Today, our Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) took up five agenda items pertaining to temporary financial relief for our concession, rental car and passenger airlines partners in response to the impact of COVID-19. After public comment from several concessionaires who are concerned about some aspects of the relief proposal, the first two items related to relief for concessionaires and rental car companies were tabled until next week. Our Board will revisit these concession and rental car agreements at the special meeting next Thursday.
The remaining three items, related to passenger airlines, were approved unanimously. The Board voted to allow passenger airlines that operate at LAX to defer certain payments for April and May, and pay these rents back beginning July 1. If they sign the new amended rate agreement the airlines will have six months to pay back the deferred amounts. If they do not execute the rate agreement, they will have to pay back all deferred amounts by August 1. This action provides temporary relief to our airline partners, without creating too big of a financial risk for LAWA.
I want to express a huge thank you to President Burton and our Commissioners for taking the time to meet every week to help us get the guidance and decisions we need quickly to help us through this crisis. They care so much about and have so much passion for LAWA and our partners that they are devoting significant additional voluntary time to help us, despite the fact they are dealing with this crisis in their own businesses and personal lives. Their dedication is very much appreciated and needs to be recognized and applauded.
I also want to thank many of the airlines operating at LAX, who have stepped up to answer the call to service and provide free, round-trip flights for medical volunteers traveling to California to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. Many of our airlines are working with the State of California to coordinate travel for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the country to help treat patients, in this time of unprecedented need.
Beginning tomorrow, April 10, new requirements for the use of face coverings in public places for workers go into effect. Per the order from Mayor Garcetti, all workers at nonmedical essential businesses must wear face coverings. LAWA is asking that all workers at LAX who are in contact with other people comply with this mayoral directive, including anyone who uses the airport’s shuttle bus systems. For our Employee Shuttle, starting tomorrow, anyone who is riding the shuttle will be required to wear a face covering, and for all other buses and shuttles it is our strong recommendation that all riders and drivers wear face coverings. All LAWA employees who work in our terminals — including custodians, airport police, security officers, maintenance workers and operations staff — also will be required to wear a face covering while out in public.
The new orders also apply to our concessions workers, who will now be required to wear face coverings while working. Although the orders do not apply to customers, concessioners may choose to require their customers to do so as well. To ensure consistency and the highest level of health and safety for our employees and guests, we are also asking all of our partners who work within the terminals to follow this guidance.
For all of us, this order also includes that when we go out of our homes we must wear a face covering over our noses and mouths when in grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, laundromats, restaurants, hotels, taxis, ride app vehicles and several other essential businesses. The Mayor’s order and full list of businesses can be found here.
As I have mentioned before, the wearing of face coverings when in public is in addition to the existing directives on staying at home whenever possible, maintaining at least 6 feet of separation from others, washing or sanitizing hands regularly, refraining from touching your face and staying home when sick. We want to ensure that everyone at LAX stays healthy and all of these actions are important components in our efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
As we work at LAWA to reduce the spread of the virus, we know that doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff are working around the clock to save lives and protect the health of our loved ones and greater community. Tonight, our iconic LAX pylons will glow blue in support of these health care workers. We are joining other landmarks around the globe for this initiative. Locally, the Los Angeles Convention Center and Coliseum will also join LAX in this effort. The lighting of our pylons is a small gesture that reflects our tremendous gratitude for those who are saving lives every day as frontline healthcare responders to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, I want to leave you with some words shared by BOAC President Sean Burton at today’s meeting:
“It is during times of conflict and challenges that we see the true character of a person. Across LAX and Van Nuys Airports, I have seen people rise to the occasion, confront this pandemic head on with creativity and compassion, and bring forward thoughtful solutions. While times are challenging right now, they will not last forever. We will come out the other side of this with new insights and understanding of our industry and each other, and we will be stronger because of it. I am grateful to all at LAWA, our partners and our communities for all that is being done to help us meet these challenges head on. Together, we will get through this.”
I couldn’t agree more. Thank you as always for all that you are doing for LAWA and each other. And for those of you who are celebrating Passover, I wish you and your families chag Pesach sameach.
Interim CEO, LAWA