check-in, security, and immigration processes due to a lack of staff, or new staff undergoing essential onboarding and lengthy training programmes. As airports cut down staff during the first wave of the pandemic in line with depleted traffic levels, many front-line workers who left the sector are not returning at pace due to the uncertainty of the industry moving forward and opportunities in other sectors. These operational challenges are beginning to hamper smooth, efficient passenger journeys.

ACI’s World Airport IT Standing Committee recently discussed the topic of staffing and diversity on their quarterly IT initiatives meeting. Airports are experiencing the ‘great resignation” and are not being able to offer as competitive opportunities as some of the larger technology players in the market. With airports under an era of digital transformation, this is particularly problematic as airports digitize processes and have an overwhelming reliance on different technologies. The challenge is market wide and begs the question of how we bring more IT talent to the buzzing environments that are airports and airport technology providers.

Whilst airports are seen traditionally as infrastructure companies, technology is at the heart of everything we do. Some examples of technology use cases include:

  • Flight planning
  • Air traffic control management
  • Turnaround coordination
  • Security wait time monitoring
  • Concessions and developing non-aeronautical revenues

Therefore, lots of IT roles are encompassed in these technologies from software developers, IT technicians, maintenance engineers, data scientists, project managers and cyber specialists to ensure there is sufficient capacity, user friendliness and security across all airport technology. With it being the 21st century, there are many tech companies attracting talent away from aviation. Airports should be thinking of the future generation and leaders of IT at their airport and within the supply chain. Ideas to attract future talent include:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Internships
  • Software development courses
  • Partnering with local schools and universities
  • Offering recognised qualification courses for new recruits

Whilst attracting IT talent is key moving forward to grow and develop the workforce of the future, diversity, inclusion, and equity need to be at the forefront of every airport. Diversity includes attracting talent from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds as-well as of different genders or sexual orientation. Being diverse doesn’t mean that you are inclusive. Inclusivity should provide equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Similarly, this doesn’t necessarily lead to being equitable. Airports should deal fairly and equally with all employees. The three pillars need to go hand in hand when airports think about their company culture of the future. ACI World and the IT committee are continually focusing on attracting diverse talent as the future CIOs of the aviation industry. Airports should think about their culture and workforce, providing a dynamic, challenging role where opportunities can be discovered to progress. A sense of belonging and engagement is critical in this era versus traditional motivation objectives.

As airports struggle with staffing levels, now is the time to act and make changes to reap results in the years to come. ACI World has launched its first cross committee collaboration, to produce a workforce of the future whitepaper due to be published at the end of the year. This area will become a much-needed focus for the industry to continue its recovery in years to come.

By Billy Shallow

Airports need to be in I.T to win I.T – The latest trends of IT Priorities for Airports

Airports need to be in I.T to win I.T – The latest trends of IT Priorities for Airports

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented challenge to the aviation industry, requiring lower IT spend in line with depleted traffic levels. As the industry continues to recover, with certain States such as the U.K aiming to now live with COVID, and drop testing for fully vaccinated travelers, there appears to be some hope for the sector in 2022. 81% of airports in the latest IT Trends survey by ACI World and SITA show that they are looking to maintain or even grow their IT spend in 2022. The planned spend at airports was 5.1bn USD in 2021, up from an actual spend of 4.1bn USD in 2020. Whilst this is only 50% of actual spend in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the signs are an encouraging trend.

Airport IT Spend in 2021

As expected, whilst the pandemic continues, there is much focus on digital transformation at airports. ACI World released an updated Digital Transformation handbook in 2021, designed to support airports in their planning and rollout of the journey. This is a way airport can look to:

  • Reduce OPEX through staffing costs.
  • Simplify the passenger experience
  • Implement self-service solutions including touchless processes
  • Continue with biometrics rollouts.

All of these initiatives are crucial for recovery by reducing the face-to-face contact with airport staff. This adds to hygienic journeys and the welfare of passengers and staff, but also boosts an airport’s bottom line with lower OPEX. This helps airports with their staff management as it is becoming increasingly difficult for airports to hire front line workers a many have left the sector since the first wave of the pandemic and don’t appear to be rushing back. This is evident by 84% of airports implementing self-service technology in 2022, with 86% of airports using cloud infrastructure to make this a seamless possibility.

Top Investment Priorities for Airports

Biometric ID management has been spoken about for the last decade, but only recently has it really been integrated into multiple airports, except perhaps in the case of border solutions. Nearly three quarters of airports will invest in biometric technology by 2024 improving security and operational efficiency for airports. We will see this not just at border control, but throughout the journey from check-in to self-boarding solutions aiming to reduce costs for both airports and airlines and quickening up the transaction times versus traditional manual processing.

Whilst we may be stating the obvious that airports will invest in touchless processes, one area that has been steadily rising in investment from airports is within cybersecurity. Due to the increasing dependence on technology and digital services, 94% of airport CIO’s will be spending some amount on cyber protection by 2024. ACI also serves its members by offering cyber support with different products available including our cyber self-assessment tool, Airport C-Suite executive level questionnaire and advisory services.

Two other key takeaways this year that are worth noting is in the area of business intelligence as airports look for ways to improve service and spend per passenger, as-well as the ultimate sustainability goal. Airports are looking to differentiate themselves based on environmental factors and it is clear reducing the carbon footprint at airports can be supported by a strategy of green IT.

Sustainable IT Leadership Set By Airports

As the industry continues to battle through different phases of the pandemic, we can see clearly that the light isn’t at the end of the tunnel, it is in our skies. Airports now take IT to be an enabler for rapid, efficient, safe, and seamless journeys. The continued and substantial investment in IT throughout the industry is very encouraging, despite it still being a global pandemic.

Billy Shallow

Airports Commit to Supporting Airbus’ Hydrogen-Power Program

Airports Commit to Supporting Airbus’ Hydrogen-Power Program

Airbus has announced an ambitious strategy to decarbonise the air transport industry, with the ZEROe project—which explores zero-emission technologies for a future aircraft—playing a significant role.

Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission technologies to reduce aviation’s climate impact, and airports play a pivotal role in enabling the transition to a climate-neutral aviation ecosystem.

Airbus Hydrogen Hub at Airports

In 2020, Airbus launched “Hydrogen Hub at Airports”, which aims to jumpstart research into infrastructure requirements for future hydrogen aircraft, as well as low-carbon airport operations, across the entire value chain. Various airport authorities, airlines and energy providers are already signing on to get involved.

“Airports have a key role to play to enable the transition to a climate-neutral air transport ecosystem,” said Lionel Cousseins, Airbus ZEROe Market Development and Airline Relations Manager. “Hydrogen Hub at Airports enables us to collaborate with partners to define needs today, so we can pave the way for hydrogen adoption by 2035.”

There are benefits to Hydrogen Hubs for airports that go beyond powering future sustainable aircraft. For example, ground transport, including buses for passenger transport to and from aircraft, and heavy-dutylogistical vehicles – such as aircraft tugs and cargo trucks –could also be powered by hydrogen in future, contributing to a reduction in airports’ overall emissions. Airports can also improve their environmental impact by using hydrogen for cooling and heating the airport facility.

“The on-site production (and liquefaction) of hydrogen could also be a promising option for airports to meet their individual energy needs. This solution would eliminate the need for transport to and from off-site hydrogen production facilities, which would further reduce emissions. In doing so, airports could also become future energy ecosystems with liquid hydrogen production at their core,” Airbus suggests.

Airbus expects to produce the first hydrogen-powered aircraft around 2035. The European aerospace company has been encouraging airports to prepare facilities for the supply of hydrogen to power the new greener aircraft.

Changi and Incheon

In February, Airbus signed a Cooperation Agreement with Changi Airport Group, global industrial gases and engineering company Linde and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to study building a future hydrogen hub in the city-state.

Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer, Han Kok Juan, Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Yam Kum Weng, Executive Vice President of Changi Airport Group, and John Panikar, Executive Vice President, APAC of Linde, signed the agreement at the Singapore Airshow.

The partners aim to leverage their expertise in support of the aviation industry’s commitment to decarboniseand achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. They will examine how hydrogen can be transported, stored and delivered to aircraft at existing and new airports.

Airbus will provide characteristics on aircraft configuration and fleet energy usage, insight on hydrogen-powered aircraft for ground operations, and data on the estimated hydrogen aircraft ramp-up at airports.

“The Asia-Pacific region will play a key role as we work towards making climate-neutral aviation a reality,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer. “By partnering with Changi Airport and with Incheon Airport, Airbus will leverage the operational and technical expertise of two of the world’s leading hubs. The studies we will carry out together reflect the need for a cross-sectoral approach, including manufacturers, airlines, regulators, airports, energy providers and academia. We need bold and coordinated action to achieve our goals.”

SEA Milano

Also, this February, SEA, the company that manages Milano Linate and Milano Malpensa airports, and Airbus signed an MOU for the study and implementation of projects for the distribution of hydrogen at Milan’s airports.

The agreement will focus on a series of feasibility studies aimed at developing a hydrogen refuelling hub for non-aviation use in the short term and developing infrastructure for hydrogen use in aviation in the future.

“With this agreement, SEA has taken a concrete step forward in enabling important solutions for the decarbonisation of airports and the entire industry,” said Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA. “We are going through an important transition and have chosen to be at the forefront of it, together with our partners. Innovation is in the DNA of aviation and, also thanks to Airbus, is moving towards a transformation that was unimaginable up to just a few years ago. We are proud to be part of it.”

With Milano Malpensa and Milano Linate airports, SEA is among the European airports that will achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030, twenty years earlier than the 2050 deadline set by the European Green Deal.

