We have all seen the photos recently of empty airports, and with all the news circulating daily, flying simply for personal travel is not a good idea. As the world does begin to find a new normal, we hear steps being taken by the airlines – most of them anyway, but what about the airports where thousands of people gather to wait for their flight. Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) is applying the latest disinfection technologies, including disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating and autonomous cleaning robots, at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to protect passengers and airport staff from COVID-19 infection.
HKIA is the world’s first airport where “CLeanTech”, a full-body disinfection channel facility, is being tried in live operation. Persons using the facility will have a temperature check before entering an enclosed channel for the 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedures. The interior surface of the channel is equipped with antimicrobial coating which can remotely kill virus and bacteria on human bodies and clothing by using the technologies of photocatalyst and “nano needles”. Sanitizing spray is also applied for instant disinfection. The channel is kept under negative pressure to prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment. Currently, the facility is designated for use by the staff who take part in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers.
Steven Yiu, Deputy Director, Service Delivery of the AA, said, “The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority. Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work.”
Meanwhile, the AA is conducting a pilot test of applying antimicrobial coating at all passenger facilities. An invisible coating to destroy germs, bacteria and viruses is applied to high-touch surfaces in the terminal, including handles and seats of Automated People Movers and passenger buses, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, toilets, seating area in the terminal, baggage trolleys, elevator buttons, and more. After completion of the trial in May, the AA will consider implementing it as a long term disinfection measure.
Autonomous cleaning robots are also deployed to ensure thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities in HKIA. Intelligent Sterilization Robot, equipped with ultra violet light sterilizer and air sterilizer, is deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building. The robot can move around autonomously and sterilize up to 99.99% of bacteria in its vicinity, including both the air and object surfaces, in just 10 minutes. As we watch these steps being taken in Hong Kong, it gives us a glimpse at what our airports will look like very soon — at least we hope that all airports will be taking the time and making the effort to sterilize everything at this level…