Airports Council International (ACI) World launched the Airport Health Accreditation programme in July 2020 to assist airports by assessing, against global standards, the new health measures and procedures introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. An interview with Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, ACI World. By Ross Falconer
The ACI Airport Health Accreditation programme is unique in that it provides airports with an assessment of how aligned their health measures are with the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) Recommendations, along with industry best practices.
Topics include cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications, and passenger facilities.
“In fact, there are 121 things in the checklist that must be checked by the airport,” says Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, ACI World.
All passenger areas and processes are considered, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverage areas, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border control areas and facilities (in collaboration with authorities), baggage claim areas, and arrivals exit.
“Upon submission of the completed questionnaire and all supporting materials, a virtual evaluation is conducted online by ACI to determine that health measures are being applied in alignment with ICAO CART guidelines, as well as EASA, and ACI recovery guidance, including ACI EUROPE’s Guidelines for a Healthy Passenger Experience at Airports,” de Oliveira explains. “To help our member airports, we conducted several webinars in the regions to help airports understand the accreditation process.”
To date, more than 400 airports have applied for the accreditation, and 100 have already received it. “I am very impressed by how the industry has swiftly adapted to the new realities to introduce new measures based on globally-consistent protocols,” de Oliveira continues. “The positive response we have received demonstrates that the airport industry is focused on the health and welfare of travellers, staff, and the public, and the crucial work that must be done to increase passenger confidence.”
The industry recovery from the effects of COVID-19 will rely on reassuring the travelling public that airports are prioritising health and safety and providing safe and hygienic facilities. “This accreditation programme meets that need, and airports have told us that this is a crucial tool that will enable them to restore public confidence in air travel,” says de Oliveira. “Airports are vital cogs in the aviation ecosystem and are important engines of economic growth, wealth creation, and employment. The airport community is key in supporting jobs and economic recovery and, as airports restart and then prepare to sustain continuing operations following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are focused on the health and welfare of travellers, staff, and the public. This accreditation programme is just one way we can continue to support the airport industry, and at the same time demonstrate efforts to regulators.”
Istanbul Airport first to achieve ACI Airport Health Accreditation
In August 2020, ACI World and ACI EUROPE announced that Istanbul Airport was the first to receive Airport Health Accreditation.
Kadri Samsunlu, Chief Executive Officer, iGA Airport Operation: “We continue our efforts to offer our passengers ‘safe travel at maximum hygiene’ in the new normal. The certificate awarded by Airports Council International is really important to make sure that the aviation industry is in the finest possible position to support a strong recovery in the near future. Aviation is a very resilient industry and we need to take measures to endure through the impact of COVID-19 by implementing strict health and safety standards. The Airport Health Accreditation certificate should definitely be considered by all airport operators as proof to demonstrate greater readiness to build passenger confidence and trust. To have successfully passed the audits of a body as powerful as ACI and to have qualified for Airport Health Accreditation means a lot to us. We will never ever compromise on the hygiene standards we have achieved at Istanbul Airport.”
Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE: “Recovery from this unprecedented crisis has called for the swift and thorough implementation across the entire aviation system of the global standards developed jointly by competent authorities. ACI has worked hand in hand with ICAO, EASA and ECDC to help deliver a blueprint for safe airport operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This blueprint, which has served as the basis for ACI EUROPE’s Guidelines for a Healthy Passenger Experience at Airports, is now complemented by a new Airport Health Accreditation programme. It is with great pride we note that the first airport to become accredited is European – reflecting the eager adoption of the new focus on the health-concerned passenger among airports across our region. Congratulations are in order for the Istanbul Airport team!”
Bologna Airport first in Italy and among first in world to receive ACI Airport Health Accreditation
In August 2020, Bologna Marconi Airport became the first airport in Italy, and among the first in the world, to obtain ACI Airport Health Accreditation. Topics covered by accreditation include cleaning and disinfection, physical distances, personnel protection, passenger communications, and passenger facilities.
Nazareno Ventola, CEO and General Manager, Bologna Airport, explains: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, Bologna Airport has implemented a series of measures aimed at minimising the risk of contagion among passengers and airport workers”:
- The intensive sanitation of the areas also through a molecular fragmentation system, which Marconi implemented for the first time in Italy.
