Air Partner - 20 Jun 2018
Air Partner’s Emergency Planning Division (EPD) provides 24-hour global air evacuation planning and implementation services for any situation that clients deem an emergency. Whether that be transporting support teams to the site of a disaster, flying people out of a dangerous situation, or the last-minute movement of critical equipment.
Our Emergency Planning Division offers plans that takes into account a vast array of customer requirements, including risk levels associated with in-country operations, security and diplomatic issues that may occur in a high-profile evacuation.
John Aston, Air Partner’s Evacuations Planning Officer states: ‘We tailor the plan in line with the client’s standard operating procedures, very often incorporating our document into their own corporate emergency plan. These can be country specific or based on a global emergency plan and can be adapted as required for the industry involved.’
Customers’ requirements can vary depending on industry sector, Oil and Gas requirements will differ to technology or office based corporations. The former will most likely have large infrastructure assets, which will need staff in attendance until the very last minute, while the latter should be able to evacuate before the situation significantly deteriorates. Our air evacuation services allow for all of these variables when planning evacuation options for a client, thereby creating a bespoke document to suit their individual needs.
When sending employees into potentially hazardous locations around the world it is important that normal duty-of-care responsibilities extend beyond local precautions. It is essential that a plan is in place to evacuate staff in the event of local or regional unrest or natural disaster. The need to evacuate may also include a medical emergency; however, the two requirements are very different when it comes to air-based solutions. Medical evacuation involves specially equipped aircraft and medical teams and, while complicated, there are standard procedures that are followed.
When planning a general evacuation there are many factors to be considered, especially as the number of passengers are likely to be much greater than the small number usually involved with medevac flights. When planning for the evacuation of large numbers of staff, aircraft types, airport capabilities, suitable departure points and destinations, diplomatic clearances are just a few of the details that need to be taken into consideration. Medical evacuation flights, understandably, receive priority clearance when it comes to diplomatic flight permits and airport clearances and are usually less problematic to arrange. Normal evacuation flights are generally treated by the authorities as normal charter flights, so a great deal of background work is required to arrange the necessary permits in order to operate the flights within the tight time-frames usually required. Luckily, at Air Partner we have an experienced 24-hour Operations Department who are well versed in arranging these permits through their day-to-day work. Vital contacts are already established globally that enable us to reduce bureaucratic delays and operate flights in the quickest possible time. Events leading up to an evacuation can change quickly, so it is vital that robust communications are in place to ensure that evacuation planning can quickly adapt to a fast-developing situation. Our Emergency Planning Division constantly liaise with the client and all involved departments, making sure that any changes in the clients requirements are handled quickly and efficiently.
When a situation deteriorates to the point where an evacuation of staff is needed, events will begin to overtake action. For example, curfews may be put in place that will restrict access to airports, infrastructure might be damaged and cell phone networks may be overwhelmed or shut down. Contingency planning should allow for any of these events, so that everyone involved is able to deal with these issues as and when they are encountered. Therefore not disrupting any evacuation. Other points that need to be considered prior to an evacuation becoming likely are:
• Maintain an up to date record of how many staff are in country, especially if dependents and/or large numbers are involved.
• Personal information records should also be maintained and up to date and kept securely. Procedures for holding personal information are heavily regulated, however a passenger manifest will be required quite early on in the flight planning. It will delay the process if this information is not readily available.
• Think about alternative departure points. Normally the closest airport will be the obvious departure point, however it may not have international capabilities (if evacuating out of the country). If it is a major airport it may become heavily congested or even a potential target. There may be regional or secondary airports that might have fewer restrictions.
• Decide on a preferred destination. This may not be the eventual destination on the day, but it allows our Emergency Planning Division to search for appropriate aircraft to achieve the preferred option. However, it is important to be flexible with regard to destination as there may be aircraft available sooner that can operate to an alternative destination.
• Take into consideration the nationality of authorised passengers. Often there is a mix of nationalities involved in an evacuation, so if there is a preferred destination keep in mind the visa requirements which may vary for different nationalities.
• Making the decision to evacuate a country is not easy, especially taking into account fixed assets that will have to be left behind and diplomatic concerns. However, to delay an evacuation too long may mean that airports or airspace may close or that civil aircraft operators may not be willing or able to fly in or out of the country. This is often dictated by the aircraft insurers, who will withdraw cover if the security situation deteriorates to the point where the risk to the aircraft and crew is too great.
There are many other considerations that can affect the planning process, depending on the company, industry or the country involved. The client may be a high-profile, household-name organization, they may have a large number of staff in a low risk country or a small number of staff in a high risk country, they may be in very remote locations or the infrastructure in the country is limited or fragile. All these factors may increase the risk exposure to the client and therefore the planning process has to adapt to the specific requirements.
Contact us today if you would like to speak to someone in the team about emergency planning services... or find out more