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IAWA Virtual Speaker Series Kicked Off This November with “IAWA Voices During COVID-19.”

IAWA members and friends gathered virtually on November 19 to kickoff our virtual speaker series titled “IAWA Voices During COVID-19.” Hosted and moderated by Di Reimold, Deputy Director, Policy and Innovation Division of the FAA, the interactive discussion panel included Sharon Pinkerton, SVP Legislative and Regulatory Policy for A4A and Kim Day, CEO of Denver International Airport. Each of these formidable women began by sharing poignant and all too familiar experiences and challenges—both professional and personal—they have encountered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Day shared with the group how her team worked together to fight for the future survival of the Denver Airport after traffic dropped as low as 4% of normal operations. She also expressed the feelings she has experienced while working from home and missing daily interactions with friends and colleagues. Ms. Pinkerton highlighted a positive of the pandemic being improved relations between airline carriers and their unions, and how both groups have come together to make sacrifices and jointly work to ensure jobs were preserved and that the survival of the airlines remained a possibility.  She also introduced the topic of a coordinated national standard to bridge the gap between the need for testing and vaccine verification for travelers. Ms. Reimold hosted our discussion from her office, and shared how refreshing it was to re-engage with colleagues in person, and how relationships with everyone around us will need to be viewed through a new lens when the world returns to “normal.”

The group addressed a broad range of topics beginning with how we might re-instill passenger confidence in air travel. Ms. Day informed our group about Denver Airport’s new Verifly platform, which will allow touchless TSA screening and socially distanced passage through the airport via an advance reservation process. It would be available to travelers who feel vulnerable travelling or who are especially at risk. She further emphasized that the need for testing of airport employees as well as travelers is imperative for a safe travel experience. Ms. Pinkerton stressed the importance of landing on a coordinated state, local and national policy from the CDC and federal leadership to approach risk management during this environment. Most importantly, the legislators would need to be adequately informed in order to understand and respond to the world of aviation and the unique needs of an airport environment. After covering the need to risk mitigation as opposed to complete risk elimination, the panel highlighted the need for a global health passport so that an integrated, internationally accepted standard for verifying COVID test status (including avoiding fraudulent test results) and/or vaccine administration could be implemented.

Overall it was a stimulating and engaging interactive discussion that brought together diverse viewpoints from all over the aviation space to contemplate the various challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to our industry. We look forward to hosting our next IAWA Voices During COVID-19 panel discussion very soon.