Missoula International Airport Prioritizes Safety Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Travel restrictions have become more serious and widespread over the past few days because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump shut down most travel from Europe to the United States beginning March 13. According to Airport Director Cris Jensen, the Missoula International Airport is also being affected.
“People are cancelling travel,” Jensen said. “We have actually been trying to quantify those numbers on a daily basis. Beyond that, airplanes are coming and going on schedule. Obviously, spring break is coming. We know there are still people that are hoping to go on their trips. At this point, we are telling them that they should do that if they are not in a high-risk group.”
Jensen was adamant that their number one priority is the safety of their employees and the traveling public.
“We have changed the way we clean and the products that we are using to clean with,” Jensen said. “We are cleaning every touch point at least once a day and we are deep cleaning overnight. We are working with the airline to try and understand, in terms of service, what they’re doing in making sure that customers can access them if they have questions about flights. Above all, we are trying to wrap our arms around it just like everybody else and trying to figure out the best way to keep everybody safe.”
Jensen also encourages passengers to take advantage of their many sanitizing stations around the airport.
“We have the hand sanitizers throughout or terminal and we suggest that people use those hand sanitizers and the soap and water in our bathroom,” Jensen said. “Do the things that our moms told us to do when we were little kids. It was good advice back then and it continues to be good advice today. We encourage people to use safe behaviors.”
KGVO asked Jensen what a passenger should do if they notice someone on the airplane who might be exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. He said that would be an airline decision and that the airline would likely work hard to accommodate a passenger with a concern.
“I also suspect that the airline personnel are evaluating anybody exhibiting symptoms before they ever get on the airplane,” Jensen said. “At the end of the day, it is really an airline by airline decision. We as an airport would support whatever they choose to do, but we are looking to them to tell us what their plan is.”
If you’re feeling sick, Jensen asks that you do not come to the airport. Jensen says we are all in this together and we are all looking out for the best interest in others.