Sunday, November 29, 2020

Covid-19: Aviation must rely on technology to return to the skies

In an era where contactless has become the new normal, aviation industry players are tolling on tech solutions to track the spread of Covid-19, making travel touchless and seamless. Indian and global airlines including Vistara, Air India, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines are using technology to make travel safer for passengers.

A recent study by Amadeus found that technology plays a crucial role in supporting recovery. Nearly 84 per cent of travellers said the technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months by addressing concerns around mixing with crowds, social distancing and physical touchpoints.

“Access to technology that reduces human contact, queues and physical touchpoints were the ultimate factor for getting people to travel,” it said. The study was conducted among 6,000 travellers globally, of which approximately 1,000 respondents came from India.

Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer of Vistara, also believes that in a post-pandemic world, touchless is going to play a key role in ensuring safety throughout the passenger’s journey and will be a deciding factor for the customers to choose an airline. “Today, not just Vistara, but the entire aviation industry has come together to rebuild passenger confidence in flying, which is already showing positive signs and helping fuel demand,” he said.

Global airline lobby IATA recently said it is working on a mobile app that will help travellers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status. On the other hand, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a global mechanism that would use QR codes to open up international travel.

Industry experts and players said that though these technologies might be effective individually, a standardised platform was needed to track the spread of Covid-19 to make air travel seamless.

For example, according to Vimal Kumar Rai, founder and MD at TRACE Consulting Services, the QR code suggestion made by China may be viewed through the lens of skepticism. “The problem of course is politics and perception; China isn’t trusted on the world stage for various reasons and for this reason, its suggestion of the use of QR codes will be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Who or what will see your data, how will it be stored and used in the future, etc — these are all major concerns.”

29/11/20 Forum Gandhi/Business Line

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