SEA is part of the European Commission-funded project “OLGA, hOlistic & Green Airports,” committed to decarbonising aviation. This project will significantly contribute to the complex challenge of CO2 reduction while improving energy efficiency, air quality and biodiversity. SEA’s strategic plan for rapid post-pandemic recovery focuses on environmental and sustainability-related transitions.

VINCI Airports

In September of last year, Airbus, Air Liquide and VINCI Airports announced a collaboration to promote hydrogen at airports and build the European airport network to accommodate future hydrogen aircraft.

The partners chose the airport of Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (VINCI Airports’ centre of excellence for innovation) as the pilot airport, with the first installations as early as 2023.

The implementation of this project includes several phases:

  • From 2023: deployment of a hydrogen gas distribution station at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport. This station will supply both the airport’s ground vehicles (buses, trucks, handling equipment, etc.) and those of its partners, as well as the heavy goods vehicles that drive around the airport. This first phase is essential to test the airport’s facilities and dynamics as a “hydrogen hub” in its reach area.
  • Between 2023 and 2030: deployment of liquid hydrogen infrastructures that will allow the provision of hydrogen into the tanks of future aircraft.
  • Beyond 2030: deployment of the hydrogen infrastructure from production to mass distribution of liquid hydrogen at the airport.
  • By 2030, the three partners will study the possibility of equipping VINCI Airports’ European airport network with the hydrogen production, storage and supply facilities needed for use on the ground and onboard aircraft.

“This partnership illustrates the partners’ shared commitment to decarbonising air travel and is a major step forward for the development of hydrogen across the airport ecosystem,” Airbus stated.

VINCI Airports has 45 airports in 12 countries, which will help create a robust supply network as this technology takes off.

When Airports Think Like Tech Companies

When Airports Think Like Tech Companies

During the Aviation Festival London, Sjoerd Blum, Chief Information Officer, Royal Schiphol Group, suggested airports should think of themselves less as infrastructure and more as tech companies, with technological innovation and data management driving their strategies for recovery and growth.

“Like anybody in the sector, we were severely hit by the crisis that we’re in together, but the good thing is that our long-term ambition still stands. We aim to be the world’s most sustainable and highest quality airport,” Blum said. Blum suggested it is essential to make the most of technology and data to succeed. “No matter if you talk airport operations, if you talk commercial, if you talk safety, security, or asset management, or your staff, you make the difference in the future as an airport if you make technology and data work to the maximum.”

To achieve their goals, Schiphol has prioritized IT and data. “You start to look like a tech company, who does tech for their existence,” Blum said. “If you look through your traditional eyes at an airport, you might still see that infrastructure company that we have been over the past 100 years. But if you look a little bit closer, you see a company driven full with tech, driven forward by the power of data…Think like a tech company. We took that as a leading principle when adjusting because of the [COVID] crisis…But we said we would not only want to adapt because of COVID. We also want to improve. We want to build back better.”

So what does “think like a tech company” mean in practical terms? As Blum explained, it means putting technology to the forefront not as a supporting mechanism for the infrastructure but as the driving engine of the business.

“A tech company first has a foundation on which they built all their IT and data products. Those products are built as part of the business, not by an IT team doing that for the business—as an integrated part of your business, ensuring that it leads to value…You make smart use of what the market can do for you.”

As an integrated part of the business in operations, safety, security, commercial, asset management, and human resource management, Schiphol has developed business platforms that gather data as part of their primary activity. Schiphol has also prioritized connectivity solutions that will support large scale, real-time gathering and sharing of data and building a smart facility.

“We are taking important steps to be ready for the connectivity of tomorrow—thinking about 5G in our enabling technology outlook,” Blum said. “Fully embarking now on the power of what the cloud can do for us and the integration that will come. Our data and AI strategy is not only about the foundational parts, getting one platform doing your engineering, but is also very much focused on getting the products into the business platforms…In essence, the management platform is all about getting to an intelligent asset control centre, safety and security, and a seamless flow biometrics journey.”

Other advantages of technology-led total airport management operations at Schiphol include refining their commercial strategies by making better use of passenger data, creating a “workplace of the future” for staff.

Blum also highlighted the importance of cyber defence in a technology-led airport. “We are opening up as a sector, and the bad guys are aware of it as well. So you need a cyber roadmap that goes together with the steps that you’re taking,” Blum said.

The next step for Schiphol’s tech-company strategy is the potential commercialisation of their technology developments.

“Thinking like a tech company also convinced us that we should no longer just be building products that can bring value to Amsterdam. We are looking at building products that can also function somewhere else in everything we do. That can be within our group, as Schiphol airports, but it can also have value [at other] airports. What we have done is we have partnered up with the market, and we are now able to bring the products that bring value to us, also to other airports.”

Schiphol has developed solutions for staff communications, airport disruption management, and sustainability criteria, among others, which Blum suggested could be offered to airports with fewer IT development capabilities in-house.

Digital Consumer Retail Trends Airports and Airlines Should Keep In Mind

Digital Consumer Retail Trends Airports and Airlines Should Keep In Mind

The recently published Travel Retail Consumer report by analysts at m1nd-set, Future trends impacting travel retail, offers several insights which might inform airport and airline retail strategies.

Their report suggests that airlines and airports might want to plan their digital and social strategies around VR, AR and Social.

M1nd-set expects greater digitalisation of the shopping experience “will emerge more prominently over the next year.” That includes making further investments in CRM programmes, developing more retail and service APPs, a continued focus on making omnichannel retail seamless, and boosting the resonance of social commerce with Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and chatbots.

More than eight out of ten shoppers (83%) said digital presence and experience are as important as the in-store experience.

With travel coming to a stand-still over the past two years and non-essential retail accessible only online, consumers relied more on digital channels. They forged new shopping habits, which endure after reopening.

But it’s not just about the retail channel. This trend toward greater retail digitalisation also suggests that digital-only products will rise in popularity and demand.

What does that mean for airports and airlines?

M1nd-set suggests airport retailers “meet and service shoppers online first and attract them into stores when they next travel.” Products such as “e-books, vouchers and tickets to destination-based experiences, inflight and/or onboard services for airlines…photography and artwork or films and music” are expected to grow in the months ahead.

Airports that support online shopping with terminal pickup and airlines that offer IFE content and in-flight meal purchases through their apps will have an advantage. But airlines and airports may consider introducing digital-only items, either unique products or special discounts. These will encourage users to keep the app installed on their devices and engage with it frequently. “Many low-cost airlines have reaped the rewards of this niche for some time already,” M1nd-set points out. “Retailers in airport retail can also benefit, with the right strategy in place to meet the consumer digitally first with time, location and destination relevant communication and advertising.”

Shopping Experience Graph

Source: m1nd-set

“Brands can also meet consumer expectations and enhance the customer experience, with digital-first encounters, such as virtual distillery tours, educational programmes about the sustainable production processes that then entice the shopper to learn more and purchase a sustainably packaged or produced travel retail exclusive in-store when next travelling.”

More than half (53%) of shoppers interviewed say they prefer an omnichannel shopping experience, compared to only 37% in 2021.

M1nd-set also suggests that developing VR and AR experiences that support your retail strategy will help take the stress out of travel for returning passengers post-COVID while offering helpful edutainment content. Highlighting the sustainable origins of some featured local products, or offering bar-code activated videos that better explain the application of certain cosmetics, for example, will entertain and entice. M1nd-set believes there are ROI gains from VR and AR development.

  • More than half of shoppers globally say they value experiences more than products
  • Among Millennials, the tendency is higher still, with seven out of ten shoppers leaning towards experiences.
  • Consumers are considerably more likely to purchase products online where the shopping experience is more interactive and immersive through AR.
  • One well-known e-commerce platform reports that products displayed with AR content demonstrating use have double the conversion rate than products without AR.

M1nd-set also identifies social commerce as “a major trend that will evolve and grow significantly throughout 2022,” with growth driven primarily by Millennials and GenZ consumers.

Social Commerce Graph

Source: m1nd-set

The social commerce market grew by more than 30% in some developed markets in 2021 and is expected to more than double in market size over the next four years.

“Meeting shoppers where they are, whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tiktok, or via live streaming services, is proving to be hugely successful to major brands who invest in social commerce and social media advertising. In China, the most commonly used platforms among consumers are Douyin, QQ, XiaoHongShu, Pinduoduo, and WeChat. Both in China and elsewhere globally, the younger generations will account for the significant majority of spend on social media platforms in 2022,” m1nd-set states.

  • Eight out of ten shoppers discovered a new product while on social media.
  • Around two-thirds of shoppers globally who use social media say they have purchased a product via a social media platform in the past year.
  • Two-thirds of those who bought something through social commerce say they purchased the product following an advert they saw on social media.
  • Facebook and Instagram are the most popular platforms for making purchases through social commerce.
  • Around a quarter of shoppers interviewed said they had used Facebook and two-fifths said they used Instagram.
  • Less than 10% said they had used other platforms such as TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.
  • Of those who did bought something through social commerce, two thirds said they would do so again.

The most common categories purchased on the social commerce platforms include video gaming, toys and leisure activities, jewellery and watches, fashion & accessories and books, including e-books, m1nd-set states.

“As with other aspects of digitalisation, such as livestreaming and personalisation through sophisticated CRM, consumers will be using social commerce more and more frequently to make their purchases. Social media location tracking tools enable brands and retailers to target consumers easily when in or near an airport. The opportunities are endless, but failure to meet the consumer in a place where he or she is increasingly used to shopping will mean brands and retailers risk forfeiting considerable sales opportunities,” m1nd-set concludes.

