ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the biggest travel weekend in the past six weeks with thousands of people passing through the Sunport. However, some airport workers said they don’t think the airport is doing enough to keep them safe.
The Sunport is expecting nearly 4,000 people to come through this weekend. While it is much lower than their usual amount of more than 30,000, workers said they are concerned about the lack of protection between them and passengers.
People are getting in line to check in for their flights this Memorial Day weekend. “I am just thrilled that the planes are still flying,” traveler Ruth Berger said.
Most airlines have some sort of social distancing indicators on the ground whether it be sticker signs or simply pieces of tape. “I think everybody is taking precautions,” traveler Maria Levine said. “I feel very comfortable.”
However, only one airline, United, has plexiglass separating ticket workers and passengers. “If one airline has it, everybody else should have it,” traveler Fonacho Fobangong said.
United installed their sneeze guards at the beginning of the month. Other airline workers said that after that, they were instructed by the airport not to install any because the city wanted to order its own for all the airlines so they were uniform.
Aviation director Nyika Allen denies she told airlines not to install them, but she said the existing barriers will be taken down and replaced by the city’s once they arrive. “I said to them that we would be ordering them so they will be uniform,” Allen said. “If they want to put up something on their own before we can get ours up, they are more than welcome to.”
Grocery stores and gas stations have had plexiglass barriers since late March, but the city admits it just placed its order this week. “We have been trying to help all of our airport tenants make sure they are financially stable and trying to work on making the terminal as safe as possible for everyone,” Allen said. “Everything takes a little bit longer with government procurement.”
Months into the pandemic, News 13 noticed protective shields were still missing at the Delta counter until we called about it today. Workers put them up this Friday afternoon.
News 13 reached out to Southwest which does not have plexiglass at its ticket counters. Southwest said its priority is installing plexiglass places where they have long conversations with customers.
“They have to give workers whatever they want to protect themselves,” Fobangong said. “There is a set of standards you have to maintain to keep people safe.”
Allen said she is expecting the city’s sneeze guards to arrive as early as tonight. She said they cost $30,000 and came from a local vendor. The Sunport said they have also ordered uniform social distancing stickers for the lines at the airport.
UPDATE: The city’s sneeze guards were delivered and installed Friday night.
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