Business aviation and pandemic: supporting the fight against COVID-19
How business aviation helped cope with the health emergency
The crisis related to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic was a momentous event with economic and social repercussions that are still difficult to estimate today. Nearly three years after the first emergency phase, the debate about the global "best responders," i.e., the companies and sectors that played a leading role in the health emergency response, is heated.
Among the active players in the fight against the virus, it is impossible not to mention the private aviation industry, which, as so often in the past, has once again shown great resilience by supporting the fight against COVID-19 with what it does best: transporting people and goods to where they are needed, safely and quickly.
In this article, we explore the crucial role of the private aviation industry in transferring equipment, drugs, and medical staff, repatriation of travelers, and transportation of the sick.
At the forefront of medical equipment and medicines delivery
We have seen how, in the event of a pandemic, simple and readily available goods such as face masks, protective clothing, gloves, and disinfectants quickly become scarce commodities. Demand also increases for medical equipment such as ventilators, which are life-saving for patients with respiratory diseases, and medicines produced as part of the global supply chain.
As one of the first measures to support the fight against the virus, airlines worldwide have begun transporting medical and personal protective equipment to the regions hardest hit by the health crisis, and business aviation has also done its part. In fact, several private jet companies made part of their fleets available to make sure that masks, medical supplies, and medicines - products that need to be used quickly and transported in a temperature-controlled environment - arrived at their destinations in a flash.
Crucial, then, was the support offered by business aviation to expedite the global distribution of vaccines and the free flights made available to delegations of volunteers and doctors around the world to reach collapsing hospitals.
Repatriation of travelers
As of March 2020, the lockdown has been deemed by several European states and others to be the means of choice for containment of the pandemic due to COVID-19.
The restrictions imposed on travel clearly affected the entire air transport industry, and commercial airlines were forced to suspend passenger flights on major routes with a total collapse in international flights. The private jet industry then remained the only way to get around, and it was only through it that hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded abroad were able to return home and re-embrace their families.
Air ambulances and medical evacuation
Business aviation has played a key role in medical evacuations. Its flexibility allows it to be mobilized at short notice, provide aircraft types suitable for specific missions - such as transporting people with highly contagious diseases like Ebola - and operate at airports inaccessible to traditional airlines.
Thanks to the continuous and timely deployment of these air ambulances - already prepared to transport patients with infectious diseases - it has been possible to evacuate patients from remote areas, provide continuity in the urgent transport of organs, and transfer an increasing number of sick people to medical facilities with appropriate treatment units.
The private aviation sector grew significantly during the pandemic. Suffice it to say that data showed an overall increase of 25 percent with peaks of up to 40 percent and days when it was impossible to find available aircraft.
This phenomenon also had social feedback that fostered a change in perception toward what until then was considered a little-known industry reserved only for the lucky and very rich few. Thanks to the pandemic, the market has been "educated" about its existence and the main services it offers. In coping with the emergency, the business aviation world - along with airlines, airports, air traffic controllers, and aircraft manufacturers - has shown unity and perseverance in carrying on its activities for the benefit of the community.
Its primary role remains to connect the world, both under normal circumstances and in times of crisis.