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Suggested Citation:"Opening Remarks and Welcome." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25954.
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Suggested Citation:"Opening Remarks and Welcome." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25954.
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Page 15

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3 Opening Remarks and Welcome  Neil Pedersen, Transportation Research Board Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, St. Louis International Airport, and Chair, ACRP Oversight Committee Introductory remarks were made by Neil Pedersen, Executive Director, TRB, welcoming all to the webinar and stating how the airline industry and its business partners have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pedersen cited statistics of Transportation Security Agency (TSA) checkpoint numbers down 96% in mid-April and still down 84% as of mid-May. He continued that U.S. domestic commercial flights were down 68% and international flights were down 91%. Pedersen added that the airline industry and its business partners depend on regaining the confidence of air travelers that it is safe to use the nation’s airports. He stated that the efforts of the planning committee for this Insight Event with ACRP staff assembled an impressive list of speakers that represent many stakeholders in the airport ecosystem. Thus, they will be able to speak about the challenges in the airport industry that are mutually shared by all partners, including public safety as well as how best to address travelers emotions. Discussions will also include cost cutting and other measures to achieve greater financial stability in various areas of the speakers’ businesses as well as gaps in industry and operational mitigation strategies to enable recovery in the post-lockdown environment. Neil Pedersen thanked TRB’s sponsor, Winsome Lenfert of FAA; the members of the ACRP Oversight Committee (AOC); the members of the planning committee; the ACRP staff; and the TRB conference management staff. In addition, he thanked the event moderator and AOC Chair, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, and all of the event speakers who were willing to share their insights and information. Pedersen then introduced the event moderator, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Airport Director, St. Louis International Airport, and Chair, ACRP Oversight Committee. Rhonda Hamm‐Niebruegge began by citing the nearly 1,000 people who had registered for the event, noting that this number represented the urgency and importance of the topics that would be discussed. She provided context about what she hears from leaders in the airport community, asking “What are the airports doing to try and bring the customers back and instill a level of confidence?” She added that these were very hard questions and that, while everyone was trying to manage through, this webinar was an opportunity for people to hear what the industry in total is doing. Hamm-Niebruegge provided an overview of the speakers, starting with the presenters for the health update, to explain what COVID-19 is, its challenges, and all aspects of aviation that have been affected. These range from the airlines to the airport, to the concessionaires, to ground transportation, and to all entities that rely so heavily on aviation for their day-to-day business. She stated that, “at the end of this, you will see that there is a unified approach and people are working very hard to know what each other is doing so that we can come out of this stronger than before.”

4 Hamm-Niebruegge added that 2019 was probably one of the strongest years on record for aviation from a passenger, revenue, and safety perspective. The beginning of 2020 started the same way, with record numbers in January and February as compared with the previous year. Then, in March, everything turned upside down. The aviation industry is one that is quick to react and continue its recovery. She emphasized that “today you will hear how those challenges are being addressed and about the creative ways our industry partners are addressing the challenges and trying to install confidence in the consumers, so as to see passenger numbers return to 2019 levels.”

Next: Session 1: FAA Overview of What We Are Doing to Ensure Consistency »
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This report summarizes an event focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response and its impact on the operational and economic recovery of airports.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program'sConference Proceedings on the Web 27: Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public includes presentations from airport industry leaders who discussed current and ongoing practices to get passenger confidence back to aid in airport recovery during an ACRP Insight Event over Zoom on May 28, 2020.

Specific topics presented the aviation industry with challenges that are mutually shared by all partners, including safety, public confidence, and financial sustainability. Other topics included gaps in the industry and public response to date and how the industry may address them, as well as operational mitigation strategies to enable recovery in the post-lockdown environment.

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