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, chief executive of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.
“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 itssecond-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.
Nearly 11 4,000 customers went through DFW on July 11, an improvement from a 10,000 per day trough in April, but still just about half of last year’s volumes.
The airport has also been testing touchless technology for employee temperature checks, but is not currently planning hotly-debated checks for passengers, barring a federal mandate for which there has yet to be any inclination by the US government.
Michael Davies, who runs the New Technology Ventures program at London Business School, said technology will be one of many changes to the airport experience going forward, with fewer overall travelers who will be seeking more space and spending less time dining and shopping.
“You put these things together and this feels in some interesting ways very much like back to the golden age of air travel,” said Davies.