Six airports in the Aena network have just earned the highest score awarded by the COVID-19 Safety Ratings programme launched by Skytrax, an internationally renowned airport review and ranking consultancy.
The airports in question are Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández, Málaga-Costa del Sol, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife Norte-Ciudad de la Laguna. The rating achieved is five-star for “very high standards”, the highest awarded and comes in addition to the “Safe Airport” accreditations.
The Covid-19 Safety Ratings programme is the only one of its kind worldwide specifically designed for the airport industry. The visits were conducted in person by a group of auditors who toured the six airports and inspected the measures put in place by Aena to ensure the safety of passengers and employees in the current health situation. These audits evaluated some 175 security protocols introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to lessen risks and enhance the wellbeing of passengers and airport employees alike.
The aspects that have been audited include the following:
The Skytrax auditors have pinpointed as strengths of the six airports:
Skytrax accreditation is seen as a global benchmark for ensuring safe and secure travel for customers, and the highest recognition of the effectiveness of the hygiene and safety measures implemented at airports.
Over 100 measures at the airports
Aena has put in place more than 100 safety, hygiene and health control measures at its airports to protect and ensure the health and safety of passengers and employees alike: cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, hand sanitiser dispensers, mandatory use of masks, protective screens, social distancing floor marking tapes and footprints, signage, public address system, contactless devices, continuous passenger information, entry to terminals allowed exclusively for employees, passengers with boarding passes and people accompanying minors travelling alone and passengers with reduced mobility, etc. These measures feature in the company’s Operational Recovery Plan which includes some specifically for passengers and others for operational and organisational purposes.
The measures are based on the guidelines of the European Commission and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) which have been drawn up in conjunction with the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and coordinated with EU member states and the international airport (ACI) and airline (IATA) associations. In addition, since 2020 Aena has been working with the Ministry of Health and the Spanish regions to carry out health checks for passengers arriving at its airports, while this year it has also set aside areas for diagnostic testing clinics at various airports in the network for departing passengers.
The health protocols implemented in Spain go beyond the recommendations of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. These protocols are the same for all the airports, so the standards are similar.
Skytrax is an airline industry review and ranking agency which carries out quality studies in aviation by analysing more than 550 airports and 525 airlines around the world. Since 1999, it has been conducting passenger satisfaction surveys for airlines and airports worldwide using a single questionnaire and analysis format. The World Airport Awards are based on these surveys and are one of the world’s leading quality awards for the airport industry.
Airport Health Accreditation
The six airports are additionally certified by the Airport Health Accreditation programme run by the Airports Council International (ACI) as part of the thirty or so airports in the Aena network that already hold this certification.
This programme assesses compliance with the health measures recommended by the ACI, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. All of them are in turn in line with the targets set in the aforementioned Operational Recovery Plan that Aena kicked off in April 2020 and which is being rolled out at all the airports in its network.
Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) demonstrates Aena’s ongoing commitment to the measures put in place to ensure the safety of employees and passengers in the wake of the pandemic, with the aim of regaining the confidence of travellers in air transport.
As the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) says in its “guidelines for Covid-19 testing and quarantine of air travellers”, air transport has been shown to be a low prevalence environment for the virus, accounting for less than 1% of detected Covid-19 cases and no increase in the transmission rate.
The Airport Health Accreditation from the Airports Council International (ACI) and now the Skytrax accreditation, which audits the passenger experience, go to confirm that the measures implemented by Aena in its airports comply with the regulations applicable in Spain and international standards for airports and also that an independent organisation has certified that the passenger experience achieves the highest score.