Airport director, Jesus Saenz, informs Joe Bates why he thinks that it is just a matter of time prior to development is back on the program at San Antonio International Airport.
With such a strong military existence all around it, it must come as not a surprise to find out that San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is figured out to play an essential function in Texas’ resist versus COVD-19
The airport– whose neighbours consist of 4 military bases real estate 80,000 active-duty workers– fasted to react to the pandemic, forming its own Covid-19Task Force and presenting a variety of procedures to assist protect the health and wellness of guests and personnel.
These have actually consisted of implementing social distancing procedures, executing brand-new disinfection procedures, needing all visitors to use face masks, presenting over 200 hand sanitiser stations throughout the airport school and, most just recently, ending up being the very first airport worldwide to buy and release the Xenex LightStrike robotic to assist it fight the lethal infection.
From the get-go SAT understood that assuring the taking a trip public and airport personnel about its efforts to fight COVID-19, consequently bring back self-confidence in air travel, would be essential to its healing.
As an outcome its action to the pandemic has actually likewise consisted of enhancing its interaction– and particularly the communicating of crucial details and messages– with various airport stakeholders, and introducing a variety of customer self-confidence videos to assure guests that SAT is safe to utilize.
“The resumption of services is critical. However, how we manage through this storm is equally important,” states airport director, Jesus Saenz.
“My old adage is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so that is why we developed and established our Covid-19 Task Force, which coupled with a very strategic airport playbook with a plethora of activities and guiding principles are designed to win back passenger confidence and faith in all that we are doing here.”
Saenz is especially happy with SAT’s release of the in your area made Xenex LightStrike robotic, which utilizes ultraviolet (UV) space disinfection innovation to remove SARS-CoV-2, the infection that triggers COVID-19
Operated by the airport’s terminal services personnel, it can be utilized throughout the airport– to consist of jet bridges, gate locations, ticketing counters, luggage claim, concessions, elevators and washrooms– where there are high-touch surface areas or high volumes of traffic.
Impact of COVID-19 on traffic
Like most airports, SAT’s worst days throughout the pandemic remained in March, April and May when its enplanement numbers fell from in 2015’s average of 15,000 guests daily to simply a couple of hundred.
However, the enplanement figure increased to in between 4,000 and 5,000 guests a day in July and August, and Saenz thinks that the healing of the last couple of months is reflective of the instant actions the airport required to make sure the general health and wellness of guests and personnel.
He is likewise fast to keep in mind that the city administration’s choice to reproduce a lot of the COVID-19 practices carried out at SAT throughout the whole county and area have actually been a significant success and benefitted the entire neighborhood, keeping infection levels down and individuals safe.
As an outcome, Saenz exposes that he continues to enter into work as he feels completely safe at San Antonio International Airport and “wants to lead by example”.
“I have no doubts that our efforts to combat COVID-19 and keep everybody safe have been reflected by the little bit of a favourable rebound that we are experiencing,” states Saenz.
“Are we back to pre-COVD numbers? Absolutely not, but we are 30% to 35% back to where we were previously and I’m optimistic that we’ll have the opportunity to grow back more traffic before the end of the year.”
The appeal of SAT
Texan and market veteran Saenz signed up with SAT from Houston Airport System in February 2020, feeling that after 24 years with the airport operator the time was best to leave his function as its chief running officer for the obstacle of running his own airport system.
He states that SAT’s traffic development, sustained by the area’s growing track record as both a leisure location and development centre, especially in the fields of biotechnology, robotics and cybersecurity, suggested that the chance to come to San Antonio was merely one
he could not reject.
“The chance to help shape the future of the fastest growing airport in Texas based on traffic growth of the last few years is an incredible honour and one I wholeheartedly embrace, even if 2020 hasn’t quite turned out to be the year that we all expected,” states Saenz.
“Everything that the cities of Houston, Dallas and now Austin have grown to, San Antonio has the potential to emulate. San Antonio is already the seventh largest city in the United States and its wide appeal means that it will continue to expand and develop as a city and region.”
Saenz includes that he was likewise personally drawn in to San Antonio by the culture, charm and variety of the city, its abundant Texas history and the warm and inviting nature of its individuals.
He likewise thinks that the regional neighborhood, that includes some 50,000 ex-military workers who have actually retired in the location, are typically encouraging of SAT as they value the advantages that it brings.
SAT’s function in Texas’ airport system
Coming from Houston, Saenz is aware that George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) is a much larger airport than SAT in regards to traveler numbers, as is Dallas/FortWorth (DFW).
SAT likewise presently routes Dallas Love Field (DAL), Austin-Bergstrom(AUS) and Houston Hobby (HOU) in regards to traveler throughput, however that does not imply that it is little as it managed 10.4 million guests in 2019 to preserve its ranking as the state’s sixth busiest entrance.
