Passenger comfort and protection are priorities at Pulkovo St Petersburg

Bernie Baldwin

It is often said that the sign of a good business is how it reacts to external events, especially those beyond its control. LED is currently showing just how good it is.

Having more than doubled its passenger figures over the past 10 years, Pulkovo St Petersburg Airport (LED) is setting itself to handle the post-pandemic era.

Leonid Sergeev, CEO of LED’s operator, Northern Capital Gateway, assesses the recovery timeframe. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, aviation has been in an unprecedented situation with most flights suspended. LED’s passenger traffic dynamics are similar to the general numbers for the Russian airport industry,” he begins. “We therefore expect that the second half of June 2020 will be the start of a gradual recovery. Nevertheless, the key factors will be the stabilisation of the COVID-19 situation and easing of travel and border restrictions in Russia and foreign countries.

As for the services that will lead recovery, Sergeev comments, “Domestic routes are more likely to lead; the summer tourist season has started and some Russian regions have eased COVID-19 restrictions.

“We expect the main traffic growth to be to the southern destinations such as Sochi (AER), Krasnodar region – Krasnodar (KRR) itself and Gelendzhik (GDZ) – and to the Baltic resorts of Kaliningrad (KGD) region,” he continues. “These destinations will be in high demand as soon the local authorities lift the restrictions. As for international routes, we expect gradual recovery of volumes to the CIS countries and Europe’s summer destinations as borders reopen.”

Planning the reopening of the business so passengers can keep their distance from check-in to their seat has been meticulous. “We have worked closely with our airline partners to ensure the highest level of safety at Pulkovo,” Sergeev stresses.

Solutions include: floor markings for social distance of no less than 1.5 m in the check-in, security and passport control areas as well as at the boarding gates; restraining stickers on all seats in the passenger terminal; and information for passengers on the COVID-19 spread prevention, visual materials and regular public announcements on social distancing. Vending machines with protective equipment have been installed at the entrance to the terminal, in the check-in hall, domestic departures hall and baggage claim area. Masks and gloves are also available in the airport pharmacies.

“There will be intensified cleaning and disinfection of all airport premises and touchpoints, including elevators, check-in counters, inspection areas, passenger steps and buses,” Sergeev adds. “The air in the terminal is being purified using disinfecting units; more hand sanitisers are available in the terminal with dispensers being replenished regularly. The airport staff have been equipped with protective masks, gloves, antiseptic wipes and gels.

“We continue to monitor best practices and develop new measures to provide the highest level of passenger safety and comfort here at Pulkovo St Petersburg,” Sergeev declares in closing.

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