COVID-19: ACI World issues guidance on airside safety and operations

Airports advised to implement special measures to maintain safety standards during global pandemic

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The global trade body for airports, Airports Council International World (ACI) has issued guidance on best practices as airports adapt their airfield operations in response to the effects and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on a survey of the members of the ACI World Safety and Technical Standing Committee, around half of respondents had experienced a 90 percent or greater reduction in aircraft movements, and 64 percent had a 70 percent or greater reduction.

Even with enormous restrictions on travel, most airports surveyed had not restricted their hours of operation due to COVID-19 but three-quarters of respondents indicated that they have closed some of their airside infrastructure. Most have had to implement special arrangements to park large numbers of grounded aircraft.

The new advisory bulletin provides guidance on accommodating parked aircraft as well as the maintenance of airside infrastructure (runways, taxiways, aprons, stands, piers), the management of airside operations teams, and continuing essential cargo operations.

(Download the new bulletin here.)

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented disruption of global air transport and has imposed operational challenges to airside infrastructure,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Despite the dramatic decline in passenger traffic, many airports remain open for cargo operations and the continuity of the air cargo business is essential for communities, the global economy at large and, for fighting the ongoing pandemic.

“The health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public, and limiting the spread of communicable diseases, are the priorities for the aviation industry and ‘business as usual’ no longer applies,” she added. “It is imperative for airports to implement necessary measures to ensure best safety practices for airfield operations and this guidance will assist them in this work.”

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Singapore. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.

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