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Why COVID-19 requires a holistic response from airports

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The 2020 global health pandemic has created a crisis of confidence in air travel. Passengers are increasingly concerned about the measures airlines and airports are taking to ensure their safety. Travelers want to feel as safe as possible in this ‘new normal’. Their confidence in the industry’s ability to provide a safe end-to-end travel experience is key to a post COVID-19 recovery.  It is up to us in the aviation industry to re-stimulate their confidence.

Using proven technologies

From check-in to baggage claim, airports and airlines are forced to rethink their operations to make travelers feel safe again. In response to the pressures felt by the aviation industry, vendors are lining up to provide quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions.

Most of the baggage handling community supports UV-C as the leading disinfection method. UV-C is a type of short-wavelength ultraviolet light, with wavelengths of between 200 to 280 nanometers (as shown in figure 1). The proper application of UV-C light has been proven to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

UV-C is an effective method for the disinfection of baggage. However, the technology by itself doesn’t offer a complete end-to-end health and safety solution for airports. Alternative solutions propose installing UV-C tunnels just downstream of the EDS machines, however this approach may not be appropriate for all airports.

The importance of flexibility

As a global leader in airport systems, Vanderlande has been actively engaged in the research and development of baggage disinfection solutions. In doing so, we have analyzed the processes surrounding the passenger and baggage journey.

Our research has shown that an effective solution cannot be solely dependent on a specific technology. A proper solution must also encompass passenger and baggage flows, environmental constraints, and cost efficiency. Determining the right combination of these factors can be challenging and will require a partner who can help airlines and airports develop solutions that meet their specific needs.

There is an old saying among those in the aviation industry: “You’ve seen one airport… you’ve seen one airport.” The message behind this is that while the regulations, processes, and requirements may be the same, every airport is different. No matter what type of security checkpoint lane or baggage system an airport may have there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

This is even more true when determining what type of disinfection methodology an airport should use. There are unique features in every airport that require some level of flexibility to meet the local conditions. Whether the difficulties are related to the building architecture, local working conditions or cost constraints, having flexible solutions is paramount to achieve success.

Restoring passenger confidence

In current airport baggage handling systems, there is no automated method that provides a cleaning cycle for checked baggage. By implementing a disinfection station(s), an airport or airline can dramatically reduce the opportunity for checked baggage to act as a transmission vehicle for viruses. Implementing a this high impact disinfection solution, quick deployment, disinfection station will aid in restoration of air passenger positive perception of their travel confidence.

By taking a holistic approach to baggage sanitation, Vanderlande can assist airlines and airports with identifying and providing flexible and adaptable solutions for their baggage handling systems.


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Mike Holloway

VP, Sales & Solutions Airports | Vanderlande North America

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