After 17 months of watching in horror, governments and commentators are increasingly calling for humanitarian aid in Syria. In the wake of calls from Syrian opposition leaders for a no-fly zone to be imposed, as it was in Libya last year, Air Partner, a leading provider of private aviation services that evacuated 12,000 people during the ‘Arab Spring’, talks about its experiences in Libya and reflects on the situation in Syria as it reaches breaking point.
Mark Briffa, Air Partner’s Chief Executive, said, "Our information is increasingly suggesting that significant aid and international support will be needed in Syria. However, the situation may well deteriorate further, before there is any chance of it improving, and that will make providing help even more complicated."
"The lesson learned during last year’s Arab Spring – when Air Partner evacuated 12,000 people in six weeks – was the importance of planning. Governments, NGOs and aid organisations that have an early, confidential conversation with us are likely to get the quickest result should their mission go live."
"It’s still high summer in Europe and operators are looking to maximize flying time in a tough operating environment – so any notice ahead of a project or mission, could save time at the get go – when specific planes are needed at short notice."
"Sourcing aircraft globally and working across different borders and fly zones can be vital in aid and evacuation situations – especially when the environment is hostile or chaotic. During the Arab Spring, Air Partner’s ability to coordinate its international network of offices enabled it to provide deep local knowledge and offer alternative solutions when ‘plan A’ was not an option."
"In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, New Zealand, and Japan, we were the first to get groups of people out, and aid in, when trouble flared. The advantage of being an international company with a global presence is that our overseas and UK offices were able to work together to provide the quickest and most efficient response."
"In a high pressure situation, an immediate response is essential to ensure the safety of those on the ground. Our team worked 24/7 to get people to safety and aid in extreme conditions. Law and order had totally broken down in some countries – it was complex – but we got a huge sense of satisfaction from the job we did."
"In Libya, all normal communications and aviation practices broke down. The combination of Air Partner’s extensive broking experience, and the forward planning team’s specialist knowledge, meant that we were able to respond swiftly to source aircraft and move personnel out of harm’s way, in spite of challenging operational circumstances."
"Air Partner’s 50 year trading history, and extensive experience in dealing with time sensitive situations are second to none. As there is no industry standard for air charter brokers and a huge variation in the quality of the companies that offer broking services, it is hugely important to use someone that you can trust. Air Partner has worked with the UN, EU, NATO and leading NGOs, such as the Red Cross; which is testament to the good service that we provide."