By Marisa Garcia

Airports Embrace Seamless Service and Disruption Management to Stimulate Recovery and Ensure Growth

Airports Embrace Seamless Service and Disruption Management to Stimulate Recovery and Ensure Growth

During the Aviation Festival, London, the Keynote Airport CEO Panel discussed how airports could adapt their services and experiences to recover quickly from disruption and match the evolving needs of returning passengers. The panel, led by John Strickland of JLS Consulting, featured insights from Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick Airport Limited, John Holland Kaye, CEO, Heathrow Airport, Ltd., Kadri Samsunlu, CEO, IGA Istanbul Airport, and Julie Shainock, Global Managing Director, Travel and Transportation Industry, Microsoft.

Julie Shainock of Microsoft suggested that data exchange between airlines and airports and IT infrastructure, which supports frictionless travel, are winning strategies for recovery and the future. “An open data platform between airlines and airports, when there is a disruption, would be so nice. The airport could do it themselves [and notify passengers that they are] sending a cart or trolley down to the gate with food and water, Coca Cola, whatever you want to offer. I do think some of those things can happen,” she said. “Then the other piece is a frictionless environment, moving us along. You’re doing a lot of that today. But the open data platform—sharing information—is probably one of the key areas that we must look to collaborate between airlines and airports going forward.”

Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, agreed. “I think this matter of sharing information is really important,” he said. “Certainly at Gatwick and I’m sure at Heathrow as well. At Gatwick, we recognize that, and we’ve had a few tests of severe disruptions. Many years ago, we learned our lessons from that. One of the things that we did was to work with airport labs. And we created what’s called the community. We were the first airport to roll this out. But it is very much an open platform. It’s available to anybody who’s got an airport ID. And it means that as you go through the airport as a passenger or a user of the airport, you can ask any member of any company’s staff about information, for example, on your flight. And they can go on to this app. And they can tell you all sorts of information about the logistics of the flight, what the estimated takeoff time is, the estimated landing time of arrival is how many people are going through the airport that day, how many people are going through at that hour. There’s all sort of information… We started going to great lengths to put those out and ensure platforms have information in place, then train people to use it effectively. What we’ve also done is, in times of disruption, say a weather disruption… It’s not just about the information that we have at our fingertips. It’s also how we behave. What we’ve put in place is what we call terminal captains. The minute we start to escalate our control of a situation when things are getting disrupted, we designate one of the senior members of the team [as the terminal captain]. And their specific role within crisis management is to make sure that they look after the welfare and the safety of the passengers. While everybody else is worried about how to clear snow or whether we have enough de-icing media, one person from our senior team has designated throughout the crisis to make sure that, for example, people haven’t been held on an aircraft for six or seven hours. Or in the gate room, without any water, a Coca-Cola, or some food. We’ve got those very practical responses built into the systems and processes that we use when we are dealing with disruption.”

Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland Kaye, suggested the key is to give people control and information to help guide their decision-making at the time of disruption.
“Is it worth me waiting to see if the flight is delayed, will it actually fly, or should I go home? The more you can democratize information…and it’s continually improving. The more we can put that [information] into passengers’ hands, the better,” he said. “We have to take ownership for that, even if we have no actual accountability or responsibility for delivering service. That’s something we learned out of snow crises a decade ago. And it’s quite liberating because it means that you make sure that the processes are put in place to support people. It’s all about having your standard operating procedures, and then you contingency standard operating procedures, you’ve got people who have rehearsed them and implemented them. We occasionally have issues around Border Force, they don’t have enough people, and when the technology fails, we can have long queues…We have a contingency plan that when we think the queue is going to get beyond an hour, we bring out the contingency supplies.”

Kadri Samsunlu, CEO, IGA Istanbul Airport said, seamless travel is a priority for the airport. “To do that, we need to get rid of these disruptions from our processes. What’s important is data sharing and joint decision making with our stakeholders [the police, the customs, or the airlines],” he said. “For us, of course, the biggest customer is Turkish Airlines. We are trying to integrate our systems as much as we can with their system, so [the two systems] will be talking with each other. Currently, [we are working] with the tower manager on the details of a cooperative decision-making system, which means the decisions will be taken jointly, which will increase the efficiency on the operation side. We will be able to provide better comfort to the passengers, as well… Because in the eye of the passengers, they don’t care about the policy, don’t care about the cost, and only know the airport operator. We are trying to do better in Istanbul to push the necessary buttons at the end of the other stakeholders to take care of the problems quickly and efficiently. Also, we are continuously offering them contingencies for the technologies they are using. So if it fails, the system doesn’t stop.”

By Marisa Garcia

Passengers Welcome Biometrics, IATA Finds

Passengers Welcome Biometrics, IATA Finds

According to the latest Global Passenger Survey (GPS) published by the International Air Transport Association, passengers welcome the efficiencies of biometric identification at control checkpoints.

The survey results of 13,579 participants from 186 countries show that passengers want to spend less time queuing and would want to use biometric identification if it expedites travel processes.

“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues. And they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security. “Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post-pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports and governments.”

Biometric Identification

The notion of using biometrics as a form of identification has had a significant lift in acceptance.

  • 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46% in 2019).
  • 88% will share immigration information (including health questionnaires) before departure to expedite processing.
  • 51% would be willing to share their biometric data with partners, including hotels, car rental companies, if it helps to facilitate their onward journey.

Part of that increase may be attributable to the successful technology roll-out thus far.

  • 36% have experienced using biometric data when travelling.
  • 86% of those who have used biometric data to travel were satisfied with the experience.

The top three touchpoints where passengers welcome the ease of biometric identity are:

  • 51% Entry Immigration
  • 47% Exit Immigration
  • 34% Security check

These coincide somewhat with the current low touchpoints in passenger satisfaction during the journey. Border control immigration is the lowest rated satisfaction touchpoint (62%). Security satisfaction rates were slightly higher at 71%, topping transfers (68% satisfied) and baggage collection (69% satisfied).

However, passengers still care about the security of their biometric data.

  • 56% of those surveyed indicated some level of concern about data breaches.
  • 52% of passengers want clarity on who their data is being shared with
  • 51% want to know how their biometric data is used/processed

Less time spent at the airport

Passengers still want to cut short the time they spend at the airport, the survey reveals.

  • 69% said that when they are travelling only with carry-on luggage, they would like to get through the airport process in under 30 minutes
  • 73% said that they would like to get through the process in under 45 minutes when they travel with carry-on and check-in baggage.
  • 85% of passengers want to spend less than 45 mins on processes at the airport if they are travelling with only hand luggage.
  • 90% of passengers want to spend less than one hour on processes at the airport when travelling with a checked bag.

Passengers may still welcome time spent enjoying the airport’s facilities and concessions, but they would rather cut through the stress-inducing parts of the journey and get to the pleasurable ones.

Overall, queues are unpopular, which should surprise no one who has ever stood in a queue.

  • 55% of passengers identified queuing at boarding as a top area for improvement.
  • 41% of passengers identified queuing at security screening as a top priority for improvement.
  • 38% of passengers identified queuing time at border control/immigration as a top area for improvement.
  • 54% want to see queuing cut down at boarding time, and 29% expressed dissatisfaction with queueing in the jet bridge.

With the lifting of travel restrictions around the globe, as airlines ramp up to reopening, this is a particular area of concern. The new travel requirements may exacerbate queuing.

“With additional document checks for COVID-19, processing time at airports is taking longer,” IATA explains. “Pre-COVID-19, the average passengers spent 1.5 hours in travel processes (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim). Current data indicates that airport processing times have ballooned to 3 hours during peak time, with travel volumes at only about 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels. The greatest increases are at check-in and border control (emigration and immigration) where travel health credentials are being checked mainly as paper documents.”

Solutions to congestion

IATA touts two mature programs underway, working with industry stakeholders to give travellers the expedited air travel experience they crave. These can also avoid airport crowding, as passengers return to flying under new COVID-19 related travel protocols, cutting queues and reducing the risk of airport congestion brought about by new document check requirements.

  • IATA Travel Pass app can handle the complex mix of travel health credentials that governments require. It gives passengers a safe and secure way to check the requirements for their journey. They can get test results, scan their vaccine certificates, verify that these meet the destination and transit requirements, and share the information effortlessly with health officials and airlines before departure and when using e-gates.
  • The One ID initiative will help the airline industry advance so passengers can move from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token such as a face, fingerprint or iris scan. It will require government acceptance of digital biometric credentials, a process that is still ongoing.

As IATA’s Careen points out: “We cannot just revert to how things were in 2019 and expect our customers to be satisfied. Pre-pandemic, we were preparing to take self-service to the next level with One ID. The crisis makes its twin promises of efficiency and cost-savings even more urgent. And we absolutely need technologies like IATA Travel Pass to re-enable self-service, or the recovery will be overwhelmed by paper document checks. The GPS results are yet another proof point that change is needed.”


The smarter airport – How can making intelligent decisions transform an airport’s performance and customer experience?

The smarter airport – How can making intelligent decisions transform an airport’s performance and customer experience?

Smarter airports – it’s a description we hear a lot, but it means different things to different people. So what does it mean from a Veovo perspective?

When it comes to improving airport efficiency and the passenger experience, airport operators traditionally focus on one area at a time. For example; measuring wait times at security checkpoints to adjust resourcing and smooth throughput, assigning gates and parking stands to improve on-time departures, minimise towing costs and ultimately reduce fuel burn.

Every improvement helps. But making decisions focused on one area alone does not optimise the entire airport.

Passengers and airlines view airports not as a series of discrete events but as a journey or a “flow”. A good decision that solves one pinch point but doesn’t optimise the entire flow, will only have limited impact on improving passenger experience.  Plans optimised for a “blue-sky” day, often come up short when faced with irregular or unexpected events; but building in “buffers” to make them resilient simply wastes capacity and resources.

