The resumption of airport activities is finally upon us!
Both easyJet, SWISS and other companies have already confirmed this. For its part, Genève Aéroport makes every effort to guarantee the health and safety of passengers, employees and visitors. At the request of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and in collaboration with the health authorities, a protection plan has been drawn up. Wearing a mask is essential when social distancing can no longer be respected.
Springtime has been too quiet on the apron, but the situation will quickly change as of June, with the announcement of the resumption of European flights from Geneva. This is positive news for Geneva and its region, as the international airport generates more than 33’000 jobs and its economic impact is well established.
At the request of the FOPH, Genève Aéroport has developed a detailed protection plan to be put in place to guarantee the health and safety of its employees, passengers and visitors. The plan is based on the Federal Council’s epidemiological and health guidelines as well as on aviation-specific recommendations from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) is responsible for ensuring that the relevant rules are correctly applied. In this case, individual responsibility, hand hygiene and respect for social distancing as far as possible remain the watchwords in the light of the evolution of the pandemic. When social distancing can no longer be respected, wearing a mask is essential for passengers and for the airport platform's employees.
Social distancing and wearing a mask
During their journey, passengers are faced with some situations where the recommended social distancing cannot be complied with, especially during periods of high traffic. Following the instructions of the health authorities and in application of Genève Aéroport’s protection plan, the wearing of a mask is strongly recommended as soon as social distancing cannot be respected.
Employees of the platform are equipped with masks, gloves and in some cases glasses when necessary. New procedures are applied to minimise contact with passengers. To respect the social distancing necessary in waiting areas, one seat out of two remains unavailable; stickers and floor markings indicate the maximum capacities of lifts and specific locations. Buses that carry travellers on the apron also operate with limited capacity during off-peak periods. In order to protect both employees and passengers, the counters are equipped with plexiglass, in particular in the following places: check-in, Visitors Centre, security checks, reception, GVAssistance reception.
Flow and traffic in the terminal
Markings on the ground with stickers and posts in the queues are a reminder of social distancing. Arrows on the ground precisely indicate the direction of passenger flow, in order to avoid crossovers as much as possible. Posters and loudspeaker messages remind the public of the health and safety instructions to be observed. Genève Aéroport staff and site partners ensure compliance with health measures. In commercial areas, the queues are marked to guarantee the safety distance. Each shop applies its own protection plan in its spaces.
Hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning
Water and soap are sufficient for hand disinfection. When access to sinks is not possible, hydro-alcoholic gel is made available to employees working in the field and in offices. Passengers have access to disinfectant dispensers at key points (main terminal entrances, security checks, boarding gates, etc.). In order to avoid any risk of spreading, a professional cleaning service ensures the disinfection of stair handrails, door handles, lift buttons, switches, taps, reception desks, trays for objects at the passage of security and counters.
Compliance with the measures recommended by the health authorities will largely depend on the individual responsibility of all. The implementation of the protection plan is also based on an important information system. Inside the airport, FOPH posters, messages and flyers are regularly distributed so that everyone has access to the latest information. The check-in screens display the hygiene and protection measures to be respected, in French and English. It is up to everyone to consult the GVApp, Twitter or frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the gva.ch website before embarking on a trip, as the situation changes from day to day. Currently, arriving two hours before the departure of your flight is more than adequate and makes it easier to respect social distancing in the terminal.
Traceability sheets for the health authorities must be completed by everyone landing at Genève Aéroport, including the crew. These documents, which will be destroyed after 30 days, allow the competent authorities to identify, contact and inform persons who have had close contact during their flight with another passenger subsequently tested positive to COVID-19.
However, some airlines have never stopped flying during the pandemic, providing repatriation and passenger flights, namely Air France, Alitalia, Belavia, KLM, Lufthansa and SWISS, with a total of four to five daily flights.
SWISS will gradually expand its flight offers from 15 June onwards from Geneva. Various Mediterranean destinations will be served again, in Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, Faro), Greece (Athens, Heraklion), Spain (Malaga, Palma), France (Nice) and Kosovo (Pristina). The company will also integrate other major European cities into its programme, such as London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Prague and Moscow. A total of fourteen destinations will be served until 28 June.
«We will extend the services in summer taking into account the needs and preferences of the Swiss population, while closely monitoring the evolution of travel restrictions around the world» underlines Lorenzo Stoll, Managing Director for French-speaking Switzerland.
SWISS strongly recommends that all passengers wear protection covering their mouth and nose for the duration of the flight: a simple disposable mask (surgical type) or a reusable cloth mask.
For its part, easyJet has announced a partial resumption of flights from 15 June from Geneva to Bordeaux, Brindisi, Lisbon, Nantes, Nice and Porto and is implementing a series of new sanitary measures. A limited flight plan will be launched from 31 European airports with some international flights. easyJet is implementing new sanitary measures such as disinfecting aircraft and the wearing of a mandatory mask for passengers and crews to guarantee their safety and protect their health. All flights will have spare sanitary equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitiser). Bistro and Boutique services will not be provided at first.
«We have taken all the necessary measures to ensure reassuring flying conditions. The offer from and to Geneva will evolve according to international recommendations and demand. The safety of passengers and our teams remains our top priority and will guide all decisions that will be made», said Jean-Marc Thévenaz, Director of easyJet Switzerland.
A positive outlook
Other airlines’ resumption of activity is also taking shape, especially in anticipation of the summer months. Depending on the opening of borders, flights to southern countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.) as well as major European cities will gradually increase, both from traditional airlines and low-cost airlines.
Regarding the intercontinental service, the prospects are also encouraging. Ethiopian Airlines was the first to return to Geneva in mid-May with its flights from Addis Ababa, followed by Etihad from Abu Dhabi. These two companies are still mainly cargo-oriented; however, they have already transported a few passengers. The recovery of the rest of the long-haul network will occur mainly in July with the return of links to the Persian Gulf (Emirates, Qatar Airways), North America (Air Canada) and China (Air China). Genève Aéroport is making every effort to restore, in the best possible conditions, its long-haul connectivity, which is strategic for the entire region and for all diplomatic activity.
Recommendations in special situation
Genève Aéroport and the airlines strongly recommend that passengers apply the following measures:
- Check in for your flight and print your boarding pass BEFORE arriving at the airport, whenever possible.
- Scan and manipulate your own documents and perform certain operations alone (scanning, depositing objects, etc.) in order to avoid the risk of virus transmission.
- Wear a mask when the social distancing of two metres cannot be respected according to FOPH guidelines. Masks are on sale at kiosks and in the pharmacy located at the CFF station at the airport.
- Find out about any access restrictions and health regulations applicable in the country of destination.
Madeleine von Holzen