Contactless technology adoption at airports accelerated after COVID-19

Contactless technology adoption at airports accelerated after COVID-19

Contactless technology is defining passenger experiences at an increasing number of airports across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which rapidly accelerated the deployment pace of biometric authentication.

Contactless technology will be a key attraction at the 20th edition of Airport Show, the world’s largest B2B airport show, held in Dubai annually under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

Set to run from 24th to 26th May, 2021, the show will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) across 12,000 square metres with participants expected from 90 countries as the world returns to normalcy. It will have three co-located events: Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF), ATC Forum and Airport Security, as well as two new conferences focusing on Airport Passengers’ Experience and Airport Digital Transformation.

Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibitions Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, which is organizing the show, says the trend for a contactless passenger experience in airports has rapidly accelerated after the pandemic and several airports, including Dubai International, stand out. At the world’s largest annual airport event, the latest contactless innovations and airport digital transformations will be at the centre of the event experience this year.

Biometrics remain the focus for investment with 64 percent of airports aiming to roll out self-boarding gates using biometric and ID documentation by 2023. Contactless technologies have proven to be a game-changer, as a 2020 report by SITA on Air Transport IT Insights revealed, and airports have accorded high investment priority for touchless technology between now and 2023.

Touchless technology will help limit the spread of viruses and reduce the interaction between passengers and staff through contactless check-in, security processes, inflight entertainment and food and beverage pre-ordering.

Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, has launched facial recognition checkpoints that give passengers a ‘touchless’ transfer through Dubai International. The carrier integrated a "biometric path" into its facilities at DXB for passengers to have a contactless experience when travelling through its terminals. The innovation is aimed at improving traveler flow through the airport by requiring fewer manual document checks using a mixture of facial and iris recognition technology to create a more hygienic, contactless way to move through the airport by reducing human interaction throughout the process.

Dubai Airport, the world’s number one airport for international travelers for the seventh consecutive year, leads in terms of safety and security with the increased use of touchless technology, offering passengers to use their eyes to confirm their identity without the need to show any documents, which helps curb the spread of the new coronavirus as it does not require airport passengers to have contact with other people as it uses a biometric method. The system takes only five to six seconds to complete the scanning process.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, airport operators now face new challenges in terms of minimizing personal contact, reducing crowds, limiting common access to high-touch surfaces, and preventing terminals from becoming potential virus breeding grounds.

According to a research study, the global smart airport market size is expected to reach about USD 26 billion by 2025, while the global airport services market size is projected to reach USD 232.88 billion by 2027. Around 97 percent of airlines are working on mobile applications as all essential customer services become contactless. Automated biometric boarding gates are considered a priority by 58 percent of airlines, and are a focus of 64 percent of airports for both border checks and flight boarding.

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