Gatwick has become the first airport in the UK to treat its security trays with enough UV light energy to guarantee a 99.9 per cent microbe disinfection rate.
Officials hope to protect passengers and staff by reducing the spread of coronaviruses, including Covid-19, and other infections on this high-touch surface area.
The new system - provided by Smiths Detection - sees each tray pass through a covered ‘UV-tunnel’ fixed underneath the hand luggage screening system, as trays exit the scanners, so that every tray is treated immediately before each passenger uses it.
Following a one-month trial on a single security lane in July, the new system will be rolled out on eight lanes in Gatwick’s North Terminal - six for passengers and two for staff - by the end of this month.
The system uses short-wavelength UV-C light, which laboratory tests show is effective against coronaviruses, including COVID-19 and SARS, as the radiation warps the structure of their genetic material and prevents the viral particles from replicating.
The UV-C light is completely contained within a covered unit designed following safety standard BS EN ISO 15858:2016, ensuring no risk of exposure to either passengers or staff.
Gatwick and other airports have already deployed other anti-viral systems, such as coatings sprayed on to trays, however this protection dissipates over time whereas this new system treats every tray just before use – ensuring maximum protection and a reduced risk of passing on infection.
Adrian Witherow, chief operating officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “The health and wellbeing of our passengers and staff remains our priority.
“The system goes above and beyond the guidelines and we will continue to do everything we can to help reassure our passengers that flying is still a great travelling experience and that the health measures we have in place are effective and easy to follow.”