Stories from the Frontlines

Joel Dupres - Electrical Technician

Going to work during the partial lockdown was difficult for me, it meant putting the life of my family and my own life at risk. However, I felt privileged because I knew I had an important role to play.

While the majority of people in the country were quarantined in their homes, it felt great to be part of the essential working group, and to be able to do my part. I had to ensure the provision of electricity at the airport to essential areas like the control tower, and to operate the generators in the event of a power cut especially in the case where we had cargo flights coming in and going out of the country.

My colleagues and I felt concerned for our safety and we made sure to follow the different advice given by the Department of health.

Nowadays I wash my hands more than before and I have my hand sanitizer with me all the time.

I have never experienced a pandemic in my lifetime. During the 8 years that I’ve worked with SCAA it’s the first time that I experience a situation that is having such a big impact on the aviation industry.

Marie-Eve Savy - Airside Operations Officer

During the 3-week partial lockdown in the country, I had to report to work to fulfil my duty as an Airside Operations officer.

Despite having to leave my four-year-old daughter behind, I knew I had an important role to play. With the restrictions in movement, I played the role of chauffeur, I offered to pick up some of my colleagues on the way to work and drop them off after work.

My team and I managed to get a lot of things done during this critical time. We continued to maintain safety on the airport, ensure that everything is running smoothly so that eventually we are ready when operations and flight movements’ start to pick up.

‘We had a lot of things to do, but we found it less stressful with less movement on the airport. We managed to catch up with the administrative part of our work, instead of focusing mainly on the practical operations.

I must say that my team and I faced many challenges during the lockdown period. For instance, availability of supplies in the country made it difficult for construction projects to take place. Furthermore, the lack of operations on the airport has its setbacks on our department, because we require income in order to move forward with the different projects that we have.

Experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic has made me a different person, I chose to limit contact with people and communicate with them via telephone. Although, I must admit that I am disappointed to know that some people are not taking this situation seriously. I would like to take this opportunity to advise everyone to take more precautionary measures and to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave the house.

Alvin Oreddy - Airside Duty Manager

As an Airside Duty Manager, I am responsible for emergency planning and crisis management at the airport. I have worked at SCAA for the past 6 years and this pandemic was my very first crisis experience.

My role during this crucial time was to ensure that all operations at the airport were conducted in a way that is safe for the country, particularly when we had special flights coming in. I had to coordinate with various stakeholders such as the office of the principal secretary for civil aviation, Air Seychelles, Immigration, SRC, and public health authority to guarantee that all guidelines were being followed.

Working during the partial lockdown was quite challenging for me. My team and I had to be extra cautious and more alert than ever before. The three weeks felt like a year. I was receiving calls at odd hours, sometimes even at three in the morning. There were times where I didn’t see my four-year-old daughter who I’m normally with every day. The new working conditions meant that I only got to see her for 2 or 3 days during the week.

Despite the challenges, I must say that some days were better than others. I have learned a lot during this crucial time and the new knowledge that I have gained will help me deal with future crises. I have also met new people and established new contacts, which will benefit my career in the long term.  Finally, this experience has made me realize that Seychelles is as much at risk, as other countries. Therefore, we must always be on the alert and have an emergency plan ready to put into action when it is required.

Elisabeth Julienne - Senior Supervisor (Aviation Security)

I am the senior supervisor of the aviation security at the airport and I have worked in this industry for 30 years. I was amongst the other essential workers that reported to work during the partial lockdown. At first everything seemed unusual, the airport was empty, dark and too quiet. It was a very emotional time for my staff and I, and as their supervisor I had to provide support to them by ensuring that they were adapting well with their new working conditions.

I must say, that adapting to the new changes around the airport was quite challenging. We were still getting used to the idea of washing our hands more frequently, social distancing, and wearing personal protective equipment at work, at all times. I even went as far as bringing an additional change of clothes with me so as not to wear my uniform outside of work.

Luckily, our work during the three weeks of partial lockdown was less stressful than normal times. It consisted mostly of maintaining our AVSEC buildings, assisting operation for domestic flights and supervising entry at all gates.

Covid-19, like every cloud, has a silver lining. Personally, coming to work during that time has taught me to be more appreciative of my work colleagues.

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