If air travellers think check-in and airport processes are a humbug, they are about to get a little more tedious in a post-COVID-19 environment.
And some of the likely changes to ensure passenger protection from the highly contagious respiratory illness have been laid out by Filipe Pereira dos Reis of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. He joined Caribbean tourism officials today in a webinar entitled Ready to Re-open? How the Caribbean Tourism Industry Should Prepare for the Tourism Restart.
Pereira dos Reis, who is IATA’s Regional Director for airport, passenger, cargo and security in the Americas, said the goal was to get international air travel restarted as soon as possible but to do so in a way that is safe for travellers, airport staff and citizens in the region.
However, he warned that as the 9/11 disaster changed air travel around the globe, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is expected to similarly impact the travel and leisure business until there was an effective, globally available vaccine.
The travel policy expert told webinar participants that the new, layered approach was likely to see passengers required to provide much more information about their health and travel movements at the point of booking airline tickets so that they can be more easily tracked by authorities.
In addition, there is likely to be further restrictions at airport terminal buildings, passenger temperature checks, social distancing, the wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment for passengers and airport employees.
Pereira dos Reis said at airports, travellers are likely to experience increased use of self-services and biometric checks while in the aircraft, another layer of protection is likely to include the use of masks, restricted cabin seating, while passengers are expected to be given sanitizing wipes to clean surfaces they are likely to touch such as trays and arm rests.
And the bane of air travel especially for Caribbean people – baggage allowances – are about to get even more strict. The IATA senior official revealed that carry-on luggage was likely to be further reduced.
Noting that there would be increased coordination between airlines, airport authorities and governments, Pereira dos Reis said he still believed that international travel could resume fairly safely.
On the question of when Caribbean airports are likely to reopen, participants were told that will be an individual governmental decision. However, the region is expected to fully coordinate their airport processes and protocols.
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