Shelter-in-Place Shifts Focus to Essential Operations Amid Travel Declines
Oakland – At Oakland International Airport, runways and taxiways are open and in active use. Terminals are operational, and air cargo activity has increased with new goods movement demands. Travel that is deemed “non-essential” is legal but is discouraged as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The measure, while necessary, is a dilemma for airports, airlines, and many other businesses and industry stakeholders that rely on passenger traffic to generate revenue. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week announced details of $10 billion in CARES Act aid for U.S. Airports, of which OAK is expected to receive approximately $44 million. While greatly appreciative of this stopgap, many airports including OAK expect that the grant funds will be far outweighed by the loss of revenues during what is expected to be a lengthy recovery period.
Also, as expected, commercial air travel demand has experienced a steep decline globally, partly due to active Shelter-in-Place orders in more than 40 states. The Bay Area and statewide orders have been in place since mid-March. Even in the absence of bustling passengers, OAK remains a dynamic, fully-functional airport delivering essential goods, aviation services, and infrastructure, 24/7.
Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan has publicly thanked workers at the Oakland Seaport and Oakland International Airport (OAK), both of which the Port owns and operates. Last month, the Port supported an operation to screen and process over 2,000 Grand Princess Cruise Ship passengers after several tested positive for COVID-19 while at sea. All passengers began a 14-day quarantine after being transported by bus to Travis Air Force Base or via chartered aircraft launched from OAK to multiple destinations, both domestic and international.
Director of Aviation Bryant L. Francis also praised front-line workers for keeping the Airport functional during the subsequent pandemic, acknowledging the uncertainty that has come with it. Francis said, “Front-line workers at OAK have played a vital role in allowing us to swiftly pivot, providing a timely and necessary response to a continuously changing global crisis. COVID-19 will undoubtedly have an impact on our travel culture, however, we will be prepared for the inevitable recovery.” Francis’ unique perspective on the Aviation industry will be of benefit to OAK as he possesses a longstanding history of service with both ACI-NA, the think-tank representing more than 700 airports and aviation-related businesses in North America, and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Passenger traffic data at OAK, just released for March 2020, reveals a nearly 60% decrease compared with the same period last year, a ubiquitous result of the COVID-19 pandemic:
MARCH 2019 1,095,906
MARCH 2020 451,799
% change -58.77%
Due to temporary flight activity reductions implemented by its airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, OAK has incorporated numerous modifications to its terminal facility operations. These changes ensure ample customer services are available for all users, including boarding gates, restroom facilities, and retail and food & beverage concessions.
Travelers are encouraged to make direct contact with their respective airlines for updates and details regarding future travel, as flight schedules are subject to change.
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