STILL FLYING: TWO STORIES OF MISSION SUCCESS FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
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.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Dominican Republic closed its borders. The abrupt closure stranded an 85-year-old United States citizen with pre-existing medical conditions. A resident of Florida, the woman, wintered in the Dominican Republic, but was due to return home immediately for urgent medical appointments.
Stranded, with no flights off the island, she turned to business aviation for help.
The charter operator that she selected knew this wouldn’t be a routine mission and that getting the necessary permissions would be a challenge, so they turned to our offices in the Dominican Republic for support.
Despite the border closure and drop in traffic, Universal Aviation Dominican Republic (UADR) was still supporting missions, from its remote headquarters in MDJB. Leveraging its longstanding relationships with local authorities, the team was able to explain the situation and secure the necessary permits required for an aircraft to depart from Florida, pick up the passenger, and bring her back home. This was all accomplished within 24 hours, and the woman was able to get home and meet her appointments.
That same week, UADR was challenged with another short-notice repatriation flight. This time, six seniors from Argentina who were stranded in the Dominican Republic. With less than 24 hours’ notice and the aircraft already preparing to take off from Buenos Aires to Punta Cana to retrieve the passengers, time was not on their side.
The team sprung into action, working urgently and leveraging its relationships with local authorities to secure the necessary permits in record time, with only hours to spare! The aircraft was able to retrieve the passengers and return them home to their loved ones. Mission success!
These missions highlight the importance of business aviation during this challenging time. While the long hours, stress and frantic nature of these last-minute trips will soon fade from our memories, we will never forget the smiles and relief on the faces of the stranded seniors upon learning they were going home.