MIDDLE EAST. In our special series to close out 2020, we focus on the heroes and heroines who stood up as a global pandemic raged and ensured that airport, travel retail store and restaurant environments were safe and hygienic, that shelves were stocked and that customers – though few in number – could still enjoy a reassuring shopping, dining or general airport experience.

With the assistance and input of our industry partners, we present the stories of some of those individuals and teams who ensured that a pulse still beat through travel retail this year. As reported in The Moodie Davitt eZine, we salute these front line workers as our People of the Year, with our online coverage building on the pictorial in our year-end edition.

Many unsung heroes have emerged from the customer-facing front line teams of travel retailer Aer Rianta International Middle East (ARIME) in the face of COVID-19 this year. Its back office operations have also played a major part in keeping the business moving forward, and they too deserve great recognition, as we report here.

Unsung heroes: The ARIME Projects & Design Team, left to right: Tracy Ross, Lory Manual, Jeffrey Crespo and Carlo Reyes

The Bahrain-based ARIME support team – under the leadership of ARIME CEO Richard Gray and Deputy CEO Pat McKenna – has remained resilient and positive, continuing to work either from home or in the office, to provide the ARIME operational teams with the necessary behind-the-scenes support in meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19.

In honour of the resilience, and as a thank you to ARI, the design team produced the mosaic artwork (below), in just six hours, demonstrating excellent teamwork and spirit

Many of these support team members have gone above and beyond their normal call of duty to fill the gaps, and to adjust to the new normal to ensure the positive survival of the ARIME business. ARIME’s “IT hero” Pat Kennedy (see tribute below), who has since retired, for example, has ensured that ARIME shifted smoothly and swiftly to an online shared platform facility, to provide uninterrupted workflow.

The ARIME Projects & Design Team – consisting of Tracy Ross (Projects & Design Manager), Lory Manual (Senior Architect), Jeffrey Crespo (Lead Architect) and Carlo Reyes (Architect) – is another fine example. Throughout COVID-19 they have continued to deliver on projects for ARI at airports in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Montenegro and some yet-to-be-announced upcoming airport initiatives.

ARIME staged an awards ceremony to honour some of the support staff who excelled in the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic

The ARIME management team has recently recognised a number of individual unsung heroes, at its end of the year staff gathering. ARI staff Shirley Mendoza, Lory Manuel, Jeffrey Crespo, Carlo Reyes, Anand Figueira, Fatima Ahmed, Madiha Bashir, Sri Kanes and Mohamed Ali Husain Hadi have all been recognised for various endeavours and services to ARIME with special awards.

ARIME Tracy Ross Projects & Design Manager said: “The past nine months have demonstrated that we are resilient, we are adaptable, we are stronger together than ever before, as a team. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will come out stronger on the other side. This has been our motto throughout the storm.”

A tribute to Pat Kennedy

Here, we share this tribute from ARIME to retired “IT hero” Pat Kennedy

Pat Kennedy is soft-spoken gentleman, an IT genius, a great lover of all things Gaelic, a fabulous sportsman, a superb team player, an outstanding host of Davey’s Bar, kind-hearted soul with a big beaming smile and a new Christmas beard to match.

IT leader Pat Kennedy was honoured by his colleagues at ARIME following his retirement

Pat joined the ARI Shannon team, on 30 October 1990 and leaves the ARIME Bahrain team exactly 30 years later. Pat’s time in Shannon ended in July 1995 when he moved to Russia with the team to set up Moscow Duty Free, staying in Moscow until June 2011. During these ground-breaking years, he was involved in several ARI projects in Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

In July 2011, Pat accepted a posting to the Middle East office and joined the ARIME team in Bahrain wherein began his next chapter, as he continued working with both ARI and ARIME on both new start-up operations, as well as existing operations, across the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Muscat), China, Cyprus and India (Delhi and Mumbai).

Pat was always level-headed, practical, offering sound IT guidance to the team. During the challenging months of COVID lockdown, Pat has kept the team united through the shifting of physical means of working on to the common SharePoint facility, educated and updated us through his online IT training sessions and then entertained with his quiz sessions. He is our unsung IT hero – without him, our new way of working would not have been possible.

There are many tales to be told about these wonderful years, but we shall leave these to Pat, to reminisce in person with you from his pub in Effin, when next you pass by for a pint or two and some good ole Irish craic. Pat you will be dearly missed! You are one of the last few true ARI gems. Fare-thee-well our friend… till we meet again!

*FOOTNOTE: Watch out for more stories over the holiday period in which we recognise the front line workers of the aviation and travel retail sectors. Please send your contributions to Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com headed ‘Our heroes’.