Reasons to be cheerful: 3 – ACI’s Health Accreditation provides reassurance

Ilaria Grasso Macola 16 December 2020 (Last Updated December 17th, 2020 11:50)

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a dark time for many airports, but are there reasons to be cheerful ahead of next year? In the third part of our series, Airport Industry Review writer Ilaria Grasso Macola gives her opinion on the silver linings from a difficult year and asks: what might the future hold?

Reasons to be cheerful: 3 – ACI’s Health Accreditation provides reassurance
A YouGov poll recently found that most of Britons do not feel comfortable with flying.

ACI’s Health Accreditation is providing reassurances to anxious frequent fliers (like me)

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are less likely to fly. According to a survey conducted by public opinion and data company YouGov in July, 64% of British people said they did not feel comfortable taking a plane, whilst 70% added that they weren’t planning to travel internationally over the next six months. 


With a yearly average of around 20 flights taken and an Alitalia’s MilleMiglia membership card, I consider myself a frequent flyer, and travelling by plane has always been one of my favourite activities. Ever since the pandemic began, though, I grew increasingly anxious at the idea of taking a plane, not only because the thought of sitting so close to another person triggered my anxiety but also because I was never confident in the standards that were actually implemented at airports.

But the good news is that organisations have been looking for ways to convince passengers that flying is still safe.  The Airport Council International’s (ACI) airport health accreditation is a prime example. The certification provides airports with a year-long assessment of their health and safety measures.  showing that they are aligned with recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force as well as the industry’s best practices.

To be certified, airports need to abide by a series of standards, including deep disinfection and cleaning, the installation of hand sanitisers and the use of protective screens in areas where staff members are actively in touch with customers. This is music to the ears of anxious travellers.

This allows airports to demonstrate to passengers, staff and regulators that they’re putting health and safety at the centre of their recovery plans. 

“While the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects have halted the airport industry at global level, airports are vital cogs in the aviation ecosystem, and our airport health accreditation programme will help to restore passenger confidence in air travel,” commented ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira in July.

The initiative is being adopted by an increasing number of airports. As of November 2020, 425 airports had applied and 113 had received their accreditation. These include Istanbul, Hong Kong and Luton. 

Over the next few months, this programme will prove crucial in showing that flying is safe, providing the certainty that if an airport has the accreditation, its standards are the highest.

As for myself, the accreditation is also helping me choose where to fly more wisely. The last time I booked a flight I made sure that the airports I was travelling to and from had the accreditation and from now on, this will make all the difference for me and anxious travellers around the world.