Auckland Airport has become the first airport in New Zealand to gain international endorsement for the health and safety measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Established this year by the Airports Council International in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Airport Health Accreditation programme assesses health procedures and processes put in place against global best practice.
General manager operations Anna Cassels-Brown says the ACI Airport Health Accreditation was important validation for the careful approach Auckland Airport had taken to protecting the health and welfare of staff, travellers and the wider public.
“We recognise the vital role airports have in managing the risks of COVID-19. We’ve worked really hard alongside airlines, government agencies and retailers to ensure people can feel confident there are protections in place to safeguard everyone’s health and wellbeing."
The comprehensive assessment process covers cleaning and disinfection, management of physical distancing, staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications and facilities.
“Health and safety are at the heart of airport operations, so incorporating the additional protections needed to reduce the risk of virus spread is another layer to maintaining our ongoing safe operation.”
“Air travel is a key driver for a global economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Auckland Airport’s achievement in being accredited through ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation programme will promote the harmonisation of health measures and facilitate the recovery of aviation," says ACI world director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira.
“This achievement demonstrates to passengers, staff, regulators, and governments that Auckland Airport is prioritising health and safety in a measurable, established manner while also validating their own measures and processes.”
Anna says the pandemic outbreak has required fast adaptation and innovation to ensure operations could safely continue through all alert levels and border restrictions.
“We have a critical part to play in protecting the health of New Zealanders as well as the safe connection of travellers – from Kiwis returning home or flying domestically to those transiting through to their final destination.
“Supporting the Government response, in particular the work of the Ministry of Health, has led us to make some significant operational changes.”
Auckland Airport has prepared to separate its international terminal into two self-contained zones: a Safe Travel area to be used exclusively by people travelling to and from countries with whom New Zealand has formed a safe travel bubble and a second completely self-contained zone, the Health Management area, to be used by travellers who are required to undergo either managed isolation or quarantine on arrival.
Already passengers transiting through Auckland Airport en route to other countries are restricted to a separate, self-contained transit lounge area within the international terminal, and must stay in that area until boarding their aircraft via a dedicated bus transfer service.
“We will continue to evolve our operational response to the pandemic, backed by the latest scientific and government advice, in order to carry on protecting our community from the risk of community spread,” says Anna.