Mark Briffa, CEO, discusses the response to COVID-19

Friday, April 3, 2020

With more than 23 years’ experience, our CEO, Mark Briffa, joined Air Partner back in 1996. As a global aviation services company, Air Partner has a strong reputation and unrivalled experience responding to crisis situations, working with governments, organisations and individuals over the years. We’ve asked him to talk about how the company has leveraged this experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have you seen any situations comparable to the COVID-19 pandemic in the 23 years you have been with Air Partner?

The COVID-19 outbreak has been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved. It is becoming clear that we are living through an unprecedented situation in terms of the number of cases and countries affected, and the way in which governments across the world have been required to respond. Since I've been at Air Partner, I've seen the business respond to a variety of crisis situations, ranging from emergency evacuations during the Arab Spring, repatriation flights during the Ebola epidemic and aid delivery during natural disasters. As a business, we have a strong reputation for crisis response and are often the first port of call for governments and aid providers in these situations.

What has been the key takeaway for you from those challenging times?

The collective knowledge and experience of our team is the defining factor for us to be able to react quickly and successfully deliver complex flight solutions in crisis situations. It distinguishes us from the market and means we are trusted by governments and multi-national corporations in times when they need our help most. I'm proud to have such a knowledgeable and dedicated team, who time and time again go above and beyond to deliver exceptional and complex flights solutions in challenging, time-pressured circumstances.

What are the most important things to consider when travelling during a pandemic?

Safety is the biggest consideration for anyone needing to travel during a pandemic. We have worked closely with all our partners to ensure we create the safest environment possible on all our flights at this time, putting measures into places such as deep cleaning, avoiding physical contact with crew and ensuring provision of sanitisation products. Private charter is innately a safer way to travel during a pandemic, giving passengers access to private terminals and a private cabin and reducing their exposure to large groups of people. On the Group Charter side of the business, we worked closely with Public Health England on recent repatriation flights of British nationals from Wuhan to put the necessary safeguards and protocols in place. Secondly, we have to consider the impact of reduced availability of aircraft as travel restrictions are put into place. We are monitoring the situation closely and continuing to deliver flights for customers and seek solutions were possible. It is a constantly evolving situation, but we are able to react quickly.

What trends having you noticed during the crisis and why do people turn to private charter during these uncertain times?

The majority of passenger flights have been evacuations, ranging from working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to deliver official repatriation flights for British citizens, to helping individuals fly home or move vulnerable family members to safer locations across the globe. We have seen a number travellers new to charter turn to private aviation at this time to avoid exposure to COVID-19, where travel has been essential. We have just published a Freight market update and are continuing to secure availability for aid and relief flights. As supply chains start to recover, we expect to see demand increase. In response to requirements for bespoke solutions to challenging and fast-moving situations, we launched Air Partner Protect, leveraging our unique breadth of expertise across Charter, Safety & Security so customers can source all service requirements in one place. Air Partner Protect goes one step further by ensuring customers are safeguarded at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this epidemic and we continue to be available to help businesses and individuals through this challenging period.

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