Planning Ahead for Evacuations – Air Charters for the Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is here again so it’s time to discuss how to prepare, be ready and how ISS GMT’s Air Charter Division can help you.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak period from early August through the end of October. Hurricanes can occur anywhere and at any time in the entire Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico as we saw last year with Hurricane Irma.

Many people learnt that they were not ready for the unexpected sequence and force of hurricanes that hit around the same area in the Caribbean within a very short period of time, leaving people with little time to escape or recover before the next one hit.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was among the top 10 all-time most active seasons on record, and as of September 30th, 13 named storms, eight hurricanes, and five major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes had formed. For 2018, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Athmospheric Administration) expects an average / above normal season with 14 named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes and 3 to reach major status, so time to get ready now before the first hurricane arrives.

By sharing some of our previous experience and recommendations on how air charters can help you in these cases, we hope to bring awareness on the importance of being prepared and knowing your options.

Hurricanes can gain strength unexpectedly and a previously safe area can quickly be in the path of a destructive hurricane. We have seen this with Irma, Maria, Jose and many others last year where many people thought they had time to leave and then found themselves not being able to escape.

The number of industries we have seen being in harm’s way and looking for private jets every hurricane season is wider than you would expect. We have dealt with evacuation requests from Cruise Lines, Oil and Gas, Insurance, Risk Management companies, Private yacht community, Tour operators, private individuals and many more. We saw requests from a family with an infant and a toddler trapped in a hotel room in Tortola to thousands of cruise line guests looking to be evacuated from San Juan, to doctors and K9 Search and Rescue Teams flying in after a disaster. Having operated through many natural disasters, one thing we find is that there is always a certain pattern in the times of sudden emergencies and with good enough preparation many unfortunate events can be / could have been avoided.

Just as probably you do, we all pay attention to the news but many times, we think: it won’t happen to me, I have been in similar situation, I will come up with a plan tomorrow, I will book an airline seat in a few days, but in reality this all means, you are not ready to safely escape in case a disaster hits. In situations like this, preparation and awareness of your surroundings are one of the key factors.

At the time of an emergency, commercial airline options can be limited and it could take days to get a ticket for one person, not to mention seats for an entire family or an even larger group. Natural disasters can occur in very remote areas where many commercial airlines don’t fly to. Air charters are ideal for both of these as we can mobilize various sized aircraft and after an initial runway and operational assessment, we can find the closest airport to your location to minimize time spent on the road or wasted waiting.

When preparing, always keep in mind these guidelines from the National Hurricane Center and our expert advice:

  1. Know exactly where you are geographically – hotel name, address, nearest landmark, etc
  2. Know the closest possible airport(s) and how to get there
  3. ISS GMT will always advise you on what airports are operational and the best suited aircraft types
  4. Throughout any hurricane season, natural disaster, political uprising, etc ISS GMT always keeps an up-to-date list of available assets which means we only offer planes that we know are still available at the time if your request
  5. Contact us for a quick estimate on pricing and dates of availability so you can budget ahead of time
  6. Keep regular contact with others around you for any information
  7. Don’t panic – when you are prepared, you took steps to ensure you can get to a safe location
  8. Always know who and how many people in your party are potentially in danger and have their documents ready so they can leave at any time
  9. Note any special requirements to ISS GMT (such as wheelchair, allergies) so we can prepare for their easy evacuation and ensure we have all required equipment in place
  10. Be ready to leave on a minute’s notice if required
  11. Don’t wait until last minute. People will be looking at the same methods to get out as you are, so it may be challenging or a little longer than desired to bring available aircraft to evacuate you if you wait too long
  12. In case of a Hurricane when winds are so strong we may not be able to fly in an aircraft last minute so do act quickly to ensure everyone’s safety
  13. The longer you wait, the more likely the airports will cease operations or the roads may become impassable
  14. Know your travel insurance policy
  15. Always keep an eye for other means of transportation such as larger boats, buses etc but always consider the risk elements of these options before making a decision
Which cities get hit the most by hurricanes?

According to HurricaneCity, a hurricane-tracking website, here are the top 10 cities most frequently hit or affected by hurricanes since record-keeping began in 1871:

  • Cape Hatteras, North Carolina: Every 1.36 years (affected by 108 hurricanes since 1871)
  • Morehead City, North Carolina: Every 1.54 years
  • Grand Bahamas Island, Bahamas: Every 1.62 years
  • Cayman Islands (most affected area in the Caribbean): Every 1.72 years
  • Wilmington, North Carolina: Every 1.72 years
  • Great Abaco Island, Bahamas: Every 1.8 years
  • Andros Island, Bahamas: Every 1.83 years (affected 80 times since 1871)
  • Bermuda: Every 1.85 years (hit by hurricanes 36 times since 1871 and affected 79 times)
  • Savannah, Georgia: Every 1.92 years
  • Miami, Florida: Every 1.97 years (affected 74 times)
How does an actual evacuation work on charter flights?

ISS GMT arranges for your desired aircraft and flies it to the agreed airport for a pre-agreed departure time. Many times to keep cost low and to be able to offer multiple rotations to maximize the number of people brought to safety, we fly to the closest safe location or commercial hub. Our goal first and foremost is to fly you out of a dangerous situation but we will always work with your preferred location. ISS GMT coordinates with you on the ground through our own employees in one of our global offices, and through handling agents and airport representatives where we don’t. Aircraft type, timing, and desired route will all be agreed upon before the flight takes place.

As an air charter broker, we have access to a wide array of aircrafts that suit your specific need, location, time and budget. Our 24/7 team is truly 24/7 and you will be speaking with one of us, not an answering machine. We only work with reputable, reliable carriers and we always keep safety at the forefront of our minds. When you find yourself planning a business trip or a holiday, it is a good idea to reach out to us and we can run some options pretty fast for you, so you can see how a private jet would suit your travel plans anywhere in the world.

ISS GMT’s Air Charter Team can be reached directly by dialling +1 866.746.8872 or by emailing aircharter@flyissgmt.com.

About the Author

Aniko Penzvalto Mersek has been working in the travel industry for over 15 years and has lived in the Middle East, Europe and USA for her various assignments. She has been heavily involved in evacuations, including but not limited to: the earthquake / tsunami in Haiti, Chilean earthquake, Arab Spring, evacuations out of Iraq, Hurricane Jose, Maria and many more. She currently works with ISS GMT as the Manager of Air Charters and resides in Ohio with her family.

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