The Airport’s Guide to Safe, Pathogen-Free Travel

By Marty Piette, A.A.E., Airport Director
Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB)

Air travel is picking up as more of the U.S. population gets vaccinated and becomes comfortable with taking to the skies once again. This is encouraging for many reasons. As the past year has made clear, a drop in passenger numbers impacts not only the immediate air-travel ecosystem, but also the local economy.

As airline capacity nears pre-pandemic levels, we’re excited to see more and more families at our ticket counters and boarding flights bound for warm-weather destinations and other locations. In addition, we’re seeing a slow but steady increase in business travel, and we anticipate a greater uptick in the months ahead as businesses begin to allow their employees to travel for work.

As a leading regional airport, we are committed to making air travel safe and pathogen-free. To this end, last June we implemented our “Flying GRB Means Clean” initiative, which we believe represents a best-practice approach to keeping travelers safe throughout their GRB experience.

The initiative features a range of processes, products and equipment into which we’ve invested significant resources so that people will feel more confident traveling. They include:

  • Enhanced cleaning of all high-touch areas in the airport terminal
  • Masking requirements
  • Hand-sanitizing and mask-distribution stations
  • Plexiglass barriers and social-distancing markers throughout the airport
  • Periodic terminal-wide application of EnviroShield® disinfectant
  • A virtually touch-free experience from the moment you enter the parking lot until you board your aircraft

We created the initiative with the intent that it would continue to evolve, incorporating new technologies as they become available.

In March of this year, we made another significant addition to the “Flying GRB Means Clean” Initiative. GRB became the first airport in the U.S. to adopt the NoviSphere™ PE 254 pathogen-eradication system for the ultimate in air purification. We have installed three of the units: two on the main terminal floor – in baggage claim and near the elevator and escalators – and one on Concourse B. Each of the units provides continuous pathogen eradication, via UV-C light, for up to 13,000 cubic feet of air volume, ensuring a continuous supply of clean, breathable air for travelers and workers throughout the building.

UV-C light enables safer travel

The NoviSphere PE 254 exposes room air to scientifically proven UV-C light arrays and proprietary baffling technology sealed inside the unit, killing 99.99% of germs, bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.

Paul Lockhart, NoviSphere CEO, noted, “We recognized the need for clean, germ-free air in many public settings and began developing our technology well before the pandemic hit. With the advent of COVID-19, getting our pathogen eradicator into environments such as airports became much more urgent. Our partnership with GRB demonstrates the airport’s confidence in our solution and represents another important step toward helping restore the public’s trust in traveling safely.”

UV-C light is well known as a means of killing pathogens in hospitals and clinics, but implementing it safely in high-traffic indoor areas has been more difficult to accomplish. The NoviSphere PE 254 is completely safe, as the UV-C arrays are sealed in the system. This was another factor that made the units highly attractive to us at GRB, as was their flexibility in terms of installation. We chose ceiling mounting as the most unobtrusive for our needs, but the units can be implemented in a number of other ways, as well – e.g., wall mounted or inserted into an HVAC system.

While not everyone flying into and out GRB may get to see the NoviSphere units in action, it’s important for people to know that we are doing all we can to keep them safe. We believe our multifaceted approach serves as a new and evolving blueprint to help airports become safe, pathogen-free travel environments.