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Airports operating at new normal in L2

New Zealand’s airports will be operating a new kind of normal for safe flying when domestic travel and general aviation expands under Alert Level 2 today.

In line with new guidance from Government agencies, airports have additional measures in place to help travellers adhere to COVID-19 requirements including physical distancing in terminals and high standards of hygiene and cleaning. The emphasis is on staying safe and leaving space.

Airports with general aviation activities such as flight schools, engineering services, aero club flying and other related businesses have also put in place COVID-19 policies and processes and are working with their commercial tenants to meet new health requirements.

"Travellers can expect to see a lot of reminders to allow some extra space between themselves and other travellers they don’t know. New signs, floor markers and information announcements reflecting the Government’s official advice are now in place at terminals across the country. This will help passengers do the right thing," says Kevin Ward, chief executive of NZ Airports, the industry voice for 42 airports.

"We have to bring to life safe operations in a highly inter-connected system – from park to plane.

"Whether it is a busy general aviation airport like Ardmore with 90 businesses and tenants on site with over 600 employees, or one of the 18 regional airports that have scheduled air services re-starting, everyone is rising to the challenge of showing what safe aviation and air travel looks like now, and probably for some time to come," says Kevin.

"Most airports are restricting terminal access to passengers with a confirmed ticket and people who are assisting a passenger who requires special help – but there are a few exceptions. We are urging people to check what to expect at their local airport before they go there. Passengers should be prepared to say goodbye or greet friends and family outside of the terminal. This is part of the sector-wide effort to ensure contact tracing can be done."

"Baggage collection areas will be a special focus for attention to ensure physical distancing and avoid any crowding. One way flows inside and outside terminals will also be in place at some locations to assist physical distancing. It will take a little getting used to for all of us – but I’m confident we will soon regard it as our ‘new normal’."

Some of the usual services, such as cafes and retail, are not operating and it is a little different at each airport depending on their size, layout and the level of aviation activities under Level 2, Kevin says.

"We all need to do our bit to keep each other safe. Airport staff will be reminding and advising people regularly about physical distancing, particularly in areas where people queue and sit. We are relying on everyone to act responsibly and to follow the Government’s advice on safe travel – for example washing hands regularly and keeping a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve been in contact with.

"Airlines and airports are working together to ensure that good hygiene and safe spacing are in place from carpark to plane and out of the destination terminal. We recommend allowing a little more time, things may take a little longer, and we appreciate your patience."

Airport measures in place include:

  • Restricting terminal access to confirmed travellers only, and people assisting a traveller who requires special help
  • Special signage on seating and floors to promote physical distancing
  • Intensified cleaning regimes throughout the terminal
  • Installing additional hand sanitiser stations inside terminals
  • Increased passenger advisory signage and additional public address messages

"Everyone understands this is about doing all we can to preserve the safety gains we worked hard to achieve under lockdown. Now we have to pull together and get our economy going again and our regions and communities flying forward," he says.

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