Airport queues must fall

To improve the customer experience, we need to get rid of long queues, said Erik Venter, ceo of Comair, during the recent Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) General Assembly in Livingstone, Zambia.

He highlighted the ease with which South Africans could apply for passports and renew vehicle registration at the bank and post office respectively. “We need to benchmark against the consumer lifestyle.”

However, he also pointed out that passengers’ airport experience was largely out of the control of airlines and cited immigration and security checks as bottlenecks. “We need government to come to the party,” he said.

OR Tambo gm, Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, likewise described immigration as a challenge. “We provide adequately in terms of desks, but the challenge is human resources.” On this point, she said that Cape Town International Airport was in the process of establishing a cadet programme that would see the airport train and pay for 30 interns to augment immigration officers. The view is to roll this out to other airports.

Other projects that have been piloted by Acsa to ensure faster passenger movement include smart security at OR Tambo, which reduced the time it took passengers to move through security after checking their hand luggage from three minutes to 90 seconds; self-bag drop, the first phase of which was trialled at OR Tambo; and self-boarding, which was trialled at Cape Town airport.

She said Acsa aimed to have most of these self-service projects rolled out by 2020 and that the possibility of introducing e-gates to digitise immigration was also being explored.

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