For most companies, domestic and international business travel has come to a standstill amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with virtual meetings filling the void. Within the energy, resources and marine (ERM) sectors however, whilst digital connectivity goes some way to connect workforces, there is still an imperative to transport workers to and from remote worksites such as oil and gas offshore platforms, mines and ships, to keep essential resources flowing.
With government-imposed global travel restrictions and changes to the operations of airlines and hotels, ERM companies with thousands of workers positioned in extremely remote locations have never before been faced with such difficulties in terms of the safe and secure movement of their workforce.
Rotating large numbers of people to and from far-flung work sites is an operose task, not least during times of a global crisis of this scale. It requires complex coordination, from arranging documentation such as visas and certifications, through to combining commercial flights and charter services like helicopters, as well as organizing various types of accommodation. With many airlines grounded, hotels closed, and visa processing services suspended, our teams have had to adapt and be resourceful in finding ways to transport these key industry workers, and ensure they reach their end destination as safely and comfortably as possible.
Over the last few months, we have united with our charter airline partners to arrange dedicated flights where no commercial flight options have been available. This has enabled the flexibility to maintain social distancing on the aircraft by leaving some seats empty. Each week, we are booking over 40 charter flights to transport more than 2,000 workers in all parts of the world, be it in the North West of Australia, in Kazakhstan, or in the high altitudes of Peru.
Many of our customers have also reached out for assistance in evacuating employees, as countries began sealing their borders. For example, in March we helped one of our clients repatriate over 100 families from Nigeria to multiple countries around the world within 48 hours. Time was of the essence so our teams worked through the night to ensure all passengers had been booked onto onward flights.
Another challenge has been with the self-isolation requirements being imposed by various governments. In Australia, for instance, even when traveling domestically from one state to another, travelers have needed to self-isolate for 14 days. To facilitate this, we’ve worked closely with our hotel partners to arrange long-stay accommodation for these travelers and their families, so they can isolate before starting their shifts.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most difficult situations our industry has ever faced. Even so, at CWT ERM we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping ERM workers – the people vital to the continued reliability of the world’s energy and resources sectors – get to and from work safely.
As the leader of CWT’s ERM business line, I’m incredibly proud of how my colleagues across the globe have gone above and beyond to ensure the well-being of our customers’ traveling employees. I’m so grateful to them for their continued dedication and the tremendous work they have been doing. At the same time, I thank our clients – for their partnership, for continuing to place their trust in us, and for all the kind words of appreciation our teams have received in recent weeks. And of course, I must also thank our supplier partners for all their support in what is an incredibly challenging period for their own businesses.
I’m confident we will all emerge from this better and stronger. Till then, take care and stay well.
Blog author: Raphaël Pasdeloup, Senior Vice President and Global Head, CWT ERM