Brisbane Airport never sleeps. We operate 24/7 connecting Queensland to the world and even though we have been working with heavily reduced passenger numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, our frontline staff and partners have ensured we’ve remained open.
With stranded passengers arriving home to Australia or departing to get home to their loved ones on repatriation flights, increased freight and cargo-only services carrying essential items and sustaining the regional economy, and lifesaving medical emergency flights keeping regional Queenslanders connected to world class medical care, we have needed to be here (and open) to support our local and global communities.
These are some of the People of BNE working hard to keep the front door to Queensland open and what they’ve learnt during this time.
Tony Chetwyn, Terminal Operations, Brisbane Airport Corporation
How has Brisbane Airport changed?
“It’s a different set-up we have here at Brisbane Airport at the moment. While we are in a quieter way in terms of passengers, in other respects, we are busier. We have seen increases in freight movements with regular passenger aircraft carrying cargo only. We have also been working with a lot of government agencies working through the logistics of organising repatriation flights for passengers stuck around the Pacific to get home via Brisbane or return home to Australia. Some of these have been special one-off flights like Condor Airlines getting German passengers home and others like Qatar running on a more regular schedule for a set period. Usually we would have weeks and months to set up a new airline, we have been organising these flights in a matter of days. Operationally, we deal in unusual circumstances and during this time we have taken it up a notch, raised our game and got it done.”
Raelene Green, Team Leader, Australian Border Force
What is it like working at BNE right now?
“I’ve been working with Australian Border Force at Brisbane Airport on and off since 2008 and as Team Leader for the last four years. This is such an unprecedented time, you never know what is going to happen in your day until the planes start landing, passengers disembark and are processed. We are really on the frontline here; we understand how infectious COVID-19 is and the importance of social distancing and wearing PPE – this is our new normal, this will be in place for a while to come. Even though the typical day-to-day has changed, I still love the work that Australian Border Force does in protecting Australia’s border.”
Clayton Judd, Manager Clinical and Base Operations, Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section)
What is the most important thing you've learnt during COVID-19?
"I've realised how busy the airspace actually is compared to the current time. Our operations have continued as normal however there is noticeably less air traffic throughout the state. We've really been focusing on providing operational coverage without interruption so that we can continue to deliver vital services to rural and regional Queenslanders during this pandemic. However there is always ongoing changes as new information becomes available and we adapt to the unknown impacts of COVID-19. The one thing that hasn't changed is that I work with a great team who are motivated to go above and beyond for the community - no matter what."
Tara Timperley, Aviation Rescue Fire Fighter, Airservices Australia
What does a 'new normal' day look like at the moment?
"I was surprised how much a pandemic could actually impact an airport. The airport is so quiet at the moment and I didn’t quite realise how busy Brisbane Airport is generally, as it seemed so normal before. The radio chatter has gone, aircraft parked everywhere and there is a definite reduction in the amount of call outs recently. A lot of the buildings have minimal staff, the terminals are quiet, therefore the risk of first aid calls, fuel spills and aircraft incidents is lowered. However, we have utilised this time to perform training and as always, we are available if we are required for any call outs."
Stacey Pollard, International Terminal Manager, Brisbane Airport Corporation
What do you miss most?
“I definitely miss the passengers coming through the terminal, seeing it busy, seeing all the different staff and teams, I really miss that. You can just look around here to know it feels different. A good terminal is a busy terminal. When we get back to normal, I just want to submerge myself in the terminal at the busiest time of the day, I can’t wait to see Level 4 busy again… we can't wait to see our passengers back."
Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO, Brisbane Airport Corporation
What is Brisbane Airport doing to make the airport and travel COVID safe?
“As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, BAC has developed a comprehensive COVID-Safe plan for Brisbane Airport, developed using evidence and expert advice to ensure the safety of staff and travellers throughout every aspect of a traveller’s journey.
“We have already put a lot of effort and commitment into this and we will continue to work hard implementing our plan and minimising risks wherever possible.
“As people begin to return to our terminals, they will see an increased cleaning regime across high-frequency customer touchpoints, floor decals and signage encouraging social distancing, free sanitiser stations at terminal entry points and screening locations, protective sneeze screens and PPE for frontline staff where practical.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been waiting for, and we are looking forward to welcoming back our airline partners and seeing travellers in our terminals again.
“Whether you are flying the plane, are a departing or arriving passenger, serving coffee in the terminal, providing a service, or greeting or farewelling someone at the airport, everyone has an important role to play in keeping themselves and everyone else safe. So we’re asking travellers to play their part by not coming to the airport if feeling unwell, to use the free sanitation stations located throughout the terminals, and to practice social distancing where possible.”