Smarter airports look beyond single processes and static plans with buffers. How well they have embraced that approach defines where an airport is on the transition to “Smart”.

Top performing airports view the end-to-end process they need to optimise and look for the most impactful changes which deliver the most improved outcomes across the entire airport; in much the same way that major manufacturers did in the second half of the last century.

But it needs to be more than that. Airports are operating in a very dynamic environment with constantly changing priorities. So smarter airports are not just reactive, they have to be predictive. They anticipate changes before they happen and get ahead of disruption; an unexpected influx of passenger numbers at immigration, apron congestion due to a late departure, or a traffic snarl up causing late arrivals and check-ins.

Another difference is the way smarter airports continuously improve. They don’t make the same decisions because that’s what they’ve always done – they learn from past outcomes with a continuous improvement feedback loop. Smarter airports build their capabilities in much shorter cycles, allowing them to keep adjusting course and maximise “bang for buck” as priorities and challenges evolve.

So, how does an airport become smarter? Ultimately, it comes down to bringing together three things – data, prediction and decisions – to continually improve performance. Let’s break it down:

1.     Data – The fuel of smart decision making

Smarter airports think in terms of flows rather than discrete events – the movement of passengers and aircraft and how they intersect. Understanding these flows requires capturing data and making sense of journeys end to end, and not just a single event.

This means bringing together flight, passenger flow and turn-around data to create a holistic picture:

  • Flight data that includes flight schedules, live status updates from airlines and third-party aggregators and air traffic management data sets;
  • Passenger flow data that includes how and when passengers show up and move through the airport, by flight, day and time.
  • Turn-around data that captures on and off block times, taxi times and all critical events in between.

Aircraft turn-around is where most benefits emerge from joining aircraft, passenger and baggage flow data together – critically influencing turn-around efficiency and the ability of the aircraft to depart on time.

2.     Prediction – Getting ahead of change

Building a rich data pool across flows gives smarter airports better situational awareness to react quickly. But more importantly, it provides critical insight to accurately predict the future.

When airports can predict passenger flow, border control and security can dynamically adjust staffing to meet service level agreements with fewer overheads. Baggage handling and reclaim belt allocations can be done more efficiently to match passenger arrivals. The passenger experience can be improved – for example with FIDS call-to-gate times dynamically changed based on actual flight behaviours to encourage more dwell time in retail while ensuring on time performance.

When airports can predict more accurate “Off Block Times”, due to aircraft turn around, air traffic network effects or the impact of passengers, they can better use their airside assets, get more capacity out of the same resources and ultimately deliver a better service to airlines and passenger.

AI and machine learning can make a big impact in this space by performing high-volume historical data and trend analysis while using live data to predict changes in the minutes, hours and days ahead.

3.     Decisions – Understanding contextual and holistic impacts

Every airport today uses decision support frameworks – whether it be resource management systems for gate, belt and check-in allocations or staff rostering systems. These tend to rely on a single set of rules with decision outcomes measured against static Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

And yet, static rules and KPIs don’t account for the dynamic nature of airport environments. Different passengers, different flights, different weather – one day is never quite the same as the next. Without access to real data and accurate, dependable forecasting, operators must bridge the gap with guesswork.

Our decision tools must be more dynamic, learning from real world per flight data, utilising ever improving predictions to support decisions and planning that account for this variability. This will lead to more robust planning without the artificial buffers, while also enabling far better tactical choices when things don’t go to plan.

This is also what is inspiring the team at Veovo to develop the Total Airport Score. It’s a scoring framework designed for contextual decision making, to help operators understand the real impact on the entire airport, not just one corner.

It lets operators evaluate different plans, run complex scenario simulations and generate role-specific recommendations that reflect wider airport priorities and the current operating context. Armed with this information, operators can see which decisions will have the best outcomes, enabling them to act with confidence and in the best interests of the airport as a whole.

Moreover, when the outcome of that decision on performance is measured, it can then be fed back into future planning decisions – in a continuous cycle of plan, predict and perfect.

Siloed airport operations should be a thing of the past

There is no longer any room for silos in airport operational planning and decision making today. One of the most significant changes to airport planning since COVID-19 is that plans must be ready to flex at any moment and airports must be lean and efficient. Basing decisions on live data flows, advanced forecasting and joined-up thinking is not just overdue, it has become a necessity for survival.

With new smart technology capabilities coming to market, operators that act smart will be in the best position to meet the challenges of recovery, resilience and evolving customer expectations, all at a reduced cost to serve.  More importantly, becoming a smarter airport creates far more seamless and enjoyable experiences from terminal door to take off –no matter what the world might throw at us.

James Williamson, Veovo CEO will participate in the CIO panel discussion “Going from bricks to clicks by embracing and accelerating digital strategies” at the World Aviation Festival 2021 , ExCel London on 1st and 2nd of December. James will be joined on the panel by Maurice Jenkins, IAP, C.M., Director IT, Communications at Miami International Airport, Leanne Lynch, Director for Technology and Cyber Defence at Heathrow and Gilles Leveque, CIO at Groupe ADP.

For more information on the event or to register visit




Juggling many components: Airport Cybersecurity in a COVID-19 World

Juggling many components: Airport Cybersecurity in a COVID-19 World

Aviation has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with travel restrictions and dramatic declines in air traffic. Whilst there are now positive signs of recovery, particularly in domestic markets, the pandemic has changed the way we work, resulting in remote and distributed working and increasing our reliance on technology to record levels. This, combined with the sense of urgency and uncertainty surrounding all matters related to fighting COVID-19 and its effects, has proven to be fertile grounds for cybercriminals and hackers. All businesses, including airports, are at risk from cybersecurity threats, whether they have a straightforward set of systems or the most sophisticated IT digital transformation programmes.

Airports have long relied on technology to create an efficient, effective, and safe environment for travel.  Digital transformation and accelerating technological adoption have altered almost every aspect of how airports are run on a day-to-day basis. These rapidly advancing technologies and the increased reliance on digital solutions dramatically increase the airport’s exposure to cybersecurity risk. An attack on an airport’s systems can cause significant operational disruption, financial loss, reputational damage, legal consequences as well as security breaches or safety incidents. These risks make it more important than ever for airports to not only prioritize cybersecurity, but to build cyber resiliency across their systems and organization. As with many other areas, implementing mitigation measures, having a plan, building up capacities and contingency measures and in the end being prepared for an event will help manage the risk.

The importance of airport cybersecurity

Airports are crucial links in the vaccine distribution supply chain, but they are also experienced in ensuring cybersecurity and protecting their operations from cyber attack. Airports such as Vaclav Havel Airport Prague have opened new high-tech cybersecurity operation centres on-site which runs 24 hours a day to protect the airport from cyberattacks and the misuse of airport information systems.

Airport stakeholders’ priorities, however, have been shifted towards survival mode with cost reduction being pursued in line with the reduced traffic levels while at the same time ensuring the health and safety of their passengers and workforce.

These measures have increased each airport’s reliance on technology and have forced Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to reprioritize their focus and respond on short notice to further technology adoption while simultaneously juggling shrinking budgets and reduced workforce.

Airport cybersecurity COVID-19 survey

ACI World issued a virtual Airport Cybersecurity COVID-19 survey to determine the global overview and to assess the level of impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in the airport community with regard to cybersecurity.

Authorities of more than 40 airports, managing more than 100 airports worldwide – representing Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean and North America – participated in this survey.

The Airport Cybersecurity COVID-19 Report gives an overview of the findings of this survey with regards to cybersecurity maturity, COVID-19 Impact, security risks and measures, cyberattacks and the challenges ahead.

Some of the findings in this report include that 61.5% of the airport respondents confirmed that their airports were targeted by cyberattacks during the survey period and 54.1% airport information technology (IT) leadership respondents believe that the single biggest challenge with regard to cybersecurity during the COVID-19 recovery phase would be budget reduction.

An additional key finding was the impact of remote working, and greater use of collaborative tools that brought new risks to the everyday working environment. Over 80% of respondents had updated their remote working policies in response.

While we can’t be certain about the speed of adoption of Artificial Intelligence or Password-less technologies in cybersecurity, one thing is certain, cyberattacks and the problems associated with it are growing in volume, sophistication and impact and having strong cybersecurity at airports is an absolute necessity.

Cybersecurity is a cross industry challenge with multiparty cooperation required to tackle it. ICAO and international regulators must come together to further support the development of guidance on a global scale, whilst cooperating with other industry stakeholders to support all partners in becoming truly cyber resilient. Multi-organization collaboration to this risk is key to ensure a more robust response through proposing a range of solutions, guidance, and training to airports and airlines.

Even pandemics still offer hope for cyber criminals, however the time is now for the industry to get ahead of the curve, coming out of the pandemic with stronger and more robust mitigation measures in place, whilst ensuring airports are more resilient as “we see the light at the end of the runway.”

Written by Billy Shallow.

Billy Shallow is Director of Innovation and Technology at Airports Council International (ACI) based in Montreal, Canada.

In his role, Billy leads ACI World’s Innovation and Technology teams encompassing the World Airport IT Standing Committee as-well as the Smart security programme focused on improving security, operational efficiency and the passenger experience across the world’s airports.

Before ACI, Billy worked at London City Airport for five years designing and implementing their security transformation programme. Billy then went on to lead consulting projects for 18 months working at King Abdulaziz International Airport Jeddah, Brussels Airport, Birmingham Airport and Belfast City on security and optimization programmes.

A British national, with a passion for operational improvement, Billy is a lean six sigma black belt. He sits on ICAO’s working group on innovation, as-well as a number of industry groups. He holds a University of London Bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Analysis.

