Air Partner - Update on International Evacuations

Thursday 17, March 2011


Air Partner - Update on International Evacuations


In a period when far-reaching and unprecedented political upheaval has coincided with devastating natural disasters, British firm Air Partner, a leading provider of private aviation services to industry, commerce and governments worldwide, has been working around the clock to organise humanitarian aid flights and to evacuate more than 12,000 people from across the world in just six weeks.


Air Partner evacuations on behalf of governments and corporates since January 2011:


  • 63 flights
  • More than 12,000 people
  • 300 tonnes of aid
  • 6 week time frame


The Emergency Planning and 24 hour Operations teams, together with on-call broker specialists, have been pooling their knowledge and resources to secure suitable aircraft for the evacuations and aid flights involving Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, New Zealand, and Japan. The Air Partner teams have also negotiated flight slots, fuel, aircraft handling and visa permissions as well as post-evacuation onward travel.


Specifically, Air Partner’s work has included:



Following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan over the weekend, Air Partner organised the Boeing 767 flight that left Manchester for Japan on Saturday 12 March. The flight was part of Air Partner’s contract with UK’s Department for International Development, to arrange all passenger and freight air charter services. Fifty-nine UK fire service search and rescue specialists, two rescue dogs and a medical support team were dispatched alongside up to 11 tonnes of specialist rescue equipment, including heavy lifting and cutting equipment to save people who are trapped in debris. Air Partner’s Germany office operated a Boeing 747 flight into Nagoya on Monday 14 March on behalf of a number of German-based companies, including car manufacturers, to bring staff home. The flight carrying 477 expatriates will return today (Tuesday 15 March), landing at Hanover.


New Zealand

On Saturday 12 March, Air Partner organised a Boeing 747 freighter flight that flew to New Zealand from Europe. The aircraft carried 7,500 sanitation facilities weighing nine tonnes following the earthquake last month, which severely damaged the sewage and drainage system in Christchurch.  



During the Tunisian demonstrations in mid-January, Air Partner’s evacuation specialists responded quickly to source aircraft to move personnel out of harm’s way in spite of challenging operational circumstances.  Separately, in the immediate aftermath of the Libyan crisis, in just six days Air Partner organised 37 freight and passenger charters on behalf of DFID. In total, Air Partner repatriated more than 6,000 displaced Egyptians and 500 Bangladeshis on 34 flights from Tunisia to Egypt and flew 220 tonnes of humanitarian aid into Tunisia on three flights. The aid, which included blankets and tents, was used for makeshift camps by the thousands who fled from Libya to Tunisia to escape the Gaddafi regime.



When trouble flared in Libya, all normal communications and aviation practices broke down. Aircraft, crews and their insurance companies were reluctant to provide cover to operate there; and obtaining authorisation for aircraft to enter Libyan airspace, land and leave was extremely difficult and time- consuming. Despite this, Air Partner operated a dozen Libya rescue flights into the UK, several on behalf of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and organised another into France. Large Boeing and Airbus jets, with a total of 2,200 seats, were used to transport passengers of various nationalities. Seven of the flights operated into and out of Tripoli, including the first two rescue missions to the UK carried out for BP and another major oil conglomerate seeking to safeguard their overseas employees. The other flights operated to Malta to repatriate people who had fled from Libya to the conflict-free island.



Air Partner flew in excess of 3,000 people to safety in the space of six days in groups ranging from four people to 222 using private jets and commercial airliners. Passengers were flown to a range of destinations including the UK, Dubai, France and Germany. Clients included governments as well as major energy companies, financial institutions and telecommunications conglomerates, who were concerned about staff safety. 


Air Partner Emergency Planning

Air Partner’s Emergency Planning team provides 24-hour air evacuation planning and implementation services from anywhere in the world using chartered aircraft to ensure a safe, secure and rapid exit of personnel to an agreed destination or safe haven. Air Partner has been operating this pre-planned contingency service for ten years, supporting industries ranging from energy, construction, banking, drilling support, mineral extraction and manufacturing to a number of leading charity organisations. The team also provides contingency planning for countries which may be at risk of political unrest, risk of violence, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami or pandemics. In the past, Air Partner has successfully evacuated thousands of people from Iraq, Iran, West Africa, Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor and Lebanon. Following the Haiti earthquake last year the company’s freight team organised disaster relief flights carrying aid and equipment to support the country’s humanitarian and rebuilding efforts.


Air Partner’s advice for successful evacuation


  1. Analyse risk – how likely is it that you may need to evacuate staff - is there political unrest or volcanic activity in the area?
  2. Have a planned exit strategy
  3. Ensure your staff know the drill and have practiced it
  4. Engage a professional organisation, like Air Partner, to carry out the evacuation


Mark Briffa, CEO of Air Partner said: “Since January, Air Partner has led the way in responding to the wave of political chaos and natural disasters that has beset the world in a shockingly short time frame. The dedication and specialist knowledge of our Emergency Planning team, combined with extensive broking experience, have been key in overcoming challenging conditions. We have repatriated  thousands of displaced people and corporate employees and their dependents.  We are on hand to support governments and corporates from around the world who are concerned about the safety of nationals and employees. Much of Air Partner’s success is due to forward planning, which means even in unprecedented situations, we are able to respond to multiple emergencies simultaneously.”



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