The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the aviation industry, forcing the global airline network to drastically reduce operations due to sudden and strict international border closures, lockdowns and vigorous new health regulations.

These closures have come at both a financial and a human cost. Since the pandemic began, it’s estimated that over 45,000 Australian citizens have been stranded abroad and calling on the Government to support their return home.

The problem was that both airlines and airports were operating on limited resources, and these repatriation flights needed extensive logistical planning and support to successfully and safely transport passengers home.

With almost a decade of experience in providing aviation services throughout Australia and across Asia Pacific, our team at Aero Adapt was engaged by a number of airline carriers to leverage our capabilities and support our airline partners with their repatriation initiatives.

Outbound domestic aviation services for international carriers
One of the first repatriation initiatives supported by Aero Adapt was helping Israeli nationals get back home to Tel Aviv, from Melbourne and Perth. Taking place during the height of the pandemic in April 2020, Aero Adapt was engaged by the leading Israeli airline carrier to provide end-to-end ground support services in line with the airline’s stringent passenger screening and security requirements.

For many of the repatriation flights, compliance and safety requirements paired with tight border restrictions meant minimal stopovers could be scheduled. Understanding these challenges, Aero Adapt worked with the Israeli carrier to provide extensive flight planning and trip support services. This ensured the ultra-long haul direct 16 hour flights from Melbourne to Tel Aviv were safely delivered without disruption.

Complete flight support for initiatives across borders
The extent of Aero Adapt’s support services stems far further than Australia alone. Understanding our team’s global network and capabilities, Aero Adapt was engaged by a leading Australian carrier to use one of their B777-300ER’s and provide complete flight support for a French Government sponsored repatriation flight from New Zealand to France. Flying from Auckland to Paris via Hong Kong, Aero Adapt managed the flight end-to-end with overflight permits, ground handling, flight crew services, flight planning and aircraft fuelling.

However, the journey did not end in France. In addition to transporting nationals home to Paris, Aero Adapt was responsible for a return repatriation of Australian nationals. The return leg saw Aero Adapt manage the B777-300ER’s journey end-to-end from Paris to Brisbane, non-stop. As one of the first repatriations to take place on behalf of the Australian Government during the height of the pandemic, this particular leg marked a milestone in returning a large number of Australian nationals home.

Celebrating the return of stranded Australians with an aviation milestone
As an Australian owned and operated business, supporting repatriation flights to return Australians home was arguably one the most rewarding projects for our team. However, one particular repatriation stood out from the rest.

Aero Adapt is proud to have supported the longest repatriation flight for Australia’s leading airline carrier, helping transport stranded Australians from Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) to Darwin (DRW). The flight took 17 hours and 25 minutes and travelled over a distance of 15,020 kilometers, but it became known globally due to its unique flight path over the edge of Antarctica.

The 787-9 Dreamliner was able to complete its near 18 hour journey thanks to Aero Adapt’s assistance in gaining Chilean overflight permits, allowing the national carrier’s flight planning team to secure the most efficient flight path available to them on the day. This was recognised by the carrier as instrumental to the journey’s success.

Testament to our strong relationship with the nation’s leading airline carrier, Aero Adapt has provided, and continues to provide, end-to-end services to support the Australian Government repatriations from cities including London, Frankfurt, Istanbul and Islamabad to Darwin.

With repatriation initiatives encompassing large scale coordination of stakeholders — from aircraft operators to Government departments and airport authorities — we believe our around the clock service has been a key contributor to successfully transporting over 10,000 passengers through repatriation initiatives over the past 18 months.

Throughout the pandemic Aero Adapt remained available and agile to support the operational needs of our clients and partners. Working closely with international stakeholders to secure permit approvals on stringent application timelines, we ensured our clients secured the necessary permits to help facilitate vital last-minute repatriations across countries including: Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, PRC, Russia, India, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Chile.