Public Works Minister Alfredo Moreno, Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Gloria Hutt and Civil Aeronautics Board Secretary-General Martín Mackenna monitored the performance of new technology for checking passengers’ temperatures that will support the work being done at Santiago Airport’s sanitary customs point.
The pilot project, which comes in addition to the one launched on Thursday at the San Borja bus terminal in Santiago, seeks to use new technology to help with the work of detecting when people are infected with the coronavirus. The system includes a thermal camera and software that will support the work by healthcare officials by enabling them to take passengers’ temperatures from a distance.
“The health, social and economic emergency provoked by COVID-19 is the toughest and most profound one we’ve ever had in Chile, if not in the whole world. The country’s airports continue to be operational and are functioning normally, but we only have about 10% of the flights that we usually have,” Minister Alfredo Moreno explained.
The Minister noted that the Sanitary Customs Point at Arturo Merino Benítez Airport in Santiago is safeguarding the health of all those passengers who have to travel. “We have also added a new element thanks to the contribution of the company Huawei: this thermal camera, which allows us to take passengers’ temperatures from a distance, without touching them, while they are boarding the plane. This camera is a modern tool that is already being used in airports elsewhere in the world, allowing officials to test 16 people at the same time. The device is part of the Sanitary Customs Point that has been provided for passengers boarding domestic flights at Santiago Airport. An alarm sounds if anyone’s temperature is higher than 37.8°C,” the Minister explained.
Meanwhile, Minister Gloria Hutt stated, “air transportation must continue in order to guarantee connectivity in Chile and allow people doing essential work like medical personnel to travel, and for equipment and supplies to be delivered. We are engaging in cross-sector work so that we can take every possible precaution and have introduced new technology to support healthcare personnel, which will allow for safer air travel and contain the spread of Covid-19.”
The Transportation and Telecommunications Minister added, “the health control process will require more time at departure, so we are calling on all passengers who must travel to arrive at the airport at least two hours early.”
The Secretary-General of the Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry’s Civil Aeronautics Board, Martín Mackenna, provided the official passenger air transport statistics for the first quarter of the year, which reveal a fall of 10.7% in domestic and international flights compared to the same period last year.
According to the statistics, a total of 1,378,894 passengers were transported in March, which is 39.8% fewer than in the same month in 2019.
The main domestic destinations last month were Calama, Antofagasta, Iquique, Puerto Montt and Concepción, while the main international destinations were Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo, Bogotá and Río de Janeiro.
“The numbers show that we had 789,322 fewer passengers during the first three months of the year compared to this period last year. Air transport is operating at 15% of its capacity in terms of passengers and cargo right now. That means that the number of flights available has dropped considerably due to lower demand and the travel restrictions issued by health officials in Chile and elsewhere,” Martín Mackenna explained.
In regard to cargo transport, 30,011 tons were transported on domestic and international flights during March, which represents a 24% drop compared to the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile the figures for the first quarter of this year show that 98,533 tons of cargo were transported on international and domestic flights. This represents a 3.3% drop compared to the same period in 2019 (-5.3% for international flights and an increase of 20.8% for domestic flights).