Reducing Risks in Airports During a Pandemic

Reducing Risks in Airports During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States, airport sponsors and airlines have seen drastic declines in air travel. Some airports have recorded more than a 90 percent decrease in passenger numbers as commercial air travel is considered a high risk for possible exposure to the virus.

This pandemic has resulted in a “new normal” for how we live, work, and travel. The aviation industry has been one of the first to embrace safety protocols by establishing mask mandates early on, social distancing protocols, and new sanitation standards within aircraft and airport facilities.

Many airport operators are now asking questions like “What more can we do to ensure a safe, secure, efficient, and resilient air transportation system that addresses the threat of COVID-19?” and “What can we do to help increase passenger safety now and in the future?”

This report provides clear guidance on the appropriate selection and use of disinfectants to effectively treat surfaces in the airport environment.

These topics were recently addressed in the ACI-NA’s Airport Industry Recovery Issue Briefing: Industrial Hygiene Issues, a report that provides guidance for the near-term actions airport operators can take to mitigate COVID-19 transmission risks through assessment, maintenance, and modifications of their existing industrial hygiene program systems.

One of the primary authors of the briefing is ESA’s resiliency-in-airports expert Neal Wolfe. Before working in aviation planning, Neal was a microbiologist with hands-on pandemic experience during the 2003 SARS coronavirus outbreak. He is well positioned to understand how the aviation industry could operate safely in times of great uncertainty.

Part of this briefing covers commercially available products that claim to disinfect against COVID-19, which can be both very confusing and misleading. This report provides clear guidance on the appropriate selection and use of disinfectants to effectively treat surfaces in the airport environment. Neal was also able to tap into his past experience as a laboratory manager to provide a “how to” guide on performing risk assessments, including identifying risks to airport employees and passengers and developing protocols to manage those risks to an acceptable level.

As the world continues to navigate the impacts of COVID-19, ESA is committed to helping the aviation industry establish health and safety protocols for its employees and passengers. We encourage you to read the latest COVID-19 guidance provided by ACI-NA and please contact Neal Wolfe for more insights on how to apply these suggestions to your airport.

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