LPIA and other airports should turn to tech amid COVID-19, says NAD executive

As the The Bahamas and the world learn to live with COVID-19, airports like Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) could look to decentralize certain routine airport processes in order to better adhere to the health protocols that the pandemic calls for, Director of Operations for the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) Jonathan Hanna said yesterday, adding that a year and a half from now, passengers and employees will be interacting within a more digital environment in the airport.

“Terminals were never designed to be testing centers or to allow for six-feet distance between each passenger,” said Hanna, who made his remarks during an appearance on Cable Bahamas Business Solutions’ Digital Citizen webinar series. He suggested that large hotels could become airline check-in sites in order to lessen the build-up of people in the airport terminal. He also explained that both passengers who move through the terminal and employees of the airport will have to get acquainted with the increased use of digital equipment.

“The digital landscape at LPIA has changed in the last five years and will continue to change,” said Hanna. “Over the next 18 months you will see a lot more buy-in from end users, from travelers and airport workers. What we’re going to do is protect travelers as well, in terms of really providing a contactless journey where they don’t have to have that physical interaction anymore.”

Hanna said check-in counters could be replaced with kiosks that interact with mobile phones, biometrics have been introduced for pre-clearance and health scanners, such as temperature readers, are digital and touchless.

Maurice Jenkins, director of information technology and telecommunications for the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, representing Miami International Airport (MIA), was also a guest on the webinar series and said the pandemic forced airports to accelerate their innovation. But Jenkins contends airports should be even further ahead of where they are, explaining that airports and airlines should be using biometrics in lieu of physical passports and boarding passes in 2021. And while the use of biometrics is not here now, he said it is on its way.

Hanna said NAD has turned to technology to improve its airside training and lower the costs associated with that training. He explained that airside training often resulted in a loss of productivity, so the airport switched to virtual training.

“What we were able to do was recreate LPIA in a virtual environment and you can now show persons the hazards of operating on the airside,” said Hanna.

“As a result we are able to save time and money and also enhance the training.”

With the introduction of more technology, both Jenkins and Hanna agreed that cyber security is a top priority or both LPIA and MIA.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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