In March and April, when 90 percent of the world’s commercial airliners were grounded, practically the only flights still taking offfor business travelers were aboard private aviation aircraft. Granted, global coronavirus-related travel restrictions caused business jet operations to plunge 75 percent year over year, but by contrast commercial aviation came to a neartotal standstill.
Which underscores one of private aviation’s strong suits: Flexibility.
Actually, private jets have been increasing their domain for some time, attracting a new kind of business traveler. While megacorporations have their own fleets, it’s the mid-echelon businesses and their employees who are increasingly benefitting from access to this alternative to flying commercial.
The reasons are legion, but in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, other key drivers that have surfaced are safety and availability. Add to these the well-known advantages of efficiency and ease of travel, and it’s little wonder private business aviation is increasingly seen as a go-to solution for business travelers.
OUT OF HARM’S WAY
The novel coronavirus pandemic is arguably the most serious existential threat ever to face the global travel industry. As Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson said during the company’s first quarter earnings call, “This is by far the most significant crisis ever to impact our business. For a company that is 92 years old and has weathered the Great Depression, World War II and numerous natural disasters around the world, that is saying something.”
However serious it may be, COVID-19 is not the first crisis to confront the industry. A steady diet of global headlines reporting hurricanes, earthquakes, political unrest and terrorist attacks emphasize the importance of preplanning to ensure employees are taken out of harm’s way during emergencies.
“Travelers face language, resource and cultural challenges during emergencies and you want to relieve them of that as soon as possible,” says Dr. Robert Quigley, International SOS senior vice president and regional medical director of the Americas. “Our job is to work with companies and create a partnership for the care of their employees.”
International SOS is a global service provider that evaluates and manages risks and evacuations. As the pandemic crisis intensified, ISOS provided air ambulance transportation for confirmed COVID-19 patients, as well as chartering evacuation flights globally, including from China. However, as the company states on its website, making these flights happen is dependent on a number outside factors – including authorizations from governments, health agencies and aviation authorities.
“Therefore there may be a significant lead-time to confirm the feasibility of such evacuations as these variables are beyond the control of International SOS,” the website advises. The warning underscores the need for advanced planning to respond to the unexpected. It takes time but costs nothing to ensure vendors are vetted and approved – including establishing relationships with private aviation providers if those services fit your company’s overall travel strategy.
“Emergencies are an afterthought for most people,” notes Dr. Brendan Anzalone, CEO and chief medical officer of AeroMD. “Most people don’t know where to start or who to call or whether they are any good. That’s why the key to success is preplanning.”
WHO DO YOU TRUST?
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