Why a robust evacuation plan is crucial during a pandemic

Friday, May 29, 2020

While lock down restrictions are beginning to ease in many areas across the world, COVID-19 remains an ongoing pandemic, bringing disruption and future uncertainty to businesses globally. To help safeguard employees working on operations in remote or risk areas, having comprehensive air evacuation cover has become more important than ever before.

During these challenging times, many businesses are taking urgent steps to review the cover they have in place to ensure they have a plan and protection should they need to evacuation large groups from hard-to-reach destinations. We support clients with specialized air evacuation plans and implementation for any situation that they deem an emergency, to quickly evacuate groups of any size. Often these will be clients with large number of employees in offshore, international or remote destinations, such as the Gulf of Mexico, South America, the Middle East or Africa, working in many critical industries such as oil and gas, consultancy and technology.  

In our experience, many organizations might have an existing provider in place for their medical evacuation requirements but the rapid movement of larger numbers of people from dangerous places is a very different matter, requiring larger aircraft and pre-planning to protect employees. 

The cover you need to fulfill your duty of care

It is crucially important for businesses to plan ahead as to how they would evacuate employees should COVID-19 (or any disaster situation) provide further disruption in the area of their operations. In the case of COVID-19 for example, the need the evacuate is considered 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 is suitable for one or two passengers. However, in the case of COVID-19, mass evacuations have been required, with the numbers being greater than medevac flights. It’s essential to therefore check details and ascertain whether cover would include all employees in any type of emergency. 

The air evacuation plan needs to be customized for the needs of the client’s business. Customers’ requirements can vary depending on the sector and the intricacies of their operations. A specialized air evacuation plan will consider all the details and often dovetails into a client’s existing corporate emergency plan. The detail is extremely important to ensure businesses are prepared in case of an emergency – knowing airfield access and capabilities, consideration of alternatives, routes to access airfields and a named end destination for the evacuation flight are all essential items to consider so there are no delays to the evacuation. Especially in the case of COVID-19, where borders and airports have quickly closed with limited notice. At Air Partner, we help clients work through all this detail, providing an evacuation plan completely tailored to the needs of their business – no two plans are the same. 

It’s also crucially important to have a 24-hour contact telephone number as once the need to evacuate has been identified, it’s often a very rapidly changing situation – with airports and borders closing, possible damage to local infrastructure and curfews can be put in place, restricting access to airports. Should the need to evacuate arise, our Air Evacuation division are in constant contact with clients, and any changes to the evacuation can be actioned quickly and efficiently. 

What businesses should consider when putting a plan in place

As well as the detail above, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Keeping up to date records with the number of employees on site and their nationalities – a passenger manifest will be required early on in the planning stage and by understanding nationalities involved, visa requirements will be different

  • The end destination of the evacuation flight – quite often this will not be the final destination for the employees, but may be decided on based on nationalities and ease of access

  • Alternative airports – in the case of COVID-19, airports and borders have been quickly closed, making it a rapidly situation, we help clients understand the different options available 

How we’ve been assisting our clients during COVID-19

Since the pandemic began to spread globally, we have supported our Air Evacuation clients with 20 evacuation flights. With access to our 24-hour helpline, our clients have benefited from priority with their evacuation flights at a time when charter flights were in high demand. By having the detailed evacuation plan in place, our clients have found it has enabled them to be prepared, limiting delays to evacuating their employees. Clients have benefited from our aviation expertise, with us working through often complex issues like obtaining permits and information about airport and border closures.

Our experienced Air Evacuation Team are currently offering free assessments of business’s cover to ascertain whether it is robust enough in the current climate. To discuss your requirements please get in touch.


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