Sunday, July 12, 2020

Traveling through Manchester Airport has changed because of the coronavirus – that’s what you can expect

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A cleaner in a combination of hazardous materials sprays disinfectant on a check-in treadmill while a masked family pushing a cart full of luggage joins the check-in queue.

Manchester Airport is gradually reopening to passengers as the UK emerges from the lock.

Things are back to normal … sort of.

As flights resume, with the reopening of Terminal 3 tomorrow (July 1) and Terminal 2 on July 15, travelers will notice changes at the airport.

It’s much quieter than usual – June usually marks the start of the peak holiday season – but only half a dozen passengers are seated outside Terminal 1 on Tuesday, while most stores and check-in counters remain closed.

The vending machines on the ground floor are now stocked with hand sanitizers and masks, not the usual supply of coke cans and crisps.

Facial mask and hand sanitizer dispenser
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Signs adorn the walls of the terminal to encourage people to maintain a social distance, while tannoy announcements repeat the same message at regular intervals.

Passengers have their temperature checked at security.

Staff test thermal control equipment in case temperature controls are required by the government.

A new option to pre-book a 15-minute time slot for security is now also available.

An airport employee next to a sign
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“For the people crossing the terminal, they are going to see a lot of changes,” said Brad Miller, chief operating officer.

“Probably the most visible are the masks. We (MAG) were therefore the first airport group to insist that everyone wear masks.

“All of our staff have been fantastic. You will see a lot of signage, you will hear a lot more announcements.

“You will see the different cleaning teams in different uniforms using brand new equipment that we have invested so that we can spray all the disinfectant so that we can cover much larger areas.

A passenger at the airport
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“We can track the passenger route through the airport. After a group of passengers has left, we will make sure that we track where they were, so the next group knows that everywhere is disinfected.”

New sealants have been placed on hard surfaces like lift buttons and safety trays, which kill “all types of viruses, including Covid-19,” said Miller.

Some passengers may still be worried about traveling despite security measures, Manchester Evening News points out.

“I can understand why people are nervous. After three or four months of lockdown, I find it weird to walk in front of people. But what reassures me is that we followed all the government directives, we did whole group risk assessments.

“We decided to lead by example by asking all our staff to wear face masks, it gives me confidence as an individual, as a human being, to say with confidence, it is safe to fly to across Manchester Airport. “

A sign reminding people to wear face covers
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

The reopening of the airport, after being reduced to operating a skeleton service during the lockout, is a relief to Mr. Miller.

During the pandemic, they saw a reduction of 99pc in passengers.

Typically, they expect about three million people to cross the airport in June.

“I can’t calculate 99pc of three million but it’s an incredible drop,” he adds.

It was difficult to reduce their operations earlier this year.

“It was really sad. We have not had to close our airspace overnight since we opened. When we closed Terminal 2, we lost all keys.

“It’s open 24/7, so you never have to think about locking it, so we had to replace all the locks. It was pretty depressing.

“Compared to sick people, it was not so bad. But it was also comforting to see people coming together.

Brad Miller
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“We made the decision in about three or four days, so seeing us reacting so quickly and doing it safely was a credit to the team.”

In the aviation industry in general, it is well known that many layoffs have been made due to reduced flights.

Are there plans in the coming months to cut jobs at the airport at the end of the leave program?

“It has been well known what some of the airlines and ground handling teams are doing. From MAG’s perspective, we have focused on safe and secure operations.

“We have worked very hard to manage our cost base, we have pressured the government to make sure it does not forget the air package it promised, it is extremely important. We are the one of the last industries to come out of the lockdown.

“But airports have massive fixed cost bases. I think we contribute the most to commercial fares in the region and we continue to have to pay that, but 99% of all of our revenues are gone.

Recording
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“We are continuing to work with the central government on a solution to this and other things, such as our police costs. We are paying for all of our police officers here. GMP has been brilliant at reducing this cost.

“Furlough has helped tremendously, but it accounts for about five to six percent of annual employee costs.

“We are not contemplating layoffs because we have entered this very very solid financial position. But no company in the world can suffer for months from losing almost all of its revenues. We will continue to work with the management of cost base and will delay these layoff decisions as long as possible. “

But if there is a second wave, do they feel prepared?

“We have the plans now. So we have the new keys for T2 so we can lock it now. Unfortunately, we now know how to shut down our terminals, so we can do it without any problems,” he adds.

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