Heathrow has unveiled further measures that reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 at the airport. The UK’s biggest front door and only hub airport has adopted the most extensive array of technology to protect passengers and colleagues, as the country readjusts to life post-lockdown.
The airport has kicked off a number of pioneering technologies including UV cleaning robots which use UV rays to quickly and efficiently kill viruses and bacteria at night; UV handrail technology is being fitted to escalators to ensure continuous disinfection of the moving handrails; and self-cleaning anti-viral wraps are being fitted to security trays, lift buttons, trolley and door handles, aiming to provide long-lasting protection from COVID-19. The wraps work by coating high-touch surfaces in a material with long-lasting anti-viral protection.
Heathrow is retraining 100 colleagues to serve as hygiene-technicians who thoroughly disinfect the airport and answer passenger queries on the methods being used. These technicians will continuously monitor the effectiveness of these new technologies and help to inform plans to roll these projects out across the entire airport.
Prior to these trials, Heathrow meticulously reviewed every step of the passenger journey to identify key touchpoints where anti-viral technologies would have the most impact. Fly Safe Pit Stops – points where passengers can pick up face masks, anti-viral wipes and hand sanitiser free of charge – are being rolled out at these touchpoints to keep travellers safe on their journeys. Teams at the airport are also reviewing technologies which could remove the need for passengers to touch self-service check-in machines, allowing them to control the kiosks from their phones.
These enhanced cleaning measures are in addition to several steps the airport has taken to ensure passengers feel safe when travelling, including the introduction of Perspex barriers in security areas and in some retailers, compulsory face coverings, and one-way systems, as well as touchless services available on Heathrow and airline apps.
Moreover, for the first time anywhere outside the US, Apple is trialling informative alerts to passengers arriving at Heathrow, directing iOS users to the latest guidance on travelling through the airport.
“We have reviewed the entire Heathrow airport experience to ensure that our passengers and colleagues are kept safe as travel resumes to ‘Green’ and ‘Amber’ countries,” says John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow. “Now we need Government to safely restore Britain’s long-haul connections as the country prepares for life outside the EU, with Common International Standards for COVID testing from ‘Red’ countries.”
The temperature testing technology launched in May continues to perform well in a live operational environment, with the potential to quickly and seamlessly screen passengers with minimal impact to the passenger journey. The airport is ongoing talks with Government on next steps.