The past few weeks have immensely changed the world in unimaginable ways. COVID-19 has scared populations and scarred businesses with equal might. Not to mention one of the worst affected business sectors is aviation. Eindhoven Airport, a predominate gateway to the Brainport region has borne the brunt too.
Here, Eindhoven News in conversation with Roel Hellemons, CEO of Eindhoven airport.
Roel Hellemons, CEO of Eindhoven Airport, states “The era of the coronavirus is a difficult time with uncertainties, major challenges and opportunities. We’ll get through this together.”
The quiet plaza
This buzzing airport used to fly passengers to 89 destinations and operate about seventy flights daily in summer. Notably, the footfall of Eindhoven airport was about 6.7million during the last year. Now with hardly 3 to 4 flights a day the Eindhoven airport stands jilted. Roel Hellemons, CEO of Eindhoven Airport confides “it’s surreal, sometimes it is just one flight in a day. Some aircraft, especially Transavia, are just parked here [in Eindhoven airport]”. He wonders if the number of passengers would even be half of last year’s.
Hellemons vouches for the safety of passengers and others associated with the airport. Thorough cleaning and disinfecting measures are in place. For example, carts and luggage trays are cleaned frequently. Indeed, numerous hygiene products are available throughout. Passengers are cautioned about maintaining distance and observing safety guidelines in many languages both in the terminal and in the aircraft. Whereas those travelling from certain hard-hit countries have to submit a “fully fit” form.
The management team has different possible scenarios and does not expect any rosy volte-face. The earliest to aim for is the latter part of 2022 in terms of economic turnaround while the number of aircraft would return to normal much earlier. The airport boss has a positive outlook, and he considers the crisis as an opportunity to make aviation more sustainable. Hellemons expresses “No one knows what is going to happen and it’s wise to make European pan agreements to make aviation more innovative and sustainable. Eindhoven airport already has a high priority for sustainability in its vision and goals. We aspire to become a CO2 neutral airport by 2030.”
Recent quality upgrade to the airport
The scanners in security lanes were upgraded last December. As a result, now passengers do not have to hassle around with their laptops and liquids etc. Eindhoven airport is the first in the world to implement this smart 3D screening technology. The redevelopment of the terminal forecourt and construction of the Airport-Boulevard is ready as per schedule, which is a worthy entrance to the Brainport region. Construction of a walkway from the terminal to the aircraft bay will commence soon. Notably, the airport scaled-down the air traffic from 43,000 to 41,500 to flights to lower the noise levels.
Strategy for the future
Hellemons emphasises that enhancing quality and relevance to the Brainport is of utmost importance. The director reiterates “Providing added value to the region is paramount and in the firm belief that better times are coming again, we are working hard on different scenarios to scale up the air traffic.” Recently, the airport announced discounts on airport dues to airlines that operate a quieter and cleaner fleet. The organisation aims to further lower CO2 emissions by encouraging the use of sustainable fuels and by renewing about 60 per cent of the fleet to attain its objectives.
“Crisis or not, we have committed ourselves to substantially reduce the noise load by 2030 and, we aim to pursue our goal, which is becoming a CO2 neutral airport in 2030.” Hellemons is confident that in the internationally focussed, economically strong Brainport region travelling will regain its original momentum soon.
For Eindhoven News: Beena Arunraj