Orlando International Airport (MCO) leaders are taking measures to prepare for the resumption of normal commercial activity, which is anticipated in the coming weeks as state and local officials finalize plans to fully reopen the state.
“The safety of the traveling public is of the utmost importance to us and our partners,” said Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “For the last several months, we have taken action for safe and clean facilities to best protect the traveling public and employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we focus on rebuilding confidence for passengers that we’re doing what we can to maintain a safe environment.”
Passengers arriving at MCO will see signage around the main terminal building to encourage the safe practice of social distancing. Orange cones will be used as visual markers to separate parties by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended six feet of space. Social distancing markers will be strategically placed at security checkpoints and near ticket counters. Acrylic protective screens are being installed at ticket counters and at retail and food outlets.
Hand sanitizer stations remain located throughout the terminal and at the airsides.
An enhanced cleaning schedule, which started earlier this year, continues as MCO prepares for the return of higher passenger traffic. That cleaning includes an increased cleaning frequency of high touch point areas like elevator buttons, chairs, handrails and other high traffic areas.
When traveling on trams to the airsides, passengers will see an increase in cleaning crews in or around the area. Orlando International leaders strongly encourage travelers to wear a face mask or covering when at the airport.
The following airlines that operate at Orlando International are requiring (or soon will require) passengers to wear face masks when they travel:
- Alaska Airways
For more than a month, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) employees have worked an adjusted schedule. Those with essential work assignments in the
building have been adhering to a rotating schedule to ensure the proper social distancing guidelines are met. Other GOAA employees have worked remotely.
When Aviation Authority employees begin to resume normal work hours, they will observe protocols that will determine best safety practices including wearing face masks and proper spacing within work areas.
Concessions within the terminal will continue to work with airport officials to determine when businesses within the terminal will reopen and any additional measures that will be taken to safeguard employees and passengers.
Airport staff, in collaboration with the airlines, is working to determine what connections and service routes will be available as the state continues reopening. It is expected that capacity and air service will increase as Central Florida’s tourism and hospitality industries resume operations. At the peak of the pandemic, Orlando International passenger traffic was down approximately 97 percent and only a few hundred flights a day. MCO was not alone. Most top 20 airports across the country experienced similar dramatic decreases in passenger traffic.
Due to MCO’s available space, desirable weather and strong relationship with the airlines, a number of carriers have chosen to park approximately 122 of their planes on-site until service has resumed.
Before Coronavirus resulted in a statewide safer-at-home order, Orlando International had an average of 900 daily commercial flights. On Monday, May 4, there were a total of 263 total flights, with seven cancellations. MCO had an estimated 4,848 departing passengers, compared to the original projected figure of 78,725 departing passengers.
Based on current schedules, it is anticipated that Orlando International will offer service to 72 domestic and 12 international destinations this month. Compare that to 150 domestic and international destinations traditionally.
Brown said he has a cautious optimism for airlines to bring back domestic service to more destinations and it will probably take longer for international connections to recover with current federal restrictions.
At this time, airport officials maintain close communications with local, state and federal public health representatives to best promote that Orlando and Central Florida is a healthy and safe environment for essential travelers and other visitors. The path to recovery for Orlando International is largely dependent upon solutions by the health care industry and the local community and tourism attractions working together to support the return of guests looking to come to the country’s most-visited destination.