airplane flying over continents

Physical Identity and Access Management: The Future of Aviation and How to Prioritize Security Through Travel Surges and Workforce Challenges

With the aviation sector witnessing a significant rebound in travel since the pandemic, it also faces a new set of challenges, including the dramatic workforce shortages that reached an all-time low this summer. With these recent challenges, an entirely new set of security risks has come into play.  

Global airline traffic recovered to 68.5% of pre-pandemic levels last year and surged 64.4% from 2021. Source: Reuters 2023

While the increase in travel is a positive evolution for the industry, for airports, these changes evoke the challenge of balancing safety, security and operational efficiency in a landscape of new threats followed by compliance mandates that must be addressed.

Bookings suggest that airline ticket demand across large countries and intra-Europe (”domestic) was back to around 100% of pre-pandemic levels in May 2023, while demand for international trips returned to 80% of its 2019 level. Source: ING 2023

PIAM: The Missing Piece of a Secure and Compliant Airport

How can security measures be implemented in a way that allows the flexibility to adapt to these new challenges and future challenges to come?

With change being an ideal opportunity to leverage new processes and technologies, now is the perfect time for airports to embrace innovation.

A physical identity and access management (PIAM) solution — more commonly referred to by airports as an identity management solution (IDMS) — streamlines the management of employee, contractor and other visitor identities while enabling airports to comply with physical security regulations and govern complex access policies. Airport workforces are made up of thousands of identities which are constantly faced with role, license, endorsement and contract changes — all which affect a person’s right to work. PIAM simplifies and automates these changes to ensure appropriate and secure access without the burden of manual processes.

There’s a few different challenges that airports face as they start to increase their capacity, and a PIAM solution can create a more efficient, compliant and future-ready environment.

A PIAM solution can help with:

1. Quickly enrolling new contractors, workers and employees in accordance with fluctuating airport demands

Is your airport equipped to handle staff turnover and new employees starting work?  

It’s important to be able to quickly and seamlessly enroll workers to meet the new demands, allowing for an increased flow of traffic into your badging office without any complications. This also includes tenants, vendors, airline personnel, ground transportation and third-party contractors.

With an IDMS, airports can automate the way in which these workers are enrolled and badged to speed up the onboarding process. And when web-based, such as with HID SAFE™, these processes can also be conducted remotely, which limits the number of staff needed on site. Once badges have been created, changes can be made easily to their access nearly instantaneously.

Airports are a complex environment, and performing background checks, rap backs via designated aviation channeling services (DACS) and offboarding activities automatically or with minimal manual intervention is crucial to process efficiency and maintaining compliance. Compliance leads directly into item two.