Not long ago airports were diverse and lively industries. From packed check-in desks at the departure gates to well-stocked retail concessions and queues. Airports were flourishing on people arriving and departing, with every part of the passenger’s journey aimed at ensuring maximum economic efficiency. The entrance of the COVID-19 pandemic interrogated airports with the question of how to make a changeover through the unusual event and how to plan ahead.

Clearly COVID-19 is hitting airports harshly, functioning on almost no revenue while proceeding to provide essential support to airlines, government and passengers, as well as tenants suffering catastrophic drop in their businesses. Airports are investigating how to adapt its every facet to a post-COVID-19 world. That won’t be a small feat.

As countries begin to progressively reopen in the wake of the pandemic, making passengers feel at ease again is going to be a big part of trying to influence travel demand. To inspire passengers on and off their homes, unprecedented changes will take place throughout the end-to-end passenger journey, not just within the airport terminal. This may include alterations to the airport and aircraft’s physical layout, as well as the booking and check-in operational processes of traversing through screening and security — all within the constraints of social distancing.

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Airports will also want to inspire people to fly home as quickly as possible, and it is essential to do this that they work with airlines, industry and government. Airports will need to be flexible and adaptable at each stage, to prepare for and respond swiftly to public health advice, passenger needs and country routes that are available.

For passenger behavior operational aspects are important. Substantial changes will have to be made to enter the airport, passenger flows, floor markings, baggage processing, COVID-19 screening paths, use of wireless technology and the extra operating personnel that may be needed. There are likely to be distinctions of view among governments and the aviation sector on when domestic or international borders should reopen, and under what circumstances. That will have an impact on operations at the airport. Due to passenger health screening and social distance requirements, there will likely be a rise in passenger journey time through the terminal.

Without proof that passengers are safely aided and tested and that communities are shielded from international travelers, international air traffic is unlikely to return vastly. This means the industry will continue its testing and screening initiatives. The aviation industry will become much more cautious about how it handles departures and arrivals for passengers.

There are many uncertainties and questions regarding how COVID-19 will impact international travel and airport systems. First, the focus will be on lightening domestic restrictions but, further than that, airports need strategies to restore international travel on a staged basis. Establishment of systems and processes to safeguard passengers and personnel. This will make amendments to the physical infrastructure and operational requirements, addition of test stations, implementation of routes to isolate passengers and more wayfinding signage in and outside terminal buildings.

In the post-COVID-19 world, we will all need to learn how to travel again, so it’s crucial that people feel safe to return to international travel. Our prevailing thought is that the vast majority of the health approvals could be acquired by passengers prior to travel, and conceivably deeply embedded through joint health agreements between countries. Airports and airlines would have to work together to reassure travelers that due to improved cleaning efforts, a change in aircraft seating and procedures, and sufficient airport screening, the risk of coronavirus infection is low Sri lanka as compared to other countries.  

If airports and airlines are able to present a united front and propose practical and operational solutions at airports, we could see faster government response to the medium- and long-term regulatory and bilateral agreements that need to be adhered to. .To reignite international travel, we need to plot a robust recovery and reform pathway for the Sri Lankan tourism industry.   From an airport asset perspective , it is necessary to start planning these changes now, so that this new travel experience can be brought back to the passenger when international routes reopen. It is a delicate balance until COVID-19 is eliminated or can be managed in the same manner as other viruses that recur frequently. Airports and airlines need to give passengers and governments esteem that they can operate safely and effectively on international travel.

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There are elements to transition via an airport that we know are interpreted as burdensome or anxiety-inducing by some passengers. Additional screening measures can create negative airport experiences that can lead to a slower return to travel or an unpleasant airport perception itself. This can be achieved by empathically designing new user-friendly layouts; including physical infrastructure, signage and screening processes perceived as traveler-friendly while meeting regulatory requirements.

Airports and airlines are the co-owners of the passenger journey and therefore a true end-to – end treatment will go a long way towards eliminating in a passenger ‘s mind the retained fear and apprehension. Collaboration to non disrupt the end-to – end passenger journey is one way to get international passengers back to travel sooner rather than later. There’s an opportunity to bring the passenger a whole new experience and become an airport that first reshapes its post-COVID-19 business around the user.

To do this, airport can not assume passenger behaviour, or guess their reactions to the airport’s physical and operational changes. The preferred option for developing meaningful insights about passenger behavior and preferences is a detailed data analysis from user-centered engagement. If there is no time to progress through a detailed passenger survey process, airport owners may use passenger behavior data previously recorded to identify customer values and prioritize their preferences for travel and movement.

Passengers across contests and lounges will need increased information on airport cleaning measures. Things as simple as having plenty of hand sanitation stations and no public drinking stations are visible elements which airports can incorporate to restore the confidence of passengers.