Portuguese airline Hi Fly is introducing new measures to better prepare their aircraft and crew to operate repatriation flights. ‘Covid Ready To Go’ teams will help the airline respond quickly to charter requests amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leasing aircraft from Portugal
Hi Fly is a Portuguese airline that offers aircraft for wet lease worldwide. This includes short and longer-term leases to clients such as tour operators, governments or companies. It operates a mixed Airbus fleet – with A321, A330, A340 (planned for retirement by 2022) and one A380 aircraft.
It’s A380 acquisition, in particular, has been controversial. Hi Fly acquired this in 2018 from Singapore Airlines, which surprised many as other airlines have struggled to make this giant aircraft profitable. In an interview with Simple Flying, Hi Fly CEO and chairman Dr. Paulo Mirpuri explained how there is no shortage of interest. The airline receives around 30 requests for it’s A380 daily, but there are limiting issues with airports where it can operate.
Better preparation for COVID-19
Hi Fly announced on 25th March new measures to prepare its crews and aircraft to better assist with repatriation flights. This includes equipping aircraft with appropriate medical and protective equipment and ensuring all ground and aircrew are aware of current virus implications and dangers.
Central to this is the introduction of ‘Covid Ready to Go’ teams. These teams will be prepared and equipped to operate flights for repatriation from virus affected areas. The teams are going forward with the motto, “Expect the best but prepare for the worst.”
In a statement sent to Simple Flying, Hi Fly explained the responsibilities of these teams. These will include:
- Coordination and distribution of protective equipment
- Assembling medical kits for aircraft
- Monitoring medical stocks and ensuring the arrival of new supplies
- Acting as a link between Hi Fly aircrew and medical department
Equipping aircraft to deal with the situation
As well as having prepared and trained teams, Hi Fly is ensuring all aircraft for lease are stocked with appropriate medical equipment. This includes masks, safety suits, aprons gowns, disinfectants, gloves, and biohazard bags.
Aircraft operations will be modified as well. All aircraft will have a designated crew only area where they can get in and out of protective clothing and carry out decontamination procedures. The crew will also establish procedures for dealing with passengers who show symptoms of the virus. And arrival procedures, possibly including testing or isolation, will be set up depending on the country of arrival.
Not the first time this has happened
Hi Fly is no stranger to assisting with repatriation flights. In January 2020, Hi Fly operated its A380 on a repatriation flight from Wuhan to Paris. And the same A380 was previously hired by the United Kingdom government to repatriate stranded Thomas Cook tourists.
It remains to be seen which aircraft are used for any upcoming repatriation flights. But hopefully, with these additional steps and prepared teams, flights can be deployed quicker and safer when required.