WASHINGTON and OTTAWA – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, today released an introductory report highlighting 42 immediate industry recommendations and priorities (one page fact sheet) to assist with the restart and recovery of air travel in the United States and Canada following the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic. As the report recommends, the restart and recovery of the aviation sector will require a consistent and harmonized approach with clear industry standards and good practices.
“Ensuring the health, safety, and security of the travelling public and airport workers is always an airport’s top priority,” said Lew Bleiweis, Executive Director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, and Chair of ACI-NA. “The recommendations and priorities outlined by the Airport Industry Recovery Advisory Panel provide concrete, consistent, and actionable steps that will allow our industry to come back online efficiently and address ongoing needs to promote health and safety in air travel.”
ACI-NA established the Airport Industry Recovery Advisory Panel in April to provide direction as the industry prepares to navigate air travel’s restart and recovery following the COVID-19 health pandemic. The advisory panel is comprised of representatives from all facets of airport management and is co-chaired by Jon Ballesteros, Chief External Affairs Officer for the San Francisco Airport Commission and Roy Fuhrmann, Chief Operating Officer for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“North American airports responded swiftly to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 with enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, investments in health infrastructure, and implementation of important mitigation strategies,” said Joyce Carter, President and CEO of Halifax International Airport Authority, and Chair of ACI-NA’s Canadian Policy Council. “As air travel begins to resume after a near shutdown for the last three months, it is essential the industry move forward in a coordinated way. The recommendations and priorities put forward by the advisory panel are an invaluable resource to Canada’s airports as we work together to ensure that travellers have confidence in our system.”
The advisory panel has identified 42 priorities and recommendations for immediate implementation to recover the previous level of service and adapt to the public health expectations of passengers and employees. Priorities and recommendations include several legislative and regulatory initiatives and good practices that can be deployed by airports. The report’s findings are consistent with the recommendations put forward by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council on Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).
“Our industry’s ongoing experience with COVID-19 will lead to many important considerations as the industry enters recovery and plans for the future,” said Rick Tucker, CEO of Huntsville International Airport, and Chair of ACI-NA’s U.S. Policy Council. “Airports will need to make strategic investments in technology and infrastructure to ensure health and safety. The need for ongoing collaboration and coordination with our government, airline, concessionaire, retail, and other important partners will be essential to our collective success.”
Top priorities and recommendations outlined in the report include increased financial relief for airports in the United States and Canada, maintaining appropriate staffing levels at security and customs checkpoints, making investments in contactless technology to reduce passenger touchpoints, implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, streamlining the passenger experience in the terminal, and ensuring consistency in health standards from airport to airport.
“As the advisory panel continues its work into the coming months, this report will be a living document to help guide airports as they address this rapidly evolving situation,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of ACI-NA. “ACI-NA remains committed to assisting the advisory panel as they engage aviation stakeholders in discussions about passenger expectations throughout a passenger’s journey.”