New Aims For Luxury In Airport Retail Inspire Green Re-Think on PaxEx

New Aims For Luxury In Airport Retail Inspire Green Re-Think on PaxEx

The latest report from airport retail analysts at m1nd-set is an eye-opener in terms of what it suggests about retail preferences of today’s travellers and because airports and airlines alike can take note of these mega-trends in designing the onboard/terminal product and the passenger experience.


Luxury Returns

First, let’s dig into luxury. The luxury traveller is by far outshining non-luxury travellers in terms of footfall at retailers (54% vs 38%), purchase rate (41% vs 20%) and conversion (76% vs 52%).

Take note that investments in marketing, advertising campaigns, and merchandising at the terminal can pay off. “In the post-COVID period, luxury shoppers are more inclined to visit the duty-free shops following brands and retailers marketing activities than before; they are also significantly more likely than non-luxury shoppers to visit the duty-free shops as a result of branding campaigns seen before arriving at the airport,” the report’s authors state. “Differentiation and packaging, in particular, are more important to luxury shoppers than before.”

  • 25% of luxury shoppers said they place importance on purchasing something different compared to 18% on average in the years from 2017 to 2020 and compared to 21% of non-luxury shoppers.
  • 20% said they were more conscious about the product packaging in 2021 compared to only 11% on average in the years from 2017 to 2020 and compared to 17% of non-luxury shoppers.

80% of luxury shoppers said they would purchase a duty-free exclusive, up 28% on the 4-year average between 2017 and 2020 and 8% higher than among non-luxury shoppers.


Hire Staff with the Right Stuff

Perhaps unsurprisingly, luxury buyers are also influenced by the quality of the sales staff, m1nd-set finds.

  • 8 out of 10 say they were positively influenced by the sales staff, more than 30% higher than in 2020.
  • 14% of luxury shoppers said they bought an item that they would not have otherwise purchased thanks to the sales staff advice, compared to 8% in the four years between 2017 and 2020.
  • Before 2021, 18% of luxury shoppers said they were influenced to purchase something different than initially planned; in 2021, 30% of luxury shoppers said the staff advice had influenced them to purchase a different product.

Your online presence matters, and so does print

“Post-pandemic luxury shoppers are extremely likely to be influenced at some point by online branding, including the brands’ website, social media, ad campaigns, key opinion leaders’ posts, livestreams or other moments online while booking the trip or during the trip,” m1nd-set states. “More than nine out of ten luxury shoppers state this to be the case compared to 73% of non-luxury shoppers. They were more likely to see brand communications on duty-free offers at the airport itself. But, the influence of touchpoints at the airport has declined over the recent years, whereas the influence of touchpoints seen in the home country prior to travel has increased in influence, up from an average of 20% between 2017 and 2020 to 37% in 2021. Articles and advertising campaigns in the printed press such as magazines have also grown in impact to become a primary source of information amongst luxury shoppers in travel retail.”


Okay, then HOW?

Knowing the value of luxury travellers, airlines and airports should look more closely at their values, perceptions and needs to deliver consistently on that promise. Sustainability, eco-friendliness, and wellness should be highlighted and evident throughout the journey. It can extend beyond the duty-free and retail strategy to FAB offerings, recreational spaces, and the terminal or onboard product, as well as the passenger experience.

According to m1nd-set, the critical thing to keep in m1nd is that luxury travellers today have also been significantly impacted by the COVID pandemic. They look at the world differently. What they value most has shifted. They are now substantially more Eco-conscious and achieving a sustainable luxury lifestyle matters to them.

“They have abandoned their quest for extravagance, exuberance and exorbitance that once ruled the luxury landscape pre-pandemic. They’ve exchanged these worldly, superficial desires for greater accountability and responsibility, but still demand durability and exclusivity and do not wish to compromise on the aesthetics or quality of their luxury purchases,” m1nd-set finds. “The most forward-thinking luxury brands in retail and in travel retail will seize this opportunity to educate consumers about the unique history and sustainable attributes of their products or services. They will also focus more on pushing the pre-loved, secondhand luxury product range which is increasingly appealing to the new generation of consumers seeking both more sustainable luxury consumption as well as the unique story behind the acquisition.”


Be Aware and Be Consistent

Airlines and airports need to be consistent in their messaging and performance to ensure that all touchpoints reflect shared values.

  • Airlines and airports alike will gain from highlighting their sustainability initiatives.
  • Be sure to highlight the eco-friendly aspect of your product (like any vegan leathers used in aircraft seat dress covers and antimacassars, and airport terminal seating, for example).
  • Focus on creating memorable places, eliminating friction points from the journey
  • Don’t lose sight of the health and wellness trend.

“Luxury consumers seek more emotional and spiritual experiences, leading to a marked growth in the luxury health and wellness travel sector. Travel and tourism operators are seeing a significant growth in demand for services such as yoga, meditation, fitness programmes and spas.”

Time to heat up those spas again, Helsinki. Get the butterfly garden buzzing, Singapore. You get the idea. Lots of airports around the world have added unique features that focus on health and wellness. Now is an ideal time to remind people that they are there.

Airlines can likewise up-sell their premium cabins, not just focusing on the luxury features, but by highlighting any eco-friendly or well-being aspects of the onboard product.

Both airlines and airports should invest in de-stressing the journey. Cut out those friction points through automation, digitalization and app-enabled travel guides.

Airlines might consider retailing their up-cycled travel products. Bags made from old dress covers and former crew uniforms will appeal to the significant conscious consumer segment.

  • The growth in conscious consumption in the luxury fashion sector globally has grown nearly 3 ½ times faster than standard non-luxury products.


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

The massive advantage for airlines and airports that focus on consistently meeting these consumer values is that they have a lasting generational impact.

  • Secondhand luxury growth is mainly driven by Millennials and Gen Z consumers who are increasingly focused on sustainability, affordability and uniqueness.
  • Gen Z consumers, who are significantly more concerned than other age groups with individuality and self-expression, particularly those from China, are increasingly interested in purchasing one-of-a-kind items to share the story behind the product. The product itself becomes an experience that they can share through the story-telling with their entourage.

As m1nd-set suggests, “The acceleration towards sustainable business practices among luxury brands in the wake of the pandemic, which has accentuated the consumer trend, will ensure the consumer segment remains relevant for future generations.”



Three Things to Celebrate as Air Travel Recovers

Three Things to Celebrate as Air Travel Recovers

We may not have seen a recovery for aviation – yet – but we see some signs of better days ahead.


The Biden Administration Clears Vaccinated European Travelers to enter the US.

The Biden Administration will allow vaccinated European travellers to enter the US with a negative COVID-19 test result before travel starting in early November.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Transatlantic air travel, particularly for European and US carriers. It has historically been a profitable travel corridor, including a healthy share of business travellers.

OAG values the Transatlantic marker at $1.4 Billion. Here’s a neat chart from OAG to show the value of this market by share of airline revenue:

“[This] announcement is a major step forward. Allowing access to the US for those vaccinated will open travel to the US for many who have been locked out for the past 18 months. This is excellent news for families and loved ones who have suffered through the heartache and loneliness of separation. It’s good for the millions of livelihoods in the US that depend on global tourism. And it will boost the economic recovery by enabling some key business travel markets,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“[It] marks a key shift in managing the risks of COVID-19 from blanket considerations at the national level to assessment of individual risk. The next challenge is finding a system to manage the risks for travellers who do not have access to vaccinations. Data points to testing as a solution. But it is also critical that governments accelerate the global rollout of vaccines and agree on a global framework for travel where testing resources are focused on unvaccinated travellers. We must get back to a situation where the freedom to travel is available to all.”

The news could not be more welcome. On the same day of the Biden announcement [20 Sep], OAG reported a continuing reduction in capacity with just under a quarter of a million seats fewer planned for the week, falling below 78.8 million. Capacity remains at 70% of 2019, with load factors up to 15% below normal.

We still have a way to go, but at least now there are more places to visit.


Helsinki Airport’s new travel centre—which embraces intermodal travel—will open 1 Dec

The new travel centre of the airport’s extended Terminal 2 will be a hub for local and long-distance buses, a train station for commuter trains, a taxi station and a parking hall, including a bicycle parking area. It’s all part of Helsinki’s airport development programme, which continued during these difficult times.

“The train station and parking hall can be accessed directly from the airport’s departures and arrivals halls, and the taxi station and bus terminal are only a few steps away. The areas for different modes of transport are clearly separated, which makes it easier to find what you’re looking for. The new arrangements also improve safety, as pedestrians will not need to cross even a single lane meant for motor vehicles to get to the various areas,” says Project Manager Tuomo Lindstedt from Finavia.

“You can comfortably wait for your bus indoors, as there is only a short distance to the bus stops and a direct line of sight to them through, for example, the café’s window. Thanks to the new connecting corridor, the distance between the Ring Rail Line train station and Terminal 2 is now hundreds of metres shorter, which means that passengers can get to the station from the arrivals hall in just a few minutes. More space has been reserved for drop-off and pickup traffic right in front of the terminal’s main entrance, and the waiting area for taxis is separate from drop-off traffic. Short-term parking for drop-off and pickup traffic and the new parking hall is also located in the immediate vicinity of the terminal.

“A handy connection to a commuter train station also makes Helsinki Airport’s services more accessible to local residents. After the completion of the renovation, the airport will be a local concentration of services with its restaurants, cafés, grocery stores and pharmacies. Many people working at the airport and in the surrounding area use the same public transport links as the airport’s customers.”

Finavia has received a total of EUR 2.25 million of EU funding for the travel centre’s planning phase and EUR 7.38 million for the realisation.


When life gives you lemons, make gin? Munich thinks so

This was one of those news items that reminds us of the creativity required to get through difficult times. Waste not want not, and that applies especially to food. Beer is food, right?

