Terri Smart-Jewkes, Aviramp’s global sales and marketing director, tells Airside why she thinks the company’s unique form of boarding bridge is a good option in these days of social distancing
Have you seen reason to think that passengers’ habits have changed in relation to boarding and deboarding aircraft during this pandemic? Are passengers attempting to social distance during these processes, would you say?
Passenger habits vary depending on individual attitudes towards the pandemic but all are complying with mask wearing and social distancing measures when boarding and deplaning.
Do Aviramp’s mobile and fixed bridges allow for greater social distancing than is usually seen with standard aircraft passenger stairs?
Exactly right. This is what we have discovered. Customers who have invested in our products are finding that airports/airlines/handlers can ensure a safer process and deliver a better passenger experience due to social distancing on an Aviramp as opposed to stairs.
It is giving those customers with our boarding ramps more of an edge than those having to use stairs.
Clearly, airport operators and handlers are less willing to invest in infrastructure and GSE of all forms right now, so has demand for your product been significantly affected by the pandemic?
We have been selling, but obviously in much lower volumes given that capital expenditure has been frozen for many. Also, we offer all products within our suite as solar/electric versions, so many of our existing customers have had their existing suite retrofitted to implement this huge cost-saving alternative. These alternatives are also much kinder to the environment.
Have your new solar-powered bridges been well received?
The solar boarding ramps and bridges have been very well received around the world. They represent a unique product offering within aviation ground handling, with huge benefits for all stakeholders.
Given the economic impact caused by the pandemic the feedback we have been receiving is that investment in our solar suite will deliver huge cost savings long term whilst still delivering safety, speedy turnarounds, and a great passenger experience for all (including dignified, all-inclusive boarding/deplaning for the elderly and disabled) – all while protecting the environment.
Solar-powered bridges are a much more sustainable alternative to stairs and ambulifts. Also, there is no real maintenance required, so no big extra costs to factor in.
Have you continued to support your existing customers during the crisis in various ways?
Absolutely, we have continued supporting them with maintenance and spare parts along with general morale boosting! We enjoy such positive relationships with our customers, that we see ourselves as an extension of their own team and often they see us that way too.
We are less of a supplier and more of a partner, because we help to provide solutions to very specific challenges and work in a very bespoke and collaborative way.
Do you think that there will be a ’new normal’ in terms of aircraft turnarounds and supporting equipment? How will this affect Aviramp and what you offer the industry?
I think most of us want to return to normality but I do feel that the emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene will be maintained, which has to be a good thing. That said, regarding our product, if social distancing is here to stay longer term, then our suite can certainly deliver that mandate.
We can provide boarding ramps to be used for passenger boarding and quick fixed jet bridges so that they can be used for boarding and queuing. The product is so versatile and easy to use, adding to how it assists with social distancing regulations for as long as they might be in place.
I think that, from a ground handling perspective, those airports and airlines using Aviramp are more than ready to move people around the world again safely and securely knowing that all social distancing measures can be implemented safely and effectively during this worldwide pandemic.