Guam AG joins efforts to protect air travelers on cancellations

SAFETY MEASURES: Seating inside the A.B Won Pat International Airport is taped off so people will adhere to social distancing. The Guam attorney general's office has joined a national effort to protect air travelers from fines for cancellations. Post file photo

The A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority, through the CARES Act, was awarded $20.7 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for economic relief. GIAA was eligible for the funding as a U.S. airport affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated response and preparation for the pandemic.

This budget year, GIAA expects to use more the $14 million of the total award, said GIAA Deputy Manager Ricky Hernandez.

“Because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger movements, the GIAA estimates a decrease in airport revenues including passenger facility service charges of almost $30 million as compared to the original budget. Directed cost-cutting while ensuring safety and security is upheld, coupled with the use of the CARES Act funding for airport operations has assisted in bridging this gap in FY 2020,” Hernandez said.

He said the remaining CARES Act funding of $6 million was approved to be utilized in fiscal year 2021 to offset the anticipated continued impact to airport revenues.

All U.S. airports receiving the CARES Act funding are required to retain 90% of their full-time employees through December of 2020, according to Hernandez.

The GIAA is also working to improve travelers' experience through new safety and security procedures while maintaining processing efficiency, he said.

“While the GIAA continues to face these unprecedented times, we have not remained complacent. In working with our airport partners, we have instituted measures to safeguard our patrons through thermal screening, provide touch-less technology to limit the spread of the virus, and require the wearing of face masks in our terminal building and other areas,” Hernandez said.

When tourists do begin to come back, he said the airport agency wants to be ready.

“The GIAA is working with all our partners and stakeholders so that once the travelers ... feel safe and secure to travel to and from Guam, and the governments of their countries allow for a seamless travel experience to occur with some level of exception to the quarantine requirements upon their return home — we stand ready to deliver,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Hernandez noted, United Airlines has continued to provide “essential” service to Guam from Narita and Honolulu. In September, Jin Air plans to restart once a week service and Philippines Airlines will increase to twice weekly flights, he added.

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