Jaffar Dawood, Senior Vice President Airline Services, dnata
COVID-19 has changed the definition of normal across all sectors. How would you define the new normal for an airport?
The safety of our colleagues, customers and their customers remains our number one priority. We’re going above and beyond industry and regulatory requirements to ensure that the health and comfort of passengers are not compromised, providing them with confidence and peace of mind when they travel with our airline customers.
Now that the airports are reopening, what exclusive measures has dnata put in place to ensure safety of passengers?
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, our expert teams have worked around the clock to develop and implement a comprehensive health & safety programme, enhancing services, processes and training across the company’s operations. We have run disinfection programmes, introduced new personal protective measures, and further improved aircraft cleaning services to safeguard our skilled staff and deliver world-class safety for our airline partners and their passengers.
How is staff safety ensured?
We have supplied employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks and hand sanitizers. Detailed guidelines on wearing and the safe disposal of PPE have been provided to staff in various roles. Regular safety inspections are conducted by a dedicated team, with team briefings held daily to ensure that all guidelines are understood and followed.
On what parameters has the cleaning staff been trained? How has training changed?
We have enhanced our training to include both new techniques & technology to support our service provision, which has included the introduction of misting the aircraft cabin and the adjustment of our ‘Wave’ principles to ensure we optimise our resource deployment. The cabin cleaning process consists of four waves. In the first two waves our teams remove all used items and clean all areas of the cabin. In the third and fourth waves our cleaning professionals dress the cabin, do the final checks and replenish any items for the return sector.
What are the new challenges you are facing in airport maintenance in wake of the pandemic? How do you overcome them?
We have completed a mass disinfection programme of all ground support equipment (GSE) to protect our employees and customers’ passengers. More than 11,500 pieces of GSE including busses, passenger steps, baggage dollies, and pushback tractors were disinfected at the two Dubai airports. A bowser spray unit and handheld sanitation units were used to ensure the most effective disinfection was carried out on all equipment airside, including our cargo operations.
What new technologies have been employed to ensure maximum disinfection?
We have enhanced our aircraft cabin cleaning services. The process involves extensive cleaning with a stronger disinfectant, and includes a comprehensive wipe down of all surfaces – from windows, tray tables, seat back screens, armrests, seats, in-seat controls, panels, air vents and overhead lockers in the cabin to lavatories, galleys and crew rest areas. The on-board cleaning chemicals are approved by the relevant authorities and proven to kill viruses and germs. They leave a long-lasting protective coating against new contamination of viruses, bacteria and fungi on surfaces, and are eco-friendly. A dedicated quality team and shift managers oversee the cleaning on the majority of flights.
The cleaning staff in particular is on the frontline. How do you boost their morale?
Safety and respect are two of our dnata values, which are close to my heart. Employees want to know they are safe and respected in the workplace, and as their leader, it is my responsibility to ensure I can provide such a work environment to my colleagues. I’ve worked in many roles across the airport during my over 25 years at dnata, and I am very proud to be a part of a leading air services provider. I like to share my passion and vision with my colleagues when I get a chance to shadow some of them at work and regularly conduct a Majlis meeting, which allows me to keep my ears on the ground. These interactions with colleagues provide insights into the thoughts of our employees, enabling me as a leader to make the necessary changes to make dnata an even better and safer place to work.