On Call’s mission has always been helping travelers in their time of need, every day, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been no different. The pandemic presented some interesting challenges, unique barriers, and extremely nuanced complications amid our efforts to return people home, but nothing that our Global Assistance teams couldn’t handle! Read our latest case study to learn more.
On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was characterized as a pandemic by public health officials. Once the virus started to spread globally, travelers, ex-pats, and missionaries found themselves trapped amid an escalation of regulations, mandates, and directives from authorities in order to help contain the spread of the virus. As border closings, travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and mandatory quarantines ensued, On Call International’s Medical, Security, and Transportation teams were inundated with inquiries from travelers who not only needed help but needed it quickly due to the rapidly changing travel landscape.
While On Call typically manages hundreds of operations each month, the COVID-19 outbreak boosted operational activity and intensity significantly with over 8,000 active cases in the month of March 2020 alone. Some of the more complex cases facilitated by On Call’s Global Security Team included secure ground moves to pre-position travelers ahead of their respective government-chartered flights so they did not miss their flights home, as well as the arrangement of private charter flights. These charter flights were prescribed in instances where commercial options were not available and the travelers’ host governments were unable to arrange for a successful transport back to their home countries. Additionally, On Call’s Global Security Team served as an internal apparatus and intelligence support system to On Call’s Medical and Transportation Teams, providing up-to-the-minute updates on travel restrictions and the evolving COVID-19 situation in-country so medical evacuation operations could ensue.
Challenges and Solutions
Leveraging an expansive network of global aviation resources, government contacts, collective intelligence capabilities, and logistical know-how, On Call’s Global Security Team overcame the following challenges while securing private charter flights for clients amid the COVID-19 outbreak:
The fluidity of the COVID-19 situation in-country and corresponding travel restrictions
Airspace and airport closures
Increasing flight costs to meet demand and extensive permitting windows
Customs challenges which resulted from border closures
Complex location-specific medical screening and travel approval protocols
Lack of ground transportation options to move travelers to airports
Stringent travel windows
Government-imposed immobilization efforts
Mandates for quarantine and/or self-isolation upon return
While COVID-19 brought about an unprecedented level of disruption for travelers and their organizations, the On Call Team overcame multiple challenges to assist travelers in need. These complex missions entailed components such as secure ground transportation, onward commercial flight bookings, rescue nurse-to-nurse hand-offs, and private charter aircraft coordination.
For over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Contact us today and watch our video to learn more. You can also stay in touch with On Call’s subject matter experts by signing up for our quarterly Travel Risk Management (TRM) newsletter.