As the Coronavirus curbed visitors, Munich Airport’s Airbräu brewery faced having to pour out 4,000 litres of leftover Airbräu beer. Instead, the brewmaster René Jacobsen developed a gin-style beer spirit under the brand name “Mountain Hub Distillers,” in cooperation with the Hilton Munich Airport Hotel. Distilling Airbräu beer with select botanicals resulted in the rich and aromatic “infused beer spirit”, which combines the taste of strong beer and high-percentage juniper aromas.

The limited-edition beer gin was distilled at the Huber fruit distillery in Langenpreising. Those 4,000 litres of beer yielded almost 300 litres of beer gin. The “infused beer spirit” is now available at Munich Airport’s Airbräu, the Mountain Hub restaurants and the Hilton Bar.

As a bonus, Airbräu beer is produced CO2-neutrally using 100% solar energy. Sustainable and resourceful—cheers to that!

Airport technology priorities in a time of pandemic

Airport technology priorities in a time of pandemic

Although the airport industry has already made significant progress in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the next few months will be crucial in the ongoing battle against this unprecedented crisis.

Continued travel restrictions, partial lockdowns, and ongoing quarantine measures across the world continue to hinder international travel, but vaccine rollouts are picking up pace and allowing a more promising outlook for recovery and a wider operational restart. Airports continue to focus on the health and welfare of their passengers and staff, cost reductions in line with decreased traffic levels, and planning. These strategies are designed to make airports as safe as possible in order to regain passenger confidence as well as remain agile in uncertain times.


Airport technology priorities in a time of pandemic

Airports have grasped the opportunity to reconsider their normal business and operational processes and are looking at different solutions, including the deployment of innovative technologies and adjustments to space and infrastructure, to support the global effort in overcoming COVID-19.

At the same time, airports need to look for solutions that enable them to become more efficient, reduce costs, deal with an evolving workforce including the loss of experienced staff, and find new revenues all while ensuring cybersecurity, safety and aviation security levels are sustained.

As a part of the recovery efforts, airports are examining how information technology, automation and digital transformation can play an important role in ensuring that efficiency, safety, and customer experience are all addressed. Results from the 2020 Airport IT Trends Survey confirmed a commitment to investments in these areas as well as new technologies to enhance operations and business results.


Airport CIO’s have been discussing where they are focusing their efforts and budgets to come out of the pandemic stronger and more agile. The key priorities noted include:

  1. Connecting passengers everywhere with accurate and timely travel health information: This is critical in order to keep passengers up to date with the latest restrictions at destinations, requirements to enter such as negative tests or proof of vaccination. These requirements are ever changing, and this information needs to be easily identifiable to passengers in order to provide reassurance to passengers that travel is safe and as seamless as possible.
  2. Cyber Security: Cyber-attacks are on the rise in 2020 despite being in a pandemic with significantly reduced traffic levels. Cyber continues to be a threat to airport disruption and airports will need to consider adequate protection and resources are in place to combat evolving cyber threats.
  3. Business performance optimization by developing data hubs as a vital airport asset: Airport operational processes are often interconnected and very complex with limited integrationThe need to create an airport ecosystem wide data strategy is paramount to breakdown silos and increase collaboration across multiple stakeholders. Using Artificial Intelligence, digital twins and predictive analytics allows for holistic views of airport operations.
  4. Accelerate investment in seamless and touchless travel: COVID-19 has sped up airports across the world and their vision of seamless passenger flow. Biometric technology, crowd monitoring, AI for bag tracking and voice control as-well as other innovations are all being rolled out globally to ensure a contactless journey.

Percentage of airports with planned touchless self-service initiatives by area, by 2023

2020 Airport IT Trends Survey sponsored by ACI World and SITA


  1. Increase intelligent automation to optimize productivity, cost, and efficiency: Implementing automation within business processes can reduce cost and personnel deployment savings by reducing expensive manual processing times. Innovative solutions to use automation within terminal operations can include UV-C solutions and trat return systems within security.

  1. Develop and implement digital strategies to increase non-aeronautical revenue: Airports should evaluate a digital business plan reminiscent of the new era focusing on digital transformation of touchless payment, virtual shopping / ordering services to increase revenue and ensure contactless travel.

  2. Upgrade enabling technology and capabilities to service the growing needs of the business:Airports need to revisit, plan and upgrade their enabling technology outlook. This should start by first building a strong data foundation, implementing common use solutions and have the mindset of a technology company.


  1. Consolidate technology to improve cost and agility of transformation: Airports should undertake a work programme that evaluates potential solutions for consolidation. This should include a business case development, a cost-benefit analysis that evaluates capital expenditure versus any short-, medium- or long-term operational expenditure savings (OPEX).


  1. Leverage agile methods to deliver quick win solutions: Airports should consider a move towards an agile way of development and get involved with industry‑level initiatives to address the crisis.


  1. Leverage data analytics to gain a more comprehensive understanding of airport operations: Airports should develop work programmes that will increase knowledge, skills, and resources available to support robust integrated data programmes and overall operational management.


Continued industry transformation

Technology will remain critical to recovery and future development of the aviation industry and, as a whole, the industry is going through a complete transformation as it emerges from the pandemic.

Part of this transformation is the rapid move to digitisation through the implementation and growth of technologies that will help to provide a more efficient, cost effective and resilient aviation system.

The technologies and solutions discussed have been in part accelerated by the pandemic but are also part of the long-term transformation underway within the industry.


Written by Billy Shallow.

Billy Shallow is Director of Innovation and Technology at Airports Council International (ACI) based in Montreal, Canada.

In his role, Billy leads ACI World’s Innovation and Technology teams encompassing the World Airport IT Standing Committee as-well as the Smart security programme focused on improving security, operational efficiency and the passenger experience across the world’s airports.

Before ACI, Billy worked at London City Airport for five years designing and implementing their security transformation programme. Billy then went on to lead consulting projects for 18 months working at King Abdulaziz International Airport Jeddah, Brussels Airport, Birmingham Airport and Belfast City on security and optimization programmes.

A British national, with a passion for operational improvement, Billy is a lean six sigma black belt. He sits on ICAO’s working group on innovation, as-well as a number of industry groups. He holds a University of London Bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Analysis.

Retail Forward: What could be better than the worst?

Retail Forward: What could be better than the worst?

Let’s get the ugly out of the way. IATA surprised no one by confirming that 2020 was the worst year on record for airlines.

  • 8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2% compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019
  • Industry-wide air travel demand (measured in revenue passenger-kilometers, or RPKs) dropped by 65.9% year-on-year
  • International passenger demand (RPKs) decreased by 75.6% compared to the year prior
  • Domestic air passenger demand (RPKs) dropped by 48.8% compared to 2019
  • Air connectivity declined by more than half in 2020 with the number of routes connecting airports falling dramatically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60% year-on-year in April 2020
  • Total industry passenger revenues fell by 69% to $189 billion in 2020, and net losses were $126.4 billion in total
  • The decline in air passengers transported in 2020 was the largest recorded since global RPKs started being tracked around 1950

As Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General put it: “2020 was a year that we’d all like to forget. But analyzing the performance statistics for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance. At the depth of the crisis in April 2020, 66% of the world’s commercial air transport fleet was grounded as governments closed borders or imposed strict quarantines. A million jobs disappeared. And industry losses for the year totaled $126 billion. Many governments recognized aviation’s critical contributions and provided financial lifelines and other forms of support. But it was the rapid actions by airlines and the commitment of our people that saw the airline industry through the most difficult year in its history.”

More than halfway through, 2021 is not a huge improvement. The spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 gives many pause. OAG finds that airlines are in a holding pattern.

“With some 81.2 million seats this week [2 Aug] we are half of one percent down on last week or 391,000 fewer seats, as we have said before, until some major international markets re-open then this is as good as it gets. The airlines frustrations are reflected by a further 24 million seats being removed for sale to the end of October and there remains many flights for sale that are very unlikely to operate soon. Many airlines and airports are now expecting 2021 numbers to be lower than 2020, a scenario that most people would have dismissed as impossible at the beginning of the year; well, the impossible can happen,” OAG’s John Grant writes.

But that’s only the bad news.

The reality is that this too shall pass, as inevitably as the passing of any storm no matter the size of it. What remains to do is rebuilding. That includes fresh opportunities for creative retailing which could make airlines and airports more resilient for the next unexpected storm. 


What Eludes Us

A new entry into the travel retail space has piqued interest with a simple solution to travel bookings. Elude is like Tinder for Travel with a budget-first search engine that that gives users immediate access to global flights, leaving from the nearest airport, and accommodations within their selected price range. You decide how much you can afford to spend and the travel booking app will find suitable matches and deliver a full travel package.

Their approach to launch on Instagram was as visually striking as it was interesting, with posts encouraging would-be travelers to spend less time searching and more time exploring.

“Shopping for travel is broken, and we are modernizing an archaic system by supercharging the way people plan their vacations,” said Alex Simon, Chief Executive Officer. “People deserve to feel emboldened to explore, and we want our users to have access to the transformative power of travel more often.”

Elude is the brain-child of avid travelers, Simon and Frankie Scerbo, and was designed to address their personal pain points in travel bookings. The co-founders raised 2.1 million in funding through Mucker Capital, Unicorn Ventures, Upfront Scout Fund, StartupO, Grayson Capital and Flight VC. Elude has also attracted industry veteran advisors, including global entrepreneur from Jeff Hoffman, former Airmap CEO Ben Marcus and prominent social media industry leaders such as former Instagram Chief Marketing Officer, Cliff Hopkins, and Snapchat’s Head of International Partnerships, Juan David Borrero.

