Gatwick is the first airport in the UK to treat its security trays with enough UV light energy to guarantee a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate protecting passengers and staff and reducing the spread of coronaviruses, including COVID-19 and other infections on this high-touch surface area.
Image courtesy Gatwick Airport
The new, highly effective system - provided by Smiths Detection - sees each tray pass through a covered ‘UV-tunnel’ fixed underneath the hand luggage screening system, as trays exit the scanners, so that every tray is treated immediately before each passenger uses it.
Following a one-month trial on a single security lane in July 2020, with laboratory testing demonstrating a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate, the new system will be rolled out on eight lanes in Gatwick’s North Terminal - six for passengers and two for staff - by the end of this month.
The system uses short-wavelength UV-C light, which laboratory tests show is effective against coronaviruses, including COVID-19 and SARS, as the radiation warps the structure of their genetic material and prevents the viral particles from replicating.
The UV-C light is completely contained within a covered unit designed following safety standard BS EN ISO 15858:2016, ensuring no risk of exposure to either passengers or staff.
Gatwick and other airports have already deployed other anti-viral systems, such as coatings sprayed on to trays, however this protection dissipates over time whereas this new system treats every tray just before use – ensuring maximum protection and a reduced risk of passing on infection.
Other health measures in place at Gatwick include the frequent, enhanced deep cleaning of common-use surfaces throughout the airport, installation of approx. 500 Perspex screens, social distancing procedures at check in, security and gate rooms, well-spaced seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops and regularly signposted hand washing facilities and around 200 sanitising stations.
All passengers are also advised to bring and wear their own face covering throughout the airport and to check Gatwick’s latest online health guidance before leaving home.
Adrian Witherow, Chief Operating Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “The health and wellbeing of our passengers and staff remains our priority. The system goes above and beyond the guidelines and we will continue to do everything we can to help reassure our passengers that flying is still a great travelling experience and that the health measures we have in place are effective and easy to follow.
“This new system has proven itself to be extremely reliable and provides a really high degree of reassurance as every single passenger and staff member using the system will have a tray that has only just been disinfected. As an airport, we will continue to explore innovative health solutions like this that reduce the spread of coronaviruses and other infections. “
“We’ve partnered with Gatwick Airport on a number of security projects over the years, bringing them cutting-edge screening technology and greater operational efficiency,” said Richard Thompson, Smiths Detection’s Global Director of Aviation.
“The introduction of the UV-C kits demonstrates their interest in ensuring the highest standard of care for their customers and team members in response to COVID-19. The technology deployed by Smiths Detection will not only help to create a healthy airport but is also completely safe to use and will not slow down the security screening process.”
Gatwick is the UK’s second largest airport and flies a range of both short and long-haul point-to-point services. The airport is a vital piece of the UK’s national infrastructure and is also a major driver for both the regional and national economies.
In 2019, a new long-term partnership was formed with VINCI Airports who purchased a 50.01% stake in the airport. This partnership saw Gatwick Airport integrate into the network of VINCI Airports, the leading private airport operator in the world, which manages the development and operation of 45 airports located in Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Japan, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Served by more than 250 airlines, VINCI Airports' network handled 255 million passengers in 2019. Through its expertise as a comprehensive integrator, VINCI Airports develops, finances, builds and operates airports, leveraging its investment capability and know-how to optimise the management and performance of airports and carry out extensions and upgrades. In 2019, its annual revenue for managed activities amounted to €4.9 billion, for a consolidated revenue of €2.6 billion.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which manages the remaining 49.99% interest in Gatwick, is an independent infrastructure investor that makes equity investments in high quality infrastructure assets in the energy, transport and water/waste sectors. GIP has US$68 billion of Assets under Management. Its 41 portfolio companies operate in over 51 countries with more than 67,000 employees and generate annual revenues of circa US$51 billion.