OPINION: A solution for managing Covid-19 documentation that minimizes passenger queues

LinkedIn +

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the number of passengers who took to the skies decreased by 60% in 2020. However, due to the implementation of the UK’s travel traffic light system, this summer has seen an increase in European travel. The decision was welcomed by UK passengers, but for border control, immigration desks, ground handlers and airlines it has caused a significant strain on daily operations.

One of the biggest challenges that border control, immigration desks, ground handlers and airlines are facing is a tidal wave of health documentation that requires validation before departure. To allow for European travel to continue, passengers must prove they are Covid-19 free before being permitted to fly, showing a negative test or paper health certificate, or using a digital health wallet or app to confirm their health status. Passenger locator and declaration forms also add to the documentation mix to be managed airside.

This influx of paperwork has caused long delays for passengers at airports. At London Heathrow, travelers were waiting for up to four hours during the August bank holiday to get through border control and immigration desks. These avoidable waiting times can be incredibly difficult for passengers for many reasons. Travelers turn up to the airport already stressed as they’re expecting long queues, they’re forced to wait in line with thousands of other holidaymakers and for families, the task of keeping children occupied for hours on end is daunting.

These delays and passenger worries can be alleviated through a solution that can handle health wallet QR codes, physical certificates and boarding passes in one unified platform. So, when passengers turn up to border control desks, the checking of documents is more seamless and easier to digest, minimizing airport delays.

Furthermore, Covid-19 has caused significant disruption for ground handlers and has demonstrated the need for the standardization of ground handling processes and procedures to reduce the complexity of working between multiple airlines, airports and ground handling platforms. Airports and airlines need to carefully consider their current ground handling contracts and focus on performance payments tied to asset utilization rather than simple turnaround times with penalties. Ground handlers also require innovative technology, so their processes and procedures are completed within a short timeframe while ensuring passenger safety and minimizing airport delays.

Accelerated Document Check
Documentation overload has placed significant pressure on airlines, as they need to confirm that all documents have been checked and comply with current government guidelines. This has caused airlines and airports to struggle with fragmented processes and duplicated document checks. Airlines are also having to employ additional people to review documents at check-in or centrally, a cost that most can’t cope with due to the restricted airline schedules that were implemented in 2019.

The answer lies in technology; specifically, a solution that integrates and encompasses all documentation in one unified platform. In particular, the Ink Accelerated Document Check (ADC) allows airports and handling crew to process biometrics, health wallet QR codes, physical certificates and boarding passes. It’s a flexible tool that can digitalize all types of data, which helps to speed up processes and reduce passenger waiting times. Although a universally agreed-upon test result and vaccination proof system would be the ideal solution, this simply isn’t possible with so many countries using different methods and formats to test, trace and certify their citizens.

Until cost-effective technology is implemented, long delays and queues will remain a fact of life for airport and airline operations. And if passengers are deterred from traveling due to the complexity of navigating multiple certificates and platforms, as well as an overall increase in journey time, the resurgence in travel may come too late for some.

Share this story:

Comments are closed.