COVID-19 prevention measures in full effect at St. Maarten’s airport
Continuing on a wave of proactive and emergency responsiveness to combat the invasive Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) is the workforce at the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), since January 2020. Throughout a three-month period, the aerodrome was partially operational, as the airport adhered to the travel restrictions as implemented by the Government of St. Maarten, to further maintain the precautionary measures for the inhabitants and its reducible visitors. As a result of the travel restrictions all commercial travel was ceased, however the airport facilitates cargo, emergency and repatriation flights.
A contingent C-19 Prevention and Mitigation plan was established and prompted for execution by the COVID-19 Task Force, with guidance by the SXM Airport’s Managing Board. The efforts work cohesively with the readiness for an influx of travelers in preparation to resume the air transport services, when deemed most safe and secure. With the goal to maintain frequency of service to key markets SXM Airport intends to rely on its short and long-haul carriers to drive growth to the region.
The C-19 plan is governed by the “precautionary principle” to minimize the risk of infection and act as if you and those around you are infected with the untimely virus.
The PJIAE C-19 Prevention and Mitigation plan also serves to protect the livelihoods of the airport community, acknowledging detailed guidelines through virtual and live orientation trainings for high and low risk exposure groups. The scheduled trainings are entitled “COVID-19 Safety at the Workplace -Training for the Airport Community” will be facilitated by a Task Force member.
In accordance with the plan, the “Don’t pass it on” hygiene campaign has also been launched at the airport, emphasizing through noticeable signage that everyone should wash their hands more frequently. Handwashing stations have also been installed throughout the terminal building to further endorse the campaign.
PJIAE installed more than forty (40) plexiglass shielding screens in areas like the departure gates, check-in counters, Passenger Experience desk, Passport Control counter and the Tourist Information booth to further reduce health risks and provide a safe environment for frontline staff and passengers. The ground handling services will also be regulated to serve the prevention and mitigation measures as the management of the passenger shuttle busses are required to also demonstrate more frequent cleansing of the airside public transportation.
“We are offering different levels of protection to fine tune our PJIAE C-19 Prevention and Mitigation measures, thermal temperature screening, mandatory mask regulations and the installation of additional hand sanitizers are just a few of our newly implemented measures. We also have a more regiment cleaning program for all common-use areas,” the Chairman of the SXM Airport Task Force, Connally Connor pointed out during an internal interview.
Stringent safety policies further impose that all frontline employees will be provided with either two (2) types of protective masks; respiratory and surgical. The FFP2 respiratory masks will offer an advanced level of protection due to direct contact with travelers. Furthermore, the surgical masks should effectively minimize the transmitting of probable droplets. The regulation correlates with the suitable Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for the airport community, admonishing the mandatory use of eye protection.
Task Force Chairman Connally Connor added: “Access into the terminal building will only be granted to the traveling passengers and the obligated airport staff. We will also intensify the disinfecting methods at high touch point areas to diminish the soiled or contaminated surfaces. The Task Force also ensures there will be disinfectant tablets to purify the air through the ventilation system. Thermal screening for staff and passengers will also go into immediate effect upon the permissible reopening date.”
Though the latest outlook by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast the airline industry to lose billions due to the pandemic, the local airport’s Operations Management long-established there is steady demand for travel to our diverse destination. Flight schedules have already indicated positive bookings on North American carriers.
According to the most current COVID-19 statistical information by the Public Health Department of St. Maarten, there are no active cases on the island. Furthermore, on Friday June 19, 2020 the honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT), Ludmilla de Weever publicized the airport will offer full operations as of July 1, 2020.
If anyone would like to report any hazards and risks related to COVID-19 they are required to call the SXM Airport’s safety hotline at 1-721-546-7504 or 1-721-5467508 or send your comments via email.