As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and adapts to a new kind of normal, it’s been heartwarming to see how those in the global airport community have been rallying to support their colleagues both in and outside the aviation industry. And it’s proof that what goes around comes around.
At the beginning of last year, when the partial shutdown of the federal government in the US led to Transport Security Administration (TSA) employees continuing to work without pay, airport employees and concessionaires worked alongside their local communities to stock food banks and deliver supplies for TSA employees.
Just over a year later and in airports across the US, TSA staff are returning the favour for fellow airport workers who have seen their hours cut or who have been laid off as a result of reduced passenger demand. At Dulles International Airport in Washington TSA employees have established a food pantry (pictured above) to assist employees in the airport community.
“During the furlough we set up a TSA food pantry and the community donated in mass,” said Eric Chin, TSA Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening at Dulles Airport. “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and vendors at the airport purchased meals for TSA officers during that time. Now we’ve seen hundreds of layoffs taking place in the airport community and we figured we would do what we could to give back and help.”
It’s a similar story at T.F Green Airport in Rhode Island, where TSA officers have chipped in and purchased takeaway pizzas for their fellow airport workers, including wheelchair passenger attendants and environmental service providers, who have seen their hours cut and paychecks reduced.
The TSA officers “discussed giving back to those in the airport community who had helped them during the government shutdown,” explained Christopher Primiano, TSA’s Stakeholder Liaison at Green Airport. “Airline and airport employees have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. Passenger loads have plummeted, airlines have drastically cut their flights and no one knows when things may start to return to some form of normalcy.”
The airport’s Supervisory TSA Officer, Joseph Mancieri, added: “It felt good to give back to those who helped us during our difficult time during the furlough. We are all in this together as a family working at Green Airport.”
Meanwhile, on the ‘other side of the pond’ in Sweden, the airport operator Swedavia has responded to the increased need for personal protective equipment (PPE) by donating face masks, protective eyewear and single-use gloves to healthcare facilities across the country. The equipment is all part of a given supply of PPE ordinarily found at Swedavia’s 10 airports. In Belgium, Liege Airport, which has been selected as an official hub in the transportation of critical supplies, has opened a pop-up ground handling facility to assist with increased cargo loads including the shipment of urgent medical equipment to be distributed throughout Europe.
And in the UK, ADS, Airlines UK and AOA have joined forces to support each other in calling on the British government to further co-ordinate actions and take greater steps in supporting the UK’s aviation industry and ensuring its future recovery.
We may be in unprecedented times with airports facing an uncertain future, but the airport community is a close-knit one. So it’s brilliant, albeit unsurprising, to see airports responding to the current challenges not only with solidarity but also with their continued efforts to serve others.
Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.
If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.