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Developing COVID-19 Safe Airports

January 14, 2021.

Many airports around the world were congested before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic as the rapid growth in air travel levels put added pressure on ageing infrastructure. This has been a major issue for travellers, impacting the choice of airports they use and journey satisfaction and efficiency. The massive decline in travel levels that has been seen this year have helped these facilities breath, but new requirements to support health and hygiene protocols and permit passenger spacing across buildings mean that airline passengers may be set for a even bigger capacity crunch as travel recovers (image - CTC).

In order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 measures on airport performance, and so contribute to aviation’s overall recovery from the pandemic, airports need to focus on reducing the impact of space constraints. A study published by European air navigation provider EUROCONTROL last year suggested that significant changes would be needed to accommodate changing rules and safety measures.

Large groups of people in and around departure areas may become more difficult to allow.

Flughafen Munchen

The study, commissioned from the Airport Research Center (ARC) in collaboration with European airport body ACI Europe and other industry partners, including four airports and airport groups (Paris CDG, London Heathrow, Stuttgart and Swedavia), as well as the support of IATA, used simulations to assess the impact of new measures such as increased sanitisation and social distancing, on terminal operations, in particular passenger journey time, terminal throughput and boarding gate processing capacity.

The findings highlighted a significant additional pressure on airport resources. For departures it illustrated that 50% more space is required at check-in, 100% more space is needed at se