Report on activity and sustainable development 2020

Interview with Alexandra Locquet, Audit, Security and Risk Management Director at Groupe ADP

Chapter 1. Reassure

Interview with Alexandra Locquet, Audit, Security and Risk Management Director at Groupe ADP


“Faced with the enormous scale of the Covid-19 crisis, Groupe ADP has clearly demonstrated its ability to adapt without compromising on stringent safety requirements and retain the trust of its stakeholders,” explains Audit, Security and Risk Management Director Alexandra Locquet. It has also anticipated future requirements by further uprating its risk monitoring and control procedures.

Alexandra Locquet, 

Audit, Security and Risk Management 
Director at Groupe ADP

How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your highly regulated industry?

This very long and very brutal crisis has brought the need for passenger and employee safety in sharp focus, and has absolutely highlighted the need to make all our processes even safer and more secure. It has certainly impacted every aspect of our business and every part of the company.

We’ve expanded our crisis unit and worked collaboratively and with impressive agility to keep up with the pace at which instructions and regulations changed and continue to change.

Would you say that you were ready to respond to a crisis on this scale?

The air transport industry is used to handling crises of all kinds, so there’s no doubt that we understood the extent and size of the crisis before other sectors of the economy. Groupe ADP itself was as well prepared as possible, and in addition to well-prepared business continuity plans also had a pandemic plan in place setting out all the rules to be followed and actions to be implemented in the event of a major health crisis. We had already run two health crisis simulation exercises in 2019, and the teams were ready to deal with this type of situation. We were on alert as early as January, and in March we activated our crisis unit, holding daily coordination meetings with representatives of all company departments. The crisis unit reported directly to the Executive Committee, which was also very closely involved in its work. It wasn’t the first time that we’d activated the unit, but its scope was much wider this time. For example, it included the Purchasing Department, which was under pressure in the early stages to supply as many face masks and as much alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel as possible, and the Operations Directorate (DGO), which provides the interface with all our network airports. We worked collaboratively and with agility to keep up the pace at which instructions and regulations changed. At the time of this interview (March 2021), the crisis unit is still in place and active.

Our risk map has evolved to reflect the fact that the risk of epidemic has become an issue in its own right and come sharply into focus.

So what were your priorities?

Greater coordination and control were essential factors. Our ethical commitment and core values of hospitality and responsibility were a great help in achieving that. Our most important priority was to keep our staff and passengers safe. It was also important to ensure that all our business processes remained robust and secure in an environment where part-time working and teleworking had become the norm. So in my department, for example, it was crucial that the principles of personal data protection and corruption prevention continued to be implemented and respected to the letter in a teleworking environment. To achieve that, we further tightened our internal controls and conducted a series of more targeted audits.

So would you say that security was the non-negotiable factor in restoring confidence?

Definitely, and we did everything we could to reassure all our stakeholders, from passengers, airlines and service providers to subcontractors, suppliers, government departments, local residents and local authorities, investors and shareholders. We worked closely with the Human Resources Department to provide our employees with health kits so that they could continue to work safely. As the standards set by our national health authorities changed over the months, we sometimes acted ahead of them by implementing our own initiatives to ensure the maximum level of health safety for our passengers.Throughout the year, Groupe ADP was instrumental and proactive in bringing forward health-related proposals. For example, and despite the fact that it was not mandatory, we introduced thermal imaging cameras for Arrivals in Paris and Covid screening centres at airports where passengers could get tested.

We also commissioned a comparative study of the health measures and facilities in place at all our airports worldwide. The fact that we are an international group helped, because when we introduced the thermal imaging cameras, we were able to draw on the experience of our airports in Madagascar, where a similar system has been in place for some years due the high level of epidemic risk in that country. We continue to be proactive and lead from the front on the strategic issues of 2021, which include health certificates or passports, which are essential in the process of rebuilding confidence.

Would you say that this crisis has permanently changed the way you look at risk?

We’ve certainly learned a lot from this crisis as we have developed our risk map. We’d worked on epidemic risk factors in previous health crises like SARS and Ebola, but at that time they’d formed part of a generic category of risk. Covid-19 has made epidemic-related crisis a risk in its own right. Other indicators have also been adjusted: the risks posed by a total collapse or suspension of air traffic were indicators we already monitored, of course, but they are now in much sharper focus. We’ve also reassessed our economic and financial imbalance and cash flow risks. Every time we identified a risk, we immediately developed practical action plans with the departments concerned.