Covid-19 certainly accelerated the introduction and adaptation of contactless technology
by LYDIA NATHAN
CONTACTLESS travel will soon be the way forward, particularly for the aviation sector, as the impact of Covid-19 is bound to continue for many years to come.
Qatar Airways VP of sales for South-East Asia and South Asia subcontinent Jared Lee said this is one of the main trends the industry foresees shaping the future of travel, which will be 100% contactless.
“Contactless travel is not new to the industry but Covid-19 certainly accelerated the introduction and adaptation of contactless technology.
“The cruise industry has already adopted some of these technologies along with contactless customer interaction and recognition based on Bluetooth and mobile apps,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
According to Lee, various international airports and airlines are offering contactless systems, such as remote flight check-in and self-service kiosk, including the Doha-based airline which promptly introduced its zerotouch technology.
“We will also become the first airline in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to offer passengers in business and economy classes the option to pair their personal Bluetooth headphones with the onboard seatback in-flight entertainment system in all cabins on the Boeing 787-9 fleet.
“This will help us limit passenger surface contact and prevent any possible spread of infection on board,” he said.
He added another technology currently making waves within the travel industry is digital health passports.
Lee said multiple initiatives to develop and deploy digital health passports are currently underway around the world and are expected to be in use in the future.
“Qatar Airways is proud to become the first airline in the Middle East to begin trials of the innovative new International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass “Digital Passport” mobile app, where passengers on the Doha to Istanbul route were the first group to experience the app.
“The aim was to fulfil the airline’s vision of having a more contactless, secure and seamless travel for our passengers,” he said.
According to Lee, some aspects have also changed onboard the Qatar flight including the Honeywell ultraviolet (UV) cabin system, which has extendable UV arms that treat aircraft seats, surfaces and cabins using UV light.
“Additionally, we have also modified our meal service to ensure each meal item is individually wrapped and our business class dining is now served on a tray instead of a table setting to adhere to the strictest hygiene measure, without compromising the quality of our in-flight meals,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Lee said 2021 will be a better year for the aviation sector, especially since there have been many different changes and initiatives implemented to help build people’s trust in flying again.
“2020 was not a great year for most travel-related industries. As a matter of fact, aviation has been one of the most affected industries, with a unique set of challenges coming from a more restrictive travel environment and the shock to demand.
“However, I am immensely proud of how we have responded to these challenges,” he said.
Travel confidence is also slowly returning, as global economies begin to recover after a year of turmoil.
“Travel will steadily return, limited by entry restrictions rather than customer confidence, as most people will want to travel again to meet friends and family. We can also see that business travel is also slowly restarting.
“Several of the implemented measures are temporary but the industry will likely see some long-term changes. It is far too early to anticipate what changes will become more permanent as these will be driven by the availability of vaccinations, consumer behaviour, airport and health protocols,” Lee said.
He also said the airline plans to operate over 1,200 weekly flights to more than 140 destinations by the peak of the IATA Summer Season.
“This includes 23 destinations in Africa, 14 in America, 43 in the Asia Pacific, 43 in Europe and 19 in the Middle East,” Lee noted.