COVID-19 implications for the infrastructure sector

Mark Savage

Infrastructure Global Operations Lead

UK

Protecting the workforce and business continuity planning remain key for the infrastructure sector while leadership teams are focusing on planning for when operations return to normal.

Protecting the workforce

Over the past week as many countries close borders or initiate lockdown activities, many of our clients have continued or expanded those working from home to protect employees’ health and comply with government requirements.

Globally we are seeing many construction projects and associated workforces deemed 'essential' and as a result, work is continuing on many major programmes.

While in some cases this has been met with controversy, the drive to maintain critical infrastructure delivery is a critical contributor to the rapid business response of the global crisis

Business continuity

Many infrastructure programmes are continuing despite disruptions but with essential works being prioritised. Where projects have defined benefits, either social or financial, there is a real commitment to continue these. For example:

  • Aviation in Asia - the drive to maintain global hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore make the projects of national importance
  • Utilities, power and water sectors are maintaining programmes due to their social benefit and ongoing customer demand. In some instances and where publically funded, we are seeing additional investment being made available to support additional projects and to stimulate activity
  • Defence – the defence sector is supporting with aid and essential services in many countries; demand and activity on programmes is maintaining or increasing

Protection and bouncing back

Where projects are privately funded or run via concession, there is severe pressure due to the bottom line impact of the lack of passengers and private investment. This is most recognisable in the aviation sector where passenger decline is severely impacting current investment programmes.

The long-term impact of COVID-19 is still to be realised across the aviation sector but positively, we are seeing unique solutions being found across the sector - to respond to the current challenges and to continue operating.

For example airlines such as Lufthansa, Air Lingus and Etihad Airways have been using passenger aircraft to transfer medical goods on ‘passenger freighter flights’ while airports and regulators are adjusting to increased cargo traffic and temporary removal of night curfews and/or slot restrictions. Flexibility such as this, is critical for the future of sectors and will support programmes over the long term.

Conversations across our global network and client base are highlighting that both light and heavy rail schemes are continuing globally. While some are focused on essential projects only, a long term view is being taken by many nations.

For example, if a project was to increase capacity in the transport system due to economic growth and demand, the view is those passengers will remain over the long term and a solution to capacity is still required.

Finally, across all infrastructure sectors we are seeing and supporting leadership teams in their immediate response. Leadership is heavily focused on responding to impacts but also planning for when operations return to normal.

The selection of what continues through a capital business continuity plan is a critical leadership action at this time and business is taking a very conscious effort to plan and act with a long term view. Confidence in making longer term decisions is being bolstered by economic stimulus packages and worker protection schemes.

Further resources

Please visit our COVID-19 response page for all of our resources relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector.

For further information contact:

Mark Savage
Infrastructure Global Operations Lead

t: +44 (0)161 8778886
e: