A ‘Thank You’ To Our Airports’ Frontline Staff

Not everyone can work from home

By Christina Cassotis

Published April 14, 2020

Read Time: 3 mins


At a time of social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions, let’s be clear that essential workers and front-line teams everywhere are what’s making it possible for others to work remotely, often at home.

Obviously our nation’s healthcare workers, who battle everyday often in conditions that defy description, come to mind. We all owe so much to the doctors and nurses and cleaners and front-desk staff who show up day after day to make sure there are places for the sick to receive the care they need.

Not to be overlooked are others whose work must be performed on-site – you can not ring up groceries from your kitchen table, you can not deliver food, medicine and e-commerce orders from your make-shift home office.

And you can not operate an airport from your living room.

Our nation’s airports are part of the essential activities that many of us rely on today. Keeping airports operational, safe and secure take people who go to work on-site to make sure airline crews can land safely, cargo truckers get the access they need, and supplies arrive and depart as intended. These folks kiss their kids and assure their parents that they are doing work that matters – because it does. Their jobs are essential to this world’s ability to effectively manage during this time of crazy, previously unimaginable day-to-day concerns and very real outcomes.

Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis speaks with a group of airport electricians working in PIT’s Airside Terminal. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Around the world, airport teams show up and do their job. Teams at Pittsburgh International and Allegheny County airports are here 24/7/365 and they are making sure that their work counts.

I am so proud of the on-site team, including:

  • trained aircraft rescue firefighters;
  • baggage operators who also maintain the systems;
  • an identification badging office that manages security credentials;
  • jetbridge maintenance staff;
  • airport operations teams directing the parking of planes and inspecting the airfield;
  • terminal operations staff who manage ground transportation and inspect the terminals;
  • field maintenance staff mowing the grass so birds don’t nest, maintaining key equipment, and ensuring a hardened perimeter;
  • electricians who ensure all 9,000 airfield lights are operational;
  • plumbers who ensure pipes are working;
  • carpenters who ensure our drive-through doors and access portals are functioning and secure;
  • trowel trades and roofers helping to make necessary repairs;
  • stationary engineers manning the systems so failures don’t occur;
  • painters who adjust our in-terminal signage to accommodate facility moves;
  • customer service folks answering calls from travelers and helping the few who still must fly;
  • engineers overseeing key capital projects that are essential for safety and security;
  • information technology teams protecting, troubleshooting and maintaining our systems and managing our cybersecurity; and
  • environmental and wildlife management teams ensuring the 8,800 acres are free and clear of anything that does not belong near a plane.

And that’s just our folks. There are airline ticket agents; security forces including TSA, Customs and Border Protection and Allegheny County Police; cargo ramp workers and many more. It takes many people, with a variety of skills, to make an airport work. Every one of them deserves to know that they are essential.

And when this crisis is over, our airports will be ready to ramp up to facilitate and enable the recovery that we all expect to come precisely because we are not taking our eyes off the ball. We have adjusted work routines and job functions to accommodate the current health and safety recommendations, including necessary equipment.

Our communities need their work and are grateful for their dedication and professionalism. I am proud to be a part of the aviation industry, and I am privileged to be leading the Allegheny County Airport Authority with a team as dedicated and talented as anywhere in the industry.

So again, thank you.

Christina Cassotis is CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates and manages Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport.

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