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Exploring COVID-related Challenges For Operators In The Middle East

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Exploring COVID-related challenges for operators in the Middle East

Mohammed Al Husary | - 09/24/2020
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Aviation, Executive Insight

Corporate Jet Investor Middle East & Africa 2020 took place recently and it was my pleasure to introduce the event and quickly explore the COVID-related challenges facing operators in the Middle East. Notwithstanding the health concerns and COVID containment attempts that are everyone’s priority these days, the greatest issues for aviation operators, flight dispatchers, and ITPs have been navigating strict global lockdown measures and different country requirements. As a trip support provider, we see it all with our clients as we cater to various operational segments. And even though many countries are open once again to all kinds of traffic, some Middle Eastern countries are still restricting and suspending flights with the usual exceptions of humanitarian, cargo, repatriation, medevac, and diplomatic operations.

These types of operational challenges will continue for the foreseeable but no doubt, we will continue to find solutions to these issues as they arise.  The best way to mitigate issues is to plan as far in advance as possible. Health screening is a massive consideration with many countries demanding negative PCR test results before boarding can take place. And, depending on the destination, a negative PCR test result, 14-day quarantine period, or proof of health insurance may be required. We are also seeing airports and FBOs becoming more and more committed to implementing comprehensive COVID-19 protection protocols according to the World Health Organization guidelines such as increased cleaning and sanitation of common areas with EPA-approved products; facilitating touch-free transactions where possible, utilizing PPE equipment as deemed by local authorities; maintaining social distancing at all times; training staff on illness prevention and sanitizing on an ongoing basis; minimizing person-to-person contact, and making aircraft cleaning and sanitizing services available through third-party vendors. Operators will be working to reduce the ground time and reduce the exposure for passengers and crew.

It’s probably safe to say that cargo and medevac operations that have been exempted from the flight restrictions for most countries throughout lockdown periods will most likely continue to fly without any restrictions. I’m sure we’ll see the establishment of travel corridors between safe countries and removing the need for quarantine when travelling will be at the top of everyone’s agenda going forward.  I hope that we will see governments begin to work together to harmonize regulations and implement a common global set of air transport biosecurity measures such as those contained in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s CART Take-off Guidelines. And finally, when it comes to choosing trip support providers in the future, I think operators will want to see less third-party reliance, fewer intermediaries in service delivery … operators will want to deal with a single provider that can provide solutions for their every need. And having full trust in your ITP will become an even greater requirement as it already is.

CJI Middle East & Africa was a great opportunity for us to bring a cross-section of the business aviation community together to share our experiences and insights and explore how we can unify to better understand and anticipate the issues of the future and ultimately strengthen the industry.

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