Due to world events and natural disasters in recent years, demand for the evacuation of personnel from high risk environments has increased significantly, leading Air Charter Service to create a full time dedicated department offering customised Air Evacuation Plans for clients with employees in high risk regions.
ACS has been providing much needed air support in emergency situations since the company’s inception in 1990. Stephen Huddlestone, heading up the Air Evacuation Plan (AEP) division, comments: “Many of our clients, including oil & gas companies and governments, have personnel in high risk environments, who may need to get out urgently – a prime example being during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, when we evacuated more than 15,000 people from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. We have a proven history of providing evacuation flights and have had to put these plans together in the past, but we felt that now was the right time to create a dedicated department and produce a product that gives our customers the chance to be ahead of the game.
“When an evacuation becomes inevitable, it is vital that aircraft are available to transport personnel. In these situations, many companies plan to put all their staff on the next scheduled service out of the region from the closest airport. Unfortunately, the reality is that with many international companies having thousands of employees in these countries, there are simply not enough seats for everyone – on top of this, these situations often put airports out of action. Once these companies realise that chartering is the only option, the best suited aircraft are often booked or not available, due to the high demand in such times.
“The key purpose of an AEP is to have solutions in place in advance, to ensure the clients retain maximum control and to provide personal with a duty of care. I was once told that the worst time to plan for a crisis is during one and this couldn’t be more true. We provide a detailed report covering all potential eventualities. We look at all possible alternate airports and routes, whether it be the nearest secondary airport, even if that is in a neighbouring country. We provide market analysis on a continuous basis and monitor the availability of the most suited operators in the region and their usual availabilities. Then we put in place a credit agreement, so as not to hold up any evacuation based on money transfers. There is a huge list of potential complications, but with our AEP we cover all of these eventualities, giving you the peace of mind that we will get your employees out of harm’s way by continuously monitoring and adapting the plan in line with an event’s progression and development.”
Huddlestone concluded: “The global reach of ACS has proven invaluable, as our worldwide offices have local market knowledge, hold credit agreements with airlines and speak the local languages. We don’t just have a local agent or someone working from home in these locations, as some companies do, we have established presences and long standing relationships in these key regions. With experience assisting governments, NGOs, individuals and multinational corporations getting people and aid in and getting personnel out, we know what we’re doing.”