in Aerospace

Air Partner launches product to safeguard customers against coronavirus

Posted 10 March 2020 · Add Comment

Aviation services group, Air Partner plc, has launched a unique new product in response to the emergence and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), called Air Partner Protect.

Courtesy Air Partner

The Group has recently carried out a number of evacuations on behalf of the UK government - UK and Irish nationals from the cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama in Japan and British and EU nationals from Wuhan in China - and has seen increased demand from customers looking for similar services with enhanced safeguarding measures in place.

The fast-moving and widespread nature of the disease has presented a unique and challenging set of circumstances in which to travel around the world and individuals, governments and businesses alike are facing unforeseen hurdles as new restrictions and regulations are put into place.

Air Partner provides global tailored solutions that meet multiple aviation requirements at the same time. Air Partner Protect has been specifically curated to mitigate risk for customers flying during the coronavirus outbreak, while offering expert advice and reassurance. Support offered includes:

  • Security screening - Air Partner’s dedicated Safety & Security division Redline can provide its own security operatives and equipment to carry out security screening where it is not available through the normal channels due to infection concerns.
  • Approved operators - Air Partner works with approved operators to ensure aircraft and crew comply with recommended procedures around coronavirus (in addition to the stringent health and safety processes already in place). This includes ensuring aircraft have been deep cleaned and crew are following strict hygiene precautions.
  • Quick response evacuation - Using its exceptional relationships with operators globally, Air Partner can offer an extremely fast solution to evacuate any number of people from anywhere in the world, as evidenced by its recent work with the government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
  • Medical support - Air Partner’s partnership with Northcott Global Solutions (NGS) provides customers with a quick and professional response to medical issues, emergency or routine, wherever they are in the world, 24/7.
  • COVID-19 monitoring, updates and advice - Working with partner NGS, the Air Partner team is kept fully briefed on all coronavirus developments, so that they can keep customers up to date on all the latest information and advice relating to their flights.
  • Global 24/7 support - Air Partner always monitors all of its customers’ flights from start to finish, and the team can be reached 24/7, 365 days a year, for added reassurance.

Commenting on the launch of Air Partner Protect, Air Partner CEO Mark Briffa said: “Coronavirus continues to affect communities around the world and global travel and transportation are becomingly increasingly challenging as new measures are brought in to try and limit the spread of infection. Customers are understandably concerned and we have launched Air Partner Protect in response to growing demand. As a global aviation services group, we are already able to offer bespoke solutions spanning Charter, Consultancy & Training and Safety & Security so that customers can source everything in one place. Air Partner Protect goes one step further by ensuring that customers are safeguarded as much as possible when using our services at this difficult time.”

Air Partner’s collaborative and holistic approach was demonstrated when the Group supported the FCO’s recent evacuation and repatriation of UK and Irish nationals onboard the cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama in Japan. The Group Charter, Freight and Redline teams worked together to deliver a fully-integrated solution for the multifaceted project, which involved evacuating 32 people in line with all Public Health England health and safety protocols, security screening these passengers and their baggage ahead of the flight from Tokyo to the UK and transporting cargo.

The project was complex, challenging and time sensitive, made more demanding by the requirement for the FCO to carry out the security screening of all passengers and their baggage in Tokyo before they could board the flight back to the UK.  

Throughout the planning phase and operational delivery, employees from across the Air Partner Group worked closely with the FCO, the operating airline, the Department for Transport (DFT) and the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority to obtain the numerous authorisations and approvals needed to complete the project on time.

Air Partner’s Group Charter team chartered a Boeing 747-400 to carry out the flight from Tokyo Haneda to Boscombe Down in the UK, ensuring that the aircraft was optimally configured. The upper deck was designated for crew rest only to clearly segregate the evacuees and the flight crew and there was also a separate section in the nose of the aircraft that could be used as an isolation zone for passengers.

The Group was also called upon by the FCO to arrange two charter flights for the evacuation of British and EU nationals from Wuhan in China to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, following the coronavirus outbreak in December 2019. With passengers primarily comprised of British and EU nationals, flight crew and medical professionals, the non-stop flights departed Wuhan on 31st January and 8th February, carrying over 125 and 213 passengers respectively, on Boeing 747-400s. These aircraft were chosen on account of their high-density seating configuration and long-distance range, which meant the flights could operate non-stop between the two destinations.

The aircraft were ideally configured for the flights, with the upper deck designated for crew rest only so that there was clear segregation between the evacuees and the flight crew. There was also a separate section in the nose of the aircraft, which could be used as an isolation zone for passengers if necessary.

Given the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, the Air Partner team worked closely with a number of different stakeholders, including the FCO, Public Health England and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to put in place the necessary safeguards and protocols for the flight crew. UK government medical professionals were also on-board the aircraft to assist the passengers and crew during the flight.

Air Partner arranged last-minute transportation of 407 boxes of medical supplies to Wuhan on first positioning flight and an additional 200 boxes on the second flight. It also chartered an additional flight on 2nd February from France to UK, bringing back British passengers and their dependents who had been aboard a French Government evacuation flight from Wuhan.

Over the last few weeks, the number of coronavirus related enquiries Air Partner has received across the business has increased. This includes increased Private Jet enquiries, requests for medical equipment cargo flights and emergency evacuations. 

Air Partner has significant aid and crisis experience and in 2014 and 2015, the Group assisted in the humanitarian response to the Ebola crisis by working with governments, NGOs and aid agencies to provide the affected regions with vital supplies. At the peak of the crisis, the Group was operating flights every 48 hours carrying cargo of medical equipment and supplies, vehicles, construction materials and protective clothing.

Mark Briffa commented: “The coronavirus outbreak has been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved and we are very pleased to have safely repatriated a large number of British and EU nationals on behalf of the UK government. The circumstances were challenging, the deadlines tight and difficult permissions were required but we were able to execute the evacuation on account of the experience and dedication of our combined Air Partner team, our close working relationship with the FCO and the professionalism and flexibility of our partner airline operator. From all of us at Air Partner, we wish everyone affected by the virus a speedy recovery.”


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