Passenger checking her smartphone. Photo: Anna Shvets.

MIAMI – There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed our travel expectations for 2020. However, crises are also times to rethink and come through stronger. This is especially true for the commercial aviation industry, not only for airlines and airports but also for travelers.

From the safety protocols we must now follow to the uncertain situations we are now forced to face, the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis has been felt all over the world. Information regarding the virus changes day-to-day, making travel conditions uncertain at best. The Airsiders Health App, a web tool for travel during COVID-19, already offers a new approach to how travelers can be updated, become aware, and feel safe to travel.

Airsiders is a German start-up from the BEUMER Group company. With expertise in the software and hardware supply field, the company provides interlining solutions for airports globally. During the pandemic, Airsiders developed a free COVID-19 health compass. The tool updates data on testing, safety measures, border restrictions; immigration and quarantine policies, and airline sanitation equipment.

Airways got the opportunity to talk to Airsiders CEO, Yavuz Karadag about the company’s tracking app solution for passengers, airports, and airlines amid the pandemic, and beyond.

Passengers walking through  baggage and arrivals hall at airport. Photo: Skitterphoto.

The scope of the Airsiders Health App

AW: As a business that develops software products, was this airport tracking app the first attempt to provide solutions related to the pandemic?

YK: Yes. Although our core business is focused on virtual interlining as a travel tech company, we wanted to play our part in helping passengers and also support the air travel industry to recover from the crisis. Since we were already dealing with a lot of airport data and have experience in building software products for both businesses and consumers, we felt that we were well-positioned to launch such a tool.

AW: How did the idea of a tracking app come up?

YK: Well, the idea for the app came when we noticed that there were huge differences between the new travel restrictions and also between the airport and airline safety measures all around the world.

Thus, passengers were having to jump between the websites of governments, airlines, airports and many others news sources to get a final answer, just to be able to understand the requirements for one simple journey. This became even more complex if the passengers were flying with multiple flights, so the fact that this information would change on a daily basis made it, of course, even more difficult to track.

That’s why I decided we wanted to build a solution that would allow the passengers to conveniently find all of this information under one roof. We also felt that by helping the passenger, we could support both the airports and airlines in attracting passengers again by simplifying the process for them.

Airsiders Health App web tool. Image: Airsiders

AW: Where have you achieved the most engagement, from passengers, airports or airlines?

YK: Well, thousands of passengers have already used our COVID travel app and we have gotten very positive feedback from them. In terms of the business side, we have seen an increase in demand from airports and airlines around the world that want to work with us in launching the world’s first truly automated baggage check-through solution for virtual interlining. We have some exciting news coming up on that front.

AW: Beyond the crisis, what do you expect for this tracking app in the next year?

YK: For the next year, we’re already closely monitoring the situation and we’re also collaborating with industry partners from airlines, airports, and booking platforms to understand their needs. Hence, we already have many upcoming features that are planned in the pipeline based on the feedback we receive from them, and also the one that we receive from passengers who use our app and that we interview on an ongoing basis.

Some of the features that we expect to have over the next year are to include restriction information for transfer passengers that are flying with connecting flights. Also, we will allow passengers to understand the restrictions based on their origin and their destination. Our goal is to help build and support a stronger global airline network.

Through the data on the compass app, Airsiders can also predict risks of a potential disruption in the passenger’s itinerary, and offer flight guarantees accordingly. Photo: Skitterphoto.

How the Commercial Aviation Industry Will Look Like in the post-COVID Future

AW: Despite the current crisis, this solution comes amid new market opportunities. Passengers, airports, and airlines need an easy way to access up-to-date information. Do you think that customer trust has been loaded with a new meaning in the aviation industry?

YK: Yes, I absolutely think that there is a new meaning for the customer trust now in the air travel industry. This is because we see that the customer wants access to accurate information in real-time about their end-to-end journey. This is due to safety, health, and planning reasons. This is where outsiders come in and try to fill all of the gaps here for the passenger.

AW: It is said that times of crisis bring out the best and the worst in humanity. How do you think this situation can be an opportunity for a resurgence of the aviation industry?

YK: It has unfortunately been a very difficult time for both airports and airlines, as both parties had to let go of a lot of stuff. However, as you mentioned, there is, of course, an opportunity in every crisis. I think this is an interesting opportunity for both airports and airlines to implement new processes and new technologies that have been in the works for the past several years and that would have been difficult to implement in the environment where the passenger capacity was at 100%.

I think one of the most interesting topics at the moment and moving forward is the concept of virtual interline. As we saw with the crisis, the airline networks took a major hit with many direct routes being canceled. This, therefore, left passengers in a situation where they need to book their own itineraries and to collect their luggage during connecting flights at different airports.

This is a huge inconvenience for passengers, but also it’s a lost opportunity for both airports and airlines. It is an urgent issue for the stakeholders to come together and explore new models on how they can facilitate a more seamless end-to-end journey for the passenger.

Featured photo: Passenger checking her smartphone. Photo: Anna Shvets.