STILL FLYING: AN URGENT MEDICAL SUPPLY FLIGHT IN CHINA DURING COVID-19
While news headlines focus on the decline of international travel, it’s important to remember that many essential and critical missions are still being conducted by the general and business aviation communities. Many of these missions save lives or reunite people with their loved ones. During a crisis like COVID-19, our industry shines.
Last week, we had the opportunity to support an important domestic medical supply delivery in China to help the people treating and fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Our Universal Aviation ground support team in China was asked to support this mission, and it had to happen in less than 24 hours! Urgently needed medical supplies need to be flown into two separate airports: Quanzhou Jinjiang International (ZSQZ) and Xiamen Gaoqi International (ZSAM).
During this time, China was just starting to ease some airport restrictions for domestic flights. Still, the restrictions varied by airport and were highly nuanced. Pulling this off in 24 hours would be no easy effort.
Our team in China was not deterred. This mission had to happen. Lives depended on it.
They worked fast, to get all the arrangements and permissions in place with the authorities. While the schedule moved around a little, our people adapted. But then, just when all the arrangements were almost confirmed, they got the call—the mission has changed.
The supplies were now more in need the next day at an entirely new destination, Changle International Airport (ZSFZ)—a different airport, with different restrictions. And the airport authorities were closing in less than three hours. Panic? Just a little. Find a solution? “We must!”
The team huddled and formulated its plan to divide and conquer within the three-hour window.
One team member worked with authorities for the necessary permits. Another coordinated with CIQ. A third made the changes needed to the required paperwork needed. A fourth, Sam Liu, packed his bags and jumped on the first available commercial flight from Beijing to Fuzhou (three hours away by air) to support the mission on the ground.
After Sam arrived at ZSFZ, it was around 1930LT, and the flight’s ETA was 0700LT the next day. He spent the entire night walking through every logistical component onsite to make sure the airport was prepared to support the flight and its cargo.
Ultimately, the flight arrived, it was handled smoothly, the cargo was unloaded, and the vital medical supplies reached those in need. Business aviation and community win again.