Ops Update: COVID-19

Flying in a post-COVID-19 world:

How we’re reducing your operating complexity and risk on every mission with us.

At Universal, we’ve always been focused on helping you reduce operating risks, navigate complexity, and overcome challenges so that every mission we’re managing for you is a success.

While our industry—and the world—struggles to understand and adapt to the new and continually-evolving challenges presented by the current pandemic environment, Universal remains committed helping you operate safely and successfully on every mission.

This page outlines some of the ways we’re proactively addressing COVID-19 throughout our global operations.

Reducing Operating Complexity

Consistent Operating Standards for Key Logistical Phases of the Mission

In the wake of COVID-19, our entire industry must rethink the way we do things. This will result in revised procedures, more processes to follow, more documentation, increased admin burden, and enhanced vendor vetting—adding more complexity to our world. There are going to be many “cracks” that we need to navigate together as a community when demand for international flying resumes.

With our expertise in directly managing the core logistical phases of the mission most challenged by the COVID-19 epidemic—FBO ground services, inflight catering, and chauffeured ground transportation—we’ve developed health and safety standards for these operating domains based on guidance published by the CDC, FDA, IATA, NBAA, WHO and others:

We’ve implemented these enhanced standards at our own locations, and we’ve leveraged our strong relationships with our preferred third-party providers to get their commitment to follow these standards at the top 100 destinations that our Universal® Trip Support customers fly.

These standards not only elevate health and safety procedures across our supply chain, but also reduce admin burden and lost time for both our customers and preferred third-party providers. We’re transparently publishing them here so that our customers can have them for their safety programs, as well as to make them available for the industry to use.

In addition, we expect these standards to evolve over time as our community’s shared understanding of best practices for managing crew and passenger safety within the mission changes – so we are very open to feedback for how we can be better.

Read our official announcement.

COVID-19 Operating Restrictions

  • Global Restrictions Monitoring. The restrictions are changing daily, and we’ve seen newly-enacted restrictions impact flights that were already en route to their destinations. Our Universal® Trip Support Teams are staying on top of these changes—through our offices, partners, trusted suppliers, and customers around the globe—so that you always have the latest information and know your best options for mission success.
  • Consultation and Liaising with Authorities. Many restrictions are not black or white. They can be highly nuanced based on several factors and open to interpretation. Our global regulatory experts can help you know your best path forward for success and work with the relevant authorities to secure the permissions you need.
  • Change Alerts. We know you want to get back to flying, and you’re just waiting for restrictions to ease. For Universal® Trip Support customers, we can send you alerts when destinations of interest open back up. Send us a list of the upcoming trips you’re being asked to make. We’ll take care of the rest.
  • Curated Restriction Information. You can find a complete list of the global restrictions we’ve validated on our COVID-19 Resource Center. This free resource has curated information that you can easily understand and use—it’s not just another NOTAM dump. We’re updating the information on this site daily.

Reducing Operating Risk – Health and Safety

Below is an overview of the practices we are following on every mission, ground support reservation, catering order, and ground transportation booking you entrust with us.

Universal® Trip Support

For all missions managed by Universal® Trip Support, more than 80% of our preferred third-party providers at the top 100 destinations where our customers travel have committed to follow our enhanced COVID-19 health and safety standards. These include providers for:

  • FBO Ground Services. These are the same standards followed our Universal Aviation® locations. Download our standards.
  • Inflight Catering. These are the same standards followed in our Air Culinaire Worldwide owned-and-operated kitchen locations. Download our standards.
  • Chauffeured Ground Transportation. These standards have been developed by Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs. Download our standards.

Adherence to these standards will be monitored and assessed based on our post-trip review process with our customers as well as through our ongoing strong, working relationships with these preferred providers.

Universal® Hotels Team

In addition to the above, we’re performing additional screening on hotel bookings to determine the following:

  • Is the hotel operational? Some hotels are only open to strictly essential workers (law enforcement, medical and government personnel) for a locally-designated period.
  • Can crew stay without a full 14-day quarantine? Many countries are restricting crew to transit hotels at airports; otherwise, crew face full quarantine.
  • What enhanced hygiene and cleaning processes are being followed? We’ll collect the information and provide it to our customers. In general, we recommended staying with major Western-style hotel chains when possible. Many of these brands have published their procedures on their respective websites. Here are some we are recommending, depending on destination:

    In addition, we are working with many of these hotel groups at a leadership level to obtain the very latest information to share with our clients, and they are aware of our need for the highest of standards.

  • What hotel amenities/facilities have been impacted by Covid-19? Most hotel gyms, workout areas, pools, spas, etc. are currently closed. Most hotel food options/services are also limited – room service or “to-go” orders only. If food service is unable, we’ll advise alternate options.
  • What are the current cancellation policies/fees? Most major brands have waived all cancellation fees on previously booked rooms and are now offering more flexible 24hr cancellation policies. In addition, most hotels are working with us when it comes to schedule changes on our clients’ missions due to unforeseen events.

Universal Aviation®

Across our Universal Aviation® FBO Ground Services network – as well as across our preferred third-party ground handler network –, we’re rethinking the entire ground experience. Passengers and crew are less interested in facility amenities now, and they are more concerned with ground time velocity and reducing risk of exposure.

At each of our locations, we’ve been focusing extensively on passenger and crew traffic flow analysis to increase speeds where we can, reduce possible points of contact once they leave the aircraft, and perform before-and-after sterilization of physical touchpoints that we control.

Learn more on the Universal Aviation website.

Air Culinaire Worldwide®

Within our owned-and-operated kitchens, we’ve scrutinized the chain of custody for the food we serve our clients – from sourcing and receiving, to preparing and delivery – in order to develop our enhanced health and safety standards.

Learn more on the Air Culinaire Worldwide website.

Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs

At Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs, we have COVID-19 safety profiles completed for more than 500 ground transportation providers around the globe. We can tell you the exact procedures each are following, and we can confirm they have all met our minimum requirements.

We are also conducting pre-trip reviews on every booking made through our platform to ensure that the vendors we are trusting our customers with are complying with our standards.

Learn more on the Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs website.

Supporting our Industry

Universal remains committed to supporting our industry during this time of unprecedent global crisis.

COVID-19 Humanitarian Missions

  • Free Services for Humanitarian Missions. Effective March 27, Universal® Trip Support began waiving its fees for 1) trip feasibility assessments, research, and consultation services and 2) ground handling setup charges (third-party fees still apply), for any mission classified as a humanitarian medical supply flight. Read our official announcement.
  • Humanitarian cargo missions into China. We have strong expertise in supporting all phases of these missions, and we have our own offices in China to manage your ground arrangements and coordinate loading of your cargo. Learn about some of the humanitarian missions that we have been privileged to support.