Auckland Airport is ready to welcome more airlines on the trans-Tasman route as Jetstar and Qantas resume services today, October 16, with various technology trials underway at the airport to protect the health and safety of passengers.
The Jetstar and Qantas restart brings the number of airlines operating scheduled services across the Tasman to four, joining Air New Zealand and Qatar in offering passengers more choice on the route.
While passenger numbers remain low – only around 3700 international seats are available each week – Auckland Airport is ensuring everyone who comes through the terminal is making that journey confident in the protections put in place to ensure their health and safety.
This includes measures currently in place for transit passengers, who are processed through entirely separate areas of the terminal from passengers departing New Zealand – including passengers departing to Australia under the new quarantine-free arrangements.
From midnight Friday, passengers from New Zealand can travel to New South Wales and Northern Territory without needing to quarantine for 14 days. The requirement for all arrivals into New Zealand to undertake a 14-day quarantine remains in place.
Safeguarding the wellbeing of staff and travellers has always been at the heart of airport processes and procedures, says general manager operations Anna Cassels-Brown, with the outbreak of COVID-19 adding another level to those safeguards.
“Airports have a vital role to play in managing the risks of COVID-19.
“Building a layered approach to protecting the health and safety of people in our terminals has been a major focus for Auckland Airport since the early days of the pandemic.”
At Auckland Airport, health and safety standards are aligned with Ministry of Health recommendations, and have been informed by global guidelines developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN specialised agency, which incorporate the latest medical and operational advice to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19 in the airport environment
“This is a serious virus, but we know there’s a lot we can do to manage the risk. So, the focus for us has been to introduce a range of protection measures around the terminal that reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 at the airport, and provide a safe environment for people to work in or travel through.”
Since the early days of the pandemic anti-viral cleaning throughout the terminals has been undertaken more frequently, with a focus on high-touch areas. On-the-spot cleaning audits are carried out using handheld, digital scanners that ensure the cleaning regime is effectively killing germs.
In addition, trials are currently underway on a range of cleaning technology solutions aimed at providing an additional level of hygiene assurance. Ultraviolet light technology, commonly used to sterilise surgical equipment, installed on escalator handrails, antimicrobial shields added to elevator buttons, and thermal-imaging cameras that can detect someone with a fever amongst a group of people are some of the technology solutions being tested by Auckland Airport.
“These are really unobtrusive ways we can improve the comfort of travellers in this post-COVID environment and are changes that for the most part will go unnoticed,” says Anna.
“We know our cleaning regime is really effective, but the technology solutions provide another layer of protection so we’ll continue exploring opportunities to use technology in this way.
“We’ve also got a workforce that has played its part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and 100 per cent of our frontline staff who interact with arriving passengers continue to be regularly tested in line with the Ministry of Health requirements,” says Anna.
“Our people understand the importance that good hygiene, PPE and testing play in reducing the spread of the virus and I’m really proud of how they’ve adapted to this new, and sometimes quite challenging, operating environment.”
There are currently 15 retail and food and beverage outlets open for departing passengers both before and after security. Both terminals are also open to everybody under Alert Level 1.