Monday May 23, 2022

Small airports face closure risk as COVID causes worker shortage

Published : 05 Jan 2022, 23:12

Updated : 05 Jan 2022, 23:14

  DF Report

File Photo: Finavia.

A significant number of staff working at the Finnish airports went on sick leave after being infected with coronavirus and if the situation worsens further, it may compel the authorities to close down some small airports due to worker shortage, according to country´s airports operator Finavia.

“If the sickness absences of different service providers continue to increase, in the worst-case scenario, we might even be forced to close some small airports. We communicate changes in the service situation of the airports on our website and on social media. You should check the instructions before your trip,” said Jani Ceder, Head of Airport Operations Centre at Finavia.

Finavia continuously monitors airport operations through its Airport Operational Status (AOS) system, which includes about 400 service providers operating at airports. The daily assessment of sickness absences and employee numbers has now been included in the monitoring, said Finavia in a press release on Wednesday.

“At the moment, the companies at the airport are doing their best and are able to provide services. Passengers can depart on trips and return home. However, the companies at the airport have reported illnesses and quarantines among their staff,” said Ceder.

According to Ceder, the additional work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the significant number of sickness absences, means that problems may occur in the airport services.

Various passenger services including check-ins and checking COVID-19 certificates (airlines with their ground handling partners), security control (Finavia together with its service providers), departure gate services (airlines with their ground handling partners), border control and checks on entry conditions (Finnish Border Guard), health examinations, tests and checking COVID-19 certificates upon arrival in the country (health measures of the municipalities and cities, for example, at Helsinki Airport: the City of Vantaa), baggage claim upon arrival (airlines with their ground handling partners), services for passengers with reduced mobility (Finavia together with its service provider) may be affected due to the crisis.

Finavia's own employees have so far been able to avoid significant sickness absences and quarantines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to exceptional arrangements at the airports, such as the checking of COVID-19 certificates and internal border controls. They take up more time than usual and are reflected in queues to other service points.

Passengers are asked to arrive at the airport on time and to be prepared for queues and long waiting times, especially during the busiest hours. When there are a lot of passengers, crowds are inevitable.