Hamad International Airport is the first airport in the Middle East to receive the 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating
By Peter Miller, Skytrax – London, UK
Qatar’s Hamad International Airport is the first airport in the Middle East to be Certified with the 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating, by international air transport rating agency Skytrax.
Hamad International Airport has become the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating by Skytrax. The audit evaluated how effectively COVID-19 policies are implemented at Qatar’s airport against the Skytrax COVID-19 safety rating standards.
The COVID-19 audit conducted was conducted over 3 days in September and is based on a combination of procedural efficiency checks, visual observation analysis and ATP sampling tests, with the consistency of standards being a key determinant in the final rating applied.
The Audit evaluated and verified the practicality and usefulness of physical distancing protocols, as well as the quality and availability of hand hygiene facilities across HIA’s terminal. The audit also assessed cleaning effectiveness and identified potential contamination sources to check that the airport’s hygiene standards are complying with stringent requirements.
During the audit, Skytrax inspected and evaluated the standards of staff personal protective equipment (PPE) and their adherence to using them, as well as the implementation of thermal temperature screening procedures, face mask regulations and the overall cleanliness and hygiene standards across the airport.
Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer at Hamad International Airport said: “We are proud that our COVID-19 policies and protocols are recognized by Skytrax and that we are the first in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. Since the inauguration of Hamad International Airport in 2014, Skytrax ranking has always played an important role in HIA’s self-assessment and served as a quality benchmark to keep up with passenger expectations and operational excellence. HIA prides itself on its status as a 5-Star Airport for the fourth consecutive year, and a 5-Star COVID-19 Airport. These accolades are a true testament to our efforts in safeguarding travellers and staff while redefining the airport experience.”
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: “Hamad International Airport has achieved great success in delivering COVID-19 protocols that are providing a safe environment for customers and staff. In areas such as hand hygiene and social distancing, Hamad International Airport has good procedures in place. The airport is also meeting high standards of sanitisation across the high-contact points. The consistency of COVID-19 safety procedures and systems is excellent, and this is a critical factor behind being able to certify Hamad International Airport with the 5-Star COVID-19 Safety Rating.”
The COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating provides an independent analysis of an airport’s COVID-19 hygiene and safety measures, assessing over 400 factors in a typical airport travel sequence. Conducted over a few days, Skytrax test and evaluate the airport’s COVID-19 procedures, including the use of ATP Testing for surface cleanliness.
As Qatar’s state-of-the-art hub continuously prioritizes passenger convenience and safety, the airport recently installed 15 PPE vending machines across its terminal to ensure passengers can easily access various disposable and washable PPE equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and face shield products. Physical distancing floor stickers are installed in front of every PPE vending machine to safeguard passengers safety.
HIA also invested in Smart Screening Helmets – wearable intelligent helmets that are portable, safe, and effective in enabling contactless temperature measurement. This is in addition to UV disinfectant robots, which are fully autonomous mobile devices, emitting concentrated UV-C light that eliminates the majority of infectious microorganisms. The robots are being deployed in vulnerable high passenger flow areas to reduce the spread of pathogens.
Additionally, HIA recently installed C2 technology, the latest security screening system, which is a significant counter COVID-19 measure, that reduces possible cross-contamination in passenger carry-on bags. The implementation of the technology elevates the airport’s hygiene standards, by limiting human contact at security checkpoints, making the process safer and faster for both staff and passengers.
HIA is also one of the few global airports to offer a contactless and paperless airport experience with the introduction of biometric identification technology, in addition to touchless elevator keys.
HIA maintains stringent cleaning procedures in line with international standards. The airport continues to implement a 1.5m physical distancing across all passenger touchpoints around the airport, through floor markings, signage, and distanced seating.
All passenger touchpoints are sanitized regularly and all gates and bus gate counters are cleaned after each flight. HIA’s retail and food and beverage outlets encourage contactless and cashless transactions through cards and are considering introducing online or in-app purchases in the future. The airport also conducts regular disinfection of all baggage trolleys and tubs.
COVID-19 Airport Safety Ratings are based on scientific study and analysis by Skytrax and involves no element of self-testing or evaluation by an airport. The analysis of hygiene protocols includes reference to ICAO, EASA and ECDC COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety guidelines.
Skytrax commenced the COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating in August 2020, which requires audit teams to physically visit each airport and carry out the hygiene analysis and assessment of procedural efficiency and consistency. Airport ratings released to date are primarily in Europe, with Hamad International Airport being the first in Middle East, and some Central and South American airports to be published shortly.
THE COVID-19 5-STAR AIRPORT SAFETY RATING
The 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating recognises very high standards of airport cleanliness and maintenance procedures. Airports achieving 5-Star deliver many Best Practice systems of cleanliness and hygiene monitoring, and most importantly, these protocols are adhered to consistently. In addition to excellent visual cleanliness and terminal presentation standards, 5-Star airports provide exceptional disinfection and hygiene measures that deliver an 75% pass rate during scientific validation.