- The installation of the latest generation thermal scanners for detecting the body temperature of passengers and staff employed in the offices.
- The positioning of disinfectant liquid hand dispensers and plexiglass barriers both in the front office contact points of the passenger terminal and between the workstations of the airport staff.
- The patented BEST system for security checks, which allows to reduce the frontal interaction between the staff in charge to security controls and passengers.
- The provision of ventilation systems in the passenger terminal and all airport premises and offices with high-efficiency filters in the areas with the highest density of people.
- Signage and continuous communication to passengers on digital and physical media, social media channels, website and corporate intranet communication addressed to the staff.
“This is just to mention some of the many actions that the airport has implemented in recent months. We are very satisfied with this important recognition, which certifies our ongoing commitment to the safety of our passengers and the airport community.”
Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino airports receive ACI Airport Health Accreditation
Recognising Aeroporti di Roma’s commitment to the health and well-being of travellers and staff, in August 2020 Fiumicino and Ciampino airports received ACI Airport Health Accreditation.
Aeroporti di Roma has launched a considerable intervention plan to ensure safety and comfort for passengers and staff, including sanitisation of the entire airport perimeters, restructuring of areas inside the airports to ensure social distancing, and installation of over 300 gel dispensers and approximately 100 thermal scanners within Fiumicino and Ciampino airports.
Meanwhile, dedicated areas have been established at both airports to administer COVID-19 tests for passengers.
Marco Troncone, CEO Aeroporti di Roma: “We are extremely proud of this new result because it confirms our commitment in an essential sector, the health sector, which is a priority for us. Since the very beginning of the COVID crisis, as an airport management company we have implemented a series of measures to provide passengers and employees with the highest health and hygiene standards within a very short period of time, continuously seeking cutting-edge solutions that combine safety with comfort and it is with this spirit that we will continue to operate in the months to come.”
Luxembourg Airport first in Central Europe certified under ACI Airport Health Accreditation
In September 2020, Luxembourg Airport (lux-Airport) became the first in Central Europe to receive ACI Airport Health Accreditation. The airport has prioritised protecting the health and welfare of its passengers and staff. Protective measures include social distancing guidance, automated hand sanitizers, and a COVID-19 test station. Meanwhile, the air conditioning is exchanged with fresh air every 30 minutes.
René Steinhaus, CEO lux-Airport: “The accreditation to the ACI Health programme is very important to us, especially since ACI is providing the standard for airports and developing with them the best practice. I want to express my thanks and gratitude to ACI EUROPE and ACI World for the excellent cooperation in the COVID-19 crisis. Together, we helped passengers to be reassured about air travel.”
Brussels Airport receives ACI Airport Health Accreditation
Brussels Airport makes every effort to ensure that its facilities are hygienic and safe to welcome passengers. The combination of various health and safety measures has earned Brussels Airport ACI Airport Health Accreditation.
Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport Company: “This accreditation is a recognition of all the COVID measures that have been implemented at Brussels Airport since June. It is both gratifying and encouraging to see that the efforts made by our staff and partners are recognised internationally.”
A COVID-19 Test Centre opened at Brussels Airport in September 2020. Passengers now have the opportunity to get a COVID-19 test on site at the airport, while the Test Centre is also open to those who are not travelling but need to have a test taken within the scope of contact tracing.
“We took the initiative to put up a test centre at the airport to further strengthen our sanitary measures against COVID-19 and thus contribute to protecting public health,” says Feist. “The test results will be rapidly communicated to the passengers. Testing is an essential element to allow the aviation industry, and the economy in general, to gradually get out of the current crisis without compromising the health and safety of the public.”
London Luton Airport first in UK to receive ACI Airport Health Accreditation
London Luton Airport has received certification under the ACI Airport Health Accreditation programme. It was the first UK airport to be awarded the accreditation, which demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the safety of staff and passengers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance it places on restoring public confidence in air travel.
Alberto Martin, CEO London Luton Airport: “Airports are vital to the UK’s economic recovery, and as we welcome back more passengers we are taking every measure possible to ensure that everyone in the airport is as safe as possible. This accreditation provides peace of mind to our staff and the passengers who choose to fly with us. I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone at the airport whose efforts have helped us to achieve this industry-leading standard.”