Trends driving change in airports and the airline industry

Man at the airport

Like several industries, aviation, airline and transport are being transformed following the coronavirus pandemic. However, this is not the only factor driving change. Developments in the tech sector has led to the creation of new solutions which would increase both efficiency and user experience. Let’s have a look at some of the major trends defining the airline industry in 2021.

A focus on health

This is no surprise. Governments across the world are going to do all that they can to reduce the risk of infection from travel and tourism. As such, travellers will be required to provide information on their health status, such as PCR test results indicating the presence of Covid-19 antigens. Additionally, thanks to Advance Passenger Processing (APP), airports will be able to assess health risks. They might even deny a passenger travel at check-in.

The use of biometrics

Biometrics are taking over several aspects of our life. For instance, most smartphones now have fingerprint sensors and face recognition features. Now, major airports across the world are using this technology to offer a form of advanced self-service. For instance, Munich and Frankfurt airports are using a new interoperable biometric identity and identification platform to screen specific passengers and Emirates has introduced an integrated biometric path at Dubai International Airport. With Covid-19, airports are trying to minimise contact and reduce face-to-face interactions. Thus, the usage and application of biometrics services are expected to grow.

Artificial Intelligence

Various airports and airlines have already introduced products that are powered by artificial intelligence. Some examples are chatbots and virtual assistants. Now, it is expected that this tech will be further exploited to revolutionise customer service and increase efficiency. For instance, it will be used alongside other systems to solve business problems. In the case of airports, they will have the possibility of using visually-enabled analysis that is supported by recommendations based on artificial intelligence to create 3D simulations in real-time.

Cleaning tech based on UV

After the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, hygiene and cleaning became of utmost importance. Thus, several airports in Europe, such as Gatwick and Helsinki, invested in ultraviolet (UV-C) to disinfect trays. Others used it to clean cabins. Honeywell developed a UV cabin system that can clean an entire cabin in less than 10 minutes. This is being used by Qatar Airways who announced that it is planning to acquire more units. The trend of using UV light for disinfection is expected to continue throughout the year.


While robots had already made their way to airports, more of these machines will be seen around. As it is, Robotics have been the main focus of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and it is expected that with the ongoing digital transformation, their application will increase. For instance, there will be robots in the terminal, automated vehicles on the airfield and baggage-related machines. These past couple of years have also witnessed extensive testing related to autonomous vehicles and drones. Researchers are examining how these can benefit employees and customers.

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