Hamad International Airport (HIA) announced on Tuesday that it is the first entity in the world to achieve independent verification from BSI (British Standards Institution) for its implementation of Covid-19 ICAO Aviation Health Safety Protocols. The verification was conducted following successful audits for Compliance to International Civil Aviation Organisation Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce ICAO CART.

Qatar’s airport received the verification certificate during an official handover ceremony attended by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, HE Akbar al-Baker; Jon Wilks, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar; HE Abdulla bin Nasser Turki al-Subaey, President of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority; HIA’s Chief Operation Officer, Engr Badr Mohammed al-Meer; Jamal Dalli, Business Development Manager at BSI; among other BSI officials and executives from MATAR Qatar Company for Airports Management and Operation.

This important achievement marks the State of Qatar as the first country in the world to be verified by BSI for its Covid-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol Implementation. It is also a significant testament to the efforts implemented by Qatar’s gateway to the world, HIA, that helped successfully restore passenger confidence and boost air travel, even during the most turbulent of times.  

This Verification of Compliance is a testament to the airport’s commitment to maintaining business efficiency during the Covid-19 pandemic while implementing unprecedented measures to protect its staff and passengers in compliance with guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).

The airport was awarded based on a compliance verification audit conducted by BSI to assess guidelines implemented by the airport during the pandemic and will be maintained via a continued verification that will be conducted to ensure this compliance is maintained over time. Qatar’s state-of-the-art hub demonstrated industry best practices, having implemented innovative measures for transferring, departing, and arriving passengers.

Commenting on the achievement, Abdulla bin Nasser Turki al-Subaey, President of the Civil Aviation Authority; said, “We are pleased to witness this unprecedented development in Qatar’s aviation history. This achievement is a testament to Qatar's keenness and commitment to ICAO’s principles and objectives that help achieve the safety, security, and efficiency of the world's civil aviation system. Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority continuously works on improving and developing the country’s aviation regulations to ensure that the latest health, safety, and security standards are implemented. This achievement confirms the key role played by the authority to ensure compliance with international standards as well as the leading role of Hamad International Airport, one of the best airports in the world."

HIA’s Chief Operation Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed al-Meer, said, “It is an honour to be recognised for our efforts to maintain a safe environment for our staff and passengers while ensuring operational efficiency. We always strive to provide consistently high-quality services for all our stakeholders. The verification reflects our capability in maintaining HIA’s position as a leading airport in the world, in these unprecedented times. As the world is adjusting to the new normal, the international recognition we get from BSI is important to ensure HIA’s operational capabilities at all times.”

He added, “This achievement would not have been made possible without the determined efforts of our staff, partners, and passengers, who all contribute in boosting the airport’s position as a true leader in the global aviation industry.”

Group Executive Director Assurance Services at BSI, Pietro Foschi said, “We welcome and congratulate the leadership demonstrated by Hamad International Airport to be the first to achieve this verification. The challenges presented by Covid-19 to organisations, employees and consumers have had a huge impact and as we adjust to the ‘next normal’, organisations around the world are implementing new ways of working as part of a progressive recovery. Organisations need expert guidance on how to maintain business efficiency and resilience, while protecting workers and consumers. They need to ensure that protocols are in place and need to provide trust to workers, passengers, authorities and all stakeholders that the best practices regarding safety in aviation are correctly applied so that such critical infrastructure can be used safely over time. We at BSI are delighted to have been collaborating with the airport management team to provide such trust.”

Qatar’s airport has taken swift and comprehensive steps to curb the spread of Covid-19. The airport’s protocols and procedures have changed drastically to adapt to the different needs of passengers. Keeping every passenger journey in mind, HIA recently applied newly modified procedures for arriving passengers. The airport has customized its procedures based on the categorization of arriving passengers to ensure a smooth return to the country. Whether travellers are arriving, departing, or transferring through the five-star airport, their journeys have been designed to meet high levels of convenience and comfort. To ensure the health and wellbeing of its staff and passengers, HIA also introduced a series of unprecedented measures including the implementation of robotics and advanced thermal screening helmets.

Sparing no effort in safeguarding its passengers, HIA continues to maintain a 1.5m physical distancing across all passenger touchpoints around the airport, through floor markings, signage and distanced seating. All passenger touchpoints are sanitized every 10-15 minutes. All gates and bus gate counters are being cleaned after each flight. HIA’s retail and food and beverage outlets encourage contactless and cashless transactions through cards and are considering introducing online or in-app purchases in the future. The airport also conducts regular disinfection of all baggage trolleys and tubs.

HIA has recently become one of the few airports to introduce paperless air travel through its investments in facial biometric identification. The technology combines passenger’s flight, passport, and facial biometric information in a ‘single travel token’ at the self-check-in kiosk. This has enabled passengers to use biometric-enabled check-in kiosks to take their photo and scan their passport and boarding pass. This digital identity record makes the passenger’s face their pass at key airport touchpoints, such as self-service bag-drop, pre-immigration, e-Gate and self-boarding gates. The visionary approach and early investment in biometric identification technology have proved to be an extremely efficient tool in the airport’s battle against Covid-19, allowing departing passengers to move through key touchpoints with minimal physical contact.

The airport also installed C2 technology for transferring passengers. This security screening system allows transferring travellers the freedom to move through security checkpoints without having to take out any electronic devices from their bags and is a significant counter COVID-19 measure that reduces possible cross-contamination in passenger carry-on bags. The implementation of the technology elevates the airport’s hygiene standards, by limiting human contact at the security checkpoints, making the process safer and faster for both staff and passengers.

BSI has maintained a fruitful history with Qatar’s airport. The organization recently confirmed HIA’s ISO 22301:2012 Business Continuity Management System Certification, making it one of the first airports in the world to achieve this. This achievement is proof that the airport is operationally resilient and is able to continue its operations while reducing the likelihood of disruptions in the face of an unprecedented crisis like the COVID-19.

In 2018, HIA achieved ISO/IEC 20000:2011 certification, the international gold standard for excellence in IT Service Management and an ISO 55001:2014 certification, the international standard for asset management, making Qatar’s airport the first in the Middle East to achieve this certification from BSI.

The ISO/IEC 20000:2011 certification demonstrated HIA’s efforts in establishing necessary controls and procedures to consistently deliver cost-effective and high-quality IT services, ultimately enabling world-class experiences to more than 30 million passengers transiting through the airport every year.

The ISO 55001:2014 certification was awarded to HIA based on the airport’s continuous efforts to deliver excellence in safety and passenger experience across the airport, through best practice management of physical assets and infrastructure.

As global travel slowly resumes, Qatar’s airport continues to focus its efforts on the normalization of travel by focusing on boosting passenger confidence through introducing the safest and most convenient travel experience.