Now that we are more than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, EUROCONTROL and ACI EUROPE teamed up to set up a webinar in order to have a clear understanding of what the operational challenges will be when passengers return in numbers, what guidance is available and what other airports have done, and how to prepare. Report by Eugene Leeman
The webinar took place on 10 March and attracted some 400 people coming from the airport communities across Europe.
Steven Moore, Head of ATM Network Operations Division at EUROCONTROL kicked off the event by setting the scene and by providing a snapshot of the European traffic forecast. Aidan Flanagan, Safety, Capacity, ATM & Single European Sky Manager at ACI EUROPE continued the introduction and referred to the start of the pandemic, the Off-The-Ground initiative, the guidance documents that were delivered, the various airport capacity simulation studies that were done, and the good work done every week by EUROCONTROL with the NDOP recovery cell weekly briefing.
The need for collaboration between airport operators was highlighted by Sergio Fernandez from IATA. It is no secret that planning is a serious issue for both stakeholders, but one of the areas that we could help each other with is informing passengers as well as possible about the do’s and don’ts and to make them feel comfortable to travel.
Daniel Skoglund from Swedavia was then given the floor to explain the key take-aways from the EUROCONTROL study on COVID-19 impact performed mid-last year (see also article in Airport Business – Autumn 2020). For this study a generic airport was used, as well as the baseline 1.5m physical distancing which was a hot topic by then.
Guilian Preud’homme took over and zoomed in on the map, sharing insights from the study case at Brussels Airport.
Prior to the webinar, two different surveys were held related to COVID-19 recovery: one for the Airport Corner subscribers (EUROCONTROL) and one for the ACI EUROPE airport members. The key points of both surveys were explained by Bruno Desart (EUROCONTROL) and Eugene Leeman (ACI EUROPE).
The subsequent panel – moderated by Steven Moore – started with questions about what the airports had actually done with the conclusions of the different studies and guidance material. The Q&A session focused around lessons learned, challenges, the way forward and what kind of support airports and airlines would need from EUROCONTROL and ACI EUROPE during the recovery process.
During the preparation of the webinar, it was realised that the recovery of the COVID-19 crisis covers a lot of ground and is a challenge to handle in just 90 minutes. Nevertheless, it is hoped by EUROCONTROL and ACI EUROPE that this webinar helped to provide a useful overview of the most salient points from yesterday, today and tomorrow with elements that matter to us all.
Last but not least, ACI EUROPE wants to express its gratitude to EUROCONTROL for the professional hosting and preparation of the event, as well as To70 for its active role behind the scenes.
More details of the webinar and the presentations given can be downloaded here: https://www.eurocontrol.int/event/leaving-covid-behind-preparing-recovery