Contactless travel driving digitalisation of global airlines, Ethiopian Airlines CEO tells Expo 2020

DUBAI, 12 January 2022– The desire for contactless travel as a COVID-19 precautionary measure has driven the digitalisation of airlines around the globe, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines told the Travel & Connectivity Business Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai yesterday (11 January).

Tewolde GebreMariam, Chief Executive Officer, Ethiopian Airlines, said: “As we have all observed, COVID-19 has promoted a need for more digitalisation, contactless travel and more digital solutions. There were some hesitations on the side of the passengers, the consumer side, before COVID. But now, the push is mutual from both the airline side and customer side. Contactless travel is now not only required by airlines and passengers, but also by all stakeholders because it promotes biosafety and biosecurity.

“Everybody wants to be safe. So, as much as possible, complete contactless travel is being promoted by the industry, and I would say the industry is doing a good job. New solutions are coming which promote contactless travel, not only between the airline and passengers, but also during immigration, with airport authorities and so on.”

The digitalisation of the travel industry has become a necessity and makes business more efficient, less costly and more convenient and comfortable for customers, GebreMariam said.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt global travel, countries need to react in a coordinated and unfragmented way when addressing the challenges that arise as a result, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO said, while predicting that biosafety and digitalisation will remain the airline industry’s number-one priority in 2022.

GebreMariam said: “Biosafety and biosecurity will be a priority of the airline industry to make sure passengers are safe at the airport, passengers are safe on the flights and passengers remain safe during the travel chain in the entire ecosystem. But the airlines know that they cannot achieve this call on their own. They need stakeholders on board, in particularly various governments and airports, and all stakeholders around the airport.”

The Travel & Connectivity Business Forum, held at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai, is part of Expo’s Travel & Connectivity Week. The themed week – running until 15 January and is the sixth of 10 Theme Weeks under Expo’s Programme for People and Planet – aims to address how digitalisation and connectivity can be leveraged to foster greater trade and integration between the nations and citizens of the world.