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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a plethora of commercial options to help airport operators and passengers cope with the new realities of air travel. Frankly, some will prove useful, and others will never fly (pun intended).

At Airport Improvement, we’ve always made it a point to steer clear of unproven theories, products, services and applications that might work at your airport. We prefer to cover solutions that are already working, told in the words of your fellow airport directors and their teams, consultants and suppliers. We won’t waste your time with theoretical ideas that may, or may not, make the cut.

Open any issue of this magazine, however, and you’ll definitely find something innovative. And this issue is particularly loaded with innovation.

Check out our cover story about Brownsville South Padre Island International. Its new terminal includes a huge wall of SageGlass, with special glazing that automatically adapts to control the temperature and glare in the entry hall. Airport officials are also laying the groundwork to add cutting-edge biometrics in the future.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International is a veritable treasure trove of innovations. The team there has even found a new way to sell water—vending machines that dispense flavored and/or caffeinated water in recyclable cardboard bottles! Our coverage also brings you details about the airport’s autonomous commercial floor scrubber, its 12-week trial of a personal robot and more.

Other articles in this issue provide an inside look at a virtual ramp control system, new uses for existing sealcoat products and a clever way to recycle airfield runoff.

Common criticisms about our industry being overly risk-averse clearly don’t apply to the airports we’ve profiled. The amount of innovation taking place is stunning, and I’m excited to see what the rest of 2021 will bring!


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