Saenz states that SAT has actually generally acted as a domestic O&D entrance for San Antonio and the South Central Region of Texas with a path network covering most significant United States cities and a handful of worldwide locations in Mexico.
However, based upon the development of the last couple of years and the truth that 10% of SAT’s guests are either from or predestined for worldwide locations by means of other United States centers, Saenz thinks that the airport has the possible to end up being far more than an O&D entrance for domestic traffic.
“After DFW, Houston-George Bush Intercontinental and Dallas Love Field, San Antonio has the potential to be the next big thing,” enthuses Saenz.
“The significant United States airline companies all serve this airport and their reach encompasses well over 40 locations in the United States, and a couple worldwide, however I believe the development of the city, the gorgeous surrounding location and an establishing and diversifying economy make San Antonio an appealing location to numerous and implies that there is far more to come.
“We absolutely have the capacity for more worldwide paths, especially a non-stop service to western Europe, and this is something we will continue to deal with when the time is best post-COVID.”
He likewise mentions Mexico, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean as using the greatest capacity for worldwide path advancement in the future.
Based on the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau’s figures suggesting that San Antonio gets an approximated 32 million visitors a year, drawing in individuals to the city and area does not seem an issue.
Indeed, a record 1.8 million individuals gone to The Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in 2015, which together were designated a UNESCO World Heritage website in 2015.
While other popular destinations consist of San Antonio’s downtown River Walk, the Tower of Americas, SeaWorld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and the surrounding Texas Hill Country which draws countless hikers, bicycle riders and holidaymakers each year.
All amount to making San Antonio the leading traveler location in Texas and among the United States’s leading leisure locations after Los Angeles, Orlando and New York.
The most popular paths served from SAT today are Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta while the Mexican cities of Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara (all served everyday) and Cancun (seasonal) comprise its worldwide path network.
The leading 5 airline companies at SAT based upon in 2015’s figures are Southwest (38%), American (23%), United (15%), Delta (13%) and Frontier (5%), with Southwest accounting for near 4 million guests and American around 2.3 million.
Saenz keeps in mind that with the exception of 10 locations that are no longer served non-stop from SAT, the airport has actually kept the majority of its path network in 2020, although with decreased frequencies due to the drop in need.
Key financial generator
Located around 9 miles or a 10 minute drive from San Antonio’s Central Business District, there is no questioning that SAT is a driving force for the city and area’s economy.
SAT’s last Economic Impact Report in 2018 exposed that it produced $5.2 billion a year in earnings for San Antonio and straight supported 6,500 tasks– consisting of around 500 that work for San Antonio Aviation Department– and an additional 36,000 indirectly throughout the city and area.
Although those outstanding figures will undoubtedly be down in 2020 due to the effect of the pandemic, Saenz is 100% specific that the decline is just momentary which development and financial advancement will be on the trajectory once again in the future.
He states: “Nobody can predict how long the current situation will last, but one thing is for sure, today’s unprecedented traffic declines across the world are only temporary and the good times will return again in the future, whether that is in 2021, 2022 or three or four years from now, because a fully functioning SAT is vital to the economic success of San Antonio.”
Reassuringly for airport staff members and residents, he keeps in mind that the airport has a prepare for each situation which these strategies will at some time include an upgrade to SAT’s existing centers which pre-COVID were starting to have a hard time to handle peak time need.
Saenz informs Airport World that facilities advancement was quite top of mind when he signed up with SAT in February, with the airport near settling a brand-new tactical advancement prepare for the next 20 years that was anticipated to lay out propositions for brand-new traveler centers, streets and airfield improvements.
It is still under factor to consider, although COVID-19 has actually convinced Saenz and his group to press back making any choices on the next stage of SAT’s advancement till the summertime of 2021 as it is felt that they may have a clearer image of where the marketplace is heading a year from now.
Although he will not be made use of specifics, the future of SAT’s Terminal A will definitely be under the microscopic lense as the compact, 17- gate center is now 38 years of ages and has actually had a hard time to stay up to date with need.
He remarks: “We have some huge choices to make and our actions will choose the fate of the airport for the next twenty to thirty years, so we will take a little bit more time and ensure that we make the right choices for San Antonio International Airport.
“All I can inform you in the meantime is that we will take a look at each of our centers to see if they match present and future need. Prior to my arrival, the airport determined the requirement for a variety of brand-new airside and landside centers to enable it to continue to grow. These interesting strategies assisted attract me here in the very first location and are still quite on the program.”
Sounds like development and great times lie ahead for SAT and San Antonio, it is simply a concern of when instead of if as it would take a fool to wager versus Military City U.S.A. not beating COVID-19
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