“Greetings from my ATL-Air Service
Development office inside my home,” says Elliott Paige, Hartsfield
Jackson International Airport Air Services Director.
“Luckily, I have a bedroom set up
as a home office, so my commute takes only a few steps.
“I sit here a lot to write my thoughts
down, most recently on the supply chain of toilet paper, since I found
it intriguing that this was an issue for so many people in the early part
of this pandemic.
“I have enough supplies for my household,
not hoard amounts like some people I know.”
Lost in Space
“Work-wise, I am surprised by how
busy I am during the day.
“Today, I lost track of time and had
lunch at 3:30 PM.
“Many teleconferencing calls throughout
the day starting with a morning check-in with Linda (Linda Eshiwani-Nate
takes care of all things Air Service Development-related at ATL) and the
rest of my team, and endless e-mails, plus webinar, where I am occasionally
“Many of the e-mails are requests
from various stakeholders wondering what’s happening, and us trying
to predict what’s in store the next day with passenger airlines.
“Sometimes the call is to get clearances
for ground workers to unload an Antonov Charter when the operator is challenged,
so of course I lean into that as well.”
“One of my colleagues who had to venture
into the airport offices commented that the world’s busiest airport
seems so void of passengers, in comparison to the 300,000 passengers we
are accustomed to, it was ‘eerie.’
“Som people are afraid to travel.
“In April ATL witnessed 6,200 passengers
on some days.
“Most recent numbers for June were
up ten fold to 60,000, a mere drop in the bucket as compared to normal,
but at least the numbers are trending upward although our giant airport,
which is among the world’s busiest, is still pretty vacant.”
World’s Longest Parking Lot
“Like many major airports worldwide,
ATL airport had closed two runways, and they were used as plane parking
“We are collating information from
all our stakeholders.
“Many of our partners need financial
relief and have made their requests. We are working with them as best
“We are also collaborating with WorkSource
Atlanta to help those affected by staff shortage due to COVID-19.
“HJIA is also trying to ensure we take care of our employees.”
Not Down Far Enough To Look Up
“Our main challenge was knowing when
this crisis would bottom out so we can return to both, safety in terms
of COVID-19 eradication and financial health (a.k.a. returning to positive
“We continually received requests
from people still needing to travel who are unsure of availability.
“The words used by many during the
crises is still apropos, that things remain ‘very fluid.’”
Air Cargo Heroes
“However, there is one very important
feature for which ATL had to stay open. The world remembers Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta International Airport as a mega-hub for passengers, but we are
also a pretty big hub for cargo.
“Everybody is thankful for the surge
“Many carriers increased volume to
take advantage of the need to move more goods during the crisis.
“To everyone in the logistics and
supply chain who are busy getting us our stuff,
“I remind everyone that these people
continue to be our heroes.”
Workers Melt Away
“The challenge the GHAs face is that
while air cargo is booming, they had a hard time keeping workers.
“Labor losses increased due to the
contagion, yes, but also fear among staff.
“People were actually leaving or quitting
over concerns for their family’s safety.
“Some GHAs actually went on a hiring
“Other GHAs, for now, are suffering
from the loss of schedule carriers, and some airlines that have closed
shop (e.g. CargoLogicAir) and some others.
“Today, our GHA’s have much
better procedures to keep staff safe. Temperatures of everyone are checked
with laser thermometers at the beginning of each shift. All staff must
wear masks when working in close proximity to each other. Touch points
are sterilized between shifts, and time between shifts allow one shift
of staff to leave before the other arrive. Workers get daily advice on
how to operate safely and instructions for the proper usage of PPEs. It
helps them feel safe while they work as heroes.”
Go with the Flow
“I think the need to keep goods flowing
(including medical supplies for healthcare workers on the front line)
means cargo volume will continue all year long even as volumes return
to regular cargo, as retail opens up.
“E-commerce is also booming as more
people order from home.
“Being very hopeful, we all imagine
that cargo volume will multiply several times when a vaccine (fingers
crossed) is found.”
Home of CDC
“We are a distribution hub not only
because the CDC is here in Atlanta, but also, we are naturally a disaster-relief
air-hub due to our size, location and connectivity.
“We were there for millions during
hurricanes Katrina and Maria, as example.
“HJIA is proud of the job we are doing
to serve our city and the world as expected of us.”
Glad to Still be Working
“Notwithstanding, I was and today
am grateful to still have a job and one that is always exciting even during
strange global events like this one.
“I communicated continually with other
professionals in trade and logistics online to find solutions to airlines
that are grounded, and to discuss recovery.
“I still spend an inordinate amount
of time on tele-video apps talking to other airports, airlines, and tourism
people, offering solutions and sharing our experience. We all need to
work together to get out of this.
“During my weekends, I have also dedicated
more time to writing and sharing my ideas on economic processes,”
Reading Books also Reading You
“I have lots of projects, reading
on Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and
Regional Economic Development (an ACRP study).
“Hopefully, I find time between all
that for cooking.
“Along the way working at home was,
and in some respects continues to be a voyage of discovery.
“One day it was a hearty Antiguan
goat soup since my daughter has moved home.
“Her college, like many others, had
only virtual classes. Many colleges are worried about their survival as
new students defer, and present students request their money back. She
graduated 2020, without all the fanfare of a graduation ceremony. I felt
bad for her as I had all my graduation experiences.
“I also have been able to start diving
into books I have had on my shelves for too long, and maybe clean up my
“I desperately need to file personal
papers, but I hate filing, so I keep procrastinating.
Who wants filing to cut into their TV time?
“Priorities,” Elliott laughed.
All is Well that Ends
“In the end, we will pull through
this global pandemic.
“Business practices have and will
continue to change, especially how we deal with customer experience, and
how we make our workplace feel safe for staff and our facilities safe
for our users.”
The New Normal
“Hygiene practices and culture will
have to change.
“My last travel was to the West African
country of Liberia in February 2020.
“As a result of the Ebola crisis,
they have protocols such as regular temperature checks for all passengers
leaving an aircraft, including high tech thermal cameras attached to computers
that alarm when someone with a fever passes in front of them.
“Every public building requires its
patrons to wash their hands in provided facilities before entering.
“We may have to adapt some of these
measures in high volume facilities.”
Brings out the Best in All of Us
“I remain proud of the robust logistics
sector and the folks who are in the trucks, warehouses, and cargo aircraft
still making our economy turn, even slowly, never to stop,” Elliott