How Business Jets are Meeting the Challenges of Covid-19
FAI is utilizing its business jet fleet to repatriate those who are stranded abroad.
Those in need are both healthy individuals who need of repatriation, and infected patients.
"FAI is flying to and from all corners of the globe," Siegfried Axtmann, chairman & founder, FAI Aviation Group told AvBuyer.
"The more common routes include those from the US to Europe; Asia to the Middle East; the Middle East to Europe; Asia to Europe; and the US to the Middle East."
FAI purchased two portable self-contained EPI-Shuttle isolation units for its aircraft. These ensure the company can transport infected patients without any risk being posed to flight or medical crew aboard the aircraft.
The medical team accompanying patients on all medevac missions conduct pre-flight temperature screening, and are qualified to provide the medical care and nursing that is needed in flight.
250 Missions and Counting
Since the end of December 2019, FAI has completed over 250 air ambulance missions. "From March 2020, we have completed over 60 successful missions," Axtmann reveals. In March FAI repatriated a group of German nationals back to Nuremberg free of charge.
"They were stranded in Dubai and we flew them back as part of a re-positioning flight," Axtmann says.
"We repeated this a few days later (at no charge) for a group of stranded Hungarians."
Flying internationally during the pandemic is challenging. "The situation is constantly changing. Airport closures and changes to immigration laws have made it more difficult to get crews into airports."
Capacity for the Challenge
So where did the extra capacity for the repatriation flights come from? "Demand for cargo – especially long-distance flights between continents remains good," Axtmann explains.
FAI continues to operate at maximum capacity for its air ambulance division, and averages approximately six missions daily, supported by its 10-strong fleet of five Bombardier Learjet 60s, four Bombardier Challenger 604s, and one Global Express air ambulance aircraft. And, FAI is supplementing its fleet with its executive charter fleet of business jets.
"We're working hard to fulfil all requests 24/7, for repatriation and medevac flights." he adds. "Demand is such that we currently have a backlog of between two to three days."
"Nobody really knows when foreign countries will open their borders again," Axtmann concludes. "I would estimate that restrictions are likely to remain until at least the end of May."
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