How DFW airport envisions post-COVID travel

An American Airlines airliner sits near a hanger at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 13 July 2020

How DFW airport envisions post-COVID travel

  • The airport is working with American Airlines — whose home base is DFW — to roll out a self-check-in for luggage

CHICAGO: With COVID-19 ravaging the aviation industry, airlines and airports worldwide are reining in costs and halting new spending, except in one area: Reassuring pandemic-wary passengers about travel.

“Whatever the new normal ... it’s going to be more and more around self-service,” Sean Donohue, CEO of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.

The airport is working with American Airlines — whose home base is DFW — to roll out a self-check-in for luggage, and all of its restrooms will be entirely touchless by the end of July with technology developed by Infax Inc. They will have hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers, which will be equipped with sensors to alert workers when supplies are low.

“One of the biggest complaints airports receive are restrooms,” Donohue said.

Dallas is piloting three technology options for luggage check-ins: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS.

DFW has become the world’s busiest airport, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium, thanks in part to a strategy by large global carrier American to concentrate much of its pandemic flying through its Texas hub.

Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding — where your face is your boarding pass — for international flights and is taking advantage of the lull in international traffic to work with US Customs and Border Protection to use the VeriScan technology for arriving passengers too, he said.

Delta Air Lines opened the first US biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018, and some airports in Europe and Asia also use facial recognition technology. It has spurred some concerns, however, with a US government study finding racial bias in the technology and the European Union earlier this year considered banning it in public places over privacy concerns.

The Dallas airport is also testing new technology around better sanitization, beginning with ultraviolet technology that can kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.

But it has also deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people who are going through the terminals physically sanitizing high-touch areas.

“Technology is critical because it can be very efficient,” Donohue said, but customers “being able to visualize what’s happening is reassuring as well.”

DFW has invested millions of dollars above its cleaning and sanitation budget since the pandemic broke out, while suspending about $100 million of capital programs and reducing its second-half operating costs by about 20 percent as it addresses COVID-19’s steep hit to the industry, which only months ago was preparing for growth.


Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

Updated 13 August 2020

Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

  • Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months

JEDDAH: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity is plunging in lockstep with Turkey’s collapsing economy and the country is on the verge of a potentially devastating recession, financial experts have told Arab News.
The value of the Turkish lira has fallen to 7.30 against the US dollar and the central bank has spent $65 billion to prop up the currency, according to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months as the government moved to help families during the coronavirus pandemic, but the result has been a surge in inflation to 12 percent.
With the falling lira and increased price of imported goods, the living standards of many Turks who earn in lira but have dollar debts have fallen sharply.
The economy is expected to shrink by about 4 percent this year. The official unemployment rate remains at 12.8 percent because layoffs are banned, although many experts say the real figures are far higher.
To complete the perfect storm, tourism revenues and exports have been decimated by the pandemic, and foreign capital has fled amid fears over economic trends and the independence of the central bank.
Wolfango Piccoli, of Teneo Intelligence in London, said logic dictated an increase in interest rates but “this is unlikely to happen.”
Piccoli said central bank officials would strive to avoid an outright rate hike at their monetary policy meeting on Aug. 20. “A mix of controlled devaluation and backdoor policies, such as limiting Turkish lira’s liquidity, remains their preferred approach,” he said.
There is speculation of snap elections, and Erdogan’s view is that higher interest rates cause inflation, despite considerable economic evidence to the contrary.