If you live anywhere in the South, you’ve likely heard the old joke that says “whenever someone dies, they don’t go to heaven (or that other place), without connecting in Atlanta!”
Having spent 14 years living in various southern cities and connected through Atlanta more times than I care to remember, there’s no doubt the scene at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) the other weekend is one that won’t soon be forgotten.
A peak into an empty “C” gates at ATL, thanks to an airport worker who allowed this pic while the door for employees was open.
Recently, I needed to take a number of flights for family reasons, and in the current coronavirus climate, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My adventure took me through one Delta mega-hub (Atlanta ATL) to another (Minneapolis MSP), where typically the flights would be full. However, this time they were only about 25 percent occupied. The ATL to MSP flight, usually an A321 or 757, had been replaced by a smaller 737-800.
No passengers and just 2 pilots occupy the “Plane Train” level at ATL below the C gates.
Atlanta currently has multiple concourses closed with fully sheetrocked walls and security doors to allow only airport and airline staff to enter. The “C” and “E” terminals were just empty shells. TV screens packed with flight info now had just a couple active monitors.
BONUS: Feeling the impact of COVID-19 on the US Commercial Airline Industry
The food court in the E terminal had just one restaurant open: McDonald’s. They were so happy to see anyone that they gave me 10% off my McDouble — that 20 cents will go far someday, I just know it! You know it’s bad when even airport concessions start discounting prices.
United and Flexport covid collaboration
In just a few weeks, because of a lethal invisible enemy, all the world’s airlines and aircraft manufacturers have abruptly gone from the best of times to the worst of times. This devastating free fall is the worst in the history of the industry. The culprit, Covid-19, has not only nearly paralyzed the world’s economy but has bought the industry to its knees with a near shutdown situation. Indeed, airlines were the first to be afflicted so severely.
The words “good news” and “aviation” now don’t ever appear in the same sentence or even story. But there is good news to report in this Aviation Airpocalypse. In the spirit of the AirlineReporter brand, we’re going to focus on the positive and in many case life-saving efforts airlines and airframers, are making even as they fight for their own very survival.
The worst of times bring out the best in people. And in this dire time, airlines are no exception. Even with much of the country shut down, airline, airport employees, and many from the supporting industries are classified as essential employees in a necessary business, continuing to provide vital air services: Repatriation and humanitarian flights bringing people home to their own coupled with transporting essential cargo.
They do this while putting themselves at risk of becoming infected by the virus. Many consider them second responders, and due to their medical training some flight and cabin crew have become first responders. For that, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. It’s no exaggeration to call them heroes too, even as they face an uncertain future.
Here’s a roundup of what these companies powered by the human beings who work for them are doing to give back in this global time of war.
And at the end of this story, I let you know how you can also help make a real change!
A beautiful Qantas Boeing 747-400 – Photo: Owen Zupp
This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who has previously written a few great stories on AirlineReporter. Zupp’s background ranges from charter work and flight instruction to ferry flights, flight testing, and he has served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With over 25 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and his writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. He is also just a cool guy! -Editor
When it comes to the QANTAS Boeing 747, as the Beatles famously sang, “I heard the news, today. Oh boy!” …. although not officially. There may be life in the old girl yet.
The news broadcasts were showing footage of the “Queen of the Skies” making a flypast of Sydney Harbour, proclaiming that it was the final commercial service for the 747 in QANTAS colors. Meanwhile, my website and phone were bombarded with a common theme, “Is it true?” To be honest, I believe that it is highly likely, although I am yet to see an official announcement.
Since the commencement of the Stand Down, I have doubted whether the QANTAS 747 would return into commercial operations when the pandemic has passed. It has been a fine servant to the airways and all that it has safely conveyed, however, its planned retirement was well underway, before Covid-19 ever took its vile grip on the world. Still, there is no official statement to say that the 747 has retired from commercial service with QANTAS. Even so, it seems an opportune time to reflect on ‘the Queen”, as she is set to be on the ground for the time being.
The coronavirus will have devastating consequences for the airline business that we all love. Since there are many great folks covering the impact, we have opted to keep publishing our typical fun and entertaining content to provide a bit of an escape, with some stories about COVID-19 mixed in. Our thoughts are with the many lives that will change forever.