BIA Staff Tirelessly fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, started to spread all over the world as a global epidemic, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) was kept ready taking every possible precautionary measure under the leadership of Major General G. A. Chandrasiri, Chairman Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL), Board of Directors, senior management and all other staff. All these measures were implemented timely as per the vision of His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Despite, all this time of risk and uncertainty, the AASL staff have been serving tirelessly for the sake of the country.
With the COVID 19 virus spreading world-wide threatening the lives of millions of people, the AASL as the civil airport operator in the country, has been playing a vital role by facilitating the health authorities and other agencies to implement the precautionary measures under the given guidelines.
The quarantine process of passengers arriving into the country began after identifying the global threat the virus posed. Accordingly, a group of Sri Lankan students who were stranded in Wuhan, China and were airlifted consequently to BIA Colombo, was the first group of passengers to be sent to the quarantine process. Under the directions of His Excellency the President, Sri Lankan Airlines took the initiative of this humanitarian mission to bring the Sri Lankan students home. The staff of the Sri Lankan Airlines, AASL, and the military got involved in this mission putting their lives at a risk.
Initially, following the instructions of Sri Lanka health authorities, all International Airports in Sri Lanka were closed for inward international commercial passenger flights with effect from 0400hrs on 19 March 2020 until 2359hrs on 25 March 2020. And now, the restriction on inbound international commercial passenger flights has been extended until 2359hrs on 31st March 2020.
At a time, when the COVID-19 virus is threatening the whole world as a pandemic, it is very important to recognize the commitment, courage of all employees of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited, Sri Lankan Airlines, and all other employees from minor labourer to the top executives who work round-the- clock even at the risk of their lives.
An airport plays a significant role in the economy. If the airport is to be closed, the negative impact it would bring to the country’s economy is enormous. Airports, as gateways to the country, contribute towards the development of the travel and tourism industry and create many direct and indirect employment opportunities. Because of this COVID-19 global pandemic, the world economy as well as that of our country have been severely affected.
Facilitating every single precautionary measure adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka, 3453 people have been sent to 45 quarantine centers during the period of 10th to 23rd March 2020. In order to enhance the passenger convenience during these exercises, refreshments, telephone facilities, and sanitary facilities were provided. The general public as well as the passengers who are being sent to these quarantine centers need to understand the commitment and sacrifice of the staff of all divisions at AASL, Sri Lankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Police and other military forces in implementing this quarantine process. When we spoke with some of the frontline staff of AASL, we were able to know how seriously they had taken this as a national responsibility more than a mere job. The whole nation should salute these people who serve the country as patriots. Whereas staff of most of the other government organizations are not reporting to work, the airport staff continue to work despite the risks involved. Without their contribution, in a situation like this, the impact would have been very critical.
BIA adopts best practices
At a time when the COVID-19 virus was spreading around the world, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) was ready to face the threat under the guidance of the His Excellency the President, Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Minister of Tourism and Aviation and the leadership of Major General (Rtd.) G A Chandrasiri, Chairman AASL. Initially a series of ‘Big Cleaning Programs’ was conducted as precautionary measures at the BIA to prevent the “COVID-19. Both the terminal building and the ancillary areas were cleaned & disinfected with the participation of more than 200 cleaning staff at BIA. Further, the frequencies in cleaning and disinfecting of high-contact areas were carried out. There has also been an increase in the frequency of toilet cleaning, emptying of bins and wiping of sinks and countertops across the airport. Hand sanitizers have been made available for use across the whole airport. Temperature screening of passengers at BIA has been continuously carried out. Passengers on all arrival flights were subject to temperature screening. Thermal scanners have been installed at BIA to identify potentially infected travelers.
Comprehensive decontamination programs were repeatedly conducted at the BIA by Sri Lanka Air Force together with the staff of AASL and other agencies to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading.
In addition to these measures, the staff at the airport were educated and encouraged to maintain good hand hygiene, wear masks and seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell.
It is noteworthy to appreciate the Chairman, AASL for identifying the difficulties of the employees at AASL and providing all meals and transport for them free of charge during the times of curfew.
These measures have been implemented jointly with all key stakeholders including the military forces under the direct guidance of the Ministry of Health. The Chairman AASL, Major. General (Rtd.) G. A. Chandrasiri, the Board of Directors and the senior management have been vigilantly attending the requirements by taking every possible measure to adjust to the situation and facilitate the passengers.
Finally, we kindly request the support and patience from all passengers, airport users, general public and media organizations to bear with the short term discomfort for the long term benefits of all as one united nation. Let us stand together as one team giving our maximum contribution to the Government’s effort to eradicate the Virus from the country.
Let us stay strong and stay in faith to exterminate the COVID-19 virus that threatens the human existence universally.
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Airport and Aviation Service (Sri Lanka) Limited
Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA)