The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 has resulted in the largest global repatriation operation ever seen. Hundreds of thousands of travellers wanted to return home as quickly as possible, presenting an unprecedented operational challenge in the face of numerous border and airspace closures.
Working hand in hand with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies
Air France has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretary for Transport to identify and prioritize needs in the various countries, in conjunction with the embassies and Air France delegations around the world. An operational crisis unit was opened 7 days a week to coordinate operations and obtain the necessary authorizations to maintain the regular flight schedule and set up special flights exclusively dedicated to repatriation operations. These operations have been complicated due to the numerous restrictions imposed on airlines, for example in terms of crew accommodation, and by the lack of harmonization of procedures in the various countries.
150,000 French nationals were able to return home thanks to Air France and Transavia
Since 14 March 2020, Air France and Transavia have operated more than 1,800 flights from 132 airports in 82 countries, enabling the repatriation of more than 270,000 passengers, including 150,000 French nationals. In a severely deteriorated economic context and at a time when most aircraft had to leave Paris empty, Air France and Transavia have introduced special capped fares for repatriation passengers.
These repatriation operations are now coming to an end in most regions, with the exception of certain areas such as North Africa where demand remains high, despite more than 200 flights already operated. To meet this demand, Air France will continue to operate a few flights in the coming weeks, subject to obtaining the necessary authorization.
Territorial continuity and the transport of medical equipment and goods essential for crisis management
Air France’s activity is now focused on operating a minimum flight schedule, equivalent to around 5% of the capacity usually available. This is designed, on the one hand, to preserve territorial continuity to major French cities and overseas territories, and, on the other hand, to maintain a lifeline with major European and international cities, enabling the transport of passengers and cargo.
Air France is also actively involved in the airlift between China and France for the transport of masks and medical equipment. 7 flights are operated every week using Boeing 777 cargo aircraft and Boeing 777s usually used for passenger transport and on board which equipment is carried in the holds and in the cabin.
The implementation of this repatriation and operational continuity plan has been made possible by the joint commitment of all Air France and Transavia teams, ground staff, pilots and flight attendants, who are proud to be contributing to the national effort.
Image Credit: Supplied