ABU DHABI, 9th July, 2020 (WAM) — Airports in Abu Dhabi have adopted a series of precautionary and preventive measures in all their facilities, to protect the health and safety of their employees and passengers and reduce the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19, while national carriers are gradually resuming their flights through Abu Dhabi International Airport.
In his statement to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Mohammed Hussain Ahmed, General Manager for Abu Dhabi International Airport, said that the procedures adopted by the airport include contactless control equipment in elevators, self-sanitising escalators, and the use of modern technologies and Artificial Intelligence, AI, in the sanitation processes, in addition to social distancing and the donning of face masks and gloves.
The airport adopted these procedures, in partnership with relevant Emirati companies, to guarantee the application of the highest international standards in countering coronavirus, he added, noting that the airport’s security inspection equipment was modified to be self-sanitising, and a free shop was opened as part of the precautionary measures to maintain social distancing.
Ahmed stressed that Etihad Airways has adopted precautionary on-board measures according to the highest standards, and flight times, therefore, increased by five to eight minutes due to these measures to ensure everyone’s safety, adding that all passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi must pass through a comprehensive assessment zone to track those exposed to confirmed coronavirus cases.
Passengers will then have to undergo a PCR test, which is fast and efficient and will last from five to ten minutes, he further added.
While touring the airport’s facilities, the Emirates News Agency, WAM, monitored the precautionary procedures and preventive measures taken by the airport involving 10 key steps, to ensure that everyone will have a pleasant and safe travel experience.
Smart sanitising gates The journey of passengers will begin by passing through smart sanitising gates at the airport’s main entrances and exits, which will firstly measure a person’s temperature.
They will then be sanitised using a safe and internationally-accredited smoke-based sanitiser from head to toe in less than three seconds. The alcohol-free sanitising liquid kills 99.9 percent of viruses and germs, including COVID-19.
Contact-less elevators The second step consists of 53 elevators equipped with contactless control systems.
Face masks and gloves through smart devices During the third step, before passengers can continue their trip, they will receive face masks and gloves provided by the airport through several smart devices.
Thermal monitoring cameras During the fourth step, passengers will be screened by thermal monitoring cameras that will verify whether they are wearing face masks and gloves as instructed, and will alert officials if they are not complying with these instructions.
Online arrival registration During the fifth step, passengers will reach the airport’s arrival registration area to complete their procedures online. They can also use the Etihad smart application to limit direct contact.
Self-service platform The sixth step consists of the arrival of passengers at the self-service platform for registration, as part of arrival procedures that were recently adopted. Facial recognition technology will assess the health and safety of the passengers, including their temperature, heart rate and breathing rate.
Business class lounge The seventh step, which applies to business class passengers, requires employees of the business class lounge to wear personal protection equipment. The reception desk of the lounge will also feature barriers and separators, and tables will be separated by a distance of two metres while meals are tested individually through random testing.
Thermal checkpoints The eighth step involves passing through a thermal checkpoint equipped with cameras, which checks the temperature of passengers and verifies if they are wearing face masks.
A new shopping experience The ninth step consists of the new shopping experience in a free shop. As usual, shopping areas are closed to guarantee social distancing and protect everyone’s health and safety. However, passengers may shop on mobile applications or the airport’s website, and their orders will be delivered to them before their flight.
Boarding pass The tenth and final step applies to the boarding procedures of passengers. Social distancing rules will be adopted by allowing limited numbers of passengers to board at one time. They will also be asked to scan their boarding passes and show their passports, to limit direct interaction with employees.
Under the same context, Etihad Airways launched the programme, titled, “Etihad Wellness Ambassadors,” which is the first of its kind in the aviation sector and aims to adopt the highest health and safety standards in all stages of the flight process. The programme also includes the adoption of preventative procedures at the company’s supply facilities and food quality assurance labs, as well as the full sanitisation of aeroplanes.
Linda Celestino, Vice President of Guest Services at Etihad Airways, said that the implementation of social distancing onboard planes will involve leaving a space between seats on flights to most destinations, but families and groups can sit together.
She added that if a passenger or staff becomes ill during a flight, they will be isolated in a quarantine area with several reserved seats at the back of the plane, and health authorities will be notified before the plane lands.
Flight crews will wear face masks, disposable gloves and accredited preventive clothing, and planes will be cleaned after reaching every destination, Celestino further added, noting that health and safety tools will be provided to passengers by Etihad’s staff, such as face masks, gloves and sanitisers.
Attila Sagi, Senior Manager Technical Advisor, Midfield Terminal Programme at Etihad Airways, said that Etihad Airways have developed a technology to enable contactless travel procedures, through the launch of the “Fit to Travel” device, which will check the temperature, heart rate and breathing rate of passengers, ask them about their previous 14 days, and require them to declare if they are fit to travel.
If the device does not declare whether a passenger is fit to travel, they will be referred to a mid-air medical team for examination, he added.