Flights at Monett Regional Airport largely grounded

Saturday, April 4, 2020
Tessa Snow, line service technician for Jack Henry and Associates, is pictured cleaning the exterior of a company jet. Technicians at the airport are taking precautionary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) by sanitizing planes after each flight, as well as the lobby, pilot lounges and other facilities after each flight departs of lands. Melonie Roberts/reporter@monett-times.com

Flights not going unless necessary

The skies over Pierce City and the area surrounding the Monett Regional Airport have been quieter in recent days, as a majority of the air traffic has been grounded due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Howard Frazier, superintendent at the Monett Regional Airport, said overall, air traffic is down about 80 percent.

“Flights are not going unless absolutely necessary,” he said. “The FFA mandates the airport remain open, so we are doing necessary maintenance and groundskeeping.”

While the airport hangars for about seven private industries, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Frazier said many employees are working from their homes.

“Airport crews are taking all precautionary measures for cleaning and sanitizing,” Frazier said. “This is sure not business as usual. We’re hoping this ends soon, so we can get back into the swing of things.”

Chris Ridings, director of maintenance for Jack Henry and Associates, said the company is still meeting business needs.

“We are still doing installs, but overall, we’ve cut our flights by about half,” he said. “Banks that may have been coming

in for presentations are wanting to wait until this is over, so our sales teams are not traveling as much.”

When flights do go out, they pick up or drop off passengers at airports where they do not own a private hangar.

“We clean, restock and disinfect every plane after each flight,” Ridings said. “Cleaning and restocking is normal, but the disinfection component has been added.

“In addition, each employee traveling is given a care package, filled with sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, so they can wipe down surfaces of their rental vehicles and rooms, if they are staying over.”

As for the JHA airport facilities, after people leave the lounges, they chemically fog the public areas with disinfection spray.

“Our employees are maintaining the six-foot social distancing rule as much as possible,” he said. “We have limited contact with others.”

Tessa Snow, a line service technician, said the company brought in a UVC light to disinfect the planes, hangars and lobby.

“It was really kind of cool,” she said. “The UVC light and the spray works in combination to kill viruses and bacteria.”

But, the pinch is still being felt.

“Usually, we order in between three and four loads of fuel per month,” Snow said. “This month, we only ordered two. What is good about that is [aircraft] fuel prices are down. Unfortunately, no one is traveling.”

“We don’t have much education going on, or even pleasure flights,” Frazier said. “Everyone is feeling it.”

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