The aviation industry has had to speed up implementation of the technology envisaged for airports of the future, to make air travel safe during COVID-19.

Contactless check-ins, digital IDs, and apps to regulate the number of passengers in one location are among the things predicted in a report published in January by Benoit Verbaere, business development director of SITA Europe, and all are being put into practice today, to create a new global standard for air travel.

AirAsia will be rolling out several contactless procedures for essential travel to ensure that passengers can pay, check in and drop their checked baggage in a fully contactless process. Travellers can use the airline’s app or use website platforms to use the procedures at contactless kiosks at all operating airports across Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.

The process of presenting official identity documents is being streamlined by SITA, which is becoming more active in developing a permanent and portable digital identity for air travel, meant to last a lifetime. Travellers will present verifiable credentials with their privacy protected, and without contact. These credentials can represent a passport, an airline ticket or simply a library card. Gustavo Pina, director of the SITA Lab, expects this kind of digital identity to replace traditional passports in the coming years.

Airports will more effectively enforce social distancing with app technology created by airport technology company Veovo. It has developed a virtual queuing solution which enables passengers to book a time for airport checkpoints to better control access and numbers. It has also developed a passenger density management tool that monitors crowd density across the airport. This allows airport security to spot and take action in areas where social distancing limits are being breached.