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ACI Gives Alternatives to Physical Distancing at Airport Security Checkpoints

Airports Council International (ACI World) recently published alternatives to physical distancing at airport security checkpoints, following findings that the measure could reduce checkpoint capacity by up to 75 percent.

According to ACI World, physical distancing has proven to be a good mitigation measure against the spread of the virus but once passenger traffic increases, this will not be viable or sustainable long term, if airports are to keep operations running efficiently.

Through simulations on the impact of applying physical distancing at airport security checkpoints, ACI World tested three scenarios to include the need for increased space for physical distancing in the queue. The results suggested that the checkpoint capacity was reduced by up to 75 percent in the worse-case scenario. Even in the best-case scenario, there was a reduction in 50 percent capacity of a security checkpoint when implementing physical distancing.

According to ACI World, alternative measures proposed to physical distancing will still achieve the same outcome, where passenger and staff members remain well protected, while reducing the impact of delays on airport operations. The alternative measures can help airports plan ahead to facilitate an increase in passenger numbers.

Alternatives to physical distancing

Working with EBEA Consulting and Transoft solutions, ACI World designed 11 alternative measures to physical distancing to keep passengers and staff safe while, at the same time, keep checkpoints moving when passenger traffic inevitably increases. Some examples include:

– Face masks
– Pre-travel testing
– Continuous tray or UVC cleaning and high touchpoint cleaning
– Installation of plexiglass
– Crowd monitoring software

Simulations using these alternative measures at checkpoints are explained in two video representations:​​​​​​ one for high-throughput airports (greater than 250 pax/hour per security lane), and another one for airports with a more standard flow of traffic (lower than 250 pax/hour per security lane).

“Airports are examining all aspects of their operations as they seek to recover from the impact of COVID-19, foster confidence in air travel, and reassure passengers that health and safety is the number one priority,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

Airports Council International (ACI) is the trade association of the world’s airports and serves 668 members, operating 1979 airports in 176 countries.

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