DUBAI: The amount of time passengers spend going through airports to board flights has doubled to an average of three hours, but this could surge to at least eight hours if traffic numbers return to pre-pandemic levels and restrictions remain in place, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It warned of “airport chaos” unless governments worldwide develop digital processes to speed up the processing of passengers.
“Without an automated solution for COVID-19 checks, we can see the potential for significant airport disruptions on the horizon,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in a statement, describing the current three-hour processing and waiting time as “unacceptable.”
He added: “Nobody will tolerate waiting hours at check-in or for border formalities. We must automate the checking of vaccine and test certificates before traffic ramps-up.
“The technical solutions exist. But governments must agree on digital certificate standards and align processes to accept them. And they must act fast.”
Airlines in the region have already begun addressing this issue. On April 19, Saudia started trialing the digital travel and health pass developed by IATA.
The pass is a mobile app that contains flight details, personal information, passport data, verified COVID-19 test results, and proof of vaccination. It also includes an option to securely share required information with testing labs or airlines.
Emirates announced in February that it had signed an agreement with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to digitally verify passengers’ medical records.
The IT systems of DHA-approved laboratories were linked with Emirates’ reservations and check-in systems so the airline can verify passengers’ health information related to COVID-19 infection, testing, and vaccination.