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PEOPLE matters – Time to reflect


Terri Morrissey and Richard Plenty share their thoughts on some of the early lessons learned from COVID-19.

In our last ‘People Matters’ column, we focused on how to build and sustain resilience in a crisis situation. Crises occur suddenly, require immediate responses, and are generally of short duration.

Not so this one. This crisis has been prolonged, with devastating effects globally on our health, employment, social lives and psychological and emotional wellbeing.

We have lived in a world where the ‘pause’ button has been pushed. We have had to change the habits of a lifetime. Many of us have had ‘taken for granted’ freedoms removed; no social face-to-face interactions and have not been able to travel for work or leisure.

We have had the time to reflect, think and examine more closely what we really value. What does this all mean?

Many of us have become armchair philosophers. There are quite a number of predictions about how we will “come out of lockdown”. Some, hankering for the past and conscious of the economic and social damage that has been caused, are focused on getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

Others advocate a more gradual return to what they call a “new normal”, seizing the opportunities this crisis gives us to address global issues such as climate change, the environment and public health.

Whichever scenario you favour, the reality is that we are in period of great uncertainty. There are more questions than answers. Will business people be reluctant to fly when they can Zoom into meetings instead? Will people be fearful of travelling for leisure?

In a recent webinar, hosted by the London School of Economics (Assessing the Impact of COVID-19: From Mortality to Misery, May 21, 2020), a number of behavioural scientists discussed the impact of the pandemic. They suggested the creation of a wellbeing index to put alongside the mortality statistics so as to be able to gauge better the true impact of policy decisions.

They also suggested that as we move out of lockdown, we should be reassessing our capital investment programmes. Should we, for example, be spending more on promoting energy efficiency and less on building transport infrastructure?

Any changes may have unintended consequences. James Fellows, travel writer, speaking on Fareed Zakaria (CNN, May 24, 2020), said that we have taken for granted our ease of travel up until now. Without that, we will narrow our horizons, cultural, moral and social. There will be less person to person contact.

Our view is that we need to ensure that the lessons we learn from this crisis should be used to help create a better, sustainable future. A co-ordinated, collaborative international response is urgently required across the aviation sector as a whole.

It will be important to reach out to persuade and influence others outside the industry, whose support will be necessary but who may have mixed views.

For those in leadership positions this will be a testing period. Quite a challenge, but one which could ultimately result in a transformed, more resilient sector.


Karin Öhrström is the new airport director of Malmö Airport, although she won’t take up her position until September 1, 2020. She currently works as head of customer and sales at energy company E.ON Energilösningar. “Our ambition is to continue developing Malmö Airport as an important regional airport that contributes to access in southern Sweden and to continue driving our climate change work,” notes Swedavia’s director of regional airports, Susanne Norman.

Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO, Marily Mora, originally expected to step down in June has agreed to stay on until July as the hunt continues for her successor. The current shortlist for her position contains a handful of well-known industry figures in the US.

Fraport AG’s Supervisory Board has elected Hessian finance minister, Michael Boddenberg, as its new chairman. Boddenberg succeeds Karlheinz Weimar, who stepped down at the close of May’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) after leading the Supervisory Board for more than 16 years. Boddenberg said: “By responding quickly and decisively to the current global aviation crisis, we will be able to ensure the company’s future competitiveness.”

AGS Airports Ltd, which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports in the UK, has confirmed the appointment of Roger Hunt as interim managing director of Aberdeen International Airport. Hunt, who will continue in his current role as AGS’ chief of human resources and development director, succeeds Steve Szalay, who has become the new operations director at Southampton Airport, spearheading a newly restructured management team following the departure of managing director, Neil Garwood.

Cardiff Airport has confirmed its next chair will be Wayne Harvey, former senior managing partner for Deloitte in Wales. He takes over from the outgoing chair, Roger Lewis, who was at the helm during achievements over the past five years which included passenger growth and the arrival of Qatar Airways flights.

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