Keeping Connecticut’s airports safe and open
The impact of COVID-19 has forced policymakers and state officials to navigate a delicate balance between safeguarding public health and maintaining essential services. This has been a particularly difficult task in the aviation industry. The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) together with our airline partners, have been quick to alter our facilities, policies and procedures to keep our airports safe for those who rely upon us for access to the skies.
At Bradley International Airport, the pandemic’s impact has been staggering. Numerous domestic routes have been suspended due to low demand, and the airport’s Dublin and Canadian flights have ceased due to government order. In April alone, year-over-year passenger volume plummeted by approximately 97 percent. However, Connecticut’s airports are still essential. Some level of passenger travel always persists, including for those responding to family emergencies and for healthcare workers traveling to impacted areas. Cargo operations are critical for delivering goods to businesses and citizens who can no longer make trips to the store. And emergency operations, due to weather or mechanical issues, will always require a functioning and safe airport. Many have continued relying on us throughout the pandemic, and we see that steadily increasing as everyday passengers begin to slowly resume their travels.
The CAA along with Executive Director Kevin Dillon and staff, has directed a robust effort to meet these needs. We have significantly enhanced our cleaning protocols since late February, with an emphasis on disinfecting high-touch passenger areas. Hand sanitizing stations are throughout the terminal, and various visual and audible cues promote physical distancing. Face coverings are required for all, and glass and plastic shields separate staff and passengers.
The airlines have also taken strong steps to ensure safety during check-in and boarding as well as in flight. They have enhanced their cleaning protocols, and all airlines currently operating at Bradley require face coverings on board the aircraft. Most are requiring health acknowledgements from passengers to declare that they have not tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, that they are symptom-free, and that they have not been in close contact recently with an individual who has tested positive. Many airlines have adjusted seating and booking policies to give their travelers extra flexibility.
But the CAA recognizes that circumstances in other regions can threaten the progress that we have had in our state, and we are working closely with Governor Lamont and the Department of Public Health. Currently, any person arriving in Connecticut from a state with a daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate for COVID-19 tests over a 7-day rolling average has two options: either quarantine and self-monitor for 14 days or receive a negative viral test for COVID-19 in the 72 hours before arriving in Connecticut. Undoubtedly, the policy will impact our operations and revenues. But we are committed to doing our part to maintain the progress made in Connecticut.
The pandemic has generated monumental challenges for all of us, and the travel industry has been particularly impacted. But airports are too important to simply close until the virus is eliminated. Whenever you are ready to travel, we will be ready to help get you to your destination safely. For more information please visit https://bradleyairport.com/BDLcares/
Tony Sheridan, of Waterford, chairs the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
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