“As an active investor and advisor in the travel industry, I have seen numerous ideas and attempts to reframe the travel booking process, and none of them grabbed my attention the way Elude did,” Hoffman added. “Elude reflects the way many travelers prefer to travel, and yet no one has been able to capture that until now. Frankie and Alex are constantly exploring the pain points travelers face as they create and reimagine the future of the industry. From the beginning, they presented a practical and methodical approach for building a product that will make travelers’ lives easier.”

Their primary targets are millennials, who spend over $200B annually on travel, and younger generations (though the young at heart may also enjoy this simplified booking process). Simon and Scerbo see their core users as individuals who “want multiple trips throughout the year instead of spending large amounts of their disposable income on just one trip each year.”

“Our users are craving to explore the world differently. Instead of planning trips to landmark locations, our users are searching for quiet treasures that offer refuge from the hustle of city life,” said Scerbo. “We’re thrilled to lead the industry into its next chapter, rebuilding an ecosystem of adventurers that was disjointed during the pandemic.”


Evolve store

Evolve and Partner Up

Airport retailer Hudson, a Dufry company, has launched a new store-in-store concept Evolve, which boils down to branded, dedicated retail space within their shops. Each Evolve store will be designed with a wide-open storefront, a footprint of at least 2,000-square-feet, and eye-catching digital signage on the store exterior, ensuring the brand offerings are prominently displayed. Beyond traditional checkout, each Evolve store will offer multiple state-of-the-art self-checkout kiosks as well as Hudson’s newly-developed mobile point of sale (POS) capabilities, which will allow Hudson team members to complete transactions from anywhere on the sales floor and spend more time assisting travelers at the brand ambassadors for the shop-in-shop concept.

“The strategy we’ve executed over the years has positioned the Hudson brand as an iconic and trusted anchor of the airport experience for travelers and landlords alike. Now, as we’re witnessing the dynamic transformation of the retail space, we’re taking the opportunity to further leverage what makes it successful: convenience and brand recognition,” said Brian Quinn, EVP and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hudson. “Our new Evolve store will transform larger retail footprints, with the existing Hudson convenience model in mind, to curate a multi-brand concept that will allow Hudson to continuously innovate for the modern travel retail environment now and into the future.”

The first Evolve store is set to land at Nashville International Airport (BNA) later this summer, followed by seven additional locations including Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS).


In-Flight Retail is Dead, Long Live In-Flight Retail

While the traditional Duty-free cart down the aisle approach to in-flight retail a relic of the past, Valour Consultancy argues it’s would be foolish to herald the end of in-flight retail. In fact, they foresee IFEC-Driven Duty Free and Other Travel Retail to Reach $8.4 billion by 2030.

Here’s their best argument: August 2020 saw an investor pay Korean Air $834 million for its in-flight retail and catering business.

“Korean Air has announced that it is working to improve sales efficiency by actively operating a pre-ordering system for its duty-free goods. Such products would be delivered on-board the aircraft, obviating the need to stock hundreds of reference items passengers may, or may not, ultimately purchase. Other airlines that have implemented similar pre-ordering capability to great success include AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Finnair.”

The shop-to-surf business model, involving partnerships with retailers and IFC suppliers, is also compelling.

“Viasat, for one, is banking on its abundance of satellite capacity to provide a pathway for a passenger to ‘earn’ a Wi-Fi session,” Valour’s Craig Foster writes. “In this scenario, the passenger would log onto the IFC portal and see a range of brands to interact with in order to be rewarded with the ability to surf freely. He or she could choose to watch an advertisement for a product from, say, L’Oreal, and then be landed on the website of a partner like Dufry (a Swiss-based travel retailer) to complete the purchase. When they do so, a Wi-Fi session is activated. In this way, connectivity is an enabler to connect a brand with a consumer.”

Here’s what’s interesting about that approach: it’s a familiar ask to many. Game apps, for example, will offer in-game perks for those who are willing to watch a short commercial.

Things were bad in 2020, and 2021 so far isn’t looking much better, but creative retailing can help fill the gaps. There’s no better time than the present to start exploring the possibilities and implementing creative strategies.


Tokyo Airports Turn to Biometrics As Olympics Begin

Tokyo Airports Turn to Biometrics As Olympics Begin

Passengers Want To Cut “The Hassle” Out of Flying Under COVID-19 Rules

As the Olympic games begin, Tokyo Haneda and Narita airports have launched biometric facial recognition processing at check-in, baggage drop, security clearance, and boarding gates for international passengers traveling on select All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines Flights.

Haneda Airport selected the ARINC SelfPass system from Collins Aerospace. They installed 98 self-service check-in kiosks, 30 biometric enrolment kiosks, 104 biometric devices for self-bag drop, 17 biometric automated security gates, and 42 biometric automated self-boarding gates.

Tokyo International Air Terminal Corporation facility department senior manager Shoichi Ohashi said: “Our ‘Face Express’ system will allow passengers to efficiently proceed through procedures at the airport (baggage drop, security checkpoint entrance, boarding gate) utilizing facial recognition, eliminating the hassle of showing their passport and boarding pass.”

Collins Airport Systems vice-president Rakan Khaled added: “Our ARINC SelfPass biometrics solution at Tokyo Haneda Airport streamlines passenger processing while improving airport efficiency and security. Despite the challenging pandemic environment, we were able to manage staffing and suppliers to ensure smooth delivery of the solution.”

Narita Airport worked with Amadeus company ICM Airport Technics and NEC to deploy its new end-to-end ‘Face Express’ service.



“This has been an extremely rewarding project that sees NEC’s facial recognition software deployed on Amadeus’ market-leading hardware for the first time,” said Richard Dinkelmann, CEO, ICM Airport Technics, an Amadeus Company.  “We’ve worked very closely together in order to create a contactless boarding process and to deliver on the requirements of both Narita International Airport Corporation and the Japanese government,”

Takumi Otani, Project Manager 2nd City Infrastructure Solution Division, NEC Corporation, added, “This project shows that biometric technology is far more reliable, efficient and convenient than paper travel documents.”

Masato Kitagawa, Manager Mechanical Systems Engineering Department, Narita International Airport Corporation said of the new biometric passenger ID: “Our passengers will benefit from a low-touch, automated experience that increases safety and convenience. Biometric technology is an incredibly powerful tool and key in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

Passengers Frustrated by COVID-19 “Hassle Factor”


A recent survey conducted in June by Rockland Dutton on behalf of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) finds most air travelers are confident about cabin cleanliness and support mask-wearing in the near term. However, many are frustrated with the “hassle factor” around COVID-19 protocols, confused by travel rules, testing requirements, and test costs. According to the survey of 4,700 travelers in 11 markets around the world:

  • 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
  • 65% agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room

Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86% felt safe onboard as a result of COVID-19 measures:

  • 89% believe protective measures are well implemented
  • 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures
  • 83% support mask-wearing onboard, and 86% support strict enforcement of mask rules, though the majority believe that mask-wearing requirements should end as soon as possible.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said they plan to travel within a few months of pandemic containment and border opening, and 85% expect to travel within six months of reopening. The increase in traffic will require more efficient controls, and many would-be travelers are frustrated by the lack of consistency in travel rules and requirements.

  • 70% of those surveyed thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
  • 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle
  • 89% agreed governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications
  • 87% support a secure digital system to manage their health credentials, but 75% say they would only use an app if they have complete control of their vaccine/test data.

“To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh. “IATA Travel Pass enables travelers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines, but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return.”

Airport Retailers Reopen With Fresh, Digital, and Sustainable Strategies to Boost Sales

Airport Retailers Reopen With Fresh, Digital, and Sustainable Strategies to Boost Sales

As air travelers return, airport concessionaires reopen with creative new strategies to encourage passengers to linger and spend, even before heading out to the airport.

At Munich Airport, where traffic has recovered to 400 take-offs and landings and over 30,000 passengers every day, more than 20 restaurants and bars, around 45 shops, and six car rental offices have reopened across the two terminals, the Munich Airport Center (MAC) and the Visitors Park.

New arrivals in retail include “Hard Rock Cafe Munich Airport Rock Shop” on MAC Level 03, in the passageway to Terminal 1, which offers collectibles and memorabilia from the Hard Rock Cafe. There’s also a new food and beverage provider dean&david — a Munich-based company offering healthy food options made with high-quality ingredients and focused on sustainable consumption. They offer salads, Bowls, smoothies, and other healthy choices after security control in Terminal 2, Level 04.

The “MyDutyFree” retail space in Terminal 2, Level 04, was enhanced with a hospitality area, with a bar and stools, where passengers can relax. At the same time, they learn more about the products offered and get advice from retail staff. For added fun, a new digital wheel of fortune gives passengers departing from Terminal 2 a chance to win prizes, including shopping vouchers or gifts.

Earlier this year, Munich Airport-owned retailer Eurotrade made it easier for shoppers to pay for their purchases by introducing a contactless PayPal QR Code feature to point-of-sale machines.

As International Airport Review reports, SEA Milan Airports and JFKIAT (which operates Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in New York) have introduced online portals for their on-site luxury retailers. These digital storefronts give passengers more time to browse from home or from the airport lounge to collect purchases on the day of departure.

“The Milano Malpensa Boutique Marketplace is a project started before the pandemic, strengthened by the crisis that accelerated its development,” said Luigi Battuello, Director of Non-Aviation Business Development at SEA. “Innovation, including in retail, is an essential part of SEA’s strategy to improve the overall passenger experience.”

Customers in T4, shopping from the JFKIAT virtual marketplace, can have products delivered directly to their gates.

“In the wake of the pandemic, it is critical for our customers and employees to feel as safe as possible, and ensuring contactless experiences is an important component to rebuilding confidence in air travel,” said Roel Huinink, President and CEO of JFKIAT. “As we begin to see more passenger traffic return, we are pleased to offer a new way for our customers to enjoy a premium shopping experience at T4. We look forward to more of our retail partners joining this new platform, as well.”

