Bizav Plays Vital Role In COVID-19 Relief

Operators and providers of infrastructure are bringing their versatility to bear in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: Dassault

During the COVID-19 crisis, the European Business Aviation Association has been using its website to publicize efforts by companies across the sector to mobilize their resources, skills and people to battle the global pandemic. Aviation Week highlights a selection of stories published on the site’s page entitled “Business Aviation On The Front Line.” 

Industriflyg Builds Air Bridge For Swedish Biotech Sector

Almost as soon as the COVID-19 crisis began to affect Europe directly, Industriflyg, an operator based at Stockholm Bromma Airport—in partnership with local client company Bactiguard—established an air bridge between Sweden and Asia. As soon as Industriflyg heard Bactiguard was struggling to get equipment into Sweden, the firm offered to set up weekly flights between Bactiguard’s Malaysian production facility and Stockholm. The flights are open to other companies. Industriflyg’s Dassault Falcon 7X fleet has since been reconfigured for long-distance ambulance flights.

Total UK Gives Free Fuel To Air-Ambulance Charities

Two British medical helicopter operators—the Great North Air Ambulance Service and the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust—are flying on free fuel for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, thanks to Total UK. The initial offer, made in April, was to cover the two charities’ jet fuel bills for one month but was intended at the outset to be extended if necessary. Both operators “rely entirely on charitable donations,” notes Ben Marchant, Total UK’s manager for general aviation, “so we are proud to play our part in helping them continue to carry out crucial, lifesaving missions at this difficult time.” AirBP also is donating fuel to the four air-ambulance charities it supplies.

Cirrus Helps Minnesota Health Workers Tackle PPE Shortage

The Duluth, Minnesota, region is home to a plethora of innovative small businesses, and two of them— canvas luggage manufacturer Frost River Trading and aircraft OEM Cirrus—have partnered to supply local medical staff and facilities with personal protective equipment (PPE). Combined, they have produced and distributed more than 30,000 disposable face shields to the region’s medical communities. Also, Cirrus engineers have built a prototype blower assembly for respirators which, once approved, is ready to be supplied in the hundreds.

Jetflite Deploys New Challenger 650 To Front Line Of COVID-19 Fight

As tempting as it might have been for Jetflite to keep the latest acquisition to its fleet in pristine condition for VIP use, the Finnish charter operator wasted no time in placing its Bombardier Challenger 650 into the forefront of the company’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The aircraft flew 100 hr. in its first 14 days in service, with repatriation missions taking it to Afghanistan, the Canary Islands, Estonia, Liberia, and South Africa. The jet can be reconfigured between executive transport and air-ambulance roles.

Victor Publishes COVID Travel Restrictions Database

With the COVID-19 crisis affecting every aspect of travel, the need for reliable and up-to-date information about countries’ and regions’ constantly changing movement restrictions is acute. Victor, the UK-headquartered app-based charter broker, tasked its in-house software team to produce an algorithm that can search for current restrictions by destination and display them in plain-English, easy-to-digest text. The tool is available at “We have a responsibility to do what we can with the assets we provide,” says company founder Clive Jackson. 

EBAA France, Aviation Sans Frontieres Partner To Coordinate COVID Support Flights

Just days after approaching the French chapter of the European Business Aviation Association, the aeromedical non-governmental organization (NGO) Aviation Sans Frontieres (ASF) was operating its first COVID-19 support flight. On April 7 a Falcon 7X provided by Dassault, flew a medical team from Marseille on the Mediterranean to Mulhouse in Alsace, a region then experiencing high levels of infections. Other donations followed, with JetFly and Daher Socata flying ASF missions. The NGO has set up a portal——where bizav companies can offer help. “The platform is based purely on the demands of hospitals and medical centers; it follows the situations,” says Dassault’s head of communications, Vadim Feldzer, who helped coordinate the industry-wide response. 

GAMA Members Rally To COVID Response Cause

The names of 33 members of the General Aviation Manufacturers’ Association (GAMA) were listed in a press release issued in late April about companies offering their skills to assist with the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of initiatives include manufacturing personal protective equipment, donating supplies and offering flights to medical personnel. “It is inspiring to see the support that our members are providing to their communities and neighbors during this pandemic,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “It is moments like these that bring a sense of pride for what our industry does to help one another.”

Crisis Shows Strength, Versatility Of Air-Ambulance Fleets, Says Airlec

Airlec, the venerable French private-aviation company basedat both Paris Le Bourget and Bordeaux airports, has had a busy pandemic period—as befits the first European firm to respond to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and with decades of experience in aeromedical missions. Managing Director Paul Tiba  believes the crisis can help change the image of business aviation. “Not a lot of people know air ambulances exist,” he says. “I hope the perception will change. People need to know that we are an active part of business aviation.”

Flying During Pandemic ‘A Heavy Experience,’ Says ASL Group

As the bizav sector continues to fly a range of missions to support response to the COVID-19 crisis, air crews are  becoming accustomed to a new normal. The experience of piloting one of the company’s aircraft into Girona, Spain, at the height of that nation’s coronavirus outbreak underscored the changes for Maxime Wauters, the ASL Group’s safety and marketing manager. “There were very few aircraft present on the radio frequency,” he says. “Usually everyone is very open and friendly in such a sunny location, but now, everyone was very downcast and grim. It was a heavy experience. It’s very strange to be flying in these times, but I’m glad we can continue supporting those that really need it.”

Crisis Proves BizAv’s Value, Says AirGO Managing Director

Aeromedical missions and personal-protective-equipment shipments may underscore the contribution business aviation is making to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but AirGo Managing Director Daniele Flierl argues, it is what comes afterward that will show the sector’s true worth. “Business aviation gives entrepreneurs the possibility to work more efficiently and keep their companies successful,” she says. “Successful companies create jobs. This is an important part of the economy. We do more than ambulance and cargo flights. We bring people to work, and right now, we need to work.”

John Morris

John was editor of Aviation Week's ShowNews for nearly two decades. He retired in 2020. His background in business journalism before joining Aviation Week includes stints at Reuters, the American Banker daily banking newspaper and as business news editor at the Milwaukee Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer.