Facility maintenance company ABM faced enormous challenges for its suppliers and maintenance workers when COVID-19 changed the airline industry unexpectedly. Responsible for providing cleaning services to American Airlines at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the New York-based company expanded the use of disinfectants and increased frequency of cleaning overnight.
“When COVID first came on the scene, a lot of different industries went into shutdown mode,” said ABM President of Aviation Alex Marren. “The airports and airlines never did. Even though there was a dramatic reduction of flights and the number of passengers, the facilities were still open with planes taking off and landing every day.”
Over 500 employees dedicated to serving American Airlines at DFW continued to provide cleaning services to airplane cabins, cockpits, and lavatories. As millions of Americans resorted to working from home, ABM maintenance workers became responsible for 300 daily turnovers and 75 overnight aircraft. With increased frequency of cleaning services, the days of airport janitors working “behind-the-scenes” came to a sudden halt.
“It’s an essential service that is out in the open now. COVID-19 has brought a huge mindset change to the world. People want to see what cleaning services are being done, and it’s critical to how people feel about being in an environment,” Marren said.
As maintenance services became more frequent and public, enhanced protocols raise cleanliness and hygiene levels across the airport. More potent disinfectants and broader electrostatic spraying were employed to cover larger areas and span across terminals.
“Hygiene and people caring about what’s being done to help the environment, be safer, and reduce risk of viruses is here to stay for the long term,” Marren said. “Enhanced cleaning is part of what people expect and want to see.”
Electrostatic spraying has been utilized in the airline, healthcare, education, and corporate industries for years. Marren said the disinfectant provides longer-lasting, high-grade coverage that allows for efficient sanitation of high touch areas.
Like many businesses, schools, and restaurants across the nation, ABM has provided increased signage to enforce social distancing across airports. Restroom signs encourage airport guests to wash their hands since it is “the most important 20 seconds of the day.”
“It’s really a whole different world for us. We’re really excited and honored to leverage our expertise to bring more trust and enhance the safety level. As people gradually do come back to travel, they want to see, understand, and trust that we’re doing everything possible to reduce the risk of COVID,” Marren says.
Aside from airport facility management, ABM has provided cleaning services to industries across the world for decades. The company serves thousands of clients, including businesses, schools, sports complexes, and hospitals.
ABM was accustomed to high levels of sanitation and cleanliness in the healthcare industry before the pandemic. One of the company’s most significant challenges faced during COVID-19 has been evaluating hospital standards and finding ways to apply them to all types of industries, Marren says.
“COVID-19 has been a pivotal moment in how we view cleanliness, safety, travel, and workplaces. It has been a momentous shift here at ABM, and we’re excited to offer support and solutions to our customers and clients.”