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Theme: Information Technology
Airport report: Quito
Special report: The retail/F&B challenge
Plus: Airport Design, People Matters & WBP News

Better times ahead

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on a traumatic year for the world and the important role IT will play in aviation’s recovery from the pandemic.

After the year the world has just experienced, arguably things can only get better in 2021 and, if the eagerly awaited COVID-19 vaccines happen and are effective, hopefully aviation can emerge from survival mode and begin to think about traffic growth again.

The truth is at the time of writing in early December 2020, nobody really knows what to expect next year other than that aviation’s struggles will continue until people are allowed to travel again without the fear of catching COVID-19 or becoming victims of today’s constantly changing quarantine measures.

These are clearly uncertain times for everyone involved in the aviation industry and things may indeed get tougher for some before the industry is able to start what many experts feel will be a long road to recovery. However, recover it will, and unquestionably information technology (IT) will play a key role in facilitating the safe return of passengers and staff to airport terminals.

We have, of course, already witnessed a huge amount of IT innovation at airports in response to the health threat posed by COVID-19.

Airports, for example, were relatively quick adopters of autonomous cleaning robots, ultraviolet disinfection technologies and thermal screening for monitoring the temperature of passengers.

And as ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira mentions in his ‘View from the Top’ article on page 11, an ever increasing number of airports are turning to touchless technology or virtual or mobile processing to replace traditional check-in and bag drop functions.

The goal of making airports safe and secure environments and as quick, easy and stress free as possible for passengers of course remains the same. The pandemic has just added a new ‘health’ dimension to the mix, and successfully addressing it and easing concerns about the safety of airports and flying from a health perspective will prove key to restoring confidence in aviation.

As you would expect, we cover some of the health-related IT solutions being pioneered by airports in the ‘Information Technology’ themed section of our final issue of 2020.

Specifically, the themed articles include a round-up of some of the trendsetting IT initiatives taking place at Copenhagen, Abu Dhabi, Lyon-Saint Exupéry, Hamad (Doha), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta and Hyderabad- Rajiv Gandhi airports.

The IT section also contains articles about autonomous cleaning robots; data modelling; the operational and customer service benefits of location intelligence; and how making better use of data can be used to enhance airfield operations.

Elsewhere in the issue, we talk to Quito International Airport’s president and CEO, Andrew O’Brian, about an eventful and challenging year for Ecuador’s gateway to the world.

The challenges of enhancing retail, F&B and other commercial offerings to ensure that the tills keep ringing during COVID-19 and beyond also comes under the spotlight in this edition.

We also have features about the possible design changes airports can make to their terminals to potentially speed up the safe return of air travel; and consider some strategic options airports could take to make themselves more efficient and environmentally friendly.

And there’s more as you can find out about the IT driven activities of some of ACI’s World Business Partners or turn to our regular ‘People Matters’ column for some human resources advice.

So, that’s it for another year folks. I hope you have enjoyed our magazines and daily online news coverage in 2020 and look forward to doing more of the same for you next year when, hopefully, better times lie ahead.

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