As the world begins to emerge from the COVID- 19 pandemic and air transport operations start to normalise, regional airports in Africa are expected to begin recovering fast.
According to SITA’s data, Africa continues its strong aviation recovery in October 2021, already reaching 64 per cent of pre-pandemic flight activity Forty-three per cent of traffic carried by African airlines during 2020 was domestic, while 38 per cent was intercontinental and 19 per cent intra-African.
Increased travel poses a significant challenge and an opportunity for the continent.
The challenge will be incorporating stringent health and safety best practices in an already limited and sometimes over-strained space.
Passengers and airlines will demand airports to be ready for more efficient, flexible and safe operations, while airports look for ways to generate new revenue streams.
As passengers return to the skies, airports will once again face the same landside and air-side capacity constraints they were experiencing in pre-COVID times, but with the added hurdle of managing the new COVID-era health requirements. To achieve this shift towards recovery, the only path for airports to take is digitalisation.
Automating some of their processes will help airports quickly restart operations and assist them in coping with future capacity constraints while addressing the need to look for alternative revenue streams.
Transforming the passenger experience, fulfilling travelers’ demand for better efficiencies and ensuring they feel safe to travel again will remain priorities. For all this to work, regional airports need to react quickly, look at scalable solutions that can future-proof their operations, acquire the technical infrastructure required to decrease operation and maintenance costs, and enhance the passenger experience through automation.
Technology remains essential to the recovery, and airports, airlines, and governments must collaborate closely to aid air transport’s more sustainable and resilient future.
Ethiopian Airlines has been the fastest-growing airline in Africa over the past decade or so. It has made ground where many other airlines have struggled by adopting innovative technology that automates the passenger journey and boosts operational efficiency.
By September 2020, the airline was already back to 40 per cent capacity. Earlier this year, SITA announced a new technology deployment offering passengers enhanced check-in and bag drop self-services with Ethiopian Airlines at Bole International Airport (ADD).
Smart Path Drop and Fly baggage solution, has been implemented in the new extension of the check-in area with international passengers of Ethiopian Airlines benefitting from the service.