ST. LOUIS – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the airlines especially hard. Nationwide, air travel is down over 90 percent from this time last year.
“In total 3,500-4,000 a day are traveling through the airport, if we look at the same day last year that would be closer to 42-43 thousand a day, so it’s dramatic,” said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the Director of St. Louis International airport.
The airport has implemented extreme cleaning measures to help people feel comfortable flying during this pandemic.
“So, we’ve switched products when all this started with COVID-19 to the recommendations of the CDC and EPA on the type of products that are heavily concentrated with ammonia killing germs,” said Hamm-Niebruegge.
The airport is now using this product to deep clean all public areas like restrooms and corridors. Touchpoints, like door handles and elevator buttons, are getting extra attention. And social distancing is required in security lines and baggage claim areas. There are also over-head announcements being made every 20 minutes reminding customers of CDC recommendations.
Each airline has their own safety protocols in place at the gates as well as on the planes.
“So, they too, have implemented extreme cleaning measures. In many cases, on the turns of the airplanes, they’re getting a disinfectant spray, as passengers deplane and before the next load comes in”.
Then, she says, the planes get a deep cleaning each night with a highly aggressive germ-killing product.
But many people are concerned about the air circulation system.
“Most of the airplanes that are flying today are much newer, so their circulation systems are great. The air being re-circulated is very clean air.
Southwest airlines re-freshes their cabin air every few minutes and use HEPA filters with similar technology as those used in hospitals.
Hamm-Niebruegge hopes all of this brings peace of mind to travelers.
”If you have a reason or desire to fly, there’s no reason not to”.
There has been a small uptick in traffic levels at the airport in the past couple of weeks. If you do plan on traveling, be sure to check the website of whatever airline you’re traveling on for the latest COVID-19 travel protocols.