For 9 days, from March 19 to March 27, 2020, SkyUp Airlines operated more than 100 special flights to 30 countries around the world to allow Ukrainians and foreigners with a residence permit in Ukraine to return home. Foreigners and Ukrainians with a residence permit in other countries could also take those flights departing from Ukraine. In total, during this time we have transported about 20.8 thousand passengers, among them more than 18.5 thousand are those who returned to Ukraine.
Why we took up this job
Following the official air traffic ban in Ukraine and many other countries around the world, many people have found themselves in different corners of the globe, far from their homes. The threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus epidemic has forced governments in many countries to act fast and rigidly, introducing quarantine measures and prohibiting travel within and outside their own countries. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians were physically unable to get home.
For us at SkyUp, human life and safety is the highest priority. We know that anyone could be in their place. That is why, maintaining our strong civic position, we offered the government our assistance in resolving the situation of returning Ukrainians home. In close cooperation with the state authorities, we have obtained all the necessary permits and organized several dozens of special flights.
Special flights in numbers
Number of flights: about 100
Number of countries: 30
Number of aircrafts involved: 10
The total number of passengers carried: 20.8 thousand
Number of citizens who returned to Ukraine: 18.7 thousand
Number of foreign nationals who returned home from Ukraine: 2.1 thousand
Our team is our strength
This important mission would not have been possible without our team. We are proud of everyone – both the crews who were at the very heart of the operation and the office staff who provided organizational support for the flights and also assisted passengers, responded to requests and promptly informed them of all the changes. For many days our company has been working almost continuously and uninterruptedly, due to the fact that everyone in our team understands the seriousness of the problem and shares the values of the company.
How the special flights were organized and what the difficulties we encountered
Everyone remembers the ambiguous reaction that SkyUp Airlines flight to Wuhan has caused in the community. Organizing current flights was also not an easy task. In returning Ukrainians home, a part of the society sees the high risk of rapid infection spread and blames the airline in it. However, we insist on our social responsibility and know that for most of those who took those flights, this was the only opportunity to return to their families. Everyone has the right to return home. The situation with the spread of COVID-19 is unprecedented, so measures to prevent it, as well as to help our fellow citizens, are crucial.
The airline organized special flights for the returning Ukrainian citizens from abroad by its own means. The cost of the tickets was set at the lowest rate that the airline could apply to offset the cost of operating the flights. Faced with misunderstanding, as well as manipulations regarding the fares, we prepared a separate material (in Ukrainian) on how the prices for these flights were formed.
Our crews have impeccably fulfilled their duties, despite the risks such work entails. Although the crew members did not leave the plane in the quarantine area, we took care of our crews by providing them with protective masks, goggles, gloves and disinfectants.
Upon arrival at the Boryspil Airport, the competent authorities provided their part of the work. All flights were accepted at the quarantine terminal where epidemiologists worked. Medical examination of passengers, temperature screening, questioning also took place. Passengers were subjected to express-tests and warned of the need to self-isolate.
Special flights geography
The geography of flights was much wider this time than the map of our scheduled flights. Mostly these were flights to European countries: Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Estonia, etc. We have also performed special flights to the Middle East and Caucasus countries, and a few long-haul flights to Kazakhstan, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
What we will do next
We are a socially responsible company and we understand that only in the combined efforts of the state, business and civil society can we meet the challenges we face today. We have done everything we can to help return citizens who were abroad when the air traffic was banned.
The process of organizing flights and returning Ukrainian citizens was very extensive and exhausting. It involved significant resources of our company, both human and financial. The current situation in many sectors, especially in the tourism and aviation industry, is really difficult, but we believe that Ukraine will manage. For our part, we continue to progress, to work on improving the service and to make plans for the future.
With such a team, we are sure to overcome everything. We believe that we will soon meet passengers on board our aircrafts and continue to open the world to Ukrainians and Ukraine to the world.