This week (13-19 May) marks the fourth annual Airport Operators Association’s (AOA’s) Airports Safety Week. The aim is to demonstrate the integral role that airports play in the communities they serve by providing a safe and enjoyable travel experience to passengers. But, it’s also an opportunity to promote best-practice sharing and learning between airports and across different functions within an airport.

“Safety runs through every minute of every day at an airport. Thanks to everyone working together and putting safety first, UK safety standards are amongst the best in the world,” said Tania Roca, AOA’s operations and safety director. She also revealed that this year a number of European airports are visiting UK airports “to see how we do things in the UK and share with us how they do it at their airports.”

Throughout the week airports across the UK will promote all aspects of aviation and workplace safety, including wellbeing, by running multiple events for airport staff, staff of companies opearating in and around the airport and the public.

“Passengers, airport staff, airline crew, ground-handling employees and everyone else working in and around an airport are affected by aviation safety and have a role to play to ensure everyone’s safe. If we get it right, much of this hard work will go unnoticed by passengers and staff alike,” said Karen Dee, AOA’s chief executive.

AOA UK Airports Safety Week 2019 is an opportunity to bring all this behind-the-scenes work out into the open, and show to airport users, the public and staff the different aspects of safety and safety culture at UK airports.

Airports supporting Airport Safety Week

The events being organised are all designed to showcase each airport’s approach to ensuring a safe and secure environment. Events include running baggage truck driving, push back and dispatching experiences for staff at Manchester Airport, while George Best Belfast City Airport is offering dementia awareness sessions, emergency first aid and fire-fighting demonstrations. Jersey Airport passengers is providing wildlife control information, while Leeds Bradford Airport is offering airside driving workshops.

Meanwhile East Midlands Airport is using Airport Safety Week to shine the spotlight on the impact of mental health issues on both passengers and staff. Staff at the airport have been trained as mental health first aiders to better support workers and passengers who have mental health challenges, which can be exacerbated in the airport environment. The airport’s mental health first aiders can be identified by a green lanyard, are trained to spot signs of distress in people and offer appropriate support. Similarly passengers who feel anxious or distressed are encouraged to seek the support of first aiders.

“It’s important that people are trained to spot the early warning signs and can step in at the right time to prevent problems escalating. We’re not doctors or counsellors, but the training has improved my ability to listen and to know what advice to pass on,” said Lauren Turner, one of EMA’s duty managers.

Injecting an element of fun into marking Airport Safety Week, events taking place at EMA this week will include a flash mob performance by the Derbyshrie and Nottinghamshrie Rockchoir on Friday 17 May and an Aeropark Open Day (18 May) with fire engine demonstrations, stalls, games and refreshments.

“With record passenger numbers travelling through UK airports, the AOA UK Airports Safety Week is an opportunity to demonstrate how the sector is not only working for the safety of passengers and staff today but also developing for the future,” concluded Roca.

Header image: Manchester Airport has a series of events planned to support Airport Safety Week

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