GREEN There have been many individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis that began in mid-March. Some of the hardest hit businesses are those associated with travel – including the many airlines.
The Akron-Canton Regional Airport (CAK) is still experiencing flights coming in and going out every day, but they are few and far between, and the planes are only a quarter to half full.
President and CEO of the CAK Airport Renato “Ren” Camacho said that all the airlines that use the airport are flying except for Spirit, which has suspended its flights for now.
“American Airlines, United and Delta all have flights scheduled but they are flying with a reduced number of passengers,” Camacho said. “We normally have 25 to 26 commercial flights scheduled a day and we are down to 10 flights a day. The passenger count is down 80 percent.”
Camacho said the passengers are a combination of military personnel, medical professionals, healthcare related, corporate persons involved in helping fight the COVAID0-19 pandemic and others. Corporate planes and charter planes are also flying, although not as often as before the health crisis.
The airport has 48 employees who are all working on site, but they are working in smaller groups on varying shifts.
“Our staff are essential to running the airport including custodial, firefighters, administrators, facility managers and all those required for safety and cleaning all of the touch points such as handrails, doorknobs, bathrooms and all areas of the airport. We haven’t had any layoffs, but we are minimizing overtime,” Camacho said.
All employees are required to take their temperature before coming to work and if they or a family member is not feeling well, they have to stay home. Camacho said that one of the Sky Cap employees tested positive for Coronavirus and that employee stayed home. Sky Cap cleaned all its items in the airport and assured Camacho that it is taking every precaution and doing all the cleaning practices required by CDC to keep customers and employees safe.
There are two concession stands remaining open, one in the public area and one in the post secure side of the airport. Camacho said he is grateful for the two concessions (Buckhead Grill and the CAK Market Place) staying open and serving travelers. Both have implemented social distancing and other CDC guidelines.
“We are doing regular announcements in the airport about COVID, CDC recommendations and social distancing for passengers. Plus, all the employees of the airport, car rentals and airline ticket counters are practicing social distancing and minimizing contact with each other. Our employees are doing a lot of business over the phone and using Zoom for conference calling,” Camacho said. “We have always considered ourselves to be family here and we are sharing resource information and updates and offering social media tips. We’re also looking at putting virtual tours of the airport online. There has always been a sense of community here and social responsibility to help the communities we serve. “
The airport offered some of its parking lots to be used for virus testing but was told it wasn’t needed at the time. Some of the rental car companies have a lot of inventory right now because rentals are down. Those companies are now using some of the parking at the airport to park its cars. Plus, the airport is helping the PSA Airline (a subsidiary of American Airlines) that have jets not being used by parking them on one of the taxiways.
For the immediate future, Camacho said everyone at the airport will be helping and supporting each other to get through the pandemic.
“We’ll continue to update everyone through our newsletters, social media and on portions of our website,” he said. “We’ll continue to be empathic and supportive of air services, continue to reach out to them and others affected by the pandemic and continue to support our employees.
“We will also remain engaged in what’s happening in the surrounding communities through the chambers, the visitors’ bureaus and other organizations to gather and exchange information to help each other get through this.”