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Asian airlines fight to reassure passengers over virus response

Automation and hygiene stepped up to entice customers back to the skies

JAL temporarily offered check-in kiosks which do not require touching at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. (Photo courtesy of JAL)

TOKYO -- After over half a year of managing All Nippon Airways' ground operations at Haneda Airport amid a pandemic, heightened sanitation and social distancing have become so routine for Mariko Kumita and her team that, as she says, "I am starting to feel like I'm forgetting what used to be normal."

The situation is a far cry from the scramble in January, when ANA sent a flight to repatriate Japanese citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city that was the coronavirus epicenter. Back then, a terminal typically used for domestic flights had to be reconfigured with immigration and customs checkpoints in under 48 hours.

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