Elliott Paige is Airport Director, Air
Service Development for Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta,
Always smart with good ideas, engaging and
outspoken, here Elliott offers the lowdown on living and prospering during
“ATL is not doing too horrible. Passenger
numbers moved from 453,362 in
April to 3,124,231 in September and growing. As a comparison, in September,
pre-COVID, we had 8,733,259 passengers. However, the capacity for pax
is not the problem. The problem is that with every spike in COVID cases,
2-3 weeks later, there are cancellations as more people are infected,
and others are afraid to travel. International numbers are also picking
up but expected to remain stagnant or even slow as more European countries
remain in lockdown.
“Cargo is doing much better. Our peak day
of Thursdays sees as much as 75 all-freighter flights. E-Commerce is still
booming, and the GHAs, namely Swissport, had to go on a hiring campaign
twice in October to get extra staff to handle all the extra flights coming
“We announced that DHL would take 50% of
the building leased by WFS, and they are operational since early-November. They
are gearing up, like Delta, to handle COVID-vaccines through ATL.
“We are working internally to get COVID ready
by engaging with stakeholders and looking at all the areas, we may have
bottlenecks to prioritize COVID vaccine transport. We want to be as helpful
as possible to save lives.
“For the future, we were advertising our
modern air cargo terminal RFP,
in November but had some administrative delays. We are still pressing
ahead, and this RFP should be advertised within the next few weeks. Interested
parties should stay tuned to this link.
This is our big vision and showcases our ambitions to make ATL one of
the U.S.’s best.”
Outstanding in a Year of Challenge
“What has stood out for me the most is the
airport's partners' resiliency, especially in cargo. We have been struck
with waves of COVID, yet we never give up. We continue to add technology
on both the cargo and passenger side to protect staff and passengers.
It's been a challenge in cargo, as some stakeholders prefer to continue
doing things the old way. Part of it may be how divided the country is
on the impact of the virus. Yet we continue to push for common-sense approaches:
• Touchless directories for passengers in the terminal;
• Building awareness for the cargo community system;
• Helping with expedited badging for the hundreds of new staff being
to work in cargo;
• Information and data sharing with stakeholders;
• The countless Webinars showcasing what we are doing to keep business
going for the community.”
A Day In The Life
“It’s Yoga, first thing early in the
morning to help me wake up. I then catch up on the news (regular, then
industry). I review a few emails, maybe get a call or two in, before our
daily team meeting. Usually, there is a stakeholder meeting after that.
“Then it’s lunchtime but usually I
forget to have lunch either because of a meeting or trying to finish an
email like this one, so end up getting a late lunch.
“Afternoons are spent doing more reading,
writing, preparing presentations, or strategizing with a team member.
“I may pause to catch up with a family member,
colleague, or friend - something I think we all need during this time.
“I usually don't notice it's 5:00 PM and
I should stop work until 6:00 PM. Then I try to write something for my
blog or pause to check the mail or go outside a bit for a walk and some
What Stands Out?
“It's all interesting.
“But I am pretty excited about the RFP for
the Modern Air Cargo Terminal. I really want that to be successful and
like I envision it. I have the whole facility in my head, but my task
is to get others to see it as profitable.”
First Moves Post Pandemic
“I desperately need to travel, more personally
than professionally. That's priority #1—a real vacation.
“Another priority will also be coordinating
with the staff of how we work from now on, sometimes in the office and
other times at home.
“Travel will be necessary for work to continue
to build a business. This won't go away. The challenge is this: How do
we build business through traveling when our budgets have been slashed
because of shortfalls in revenue due to the COVID impact? The big task
is now convincing our finance people that to return to success, we need
to make revenue, and to make revenue, we need to be out there marketing
the business we have. To be out there, we need a budget to travel and
engage with interested parties and market to them. COVID has made finance
people skittish, so that will take some convincing.”
Inspiration & Revelations During The Lockdown?
“My partner first, absolutely.
“My conviction that we cannot survive without
trade and logistics sector and finally, my belief in supporting "everything
trade" to make sure the system works as best it can.
“I probably don't really need a car. We have
survived on one household car for months. I would probably also trade
an outdoor space for less indoor space. “Otherwise,
that's a tough question. Maybe, it's just the season, but I could do without
hearing any more about politics and politicians.”