In the last two months the aviation industry has made the first small steps towards its recovery, but the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and the risk of a second wave of infections is continuing to prevent a major relaxation of travel restrictions. Some crumbs of comfort have emerged in the shape of the UK’s recently introduced ‘travel corridors’, which allow travellers to return to the UK from certain destinations without the need to self-isolate afterwards.
Although there are few in place as I write these words, their creation represents a step towards a risk-based strategy that recognises how a nation’s natural borders can help to diminish the threat of transmitting the coronavirus and, simultaneously, restore passenger confidence in air travel.
From a corporate perspective, the leading players in the industry have worked together to agree a set of guidelines to manage risks. After ICAO approval, these widespread sanitisation and social distancing measures have been introduced across the world. It would seem that the industry has done all it can to ensure safe air travel and, from now on, any further progress will be determined by travellers’ confidence in their ability to avoid infection at their destination, and not being required to undergo a lengthy quarantine period upon their return.
Is mandatory COVID-19 testing upon arrival the answer? The scientists appear to agree that it would be helpful, but not yet failsafe.
While that all-important passenger confidence can only be restored by government edicts or a vaccine, it already seems clear that the move towards touchfree travel through airports has been accelerated. This issue of Airports International features Carroll McCormick’s conversations with selected North American airports regarding their experiences of the ‘no touch’ situation we find ourselves in.
On the same theme, he also takes a look at Philadelphia International Airport’s trials with biometric equipment at the departure gate.
And, as the northern hemisphere moves into autumn, we have a timely reminder of the power of Mother Nature, with the details of how, earlier this year, St John’s International Airport in Canada battled against the fiercest blizzard in its history.
Are you winter-ready? Perhaps it’s time to fire up those de-icing trucks and snow ploughs in preparation for the season looming ahead.