The effect of COVID-19 on Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and resumption of operations

Scott M. Ayers, Safety Management System Manager and Derrick Crawley, Fire Safety Manager, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Click the button below to download the full text of the article.



Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new invisible workplace hazard into our airport environment. In response, our management team applied a systematic approach in developing strategies to minimise risks and impacts to this imminent threat. Extensive efforts were focused on amending our emergency planning and continuity of airport operations to facilitate and support airline and concessionaire’s service levels. This paper discusses how, while developing our facility pandemic response plan and restoration strategies, our management team has integrated various safety-management principles, such as policy, safety assurances, communication and risk-management approaches, to reduce and mitigate employee and passenger risk and exposure. As we look towards a vaccine and recovery, our safety resiliency improved with more proactive actions including continuity of business operations, technology enhancements, online training, teleworking, virtual meetings and stakeholder collaborations and building a robust, resilient, active Safety Management System adaptive to any emergency such as COVID-19.


Keywords: COVID-19, safety, response, communication, emergency


Scott M. Ayers is the Safety Management System Manager at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the world’s busiest and most-efficient airport. In this position, Scott serves as a safety advocate and trainer. With over 30 years of experience in airport/airline operations and safety, Scott has taken a lead role in developing a Safety Management Manual and Implementation Plan; represented ATL in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Safety Management Systems Airport Pilot Studies and FAR Part 139 rulemaking, and trained Department of Aviation employees on Safety Management Systems ideology. Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Westminster College and a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is an Accredited Airport Executive (AAE), International Airport Professional (IAP), and received his ACE (Airport Certified Employee) operations certification from the American Association of Airport Executives. He just recently completed the Certified Emergency Manager certification with the State of Georgia.


Derrick Crawley is the Fire Safety Manager at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the world’s busiest and most-efficient airport. In this role, Derrick handles operational tasks, audits, inspections and prefire planning for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Aviation. Derrick has over 32 years of fire safety experience, including stints as a firefighter, fire inspector, fire investigator, fire marshal and fire protection engineer. Derrick earned his bachelor’s in fire science from Almeda University, and he has training and certifications from the National Fire Academy, National Fire Protection Association, International Fire Marshals Association, Georgia Public Safety Training Center and National Safety Council.

Read this featured article now.
To read this article and receive further updates on Henry Stewart Publications content please register using the form below.