A new UV treatment of security trays at Gatwick aims to provide a 99.9% disinfection rate to reducing the spread of coronavirus.

Gatwick claims to be the first airport in the UK to treat trays with enough UV light energy to achieve this level of microbe disinfection.

The system sees each tray pass through a covered ‘UV-tunnel’ fixed underneath the hand luggage screening system.

Every tray is treated immediately before each passenger uses it.

The new system will be introduced on eight lanes in the North Terminal – six for passengers and two for staff – by the end of this month.

This follows a one-month trial on a single security lane in July, with laboratory testing demonstrating a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate.

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. 

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, according to the airport.

Gatwick chief operating officer Adrian Witherow said: “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.

“This new system has proven itself to be extremely reliable and provides a really high degree of reassurance as every single passenger and staff member using the system will have a tray that has only just been disinfected.  As an airport, we will continue to explore innovative health solutions like this that reduce the spread of coronaviruses and other infections. “

Other health measures in place include the frequent, enhanced deep cleaning of common-use surfaces throughout the airport, 500 Perspex screens, social distancing at check in, security and gate rooms, well-spaced seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops and regularly signposted hand washing facilities and around 200 sanitising stations.