With the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) – designated a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation – along with the growing number of Delta infections across Europe, private medevacs and repatriation flights will once prove vitally important.
The new Omincron variant was first reported to the WHO in South Africa on November 24th, 2021. Less than a month later and the variant has been discovered in 23 countries. Although it is early days since the emergence of the new variant and much more data needs to be collected and analysed, the signs are worrying.
Additionally, with the number of Delta infections on the rise across Europe, in the latest 7-day average – data collected by Reuters – Germany has recorded almost 57,000 new cases per day; UK, 45,353, France, 42,459, Russia 33,034, and Poland 23,370.
Such figures are likely to mean that frequent air travellers are once again feeling anxious about the chances of infection, despite vaccination or travel restrictions.
For a traveller, or a group of travellers who have been close contacts, tested positive, or are already suffering the effects of infection, being away from familiar surroundings can cause additional physical and mental stress. This stress can include finding a safe place to isolate yourself, the worry of how you will have access to purchasing food, medicines, and other necessaries, where can you find information about available services, regulations, restrictions, health insurance, and even financial worries. Add to that, the stress of not being allowed to travel via scheduled airlines, an experience that can be overwhelming for both the patient and their families at home. But, there is a solution.
KlasJet, a private air charter company and a family member of Avia Solutions Group, have already proven their worth in the field of pandemic-related medevacs and repatriations. Early into the pandemic, the company came to the rescue of individuals, corporate groups, entertainers, and clients from a diverse range of industries, including the oil and gas industry.
With the advent of the Omicron variant, many international airlines have already cancelled flights in different parts of the world. This new development has left many people stranded and without the means to return home in safety. Because of KlasJet’s preparedness for this type of eventuality, the company was ready to step in at a moment’s notice and is currently in the process of repatriating a group of travellers affected by the new COVID-19 variant from South Africa to their home countries.
Another such case involved the medevac and repatriation of a group of South Korean workers who had tested positive for COVID-19 while on assignment in Ghana. In the wake of a request from the workers’ employers, KlasJet was able to draw on the cumulative experience of their charter team to overcome the many obstacles that stood in the way of a successful medevac.
In an operation that took 39 flight hours,–– the company was able to successfully complete the operation in record time and with the greatest attention paid to the safety of everyone involved. Along with having to apply for and receive 25 multiple overfly permission requests across three continents, the aircraft’s interior had been customised using a mobile isolation system under the guidance of the onboard medical team and in compliance with all international safety regulations, and the crew had been suitably trained in all aspects of dealing with a new and challenging situation.Having already had the experience of successfully conducting repatriation flights between Basra, Iraq and Fiumicino, Rome, and another between Bangalore, India and Seoul, South Korea, KlasJet was expertly prepared for every eventuality.
If the likelihood arises that these scenes will be repeated once again in the future, many companies, corporations, and private individuals have already formulated plans for medevac and repatriation projects using suitably-qualified private jet charter companies. These organisations have already realised that flying by private jet charter is the only solution in such challenging circumstances.
In turn, many charter companies have initiated complex regulations and procedures for crew protocol in a COVID-19 high-risk environment. The details of these procedures run to several dozen pages and cover every aspect of a medevac or repatriation for flight crew, cabin crew, and the patients (or passengers) on board. The regulatory documents put in place also cover the rules regarding the correct usage of PPE, contact limiting, meal and snack directives, waste handling, along with details regarding the contracts that need to be signed by both crew and passengers before undertaking a medevac or repatriation flight.
According to Rita Domkute, CEO of KlasJet, “Unfortunately, we expect to see a rise in the numbers of requests being made for medevac and repatriation flights. We wish it was a service we didn’t have to provide, but we have already proven many times that our teams are fully capable of planning and operating safe and successful medevacs and repatriations. It’s an unfortunate fact, but people will likely succumb to the new virus strain and require assistance returning home as soon as possible to receive the best care in familiar surroundings. After over 20 months of successfully dealing with such processes, we are ready to get people repatriated speedily, and with the utmost safety.”