ACI publishes alternatives to physical distancing at airport security checkpoints
Simulations show that physical distancing reduces checkpoint capacity by up to 75%
Montreal, 1 October 2020 – Airports Council International (ACI World) has today released findings of simulations on the impact of applying physical distancing at airport security checkpoints which show capacity could be reduced by up to 75%. These are represented in the Security Checkpoint Modelling videos.
Working with EBEA Consulting and Transoft solutions, ACI World has designed 11 alternative measures to physical distancing keeping passengers and staff safe while, at the same time, keeping checkpoints moving when passenger traffic inevitably increases. These measures are explained in the Security Checkpoint Modelling videos, one for high throughput airports (greater than 250 pax/hour per security lane), the other for airports with a more standard flow of traffic (lower than 250 pax/hour per security lane).
While the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic brought airports to a virtual standstill, airports around the world are planning for a return of passengers while also providing for extra measures to protect passengers and employees. Security checkpoints are a key consideration.
“Airports are examining all aspects of their operations as they seek to recover from the impact of COVID-19, foster confidence in air travel, and reassure passengers that health and safety is the number one priority,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “These simulations and resulting suggested mitigation measures encourage regulators and airports to plan ahead to facilitate an increase in passenger numbers, without having to compromise on health and safety.”
EBEA’s Director and Co-Founder Ramon Anton said he was delighted to collaborate with ACI World on this crucial assessment for airports.
“It demonstrates that there will be a point as traffic recovers, in which physical distancing may not be compatible with an efficient security checkpoint operation,” Ramon Anton said. “This flags the need for airport operators to start taking action now to be better prepared for when this time comes. Implementing alternative measures will ensure a smooth and safe passenger experience in every stage of the recovery process.”
Physical distancing has proven to be a good mitigation measure against the spread of the virus but once passenger traffic increases, this will not be viable or sustainable long term, if airports are to keep operations running efficiently.
Three scenarios were tested to include the need for increased space for physical distancing in the queue. The results suggest that the checkpoint capacity was reduced by up to 75% in the worse-case scenario. Even in the best-case scenario, there was a reduction in 50% capacity of a security checkpoint when implementing physical distancing.
The 11 different mitigation measures to physical distancing are designed to keep passengers and staff safe. Some examples include:
- Face masks
- Pre-travel testing
- Continuous tray or UVC cleaning and high touchpoint cleaning
- Installation of plexiglass, and
- Crowd monitoring software.
“Alternative measures proposed to physical distancing will still achieve the same outcome, where passenger and staff members remain well protected, while reducing the impact of delays on airport operations,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “By adopting measures that are aligned with other industries, airports can demonstrate that they are following best practices and the World Health Organization guidance, and in so doing, can help increase passenger confidence.”
These measures meet ACI World’s Smart Security vision to increase security, operational efficiency and improve customer experience at checkpoints. While many airports are exploring touchless processes, these measures can help airports until such technologies are implemented.
The impact of physical distancing on airport security checkpoints webinar explains how the simulations were developed, expected impacts for airports, and suggested mitigation measures which takes place on Thursday, 22 October, at 12:00 UTC.
Notes for editors
1. High throughput Airports typically have:
- Centralized Image Processing for X-RAY or CT Scanners
- Smart Lanes with RFID tray tagging
- Security Scanners for passenger screening.
2. Standard Throughput Airports typically have:
- Local X-RAY screening
- Little lane automation, if any,
- Walk through metal detectors for passenger screening.
3. Stay up to date with ACI World’s COVID-19 communications through its dedicated news hub.
4. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, customer-centric and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2020, ACI serves 668 members, operating 1979 airports in 176 countries.
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