Like the rest of the globe, India has not been left untouched by the pandemic. The Government of India decided on a complete lockdown in March 2020, lasting close to two months. Aviation, a key sector of the economy, was also paused with only emergency evacuation flights and cargo flights permitted to fly.
The skies opened up for domestic travel on 25 May in a calibrated approach. For GMR-led Hyderabad International (GHIAL) the challenge now was the implementation of a new normal with passenger safety as the prime focus.
Going contactless at all passenger touch points was the new mantra. Hyderabad International Airport is known for its technology-enabled passenger comfort and convenience solutions. Nearly half a decade ago, the airport had introduced contactless and paperless e-boarding solutions, making it the only airport in India to do so. Long before the pandemic struck, the end-to-end in-house developed e-boarding solution, was already making travel effortless domestically.
The contactless journey under the new normal was heavily dependent on technology and GHIAL was well equipped with technology inventions to ensure the safety of passengers and airport staff. From day one of the restart of domestic travel, all technology-enabled solutions were available around the clock to instill passenger confidence.
It took the airport’s IT team a mere 10 days to come out with an array of contactless solutions for passengers. Some of these include contactless entry to the airport, with a high-definition document reader at all gates; Self Bag Drop counters at check in, e-boarding enabled contactless scanning of boarding pass at Security Frisking Zone and Boarding Gates. Heightened measures of safety also included sanitization and social distancing.
So, when all airports were struggling for viable contactless solutions GHIAL had already piloted and was ready for the roll out its touchless QR-code enabled self-check-in kiosks at the airport. This was a vital invention, as passengers were required by the government to come to the airport after web check with a printed or digital copy of the boarding pass.
After lock-down the entire country witnessed a massive rise in the first-time flyers as migrant labourers, many who had never even seen an airport, were taking flights as the only option to return to their homes. Most of them did not have smart phones let alone digitally savvy enough to toggle through airline websites to check in online. GHIAL understood this challenge. And the technology inventions which were made available right from day one of the restart definitely helped the passengers overcome their fear and apprehensions.
The Government of India is now continuously striving towards increasing international flights, thanks to its concerted efforts under the Air Transport Bubble and Vande Bharat Mission. As a result, GHIAL is now connected to the UK, UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain apart from other destinations under Vande Bharat Mission and charter services.
To make the journey of international flyers even smoother, the airport has extended its end-to end e-boarding for international flights. After a successful pilot with IndiGo airlines, and approval from government and regulatory authorities, Hyderabad International Airport went live in September making it once again the first airport in India to offer such a service to international flyers.
Today, any international passenger flying on an Indigo airline through GHIAL can conveniently use the e-boarding facility to check-in and board with confidence and in a touchless manner. Many other international carriers will soon be opting for this solution as well.
As the champion of innovations, GHIAL has always raised its bar. Some of the key successful projects include its pilot project of facial recognition. The airport has also innovated an in-house contact-less information desk at the domestic departures resolving passengers’ query in real time.
GHIAL has also inducted a facility for passengers to explore retail options through the HOI app. This unique artificial intelligence =powered mobile app equips passengers with all the necessary information about their itinerary like their boarding pass, baggage information, retail outlets at the airport etc. HOI is not only useful for frequent flyers but empowers first time flyers who arrive at GHIAL to maneuver through the airport and helps them with the ease of navigation.
The airport has converted most of its elevators to a sensor-based contactless mode infusing a sense of confidence among everyone using the facility.
GHIAL offers India’s first National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) FASTag enabled contactless airport car parking to ensure safe passage for passengers and visitors. This also includes the availability of all popular digital mode of payments at the parking.
For GMR-led Hyderabad International Airport, innovation is a way of life and contactless travel is the new mantra.