Capitalizing on Sustainable Retail

Airport retail analysts m1ndfull published a report earlier this year showing consumers have a greater interest in sustainable purchases following the pandemic.

“Our research shows that global consumers, in general, have become significantly more socially and environmentally conscious since the outbreak of the pandemic, with around two-thirds claiming to be making more environmentally friendly or ethical purchases over the past 12 to 14 months. It’s estimated that around 90% of these consumers also claim they will continue to place greater importance on sustainability,” m1nd-set wrote in their 1nsights newsletter.

“In research undertaken during the first quarter of 2021 among over 2000 international travelers from all over the world, we see that 35% of international travelers purchase more sustainable or environmentally friendly products compared to pre-Covid-19. This tendency is even higher among travelers who are willing to fly again immediately after bans and quarantines are lifted (45%), as well as among Chinese travelers (41%), business travelers (40%), and older Millennials (39%).

“We also see a marked increase in the importance given to sustainability compared to pre-Covid when shopping. 55% of travelers say they are giving more consideration to naturally sourced and health-conscious products than before the pandemic. This is particularly higher for haircare (62%) and fine food products (61%). The shopper segments for which this perception is higher than the average include travelers from Latin America (59%), older Millennials, frequent travelers and business travelers (all 58%).”

Offering sustainable products can have a significant positive impact on brand perception and could boost the profile of other airport sustainability initiatives. As m1nd-set found:

  • 86% of travel retail and duty-free shoppers say that a greater focus on sustainability by manufacturers positively impacts their perception of the brand. This is even higher among Millennials (93%), travelers from Latin America (92%), Female travelers (90%), and North Americans (88%).
  • 73% of shoppers say that a greater focus on sustainability by manufacturers increases the likelihood of purchasing a brand, in particular Female travelers (82%), Millennials (79%), and Europeans (76%).
  • When asked if they will actively look for more sustainable / environmentally friendly products when shopping at the airport on their next trip, 54% of shoppers said they would. Among Millennials, females, and North Americans, this was even more affirmative.
  • The categories for which sustainable products will be the most sought are skincare (68%), haircare (66%), and make-up (61%).
  • The main reasons those who said they would not seek out more sustainable products were the lack of knowledge on how to differentiate between sustainable and other products (26%), lack of time (23%), and trust issues with sustainable labels (19%).
  • 66% of consumers say they would pay more for sustainable products, particularly females (70%). 45% of shoppers say they would pay up to 20% more, 18%, up to 30% more, and 8% of shoppers would pay up to 40% more if the product is environmentally friendly.


Airports retailers can increase sustainability by offering alternatives to traditional duty-free plastic shopping bags, including multi-use cotton or hemp bags, which could be printed with a brand logo or airport code and sold on-site to serve as out-of-home advertising. Alternatively, they could offer biodegradable or soluble plastic bags. According to m1nd-set, consumers are willing to pay for sustainable shopping bag alternatives.

  • 75% of international travelers say they would be willing to pay for a reusable non-plastic bag, compared to 39% who say they would prefer to continue using traditional duty-free shopping bags but not paying more for them.
  • 22% say they would prefer to pay for a reusable plastic bag, and 15% prefer to bring their own reusable shopping bag.


And in a refreshing twist on sustainable retail, most airport travelers (8 out of 10) would prefer to refill reusable water bottles in fountains rather than buy water in single-use plastic bottles. “Well over two-thirds of shoppers would be willing to purchase filtered mineralized water from a dispenser in a refillable bottle,” m1nd-set writes. “Millennials and Females both show a higher-than-average tendency for these more sustainable options.”


by Marisa Garcia

Vaccine Proof: International Air Travel Advances With Digital Health Pass Support

Vaccine Proof: International Air Travel Advances With Digital Health Pass Support

International air travel to the UK is getting a booster shot from digital tools, which help passengers confirm their vaccinated status and avoid quarantine requirements on inbound flights.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Heathrow Airport have launched trials of inbound flight vaccine verification using the same vaccine identification process already in place for outbound travel to several countries. The new UK proving trial will allow inbound travellers visiting the UK from ‘amber list’ countries to present their fully vaccinated status and support the Government’s plans to remove quarantine for double jabbed passengers entering the UK.

Fully vaccinated volunteers travelling on selected British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York to London Heathrow can show proof of their vaccine status away from the Border, reducing the potential of crowding in UK immigration halls.

To qualify as fully vaccinated, travellers would fly starting 14 days after their final jab. The vaccination certificate should show the customer’s name, date of birth, vaccination dates, vaccination type, and locations where the vaccine was administered. Vaccination types accepted are WHO approved – Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm.

The trial will accept Internationally recognised vaccination credentials, including the NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential. British Airways will also support customers’ vaccine verification through the VeriFLY app. Virgin Atlantic customers can verify their vaccine certificate through a new digital uploader tool, developed in partnership with Delta Air Lines and backed by TrustAssure™ technology. As the proof-of-concept evolves, customers will have other ways to show vaccinated status through physical, digital and integrated formats, including IATA Travel Pass.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will support eligible customers to participate in the trials through various tools and options, both digital and paper-based, depending on the airline and route.

British Airways will contact customers on qualifying flights inviting them to participate in the trial. Customers travelling on all British Airways international flights into the UK can download and use VeriFLY to upload and validate their Covid-19 documents, including pre departure test certificate and passenger locator form (PLF). Once approved, customers will be able to check-in online, reducing the time they’ll need to be at the airport. British Airways trial participants can upload their vaccine credentials along with existing travel documents. They can then check-in online or go to dedicated VeriFLY check-in desks at Athens and JFK Terminal 7. Approved VeriFLY users will show either their photo within the app with a green authorisation tick or a QR code newly created for UK arrivals at a dedicated lane within the immigration hall after landing at Heathrow Terminal 5 to validate their credentials.

  • VeriFLY is currently available on all British Airways departures from the UK to Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, France, Ireland, Jamaica and the United States. From 8 July, this list expands to include Croatia and St Lucia. VeriFLY is also available on all International British Airways flights into the UK.
  • VeriFLY is now used by up to 20,000 customers per day travelling on airlines including British Airways, American Airlines, Aer Lingus and Iberia
  • Currently, more than 80% of all credentials uploaded are approved within 30 minutes of submission.

Virgin Atlantic will also contact customers on Los Angeles and Montego Bay flights to London Heathrow to notify them they are eligible to join the trial. Customers can either show a digital vaccine certificate in person if travelling from Los Angeles or upload and verify their vaccine credential using the new digital uploader tool.

Customers travelling from Montego Bay can prove their vaccinated status either with paper or digital certificates. Upon arrival at Terminal 2 (or Terminal 3 from 15 July), there will be a dedicated lane within the immigration hall to verify their credentials at the UK Border.

  • TrustAssure’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution ensures customer’s vaccine documentation can be securely uploaded via its mobile-optimised website and validated using AI in less than two minutes.

“We are already helping our customers show proof of their vaccination status when travelling to a number of other countries outside the UK which require it, and we’re confident we can make this happen for entry to Britain too, very quickly,” said Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO and Chairman. “We look forward to providing the data that proves it’s simple for fully vaccinated status to be verified and to the Government meeting its commitment to get the country moving again.”

The UK has conducted a successful vaccine programme.

  • 86% of UK adults have had the first dose of a Covid vaccine,
  • 64% are fully vaccinated.
  • Data from Public Health England show two doses of the vaccines offer 79% protection against the Delta variant and reduces the likelihood of hospitalisation by 96%.

However, airlines warn that the UK is falling behind countries like France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, all of which accept fully vaccinated travellers, including US residents, without the need for quarantine. The US also allows its fully vaccinated residents to avoid self-isolation.

  • More than 157m people have been fully vaccinated in the US – including 58% of US adults – with domestic flying returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The airlines said the UK is failing to reap the economic and social rewards of its vaccination program. They argue the UK Government’s transparency data notes “very low positivity in test results from ‘green’ and ‘amber’ country arrivals, with just 0.4% testing positive.” None of them had a variant of concern.

“To reap the benefits of the UK’s world-leading vaccine rollout, the UK Government must act now to remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from ‘amber’ countries, and no later than the domestic reopening on 19 July,” said Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic. “Our proof-of-concept trial on selected US and Caribbean routes demonstrates our readiness as an industry to rapidly operationalise the new policy, and work with Government and authorities to ensure it is smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the Transatlantic corridor, without which £23m is lost each day from the UK economy.

“The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”

Greater Consistency Needed

The industry has spoken out about the need for consistency in the application of travel requirements. In June, IATA warned that the fragmented requirements for COVID Certificate Verification in Europe could undermine summer travel.

To boost support for the new inbound passenger vaccine certification trials, Heathrow released new research from CEBR, which showed that a healthy, open aviation industry deliver a £204bn trade boost to the whole of the UK. To reap those benefits, however, the UK’s aviation industry will need the support of Government policies that help resume flying as soon as possible.

Heathrow and the participating airlines hope this proof-of-concept will encourage the UK Government to introduce exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers no later than 19 July, allowing the UK to catch up with the EU and US, which have already introduced similar programmes.

“This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from the 19 July. In addition to this, the UK Government must make progress on reopening travel between the US after a designated taskforce was established to look at this back at the G7,” said John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow. “Heathrow is the main port for trade in goods and services with the US, the only country with whom the UK has a trade surplus. New research today demonstrates just how critical it is to the UK economy to get the passenger planes that carry those exports off the ground. This is a vital step towards delivering the Government’s ambitions for Global Britain and they now need to act fast.”