Despite COVID-19, the airport is still experiencing an increase in air traffic.
The Naples Airport Authority is trying to keep things operating as normally as possible, especially since traffic is currently up about 20% at the airport.
“Private air travel of course comes with a belief that it’s more safe and secure than traveling commercially,” says Chris Rozansky, executive director of Naples Airport Authority (NAA). “And we’ve been almost as busy as the week between Christmas and New Year’s.”
Some of that increased travel is due to Canadian snowbirds heading home early as the border situation evolves. But Rozansky is still seeing a “healthy amount” of spring break-related traffic, as well as folks deciding they’d rather social distance at their Southwest Florida residence than their Midwest or Northeast home.
The NAA is following Center for Disease Control and Florida Department of Health guidelines, increasing sanitation of public areas, reducing meetings and postponing events. For international arrivals, the airport follows the current guidance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Domestic arrivals often go from airplane to private car, so there’s not a lot of close public contact at the airport like at commercial airports.
“If our employees should encounter anyone they believe has COVID-19, they need to report it immediately, and we have some additional protocols we’d take at that time,” says Rozansky. “But other than that we’re not questioning or screening pilots or passengers.”
Very few of the NAA’s 90 employees can work from home, since most staff is needed on the ground for daily operations. But a few employees who did take spring break trips with their families are working from home for 14 days to be safe. Rozansky is consulting with the NAA board as things continue to progress and has the ability to declare an emergency at the airport should staffing become an issue due to illness.
“We want to make sure as best we can that our employees are healthy and safe,” says Rozansky. “But it’s important for us to continue to conduct business, because airports are always relied upon as critical infrastructure in unprecedented times like this.”